1998 Convention Reports

Here is a convention report from NPL member Tyger.

From Tyger

My Con report this year is a little different because I wasn't mentally or physically taking notes but instead just enjoying the experiences, so there is a mishmash of memory rather than a timeline.

You may remember that I like to get in a lot of sightseeing, and this year was no exception. On Wednesday, I climbed the 800-foot Stone Mountain using the 1.3-mile “historic trail,” never finding out what made it historic. Then I took a Swiss cable car back down, ostensibly to give a close-up view of the sculpture of 3 Confederate bigwigs carved into the side of the mountain, but when I saw the nearly vertical drop from the front of the cable car, I squeezed my eyes shut and missed the view. The view walking up the mountain was beautiful enough. I shot a whole roll of film that afternoon, including several snaps of the sculpture from further away on solid ground. That evening, several of us ate dinner at a Moroccan restaurant; I enjoyed most of the food, but some of it was a little too strange (eg chicken and eggplant in puff pastries sprinkled with cocoa and powdered sugar).

On Thursday, Momus and Ariadne joined me for a traipse around the old Oakland Cemetery where there were some beautiful headstones and mausolea, as well as a whole section for Confederate soldiers. We also visited the Cyclorama, a 19th-century circular painting of the Battle of Atlanta which was over 300 feet in circumference and placed in a circular room with a diorama leading up to it so well that it was hard to tell where the 3D diorama ended and the 2D painting began. We were all seated on a tiered platform that rotated while the different sections of the painting were spotlit and explained. Our afternoon plans for the botanical garden were scrapped due to rain; Momus and I visited the High Museum of Art, where we ran into other Krewe, and saw lots of art by the self- taught, many if not most of whom seemed a little weak in the marbles department judging by the text which comprised a great deal of the paintings. The most featured was Howard Finster, a Georgian whose incomprehensible diatribes on sin were woven into all his colorful works.

On Friday, Momus, Wampahoofus, 100 Down and I visited Six Flags amusement park, where I got a stiff neck from getting rattled around in the wooden roller coaster (bad) and soaked from a couple of water rides (very good in the heat).

All the games and puzzles in this year's program were terrific. Teki solved the Hidden Contest (by Qaqaq), by finding that some of the nomtags were unrecognizable and could be organized so that phonetically they instructed the lucky party to give Willz a bagel (at last year's con, Willz revealed that he had never eaten one). Willz did eat this one, and the event was captured on film. I especially enjoyed the slightly chaotic Word Trade Center (by Chainsaw) Friday night, which involved making 7-letter words from the 7 letter-cards dealt us, then trading with Krewe to make new words, and Chain Reaction (by Sluggo) which involved 2 players (Famulus and I) alternating words without consultation to make a complete sentence that would enable our teammate (Wayne Robert Williams) to guess the solution word or phrase. We did well enough that our team members were able to join the playoffs, in which teams of 2, 1 of which could see the solution, alternated words to make a complete sentence. Famulus and I went first in the playoffs; I figured out that the receiver should be the one who starts, and should say “What.” The dialogue went something like:

  • me: What
  • Fam: [helpful noun]
  • me: Is
  • Fam: [another helpful noun, or maybe an adjective or -ing verb]

All the teams that followed started off the same way. We were bested by one other team; the teams with real trouble were the ones in which the member seeing the clues could not give helpful enough words. Another team figured out that the guessing member should say “and” when a complete sentence was established but more information was needed.

A variant of this game, invented by Al Desuda and called Saboteur Chain Reaction, was my favorite late-night game. The players were divided into 2 teams. When it was team A's turn, there would be 2 givers and 1 receiver from team A, but the word would be chosen by a member of team B who would provide every third word. After the number of players dwindled, play just shifted around the table, with one receiver, and 2 good givers plus one saboteur who chose the word. The receiver knew who the saboteur was, but the constraint of forming a grammatically correct sentence could throw off the 2 good-guy givers pretty badly. Fortunately the sentences did not also have to make sense.

Saturday night was the highlight of Con for me, and not just because Squonk mentioned me in his lengthy acknowledgment speech (because I badgered him into joining the Krewe) which later became one of his Extravaganza puzzles, when we had to find the inconsistencies in the printed transcript. My teammates were Blade, Wombat, and Wanderer, and we worked well together, even if we did need some nudges to finish. The inter-team camaraderie was even more remarkable. There was one puzzle, intended to make us be nice to each other, in which each team ended up with a different letter as an answer, and we had to send ambassadors to each table to exchange letters, which were then arranged in order of team number to get the answer. But even before that stage was a cryptogram posted on the wall in which a letter was represented by different cards from the same game (for example the letter B could be represented by either a Chance or a Community Chest card from the game Monopoly). We all had lists of the card games represented but had to figure out which was which and then solve the crypt. I was thrilled that the other teams' members and I were able to openly share with each other the games we knew without anyone getting secretive or uptight. This cooperative competition was everything I could have hoped for in a friendly game.

The business meeting was very encouraging, as we found out from Willz that the NPL History will be ready for the printer by the end of July, and that we will in fact have a place to convene next year (Big Sky, Montana, courtesy of Uncanny) as well as a couple of years to come. The “mood of the meeting” was to welcome bids by Trazom for Frisco in 2000 and by me for New York City in 2001. (There were even less formal bids by Ember, via e-mail list, for Indycon 2002, and by Alf, during the awards ceremony, for Boston 2003.)

Since NYC is the City that Never Sleeps, it should be perfect for us. Speaking of which, my hours of sleep this con set a personal record on the low end: 6 Wed. night, then 4, 4, and 0. I slept 1.5 hours on the plane Sunday and 8 that night and woke up refreshed when the alarm went off at 5:30 Monday morning. Without the all-nighter Saturday (my first since college cramming) I probably couldn't have managed that, since I was getting to sleep pretty close to 5:30 the nights before. So thank you to everyone whose sparkling and enthralling company kept me awake all night, yes even QED who created quite a scare when he showed up in the hospitality suite with a camera at 8AM Sunday. And a big thank-you to Jrman and Sew Do I; the plane coming back was too crowded for us to sit together, but they went out of their way to drive me home from the airport.

Back to real life for now… until Contana (which coinage I overheard, but can't remember who said it) next July.

cons/1998/conreport1998.txt · Last modified: 2007/05/19 17:07 (external edit)
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