1999 Convention Reports

Here are some convention reports from NPL members Tyger and Sprout.

From Tyger

“This is like going to heaven without having to die first.” – Eric

Con started a little strangely for me. I had wanted to fly over with Lunch Boy on Tuesday, but there were no frequent flyer seats available, and I reserved for Monday night. Thunderstorms on Monday delayed the flight to Salt Lake City so much that I would have missed the last connecting flight to Bozeman, so I ended up the next day on the flight I'd originally wanted. LB and I chatted, then he fell asleep and I did puzzles. The connecting flight had every seat full and a baby on a lap, and I was lucky to get a seat at all (that's a story in itself), and wasn't near the other Krewe on board.

I met Dart and Gotcha for the first time at the airport, and got to see Gotcha's handiwork the rest of the week, as she braided the hair of at least a dozen people in patterns both simple and intricate but always beautiful. A dozen of us boarded a van to Big Sky and in between chatting with QED, Dart, and Treesong, I got my first breathtaking views of the Rockies from ground level. Some of us early arrivers, including Qaqaq, Noam, and Ariadne, took a walk up one of the ski mountains, where someone took a picture of Bartok doing his Maria von Trapp impersonation. Forget the password protection, Bart, you wanna burn that baby.

Then I checked into our lovely duplex condo which had a surprising number of dead animals and animal heads nailed to the wall, including a dead ferretlike mammal disarmingly close to someone's top bunkbed. Thankfully, I was not sleeping there, but downstairs in a room with Sue++ and Saxifrage that had its own bathroom and a door to the hot tub room. I had dinner with some condomates, and we invited everyone over to our place for games and hot tubbing, though LB was the only guest to join Sue++ and me in the hot tub. Went to bed about 12:45, after seeing one of Sprout's videotaped game show appearances: a fairly lame show on PBS that never made it to national distribution. Sprout's partner, a middle-aged woman he had never met before, was introduced by the MC as liking “to rescue small animals from unusual places.” O-kay.

Wednesday morning I noticed for the first time the stupendous view from our front balcony, which D. Ness and G Natural were up early enjoying. Had a decent buffet breakfast with a happy crew, then went hiking through the Gallatin National Forest to Lava Lake with D. Ness, Sue++, and Atlantic. It was 3 miles uphill to the lake and 3 miles back down, and well worth the trip. Near the lake, we ate a lunch bought earlier at the Hungry Moose, a terrific small health-food/grocery store, while a chipmunk the size of a small cat watched us from several yards away, we put our garbage into our packs, then lingered for an hour. Atlantic took his camera and tripod and walked around the lake a bit, while the rest of us went closer to the lake to rest in the sun or dip or feet in the icy cold water. On returning to our bags, we found that the chipmunk had chewed the leftover pickles and that a small bag of garbage was nowhere to be found. The chipmunk must have swung it over his ample shoulders and stalked away with it.

We got back late in the afternoon, just in time to shower, clean up a little, and start a pasta dinner, which unfortunately was not finished by the time the scheduled pre-Con party began in our condo. I played some games, solved Ai's cryptic handout with Sprout, then nudged QED toward its solution and chatted with him a bit. I also ate numerous lemon squares that Sprout baked.

Thursday, our condo prepared a most fantastic communal breakfast. We had bought eggs and butter and English muffins at the Hungry Moose. Panther toasted the muffins, GNat made omelets using broccoli and tomatoes left over from the previous night's party, and I made a salad from the fruit people had in their private stashes: apple, apricots, bananas, plums.

Then came the whitewater rafting trip. Everyone seemed to have a raft guide that walked right out of Cosmo or GQ; there was a lot of moaning and pining away going on in the hot tub conversations afterward. Especially by straight men with a raft guide named Audra. My raft guide had a nickname, Maverick, and he insisted on learning and using our noms: Charts, Jo the Loiterer, Sax, JrMan, Sew Do I. He entertained us at one point by rowing to shore and diving into the river from a bridge. We all, including Maverick, played lateral thinking situational puzzles, 20 Questions style, all morning and just through the ample and tasty lunch (when Bartok and Fraz joined the puzzling). (My favorite was “A horse jumps over a tower and lands on a man, who promptly disappears from the scene.” By asking yes/no questions about the size of the tower, and finding out that it was less than 1 foot tall, but more than 1 inch tall, I was able to guess in a much shorter time than most of the other puzzles took me that the situation was a chess game.) About 15 minutes after lunch, the water got too rough for that, and we concentrated on listening to Maverick's directional paddle commands. It was a totally fun experience, and I never once felt that I was in any danger.

That night marked the official start of Con. This year's introduction info, besides one's nom and hometown, was to state one's favorite word in the world. WILLz started off by saying his favorite was “mellifluous.” Many other people also gave words that they liked the sound of. My favorite word was “yes.” Other notables: “employed, because it means I can be here” (Mellifur), “retired” (Sanit), “ex-host” (Qaqaq), and Rastelli's: “I decided to go about this systematically, and after analyzing all of my writings over several years have discovered that my favorite word is 'the'.” We played a mixer game by Jo the that was confusing at first, but lots of fun once it got underway. Teki arrived in the middle of it and I dragged him onto our team, which was short a member. Then I teamed with Trazom, 100 Down, and Ariadne to face Wrybosh's challenge to pose a question that exactly 50% of Krewe could answer correctly. The answer to our question of who were the 3 Major Prophets of the Old Testament (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel), later proved not as widely known as we had hoped. We also enjoyed a film by Cache and Chainsaw, both sadly absent from Con in real life, in which we were asked to find transposals of things appearing. Of course, the Krewe came up with many answers that the filmmakers didn't intend, and, oddly, voted down one of the official answers (tearing, ingrate) as not being actual things. After the official games, I solved the Harth cryptic with Squonk and took lots of pictures.

Friday was the Yellowstone trip – my first time in Wyoming. On the bus ride there, Wombat and I cosolved Form Fiend's message. I took lots of pictures of hot springs, steam, colorful pools of thermophilic bacteria, and bubbling mud at the first stop. Ate the best veggie burger ever at the Old Faithful Lodge, bought souvenirs for the kinfolk, and saw the geyser spout on schedule. Saw several magnificent waterfalls that afternoon, as well as wild bison and elk. Cosolved the Slik cryptic with Al De Suda on the way back. Friday's buffet dinner was exotic and wonderful, and I enjoyed the company of Twisto, Val-U, Teki, and others while sampling elk chili and the first of several incarnations of huckleberry seen that weekend. I could have lived without the elk meat, but the well- seasoned chili went very well with the polenta from the trout dish. I also liked the vegetable lasagna and soft brown rolls.

Friday evening, we were treated to Rastelli's excellent juggling and comedy routine. For the finale, he drew En's “beautiful portrait” while juggling three balls. The result reminded me of a quote by Samuel Johnson about a dog walking on its hind legs: “It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.” I teamed with G Natural, Trazom, Mercury, JrMan, Sew Do I and 100 Down for Squonk & Cecil's “Questions of Fortune.” In this variation of “Wheel of Fortune,” each team could ask only yes or no questions. We solved the first one, an event, (Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade) based on enumeration only & thought we were pretty smart. It was the only one we solved — if you don't guess on enumeration, arriving at the final answer is a looong procedure. I annoyed myself on the 50/50 Trivia Questions submitted by teams the night before: I *knew* I knew the identities of the current Canadian Prime Minister and UN Secretary-General, and the exiting Spice Girl, but couldn't think of them at the time. After the games, I chatted with Eric, Lyric, Qaqaq, and Fraz; then Fraz, whose condo was near mine up the hill, insisted on showing me the shortcut to get back. Walking across the grass instead of using the road was indeed shorter, but totally unlit. Terrified, I clung to his arm for dear life (it *is* bear country) and don't know how he managed to navigate so well so quickly.

Saturday I managed to wake up in time for both breakfast and the business meeting. Good news for me: my proposal for NYC Con in 2001 was unanimously encouraged (though not, of course, officially approved yet). Not as good news: Lunch Boy announced his intention to not edit or mail Enigmas anymore. It looks like Sue++ will be doing the printing and mailing from Boston, so no more NYC mailings. (The regulars, however, have decided to continue meeting at the same diner for dinner after the mailings end, tentatively scheduled for the first Tuesday of each month.) Uncanny announced her intention to retire as VP, and after the meeting, I told Quip I'd like to run for her vacated slot.

After lunch, I toured the mall, the hospitality suite, and the common areas of the lodge with Crax and Gotcha to get familiar (with the hotel!) in preparation for the evening puzzle hunt. I spotted a beautiful full-length multicolored leather/suede/wool coat in a fur store in the lobby, and Gotcha took a picture of me in it with Noam, whom we persuaded to don a similarly-patterned jacket. We kept searching, and I kept thinking about that coat, which cost more than 2x anything I'd ever worn before, excluding jewelry. Finally, I called my husband, and he said go for it. Yippee! I bargained about 15% off the price of the coat, and wore it for the afternoon puzzle competition. In between co-solving with 100 Down, I looked at his pictures from the week before when he and his family visited Grand Teton National Park. Of course, they were, as everything else in the Wild West, full of beautiful things to behold. I went back to the condo, changed into a casual dress, and got a ride back to the lodge for the photo session from Sue++ who wowed the crowd with a red tube top/shoulder cover set, slinky pants, and heels.

Supper was followed by a fascinating talk by Hot on Italian puzzles, complete with examples of traditional-type and NPL-adapted examples in English crafted by him and other Krewe. The numerous picture puzzles showed off Crax and Randd's artistic talents.

For the past few years, Wombat and I have been randomized onto the same teams for Saturday night puzzle extravaganzas, and have found ourselves most compatible teammates. However, this time, even with the wonderful new feature of separating us racers from the people who prefer to savor each puzzle, we were on adjacent teams. So I cheated the gods of randomicity and switched with someone to get on Wombat's team. Wombat said: “You'll ruin the karma!” I responded: “What karma? We always lose!” The other members of this team were Philana and Kray, and we did finish in the top ten and win one of the Hershey bars, which we happily shared at the end. My favorite in this series of hidden puzzles by Fraz and WILLz was the smell test: bowls covered with hole-punched tinfoil contained different foods that had to be smelled. You wrote the names down on the paper, and some of the letters had numbers underneath; the resulting ordered letters were the next puzzle location. Wombat identified the root beer, and I got the lemon, cinnamon, and apple pretty quickly. Also figured out, on a return sniff after the resulting message was too weird, that what we had as vinegar was actually mustard (which does contain vinegar). I also liked climbing the rope to the play fort to retrieve a puzzle, and thought the puzzle with the solution “Montana” followed by a series of numbers and letters was ingenious: I think it was Kray who realized that it was a license plate number, and sure enough, right outside the lobby door in the “never park here” zone was Uncanny's unlocked car with the next puzzle in the front seat. (Um, I *don't* think we'll try this at NYCon 2001). After-hours games included Pictionary, by Dart, which went on for hours, and which I joined for a couple of shorter times. Unfortunately, I was not playing when the items to describe were a list of phrases containing the word “tiger.” I also enjoyed a long phone conversation with Quiz, who called the hospitality suite from his home in Florida. Next year we'll talk in person, I hope!

Sunday morning, thanks to my pairing with 100 Down the day before, I was able to pick up a cryptic crossword book and _The Puzzlemaster Presents_ (by WILLz) from the prize table. I passed up a ride to the Lewis and Clark Caverns to take a much-needed nap. I woke up at about 5, showered, packed, and started preparing food for the dead dog party to be held at our condo after the pizza party at the pool (which I skipped). I thought we'd have nothing to serve our guests, but we got most of the leftovers from the hospitality suite, as well as Fraz's condo, whose residents had managed to obtain seats on Sunday flights, plus a few donations. Alf arrived early and shared in the preparations. We made 2 green salads (Ranch and Italian/parmesan) and a fruit salad, heated up Atlantic's lentil casserole (and threw in a few herbs from the condo spice rack), and put out cheese, crackers, chips, salsa, cookies, beer, wine, soda, and spring water. It was like the miracle of the loaves and fishes; there was more than enough, and later, Sprout made yet more delicious chocolate chip cookies.

Over raw cookie dough in the kitchen, QED said he'd been watching a lot of reruns of Match Game from the 1970s with Gene Rayburn, and he wants to do an NPL Match Game for future cons. Volunteers for a “celebrity” panel included Qaqaq as Charles Nelson Reilly, and T McAy, who does a mean impersonation of Brett Somers. I suggested also having an NPL member who is relatively serious and will give an answer that the rest of the panel won't. QED would divide the room into 2 teams, which would take turns sending up players for one question each. Questions would all be Krewe-related. Someone suggested: “Whenever I see Treesong, he has a [blank].” Four of us there answered: 2 each “grapefruit” and “briefcase.” (Asking the absent Tree later, he answered “button.”) I hope QED decides to have 2 sets of questions, one for regular play, and more “interesting” ones for after-hours fun.

In the upstairs common area, several Krewe played a Cheapass Game for about 2 hours at the table while others of us talked on the sofa near them. At some point, I ended up in the hot tub for a long time, sharing tales of “worst dates ever” and other horror stories with G Natural, Eric, and Sue++. Also played when Squonk and Cecil shared some “Questions of Fortune” that they didn't get to during the official program, teaming with D.Ness and dev/joe/.

The highlight of the party, though, was the Pyramid game, instigated by T McAy, which started early in the evening and gained momentum throughout the night, until by 2 a.m., all of the 20 or so people still at the party were involved as writers, participants, or onlookers. It started out with T McAy and Noam writing and giving clues to each other for plausible $10,000 Pyramid final rounds, in which you have 60 seconds to clue 6 categories to your partner by listing items in the category. However, cluing such plausible categories as “Olympic host cities” and “Indian tribes” soon proved to be not nearly as much of a challenge to Krewe as to the people on the TV show, so the categories started getting harder (things that flicker, things made of cork); more NPL related (what Merl Reagle would say, NPL members who juggle); more edgy (naughty things); and just plain weird (what Brian Boitano would do). It seemed that pretty early on in the larger-group game, the time limits got thrown out of the window. Also, there would be a clue giver, and a clue receiver, and a separate clue writer (a la NPL charades), for each round. The writer would show the giver the categories, one by one, and the giver would do his/her best to get a correct answer out of the receiver. A kibitzer sat nearby to help a stumped giver. For the tougher categories, almost the entire room would eventually jump in to help give or receive, depending on whether they had seen the categories. The only one who didn't ever jump in, as far as I could tell, was the writer. Writers included Eric, Al DeSuda, Atlantic, Trick, QED, and T McAy.

Some of my favorite categories, from memory and from some of the paper that was used (unfortunately, I couldn't find the wacky ones from the end of the night, so those are from memory only):

  • What a trumpeter swan would say
  • What Noam might say
  • Things that come in threes
  • Things with lines
  • Things that are fragile
  • What Herbert Baus would say
  • Things that have sections
  • What Famulus would say (careful - Wombat's here) \ [Wombat works for Famulus at Random House]
  • Hitchcock films with one-word titles
  • Things that have tricks
  • Uses for a beanbag
  • Things that are painless
  • Things that are symmetric
  • Things your mirror image might say
  • Things that are 2-colored
  • Other uses for a camera tripod
  • Things Alex Trebek would say during a commercial
  • New reasons Quiz would give for coming late to convention
  • Proposed new slogans for beer ads
  • Name of a new Sesame Street character
  • What Uncanny would say to her bottle of vodka (this was a crowd favorite: “Oh, I want you, and when Convention is all over, I'm going to drink you all up!”)
  • Parts of a vibrator (Atlantic clued this to me, and went straight from “the cord” and “the plug” – which didn't help me as I've never seen one with a cord or plug – to very explicit)
  • Things bigger than a breadbox (“the universe” didn't lead to the answer, but “Rosie O'Donnell” did; the receiver remarked, “when I heard that, I knew size was what we were going for”)
  • Hunks of the NPL (T McAy to Saxifrage: “Chainsaw. Mobot. Chainsaw. Mobot.” Crowd member: “Mobot, to Sprout.”)
  • Things that coalesce
  • Things that are faceted
  • Gizmos (this proved to be *really* hard)
  • People you (the giver) want to have sex with (“Audra the raft guide. Audra.” Qaqaq (as kibitzer): “His wife, if he had one.” Giver: “My girlfriend, if I had one.” Qaqaq, for the giveaway:

“His mistress, if he was going to cheat on the wife he doesn't have.”)

  • Why NPL members make better lovers
  • What you (the giver) would say if trying to seduce the receiver
  • Unlikely NPL couples (one of which was “Twisto and Trick,” to which Trick responded: “I'd say unlikely is an understatement.”)

The wackiest one I heard: What a dishrag would say if running for president and trying to cover up a sex scandal (“I did NOT have sex with that sponge”)

The last one of the evening, as the party ended just before 4am: Things that are mellifluous. This was appropriate, since “mellifluous” was the favorite word that Willz opened the official Con program with.

Several of us got on the 6am shuttle bus Monday morning with little or no sleep (I was glad for that nap the day before!), including Noam and Al DeSuda, who cosolved next to me on the flight from Bozeman to Salt Lake City. (Lilith and Lunch Boy were on my flight from SLC to Newark, but we were very spread out in a nearly full plane.) I saw a deer from the van window on the way to the airport – a last little bit of wildlife to remember Montana by. I don't envy Trazom planning Bay Con (or whatever next year's Con ends up being called) and am glad NYCon is not until 2 years from now, because Contana is one tough act to follow.

A Virgin Con-Goer in the Virgin Woods

by Sprout

As I deplaned in Salt Lake City and approached the gate for my flight to Bozeman, I was still apprehensive about arriving at the Con so early on Tuesday. This was my first Con, and now in a possible fit of insanity I had committed to spend six days with a group of people who are a menace to signs with moveable letters. My fears were allayed as three Krewemen (Treesong, Noam, and Al de Suda) hailed me over to the gate and mob began to form to head to Montana. Thanks to Tyger's firm but maniacal stance toward the people at Delta, she was also able to join us on our flight. The flight was full. Each of us were nearly evenly distributed throughout the plane. Every now and then, you could see an NPLer's head pop up and scan around (like watching prairie dogs in the habitrails at the Bronx Zoo when I was a child).

Upon arriving at Bozeman Airport, we met up with a West Coast flight that had such travelers as Dart and Gotcha. Even though this was my first Con, I had met most of the people in our shuttle to Big Sky in my Stamford experiences. So, I was relieved to be among friends while still being giddy as a school girl (without the pigtails). After nearly missing my flight out of Boston, I was very happy when we saw the Huntley Lodge. We entered the lobby and saw a big metallic bear that put the FAO Schwartz bear to shame. Soon, we headed up the hill to the Beaverhead condos.

It was both an honor and a privilege to be a member of “the condo” (no insult meant to “the other condo”, which housed some NYC Krewe with a token Canadian, Fraz wonderful people who visited us often). We had the Beaverhead condo where people seemed to collect every day (even though we were way off the beaten path compared to the other residences at the resort). Ah, the chosen few: Tyger, Panther, Saxifrage, Sue++, G Natural, Dart, Cazique, D. Ness, Al de Suda, Kray, Wombat, and myself (with /dev/joe and Atlantic stopping in as well). So, we got to host the pre-Con party, the pre-pre-Con party, and the post-Con party. And since I had a fully functioning kitchen, I was happy to provide lemon squares and cookie dough (both cooked and raw) for the masses. I love to bake; I find it relaxing, but it gives me that Sally Field feeling too . . . “you like me, you really really like me.” In addition to the amazing kitchen, we had two porches, a hot tub, a nice TV, a piano, and the largest, scariest wooden statue of a beaver I ever did see. I lost 5 minutes off my life the first time I saw it in the darkened room.

So, during this first night of acclimation to the thin air and all those shiny points of light up in the sky, the pre-pre-Con gathering was simple game playing. The next day, most people headed up the mountain or out to the caverns; I, on the other hand, relaxed and baked all day for the pre- Con party. It was so exciting to see all these people at the party of whom I had heard the legends (“she can anagram faster than a Franklin”) and whose puzzles I had come to love (“Oh no! Not another enigmatic rebus from Chicago”). I didn't play many games that night. I was saving up my energy to get wet (in the Gallatin River) with my 59 closest friends.

Ah, the rafting trip. I was impressed by Dart's retelling of our adventure. He managed to tell an entire story about 7 people in an ill-fated boat without mentioning “Gilligan's Island”. Oh, rats. Now I've done it. Next came the Yellowstone tour which was fun, but it was rather anticlimactic after having been on the S.S. Minnow where the Skipper, Mary Ann, Ginger, and the Professor all went in for a dip. (But that leaves the question: who was Lovey Howell? QED, Dart, or me?)

Teki described our Yellowstone tour as “going from place to place waiting for an eruption.” This was both apt and had the double entendre necessary to make it into my less than subtle Con report. There were several really cool geysers, including Clepsydra, which I then learned is 10C, meaning “water clock”, from the Greek for “water stealing”. Old Faithful just could not hold a candle up to even the most banal of the bubbling mud pots. I need to look into some landscapers to see if I can have one put into my yard in Somerville.

I began my tour on the coolest of the two buses, the one with the hip male tour guide; here, I had co-solved my first cryptic on the ride out with Al de Suda. For the second part of the trip, Fraz wanted to swap buses with me so that he could solve a cryptic with his partner on my bus (and I could solve with G Natural who was on his bus). While my bus was quite laid back and was going to miss me, the “new” bus was all thrown in a tizzy by my replacing Fraz. I had disturbed the status quo and made people change seats. Eventually, the other bus forgave me for not being Fraz, partially due to my inclusion of much witty repartee and several promises of fall hedge trimming.

After a day outdoors, I followed the sign downstairs to the “Pale Ale Guzzlers Union at” the ballroom. The formalized events that were part of the program were incredible. I started off with my favorite word: tergiversation. I had only read it and wasn't sure how to pronounce it; after polling many around me, there were two clear choices, and appropriately I had trouble choosing. I served as the transcriptionist for Duplicate Wurdz since I cannot anagram or spell and I have never played Scrabble (please, don't revoke my NPL membership), but Randd, Hot and Cazique were amazing tilegods. But I think my favorite short event was Wrybosh's 50-50 Trivia game. I was amazed at the logic that went into all the question creations (and I am shocked that that many people were fluent in Spice Girls knowledge).

The whole concept of co-solving cryptics to me was great. I had a wonderful time solving with Al de Suda, G Natural and Dart. However, next year, I want to try solving with people I didn't already know well (everyone, keep that in mind for next year's dance cards). Now listen to the following sentence about cryptic co-solving: “Tyger and Sue++ did Trick's in bed.” (Tyger and Sue++ were bedmates in the condo and shared Trick's cryptic submission. Get it?) Not only that, everywhere you looked there was another cryptic; it was like pennies from heaven (I collect large cents from before 1858 so that means a lot to me). Ai, Anomaly, and Ucaoimhu provided entertaining puzzles, but the coup d'‚tat was the set of 5 cryptics that made up the trilogy “The Con-Goers Guide to Wombat's Stolen Theme.” [Note: for those people who are keeping score at home, this is a reference to the Douglas Adams books.] Sometimes, puzzle solving can be a very solitary endeavor, but the Con was a wonderful time to explore doing things with each other . . . and in an incredibly non-competitive atmosphere. No one even tried to throw any of those plentiful complimentary muffins at me to screw up my “German Sausage” solving.

But of course, I have now learned that just as much (if not more) goes on in the unorganized hours (and hours) after the program ends each evening. One staple appears to be Mafia (and not the bad final movie of Lloyd Bridges). Mafia is a psychological game where you try to identify the good guys and the villains at the table by watching their body language and listening to what they say. The first time I played Mafia with the Krewe was at Stamford '99: I had convinced them through my incredible savvy that I had never played before, and I made it as one of the Mafia killers down to the last three survivors. But then Fraz and Trazom made me crack. I was destined to get back at Fraz. We played again at the Con. This game started at 2 am. I was quickly squished like a little bug by the insidious doppelganger that had replaced the normally timid and sweet Fraz.

I also played all the versions of Jeopardy that Al de Suda, Noam, and Maelstrom had put together. We even set up a game of former Jeopardy players [En, Ember, Saxifrage, Qaqaq (who should have been on Jeopardy) and myself] which I managed to win though luck of knowing the final answer (The most populous US capitol city) after being dead-last the whole game before that. I thought Squonk and Cecil did an excellent job with Questions of Fortune. A great concept that was a lot of fun to play. (Although the after-hours “one percent, two percent, and whole milk” left me feeling a little lactose intolerant.)

The last thing I want to mention about official Con events is the amazing Scavenger Hunt that WILLz and Fraz put together. My team was made of Ember, Panther, and “The Member Formerly Known as Gymnast.” We started off with the noms referring to the old Con photo, and somehow managed to pull out a solution with only recognizing half of the faces. My job on our team was two- fold: to work to solve the puzzles and to shush Panther every time she screamed out our latest epiphany to a team passing by. (Panther was proud of our progress but my competitive streak was demanding secrecy.) I decided that this was a prime opportunity to get to meet the staff in our lodge better. Now, while the local paper might have felt the Krewe were not meant to grace the cover of GQ magazine, it seems that the entire staff of the lodge (and our tour guides too) were all attractive men and women. So, I befriended several of the cute guys who worked at the Lodge and batted my eyelashes at them and offered them lemon squares to let me know where things were. I even got a personal escort to the vending machine by this really nice blonde guy. In the end, we managed to get a candy bar by coming in 7th. It was such fun. My team was great, and we all worked so well together.

On Sunday, Ariadne, Wombat, Lunch Boy and I (with the vehicle of the ever beautiful and radiant Uncanny) headed out for the aforementioned (if you read Squonk and Cecil's report) Lewis and Clark Caverns. They neglected to mention that the caves are named after the pair because Teddy Roosevelt wanted a park named after them somewhere; the caves were actually discovered by another group after the deaths of Lewis and Clark. Keeping with the pattern of attractive guides and staff in Montana, our guide was very nice; he led us through the majesty of these simple caves. This was my first time in caverns and on our ride back, I had my first homemade root beer, too! This was a great bonding experience for the four of us.

Well, Sunday night finally came around. After our trip to the caverns, we missed the pool- side pizza party (but we got to eat the leftover pizza) as the Monday-departers made it over to “the condo” for one final evening of puzzling debauchery. Many of us were on the shuttles that left between 4 am and 6 am so we decided to just play all night rather than risk sleeping past our only link to the outside world. But this even was special for several reasons, one of which was the amazing opportunity everyone took to mock me. But the bestest reason of all was the beginning of the NPL version of the “$25,000 pyramid” (or whatever value you choose to remember it as being). I know I was there at the start, with QED in the kitchen writing out sets of 6 categories on napkins with felt tip pens. Atlantic and /dev/joe were among the first victims of our categories. They started off as things like “Things that are fluffy” and “Parts of a car”. By the end of the evening, everyone on both floors of the condo was involved either playing or creating sets of categories. The following six make up a set of some of my favorites from the evening:

  • Parts of a ball bearing
  • Things Uncanny would say to a vodka bottle
  • Splendid things
  • Things that coalesce
  • Things Don Knotts would say if he were a better actor
  • New excuses Quiz might have for missing the Con

The games eventually broke up, and I showered and packed. When my sleep-deprived semi-corpse got the chance to sleep, that's what it did. Somehow I managed to get approximately 10 hours of sleep total over my six days in Montana; I tied that amount of sleep between my shuttle ride and both flights. As I deplaned in Boston, a flight attendant said to me, “Boy, you sure can sleep.” It only took me the entire month of August to recover, and now I cannot wait for Con Francisco.

Afternote: As I look over my Con photo that recently arrived in the mail, I am reminded of the incredible fun I had at my first Con. The photo also saddens me for two reasons: that I will have to wait a year to see some of these people again and that that hideous goatee I shaved off after the Con is immortalized in it. Also, looking at the picture reminds me that I have some more people to meet and names to learn next time (except for Jon Dark, the sole person with his official nomtag still on). [You could read that? Ed.]

cons/1999/conreport1999.txt · Last modified: 2006/12/12 03:42 (external edit)
Recent changes RSS feed Powered by PHP Valid XHTML 1.0 Valid CSS Driven by DokuWiki

All content is copyright © 1893-2017, National Puzzlers' League. All rights reserved. For permissions, apply to the editor.