MediaWest*Con/MediaWest 1997

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Convention
Name: MediaWest 1997
Dates: May 23-26, 1997
Frequency:
Location: Lansing, Michigan
Type:
Focus: multi-fandom
Organization:
Founder:
Founding Date:
URL: Archived link to the 1997 Convention Page
1997 Convention theme
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Contents

Some facts about the 1997 convention:

  • The theme that year was Alien Invasions: "Good morning...good morning. In less than an hour, fans from here will join others from around the world, and you will be launching the greatest fannish gathering in the history of fankind. "Fankind" ...that word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interest. Perhaps it's fate that today is Memorial Day, and you will once again be fighting for our fandoms; not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution, but from cancellation. We are fighting for our shows right to live, to exist. And should we win the day, Memorial Day will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice, "We will not go quietly into the night. Our shows will not vanish without a fight. They're going to live on. They're going to survive. Today, we celebrate our MediaWest*Con!" -- Mr. President"
  • As there were not enough nominations to require a 1997 ballot, a cash award was made to Martynn (MaryAnn Walther Keisel) who was the sole nominee, and her name will be carried over to the 1998 Fan Fund ballot; she attended MediaWest*Con 17.
  • The members of the CI5 mailing list held a room party. During the party, fans read aloud "When In Rome" by Hestia which had been written for that purpose.
  • The Fourth Semi-Annual Avon Without Guilt Party (Blake's 7) was held: "Yes, it's another Avonic drool fest from the women who lust after Avon...Without Guilt. Eat (a variety of foods will be spread out, including Susan B.'s infamous Avon Balls), drink, and talk about our favorite anti-hero BSO in the company of your fellow fanatics. Both Avon fans and sympathetic others are cordially invited. Sponsored by Avon Without Guilt--the few, the proud, the sadistic and lustful."
  • More info on the 1997 convention is at MediaWest*Con 17, Archived version.

FanQ Awards

See FanQ Awards.

Masquerade Winners

A complete list of winners, with photos, can be seen here.

  • Best Workmanship/Best in Show: Don't be Afraid to Mix & Match by Jesse McClain
  • Workmanship (on wings & tail) /Best Re-creation: A Goyle from New York by Rolaine Smoot
  • Most Humorous: Blake's 7, the Truth by Katheryn Andersen, Mary O'Connor, & Judith Proctor
  • Best Found/Best Cheap: Following Up the Rear by Wolf
  • Most Serene: Little Grasshopper by Samantha Powell
  • Honorable Mention (for hand stitching): Xena, Warrior Babe by Cicatrice du Veritace & Kelly Jeanette Aurora Lowry

Art Show Awards

Art show winners were selected by popular vote.

  • Science Fiction: End of the Future by Wappel
  • Fantasy: Castle Dragon Albert by MacKenn
  • Detective: The Ties That Bind by Karen River
  • Secret Agent: Shadows & Secrets by McClain
  • Animation: Duck Wars by DeSouza
  • Humor: Dana, Warrior Woman by Leah Rosenthal
  • 3-D: Arsenic & Old Lace by Sandmann
  • Fabric: Undercover with Bodie & Doyle by Wochoski
  • Western: Soiled Doves by Rosenthal
  • Horror: The Beast Within by McClain
  • Portrait: To Reach the Sky by Suzan Lovett
  • Critter: Not Just Another Lawyer by McClain
  • Too Cute to Live: Peek-A-Boo by McCLain

Source: 1997 Art Show Winners.

Door Decoration Awards

  • Best in Show -Due South -- We're Gonna Ride Forever -- Jean Curley, Donna Pleasants, Jill Collins, Joyce Strohm
  • Funniest Door - Baby-lon 5 -- Michael Emond
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror
    • First Prize: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Dalek -- Lisa Truant, Irwin Tan, Stella Luuk, Rob Butler
    • Second Prize: The Force, The Comet, & 20 Years of Star Wars -- June M. Edwards*
  • Third Prize: Poltergeist: The Legacy -- Vickie "Viper" Swanson
  • Non-Science Fiction
    • First Prize: Due South -- We're Gonna Ride Forever -- Jean Curley, Donna Pleasants, Jill Collins, Joyce Strohm
    • Second Prize: The Celestial Portal -- Becky Mock, Kathy Condon
    • Third Prize: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow -- Debbie Ramsey, Catherine Salmon, Sue Cleric
  • Media Personality
    • First Prize: Antonio Bandaras -- The Rising Star -- Deborah Rojano
    • Second Prize: Hunks of Hockey -- Julie Skelly
    • Third Prize: Watcher Training Academy -- Siouxie Sherman, Tracy Ingalls

Gallery

Vid Show

We are looking for any info on the pre-1998 vid show winners.

Convention Reports

Until I moved from Texas to Pennsylvania last year, attending MediaWest*Con always meant flying. This year was different, as I was invited to ride with a carpool from New Jersey. One of the women, Dorothy Hartel, borrowed her Dad's enormous old Chevy, into which the four of us and our luggage fit quite comfortably. I was tickled to learn that some of my carpool mates were associated with that group of music video mavens known as the Bunnies from Hell. Now, in order for me to attend MWC, my husband had to chaperone a field trip to the Smithsonian with our ten-year-old and his class, so while I was enjoying a road trip to MWC with the Bunnies from Hell, my husband was experiencing an eight-hour bus ride with the Fifth Grade from. . . er, St. Monica's.

When I got to the dealer's room Friday morning it had just opened, and Orphan Zines was in the midst of the traditional feeding frenzy. Linda and Peg asked if I could help, and I pitched in restocking zines on the table as they were purchased. After a while I got to know where things were, and was able to answer some of the customers' questions or fetch specific zines they wanted. It was quite a privilege, I thought, to see how this operation worked from the inside, and when the feeding frenzy had abated I left to do my own shopping, with new respect for the people who ran the table.

Around midnight on Friday I remembered something I'd heard about on the Man from U.N.C.L.E. mailing list I belong to, and set off to find it. And am I ever glad I did! A group of U.N.C.L.E. fans, consisting of Jessica Ross (a.k.a. "Bingo"), Judi Toth, Amanda Thomas, Dorinda Hartmann, Kelly Wilson, James South, Melissa Jerves, and Tara O'Shea, had selected a goofy 2-part third-season episode, "The Five Daughters Affair," sat down with copies of the script and a pro tape of the episode, and carefully drafted, timed, and rehearsed a running commentary. What they created was a Mystery Science Theater 3000 Man from U.N.C.L.E. presentation! Bingo, Judi, Amanda, and Dorinda did the actual commentary with microphones at the front of the room as the episode played. They bounced off of U.N.C.L.E. clichés and MST3K conventions, throwing in pop-culture references from Gilbert & Sullivan to Young Frankenstein, pointing out continuity and production errors with glee. The time and effort they had put into it made for a smoothly delivered and hilarious presentation. It was altogether delightful and greatly enjoyed by a packed roomful of fans.

Although I was running the Rat Patrol party Saturday evening, I also got a chance to stop in at the U.N.C.L.E. party and visit with some fans. It was a huge party that spilled out of its room and up and down the hallway, and it was full of friendly people! Indeed, the greatest compliment the Rat Patrol party received was when someone popped in and said, "Wow! This is the biggest party next to the U.N.C.L.E. party!"

I got to be one of the "runners" at the art auction Sunday evening: that is, I carried pieces of artwork through the audience so that people could get a close look at the item that was up for bids. Usually, runners work in pairs and trade off running and filling out the bid sheet. I much prefer running to paperwork, and by sheer luck I was paired with a fan who was just getting over the 'flu and didn't want to run. So she did the bid sheet every time and I got to run every time, and we were both happy. There were four pairs of us, so we were not constantly on our feet. Just before the auction began, the auctioneers introduced the runners and an audience member solemnly pointed to us and said, "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy." That was not only a handy sign of the growing resurgence of interest in Star Wars this year, but a description we wore proudly!

What else was popular this year? A lot of Sentinel art went to auction, as did a lot of Xena and X-Files. Native American crafts, such as dreamcatchers and beaded pouches, were very popular. Wild animals were big; I carried several pieces with tigers or wolves. Unusual media are beginning more common, such as Christmas ornaments, slate clocks, stained glass, and painted plates. The highest bid for a single piece was $575 for a beautiful Jesse McClain Highlander painting. A gorgeous set of three Man from U.N.C.L.E. pictures by Suzie Lovett, auctioned separately, went for a total of over thirteen hundred dollars to one very determined and joyful fan. The auctioneers had fun as usual. A partially-clothed Mulder from X-Files earned the new title, "The Tush is Out There." They also got the audience to "yiyiyiyiyiyi" for the Xena pictures.

One very touching thing happened during the art auction. A fan was deliberately called and kept out of the room by an imaginary problem with her registration, and while she was gone, one of the organizers came up and explained that this fan, a longtime helper at MWC, had experienced several disasters just before the convention and then had her car throw a valve on the way to the con, a potentially catastrophic financial problem on top of all the others. A collection was taken up for her; the organizer suggested that we all put in the price of a cup of coffee, but as the runners collected the baskets I saw that some people had put in as much as a twenty-dollar bill. Later on, the fan was called up to the auction platform and presented with over a thousand dollars to help with her repair bill. There was much rejoicing among us all, and more than a few tears of joy.

Our carpool left Monday morning; we might have left the convention hotel, but we brought the convention along with us. At our first rest stop at a service plaza, we found two other groups of commuting MWC fans and briefly considered holding a mini-con right then and there! As we drove along the Ohio and Pennsylvania Turnpikes, I was initiated into a tradition of this carpool: we went through a batch of newly-purchased fanzines, chose the shortest and funniest stories, and took turns reading them aloud! It certainly made the trip go a lot more quickly. [1]
As always, it was wonderful getting together with so many old friends, meeting new friends, and discussing SW and fanfic writing. This year seemed especially terrific as more fans seemed to intermingle instead of remaining only within given groups. The few panels I attended were lively and energetic with the exchange of ideas and number of speakers. Congratulations to Wanda Lybarger on her surprise birthday party, also. Barbara Anderson and Company, you did a great job! Thanks to all who voted in the STAR aWARdS and congrats to all the honorable mentions and winners. Ditto for the FanQ winners. It was also great to see so many SW zines available this year. I wish continued success to all the editors/publishers...I'm eagerly next May already. Hope to see you all there. [2]
Meanwhile, I've been to MediaWest*Con again and spent another wonderful five days with a number of you in Lansing. Thanks to everyone for making me feel so much at home! I hadn't thought it possible before, but this year was even better than the last ... if it keeps progressing at this rate, I might have severe difficulties readjusting to a bleaker reality after MWC next year. [3]
MediaWest Con – 1997. First big con I went to. Oh My Goddess. Also got to meet some friends from my Forever Knight & Sunnydale Slayers lists (have most of the same folks). Drove with natmerc (a local friend, now in another province) and her sister as far as Guelph, Ontario, then natmerc and I drove onto Lansing, Michigan. I had so much fun. I hadn’t known what to expect except for comments from the Sunnydale Slayers list who’ve attended the con for many years. I had so much fun. And the dealer’s room. Sweet Frelling Amazing. If only I had a million dollars. And the artwork was also bloody amazing. *BOUNCE*. And the vids. Oh my heavens the vids. I still stick in the vcd’s of the Apocalypse West vids, just to placate myself and immerse myself in greatness. [4]
Well, I got back last night and was totally wiped. I had quite a bit of fun, though, especially having talked to people I never usually talk to (mostly in the course of trying to find specific people I wanted to talk to and failing miserably).

As usually happens with me, I didn't go to any of the programming. For those who might be interested, though, there were slash vids at the con--a grand total of four. But whether that had to do with a lack of interest or a sort of informal protest from those who were doing slash vids, I have no idea.

There seemed to be a great number of new zines in different fandoms. I certainly spent more on zines this year than I did last year. I even found someone who had a good sized SHE-WOLF OF LONDON zine--and news that Universal/SciFi Channel wants to do a new movie for it with original cast! I'm tickled!

I did realise one thing about myself that I am not totally comfortable with: I have passed well beyond the point of fannish butterfly or slash slut. I *am* the Whore of Babylon 1 through 5. In short, I sold my soul to the devil: I bought 3--count 'em, 3!--Sentinel zines. Someone shoot me, please! (I don't even *like* this show!!!!)

The really suprising thing for me was that there weren't more HL things out. One or two D/M stories in a couple of multi-medias and one novel, but that's it. Sentinel fever seemed to have taken a firm hold. And there were few pics of Methos, though at least one of the dealers who had HL shirts, etc., said that she didn't have anything because she had been completely wiped out from Syndicon the weekend before. So, all my friends went to Syndicon and I *didn't* even get this lousy t-shirt! :-)

Oh, and speaking of Methos, anyone know how much the double portrait from Karen River ended up going for?[5] It was the one with his modern day, Adam Pierson persona and a larger shot of him in the face paint. Very nice, very well done and I was immensely curious how much it was going to go for.

So, all in all a fun weekend. I now have the mandatory post-con case of larengitis/cold. Reviews should be forthcoming as soon as I plow through everything and pick something I really want to write about. I do want to say to any DS fans that I definitely recommend DUE FRISKY 4 for the long story in it. It's the sequel to the 'strip-poker' stories in DF 1 (which many might recall I didn't particularly care for), but I really enjoyed this story, especially the characterisation of Fraser at guard duty. The only problem I had with it was that there came a point when I was starting to get slightly annoyed with her style of lots of really short sentences and sentence fragments. But not enough for me to not enjoy the story. And at $4, it definitely made it worth the cost of the zine. [6]
"Well.....In spite of everything, I had a good time.

Music Videos -

Was there a slash vid contest? no.

Were there slash vids at the convention? yes. Mine were the only ones.

Did they get shown? yes. Friday night at 1:30 am. Saturday at 11:50 pm (they were supposed to be shown at midnight, but they were early) and again an hour and a half later at about 1:30 am. They were supposed to be shown Sunday at 2:50 am, but I wasn't there to see it (and I wonder how many people were).

When Sheryl A. (the person running the music video contest) announced that there were slash videos to the opening crowd of about 30 people, maybe more, it was warmly received....

I found out from one slash vidder that she wasn't partonizing MWC because she was told (by what member of the con com, I do not know) "we don't want your [slash] vids here" so she hasn't been back. The reason for the lack of slash vids seems to be because no slash vidders (beside myself) went to the convention. Whether other slash vidders were requested not to bring slash videos in previous years, I have no idea.

Panels -

I do go to panels in fandoms I'm interested in or slash panels.

At the Starsky & Hutch (gen) panel, we introduced ourselves. The thrid person mentioned "I got into slash..." and from then on, almost everyone mentioned slash. There was only one 'non-slash' fan in the whole room...It was a wonderful feeling......

The "fannish music video" panel on Saturday turned into a 'how do you do this' sort of free for all. I hope it helped the new vidders.

The "romantic slash" panel talked mostly about fandoms that generate more romantic stories, such as Starsky & Hutch and Uncle.

The Starsky & Hutch slash panel on Sunday was about slash and producing zines. I enjoyed listening to the trials and tribulations of trying to get graphic homoerotic art printed as well as the 'in the old days' stories.

Other events -

The STIFFie Awards were handed out on Sunday morning. I was pleased at the turn out and the new fandoms that made it on the ballot. I was disapointed that some older fandoms didn't get on the ballot (Starsky & Hutch was not represented), but I realize that they may not have received nominations. (there's a line about glass houses and stones that's appropriate, as I didn't nominate anything]. As I KNOW that I will not be going back to MWC, I wonder why slash awards are giving out at a gen con?

One thing I missed that I would have loved to have seen was the Mystery Uncle Theater 3000 put on by Bingo and her gang (sorry, I don't know the other people's names). [I was waiting until the end of the music video contest (which was 6 hours long!) to see the reaction to my newest slash vids.] I did catch the last 10 or 15 minutes and loved what I saw. I was told that the show was taped, so hopefully, I can see it sometime..... right Bingo??

Why was I there -

The main reason I went to Media West was to catch up with people I've been talking on line with and we all managed to meet. It was wonderful to put faces to names. I went to the parties for the fandoms that I follow and enjoyed sitting around talking, watching music vids and episodes...... [7]
Friday the 23rd of May 1997

Breakfast (continental) was served in the lobby, because the recreation room (which I discovered later was the usual place for it) was unusable due to the renovations. Freshly toasted bagels and cream cheese is a very pleasant way to start the day (bagels and cream cheese is NOT an Australian tradition). And who did we meet but Beth Friedman!

Con registration didn't open until after ten, but the queue had started forming a while before. Then when I got to the front of my A-F line, they didn't have my badge because I was supposed to go to the dealer's room for it, because I was a dealer. So there I went, and there it was, and a star was placed upon it, to indicate that I was a dealer. The badge person pointed out the table she said was ours (Judith Proctor, Patricia Roberts and I), but I wasn't sure, since it was all covered over with a drop cloth, and the programme said that we were table #60, and I figured out that this was table #77. So I peeked in one of the boxes, and it had The Way Back in it, and I thought well, maybe this is the table - and then a tall woman in an Avon costume came up and queried - "Kathryn A#######?" This was Judith P######. Tall (well, taller than me, which isn't saying much) with straight dark blonde/light brown hair - and of course the English accent.

So I went back to the Howard Johnson and retrieved the zines (mostly Refractions 3 & 4) and came back and started setting up.

Costume note: my costume for the day was my pseudo-minbari costume, blue satin blousy pants and sleeveless top, with long silver sleeveless jacket (which is reversable - with the pink side out it is my "Bimbari" costume - see my yet-to-be-written con report on the Parliament of Dreams convention.)

Since I had finished setting up, and we were waiting for Patricia, I wandered around the dealers' room, looking at what else was there. Being in the reckless start-of-the-con I-want-to-buy-things mood, when I spotted a table with Stingray zines, I bought all five that were there, since I had never seen nor heard of anyone doing Stingray zines before, and I am very fond of that show. Chatted with Laurie there about Stingray, mentioned the Stingray cameo in "Voice From The Past" in Refractions #3 (c'mon, what sort of a story is it that crosses B5 and Highlander and also manages to get in a Stingray cameo? Well, you'll have to judge for yourself...)

I saw a table covered with photos, including an autographed photo of Peter Wingfield (Methos in Highlander), but no-one was at the table, so I couldn't buy it. I hoped that no-one would buy it before I managed to come back for it when there was someone at the table, but my hope was not large.

I dashed over the road to get more money from the ATM (buying five Stingray zines had lowered my cash reserves) and when I returned there was a line of people waiting to get in to the dealers room, since it was nearly opening time. Patricia Roberts had arrived and was setting up in the middle of the table while Judith was moving her zines closer together so as to free up more space. Pat was still setting up when the hordes descended.

Someone said later, that most fen buy 50% of their stuff in that first rush. In breathing spaces, I did some buying of my own - from those what I was sharing the table with! They had things I wanted too.

In a lull, I took my leave and dashed back to the table where I had seen the autographed photo - and it was still there! The lady said she had three of them. So I bought one, and returned to the table, floating. (Which nobody noticed, because they were busy!)

Judith was organised enough to have bananas, bread, cheese and peanut butter, which she shared for lunch. Every now and then, one of us would have a break and wander.

The Avon Without Guilt party was at 4pm. Judith and I were the only ones in costume. She was still in her Avon costume, and I had unbraided my hair and put on the linked-chain head-dress that I had bought at ConFrancisco in '93. Posed with Beth Friedman. Someone commented that I looked like Verlis (the slave trader in Assassin) and as the Avon costume that Judith was wearing was indeed the one that Avon had worn in that episode, we decided to pose for a photo. She was on her knees and I held her arms behind her back and pulled her head back. People started talking about blackmail opportunities, but we were laughing so much we didn't care. I met many people whose names were familiar, though the faces, of course, were not. One fellow came in late wearing a Star Trek uniform, so we screamed out "Federation!" at him, and then had to explain the joke.

After the party was over, we went back to the dealers room until it closed. Before then, I dashed to the table across the way and bought some con photos of Paul and Janet (you know who I mean) and then when Judith saw "Roads Not Travelled" in the 2nd-hand zine box there, I had a look too, and found a couple there that I wanted. I also went to Karen River's table, which was directly behind us, and bought some prints, and saw the lady herself. Strangely enough, I had assumed she was a brunette, but real life declared she was a blonde.

Russ McMillan came by during the day and picked up her 'tribber's copy of Refractions #3, and I got her to sign my personal copy of the zine. Sandra McDonald came by one of the times when I was off - arrgh! That's the second time I've missed her. She picked up her 'tribbers copy also. But she was, apparently on a table nearby, so there was hope that we would meet this time.

Then when the dealers room was shut, I wandered around the hotel looking for and at a number of room dealers. I found the Richie Forever party half way through. Though there weren't lots of people there, had a nice chat, and discovered to my chagrin something about the last episode that I didn't want to know!

I found a few more buys in the dealers rooms, and chatted to people, and it was dark by the time I returned across the road.

Saturday

Costume note: Wore the Avon/Tarrant costume today. Appropriate considering the Tea For Tarrant party was today. Had the Silver Alpha top on underneath the jacket, and changed from one to the other as the ambient temperature and comfort decreed.

I was the first at our table at the dealer's room, though it had already been open for half an hour. Ah, the parties, that would be it...

Finally got to meet Sandra McDonald when the others came, and she was at her table diagonally behind ours. I got her to sign my copy of Refractions #3, I bought a copy of Highland Blades #2 and got her to sign her story there, and Cindy Hudson was there and signed hers too.

I got the good idea of leaving a message at the voodoo board for Anne Smith, because her reserved copy was the only one of #3 left - that one had been attracting attention because of the cover.

Then, then, Jean Curley finally found me! We had been exchanging notes via the voodoo board, and she said she would come by. She had the Buffy tape for me, and had arranged (after our exchange of notes) for my video clips (which she had converted to NTSC) to be shown in the fan video program (but not entered, it was too late).

Then Anne Smith did arrive, but not before someone was eyeing her copy, so he paid for it, in case she didn't show, and when he returned, he would either collect it, or pay the extra for me to post him a copy when I returned home. So I then put out my copy as a display copy in case people wanted to order it.

When I went to check when my video was supposed to show, they were running late as expected, so we figured we'd pop in to the Tea For Tarrant first, dash down to look at it, and then dash back. Well, we did, but we were late and only caught the end of the third (and last) clip. But someone in the small audience asked who did the clips and Mary jumped up and said "She's here!" and pointed at me, and there was a small bit of applause. (grin) "The Traveller" (the Dr. Who one) seems to be the one that people have liked the most.

At the Tea For Tarrant, there were more people in costume this time, but still most people were in the standard fannish T-shirts. I was in my Avon/Tarrant outfit (with both Liberator and Scorpio teleport bracelets so that I could be schitzo), Judith was in her Blake outfit (with Gareth's shirt) and Mary was in her Cally outfit (the one with the white quilted shoulder pieces and slit all the way up the front and dark green underneath). Here's a picture. I can't remember whose idea it was for the next picture, but after yesterday, well, turnabout is fair play. The guy who was in Federation uniform yesterday arrived dressed as Bobba Fett. There were also two heavily armed rebels who had outfitted themselves from the Acme corporation. So, yes, we did some photo posing, this time an Avon-stands-over-Blake's body scene (the two rebels playing guards and me pointing a borrowed gun into nowhere). I hope they actually got poor Judith as she was lying on the floor!

One of the rebels was a fellow Aussie, Alison Glover, who had been better organised than I, and brought some Aussie food; some Furry Friends chocolate bars, and a small jar of vegimite. I had packed some TimTams to bring, but I had left them (kicks self) in the freezer in LA.

Someone had brought their pet ferret in, and he was being cuddled by various people. There were also things on the video, most notably a copy of the B7 blooper reel, which one couldn't hear the sound on because of the ambient noise level in the room.

Judith's voice was gone today, though at times it rallied, but at other times she was scribbling away in a notebook. It's all because (a) she has asthma (b) medication with steriods does her voice in (c) if her voice gets done in, and she talks too much before it is completely recovered, she loses it again. And of course one is going to talk at a convention! The problem exacerbates itself when one is trying to talk over a background murmur to make oneself heard.

Jean Curley peeped in to the Tea For Tarrant to see how the videos had gone, and we asked if we could borrow the tape so we could actually see the whole thing, and Jean suggested we go to her room right then and watch it, so Mary and Judith and I did.

We had a bit of a look at the door decorations, I think it was at this point, or at some point between the Tea For Tarrant and the plays. One door had a Dalek with an imperative talk-bubble saying "Reduce! Reuse! Recycle!" Jean Curley was one of the group responsible for the Due South door-group.

Then we went our separate ways, and I finally found room 369 open, and I bought 3 zines there - Works of Steele and the first two Relativity zines, figuring I could buy more of the Relativity zines later when I got home, if I liked the first two. I had got over my zine-feeding-frenzy by then, you see. In deciding which ones to get, I of course chatted to the editor. Relativity is a universe of its own, which crosses over Remington Steele, Scarecrow & Mrs King, Equalizer and a bunch of other shows I don't know, by making certain of the characters related to each other. It was concieved and is "owned" by one person, but others have written stories set there. There is a timeline and a family tree all laid out, and the latest volume is #6 (!).

Then I stepped across the hall to #370, the place with the ID badges, and dithered over which ones to get. Overall, over the weekend, I think I got too many of them, but it was such a fun idea...

Then I returned to the table in the dealers' room, and I can't quite remember when this was, but the tale unfolds that Mary had been accosted by the organiser of the Masquerade because she was in costume, and pressed to enter, so either she or Judith thought it would be a good idea for all three of us to enter as a group (Blake, Avon, Cally) and I was game (much more comfortable to make fool of self in company) and Judith came up with this funny script (with suggestions from others) for the MC to read out and for us to act to.

Our original plan was to have tea at 6, but with the Masquerade, the rehersal was supposed to be at 6ish, so if we were to get any dinner at all, we would have to have it before then. So it was about 5:30 that we started for dinner in the hotel restaurant (it being closer). When we finished it was about 6:30, and we wandered back and forth trying to find the rehersal, but the only rehersal we found was the play rehersal. So we tried to find the fellow in charge of the masquerade. We did eventually find him, and he tracked down the MC and we ran through it in a quiet corner.

The plays were at 7pm, and were funny. First Xena/X-Files - though Mary had to explain some of the jokes to us non-North American residents. Then the Darkside Story (a musical based on Westside Story). R2D2 was played by a lass in a motorized wheelchair, with a "This Space For Rent" notice taped on the back. Obi Wan decked out in blue Christmas lights was the narrator - though the lights went out after their inital glow and wouldn't come back on again; "I sense a disturbance in the Force". Luke Skywalker singing "Oh Leia! I've just found my sister is Leia!" wouldn't get out of my mind even after the convention. Then follwed the "out-takes you will never see from the Star Wars trilogy" which was very funny too. "Use the fork, Luke." "...holding Vader's leash" Xena versus Darth Vader I tried to take photos, but too many people's heads got in the way for them to be very good. The singing in the musical was, as is usual, more enthusiastic than operatic, but hey, it's just for fun.

The plays only took a bit over an hour, so we went to the B7 discussion after that and Judith kept on trying to talk when she shouldn't, but it's very hard to participate in such a discussion when you can't interrupt people, or should I say, interject. And there was much to be said, for it got into Blake and Avon, and Star One, and leadership, who was lucky and who was foolish...

That finished at 9pm and I dashed up to see if my badges were ready, and some of them were, but they'd mis-spelt my surname on the one that had my surname on it - as I've said before, people seem to suffer from selective dyslexia with regard to ANDERSEN - it had been written down correctly, but the person who actually did the badge had translated it to ANDERSON without thinking. So I took the opportunity to change it to something else instead.

Then I went back down and we chatted, and took another look at the art show (Judith had fallen in love with a cool picture of Joe Dawson, and she's never seen Highlander; she just likes older men...) and we chatted a bit more, then lined up for the masquerade and chatted to our fellow masqueraders.

Now, the problem with being in the masquerade is that you can't see the masquerade, being hidden behind everything and not able to look out because we would be seen. So I don't know what the acts were, though I did see the costumes. Most impressive was the gargoyle (complete with grey wings) and one whose title escapes me, but the lady was in a long robe with a medieval-looking hat, a bead head-dress, embroidery and cross-stitch over the robe - it was beautiful in detail and also from a distance, and she deservedly won best of show, as well as best detail work. We, amazingly enough, considering the judge said "I don't like Blake's 7 but I have a warped sense of humor" won the funniest act.

Here is the script: Title: Blake's 7, the truth. "In Blake's 7, there was never any sex on screen, thus fans have been left in ignorance as to what actually went on after dark. Was Avon sleeping with Cally? (Cally drapes self over Avon) Or was it Blake she really fancied? (Blake & Cally smoulder) Or are the slash fans right after all? (Avon mimes shock, horror. I don't know what Blake was doing since I had my back turned.) Of course the truth actually is - (Announcer claps hand to head in agony as she is glared at, telepathed at and shot at) There was no sex on the Liberator. None at all. Not once. Never! (As Blake, Cally and Avon leave the stage arm in arm) (sarcastically) Oh, yeah, right!"

Since I didn't see the others, I don't know what our competition was. There was a cute cute cute little toddler dressed up as Xena: Warrior Babe. There was a pirate and his prize... there were ten entries all together.

After the bows and the photos, we started wending our way away, but got caught up in discussion with other fen.

Sunday

After the late night, woke up late. The costume of the day was my second-season Delenn costume, complete with head-bone, which I made for Parliament of Dreams. It isn't a duplicate of one of her costumes, but it is in the same style, just different colours. The head-bone, if worn too long, gives one a headache, so I didn't wear it all the time. Mary and Judith both wore Avon costumes. And later we thought we'd pose for anger meets serenity.

Again, spent the morning at the table, chatting, and selling the occassional zine. This day I managed to get rid of all but one, a copy of Quizine #2 which Annie Hamilton had sent me to sell, but though I tried, even on Monday no-one was buying, so I came home with it, alas.

I dashed out at a quarter after 12 to go to The Pretender panel, and interjected comments along with everyone else. The theories were flying thick and fast. They referred to episodes I hadn't seen, but fortunately I had seen the final episode while I was staying in LA, so I wasn't as badly off as I might have been, considering the revelations that were in that episode.

Judith then dashed off to attend the Stiffies awards (slash awards) and came back happy that Val Westal had won the best B7 art award. So of course she put the certificate on top of the Adult art folder. (Judith was selling prints of Val's work, adult in one folder, gen in another.)

Great thing about meeting people at cons - Linda Knights is now my US agent. Beth Friedman didn't want to do it any more, and I was wondering if I should bother at all, but Judith suggested Linda, and we talked and everyone was happy. Now it just awaits me to re-lay out #3 and #4.

Every now and then through the afternoon, one of us would go to Registration to see if our Masquerade certificates were ready, but they weren't.

At 3:30ish, Judith and I went to the last half of the crossovers panel. Judith was sticking up her hand to talk, and I noticed that other people started doing that too. Interesting psychological phenomenon...

At 5pm the FanQ awards were supposed to be given out, but that was cancelled because the person in charge of the counting wasn't there. They put up a notice later as to who had won. All I remember was that Gambit 14 won the best B7 zine, and Karen River the best artist (as if the result for best artist could be any different - yawn). So Judith and Mary and I went to the Fandom & The Internet panel instead. Alara Rogers kept on piping up from the back of the room, and of course various issues were raised about what was better, and the problems of plagiarism and pirating, editing and the lack of editing, ease of reading, curling up with a zine, instant gratification, and moderation (as in Mailing-List moderation) and the lack of it.

After that, we agreed to meet back in an hour, and Mary and I wandered the corridors of the 3rd and 4th floors, looking at room dealers and decorated doors, while Judith went to the "Going 'Pro'" panel. Mary & I found a couple of rooms with 2nd-hand B7 zines, and among other things, I ummed over a copy of "A Companion For My Death" because the cover was so great, but there was adult content - which I didn't want. I bought it when Mary - who had read it before - said she would give me a list of what portions to avoid. Yep, I voluntarily would censor a story.

When we met up again, Judith told us that Susan Matthews (fan gone pro, whose door we had found in our wanderings) was at the panel, and that the best advice there was to go to (Lit) cons, because you meet with pro authors there - contacts, you see.

The art auction was to start at 7pm, but we decided to avoid the rush into it, so that we wouldn't be tempted to bid on things (particularly that Joe Dawson that both Judith and I had liked) and also because we would get the hotel restaurant practically to ourselves because everyone would be at the auction. We could always peek in on it later, we thought. We never did.

As we went up to the restaurant, who should be there in front of us but Pat Roberts, Barbara Teichert, and Nancy D., so we decided to make a party of six rather than two parties of three. "Three, sorry, make that six." "Any raises on six?" "I dunno, can you see anyone else coming?" And Barbara decided she would treat us all. So we ordered our dinners - after some explaining and translation of food terms for the non-North-American contingent - I wanted to know what scallions were, and Judith wanted to know what a tortilla basket was. So the conversation went from differing food terms, to regional foods, food customs, electoral systems (we did have people there from four different countries), then more food differences because we were ordering dessert. For that, we ended up getting three dishes which everyone tasted; peanut cheesecake, amaretto cheesecake, and lime sherbert. The lime sherbert was quite a bright green, but it tasted nice.

We went from comparative electoral systems to education systems, and then another group sat at the table next to us, and as they were a bit noisy, we decided to remove to Barbara's room, since we didn't want to strain Judith's voice.

Then the discussion turned from real to unreal education systems, specifically, what kind of a degree would Avon have had? Did they have non-medical doctors? (yes, Dr. Plaxton) How was the grading system worked out? Who were the Outsiders? (One suggestion was that perhaps more than just being escapees from the Domes, they might be religious, hence the threat of death for associating with them.) What about religion in the Federation? How come Blake knew so much historical trivia? (One suggestion: Blake was a folk-song buff.) How did Jenna become a free trader? And what did happen to her mother? (One suggestion: she was made an example of by the Terra Nostra by throwing her to the Federation legal system, hence the vision of Fed troopers hitting Jenna's mother.) What was the event which marked the start of the New Calendar, and if there was an atomic war when was it, and not forgetting the destruction of the churches, and were these events all related and did they happen close to the same time? (Judith thought the end of the war was the start of the New Calendar, I felt the war probably happened much earlier.) Also tossed in was Star One and Blake, weather control and traffic control and whether the Andromedans were shutting things down or interfering precisely and with malice. Counter-tossed-in by Judith was Avon and Killer. Someone suggested that Gan was given a limiter not because he was completely psycho, but because he was immune to the suppressant drugs. Another suggestion - the Outsiders could have been a source of black-market non-drugged food.

Anyway, a long interesting discussion there was, full of interruptions, digressions, theories and quotations, which went on until we realized that some of us had to get to bed because they were leaving in the morning! But that just meant that the conversation drifted out into the hall, becoming a long goodbye.

Monday the 26th of May 1997 - the last day

This day was quiet and not particularly eventful. Everyone had run out of money, nobody wanted to buy anything, a number of people had gone already, and many more were departing. After noon, people started packing up, and after two, everyone was packing up.

We tracked down Andre, and the masquerade certificates were finally there. And they spelt my name right! They even spelt "humour" Britishly on Mary's and Judith's, though Americanly on mine.

Mary was stuck in the lobby trying to ring Canada and getting no answer. Others of us helped Judith take things to Donna's car. Then we helped Karen River to pack up.

Then it was time for Judith and Donna to depart for Denver.

Hugs goodbye.

Badge removed.

End of convention! [8]
[much much snipped] Mary O'Connor as Avon I spent a lot of Friday in the dealer's room and sold a fair number of zines, especially Jabberwocky. Most people bought the set, but about a third bought to fill gaps in their collection, so I was quite glad I'd made the decision to publish in sections to help people reduce duplication. (Many people bought just part 14 and/or the adult stories - that was something I'd anticipated) The surprise sells of this con were Star Three, which had a Fan-Q nomination (the zine had presumably been impossible to get from Peg Kennedy) and The Other Side of the Coin. I'd greatly underestimated how many Americans had The Totally Imaginary Cheeseboard, but not its sequel. I'll just have to remember to take more next time...

I missed a lot of the panels (which covered a wonderful range of fandoms and topics) because I was busy in the dealers' room, but I did go to one on researching actor's credits. That was quite interesting even if rather US based for my purposes. It's amazing what people can come up with in the way of theatre reviews, old photos etc. once they begin looking hard. There was some very solid information from people who had had a lot of practice in credit tracing. Some useful tips that I noted down:- When looking in photo collections, look under the names of better known actors from the same program. There are often several people in a photo and your guy may not be the one it's catalogued under. There are many publications that reference libraries may own that list theatre performances of years past, there are indexes to periodicals, your actor may be listed in Who's Who, theatres sometimes keep photos from past productions, local newspapers may have pictures/reviews, local photographers may have taken photos of their own, the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) sell old photos, there's a shop in London called 'Dress Circle' that sells old play bills etc., many actors record audio books, agents may provide career resumes, there are magazines that specialise in theatre memorabilia and they may have useful adverts, and hotbot is reccomended as a search engine on the web.

Collected a fair number of outstanding zine orders from Peg Kennedy and managed to fill in a lot of the missing ones from second-hand boxes. Mediawest is a wonderful con for buying and selling second-hand zines. Many people leave their bedroom doors open and sell zines out of their rooms....

Went to the 'Avon Without Guilt' party in the afternoon and caught up with many old friends and made a few new ones. Good food, good company, who could ask for more? One poor fellow wandered in from outside dressed in Star Trek costume and was greeted with shouts of 'Federation!'. I enjoyed the party, although I couldn't join in very much. The voice was pretty low, and I had to drag people into a quiet corner if I wanted to be able to talk to them. I was dressed as Avon and Kathryn Andersen had an outfit reminiscent of Verliss (the slave dealer on Domo) We staged a suitable pose for the cameras. It has been suggested that if I pay sufficient blackmail, maybe copies won't be circulated......

Went to a filk writing session in the evening. That proved to be a bad mistake. I turned out to be the only person there with any filk writing experience and thus ended up talking too much and being reduced almost to a whisper. A filk session followed afterwards, but I left before too long, it was simply too depressing not being able to join in. I avoided all filk sessons for the rest of the con. Even the concertina wasn't enough to lift me out of that particular doldrum....

Conversed in notes for part of the morning as the voice was very bad. Left me feeling rather alienated as people never stop to chat for long when you can't talk back to them. Sold more zines. Voice picked up a bit later in the day. Went to the Tea For Tarrant. I was dressed as Blake... I think Kathryn was Avon this time. - I remember now, she had the black leather tunic that both Avon and Tarrant wore and a Liberator bracelet and a Scorpio bracelet, so that she could be either Avon or Tarrant at any given moment. I seem to recall a photoshoot of Blake trying to kill Avon... Another good party. They were playing music vids, but the sound wasn't working for some arcane reason. I must confess I was rather pleased by this as it kept the sound level to a point where it made it possible for me to talk. Half-way through we were raided by two guerillas who held us up with a wonderful collection of home-made weapons. (Alison and Kat, I think)...

In the evening, there was the Blake's 7 discussion session. Apparantly some years this is good and some years, it just fizzles out. This year, it was good. A guy came in and commented on Terry Nation's death and how much we all owed to his writing and character development etc. I pointed out that B7 actually owed as much to Chris Boucher who did an enormous amount of work on all the first season scripts and then we were all off discussing the source of the darker influences in B7 and soon after that we were off onto Star One and the morality of that, and a good argument was generally had by all. It can be very frustrating when other people can interrupt you, but you are unable to interrupt back again (Trying to talk louder than somebody else is a mug's game in my condition). People were pretty good about letting me get a word in edgeways when I stuck my hand in the air, but it did take a while for everyone to get used to it. It's hard for twenty people to all be quiet at the same time. Most people are unaware of how much they interrupt in the course of a normal conversation, and I did find it rather frustrating as the only thing I can do when interrupted is to shut up and wait until the other person has finished talking. Still, like I said, it was a good session and you can cover ground face-to-face than would take a month on-line. It's far more stimulating.

In the evening, Kathryn, Mary and I, went to see the plays. These were an absolute scream. Star Wars, the Musical, performed to music taken from West Side Story. I can't describe it all now, but suffice it to say that Karen River made a wonderful Jabba the Hutt, dressed up in a green shower curtain and rubber gloves! This was followed by a series of out-takes that never happened. Wonderful! I wish I'd been able to take notes. I distinctly recall Luke Skywaler having trouble eating his stew, and a voice from off-stage whispering, 'Use the fork, Luke'. Then there was the one where Darth Vader strangled the director with mental force until his lines were written the way he wanted them, and Obi-Wan saying, 'You will write it this way...', and the director going off in a huff and muttering, 'Never work with Jedi Knights'.

Next, the Masquerade. As we were in it, we never got to see the other entrants on stage, but we did get to chat with them round the back. A wide range from a woman with the most beautiful embroidered gown, to a soldier with lipstick on his face....

Next day, Sunday, I took in the Stiffie awards. I didn't win anything myself, but I don't mind being beaten by a good story. Much to my delight, Val Westall won a Stiffie for her art, so I collected it to take back home for her. (I missed Val - I've got used to going round cons with her.) Went to a panel on Fanzines and the Internet which was very interesting. I'd never before considered the fact that a web-zine has an ongoing cost to maintain it. There was a fair balance of opinions all around the subject, the main worry of people who didn't post stuff to the web seemed to be the worry that their writing might be claimed or altered by other people. There were also comments on the pros and cons of the rapid feedback possible on the net....

I attended an interesting session on starting writing professionally. It was a small session, and when Susan Matthews (who had ended up running the session) realised that she couln't hear me clearly from behind the table, she very kindly moved round to the front. (Incidentally, she says that a reprint of 'Mind of A Man' may not be barred for all time. She thinks her agent may relax a bit in the future. There's a hope that she could use the material in a pro novel in some way, but as Susan said, the story is so tied into the situation of Gauda Prime that it would seem impossible to adapt it to any other universe.) She recommended a book called 'The Career Novelist' by David Maass. She also recommended writers workshops and SF cons as good places to meet people and added that it was best to have a manuscript in hand rather than just an idea for one. Her new professional novel is called 'An Exchange of Hostages'. The bit I browsed looked good.

At various points in the con, I met people taking place in the Star Wars blaster battle. This a fairly large scale live role-playing game played out in fancy-dress all over the con. There were some excellent outfits. Princess Leia tried to explain some of the rules to me. Some of it seemed to be based on common sense and some on skill ratings. Each player had a card with their details.

I didn't win anything in the Fan Qs either (Star Three was nominated), but if I'm going to be beaten by another zine, I can't think of a better one to be beaten by than Gambit 14. That was quite possibly the best issue of the entire Gambit series.

Kathryn, Mary and I made a collective decision to avoid the art auction and to have tea while everyone else was at the auction. Barbara, Pat and Nancy apparantly had the same idea and we all ended up eating together and having a really interesting conversation comparing the educational and political systems of four different countries. I'd never realised they were all so different. We got onto food and language differences and the joys of trying to describe things like bread when terms like granary and wholemeal and cornflour have very fluctuating meanings as you cross oceans. It got quite entertaining as two out of the four nationalities present would suddenly find they had a word in common, only to have the ground shift as we got onto another term.

After we'd finished eating and a group moved onto the next table (pushing the noise level beyond my ability to cope with) we moved upstairs to Nancy's room. We got into a long and fascinating discussion on education within the Federation, the grading systems and how they might operate, and how underground religious groups might have existed. I really enjoyed this. I think the best parts of cons are the informal discussions. You can never tell when or where you'll get one of these in-depth sessions, they just require the right combination of people in the right mood, and then they take off. Sometimes, you never get them, and sometimes panel discussions hit the same level. It's all a matter of luck. [9]

References

  1. MediaWest*Con 17 - Anne Collins Smith, Archived version and Memorial Day Weekend 1997 -- Excerpts from Convention Report by Anne Collins Smith, Archived version
  2. A fan's convention report in Southern Enclave #48 (1997).
  3. A fan's convention report in Southern Enclave #48 (1997).
  4. Favorite Con Moments dated July 16, 2004; reference link.
  5. Another attendee later reported that it sold for $150.
  6. In 1997, Michelle Christian posted a con report to the Virgule-L mailing list. It is quoted here with permission.
  7. Stacey D a review of the convention to the Virgule-L mailing list. It is quoted with permission.
  8. MediaWest*Con #17 by Kathryn A., Archived version
  9. see the much, much longer report at Blake's 7 - Mediawest con May 1997 by Judith Proctor, Archived version
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