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Some Facts About the 1995 Convention
- The slogan: "Find the Formula for Fannish Fun! Where E = Eminently Engrossing and Engagingly Educational Event for an Elite Ensemble of Exceptionally Enterprising Entertainment Enthusiasts."
- Contact info: "If you get the answering machine & want a return call placed, clearly state your name, phone number ~with area code!- & best time for you to receive a collect call. For strictly convention-related matters, we can be reached on e-mail through America On Line as MdiaWstCon and through the Internet as firstname.lastname@example.org. Check with your service for its specific addressing requirements!"
- There were 900 attendees (there was a waiting list). Membership fee was $40.
- There were 78 dealers' tables.
- Fans needed a photo I.D. to pick up their con packets and register. This was done so "we may verify that you are entitled to membership materials, and to ensure that your membership materials are not given to someone else by mistake."
- From the second progress report: "The recent film adaptation of The Shadow reminds us that many science fiction and other media characters that we are more familiar with in context of television and film have, at one time or another, led another existence on radio. So, in recognition of the debt we Media fen owe this overlooked broadcast medium, we have declared that MediaWest*Con IS is RADIO-ACTIVE!... We hope to set up a Radio Room as a relaxing area to sit and listen to tapes of radio broadcasts, both classic and modern. We are currently planning to use the Party Suite for this purpose during the periods when no parties are scheduled. We hope to include a Radio Room schedule in the Program Book, so let us know what radio shows you'd like to hear (dueling Wars of the Worlds?), and any you can supply tapes of."
- Regarding camcorders and closed circuit TV: "Anyone wishing to videotape MediaWest*Con panels or activities should register this intent at con registration. This is so that you will be aware of what few restrictions apply, and so that we can refer anyone interested in obtaining copies of taped events to you. We also would appreciate copies of any taping that is done, for the MediaWest*Con archives. As we received little response in favor of continuing the live video hook-up on the Holiday Inn South closed-circuit TV system, we will most likely discontinue it However, we are still looking for volunteers to videotape during plays, Masquerade, awards, etc."
- From the third progress report: "From Bill and Ann Hupe: In PR2 we noted that their friend was presumed to have been killed in the recent earthquake in Japan; happily, Hiroki survived after being trapped under a bookcase for two weeks, in a space created when her fanzines fell off a shelf!"
- from the second progress report: "Lori and Gordon are still actively seeking to sign up anyone with a working, standard telephone line, a Hayes or Hayes-compatible modem, and a compatible computer who would like to try AOL free for 10 hours. If that fits you, let us know what computer system you have (PC or Mac), and give us your name, address, phone number, and baud rate and we'll send you a free sample kit What's in it for us? If you decide to stay with AOL, we get 5 hours credit!"
- from the third progress report, regarding pets: "Although "normal" hotel policy excludes pets, we again have written confirmation that MediaWest*Con 15attendees staying at the hotel will be permitted to have their pets accompany them! All the overflow hotels have also stated that pets will be allowed. We are making special arrangements for designated dog-walking areas (and clean-up equipment) at the Holiday Inn South, and will provide a no-questions-asked clean-up kit upon request for the duration of the convention. For those staying at an overflow hotel, please be certain to pick up after your pets, in order to ensure that pets will be welcome in the future.... The hotels ask cat owners to bring along an old towel to spread out on the floor under/around the litter box. It keeps things a lot neater and easier to clean up, which the maids would probably appreciate. On a related note, even if you think your dog or cat is perfectly well-behaved, please defer to the owner of another dog or cat if s/he would rather your pet didn't get too close. And remember, all animals must be leashed or or otherwise under control at all times."
- 1995 MediaWest*Con information was offered for the first time online.
Fan Q Awards
For specifics, see 1995 FanQ Awards.
SkitFrom the third progress report:
In keeping with this year's theme, we are doing radio-style plays.
Casting, for the most part, will be for voices. We will also need technical assistants (lights, sound FX, etc).
Michael Emond has written two short plays. Parts include 2 "Children" (seen on stage), 3 Reporters (1 British), Farmer, a Superhero (male), Villain (with German accent), & his flunky. Contact him by e-mail or home [addresses redacted].Gordon is working on a parody of Star Trek Generations and, for reasons beyond his control, it's another MUSICAL! Singing: Guinan, Enterprise-B Captain, Kirk, Mr. Scott, Mr. Chekov, Rand Jr., Uhura Jr., Chorus, Soran, Picard, Lursa, B'Etor, Picard's Kids, Mrs. Picard; non-singing (this may change, as it is a work-in-progress): Riker, Worf, Troi, Computer, Geordie, Data, Dr. Crusher. Musical accompaniment/assistance is also sought Contact Gordon for details. Odds are Gordon will do Kirk and/or Picard.
- Carolyn Golledge: an Australian fan, active in many fandoms, and a previous MediaWest*Con attendee.
- Jeanne McClure: a North Carolina fan, active in many fandoms, and a previous MediaWest*Con attendee.
- Nancy Williams: a Florida new fan who recently attended her first convention.
Party Suite and Other Gatherings
The party suite:
- From the third progress report -- The Radio Room: "We also hope to set up a Radio Room as a relaxing area to sit and listen to tapes of radio broadcasts, both classic and modern. We are currently planning to use the Party Suite for this purpose during the periods when no parties are scheduled. However, if we do not see some greater indication of interest, we will make tapes available for listening in the Con Suite rather than schedule specific programs in the Party Suite. Tapes volunteered so far include BBC Sherlock Holmes mysteries, The Shadow, Adventures of Superman, Dragnet, Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet, and other radio classics. Audiotape programming is provided to creatively further the interests of society through the study of techniques used in radio. Audio tapes are used productively to further interest and self-expression through the aural arts, and we believe this to be a fair usage not intended as any form of copyright infringement."
- From the third progress report: "ATTENTION ALL PROJECT QUANTUM LEAP STAFF: DR BECKETT HAS LEAPED! REPEAT - DR BECKETT HAS LEAPED!!! EMERGENCY STAFF PARTY to be held Sunday, May28,1995, in the MW*C Party Suite. BYOLT&B (Bring your own laptop and beverage). GAMES!!! PRIZES!!!! SILLINESS!! Come in your lab-coat, come in your pajamas, come dressed as your favorite character - just come! The briefing will conclude with a presentation of Mystery Quantum Theater 3000 - BLOOD MOON. The BRING SAM HOME AND HAVE CHEEZ DOODLES FUND: Donations of $2 at the door for the snacks will not be mandatory, but will be much appreciated."
- FRIDAY: General Hospital: Just Can't Cope Without Our Soap! Party, Rat Patrol/WWII Fandoms party, Blake's 7 Party, Media Well Done 'Zine Premiere (Chicago Area Tunnel Society)
- SATURDAY: Sherlock Holmes Festival of Consulting Detection, X-Files Fan Club Party, Figure Skating Fan Forum (Freestyle), California Crew 10th Anniversary Party
- SUNDAY: Michaels Family Reunion (Relativity), Quantum Leap Party
- Virgule-L mailing list members hosted another room party, this time publicly adverting it as the "the slashfen list party" to avoid running afoul of its own mailing list rules against public advertising of the list. "The slashlist party is on Saturday night, starting around 8 and going as long as we can stand it. The room number will be announced on the list on Wednesday, as soon as I get a call telling me what it is. There will also be mysterious little notices around the hotel saying WSEWR Party, Saturday, 8, pm in Room xxx. For those mystified by the WSEWR, this is the old list location. No one can identify it with slash." 
- From the third progress report: "X-Files Party in Pat Gonzales' room in Holiday Inn South Friday night, hosted by Pat Gonzales and Betsy Vera. Saturday Night at the "Beauty and the Beast" movies: Open door, free get-together for fans of all aspects of the fable: Cocteau, Disney, TV, stage, etc. Videos and popcorn available. Saturday night 8pm in room 350 Holiday Inn South. Terranova Situation Housewarming: Fans of the Wiseguy novel The Terranova Situation are cordially invited to a gathering Saturday night from 7:30-9pm in [Darlene F] & Ann Teitelbaum's room at the Holiday Inn. Room number will be listed at the con."
- From the second progress report: "STAR WARS Cantina Dance Party - Fri. night 8pm until lam in the Imperial Room. Music, live DJ, dance floor. All are welcome! Come dressed in SW costume and join in our Masquerade Contest Prizes awarded for the following costume categories: Best all-round SW, best SW alien, best SW movie replica, & best original SW. We are looking for donations of prizes and donors will be acknowledged. Dealers who donate prizes can post flyers for their table or room in the Cantina and in our May newsletter. Write to the FOE address below. We are asking for a $3 donation per person toward food, munchies, and beverages. Please RSVP in advance by sending your donation & a SASE to: Forces of the Empire, Pat Grant."
- From the second progress report: "The MediaWest*Con'95 Rat Patrol Party is in the planning stages; time & place to be announced. All Rats & Foxes & other desert vermin are cordially invited - refreshments will be served & Rat Patrol episodes will be shown. The party will also celebrate the debut of our new Rat Patrol fiction 'zine Lines in the Sand #2, which will be accepting submissions of fiction, poetry, & art until 1/30/95; write c/o Mary Platt at the address above."
- From the second progress report: "August Party 20th Anniversary: Aug. 4-6, 1995, $17.01 until 5/31/95, $19.95 thereafter (payable to The August Party); Theme: Star Trek; no guests; Gaithersburg Hilton in Gaithersburg MD (near Washington DC). Contact Rich Kolker."
"Who Knows What E-Mail Lurks In The Hearts Of Fen?"
The rise of electronic communication also gave rise to other challenges for fans regarding differences of opinion, official and unofficial information, freedom of speech, varied communication platforms, and more.
From the 1995 third progress report:
"Who Knows What E-Mail Lurks In The Hearts Of Fen? In PR 3/1 we noted that some individuals were using GEnie, a commercial on-line computer service, to disseminate misinformation concerning MediaWest*Con policies and to make personal attacks against MediaWest*Con staff. At that time, GEnie had shut down its two MediaWest*Con topics within its Science Fiction Round Table 3 (SFRT3).
Most of the response we received was supportive (thank you!). However, we also heard from a few people who apparently think "freedom of speech" should only apply to them (or, at least, not to us). However, facts (such as the content of specific policies or the relative size of hotels) are not matters of "opinion." We still reserve the right to defend MediaWest*Con and its staff from personal attacks, to correct misinformation and debunk false rumors, and to publish whatever information we judge to be relevant to MediaWest*Con and its membership.
Not surprisingly, we heard from Randy Landers and Orion Press; in four separate letters demanding a retraction, they failed to provide any foundation for making such a demand. We also gave Randy the opportunity to provide documentation supporting a number of his specific statements posted on GEnie and elsewhere; he failed to provide any such evidence.
Randy has apparently now fled from GEnie,but has continued to disseminate misinformation concerning MediaWest*Con, including misrepresenting the contents of PR3/1. However, MediaWest*Con is not the only target of Randy's rantings; he has also assailed the venerable Star Trek Welcommittee.
We were also flamed via e-mail by Mary Bloemker (also a GEnie subscriber), with a bizarre series of unsupported and self-contradictory claims and allegations. She did, however, reveal that the false statement she'd posted in the GEnie MediaWest*Con topic claiming that someone with no con function (staff, etc) was "promised" a room reservation for MW*C 15 during MW*C 14 referred to Shirley Maiewski (of Star Trek Welcommittee). In reality, Shirley Maiewski did not ask us to bypass the MW*C 15 hotel reservation request process on her behalf, nor did we bypass it for her.
Since PR 3/1, GEnie has reopened a single MediaWest*Con topic, after arbitrarily deleting a block of earlier postings, apparently without regard to the specific content of each of those individual messages. Those messages which were deleted include incriminating statements made by the SFRT3 chief sysop (system operator). Mary Bloemker has continued to knowingly post misinformation concerning MediaWest*Con, and she and others have continued to violate various GEnie rules and guidelines with apparent impunity. The chief sysop, who herself had previously violated the rules she was supposed to be enforcing, has made private statements which conflict with her public pronouncements regarding the enforcement of GEnie rules in relation to MediaWest*Con.
Our research has found that GEnie has allowed personal attacks against MediaWest*Con to stand from as far back as 1992, and they have not been limited to the MediaWest*Con topic; subjects supposedly forbidden in the MediaWest*Con topic have been allowed, if not encouraged, under other topic headings.In short, we have seen little to indicate that GEnie pays more than lip service to its own rules of conduct, or is likely to in the immediate future.
In Progress Reports 1 and 2 we reported on the actions of a few individuals, who have for some time been using GEnie, a commercial on line computer service, to disseminate misinformation concerning MediaWest*Con policies and to make personal attacks against' MediaWest*Con staff. Unfortunately, once again, little has changed.
As we previously noted, we have seen little to indicate that GEnie pays more than lip service to its own rules of conduct, or is likely to in the immediate future. Since our original complaint eight months ago, GEnie's response has been, at best, inadequate; we did not even receive a written response from GEnie management until we involved legal counsel On the rare occasions that it seemed that some small progress was made, GEnie would then reverse themselves. GEnie representatives at various levels have misrepresented their rules, the enforcement of those rules, and the accessibility and content of postings; they have disclaimed responsibility for the actions of those in their employ in whom they invest the authority to enforce their rules; GEnie management even claimed that Mary Bloemker was no longer a subscriber while she was actively harassing us via her GEnie account! In short, they have acted in bad faith, despite our best efforts toward a simple resolution. We are now considering our other options, such as filing complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. As such,we see no reason that GEnie should be in any way promoted or included in MediaWest*Con programming.
Despite having received a full refund of her MW*C 15 membership, Mary Bloemker has continued to harass us by e-mail sent to our America Online address. Following AOL protocol, we notified her (and AOL and GEnie) that we would not be accepting any further communications from her; she has sent us over 40 pages of e-mail since that notification.
Mary has also posted notices on GEnie, in several SF/Convention folders on AOL, and in several InterNet newsgroups (a practice known as "spamming"), ostensibly seeking opinions regarding MediaWest*Con hotel policies (the practice of trying to stir up trouble by posting a seemingly innocuous message is known as "trolling"). Not surprisingly, e-mail exchanges which were forwarded to us indicate that anyone who responds with an opinion that doesn't suit her risks being flamed.
Mary is also circulating an "updated" e-mail address list; MediaWest*Con has not authorized the compilation of any such e-mail address list for distribution at MW*C 15 (or by any other means); no endorsement should be inferred by her failure to remove the names of any MW*C staff from any past lists.
Despite Randy Lander's public statements that Orion Press doesn't "need" MediaWest*Con, and their petulant promise that Orion Press wouldn't be represented at MediaWest*Con until we changed our policies to suit them, Randy has been advertising that someone "probably" will be authorized to represent Orion Press at MW*C 15; meanwhile, he has also continued to circulate misrepresentations regarding MediaWest*ConObviously, we could waste more time and ink refuting those who put the BS in BBS; however, we feel our time would be better spent making MediaWest*Con 15 what you have come to expect as the definitive gathering of SF/Media fandom. As Forrest Gump author Winston Groom wrote in USA Weekend: "My mamma Gump used to say that there is always a sourpuss in every crowd and, usually, it is just best to ignore them...you don't have to be rich or famous or even smart to be dignified and honest -- even in the face of a lot of indignities and dishonor."
We are looking for any info or photos of the Masquerade contest and winners.
Door Decoration Awards
A Male Wedding theme door decoration won Best In Show. Some slash fans felt this was a sign that LGBT fen and slash fans were becoming more accepted.
Art Show Awards
Art show winners were selected by popular vote.From the third progress report:
The following MW*C 15 members have requested space in the MediaWest*Con 15 Art Show (as of 5/3/95): PJ Alexander, TM Alexander, Judy Breuer, Heather Bruton, IS Burnett, [Maureen B], Shelley Butler, CH Burnett, Gordon Carleton, Mike Cole, Susan L Cooper, Larry deSouza, Jackie Dunster/Joyce Muscat, Linda Fairbanks, Barbara Fister-Liltz, Carolyn Golledge, Christine Haire, Cindy Hildebrandt, Hindman, Joan Hoffman, Butch Honeck, Mariann Howarth, Laurie Kehoe, Jean Kluge, Largent, Ann Larimer, Frank Liltz, Deanna MacKenn, Jane Mailander, Nelson Marty, Sally Mayer, Jesse McClain, MTira, Kate Nuernberg, Karen Pauli, Mary Platt, Susan Powell, Roseanne Rice, Joy Riddle, Karen River, Roberta Rogow, Jean Roller, Melody Rondeau, Leah Rosenthal, Cathy L Rusaw, Betty A. Sandman, Sandy Schreiber, Charles W. Schultz, Amber Shelton, Sandra Shelton, Dawna Snyder, Peggy Spaulding, Diana Stein, H. Ann Walton, James Wappel, Rae Ann Weston, Pam Whitelark, Susan Williams, WIR
We are looking for any info on the pre-1998 vid show winners.In 1995, an attendee posted to the Virgule-L mailing list the following general comments about the MediaWest*Con vid show. Excerpts are quoted anonymously:
".... If the MW video room is open fromn 10AM to midnight, more than 50% of the time it's showing California Crew....
....There are quite a few fans who put clips to music. At MediaWest, there are quite a few who don't show in the official Video room for various reasons -- the individuals who run the video competition have been known to blame a vid's maker if the mediocre playback equipment blues out, and to be critical of vids showing less-than-optimal equipment, no matter how creatively-good they are. These vids are now shown back in somebody's room. (MW really needs video-maker categories, like the costumers have -- novice, journeyman, master. Having Cal Crew running ten hours a day in the video room must be pretty daunting to someone who only has 2-3 vids, all from the same fandom, made on standard video equipment, and wants feedback on them.) Slashy vids are frowned upon in the official room.
Some of the room"vids" are just plain bad -- putting random clips of Your Favorite Show to Your Favorite Music doesn't cut it for me unless there is some relation between the two which is shown in the final product. Some of them are up to the technical standards of ten years ago -- bad rolls, muddy sound -- but if you pretend you're watching an nth generation copy, they're good. Some vidmakers are so heavily into their fandom that their vids can only be appreciated by another rabid fan -- to all others, it's just so many talking heads.At a guess, I'd say that only 50% of the vidmakers at MW show their stuff in the official room. Not that there are 4-5 hours of new vids being shown in various rooms, becuase the most prolific show in the public room. Perhaps 2 hours shown in rooms, by 6-8 makers (counting individual index-sheets from the MW vid room, not considering all the permautations of CalCrew as seperate entities)."
- DG. Discussion Group
- FIG. Fandom Intro Gen
- FIS. Fandom Intro Slash
- Revivals, FIG
- Armchair Directors, Character Analysis, Babylon 5 vs. ST:DS9, DG
Beauty & The Beast:
- Comprehensive, FIG
- Character Analysis, Comprehensive, Blake's 7 Fanfic, FIG, FIS
Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman:
- Character Analysis
Eisenhower & Lutz:
- Character Analysis
- DG, FIG
Hercules, The Legendary Journeys of:
- Character Analysis
- FIG, FIS
In the Heat of the Night:
- DG, FIG
Kung Fu: The Legend Continues:
- Character Analysis, FIG
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman:
- Armchair Directors, Character Analysis
Man From UNCLE:
- FIG, FIS
Mystery Science Theatre 3000:
- Character Analysis
The Outer Limits:
- Character Analysis, Plots for writers, FIG, F1S
- Character Analysts, Revivals, Quantum Leap Novels DG
- DG, FIG
- DG, FIG
Robin of Sherwood:
- General panel, FIG
- DG, SeaQuest vs. Seaview DG
- The Granada Years DG
Simon & Simon:
Star Trek (all generations):
- Armchair Directors, Character Analysis, Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Friends of Vadek Bareil, Babylon 5 vs. ST:DS9 DG
Star Trek: Voyager
Starsky & Hutch:
- Character Analysis, FIG, FIS
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea:
- DG, SeaQuest vs. Seaview DG
War of the Worlds:
Wild Wild West:
- DG, FIG, FIS
- Arnchair Directors , Character Analysis (4 sessions), FIG
Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension:
- Character Analysis
Escape From New York:
Indiana Jones trilogy:
Interview With The Vampire:
- Armchair Directors
Road Warrior trilogy:
Star Trek series:
- Character Analysis
Star Wars trilogy:
- Character Analysis, Character Analysis, Revivals, The Dark Side of the Force, Writers & artists workshop
- DG, FIG
The Terminator, Terminator 2:
Phantom of the Opera panel
Actors and Actresses
- Scott Bakula
- Michael Crawford
- David Duchovny
- Harrison Ford
- Mandy Patinkin
- Andre Norton
- Anne Rice
- Spider Robinson
- Elizabeth George mysteries
- Doc Savage
- Sherlock Holmes
- Lord of the Rings
- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
- Quantum Leap pro novels
Hobbies & Activities
- Dog showing
- Ferret owning
- Dolls and action figures (Star Wars and Star Trek)
- Eroica, Manga and Anime
- Guns n Roses
- Ham radio
- Led Zeppelin
- Martial arts (Kung fu demo: Hallway between Imperial Room and Ballrooms , Use of in TV and film DG)
- Moody Blues
- Society for Creative Anachronism
- Books to film.
- TV to film, part I.
- Radio to screen.
- Comics to screen.
- Screen to comics.
- The annual panel on... Vampires.
- "Young stuff" (not exactly jail bait, but...).
- "Bonkers for honkers" (men with big noses).
- "Slash sluts and proud of it!"
- Science in SF.
- Racial minorities in fandom.
- Fan Clubs-forum for presidents DG: Sunday
- Fannish Jeopardy.
- Fandom vs. Hollywood: continuity.
- Fandom vs. Hollywood: canceled series.
- Fandom vs. Hollywood: actor/creator owe?
- Fandom: "newcomers" & "oldtimers".
- Whatever happened to IDIC: politics in fandom.
- The changing face of fandom: filkers & costumers.
- The changing face of fandom: "FIAWOL".
- Fandom as a support group?
- Slash: is it a fandom unto itself?
- Slash: "loner" series.
- Multiple vs. single fandom fen.
- Men vs. women in fandom.
- Creating a fandom around real people.
- Art: Getting the inspiration to draw.
- Art: Problems unique to drawing explicit artwork.
- Computers: Fandom on the Internet
- Computers and the changing face of fanzines.
- Conventions: Organizing a con.
- Costuming on a shoestring budget
- Editing vs. rewriting: how much is too much?
- Editing: Working with your contributors.
- Filking: Is it a dying art?
- Filking: Filk 101.
- Filking: Parody Filk Workshop.
- Publishing: Using the latest technology.
- Publishing Fanzines: what's sex got to do with it?
- Music videos: A beginner's guide.
- Writing: How much research should you do?
- Writing: Tips on working with a collaborator.
- Writing convincing crossovers.
- Writing realistic sex scenes.
- Writing 3-dimensional original characters.
- Writing: submitting your work.
- Writing: Going "pro".
- Writing: How To Write A Better Story workshop.
- Writing: Advanced writing workshop.
- Writing: The Professionals: plots for writers.
- Writing: Straight smut
- Writing for the heck of it workshop.
- Writing: Star Wars artists and writers workshop.
- Writing: Firearms for fan writers.
- Co-Chairs: Lori Chapek-Carleton and Gordon Carleton
- Party Suite: Lori Chapek-Carleton and Gordon Carleton
- Blood Drive: Kim Dyer
- Fannish Videos: Sheryl Adsit
- Door Decoration Contest: Denetia Arellanes and Satyr D'Nite Press
- Gofers: Jeanne Sullivan
- Fan Quality Awards: Jeanne Sullivan
- Security: Andre Lieven
- Video Room: Gordon Carleton
- Flyers: Dar F and Ann Teitelbaum
- Programming: Dar F and Ann Teitelbaum
- Fan Fund: Deborah Laymon
- Fanzine Reading Room: Jan Gosnell
- Art Show: Gordon Carleton, Karen Klinck & staff, Jesse McClain was in charge of the Auction
- The Fanzine Taping Service for Blind & Print-Handicapped Fans: Janice St. Clair and Marcia Nigro
- Dealers Room: Bill Hupe
Convention Reports and Comments
Our roomy [L S] was already there...with tapes of things we poor Americans didn't have yet, new Due South and Chief episodes. I was glad all I had to do was set up my table in the dealers' room before going upstairs to watch them!
As always it is wonderful to see people we've known for years, sometimes only seeing them at cons, the rest of the time by mail, phone, and email. That's the best part of cons for me. Most come by my table at one time or another.
This year I made it my main duty to help newbie Starsky and Hutch fans (thanks to TNT) find old zines. I had brought authorized copies of the Teri White novels, and sent customers up to Minky, who sold out of all hers, to Paula, who had Strokes, and the newer zines Turned to Fire and Lucky and Strong for awhile, and Denetia, who is authorized to sell the Suzie Lovett novels 1000th Man and Goliath. New fans give us old guys a boost in enthusiasm.
I sat next to Nina Boal and was reading her latest Other Times and Places when I came across a story where Bodie and Doyle go to Salisbury plain to investigate the murder of a scientist studying the crop circles. They meet a young Oxford graduate student... Fox Mulder. I mentioned that to a guy buying the zine so he told me of a T-shirt he had seen. I immediately had to have the buttom that's button (Freudian typo?) man make one for me. "I was abducted by aliens who laser photographed my internal organs, dumped me in a crop circle, and all I got was this lousy button."
I had fun buying X-Files and Trek stuff for the friends I'll be seeing in Scotland and England later in June. Also partying, of course. The X-Files party was next door to us, so it was fun to invite them over when we came across David Duchovny in a Twin Peaks episode we were watching. "Anybody want to see Fox in a dress?" I'm really glad I brought my VCR so we could also watch Chief and Due South episodes with anyone interested.
Saturday, after the dealers' room closed, there was a busy round of parties. I caught the S&H one, Pros, and this list...several times each, so I could say hi to the others who were going from party to party, too. [L] was in lust over a Garrison's Gorillas group, and having X-Files next door was no hardship for any of us. [T] was QLing and Kung Fuing and we had a great view from our window of the swordplay in the courtyard.I didn't see as much of the art show as usual, but was glad Kate Nuernberg did so well. She's interested in many of the same fandoms and I love her work. Wonder if I'll ever draw again. Hmmm. Anyhow, it was a wonderful con, a real breather from mundane life, a boost to the ego and morale. Loved seeing everyone. 
This year's MediaWest had more B7 parties and panels than in years past, and the panels in general struck me as better than they'd been for awhile. The ones I attended, at least, seemed more like discussions and less like say-exactly-what's-expected rituals. (The year before I walked out of one that was supposed to deal with censorship, but turned into a bash-the-fundamentalists pep rally. I'm an atheist, but I have a low threshold of boredom.)
I thought more people were leaving the con early next year, and a waitress at Ponderosa confirmed that when a friend and I stopped there for lunch Monday. "Where is everybody?" she wanted to know. "Last year at this time they were all over here." Several fans I spoke to thought the economy was to blame. People were losing their jobs, worried that they might lose their jobs, or overworked because although they were still employed they were having to do the work of colleagues who hadn't been so lucky.Next year, there'll probably have to be a Character-Bashing party. It'll be held in a darkened room, or perhaps attendees will wear bags over their heads (and conceal their badges) to preserve their anonymity. Thus protected, they'll say all the things they don't dare say at other parties for fear of vengeance by the dreaded Tarrant Nostra, the idealistic yet ruthless Blake Police, or agents of the far-flung Avon Without Guilt network. (Of course, the party will turn out to have been hosted by a Servalan fan with a tape recorder . . .) 
MediaWest: It was the most fun I've ever had at a con and that's quite an accomplishment. It was a pleasure to meet Barbara for the first time and to see so many of the rest of you again. Maybe next year we can have an APA dinner or something?
Donna, Catherine and I spent many hysterical hours making fun of poor Gan's limiter and plotting to dress up as giant dachshunds for nefarious purposes. I laughed so much my throat hurt all the way home. Our lovely room decor consisted primarily of dozens of Blake telepix stuck to the wall (the Blake Shrine), and a few pieces of Blake art strategically placed around the room. Over the weekend these were augmented by the beautiful Karen River print that will be on the cover of Donna and Kath's zine Alpha Omega, scheduled to debut at next year's MediaWest. Our room decorations also included several balloons including one long one encircled by a black leather and studs cockring. (For those few of you who haven't been subjected to the joke already: We have proof they work; it stayed up all night.) When it fell off on Sunday and I replaced it, I had an audience I didn't know about—Catherine and Debbie told me a guy was passing by our door,stopped to watch as I slipped the ring back in place, and then took off down the stairs. Some guys just can't deal with competition.
On Friday night, Catherine and I and our roommate Debbie, another Blake fan from the Internet list, hosted a B7 bash in the party suite that I think went pretty well- I know I had a good time in the rowdy corner by the door. The rest of the weekend is sort of a blur now although I do remember walking by the English Gothic door every 15 minutes or so in futile search for the zine. There weresome new B7 zines that I think I bought but (of course) haven't read yet. I didn't find many used ones that looked promising— lots of Horizons as usual. We did sell off almost everything we brought though...
I remember one evening from my first MediaWest; I was wandering around, feeling lonely, looking for anything to do. Then a large group of people came out of the elevator and I followed them out of curiosity. They all piled into a room and I hoped I might be able to join them. But before I had so much as peered into the room a woman popped up and said, "Sorry, private party." Slam! Things have changed a lot since then, thank goodness. Nowadays there are plenty of open-door room parties, some of which will reach out and grab you if you are unwary enough! 
I seem to have survived another MediaWest*Con. Almost didn't make it this year, due to the economic state of the family, but MW*C is just about the only social event left to me and I would have been in a blue funk if I'd missed it. Just wish I didn't have to deal with a 19-hour bus trip. "No ma'am, I'm not on drugs; Greyhound did this to me." The workshop for SW writers & artists was fun, and I'm pleased at the response I got from the excerpt I read from "Leia vs. Murphy's Law" (I'm still surprised that no one threw tomatoes). If we do this again next year it'll need a bit more organization. It took 20 minutes just to introduce ourselves. Someone suggested that we should have pooled ourselves into groups of 4 or 5, and that sounds like a good idea to me. An issue brought up at the panel I would like to continue here; who should control what and how a story is illustrated, the writer or the artist. I've also heard an opinion that the editor should call the artistic shots. I think they should all work together. I assume most of you saw the lightsabers in the dealers room? Oh, if I'd only had another $225 this year. Not only could they light up a transparent rod, but they also vibrated when switched on! I understand that Lucasfilm is getting ugly with people making lightsabers. 
The number of men at MediaWest has been steadily increasing, mostly because the women are bringing their husbands into fandom. So I wonder why there hasn't been a male/female writing partnership in fandom. I think there have been a couple of editing partnerships. 
The "stag" room at MediaWest...Susan!) has unfortunately disintegrated out from under me. One of the key members has decided not to return to the Con for personal reasons, and when I called the other guy to find out which hotel we would be staying at, he told me "I've decided to room by myself this year. I'm sure you'll be able to find a room." I didn't, and if I hadn't pulled night duty in the F.O.E. Cantina I don't know what I'd have done. They did me more of a favor than I did them. A cosmic sized Thank You to all concerned. So if you plan on coming to MediaWest may have to start an all new bachelor pad. No, the women of fandom aren't out to clip a guy's wings. Most of them aren't anyway. But there are times when I feel out of the loop. I doubt it's anything they are aware of, but there are some subtle mechanisms of this female society that are hard for a man to interface with. Hard, but not always impossible. I'd rather be with this crowd than hang out with the mundanes. 
I made it to MediaWest Con, though. That's as sure as vacuum in space. As usual, it was a fantastic, awesome fun time with the most incredibly talented and creative people in the galaxy. I experienced something of a Star Wars epiphany during the convention. Amidst all the fun I was having ( dressing in SW clothes/costumes all weekend [ it's amazing how wearing a blaster on one's right leg transforms one's attitude and personality] role-playing as imagined and real characters in the SW universe, discussing SW stories in rooms full of writers and artists, salivating over all the new SW zines), I had the sudden realization (was sort of like a lightsaber activation) that for me, the Star Wars experience had lost all its "boundaries", the dividing lines that fans impose upon themselves. Hmm-mm, this will be difficult to explain. We make a conscious choice of what or whom to dislike/exclude in SW, be it one of the three films, the West End books, fan fiction, the characters, music, the novelizations, whatever. We place those restrictions upon ourselves. In previous issues of SE, I myself, have gleefully trashed several of the aforementioned (film, books and character) pointing out all the things that IMO, were wrong." ("I'm not really interested in your opinion, Threepio.") But, at MediaWest - and this will sound tritely maudlin - I was surrounded by the real, true spirit of SW Fandom. It didn't matter who was a Lukefan, a Han fan, who liked Vader, who liked this movie better, or didn't like that book at all. We were all SW fans, all with our own unique, individual interpretation of the story, yet, still ONE. It was a special moment, bringing with it a profound sense of unity and belonging. I realized there was no "wrong."
The Con this year nearly defies description. Fantastic? Perfect precision? Long-deserved? Try all of the above. Between winning the STAR aWARd, the Cantina F.O.E. Dance, the constant communal brainstorming, and various other nifty perks (no editorial comments from the Peanut Gallery, please), I was on a roll! About the only thing missing for me this year was my neglecting to buy a lottery ticket - I just know I would've won! Many thanks to all my friends, new and old (you all know who you are). You made this particular vacation the very best I've had yet. 
Thursday; we got there around 8:30; earlier than I've ever made it before. Lots of room dealers; a fair amount of hall traffic. I scouted around a bit, met[my friends] a couple of doors down from me. Bought a new C.J. Cherryh novel at White Hart after making them look through unpacked boxes for it. Carol R. was working her socks off sorting t-shirts; she put in a lot of volunteer hours of con work over the course of the weekend. I went to bed fairly early; 11:30, storing up sleep for the rest of the weekend. Friday; the dealers room opened; not as much of a frenzy as I've seen in the past. There seemed to be a lot of X-Files zines around, and a fair amount of Forever Knight. All the picture dealers were displaying FK and X-files and Due South pictures. I bought mostly B7 on my first pass. Carol and I paid a visit to the mundane world - the local Meijer store - to buy drinks and munchies for the party and paper for signs, since I left the ones I made at home. I attended an entertaining panel on writing realistic sex scenes; Jane Mailander is always an amusing panelist, and apparently in a confessional mood. B7 party Friday evening; I stopped reading the new Hellhound story to attend. Everyone was mesmerized by music vids; Tom Beck sang along with them all. I know, he was directly behind me. 
For the last few years, I've spent my Memorial Day weekends in Lansing, Michigan. Sure, the big action is a few hundred miles south at the Indy 500, but I don't go to Lansing for cheap thrills like fast cars and infield parties. I go to Lansing for spiritual balance — a retreat, if you will, where I can get back to basics for a few days and rediscover my roots. If that sounds like nature and camping to you, then you obviously don't have the roots I have. For me, the basics are a Holiday Inn and a couple thousand people of every possible persuasion blended into a fan club primordial soup called MediaWest*Con. There are Trekkies there, of course. And Phantom of the Opera fans. Rat Patrol afficionados. Vampire lovers. Han Solo impersonators. People who like actors with big noses and people who like some odd gay British action television series. Fans of all sorts of things. And yes, there are even Sherlockians there, as well. Which is why I go, partly. The rest of why I go is for the panels on Highlander, X-Files, and whatever else currently strikes my fancy. I enjoy a lot of such stuff, but there's more to it than that. Seeing fans of new characters getting worked up over the latest fictional figure of note helps put my own hobby in perspective.
The Rudest Thing that I Have Ever Experienced as an Artist : How to Nearly Destroy a Fledgling Artist’s Confidence with a Few Thoughtless Words
Artists quickly learn that they need to develop a thick skin in order to make it in their chosen field. Teachers and mentors—at least the good ones—will give their students honest, if sometimes brutal, feedback on their artwork. Critics can be merciless…and the general public even more so.
I learned this lesson very quickly as I first began showing my artwork publicly, approximately twenty years ago. And while I have no argument with the need for honest, genuine feedback meant in a constructive manner, I do have a problem with those who like to demean others’ work just for their own sick sense of satisfaction. This behavior was something I experienced at one of the very first showings of my work, and the incident still sticks out in my mind as the single rudest thing that I have ever experienced as an artist. That it happened at the same time I was getting my first taste of a helpful, critical review by a professional in the field only makes it stand out more so in my mind today.
This first exhibit of my work was not in a fancy gallery, nor even at a school student show. I was, at the time, primarily self-taught as an artist. I had loved painting and drawing since I was a child, but had chosen to pursue an education in the hard sciences instead. However, as I emerged from college I began seeking out artistic pursuits once more, and made some of my first efforts in the field through the art shows at media and science fiction conventions. I was quite a fan of popular scifi series of the time such as Babylon 5 and Star Trek, as well as older action/adventure shows such as The A-Team which still had fandoms active at some conventions.
Art shows are a popular part of many media conventions, as fans enjoy purchasing character portraits and other works produced by fans celebrating their favorite shows. MediaWest in Lansing, Michigan (a convention I have previously written about here) was only perhaps the second convention I had ever attended. In 1995, it was also the first convention I was going to show my artwork at, having reserved a panel to exhibit about ten pieces. As with most convention art shows, there was no jury at MediaWest to restrict or choose who could or couldn’t show their work. Provided one paid a modest hanging fee, your work could be displayed and potentially sold to anyone else in attendance.
It was an exciting prospect to me, as I worked for several months deciding on what pieces to bring, finished some new ones just for the show, and tried to figure out how to display them. I had been doing media character portraits for some time, either for my own amusement or to use as illustrations for the fanzines I was producing at the time. In retrospect now, if I look at those early works I can see them as rather amateurish compared to the art I am doing today after many years of training and practice. However, I was quite proud of them at the time, and had received complements of the quality of the work when printed in fanzines. Therefore I had hopes they would be well-received at the convention. I might even go home with some money in my pocket, I thought, excited at the prospect of trying to sell my art.
I was both thrilled and extremely nervous when I got to the convention to set up my work, and saw that my display panel was right next to that of one of my favorite artists in the science fiction/fantasy illustration field. I met this artist briefly as I was setting up and bubbled enthusiastically about his new paintings on display, and how nervous I was to be exhibiting mine for the first time. A gracious professional, he offered to give me an informal critique of my art at some point over the weekend if I liked. Certainly I was eager to get some advice from a successful artist I admired, so I thanked him and hoped we’d cross paths in the art show over the following days.
I should pause here for a general observation I have made about a lot of my fellow science fiction convention attendees through the years. Sci-fi fandom tends to attract a lot of people who, for lack of better terminology, can be rather socially maladjusted. For reasons varying from being “too smart” or “too nerdy” as a kid, to not fitting in general society because of the way they look, physical disabilities, or the things they are interested in, fandom has a lot of people in it who have, quite honestly, difficulty with certain common social skills. Goodness knows I had encountered a lot of these same issues when I was an undergraduate at M.I.T., a similar environment full of extremely booksmart people who don’t always know how to interact well with others.
There can also be a high degree of “cliquishness” in fandom, and a distrust toward “newbies” entering an established fannish space. By my second day at MediaWest I was certainly getting a strong sense of that cliquishness, a feeling that I was not overly welcomed there at a convention where many of the attendees had been going annually for over a decade—and many had known each other for years before then.
Nevertheless, I ran into my fellow artist the following night in the art show, and he asked me if I wanted to talk to him then about my work. I eagerly agreed and we went over to my panel to go through my art piece by piece. He was exceptionally kind and enthusiastic, asking about my watercolor technique, how it compared to his own, things he liked in my work as well as things I could try to bring about different effects. In fact, he had not one bad thing to say about any of my pieces, even as I was clearly years behind him in mastery of technique and ability to compose a successful painting.
We were about halfway through the critique when a very strange thing happened. A fellow con attendee—not an artist herself—came over and started listening in on our conversation. I’m not sure why, unless she was perhaps trying to get an audience with the professional artist herself, and annoyed that he was devoting an extended period of time to someone else. She pushed her way past the two of us to squint closely at my work, and rudely began interrupting our conversation.
“That’s just a terrible likeness!” she exclaimed loudly, indicating one of my portraits. “And that one doesn’t look anything like the actor at all,” she said of another. For several long minutes while myself and the other artist just stood there dumbstruck, she went piece by piece through my work harshly criticizing every aspect of it, from the matting to the color choices to my pencil technique. She then, without other word or explanation, walked away from us to rejoin her friends elsewhere in the art show.
Needless to say, I felt humiliated. Here I was, with someone I looked up to and wanted to be like some day, someone who had just been graciously giving his time to mentor me, and I’d just had my work ripped to shreds by some random person I didn’t know for no apparent reason. Not even the professional artist seemed to know how to respond to what had happened. After an awkward pause, he tried to go back to his helpful critique, but it was difficult to get back into the swing of things. In my mind, at that moment, I felt like a failure no matter what he might have to say.
I sold one piece of art at the convention for a very modest $20. It was a small portrait, bought by the one friend with whom I had gone to MediaWest. At the time I figured she’d bought it just so I wouldn’t feel bad about not selling any work. But I went home from the convention completely deflated, and not wanting to show my art in public for some long time afterward.
I couldn’t understand why someone would feel the need to rip my work apart in front of me like that, when I’d done nothing to offend her besides hanging my pieces in the show. In my many years since then showing work at conventions, I’ve seen a lot of art infinitely better than mine, and plenty of art infinitely worse. Yet I’ve never felt the need to trash others’ hard work to their faces before, especially not in what is typically considered an amateur show for people who create their art out of love for their subject matter and to share with other fans.
I did eventually get over the incident and keep showing my art. I also started attending courses and workshops to improve my technique, and experienced teachers with many different approaches to critique to help their students improve. Yet I’ve never encountered any critic or teacher so rude as that random woman at the MediaWest artshow. I still see her around at conventions every now and then, and when I do I immediately remember how she treated me that one evening. I doubt she remembers it at all, and in fact I remember feeling some great inner satisfaction several years later when she purchased a print of one of my more recent portraits. I smiled politely at the time and thanked her. I would have liked to have added a comment about how her inexplicable meanness years before had not stopped me from drawing and painting, no matter how much she apparently thought I had no right to be creating artwork in the past.But that would have been terribly rude of me, wouldn’t it? 
As always Media West was a lot of fun. Although it never has any celebrities, guests of honor, or actors I think this is what makes it so refreshing different from all the other conventions I attend. If you into programmes on TV or the movies or fanzines, this is the convention for you. There are literally dozens of different fan clubs of all different types at this convention. If you can't find a fan club in whatever fandom/TV programme that you're interested here it probably doesn't exist anywhere on the planet.
- from an announcement on Virgule-L (May 22, 1994)
- Busy Beaver Button Museum; archive link
- comments on Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (May 31, 1995)
- from a fan in Rallying Call #14
- from a fan in Rallying Call #14
- A fan's convention report in Southern Enclave #43 (1995).
- A fan's convention report in Southern Enclave #43 (1995).
- A fan's convention report in Southern Enclave #42 (1995).
- A fan's convention report in Southern Enclave #42 (1995).
- A fan's convention report in Southern Enclave #42 (1995).
- A fan's convention report in Southern Enclave #42 (1995).
- A fan's convention report in Southern Enclave #42 (1995).
- a fan's convention report posted to the Virgule-L mailing list in 1995, quoted anonymously with permission.
- Sherlock and me at the Holiday Inn dated July 25, 1995; reference link.
- sockii: The Rudest Thing that I Have Ever Experienced as an Artist, posted June 15, 2015
- Enlightenment no.69