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231WOSSNAME -- APRIL 2005 -- PART 3 OF 5 (continued)

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  • JSCHAUM111@aol.com
    Apr 29, 2005
      WOSSNAME -- APRIL 2005 -- PART 3 OF 5 (continued)

      ====Part 2 MINICON (USA) -- THE FULL REPORT (continued)

      Part Four -- You Just Can't Go Wrong with Humorous Vegetables:
      Bissonomy, Bribery, and the Masquerade

      by Anna M. Conina

      As Val explained, volunteers are a convention's lifeblood. Motivated by
      the pure spirit of altruism, not some selfish goal of breakfasting with
      Terry, I only took the Pratchett Pounds to humor Val. And if you
      believe that, I have a Brass Bridge I'd like to sell you, bargain price,
      it's cutting me own throat . . . .

      Still, we did continue volunteering after we had earned sufficient
      Pratchett Pounds, simply because the staff at Minicon made it such
      tremendous fun.* Plus, our Tart Couture fit right in with the art show
      leitmotif of Nearly Naked Ladies.** And in the end, we learned a moral:
      contrary to the Seamstress/Assassin credo, sometimes virtue really is
      its own reward. When Lisa Freitag sought two experienced, costume-savvy
      volunteers to work as masquerade judges alongside a certain Judge Terry,
      just guess which ones she asked?

      Guess how quickly we agreed?

      So by the time Terry wandered in, it was already a fait accompli.*** As
      Greg got us drinks and the band Folk Underground played songs written by
      Neil Gaiman, Terry and his Seamstress/Assassin escorts mingled with the
      party crowd, admired the costumes, and debated about the winners. We
      watched two Nanny Oggs, complete with Greebos, chatting with Magrat
      while Sacharissa Cripslock struck a roving reporter pose. Among the
      non-Discworld costumes were a Monty Python crusader and his fanged
      rabbit, a sylvan fairy, and a technically astounding Disco Borg, lit up
      like a neon Locutus of Las Vegas. In the absence of any formal entries,
      rules, or systematic structure, Val and I took frantic notes and photos,
      improvising madly. At one point, while Val took pictures and Terry
      signed a book for a fan, I ended up juggling my basket, my camera, my
      bottle of water, Val's bottle of water, and Terry's beer; this led to my
      favorite photo of the convention, a shot of me holding Terry's beer just
      out of reach while he grabs for it in mock distress.
      Seamstress/Assassins can be so very, very cruel.

      Finally, honorable mentions and "Winner" necklaces went to the robed
      Sweeper, Rincewind, and a "Modest and Unassuming Wizard" in a costume
      that exemplified the color-blind tastelessness of his profession. When
      Terry ascended the stage with his tarty assistants to bestow the top
      three awards, Lady LeJean gained third prize for bribing us with
      chocolate "in the true spirit of Ankh-Morpork," while two different
      Deaths of Rats tied for second in costumes that revealed enormous
      quantities of work in their construction. First place went to the
      ingenious Bissonomy****, the little-known virtue mentioned in _Going
      Postal_, complete with the requisite kettle and parsnips (none of which,
      alas, were humorously shaped). In Terry's words, she had taken a tiny
      corner of Discworld lore and "gotten it exactly right."

      As the winners happily claimed their Dealer Dollars, good for purchases
      in the dealer's room, Terry thanked us for our help while Greg and Lisa
      gave us both free books from DreamHaven. Allow me to repeat that: Val
      and I received thanks, praise, and gifts in exchange for the onerous
      task of hanging out with Terry for the better part of an hour.

      I think we somehow managed to get it "exactly right," too.

      * For example, as we checked purses at the art show, one nice young man
      with very talented hands bestowed free shoulder massages while
      whispering the Seamstress/Assassin version of sweet nothings in our ears
      (such as "piles of money . . . inflicting pain . . ."). We quite liked him.

      **Terry's theory that fairy art exists as an "excuse to paint young
      women in the nude" was amply evidenced by canvases of living color.
      Mostly fleshtones. Big buckets o' fleshtones. No wonder Minicon
      survived for 40 years; where else could men see so much skin on public
      display in the middle of a Minnesota March?

      *** Latin for "punishment for being late."

      **** Am I the only one who thinks Bissonomy sounds less like a virtue
      and more like an act even a Seamstress/Assassin would hesitate to
      commit? "You are under arrest for aggravated Bissonomy -- with intent
      to Tubso, you sick [expletive deleted]."
      Part Five -- Guess Who's Coming to Dinner:
      Eating, Drinking, and Generally Making Merry
      with The Great One

      by Anna M. Conina

      Contrary to what you might expect, Val and I actually maintained a
      discreet distance from Terry on the first day of the convention;
      annoying my favorite author is not my goal in life. However, when we
      passed him in the hall on Friday morning, he stopped us to confirm that
      I was amenable to "filling the stalker space" by officially assuming the
      title of "Designated Stalker." That evening, as Val and I perused a
      board full of flyers, I was startled by a knock on my Cheery helmet.
      "What's this thing made of?" Terry asked, and after a few moments of
      costume chat, invited us to join him in the consuite for a drink. For
      the next hour, he proceeded to discuss the influence of the book _The
      Victorian Internet_ on _Going Postal_, perform a dead-on impression of
      Rowley Birkin from the BBC's "The Fast Show" (properly punctuating each
      slurred, half-intelligible rant with "Of course, I was very, very
      drunk"), and share the intimate details of the plot and characters from
      his next five books.

      Okay, that bit about the next five books is just wishful thinking. But
      the rest is true, and my point is this: if he truly thought we were
      irritating nutjobs, he was doing a damn poor job of avoiding us.
      Therefore, Val and I decided we would just relax and enjoy conversing
      with him at the convention until he either stopped approaching us or
      told us in no uncertain terms to bugger off.

      And that is how The Dinner came about.

      After the Noreascon Lunch of Doom, I had vowed never again to subject
      Terry to the silent misery of sharing a meal with me (as an officially
      sponsored convention event, the volunteer breakfast doesn't count).
      Fortunately, Val had made no such vow, and on Sunday morning took the
      initiative to invite Greg, Lisa, and Terry to join us for dinner that
      night as thanks for all their kindness during the convention. Deprived
      of time to rehearse plausible excuses, all three of them not only
      accepted, but also showed up. This time, there was no shortage of
      conversation, all of it interesting and most of it funny, and while I
      doubt I coined any phrases destined for _Bartlett's_, I did manage to
      speak in mostly complete sentences -- nouns and verbs and everything --
      as Terry teased me about my attack of mute awe at Noreascon. He
      actually asked Val and me our opinion about a line from _Thud!_.* I
      even gained the biggest laugh of the night (no mean feat when Terry's at
      your table) when I accidentally stole Greg's credit card as we both
      lunged for the bill.** Then, as Val and I said our goodbyes and
      promised to leave Terry to enjoy the rest of his evening in
      well-deserved peace, he offered me a "chaste kiss upon the cheek, in
      front of witnesses" and an invitation to resume my stalking duties at
      the L.A. Worldcon in 2006.

      Little did this unfortunate author know that he would be seeing us both
      long before then. At the urging of my friend Kris in England, we
      prepared a card for her to take to the Oxford Literary Festival:

      Even worse, impressed by my success, Val has pledged herself to study as
      Apprentice Stalker under my direction, hoping someday to achieve the
      exalted status of Co-Stalker at my side. To that end, we have made a
      very special purchase. We are now proud owners of memberships to the
      2006 Discworld Convention in Hinckley.

      It might be best if you don't tell Terry.


      *It had to do with the use of the word "bosom." Apparently he thought
      our corsets had granted us some expertise, although he cited Margaret
      Rutherford as the possessor of the archetypical "bosom like a couch."

      **Yes, it was an accident. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
      Although as Terry said, "You can't take the dark out of the girl . . . ."


      The Minicon Fortean website:

      The Minicon Fortean Live Journal:

      Anna's Shutterfly Minicon Photos:

      Val's Minicon Photo Page

      David Dyer-Bennet's Minicon Photo Page
      End of Part 3, says my computer -- continued on Part 4 of 5
      If you did not get all 5 parts, write: jschaum111@...

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