WOSSNAME -- NOVEMBER 2004 -- PART 2 OF 6
- WOSSNAME -- NOVEMBER 2004 -- PART 2 OF 6
1) NOREASCON 4: ALL TERRY PRATCHETT, ALL THE TIME
or, "Hi, my name is Anna, and I'll be your stalker this weekend."
(continued from Part 1)
Part the Third: Sunday/Monday -- Not the Usual Unusual (continued)
After a nap, dinner, and prolonged prep time, I emerged from my room to
attend the masquerade in costume number three: Sarah's iridescent
ballgown from the movie _Labyrinth_, complete with a wig, woven wire
hair ornaments, a blue worm purse, and a skirt and sleeves the size of
greater Cleveland. Although I had no plans to compete, I wanted to join
in the spirit of the thing, and happily posed for pictures all the way
to the event. Before it began, I swanned over like an enormous organza
barge to say hello to the long-suffering Jennifer Brehl, meeting Esther
Friesner and Peter Weston in the bargain. All of them studiously
avoided the phrase "giant meringue" in their compliments, thus
confirming my fondness for Jennifer, reinforcing my regret at missing
Esther Friesner's upcoming panel, and even making me forgive Peter
Weston for the whole "just write a science fiction novel and you'll get
a Hugo" faux pas. This Happy Ego Moment notwithstanding, I had cause to
regret my fashion sense (or lack thereof) in an auditorium stuffed
wall-to-wall with people. I should have draped a yellow "wide load"
tape over my pannier-clad hips to warn the poor bugger sitting next to
me that he'd endure a lapful of my skirt all night.
Thanks to the $500 prize and special trophies offered by HarperCollins
(supplemented by an additional $100 from Terry), it was a night of
turtles all the way, including The Death of Rats; the Grim Sweeper
(a.k.a. the "Death of Dustbunnies"); Tiffany Aching; "The Turtle Moves";
a Discworld Iron Chef competition; and Susan Death (who had the temerity
to be both younger *and* better-looking than me. I was not amused).
Although a love of Discworld distinguished them all, Terry and Jennifer
favored three entries with a winning combination of clever costumes,
theatrical flair, and distinctly warped imaginations.
Third place went to "Inside the Mind", spotlighting a Terry look-alike
typing on his laptop to the accompaniment of a Discworld voiceover,
while some poor unfortunate squashed inside an A'Tuin turtle costume
lurched across the stage behind him. I will never forget the Discworld
Doublemint Twins effect of the genuine Terry posing for photos beside
the Terry-clone -- particularly after the too-tall pretender made an
elaborate show of crouching down to Terry's height.
"A Pale Rider" gained second place as a glowing-eyed Death on a
motorcycle pursued Rincewind and an amazingly animated remote-controlled
Luggage, which viciously snapped its lid while seeming to scurry on
dozens of wiggling little legs. During the award presentation,
Rincewind prompted the Luggage to "clap" with its lid and offer Terry a
gift, which he accepted from its gaping maw with understandable
reluctance. Thankfully, all fingers emerged intact.
The funniest of all, "Not the Usual Unusual," took a well-deserved first
prize with its portrayal of the conquest of the Discworld by the
unstoppable sex appeal of Tom Jones -- a threat far worse than any
Dungeon Dimensions. Believe me, you just haven't lived until you've
seen Lord Vetinari, Nanny Ogg, Granny Weatherwax, Rincewind, a City
Watchman, Herrena the Henna-Haired Harridan, and Cohen the Barbarian all
succumbing to the singer's lascivious spell. By donating its winnings
to RIF, perhaps this generous group will be responsible for the
seduction of a few new readers by the equally unstoppable (if less
sequined and hairy-chested) appeal of the Discworld.
Being a hard-core costuming freak, I enjoyed even the non-Discworld
entries -- at least, the first few hours' worth; then the enjoyment
waned in inverse proportion to various bits of my body falling asleep.
Most of the audience deserted long before the bitter end, particularly
during the two protracted rounds of judging (both Discworld and regular,
which took rather longer to decide than the 2000 USA presidential
election). While I was stretching in the aisle during this dead-air
time, attempting to recover feeling in my butt, who should emerge from
backstage to sit a few rows directly ahead of me but . . . yes, you
guessed it. An entire half-empty auditorium to choose from, and Terry
*still* managed to get stuck near me.
Given the weight of his judging duties, the lateness of the hour, and
the cringe-worthy Lunch of Doom, I decided discretion was the better
part of stalking. This forbearance came to naught when my gargantuan
glow-in-the-dark gown attracted his attention. As his eyes widened, I
offered up a sheepish little finger-wave, then quickly turned away and
busied myself with my purse, my program, and any elaborate front of
activity I could devise to make it clear that I did not intend to
descend upon him in a scary shower of glitter.
So involved was I in this silly subterfuge that a sudden tap on my
shoulder actually made me jump and yelp, probably startling Terry as
badly as he'd startled me. Somehow, he'd managed to sneak up behind me
without a single warning sound. "That *is* you, isn't it?" he accused,
peering closely at my face as if seeking to I.D. me in a lineup. Then,
despite his obvious exhaustion and the fact that I'd just shrieked like
a loony banshee, he proceeded to compliment me on my costume, suggesting
that I should have competed in the masquerade. Soon, I found myself
cheerfully babbling away about sewing the dress from scratch. I'm sure
he couldn't have cared less, but his face did not betray the slightest
hint of this. I mentally upgraded him from "nice guy" to "martyr."
At long last, the event wrapped up around 1:30 am, fully five(!) hours
after it began, leaving Terry to sleepwalk offstage in search of a
bathroom, beer, and bed. After talking to the winning Discworld
entrants and posing for a surreal picture with The Luggage, I finally
left -- only to be waylaid in the halls for photo requests by at least
twenty different people. By the time I collapsed in my room, I had
gained a whole new respect for Terry's ability to remain unfailingly
polite and gracious under similar circumstances.
I woke reluctantly on Monday morning to wear the final costume of the
convention: War, the Red Biker of the Apocalypse, from _Good Omens_. I
had wanted at least one book-based costume that would not require a wig
to hide my auburn hair, and for reasons of public decency Liessa
Wyrmbidder was right out. Unfortunately, I'd discovered only after
purchasing the costume components that Neil Gaiman is more closely
associated with the Bikers than Terry. Not to mention that the pants
were at least two sizes too small. Or that I'd be roughed up by Hells
Angels if I ever dared to wear the rhinestoned jacket in an everyday
Squeezing into the faux-leather clothing, faux-snakeskin boots, and
helmet, I slowly creaked my way to the first signing while attempting
not to breathe. In a turnabout of Sunday's lunch, I finally rendered
Terry speechless. "Another costume," he managed, shaking his head. As
I admitted that I felt more confident in costumes than in normal
clothing, he predicted I'd empathize with the _Going Postal_
protagonist, who was most at ease while playing a part. I'm hoping the
comparison between Moist and me was not meant to extend too far beyond
that salient feature.
Mincing across the convention center to avoid splitting a seam, I joined
the second signing line with the last two books. A very tired-looking
Terry looked up and blinked uncertainly. "Good God, it's you again," he
whispered in weary wonderment. Since he didn't follow up with an
expletive or a call for security, I figured I was still okay.
I endeavored to be comforting. "Look on the bright side. After today
you won't see me again for a very, very long time, if ever."
"I'm really rather sad about that," he replied, tone drier than a KFL
cocktail (sand, with a chaser of arrows, in case you were wondering).
"No wonder you write so well -- you're an excellent liar," I teased in
With both Terry and Neil Gaiman scheduled for the final panel, I arrived
early to beat the crowd. I'd wondered why the convention hadn't placed
them on more panels together to take advantage of their camaraderie.
Immediately, I read the reason all around me, written in a sea of people
swarming through the halls. Even scheduled on a Monday, when many
conventioneers had already left, Terry plus Neil equaled a logistical
nightmare. This wasn't a crowd; it was a mob. I've driven through
towns in Arizona with a smaller population. I felt lucky to grab even a
third-row seat as I watched people kneeling on the floor, leaning on the
walls, huddling in the hallway, and blithely flouting the fire code.
I'd never seen Neil Gaiman fans en masse before, and gradually perceived
that a healthy chunk of them seemed very young, very female, and very,
It appeared as though the answer to the panel's title, "How Do You Know
When You're Dead?" would probably be "You've been through five days at
Worldcon." Almost everyone looked as sleep-deprived and zombified as I
felt -- particularly the gal with green makeup, fake stitches, and a
sign advertising the Fresh Start Club. Most attempts at seriously
addressing the topic quickly keeled over as well, becoming a free-form,
wit-based version of "Dueling Banjos," with Connie Willis, Terry, and
Neil playing the lead instruments. Since my notes consist of mostly
illegible scrawls, I refer you to Kate Nepveu's detailed live journal at:
I'd say she hits all the high (and low) points right on the money, save
for Neil's enthusiastic account of the "enormous-breasted assistant" on
his upcoming Fox Movie Channel horror show, and Terry's wonderfully
wretched pun about "working stiffs" as talk shifted to unions for the
dead. She also chronicles the only question I asked at a program. I
was curious which depictions of an afterlife (being dead, as opposed to
death in the abstract) the panelists would cite as having influenced
their writing. Of course, I was so tired and nervous that the question
came out as, "What portrayal of death in literature or film has had the
most impact on each of you?" which covered ground already explored in
the discussion. Luckily, it was redeemed by Connie Willis's mention of
_All Hallow's Eve_, as well as Neil Gaiman's description of the
Kabbalah's exquisitely beautiful Angel of Death, who inspires such love
that your soul is "sucked out through your eyes" (plus the pure
entertainment value of the ensuing chorus of feminine sighs from the
Afterwards, I dodged the hordes of women offering Neil their lingerie
and headed for the closing ceremonies. Accepting his GOH thank-you gift
onstage, Terry had clearly reached the end of his endurance. "Has it
been five days?" he asked incredulously. "It feels more like five
hundred." While bagpipers for next year's Glasgow Worldcon piped
everyone out into the concourse, I watched fans encircle Terry for one
last round of pictures and autographs. Ever accommodating, he accepted
these attentions instead of telling everyone to bugger off and let him
sleep. He'd even retained his sense of humor; for one photo in which a
winsome girl hiked up her skirt to flash a shapely limb, Terry blithely
pulled up his own pants leg in competition.
Once the crowd thinned, I approached to say a quick goodbye and thank
him for his patience. He perceptibly relaxed after realizing I had not
come bearing a hat, a drink, a meal, or God forbid, a different costume.
As I turned to leave, he inquired if I'd ever really ridden on a
motorbike. I admitted I had not. I neglected to add that the tightness
of my pants would hinder sitting in a car, let alone mounting a
motorcycle. Returning to my room, I used the Jaws of Life to extract
myself from the aforementioned pants, changed into more conventional
clothing, and left for dinner with my husband.
(continued on Part 3)
If you did not get all 6 parts, write: jschaum111@...
End of Part 2, says my computer -- continued on Part 3 of 6
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