Sunday, January 25, 2015

Further Reflections (and other Con things) - Part I

So Further Confusion happened a week ago. While some of my thoughts have been summed up elsewhere, I felt a good recap was in order, as well as more fleshed out review and outlook on the convention at the bottom right thereafter.  It was fun, if not a blur and gone in a blink of an eye (had to rely on twitters for much of this, yay). Nevertheless, enjoy the long read!

and again, if you wanna skip the recap and go to the "In review, and the future" section near the bottom.

Day 0 - Wednesday

This was a split decision to go early, and honestly I would opt this out if it weren't for other things. Fresh out of class and running straight for the express bus downtown, I arrived around 7pm and met with couple of early birds, as well as help bring in some items to ConOps in attempt to help wherever I can. Fairly low key, other than seeing the early bird. I headed back home to start the packing and cleaning process as well as resume work on Elevations practice...and last minute laundry, at the end of which in an act of good deed I invited a fox in need, Kodachrome, fresh from plane, over for the night. We spent a good chunk of an hour trying to find an open fast food establishment within suburbian walking distance to feed a fox, before settling on 24-hour convenience and an evening (morning?) of Pulp Fiction.

Day 1 - Thursday

The sun arose and I began breakfast and final packings at last minute, squeezing in every single badge on hand, and then hopping on a Lyft with Kodachrome to Hilton to begin our con festivities... rather, split paths for now with me having to finish some errands prior to meeting another fox, my roomhost Fraddas.

Incidents nearly arose which nearly cost my rooming status (which frankly was also last minute for other reasons), but thankfully all were settled, and we all managed to to rest on beds and settle shortly after.

Seeing as nothing else to do and convention was near-empty, with hours until registration was to open, I tried to help out as much as can where possible. Registration was filled to brim with staff (Thank you Arc Collie for your work), and supplies needing to be brought in were delayed, though I did get some exercise in lifting up conbooks :p . So just roamings and seeing all the animals in sight, and casually chatting with furs that were around...and running into them repeatedly. Realizing nothing else to do, I went back to house to finish up cleaning and packing an aeropress for coffee........and forgetting the grounds at home (and missing Dave&Busters meet, shame). Nontheless, yay productivity.

The rest of the evening entailed the same as before, running into donut dogs , checking out the one small party, seeing sudden increase in BLFC propoganda, noticing the convention center sounding like a jet, hypnotizing dogs, and  spending the remainder late of night watching cartoons and comedy with horses, going to bed for the first time in con years past midnight at 2am.

Day 2 - Friday

Awakening from at then-usual 9am, checking twitter with a need for coffee, having been sleep deprived from previous night. Having gotten a quick invite, I ran to Marriott to meet with Granite Coyote and and Cooper Malamute for breakfast of croissants and coffee (and oogling fancy sweets) over at Bijon. It was nice to reconnect with the yote, if however quiet (granted, precoffee mornings), that and Shia Labeouf. After some thawing, we returned and parted ways back at Marriott. I went up to 3rd floor to attempt two panels at once; helping out Cali Coyote with his Unleashing of Inner Animals, and a Beat sheet writing panel, both adjacent. Ended up spending more time at latter, though was equally enthusiastic at former and looking forward to possibly seeing this again next year.

Been getting messages from a fox, Shaun Bakfylla, seeing about lunch. While then crunched on time, I took the offer and we both headed into the SoFA district, a charming spot which I've been meaning to check out for a while myself, for The Blue Chip, a bar-like basement establishment underneath some pasta and cafes. Dark, but cozy and filled to the brim with comfort food. Enjoyed a pizza sandwhich, as well as more reconnections with the fox before having to head back at 1pm to start my programming shift for the con.

My shift was simple enough, just check panels for two hours to see if they're running smoothly and/or missing items, as well as making sure they're set up properly after. Save for one case on Sunday, all was well for most part. I did try out the radio for first time and had issues with the headset, wondering why they were silent. I thought it was the frequency.. no. I thought it wasn't screwed in... it was. Was it the radio itself? I brought the walky talky to my ear to check, got a loud beep and briefly deafened myself. Ended up walking around with radio piece out loud, and a bit shook up from such. This was the first time I actually paid attention to the panels, and learned that you really shouldn't judge a book by the cover with most of these... surprise, most are actually pretty interesting!

Post shift, I couldn't help but take advantage of livetweeting #FursuitFriday, and roaming around the oddly sparse halls for furs to meet with, and pestering poker cats. Spent some time with Siege Wolfsky before being dragged by Tav Fox and Toby Wolf to a speakeasy just across the street from con for a belated birthday treat. We waited out front, my thoughts all assumed some kind of bar club, but all of which shattered with class upon being let in.

The establishment, whose name escapes me, was very much akin to an old-fashioned speakeasy. We walked into a the winding halls of a basement to a dimly lit, but classy art-deco room that very much would be welcome in the swinger era. I was given a mojito, on the house, and I'm still getting used to the sense of ingesting mouthwash... though it's like a Stockholm tolerance? Granted, nothing really happened... just a slight feeling of tired derp, but more casual a conversation. After one drink, and consensus on refusing another in favor of dinner, we all headed out for Indian at Tandoori, meeting more local furs who have congregated at a table, with I being the only one opting for rice, then a brisk walk to Convention Center to catch up on final bits of a Mongrels photoshoot which in itself was surreal. Just seeing the puppets in front in person, complete with acting, I'm just speechless.

Around this time, 8ish, begins the night of party in style. I went up to my room and dressed in fancy suit get-up for Fancy Friday, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere and casual chatting with fellow (again) locals. That and slight spillage of wine on my suit, but thankfully was easily cleaned off without major damage.

The night rolled on, and I went up to check on the party floor officially for first time. The fact that BLFC lived up to their Orwellian theme terrified me, and the other parties looked more fun. Though, space was cramped and didn't spend as much time as I planned before heading back down, and exploring the con still in a fancy getup. I took some time to chat and hang with Xenirk while recharging, and checking out the dance late in the evening also in fancy get up into the wee morning hours, and later again roaming the light and sparse halls of the con, before crashing in bed and calling it a night.

Day 3 - Saturday

London fog rolled into San Jose. Slept in again, had some coffee at Peets with Palomino Pony, and later helping him with his fursuit for the parade before rushing myself into suiting up with friends as, once again, a borrowed cigar-weilding bloodhound named Sarge.

The parade went better than thought; fairly quick walk around then a picture. I think having the fan work this time kinda helped, but nonetheless good training session, and tons of fun! I think it was around 2pm or so, and I rushed to check on a few panels (one on fursuit materials and another on first 15 seconds of books... latter I wished I stayed for), before being called for lunch on the house of a Science Lab  at Original Joe's. Having passed by that restaurant so many times, and hearing plenty, I've been meaning to check it out. Food was good, service left a bit to be desired (though can't blame them with traffic), but good atmosphere. Well worth occasion prices aside.

Went back to con to spend time with a horse and other furs, then rushed to check out the art show, time now being 5pm, and actually bidding on a piece (cute tiger). I then walked out, and the oddly light nature became prevalent with the somewhat empty halls on a Saturday night, further exacerbated when walking along Paseo de San Antonio (the walkway by Fairmont), and not a soul in sight (then again, this is San Jose, so the dead air shouldn't be surprising, but still). I intended to go to Starbucks, but beelined to this new place, My Milkshake, which is pretty much a specialty, well, milkshake shop with ability to mix and match anything (yay toblerone shakes). I ran into several furs there, chiefly Disner and Green Raccoon, and others from twitter whose names escape me. Fun little gathering as we all walked back, parted ways at Marriott, and I making way to the Dance competition.

 The dance comp took me by surprise in what short time I spent in it. I was initially disappointed in the switch from "theater in the round" to purely stage, almost indistinguishable from the masquerade, but over time it just worked. It felt more engaging and lively, and everyone guaranteed a view. There's just something about the events like this that kinda really bring out the life in a fursuit.

Plus having suiters running around tossing free shirts didn't hurt.

Beyond that, the halls were dead. Compared to past years, the con felt like a ghost town in the main floors. I could probably assume this was from parties as well, granted. I walked back to room to chill and recharge, inviting a Kodachrome to come hang for a bit, followed by a round of Cards Against Humanity with Mt. Sheppy, Koda, and Idylwild among other furs in a mini party at latter's room.  This went on into midnight in a low-key fashion, which I followed with another party that went on much later and whatever happened there... it was a party. I ended up returning to room around 3am, watching a bit of hulu before snoozing.

Day 4 - Sunday

Having gone to bed at 4, it shouldn't have been a surprise that I woke up late. What was a surprise was that I had obligations at the very time I woke up, and thus rushed thru shower and to the Marriott... 45 minutes later. This didn't go well, to say the least, but it worked. It may have been the lack of coffee, but just kept running into the same people and didn't feel like chatting to anyone unfamiliar (yay broken resolution). After shift, walked to Starbucks, ended up joining local furs to brunch at Peggy Sue's. then roam around the con floor, doing some last minute dealer's purchases, checking out new Suburban  Jungle and getting a Gneech autograph on books,

I checked out the Fox panel around mid afternoon. As far as species panels go, this was surprisingly good, and giving more ideas for next year on what to do with that field. Beyond that, just casual walking around, then helping out Lenoh for Fursuit DDR (which proved redundant as furries themselves managed to set up themselves), then checking out a few more panels before heading over to a pizza party at 5... then leaving abruptly for FC Unleashed. Decent show, just go out of habit (never consider the con complete without. I will appreciate the talents that did perform nontheless, and likewise to Dax's effort in running the convention with tact and class. Afterwards it was back to the loitering of the Marriott lobby, randomly chatting with furs.

I again ran into Granite, and after brief chatting headed to a grilled cheese party that was apparently happening in con, and oooh boy this was a pleasant surprise. A suite up on the higher Hilton floors filled with several furs casually chatting with drinks as freshly made grilled cheese samples are passed around. While it may have been the room's atmosphere, or the view, or maybe the light drinks I've had, I would say the party was surprisingly classy, I mean it kinda had that aura to it.

It didn't last though, I think it was the sudden disappearance of the nutella grilled cheese mix, but the novelty dissipated as did friends and decided to head back down and cross to the Marriott. seeing tweet about one final gathering with Skyler fox, I decided to check that out. Very casual, gathering, met some folks from earlier party having lingered here, and just relaxed into the wee hours of midnight, before just crashing back at Hilton with Fraddas, having the rest of roomies packing up and left.

Day 5 - Monday

I seldom stay at FC for Monday, but boy was the sleep in needed. I'd say most relaxing wakeup I've gotten. There really isn't much to say on this day, as it's purely just additional lingering. I helped Fraddas in cleaning up remnants of room mess as well as packing up, and after the only case of Hilton Elevatorcon we both left hotel and parted ways come 11.

I lingered a bit, seeing who was left, and just running into the same people. It was close to lunch, I haven't had anything beyond leftover animal crackers, so I randomly roamed downtown... for an Iguana burrito, and caught a bus home come afternoon, almost like the con never happened.

To add to the return to reality, I then had a dentist appointment, minor cleaning, but enough to induce PCD. In a split decision, I grabbed a bus back downtown, intending to spend a few more hours but went thru the night. Personally, I'd say it was the best split decision I've made.

Starting off with pizza dinner with Palomino and horses, then chatting with this one siberian fur doing an extended stay (random conversations like these are a highlight of any con), and to the actual dead doge itself. Rather, a bit of final thanks from the chair, Dax and company (complete with leftover concessions from the staff lounge), then  furries slowly started pouring in like a casual ball as the rest chatted outside the second floor of Marriott. Meanwhile I hung out a bit with another Mike Folf around downtown before returning and doing final goodbyes around 11pm or so, much later than planned, but much needed. If anything, going back brought a much better closure than what would otherwise have been another weekend. I'm really glad to have returned for such, and would probably make an effort to do so in future years.

In review, and the future

It was a con, and much needed break. I'm glad I went as usual as it's just a nice refresh and start to the year.

 I was concerned over the year about the lack of attendance and drop for variety of reasons that this would be a ghost town con (having looked up Confurence prior, and paranoia of history repeating notwithstanding). That said, while it did prove jarringly (and depressingly) true, it didn't negatively impact things for me personally, but I did start to see the issues many complain about come into play, especially the lack of a true central area when you've got three hotels spread out (Hilton, Marriott, and Fairmont to lesser extent).

And that said, I'm not complaining on the location. Hell, I love downtown San Jose as a location for a con. Good variety of meals, nice, pretty place to walk out on plus not too far from San Francisco attractions. It's enticing if you're traveling thousands of miles, theoretically speaking, and you can feel comfortable walking out to grab foods. If anything, back when I first attended FC in full, when they just moved in to SJCC, I had thought that the conditions would be perfect (and hoped secretly) for the con to eventually be the Anthrocon of the west (I look forward every year to seeing the banners fly over the downtown streets).

Of course, the layout and programming leave a lot to be desired, and I have noticed that, and looking into ways to help in that (and I realize how vague and corporate this sounds... at the very least I acknowledged and I wanna fix... does that make sense? I also realize how futile this is but there's the chance). That and, well, BLFC happened.

I'm not dissing on BLFC. They run a great con, and they're pretty much a juggernaut on their own by their venue itself. One really can't compete with an all-inclusive casino resort with attractions free of charge, with the con space pretty much being one central area. That and the really go overboard with the themes (which now I'm terrified of, given this year's). Now if only Reno wasn't so depressingly isolated and the venue so claustrophobic I'd be all the way for the con.

Of course back to FC, knowing the fandom, once something goes downhill it's an uphill battle trying to entice folks to return, even if efforts are made to fix and even improve effectively what went wrong. Furs (okay, the most vocal ones) would just drop entirely forget the con... maybe I'm just overthinking on my end, vanity wise. I just wanna be openly happy with my home con instead of blindly agreeing with everyone else... and Reno doesn't really count as local in my eye to qualify.

As for future cons, well, I will be doing BLFC... every thing else? That's for the next post.

Hasta marfle!

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