Boskone Blast

My trip to Boskone started out with possibly the best flight I've ever had: a nonstop with a bulkhead window seat with extra leg room, no one behind me, no one next to me, and across the aisle, just the side wall from the kitchen. If the movie had been decent instead of Seven Years in Tibet, it would have been perfect!

My fannish radar tripped when I saw a woman get on the shuttle bus for Framingham, but it wasn't until she heard me making inquiries about the supposed shuttle to the con hotel that I was proved correct. It turned out to be Ann Layman Chancellor, who is the artist of the first piece of artwork I ever bought at a convention! I spotted Kent Bloom's LAcon III jacket from across the bus terminal and eventually the shuttle arrived. We finally got to the hotel to discover that their computer had crashed, leaving the staff to deal with reservations through printouts and highlighter pens. After briefly stopping by the large setup room to say hi to a bunch of folks, I cravenly ate a quick dinner at the bar and hid in my room to watch the Olympics men's figure skating short program.

Friday

The next morning, I sat around SMOFfing in the Ops room, foolishly confessing that I wasn't sure what I'd do with myself since I was neither on programming nor working. Next thing I knew, I was on the Programming staff! I had a late lunch in the hotel restaurant with Ben Yalow, Florida fan Joe Siclari, and Minneapolis fan Geri Sullivan, whom I'd seen at a distance at various conventions but never really had time to chat with before. After lunch, I headed to Program Ops to see if I could help and sign up for some shifts. Then it was off to a Friday night candlelighting and brief religious ceremony hosted by the Bursteins. I then met Geri and Ben in the lobby, as Ben had graciously agreed to take me to the one stop I never miss whenever I'm in the Boston area: Legal Seafood, which features a fish chowder that miraculously does not include any shellfish!

Back at the hotel, we went to a panel called "Convention Running 101," where Geri got advice on how to transition Minicon into a smaller, more literary-focused convention, a topic that has been hot in SMOF circles. Then it was off to the trivia contest -- a truly impressive event featuring really tricky questions and the reward of small chocolates tossed by the moderators when you got a correct answer. (The "first lines" challenges were popular, but the "name the book the ship came from" questions weren't quite so engaging.) British fan Mike Scott got 99 of the very difficult questions, whereas I contented myself with a mere 12 or so. And next time I'll know better than to make myself a target directly in front of trivia whiz Tony Lewis! The evening ended with a couple of small room parties.

Saturday

First up was a panel on Small Presses -- an informative hour with people from NESFA Press, a small art press whose name I forget, and Michael Walsh of Old Earth Books, who has just come out with a reprint of the Doc Smith "Lensman" series, complete with classic covers. Then I worked in the Green Room for a couple of hours, getting to talk religion with Evelyn Leeper and SGML authoring with Jim Mann and a former co-worker of his. At noon, I went to the APA panel, featuring Tony Lewis, Laurie Mann, and Ed Mesksys. The audience barely outnumbered the panelists but we ended up mainly discussing the likelihood of the APA experience being reproduced electronically. Lunch was a quick sandwich from the well-stocked staff lounge. The afternoon shift in the Green Room was slow and after taking some abandoned coats to the Ops room for safekeeping, I went to haunt the lobby and attach myself to a dinner expedition, having decided not to attend the banquet, since they are rarely a good deal if you are a vegetarian.

I ended up with Philadelphia fan Gary Feldbaum and British fan Martin Hoare. The party they were supposed to meet at a very crowded Japanese restaurant never showed, so we hopped across an alleyway to an uncrowded but fairly decent Chinese restaurant, where the waiter had a bit of trouble with Martin's accent. Back in the car, I noticed that the thermometer control reading gave an outside temperature of 22 degrees, which is not a temperature I actually believe in but explained my frozen nose. (Actually, I can't complain too much about the weather -- after all the rain in California, the sunny weather from Friday on was wonderful, and Sharon Sbarsky came through on her promise to me before the convention that they would honor my request for no snow :-> )

We got back to the hotel just in time for me to race back to my room and catch the Olympic men's long figure skating program. I emerged for some room parties, and Martin and I stumbled across one for TypeCon, a con for "typographic aficionados" and if it was closer to here than Massachusetts, I would definitely attend. The flier alone was fascinating and beautiful. After that, we headed up to the Tor party, where I ended up talking typography and Lee Smoire stories with Michael Walsh until the wee small hours.

Sunday

Advice: Never volunteer for a 10 a.m. shift after the Saturday night of a convention! Luckily, things were predictably slow. After my shift, I met Joni Dashoff in the children's programming area. Right before Boskone, I'd been asked to help with External Exhibits for Bucconneer and Joni had brought some stuff with her to hand over to me, and explain the area. Then I made a stop in the dealers room to pick up copies of the Lensman books. I was really touched when Michael pulled out a surprise: he'd remembered that I was searching for the second collection of Jewish science fiction short stories (More Wandering Stars) and had managed to find me a copy! I scooted upstairs with my prizes and changed for the Regency Tea. Luckily, I was nearly done with my makeup when the lights unexpectedly went out. (I discovered later there had been a short in the hotel's circuits affecting some of the guest rooms and the elevators.)

The Tea itself had decent attendance, although there were fewer costumes than I expected. (My pink mylar sneakers were a big hit!) The dance teacher was not quite up to the quality on the West Coast. She had to keep apologizing for not remembering the sequence of steps, and didn't ever really give people the flow of the entire dance, which is a much easier way of figuring out where you're supposed to go than just receiving instructions like "step left, step right, turn here" without any further pattern. I did manage to coax GoH Walter Jon Williams to stop by long enough to partner me in the all-time great (and traditional closing) Regency dance "Congress of Vienna."

During the Tea, the wife of a couple who had invited me to go to dinner with them stopped by to apologize profusely, explaining that her husband had committed them to another group that didn't have room for me. *sigh* I mooched around until finding Portland fans Ruth Sachter and John Lorentz, who said they were part of a large group and were sure there would be room for one more. After changing out of my Regency get-up, I met them in the lobby where the expedition set off to a restaurant called Vinny Testa's that features family-sized Italian food. The portions were humongous as advertised, and one order of cannoli for dessert for a mere $4.95 fed both Bruce Pelz and myself!

Back at the hotel, the somewhat desultory Dead Dog party had commenced in the staff lounge. After straining for a while to watch the Olympics on a set above the Magic players, Walter and I snuck off to my room to catch the ice dancing finals. (Why we bothered, I don't know, because the results were known before any of the couples stepped out on the ice, a judging disgrace that was noticed by many in the media.) You haven't lived until you've seen Russian ice dancers skating in black leather to an Elvis medley :-> We ended up back at the Dead Dog, in a conversation ranging from the treatment of American Indians to Generalissimo Francisco Franco!

Monday

I had originally planned to go to the airport early to drop off my luggage, then do some sightseeing in Boston proper before my flight at 5 pm. Unfortunately, the cold I'd been staving off all weekend had started to get the upper hand and I didn't really feel up to tramping around in the cold weather. Laurie and Jim Mann had offered me a ride to the shuttle bus back to the airport that would get me in a little early, but while I was upstairs packing my phone rang with a better offer: Deb Geisler and husband Mike Beneveniste had decided to stop off at a kosher deli for lunch and invited me along, with a dropoff at the airport afterward. What a deal!

The deli was great, and after trying to decide between a "burger and fries" and a deli sandwich, I decided to get both, and take the sandwich on the plane. We had a great time discussing religion, our beginnings in fandom, and worldcon politics before they dropped me off for my flight. The sandwich was much more appetizing than the couscous "lunch" the airline offered, and the flight back actually landed 20 minutes early!

Summary

As I expected, I had a great time at Boskone. The best part was getting to hang out with people whom I usually only see at worldcon but because we're all working, we don't usually get to just casually spend "quality time" together.