CONVENTION REVIEWS

Coppercon
Sept 8-10 2000
Scottsdale, Arizona
Reviewed by Suze Campagna

In my 33 years of life, I have learned the best way to enjoy something is to go in with low to no expectations, that way if you have a bad time, you wonít be disappointed and if you have a good time, even better! Such was that case with Coppercon. I was told it was like a relax-a-con, with about 300 attendees. So after a long drive through the night, we arrived at the hotel, early Saturday morning and got a couple hours sleep before spending the day sitting at the Los Con table.
As with most conventions, I am not a big attendee of panels. Such was the case with this con as well. Which was okay, because I had plenty to keep myself occupied. The Art show had many of the usual suspects, but many of the prices were much more accusable. I ended up with a Theresa Mather piece for $15. The dealerís room was the not quit so impressive, though I suspect after BayCon, every dealerís room would be a disappointment. The people at the convention were all very friendly, and the staff was always helpful. It was nice to meet and chat with new people.
That evening, I was in charge of throwing a party for Loscon, which went over very well. There was plenty of good conversation and snacks at the party. I was most impressed with the hotel security guard, who paid us a visit, not to shut us down, but to quality control the chocolate. Iím sure it was ok, because later that night, he brought us towels while we relaxed in the Jacuzzi. This was the only thing I was really looking forward to, and I was not disappointed. Though it was 85 degrees outside at midnight (not very cold at all) the waster temperature was much higher, and it felt good.
Sunday after a quick brunch I spent the rest of the day at the Loscon table, which was a good chance to see everyone I met the night before. We left a bit after 2:00 in the afternoon, back the old grind that is Los Angeles. Coppercon is a nice, relaxing getaway, whether you are recovering from Worldcon or just need a change of scenery. I will go back next year, in fact, Iíve already purchased my membership!

CONvergence
July 6-8 2001
Bloomington, MN

Reviewed by Suze Campagna

CONvergence is a convention that falls somewhere between Loscon and Baycon. It has an excellent variety of programming, a great hotel, friendly staff and committee and even a few familiar faces.
Lets start with the hotel. The Radisson had 10 rooms for programming as well as a movie room (Cinema Rex) Gadgeteerís Petting Zoo/Science Display area, Silent Auction room, Art show, Dealerís room and other misc. things. All this and there was still plenty of room for tables and chairs spread out if you just wanted to sit and chat. I didnít feel like I was walking miles to get everywhere, but it didnít seem over crowed either. The best part of the hotel was a huge open area, which included tables and chairs, the pool and the Jacuzzi, and surrounded by two floors cabanas, which were used for the consuite and party rooms. It was a very nice set up.
The programming was divided into Arts and Comics, Gamming, Hard Science, panels, but there were two Buffy Panels, one Angel panel and even a Doctor Who panel, which were all well attended. There were several other panels that looked interesting as well, including ĒStar Wars OrigamiĒ, ďArchetypal Evil CharactersĒ, ďWorking with WatercolorsĒ, ďMagic on television: Fantasy or beliefĒ, and ďIf you Liked Harry Potter, Try thisĒ. There was also a blood drive sponsored by the Klingons...and really, when a Klingon asks you to donate blood, how can you refuse?
The wonderful Alice in Wonderland theme included Flamingo Croquet, High Tea and the artwork in the publications of the conventionís mascot, Connie in various Alice type poses.
The Art show and Dealers room, though they had mostly different artist and dealer had the same typical stuff you would find at any convention. You may be happy to know, that Theresa Matherís feathers are sent to auction in the Midwest as well.
The partiesÖthere were plenty, something for everyone, from Cthulhu Coffee, to The Grave Diggerís Union, to a South Park Party to a Talon Portal. Xenaversity was giving out black armbands in honor of their fallen hero. Then there were the usual parties to promote other conventions. I spent most of the time hanging out with group showing Sid and Marty Kroft and serving. Party Guest breakfast cereal. This party ended up being the gathering point for the Minnesota Doctor Who Viewing Society. (Many members of whom attend Gally.)
If you are not planning on attending /working at Westercon in LA next year, I would recommend flying out to the Midwest for this very worthwhile convention. And if Iím wrong, and you get bored, you can always visit the Mall of America.

Coppercon
Sept. 7-9 2001
Scottsdale, AZ

Reviewed by Suze Campagna

There are lots of reasons to attend this small convention far from the insanity that is Los Angeles. Iím sure author guest of honor, Juliann May was great, the video programming is amazing, the programming is interesting and the Masquerade is nice. But the best reason to attend Coppercon is that itís a nice relaxing weekend away from everything and a chance to spend quality time with friends. (Especially if youíre not working the convention.) Then thereís the hot tub, which unfortunately wasnít working that weekend, but we made the best of the situation.
Scottsdale is about a six-hour drive from LA through the desert and well worth the trip. Though I didnít attend any programming, I did truly enjoy myself. On Saturday we hunted down the nearest Dunkiní Donuts, which is no Krispy Kreme, but it does have itís own attractions, with 50 flavors of donuts, you are sure to find something you like. We also found The Pop Shop, with many interesting types of soda.
The convention itself was fun. The dealerís room was waaay undersold, but there were some deals to be had. The Art show at Coppercon is best place to purchase good art at a low price. (I ended up with four pieces for under $25) Next year itís at a different hotel, and Iím told the hot tub is even bigger. Iíll be there, will you?

Planet Los con
Thanksgiving Weekend 2002
Burbank, CA

Review by Sister Suze Campagna of the Exiles of Craggy Island
For some reason, the exiles of craggy island were allowed out to play at los con 29, held at the Burbank Hilton over Thanksgiving weekend. During the day we had several different assigned tasks. Some were working hard as staff and committee, some sat at a fan table and watched TV (Square Pegs, Firefly, and Ed SullivanÖandÖoh yeah, Doctor Who), played Scrabble and pass the pigs and colored. You havenít seen coloring until youíve seen Hagrid as a transvestite.)Some may even have attended panels, explored the Art show and visited the diversity deprived dealerís room. (because if youíre gonna buy books, you may as well have gone to support the Verip Books going out of Business 50% off sale.)
But as darkness fell, the Exiles gathered. Friday night we began our adventure working at the Ice Cream social. We were told to bring foods of out planetÖthat would be Gallifrey. Thank goodness we had celery; it came in handy when they ran out of spoons. We also had Tabasco so we could identify the Czechoslovakians in the crowd. (There were a few) Late we began party hopping, Tabasco in hand and conducted devious food experiments which concluded in the con suite where several more experiments were performed which can not be repeated.
Saturday night we attended the performance of the ministry of Unknown Science as they searched for the future of Human evolution. I canít speak for all the exiles, but I laughed until my side hurt. I must say it was the best performance at a convention Iíve seen in a long time.
Later we continued with the hang out and party hopping, but we left the diabolical experimenting behind, so as not to further destroy the stomach linings of our group. (We had other ways to do that.) Some how we ended up in the lobby of the convention center, but it was a very enjoyable time. I canít say too much for the convention, bit I certainly had a good time hanging out with my fellow exiles.

Coppercon 23
Sept 5-7, 2003
Phoenix, AZ
One Con to Rule Them All!
Reviewed by Suze Campagna

CopperCon traditionally falls the week after Worldcon. For many it is a recovery con, for others itís a nice con if you couldnít afford Worldcon, and still for others it is one of the many great conventions thrown by the Arizona fan community.
Let me start with the hotel: the lovely Embassy Suites North. Itís a beautiful hotel with free breakfast (not just toast and cereal, but a full breakfast) and free drinks at happy hour. They also have a large pool to beat the Arizona heat, and a Jacuzzi. Both normally close at 11pm, but the convention organizers made sure it was in the contract to keep it open later. (A midnight dip in the Jacuzzi at CopperCon is an LA fandom tradition) The hotel restaurant was New Orleans style. They had a good jambalaya, but alas, no fried alligator or hush puppies, but they did have good service.
As anyone who has ever read my convention reviews knows, I generally donít attend panels. There were some that looked very interesting. There we several tracks of paneling, with each marked as fan, science, art, literary etc. Writer Guest of Honor, Connie Willis, participated in many of these, which was nice to see. Despite the fact that there were several panels I wanted to go to, I only made it to one, which was a writing workshop. It sounded very interesting, but it was nothing I didnít already know from Jr. High English classes. It may have been helpful to some people though.
Though I never made it into the video room, there was plenty of great stuff to watch, from lots of Doctor Who (UK DVDís only) to three unaired episodes of Firefly. (These will be on the DVDís scheduled for release later this year.)
The dealerís room had some of the usual suspects; however, there were a few different vendors too. There were also not a lot of the same types of vendors.
The art show had some really great artists I had never seen before. There was also an abundance of original art (One of a kind as opposed to limited or unlimited print runs), and some of it could be gotten at a lower price than those at LA conventions. Another different thing they did was have the fans vote on the art. It was a really great way to get participants to look at each piece. David Mattingly was an excellent choice for Artist Guest of Honor. He had some fantastic work on display. The only thing missing was docent tours, which I have recently taken a liking to. There was one on Friday and that was it.
And what convention would be complete without Saturday night fun. There was no shortage of parties; though the way the hotel is set up, they were all over the place. Iím sure we missed a few and spent only a short amount of time in the ones we did, as the rooms get very hot with so many people. Special parties of note were Galaxicon, which we find to always be the most welcoming and best conversation. Though the Loscon had a mellow party, it was the perfect place to find Connie Willis hanging out and chatting with other fans. We didnít spend much time at the dance, but the DJ must have been psychic, because as four Time Meddlers walked in, he played ďDoctor In DistressĒ. IT was mostly techno music, but we had fun anyway. In addition to the smoke machine and flashing lights (and free candy on the tables) they sold glowy things outside the room for a reasonable price.
There were other things I missed entirely (Like about an hour between 1 and 2 am); I have no interest in anime and personally when give a choice between free drinks at happy hour and the masquerade, Iíll take happy hour. I did go into the game room a few times to find the youngest member of our group in front of the computers. Most tables were full of various games and everyone there was having a good time.
It should be noted that there were plenty of freebees (movie posters and other promotional items) and you can expect to see some of them at the Meddler Auction.
So over all this is a fun relaxing convention. Chair and former Meddler, Lee Whiteside, did a great job and if life allows, Iíll be there next year.

LALA Con
May 3 &4, 2003
LASFS-North Hollywood, CA
Reviewed by Suze Campagna

In all fairness, I shouldnít really be reviewing this, as I wasnít there very long, but I did enjoy it while I was. It was cold and threatened to rain most of Saturday, so LASFSí traditional relax-a-con was sparsely attended. The theme was LALA 11, w play on Oceanís Eleven. There were plenty of tacky decorations complete with a wedding chapel. This year there were no Guests of Honor and very few merchants and scheduled panels. I did attend writer John DeChancieís pane, where he read some oddities he had collected from his years of teaching. They were very funny; too bad there were a couple snorers in the back making it difficult to hear. Of course I had quality time with the LASFS treasurer and the inevitable X-Files conversation. (It has become a LALA con tradition)

The Ice Cream Social went well and quickly. We were able to get a good variety of flavors as they were on sale at Rite Aid. We even had lactose free and sugar free as well as Mike Thorsonís mint Chili ice cream (A must try for chili lovers, trust me). We almost forgot the whipped cream, but the world was saved by 7-Eleven and though he mostly scooped ice cream, Bruce Rowan was my Whipping boy, and though she mostly scooped ice cream, Rebecca Barber was my Jimmie Girl. On a side note, Brice did remember the Tabasco sauce, which has become a Meddler Ice Cream Social tradition (Two times make a tradition right?) We did forget the celery, luckily there were enough spoons.

Confurance
April 26-27, 2003
Burbank
Reviewed by Suze Campagna

Let me star by saying, I usually donít attend this convention. Iím not a furry, but I have friends who are and I went to help out a friend in the hospitality suite. Confurance is pretty low key as far as panels and other programming goes. It is unlike any other science fiction convention, but it is a place for people together with a common interest. Like many conventions, that interest can vary.

I didnít attend programming at all, but I did enjoy myself. The dealerís room had a good variety of dealers with something for everyone. The art show also had a Varity, with a focus on anthropomorphic art animals with human characteristics, which is, as I understand, the Furries are mostly interested in.) There was an 18+ section, which I avoided, as that is not my thing. With that said, there were some very nice artwork of animals and fantasy creatures. And was introduced to my favorite artist, Theresa Mather.

I did miss the fur suite dance, but I enjoyed meeting the fur suits (People dressed in animal costumes). They were very nice. We had fun watching a coyote chase a squirrel up a tree.

Of course the best part of any convention is hanging out with friends. Friday night we sampled the daily Grillís Martini menu. I recommend staying at the hotel and ask to be seated in Bertís section, hell Treat you well.

Conagerie
Westercon 55
July 4-7, 2002
Los Angles, CA
Reviewed by Suze Campagna
Room With A View

Everyone experiences a convention in a different way. Some attend panels, some are only happy when they are working all the time, some participate in other activities, some just like to spend money in the dealers and art show, some like the night life, some reunite with old friends and make new ones, some sit at tables promoting their upcoming events, and some like a mix of everything. The convention was big enough for all.

From a personal point of view, I enjoy a mix. I like to work, but I also like to see a bit of the convention. And I got just what I wanted and more. My main committee function was to run a mixer on Thursday evening. With the aid of my dreaded minions, I threw a Noahís Ark party with a matching game, animal trivia, cookie decorating and animal tattoos. Everyone was greeted at the door by Mr. and Mrs. Noah, played by Bruce Rowan and Rebecca Barber. Many people were at a memorial service for Bruce Pelz, but this was a nice alternative for those who really didnít know Bruce and those who didnít feel up to the emotional impact such a service can have.

Thursday night after my party, I was lured into Lynxís Gothish dance. Sadly there were not a lot of people there and they all missed a good time.

Friday morning I ran an errand for the Locus Banquet and that afternoon I was on a Buffy and Angel panel with Shaun Lyon and Lee Whiteside.

Immediately following the panel I went up to the penthouse for my first shift as staff in the Con Suite. Con Suite was in what used to be a round bar on the top floor of the hotel with windows going almost 360 degrees around the room. It was a comfortable place to go and relax, unless you were working, of course. I must have walked several miles around the bar making sure all the food was filled. But it was fun and everyone seemed to come through at one time or another.

Friday night was the real party night and we were assigned to do party reviews. It took a lot of arm twisting, but we set out and hit every party, and there were lots to cover; Personal favorites being the being '05 and Nippon in í07 Worldcon bid parties, they had flavors from both countries and very tasty beverages. The LA in Ď06 Worldcon party bid was fun. I also enjoyed the cordials at the Arizona Westercon in í04 bid party.

Saturday is always the busiest day at a convention. I managed to get our and stroll through the dealerís room and bough some fun toys. There were a variety of items though jewelry seemed to be most prominent. Next stop was the art show and while I was looking around, I ended up taking a docent tour with John Hertz which was quit interesting and I recommend taking more in the future.

Later that evening we set out to party hop, but strangely enough, it was a slow party night. We did stop by to sample the Scotch and cheese at the UK/Nippon party and the cordials at the Arizona victory party, but we sent most of the time in the LA in í06 room hanging out with friends and getting tattooed. Then we decided to venture down to the rock dance. It was fun, though a lot of the songs were better to sing along to than dance. There were videos for about 50% of the songs, which was fun but sometimes distracting, especially when Christopher Walkin is dancing on the screen to a Fatboy Slim tune, there were often long pauses between songs due to technical difficulties, but again, we made the best of it.

Sunday morning I attended Catholic mass with Father John Baker, then went off to purchase my art and finally went up to spend the rest of the convention in the Con Suite.

All in all, it was a good convention, the hotel had its problems but all the friendly people made it worth the trip.

Silicon 2004
Labor day-San Jose , Ca
Reviewed by Suze Campagna

So itís Labor Day weekend, you canít afford Worldcon, you have no cookouts to go to because all your friends have gone to conventionsÖwhat do you do? Drive up interstate 5 and take a left.

San Joseís Silicon is a small media convention which is no Baycon, but maybe thatís a good thing. They had all the usual trappings of a conventions half the size of Loscon (except for the consuite)-dealerís room, art show, ad small masquerade, guests and oh yea, panels, I spent most of the time working in the dealerís room and had a great time talking to everyone and making new friends.

The art show was small, the artistís colony was more like a dealerís room and there wasnít much nightlife, but overall it was a nice weekend away form LA.

I did a bit of work for the TV channel and ended up interview a group of Klingons. Yes, real KlingonsÖthey even spoke the languageÖ.Iím not kidding. They were a lot of fun though. I ran into them at a party later on; they were trying to recruit me, but I think Iíd make a better Bajorin.

Next year Silicon could be bigger as it will be on the last weekend of September. So mark your calendars, Ďcause this is a great getaway convention!

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