Back from Balticon

It was like stepping into Earth-2. That was my first thought when I arrived at Balticon on Saturday morning. We decided that with school and work on Friday, there was no way we could be there for the first day so, instead, got up at the crack of dawn and were on the road by 6:30.

At that hour, we zipped through and got the show in 4:20, which is pretty much how we prefer it. The Hunt Valley Inn remains garish with its new color scheme and décor but we will endure. Anyway, the show used the same facility space but things weren’t where we were used to it. Being a more literary SF show, they needed more space for the art show so placed it in the Hunt Room which normally held programming. Registration was off in a corner rather than using the coat check area. Functional, and in some cases an improvement, but odd.

Registration was interesting in that they forgot to have a badge for me. They had one for Kate who was performing, and one for Deb who had been asked to judge, but the other two…nada.

Over the time at the show, I visited with people from the area and fellow professionals, most of whom I haven’t seen in a while. As a result, I had a lovely drink with Connor Cochran and through him met the author Peter S. Beagle. Spent time chatting with Bob Jeschonek and his delightful wife Wendy. Reconnected over dinner with Ann Crispin who I haven’t talked with in ages.

Deb loved it as she actually spent more time than usual talking to several locals she never usually has time to speak with. Since Marty Gear, who has organized the Masquerade for the con since 1979, asked Deb to judge in one e-mail exchange but never confirmed it, I never said a word to Deb. So she was floored when it became a reality (which also meant a trip across the street to the Mall so she could find something to wear that night) and enjoyed the experience immensely. She even participated in the post-mortem discussion Sunday morning. Me, it was an odd feeling sitting there and actually watching rather than judging and beside me were the kids, neither of whom was competing. I’m telling you, it was visiting Earth-2.

Additionally, Deb got to meet author and fellow knitter Brenda Clough. Our families enjoyed a spirited lunch and it was fun to meet Brenda who is also a comics fan and an avowed follower of the collections I assembled.

Since the con didn’t schedule me for anything other than Trailer Park or add my name to the web site, I wasn’t surprised at the lack of autographing. Of course, I was bowled over when the only thing I was asked to sign all weekend was the current issue of Weekly World News. Trailer Park went over just fine, and I enjoyed the Q&A exchange that followed.

A highlight, though, had to be a catch-up lunch with Neil Gaiman. One of the reasons we chose to attend our first Balticon was Kate’s desire to see Neil once more, plus the Boogie Knights were invited to sing. Neil somehow actually had a hole in his schedule so suggested lunch. On Sunday, we whisked him away from the hotel and found a rib place nearby so we could chat. For a lovely hour, it was talking about his kids, my kids, some industry stuff and listening to his travels in Australia. Deb had never met Neil and was charmed while Kate was ecstatic over discovering his affection for poet Wendy Cope, someone she had only recently discovered. The conversation was rambling and a treat.

The Boogie Knight show Sunday night had them loose and fun, playing to their packed room audience. It was clear several members in the room had never seen them before and were enchanted. They received a standing ovation which thrilled the group no end.

Monday morning I showed the trailers, dropped Kate at Amtrak to head south to D.C. for the NSEP Convocation (that scholarship I bragged about some weeks back) and then we were hoping to beat the road crush by heading for home. It took about six hours, and would have taken less time had the line for gas been a little shorter or the rest stop lunch break had been some place a little better organized. Still, it wasn’t too bad.

And now we’re all back to work.

3 comments

  • Alan Kistler

    What a great time. Makes me miss my old stomping grounds in the DC area. I hate that it seems I never have time to go to all the cons I want to see.

    Glad that TRAILER PARK seems to be getting good reactions. Best wishes on that.

  • Tom Galloway

    Neil had an hour hole in his schedule in the middle of a con?

    Excuse me, I need to wrap up my affairs as clearly the End Times are upon us.

  • Paul Balze

    It was great to see you and the family this weekend, Bob.
    I managed to miss every one of Neil Gaiman’s talks the whole weekend (including the intro to the “Mirrormask” screening, since I had to run out and get my stuff out of the hotel room), due to schedule conflicts, but I did at least manage to get my newly-purchased copy of “Anansi Boys” signed on Sunday. The line was so long, and started so early, that I managed to read six chapters of the book by the time I got to the front of the line.
    It was a fun weekend overall, though, with lots of familiar faces. Nice audience reaction for the two plays and the Boogie Knight show, too.

    Next year: Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle! Must remember to take books with me…