Right then, let’s talk VCON

userinfosolarbird and I love us some Vancouver, and we hadn’t been up there since going to see my beloved B’ys last year for the Olympics show–so we were sorely wanting even the slightest excuse to scamper up there for the weekend. VCON handed us that excuse in spades. It turned out that the convention was great fun in its own right, and assuming I have enough spare vacation time next year, we are totally coming back.

I took this past Friday off from work so that we could go up on the morning train, which required us to get up at stupid-o’clock. This would have been easier if I hadn’t had to work for four hours on Thursday night, and if I hadn’t had to spend most of the train ride up working on this year’s employee review–but even given that, and even given that we were operating on four hours of sleep, it was still quite nice to roll into Vancouver. We were kind of silly about not planning the arrival better, as we wound up missing an opportunity to go to the HMV earlier than planned. But that was all good. We dropped our stuff off at the hotel and then went right back out again for two Extremely Critical Missions!

One was me going to the HMV in downtown Vancouver, which, as I’ve mentioned in my previous post, is my current Vancouver source for Francophone music. I was disappointed to not find the live Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer DVD, but quite happy to find the Le Vent du Nord Symphonique album! Along with that, as per the recommendation of userinfoscrunchions, I also grabbed En Famille by Mes Aieux, and Dara got herself a Barenaked Ladies album she didn’t have yet. AND! I grabbed the season 1 DVDs for Republic of Doyle. I really hope I like it, because I’m buying it sight unseen here, just to work my way up to Alan Doyle’s guest spots in season 2!

The second, even more critical mission was this: hitting this place for OMG SO VERY, VERY TASTY rosemary and rock salt bagels. Dara bought every single one they had available, which meant thirteen of ’em. Because SO. SO. GOOD. We are given to understand that these are in fact Montreal-style bagels, and that the shop was founded by a guy who brought that style of bagels to Vancouver. This pleases me immensely, because if Dara and I do make it to Montreal during the Trainventure, we now know to expect to find awesome bagels.

Then we settled down to the business of actually attending the convention.

It turned out to be delightful, small enough to be cozy yet large enough to be lively, with about 600 people total showing up for the weekend. I particularly enjoyed going through the dealers’ room and having lengthy conversations with the various booksellers, who took the time to ask me about my reading tastes so that they could recommend specific titles (many of which I then bought).

I didn’t go to much programming, but what I attended was fun. One panel was along the theme of “Everything I know about Japanese SF I learned from Ishiro Honda”, which was essentially a presentation on the work of the man who directed the Godzilla films. That was fun, but not nearly as fun as the later, hysterical panel about the sex life of “Godzilloids”, which was played absolutely deadpan, and all about scientific “research” into how Godzilloid creatures reproduce. Equal hilarity was to be found in the “Justify the Science Flaw” panel on Saturday night, which was people with Srs Bznz science cred doing their damndest to come up with legitimate scientific explanations for some particularly wacky science in Star Trek and Lost in Space, and also in how you could possibly actually get legitimate zombies. (After that one, I got Dara going on a similar justification for Irwin Allen’s, um, imaginative treatment of radiation in the reactor room of the Seaview on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Muahaha.)

And! Mad props to the “Turkey Reading” panel, which turned out to be not just the panelists reading selected excerpts from particularly wretched ancient skiffy books, but also volunteers from the audience acting out what they were reading, and other members of the audience bidding against each other to either stop or continue the readings! All the funds went into a fund for helping Canadian fans attend distant conventions, and it was in general great fun.

Big props to the art show as well, which was one of the most interesting art shows I’ve seen at a con in some time, and I say that as someone who has no art education at all. Dara, who has an art degree, was very impressed with the work there, which says a lot more than my own opinion. There was a lot of excellent use of texture in multimedia pieces, and one artist (who in fact was one of the people staffing the table up front) did some neat things with color contrast in her work. There was a lot of excellent sculpture and other 3-D work as well.

Dara and I went to Rocky Horror at 10pm on Friday, and we turned out to actually own the whole thing, which was kind of hysterical given that between us we could remember only about a third of the lines. Most of the rest of the attendees didn’t know any of them–with the exception of a few people who started getting into it with us, and one guy who joined Dara on a couple of the visual gags, which got great laughs once people realized what they were doing.

Given the size of the convention and the nice layout of the hotel, it was very easy to just randomly hang out and chat with people in various locations, not just in the con suite. And that was really awesome, since Dara and I both are a lot less likely to do that at a con the size of Norwescon. It really hearkened back for me to the days of Rivercon and Marcon, when we were in Kentucky, in terms of size and friendliness!

Also? Mad props to the con suite for actually having a wet con suite as well as a dry one–because that let us accomplish one more Critical Mission, finding Growers cider! This had been highly recommended to us by userinfocow, and it turned out that they had some right in the con suite! WINNERS: Dara and me. The peach cider was particularly tasty, and once we got ready to go on Sunday afternoon, we made a point of finding some of that as well as some dry apple to bring home with us.

So yeah! Great, great fun, and I must give shoutouts as well to Foxipher and Shaddyr from the Filk list, with whom I had some lovely chatting even if I didn’t have a presence at the filks. (I really, REALLY need to start practicing some filk-circle-appropriate stuff.) We also had some lovely conversation with a friend of Dara’s, and with a few other random folks we hadn’t previously known but with whom we just naturally had conversation spring up, with delightful ease.

And that right there I think sums up the awesomeness of the convention: relaxed, groovy, and friendly. I’m greatly looking forward to coming back next year.