Saturday, August 28, 2010

Armadillocon 32 -- Day 1

I am at Armadillocon in Austen, Texas. They tell me the heat wave of last week has broken, which means it was only 97 degrees. However, the hotel Renaissance is cool and dramatic, having both a central eight-story-tall atrium and a courtyard full of stone bison. Here I am astride one of them:

Lunch at Mangia, a traditional pizza outing organized by Lawrence Person, featured some of the best pizza I have ever had, barbecue chicken pizza with a vinegar-barbecue taste. In the afternoon I did an interview with Brent Bowen of Adventures in Science Fiction; this will be podcast sometime in late October or early November. Throughout all of these activities, however, ran a growing nervousness: the Opening Ceremonies marked my first occasion as Toastmistress. Usually I don't get nervous performing in public, but this was a new gig for me and I had prepared assiduously.

What was it Robert Burns said about the best-laid plans? The speech was well-received, but the jokes depended on my cell phone ringing at certain intervals and my then answering it and pretending to talk to Google. Jack Skillingstead, seated in the audience, was primed on when to call me. Unfortunately, the half-underground ballroom failed to find a T-Mobile signal. Michael Bishop helpfully shouted RING! RING!, which helped some, but... And so it goes.

Here are the con guests that I introduced between non-rings, from right to left: Special Guest Michael Bishop, Editor Guest Anne Sowards, Artist Guest Cat Conrad, GOH Rachel Caine, Special Guests Andrew and Ilona Gordon, Fan Guest Elspeth Bloodgood, and the befuddled toastmistress, waiting for the phone call that never comes.

Opening ceremonies were followed by a Meet the Pros party, then a late dinner with Jack and Patrick Swenson of Fairwood Press. Meanwhile, back in Seattle, poor Leslie Howle was coping with my dog. It was not going well. Cosette and Leslie's poodle, Luke, hated each other on sight. Cosette was disoriented from having been carted to two new locations within ten days. When Leslie tried to move her food dish, Cosette bit her. Leslie, an old hand with dogs, was not too perturbed, but I am. This is no way to keep friends. Maybe I'll just stay permanently in Austin.

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