Sunday, August 09, 2009

Worldcon Days 3 and 4: I don't remember

Which should be a pretty good sign that I'm not really fit to write this blog post, but I'm waiting up to see if the hotel can find me some salt, so that I can make salt water to soak my blisters. Hence, a blog post.

Yesterday was a terribly full day. I had four panels; I missed one due to oversleeping; I don't feel terrible about it though because I had specifically said I couldn't do anything before noon and they didn't listen... it was for 10 am. This leads me, by the way, into one of my biggest complaints about this Worldcon--I don't think it's very well run. Sure, the organizers have certainly tried hard, but there's a lot of things that could have been done better.

I've heard countless complaints about the scheduling difficulties people have had for their programming. Some people were placed on children's programming and had no idea what to do with it. Most perplexing though is the utter lack of logistical organization in regards to the hotels and the convention center. I am staying at the Delta. The Delta is 1.0 km from the convention center, Google Maps tells me, and yet it's THE CONVENTION HOTEL. You might think, "Oh, there are no other hotels nearby!" But you are grievously wrong if you do, since there are at least two hotels directly across from the convention center, and several more nearby that are closer to walk to. I have freaking blisters from the fact that I think I've walked about twelve miles in the last three days, and that's not even counting walking IN the convention center itself. I am not pleased. I wouldn't have booked a room in this hotel, if I had realized just how far away it was. Do you hear me, Worldcon organizers? I'm not the only one who is perplexed and displeased about this.

That said, I'm still having fun, albeit LIMPING fun. (Oh dear, I'm using lots of capital letters for emphasis; I apologize in advance.)

Yesterday was busy during the day with the panels and meetings with clients. Then, I hit the parties, including Angry Robot and the Rock Band party. We ended up at the Intercontinental bar again (note, it's damn close to the convention center), where we somehow devolved into playing Truth or Dare with some form of weird complicating other parts. We all wussed out and chose truth, but we did learn some interesting things, and Annie sang us a lovely song in Gaelic (she chose a dare).

As a side note, I got to meet two very neat people and blog readers yesterday, Julie Klumb and Annie Buhl. I didn't see Annie today, but I got to hang out with Julie again today, and I love her to pieces. Both of them are truly awesome, and if you can see them at a con, you should!

I also got to hang out with Derek Molata and my dear friend, Holly. It was wonderful to get to see them both too. I hung out with a lot of people, and ended up going to bed at 5am.

I slept.

Cue today, where I got up at noon, did Jenny-getting-ready things, and ended up having a very nice lunch with my client, Colin Harvey. I was going to go to the Odyssey reunion dinner, but my blisters were killing me, and I retreated to my room to try to sulk and treat them (I fear I will be getting much blister advice from this post; I don't need it, so feel free not to give it!). After that ordeal, I found Derek and Holly, took a cab to Old Montreal to find them, and we slowly wandered to eat dinner. We eventually had a giant group of eight people, and no restaurant would seat us but this place called the Stew Stop. I was cranky and hungry and threatening to possibly eat my dining companions; I gathered most people in the group felt the same way. =)

We sat down. There was one waiter. He was very cute and quite nice, but very inadequate for his job. We stayed anyway, which was a good thing, because the food was really good. I had some form of pasta with vegetables (vegetables, at a Worldcon!), and they comped us several good desserts. Then I called the cab company, and Derek, Holly, and I went back to our respective hotels.

I then wandered the party floors, searching endlessly for the Night Shade party. John Joseph Adams has been part of my con posse for years now, but I couldn't find him and Rob, who were definitely at the party. Finally, after going around in circles, talking to Cory Doctorow (who never did find the party), I found Liza from Locus who told me where it was.

I got up to the closed room and knocked on the door. I knocked again. No one answered. Notice, by the way, that I completely didn't see the doorbell for the room. So I resorted to kicking the bottom of the door until Jeremy Lassen opened it up. =)

And there was all my people! John, Rob, Jeremy, my new friend, Julie! And Ann Vandermeer, Paolo Bacigalupi (who the party was in honor of), Liz Gorinsky, Ross Lockhart, and many cool other people. I loved the fact that I got the chance to have real conversations with people, since it was a closed party, and the door was locked to all who dared enter. We pulled Holly and Derek into the party eventually, and the Angry Robot guys and Colin Harvey came by too. I discovered that Lee Harris of Angry Robot is hilariously funny; that Rob likes "Sex and the City"; that Julie used to teach hardcore high school science (and met her husband in an interesting way); and that everyone there was just awesome. I had a lovely, lovely time.

The hotel has kindly brought me an entire salt shaker to use to soak my blisters in saltwater, and I shall go do that too. Tomorrow, I get to go to the Hugos with John and Rob (Rob and I are John's dates; he's accepting for three people), so I will be sure to report on that. And do follow me on Twitter, as I'm updating as I remember to do so. One panel tomorrow and I'm done! =)


Anonymous said...

Yuh. Blisters. I can haz blisters too. Quite aside from the MILES I walked inside the Palais, I did a LOT of walking around the city. Blisters, hell yeah, I can totally sympathise.

Kalika said...

I agree they're not terribly well organized but it was worth it for me. I got to talk to GRR Martin, Robert Sawyer and you (I was the redhead in the purple Japanese thing). I confess I found you the most intimidating of the three. I understand writers, but agents are beings of awesome powers and I forget how to speak English around them. :)

Kevin Standlee said...

The Delta is not the only convention hotel. It is the "party" hotel. That is, it is the hotel that was willing to allow the traditional convention parties to be held in their hotel. The convention had a bunch of other hotels -- I'm staying in the Holiday Inn Select, for instance -- but only the Delta was willing to let us hold parties there.

Yes, there are other hotels nearby. Some of them are also convention hotels. They didn't want parties being held there. It's likely the convention would have preferred not to have to so far away, but if the choice is having no parties or having them in the Delta, I think having them in the Delta was what we had to work with.

Worldcon organizers do pay attention to the concerns you raised about distance. That's why they published some time ago, when hotel reservations opened, the hotel map with a scale included, and they did say on the hotel prices page which hotels were which.

Besides being a slave to my Priority Club account, I could see that the Holiday Inn Select was actually much more convenient to the high-numbered rooms in the Palais, such as 518BC where I spend nine program-hours this weekend, than to the low-numbered exhibit hall. Thus I only made the trek down to the Delta once daily, for the parties.

Jenny Rae Rappaport said...

Kevin, I do understand that.

But the reason I wanted to stay where the parties were is very simple--I am a young woman, in a foreign country, in a strange city, and I'm not going to walk back to my hotel alone at night. I didn't know where people would be staying, or whether there would be anybody else in my hotel. I knew that I would be going to the parties, and thus, knew that I would be leaving them late at night.

Hence, staying at the Delta. I still stand by my complaints; to me, the parties are some of the most important parts of Worldcon for me, and if the con organizers couldn't arrange it better logistically, I'm not sure Montreal should have been given priority in being chosen.

Kevin Standlee said...

if the con organizers couldn't arrange it better logistically, I'm not sure Montreal should have been given priority in being chosen.

In 2005 in Glasgow, the "party" hotel was 2.5 km from the convention centre. Most people rode trains, buses, or taxis between the sites.

Last year in Denver, the party hotel (Sheraton) was the same distance same distance from the Colorado Convention Center as the Delta Centre-Ville is from the Palais des Congres in Montreal.

It was around 350 m between the front door of the San Jose Convention Center and the Fairmont Hotel is San Jose in 2002; I remember fielding many complaints about how arduous the walk between the properties was.

As you probably know, site selection for Worldcons is done by the members of Worldcon, not by some secret group of SMOFS, and two years ago, the members of Worldcon picked Montreal over Kansas City, despite Kansas City touting an attached hotel (which presumably would have been their party hotel -- although that's not always a sure thing).

If you want to make "party hotel must be immediately adjacent to the convention centre" a hard requirement, you'll find that there are even fewer bids out there than there are now, I'm afraid. However, grilling prospective bid for future Worldcons about the separation between their proposed properties is a perfectly legitimate thing to do, and trust me, bids are quizzed about this. People who come to WSFS Business Meetings don't like walking long distances, either.

Jenny Rae Rappaport said...

Kevin, thank you for the information. I'm not trying to get into an argument.

And for the record, I hated Denvention last year precisely because of the logistics. I stayed with a friend in the suburbs, so that alleviated a bit of it, but it was still terribly bad and my feet were bleeding. I walked around with bare feet for part of it, due to the altitude and the blood.

My point is that I'm not sure Worldcon needs an actual separate convention center, as much as a REALLY large hotel space. We barely filled this convention center up, this time. Denver was gigantic, and we didn't come close to filling it up. I understand the space limitations with hotels being able to seat for the "big" events, but I wonder if it's possible to find a situation that will serve us. Or get part of a convention center, so we don't have to tromp all over the whole thing.

Kevin Standlee said...

You've actually cut right to the heart of the matter: Worldcons are, on the whole, either too small or too large. If we drew only about 2,000 attendees, we would fit better into hotel-only spaces. If we drew around 10,000, we would make better use of the convention center spaces (and very importantly, be able to spread the huge fixed cost of the building over a lot more people, bringing the price down to a less eye-watering-to-many-people level). Where we are now, we're just large enough to not be able to fit into many all-hotel spaces, but not big enough to make effective use of the convention centers.

There just are not a whole lot of hotels that have both a large program room that can hold ~2000+ people for major events, have the large aircraft-hanger rooms for Dealers/Art Show/Exhibits, and also have a decent variety of intermediate-sized rooms for general programming. The number of such facilities is fairly limited. Chicago in 2012 and Texas (San Antonio) in 2013 appears to be bidding to use such a facility (San Antonio has a pair of hotels adjacent to each other as I recall), but if you look around, you won't find a whole lot of them, and I don't think there are any outside of North America, and possibly not outside of the USA.

Unless we plan to force Worldcon to stick to Anaheim, Chicago, Boston, and maybe San Antonio and a handful of others, we're unfortunately going to be saddled with the "convention center problem."

Or we could work on shrinking Worldcon. I'm not being sarcastic, honestly. It's not a course of action that appeals to me, but some would prefer it.

Selestial said...

I didn't get blisters, but my feet were wrecked from vacation before I ever got there.

Beyond that, I love you to pieces too, Jenny! You were a blast to hang out with :D As for the Nightshade party, Rob was a complete doll and let me tag along with him. I assumed you knew where it was all along.

Hope to see you again soon (maybe RT in April?)