Friday, July 30, 2010

Winkie Convention Report for Non-Oz Fans

If this works, anyone reading this on the blog itself should only see this paragraph. Folks reading the feed will get the whole post, sorry. If you want to read about my trip to the Winkie Convention, it's down below...

We left the house in the care of our house-sitter at 6:30 am on July 22nd, and jumped in my lovely car and started down the highway to California. We passed through the Columbia gorge and saw all the windmills that have sprung up, more than last year. We mourned the destruction of the shoe tree at milepost 53, and we listened to audiobooks and music using the nifty FM Transmitter I got for my car. We stopped for lunch in Chiloquin, OR at a cafe called Melita's that turned out to be pretty good. We reached our first night's hotel after 11.5 hours on the road. Dinner was a Subway restaurant near our hotel in Willows, CA. We've noted that we really didn't need to get that far in one day, so if we can go next year we'll probably stop in Red Bluff or Redding instead.

Laura Gjovaag
The hotel in Willows wasn't exactly perfect. For whatever reason, Eric's computer wouldn't connect to their wireless, so he was grumpy. Then there was the pool, which you've already seen the "closed" sign for. At least the AC worked fine, and we survived the night despite some child wailing in another room. The continental breakfast was remarkably bad, with the most watery orange juice I've had in ages. In short, we're not going to stay there again. Unfortunately, we had the same hotel booked for the return trip.

With plenty of time to get from Willows to Asilomar on Friday, we still started out nice and early. The FM Transmitter got more and more staticky as we got into heavier populated areas, and we eventually gave up on it. We stopped in Morgan Hill to look for an Arco (we stocked up on Arco gift cards the last few months to pay for the gasoline in advance). We never found the Arco, but we did find a Target which made for a good excuse to walk around, and we also found a haircut place called SportClips. I'd been needing a haircut for ages, and I was willing to try anything. What we got was... unexpected.

SportClips was designed for men to get their hair cut in a comfortable non-feminine and non-barbershop place. There were TVs playing ESPN, and the stations had lockers in them. The stylists were dressed as refs. I told my stylist to go short, and she did. I have a lovely fuzzy haircut that I adore. I should take a picture of it and show it to other stylists in the future. Eric flirted with his stylist as usual, and when they found out we were first-timers, they offered us an "upgrade" to our haircuts. In addition to the haircut, we'd get a shampoo, scalp massage, and neck and shoulder massage. At first I said no, because I didn't think we had enough time, but Eric went for it so I did as well. After cutting my hair, she put me in a shampoo chair then wrapped a hot towel with moisturizer in it on my face. AHHHHH. Then I got a tingly shampoo with scalp massage. AHHHHH. Then a shoulder massage with something that looked a little like an airhorn. It was fantastic. Eric said that the idea to get a haircut was simply brilliant on my part, and I have to agree.

The Gjovaags

We eventually got to the convention with a bag of Subway $5 footlong sub for lunch, and sat in the courtyard at the Forum waiting for the action to start. We really didn't have to wait too long. The staff of the conference center were already in our building cleaning up, and as Winkies arrived we took over the hall and started decorating. Then I got roped into helping out with registration, and started working on nametags and registration packets. I don't know what it is about Winkies, but I always seem to volunteer instead of sensibly hiding out in the background.

Green Glasses!
Now, this isn't really the place to describe the convention itself. It was, after all, and Oz event and we have an Oz blog. In addition, my three-part convention report that I wrote for the Winkie Newsletter is going to be reprinted in a couple of places, possibly even the Baum Bugle (the official magazine of the International Wizard of Oz Club) itself. So instead, I'll go into a few bits of my actions that probably won't be of much interest to the Oz fans.

First off, thanks to the wonderful Stan, I had internet access again this year. We asked permission from an Inn across the street from where we were staying to use their wireless. Amazingly, the wireless was even available in our room. The only problem with it was that I could not access my e-mail through Thunderbird for some reason. I did a little bit of troubleshooting but never did figure it out. It shouldn't matter in the future. Next year Asilomar is supposed to get wireless in all the residential buildings. We won't know for sure until it happens, but there is a new management in charge of the non-State Park bits of Asilomar, and they've made a few changes and probably will make more changes the longer they go.

Now, on a more directly Oz note, last year there was a big meeting at the end of Winkies in which a discussion about the future of the convention and the problems the convention had took place. Before the end of the conversation, I had decided that what the Winkies really needed was a Newsletter, and that I could tackle the job. And so I... well... volunteered. Yeah yeah, I know. But the result was that I set up my own little corner of the Forum hall and called it the Winkie Newsletter Station.

Winkie Newsletter Station

I spent most of the time during actual events in the hall playing on the internet. On Friday night I "watched" the Eisner awards on Twitter, and even got up and interrupted the Oz program to announce the Eric Shanower and Skottie Young had won their first Eisner of the night. The second win wasn't announced until after the regular program had finished, but the people at the after-party heard about it from a Comic Con International attendee.

During the convention, I managed to send out two newsletter updates, and a third on the way home. These make up the con report that may end up being printed elsewhere. I also Tweeted from the convention, as anyone who reads my Twitter feed knows.

Eric Gjovaag as Ozzie McTavish
The picture to the right needs a little explanation. It's my husband Eric's costume. But it wasn't originally intended as a costume, it kind of turned into one on the trip. See, that incredibly cool jersey that Eric is wearing does not belong to him. It's the property of Emerald City Comicon organizer Jim Demonakos. The jersey was a gift from the Comicon to volunteers, and Eric didn't qualify. He wanted to buy one, but Jim refused. So, after a year of negotiation, Eric managed to borrow this jersey just for the duration of the Winkie Convention. Appropriately enough, the convention this year was celebrating the 100th anniversary of The Emerald City of Oz. So the jersey became doubly relevant.

Originally, Eric just planned to wear it around the convention on Saturday, letting people see it and admire it. Then he remembered that he had that really cool black cap with green OZ lettering that he got years ago from Books of Wonder. He found the cap and took it along to wear with the jersey. Now, I told you awhile back that we stopped at a Target? Well, Eric was already getting a cool costume idea. With the jersey and cap, all he needed was a nice pair of green socks and a baseball bat, and he could be a member of the baseball team from the Emerald City, the Green Sox.

Well, he couldn't find any green socks in that Target, but we knew there was another Target in Sand City, on the way to Asilomar, so we decided we would also stop there. And we did. We hunted high and low, but the only green socks we could find were in the womens section. However, they were nicely stretchy, so we bought them and that goofy red bat so Eric had a last-minute but very cool costume.

Costume Contest
Now, you cannot have an Oz costume without an Oz story behind it. The other two "official" costumes had nice stories to go with them, and Eric had to make up a little tale for his costume. He decided that the player's name was Ozzie McTavish, and he was a power hitter and center fielder for the Emerald City Green Sox. He decided that Emerald City had won the championship over the Wonderland White Wabbits and the Narnia Lions. During the costume contest itself he talked about how the Green Sox are the only major league team in Oz, but that the Munchkin country produces a lot of great shortstops with very small strike zones.

In any case, he did not win the costume contest, that honor went to the Nome King as played by Susan. But a lot of people were very impressed with the jersey, and we once again wish we could have gotten one for him back when we still lived in Seattle and could have volunteered for the convention. But then, hindsight and all that.

You may be wondering about the picture of me in my Aquaman hoodie wearing strange glasses. That was for the green glasses decorating contest. Every member of this year's convention was urged to bring decorated green glasses to the convention, and prizes were to be awarded for the best ones. As for the Aquaman hoodie... where else am I going to wear it during this hot summer but in cool chilly Asilomar?

I had a fantastic time at the convention, even though some folks seemed worried that I was hiding in my dark corner of the hall. It was a relief to me: Eric got to be as fannish and happy as he wanted, while I got to play on the internet and yet still watch the action! Yeah, I was "working" too. Some Winkies started calling me the intrepid girl reporter. I find that very funny, and not exactly true, but it gave me an excuse to wander around and visit everything that was happening and talk with people.

Asilomar, despite the change in management, was still wonderfully friendly and pleasant. We were told that many of the staff were being kept on, and we saw quite a few familiar faces, usually in the dining hall. The people are the key to Asilomar, so I hope they continue to do right by them.

The Gjovaags

After the convention ended, we still had a day and half of driving to go (not as bad as Jared, who took Greyhound across the country to get to Winkies!), so we took off right after lunch and headed for Willows. We had come down the coastal route, but for the trip back we went over the mountains to the I-5 corridor, going up through Sacramento and back to the hotel in Willows. For dinner we walked to the Black Bear Restaurant down the street and had a theme-y type meal. Not too bad, but then, I'm not terribly picky. Good news, though, Eric's computer was able to connect to the internet in the different room we got on this visit.

We got a slow start in the morning. The continental breakfast was even worse this time, as by the time we got out there all the good food was gone, and nobody bothered to refill it. We were glad to leave Willows for the road.

Not much exciting happened on the road. We continued to listen to audiobooks and music. There was construction on 97 near Weed, at the Grass Lake pass, and we were delayed awhile there. We stopped again at Melita's in Chiloquin, OR for lunch, and I had onion rings that were perfectly cooked and a bacon cheddar burger that satisfied all my junk food needs for the next month or so. We drove along 97 in Oregon with a raging lightning storm around the area, but never really over us. We only got a little rained on, but we got quite the light show.

It was a relief to finally get home and rest. I somehow managed to avoid the post-convention let-down this year. Perhaps the fact that I spent over eight hours on Tuesday answering Newsletter-related e-mails kept me in the con-mode long enough to ease out of it gently?

Ok, well, this is long enough already. I'd like to thank the folks who took the pictures I'm using on this blog entry, if you mouseover the pictures you should see their names. I'd also recommend that if you are at all interested in Oz and would like to come to the convention next year, you should check out The 2011 Winkie Convention Facebook Page and Subscribe to the Winkie Newsletter.

And hey, if you want to keep up on Oz stuff, check out my hubby-Eric's Wonderful Blog of Oz. Maybe I'll post my Oz focused convention report there, too.


Jay said...

Oy! I only traveled halfway across the country! Of course, going there and back was pretty much the same amount of travel...

Carolyn I said...

Sounds like you had a great adventure! :)

Tegan said...

Carolyn, it was great fun! If you want to read a version of my Newsletter report, it's been posted here: