Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Rest of the Story

Let's see... we got to Asilomar way too early on Friday, as Eric had warned me that we would, but I didn't care because I was at Asilomar and I love the place dearly. We walked down to the boardwalk, then nearly to the beach. Back up again to the rooms in the Fireside Complex, we decided to get the printer out and make a copy of the auction catalog for someone who had arrived on Thursday and told us she hadn't received the catalog yet.

We parked ourselves in the living room of Hearth and Eric netted while I read more of my book. Eric did the printing and all, and I wandered out before lunchtime and found people were already gathering in the forum. Eric and I went to Asilomar's new cafe for lunch, which was down at the main hall, then came back to find lots of people hanging around, much earlier than usual for a Winkie Convention because so many folks arrived a day early for the board meeting.

I decided to retreat back into Hearth's living room and finish my book, which I was able to do mostly uninterrupted. Then I wandered back out to meet and greet as more and more people arrived. Eric set up the swap table (based on the notion that one person's trash is another person's treasure: you bring your Oz-related stuff you don't want, donate it, and pick up anything you do want. If you don't have anything to donate, you can donate money, which goes to paying the postage, printing, and internet costs of the Winkie Newsletter). After registration started at 4 p.m., I went off to gather our stuff and take it to the room while Eric continued with the swap table. It made for some good exercise, even with the elevator from the parking garage.

We had root beer floats in the courtyard again this year. I chatted with the guy doing the serving. Turns out he has family from the Yakima Valley, so we discussed cows, hops and grapes and how little has changed since he last visited.

Eventually we all went to dinner. Eric and I were late because of having to pack up the swap shop. When we got down to the dining hall they were out of pork chops. I was more than a little disappointed, because I really wasn't in the mood for the fish. Luckily for me, Peter Hanff suggested we trade, and I got my pork chops. Aramark didn't take my suggestion, and there was still no chocolate milk available this year.

I got my computer and hustled to the back of the room for the evening's program. I was able to write up what was happening as it was happening and also get a little surfing of the web in. While I'm not a huge Oz fan like almost everyone else in the room, I do have an appreciation for both the group and the work that goes into a presentation, and I enjoyed the program. In some cases, despite myself. I did find myself wanting to read more of Eloise Jarvis McGraw's non-Oz books, thanks to Eric Shanower's presentation.

Hubby-Eric and I were too tired to go to the room party, although I would have enjoyed trying a virgin version of the cocktail. It was well past my bedtime when the programming ended, so we just went back to our room. I finished the newsletter for the night and sent it out, then went to sleep.

The next morning we were on a tight schedule. First we had to get the print version of the newsletter ready and out, then we had to get breakfast and then we had to get Eric into his costume. We managed the first two with ease, but Eric and I had a little trouble getting his costume all put together. It's a pretty simple costume on paper, but not so much in real life. He went as a Hopper, which is a one-legged Oz creature that... well, hops. So my mother and Eric made a pant for him to wear, and Eric got some fabric to turn into a shoe. It was... um... well, I made it so I'll say it. It was a pathetic shoe, but it kind of did the job for the duration of the contest. The pant leg held up much better. And Eric hopped into the role with vigor, astounding more than a few people with his ability to hop around the courtyard.

Amusingly, when I went out into the courtyard to put out the newsletter, there were a bunch of people from the other group using the complex, Carousel West 2013, waiting for the costume contest. I chatted with them and learned that they had actually put the Oz costume contest on their schedule because they'd heard so much about it in past years. In addition, I saw various members of the Asilomar staff wandering around the local buildings waiting for the costumes to show up. The crowd was huge for the event, and with 14 contestants it was a pretty good show as well.

After the contest I noticed that somebody had walked away with the newsletter, so Eric printed another copy which I put out again after writing "Convention Copy - please do NOT remove" at the top of each page. It stayed put until the end of the convention. I then put out the swap shop while Eric went to administer the Winkie Quizzes. A little while later the show and tell started, and I got Freddy Fogarty to promise a report for the newsletter since I was stuck at the swap table. Bob Baum, the great-grandson of L. Frank Baum (who wrote "The Wizard of Oz" and started this whole thing), brought a couple of boxes of stuff for the swap, so I put them out and chatted with people both Oz-related and not. People from the Carousel group kept coming by to talk. It was fun, overall.

After lunch is the auction, and I manned the swap table pretty much the entire time. I also had my computer, so I was able to do a bit of surfing and writing. I overindulged on brownies the Asilomar staff brought out to eat, but didn't touch anything in the open bar once they set it out. I did watch the local birds and squirrels make some valiant (and successful) efforts to get snacks from people.

The "formal" Saturday night dinner was fun, with a wonderful cake that I've already posted a picture of for dessert. Peter told us the story of getting the design right. When it came time to serve the cake, the two servers assigned to us didn't seem sure what they wanted. So I started the whole thing by carrying some pieces back to my table, then when Winkies lined up and got where I could rapidly hand put a plate out for the server then hand out the full plate to the first person in line. We zipped through that way, with me never actually looking up to see who was taking the plates. We had one more person in line with one piece left, so it actually worked out pretty well.

Among the discussion at the dinner table was the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award. It's pretty much the highest honor in "Wizard of Oz" fandom, and has been given to some very awesome people over the years. My husband started chatting with Robin Olderman, a previous recipient of the award, about how long it's likely to take him before he could earn the award. He was saying he probably needs to attend other conventions and give more presentations before he would be considered. He thought it is possible he might get the award sometime in the next 30 years. Robin said she thought he'd be eligible long before then, but he said it would be a few years, at the least. I didn't pay a lot of attention to the conversation at the time, personally. But I note in retrospect that there were at least three previous winners of the award sitting at our table that night.

The wildlife was out as usual. There were more fawns this year, probably because the convention was so early. I personally saw at least three fawns over the weekend (or maybe the same fawn three times). I also saw adult deer, lots of birds, and squirrels. Some people saw raccoons and there was evidence of them being around, but I didn't see any.

After dinner, the evening programming started with awards, including the costume contest (Dorothy won in the juvenile division, since only one juvenile came in costume and Scraps the Patchwork Girl won both the adult division and the theme prize), the Quizzes (three quiz winners, the prize is to write next year's quiz), all the participants from the Friday night game show (since they ended up in a tie), and the treasure hunt winner (who was also the juvenile costume contest winner, hrm). The Winkie Award, which I won last year for my efforts on the newsletter, went to longtime Winkie Anna Wyatt.

Then the surprise of the night.

Heck, the surprise of the convention.

No, that's not strong enough. The surprise of the year.

Eric might even call it the surprise of the decade.

Heck, maybe even his surprise of his life.

David Maxine announced the winner of the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award. Again, it's the highest honor an Oz fan can receive, and has a long history of notable winners. David started out by saying that he's no good at these teasing announcements that give a little bit of information at a time until people start to figure out who it is. Then he promptly gave a heckuva teasing announcement. It took ME a long time to realize, and I think Eric was similarly shocked. I do recall thinking idly, "Oh, that could refer to Eric," a couple of times. But that dinner conversation had made it clear to me that Eric didn't expect it for many years.

When it finally became clear, I just stared at David for a moment. Eric stumbled up to accept, and I saw the person who stood up first to start the standing ovation for Eric. It was none other than Bob Baum himself. I found myself rushing to the front, then stopped short because I didn't want to steal even an instant of the moment from Eric. I stood on the sidelines waiting for him to finish his "speech" which consisted of the word "seriously?" repeatedly and a bit of a review of the dinner conversation with Robin, who he credited with being VERY sneaky about it because he hadn't suspected at all.

When he finally went to sit down, I greeted him and gave him a huge hug. He laugh/cried into my shoulder, disbelief in every movement. Finally I let him go back to his seat and I returned to type the information into the newsletter that I was still working on. I barely heard the next event, auctioning of a beautiful Kabumpo sketch, and had to go ask someone how much it went for and to whom.

I enjoyed the evening's presentations on the Patchwork Girl of Oz, but I was more than a little distracted. The feature of the night was a presentation of the 1914 movie with live music (performed by Joe Cascone and David Haines). Popcorn was handed out, and David Maxine had the movie on a genuine reel-to-reel projector played at the correct speed (many silent movies are played at the wrong speed, making them look sillier than they are). I finished up the newsletter well before the movie was over, and set it up to send later in the evening. Eric and I did not go to the room party that night.

Sunday came way too early, and Eric had suffered from insomnia so he was jittery. I was just plain exhausted. Breakfast was good, but shortly after getting back to the room and starting to take things down to the car, I had a flash of fever and massive nausea. I sat down for a bit while Eric worked to pack up, but I just kept feeling sicker and sicker. I didn't feel quite right again until a bit after lunch, fortunately... because after lunch we were on the road.

The morning started with an audio drama playing in the main room since a guest hadn't been able to make it. Then Eric announced the winners of the research table (he and Karyl revived it a couple of years ago... it's basically the art contest, fiction contest and non-fiction contest of the Oz world). Then there was a discussion panel on the new Oz movie, "Oz the Great and Powerful" with strong opinions, and then the convention was over.

Next year the convention will be held August 8-10 at Hotel Mission Valley San Diego Town & Country Resort in, yeah, San Diego. Eric and I will likely have to fly down next year because I doubt I can get enough time off to drive. I'm not keen on flying, but Winkies has become very important to me. A couple of people told me that I worked harder at the convention than most of the fans. Maybe that's true. I don't know for sure, but I know I enjoy the "work" of writing the convention reports and seeing people. Even manning the swap table was fun. Overall, it's been a good experience for me. I've been to 11 Winkie Conventions, all at Asilomar, and I do love the group. The last few years, writing the newsletter reports, have brought me closer to the group as a whole and possibly even closer to Oz.

Ahem. I doubt anyone is still reading, but here I go...

We met with exhausted Eric Shanower and David Maxine in the parking garage as we were leaving. We said our fond farewells and hit the road. Because I was still feeling unwell, Eric took the first stretch. We had to get from Asilomar to Hollister, CA. We made it to Hollister no problem, but couldn't find the Safeway we planned to fill up the car at. See, Eric was saving up gasoline points at Safeway. We ended up getting a dollar off almost all our fill ups on the trip. It was a useful tactic, and we saved a little money in the end, I think. But we couldn't find the place in Hollister. So we used the data on our phones to pull up a GPS through Google Maps, and amazingly it worked. We got to the station, a little grumpy, but we got there. Then we had a very very very long drive to Weed, CA, to spend the night at Motel 6.

Once we got to the hotel we learned that Eric apparently left his computer's power cord at Asilomar. This turned Eric into a raging sulk-monster. Then I discovered that the bed was apparently a pile of cardboard with a thin mattress pad thrown over it (Eric just said it was "firm" but I'm certain it was just cardboard... ouch). Between worrying about the power cord, the "firm" bed, and a blowing fan that was far too loud for circumstances, I slept very poorly.

Fortunately, we had a relatively easy drive for Monday. We took off extremely early (about 6:30 a.m.) and stopped in Klamath Falls for breakfast. Eric seemed less grumpy once he had some hot cocoa and a plan for how to deal with his computer. It was also raining all day as we drove. Despite the sloppy driving, it wasn't a bad trip. Eric kept saying, wonderingly, mostly to himself, "I won the Baum Award!?!"

We stopped at a Staples north of Bend, Ore, to see if we could get a replacement power cord for Eric's computer. They referred us to Radio Shack, and we stopped at one and... sure enough! Eric got a new cord. That did a LOT to bring his good mood back.

We stopped in Madras for lunch and another Safeway fill up, then hit the road for the last stretch. The rain finally stopped when we crossed the border into Washington, but started again as we got to the Yakima Valley. I called my mom from about ten minutes out, and we got home about 4 p.m. I promptly located my bed and slept for a few hours. As I started to fall asleep, Inkwell came up and curled up against me for a time. Later, he came back to wake me up for dinner. We had pizza and got Pizza Hut to write "Welcome Home" on the box (they even added a smiley face).

My mom left this morning. I also called Asilomar and yes, they found Eric's power cord in the room. I slept in a long time this morning and have no intention of traveling in my car until I go to work tomorrow. We've unloaded the car now, and are sorting out what we brought back. So I'll go back to unpacking and try to get ready for tomorrow.