Pixel Scroll 6/4/16 Later on We’ll Scrollspire, as We Dream by the Fire

(1) SUPERHERO CONSUMER REPORT. The Verge warns “Thanos’ almighty Infinity Gauntlet defeated by above-average oven heat”.

The most powerful weapon in the universe has a weakness: it cannot withstand the necessary heat to remove a cast iron pizza pan once warmed to 400-plus degrees. Reports of the weapon’s fragility have been making the rounds by way of Loot Crate, which shipped an Infinity Gauntlet oven mitt to subscribers in its May product bundle. Following many failed attempts to hold hot objects and presumably eradicate Marvel superheroes, the device has been dubbed defective.


(2) RUNAWAY MIND MELD. When SF Signal closed, a couple of people were still at work on installments of its popular “Mind Meld” feature. James Aquilone has now posted the one he was curating, that asks participants the question:

Q: What are your favorite visions of the future in the SF genre?

Answers come from Sean Williams, Stewart Baker, Stephen Merlino, Matt Dovey, John Lasser and Christoph Weber, all published in the latest Writers of the Future anthology.

(3) FEELING BETTER? While the SF Signal blog is shuttered, somebody (John DeNardo?) is still issuing regular news tweets from the SF Signal Twitter account.

(4) CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN. Tom Smith’s protest filk “Just A Kid From Brooklyn” – a $1 download.

…You’ve heard about his shield, to keep him safe from harm,
And how he used it like it was an extension of his arm,
You’ve heard about his buddies, and how some paid the cost,
The woman that he loved, the childhood friend he lost.

But most of all, you’ve heard about the man behind the mask,
How fighting for our freedom was his most important task,
Sometimes it was a rescue, sometimes it was a fight,
But sometimes it was just his words and knowing he was right

And now you tell me… he’s a Nazi
You want to prove the best of us can end up like the rest of us
You’ve undone his whole purpose, and then shoved him off a ledge,
And tell us it’s so bold of you, how it’s oh so cutting edge….

(5) THE I-FILES. Gillian Anderson has a new gig says Variety, having been cast in Starz’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

Anderson will play Media, the mouthpiece for the New Gods, functioning as their public face and sales representative, by taking the form of various iconic celebrities. She lives off the attention and worship that people give to screens — to their laptops, their TVs, to their iPhones in their hands while they watch their TVs. Ever the perky spokesperson, and always in control, she spins stories in whatever direction best suits her.

(6) PEACE BLIND YOUR WEAPONS. Police have warned those attending Armageddon 2016 in Wellington this weekend to cover their fake weapons to avoid public panic. The New Zealand Herald has the story.

Many of those attending the expo, which has been dubbed the Wellington Geek Event, arrive dressed in costumes which may include accessories such as fake weapons. While they were fake, they looked real, police warned this evening.

“Those attending the festival are asked that they be careful when they are walking to and from the events around Wellington and that they carry these ‘weapons’ with care so as not to scare members of the public.”…

Police had already today been called to Porirua after a man travelling to the expo was seen carrying a fake weapon.

(7) RALPH OBIT. SF Site News reports Patrick Ralph passed away.

Illinois fan Patrick “PJ” Ralph died on June 2 following a battle with cancer. Ralph was an active and was currently developing a game for market with some friends. He was part of the “Bermuda Triangle” hoax Worldcon bid for the 1988 Worldcon, which took second in a field of four.

(8) G.O.A.T. John Scalzi, who at age 8 knew Muhammad Ali was “The Greatest of All Time”, at age 47 has a far deeper appreciation why it was true.

But — and this is the second thing — you cannot love or honor Ali properly without acknowledging that blackness and Islam are at the core of his greatness. It seems to me, and I think the events of his life bear this out, that the greatness of Ali — who he was — was did not come out to you, was not there for you, and in a fundamental way did not care what you thought of it. It was there, and you could come to it or not, and if you did, you had to take it on its on terms. On Ali’s terms. And Ali’s terms were: He was a black man, in America and in the world. He was a Muslim man, in America and in the world. He was who he was. He did not have to transcend those things about himself. You, however, might have to overcome your understanding of what you thought of both blackness and Islam to appreciate him. People did or did not; Ali went on regardless.

(9) WHEN JIM BURNS MET ALI. Jim Burns posted this memory of meeting the champ in person:

AliSupermanI’ll always be grateful that I got to meet Muhammad Ali when he was still in the full height of all his many powers. The occasion was an odd one–a 1978 press party at the Warner Communications building on Fifth Avenue, heralding Superman Vs Muhammad Ali, a special edition “deluxe” comic book volume that DC Comics produced (in which aliens compel the two titans to tussle, “to save the Earth”).

(10) CARTOON SECTION. Today’s Close To Home by John McPherson concerns a hellish to-do list.

(11) MIKKI KENDALL. Tasha Turner pointed to Mikki Kendall’s “WisCon 40 Highs, Lows & What The Actual F*ck?”. Now I think I can see what was behind that committee tweet I wondered about.

That brings me to the “WTAF?” part of this post. We’re going to start with the Con Suite. Because I made the actual beef for it, and because it is an exceptionally glaring example of an overarching problem. Time & time again I saw people come in, take umbrage that a place staffed by volunteers serving free food had imperfect service. Not dangerous service, not unhealthy (AFAIK no one got food poisoning which I did from a place where I actually paid for the food), just imperfect. Because a delivery didn’t show up on time the menus had to be shifted around. Because two of the aging fridges went out food was in shorter supply than expected. Because there weren’t enough volunteers actually willing to show up & work when scheduled some things took longer than expected. You know..normal things that can go wrong at any event.

Now, there are a lot of theories about the entitled attitudes on display from some con attendees. Some of it was definitely about race & gender (funnily enough all the Black women serving in the con suite that I know have similar stories about rudeness despite being there on different days, I didn’t get a chance to check in with other POC, but I have some guesses based off stories relayed to me), some of it was about bizarre expectations and a total lack of home training (possibly related to reason #1) but at base none of it was okay. Here is where I remind you that Julia, the con suite chair pays for a flight & hotel from Boston to Madison to spend an entire weekend volunteering. To feed hundreds of strangers three meals and unlimited snacks every day. Here is where I remind you that con suite staff are all volunteers. Here is where I ask you why a con that prides itself on being at a union hotel can’t remember to treat volunteers like people.

(12) THE PERPETUAL CAMPAIGN. The BBC’s roundup of electoral futurism starts with the spectre of a holographic Trump campaigning in 20 places at once.

Then it moves on to a candidate with a strongly science-fictional view of the future.

Forty-foot coffin

“Why not?” offers Zoltan Istvan, an US independent presidential candidate who identifies as a futurist and transhumanist.

“Many other jobs are being replaced by robots. Why not our leaders?

“We’re about 10-15 years from having a machine that’s as smart as anyone in this room. It might make sense at some point to have a machine lead us.”

I met Istvan this week at the Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara, a gathering of companies working on augmented, virtual and mixed reality technology.

He certainly stood out. First, he’s built like an action figure. Second, he wants to live forever (that’s the transhumanist part). His presidential campaign is built around calls to fund further science that will – the movement hopes – one day make immortality a reality.

He, of course, is not going to become the next president. But that’s not the point. His campaign is designed to bring attention to his call for the US to put more money into research. This publicity drive is enhanced by his campaign bus – a 40-foot long coffin on wheels.

(13) CLICKBAIT. Tickld’s “30 Things You Probably Missed in Star Wars: The Force Awakens” are on 30 different pages, so a lot depends on how irresistible you find this kind of lure.

(14) BILLBOARD PROTESTED. Yahoo! reports “Rose McGowan is speaking out against a billboard of Jennifer Lawrence in ‘X-Men’ for an important reason”.

The purpose of a movie billboard is not just to give viewers an idea of what the movie’s about, but also excite them enough to go see it. That’s why some people are concerned about what’s going down on a current billboard in Los Angeles for X-Men: Apocalypse featuring Jennifer Lawrence‘s character, Mystique, and Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse. I know what you’re thinking: how could anything involving Oscar Isaac and Jennifer Lawrence be bad? However, actress Rose McGowan, and a handful of others, have pointed out that it sends a pretty weird message, and we can’t help but agree. The billboard shows Apocalypse with his hand around Mystique’s throat, strangling her.


(15) TABLET HARDWARE. “Hello From Londinium: Oldest Handwritten Documents In British History Discovered” on NPR.

Archaeologists in London have unearthed the oldest handwritten documents in Britain — a collection of notes, bills and contracts dating back nearly 2,000 years.

The discovery, a collection of more than 400 Roman waxed writing tablets, was announced Wednesday by the Museum of London Archaeology. The tablets were unearthed in London’s financial district during excavation work for a new building.

The Guardian has more on the tablets’ discovery:

“The tablets were found under a 1950s office block in the still smelly, wet mud of the lost river Walbrook, as the site was being cleared for a huge new European headquarters for Bloomberg.

” ‘They give us a glimpse into a carpet-bagging community in the new wild west frontier of the Roman empire,’ said Roger Tomlin, the expert on early Roman writing who spent a year poring over the faint scratches on slivers of fir wood recycled from old barrels.

The Bloomberg tablets, as the museum is calling them, date back to as early as A.D. 43.

(16) THE LATE PLAYWRIGHT. Francis Hamit, in “Film Producer Reveals Truth About Christopher Marlowe’s Death”.

After years of intensive research Francis Hamit is satisfied that he knows exactly how and why the Elizabethan poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe died on May 30th, 1593.

“It was a hit,” Hamit said, “A political assassination for reasons of state, ordered by Queen Elizabeth herself. Marlowe professed atheism, which would have been no big deal if he had not been the most famous and popular playwright of the Elizabethan stage. His fame meant that the deed had to be done secretly. Marlowe was also one of her spies and worked for the Secret Service under Sir Francis Walsingham and Sir Robert Cecil. The other men in the room with Marlowe at the time of his death were all friends of his and long-time agents for the Crown.”

“Marlowe infiltrated the Jesuit Seminary at Rhiems as a spy in 1585, and probably did other missions. He was part of Sir Walter Raleigh’s group of freethinkers, the so-called ‘School of the Night,’ and gave a lecture about atheism. His former chambermate and lover Thomas Kyd was arrested for having atheistic literature and revealed under torture that the documents were Marlowe’s. Additional accusations from informers got Marlowe arrested by the Privy Council and he was under investigation and restrictions when he died.”

For the last six years, Hamit has been developing these details into a screenplay, now being produced by famed film producer Gary Kurtz in the UK. The film will be directed by American film director Michael John Donahue, DGA. The underlying material is Hamit’s 1988 stageplay “MARLOWE: An Elizabethan Tragedy”.

“Actually the whole thing was Mike Donahue’s idea,” Hamit said. “He read the original stage play and suggested we make the film. We decided to make it in the UK because of the locations, the very deep bench of acting talent, and the generous tax incentives.” To that end, Hamit and his partner formed The Kit Marlowe Film Co. PLC with offices in London as well as Los Angeles and negotiated a North American film and video distribution deal with Lightyear Entertainment in 2015.

Hamit has done several drafts of the screenplay and just added a scene where Queen Elizabeth orders Marlowe’s death. “She did it for the best of reasons from her point of view,” Hamit said. “Her authority as Queen was based upon the Divine Right to Rule. Saying there was no God was a direct challenge to that authority. Marlowe had to go, and as quietly as possible. She pardoned the man who murdered him a month later.”

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

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143 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/4/16 Later on We’ll Scrollspire, as We Dream by the Fire

  1. Greg Hullender on June 5, 2016 at 9:03 pm said:

    But is it a digital computer? That’s what nearly everyone means these days when they say “computer,” and, at this point, it really doesn’t look very digital to me. It’s a massively parallel, unclocked, biological/chemical system that has almost no similarity to any machine ever built. So in the sense that it does computations, sure, it’s a computer, but I think it’s terribly misleading to say that to a lay person.

    Bits of it probably are.

  2. Greg Hullender on June 5, 2016 at 9:16 pm said:

    We do model weather, but imperfectly. As for the brain, it’s possible that the uncertainty principle will keep us from ever having a perfect model, but, in theory, sure. If you simulated all the molecules, you ought to get the same results.

    I think that analogy is flawed in a few ways. Firstly in that the issue with weather is predicting specific weather – which makes the analogy map better to the possibility of modelling a SPECIFIC brain e.g. making a model Greg Hullender and expecting it to come up with what you would say or do is definitely not a thing that can be done. Modelling non-specific weather (fictional weather?) is a substantially simpler task, but not an obviously useful one.

  3. @lurkertype: (what size sea?)

    Well, technically speaking, the Pacific is an ocean and thus presumably not really a sea… 🙂

    @Cally: (expectations of consuites)

    I don’t know how widespread it is, but the more mature cons I’ve been to here in the Southeast tend to center around “nibblies all the time, some real food around mealtimes, and closed in the wee hours.” That worked out to my detriment at my last con, as the hotel restaurant and the consuite closed up at the same time… which was right after a panel I was attending. As I hadn’t expected everything to close up before midnight, I was out of luck until the next day.

    One standout situation that is sadly no longer possible (the hotel remodeled) is that for a while, the gaming room I ran at one con had a soda fountain right there in the room. We usually had trouble on the first night, because nobody was quite sure what setup had been done and whether the fountain was usable – but it was there and didn’t take that long to get sorted out. This was far superior to another event at the same venue that had no provisions whatsoever for refreshments anywhere near the gaming space. Not even vending machines.

  4. I had that Ali and Superman comic as a kid. I had more or less no idea about who Ali was before that, but I loved that comic. The best was the cover. I remember sitting, staring at the cover, trying to find all the cameos of famous superheroes. Little did I know that there were cameos of other famous people like Lucy Ball and John Wayne there. They were unknown to me.

    I found this great comment on IO9 about the comic:

    “Andrew, I don’t know how old you are, but I can remember right now begging my mom to buy this. Hell, the reason I’m a DC kid is because I was only allowed to get the “value 3-pack” at the grocery (my jams were DC/Neal Adams and Spidey/Fantastic Four, and 3-packs had a C-list book stuck in the middle, so the DC 3-pack was always the safest bet for lil’ me).

    Anyway, I distinctly remember begging for this extravagant TWO DOLLAR comic. But better yet, I can remember the Old Man’s seal of approval when we got home from the grocery that day:

    “You should have let him get his other books and this one; this is something really special”.

    Shit. And I actually thought I wasn’t gonna get choked up about this.”

  5. Kit Marlowe in SF:
    Back in the days when Doctor Who only survived in novel form, one of the early Virgin Missing Adventures involved the First Doctor working with Marlowe to thwart the machinations of the Mi-Go in Venice. It was set a few years after Marlowe faked his death in the Deptford pub so that he could focus on spying better.
    Empire of Glass by Andy Lane if my memory is correct. Rather fun.

  6. @Darren Garrison Just out of curiosity, is it the stories that are short, or the Jewish vampires?

    I’ve got 5 short stories planned and one long novel. It’s the stories which are short. Jewish vampires turn into cats not bats. Beware all cats. 😀

  7. About volunteering at cons in general, the importance of having a volunteer coordinator can’t be stressed enough. Fen aren’t born knowing what to do in a consuite, or art show, or with panel microphones and signage, or … you get the idea. If you’re not sure what needs doing and haven’t done it before, it’s not fair to be expected to just up and help immediately. That said, I have memories of when fans at Worldcons have stepped up to help on the spot, but as you know Bob we’re talking about SMOFs here.

  8. Modelling non-specific weather (fictional weather?) is a substantially simpler task, but not an obviously useful one.

    Paging William Gibson…

  9. Before envisioning a short Jewish vampire, it somehow had never occurred to me to wonder if “The Count” was Jewish. But of course, it has to others. (It turns out that The Count is possibly Mormon.) Apparently nobody (before now!) has wondered that about Count Blah…

  10. For whatever reason, none of the cons I’ve ever been to up here in Canukistan have had a Con Suite so the idea of a convention feeding me for free instead of me being forced to buy a $7 slice of pizza because the food vendors and/or convention center know they have us trapped so we’ll pay whatever just to be able to eat, that sounds like some sort of wonderful dream even if it was just cold cuts and a veggie platter lol Heck last year we were having a problem with just getting water, because someone decided to remove all the water fountains inside the vendor hall so you had to run all the way to the escalators just to refill your water bottle!

  11. Also omg that’s a pretty serious mistake with the oven mitt – that’s the one job an oven mitt is supposed to do, how is that not tested for?! :O I’ve been burned even through real working oven mitts, it’s in one way awful because by the time it registers that the mitt isn’t working, you are usually already committed to holding something you don’t want to just drop on the floor so you have to make a terrible choice in less than a second @_@ Usually your “reptile” brain/reflexes make it for you anyway and down the hot thing goes without you even deciding.

  12. @rcade on June 5, 2016 at 8:41 pm said:

    Why do cons feed people for free? I never had that expectation at a comics or gaming con I attended during the decade I went to them regularly.

    ConFusion, in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area, seems to have started offering significant food for the members in response to a multi-year run at locations where there were no food options available (other than the pricey hotel) without a car, back maybe in the early 1980s? (The Plymouth Hilton era, probably continuing to Southfield.)

    Other folks in this discussion have mentioned that this seems to have started as a Midwestern thing, so I’m speculating that it spread from ConFusion. I do recall a discussion with one local friend who had gone to his first con outside of the immediate Michigan area, around mid-1990s, and he was appalled that the con suite did not offer hot dogs.

    The 2016 ConFusion program book had a note that the con suite food was not intended to sustain life through the weekend and you should probably plan on getting some real food from somewhere once or twice.

  13. I’ve been going to cons since about 1985 and con suites have been getting more elaborate in terms of food over time (though I also moved across the country, which could be making a real difference, apparently.)

    When I started, the con suite usually had some sodas, and some chips. If it had more than one kind of chips, or some candy also available, you were getting the deluxe version.

    Now the con suites at cons I go to almost always offer fresh veggies at least some of the time, and sometimes real food, which can range from build your own sandwich, where your options may be as limited as PB&J or may include several kinds of cold cuts and various types of bread, all the way up to oatmeal in the morning and chili in the evening (the latter sometimes with a vegetarian option.)

    Having spent a lot of time with the “two kinds of chips is deluxe” type of con suite I try not to expect anything more. But I may be getting spoiled…

    I *always* take food to cons. My go-to basics are apples, string cheese, bagels and Hershey bars, since these keep without refrigeration and will handle most of my “must have food now” moments.

  14. I’m a picky eater so I started traveling with my own food by age 8 (?). Going kosher in my early 30s changed what I traveled with. Finding out I’m allergic to dairy changed my travel food again. People have always laughed at my bags of food and drink until they get hungry and I have cheap food readily available. It’s always exciting for me if a con suite has kosher dairy free food/drinks.

    I don’t get not being prepared to feed yourself even if the con is offering food after your first year congoing. Things go wrong. We should all be familiar with Murphy’s Law. Refrigerators die, food isn’t delivered as promised, more people show up than expected so run out of food, volunteers don’t show up so service/keeping food refilled is slow, panels/events run over, you oversleep, etc. A few protein bars, a loaf of bread & PB&J, bottled water, fruit, cheese, will cover your needs. If traveling internationally having your own food is harder. Hopefully a local friend will take you food shopping.

  15. Jars of decent olives. They will keep for a few days unrefrigerated, and they scratch the saltiness urge whilst being real food. Some Clif bars. Those little wax covered cheese that will also keep fairly well. Jerky. Starch there will be in plenty, so I bring the things that won’t be there.

  16. Dried fruits and nuts – especially if you can get them mixed.

    I’ve always thought of consuite food as snacks, not meals.

  17. @ Darren Garrison

    You keep talking about “what’s included in the ticket price?” The thing is, there is no ticket. What you pay to get into the Con is a Membership fee: by paying it you become a member of a communal enterprise, and (as some have already hinted) although you aren’t obliged to actively pitch in and help, it is frequent and usual for such members to do so, if only by volunteering to gopher for a shift.

    I’ve been gafiated from con-going for a couple or so decades (in part because I got heavily into helping to organise and staff CAMRA Beer festivals for a while, and then became unemployed and impoverished for a further while): I may therefore be a little behind the times, but at the 3 UK and European Worldcons plus the scores of lesser-scale UK Cons I’ve attended since 1978, there was rarely any suggestion of free food other that (a) party snacks offered by Con Bids at their parties and on their stalls, and (b) vouchers for a modest free meal given in exchange for gophering or other volunteer work to help run the Con: typically, around 40% or more of the paying con membership (used to) do so.

    Maybe things have changed, and I’ll be pleasantly surprised at Worldcon 75 which I’m attending, or a sooner con if I can get to one.

    I wonder if this is a particularly US thing, given that food is, reputedly, relatively cheaper (and oversized portions more usual) in the US than on the right-hand side of the pond?

  18. Now that I’ve had a chance to think it over a little, how does the con suite setup prevent cross-contamination of the shared food items? Is one of the jobs of the con suite volunteers to make sure someone doesn’t touch everything with their grubby little fingers? It’s hard enough to prevent the spread of con crud without shared foodstuffs being involved @_@

  19. Now that I’ve had a chance to think it over a little, how does the con suite setup prevent cross-contamination of the shared food items?

    I don’t know how other conventions do it, but at CapClave (the convention I am most familiar with the behind the scenes of), the con suite only provides food that is prepackaged in individual servings. That limits what the con suite has, but it avoids a host of legal, contractual, and health problems.

  20. Sunhawk, it was not a big concern twenty years ago. Which explains the ubiquity of con crud. <wry> These days, I’m seeing conventions putting out tongs, serving spoons, and such… which doesn’t stop you from touching the handle of the serving implement that two dozen other people have already touched. But it’s less likely that someone will reach into the chip bowl with their bare hands. (I can tell you from my experience filling in for a short-staffed consuite that consuite staff handle everything with gloved hands.)

    Some conventions are moving to individually packaged snacks. (Either commercially packaged, or put in baggies by the consuite staff.) Which has its own problems from excessive wasteful packaging….

  21. I wonder if this is a particularly US thing, given that food is, reputedly, relatively cheaper (and oversized portions more usual) in the US than on the right-hand side of the pond?

    I recall one member of a local midwestern U.S. con’s board going into some financial detail about the cost of con suite food per member and that it added $5-7 to the membership price. It’s a hospitality gesture, which is a basic midwestern U.S. value, to serve food at gatherings. It’s also a real benefit to poorer fans who are on a tight budget.

  22. Way back in the discussion… I agree completely with what Kyra said about Just One Damn Thing After Another. No desire whatsoever to read more in the series after that bag-o-rocks plot.

    In terms of cons, I’ve only ever done romance and mystery conferences in the writing world, but never did they offer free food to anybody (except maybe people who were actively working, like, if you come up to the suite and stuff packets for four hours, you might get some popcorn and a soda) but I don’t recall open hospitality suites for everybody at the conference, with or without refreshments. Whole meals? How can they afford that if there are more then five people at the conference?

    In my experience, large convention centers and hotels often bar bringing outside food & bev into rooms or suites or anyplace else on the premises. That has nothing to do with the convention planners. It comes from the convention center or hotel and how they make their money.

    And I’m in the Midwest and I worked in hotels and conference centers from about 15 to 22 and attended conferences all over the US after that.

  23. These days, I’m seeing conventions putting out tongs, serving spoons, and such…

    Public health officials now have SF con suites on their radar, and have emphasized the safe serving of food. For the most part, the fans being served seem to get it, thankfully.

  24. Whole meals? How can they afford that if there are more then five people at the conference?

    It’s not the food that’s expensive, it’s the service. The cost of a keg of bheer is far less than the cost of buying it by the glass in the bar.

    In my experience, large convention centers and hotels often bar bringing outside food & bev into rooms or suites or anyplace else on the premises. That has nothing to do with the convention planners. It comes from the convention center or hotel and how they make their money.

    True, but if you can negotiate it with the hotel it can be done. I know several cons in the U.S. Midwest that have done it for forty years.

  25. rcade asked:

    Why do cons feed people for free?

    At this point, tradition. Cons are used to doing it, and congoers have come to expect it.

    Although it’s not always precisely “for free”– there’s usually a tip jar, sometimes with recommended donation amounts.

    I never had that expectation at a comics or gaming con I attended during the decade I went to them regularly.

    It’ll depend on whether the comics or gaming con has roots in more general sf fandom or not. Here in the Portland, OR area, the big gaming con (Game Storm) is run by the same people as the sf con (Orycon), so it has a con suite. The anime con (Kumoricon) doesn’t have those roots, so it doesn’t have one.

  26. Terry Hunt on June 6, 2016 at 12:55 pm said:

    @ Darren Garrison

    You keep talking about “what’s included in the ticket price?” The thing is, there is no ticket. What you pay to get into the Con is a Membership fee: by paying it you become a member of a communal enterprise,…

    Exactly! I sometimes use the phrase Fandom is a Pot-Luck Dinner, which is particularly apt in this case.

    You are not paying a ticket to hire someone to entertain you; you’re buying a membership in an organization. Members help each other out.

    Now as it happens, I’m personally better off than I was thirty years ago. I don’t live off of con suite food. I don’t pack a dozen people into a hotel room to keep costs down. I do often bring a small electric ice chest with me and my wife and I will buy food to bring with us. There have been a number of times when we’ve had our breakfast as camp food meals re-hydrated by water from the in-room coffee maker. (That’s getting harder as so many places start to go to single-cup brewing machines.) And I’ve reduced the amount of communal food I touch out of a desire to reduce con crud.

    I try never to gripe at any of the people paying to volunteer to help other members. Sometimes I’ll pitch in to help, too. Fandom is a gift economy that won’t work without volunteers and a spirit of cooperation.

  27. I carry protein bars wherever I go at cons. Also trail mix is good, and your favorite beverages. More and more hotels are providing teeny tiny refrigerators, at which point whoa nelly! The last con I went to, my room had a fridge AND a microwave. BYO food! Reheat the leftovers! Boil water like you can’t do with the damn K-cup! I still ate at the hotel restaurant, mostly; they had some good deals for the con.

    A particularly good con suite was Westercon 66 a few years ago in Sacramento. Lots of real food, with separate tables for gluten-free and vegan to avoid contamination. All the water and soda you could want, meats, veggies and chips on the table to go with the vegetarian hot dishes, and homemade cookies. Cheese came in regular, lactose-free, and vegan. Of course, it also had a number of people who basically did that and chipped in their own money.

    (No booze, that’s a whole other hassle and best handled by parties having a door person checking ID and giving a handstamp or wristband.)

    So even when there’s a really good con suite, don’t be using it as your own personal restaurant (the hotel thinks more kindly towards the con if you partake of their offerings), and don’t be yelling at people who have given up their time, sleep, money, and panels to serve it up to you.

  28. @lurkertype:

    Vegan cheese?! I mean, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it exists, but I still am…

    Sugar-free drink mixes are my secret weapon at unfamiliar/big cons. They take up very little space, mix up well in a 20oz bottle (I just don’t fill it all the way up), there’s no caffeine, and they’re cheap. I can have a variety of flavors on hand for almost no downside, because there’s always a water fountain to be found somewhere. If I get really fancy, I’ll pack a collapsible half-liter water bottle that takes up even less space – but be sure to clean the parts out very thoroughly between events!

    I’ll usually go through a drive-through on the way to the con, and that takes care of my Friday afternoon/evening meal. Similarly, I generally get some food on my way home as Sunday lunch. (I can stand to miss a meal now and again.) That leaves one or two meals Saturday that I need to take care of on-site, and the hotel restaurant is usually a fair option for that. Alternately, finding a couple of other people and putting together a pizza order generally isn’t that difficult. It really comes down to event-specific details, though. (There’s one venue that has a great barbecue place just a couple of blocks from the main entrance…)

    Bigger cons – Dragon, I’m looking at you – are more of a challenge for multiple reasons, not least of which is the higher hotel cost for the longer stay. It’s one thing to drop twenty bucks per meal if you’re spending $300 on the hotel, but when the hotel’s three times that much, the budget will only stretch so far! I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Dragon Con consuite, and one year I packed several non-refrigerated meals that I could nuke in the room microwave. It’s hardly fine dining, but it did the job at an affordable price.

  29. Thank you Aaron and Cassy B, as someone who worked for a year in food service with food handler rules trained into me, for a moment I was getting a bit of a cold sweat lol And this weekend I was at a Mac and Cheese Festival where I watched a girl prepare my fancy mac and cheese by using the same spoon to dish out four different ingredients because she was both in a rush and short on spoons, the stuff she was spooning was not exactly high risk for food poisoning but I still winced lol So apologies for the concerned questions heh heh

    I mostly use my room fridge for a few things that must be kept cold to be eaten in my room after a long vendor day (the ones with a thurs and/or friday usually end at 10 which makes it hard to go out to get dinner) but mostly I’ve learned to get by on foods that are happy kept at room temp, don’t spoil easily and don’t make my hands too messy, like granola bars, crackers, chocolate covered almonds, etc. Occasionally I spoil myself with some fresh strawberries or raspberries. When I do Fanexpo, there’s a farmer’s market going on nearish-by that a friend usually brings me some baked goodies and a nice hot lunch, last year was a butter chicken with rice nom nom nom!

    I tend to keep my snacks in a backpack that I offer to any artist around me or any friend who comes by, I have been known to feed people lol

    @Tasha do you keep meat-n-dairy type kosher or do you prefer the certified stuff like COR, etc? We’ve got a pretty big Jewish community in Toronto and I actually work for a Jewish company so I have become more familiar with the various “levels” of kosher and enjoy a number of Israeli snacks such as Bissli 🙂 Mmmmm bbq or pizza Bissli nom nom nom

  30. @lurkertype – I was also excited that my last hotel room had a fridge AND a microwave, I felt very decadent lol

    I have a friend who is allergic to dairy (not to be confused with being lactose-intolerant) and we have been on the search for non-dairy cheese that melts properly, that seems to be where we are stuck now, that the stuff we’ve tried doesn’t do the melty cheese thing which is part of what makes cheese so appealing.

  31. Everyone plans so much. My usual approach is to be too tired in morning to eat breakfast. Then forget to eat lunch. Then get ravenously hungry which means that it is impossible for me to queue for more than three minutes to get food. This means that I will roam around for 1-2 hours until I find somewhere with less than three minutes of queue. Or I’ll explode, get fed a banana, mutter for 10 minutes and then forget to eat until dinner where I will repeat the same procedure.

    Sometimes I’ll go out and eat with people too. That is most likely the smartest, which is why I will not do it that often.

  32. @Hampus: “My usual approach is to be too tired in morning to eat breakfast. Then forget to eat lunch.”

    I resemble those remarks. 🙂

    I find that creative sloth is the secret to good planning. For instance, if you never remember to unpack the Big Bag O’Drink Mixes, you never have to remember to pack it!

  33. I am mostly trying to avoid getting hangry, nobody wants to buy art from a hangry artist lol Plus I barely get time to pee some days, so waiting in line for food is right out.

  34. @Sunhawk
    Technically I keep “must have acceptable certification” so yes COR, OU, Star-K, etc . Toronto was fun to visit when I was healthier and could eat dairy. Tons of wonderful kosher food and alcohol options and the various orthodox communities I visited were pretty reasonable. I think it was 10-12 years since I last visited. Wow sometimes I forget how long I’ve been unable to travel. I made 2-4 trips up over 3-4 years just as I was getting ill.

    For a melty non-dairy vegan cheese if you can find it try Daiya. It’s the best I’ve found for melting, texture, and taste. It’s not perfect melting. Nachos either turn a little brown or the cheese isn’t quite as melted as I’d like. But for pizza, pasta, on a burger, and grilled cheese it works quite well. I think it would work for a fondue. I’m not sure about mac & cheese. It does have soy so it’s not a perfect allergen substitute. It’s certified kosher parve.

  35. Terry Hunt said:

    I wonder if this is a particularly US thing, given that food is, reputedly, relatively cheaper (and oversized portions more usual) in the US than on the right-hand side of the pond?

    AFAIK it’s more of a regulatory thing. When Worldcon was in the UK in 2005, it was explained that local laws basically made serving food in the con suite impossible. There wasn’t even food in the Green Room.

  36. We can model weather on a computer, but most of us don’t confuse the model with actual weather.

    Well, not again, anyway

  37. @Tasha – if you are ever in my neck of the woods again, let me know! We can go to Ben and Izzy’s Deli, The Pantry or even the kosher sushi place I’ve heard about 😀

    Yeah my friend mentioned Daiya, i think the texture of it bothered her a little plus apparently it wasn’t melty enough for what she wanted it for (I forget now what exactly lol) but maybe it just takes practice to get it doing what you want it to do 🙂

    I am lucky to have no allergies or pertinent digestive issues so I am free to eat as many unhealthy things as I am foolish enough to do :X My main weaknesses are vanilla soft serve ice cream, donuts and salty foods lol

    Oh someone mentioned beef jerky, yes it’s an excellent con snack. Sometimes I get very decadent and hide some prosciutto in my hotel fridge to eat on those nights when its too late to eat out ha ha

  38. @Sunhawk
    Will do. When I’m better I hope to travel & visit friends I haven’t seen in too long. Meeting new friends face-to-face fits in with that.

    ETA: It has taken experience to get Daiya to melt just right & we don’t always get it the way I want it. It’s just so much better than all the alternatives.

  39. Leaving aside misogyny, the ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ billboard is just plain ugly. Would, for example, Keir Dullea’s terrified face at the interstellar climax of ‘2001’ be put on a poster?

    (Super)men grasping (super)women by the throat or jaw is actually something of a depressing trope in comics — John Byrne has been identified as a particular offender.

  40. (6) PEACE BLIND YOUR WEAPONS. “Those attending the festival are asked that they be careful when they are walking to and from the events around Wellington and that they carry these ‘weapons’ with care so as not to scare members of the public.”

    I am reminded of a sign, located on the boundary between conspace and public space, at a MileHiCon many years ago. “Do not frighten the mundanes, for it makes them soggy, and hard to light.”

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