Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Attending ConFusion XXX



ConFusion has always been one of the better science fiction conventions in this part of the Midwest. They've survived for thirty years, after all! Now, with the new hotel, it seems to be on its way back to being one of the major cons. The attendees were amazing. I ended up happening to hang out with Eric Raymond the Linux guru for chunks of the weekend. Nice guy. (We did not talk about Linux, as I warned him that I knew very little about it and would just smile and nod a lot. He, like most older computer guys, was perfectly willing to talk something other than shop.)



I didn't mean to buy anything this con. But then I found out Marty Fabish of Second-Hand Silk was there. (She's the Dorsai lady with the white hair, amazing voice, and great figure.) I bought a black woman's haori, a sort of kimono-style jacket that Japanese folks wear over a kimono. It only cost me 68 bucks, which I thought quite reasonable, given the quality (and the nice fit!). I wore it at the con over my turtleneck, but I mean to use it mundanely as a coverup for my nicer dresses. (More elegant than a shawl, and black goes with everything.) This haori, unlike my kimono, has a mon (Japanese heraldic insignia) on its back. Three leaves in a circle. I have no idea whose family I'm being presumptuous to, and I really feel I should find out before I find out the hard way. (I'm not entirely joking about that, either.)



I also learned that, since my kimono is made of cotton, it's technically a yukata. Well, live and learn. I'll have to remember to show it to Marty at some point; I'm very proud of it. A nice fall pattern, made from sturdy material. I will never part with it, but I'd love to learn more about it; and Marty's plenty knowledgeable.



(Btw, Marty's got lots of lovely kimonos and haoris and obis and fans and such, and I'm sure she'd be willing to sell you one. So...email Martha Coady Fabish at secondhandsilk at sbcglobal net, or see her at a convention near you!)



Anyway, my haori is made out of silk with auspicious designs in it. I commented that you really wouldn't expect to see designers picking out inauspicious designs! Marty then commented that maybe inauspicious kimonos were behind the bad weather problems she'd had....



I had a great time at the con, but I must admit my good mood was seasoned by getting to argue with a few folks. The primo panel for this was the deliberately provocative panel "Is Religion Evil?" They put Robert Sawyer (excuse me, Hugo winner Robert Sawyer) on this panel. He proceeded to demonstrate why so many people seem to despise him. If you're gonna espouse atheism and logic, my friends, it's prudent not to argue yourself into six logical fallacies a minute. Honest to God, this is what he kept doing. Now, fans don't mind egotism or argumentativeness. Properly deployed, these character traits can make you a beloved curmudgeon. But Robert Sawyer is unbelievably smug while demonstrating his lack of qualifications to have any pride in his own intellect. My only regret was that the panel was so crowded that folks debating him stepped all over each other.



The filk side of the con was excellent. I was particularly struck by guitarist Jerre Morgan (sp?) and the band Riverfolk. Also, I finally got to hear Fred Levy-Haskell, who I've been hearing about for a long time. I believe these folks were drawn to Confusion by the effects of Steve Macdonald's visit to Minnesota last year.... Rand and Adam (half of the band Ookla the Mok, and its only current founding members still in the band) did a very good show, which I frankly liked better than the album it was supporting. Tom Smith apparently did a very good silly songs concert with Barry Childs-Helton. (Luckily, Barry'd gotten over that infestation of talking nothing but Academe-ese that he kept manifesting all weekend at OVFF. I couldn't figure out whether he was serious or just having a very dry joke on everyone....) Judith and Dave Hayman didn't quite make it down from Canada (Judith got sick) so I was stunt-Judith and Mark Bernstein was stunt-Dave on their panels. Since I'd just seen Steve Macdonald last weekend (while working on the album), and then saw Eloise who I was going to go see this coming weekend at Capricon, I really felt how small a town the science fiction community can be.



Unfortunately, I missed most of Hal Clement's wake. We left about then. But it was a good con, all the same.

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