Tuesday, August 30, 2011

AramdilloCon 33

This past weekend was ArmadilloCon 33, held August 26-28, 2011 Renaissance Hotel Austin, where it was my privilege to be the Editor Guest of Honor. I've been to ArmadilloCon once before in 2003 and to this hotel in 2006, and I love the con, the hotel, and the town and was eager to return to all three.

I came in early on Thursday, so that I'd be there for the fabulous dinner at Fonda San Miguel (opened in 1975, recognized as one of the finest Mexican restaurants in US, great food, fantastic atmosphere/decor), then it was up early for the Friday workshop workshop, run admirably by Stina Leicht.

I've taken dozens of play and script writing workshops, but never taken nor taught a prose writing workshop before. Thus, I had an educational blast. There was a great writing game run by Scott Lynch, after which I gave a presentation on Screenwriting. Then I sat in with Paolo Bacigalupi and Mark Finn's writing group. It was a day long (8:45am to 4:30ish) stretch, but very, very worth it.

Then it was off to opening ceremonies, where Toast Master Mark Finn truly rocked. And he justified the title "toast master" in a way I've never seen before. I'll say no more. But if you can watch his toast master speech below, you should:

Mark Finn's Opening Ceremonies, Part I:

Mark Finn's Opening Ceremonies, Part II:

Then Friday night, SF Signal's John DeNardo, Author Guest of Honor Paolo Bacigalupi, Artist Guest Vincent Villafranca and I headed to Z'Tejas for dinner. I spent a lot of time with those guys, as well as with Sara Felix, and their friendship really made this an incredible convention for me. On Saturday morning, my wife joined us, and Vincent's wife came in on Saturday night, and thus our group was complete.

On Saturday morning, Rick Klaw and Mark Finn conducted the "Editor Guest Interview," where they surprised me by SERVING MIMOSAS!! At 11 am. After I had gone for an hour swim and SKIPPED BREAKFAST. I had three or four. Which ended up making for a few slurred words at the Pyr Presentation two hours later, but nothing too bad. That evenings "Fannish Feud' was fantastic, despite Paolo's inability to realize that my drawing a giant X on his back was an attempt to cheat and give him the answer to "best comic book films of all time" not a vote of no confidence in his ability to get it right (as it apparently should have been).

Then that evening, Paolo, John, Vince, my wife and Sara Felix went first to dinner at Z'Tejas again and then to my suite so that they could sample the amazing Dark Truth Stout that Sara wondrously procured for me. Dark Truth has become my All Time Favorite Beer, so I am deeply, deeply in her debt. And even DeNardo, who isn't a Stout type of guy, had seconds.

Then it was off to the parties. Though not a very late night.

Sunday was a panel on Book Covers (always a favorite topic of mine) and the final panel of the day, "The Return of Sword & Sorcery" (a topic close to my heart). Afterwards my wife and I headed out to Austin's South Congress district, where we stopped by the Big Top Candy Store and had the incredible Tamago Yoko at the Snack Bar (leek, bacon & shrimp in a hashcake, topped with over-medium eggs with wasabi aioli & sriracha drizzle). And I dug on the chia cow.

Cab fares are apparently ridiculous in Austin, so we called Sara for a rescue and she took us to the County Line for the final meal with the guests and con runners. I'd been to the County Line years ago. It was a good meal with good people (and turtles in the river). Then home for a final Dark Truth Stout with Vincent and Sara, a short stop at the Dead Dog Party, and to bed.

Monday's flight home was the best ever thanks to the Austin airport, where we had BBQ at the Salt Lick and ice cream at Amy's Ice Creams. My wife had Mexican Vanilla and I had Guinness Ice Cream. Yes, Guinness Ice Cream.  The airport even has steampunk art. Why can't all airports be like this?

Thank you A. T. Campbell III, Stina Leicht, Sara Felix, Jennifer Juday, Karen Meschke, Willlie Siros, and everyone at ArmadilloCon for an incredible time. I hope I gave as good as I got, but that's a tall order. This was a wonderful four days with friends new and old. Great food, great drink. And Guinness Ice Cream. How is that not an awesome trip?


Rene Sears said...

Sounds like it was a wonderful time. :)

Lou Anders said...

It was!

Reid Kemper said...

I loved Mark Finn's speech. It was funny, and he had a good point. I wish I was there, but Texas is too far away from me.