In for a Penny V
In for a Penny V, or, Thanks Gary for dragging me to CONtraflow IV kicking and screaming (c) Dean Sweatman 2014.
CONtraflow 4 was coming up and I had a 15% decrease in my monthly budget. The con was starting the 4th but my next SS Deposit would be on the 8th (and that would have to last 35 days rather than the usual 28) and I figured I would need at least $75.00 for membership and food - some $45.00 over my allotted daily spending allowance over the 3 days. So I tightened my belt with fewer visits for Free WiFi at the Burger King, less travel by Bus ( I really need to get a seniors ½ price card), and dropping my weekly visits to take advantage of the Golden Corral mid-day seniors special ($8.50 including drink and tax at 2-4pm Monday - Friday was just slightly more than I was spending at BK for breakfast and WiFi). It looked like I could pull it off.
As usual life had other plans. By the first of October the budget was closer to even than having the hoped for excess. The future looked Bleak and rather than strain the already tight budget I let everyone know that it just wasn't going to happen this year. I got a few "That's a shame", "We'll miss you" even an "I'll Stake your membership" (Thanks again Lance) comments but looking at the coming 35 day long stretch I couldn't justify borrowing the money when it would be at least a month after the con before I would be able to start to retire the debt and maybe two months to pay it off. Then I would be looking at another 5 Wednesday month.
My son (Gary) was in much the same shape - his next paycheck would come in on the Monday after the con but he could pay it back out of his following check and offered to cover me. I said No it was my problem and got muleheaded.
He kept on badgering me suggesting that I at least ride down to the hotel as a drop-in to see what was going on. I have always felt that hanging around the commons without a membership was akin to shop-lifting - No Matter how many of my betters had gone down that road over the years.
Friday morning he showed up with borrowed money and said that he wasn't going to the con unless I went along. I agreed -- under protest -- hitting the shower and my quarter jar for bus fare home in case he refused to drive me back. I figured an hour or so on the smoker's patio to figure out if I wanted to bail or get a membership (one or three days) couldn't hurt that much.
I set up the bearded, pot-bellied, grumpy, old, fen of SF table and looked around to see what was going on. Seeing Tom and Anita Feller from Nashville (that I hadn't seen since 2001) were walking around in the commons left me to decide if I would be in debt for a one or three day membership - I could always depend on the Consuite to prevent starvation(g) -- having Guy Lillian tell me that Patrick, Naomi and Gracie Molloy were there too sealed the deal and got 3 day membership money from Gary.
After allowing the line for the at the door reg table to subside I picked up my Badge and returned to the smokers patio as is my habit at most cons. Over the years I've become less interested in the Guests, panels, and assorted what-nots that concoms toss in to pull in or entertain those that they need to pay the bills. I attend a con to recharge the fannish battery, to see people that I don't see (locally or regionally) in the course of daily / weekly / etc wanderings, and rejoice in the Gathering of the Clan.
This year's CONtraflow was far better in that respect than last year attracting Tom and Anita Feller of Nashville, Patrick, Naomi and Gracie Molloy from Huntsville AL, Randy Cleary, Kendall, Guy Lillian now from Florida, and John Guidry Chair of the 1988 NOLAcon. Missing were Mike Rogers Chair of the 2016 DSC, Justin and Anne Winston, and a host of other New Orleans based fen from over the years.
I made a pass through the dealers room. I was delighted to find a table of genre paperbacks from the Friends of the New Orleans Public Library at a buck a book. On Sunday they reduced the price to $0.25 each. Sadly I couldn't spend any money with them (sigh). The room was small and crowded with, what has become the norm lately, costuming, games, and what-nots. Not really my cup of tea but I didn't hear a lot of moaning about a lack of sales.
The Clubs / Cons hall was much larger with tables for Coastcon, Krewe du Who ( a Dr. Who club ), Krewe of the Enterprise (a Star Trek Club), the New Orleans based Steam Punk, Star Wars, SF / Fantasy Mardi-Gars krewe and other groups making up the fiefdoms of local fandom. There were a couple of tables devoted to club and convention flyers but nothing on them from the 2016 DSC or Southern Fandom Confederation. (sigh). DSC had an pass as on Monday they issued a press release announcing that the had concluded the contract with their hotel.
I looked at the pocket program long enough to see that there were five tracts of programming but nothing reached out and grabbed my interest. Having the mind-set that I have developed over 40+ years it is a rare thing that can compare to a good conversation between those that share a broad based interest in Science Fiction, embrace FIAWOL and the Clan / Community rather than as just another hobby.
The Consuite was large ( larger than the dealers room) with loads of munchies and from time to time real food. I didn't see a local (to the con area) eating guide but was told that it was posted to Face Book. Speaking of eating I want to thank those that tried to bend my arm to join them for a meal during the con. I was honored but Being mule-headed I turned 'em down.
There were some filk concerts but the volume was a bit above my limits. I miss the non augmented filk sing-a-long circles of my youth.
After the tour I returned to the smoker's patio to meet up with those that wandered by to talk. I saw Bill Powers of Baton Rouge who let me know that the Baton Rouge based costume con had fallen on hard times and might not return next year.
Jon Glenn, Bill (one of these days I will remember last names ) Wynter from Coastcon and a couple of dozen others sitting down to chat from time to time.
I ran into Jan Luke-Mule' (wife of Jim Mule' of Vul-Con fame) in the commons. Jim is one of the New Orleans fen like Harry B, Moore, Dan Galouye, Jack Stocker, Pete Bezbak, Don Markstein, Dennis Dolbear and others that have moved on to that great room party in the sky and are sorely missed at these gathering.
On Sunday Former NOSFAn Nancy Mayberry, who I last saw around 1993, appeared and sat down for chat. We spent a couple of hours getting caught up, exchanging @dresses and phone numbers and looking at 1960/70s era fan photos I had on my tablet. Promising to to stay in touch she had to disappear through the doorway to visit with other old friends (sigh).
Over all I would guess between 600 to 750 people were wandering the halls. Those that said it looked smaller than in past years have to remember that in this new hotel the con did not share the traffic from non members passing through the commons. Yes there were fewer Dealers but most seemed to have had good sales during the con
To my way of thinking that was as good or better than the first CONtraflow when I returned from nearly 10 years of fafia to see old friends. To the Con-Com I say You Done Good this year and I look forward to next year's combined DSC.
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