Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In the Footsteps of Lois Lane

by Nancy

Barbara Monajem's visit was scheduled for today but has been delayed until October 8 due to a scheduling conflict.

Those of you who're around here regularly probably remember Trish and I go to Dragon*Con every year. For five years, I volunteered in Nancy Knight's excellent Writer's Track, but I stopped when my guys started going to the con with me. This year, with the boy in college and the dh behind in class prep from the Great Move of Boy Property, I went to Atlanta by myself.

I like to be involved in the con, so I volunteered for both the Writer's Track and the Daily Dragon, the con's newspaper (most of it is online). I interviewed writers, mostly, but I also had the chance to chat with Barbara Vey about her blog, Beyond Her Book, and Debra Dixon about Bell Bridge Books, which sponsored the Writer's Track.

I also got to cover panels for Battlestar Galactica and Sanctuary. Thanks to my DD credential, I had a backstage seat for BSG (very hard to hear back there, since the sound system is aimed away from you) and a spot in the front row for Sanctuary (much better audio, and I was a mere ten feet from one of my SF heroines, Amanda Tapping--photo courtesy of Trish Milburn).

I glanced around as a woman in the uniform of Merlotte's Diner (from HBO's True Blood) walked by, and I thought, Gee, she looks like Trish. She turned to go to her seat, and I discovered she was Trish.

Not wanting to give up my precious front row seat, I phoned her from thirty feet away, and we connected after the panel for dinner. Thousands of people in the ballroom, and the only two banditas still connected!

We headed for the extremely overcrowded food court between the hotels, hunting for a spot along with Jedi, storm troopers, super-heroes, anime characters, barbarians, elves, gaming characters, Starfleet officers, and a host of others. To envision the food court, think Times Square on New Year's Eve but with a low ceiling and people constantly going back and forth to get food. The only commodity more valuable than a table is a chair.

I did email interviews before the con with S. M. Stirling, who writes alternate history, and frequent Lair guest Laura Anne Gilman. Thanks to a GRW buddy, I connected with C. L. Wilson to talk about the Tairen Soul series and what's next for her. She's doing a stand-alone, The Winter King, and then will return to the Fading Lands for Bel's and Gaelen's stories.

The interview with Barbara Vey happened purely by chance. I missed the parade because I needed to meet a friend at that time, and I made the mistake of walking into the Hyatt lobby five minutes after the parade ended and what appeared to be a large chunk of the planet's population seemed to have magically teleported in. Barbara was also struggling through the press but graciously agreed to seek out a quiet corner and chat.

Debra Dixon kindly took a few minutes from preparing her presentation to talk about Bell Bridge books and small-press publishing. She said one reason Bell Bridge decided to sponsor the Writer's Track is that the parent company, Belle Books, was born in a hotel room during DragonCon.

About halfway through the sleep-deprived weekend, I had the idea of blogging about being a Daily Dragon reporter. I'd spent the time surrounded by super-heroes, like Lois Lane, so the perfect finish for the blog, it seemed to me, would be a photo of me with Superman. Like Lois, y'know?

I saw Superman, with Zatanna the Magician, early in the con and took this photo. After I decided I needed a picture of myself with the Man of Steel, I did not see Superman again. At Dragon*Con! Hard to believe, I know. I did see Zombie Superman, but that wasn't really the look I wanted.

I mentioned this to my roommate, Debbie, as we were going up to our room about 11:30 Sunday night. A guy in the elevator said, "Superman was in the bar. With a slave-girl Leia, like, five minutes ago. A good-looking Superman." So we got off at the next floor, rode, down, and hit the bar.

No Superman.

The cop in the bar allowed as how he hadn't seen Superman in a while. We checked around on the next level down (2 bars there), but we couldn't find him. The people hanging over the escalator railing to people-watch hadn't seen the Man of Steel either--though one of them said he'd seen a "pod" of Supermen, five or six, traveling together during the weekend. Naturally, I never saw them! The cops by the escalator also had not seen Superman. I asked one of the cops how long he'd been there. He sighed and said, "a looong time."

At least with Superman, you don't have to describe him. Everybody knows who you're looking for. At this point, I was ready to give up, but Debbie was on the scent. "The Marriott!" she said. "More people in costume there."

So across the sky bridge (still heavily traveled though midnight had now come and gone) we went. We spotted one Superman whose costume wasn't really all that great and decided to look farther. We did see a comic-book-perfect Captain America, minus his helmet, but Lois doesn't hang with CA. She hangs with Supes.

"Look!" Debbie grabbed my arm. "Superman's tights and boots!"

Sure enough, they were, as we discovered when we squeezed through the crowd. However, this Superman had dispensed with the shirt and cape and had painted the big red S on his bare chest. A very nice chest, to be sure, but again not the look I wanted.

At this point, nearing 1:30 a.m., we conceded defeat. I was so fixated on finding Superman, I didn't think to have Debbie take a photo of me wearing my DD credential. With everyone leaving the next morning and the costumes packed away, I never did find Superman. But that's okay. In the olden days of the DC Universe, Lois didn't snag Superman, either.

For more information about Dragon*Con, click here. If you'd like to read the stories I wrote for the Daily Dragon, click here.

Have you ever gone on an obsessive hunt for something? If so, did you find it? Is there an event you try to attend every year, just because you love it?

The winner of the August 26 blog about summer vacation will be posted just before midnight tonight. Apologies for the delay!


Jane said...

I can't say I've been on many obsessive hunts, but I used to go to eBay and look forward a few of Nora Roberts' out of print books. I ended up winning the auction. A few years later the books were reprinted, but luckily I didn't too much money on these books. I know some people who look for certain comic books and pay a fortune for them.

Anna Campbell said...

Jane, looks like the chook's with you today.

Nancy, what a fun post. And how cool you managed to hook up with our Trish even in the midst of all that chaos. Laughed at you looking for the man of steel - maybe he was in his Clark Kent guise and hiding from the bad guys!

marybelle said...

I went on an obsessive hunt around the house for an oven mitt. I still have NOT found it. I had to make 4 more just to calm down. I mean, it did NOT just get up & walk away.

No events I am compelled to attend. Fun though!!

Kim in Hawaii said...

Thanks for the fun post! I've told a few friends that once I move back to the mainland, I'll become a con slut. I am a bit obsessed with Hawaii Five O at the moment!

Jennifer Tanner said...

Hi Nancy!

Gee, Captain America looks pretty good to me!

Obsessive hunting? Yes. For several handbags (I sound so shallow!) and the spare key to my old Saab, which I still can't find.

Congrats on the GR, Jane.


Helen said...

Jane he is enjoying it at your place have fun with him


Great post I am so sorry you didn't get to see Superman again it would have been a great photo.

The only thing I am really obsessive about is finding books that I really want to read and so far I have been very lucky and not had to struggle too hard.

One thing that I love attending is The Aust Romance Reader Conventions there have been 2 so far and I have loved both of them the next one will be in 2013 and I will be there with bells on again LOL

Have Fun

Deb Marlowe said...

I really want to go to one of these, one day, Nancy! My boys are dying to go too. It looked like a lot of fun!

Nancy said...

Jane, a book hunter! My kind of obsession! *g*

Congrats on snagging your quarry.

My mom used to throw away my comic books. Years later, I was able to replace them at conventions--usually for prices ranging from $1 or $2 to $5 or $10, most often somewhere in the middle. I paid more than that for a handful, but not a whole lot more. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be able to buy an expensive comlic book and think nothing of the money.

Congrats, too, on the GR!

Nancy said...

Anna, glad you enjoyed it! I had a lot of fun.

I actually saw a Clark Kent as I was going into registration. He looked so much like Tom Welling of Smallville that I stared hard at him before realizing he wasn't tall enough to be Welling, who is very much taller than average.

Nancy said...

Marybelle, I know just what you mean! Knowing something is in the house but being unable to find it makes me nuts. When the dh and I first got together, he found this baffling, but now he knows there will be no true peace, just relatively quiet stewing and fuming, until the item turns up. He has become very good at looking. :-)

Nancy said...

Kim, we can be con sluts together! *g*

If you're going to be obsessed with something, Hawaii Five-O seems like a good choice. How was the season premiere? We were watching Castle, and we don't do Tivo or anything like that, so I have to catch up online or in re-runs.

Nancy said...

Hi, Jennifer--

Trust me, Captain America looked even better in person.

I'm glad it's only the spare key that's missing. As for the handbags, I can't throw stones. Since my narrow feet make shoe obsessing impractical, I tend to go for purses instead.

Nancy said...

Helen, thanks! Yes, I think that would've been a great photo.

Glad you've been able to find the books you wanted. I'd love to come to that conference. Heck, I'd love just visiting Australia!

Nancy said...

Deb, come on and go! Reservations for the hotels open in about a month. And they'll fill up by January, February at the latest.

If your boys are into this kind of thihg, they truly would love it. The boy did.

EilisFlynn said...

The photos in the post were excellent! And the search for Superman was great, Nancy. As for obsessive hunts -- I've had a few of those. Who hasn't? And I agree with Anna Campbell. Supes probably changed back into his Clark guise and was no doubt right next to you!

Kaelee said...

Neat post! Love the photos. Obsessed? Always about books.

Nancy said...

Eilis, thanks! The Vision and the Scarlet Witch were a pair I hadn't seen before. Would you believe I saw the Legion (of Super-Heroes, for those not familiar with the comic) last year and couldn't catch up to them to get a photo? The Saturn Girl was wearing the pink and white unitard, and it looked great.

I wore my LSH shirt with the gold emblem on the star field Saturday, and two people recognized it and commented!

Nancy said...

Kaelee, I'm obsessed about books, too. If I love a series, I want all of it. I felt the same way about comics I loved, but I decided to be content what I could afford.

Though I do yearn for a copy of Action Comics #1, not that I'll ever be able to afford it. (A copy sold in March of last year for $1.5 million.) Or would dare handle it much if I had one, seeing as it's over 75 years old, printed on cheap paper.

Janga said...

It sounds as if you had a great, if exhausting, time, Nancy. The pics are great!

I understand the obsessive hunt for keys, glasses, etc. The only other things I've ever hunted obsessively are earrings in exactly the right color combo and books, of course. I've spent years tracking down missing books in a series. And my sister and I are both fans of Leslie Ford, a mystery writer who wrote dozens of books between 1931 and 1962. We've been obsessive and extravagant in finding her books to add to our collections.

Kate Carlisle said...

Great post, Nancy! You know, Dragon Con sounds like the absolute best place to get obsessive and go hunting! *g*

I've gone hunting for an elusive Lake up in Santa Barbara County, and there was the time I went hunting for Beatles memorabilia in Hollywood (I was 13, my girlfriend's mom had to drive us). And lots of book hunting, and hunting down restaurants at odd hours in strange countries. And I've gone hunting for a cute guy at a pub ... more than once.

But Superman? Nope, never. It sounds like you had a total blast! Thanks for sharing your adventure. And I'd love to hear more about those interviews, too. :-)

Jane, looks like you'll be hunting down the elusive feathered Wily One today!

Nancy said...

Thanks, Janga! It was a great weekend. I look forward to it every year. Thanks to A. C. Crispin's writing seminars, I have buddies there I don't see anywhere else, so getting back together with them is always a treat.

You wrote: The only other things I've ever hunted obsessively are earrings in exactly the right color combo and books, of course.

Ah, you must have the accessorizing gene--lucky you! I wish I had that knack. And I absolutely know what you mean about books.

Nancy said...

Kate, thanks! Dragon*Con is my special treat to myself every year, a place where I don't have to make an impression or be on company manners. I can just do whatever I like and not worry about making contacts or selling a book.

Were you looking for a particular cute boy in the bar? And did you find him? Or the lake and the Beatles memorabilia?

Carol A. Strickland said...

Y'see, I would have cheated and put myself next to Superman via Photoshop.

Perhaps Supes was wearing his new duds (the one(s) they've changed him to in DC's Nottaboot) and you didn't recognize him.

I've got to get to this some day, but NOT if they close hotel rooms in January. Besides, next year will be my big New England leaf-peeping trip.

Nancy said...

Carol, you're obviously more adept at PhotoShop than I am!

The main hotels sell out early in the year, but the overflow ones usually have rooms up until late summer. I think you would love Dragon*Con. You're the one who got me into fandom in the first place.

The leaf-peeping trip sounds fabulous!

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

I laughed at the thought of you hunting all over the place for Superman after midnight. Only at Dragon*Con!

It was wild how with 50,000 people around, I managed to run into several people I know. That's not always the case.

You know, I am certain I've been on an obsessive hunt before, but at the moment I can't think of what it is.

Susan Sey said...

Nancy, this sounds like so much fun! Not to wish time away or anything but sometimes I think wistfully about how many years it will be before I'll have an empty nest & can pursue the fun overnighty type things I used to enjoy before I reproduced. Conferences like this are totally at the top of my list.

Glad you had a great time, & the last obsessive hunt I engaged in had to do with Diet Coke from a fountain with crushed ice. I have since given up Diet Coke (six days & counting; pray for me) but I involved my entire family. It wasn't pretty. It made me realized I was addicted & really ought to give that stuff up.

I did but I'm still really sad about it.

Nancy said...

Trish wrote: I laughed at the thought of you hunting all over the place for Superman after midnight. Only at Dragon*Con!

Indeed, as my buddy Teal'c would say. But you'd think, at Dragon*Con, of ALL places, I would actually, you know, find him!

Nancy said...

Susan, come on and go some year! When the offspring get a little older, they might love it, too.

You'd think Diet Coke on ice wouldn't be that hard to find--but of course a true "fountain" soda of any sort is hard to come by anymore.

Nancy said...

Hey, everyone, if you're on Facebook, go see the wonderful and much deserved shout-out the fabulous Susan Andersen gave our own Susan Sey.

Cassondra said...

Hi Nancy!

Great blog about Dragon*Con. This was my first time there, and I have to say, each time I saw you, I thought, "She looks like she's worn out by this, and I don't know how she does it." I mean, not that you looked bad, but you had that look on your face--that look about you--which clearly said, "I need a few moments not surrounded by a gazillion people.

I will say that there is something about the conference which pushes my buttons, and I could so get into dressing in costume and going to that. It brings out the inner "alternate personalities" in me. And at one time, I probably could have pulled off the costume thing quite nicely. Now, however, having seen some older ladies in costume there, who most of us might wish we had NOT seen in costume, if you get my drift (what has been seen cannot be unseen, unfortunately) I have decided to remain forever a spectator.

And the thing which would keep me away from it is that....there's no actual way to see it. I guess if I was a fan girl it would make sense--I could go to some panels or something, but I'm not willing to wait in those lines for ANY reason. And all I saw was walls of people taller than me, and it took an hour to go fifty feet, and I don't enjoy that kind of thing at all. In fact, I would pay to not do it.

So I obviously need to go for a reason--to see something or watch something--some reason other than just random walking around and observing.

The booths of merchandise and costumes--I would have LOVED time to go through those, and money to spend in them. There was some really cool stuff there.

But the thing which signaled the death toll for Dragon*Con for me, is that hotel staff would not let me use the stairs. *sniffs in a miffed kind of way*

Cassondra said...

Oh, and the question..

Yes, I have gone on a number of obsessive searches for something. Most often, it's been a particular handbag--because I hate purse shopping with everything in me, and I am so dang picky about purses and bags that once I know what I want, I'll go to almost any lengths to get it. And will, unfortunately, pay a lot of money. But once I decide what I want, I often cannot find that.

I've done the same thing for a particular gift basket I was constructing--I've built lovely gift baskets before--and been paid to do it--but if I need a certain look or size or color for some basket component, I'll spend days hunting it, and doing nothing but that.

And I have to tell you, this obsessive searching is one of my least favorite things in the universe. I'd rather dig my own eye out with a spoon.

Cassondra said...


Sheesh, here I am again. I seem to be wordy today, but not getting easily to any one point.

I am compelled to attend highland games.

Yes, I am.

That is all. *grin*

Nancy said...

Cassondra, pushing through crowds, like after the parade or in the dealer rooms, wears on me. When I need a break, I usually go sit in a panel (not the TV/movie ones, which are the ones with the ginormous lines) or sit in the Daily Dragon office. There's space in the back of the Writer's Track room and in the DD office.

I would love to go in costume, but I no longer have a figure I care to display in tights. Back in the days when I did, I had no idea how to get a costume. I don't feel confident sewing on those fabrics.

As you can see from the photos, however, there are many people who are extremely skilled in costuming!

Sorry they wouldn't let you use the stairs. Especially given that the elevators tend to be insanely crowded during certain times of the day.

You have a knack with gift baskets, but I know what you mean about the obsessive hunting just getting to you after a while.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Nancy! Love that you went on a Superman hunt until nearly 2 in the morning. SNORK!!

How fun is that?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Jane! Congrats on catching the chook - and those OOP Nora books. The originals are better. Grins.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Marybelle, I really had to LOL about the oven mitt.

Things like that happen around here all the time and I'm convinced that the ghosts do it.

I was not, however then compelled to make 4 more mitts. SNORK! Good for you for doing so, however, as you now have extras should one go to join the missing...

Barbara Vey said...

It was a unique interview, sitting on the floor of the hallway at Dragon Con. I even managed to step on my glasses when I finally got to my feet. But it's always an adventure there and I didn't see Superman either.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Kim, let me just say...Hawaii 5-oooohhhh, yeah. Grins.

Jennifer Tanner, you said: Obsessive hunting? Yes. For several handbags (I sound so shallow!) and the spare key to my old Saab, which I still can't find.

Let's be shallow together. I love handbags. I don't have a Saab key though, so I can't help you with that. The shallow part though, when it concerns handbags, I'm right there.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Helen, I really want to come to RWAus someday. That will be SO fun!!

And Deb, I'm with you. I'm going to get to Dragon*Con one of these days!

Beth Andrews said...

What fun, Nancy! I'm sorry you didn't find Superman, though. I watched Superman Returns again yesterday and thought of you :-)

No obsessive hunts that I can think of but both my girls are still on the hunt for a certain style of boots for school *g*

Nancy said...

Jeanne, hunting for Superman was fun, yes, but you'd be amazed how many costumes have big swatches of red in them.

DragonCon is always fun for me, even if I need to duck out of the crowds from time to time.

Nancy said...

Barbara, thanks again for sitting down with me! We managed to find a spot with no crowds around it. I hope your glasses weren't too difficult to fix.

So you didn't see Superman, either--and you were there on Saturday. I wonder whether the various Supermen spent most of their time at the Marriott. That seems to have become Costume Central.

Nancy said...

Jeanne, I delivered your greetings to Jean Marie, as requested. She also says you need to do Dragon*Con!

Nancy said...

Hi, Beth--How nice that you thought of me while watching Brandon Routh! I thought he did a great job with what the script allowed him to do. His role seemed unduly restricted, to me, when dealing with the love triangle.