Daily Chance to do Good: HUGHCON!!!

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If you’ve attended a science fiction convention in the past 20+ years on the east coast, your path is very likely to have crossed with this man’s..

hugh-chair

…Yes, he travels with that chair.

…….Ok, not really.  But he totally could, and no one would  question it.

Why, you ask?

Because this gentleman  is Hugh Casey, one of the finest people you’ll ever find in (or out of) the world of science fiction fandom.  As his bio states, Hugh is…

A long-time con-goer, he’s been a member of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society (PSFS) since the early-’90’s, where he served, at various times, as President, Vice-President, and on the Board of Directors. He’s also served as Chairman and Vice-Chair for PHILCON, Philly’s regional SF con, as well as it’s head of programming for several years …. He is a filmmaker with his own production company, Parents Basement Productions, and his short films “Teddy’s Big Escape” and “Young Geeks In Love” can be found on YouTube. He is also a writer, director, actor, blogger, photographer, event manager and promoter, and more. He tries to live by Clarke’s Law, “Specialization is for insects”.

(His bio neglects to mention, of course, that Hugh was a Guest of Awesome at Pi-Con in 2010.  Perhaps no one has earned that title more than Hugh!)

Now, east coast fandom hasn’t seen as much of Hugh in the past few years because of his fight with, and now recovery from, cancer.  To help out with his financial needs, a bunch of his friends have organized…HUGHCON!!

hughcon.jpg

“What izzit what izzit WHAT IZZIT???” you ask?

HUghCon is a fundraiser where all proceeds will go to Hugh!  Throughout the day/evening, attendees will be treated to the music of Philadelphia’s own Star Trek tribute band, The Roddenberries, as well as the musical tapestry that is This Way to the Egress!  (If you’re not familiar with them, there are some music links at the bottom of this post.)

Attendees will also have the opportunity to bid on some fantastic silent auction items such as a copy of the book Who Killed Amanda Palmer (signed by photographer Kyle Cassidy, writer Neil Gaiman, and musician Amanda Palmer!), a first edition of the board game Conquest of the Empire (unopened, circa 1984), a geektastic gift basket of goodies from the Pennsylvania Browncoats, and much more!  Book, jewelry, and garb vendors will be on hand for your gift buying needs, with a portion of those proceeds going to Hugh as well.

SO MUCH STUFF, Y’ALL!!

Admission for the event is $15 pre-sale ($16.20 with tax), $20 at the door. The best part of this event?  You can buy a ticket even if you can’t go to the event, and that money goes directly to Hugh!!  So even though I can’t go because of prior obligations and, ya know, Philly being 12 hours away, I’m delighted I could still purchase a ticket and help support this love-filled event for this fantastic man.

You should, too!  It’ll make you feel good!  🙂  Go HERE! http://hughcon.brownpapertickets.com/

For the most up-to-date information on HughCon, check out their Facebook event page – https://www.facebook.com/events/911674232296899/.

Thanks for reading.  Please share if you’re so inclined!  And, really, go take a peek at the FB page..there’s so much awesome being planned to support Hugh, one of the best people and brightest stars in fandom.  ❤

The Roddenberries music: https://soundcloud.com/the-roddenberries

This Way to the Egress music: http://thiswaytotheegress.com

hughcon-poster

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one dead, five injured by a gunman at zombicon

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Last year, chlorine gas was released at a con, causing 19 attendees at the Illinois event to be sent to the hospital.

This year, the violence moved to Florida.

You’d probably have to be hiding under a rock to not have heard about the popular zombie walks that have been happening across the country for the past several years.  The biggest and arguably the best one, Pittsburgh Zombie Fest, asks attendees to bring a can of food as an admission price, and that gets donated to a local food bank.  Running these events with a charity in mind is fairly common, and it shows heart behind the horror.

Many of these events are organized like a block party, with live music, face painting, and vendors.  Others are pub crawls, like my personal favourite, the Philly Zombie Crawl. In Minneapolis, their zombie pub crawl is huge, pricey, polarizing..and here to stay.   If you’d rather participate in something that resembles a zombie parade, check out Zombiewalk Columbus, which raises money for Ronald McDonald House, or Denver’s zombie crawl, which has also been around for a decade.

So you get the idea.  There are lots of people that want to dress up like zombies in outside venues for a little walking dead fun.

Until this year’s ZombiCon.

ZombiCon in Fort Myers, Florida has been going strong for 9 years now, and its organizing group Pushing Daizies, Inc is very focused on its charities.  They take food donations for a food bank; their attendees are given the opportunity to donate blood, and their $5 admission fee supports children’s art programs and scholarships.  Over 20,000 people were estimated to show up this year – numbers the average convention would envy.

Just before midnight on Saturday, October 17th, someone started shooting at random attendees.  One person was killed.  Five were wounded.  The FBI is now involved in trying to find the man responsible.

This time, no one’s amused by the violence.  Thank heavens.

There’s a lot of buzz about What Happens Next, of course.  Do the organizers raise the price and take the event indoors?  This was tried a few years ago, according to a response on Facebook, and it reportedly didn’t work very well.  (I personally can’t imagine anything than a stadium working for this kind of crowd.)  Do the organizers bump up security?  They do hire security and have police on site every year.  Was the shooter just someone looking for a real-world zombie paintball experience?  That’s something that occurs to me, and I really really really hope it’s not the case.  Does the reality of this story blur over into other street parties and conventions?

Consider that in 10 years of zombie crawls and such, it looks like this is the first time violence has erupted.  It’s having an effect on events in Chicago and West Palm Beach, so it’s not hard to imagine the ripple effect going further.  Personally, I hope not.  Zombies aren’t my bag, baby, but I love the passion of the people that organize and participate in these events, and – like any fan-driven thing, really – I want to see the geeks win.  I mean, really…look at how amazing the ZombiCon attendees were!  That’s a level of creativity and fun that has to win out over an ass with a gun.

the complications of friendship

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A friend moved away recently.  I wasn’t able to go say goodbye in person, and so I decided to make a gift to send as a ‘welcome to your new home’ kind of thing.  It was a cross stitch I designed, stitched, fussed over…procrastinated over…finally framed it and set it aside to be mailed.

The whole process took several months.  And at the end of it, I realized a few unexpected facts about the friendship.  The biggest one?  We weren’t on the level of friendship I thought we were.

That’s weird, right?  How did I not realize that?

Fact is, she had already walked away from the friendship during the time I was stitching away.  So I clearly had a lot more invested in that connection than she did.  How does that happen?

But it does.

I think it’s a bit like the kerfluffle we’ve seen on varied social media networks where we connect to people as “friends.”  They’re not.  It takes more than the click of a button to become friends with another person.  And I’ve been on the other end of this thread more than once, where I’ve had someone insist on a strong friendship connection and the reality is we only ever saw each other at conventions, or at social events maybe once a year.

That’s an acquaintance.  And that’s important in its own way.  Years ago, a convention friend looked at me and said, “We’ve traveled around the country together with this convention.”  That statement made me stop for a moment and really think about these threads of connection we have as a result of the events we attend.  People become such a huge element of the event, it gives us a sense of home in a lot of ways.  If I go to, say, Arisia, I will feel at home because there are people there that I only see there and if they weren’t there, I would not feel as comfortable or connected.  The community is part of what makes the convention appealing for me.

Is that a friend?  It’s a degree of friend, sure.  But, at least for me, that title has to be about more than 30 minutes or so during a weekend once a year.  Even if those 30 minutes or so time happen once a year for a decade…there’s more to the job description of ‘friend’ than that.  In a lot of ways, you’re seeing someone at their social best, so just like any other relationship, you can’t get to know them unless you’re actively involved in each other’s lives.

So how did I miss that we weren’t matching those criteria?

I’m not sure.

As a very wise friend pointed out to me, it’s instinctive to put energy into a relationship you can see needs some help, and that only works well when you’re both defining things the same way.  Which is why it feels like a smack on the nose with a newspaper when you realize that the energy you’ve been putting into a connection isn’t reciprocated.  And that’s something I hadn’t considered when I’ve been on the other side of this ‘wait you thought this was a friendship?’ fence.

Does it change anything in my day to day life to not have this person I defined as a friend say, in effect, “sorry, that’s all you”?

No.  No, not really.

But I think it’s important that we really see ourselves.  In this case, I was doing something that I haven’t understood when other people did it to me.  Kinda funny.  Kinda frustrating.  Definitely an ‘opportunity for growth,’ as they say.

I’ll probably get it wrong again.  So I’m putting it in writing to let PresentMe tell FutureMe, “HEY!  You knew better!”

…Here’s hoping that works. 🙂

‘DashCon Rebrands as EmotiCon, Hopes You Won’t Notice’

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http://www.nerdandtie.com/2014/09/03/dashcon-rebrands-as-emoticon-hopes-you-wont-notice/

Take-aways:

* Dashcon.org is gone.  The tumblr account still exists.

* All those people promised to be paid back?  Shouldn’t be holding their breath.  In their own words, quoted here because of the repeated pattern of their deleting their statements:

When the dust settled after DashCon, we were left with thousands of dollars worth of debt. Because this, among many others reasons, DashCon LLP is being dissolved and assets being liquidated. Once the assets are liquidated, each debt will be paid pro rata, meaning that there’s a possibility the debts won’t be paid in full, but each will be paid the same percentage of what’s owed. We don’t know how long this process is going to take, but it’s fair to say it could be up to 90 days. Apologies for the further delays. This has all become a bit of a legal ordeal.

 There has been a lot of speculation that DashCon LLP has changed its name to Emoti-Con or So Attacked Entertainment LLC. That, however, is inaccurate. Two of the three owners of DashCon, Cain and Megg, are now functioning as So Attacked Entertainment LLC, which will be hosting an event called Emoti-Con. Despite Cain and Megg’s involvement, neither So Attacked Entertainment LLC nor Emoti-Con is in any way affiliated with DashCon. 
 
Thank you for your patience while we try to resolve these final matters. Apologies that we are unable to give a more definite timeline on payment. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
* Making a joke out of the refrain from both attendees and con owners, “I’m feeling so attacked right now,” by calling the new company So Attacked LLC, is…quite something.  Claiming Emoti-Con has no connection to Dashcon is an outright lie, and is further proof IMNSHO that Cain and Megg still don’t get how to handle themselves in a professional manner.   (And really, if this whole thing becoming ‘a bit of a legal ordeal’ was any sort of surprise?  These two have a lot of growing up to do.)
Personally, it would impress me a helluva lot more if they were taking the money for next year’s con and fixing their screw-ups from this year.  I get it.  Legally there’s no connection between the two…although I’m curious if the money raised for Dashcon II was shuffled over to EmotiCon’s account, or if it’s being used to pay this year’s debt.  Which would be the right thing to do.  Which is why I suspect it’s not happening.
* The con owners protest too much.  Currently, the Indianapolis convention center is still listing the defunct dashcon.org website as the website for Emoti-Con.  (Way to be organized, guys.)  And hey, if this is NOT, in fact, Dashcon II, what happens to the people that bought passes for Dashcon II?  Do they get their money back? Or do they get a pass to, um, this completely-not-connected-to-Dashcon convention?
I really truly hope all of the following happens:
1.  People actually get their money back.
2. Cain and Megg take the time to figure out how to run a good, professional convention.
3. All the people that have been supporting the fiasco that is Dashcon figure out what a good, professional convention looks like…and either demand Cain and Megg step up, or they stop throwing their love and money at a bad project.
4. No guests get screwed over by Cain and Megg ever again.

 

a dashcon story that also very much needs to be heard

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Here’s the story of what happened to one person that was friends with Dashcon main staff and became the person in charge of the vendor room.  (Dashcon has stated, “Any “official” information found on any other blog should not be considered true or accurate without first checking with the actual DashCon staff.”  Based on this, you may, in all confidence, read the following story and know it’s true as well as accurate.)

http://mjhellscream.tumblr.com/post/93196609316/our-experience-at-dashcon-2014

I know, I know.  Who the hell cares about Dashcon at this point?  Read it anyway.

Take-aways:

* Dashcon mgt paid $3K for this couple’s flight from Australia to the US.  At that point, these were just attendees, not con staff.  This money was paid in late 2013/2014…well after the Indiegogo campaign had ended and after payments were being made to the Dashcon hotel.  Looking at those numbers, it seems reasonable to assume Dashcon was not concerned about money..perhaps not until the weekend of the con.

* This woman was not aware she would be expected to be staff until July, days before the Dashcon event.  This is another example of the poor management of the staffing of Dashcon.

* Yes, Dashcon told the hotels to take hotel rooms off its bill and yes, that included staff as well as invited guests.  It’s still unclear as to whether or not volunteers and con attendees were also affected by this, or if keys just were being faulty.  What is clear is that there was zero communication with those affected by Dashcon mgt’s decision to do so.

* This woman considered one of the three main organizers of Dashcon to be “a close, personal friend.”  The following quote is from the above blog post:

“… a person who my wife considered a close, trustworthy, personal friend left her high and fucking dry when she was needed the most.”

So my previous repeated opinion that the attendees of Dashcon were mistreated by the event and that ANY event that turns to its attendees and demands a financial bailout at the event is NOT  an event one should support? I’m amending that to, “You do not treat your close, personal friends this way, either.”

* We already knew that Dashcon didn’t staff its event in a well-thought-out way.  But.  JESUS, people.  If you don’t have the common sense to NOT put children and inexperienced people in charge of shit – and no, you didn’t, because you DID – and if you don’t have the ability to keep track of what previous con management was doing- and NO YOU DIDN’T, as your own public apology stated – GET YOUR DAMN SELVES SOME EDUCATION.

Seriously. It’s out there.  You do NOT have to recreate the fucking wheel.

SMOFCON.   THIS DECEMBER.  “Smofcon is an annual conference for the planners of science fiction & fantasy (SF&F) and other genre conventions. Attendees discuss and share insights into many aspects of convention planning at the local, regional, national, and international levels.”

INTERVENTIONCON.  THIS AUGUST.  “Intervention is different from every other event you have ever been to. Our name is the combination of the words “Internet” and “Convention” but the significance is deeper than that. The entire idea of this event is to Intervene and Inspire everyone to live a more creative, geeky, and fun life within the welcoming scope of a traditional geek convention.”  These are the kinds of people you need to be talking to.  Go get inspired…and find out how to do a con the RIGHT way.

so what makes a convention great?

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Conventions have been one of my primary ways of socializing for a long time.  I started attending them in…I believe it was this convention in 1985, as I remember making a birthday card for Peter Davison and getting the chance (thanks to a fan club membership) to meet him at some point during the weekend.

(He’s very tall.)

When I moved to the Philly area, I started helping with very small conventions, and over the past *mumble* years I’ve been a volunteer on varied levels, including con guest liason and con planning committee.

Conventions work because we who attend and love them do so with the unspoken agreement to accept everyone.  My description of that is:  Every fan has a box of shiny that s/he carries around covered up and – by and large – unshared in the mundane world.  So when s/he gets to a convention, WOOHOO!  It’s a chance to open up that box!

The problem with that is you then have a hotel filled with people all excited about their boxes of shiny and often unable to appreciate each other’s shinies.

The first time I ran into this, it hurt my feelings. I was thinking, “Yay! We get to share our interests!” and then I realized that couldn’t happen because the other person was very very focused on the joy of being able to really celebrate her shiny.

Within the world of fandom?  That’s ok.  It’s ok outside fandom, of course…my meaning here is that within fandom, within that atmosphere of accepting everyone, quirks and unconventional behaviors and all, it’s more ok.  And, given a chance to get the OMG out of her/his system?  True sharing will happen.  🙂

I get that the environment of conventions is changing, and that harassment is a huge issue.  Because I love conventions, I want to say, “No no, it can’t be that big a problem!”..but yes, I’ve been harassed at cons (NOT because of my costuming, ironically) and it’s caused me to not want to attend certain events anymore.  I think harassment policies are long overdue; I also think – as the above link illustrates – that you can’t just have a policy. You also have to have a staff that knows how to effectively deal with harassment issues.  And that’s a piece of the puzzle that’s being overlooked too often.

So when I say that we as fandom are accepting of everyone, I’m doing so while wearing a hefty pair of harassment-blinders.  That said, I still believe it’s a safe place where you can celebrate your geekery, dress up as you wish, and find like-minded people.

In some of the aftermath of Dashcon, I’ve seen people saying, “This was  great for cosplayers because they weren’t harassed!”  “This was awesome because I met other fans!”  Those *are* good things.  BUT.  You don’t have to pay a high-priced ticket or donate $17K to a con to have that experience.

This is a great, great list of 24 conventions..some pro-run, some fan-run…that is FAR from complete but is a great place to start looking for conventions that are relevant to your interests.

I’m gonna add a few more:

* Balticon – Located in Hunt Valley, MD, it’s one of my most favourite events.  Great costuming!  Great panels!  Wanna make a costume element and you’re not sure how to get started?  The costumers at Balticon put on some fantastic talks.  There’s a science track that’s well, well worthwhile.  There’s dancing, and gaming, and a video room, and a great art show…AND an auction that raises  money for the BSFS Books for Kids…**AND** there’s a writing contest for young authors!  I unabashedly love this convention.

* Interventioncon – Also located in Hunt Valley, there is something NOTHING out there like Interventioncon.  Quoth one of the co-chairs, Oni:

Intervention is different from every other event you have ever been to. Our name is the combination of the words “Internet” and “Convention” but the significance is deeper than that. The entire idea of this event is to Intervene and Inspire everyone to live a more creative, geeky, and fun life within the welcoming scope of a traditional geek convention.

 You KNOW you want in on this.  Go read more about it here, and for the love of God, find a way to get to this convention!

* Pi-Con – So you want to attend a con that isn’t all about guests, but rather is a celebration of geekery?  Get ye to Pi-Con!  I love this event.  It’s a modestly sized convention that each year features a “Guest of Awesome”…namely, someone from fandom that is surprised with a, “Hey! Wanna be our Guest of Awesome?”  (See?  Completely charming!)

There are way, way too many great conventions out there for me to even THINK about listing them all.  (Fortunately, I don’t have to…Nathan Lilly’s done that with his Convention Finder.)  The take-away here, the point I’m hoping to get across, is that fandom is AWESOME.  Conventions are AWESOME.  There are SO SO SO many GREAT events out there that show, in SO MANY WAYS, the things that happened earlier this month at Dashcon are *not* the norm and should *NOT* be what one expects – or forgives – from a convention.

That said, whichever convention you decide to attend should – hopefully – give you a taste of this:

(And with that, I return you to your regularly scheduled haunted house geekery…VERY VERY SOON!)