Out of four-and-a-half days of convention, I spent only about two-and-a-half hours in panels (one of which, I was a participant in).
"Why?" one asks. "How could you see so little when, around you at all times, professionals and heroes and fans galore offer opportunity after opportunity to sharpen yo' skillz, expand ya network, and otherwise put faces with names?"
Because. We had to drink.
But this story has a beginning ...
I got into Madison around noon-something on Thursday, so, after a quick ride with Agent Kris to the hotel--I managed to not say anything idiotic, I think--I explored. Downtown is very hip, variegated architecturally and hoppin' with street-vendors, business-men, and Bohemians. Had a Hibachi dinner with Kris and his crew as well as barthanderson and his. Very nice, except that poor Isaiah read nothing in the contract about dinner-conflagrations. His folks helped him renegotiate the deal in shifts.
Later, barthanderson and I slipped into the hotel bar for a few cozy drinks until Agent Kris could join. When he did, we shared a few more until the small hours arrived. barthanderson excused himself, and Kris and I hit the streets, looking for more booze. We found it, downed some beer and shots, and then strolled around the outdoor-mall/pedestrian area until about 2:00 a.m., talkin' shop, talkin' shit ... drunk. When I got back to the hotel room that night, I knew I was in for a good weekend. I'd only known the Scribe Posse through email and livejournal, so this was an ideal way to actually get to know one half of Scribe for the first time. Rule.
"Hello," I say, voice gravelled with fatigue. I don't do mornings.
"Who is this?" I have no idea.
"It's [Pancake*]. C'mon, let's get moving."
"What, are you on speed? What the fuck time is it?"
"No, it's just that I'm a crazy man-plow. I got shafted by the airlines, so I just decided to run from Seattle. I've been up all night, eating chickens whole and chewing espresso beans. Two men died in the making of this monologue."
So it began. I hooked up with Pancake, hit a coffee shop, and began my exploration of what-the-hell-one-does-at-conventions. Kris showed up eventually, so we hit the pub for lunch-beers, more shop-talking, more shit-talking, and the taking of a few names. After lunch, we wandered into the dealers' room--only, P. and K. got there before me, as I stopped for a smokebreak and phone conversation with roxana. When I get down there, as soon as I walk in the door, I see K talking to the Mystery Editor. The following happens:
1) Crap self
2) lock eyes with K and then duck behind a bookcase
3) watch K search the room confusedly throughout the rest of his conversation, wondering where the hell I got to. The conversation, I learn later, went well.
After, Kris headed home to do dadly things, and Pancake finally crashed. I spent a few quiet hours with roxana's iPod and a pack of smokes, and then, in a blink, it was time for the offical Posse Dinner. The food was fantastic, the cheese was fantastic (thanks, experimeditor for the cheese-instruction), and the drinks was fantastic. The boyz indulged us quite an evening, not so much as batting an eye as we helped ourselves to drink after drink. barthanderson discovered the joys of a Hendricks martini, one of three drinks that, as an honest Denton drinker, I would introduce him to over the course of the weekend.
We followed dinner with a single-malt salvo to the following results:
1) Kris learns that he is afraid of scotch. The rest of the night will not go well for him.
2) Agent Jesse hits the Talisker, which he will later find to be sweeter than Springbank (which surprises me).
3) Pancake hits the Glenmorangie 12, Sherry Cask (you gotta hit the Portwood next, mate) and rightly judges it as nice and smooth but not ballsy enough.
4) I induct barthanderson into the Lagavulin 16 Trust. Afterward, I introduce him to Stella.
Properly lubricated, we head. Back at the Con, the Friday-night parties are rolling in full force, so we hit the Tor Party. Mystery Editor is not really around for me to meet (M.E. works for a different house), so we ditch that plan and decide to just keep drinkin' instead. Meanwhile, the boyz work the room (which is an impressive, damn feat--they gather small crowds with ease and cast 'em off just as easily)--individually, we will learn the results of their agently schmoozing at different times throughout the weekend. Nice surprises, those.
Eventually, after we've raided the other parties, stolen all the beer we can, and have otherwise debauched the party floor, things wind down. The boyz head home, and Pancake, Barth, and I hit the Tor party one last time, hoping to find some more hooch. The search fails, but, as we're standing about, idly conversing with the other night owls, Mystery Editor wobbles in, hands Barth a half-empty pitcher of beer and two dirty cups and orders him to have a swig, Viking-style. I watch, amused. By the time I leave, high-powered Mystery Editor will be lolling about on the floor beside a different high-powered Mystery Editor. As my room is right next door, when I make my way back and am smoking my pre-bed cigarettes, I can hear the sybarites cavorting and shouting through the walls. It is at this point that I realize I am no longer intimidated by M.E. It was a great awakening.
This has gone on long enough, so I'll drop a couple of pictures and come back to do Saturday and Sunday later.
barthanderson and son, chillin'
Pancake on left, experimeditor on right
Here, K. and J. are agenting in the party hallway (which, in this photo, is curiously bereft of crowds). Their prey is out of the frame, but what's more important is that they're doing this while sloshed, and doing it quite well.
*Though I'm the one who dubbed markteppo as "Pancake," I can't remember exactly why I did this. I was highly inebriated, so I can only remember that creating this nickname amused me to no end.