I’ve been away in Portsmouth, Rhode Island for the past few days attending NECON, my favorite XXXcon, though Nick Kaufmann’s suggestion of ConCon (featuring only people in prisons) has great potential.
Travel to and fro was without incident. Got in early to both destinations on Thursday, met up with Charles and Cara Colyott at the airport and drove in to the new digs for the con, then made a trip out to stock up on necessities for the weekend, including a foam cooler, since the hotel didn’t have fridges in the room like the RWI campus has. I was thrilled to find several Tim Hortons in the vicinity. I had to stop and get a bag of timbits. It was just like being back in Canada.
Thursday evening started with our annual trek to the amusingly named Jacky’s Galaxie, an Asian restaurant that can handle our gang of two-dozen-plus reprobates. That evening we discovered the perils of the quad stand-in at the new site: no outdoor lighting (well, sporadic and unpredictable outdoor lighting) and skeeters. Plus the poor folks who were staying at the hotel who had rooms facing the small quad tended to complain in direct proportion to the lateness of the hour. Ultimately we were all shooed indoors to the lounge, which had no skeeters and ample lighting. The smokers, alas, had to dodge out the front door (plus a mandatory 25 feet).
Miniature golf was fun, as always. The meals were a step backwards from the nice new cafeteria we had at RWI last year, but bearable (for most). I was enlisted as the token straight guy to moderate a panel on gay horror and gay writers, and was duly pronounced an honorary gay by panelist Hal Bodner. I was able to ask all the daft questions someone outside the community might be curious about, so the panel generated some lively discussion on the subject. Then Nick Kaufmann’s elitist panel came along and kicked horror to the curb. And stomped on it. And maligned zombies.
I also moderated a panel on Saturday, though I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the concept: Horror outside horror. It seemed self evident, and I couldn’t come up with any questions. So, at the beginning of the panel, I confessed my plight and threw it off to the panel, consisting of Pete Crowther (PS Publishing), novelist and GoH Michael Marshall Smith, Christopher Golden and Rick Hautala. The panel ended up being freewheeling and interesting. It didn’t need me to keep it going—all I had to do was stand back and keep out of the way of the dialog, and pluck a few questions from the audience late in the game. Worked out decently, in my opinion.
Most of the fun at NECON goes on outside the lecture hall, though. Getting caught up with everyone I haven’t seen since last year. Some people I rarely communicate with outside of NECON, and I don’t know why because I enjoy talking with them so much. Hank Wagner and I could probably talk for days before running out of things to discuss. I think I talk more during the three days I’m at NECON than I do during any other three weeks of the year combined.
I bought Jill Bauman’s painting that was used for the cover art of my Cemetery Dance chapbook “Overtoun Bridge,” the first time I’ve owned original art from something I’ve done.
There were all manner of interesting things that happened at the con, but we tend not to talk about them outside NECON. Just like Las Vegas. Publisher Donald M. Grant (and founder of NECON) was inducted into the NECON Hall of Fame (in absentia). Hearing about how he hand-constructed books in the early days was very interesting to me. Text printed out in single lines that was then snipped and waxed onto layout pages (fully justified text, mind you) a line at a time. Amazing.
My return trip was also uneventful. In Philadelphia we were delayed when the pilot realized they hadn’t put enough fuel in the jet to get us back to Texas, but despite leaving 20 minutes late we managed to arrive on time. Now NECON 2008 is just a warm fuzzy blur and we can all get about the business of looking forward to NECON 2009!