Tuesday, 2nd July
My usual strategy with flying to Anthrocon means taking a flight in the morning. Not at an ungodly hour, but the airports tend to be far enough away that travelling directly to them on the day is risky (I did do this for Anthrocon 2007 - never again!).
Hence I will head out the day before and stop over at a hotel near the airport, which was the Manchester Premier Inn in this case. The most memorable thing about it was that the air conditioning control board had been programmed to emit a soft chiming sound every 30 minutes, something I was only able to confirm definitively in the early hours. Around 2am I shut down the power for the entire room which finally kept it quiet but meant I couldn't recharge anything.
Wednesday, 3rd July
The flight was okay, but the story really picks up at Chicago O'Hare, which I chose because it claimed to have a cinnabon bar. Perhaps it did, but not in the terminal I needed to be in and I didn't want to have to go back and forth through security just for the sake of some nice food.
Pretty much the first thing I saw was a series of advertisements portraying a wolf in the snow. It was wrapped around a pillar and I could make out the words "HELP A RUSSIAN...". How sweet,
says I, sponsor a Russian wolf!
. On closer approach it read "Help a Russian Oil Terminal Overcome ...".
I think it was fair to say that pretty much all my expectations of Chicago O'Hare were dashed in a similar way including the flight to Pittsburgh being delayed for quite some time.
Moving swiftly on - I arrived at the Omni shattered as usual, as the last to show up, I had to sleep on the floor, Gabi, Sofox, Aisha, Aaron and Mischa having already arrived. However I was amused that while I have had numerous problems with my toilet at home not flushing the one in our room had exactly the same problem - my ability to make my own toilet behave came in quite handy.
Thursday, 4th July
Thursday morning, we got up and tried to get breakfast. This proved an exercise in frustration as the Au Bon Pain and practically everywhere else we would normally have patronised seemed to be closed. It took a while before we realised that it was a public holiday.
Despite having technically been shut down, Fernando's was actually open for the Anthrocon period, so we got cheesecake. Sofox seemed to be having difficulty adapting to the timezone - it would have been lunchtime for him so he got an entire sub and kind of messed up his body clock for most of that day.
After that we went to the Zoo (the general place at Anthrocon where folks hang out) to wait for registration. Registration opened early, but even so the queue was immense. Aaron and a couple of others hadn't pre-registered and had to wait, during which time we filled out the survey. Two hours later they gave up. While queuing for my own badge in the sponsor line, I bumped into a Scottish fursuiter and - hindered by our accents being mutually incompatible - I asked how easy it was to ship a fursuit from the UK. At one point he asked my name and when I said "Tapewolf" the person behind me went into a rapture of delight which although nice, kind of left me wrong-footed. It turned out that he was a guy in a jackal costume I had run into last year.
I ran into Keaton, Vex and Para at the registration, and eventually we went off to get some food (again, from Furnando's) around 3PM. Afterwards we hung out at the Zoo until the Tea Party, which started around 6PM.
At the Tea Party, Sofox had brought a large bag of Irish crisps known as "Taytos" which he had snagged at Dublin airport after hearing that cheese and onion crisps aren't available in the US. Taytos are not a brand I am familiar with though it amused me no end when I found a bag of them lying by the roadside on the way to work some months later.
He also brought some DVDs of "The Sylvanian Families", a 1980s cartoon series which, while it seemed to be a special part of his childhood, did absolutely nothing for me apart from dredge up some memories of how crap I thought it was in the 1990s. Perhaps there would have been less nitpicking had we been able to hear the soundtrack.
Sofox called up Tony via Skype since he couldn't make it (something we tried out last year). However, no one could hear him so conversations had to be carried out on the toilet since it was the quietest place. Afterwards we watched a youtube video of the Game Grumps reviewing a game called 'Drakkhan' which was rather hilarious.
Food included Creme Eggs, Kinder bars, Alfajores, the Taytos and three boxes of Wheat Thins, the leftovers of which were given to Aisha.
The party had to end early as the fireworks display took place at 9:30, so we broke up at 9pm and went back to Reg so that Keaton and any others who needed to could get their badges. Around 9:25 we crowded onto the balcony and the display started. A guy dressed as Wally/Waldo from the Where's Wally? books had a speaker slung around his neck on which he played 'Ride of the Valkyries' and the 1805 Overture.
After the display ended we went back to the Zoo for a bit and finally headed back to the room for the night. I was a bit concerned that I wasn't going to get my usual exercise of running up the Westin stairs, so Sofox and I decided to try and take the stairs. This turned out to be an interesting experience.
After saying 'hi' to some folks we knew in the lobby, we headed up the fanciest looking stairs. They went up about three floors and then stopped. Unable to find another way to go up, we went back down again and slunk around the corner hoping that the people we'd met in the lobby wouldn't notice us coming back down like a pair of idiots. We took a less fancy flight of stairs and this time got as far as the conference level before getting lost. At one point Sofox tried to get at the fire escape which looked like it might be alarmed so I tried to stop him. Fortunately it wasn't, but it didn't help either. Finally we gave up and took the elevators.
Friday, 5th July
After a series of uncomfortable dreams involving getting lost in the Omni while trying to find the way down, I woke up. Sofox and I decided that although we had failed to take the stairs up to the sixth floor, there must be a way down.
So we took the fire exit immediately in front of our room. It went down about two floors and dumped us in a corridor. We managed to find another flight of stairs and ended up in storage room entirely filled with chairs. Cautiously we explored and eventually find somewhere furnished as though guests were actually supposed to be there, and found ourselves somewhere around floor 4 with no obvious way down apart from the elevators.
In the lobby we ran into Mab, and had an enjoyable conversation where she explained that all her marital arguments with Mason were over cheese. Part of it went something like this:
"This guy on a bike stopped us in the street and offered us two blocks of Black Diamond, for $10. They were in their packaging and still cold, and they were usually about $8 each so Mason bought them, but he only had a $20 and he let the guy keep the change. I was like 'You just bought hot cheese! Did it not occur to you that he stole those from the cheese counter in the grocer and biked off as fast as he could?! Did you think he was the local neighbourhood cheese delivery man? I will not eat your stolen cheese!'"
There was also another one where she had made a large number of cheese snacks that she could eat over the next week or so. These lasted until Mason came home 'We were trying to cut down our budget and you just ate $40 worth of cheese in a single sitting!!'
On the train to the airport I had realised that I'd forgotten to bring a rather nice badge that Lapres had made for Confuzzled ( www.furaffinity.net/view/10611…
I thought, I can print out a new one and laminate it at the FedEx place Wuff found last year.
This proved to be a bit of a problem.
While the FedEx place had been closed on the 4th, it was open the following day, but the self-service copiers weren't working as they were unable to take payment. It was still possible to get the guy at the till to print things but the queue was immense and when it was finally printed and laminated, he had printed it 2" square in the middle of a letter-sized sheet and laminated that before I could stop him. It was printed on cardstock and I was unable to trim it despite my best efforts as it was too thick and almost damaged their guillotine.
Friday is the day the 'con starts in earnest. We went to the Zoo until the opening ceremony began, but we bailed out early since someone had said that Dealer's Den opened early for sponsors. This was true but the time we had been given was not. When we did get in early, I went to the Dreamkeepers table first and spent so much time chatting there that the room opened full in the meantime.
I did my usual rounds, collecting art I had preordered and starting new commissions. I collected Merlin's badge ( s89.photobucket.com/user/tapew…
) and considered getting a sketch from Strype. One of the stalls was selling modified hoodies with ears and tails and I bought a wolf one.
It had been a while since I ate so I left the Den to dump my purchases back at the hotel and get the A3 folder I needed for the Pegasus commission. This started a huge chain of procrastination which involved going off with Keaton to Furnandos instead. Eventually I got Pegasus' rendition of Simeon from a few years back, and Elrond's rendition of Jeremiah.
Keaton needed to crash in her room, so I tried to hang out with Wuff instead, but she was needed at the Dealer's Den to help with closing. I went back to the Zoo but the DMFA folks were pretty thin this year so I ended up messaging Wuff a lot, including "I owe you an egg sometime" which somehow became "I next an FIG OH SCREW IT" as the predictive text broke down completely.
Finally I met up with Sofox again, and we tried to find anyone else going to eat so that we could tag along. This failed utterly and eventually we got pizzas around 9:30pm, from Pizza Parma. They did a very nice chicken BBQ
pizza which was worth the wait and the hassle. There was a weird experience on the way home as there was a marching band that seemed to be following us.
At the hotel we couldn't open door - this was alarming and we couldn't understand what was going on. We managed to get in on the fourth attempt - later Aisha tried to get in and couldn't and we realised the closet door was blocking it. Sofox chatted on IRC around 11pm, read comics bought at 'con, then went to bed.
Saturday, 6th July
Woke up around 9am. Gabi went apeshit because whoever had disposed of the pizza boxes had done so by piling them precariously on the bin and as soon as they were disturbed in any way they fell down and covered the floor with crumbs. Once everything was sorted out we went to find somewhere to get breakfast. The Au Bon Pain was still closed and remained so for the entire con, missing out on untold tens of thousands of dollars worth of trade. We went instead to the bagel shop, and then went back to the Zoo so I could put my'Incubi and Succubi' albums on the freebie table and check for any DMFA folks in the area.
We went to the Dealer's Den, where I got a second commission from Agent Elrond. I was hoping to get some from Angrboda and Strype, but they were full by this point. I commissioned a rendition of Daryil from Nyil.
After that, we wandered around the Den until the Fursuit Parade took place and then went off with Keaton to get food. After that we went back to the Den until Keaton had to crash at her hotel, so went to the Zoo afterwards and hung out with Aisha. I headed back to the Den to get the Nyil commission, but Elrond's was not yet ready. At one point I found a copy of 'Switched On Bach 2' in a collection of vinyl records which the artist would deface by painting furry characters on or turning the band on the cover into furries. I decided to buy just the record - particularly since it was an original release under the name 'Walter Carlos' and was impressed to know that the seller and the guy in the next table knew what it was.
Back at the Zoo, I hung out with Aisha, trying to find others. We ran into Sofox and went back to the Omni, the idea being to get back in time for Kage's story hour - something I said would be a miracle if we managed it - but we didn't and came in around 20 minutes into it.
After the Story we wandered around, ran into Radar and chatted with him for a bit before heading back to the Omni, at which point we ran into Keaton again. Hung out at the Zoo and eventually Aisha and Gabi showed up.
Sunday, 7th July
We woke up knowing it was the last day of the 'con, and this did not go unnoticed. At one point Gabi said "Why does everyone look so grim?"
Since we had been given Ben and Jerrys vouchers with the other convention material, we decided to get some ice-cream to lift our spirits. It was closed.
At this point I was starting to get frantic because I needed food but I also wanted to get to the Zoo in time to snag a commission from Strype. We tried a coffee shop, that was closed too.
Sofox wanted to visit a comic shop (at which point I was starting to make death threats), but we found they sold snacks as well so we bought buns, water and other things to make an impromptu breakfast and headed to the dealer's den, again via the Zoo so I could drop off the second set of CDs.
At the Den I did manage to snag a commission slot, and Elrond's biker commission was also finished so I collected that. Afterwards we wandered around bored with Aisha and company. We decided to regroup at the concrete V-shape of the Den around 1pm to get some food. In the meantime we kept bumping into others and invited them along.
At 1pm we reconvened and spent the next 30 minutes arguing about where to eat, during which time most of the invited drifted away until we were left with the original group again. Finally we went to the Golden Palace, afterwards heading back to the Den via the hotel.
At the Den I did some last-minute shopping, including matching paws for the wolf hoodie, a couple of badges ("Certified Wolf", "Turn off fox while not in use"). Sofox had found someone with a Steel Battalions setup with a the dedicated controller for it and persuaded Gabi to play it.
Later we wandered over to Mab's table where Keaton was and discussed spoilers. At one point I threatened Mab over the spoilers (which I still feel guilty about). When the Den closed we went off with Keaton to wait for the closing ceremony, while the fox guy in a kid's electric car scooted around before heading off with the words "I'm gonna crash the fursuit games..."
After the Closing Ceremony, I went to the zoo to catch up with the others. We found Sofox, Aisha and Aaron. We went off to photograph fursuiters and then tried to work out something for dinner. By now only Furnando's was open, so we went there. Outside, Sardyuon was juggling in full fursuit. One of the Furnando's staff joined in but wasn't quite as good.
Afterwards, we went off somewhere to make the All-Purpose Fox video for this year. We found an unlocked but empty room full of chairs and began making a camera stand out of two chairs and using my laptop as a plinth. This was great fun, and the result can be seen here:www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbSetV…
Afterwards we hung around outside that room, which was fairly close to the dance hall. Many fursuiters were roaming wild and a pianist was playing. We ran into Damaris and Nyil and just sat down and chatted. When the pianist broke into 'Bohemian Rhapsody' the entire place erupted into song, which made for a fantastic end to the convention.
Eventually Damaris had to leave since she and the rest of the crew were heading off in the morning. We went back with them, chatted for a bit then went to bed.
Monday, 8th July
We hung out in the Omni Lobby with Wuff, Mab and Serena until they had to go. Mab went into a full-blown rant about how useless pandas are. Thanks to the heroic efforts of Strype and Wuff I did manage to get the Strype commission just before he left. Throughout most of the convention, Shax had been trying to arrange a meal for me because I'd helped him afford to make the 'con. Somehow this never happened, but he went to get breakfast and offered to get me something as well. I asked for a cookie and some bottled water, and he came back a bit later saying he wasn't sure what kind of cookie to get so he got three different ones. I ate one, and gave another to Sofox after Shax had left, keeping the third one as a spare.
When everyone else had gone on their way, we finally went to Ben and Jerry's which was actually open, and still accepting the Anthrocon coupons. Aisha and Aaron had to run since their car had arrived far earlier than expected so they only got half an icecream.
We went back to hotel, hung out with Serena and ate some carrots which she didn't want to take back across the border. We decided to head out so Gabi could buy things from a pharmacy, but before we could do this we went back to the room to grab something, noticing on the way that some of the elevators didn't stop off at level 5.
Back at the room we did what we needed, checked our flights, and then, just as reached the lifts, Sofox realised that we hadn't left a tip for the housekeepers. Brandishing a 5 dollar bill, he went back into the room, while we waited, and waited.
"What is he doing?" I asked Gabi. "It can't take that long to put a $5 bill on a table." Shortly afterwards Sofox came back saying that he didn't have $5 and what he'd actually been holding turned out to be $50. After taking $3 from me he spread a bunch of coins on the table and spelled them into the word 'TIP'.s89.photobucket.com/user/tapew…
At the pharmacy, Gabi had been given a list of herbal remedies and such which were cheaper than in Argentina. We were unable to find any Aloe Vera, however. We did find a Radio Shack and went to the Toonseum about 30 minutes before it closed. Inside there was something which I eventually realised was a 16mm animation rig.
Afterwards we tried to go for food but it didn't really work out. It was very hot and by this point I was starting to get very dehydrated and irritable because I didn't believe we were seriously going to walk around in the heat.
We ran into one of the staff from Fernando's who was having a smoke break, and she suggested we went to the Point, where the three rivers surrounding the city centre conjoin. I was getting very hot and bothered and was about to go back to the hotel, but didn't because I didn't want to have to write in my journal that I'd stormed back to the hotel in a huff.
The Point was actually very nice, with a huge fountain. We sat and watched the river for a bit, but eventually headed off to find something to eat. We had spotted a food court on the way, but it was closed although there were a couple of signs erronously saying that it was open.
We went to the square where I had hung out with Mab and numerous others in AC2007, and found a world kitchen which sold noodles as prepared in styles found all over the world.
After that, we went back to the hotel, ran into Shax and invited him to our room. At this point we discovered that the housekeeper had NOT taken the tip, but had instead rearranged the coins into some arrow-like shape pointing at the remote control.s89.photobucket.com/user/tapew…
They had also switched the TV to the landscape channel and left it on again, something we had noticed each time previously. At this point we discovered that Aisha had left the Wheat Thins behind so we gave them to Shax who had about $17 to his name at that point.
We also discovered a pair of expensive headphones which we assumed were Aaron's but it later turned out that they must have come from someone at the Tea Party. Mischa (who if I remember right came back for an extra night because his flight had been delayed) took charge of them since of all of us, he was the nearest to the US and so at the most convenient point to mail them back when the owner was found.
Tuesday, 9th July
We headed off to the airport by bus and ran into a few con-goers. Inside the terminal we agreed to meet up at TGI's and eat there. This got a little complex because Sofox and I were ushered into the restaurant where we couldn't easily see them waiting. Somehow we managed to get back together and ate, while I received a text message from Wuff that simply read "TAPEWOOOLLLFFF!"
Eventually we went our separate ways. My flight was the latest, and it looked like it would be delayed owing to bad weather. I asked at the desk and they bumped me onto an earlier flight. This turned out to be both good and bad - I definitely dodged a bullet and in that I would have missed the connection, but since they did not transfer my luggage, the luggage DID miss the connection and it was not until the following Friday evening that they were able to courier it back - by which point I was rather hairy owing to the lack of shaver.
Commissions and suchlike can be found here:s89.photobucket.com/user/tapew…
Photos from the con can be found here:s89.photobucket.com/user/tapew…