Wrapping up Worldcon coverage.

Thanks for sticking with me.  I’ll be restructuring outlines for future reports to make them faster and easier to post online for your convenience.  (link) All photos from this event that will be shared, will be shared on Deviantart.  Anything shown here has simply not been uploaded yet.

 

Who did I see?  Tanglwyst de Holloway.  I first met her at Worldcon Spokane last summer. I attended a lecture by a program coordinator from The University of Adelaide about ideas on academic innovation through writing.  The lecture was delivered from atop a literal soapbox.  I even managed to swap some ideas and methods of my own.  I passed George R.R. Martin himself on the way to a book signing, and I got to hang out with the Soul Fire Dancers (a Romani Dance Troop who appear regularly at the Kansas City Renaissance Fair) after hours on Thursday.  I got on well with one in particular.

What activities did I try?  Wednesday was primarily an exploring day.  Seeing who and what was set up where.  I found out that the food trucks outside were going to have company in days to come, but shorter hours as well, so some of my intel wasn’t going to be the same for the whole weekend anyhow.  There was a 2 hour event for the little ones, following a make your own broom panel.  I watched them play a bit, but it wasn’t for me.

 

Where did I eat?  Our first night, my traveling companion and I looked through a list of the Top 10 Barbeque joints in Kansas City (seen here: http://www.10best.com/destinations/missouri/kansas-city/restaurants/barbecue/).  None of them were in walking distance.  Which is a shame.  At #5, Arthur Bryant’s really stood out to me.  On account of having served President Truman, and the recommended beans, I was preparing a Rorschach’s journal style review of it.  All the better I didn’t go, because that would have been near impossible for me to pull off.  Thusly we looked for a Barbecue nearby. The only one was in the process of moving and was open for four hours midday.  So we hit a Deli at Consentino’s Market Downtown.

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I had a $10 dinner of Penne noodles, instead of barbeque.  But I wasn’t going to quit. Before this trip was out, I was going to have actual Tornado Alley Barbeque.  Although the noodles were so good I wentback for more later. But $10 was still a little pricy, though.  If we were closer to home, I wouldn’t spend so much so regularly.

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On Saturday as I took a walk past the Consentino market, guess what I found.

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Yeah, there was a food truck fest while I was here.  And I found out after it had passed.  Whoops.

 

But there were food trucks outside the convention center.  Including one for a lovely Barbeque shop called KC Barbeque.

 

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When they asked why I was taking pictures, I said I was food blogging and in response they offered me a bonus cup of brisket.  I think if I am ever privileged to return for a later event I would prefer the brisket.  They clearly had a rub applied to it, though the very fine pork seemed unseasoned.  The customary pickle was a fine prize, this coming from one normally inclined to avoid pickles.  But this one had an excellent juice and commendable crunch.  Nothing really to say about the bag of Lays, naturally.  So if you’re ever in town and on the move, keep an eye out for KC Barbeque.  The Truck that is.

 

 

Which panels did I attend?  The Chinese Science Fiction Panel.  Much of what was discussed covered literary SF, and imported American Blockbusters.  Did you know the Chinese have their own major literary award?  Did you know they also have one more?  Yep, the SF Galaxy Award and the Chinese Nebula Award (or Yin He and Xing Yun, respectively).  2015 saw the first SF convention sponsored by their national government.  Something on a timelier note, I asked after the end how Suicide Squad did in the People’s Republic, and I was told that because it was so violent, it was not allowed to be shown in the country.

 

I also attended “What to Look for in a Masquerade,” and while I was hoping to catch a representation panel called “We deserve better” in my afternoon, a happy accident stuck me in “My Trans-Media Life” panel next door.  “What to look for in a Masquerade” was an insight into what judges look for in costume contests.   They had videos showcasing examples of winners of various contests from as far back as the 90’s, and Oh.  My.  Word.  That Majora’s Mask Skit was breathtaking.  I’d never seen anything like it. The “costume” was a massive unfolding box that contained set after set and in roughly 3 minutes, the whole story of Majora’s mask was played out by nearly a dozen actors running around in what was practically a dancing backdrop.

 

“My Transmedia Life” introduced me to the concept of Transmedia, naturally.  But what I found there was surprising.  When I read Transmedia in the brochure I thought that was just representation of Trans People in media, but it was actually about telling one consecutive story across different media.  Does anyone remember Alan Cumming in the X-Men trilogy?  I figure lots of people do.  Bryan Singer sure does.  There were three films in that one, and while Nightcrawler appeared in only one of them he was in the X-Trilogy 3 times.  How was that?  He had his own prequel comic, and he was written out in a tie-in video game.  3 appearances, across 3 types of media.

 

How did I like this compared to other cons?  From a gourmet aspect, I was always invested.  One of the panelists at the Transmedia panel even brought varieties of fudge to sample.  But the con was missing some standard things like room parties and hospitality.  They were not allowed to host anything with food in the hotel.  And they could not lay it out in the contention center until the exhibit hall had closed.  That was a bummer, but the surrounding food had me almost constantly invested in exploring.

The venue was unlike anything I had ever seen, but it felt so underutilized.  There was a connected theater we could walk through to exit, but it was dark and not booked for anything at the time.  With a massive display hall for the dances and HUGO awards (that I missed) the theater was unnecessary.

 

And while one could walk up a very tall flight of stairs to a series of windows

 

 

 

The way home.

 

This one’s going to be a triple feature, covering my exploring and eating while I waited for my flight.  Without any con activities to use up my time, I treated myself to a tour of the historic Muelebach hotel.  The Muelebach is connected to the Marriott by a skybridge, and they are both the same installation.  This is evidenced by them both having the same initially confusing touchpad control.

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Seen one of these before?

 

The Muelebach comes complete with its own ghost, the “Blue Lady”.  And just like any good hotel from so long ago, the more historic floors below the lobby feature old wood panel wall, points on the walls where there obviously used to be phones, a firehose closet, and a tea room, among other things.  A funny story about the tea room.  I kept following signs indicating it’s general direction, but I couldn’t find it, like something from the ghost stories of my childhood, it looked like an endless loop of limbo.  In my search, I even went down to the deep cellar and finding something that REALLY touched my past, a Radio Disney broadcasting office.  I remember when that program was still Kidstar.  It’s been awhile.  Finally I found an employee nearby and asked where to go.

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Found it.

The Breakfast in the hotel restaurant was something different today.  It figures that the day I’m leaving is the first day I’m offered cream with my coffee and a made to order ommelette with the buffet.  I just don’t know to ask for these things in advance.  Next time, I shall remember.

 

Picture of ommelette (enhanced)

 

For lunch we hit the mall (enter name) and FINALLY, I got my shot at widely renowned Missouri Barbeque.  Now KC Food Truck (specify name) was cool (seriously, their pride in their brisket was not misplaced), but did not win awards after award on the travel Channel.  To my knowledge.  (check that)

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Do you know what excess Protein can do to your body?  I’m about to find out.  No way my traveling companion can consume all those ribs on her own.

 

I ordered a barbecue Sunday (Baked Beans, Cole Slaw, Pulled Pork, Barbeque sauce check against picture) which came with a pickle and in a glass pickling jar.  Going by the picture above, I obviously opted out of the Cole Slaw.  Honestly, the only type of side they had that played to my typical preferences was the baked beans with pulled pork in them.  Given this was my last day to pick up authentic Kansas City Barbeque, so much the better to double up.  On that note, my traveling companion got spare ribs.  As mentioned above, there was no way she could finish all that on her own.  There was a video clip on loop in the outlet shop detailing the requirements for the Barbeque contests won.  I remember one of the 3 time reigning champions pulling the pork in a crown and robe.  Like a king.  His fashion sense said “established champion,” but with a thorough humility.  Also, there were meat inspectors, and the meat needed a blue sticker before it could proceed.  And NO RUBS OR SAUCES.  Everything was on the quality of the meat and the smoking process.

 

Based on the number of trophies, they’re seem to be doing something right.  Based on the fact I polished off the jar and the pickle and someone else’s scraps, they’re definitely doing something right.

Though on the way out of the food court, we found a train themed 50’s diner.  That was my #3 selection, though certainly the most picturesque.

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And finally, I came home Nerd Class.  That’s what I called it anyway.  Everyone else just called it AirCon.  A jet liner packed with Sci-Fi authors.  I had the window seat to get you all great shots like this, but that precluded any communal interactions.  But I would say the gains outweighed the losses.

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What do you think?  Get your prints while prices are low.

So, yeah… I promised myself that on the way back I’d try the Tom Douglas Sandwich (slapping together Northwest Flavors sounds like a great way to return to the Northwest) but getting bumped up means getting different fare.  Oh well, I was sure I’d survive somehow.  (This is me winking at the keyboard while I type that).  Though the completionist in me was disappointed, I now get the chance to describe first class fare,

a.k.a. the glorious feast you see before you.

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Salt and pepper packets, dressing held on the side, 3 meal sides (none of them from a bag) and… a chicken with Panko topping that I couldn’t really recall the next day.  To be fair, that could be jet lag, could be con drag, could be me preoccupied with the free movie player I could not hear over the jets.  Seriously.  I do like me a meal with a show, but all I had to work with were ear buds, which take the plane noises and amplify them directly into the ear.  I was also pretty tired, which could be why I had to be reminded later about the Chocolate Chip cookies.  But I did remember there were USB chargers, lots of service, no wings in my shots, The drinks served in ceramic mugs, no standing in a crowded line for up to 10 entering or leaving the plane… all of which was such an improvement over my typical experience.  All in all, I’d give it a A-.  Definitely an upgrade over typical business class.  Well, that’s it.  That’s all from this con.   Catch you all again at Sakuracon next year.  Hopefully that report will be more concise.  (No pun con-tended, really)

 

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What else was going on during Worldcon 2016?

Something I like about cons is seeing what else is going on at the site.  One Sakuracon, there was a Microsoft event on the top floor that was clearing up and I walked away with a free flight simulator.  In 2010 Emerald City Comicon, there was an International Art competition, featuring classic political commentary to a performance art about government censorship behind the Berlin Wall.  And who can forget LoneStarcon, site of Worldcon 2013, also the home of People Magazine’s “Festival people en Espanol,” presented by Target.  There was a stage show, lots of prizes (like the Jeep Sunglasses I’ve sported for my Cassidy Cosplay more than once)  and a guest appearance by Olympic Boxer Marlen Esparza.

 

Well, Tuesday and Wednesday of this convention saw the Feeding America Conference in the historic tower of the Marriott we stayed at.  Which was various charities coming together to brainstorm and innovate new ways to feed the hungry.  Then on Saturday there was a Bachelorette party in the Tower I stayed at, and a Hope House fundraiser Dance called “Hope and all that Jazz.”  I was absent for the fundraiser, but they told me that Hope House was a local charity.  I also know nothing about the bachelorette party except that one of the patrons told me it was going to be that night.  I sure wasn’t going to be there.  Then there was the blood drive at the far end of the (used portion) of the convention center.  I’ve seen those at Sakuracon, too.   But unlike the Sakuracon drive, this blood drive did not have prizes.  They had reminders of American blood shortages.

Worldcon 2016 Green Room vs. Hospitality Suite.

Despite being a panelist’s guest, I was not allowed in Green Room at this con.  And hospitality was on convention center level three in the Exhibit Hall.  And wow, moving it all from hotel suites to an exhibition hall, especially after getting it the old-fashioned way at Westercon just a few months ago.  Scarcely any food, most of it gone whenever I showed up.  The room parties (in the same exhibit hall at the same time) were tiny and walled off by black curtains.  Now room parties at these shindigs (especially rooms that bid for the next Worldcon site) are typically a lot of people in tiny spaces, with room for food and spirits to boot.  In these there was no food, and no spirits, and largely no people.  But with venues like these…

 

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No one really seemed that interested. These booths were empty when I arrived.

 

There were some games to play outside of the booths, which was a plus I guess, but I did not play them.

Con Kabob.

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Print available for sale here: http://fandomfoodie.deviantart.com/prints/

Friday at Worldcon 2016, I finally got to try one of those Kabobs sold in the Exhibition hall, and the results were mixed.  Pro: The pork was well-done.  As we covered in the previous day’s review, I like me some smoky crunch with my food.  And it fell apart easily off the skewer.  Plus the tomatoes were well done, and the onions and peppers were so well cooked that there was minimal acidic reaction.  Which is a godsend with all the green tea I drink.  Con:  Being so well done, the fruits and vegetables had next to no flavor.  And I only consider that an improvement on tomatoes.  And the onions were not blackened, or even caramelized.  Just kind of clear.  Plus the meat had no sauce, and the meat fell off the stick in soft solid chunks, not stringy like Barbeque traditionally is.  Still, it’s closer to the Spirit of Kansas City than the Papa John’s in the exhibit hall.  And for curiosity’s sake, I’m glad I tried it.  I’d still rather go somewhere else next time, and taste more of the city.

Getting to Worldcon 2016

Hello, everyone.  I’ve given myself some time to go over this year’s Worldcon subject by subject, one installment at a time.  First, let’s start with getting there.  Worldcon is a travelling Literary Science Fiction convention.  Said to be the birthplace of convention cosplay, it is also a travelling con, sites selected by purchased votes 2 years in advance.  All I can say is someone on the 2014 committee must have liked me, because this year it was held in the heart of barbeque country.

I was sitting on the wing of a plane.  Thusly I had a lot of fiberglass and metal and paint in my view.  But blessed with a smooth and stable flight, I managed to zoom in and catch this shot heading east out of SeaTac Airport.

 

http://fandomfoodie.deviantart.com/art/Nice-View-630549866?purchase=print Buy one today (Shameless plug is always shameless)

Also there was a baby.  A (probably) first-time flying baby was also part of the deal.  A noisy part of the deal.  For hours.  Not all bad though.  Flying Alaska meant my options included a meal designed by local celebrity chef Tom Douglas, and a Mediterannian Tappas Box.  This all depended on how many hours your flight was.  The Tappas was for flights over 1 hour, and the Tom Douglas Sandwich was for flights over 3.5 hours.  I opted to sample that for you on my way back.  Boy was I in for a surprise.  But more on that later.

This trip’s Tom Douglas number was a turkey sandwich with an Espresso Mayo.  But instead I went with the Tappas Box.  A gluten free vegan and kosher option according to the menu, I also noticed a distinct absence of cheese, and the only wheat to speak of was confined to the complimentary pretzels separate from the meal.  I have said before that my preferred way to gain the measure of a place’s quality is to measure their offerings that play to more restrictive diets, for instance, the veggie patty at a burger place.  If that patty is as good as any meat patty, you’re looking ahead to some great barbeque sandwiches, if you’ll pardon my classic jargon.

Overhead of Kansas City COnvention center mapped

Place that houses the con.  MASSIVE.  I don’t think the convention itself occupied 1/3 of the space.  The building itself seemed to be primarily Skybridge, and the skybridges themselves sometimes branch off into other skybridges.

Exhibitor’s Hall.  I can’t say I’ve ever seen one quite like this before, see the tall black spire to the far right?

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That’s the makeshift volcano that would go off at 6PM each night.  It was not halfway across the hall.  Most of what you see here is reserved for the art show.  The hall itself held not one, not two but three built in eateries.  One of which I’ll be reviewing for you as part of my Sampling of Barbeque country.  Another was “Fresh Express” (and thus not a priority) and the third was a Papa John’s Pizza.  I’ll pass.

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Oh yeah…

That’s it for today.  We’ve established the journey and the setting, next time we’ll deal with Cosplay.  Until then…