Whoosh! Online Edition Whoosh! On The Road


PART 4: DAY ONE [04-06]

Part 1: Transport

[01] Snow. Ice. Sleet. These are words you do *not* want to hear on the eve of your departure for what is arguably the premier event of the year for Xenites -- the Burbank Convention. This is especially vexing when people are expecting you to be there in order to perform certain duties, not the least of which is assisting with the WHOOSH! booth. So what does one do? One becomes resourceful. During the day on Thursday, I listened with trepidation to the various forecasts. I heard predictions of some snow, much snow, some ice, much ice, some sleet, much sleet, some rain, much rain... you get the idea. Perhaps feeling a bit punchy from a botched forecast three weeks ago, when it was universally predicted we would receive two inches of snow from a storm and in fact received two feet, meteorologists would much rather be dealing with meteors than weather. This reluctance to commit to any amounts of precipitation and/or accumulation contributed to my decision to try to bugger off early. Fortunately, after a few calls, I located a suitable flight some 16 hours prior to my intended one. I booked the reservation and made my way to the airport. Latest weather reports confirmed the storm onset would be delayed by about two hours, perfect timing for my flight's departure. Good thing I reserved ahead. When I got to the airport, it was packed. Many flights going to or coming from the storm track -- New York, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Washington D.C., and so on, were cancelled. People wanted out. Most weren't getting out. So I ended up on a flight to Las Vegas (where I am typing this now via the miracle of the laptop) and if the travel goddess wishes, I shall make a connection to Los Angeles in a few hours. There isn't an empty seat on this plane, alas, and most of them have Las Vegas as their final destination. Did I pack everything I needed? Probably not, considering after I made this decision I ran home, spent five minutes stuffing everything into a bag, then dashed for the airport. But I did indeed remember to pack the most important thing -- my sense of anticipation at seeing many old acquaintances, and the prospect of making many new ones.

Part 2: Pre-Registration

[02] Creation gets high marks in just about all categories for this convention. Especially useful was the pre-registration on Friday evening. Gone were the long lines of the last New York and Valley Forge conventions. The longest I had to wait for anything was the pre-registration on Friday evening, and even that moved quickly and efficiently. The pre-registration also allowed me the opportunity to greet and chat with others I had met from past conventions. It was a delight to be able to recognise many people, and thoroughly enjoyable to see so many other fans having such a great time. The mood was definitely upbeat and positive. People even seemed to have relatively few travel horror stories. Many were staying at the Hilton itself, which was very conveniently located adjacent to the convention centre. Access was easy, and at least in my experience, parking was readily obtainable (though expensive -- validated parking cost $5.50 per day). Pre-registration also allowed those who came early to scope out the facilities, which I felt were roomy and adequate, as well as get first grabs at vendor merchandise, of which there was quite a lot. As always, the longest line was for pictures, but it was far better to stand in this line Friday night than wait until Saturday or Sunday and take a chance on missing a featured speaker. After awhile, people disbanded into separate groups and many parties were available for attending, but this conventioneer was getting pretty tired and had a few miles to go before bedding down for the night.

Part 3: A Brief Advert

[03] I travel to California on business from time to time -- that is where my company is based and that is where the space telescope we are assembling is being tested. Whenever I stay in the Greater Los Angeles area, if possible, I stay in Hermosa Beach. My company is a mere 4.7 miles from LAX, and another 1.3 miles takes me to my hotel, which is literally a five minute walk to Hermosa Beach Pier. The Pier underwent a major renovation in the last couple of years, and Hermosa Beach is a cozy and delightful town anywise. It's a charming area that is very "public-friendly." Where else could you see such businesses as The Ragin' Cajun (popular restaurant), Out D*mned Spot (cleaners), The Bow-Wow Boutique (dog groomers), Either/Or Bookshop (two bookshops right next to each other named the same, separate entrances) and El Pollo Inka (Incan cuisine). Even the ATM machines speak surfer lingo. Whereas in Massachusetts the ATM simply says "Push 1 for English, 2 for Spanish," the Hermosa ATMs ask me "What language shall we speak?" in a very chatty manner. Similarly, when processing a transaction, Massachusetts ATMs simply say "please wait," while Hermosa ATMs proclaim "I'm working on it!" Although I avoid contact with direct sunlight whenever possible, there is no substitute for a dawn or dusk or moonlight stroll on the beach. At dawn, one has the beach practically all to oneself. You can see the pelicans out fishing for breakfast, catch a glimpse of a pod of whales or dolphins, or simply watch and listen to the waves crash on the shore. It makes the 45 minute ride to the convention a cheap deal in comparison.

Part 4: Day ONE

[04] There are separate write-ups on all events and speakers. The only thing I can say here is how nice it was to meet and greet familiar faces and new ones. It was a nonstop couple of days, that's certain. Thanks to everyone who came by the WHOOSH! table to say hello.

[05] And here I have to give a special thanks to Steve Sears. Earlier in the day, Steve and I were chatting and just before we split up he said "Make sure you're around later today. I'm bringing someone to the convention, not Xena-related, and no matter who you think it is, it isn't." As usual, Steve piqued my interest and sure enough later on I was pleasantly surprised. Steve brought with him Patricia Tallman, the actress who plays Lyta Alexander on BABYLON 5. Pat is also a big XENA fan, and many of us have hopes that Pat will be on XENA at some point. She's a fine actress, and also an accomplished stuntperson as well. And -- guilty confession time -- in all the shows I've ever watched and liked, I never joined a fan club until I joined the Pat Tallman fan club. Yep, she was my first! So thanks again, Steve, for a very unexpected and very pleasant surprise. [06] So with that, go check out the speakers and events. Don't hang around here, c'mon, go!

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