THE PITTSBURGH XENAFEST
SATURDAY, MAY 2, 1998
Special to WHOOSH!
By Ed Baker (Oshram) [01-11]
Copyright 1998 held by author
The 1998 Pittsburgh Xenafest attendees
 My weekend started early; I got into town around 2:00 pm on Friday after a blessedly uneventful bus ride (I wrote some fanfic until the computer started flashing a battery warning). SAL_FAN, my roomie and the central coordinator of the fest, was not going to be in town until about four-ish, so I hung at the Pittsburgh Greyhound terminal (hey, I travel cheap) until he arrived because I was traveling heavy. I had a standee for Zander+, and that, along with the laptop and my suitcase, was enough to limit mobility. So I found a public outlet in the waiting area of the terminal and plugged in, recharging my battery and writing some more fanfic.
 SAL_FAN showed up about 4:30, and he and I went straight to the hotel (without getting lost as we did last year :). We dropped some fest items in the meeting room, and headed up to our room, which was located very conveniently near the fest room. After freshening up, we headed to the Pizza Hut located in the hotel -- this was where everyone was scheduled to meet. Soon afterward Alknerrart joined us, and then BrendaEMT, and Ursa Major. Marksam showed up soon afterward; this would be our core group. We discussed a few items about the following day; I handed out the name badges, and Alknerrart stole the show with the awesome T-shirts that Cheryl designed (purple with a yellow and white design -- *very* sharp!) The tees were only $10 and everyone bought a bunch on the spot.
 We had our own TV and VCR, so we went to the room SAL_FAN and I were sharing and settled in. Ursa took off (leaving us with her VCR!) and the five of us settled in to chat. SAL_FAN had VANISHING ACT (66/320) on tape, which none of us had seen. I asked him to wait for Zander+, who would be in shortly and who would not see it that weekend due to hockey playoffs. Zander+ arrived shortly thereafter and the viewing began; we all pretty much liked "VA", especially the "Gabrielle... You'll miss me," line at the end. After that we watched TSUNAMI (65/319) because Zander+ had been victim to hockey the weekend before. JaminLogan, Zander+'s bud and winner of "furthest traveled" award (Florida!) showed up, and we watched "VA" again. Marskam had to take off (he's lucky enough to live local) and after the second showing of "VA", Alknerrart and BrendaEMT retired (each was looking for a roomie, so that worked out rather well!). JaminLogan, Zander+ and I sat up talking for a while, and Zander+ was indulgent enough to let me fondle her chakram (her CREATION chakram) for most of the night. Presenting a standee can really soften people up! :)
 We split up late, and SAL_FAN and I got an early start in the morning. We were just about ready to head downstairs when there was a power outage -- apparently a transformer across the street blew out. The entire hotel was plunged into darkness, and we wondered if this wouldn't be the darkest Xenafest on record (the weather obliged us, of course, by being overcast and rainy and quite dim). Fortunately they restored power after about a half hour, and people started showing up about 8:30. SAL_FAN got the ball rolling with some music videos while we set up and greeted people, and Ursa arrived a little after nine. She brought enough bagels to feed the Horde, and we had so much stuff donated for auction and raffle, that we were assured no one would go away empty handed. Ursa also brought a number of unique items, like a homemade Callisto mouse pad and Xena pillow cases (and who wouldn't want to rest their head on the Warrior Princess when they were weary!). We let the videos run a while to allow everyone to settle in. We then played the meet and greet game, something we can do because the Pittsfest is so small. Everyone introduced themselves and told a little bit about why they were a hardcore XENA fan. The best part about this was hearing so many people say that they came to fests and cons to meet and talk to other fans (IMO the best reason to go to a gathering). After that, we started right in with the chakram toss. Last year we tried to toss the chakram into Joxer's mouth, but that proved too challenging; we had to go around three times before we got a winner. This year we settled on a variation of the three-cup carny game. We had two winners, the 'real' winner and the consolation winner -- or the best of the worst, as we called it. Each was allowed to pick a prize from the 'raffle' side of the prize table.
 Ursa and Quacker had officiated over the marksmanship display, and now they also held the floor for their rightly famous Xena Jeopardy. We picked from a pool of volunteers' names tossed in a box, and Marksam, Zander+ and I were the contestants. I was reluctant, after my trouncing last year in the Name That Xena Tune contest, but Jeopardy was (hopefully) another story. For a time no one could score many points; XBass, who was in the audience, was scoring more than we were (if the contestants could not correctly answer a question, it went to the audience. If someone got it, they got the points, too.) After a couple of minutes, though, we warmed up to it, and I narrowly squeaked by Zander+ to win. We each got to pick prizes (I nabbed the 'Carl Jr's Xena Toy' -- a little plastic figure of XENA that launches a round disc). Jeopardy ran right on schedule, and then we had an episode viewing (few in the audience of about a dozen and a half had seen VANISHING ACT.) After the episode, we broke for lunch.
 After lunch, Cheryl presented us with a script she had written and registered that was a follow up to DESTINY (36/212). She herself admitted too much had happened on the show since she wrote the script for it to be viable in continuity any more, but it was an interesting look at Xena's next mentor after M'Lila, done in a similar flashback fashion to DESTINY. There were almost enough parts for everyone there, so we all got to pitch in. SAL_FAN stole the show, playing the evil (?) king and treating us to his 'evil laugh' many times. The script ran longer than planned, which was a blessing in disguise; our martial arts demonstrator, Xenagrrl, had injured herself at karate practice the night before and would not be attending. We thus had a more open schedule for the afternoon. Being that a few people had to leave early to make travel connections, we held the raffle (everyone got something, there were more than enough XENA goodies) and then moved to the auction.
 Matt MC'ed the charity auction and got things going right away. A number of smaller items were gotten for a bargain, and a full XENA card set -- with all the chromes and foils -- went for $55, a steal! I had my eye on the Callisto mouse pad, and Veesa was kind enough to give in and let me have it. The Gabrielle ALA poster went for a nice price ($50) and the autographed items did well also (a few Rob Trebors, a Ted Raimi, and the big prize, a Danielle Cormack). There were a few bidding wars, but everything was resolved in the usual Xenite way (i.e., someone relented with a smile), and everything was sold off. Altogether we raised over $700 for charity, almost $45 a person.
 Though we originally had slated the next spot for more videos, so many people had to leave that we decided simply to end early and head over to Ursa and Quacker's for a get together. The gang headed over to their place and had some fantastic Chinese food. We started the videos with some great interviews and a special from New Zealand's 20/20, and then watched INTIMATE STRANGER (31/207) and debated whether Lucy played a better Callisto or Hudson played a better Xena (Lucy won out). After that was TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (32/208) which everyone had a good time watching.
 Following the vids, XBass and I played the new XENA card game. We only had time to play two games, and the blue (Gabby) deck won both times (once for her and once for me). Then the big good-byes were said and we headed back to the hotel.
 All in all, I would say this was a better fest than last year, and last year's was wonderful. The wealth of goodies and the intimacy of the small group gave it a really warm and friendly feeling. Ursa and Quacker once again came through huge time, providing us not only with some great stuff to auction off (and munchies!) but some fantastic trivia questions. SAL_FAN was as usual organized and thought of every little detail. Alknerrart provided us with the lovely T-shirts (they really are extremely nice) and also guarded the door (along with a Xena standee :). And Marksam's handling of the auction was masterfully done.
 A great time was had by everyone, and though there are many fests and cons springing up all over the place, it is my hope that we meet again next year. This may be a tiny gathering, but I've made some of the best Xenite friends I have here. I've seen stars and been to huge cons on both coasts, but none holds the special place for me that Pittsfest does. So thanks to all who participated and came out, and let's hope (fingers crossed) there is a next year.
Ed Baker (Oshram@aol.com)
Ed Baker graduated from UVa with a double major in English and History and is thus doubly unqualified to function in the business world. When not watching XENA, he's watching BUFFY.
Favorite episode: DESTINY (36/212), Hands down.
Favorite line: "We all eventually become what we pretend to be." Xena; BLIND FAITH
First episode seen: A FISTFUL OF DINARS (14/114) Still one of my favorites.
Least favorite episode: Oooh, easy one. THE DELIVERER (50/304) You could substitute "hate most" for "least like" if you wanted. Loathe works as well.