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ConJosé 2002

The 60th World Science Fiction Convention

August 29 - September 2, 2002

I had looked forward to this WorldCon for months and even if an obstruction was to rear its ugly head, I was determined to go. Thus, on the morning of Saturday, August 24, 2002 my mom, my sister and I were on our way to the airport. Security was strict, shoes and all, but notwithstanding that, we had a normal flight and arrived on time in San José.

At the Hilton I contacted JDipale on his cellphone to find out where he and Gandalara were on the road! They must have a lot of fun; they couldn't stop laughing. With my mom comfortably ensconced in the hotel room, my sister and me went on a search for food (good food that is, not the hotel Grill) but at 6:00 p.m. on a Saturday evening in downtown San José, ahem, it took us a few blocks of hiking. Anyway, we found food at a Thai restaurant and back to the hotel to feed ourselves. We had TV, fridge and a microwave in our room. It was almost like home.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

We took the time to explore Downtown San José before the roadfarers' arrival. The evenings were so cool here that we had to wear jackets but the mornings were sunny and hot. There was a great light rail transit system that you can take from one end to the other end of the city and suburbs for a buck or two. A Chinese Gourmet just a block away from the Fairmont Hotel, with great food for a fast food restaurant. There was also a Japanese sushi restaurant two blocks further away. We brought some food with us to the hotel and finally a ding from JD: they were at the hotel front doors!

I had not seen Gand and JD for two years, my not being able to attend Millennium Philcon 2001 so we had quite a reunion in front of the Hilton to the befuddlement of the hotel staff. Gand had a vanful of goodies to be carted to her suite. And what a palatial suite it was with great views from the windows! Gand, JD, me and my sister had dinner at another Thai Restaurant and then some playful splashing around in the fountain by the Fairmont.

Monday, August 26, 2002

The foursome of us went our separate ways in the morning but met before noon before the doors of the Tech Museum. For about an hour we craned our necks to watch astronauts and cosmonauts filling up the space station with personnel and gadgetry. It was said that crumbs floating in zero-G were bad for equipment but, hey, didn't we see tiny food spills drifting around? After the show, while my sister stayed at the Tech to play with Gizmo, the wonder robodog, the three of us assembled in force on the frontsteps of the Hilton as STARMOM's welcoming committee. It was STAR and Gand who saw each other first; JD and I were looking elsewhere. It was great meeting STAR at last and in the Squid Suite we played around with her toys that she brought along. And once more after dinner we had to do another splashing around in the fountain.

J.D, and Gandalara

Tomfoolery in the Squid Suite

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

The day of our long awaited trip to San Francisco! We took the downtown shuttle to the train station which didn't cost us a cent. And we were on Caltrain on our way to San Francisco! The trip would have been faster if we had driven by car but the train excursion gave us time for sightseeing from the comfort of our seats. One and a half hour or so later, a smell of the sea indicated that we were approaching the city. "The Streets of San Francisco." Yes, this is real; we are here. At the train station we had to do some investigation to find out the way to Fisherman's Wharf. We got on the right shuttle trolley (we think) that brought us to busy Downtown. It was a workday after all while our group were on vacation! Heh. And another trolley brought us to our intended destination where we brought tickets for a boat ride to the Golden Gate and around Alcatraz. From where we were standing on the pier, we could already hear-and smell-the sea lions. Tourists were thronging around to take pictures of them, at all their best poses of sealionesse. And right above their habitat we had lunch.

It was a warm and sunny day but we had to contend with the wind on the boat ride. While our hairdos were all blown askew, JD's stayed neatly in place. How did he do that? More pictures, more ooohs and aaahs. What a pity we didn't have the time to visit Alcatraz itself or drive down the Golden Gate Bridge. This is history and not seen from a movie. After the boat trip we went on search of Ghirardelli for, you guess rightly, a chocolate fest. Then, a walk along Fisherman's Wharf to buy souvenirs and trinkets on the way back to the trolley stop. We were all pretty fagged out on our train trip back to San José. It was after 10 p.m. when we got back. We could see the Hilton from the station and we decided to walk a good two to four blocks back through a neighbourhood that didn't promise anything good to life and limb except for one friendly cat. Anyway, we reached the hotel in one piece, souvenirs, purses and all.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

This was the day for another long awaited trip, the trip to the wineries! It appeared that a night's sleep had given us all renewed energy. Gand, our trustworthy guide will drive us there and thus, with the wine cooler firmly installed in the van we were on our way to the Santa Clara wineries. This is beautiful country, foggy and the air, should I wax poetic and say the air tasted like wine? Of course, taking into account the wineries we visited along our road! The ollallieberry wine of Bargetto Winery tasted excellent and I bought a couple of that. We also had a very winding drive through the redwood forest. It was all such great fun!

Gandalara, leading us into the unknown

Bargetto Winery

With the wine cooler filled to capacity we drove back to the hotel and said peekaboo to Jan in the Squid Suite who had in the meantime arrived and sampled the chilli that was simmering in the crockpot. Tomorrow was the first day of the Con and we took a quick look after supper at a still deserted Convention Centre. Registration booths looked dead but STAR had already registered and got her program book. Was she a wizard in disguise? Meanwhile JD found some long-lost friends (Xerpies) while I took the time to stack out our newsletter Digital Papyrus before the stands were filled up. We had more chilli, crackers, nachos and booze in the Suite afterwards.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

The first day of ConJosé. My sister and I went early in the morning to register and then a quick dash to the dealers' room where boxes were still being unpacked. Fans were nicely filling up the Centre. This is a typical first day of confusion where you wanted to do a gazillion things and a gazillion things didn't get done. I bumped into STAR and together we roamed about aimlessly until I heard somebody yelling my name. Oh, it was Chip! And next to her Shadow and Shadaughter! They were here for the O*W*C dinner later this evening. We chatted a while and the time was fast approaching to form a welcome committee for E Cat s arrival that afternoon. We made our way to the hotel lobby and I contacted JD and company on the cellphone to meet us there. We had reunions and made new acquaintances: our little group had grown but where was E?

Jand and J.D.

Waiting for E Cat S

E, it turned out, had already arrived and checked in, while we chatted for half an hour and Jan busily captured our butts with her camera. We trooped back to the Suite and called E's room. When she turned up, we were complete. Well, not really, we still had to haul in BG1818. We donned our propeller beanies and made our way to the Waves Smokehouse for our dinner. We saw musicians already playing on the street. At the Smokehouse we met BG1818 but somehow lost STAR on the way. My sister went back to get STAR; we didn't want her to miss anything. This was a terrific night: good food on the patio and music band playing on the streets below. The music rocked! See our video clip.

E Cat S!


Sadly, a night this excellent ended all too soon. We had some after-fun in the Squid Suite before saying goodbye to Chip, Shadow and Shadaughter. Hope to see them again pretty soon at future Cons.

Friday, August 30, 2002

I spent most of the time in the dealers' room and hit some panels. (Gene Wolfe, Tim Powers, Cordwainer Smith were just a few of the authors whose books I was after) One of the surprise events was the lightning presentation by Patrick Stewart. While Gand, JD and E attended the RAH banquet, STAR, my sister and I sought our places in the long queue to see "Captain Picard". San José police were at hand to maneuver the droves of fans safely across the street, so that panicked motorists wouldn't run them over. "Science Fiction Fans Attack!"

STAR and Greg Bear are chums

Stewart was his old suave self and regaled us with his wit. He announced that NEMESIS would be the last movie for the Star Trek The Next Generation crew, to the audience's moans and groans. After sending Stewart on his way we sauntered in the midst of a rambunctious crowd to the Fairmont Hotel to, you guess what, party mania of course. A long, long line of partygoers but ConJosé volunteers had organized it in such way that there were two lineups: one straight to 20th Floor and one to the 12th Floor. Would we rather take the stairs up or down? We took our positions in the line for the 20th Floor.

We stuffed ourselves with chocolate. There were a variety of weird looking booze. At the LA bid party the cadets were busily recruiting people. I was recruited as Xenoartificat Maintenance. Not too bad. As Con parties go, you see a door open and a room full of people, you hit it regardless of the consequences. We met Jan in the Egg Plant room enticing everyone to join her party with chocolate. The stairways echoed with the tramping of legions of fans. It was near midnight when we decided to call it a night. In the front lobby of the Fairmont we bumped into Gand et al just back from the RAH banquet. They were on their way to party as well. Should we turn back and join them? The prospect of an early morning rise defeated that notion.

Saturday, August 31, 2002

This is the first day of the Tapestry Fair at San José, just outside the Hilton Hotel. Tents were already being set up along Almaden Boulevard on the night before. An event that was nearby and didn't require much walking for my mom to go to. It was a day of panels, dealers' room, panels and author signing. It was the night also of the masquerade! By this time, STAR and me got a bad case of concrude. Reminder for the next Con: take cough syrup and flu pills.

The masquerade was a colourful display and great fun, though I would've preferred to see more skits. And after the masquerade more parties. And the merrymaking was still in full swing when we made our way back to the Hilton.

Sunday, September 1, 2002

This was Hugo Award Night. More panel and dealers' room stuff during the day. Our group met for supper before the Awards ceremony and headed out an hour in advance to the Civic Centre to beat the long line-up. Volunteers were on hand with bottles of cool, fresh water so we shouldn't die of thirst on a hot afternoon. Once they allowed us inside we made in a beeline for the balcony seats.

We nominated, we voted and we anticipated months before this event and here we sat back and let the speeches roll, the jokes and the puns to a chorus of oooohs and aaaahs and eeeews. One of the highlights was Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring winning the Hugo and "Samwise Gamgee" Sean Astin accepting the Award. And of course, there was Neil Gaiman, obscenely ecstatic that he won. And after all this excitement, more parties, more food, more Con-mania.

Monday, September 2, 2002

Final day. A day to look for last, good deals at the dealer's room. They were giving books away in the main area! And I stretched my hot, eager hand to Kim Stanley Robinson's YEARS OF RICE AND SALT. I was beginning to get worried about luggage overweight. STAR and I briefly attended the closing ceremony where each seat was bedecked with chocolate.

At supper time we went for Chinese Gourmet fast food to bring back to the hotel before our last stab at festivities at the Dead Dog Party. Someone was grinning madly at Gand at the fast food shop who turned out to be David Gerrold. Was he rubbing his hands in his mind about the horrible way the tuckerized Gandalara would come to her end?

Dead Dog was a party hound on its last legs, but still looking for fun and leftovers. Groups of folks clustered lamenting the end of the Five Day Wonder. Some folk were still filking at the top of their lungs around a piano.

One last stab, but the Convention Centre was already deserted and luggage were being carted out of the hotels. Some of us had an early plane to catch so we said goodbye before we departed to our rooms. Goodbye, safe trip all, until next time, next year at Torcon3!

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