Costumes Everywhere

Who doesn’t like to dress up? OK, probably most of the folks who hang out over on Server Fault. But here at Worldcon, it seems like you see people wearing costumes all the time. The Masquerade (a huge event, held earlier tonight) is devoted to extravagant and innovative costuming, in individual and group concepts. Sadly, we missed the Masquerade, though we’ll link to photos as we find them.

An attraction of Science Fiction and Fantasy conventions are “hall costumes,” many of which are simply stunning. Surprisingly, we’ve seen only a few Klingons; perhaps they’re going out of style. And we fully expected to see more than a few Na’vi, but haven’t seen any (our guess: all that blue paint gets pretty messy; it’s just not that practical). The biggest contingent here seems to be the steampunk crowd—one of the costume vendors, Damsel in this Dress, snarkily claims that steampunk is what happens when Goths discover brown.

We’ve seen dozens of cool costumes (all of which have made us regret our decision to rely on our iPhone 4s; while they have a decent camera, our Canons would have been better).

Three examples:

Waiting for the shuttle bus to the convention center today, we struck up a conversation with this woman who made a beautiful headdress from leather and then painted it with exacting detail and subtlety.

Painted leather headdress at Renovation

In the hall outside one of the convention parties, another leather creation—this time a jerkin—nicely detailed and painted.

Painted leather jerkin at Renovation

But our favorite hall costume so far was worn by this woman dressed as the TARDIS from Doctor Who. Just like the… er… real TARDIS, the light on her head pulsed when she chose to transport away, and it even made the TARDIS sound! Truly a delightful costume. You can’t see it in this picture, but her dress even included the door handles and the sign on the front of the police box.

Woman dressed as a TARDIS at Renovation

Instant Art!

I’m hanging here in the Green Room, and one of my tablemates, Mark R. Leeper, invented these two amazing Star Trek origami:

First, the Enterprise:


And then, this Klingon Bird of Prey:


Fannish Humor

There’s a lot of funny stuff here at Worldcon. But science fiction and fantasy fans don’t have quite the same sense of humor as the average person on the street.

It’s a truism that over-analyzing humor presses all the life out of it. But a bit of investigation shows the kind of things the people here find amusing is sometimes very self-referential, and often, more than a bit twisted. And wordplay does big business here.

Let’s look at some examples:

One of the mainstays of convention evenings are the parties, which at this con are mostly on the 15th and 16th floors of the Atlantis hotel. You’ll find parties run by publishers or by particular sub-groups of fandom. But by far, the most crowded parties are the bid parties, run by convention committees that are trying to influence fans to vote for their bid for future conventions. Worldcon members vote for the Worldcon location for two years hence. For example, two big parties tonight were thrown by bids for future Worldcons: San Antonio in 2013 and London in 2014. As it happens, both those bids are going to win because they have no credible competition.

Maritime Disasters with Toy BoatsOK, back to humor.

All the party suites in the Atlantis have two or three rooms. And each suite has a huge Jacuzzi tub set right smack in the middle of one of the rooms. All the parties, save one, had tubs that were empty, or at best, were filled with ice and cold drinks. But tonight’s party for Westercon, a regional convention, put the tub to good use, with a tableau of historic maritime disasters—as represented by toy boats. A plaque on the side of the tub explained the history of each of the doomed ships, with the Titanic, the Edmund Fitzgerald, and many others represented. It was so weird and unexpected that I had to shoot a picture.

Funny ButtonsAs a literary convention (with a very healthy dose of media thrown in), wordplay is amply represented, often in the form of buttons worn by attendees. The buttons shown here were worn by tech writer and SF fan John Hedtke, who I’ve known on tech writer’s mailing lists for years but never had the pleasure of meeting until tonight.

You’ll also find a lot a funny music at Worldcon. Dr. Demento, one of the special guests, performed Wednesday night. He featured many songs by acts he’s made famous over the years, including videos of
Weird Al Yankovic, and the classic strangeness of Fish Heads, by Barnes and Barnes (featuring a very early screen appearance by Bill Paxton). He also showed a rare 1998 clip of satirist Tom Lehrer coming out of retirement to perform “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park” in London, for an audience that included Queen Elizabeth II.

We’re having a lot of fun here in Reno, and the sometimes odd sensibilities of the people here is a big part of it.

Tricky Pixie in Concert

Tricky PixieOne of the Guests of Honor at Renovation is the musical trio, Tricky Pixie. I attended their concert performance Wednesday evening. Now, I have to admit that I didn’t know anything about them, other than that they do a kind of Celtic folk rock. And to be honest, I was expecting some kind of frou-frou Renaissance Faire music, of the sort that would lead to me slipping out quietly after 15 minutes or so. I’m happy to report that my expectations were dashed. The band was really fun, with an exceptionally energetic and engaging stage presence. You can tell when performers are having a great time on stage, and these were—and the crowd responded in kind.

They describe themselves as:

An adventurous gypsy celtic folk rock trio, unleashed from the land of Fae. These wild and masterful performers are raw entertainment. Expect more than just music, they’ll take you on a ride down the twilight roads.

You can check out this sample of their music:

Tricky Pixie

Tricky Pixie
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