Hi! Remember me?
’Tis I, Leigh Butler, back from the wilds of Atlanta and nearly halfway recuperated from my very first fandom convention, JordanCon 2009.
Didn’t know this was my first one, huh? Well, it was, and I say, nothing could be more appropriate. And I’m-a gonna tell you alllll about it.
...I’m really not kidding, either. Please be aware that this post is rather—lengthy. All right, shut up. What can I say, brevity and I are not friends. We used to be tight back in college, but these days girl won’t even return my phone calls.
Me and verbosity, though—we are like this.
Caveats and general disclaimers: all people and events and quotes and whatnot appearing in this report have been filtered through my highly weird, overloaded, non-note-taking-at-the-time and occasionally inebriated brain, so I apologize in advance for any errors, omissions, paraphrasions, or abrasions committed herein; I tried to keep it all as straight as possible, I swear. Concurrently, any and all errors made can be presumed to be mine and not whoever I thought was saying whatever it was that they possibly didn’t say. There, that should clear things up.
Also, this report is by necessity rather lopsided, as I was running around like a maniac for most of this (though not nearly as much as the folks actually in charge of this thing), and ergo missed a lot of stuff because I was doing other stuff, or resting from the other stuff, or getting ready for more other stuff. So I can only tell you about what I was personally there for, and am probably forgetting some stuff anyway. Take it for what it’s worth.
The contents of this post are USDA-approved, though the FCC is not so sanguine, and there were no animals harmed in the making of this report, even though Jason Denzel would have totally kicked that puppy if I hadn’t stopped him.
What? Okay, fine, that was a lie. (It was a kitten!) Everything below the cut, however, is as for true for reals fo sho as I can make it. Enjoy, or be appalled, as you like. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
So first of all, La Guardia Airport blows large goats and I hate them. And that should pretty much tell you what getting to Atlanta on Thursday was like, and why I almost did not make it to the hotel in time for the pre-con dinner thingy, which would have been cause for killin’ in my opinion. Also, my shuttle driver was a 45-year-old aspiring rapper who was apparently incapable of going faster than 50 mph on the freeway, and who informed me that he had moved to Atlanta because in many communities there is a 29:1 female to male population ratio, and “he likes it when the ladies have to buy him a drink.” I bet you do, honey.
Fortunately I was amused enough by this (like, did he actually do the math himself?) to be almost completely non-homicidal by the time I got to the hotel, so that’s good. I was immediately greeted at the front desk by none other than Jennifer Liang, the organizer and head guru of JordanCon and all-around lovely human, who told me rather distractedly that the Atlanta airport had somehow misplaced one Brandon Sanderson, so he was going to be late for dinner. Or something to that effect, I’m not really sure what happened. So I guess it’s not just La Guardia that sucks, eh?
Anyway, I checked in and then ran into Jason Denzel, the owner and operator and tireless promoter of Dragonmount, and the one person at this thing (well, almost) whom I had actually met before. I note that his tallness continues unabated. Jason cheerily informed me I had a ride to the pre-con dinner thingy, but only if I was ready in FIVE MINUTES OMG. Have I mentioned I hate La Guardia?
But, it all turned out well despite my lack of airplane funk removal opportunity. The very next person I met, after a hasty dumping-of-my-crap in my hotel room, was none other than JordanCon Guest of Honor Harriet McDougal, whom I had met once years before (the same time I met Jason, actually) and completely do not blame her for not recalling, because I don’t always remember people I work with every day, and she meets like twenty zillion people a year, give or take a few zillion.
Harriet immediately floored me, though, by telling me she had read my blog here on Tor.com and thought it was “wonderful” (her words! I swear!), which left me kind of weebling around mentally for a while. The cessation of said weebling was not helped by the discovery that the jovial-looking gentleman next to her was, in fact, Tom Doherty, who I understand owns some company having to do with books, or something, and has apparently also read and enjoyed the re-read. I’m embarrassed to report that my brain was coming up with phrases like Golly gee! at this juncture, though fortunately I don’t think I actually said anything that inane out loud. I hope.
Somewhere in the middle of this amazingness we reached the restaurant, the name of which I am entirely unable to remember. I do remember there appeared to be some type of hoedown going on in the square/park area adjacent, which at least confirmed I wasn’t in New England anymore.
There were about twenty-ish of us at the dinner, only about half of whom I actually met at that point, but the ones I did meet included Matt Hatch of Theoryland, Melissa Craib of TarValon.net, and most of Jennifer’s
minions con staff, including Aubree Pham, Rachel Little, and Jakob R. And... um, a lot of other people who I’m sure I met later. I’m sorry, I suck, I know.
Also there, of course, were the guests of honor: the aforementioned Harriet and Tom, editor and bookmaker extraordinaires, respectively. And, of course, Brandon Sanderson, who finally got to the restaurant after an exciting detour through the completely wrong half of Atlanta, poor man, and was hailed with great relief and general applause from the rest of the party. By chance Brandon ended up sitting next to me, and looked rather uncertain about this until Harriet leaned over and told him that I was the one doing the re-read on Tor.com, though I’m not sure why that revelation would actually relax anyone. With that in mind, I was actually rather relieved that he seemed only peripherally aware of the blog’s existence, though I later warned him that The Gathering Storm was getting recapped same as all the others, mwhahaha. Yeah, I’m very relaxing. Clearly.
Anyway, dinner. Jason, in his role as Toastmaster for the con, got up and made, well, a toast. “To Jim,” he said.
“To Jim,” we echoed.
Many topics were covered over the course of the meal, which was excellent, by the way, but the thing I remember most was Matt Hatch being utterly thrilled at his success in derailing the conversation into a discussion of, what else, who killed Asmodean, which is by all accounts his favorite thing to talk about ever. This particular version of the debate was made a bit spicier by the fact that at least three of the people listening to it actually knew the answer. I’m proud to say that they gave away absolutely nothing, though Brandon looked rather like he was going to burst at several points; you could tell he was dying to tell, but he did not say a word, because his RAFO-fu is strong.
All told we chatted and yelled and ate and rambled for a good four hours before the restaurant finally kicked us out, and then we went back to the hotel, and I went to bed because Friday was going to be A Lot.
And lo, it was.
Before I tell you what happened Friday, I have to back up about a week or so, to an email I received out of the blue from Jason, which said (in its entirety), “Can you braid your hair?”
And this is how I discovered that the Opening Ceremonies for JordanCon were (a) a comedic skit that (b) I was in. Playing Nynaeve. Of course I was.
Jason’s muse for this was rather out of control, you guys, but then he had rather a lot of people to introduce. Of course, perhaps I shouldn’t throw stones, since out of everyone in the cast I was pretty much the only one who got crazy and decided she needed a prop.
See, I do have fairly long brown hair, but braiding it is problematic because it is all layer-y, and plus I suck at braiding my own hair. Fortunately I live in New York City, where one can find literally anything if one is only determined enough, and by dint of some Googling and bugging innocent salespeople over the phone, I came upon a tiny little shop in the Garment District called Lacey’s Costume Wig. Which is... pretty self-explanatory, I should think, and thus it was that I became the owner of one waist-length brown wig which was surprisingly realistic considering I only spent twenty bucks on it. Of course, I just spent twenty bucks on a wig I will probably never wear again, so maybe I shouldn’t be too proud of myself.
Anyway, Jason had decided to “summarize” the first eleven books of the Wheel of Time in one hour, which officially makes him even crazier than I am. I mean, at least I originally gave it ten months. We met at eleven AM Friday to “rehearse”, and by “rehearse”, I mean “stand around and sort of read the lines while everyone keeps getting distracted by the actual work they have to do, or possibly a shiny thing on the ground”. It was at this juncture that I met Trisha Norris, who was playing Min and is fabulous in every way, and who would end up being my Con Buddy for most of the weekend. We immediately started making fun of Jason, which just never gets old, while Jason smiled valiantly and refused to give up attempting to herd cats, poor man. It was like he had voluntarily decided to live every theatrical director’s nightmare. I still giggle when I think about it.
I confess I was kind of expecting this to be a disaster, and the thing is, it was a disaster, but in a completely awesome way. The fact that no one knew their lines and had no idea where to stand and kept forgetting who everyone else was supposed to be playing just made the whole thing funnier. My brilliant braided wig idea, of course, was the biggest disaster of all. I had recruited Nynaeve Fan Club President Emma de Laat (as is only right and proper) to help me get it on (weirding out a fair number of people in the lobby restroom in the process), but two good braid tugs in my first scene ended the dream right quick. I was reduced to carrying the thing around in my hand for the rest of the
novel skit and randomly swinging it at people. Eventually I tossed it on the table behind the “stage”, where Harriet promptly stole it and tried to put it on. I could have told her it was harder than it looks!
The skit in general was a smash, actually. Harriet played the narrator and the Finn, I as mentioned was Nynaeve, which meant I got to shove Jason around, since he was playing Rand. Matt Hatch was Perrin (because “he likes dogs”), and we got a random member of the audience to play Mat. I later found out that Random Mat was actually Mr. Richard Fife, who y’all know as a frequent
offender commenter right on this here blog. The best part is, he was the only person who didn’t get to see the script beforehand, and yet did a better acting job than almost all of us. He was only overshadowed by Melissa Craib, who was a thoroughly awesome Elayne-as-New-Age-Ditz, and, rather to my surprise, Brandon Sanderson, who played all the male Forsaken, which meant he got to die at least four times (we skipped Bel’al), and did so with panache, flair, and a rather alarming amount of physical pratfalling. He really got into it, and kicked ass.
And since I might as well finish the curtain call: Aubree Pham was Moiraine, which was hilarious considering she was the tallest girl there, Dot Lin, Tor publicity wizardess, was all the female Forsaken, Jennifer Liang was Egwene, Wilson Grooms, Robert Jordan’s cousin/brother and best friend, played Tam, Larry Mondragon played, who else, Lan Mandragoran. Pablo Defendini was Padan Fain (HAHAHA) and tried to sell everyone... ads, Alan Romanczuk (Jordan editorial assistant extraordinaire) was Thom (and I bet the restaurant staff are still looking for those “daggers”), Maria Simmons (the other Jordan editorial assistant extraordinaire) was Elaida (the most awesome miscasting EVER), Bob Kluttz of Encyclopedia WOT was Loial (Awwww), Jason Ryan of Arms of Valor was Rhuarc (and sold “Rand” a sword, just for the cognitive dissonance), Rachel Little was Aviendha, Tiffany Franklin got to smack the crap out of Jason (Denzel) as Cadsuane (and she really did, too!), and Will McDougal, Harriet’s son, was Mazrim Taim.
And Tom Doherty, of course, was The Dark One. Mwhahaha.
Good times, y’all. Good times. I have been avoiding YouTube assiduously ever since.
travesty skit was over, I attended the panel “An Hour With the Rigneys”, which was Harriet, Wilson, Tom, Alan, and Maria talking about Robert Jordan aka Jim Rigney, trading anecdotes about what it was like to live and work with him (consensus: completely awesome).
Before the panel started Wilson had come up to me to introduce himself and tell me how much he liked the blog (he’d commented on it before, even), and then surprised me by telling me that he had actually hunted up the story on my LiveJournal about the time I had met Harriet and Jim in California, which I had dubbed the Great Purple California Trip of 2004, and posted after I heard of his passing. Wilson had given it to Harriet to read (since she didn’t remember it herself). Overhearing this, Harriet laughingly chimed in to confirm this, and to claim that Jim had never owned a purple suit and she had no idea what I was talking about in my story.
I told her I could be wrong, and would check with my sister Liz, but I could swear that’s what color he had been wearing that day. And lo, I just got off the phone with my sister and she says... she can’t really remember.
DAMMIT. I still proclaim my rightness on this! It could have been burgundy! Or, or eggplant.
(“I remember the hat!” Liz says. Heh.)
Oh well. The panel was lovely, full of warm and often funny remembrances of Mr. Rigney, and it was clear throughout how much his family life and his professional life were meshed together, in a way that very few people get to do, I think, and how much this was to the mutual benefit and enjoyment of everyone involved. Wilson in particular had many hilarious and touching stories about his “cousin-brother”, whom he obviously adored and admired greatly. It was so cool to hear about things like the Office of Extreme Danger (as Jason put it, “if you sneezed in there you would end up in the hospital, because six hundred pointy things would fall on you”), and Mr. Rigney’s failed scheme to save Harriet’s goldfish pond from a predatory heron (it turns out that herons are not afraid of crocodile urine), and many other sweet and funny stories.
(You may have noticed I’ve been wavering back and forth between “Jim” and “Mr. Rigney”, because everyone was calling him “Jim”, and it’s definitely a lot faster to type, but I was raised in the South, yo, and have a lingering uncomfortableness with calling a man I only met once by his first name. Ergo, waver. I don’t have a point here, I’m just, er, pointing it out.)
It was either before or after this that I got to meet Maria Simmons, who along with Alan Romanczuk were (and are) Jim and Harriet’s assistants both editorial and personal, and have been working like gangbusters on Book 12 with Brandon. Maria is about the nicest human alive, just so you know, and she and I would continually run into each other at intervals throughout the weekend so I could continue to enjoy talking to her about everything and nothing. I’m sneaky that way. She is forthwith commanded to get herself up to New York sometime so I can get my Maria Chat Time fix. No arguments, missy!
Afterwards I went back to my room to recuperate (and stash The Wig), and then met up with the awesome and fearsomely efficient Dot Lin to do a short interview taping for the JordanCon mini-doc she’s doing (and this is all the detail I have on that, presumably someone somewhere will let us all know what becomes of it). Hopefully they can edit out all the “ums” and “likes” in my portion. I was right after Jennifer Liang, which was cool because I got to hear about how JordanCon actually came about, and the crazy amount of work that’s actually involved in getting one of these things off the ground. Y’all give all due and/or mad props to Jennifer and her team, ya heard me?
I had totally meant to go to the poker tournament that evening, because I adore Texas Hold ‘Em, and the proceeds were going to amyloidosis research, but Jason Denzel had made the mistake of introducing me to his friend Jason Ryan, who as I mentioned earlier played Rhuarc in the skit, and sells swords and all manner of medieval weaponry. Jason R. had assisted Jason D. in the fantasy film project he’s working on (and played Evil Bandit #2), which is how they knew each other. He had a booth (or table, technically) at the con, and as soon as I saw it I proceeded to grill him for like two hours about swordfighting techniques and swordmaking techniques and why there are no good forges in the U.S. and whether it was really possible for a girl with comparatively little upper body strength to take on a muscley guy in a swordfight and win. (Jason R., by the way, says yes, if she’s skilled and quick enough, and as a lifelong Military Guy (Air Force) and someone who teaches swordfighting professionally, he should know. This makes me happy.)
This eventually led to me, Jason, Jason, and Trisha going out to eat, and then going out drinking. Because We Could. That Jason D. lives in California and yet manages to know a bartender who will give us free drinks in Atlanta is terribly impressive. It is possible that I am easily impressed. But hey, free booze, you know?
(The bartender, Cooper (aka Evil Bandit #3), gave me blue drinks. I asked him what it was, and he told me, “I call that ‘Blue Drink’”. Thanks, Coop. I’m probably better off not knowing. In retribution I stole his drumsticks, and no, I do not mean that euphemistically. The man really had drumsticks behind the bar. You dirty, dirty people.)
So, no poker for me. On balance this is probably a good thing, as just because I like poker does not mean I am actually any good at poker. I'm sure it was a very good time for those who attended, though.
The wisdom of poker-avoidance notwithstanding, going out drinking and dancing till three AM...ish when I had to speak in front of people the next morning like a human was probably not the most intelligent move I’ve ever made. Nevertheless, I was NOT late, JASON DENZEL. I was at the Fandom panel Saturday morning with like three whole minutes to spare. So There. Respect my Responsibilitai!
The Fandom panel consisted of me, Jason D., Matt Hatch, Bob Kluttz, and Melissa Craib talking about, duh, fandom, from the differing perspectives of our respective websites. I felt a little bit like the odd man out on this, since all of the others had started their own websites, like normal geeks, while the history of my own participation in fandom is a little... bizarrer. Not to mention, I was the only one talking about a section of fandom that actually died (namely, the rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan group).
But, it seemed to go over very well; I was pretty impressed at how many people showed, considering Brandon was running a writer’s workshop at the same time (which I would have loved to go to, myself. Oh well). Basically the consensus of us all (which is something I’ve always said) is that the best thing about the Wheel of Time, aside from the books themselves, is the stupendous and enduring friendships and communities it has engendered, and how that has changed so many lives for the better. Mine definitely included; I’ve gotten to go places and meet people and do things as a result of WOT that I would never have done otherwise. JordanCon being, naturally, the latest example of such. Oh yeah, and what I’m doing right this second. Tis a thing of awesome, you guys.
I think it was around this point that Rebecca Starr, also Of The Commenters, introduced herself to me, and we chatted for a bit. It was very cool. I sort of haven’t been mentioning it that much, but quite a few people came up to me and complimented me on the blog throughout the weekend, which was really just so awesome, and I’m really sorry I was in such a state of sensory overload that I have not retained most of their names. My brain, she is sievelike sometimes. But I really appreciated it, you guys, seriously.
After this I was on another panel, “Theories and Rampant Speculation”, the subject of which should be fairly self-evident, with Jakob R, Bao Pham, and (of course) Matt Hatch, who actually did not manage this time to steer us Asmodean-ward, not for lack of trying. Most of the hour, as I recall, was taken up discussing the nature of Min’s visions, how that whole ta’veren thing works, and whether and how the One Power differs from the Pattern. The latter debate mostly centered around balefire, and whether the fact that it could unravel the Pattern had to do with the people/souls it destroyed, or because it undid the choices they had made. I personally really liked the notion that the Pattern consisted of choices/events, rather than souls/lives, and wish I could remember who had suggested it.
Then there was the Team Jordan Panel, which was again Tom, Harriet, Brandon, Alan, Maria, and Wilson, this time talking about the upcoming release of Book 12: what it was like to write it, how much of it was Robert Jordan and how much of it was Brandon Sanderson, and the reasoning behind the decision to split AMOL into three books, and so on. Most of the latter topic was more than adequately covered in Brandon’s blog post, so I won’t revisit that, though I will mention that they reassured us that each of the three books contains a Big Ass Ending (my words, not theirs), and has sufficient closure to be satisfying while still carrying forward to the next volume.
I was intrigued by Brandon and Harriet’s description of the notes and outlines Jordan had left behind, and how they had often had to make decisions where Jordan himself had left multiple options for which way a scene was going to go, and many other interesting details of the writing process. I was generally impressed at how candid and thorough they were about the mechanics of the process without giving away a single detail (that I recall) of the plot itself.
Harriet in particular was very up front about a topic that I imagine they thought to be a bit sensitive, though obvious if you think about it. Which was the... hm, not sure what word to use here. Caution? Admonition? Caveat? Not sure. Let’s go with “forewarning” – forewarning that Book 12 (and 13, and 14) are not “Robert Jordan” books. They are “Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson” books.
As Brandon put it, if they had wanted someone to slavishly imitate Jordan’s prose and style and try to make it seem like it was actually Jordan writing, they could have done that (or tried, as Brandon was of the opinion that not even a skilled ghostwriter would have been really successful at mimicking Jordan’s voice), but that was not what Harriet and Tom wanted. They wanted (and I’m paraphrasing here a little) to finish the series in a way that honored Jordan’s vision without insulting his memory by, essentially, pretending he hadn’t passed on. Which is something that I personally can completely get behind; the “ghostwriter” option strikes me as nothing less than ghoulish, so good on Team Jordan for not going that route. Brandon’s aim in writing, therefore, has been to capture the feel of the Wheel of Time (and keeping everything that Jordan actually wrote before he died intact) while still bringing his own experience and voice to the table. In other words, he’s in there too.
Which I imagine is going to anger some people, and I’m telling those people right now: deal. Of course ideally we would have preferred to have the finale of the Wheel of Time as written by Robert Jordan and Robert Jordan alone, but we can’t have that, and that’s no one’s fault, least of all Harriet et al. I can’t encapsulate everything they said at this panel about it without going on for a hundred years (and this is thing is already frighteningly long), but if you want my take on it, after hearing what they had to say (and having read Brandon’s previously published novels) I am at the very least deeply curious to see the result. Take it for what it’s worth, but I think it’s going to be pretty damn cool. You can think I drank the Koolaid or whatever, and there’s certainly the possibility that I am wrong, and that’s fine, but if you insist on pissing and moaning about something that for all intents and purposes was unavoidable (not to mention the best solution available anyway), I really have no sympathy. Put up or shut up.
(Well, come on, I couldn’t have a whole blog post go by without saying something incendiary!)
Annnyway. Other stuff in the panel: during the Q&A, someone asked if they planned to release one giant set of the entire series once it was done, which earned a laugh, and Harriet grinned and said they would sell it in “a vintage Louis Vuitton steamer trunk”. Naturally, someone in the audience called out that they would totally buy that. Of particular interest was the revelation from Tom that the “outrigger novels” that Jordan had long ago planned to do would have been a trilogy about the Seanchan, with Mat and Tuon going back to her homeland to deal with the fallout there. Which is... really interesting. I’m kind of uncertain about it in practice (I would worry about it being anticlimactic, for one thing), but it’s an intriguing idea. (I think a comparable situation, though, would be the Empire Trilogy Raymond Feist wrote with Janny Wurts, which could be considered an “outrigger” series to the Riftwar books. And those turned out to be better than the original series, so...)
Immediately after this was what was billed in the program as “A Reading from A Memory of Light”, and the panelists listed were Harriet – and Robert Jordan. I may have been the last person to clue into what this meant. I had assumed that Harriet was going to read something from the book that Jordan had written.
What I got was quite different.
Wilson was there, too, and got up and told us how, a few weeks before Mr. Rigney died, Wilson was sitting with him when Mr. Rigney suddenly began to talk. He was describing a scene, and as soon as Wilson realized what he was hearing he jumped up and ran into the next room and got Harriet and Maria, so they could take notes, and dashed to Wal-Mart to buy audio recording equipment. Because Robert Jordan was telling them the end of the story.
I don’t mind telling you, when I realized they were going to play some of the audio recording for us, I got chills.
Wilson told us that what we were about to hear was recorded twenty days before Mr. Rigney passed, and is a description of a scene in the Prologue of A Memory of Light. I’m not sure, but it may be the very first scene in the book. You could have heard a pin drop in the room when he sat down next to Harriet and started the recording.
I can’t claim that I specifically remember what Mr. Rigney’s voice sounded like when I met him five years ago, but I would have remembered if it had sounded any different from what a big, self-assured man generally sounds like, so hearing what he had sounded like near the end was something of a shock. The voice on the tape was hoarse and cracked and exhausted and determined, and altogether... I hesitate to use the word “eerie”, for fear it seems disrespectful, but, well, I can’t think of another way to describe it. Combined with the scene he was actually describing, which was entirely for the purpose of creating a sense of ominous foreboding, the effect was... I don’t know what it was.
The scene was simple, with largely nameless characters who are unlikely to appear in the larger narrative, starting with a farmer sitting on his porch, watching a cloudbank in the distance, one which is behaving in a manner unlike any clouds the farmer had ever seen before. I won’t go into more detail (though it may be that others will), because we were asked beforehand not to employ recording devices, and though a written summary is certainly not breaking that rule, I feel that I should adhere to the spirit of the request. And besides, a written summary wouldn’t do it justice.
The thing I remember most was the repeated phrase: “The storm is coming. The storm is coming.” He said that over and over again.
I had choked up the moment the recording started, and by the time it was over, I was unabashedly in tears. This may seem like a rather strong reaction, but perhaps it is a little explained when I tell you that by entirely random coincidence, Mr. Rigney had died barely a month before my own father did; my father was only a year older than Mr. Rigney, too.
Meaningless coincidence this may be, but grief doesn’t truck much with logic, and... and I don’t have much more to say on that topic. Let’s just say it struck a raw place, and leave it at that.
All other considerations aside, whatever else I felt at that moment, I also feel privileged to have been there for it.
Fortunately for this con-goer, there was a ball later that evening. With a bar.
But first, I went to dinner, after a little bit of recovery time. I was with The Usual Suspects (Trisha and the Jasons), as well as Bob Kluttz and his lovely wife Joan (when I knocked over a glass of water: “Hey, we’re supposed to be the Kluttzes here”), Maria Simmons, and Brandon Sanderson, at this little Thai/Chinese/sushi place near the hotel. At our urging, Maria and Brandon explained the process of getting a book from manuscript to print, which I’ve heard in several iterations before but for various reasons is endlessly fascinating to me, especially from an “in the trenches” sort of perspective (which said perspective both Maria and Brandon possess in spades, as you well might imagine).
Afterwards we went back to the hotel and I got dressed for the ball. I didn’t have a costume, but I had my swirly black skirt and burgundy velvet top, and most importantly I had my crystal necklace and earrings, which are my favorite pieces of expensive jewelry – possibly because they’re my only expensive jewelry – and which I was thrilled to get a chance to wear.
The ball was a great deal of fun. The music was provided by The Lost Boys, for whom I can’t seem to find a website (I keep getting a certain Joel Schumacher film), in all their kilted glory, which was perfect music for the occasion. There was a silent auction in the back, which was selling, among other things, The Hat, and an original manuscript page from The Eye of the World, which Harriet pointed out contained a most significant edit: Where Ba’alzamon says to Rand in the dream sequence, “At last we meet”, Jordan had crossed out “at last” and changed it to “Once more we meet”. Think about it. All proceeds, of course, going to charity.
For my part, I mostly stood around and ogled people’s costumes. There were lots of Aes Sedai outfits, naturally, some of which were stunning in their elaborateness, and most of the men who dressed up chose to be Asha’man, though there was a Cairhienin lord and lady (complete with stripes of rank and foot-high hairdo), a bare-chested guy who had real raven-and-tower Seanchan tattoos (holy crap), another guy who was dressed in an exact replica of the outfit Rand is wearing on the cover of The Fires of Heaven, and my personal favorite, a girl dressed as one of Elayne’s Queen’s Guards, complete with breastplate, sash, hat and plume. Awesome.
The preponderance of Asha’man costumes led to some interesting (and hilarious) results: Jason (Denzel) hadn’t brought a costume either, and elected to simply wear a suit and tie, but in the spirit of things he pinned either lapel with the Dedicated sword pin and Asha’man Dragon pin being sold at the con. A little while later he wandered up to me and Trisha and told us in a bemused voice that he had just gotten kudos on his clever costume idea: “A modern-day Asha’man, how original!”
I may have giggled about this, a lot. Ha!
There was a costume contest, naturally, and the results of the charity drive and silent auction, though unfortunately I have no idea who won anything, as we were kind of far back for most of this and the microphones were apparently having existential crises about their lot as devices that actually amplify audio. I’m sure someone else can fill me in. Congrats to the winners, whoever they are, though!
There was also dancing, naturally; I’m here to tell you that Mr. and Mrs. Grooms can cut quite the rug when the spirit takes them. I, on the other hand, do not have the dancing gene, and instead chatted with Jennifer and Melissa and Jakob and Maria and many other people, and complimented people on their costumes, and basically hung out. Harriet and I chatted for a bit, and she seemed to be having a great deal of fun, as well; everyone was, I think. I understand there was a burlesque show later and maybe some other stuff, but it had been a damn long day (a damn long weekend, really), and I had pretty much mentally checked out by then, so I didn’t watch it. Sorry! I was exhausted, but I wandered around and talked to people some more before finally going to bed in the wee-ish hours. All in all, a damn good time.
Maybe a little too much of a good time, as I woke up Sunday feeling really, really not good. I tried to eat breakfast with Jason and Harriet and Tom Doherty and a bunch of other people, but ended up mostly just kind of staring at everyone in a nauseous daze, which I’m sure was thrilling for everyone involved. It was a goddamn barrel of monkeys from this end, I can tell you. Yes, yes, I have no one to blame but myself, blah blah blah bitemecakes.
It did have one good result, in that I apparently looked so piteous that Mr. Doherty was moved to rescue me by offering me a ride with him to the airport, as we both had flights out that afternoon. Because he is a Prince Among Men. I accepted gratefully, and said goodbye to everyone I could find before heading out to brave the dark and foreboding clutches of the airline travel industry once more.
And here, pretty much, ends my extremely long-winded tale. I’d like to thank the Academy, and also Jennifer, Dot, Jason, Pablo, and anyone else who had anything to do with getting me to this thing and steering me gently in the directions I needed to go while I was there, and buying me tasty beverages while they were at it. Y’all are the bizzomb, yo.
And, of course, deep thanks to Team Jordan, for being the thoroughly gracious and awesome group of people that you are, and for sharing your time and your expertise and your memories of a singular man with us. I am honored, and I do not say so lightly.
So, that’s my report on JordanCon 2009! I had about a billion tons of fun, and met some of the coolest people on this here mudball, and I am eternally grateful to all y’all for being the kickass fandom that you are. As my people say, laisse le bon temps roule, which is Old Tongue for “Whoo!” Indeed.