It’s that time again, kids!
Once more, your Auntie Leigh has returned from the seriously over-pollinated wilds of Atlanta, Georgia, fresh from attending the 6th annual JordanCon, this year known as “Asha’Con.” And also once more, I bring you excess verbiage and mostly shamelessly pirated photos to share the experience with you!
Well, most of the experience, anyway. I figure y’all will appreciate it if I keep the allergy attack and hangover symptoms to myself, so I will. That’s because I love you.
(Seriously, So. Much. Pollen. And booze, but that was a given.)
…And as it turns out, there is way too much awesome to fit into one post, so this is actually only Part ONE of my Report!
Anyway, be warned for many many (many) photos under the cut, and click on!
Note on the photos: huge thanks go to Rereader and generally awesome human Leslie Annis, aka Lannis, from whom I cheerfully stole (with permission, of course) the vast majority of the pictures that appear in this post and the next one. The others I either took myself (you’ll be able to pick those out by how crappy they are), or nicked haphazardly from the JordanCon and the WOT Tor.com Rereaders Facebook groups, so apologies for the lack of proper accreditation and/or wonky sizing/coloring issues. A master graphics designer I am decidedly not. Sowwy.
Part of the coolness of having been a past Toastmaster of JordanCon is that it means I am an Eternal Member™, which means I got to attend the Staff Dinner the day before the con officially began even though I was technically not on the staff for this year’s con.
The perks of which should be fairly obvious.
By this point, of course, I know most of the staff very well, and one of the best parts of going to JordanCon is getting to see them all again and hang out with them. In particular, of course, I love getting to see the adorable Jennifer Liang, Founder and Chair of JordanCon, and Zen Master of Delegating Stuff, which, I must conclude, is just about the only reason why she is still sane.
The con, Jennifer tells me, continues to grow: semi-final numbers for this year’s attendance is 633, up from around 580 last year. Which is perhaps not quite as impressive as last year’s jump from 2012’s numbers (around 280, which means the con more than doubled in size in one year), but growth is definitely still occurring, and all signs point to attendance getting even bigger next year, enough so that the con is moving to a bigger (and swanker) venue for 2015. Pretty cool, eh?
But we have to talk about this year’s con first!
Thursday, then, was pretty chill, as the vast majority of the con-goers would be showing up the next day. After the staff dinner I had a lovely chat with Harriet and Maria, and then continued to monopolize Maria shamelessly after Harriet went off to bed, because she is my favorite, and hung out and chatted and went to bed way too late.
Friday, by contrast, was definitely not chill. At all.
And these guys were a lot of the reason why.
Who are these guys, you ask?
Yeah. These are those guys. Specifically, Jono Coulborn and Joe O’Hara, the definitely-existing portion of the members of tWoTcast, which is… well, there’s no explaining them, really. If ye be brave enough to learn more, click that link. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. (Heh.)
They were also, incidentally, this year’s Toastmasters of the con.
Which is also how this happened:
Why, oh, why, you ask? Good question, and one I will not be answering, though you can probably find out what the joke was without too much effort elsewhere. But I’d rather wait until JordanCon’s very capable videographer Steve Godecke gets the video of this year’s Opening Ceremonies up and running and then link it here so you can see the gag for yourself, because nothing kills a joke faster than having to explain it, and I’m not all that sure how alive this joke was to start with, heh.
Until then I’ll just tease you with some other images of the Opening Ceremonies:
The seated gentlemen is “Tom,” by the way, the third and possibly-imaginary member of tWoTcast—or at least an unreasonable facsimile thereof. Which comes fairly close to encapsulating tWoTcast’s approach to Toastmastering (and life) in general: the booze is real, all else is (profane) nonsense.
Yes, yes they were.
And you know, in principle, at least, it’s not actually the worst philosophy I’ve come across. It certainly makes for some damn funny emceeing, that’s for sure.
(And okay, I kid: Tom exists. I mean, there was totally an actual third guy standing up on stage with Joe and Jono for the costume contest on Saturday, so I assume that was him, but I have to confess that that was the only time I personally saw him for the entire con. But I’m getting ahead of myself.)
The one thing from the Opening Ceremonies I will specifically talk about, though, is also my favorite part, which is when my Rereaders got to present Harriet with her annual gift.
Each year at the con, you see, a different group of fans is selected to give Harriet something to show our appreciation for her, and this year it was my commenters! Squee! And of course they came through in splendid style, presenting Harriet with threefold gifts.
First was a collection for and contribution to amyloidosis research at the Mayo Clinic, separate and beyond what the con itself would eventually raise. Second was a lovely bound booklet of letters to Harriet from the Rereaders (including yours truly), which includes a brief history of both the Reread itself, and of the “Leigh’s Loonies” Bunker—i.e. the community of friends who initially met via the Reread and then grew into a vibrant wonderful thing all on their own.
The booklet also contained a wonderful poem composed by Rereader Roger Powell, aka forkroot, which Harriet later made a point of pulling me aside to tell me she loved, because she is awesome like that.
Third and equally as awesomely, the Rereaders gave Harriet a very special bracelet:
Because she does!
And just so you know, guys, I saw Harriet wearing the bracelet on Sunday, and told her it suited her wonderfully, and she agreed.
Is that not awesome? I was so impressed, you guys, really.
(There is a video clip of the gift presentation on Facebook, but I have a feeling it’s not going to be visible to everyone, or maybe anyone, because Facebook is of the devil. However, when the video of the whole Opening Ceremonies goes live on YouTube it will be on there, so no worries.)
(ETA: Here is a public FaceBook link, thanks, Ross!)
I should emphasize, by the way, that I personally had just about nothing to do with putting these gifts together, other than writing the history of the Reread to put in the booklet. All immense kudos should go to the Rereaders themselves, with particular sparkly YAYs to Deana Whitney, aka Braid-Tug, who masterminded the booklet, and Tina Bablok Pierce, aka scissorrunner, who I understand made the bracelet. They are rock stars, y’all.
(If there’s anyone else who is owed particular credit for the gift effort let me know and I will edit the above accordingly.)
And Harriet wasn’t the only one who got swag from the Rereaders, y’all! Check out my groovy “Leigh’s Loonies” ribbon for my badge and my headdesk button!
I think it was Glen Vogelaar (aka Ways) who gave me the pin? Correct me if I am wrong, y’all. And I loved it.
As an aside, I want to point out that Deana (who nobly forgave me for pronouncing her name wrong half the weekend, because I suck), is the original designer of the yin-yang headdesk icon, and I have to say I just adore it to tiny bits—enough that I also acquired it as a T-shirt!
Along with the “official” Rereader T-shirt for the con, of course. I made out like a bandit this year, y’all.
But anyway, believe it or not there were other things going on at JordanCon than my Rereaders being amazing. I know, it’s hard to accept, but it’s true. Like the “Brandon Answers All Your WOT Questions” panel immediately following the Opening Ceremonies, for instance:
This was being hosted by Jason Denzel of Dragonmount, as you can see, and of course this was obviously a giant mistake, because instead of just letting people ask questions of Brandon like a normal host, he decided it would be a great idea to forbid all use of proper or formal identifier nouns in the asking of said questions, or they wouldn’t get answered. I mean, come on, right? Just because this made everything hilarious is no excuse, Jason!
Anyhoodle, I was rather proud of my workaround for asking my question about the “squishy invulnerable assassin creature,” but the hands-down winner for “most hysterically convoluted non-identifier-laden question” was Matt Hatch, which was so funny I made him send it to me via text to preserve for posterity, and reads as follows:
“We know there are spirit-like entities tied to the call of a musical instrument, and we also know of the mechanism created—a super AI-like system, if you will—to guide the outcome of the many variations of all worlds. Finally, we know this super AI can upgrade the status of spirit-like entities as it needs. Therefore, has the super AI tied any female spirit-like entities of individuals who died during the fifty years prior to the final military engagement of the final book to the call of this musical instrument?”
I’m pretty sure everyone in the room laughed for a solid minute after this, including Brandon. Ha!
(Brandon refused to answer Matt’s question directly, by the way. His answer was that as far as we see, the only person to be made a Hero of the Horn in the last fifty years was Jain Farstrider, but he avoided stating that that meant Jain was definitely the only one.)
I wrote down some notes on the other questions in this panel, but they, um, kind of read like gibberish to me now, so once again I suck. However, there are a couple of things I remember. For one, Brandon told us that there are at least two questions he’s never ever going to answer, either because he can’t or because he won’t. One is “Who is Nakomi?” and the other is what the deal is with Rand’s pipe at the end.
Someone also asked whether the portal stones were the same or had the same origin as the Ogier Book of Translation, but Brandon honestly had no idea, so that’s a question worth coming back to at some point. He also said that he much preferred that Tuon’s talk with Hawkwing was never shown “on-screen,” but was rather surprised at many fans’ assumption that Hawkwing would slap her down, instead of admiring her accomplishments and/or giving her advice. He and Harriet also said that there was a specific famous battle used as a model for the Last Battle, but declined to say which one it was.
There was a lot of other stuff as well, but like I said my notes are useless, so we’ll have to stop there. It was a very fun panel all told, though.
Next for me on Friday was to meet back up with my lovely Rereaders and head on out to—er, somewhere in Atlanta, where one Mr. Ross Newberry (aka rossnewberry, because he likes to maintain an air of mystery) was graciously hosting us all at his (lovely) home for a delightful homemade dinner.
And we all ate and chatted and hung out, and this is exactly why fandom is awesome, because without it none of us would have been there, and all of us, I think, would have been the poorer for it. So thank you, Ross, and all the Rereaders. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: y’all are awesome.
And THEN (God, am I still only on Friday??) we went back to the hotel in time for me to finally do what I have been threatening to do since the first damn year of this con, which is to join in the annual “Seanchan Hold ‘Em” Tournament, the proceeds from which go, as always, towards research on cardiac amyloidosis, the disease that prematurely ended Robert Jordan’s life.
I flamed out spectacularly almost immediately, of course, because it turns out that there is a difference between loving to play poker, and being good at poker. Oops?
But it was fine, because it was all for a good cause. All told, between the poker tournament, the Art Show commissions, and the Ties for Ta’veren drive, according to Jennifer we raised $1,144 for the Mayo Clinic—plus an additional $2,361 for Eugie Foster, one of our local authors and all-around wonderful person, who was just diagnosed with cancer.
(I should probably note here that to date JordonCon has raised over $12,000 for cardiac amyloidosis research since its beginning, which considering the average attendance numbers is even more impressive, if you ask me. Go us!)
And what is Ties for Ta’veren, you ask?
Buy a ribbon, tie it on a Mat, charity ensues. DUH.
And, yeah. Friday ended, of course, with karaoke:
This is me attempting to sing a P!nk song, and realizing that she is an alto and I am not, and that it is hard to belt things properly when the notes are not quiiiiite in your range. So it was kind of a hot mess. Oh well.
And I am about to fall over dead now, so the crazy that is Saturday (and oh, the crazy that was Saturday, y’all) will have to wait until Part 2, which
hopefully will go up tomorrow is here! Cheers!