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Penguicon Smithee 18 Writeup

This is probably the last time I'm going to get to use the SmitheeTux icon for a while so there he is. There he also is on the exclusive Smithee 18 Penguicon button which we handed out with the ballot packs.

But first, FRIDAY!

We (The Guru, The Earl, The Nice Ballot Bimbo and myself) had never been to a Penguicon before, probably on account of them always being scheduled the same weekend as the A2 show. We can do back to back weekend shows but back to back day shows are probably not doable. Shows on the same day bend the laws of physics. So we made plans to check out the lay of the land to see what Penguicon was all about. On Tuesday, The Guru finally came down with the creeping winter cold I had for pretty much all of March so he opted out of the Friday Smithee Scouting mission. lunargeography (aka The Nice Ballot Bimbo), had an unfortunate case of head 'splody that day as well so the advanced team consisted of The Earl and myself, plus a bag full of Smithee buttons to hand out.

We puttered into town about an hour before the opening ceremonies and basically did that wide eyed wandering that pretty much most new con goers do I expect. We are not con n00bs in general so we did get to fall back on some pretty well honed con instincts. However...

These ladies gave us pause to reflect. One difference between Origins and Penguicon is that Penguicon has a masquerade event for costumed folk and no LARPing*. Whereas I'm lead to believe that the Origins costumes are more for a LARP or perhaps just because. Hence, Batman's hotter nemeses.

And Captain America.

The Stormtroopers, however, are a totally different thing. They are from the 501st Legion, (Godzilla Page here), a sort of fan club that does appearances for work, charity and fun. If you happened to catch the Rose Bowl Parade in '07, the marching Stormtroopers were them. They were sprinkled about the con doing their Stormtrooper thing and mingling with the con natives.

Sometimes oddly. I have no idea what this green critter is but he apparently now owes allegiance to Darth Vader.

Penguicon hails itself as a "Science Fiction and Open Source Software Convention" and going along with the open source idea they had several group sort of projects going on, including the perpetual ball thingie. It was already set up when we arrived but throughout the con various people tweaked, added on or fixed the structure. You can see in this pic that someone modified the corners with plate shields. The Perpetual Ball Thingie had a bad habit of throwing its little yellow marbles and I guess the kit parts did not include guard rails. I should have gotten a movie of the thing actually (note to self: When you fire up the go back machine, make a movie of PBT) because it was mesmerizing to watch and made little 'ding' sounds since they had bells hooked up at various points along the track. I kinda want one for the house now, minus the ball launching.

At the opening ceremonies we learned that Will Wheaton had gotten himself a case of the creeping ill and could not attend the con. We were a little bummed because he is in Python, a Smithee nom with clips in a couple different categories this year. The con vets were bummed because apparently Wil Wheaton has canceled out on a couple of past Penguicons (one? two?). After the ceremonies, the Earl and I checked out the dealer room and a couple of events (the chocolate ritual which was odd but fun and I got to try tequila rose hand made chocolates... ... ... ...oh wait, chocolate fugue. What were we talking about? Right. Events. We caught the liquid nitrogen ice cream thing too and I managed to spill chocolate chocolate ice cream all down the front of my Smithee bag. Bright yellow shows chocolate like you wouldn't believe). Then we called it a night.

Saturday, LunarGeography and The Guru were welling (more or less) so we all trooped back for more fun. Since Wil Whaton was AWOL, we stopped in on the Atari 2600 head to head with Shawn Powers just to see if they would still go on with the show. They did and modified it so that Shawn was playing challengers from the audience. He was eventually deseated but then had a rousing comeback. We learned that Combat is incredibly fun to watch despite its 8 bit graphic limitations. Did you know that you can cheat the tanks over the walls? Heh.

The consuite was pretty fab although it wasn't the 24hour munchfest of ConBust (and also Penguicon actually has one unlike Origins, which is probably way too big to be able to pull off free drinks and snacks). When there were snacks out though they were decently delicious.

The problem was hitting the consuite at just the right time. Poor Beaker waited too long and missed the donuts. The soda held out pretty well although by Sunday the diet pop cooler held pretty much caffeine free drinks and the fully leaded ice tub had way more Mountain Dew than I was comfortable being in the same room with. Still, can't knock free pop!

Eventually it was showtime. We were in the Columbia room (by the way, the hotel's conference room naming scheme was shuttles which delighted the Earl) which had a max seating of 50 but set up for about 40 and as deep as that picture there. I was standing in the doorway when I snapped this pic - The Earl, who you can just see, is about a foot from the back wall. The Columbia room also had an excellent location right across from the consuite. We managed to pull a respectable amount of traffic despite being scheduled opposite: How to socialize for Geeks (very popular actually), Open source beer (=free beer), Brazilian Beef food line, a Nifty Guest Birthday Party, and the Masquerade ball. I think there was also a dance but I'm not sure if that was separate from the Masquerade ball or not.

We handed out 61 ballot packs and wound up with a voting high of 27, which is pretty remarkable given the other events we were opposite to. We even managed to hook some of the new audience with our cinema badness. I think my favorite quote of the evening after showing two Crummy Ending clips and announcing the next clip was, "Oh God, there's more??!?" Generally though, people who wandered in stuck around for a few categories and enjoyed themselves. We did confuse a couple people with the show length as most Penguicon programming is an hour long. I expect that was part of the reason the overall number of people who saw the show total was much much,much higher than the total number of people in the room at one time.

Shortly after midnight we announced the worst pic winner and Penguicon Smithee 18 was over. Thanks everyone who came, even if it was just for a category or two. The awards are kinda flat without people there to enjoy them. Also, thank you to the people who tried the Jones Sodas. Muahahahahaha! And maybe thank you to the fella who is moving to Calgary and wanting to unload his Jones Soda holiday pack on us. I can't decide it that is awesome or awful.

*[edit: This just in! Apparently Penguicon does schedule LARPs but we totally failed to find them on the programming. There is still a distinct difference between Origins and Penguicon's costumed population though...maybe it's the diversity of the Penguicon costumes. I might have to make a study of it. -YFNPN]

Thanks everyone for making our first Penguicon Smithees a incredible experience. All y'all wrockz0rz!

-Your Friendly Neighborhood Promotions Ninja


Actually, there is LARPing at Penguicon!
Indeed? Wow, we totally missed it on the events list. Granted, we were a little overwhelmed at the number of different things there was to do at Penguicon so if it didn't scream LARP!!1! at us, we were probably going to miss it.