First off, it was great to have a familiar face on the flight to Atlanta: crazydiamondsue. After some shenanigans of the "who's on first?" level, the person sent to pick us up at the airport (and really: the MARTA was incredibly efficient - I felt bad for the person sent. I was prepared for the train) we get to the airport and find we have no room.
I'll give you a second to process that.
Yeah. No room. Which I booked. And had the CONFIRMATION #, thanks, because I'm a good traveler. Turns out that yin_again had checked in prior, and that negated my reservation (my name on it, at least) and the hotel staff didn't remember that she had arranged for keys to be left for us. This mid-level incompetence of the hotel staff will come into play several times. Bless their hearts. (My roommates better be laughing at that...) While the hotel was certainly clean in the main rooms, the workshop rooms were very comfortable and large enough, they seemed to only have three people working there. Ah, well. If that's the worst thing that can happen on a weekend, you're doing good in life, right?
We check in, unpack, freshen up, and nervously head down to register. harmonyfb and xanphibian are running the desk at the time, and it's cute to hear the room erupt into "SQUEEE!" every time someone comes in and introduces themselves. Heee! It was just the coolest thing to see a room of 300 people nervous, excited, and totally checking out everyone's boobs. I mean, badges. And I have TERRIBLE eyesight (the cute glasses hide their thickness..) so I'm practically laying in people's laps to read their names. One of the first people I see is this cute little blonde with perfect teeth. poshcat! Yayayayay!!! Run over to her, squish her, glom on at her table and want to hear her cute little Canadian accent. At her table is one of my new favorite people, st_salieri, who IMO was one of the best panelists on each of her panels. Smart, quick witted, and well versed in MANY arenas. What's not to love? We start chatting, and in my excitement to meet Posh, I didn't realize I had stolen someone's seat (sorry, fer1213! I think we got off to a bad start, and I just felt bad the whole time about it. Gah.) I quit spazzing on people and headed back to see my loverly ladycat777, who is seriously the most cuddly human on earth. If you can get a squish, please do. :)
Margaritas, laughing, and more
I skipped the next series of panels in order to sit and laugh with Lynne (germaine) and Chrislee, and evidently missed out on an AWESOME panel: the Narrative flow, moderated by the STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL savoytruffle. My god, she walks into a room, and you can't help but sigh. Oh, and she's incredibly intelligent and self-possessed. BUT. Visiting was important! I hear from beadtific who also is so beautiful... She has Mary Sue eyes. You know: violet? Except sometimes they're the color of the sea, after a storm. (Susi, I heart you. I'm sorry we didn't get to spend more time together) Next up is a panel on Characterization, or rather: holy crap, that is NOT how they sound!! Heee! Salieri is on that panel, and as usual, rocks my socks. There was one panelist in particular who I SAVAGELY disagreed with - mostly because she continued to insist that HER Spike was the only way she would write him, and actually said that she will only look at other people's writings BASED ON HER STORIES.
Okay, I know it's supposed to be all positive and wonderful, but: the FUCK? for me, characterization is key, or you aren't writing Fanfic. You're writing ORIGINAL FICTION. With familiar names. And there's nothing wrong with that, just call that spade a spade, and not a pair of pliers, you know? ANYway. moosesal and entrenous88 were also on the panel, and did their best to bring the topic back to where it belonged, and did a fantastic job. (Jess is a natural in this situation, for the record. She makes a phenomenal panelist. As if you didn't know that already. :D) That night, we met up with a larger group of folks including brandil and ponders_life and I KNOW I am missing someone, and headed off for sushi at Goldfish. They gave us a private room (smart) and SOMEHOW it came out that our two very handsome waiters were RETIRED CHIPPENDALE DANCERS.
You can't make this stuff up, people. Well, you can, but normally they'd have unicorn horns or fish tails. And they'd sigh and dream together instead of serving us. Brandi is a very, very handsy girl. Niiiiice. I'll just say that. (I tipped the staff a little extra. Hahahaha!) Excellent food, excellent company, Romany, Sal, Brandi and I devoured tons of sashimi and alcohol, and then we all headed back to the hotel for the EROTICA PANEL.
Let's just say that it became quickly apparent that MANY people were coming out of their shells. Lots of folks felt very much at home during this session, and kink was king. viciouswishes and luvsphoenix were on the panel - and VW is just a pocket pal. I want to fold her up and slip her in and feed her treats. Plus, she has a filthy mouth, so what's not to love? I hit the BadFic Bingo panel (I mean, COME ON. Half the stuff in there was from my favorite bad!fic writer!) and then slipped into the slash session run by Jess. IN THE OPPOSITE CORNER, however, was the KINK PANEL. Luvs Bitch had a bag of tricks (flogs, whips, bindings) that made it a live version of HBO's Real Sex. Now, I'm not a prude by any means. But it's very interesting to see sex play in an educational setting. Anyone remember John Cleese as the sex ed teacher in Meaning of Life? Felt a little like that. :D moosesal and essene got whipped/flogged in a very good demonstration. Ahem. Thank you ma'am, may I have another?
I went to bed a little early this night because the next morning was MY panel (Writing Humor) and I wanted to be bright and perky, since we were supposed to be "bringing the funny." At 10 am. In a room of hungover people. No, no pressure there. I'll say that I thought my group of panelists did a GREAT job: crevette, Sue, Lynne, thebratqueen and mpoetess. And I will also say that we had standing room only. I thank you. And if you hear people using the term "douche monkey," it's from a challenge in our panel. Um, it was actually an informative panel, I swear to god. I was so glad to have people voice their fears about writing comedy (or just humorous lines) and to reassure them that if they can pay attention to characterization, they can figure out how to get Xander to make a joke. Or Buffy. On and on. Good stuff (imo) and hopefully everyone enjoyed it.
We left this for the "How To Fix Bad!Fic" panel, which... Okay, I didn't fix them. I made them worse. I'll post mine later. One involves Spike as a kitten in Prince Xander's fairy land, and one with Dawn, like OMG seeeeew in love with Spiek. Hee! That was fun to hear how everyone screwed up bad stories even more. soundingsea ran that panel, and it was a lot of fun! (She did a great job of keeping order to the com, for the record.)
....and we skipped the rest because I brought tequila. Sal, Brandi, Ladycat, Sue and I (Jess? Yin? Were you there for this part?) headed up to our room for drinks (I had to borrow a VERY LARGE KNIFE for the limes and that was fun - walking around a hotel with a huge carving knife - hee!) before getting gussied up for the cocktail party. It was GREAT seeing a huge group of fans dressed to the nines for dancing and bopping, by the way. All kinds of folks with all kinds of dress: harmonyfb - who is also pocket-sized fun in a person - had on an amazing outfit (fitted corset and skirt) that was handmade for her. Party dresses, CJ in drag (and looking fabulous, my dear) and on and on. Now. Anyone who has been following my LJ knows that I love to shake my shimmy to booming dance music. Heh. It was fun trying to dance to White Girl Dorm Music. Hahahahaha!! I'm terrible. They threw out some George Clinton, and I got very excited, hit the floor and started getting down with three sisters (read: sistahs) who I couldn't catch their names. Girls, if you're reading this: y'all know how to shake ya tailfeathers. Good times. Oh!! I met lunabee34 and she is BEE-YOU-TEE-FUL. Also: if you need a dance partner, look no further than lynnenne. Honey, I LOVED dancing with you.
Now. I was not involved in any kind of naughty shenanigans. I just kept finding myself NS adjacent. Brandi is handsy. Did I mention that? :D She had a good time. Yin_Again also with the having of a good time. And she proved, once again, that real men wear nothing under their kilts. AHEM. Hahaha! (And there was a BDSM "show" somewhere, but by that point, Lynne and I were up in the hospitality suite downing shots of my tequila and meeting more folks. redbrickrose, for example - SO sweet!) I did encounter Luvsbitch and James in the elevator dressed for their show, and wondered what on earth the Family Reunion downstairs thought about all of this craziness. Ha!
Sunday morning was the Religion on Jossverse Shows panel, and honestly, one I was REALLY looking forward to. Because I can talk religion for a long time - fascinating. Also, Salieri was on the panel, as was HarmonyFB, representing Catholicism and Wiccan, respectively. And if we're going to talk religion on Buffy and Angel, those are a must. I have some critiques for that panel, however: I thought there were too many panelists (dancetomato had some interesting points to make, and she is just as awesome as you'd expect her to be) but some of the others seemed to fall into the same old pattern of most religious discussions: here's what MY religion says about ____. Well, that wasn't the point of the panel. It was to discuss how Joss uses that in his shows, or DOESN'T use it when he should. Maybe that's just me. I was disappointed that in a discussion about religion, NO ONE would talk about HOLTZ! I mean, are you kidding me? I raised my hand to try and bring that topic up, and I think Salieri (the Catholic on the panel) saw where I was going with that (and with Connor, which - NO ONE WOULD TALK ABOUT CONNOR, woe!) but the minister on the panel veered off into how Presbyterianism blah blah blah. Well, that wasn't what I asked, and that wasn't about the SHOW and... Well. I'm being nitpicky, and I'll own that. :)
Last, but not least, was the MEAN GIRLS vs. CULT OF NICE panel. ([eta] uh, that wasn't meant to link anywhere, I meant underline. There are no implications in the linkage, just a whoops on my part. Whoops!) Honestly, it was about concrit, and feelings in fandom re: concrit vs. flames, etc. Which is a fantastic topic of discussion. What's REALLY interesting about all of this, is how many people said they WANT concrit, but don't get it. I'll be flat out with you: give it to me. What's great is I don't have to accept it, but it's THERE. (Example, if someone who doesn't care for Connor, avoids the eps, etc. tells me that they didn't feel I had a good Connor voice in a story, I'm not going to give that any credence. Someone I respect as a writer/pays attention to that character tells me the same thing? Yeah, I'll listen.)
Basically, I got the distinct impression that there are LOTS of people out there who feel very pressured by a group of people to go along with the "everyone is awesome! Everything they produce is awesome!" mentality that is churning out crap fic after crap fic. Yeah, I said it. I'll say more, but I don't want to ruin any confidences. Listen: if you feel pressured to behave a certain way from a group of people/a vocal person, and it's making your online experience not fun anymore, YOU DON'T HAVE TO PLAY IN THOSE CIRCLES. The best thing I learned about fandom, is how many folks there are into things I didn't know about, how many people there are, you know? You can move beyond your flist, your current coms! you can, and you should, if you feel like you are being bullied. I was shocked at how many people talked about that with me. Bless your little hearts... Man, I met some great girls.
Some people I met (and seriously: I was getting nervous about just walking up to people and sticking my hand out, as I didn't want to be a spazz) because I don't want to forget ANYONE!
a2zmom (who showed up with a HUGE button of her icon - HAHAHAHAHA!! And we nerded out over computers, YAY!), amybnnyc (omg, HI!! You were a highlight...), beansbeans (you have the best hair ever, and you are SO LOVELY I couldn't stand it), carmen_sandiego (not enough time with you, and I wish I got a chance to get a Tarot card reading!), cordelianne (you are ADORABLE! And can dance and are fun and there is no bad here!), desoto_hia863 (hello! I needed MORE TIME, but I recognized you INSTANTLY!), elfgirl (gah, another pocket-sized cutie, I want one of my OWN), ely_jan (I could have used more hugs... I'm just saying ;D), femmenerd a classic beauty - Titian hair, lostakasha, (okay THANK YOU for getting the Holtz/Connor/religion thing, seriously!), likeadeuce where WERE you, Carrie??, lwbush (I could have used an extra hour to visit with YOU), marsterslady (also, again with the needing of more TIME and aren't you ADORABLE??? SO many pretty girls at the com!), elucidate_this (there you are!! Oh, the Office fic we will read... I HEART YOU.), poisontaster (hello!! I felt bad we didn't get to talk more), rahirah (loved your panel), rainkatt (i needed more TIME!), salustra (hello there!!), shipperx (oh, you are SO hugable! I hate that we met towards the end), southernbangel (SERIOUSLY. I want to have you as my pet. Lee is the CUTEST thing ever, and damn, is she funny!!!), speakingsilence (it took me a bit to figure out your username, and then I was SO BOUNCY to have met YOU!! Hee hee!), sweptawaybayou (your RPS panel was GREAT, and you are as lovely as you are online, darlin'), timeofchange (who is GORGEOUS and as lovely as can be), uisge_beatha (had a GREAT time with you in the hospitality suite on Sat!), wolfshark (sharkie! hee hee, Mean Girls panel was FUN with you) and winterlive (omg, BEST. HUGS. EVER. And funny and fun and... <3)... did I miss anyone? GAH! OH! vampirefever and vic_amy_z who I want to listen to all the time, were HILARIOUS, both are absolutely gorgeous, and I may be getting into Formula 1 slash. Heee! (Vic_Amy_Z intimidated me with her cool, seriously.)
It was hard to figure out who people were because a) I have bad eyes b) some people had their names, not their handles and c) some people's handles were broken up, so my brain didn't connect to the name I see online, so I got confused. Plus = tequila. :D I would walk past people (after checking out their boobs, I mean, names) and figure out who they were fifteen minutes later. I'm such a dork.
Okay, I am WORN OUT now. I'll be impressed if you made it through this whole thing... In summary: good time was had, panels were illuminating, there was tequila, hotel staff needed to have a few more hands on deck, no one likes Connor - IDIOTS! - and I have new friends, which is awesome. Also, I've made a few adjustments to my reading list - IT'S NOT A BFF LIST. It's what I'm reading today. (I change it all the time, I just don't tell you people - heh) and all it means is what I'm reading today. It is nothing personal, and I'll probably change it back in a day or two - I'm just trying to catch up on stuff/people. (I don't do filters) Ack. And now I go in search of more coffee.
[eta] Um... I forgot to mention the people I hung out with the most! Jess is fantastic. I've known this. But seriously: smart, engaging, and teaching you how to slip lipstick into your bra was a weekend high for me. Hee! I absolutely adore you, and you were a favorite panelist, for me. yin_again is a great bed partner. Heh. Yes, she steals blankets, but it's to get me to snuggle with her, I'm SURE of it. And I could listen to that Southern Belle accent all day. crazydiamondsue: like I need to tell you people about Sue. There were jam-sessions on the Big Bed in our room, and she was my down time. My touchstone... Hahahahaha! Plus, she buys me Will Ferrell magazines, COME ON! Oh! I loved how people I didn't know would tell me that everytime they saw Will's movie trailer, they thought of me. MY WORK HERE IS DONE, PEOPLE. Hee hee!!