Capricon XVI

Capricon is one of the larger and older Chicago cons and has a strong fantasy emphasis. This year's Capricon was held the weekend of February 8-11, 1996 at the Wyndham Hamilton Hotel in Itasca, Illinois. (However due to anumber of problems with the hotel, it appears that it will be finding a new locationfor next year. Due to the yeoman labors of the concom members, most congoerswere not aware of just how many problems happened).

The con began on Thursday, but this was mostly setup and the only activities that were going on at the time were some movies. Therefore I didn't come up to the con until the next day, since I didn't feel that it was worth an extra night's worth of hotel room. However for someone who wanted to gofer and get the bulk of their hours done before the major activities of the con started (and could stay the first night with local friends), this might well be the time to come.

I actually arrived at a little after noon on Friday and was able to get registered and get my art on the art show quickly. Both registration and the art show were running quite smoothly. Then I stopped in at the con suite to pick up a soda and a snack. I happened to remark to one of the people there that things were unusually quiet and promptly got invited to help. The next thing I knew I was in Ops signing up as a gofer.

My first experience gofering actually turned out quite well. Although I spent almost five straight hours handling pop at the con suite (with a couple brief breaks to get checked in and my stuff into the hotel room), it was actually fun because I was working with fellow fen and it gave me an opportunity to meet people as they arrived. Since almost everybody comes to the con suite soon after arriving at a con, I generally saw people right away.

For those who aren't familiar with this, an artists' jam is a program in which a whole bunch of artists get together and co-operate on a number of impromptu pieces of art, often managing to produce some truly wild results. Generally one person will start the piece and pass it on to another, who then must interpret the piece and add other elements that complement it. When everything is finished, the five or ten best pieces are put in the art auction as charity pieces.

The second panel was on the balkanization of the Internet and was led by several people with extensive computer experience. They discussed how computer technology is transcending political and cultural borders and how various countries are trying to deal with it. Their consensus is that in the long run Internet censorship is futile, but that some people will be badly hurt by governments trying to make examples of them before those governments finally get a clue.

There weren't very many parties on Friday evening. This general sparseness of parties at the con appears to have been the result of an early restriction on parties to the corner suites that was later lifted by the hotel. Both WindyCon and DucKon (other Chicagoland cons) had parties on Friday night that were fairly well attended. I met some friends of mine that I hadn't seen since last year's CapriCon, and we talked until well after midnight.

When I finally decided to turn in for the night, I found one of my roommates just setting up a VCR, so we wound up watching _Stargate_ until almost 4AM. After that I settled in to sleep on the sofa and discovered the hard way that a too-short sofa is anything but comfortable. (Hint for all budget-conscious congoers -- the floor may be hard, but as long as you can stretch out, it will be more comfortable than twisting yourself into a pretzel).

Saturday was when the con really got going, with so many panels and other activities that I found myself hard-pressed to decide which ones I wanted to see. For instance I wanted to see the panel on cyberlaw, but it was at the same time as the "What to Pack" panel that I felt was more useful for me as a writer. The "Maim 'em Right" panel on what writers need to know about anatomy and physiology was at the same time as the panel on book series.

I also wanted to see "Now where did I put that Vase?" a panel on impromptu weapons and self defense for fictional characters, but it was at the same time as the panel on the Klingon legal system, which included my good friend Siobhan Murphy, over-editor of APAGRAPHIA and a practicing attorney. I also squeezed in an hour at the Artists' Jam, but only by missing both the create-a-cult panel and the one on electronic publishing.

During the late afternoon and evening I managed to squeeze in another five hours working at the con suite, although this meant that I inadvertently missed another panel that some of my friends were on. I got out just in time for the art auction, which started at 9PM this year rather than the more typical 10 or 10:30.

When I arrived, one of my friends commented that my piece was on the auction, although it didn't have any bids on it (I'd already heard from a fellow artist who was working the con suite with me that neither of us had gotten bids on our art). It turned out that my piece, "A Purr-fect Nelson" (anthromorphic cat version of Lord Nelson) hadwon the award for best fan art and would be the first to go to auction. Making my first art sale was a very odd feeling for me.

After that the art auction moved fairly rapidly, and we even had one particularly memorable bidding war. My friend's preschool daughter had fallen in love with one of the artists' jam pieces, but someone else in the crowd wanted it too. When the price got too high for my friend to afford and she had to explain to her daughter that she couldn't buy it, someone handed her another dollar and told her to keep bidding. The other person kept going, and other people kept handing my friend money (and apparently other people were handing her competition money as well, but I couldn't see it too well because that person was several rows behind me). The auctioneer decided to really ham it up and played the role of a revival preacher. Before everything was over the bidding had topped somewhere around $60, and in the end both sides donated their money to the charity.

After the auction was over, I went upstairs to get in on some of the parties. I stopped by the Chicago in 2000 Worldcon Bid party to get my collector cards and my chance at the drawing (although I didn't win). Then I went to the MSFFA party and enjoyed myself there. Later that evening I went to the General Technics party, where some filking was going on. It was almost 4AM again before I finally turned in for the night.

On Sunday morning everything was pretty much winding down. After packing and checking out of my hotel room, I went down to the art show and helped with artists' checkout and art sales, since they had plenty of people in the con suite. After that was finished and I turned in my gofer sheet at Ops, I made one last pass through the dealers' room.

Then I went to the con suite to say good-bye to several of my friends and find out what cons they would be attending in the future so that we could make plans to meet. Then it was time to get in my car and head back to mundania.

Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated October 21, 2012.