Capricon XXIII was held over the weekend of February 6-9, 2003, at the Sheraton Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Illinois, one of the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. It is one of the larger conventions in the area, and includes a large number of activities, including the usual con suite, dealers' room, art show, etc. as well as a newsletter, Goat Droppings, and a "pirate" radio station. This year's theme was Gods vs. Monsters, which included a contest between the two sides.
We arrived in the middle of the afternoon on Thursday, after a couple of detours to avoid nasty traffic snarls. We immediately went to the dealers' room to locate our tables. Then we started carrying stuff in. We were supposed to carry everything in through the loading dock, but when we went to it, the gates were locked. We complained, and were told that they were working on it. In the meantime, we started bringing things in through the front doors.
After a while, Gretchen Roper finally got someone at the hotel kicked into gear, and they got the gates opened. Fortunately we had unloaded in such a way that we still had a reasonably stable load, so we were able to move the van around to the back and carry the rest of our merchandise in through the back.
We were still setting up when the dealers' room opened for the general membership to shop. A lot of people loked at our stuff, but many of them probably didn't want to bother us while we were obviously still trying to get set up. We were just about set up when they closed for the night. We could've spent another hour setting up, since they were allowing dealers to stay longer if necessary, but we wanted to get down to my parents' place for the night in a decent time.
Fortunately the drive wasn't too bad, although it was already rather cold. This time I made the turn onto Bell Road without any trouble (I'd gotten lost in the past). We went straight to bed after we arrived at my folks'.
Friday morning we got up early and had breakfast. Then we carted our stuff back out to the van and headed back to the hotel. We arrived a little later than we'd planned, due to delays along the way, but it was still before the dealers' room actually opened for sales. We were able to do some last minute adjustments to our arrangement, and I was able to get my art onto the art show. We also got checked into our sleeping room and took our stuff up to it.
Then the dealers' room opened for sales. We were surprisingly busy for a Friday, and actually made several large sales, as well as a number of smaller ones. Near the end of the day, we called in a pizza and brought it down to eat supper.
After the dealers' room closed, we took our personal belongings up to our sleeping room. Then we went down to the hot tub and got in a good soak to relax muscles that were aching from having carried in so much stuff the night before.
In the evening, we went around and made our rounds of the parties. This year they were on the twelfth floor instead of the top floor. However, there were still some very good parties. Anime Central had a bunch of really good Japanese food, including rice balls and various confections. The Wiscon/OddCon party had plenty of cheese, which was fitting for Wisconsin conventions. The Firefly room was giving out stickers that said "Shiny!" (a future slang term for something really nice, in the Firefly universe). The Man Show party was having their usual racy entertainment, but this year they were rigorously carding everyone at the door. The General Technics suite was running a static electricity generator of some sort, but I didn't want to get close to it, because I was carrying a bunch of electronics.
The MSFFA party was being held in one of the first-floor conference rooms, not far from the con suite, so we visited it last. They had a live band, including one person who was playing a solid-body electric violin. After we went there, we went down to the con suite and got some last-minute munchies before turning in for the night.
Saturday morning came way too early, and we had to get up and drag ourselves down to the con suite to get some breakfast. Then we went over to the dealers' room to get our tables opened in time for people to start coming around.
Unfortunately, Saturday sales were a lot slower than Friday's, and I had a lot of time to sit around writing my con report in my Palm Pilot. I also did some catching up on other things. I also got to meet the Author GoH, Tim Powers, when he came around the dealers' room. We spoke briefly about my writing and he wished me luck in my endeavors.
After the dealers' room closed, we headed off in search of supper. We ended up hooking up with some friends and eating in the Brasserie there in the hotel. However, we were not overwhelmingly pleased with the service there. Because my husband has trouble climbing stairs, he tried to tell the greeter to seat us on the level, but she wouldn't listen. Instead she just took off and led us to a table on the step-up platform. We had to talk to the waitress to get re-seated. Then we got the buffet, where the food was underwhelming for the price we paid.
After supper we went down to the con suite to let our stomachs settle before heading off to the hot tub. The water was good and hot again, and we relished the chance to loosen up our tightened and cramped muscles. However, some kids had been running up and down the corridor to the pool area, their swimsuits dripping water, and the hotel people hadn't bothered to clean it up. So as we were walking out, my husband slipped on it and fell, bruising his bad knee. He had to lean on me to hobble back up to our room.
I'd been worried that we might have to curtail our partying and go to bed early, but after a little rest, he decided he was up to making the rounds. Duckon was doing a Mardi Gras-themed party, and we got some of their ice cream. We also dropped in on the Firefly suite and talked with some kids from another group who'd slipped their chaparone and were checking out the science fiction crowd. We wound up the evening in the General Technics suite, admiring an electronic picture frame into which a large number of political cartoons memorializing Columbia had been downloaded. Once it had completely cycled, we decided it was time to call it a night.
Sunday morning we packed up our personal belongings and got them out of our sleeping room. By that time the dealers' room was open for dealer setup, so we dropped off my backpack and cooler there before heading down to the con suite for breakfast. There we ended up seeing some friends and talking about crazy things that happen when people are too tired or too drunk late at night at a con party.
After that, we headed up to the dealers' room to get our tables open for our final day of sales. I also went over to the art show and picked up my unsold art. While I was checking it out, I talked to the art show person about how I'd taken to reading and re-reading the novel Fallen Angels since the Columbia disaster, and how it's sort of become comfort reading for me.
Sales the last day actually picked up a little, although we were still getting mostly small sales. By noon we set to packing up, since we had a long trip ahead of us. We also got a gopher to help us with the loading once the dealers' room actually closed. So we ended up getting loaded out in really good time, and even had a little time left over to head over to the con suite for one last visit before hitting the long road back home.
Copyright 2012s by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated October 21, 2012.