Conglomeration III

ConGlomeration III was held over the weekend of August 8-10, 2003 at the Clarion Hotel and Convention Center in Louisville, KY. This annual convention was created to replace Rivercon, the long-running Louisville convention of years gone by.

We arrived at the hotel the night before, in order to be in place for the very early beginning of load-in for the dealers' room. When we went to get our personal belongings into our sleeping room, we discovered all kinds of minor problems with accessibility, particularly for people who are disabled. The door to the elevator had a little curb at it, so that it was difficult or impossible to get a cart or wheelchair over it. And the door with a ramp was stuck, so that we couldn't use it. Also, the elevators were very small and looked quite old, which gave us reasons to worry about how it would hold up when everybody tried to check out on Sunday morning.

However, the room itself was quite nice, with plenty of space. The beds were in good condition, and everything was clean. Since the Clarion corporation just took over this hotel a month or so before the convention, it is quite probable that they simply haven't had time to fix some of the problems, and that things will be notably better by next year, if the convention does return then.

After we got our stuff in, we went down to the con suite and found that they were already set up, although they had the door sort of halfway shut. Unfortunately, the dealers' room co-ordinator had left for the night, so we weren't able to double-check about load-in arrangements. So we headed back up to the room and turned in for the night.

Friday morning started bright and early as we headed down to the convention center. The dealers' room was already set up, but the co-ordinator was nowhere to be seen, so we didn't know where our tables were going to be. However, once he did show up, the actual process of loading in was simplicity itself. We were able to pull the van right up to the loading dock door, which opened directly onto the dealers' room. There was even a spare cart we were able to use, so our chief limitation on speed was how fast we could get merchandise moved out of the van and onto the carts.

Once we got everything out of the van, we had to set things up. Fortunately, the room was so big in proportion to the number of dealers that we had plenty of backspace, and were able to store all our boxes behind our tables instad of having to carry some of them back out to the van. We got set up just in time for the dealers' room to open to the public. I also got my artwork on the art show.

Then we settled in to sell. We had our first sale right after we opened, and it was actually a substantial one. Sales were sporadic for the rest of the afternoon, but I got to see a number of my Louisville area friends, including Joe Major and Tim Lane from FOSFAX. Joe Major gave me a draft of an alternate-history novel he's writing, to critique. We also made contact with the friend who's sharing our room for the weekend and got him a key.

Because the dealers' room was going to be open fairly late, we decided to order a pizza and have supper at our table. After the dealers' room closed, we went to the con suite and finished up our supper with some munchies and other goodies. I took my Palm Pilot and keyboard, and made a fairly good start on my con report.

When we got back up to the room, the TV which we had left on the Weather Channel had spontaneously reset itself to the preview channel. We turned it back to the Weather Channel while we waited, but after a while it spontaneously changed back to the preview channel again. After a few repetitions we finally called the front desk and they sent a maintenance person up, who fiddled with some attachments on the back of the set and told us that if it happened again, we should let them know and they'd swap out the TV.

The only party that night was the Xerps party, which had some pretty good cheeze and plenty of booze for those who wanted to drink. After that, we turned in for the night.

Saturday morning we got up bright and early to have breakfast and visit the con suite before we headed over to the dealers' room to get our tables opened for business. Once we were ready to sell, we took a walk around to look at some of the other dealers' tables. I talked to Scott Thorne of Castle Perilous in Carbondale about how things have changed since I lived in the area.

Then the dealers' room opened, so we had to hurry back to our tables to start doing business. Sales were rather sporadic, and I spent a lot of the time reading the manuscript to critique. When Joe Major came around to our tables again, we talked some about the problems of maintaining a strong sense of tension while developing the background of the alternate history.

At 1PM I had my one and only panel, "Utopia pt. 2" with Adam Watson and Bill Levy. We talked about how atempts at utopias have a tendency to turn into really nasty dystopias. I pointed out that we need to make a distinction between literary utopias and attempts to build a utopia in the Primary World. Literary utopias are hampered by the problem that fiction is based upon conflict and its resolution, while the concept of utopia is predicated upon the idea that the society's problems have been solved and that there are no conflicts. Attempts to create actual utopias often fall into the trap that one-size-fits-all solutions often don't fit anyone, and people become progressively more unhappy with them. Bill Levy suggested that the biggest problem with utopian ideals is the artificial separation of means and ends, and the resultant tendency to become wedded to precedent instead of looking at each case as an individual.

Afterward, I headed back to the dealers' room to watch our tables for the rest of the afternoon. Sales were rather slow, and for a couple of hours we didn't have anything at all. There were a few spurts of business that kept things from getting completely desperate.

After the dealers' room closed for the night, we joined the FOSFAX crowd to go out for supper at the Imperial Palace Buffet. This is a really cool place that serves Chinese, Japanese and American food, so there was something for everyone. We also had some really great conversation about alternate history.

After supper, we returned to the hotel to go to the parties. The first one we visited was the Hobbit Hole party, held by a young man who does bear an amazing resemblance to the actor who plays Frodo in the movie. He had a surprising array of unusual treats, along with some hard lemonade and tea with a kick. Then we went to the Millennicon party and talked to their dealers' room party, since we're looking for some more conventions to do in the spring. We also checked out the Vault party. After that, it was getting late and the elevator in the tower where the parties were held was getting a notable shakiness, so we decided to just call it a night.

Sunday morning we got up painfully early to get our personal belongings gathered up and carried out of our sleeping room. Then we went to the con suite to grab some munchies before heading over to the dealers' room to get our tables opened for one last day of sales.

Sales continued to be sporadic, and finally trickled off to nothing by afternoon. I went over to the art show and picked up my unsold art, only to discover that one of my pieces which had received a bid had not yet been picked up by its buyer. Thus, I wasn't able to receive my check yet. Since we were in the dealers' room, I said that we'd let it wait until we got done loading out and were ready to leave.

By 3PM we were completely packed, and we hadn't had any customers during most of the packing process, so we decided to just go ahead and load out. We pulled the van up to the big door, and with the help of two strong young men and an extra cart, we got everything loaded in record time.

It wasn't even 4PM (the official closing time for the dealers' room) yet when we had everything out of the way. So we parked the van out of the way, and I went to check on my uncollected piece. It was still sitting there, and since there were only a couple other unclaimed pieces, we decided to go ahead and give up on it. So they went ahead and wrote up a check for the two pieces that were properly claimed, and I took the unclaimed piece home to save them the postage of sending it back later.

We went over to the con suite one last time before we left to get some munchies and say our final good-byes before hitting the road.

Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated October 21, 2012.