Friday Night: BayCon I

Kage Baker quite liked the Marriott in San Mateo. Despite its many physical peculiarities, it is a comfortable hotel. Best of all in its favour: the staff finds the convention attendees amusing, and works hard to make u comfortable.

But there are some real oddities about the place. It cannot be reached by freeway, although you can see the place from the 101. However, you have to get off in some other town entirely (there’s a portion of the Bay area where there are lots of tiny towns all clustered together in a mosaic) and wend your way to the Marriott via surface streets with demented names and altogether too many dead ends. My Google GPS Assistant – ordinarily a pretty garrulous AI – blew her zap and sent me to a Marriott miles away from my goal. I actually had to argue with her; at once point, I was getting the “I’m sorry, Kathleen,I can’t do that right now” routine, which had me wondering if she had found a way to evacuate the air from my car and suffocate me …

But I got here eventually, 3 hours late but un-asphixiated and having won my first argument with an AI. I probably shouldn’t gloat about that; Google GPS has really not evolved yet. It was like beating a toddler at gin.

The hotel itself is as weird as ever. They have completely redone the lobby, so you can’t find anything – including the doors; but there are lots of the staff all over the place, and they really work at helping the lost and confused. A charming young lady actually met me in the parking lot, and obligingly rolled my massive luggage all the way to my room. By the time I had to find the restaurant, Neassa had arrived and we were able to find our way together.

There is still the phantom second floor mezzanine, which can only be reached by one elevator in a corner of the lobby. On the other hand, this year the third floor is under re-construction, and it can only be reached by one elevator actually isolated on the second floor. And it is somewhere on the third floor where the Green Room is located. I may subsist on candy bars from the lobby shop. If I can locate it.

One of the most memorable features of the second floor is a room which appears to have been intended as a crematorium: it’s a circular room of bare brick with a strangely lofty ceiling and acoustics like the cellar of the Paris Opera House. Kage did a reading there from The House of The Stag – she told the audience she had intended a comic piece, but the room was so threatening, she gave them a bloody battle instead. I am pleased to report the place is still there, and as menacing as ever.

The food is good, and the bar is serving Lagunitas IPA, so there am I happy. This may be the last hotel in California that does NOT have an in-house Starbucks, but I can survive on Peet’s for a weekend.

There is not a lot to report about the drive up, except that the Memorial Weekend traffic was horrendous everywhere. Most of my fellow drivers were apparently zombies. There are far too many huge SUVs on the road these days, driven by people who can barely see over the steering wheel: especially nerve-wracking for a middle aged lady like me, driving a rented Toyota Corolla. Those Escalades and Rogues and Canyonados could drive right over me,  like a particularly crunchy squirrel. Alarming, to say the least.

But there was a marked absence of two-headed cattle, mythological creatures, migrating floor fans or any of the other fun things I have seen on I-5. I hope for better on the ride home.

At least things are amusingly peculiar among the Con attendees. Animals ears seem to be in style again, though one young lady was wearing rabbit feet on her head: large dangling rabbit feet, with pink toe beans. Funny t-shirts are, of course, everywhere; a Con is one of the places where you wan walk around staring at people’s chests and no one gets offended. They want you to read their shirts.

So far, my most memorable moment was having my knees go wobbly while searching for Registration on the phantom second floor – and having Bobba Fett solicitously help me to a bench while I caught my breath. Nice guy. He should really think about the people with whom he associates, though.

But he’s probably all right, here at BayCon. It’s in its own private universe, in the Marriott from another dimension. And we’re all a little odd here.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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