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Corflu XXX


No doubt this is a post that will evolve over time as I add more details (and pictures, as it turns out) and recover more memories. I'm utterly exhausted at the moment, although I do actually feel much improved over yesterday. The tl;dr version is: Corflu XXX was hosted by Dan and Lynn Steffan in Portland, Oregon over the weekend, and it was a total freaking blast. Wish you'd been there, if you weren't; it was terrific to see you there, if you were.

I drove down to Portland on Friday afternoon with akirlu and my undercapitalized co-editor, who was a surprise last-minute addition to the party. What with various stops and rush hour traffic along the way, it took something like five hours to get from my house to Portland. The company was so pleasant, however, that it all seemed like a fun adventure.

Friday night was just a lot of palaver, as I recall. We tapped one of the two kegs that the Steffans had acquired, and I got caught up with various and sundry folks that I hadn't seen for a while. I think Dan said they sold around 115 memberships, including supporting memberships, and the number of actual attendees must have been close to a hundred. The British contingent was quite large this time, and at one point I found myself the only American on an elevator full of Brits. I hadn't know that Ian Sorensen was going to be there, and he was one of the few overseas visitors who hadn't come through Seattle on the way to Portland. But there were plenty of other folks I hadn't seen for a while as well, and the conversations extended into the wee hours. Somewhere along the line and amidst all the consuite chatter Lucy Huntzinger threw a margarita party in memory of Corflu co-founder Allyn Cadogan, who died of cancer last month, and I had received a message from Hazel Ashworth in the UK earlier day saying that she, her sister, and D were raising a glass in Allyn's memory as well. To absent friends!

Lucy and Lynn remember Allyn Cadogan

Saturday I got up late and wandered around looking for a place that was still serving breakfast, finally landing in the Village Inn, where I read a couple of chapters of Iain Banks' Inversions. After that it was already time for the expedition with carl and the fishlifters to Upright Brewing, which is one of two Portland breweries that I've been dying to visit for a few years now. (Cascade is the other one.) The beer was fantastic, as expected, and it was great to spend time with the Fishlifters, with whom I had initially intended to spend the whole week before Corflu, before work deadlines crushed these plans like a seal pup's skull. We also ended up chatting with some of the other people in the little tasting room at Upright, including two guys who heard Mark and Claire's accents and wanted to share their own recent beer-drinking adventures in London.

Back at the convention I visited briefly with wrdnrd and Andy, who seemed enthralled by Art Widner's ancient mimeo. The one panel I caught was the final one, which was Roy Kettle, Graham Charnock, Rich Coad, and Rob Hansen talking about Ratfandom -- an insurgent movement of British fans in the early '70s who hit the established order with a load of proto-punk attitude and inspired bollocks. That panel was a lot of fun, and it was particularly interesting to me to hear about how their fanzines trickled over to the US, got spread around in photocopies like samizdat, and ended up influencing American zines like Izzard and Pong.

After that I milled around in the program room for a while looking at old fanzines and talking with various folks who dropped by. Andy Hooper was looking through a big box of fanzines that had originally come to Alan Rosenthal via Victoria Vayne and others. Tons of titles and people I had never heard of, and it really drove home again how fanzines used to be a primary mode of communication in fandom, with all sorts of people generating vast numbers of pages about their lives, fannish adventures, and everything under the sun. It's really overwhelming to dip into even the small corner of that universe represented by that one box of fanzines. You feel the buzz of past community networks thrumming like a power plant.

Well, that left me feeling hungry, so Bryan Barrett and I headed off to Windows, which was the restaurant on the top floor of the hotel and the subject of many Microsoft jokes. I hadn't expected to see Bryan at the convention, let alone have dinner with him, but that's the way it goes at a Corflu. It was a delight to get caught up with him and his adventures in selling fanzines and birds online. He apparently doesn't sell so many books any more. Eventually Mark and Claire joined us, thus inspiring the conversation to turn toward the UK, and I learned that Bryan had gone to the UK a number of times in the '80s and '90s. Even more surprisingly, it turned out that Mark, who had never met Bryan before, had a message for him from a mutual friend in the UK. Small damned world, innit? But I'm guessing it was a book-dealing friend.

It was then time for the traditional exchange of beers with Mark and Claire. They had brought over a couple of rare offerings from BrewDog, and I had special editions from Full Sail and Deschutes for them. When I made my way to the consuite after that, I found gerisullivan setting up for a beer-tasting party. Apparently at some point I had agreed to be the bartender for this event, which I had forgotten about completely. Soon I was in the thick of preparations myself, writing the names of over thirty beers and maybe ten non-alcoholic drinks on post-its so that people could write comments as they were tasting. I opened the first bottle around 10pm, and then it was a madhouse for some number of hours. It was actually great fun, and I got to meet and chat with a few people I hadn't met before, including Roy Kettle. As always with Geri's parties, it was a smash success. We opened 29 bottles of beer and 7 bottles of various non-alcoholic things, and at some point we hope to make the tasting notes available, perhaps in Chunga.

Eventually the party boiled down to a half dozen of us, including Dan and Lynn, sitting around a table in an atmosphere of cheerful camaraderie. The convention was clearly a success, and we were all feeling good about our parts in making it so. I stumbled off around 4:30am, having done major damage to a bottle of Glenmorangie. Or maybe that was vice versa.

voidampersand, Lynn, Geri, Dan, and Tamara Menteer Gonzalez in the banquet line

Well, it was no surprise, then, that I felt like hammered crap when I woke up at 10:30 on Sunday. The banquet was at 11, and I got myself showered and dressed in time for that. I sat with voidampersand and spikeiowa, and we talked about the upcoming Westercon and Loncon and Potlatch and all that. The official business of the banquet commenced with Lucy Huntzinger's elaborate Guest of Honor performance piece, which she read in Old Norse while Ulrika provided a translation in modern English and ASL, as David Levine, Jeanne Bowman, Tamara Vining, and Pat Virzi acted the story out in vivacious pantomime. Various awards were awarded after that, and I was very pleased that Chunga won the FAAn Award for Best Genzine. It had been a while since we won one of those, and it's quite an honor to know that we are still appreciated after all these years. Many thanks to those of you who voted for us. Our next issue will be out momentarily.

Then I had to get up and give the bid presentation for Corflu 31, which will be held in Richmond, Virginia. This is an interesting effort dreamed up by Nic Farey, who wants to see if we can organize a Corflu from afar. The experiment was partly inspired by the frustration some people have felt about the lack of an East Coast Corflu in recent years, and since nobody from the East Coast was stepping up to fill the void, Nic and Ken Forman are seeing what can be done about it. The convention will be held the first weekend of May. Memberships are $80 for Americans, and I'm the US agent, so feel free to contact me if you have questions. Further details will be forthcoming at corflu.org.

The rest of Sunday was basically Ramdu sitting in the consuite in a brain dead state, trying to get rehydrated by drinking pint after pint of tap water, while the remnants of the convention continued to buzz in an inexplicably lively fashion around him. Eve Harvey kept telling me I looked smashing in my skinny black leather tie. Ian prattled about his Moody Blues Cruise with Yvonne Rowse, and Doug Bell and I swapped university data mining horror stories. Dan showed me a fantastic comic book story he's done about the New York Dadaists who amongst other things put on the famous Armory Show of 1913. Lynn gave me a bottle of Aberlour as a reward for my efforts on behalf of the convention. Geri gave me a couple of boxes of small glasses that had been used for the beer-tasting. Various people gave me hugs, clearly moved by my obviously brain dead condition. Eventually Ulrika, carl and I climbed back into the car and hit the road back to Seattle.

There's a strange coda to all this. Bryan Barrett had asked Ulrika if we could deliver a piece of luggage to his apartment in Olympia on our way back. She said yes, and while I was taking memberships for Corflu 31 after the banquet, Bryan stopped by to give me the claim ticket for his item, which he had left at the front desk. I eventually stopped by the desk to pick it up, and I put the two pieces of luggage they gave me into the car. We found Bryan's apartment, and I hauled the two bags through his door. Bryan looked at them dumbfounded.

"Those aren't mine," he said.

It turns out that the hotel had given me somebody else's bags. I hadn't heard (or didn't remember hearing) what Bryan was trying to give me, which was a rubber tub full of ceramics. Ulrika, who *had* heard what he wanted to send with us, assumed that he had changed his mind and given us his bags while he took the rubber tub on the train. So there we were with some poor person's bags, who for all we knew was going to try to fly out of Portland that evening. Bryan said he would call the hotel and see what they wanted to do about this clusterfuck. I was too brain dead to think of a better plan, but I felt terrible about sticking him with this crazy problem.

Well, it was a strange conclusion to a wonderful convention. All kudos to Dan and Lynn, who went to heroic lengths to make this a memorable occasion, and to everyone else who lent a hand in putting it on and building the magnificent sand castle we lived in for a few days. I hope you'll consider going to Richmond next year. It should be another good one. Long live Corflu!

A golden glow descends upon (starting in the rear left) Rob Hansen, Frank Lunney, Victor Gonzalez, Dan Steffan, Andy Hooper, and, looming in the foreground with his eager, larger-than-life self, Graham Charnock



(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
May. 8th, 2013 02:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Corflu on Ustream
Thanks for this, Kim. I haven't watched any of it, but I heard that the quality of the stream this year was higher than normal. I think Bill mostly used his iPhone.

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