As is the custom of our tribe, the Spawn and I are in Charlotte, NC, attending HeroesCon for what we are pretty sure is the ninth consecutive year. We got here yesterday, but wait! There’s more.
During the summer terms, classes only meet Monday through Thursday. However, I had to get up anyway, because we were having a Freshpeep Orientation — the first of the year — and that means that the English department had to score about 120 placement exams for FroshComp. As two of my colleagues were out of town/state/the country, it fell to one of my colleagues and me to handle this batch.
It’s a quick process, a simple up/down vote on each paper, and the two of us generally agreed, so we got the whole batch done in about two hours, and I got home by noon. The Spawn and I threw our bags into Mrs. M’s car — the soundest of our three — and set out on our hundred-mile drive. It was actually my second trip to Charlotte of the week, as two friends of mine and I had come up earlier in the week to see stoner metal legends Sleep. At some point, I’ll likely post a review, but not right now.
The Spawn and I got to our downtown accommodations around 2:45, which was a good thing, because at 3 I had to jump in on the conference call for a hiring committee of which I’m a part. The call took about an hour and fifteen, and though the field in question isn’t really in my area of expertise, the chair seemed impressed with my performance and the questions I asked in the meeting, based on the reading I had done about the candidates. He told me this wouldn’t be my last committee of this sort. That’ll teach me, I guess.
Seriously, though, I’m finding this particular process interesting, and while this position is outside my field, it’s an important one to the college, so I’m glad to have input.
After I was off the phone, the Spawn and I walked a few blocks down College Street to the Convention Center for the first day of the convention. Security seems a bit heavier this year, as we were about 20 yards into the building when a security guard stopped us to check the Spawn’s bag, an experience we haven’t had in the past. After we got our wristbands (made of fabric this year, instead of the gummed paper ones of past years), we got our programs and made it to the convention floor.
Along with the traditional welcome message, the program gives pride of place to a convention Code of Conduct, which also is posted at several points around the convention area. While there has been a code in the past, it seems more prominent this year. That’s okay — HeroesCon has prided itself on being family friendly for years, and that’s one of the reasons that the Spawn and I started going to begin with. Still, between the parcel check and the seeming emphasis on good behavior, I wonder what this means about the place of conventions in the larger culture.
The Spawn and I split up once we got to the convention floor. She was looking for a birthday gift for the Main Squeeze, and I had a mission of my own. After a quick check of the program, I made a beeline (well, a bumblebee line, with occasional distractions and collisions) to see John K. Snyder, III, and pick up his graphic novel adaptation of Mr. Block’s Eight Million Ways to Die.
I introduced myself and mentioned that I’m a friend of LB, and we chatted for about ten minutes as he autographed a copy of the book for me. We talked about some of the differences and similarities between film and graphic novel forms, and about his desire to do other Scudder adventures. (Hint: We were both excited about one that rhymes with A Bicket to the Toneyard.) We also talked a little about El Bee’s coming visit to Mondoville, and Mr. Snyder said that if we ever need someone to talk about the topic of graphic novelization, we should give him a holler.
It was a real treat to meet Mr. Snyder, but I do have to cop to a certain amount of envy. The man’s hair is spectacular — the Werewolves of London would envy him.
A bit later, I happened across a booth staffed by some young folks offering drinks of local soda Cheerwine, and I noticed that they had signs up saying that they’d be happy to talk to visitors about collegiate E-sports. As it happens, Mondoville is starting a program, so I struck up a conversation with a couple of them, who turned out to be from Catawba University, one of our rivals in more traditional athletics. When I told them we were getting a team started, they gave me some of their business cards and told me they had information about endorsements, a database for potential scholarship players, discounts on gamers’ chairs, and various other trappings. So I’ll be passing those on to the Dean and our newly hired coach.
Does this mean I can now claim this trip as a business expense?
After wandering aimlessly for a bit, I decided to sit down for a bit, and happened to arrive at the seating area simultaneously with the Spawn, who had accomplished her mission as well. We caught each other up, and then the Spawn mentioned she was hungry, so we decided to head back toward the hotel for our traditional first-night dinner at the Carolina Ale House. I ordered the nachos, and was a bit startled to discover that they are now served on a platter that is reminiscent of a garbage can lid. They were good, though, and it isn’t like I’m required to eat all of them. Just most.
We swung by a Walgreens to pick up something to drink and made it back to the hotel in time to unwind and call it a night. As I fell asleep, I heard the Spawn chatting on the phone with the Main Squeeze. A good first day.
In a few minutes, we’ll migrate back down the street for Day Two. A report will follow.