Tag Archives: World Horror Convention 2013

Convergence XIX: the quandary

It’s been nearly four years since the Triffid Ranch officially launched, and the Czarina still goes into a slow burn over the celebration at Convergence 14, the big goth culture convention in Ybor City, Florida. It wasn’t because of the show itself, or the people, or even the drive from Dallas to Tampa. No, the grinding of her molars, like tectonic plates, was when we tried to make a nonstop straight burn from Dallas to Tallahassee, based on my memories of moving back to Dallas from Tally six years earlier. What I remembered, in my vague sleep-deprivation hallucinations, was a 12-hour drive, which was extreme but still doable. Apparently, I actually did closer to 17 hours of straight driving, and we learned that the hard way on the rush down the Florida Panhandle. Oh, and did I mention that we arrived in Tally about five hours late on her birthday?

Not that the trip itself wasn’t worth the effort. Convergence and its attendees were still recovering from the disastrous show in 2007 in Portland (often referred to by Convergence survivors as “Gothapalooza”), and we started our trip right at the beginning of the big economic meltdown of 2008. Naturally, gasoline prices peaked the very weekend we made the trip, so when we were done tallying costs versus returns, we chalked it up as a working vacation and left it at that. Not that we wouldn’t do it again: we met a considerable number of people who are still good friends today, we had a chance to see Ybor City at its peak (as well as understanding why everyone talks about the food there), and we both learned exactly how far we could drive at one time before the Czarina threatens to go Big Barda on my skull.

In subsequent years, we’ve considered bringing jewelry and plants to another Convergence, but the logistics kept getting in the way. Moving large numbers of carnivorous plants across the US is problematic at the best of times, and the trip has to be balanced between the cost of fuel and vehicle maintenance versus the actual return. In the meantime, we both figured that if a future Convergence was held in Texas, we’d both consider the possibilities.

Welp, it’s good news and bad news on that front. Alt.Gothic just released the bids for next year’s Convergence, and the devil vomits in our faces again. The first bid is for Seattle, which is a great city for spooky things, but it’s scheduled the weekend after next year’s World Horror Convention in New Orleans. That’s in addition to crossing a fair amount of the North American landmass and at least three mountain ranges to get there. Sorry, but with that kind of distance, this is the sort of road trip where Oscar Zeta Acosta himself would stay home and say “Let’s just watch television instead, okay?”

And then there’s the second bid, in Austin. Unlike other events in Austin that seem to go out of their way to run during the hottest part of the year, the Austin bid organizers understand that visitors to the city might actually enjoy it at times when the big yellow hurty thing in the sky isn’t trying to destroy all life on the Texas prairie. Besides, the date for the Austin bid coincides with the return of Mexican freetailed bats to the Congress Avenue bridge.

The only problem? If Austin gets the bid, then Convergence is two weeks before Texas Frightmare Weekend, and previous attempts to do shows with such short time between them hasn’t worked out well. We may have to reconsider that thinking for next year, because this looks too good for us to miss out.

EDIT: naturally, after all of that agonizing, I got word from this last weekend that Austin has the bid. Time to make plans for a road trip next year, eh?

More news about World Horror 2013

To follow up on yesterday’s comment on possibly getting a table for the 2013 World Horror Convention in New Orleans, I’d like to add one note. Because of both the cost and the logistics required for a successful show, the sooner event organizers respond to a query, the sooner we can make plans as to whether or not to pay for vendor space. The only thing that’s more worrisome than not hearing from a venue at all is hearing from a venue only after the official registration deadline. (In this case, this almost always means that the show organizers don’t have anywhere near enough vendors to fill their space, and they’ll take anyone whose money is green. If the show has a lack of vendors, it usually means that it’ll have a lack of attendees, too.)

Now, there are times when hearing from a venue late is better than hearing from them early. With Texas Frightmare Weekend, for instance, I received a response to my first vendor query about a month after the show. Considering that I only contacted the crew about a month before the show, well, that taught me to be a bit more prompt. For the most part, waiting anywhere between two weeks to two months is standard, as the convention organizers have enough other things on their plate. This is why I was thrilled to get this response from the dealer’s room chairman at World Horror:

We are still in the layout stages for the dealer’s room, but as soon as we get something nailed down (which will be very soon) I will send you an email detailing all you need to know! Thanks in advance for your interest!

The surprise? I received this message within six hours of sending it. Oh, hells yes will we be out there in June 2013.

World Horror Convention 2013: a new Triffid Ranch show?

Until very recently, I’ve been reserved about doing out-of-town Triffid Ranch shows for many reasons. Not that I haven’t had convention and event promoters asking. At least three times a year, I’m asked, very nicely, by the folks at a big steampunk convention in Oklahoma about attending, and I decline, very nicely, and explain why. Namely, it comes down to pure economics. Doing a show in Texas outside of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex is expensive enough with gasoline, vehicle rental, hotel accomodations, and food allocations. Combine that with the necessary legal permits required to transport plants across state lines, and I do NOT want to make Wikipedia for being the guy who introduced some horrible invasive species or deadly floral disease to a new area, and the finances get a bit thin. When I explain to the steampunk convention crew how many plants I’d need to sell just to break even, they blanch and apologize for up my time.

(As a sidenote, I’ve been planning to compose a little essay on why vendors to shows and conventions choose the shows they do and why. In the interim, let’s just say that repeated nagging to attend a gaming convention with an admitted attendance of 200 to 400 people, screaming “You never got back with me!” at another convention, and literally whining about how it was in my best interest to cancel an existing commitment and reschedule isn’t the way to do it. And yes, that really happened last year.)

Recent news makes me reconsider this assessment. For the last fifteen or so years, I’ve received regular postcards from the folks at the World Horror Convention, a big traveling show hosted by a different city each year, asking about becoming an attendee. I had considered being a vendor at the 2011 WHC in Austin, until I saw it was scheduled opposite Texas Frightmare Weekend, and the logistics came into play. (The fact that I’d sooner live in Houston than so much as soil a gas station restroom in Austin had something to do with it, too.) This year’s WHC is in Salt Lake City, which is just a little too far to travel in the summer with a truckload of plants. In 2013, though, World Horror comes to New Orleans.

I reiterate: New Orleans.

My first encounter with New Orleans was fourteen years ago this coming November, when I was invited by the god-in-human-form Robert Fontenot to be a guest at a new genre and pop convention in New Orleans called ExotiCon. I’m still good friends with many of the people I met there in 1998, and I came back for the next two shows run by Robert. So did the Czarina, with her now ex-husband, and she’s still famous for running the world’s most quiet convention party at the 2000 show. I still tell him, to this day, that were he insane enough to try this again, we’d both come down, without hesitation, and do our best to promote the show as much as we were able. In the intervening years, we’ve looked at other excuses to head down that way, and just haven’t quite had the opportunity.

Well, now that may change. I’ve already contacted the WHC 2013 crew for further information, but the thought process ran roughly similar to this:

Negative: One solid day of driving between Dallas and New Orleans, and flying down there with plants isn’t an option.

Positive: New Orleans.

Negative: Considering the cost of renting a cargo van, including mileage, it may actually be cheaper to buy one.

Positive: New Orleans.

Negative: A big portion of the trip entails going over the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, which is one of the most knuckle-whitening, anus-puckering trips I’ve ever made…in a truck full of carnivorous plants.

Positive: New Orleans. Oh, and did I mention the food?

Negative: Phytosan permits, hotel reservations, trying to go anywhere outside of the hotel, old writing acquaintances terrified of leaving the hotel for fear they might miss out on an editor they haven’t already harangued, going back home, and all of the usual logistics of doing a big show combined with the logistics of doing one outside of Texas.

Postive: NEW ORLEANS.

I haven’t brought this up with the Czarina, but that’s on the plate for this evening. I pretty much know what the answer will be, though, without asking. If I don’t check, I know what that answer will be, and if I’m going to be rolled up in a fetal ball while she beats me with a rolled-up magazine and screams “WHAT the hell is WRONG with you?”, I’d prefer for it to be something worthy of the offense.