Technicon 13

(Don - 102nd)(Thomas - 102nd)

1996: March 22 - 24

Red Lion Inn, Blacksburg, VA

Guests: L.E. Modesitt, Lori and Corey Cole, Jennifer Hartshorn, Ian Lemke, Mark Shepherd


This was the Technicon that came without warning. Easter, to which Technicon is linked via the academic schedule, was very early this year, and Tehcnicon earlier. In addition, the guest liaison fell down on the job; it wasn't until two weeks before the con that Thomas and Don actually received an invitation. Now, in their case, an invitation to Technicon is pretty much pro forma, since it's assumed they are coming . . .but this time, the delay left us late reserving a room. By the time Thomas called the hotel, they were booked . . . as was just about every other hotel in Blacksburg. The boys wound up in the Budget Host Inn (which they referred to as the "Budgerigar Toast Inn") about two miles from the con.

This was the second Technicon in the Red Lion Inn, and it became clear that the move had adversely affected the con. The function space was smaller and more chopped-up . . . there was no real central gathering/lounging point. The accent, which had been shifting in recent years toward gaming, had shifted further in that direction. This year there were no literary panels of the sort Thomas and Don have grown used to at other cons. They presented the penultimate cut of Episode 1 of Lightyears, and Thomas was active as a costumer (he was a masquerade judge, for example.) But more and more, Technicon seemed to be following Disclave in becoming Party-con.

Thomas and Don had a pleasant drive down from Linthicum. Along the way, they stopped at the Pink Cadillac Diner in Greenville, Virginia. It was a middle-of-nowhere place, a bright pink diner with a dead pink Cadillac in the yard. As they pulled up, Thomas wondered if the place was really as gay as it seemed. The sight of a giant stuffed pink flamingo and a large Oscar Meyer Weiner-Mobile seemed confirming evidence; then they saw that the theme of the place was Elvis and the fifties, and they wondered again. A James Dean poster in the men's room and Chubby Checker's rendition of "My Ding-A-Ling" on the jukebox added to the impression . . . but the clinching factor was a man who appeared to the the owner, dressed in a tee shit with a large pink triangle on it.

On the way out, Thomas asked their waitress, "Do the locals have any idea of how gay this place his?" She smiled and answered firmly, "No."

The boys arrived at Technicon about six pm, after having checked in at the Budgerigar Toast Inn. They ate at the Red Lion Inn restaurant, then joined the amateur video production panel, where they showed off a demo reel of Lightyears effects and the highlights from "Mind the Gap." Lloyd Eldred and his friend Patrick Foley had an episode of their current project "Space Rogues." Thomas drove Don back to the motel and Don turned in early; Thomas stayed up far later.

On Saturday they had a showing of Lightyears at two, then Doug Warden and Sharon Landrum showed up. The boys visited with them while they had a late lunch, then together all four killed time until the masquerade. The masquerade, at which Thomas was the head judge, was very good -- eleven contestants, and not a bad costume among them.

After the masquerade and a brief trip to the bar, they adjourned to the Blender Party, sponsored by their old Blacksburg friends Telf and Denise.

On Sunday the boys hung around with Sharon while Doug finished up his part in the live-acton role-playing game. The traditional Technicon dinner at the Farmhouse was a little different this year: several groups of their friends wanted to be on the road early, so Thomas and Don accompanied the "early shift" to the Farmhouse: Doug, Sharon, Anne and her boyfriend Tony, Andy Shoemaker and his boyfriend David, and one other fellow whose name Don has forgotten. At the table behind them was Lloyd Eldred and his entourage. All had a tremendously hilarious time criticizing the paintings on the wall and having general fun.

After they bade the others goodbye, Thomas and Don returned to the Farmhouse, where the "late shift" had come in. They made our goodbyes, and were on the road by five.

That night they drove to Woodstock, where they stopped (coincidentally) at another Budgerigar Toast Inn . . . a much nicer one than the Blacksburg place. After relaxing for a while, they jumped in the car and drove up a twisting back road to just over the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains, then pulled off on a dirt side road and beheld Comet Hyukatake. It was tremendous . . . the head was bright but fuzzy, the tail a nebulous thing that stretched out to infinity behind. They stayed almost an hour, sitting in the car with the top partly down, watching the comet.

The next day, on their drive home, they detoured out I-68 to the Sideling Hill Road Cut, which has been described as one of the best rock exposures in Maryland. Thomas and Don were taken with the visitor's center as well as the dramatic vista of the Cut itself.

They then returned home, tired but happy. It was a great Technicon.

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