BristolCon 2012

A few days have passed since this year’s BristolCon and I thought I’d best get something down. I’m on the con committee, albeit in a fairly minor role, so I spent much of the day dashing about helping keep things ticking over. I like this; I think it’s a good way to see a small, friendly con like ours. So here’s my very personal and unofficial write-up – just some things that have stuck in my befuddled mind.

The Art Room was a fantastic improvement over previous years – the display stands provided by Roundstone Framing made the place feel really open and were far more aesthetically pleasing than the slightly cobbled-together gazebo of previous years.

Anne Sudworth and Gareth L. Powell‘s guest of honour interviews were interesting. Their interviewers, Ian Whates and Kim Lakin-Smith respectively, were very good and both had an excellent rapport with their interviewee. Colin Harvey‘s Ghost of Honour session was poignant, and I tried my best not to screw up the projections.

As for panels, I kept finding myself focussed on practicalities like watching the time, ensuring there was water and clean glasses for the panellists or helping out with the sound (the PA in programme room 1 was generously supplied by Del Lakin-Smith who was very patient with my fumbling attempts to help him set-up first thing) but I particularly remember the Colonising the Solar System and Women in Sensible Armour discussions.

Later on Gareth’s monkey was a high point, Talis Kimberley and her band performed to their usual excellent standard (although I didn’t listen to as much of this as I should have) and the quiz was, well, too hard!

I met plenty of new people, all of whom had complimentary things to say about the con. I got Philip Reeve, due to be a Guest of Honour at BristolCon 2013, to sign a copy of his latest book for my daughters.  I’d hoped to have a quick chat with Marc Gascoigne (even brought my old copy of Titan for him to sign) but missed him after the Colin Harvey memorial – perhaps at a future event. The Colinthology was an excellent buy and contains some really top-class stories, so I can recommend this as not only a good cause but a good read as well.

The rest of the committee and everyone else who helped out did a fantastic job – most of them worked far harder than I did and often in the face of sickness and pain on the day, so well done to all.

On top of it all I didn’t end up with a bad hangover the next day and I even missed the fire and pestilence. A good day all round and I’m already looking forward to next year!

 

Lord of the Rings – The Final Post

I promise. Well, at least until I see the film itself. The weather held out for Wellington’s big day on Monday, and the sun beamed down on the thousands of people who turned out hoping for a glimpse of their favourite LotR actors. Most weren’t disappointed, as despite the crowds it was possible to see what was going on even if it proved more difficult to get any good photos.

[Elven Warriors make their way through the crowd]

The parade, which ran all the way through the centre of the city, made me think of a US ticker-tape parade or a Royal occasion back in the UK, but with far less security than you’d expect given the numbers involved. Interspersed between groups of costumed extras, the stars of the film slowly made their way to the cinema for a round of speeches and the Premiere itself. They all looked pretty blown away by the whole event, and all seemed to have big smiles on as they drank in the adulation surrounding them.

[The Black Riders attempt to terrify some fans]

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get any good shots of the stars themselves. I had a reasonable vantage point, but the sheer frenzy that greeted them proved beyond my capabilities to penetrate. I’m not too bothered really, as I’m sure we’ll all see plenty of them all over the coming weeks as the hype continues to build for the film’s general release. In the mean time here’s another shot of some of their escort.

[The Men of GOndor march past]

The parade was fun, and seemed to live up to the city’s expectations. There was a general sense of carnival throughout the day, and I don’t think anyone really expected to get a lot of work done (I had a job interview rescheduled for Tuesday). Even the phone company got in on the act (I hope you can make out the screen, it says we’re in ‘MiddlEarth’)

[The cell is renamed MiddlEarth (sic) for the day]

Should you think that the whole country was united in LotR celebration, I should mention a few signs of dissent that were present, albeit almost swamped, on the day. As the band which concluded the parade marched past the spot I’d found for myself, a handful of people unfurled a large banner:

[Banner reading 'Our Mayor Jailed Homeless People For This']

A little further down the road was another small group standing around some graffiti-covered cardboard boxes haranguing the crowd on the same issue. There was some debate with a few of the surrounding crowd, but I didn’t stay to watch for long. There weren’t many people protesting – a tiny number compared to the crowds happily watching the parade go past – but it’s worth a mention, especially as the latest issue of The Package mentions something similar in a short piece on some of the consequences of increased tourism to NZ. There is some concern over these issues here, even if it doesn’t seem to rate much of a mention in the mainstream media outlets.

We watched the speeches in a bar, although for some bizarre reason the local media kept interrupting their coverage of the days events – even in the middle of the speeches – to report on mundanities such as the sports results, or some piece of dull local news. This was actually the subject of complaints in the letters page of the paper later in the week, so it wasn’t just us that found this a bit odd. After the speeches were concluded and the stars enjoying the fruits of their labours in the cinema, the crowds began to disperse. We headed down to Taranaki Wharf to watch some of the entertainment laid on, but it quickly became pretty cold and we ended up heading home to bed rather than sitting up to watch the Two Towers yet again – after all the bloody hype, we plebs still have to wait until the 18th to watch the damn new film ourselves!

Lord of the Rings – Premiere Day

The much expected day is here, and Wellington is well and truly gearing up for the fun. The parade is due to start in about half an hour and the crowds are already gathering along the rails marking the route, the sun is shining and there’s a carnival atmosphere throughout the city. Best costumes I’ve seen yet are the two Ents and the Elf Maid wandering up and down Lambton Quay.

I expect to see a few more before the day is out! Right, I’m off to join the fun.

Lord of the Rings Mania

Wellington is currently in a fit of Lord of the Rings insanity. The World Premiere of The Return of the King is being held here on Monday, and the city is gearing up for the big event. The local papers are already full of gushing reports about stars being spotted in the city and many of the shops are sporting special window displays (regardless of what it is they actually sell in the normal course of things) as there’s a display competition being run by Positively Wellington Tourism. I reckon this well dressed Orc has got to be my favourite so far:

[Orc in a Shirt and Tie]

A set of commemorative stamps have been released to mark the occasion and these are the source of much of the more obvious decoration – from banners adorning the street lights to billboards to vast sheets tied across the fronts of office blocks. The largest depicts Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf, hangs down about eight floors from the front of the NZ Postal Service building and has become an icon of LotR-obsessed Wellington, but I prefer the (slightly) more subtle approach embodied by this three-dimensional billboard:

[Billboard in shape of an envelope addressed to Mount Doom containing what looks like the Ring]

There are two cinemas associated with the Premiere, the Embassy and the Reading Cinemas complex, and atop each building perches a Black Rider astride his dragon-like winged steed gazing down balefully on the passing throngs.

[Nazgul atop the Reading Cinema]

There is to be a great big parade on the day of the Premiere winding it’s way through the city to the final stretch of Red Carpet leading up the steps to the doors of the Embassy Theatre. Most of the inner city hotels and hostels are completely booked up and have been for weeks and weeks; had we not sorted a flat this week we might have faced a night in the park on monday!

[Nazgul atop the Embassy Cinema]

It’s quite fun being in a city the size of Wellington when something like this is happening – it’s small enough for the excitment to get everywhere, and you can’t help get a bit caught up in it all even as a visitor. We even had a moments excitement ourselves the other day when we realised that we’d just strolled past one of the hobbits!