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MidSouthCon 21, March of 2003

(Held in Memphis, Tennessee, at the Holiday Inn Select, way too close to the airport, March 28 - March 30, 2003.)
I got there on Thursday night, had a good night's sleep, and started wandering around on Friday morning, asking what was what. It turned out that the con wasn't starting until two, and probably not reaching full intensity until late in the afternoon, due to folks not showing up until after their workday or whatever, so I walked into the middle of setting up and got drafted.
I spent the middle part of the day putting up walls in the art room and labeling them for Dana, the person in charge. Her daughter Kestrel was very helpful, being just old enough to know better than to stand right where I needed to step next, and being young enough to think that holding a roll of masking tape for me was a valuable contribution. It sort of was, actually, since it also immobilized her with respect to all the other folks who were equally busy. ;-)
I escaped at last and wandered around trying to get an idea of how the place would be set up. There was a dealer's room, and an art room, which I felt that I'd already seen more than enough of, (just kidding, Dana!) and a number of conference rooms and ballrooms. The gamers, when they got there, went right to gaming and were practically invisible. It's possible that some of them never even left those rooms, but who'd notice?
I saw a couple of largish animals chasing each other around columns and tussling in the courtyard. On closer inspection, it turned out to be a couple of "Furries", young women who were wearing various items to indicate that they were either feline or vulpine, one each. The cat stayed a cat most of the time, but the fox metamorphosed later into another were-creature of some sort, which I neglected to take notes on, unfortunately. I visited with them for a while, and learned their names, at least. Allison was the cat, and Nicole was the fox. She was in the middle of creating still another persona, and spent much of her time with needle in hand, eventually producing a large white wolf (an Arctic Werewolf, I believe) which came out just beautifully. I included a picture of her below.
I finally found the Con Suite, cleverly concealed behind a door that was labeled "Con Suite", and found that they were handing out refreshments and serving as a major nexus, which made it a great place to watch people. They served Real Food, by the way, and several people commented to me that this was not invariably the case at such events. I memorized the location for future reference, and resumed my explorations. People were starting to show up in larger numbers, and other things as well, not just Furries. I noticed, in my time there, that there were a lot of Imperial Stormtroopers around (the 501st Legion), Darth Vader, and some Jedi Knights, and also quite a few other Knights and Ladies and assorted anachronistic folks from the Society for Creative Anachronism. I even saw some Atevi, though they seemed rather smaller than I would have expected. Not all of them showed up on Friday night, but enough of them to give a good idea of what to expect.
The Society For Creative Anachronism played a very active role, so the opening ceremony involved a lot of pageantry, with a herald crying out "Oyez" and "Here ye" and all that stuff. Quite entertaining.
Along the way, I met a number of interesting people, some of whom I recall fairly distinctly. (Note that their memorability for me was in no wise a function of how much I liked or enjoyed them, so if I leave someone out, it's my brain misfiring, no reflection on the person or persons whom I neglect to mention.)
Michael Sheard was there, as the celebrity actor, and he was a lot of fun. He's had roles in at least one Indiana Jones movie, in The Empire Strikes Back, and innumerable Dr Who episodes, not to mention quite a lot of other parts in various films I'm not sure about. Several authors were there, among them C.J. Cherryh and Jane Fancher, and I was privileged to spend a while chatting with those two for a while on a couple of occasions, including attending a breakfast with them on Sunday morning.
There were more panels than I had any hope of attending, but I did get a chance to sit in on several, among them science discussions involving the future of space flight, a panel on the subject of privacy in the age of technology, and some demonstrations of armor and costuming, both futuristic stuff as one would find in Star Wars productions, and older types that show up at meetings of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Speaking of the latter, we got to watch several individual battles, and a small melee, involving half a dozen guys in a variety of rather heavy-looking armor who whacked each other very enthusiastically with wooden swords, and some pretty exciting fencing with "live steel".
Society for Creative Anachronism
There was a costume competition on Saturday night, which was a lot of fun. There were so many different kinds of costume, all of them excellent, that I think they had to just award every one of them top honors in whatever it was they did. Here's a little Jedi Knight. Her daddy's a Stormtrooper -- wouldn't you know, she has to rebel. Kids...
The kids never want to follow the family trade...
As promised, here is Nicole, in her Arctic Wolf (werewolf?) persona. That costume is just as hot as it looks, too. We kept an eye on her, for fear she'd keel over in a dead faint, but she managed fine. You could feel the waves of heat from her if you stood nearby.
Nicole in wolf's clothing.
This was an amazing costume. The guy had to have an assistant arrange his other legs (she's standing next to him) but once he was crouched down he looked like he was ready to leap out and sink those fangs into someone.
Spider costume.
I really enjoyed the conference, and I've already signed up for next year, as a dealer. I'll have to build up my inventory of Celtic style rings and do some knotted chain mail pieces for them, those were the biggest hits when I showed them around.

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