It’s All Fun & Games Until Somebody Opens Up That Jar Of Flesh Eating Spiderwasps

…then it pretty much turns into antifun

CatCon4: Day 10 (Con Day 3) Last day of the con…mucho merch is bought… games are played…seminars are attended…pie is eaten…we head home via the old spacey wacey/timey wimey

This being the last day of the con, our merry band of travelers hit the Dealer’s Room early and hard. There are a whole bunch of sellers who are going to sleep well tonight after counting the $$$ we spent.

At 10 AM, it was time for Spike and I to hit the “What We Hate!” seminar, which was packed and lots of fun. It lasted until 12, at which point we had an hour for lunch and then went on to the last seminar of the day “What We Did At CatCon 4”. As you might imagine, this was a best/most funny/most awesome/strangest con memories thing and it was often screamingly funny.

Once that was over, at 2 PM, Grace (who had been doing even more shopping) joined Sharon, Avis and I for the Charity Pet Walk (or, in Winker’s case, the “get towed by Dad in a wagon”). People once again ponied up big bucks for local animal charities.

At 3 PM, it was one last sweep of the Dealer’s Room. At 4:00, the dealer’s room closed and we all went back to the hotel for packing up.

At 4:30, we all went to Pizza My Heart for some chow, but left plenty of room for the deliciosity that is the “Post Con Cool Down Party” where pie is the star attraction.

When 6 PM rolled around, we went to the party and just ate the hell outta pie. There was much chatting and goodbye saying and at 7:00, we headed out, got on the Magic Bus and bid adieu to Critter City and CatCon 4.

About an hour after we left, and fortunately after she told us all goodbye, our duplicate Avis popped out of existence. Two minutes later, my cell phone rang and it was the original Avis calling from GenCon to say what fun she had at both cons.

Fifteen minutes later, Joe flipped switches and turned dials and we popped up in the middle of London, circa 1972. We had not been moving, so when we popped out of nowhere, it was a real crowd stopper. Joe said we had to wait 5 minutes before we could teleport again, so I gave in to a mad urge. After running to one of the closets, I hurriedly threw on a rather gaudy outfit, complete with a top hat and cane. Then I left the bus, where a couple of hundred people stood looking at it in slackjawed wonder and trafic was backing up badly.

I walked up to a largish group and said “Hello, I’m the Doctor. Can any of you tell me how to get to California in 2011?” Jaws REALLY dropped then, plus three people fainted and one guy dropped his bag of groceries.

I then got on the bus and, while the Doctor Who theme played through the external speakers, we teleported. Joe informs me that we most likely created the trigger event for spinning off an alternate reality. Cool!

We popped into Toronto, at which point we then drove the Mystery family home. Next stop was Dundalk, Maryland, where the Joneses said goodbye. From there, it was home, sweet home, California.

That was an hour ago. Grace is snoozing, Sharon is gone, Zach is driving home, The Girls are asleep, Flash is in his imaginary cat tree, Abby is in her fictional pygmy goat house and I am drinking a glass of iced tea.

Next year, as always, we hope to get to GenCon. If we don’t, there will still be DogCon 5.

Of course, even if we do make it to GenCon, there’s still that “tempro-spatially replicated” thing that duplicated Avis. It’s a big bathroom…big enough to hold several people, plus critters.

Hmmmm…

CatCon 4 is over, but the Cross Family and Friends will return in…

DogCon 5…maybe

Otis Was Not The Cat’s Real Name

…but he used it to commit kitty crimes

CatCon4: Day 9 (Con Day 2) Again, a quick rundown, but with added critter comments

Grace: Took a tour (with Mary and Miranda) of a local herb garden…bought several books at a local used book store…went with no less than 15 other gamers folks and several pets to the mud baths and spa, where we all first lounged about in warm mineral mud, then git cleaned and massaged to within an inch of our lives (lunch was also included)…went to watch our now wonderfully clean canine children participate in an all dog LARP…took a nap…entered Abby and Flash in the Pet Costume Contest as Donkey and Puss in Boots from Shrek (they took third place)…played in the Killer Bunnies tournament…ate dinner…went to the Couples Only Dungeon LARP with Your Humble Narrator.

The Critters: Spent the morning at the Pet Jungle, which is a really cool jungle themed park (Flash: They have fake alligators in a pond! I nearly pissed myself when one swam at where I was standing!) (Abby: They had a fun “Jungle Pyramid” that I climbed with a bunch of other goats) (Lucy: I ran all over the jungle with a bunch of other dogs chasing a mechanical monkey) (Winker: I played with two little girls and their dog)…went to the spa with us (All Critters: We love the spa! They cleaned us and combed us and massaged us and gave us lots of treats!)…played in LARPs (Winker & Lucy: We were the McWoof Sisters in the dog LARP “The Haunted Doghouse”)…wore costumes (Flash: I made a pretty dashing Puss in Boots, if I do say so.) (Abby: I looked good as Donkey, but the contest winner was a pig named Louie dressed up as Iron Ham.)…had long naps in our suite…ate a great dinner and watched movies with Arcadia (Sharon was playing in a game of some sort)

Doc: Toured the Dealer’s room…took part (with Spike) in the annual “Ask A GM Anything!” Q&A. This year, one of the questions was “Can you do a few lines from one of your favorite movies?”, so I did a few from the original “King Kong”…did the spa party thing…watched about half of The Girls doggie LARP…ran an OTE game titled “The Revenge Of The Dead”…sat in on a seminar whose panel included Spike and Christina Stiles. Subject was freelancing…ran yet another Toon game, “The House That Jerks Built”…played a card game about war in the barnyard…ate Mexican food for dinner…went with my spouse, Mr. & Mrs. Jones, Doc & Mrs. Mystery and my nephew Zach & Avis Crane to the Couples Only LARP. Obviously, it is not just for married folk, or even folks in a relationship. You just had to be two people that were a team. It was a Murder Mystery with Fantasy and Steampunk elements (and drinks & eats). The object was not just to solve the murder and expose the killer, but keep from getting killed AND expose the vile bastards behind it all. Both Spike and I got killed, while Mary nearly drank poison. Players were dropping like flies for a while, but we got to come back as zombies (some good, some evil). It was big fun and ran from 9 PM until 2 in the morning.

CatCon4: Day 10 (Con Day 3) An even quicker recap

Grace: Spent very nearly the entire day in several boardgame tournaments, two of which she won (Bean Trader and a giant version live action version of Kill Doctor Lucky)

The Critters: Played in two LARPS (as a team) and went to an Old West pet park.

Doc: Once again tried to kill himself with the following schedule…

9-10 AM: Seminar titled “How to Be Funny”

10-11 AM: Seminar titled “How To Write Stuff”

11-11:30 AM: Ate world class chili dogs for lunch

11:30 AM-12 PM: Get ready for the annual “Old Time Radio” broadcast…but this year, the whole damned show was improv, including the music by a local swing band.

12-2 PM: Do the above mentioned show with a cast of 16, a live audience of 300 and live streaming to the whole fuckin’ world via the net. We managed to squeeze out a detective drama, a variety show, a newscast and a comedy show reminiscent of the Jack Benny Program. All more than slightly skewed from the normal due to the improve aspect. Doc Mystery and I each played at least 7 roles.

2-3 PM: Caught my breath, used the bathroom, drank iced tea

3-5 PM: played in “The World’s Biggest Superhero Steel Cage Match” where 48 players had their characters slugging it out with, basically, anybody in the cage that came near them. My character, a kind of Metamorpho knockoff) lasted 1 hour, 22 minutes before a teenage girl had her character use molecular manipulation to turn Morpho into glass, at which point a Hulk like fellow shattered him.

5-6 PM: Seminar titled “Everything I’ve Learned, I Learned from Bad Movies”

6-8 PM: Smooching wife, loving pets, showering, dinner at a great Indian place

8 PM until-3AM: Played in a Savage Worlds game, “Attack Of The Zombie Ninjas”, which was actually a lot more serious that the title implies. Avis played in this one with me and her crack shot, hard drinking, two fisted adventuress saved the bacon of my absent minded and somewhat mad biology professor (as well as most of the rest of our group.

More bloggage after a few hours of sleep.

Blue Food Blues

…I gots ’em

CatCon4: Day 2, Part 2 We venture into the wilds of Alabama…Cornbread is eaten and sat upon…battling attractions for the WIN!

Now that I’m sitting in my comfy recliner, enjoying a cold beer and watching my dog (Lucy) chase imaginary squirrels in her sleep, I’ll reveal the facts about Project Applesauce.

It’s pretty simple, really: we decided that instead of cutting across the tiny portion of Alabama and the slightly larger portion of Mississippi that Interstate 10 runs through, we’d drive on up a ways into Alabama, then cut across both states until we hit Louisiana, then haul ass to New Orleans and I-10 again.

Naturally, we wanted to hit as many tourist attractions as possible, but the ever creative and slightly nutty Mary Jones and I had an ulterior motive beyond that of our traveling companions: empowered by our rousing rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” for a a herd of cattle last year, we are determined to get all on board the bus to join us in performing “The Time Warp” for an unsuspecting herd of Southerners. Oddly, some in our group did not see the wonder, splendor and genius of our plan (which, I’ll point out, includes make up and costumes) when we announced it shortly after crossing into Alabama today. Still, we remain sure that they’ll come around.

So once we entered the “Heart of Dixie”, we began heading northeast along state routes and county roads, heading for the Montgomery area where we’ll turn west. Imagine our delight when we entered the town of Lottie and found it was right in the middle of the annual Cornbread Festival!

Folks, there are food festivals all across this great nation of ours and I try to stop at every one I see, so when Gerry & Bill’s baby boy sees a whole town doing a tribute to one of the great foods of the South, he stops.

We ate cornbread of all sorts and flavors. We had it dripping with butter & honey, topped with jam, dipped in chocolate, filled with chunks of hot peppers and deep fried with gravy as a dipping sauce (if it weren’t for deep frying and gravy, many southern folk would starve to death). I did my southern ancestors proud. Several of our party did their ancestors proud, too, including those whose ancestors were Canadian,

(Abby: I love cornbread and apparently many southern children think feeding a goat on a leash chunks of it is great fun.)

And just because you’ve got to do something screwy with your chosen festival food (I’m looking at you, Gilroy, CA and your garlic ice cream), the good people of Lottie baked up a humongous slab of cornbread that measures 18 feet across and is done to a hardness that allows you to sit on it, which we all did and we’ve got the pictures to prove it.

And lest you think otherwise, we hit the t-shirt/commemorative beer glass/bumper sticker booth hard.

Once we left the cornbread filled streets of Lottie behind, it was mostly pleasant driving through small country towns until we reached the tiny town of Old Texas, where we found that much sought after thing that roadside attraction aficionados lust after: dueling attractions.

If you recall from last year, we encountered the two “World’s Largest” toilet paper rolls, which was totally cool and ended in the destruction of both of them by the same nuttyass old guys who made them. (Follow up note on that: I got an email from the wife of one of the old guys and it seems that in their mad rush to see whose toilet paper roll really was the longest, they incurred littering citations in 146 counties in 7 states. Both were also held for psychiatric evaluation in their final stop, Tuscon, Arizona.)

This year, the dueling attractions were…I shit you not…the World’s Largest Dinosaur Built Entirely Out Of Toothpicks. On one side of the road, you’ve got a twice life size Tyrannosaur. Across the way, you’ve got a humongous Brachiosaur. T-Rex is taller, the sauropod is longer and heavier. Both of them are pretty impressive and a glowing testament to what human beings can do when they have lots of free time, a assload of toothpicks and most likely plenty of corn liquor. We took pictures and bought all of the usual tchotchke subjects. Grace and Spike spoke with a local fellow who told them that the two fellows that built the dinosaurs were twin brothers. It took them 32 years to finish their monuments to prehistory, during which time they had many fistfights, yelling matches and the odd bit of small arms fire. By the time they were done, they were 77 years old and both of them died within 6 months.

And I thought my family was cracked. Well, ok, they are, but nobody has built a toothpick dinosaur. Yet.

After that little stop, we drove an uneventful drive to the South Montgomery KOA. Once there, we did the eating and relaxing thing. It is 11 PM now, everybody but me is asleep and as soon as this beer is done, I’m hitting the sack.

Music: Assorted Artists “Best of Doo Wop”

Destination Sign: Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Betty Was A Little Bit Goofy, But Boy, Could She Dance

…often for no reason and without music

CatCon4: Day 1, Part 2 We eat and watch movies.

We ate a good dinner at a Cuban restaurant last night, then watched a couple of movies. The first one was “Escape From Toronto”, directed by John Carpenter, starring Kurt Russell and William Shatner, with running commentary by former Toronto resident Spike Y Jones. The movie was better than “Escape From L.A,”, but nowhere near as good as “Escape From Miami”.

Our second feature was “Invasion Of The Slime Apes”, which had surprisingly good SFX for a movie that probably cost $29.95 to make. The acting was ok, in a very polished high school acting class way. A fun flick.

As often happens, I was the last one to go to bed, since it is my job to let the critters into the meadow room to do their late night business. It took a while, since Winker and Abby decided to get rowdy and Flash & Lucy joined in.

(Winker: It was fun, Dad! We were chasing each other and barkin’ and stuff!)

(Flash: Yeah, it was fun, but Winky should take it easier because of her heart.)

(Winker: I’m ok! Stop worrying about my, you little poop!)

Once the frolicking was done, I was off to bed.

CatCon4: Day 2, Part 1 I accept a cereal eating throwdown…we stop to see a really big gator…Flash & Lucy raise hell

The KOA has a free pancake breakfast, so at 8 AM we all got in line for it. After a couple of minutes, Mary noted that there was a sign for a cereal eating contest at the same time. A $50.00 prize would go to the winner. Now, anyone who knows me well will tell you I can eat a lot of cereal, so I decided to accept the challenge.

There were maybe 20 people ready to scarf up cereal, some of them kids and a few women, but mostly big guys who looked like they could pack away some groceries. I remained undaunted and told the contest attendants that I’d start off with Rice Krispies, no sugar, low fat milk. Most of the other folks were going for the sugary stuff, except for one big guy who was starting off with Wheaties.

No time limit, eat until you can’t eat any more. The host said “GO!” and we hit it.

I won (barely), with 7 big bowls eaten. Why? Rice Krispies are mostly air and sugar will upset your stomach after a while. I did let fly with some record braking belches, but I had room for a lot of cereal. The big Wheaties guy quit about three spoonfuls before I did. I waddled back to the bus with $50 in my pocket. I didn’t eat until dinner time.

Just before we passed over the Alabama border, we saw a sign announcing “See the World’s Largest Alligator”. In searching out roadside attractions, “World’s Largest” is very nearly as good as “World Famous”, so in we went.

We kind of expected a stuffed alligator, or maybe one made of something not living, but nope, it was a live gator. A huge live gator.

His name is Dewey and he’s really big…the biggest recorded alligator ever, in fact. 20 feet 4 inches long and just shy of 1,900 pounds. He’s also 66 years old and eats a dozen large chickens, a couple of large carp and 5 pound slab of beef at every meal, which he gets about every 5- 6 days.

Ol’ Dewey doesn’t do much, but when your that fuckin’ big, you don’t need to. The owner of the place said we could have our picture taken sitting on him, but I was the only one to take him up on it. I will say that my friends yelling and pleading, coupled with my wife asking if my life insurance was paid up and could I leave the bus keys with her first, rather detracted from the moment. For his part, Dewey didn’t twitch. I figure if I’d just eaten a dozen chickens and all that other stuff, I wouldn’t twitch either.

After that, we bought our share of souvenirs and headed out. Or would have, if the bus had not been littered with shoes.

When I stepped through the door, there was Flash dragging a high heeled shoe downstairs to a big pile of assorted footwear. (Flash: Oops! Busted!) I could hear Lucy barking her happy bark as shoes rained down through the holes in the ceiling where the fireman’s pole goes. When I reached the third floor, there she was, digging into the humongous pile with shoes flying out behind her and most of them falling down the hole.

(Lucy: But Daaad! Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, dogs gotta dig!)

I’ll note that Abby and Winker were in the shoe room, but playing peacefully way back in the corner. (Abby: Some critters are good girls!) (Winker: Really? Who?)

To be fair, I had left the door to the room open, so as to let the critters get some exercise. Still, naughty is naughty and Lucy and Flash went into a 1 hour lockdown and lost their video gaming privileges for two days. (Flash & Lucy: It was a fair cop.) We humans spent the next half hour picking up shoes. Several of us did find some nice ones, including the silver and green Converse high tops I’m wearing right now.

We are now about to pass into wildest Alabama, at which point we divert from our previous direct course and initiate Project Applesauce.

More bloggage later.

Music: The Ink & Paint Big Band, featuring Jessica Rabbit: Hot Night In Toontown

Destination Sign: Cimmeria

Les Paul Built My Air Guitar

…and I can rock it, baby

Gentle Readers,

It is that time of year again, the time when, in lieu of actually getting to go to GenCon, I post a wholly fictional convention trip report about our trip to CatCon 4. This will take about 14 days to do and will not interrupt the regular Doclopedia posts.

To get up to speed on DogCon/CatCon you can go read the previous reports, which are found in the archives. Be aware that the 2010 report was huge, taking in over a month of posts. the starting archive dates are…

DogCon 1: August 13th, 2008
CatCon 2: August 8th, 2009
DogCon 3: July 20th, 2010

It would probably be a REALLY good idea to read the archives first, so this years report doesn’t make your head explode.

Enjoy!

Your Humble Narrator

CatCon4: Introduction

(As always, commentary by non-humans is presented in italics)

Ok, unlike other years where I start this off by telling you how we’ve just left home on the Magic Bus and are on our way to a series of tourist traps and roadside attractions created by goofballs with way too much time on their hands, this year, we start of sorta halfway there. Kind of mid story, as it were.

If you’ve guessed that this has something to do with jacking around with time & space via the Magic bus and our transtemporal mechanic, Joe, you are right.

It all started way back in February, when my sweet angel of a wife, who we should not forget has NEVER shown a liking for taking little side trips into alternate realities or the past of our own Earth, suggested that with a bit of temporal wankery, we could go to Disneyworld in Florida before heading on to CatCon4.

I sat very still and said nothing, fearful that this pod person posing as my wife might try to kill me or something.

Flash: Winker, Lucy, Abby and I all just sat their in slackjawed amazement. We thought Mom had gone insane.

Eventually, it dawned on me that this was not the first time My Sweet Little Oven Bird Of Passion had done an about face on something. It was she who told me in 1999 that she did not like camping, then in 2001 suggested that we drive to GenCon and camp out along the way. Figuring that since this was her idea, I was ok, so I asked her to tell me her
plan. It went like this…

Take a spatial shortcut from Sacramento to Orlando, then use the old wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff to shift back in time a couple of weeks and have our Disneyworld vacation, then drive to CatCon, then afterwards drive home. Having had a similar idea some years earlier, I praised her on her great thinking, then put in a call to Joe.

Joe arrived a few minutes late, heard Grace’s proposal, then ran a sort of medical scanner over her to make sure she wasn’t a pod person. Convinced of her human nature, he allowed as how he thought it would not be a difficult thing to get us there and back in time, but he’d have to insist that Grace not yell and panic if we went through some “pretty strange territory”. She agreed and, as an old friend of mine used to say, the game was afoot.

Deciding to use this whole situation to improve things on the bus, I also told Joe to add a few rooms to the interior. After a moment of discussion, I decided that a whole third story would do the trick. He said it would be no problem and left to get right on it.

To make a really long story somewhat shorter, in a couple of months, Joe brought the bus around and we took the nickel tour. First off, our ever changing tie dye pattern of a paint job now includes glow in the dark paints for after the sun goes down. Sweet!

Under the hood, we now have some sort of compact fusion power plant, so it’s adios to fossil fuels. We also have some sort of gravity reducing suspension and regenerative tires. Oh yeah, and QM radio, which means we can get programming from all over the multiverse.

Inside, the ground floor main room measures 30 X 60 feet and has doors leading to the gym, the pool, the kitchen/dining room (with a table that can seat 20), the meadow (a 100 X 100 foot area for the critters to frolic in), the hot tub/pool area, three bathrooms, the pantry and the theater. One of those cool cage elevators runs between the three floors, but there is also a spiral staircase and a firehouse pole, which I think is way more fun to use. Yes, you can use the pole to go up, too.

The second floor has four bedrooms (each with a private bathroom), a couple of storerooms, the greenhouse, the library and the chocolate storage closet.

The third floor has four more bedrooms with private baths, the game room, the room full of shoes (which everybody, critters included, seems to like) and the warehouse.

Joe tells me we have a 4 level basement, but I’m kinda scared of going down there.

Lucy: You should be scared! I smelled big hairy things down there!

Ok, so here is how our trip has gone so far…

July 28th : We (Me, Grace, critter sitter Sharon, my nephew Zach and The Critters) leave Sacramento at 4:00 AM, heading south on I-5. At about 5:00 AM, we do a shift that puts us on the Trans Canada Highway back around 1965. I drive for about an hour and then Joe pops us back into the present, except we are on I-10 just outside Las Cruces, New Mexico and it’s only 5:45 AM. Cool! We stop for breakfast (chile relleno omelet FTW!) (Flash: And yet again, poor starving animals only get animal food!) and then we are back on the road. When we get past El Paso, Texas, Joe does his thing and we are on a humongous 20 lane highway on some planet with two moons and houses that look remarkably like giant female breasts. After 20 minutes of driving there, we pop back into our reality 12 miles west of New Orleans at 10 :15 AM. About twenty minutes later, we pop onto what I think was a road leading to Rome a couple thousand years ago. I say this because I just barely avoided running over a shitload of Legionnaires. Fortunately, they ran off in terror, screaming in Latin, which I do not speak. Anyway, after a couple of hours of leisurely driving through the pleasant Roman countryside, we popped back into the present a mere 20 miles from Orlando, Florida at 1:30 PM.

Unfortunately, we could only go back in time a week due to some quantum mechanical shit I’ll never understand. Still, we made a couple of adjustments to our plans and everything was cool.

From there out, you can insert a great two weeks of vacationing with our friends Avis Crane, The Jones family, Peter & Holly Hildreth, the Mystery family and my gaming group (Arn, Samantha & Paul) from back home. We had tons of fun and then all got ready to leave on Tuesday, August 2nd (by using the bus to, in fact, go BACK to August 2nd so Peter, Holly, Avis and my gaming group could all fly to GenCon (P, H & A) or home (gaming group). The temporal backup went well…except for the part where we accidentally duplicated Avis.

Oddly, it seems that if not everyone is in the main room of the bus…AND any missing person is in First Floor Bathroom #2…WHERE a very naughty goat had earlier kicked a wall while being bathed (Abbie: I don’t like baths!)WHICH caused a Vemellian Transverse Coupling Circuit to reset itself in the wrong way…AND the bus is traveling at exactly 52 mile an hour…WHILE trying to go back in time…WHOMEVER is in that bathroom gets “tempro-spatially replicated” when they leave the john. Which means that, 30 seconds after she walked out of the bathroom, Avis walked out again. Presto! An extra Avis!

(Winker: Yay! Two Auntie Avys to rub my belly!)

Yes, yes, this caused much freaking out and yelling until Joe informed us that it was only temporary and the two of them would merge back into one in about 10 or 12 days. Once we got everybody…most notably the two Ms. Cranes…calmed down, I noted that this wacky accident would allow Avis to attend both CatCon AND GenCon at the same time. Spike helpfully pointed out that she couldn’t very well have two of her at GenCon, so she might as well go with us. Avis, ever the level headed person, agreed that it was a pretty good idea, but was not sure how she could afford it. I told her that we’d figure something out. Despite looks of distinct disbelief at my saying that, everyone agreed that Avis should go to CatCon.

Then we drove on to the airport and dropped off everyone who was flying out and then headed off towards Texas…after we went back to July 28th. We were then leaving Orlando at about the same time we left Sacramento. Yeah, I know. I try not to think about it too much. Sometimes time is more wibbly wobbly than others.

Oh, yeah, before I get on with the trip report proper, we got Avis her CatCon money by stopping at a candy distributor and offering him $7,000.00 worth of imported chocolate for three grand flat. Once he saw we were, well, if not legit, at least truthful, the deal was done. Damn, I love our chocolate closet!

More con reportage soon.

Music: Tom Waits Sings The Great Broadway Hits
Destination Sign: The Room Of Requirement