Monday, April 19, 2010

Geek Quest 2010

Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the Melbourne Transport System*

* This is a complete lie, but oh well.

I blog to you now from the rapidly fading good-will of a fabulous weekend. I'm going to try something new, what I now dub twitterspersed blogging. Epic Ramble Warning. It will contain far more detail than anyone ever needed or in fact wanted to know, but hey, it's sectioned, and therefore easily navigated! We shall see how it works out.

"At the airport, my home away from home."

I spent Friday in a fairly panicked state until Lizzie arrived, by which point the mini-break became a reality and all worry futile. We had barely been at the airport five minutes when someone had already assumed we'd been drinking. This happens disturbingly often. Waiting passed in a pleasant haze of chatting, coffee, and people watching. The plane was slightly delayed, but we made it up in the flight. I feel the business class staff were greatly perplexed by this for they had no sooner given me a meal than the pilot was announcing our descent. I was not to be deterred and managed to finish both the hideous white wine and scathingly hot cup of coffee they'd given me. Better yet, I had managed to write three hundred words of my abstract. Productive flight is productive! I had a flash of poetic inspiration staring out the window as we banked over Melbourne, but it was fleeting.

"Love the flying, hate the bendy bus into the city."

There truly are few things I enjoy as much as I enjoy flying. I don't know what it is, but something about being on a plane just agrees with me. I was feeling quite chipper when we arrived in Melbourne. This lasted as long as it took to get on the bus into the city, one of those bendy things that jerk, shudder, and other things not conducive to those of us prone to car sickness. We'd managed to get forward facing seats at least which is always a plus. We could not arrive at the depot soon enough, but unfortunately no one had informed us that the hotel transfer shuttle bus only ran until 9.30. Sigh. We briefly entertained catching a train, but as it was dark and deserted, we opted for the easy way out and caught a taxi instead. Onwards!

"The Hilton check-in lady informs us they have boys to do things. Wonder what exactly this encompasses."

After what felt like an age, we finally arrived at the hotel and were promptly shown just how things were going to go as our bags were carried around for us. We tried our very hardest not to gape at the gorgeous lobby complete with ginormous chandelier, and tried not to giggle when the receptionist informed us in a highly suggestive manner that "here we have boys to do things for you." The facial expression of the man on duty with her was just priceless. Definitely frightened. We had a very amusing time taking this saying out of context for the rest of the weekend. I was very enthused by the room and even more enthused by the chance to get some sleep.

"It cannot possibly be seven thirty, it's far too dark...oh wait, it helps when you open the curtains."

When our alarm went off at seven thirty the next morning, we refused to believe it. It was completely dark in the room, it felt more like 4am and I certainly felt like I could do with another three hours sleep. Lizzie, being ever more conscientious than me when it comes to early rising times, was proactive in this getting up business, while the best I could do was stumble to the window with the silent vow in my heart that if it was this damn dark I was going straight back to sleep. I nearly went blind. Turns out, they just have really thick curtains and the sun was shining happily. I stumbled away and grudgingly got dressed.

"Coooffeeeeee! Giver of life."

Our early morning (anything before 9 is early morning for me) stumble around the city just reminded us of Dublin. That is to say, the place is utterly deserted and nothing is open. We found a cafe and had a nice breakfast outside, watching the life seep into the place. After wandering around and brief confusion as to where exactly we were going, we managed to find the tram that would deliver us to Geekdom. We immediately knew we were on the right tram too, because it contained a pokemon, a strawberry, some description of anime characters, and a samurai. It was also stupidly full and only became more so as the trip covered the same distance that lay between the Shire and Mordor.

"Have arrived at Supanova just in time to line up, as per usual."

Three years, and several travel companions later, we arrived at the Royal Showgrounds were all manner of creature was gathered. There was some amusing misdirection on our part as we kept missing the actual ticket area to get our wristbands. Once stickered, we had the joyous privilege of joining an impressively long line into the signing/panel building. Supanova Melbourne is split across two buildings - one that houses the conference room, anime theatre, and signing/photography booths; and the other that hosts the exhibitions. I can't say I like this set-up very much, I feel it detracts somewhat from the vibe you get when everything is shoved into one building and is utterly chaotic. The good type of chaotic, of course. But whatever.

We shuffled onwards, it seemed that practically three-quarters of the long line were also off to see the James Marsters panel. We were seated about halfway and the entire place was packed. All the people with questions were asked to line up on one side and, as the madness begun, Lizzie and I realised we really should have brought that flask we'd been joking about. I think we're actually lucky Lizzie has lived to tell the tale, cause she was virtually dying from mortification on behalf of everyone there. I devised a brilliant drinking game that required you to take a shot every time someone said "I love you" - we'd have been well sozzled long before the panel ended. To his credit, James Marsters is very good at this. He answers every question with an entertaining anecdote, and really makes it worth it. You can tell he's had tons of experience at this. He also clearly takes great joy in flirting with all the girls and causing their minds to evaporate. Allow me to demonstrate: -

Girl: Hello
JM: Hi there gorgeous
Girl: -breathless giggle - silence - silence - um...

I wish I could explain this in a way that would convey it properly, I nearly died from internalising my laughter. Meanwhile, next to me Lizzie was slinking lower from shared embarrassment. We deal with things in different ways. But yes, James seemed completely unflappable. I actually think there is something kind of tragic in these cons, the fact that here you have a man answering questions about something that happened nearly ten years ago, and he will no doubt be doing so for much of his remaining future. I was strongly reminded of the Xena episode of the Simpsons. It was very amusing though, and the only question I can actually remember was James being asked who he preferred, Sarah or John. For the record, he chose the latter.

"Crazy TW fans are really crazy. I mean I'm crazy, but they're...craaazy."

After learning the value of a deck of uno cards and nearly waiting in the wrong place, we spent a good deal of time waiting in line for the Gareth David-Lloyd panel. We were trapped between a cosplay girl sporting white wings that spanned what must have been 8ft (she had to go through doors sideways, took up an entire back row of chairs, could not turn around, and yes, she made them herself, I asked), a girl awaiting the arrival of her boyfriend (upon whom we inflicted ourselves), and the random Twilight booth next to the signing tables. Yes, a Twilight booth of all things. This of course meant that everyone was treated to my sporadic outbursts at poor Cedric. As you do.

The panel took place in a really nice room and we created another drinking game, this one for the awkward 'Hi' that seemed to precede every questions. We could really have benefited from a flask. Firstly, let's be clear here, when it comes to Torchwood, I am the first to admit that I am quite insane. I am completely aware of this. But in this panel I witnessed a whole other level of crazy. See, for one thing, I really have no investment in Gareth as a person. This sounds mean, but I adored a character he played, and they have absolutely nothing in common other than a gorgeous voice (beautiful welsh vowels, check and check.) For another, I internalise my madness and usually let it spill out in ranty blogs to much eye-rolling, I definitely do not externalise it in a panel. It's really no wonder RTD thought the fandom consisted of nine hysterical women, he probably had those nine accosting him. But as the girl next to me pointed out, it's the crazy ones who get up and talk, and that's the representation that then goes out. It had to be seen to be believed. The highlight was definitely the girl who just refused to accept GDL's answer when it wasn't the one she wanted, and kept saying "BUT IT'S A TIME TRAVEL SHOW!" with an increasingly hysterical inflection. Lizzie and I were nearly crying with laughter.

"Trams are still my least favourite form of public transport. Spent far too much time on them today already."

After milling about the exhibition hall and taking in some costumes - including a small child dressed as a dragon, a drag Leia, blue cat people, and a Link of Zelda fame in a disturbingly short tunic, we decided to head back into the city and hold onto what little sanity we could before returning in the evening. This involved another agonisingly slow tram, and my dislike for them was further cemented. I really do not like the things. It's sort of hilarious actually, I'm sure as often as Lizzie remarked the city was pretty, I'd just as often voiced my disapproval of the trams. I just find them to be an excruciatingly annoying form of transportation, and every time I have cause to think of Melbourne, I glower slightly at the thought of its beloved trams. In the end, we managed to have a late lunch and ambled back to the hotel only to sit in some sort of brain dead stupor watching some weird documentary-esque show on SBS.

"Note to self: The french martini and campari princess cocktails are not to be had again. Repeat - never again!"

The one thing that had become abundantly clear to me along the course of the day was that we were going to need alcohol if we were to get through the James Masters concert that evening. All dolled up, I decreed it cocktail hour so off to the Hilton bar we went...oh my god, you have no idea what horror we encountered there. I suspect the drinks had been strained through a mouldy sock. What's worse is I think the bar staff knew it was horrific as the waiter looked quite apologetic when he asked us how it was. Somehow, and probably due to desperation, we managed to finish it. We had to have another drink just to get the rid of the taste. The concierge had most kindly ordered us a taxi which we unceremoniously fell into and I attempted skewering Lizzie's foot with my heel. We were blessed with a taxi driver who had no idea where he was going - but at least it was more comfortable than a tram. We got there in the end, and just in time to *drum roll* line up! Woo! We made ourselves comfortable on a nearby bench and played uno while accusing each other of cheating and casting spells until the doors opened.

"This is perhaps one of the strangest situations we've found ourselves in."

This was pretty much the tone of our entire evening. We mocked and laughed and tried very hard to be serious, but you must understand that it was incredibly difficult to watch James Marsters sing sexually implicit songs (often about underage girls it would seem) in the vein of Chris Isaak while an army of fangirls turned to goo virtually in front of your eyes. We mock out of love, we swear! The staff and volunteers formed a human barrier between us and the exit as James and co made a hasty retreat, which made me giggle all the more and fear for our lives lest we be murdered for our mocking ways while so trapped. In the end we lived to giggle some more in the cool Melbourne air.

If there is one thing Saturday taught me, it is to never underestimate how useful packing a deck of uno cards can be.

"I don't want to leave this room. Will the hotel be upset if I squat here?"

I had much the same difficulty getting up on Sunday, and made much the same mistake with the curtains. It was with great trepidation that I left the room, and an amazingly awesome bed, behind to stumble down to reception. With our bags stowed safely for the day, we headed of the Queen Victoria Market. I had a beautiful coffee that restored my will to live (and I may also have finished Lizzie's *ahem*) and it was lovely to wander about and be touristy. We came across a gorgeous shop that sold genuine Venetian masks, and I could not resist buying one. I have always wanted one but have never wanted to risk bringing it home. I also got a black lace fan at another little shop. We hopped on a tourist shuttle bus after midday to get a feel for the greater Melbourne area, and stopped off at Docklands' Harbourtown for more shopping. Instead, we were attacked by a velociraptor. Brilliant!

"Thanks to usual travel shenanigans, I was bumped to an earlier flight and am now awaiting Lizzie's arrival in Sydney."

By the time we'd detoured by the botanical gardens, the NGV, and had an absolutely goooooorgeous late lunch at Federation Square, it was late afternoon and time to start the homeward trek. We collected our bags, said our final farewell to the wondrous luxury of the Hilton, and boarded yet another free tram to the station where the airport bus awaited. Turned out that it was lucky we showed up early since the flight we were originally booked on was full and the idiot with the stand-by ticket had to leave on an earlier flight. After inadvertently insulting the guy sitting next to me, and suffering general brain!fail after the weekend's insanity, I made it to Sydney an hour before Lizzie and whittled away the time by getting in the cleaning crew's way. Qantas clearly though we would be a safety hazard on the same plane which, all things considered, is fair enough.

Finally, I arrived home, disappointed that I had to lug my own bag up the stairs; that I was once again probably the geekiest person in the room; that my bed wouldn't make itself; and that a few pages worth of scribbles certainly didn't equate productivity. But even as I kicked the heels off my long-suffering feet and made myself some hot chocolate, I couldn't help but grin -this had truly been an epic weekend.

Music: Crickets chirping
Mood: Exhausted


  1. Having read this, I have to say... I don't think I could have done it... I'm impressed. I probably would have gotten drunk at midday and caused a riot!

  2. But there is no alcohol!! Lol. It is an entirely different world in there, quite strange but utterly hilarious...well, we had a good laugh at any rate ;)