Small is big in Silicon Valley. Hi-tech companies like Apple and HP are constantly working on bringing us a smaller iPod or a smaller laptop computer. The smaller, lighter, and more powerful it is, the better. But does the same mentality apply to sci-fi conventions held in Silicon Valley? SiliCon (10/3-10/5/08) is a small sci-fi convention held at the San Jose Doubletree Hotel. It's small size yields an intimate setting among the fans and guests. I was planning to only attend on Saturday. But after learning that Claudine was arriving Friday and knowing that it would be a five minute drive to SiliCon from work, I added Friday to the itinerary with a chance of Sunday.

To coincide with the small theme of Silicon Valley, this con report will condense two nights of coverage into one page. Will readers be able to handle such a compressed load?

Friday: Smalltown

There was nothing to report about SiliCon during the daylight hours of Friday since I was working my 9AM-5PM job. After work I checked the ETA of Claudine and learned I had a couple hours to spare. To kill those hours, I checked up on one of Yo-Joe's arms dealers to see if they replenished supplies after my last purchase months ago. I bought items on sale including a wall for Yo-Joe's house. Three more walls, a door, and a roof and his house will be complete.

After the shopping spree, I drove to the Doubletree just in time to be late for Claudine's arrival. After weighing the financial and convenience costs between ghosting SiliCon while paying full price for parking ($18/day) and paying $55 for SiliCon registration for reduced parking, I chose to register. I've learned that supporting conventions featuring material that interests me is a good thing. After transporting Claudine's stuff into her room, I treated the both of us to dinner at Sushi Totoro, the hotel's very own sushi bar. It was not only fun eating the chef's creations (Cherry Blossom roll) but listening to him confirm requests and comment on our conversation was quite entertaining.

After dinner Claudine left to prepare for her work at the Klingon bar later. I planned to visit later, but wanted to scout around first. Panels were going on behind closed doors that I didn't want to disturb. But I noticed an entire video room devoted to anime. It's good to see anime getting its representation in sci-fi cons. Unlike some anime cons of today, the anime at SiliCon included unlicensed gems like "Combustible Campus Guardress."

It was off to the main live programming room. Opening Ceremonies was ending and I sat to watch a special award given to Tilly the Service Dog. I found myself sitting next to a couple of familiar faces: The Queen of Trash and Mr. Lobo from Cinema Insomnia. I was finally updated on the status of the show. It's a pity about KTEH, but here's hoping that the new deal works out. Just outside the main live programming room was Cinema Insomnia merchandise for sale. I was ready to buy before I realized I spent the last of my cash for SiliCon registration. This was going to make paying for parking and leaving the hotel interesting.

Chase Masterson of "Star Trek Deep Space 9" fame was SiliCon's media guest of honor. She treated the attendees to several songs including:

After Chase's mini-concert came the introduction of Mr. Lobo and the Queen of Trash and the segue into the LOBOTRONIX Theater presentation. After an audience participation activity involving the destruction of two perfectly good yet supposedly illegal copies of "Starcrash" starring David Hasselhoff (whose footage was filmed but got corrupted and deleted during transfer... damn), Mr. Lobo dictated the Cinema Insomnia oath before starting the show. Using old school film projectors instead of DVDs, the LOBOTRONIX Theater presentation consisted of various B-movie trailers, old public service films, nostalgic commercials, classic cartoons, and miscellaneous material suited for sci-fi fans. It was a laugh out loud fest for the audience. I stayed a little bit past the "Star Trek" blooper reel.

One thing that SiliCon has over most anime cons is an active party scene during the con nights thanks to a hotel floor dedicated to room parties. The room party organizers are usually older and more financially able to host and fund the parties in their rooms. These parties are also a great opportunity to promote a fan group or raise money for charity.

I began my room party walkthrough at the Klingon bar. The last time I visited one was at Costume Con earlier this year. The mood was accurate, the Klingons (including Claudine) were boisterous, and the drinks were "Star Trek" Klingon themed. I had a Revenge that was best served cold and noticed some Tribble Trouble.

Other rooms explored included the Steam Punk room, the fanzine room (an interesting fruity concoction involving midori), and the BASFA (good minty hard lemonade). I noted a karaoke room, but the equipment was not ready when I visited.

I was able to meet several familiar faces from previous sci-fi con visits. The costumes I saw that night were definitely in the sci-fi category. Radar the Masquerade Director was present and I was looking forward to the show tomorrow. After updating a few people on trivial matters, I sobered up and went home. Paying for parking despite having no cash was made easier when the parking attendant was not at his or her station when I left.

Saturday: I Want More

I woke up and quickly changed into Dr. House. House is a simple, rugged costume that's relatively easy to recognize and I wanted to get some good mileage out of it before the show is canceled. I made a few shopping raids before returning to SiliCon. Grabbing the last "Transformers Animated" Blitzwing figure stacked at the very top shelf was very satisfying. I was almost in a good enough mood to stack the shelf of other figures I knocked down to get him... almost.

I arrived at the Doubletree and paged Claudine. Due to poor planning, I was heavily loaded carrying my cane, my backpack, and a box containing two ball-jointed dolls (BJDs). Luckily, Claudine spotted me as I called and led me to her room and my field HQ. Worried that I would have to carry my cane and BJDs throughout the day while waiting for the doll meet-up, Claudine assuaged my worries by telling me the two of us WERE the doll meet-up. After struggling to put Mi-DORI's clothes on her, Claudine suggested Mi-DORI swap her clothes for Hazel's. The results were interesting to say the least.

Leaving the BJDs and my backpack in Claudine's room was liberating. I returned to the convention to see what I could see. SiliCon provided a lot of signage of activities and promotional material up fro grabs. Does anyone want a "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" or "Quantum of Solace" poster? The fanzine lodge held a round table discussion of various fandom topics of which I knew little. One interesting to note is the ideal guest list of Tim Gunn as Masquerade judge, Steve Colbert (or was it John Stewart?) as Toastmaster, and Alton Brown to provide the food since all have stated to enjoy the convention culture at some point.

Costumes were few and far between. Nevertheless, it's great to see fans in costumes. People who saw me earlier would see me a few hours later telling me they finally got that I was dressed as House. Perhaps I should perform more on the spot diagnosis to add to the bit.

With SiliCon badge and cash in tow, I was able to peruse the Dealers Room. The room was smaller than I remember from previous SiliCons. But the size of the Dealers Room is irrelevant if they have nothing I want to buy. This year's SiliCon had items I wanted, especially the guy selling "Red Dwarf" stuff. I finally found the "Red Dwarf" novel I was looking for. I ran into deja vu with Mr. Lobo when we ended up having the same conversation we had last night. It must have been the Revenge from last night. I gave him a couple of Red Bull Colas that my place of employment was now selling. I swooped over to Chase Masterson's booth to buy one of her CDs after hearing her sing last night. And to support BAAU, I bought an Asian American themed comic at their stand.

After shopping I got hungry and took lunch at the hotel restaurant. One complaint I have about at the Doubletree is that the menu changes every time I visit. What I enjoyed previously is gone the next time. I enjoyed the turkey bean chili and hope it'll still be there next time. My table allowed me to people watch and mingle with those passing by. I wound conversing with someone at the table nearby who I learned was not an attendee. Her constant greeting of "Dr. House" helped add to the antisocial aspect of the guy I was dressed as.

Lunch ended and I looked for more familiar faces. I ran into a Sumomo identified as Devi, who I met at Yaoi-Con earlier. But since I didn't know who Devi was until I met her at Yaoi-Con, I didn't recognize her or know her name was Devi until SiliCon. We were both looking for EB and Mike when Radar managed to snag Devi for Masquerade tonight.

After spotting EB and her father Mike, we caught up since we haven't seen each other for almost a whole week at Yaoi-Con. Mike was shooting Sumomo as EB gave her Sumomo type mannerisms. As the three left to their own activities, I got distracted by belly dancing done by a lady in pink and a Star Trek themed dancer. Then I got distracted by the furries because... well, how do they NOT capture your attention?

Claudine called me to check my status. I rendezvoused with her at the Internet room. I usually go to cons to avoid the Internet, but I could use a quick break to see how badly the economy was doing. and maybe catch a glimpse of the newest SNL parody involving Sarah Palin. After Claudine finished her conversation with her friend, we had dinner again at Sushi Totoro. I dined on what I recall was a Pink Dragon roll before noticing the chance to eat the popular yet overrated Naruto roll. The view of the hotel balconies provided some bawdy humor. After dinner Claudine went back to prepare to tend the Klingon bar and I ventured over to Masquerade.

I thank Mike and EB for giving me a seat next to them that was so close to the Masquerade stage. As Masquerade Director, Radar thanked the audience for attending. Outside of upcoming technical issues regarding sound, she did an excellent job recruiting and organizing entries. Chase Masterson was the MC who introduced each act. It was a short Masquerade where entries showed off their costumes in a walk-on or a small skit. Skits included a drinking Browncoat, a horse, a blood elf, a Girl Genius, a homicidal barber, a lady pirate, a Watchman, a bipedal laptop, a warrior elf, and a father and son pirate pair who I was unable to film due to battery issues. For halftime entertainment after the end of entries, Chase Masterson sang once again.

After the judges decided on the winners, we returned to listen to their announcements. The winners were spread out quite well and each had his or her unique attribute that brought forth a win. Had I remembered to write down each winner and his or her attribute, I'd mention it. But given my shoot first, shoot again, and shoot to make sure approach, I forgot to ask questions. Congrats to the winners of Sumomo in novice division, Agatha in journeyman division, and the armored blue elf for best in show (if I'm wrong PLEASE let me know).

With the conclusion of Masquerade, Devi and I followed Mike to his room to sort through pictures and wait for EB to find us. I appreciated the time used to better acquaint myself with them while listening to classic rock. I should probably try this more often. EB returned to contribute to the conversation as we waited for the dance to commence. Devi talked of the social interaction about having one's arm around another. Wanting to prove her theory, I decided to give it a shot.

I'm not sure what I was trying to prove in this experiment. I guess I just like learning new social interactions. After killing time, we hit the dance floor to groove to some 80s music. It's been ages since I've danced to something that wasn't DDR, Para Para, or ballroom. Personally, I'll stick to ballroom. With the dance becoming lame due to lack of dancers, the four of us hit the room parties. I started with a Warp Core Coolant and chased it with an Honorable Death (claiming I deserved one after playing baseball with hand grenades). These drinks packed a small kick. It was cool watching a Furry chug his drink through a straw amid Klingon encouragement.

We then hit the karaoke room, which was properly set up now. While I leafed through the book of songs, plenty of other singers were singing hits such as "Come Sail Away," "Who Wrote The Book Of Love?," "White Rabbit," "You Already Won Me Over," and "Secret Agent Man." I chose a song that I felt best suited a pill-popping antisocial diagnostician: "I Want A New Drug." I didn't take any pictures, but Mike did and posted them on his Flickr account:

Spinning my cane... "WIth the Vicodin and the booze, I can sleep anywhere." Completely unaware. Friends to be made.
I rarely do this sober. Booze + Prop Vicodin + Karaoke = Bad. This House rocks.

By now either the Klingon drinks took effect or the cider at the karaoke room was excessively strong and I was feeling it. After attempting to counter its effects with caffeine (no caffeine on hand) and dancing (a bad idea when tipsy), the option of crashing on a bed of a friend's room or crashing on the freeway. Claudine had offered me her extra hotel bed earlier on Friday so I went with the first option. Mike helped me get to the room and returned the key to Claudine. I took my emergency sleeping pill and called it a night. The next morning after recovering from last night I thanked Claudine, chose to take Sunday off to recover fully, and drove home. Thanks again to all my friends who were there for fun during the good times and the help when things weren't quite as good.

Here's a link of a convenient way to see the SiliCon clips in one playlist.

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