-The people, of course. I was swarming all over friends I'd met before, plus the ones I'd just met and got to fangirl. I got to meet fabularasa (and what do I have to say about meeting the fabulous Fabula for the first time and having her as my roomie? Just this: HA HA I GOT TO ROOM WITH HER AND YOUUU DIDN'T. *raspberries* Ask us about the mutual private fic read-alouds and live betas sometime), and got to spend lovely time with gmth and ziasudra_fic and titti and bethbethbeth and geoviki, and also mijan, goseaward, femmequixotic, ze_dragon, treewishes, rexluscus, ellid, gatewaygirl, sinick, dementordelta, meri_oddities, scarah2, pauraque, oulangi, furiosity, aubrem, sor_bet, acid, djin7, julian_black, dramaphile, jordangrant, lydialovestruck, and I know there are a dozen others whose lj names I've forgotten. Remind me and chastise me and I'll ETA you accordingly.
I barely got to see emmagrant01, glockgal, cathybites, sherant, tbranch, and logospilgrim, and that made me sad, but at least I got to hug and fangirl them. Sigh.
And I DIDN'T get to see simmysim, karasu_hime, andtaradiane at all and that made me very sad. Along with all the awesome folk from TWH and CA that weren't there at all; I miss you.
-Las Vegas itself: If I never encounter cigarette smoke again my eyes, lungs, hair, and clothing still won't recover. Vegas is of course designed to get you to walk through the casino in order to get anywhere, and it's like being in the Ultra-smoking section of a restaurant every time you get near one. I love the neon and the sights and I even love the "bink bink bink" of the slot machines; it's all atmosphere, but I'd forgotten just how unbreathable it gets. On the whole I'm sticking to Walt Disney World.
-Gambling: I don't. Might have gone to a blackjack table with $25 if I weren't having so much fun doing other things, but didn't. But there was one slot machine I would have played if I'd played any, and that was an honest-to-god Alien slot machine. Took a picture of it with my camera phone so I'd have proof. Here's an online illo that I found:
-Hotel: Terrific rooms. The bathroom was larger than most hotel bedrooms, with separate whirlpool tubs and marble rainshower-faucet-type showers, and the rooms had all the amenities: bathrobes, luxury beds, coffemaker, fridge. High-speed internet, but not wireless, and you had to pay for it. But there were no "resort fees," which are often used to make up for offering free internet access. And the pool! Big, sprawling, warm, with waterfalls. The hotel's distance from the Strip was a disadvantage; people spent a lot of money in transportation not only to leave the hotel but just in airport-to-hotel fees. Restaurant variety was good, with a buffet and a Japanese place and a 24-hour café. Overall the only disadvantage was the location, I'd say.
-Lumos's management: I was happy with the programming, the dealer's room, the art auction, the dining (me, I love beef stew as long as it doesn't taste like it came out of a can)--pretty much everything except the Night Bus. Poorly handled (again). I had zero luck locating the Night Bus personnel at the airport. Lumos guys, you need several greeters on duty at all times and with big honking signs, bells, and whistles if you expect to accommodate several hundred arrivals at a busy airport. And a wait of any longer than half an hour is just not acceptable. This is not carpooling from your mom's house--this is terminal-to-hotel paid shuttle transport for paid convention guests and should be treated professionally.
-Panels: I only got to a couple! Too occupied with meeting people and chattering away, but that's to be expected. (The panel attrition rate goes down the more conventions you go to; that's the rule. Convention Alley I didn't miss an hour of paneling. The Witching Hour, might have missed a few. At Lumos, though, we had awesome hot weather and a pool and the Las Vegas strip and lots of people whom I didn't want to miss, so, fewer hours of actual programming attended.)
I did get to see one of Steve Vander Ark's presentations--the guy is such a terrific speaker as well as being a fandom staple, and he's nice as hell. During his "what will happen next to fandom?" presentation he mentioned that OotP was a book that took him a read or two to love (though he does love it now) and that he loved HBP unconditionally from the first. So I couldn't help it; I had to go up to him after and ask him if he'd thought HBP felt obvious, in regards to Snape's loyalties, and if that had affected his enjoyment at all. Because he's so invested in the canon text I was dyin' to see what he'd say. And here's the gist of what he said--I'm only paraphrasing and if Steve or anyone thinks I've misrepresented what he meant please do correct me--he said that he feels the text of HBP does support only one read of Snape, and that is that Snape must be loyal to Dumbledore for it to make any sense. And that he's spoken to nay-sayers and attempted to lay this out for them but that there are still nay-sayers or doubters, whom he can't convince otherwise. Which he finds interesting. But they don't make him think there's any other way to look at it. And I was so happy to find Mr. Harry Potter Lexicon himself agreeing with me on this that I was almost in tears. As far as his enjoyment of it goes though he didn't expect Harry to get it because he knows Rowling's gotta torture him some more before he's allowed to have the epiphany, so by extension I think he was saying that that part didn't disappoint him or affect what he thought of the book. (I wish I could be that content with that explanation myself!)
-Water Quidditch: Yes, Water Quidditch! Guys, this is so much fun I would play it every weekend in the summer if I could. Here's what happened: I was out at the pool as soon as it opened on Friday morning, and--here's the kicker--I saw the Quidditch hoops set up at one end of the pool but didn't think they were anything out of the ordinary. My brain went "goal hoops, yes, of course, la la, nothing unusual about that." I thought they were just a permanent fixture of the pool--that's how deep into things Potterish I am. HA!
So I saw con members starting to gather, and it dawned on me they were gathering in teams, and saw the balls and hoops and such and got into a conversation with one of the teams, a little, who were all wearing purple head scarves and armbands and I told them they looked cool and I watched the first game start. And I wished the purple-clad team (the Sirens! Woo!) good luck and asked if they, y'know, were a long-standing team, did they do this a lot, and they said they had actually never played before--they'd signed up for it online when they registered and were only meeting each other for the first time that morning! And then they said, "Actually we're short a Chaser--do you wanna play?" And it turned out that they were up next, and I ran to tell a couple of people that I might be late to the ten o'clock panel, but, hell with it, I was gonna play Water Quidditch, weee!
ella_bane said I should post the rules here, so, for anyone who wants to know how they adapted it:
Three Chasers, one Keeper, two Beaters, one Seeker. The Quaffle was a volleyball-type red ball, the two Bludgers were the same size but a lighter weight (so you didn't get hurt if it hit you) and silver-colored. Two (three? Can't remember) Snitch-handlers (more about that later). One referee. Beaters armed with short plastic bats. Goal hoops at either end.
At the beginning, a jump-off for the Quaffle. Chasers try to get the Quaffle. If a Chaser gets it, s/he cannot move or swim with it--s/he can only throw it (pass or try to score). (This was a great key to adapting the game for water, and it emphasizes team effort.) Neither Beaters nor Seekers can handle the Quaffle. Keeper defends the hoops. Quaffle through the opposite team's hoops--ten points. After a goal's been scored, another jump-off.
Beaters hit the Bludgers with their bats. If the Bludger touches anyone, even an accidental brush-against touch, that player must freeze for five seconds, counting down. The Keeper, however, is immune to the Bludgers. If the player touched by the Bludger is a Chaser holding the Quaffle then s/he must drop the Quaffle when s/he freezes. (Often s/he could regrab it as soon as the five seconds were up, as often there wasn't anyone within five seconds' reach. But sometimes there was!) (The ref and the Beaters were often calling out that someone had been touched by the Bludger because sometimes you didn't even feel the ball brush against you in the excitement of play, so you took their word for it and froze as instructed when told you'd been touched.)
The Snitch--the Snitch is a foam yellow ball (with little wings!) on the end of a long rope. At intervals the Snitch-handlers toss a Snitch into the water and slither it through the water on their ropes, drawing it out of the water again quickly. Seekers try to grab it; grabbing the rope is illegal, you can only grab the Snitch (but I don't know if there was a penalty for grabbing the rope. I suppose there must be). But! There are fake Snitches! If a Seeker grabs the Snitch, s/he opens up the foam ball to check the teeny ball-and-jacks-sized ball at the center. If it's not gold, play continues. If it's gold, the game's over and that team gets 50 points (and not an unrealistic 150; sorry, JKR, but, really).
Summary of my experience: it was incredible fun and I was panting like a dog by the end, exhausted. Our game went on for 20-25 minutes and I think we were up 40-10 when their team caught the Snitch. Oh well!
And the other adorable part? After we were done we took a few team pictures, and when my team members asked for my email address so that they could make sure I got one, I said, "I'm amanuensis1 on livejournal," and two of them said, "You're Amanuensis??" And one turned out to be dramaphile! (And one was named Lethe and I'm forgetting the rest because I knew I would and--Guys, if you're reading this, I want the rest of you to comment or send me your email addys or SOMETHING! Because you were all amazing and I had the best time and I can't thank you enough for finding me in the right place and the right time and asking me. Whee! And I still have my purple gear, go Sirens! One, two, three, four, SMASH 'EM ON THE ROCKS! )
-Star Trek: The Experience: On Friday night a group of us went to this: cordelia_v, meri_oddities (thanks to you two for organizing it!), aubrem, jordangrant, bethbethbeth, rexluscus, geoviki, and fabularasa and me; it's an attraction at the Las Vegas Hilton. There's a long winding museum of memorabilia (props, costumes) and a timeline and such, and two rides: a simulator ride and a 3-D film with some interactive seating. Everyone else liked the simulator ride best, from what I could tell, with less appreciation for the 3-D Borg Invasion ride. Now, me, I love sim rides, yeah, but I thought the 3-D thing was awesome too. Look, anything where they walk you through klaxon-screaming corridors as costumed aliens come after you, and costumed crew members get dragged away to their deaths, and then they sit you into chairs that try to rape you (Anal Probe chairs. I am not making this up!) while the 3-D film is making you feel like the lasers are about to burn out your brain and assimilate you into the collective, mwah ha ha...well, all I can say is, sign me up for that AGAIN, droooool!
And hanging out at Quark's Bar between the rides and slashily MST'ing the first Star Trek movie which was showing on the bar screen was a hoot, and the drink names alone are a reason one should go there. Any place whose signature beverage is called a Warp Core Breach gets my thumbs up (and I'm not even a Star Trek fan).
And there was this moment when our group got split up into two elevators, with two of us going on first and the rest of us following, and cordelia_v said, "Guys! Now we're Seven of Nine!" How often do you get a moment that geekily cool, I ask you.
-Drabbling: There are a few drabbles that I scribbled into people's memory books out there; I think they were all Snarry except for the one I did of Fabula's original characters. I don't have copies but I suppose that's what makes them unique for the memory books! That and my dreadful handwriting.
And this year I was smart and took the next day off work.