(Don - 102nd)(Thomas - 102nd)
1996: March 22 - 24
Red Lion Inn, Blacksburg, VA
Guests: L.E. Modesitt, Lori and Corey Cole, Jennifer Hartshorn,
Ian Lemke, Mark Shepherd
This was the Technicon that came without warning. Easter, to
which Technicon is linked via the academic schedule, was very
early this year, and Tehcnicon earlier. In addition, the guest
liaison fell down on the job; it wasn't until two weeks before
the con that Thomas and Don actually received an invitation. Now,
in their case, an invitation to Technicon is pretty much pro forma,
since it's assumed they are coming . . .but this time, the delay
left us late reserving a room. By the time Thomas called the hotel,
they were booked . . . as was just about every other hotel in
Blacksburg. The boys wound up in the Budget Host Inn (which they
referred to as the "Budgerigar Toast Inn") about two
miles from the con.
This was the second Technicon in the Red Lion Inn, and it became
clear that the move had adversely affected the con. The function
space was smaller and more chopped-up . . . there was no real
central gathering/lounging point. The accent, which had been shifting
in recent years toward gaming, had shifted further in that direction.
This year there were no literary panels of the sort Thomas and
Don have grown used to at other cons. They presented the penultimate
cut of Episode 1 of Lightyears, and Thomas was active as
a costumer (he was a masquerade judge, for example.) But more
and more, Technicon seemed to be following Disclave in becoming
Thomas and Don had a pleasant drive down from Linthicum. Along
the way, they stopped at the Pink Cadillac Diner in Greenville,
Virginia. It was a middle-of-nowhere place, a bright pink diner
with a dead pink Cadillac in the yard. As they pulled up, Thomas
wondered if the place was really as gay as it seemed. The sight
of a giant stuffed pink flamingo and a large Oscar Meyer Weiner-Mobile
seemed confirming evidence; then they saw that the theme of the
place was Elvis and the fifties, and they wondered again. A James
Dean poster in the men's room and Chubby Checker's rendition of
"My Ding-A-Ling" on the jukebox added to the impression
. . . but the clinching factor was a man who appeared to the the
owner, dressed in a tee shit with a large pink triangle on it.
On the way out, Thomas asked their waitress, "Do the locals
have any idea of how gay this place his?" She smiled and
answered firmly, "No."
The boys arrived at Technicon about six pm, after having checked
in at the Budgerigar Toast Inn. They ate at the Red Lion Inn restaurant,
then joined the amateur video production panel, where they showed
off a demo reel of Lightyears effects and the highlights
from "Mind the Gap." Lloyd Eldred and his friend Patrick
Foley had an episode of their current project "Space Rogues."
Thomas drove Don back to the motel and Don turned in early; Thomas
stayed up far later.
On Saturday they had a showing of Lightyears at two,
then Doug Warden and Sharon Landrum showed up. The boys visited
with them while they had a late lunch, then together all four
killed time until the masquerade. The masquerade, at which Thomas
was the head judge, was very good -- eleven contestants, and not
a bad costume among them.
After the masquerade and a brief trip to the bar, they adjourned
to the Blender Party, sponsored by their old Blacksburg friends
Telf and Denise.
On Sunday the boys hung around with Sharon while Doug finished
up his part in the live-acton role-playing game. The traditional
Technicon dinner at the Farmhouse was a little different this
year: several groups of their friends wanted to be on the road
early, so Thomas and Don accompanied the "early shift"
to the Farmhouse: Doug, Sharon, Anne and her boyfriend Tony, Andy
Shoemaker and his boyfriend David, and one other fellow whose
name Don has forgotten. At the table behind them was Lloyd Eldred
and his entourage. All had a tremendously hilarious time criticizing
the paintings on the wall and having general fun.
After they bade the others goodbye, Thomas and Don returned
to the Farmhouse, where the "late shift" had come in.
They made our goodbyes, and were on the road by five.
That night they drove to Woodstock, where they stopped (coincidentally)
at another Budgerigar Toast Inn . . . a much nicer one than the
Blacksburg place. After relaxing for a while, they jumped in the
car and drove up a twisting back road to just over the peaks of
the Blue Ridge Mountains, then pulled off on a dirt side road
and beheld Comet Hyukatake. It was tremendous . . . the head was
bright but fuzzy, the tail a nebulous thing that stretched out
to infinity behind. They stayed almost an hour, sitting in the
car with the top partly down, watching the comet.
The next day, on their drive home, they detoured out I-68 to
the Sideling Hill Road Cut, which has been described as one of
the best rock exposures in Maryland. Thomas and Don were taken
with the visitor's center as well as the dramatic vista of the
They then returned home, tired but happy. It was a great Technicon.