And speaking of upcoming shows, for years, I held off on having any Triffid Ranch shows before the end of March for weather reasons. Anybody who ever spent the second half of winter in North Texas understands the situation. Last year, for instance, the beginning of February was warm, sunny, and cheery, as someone who never lived here would expect would be the default weather condition. Exactly one year before that, the whole area was locked in a week-long ice storm that shut down everything. That ice storm was so big that it nearly canceled the Super Bowl at the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. The year before that? The heaviest snowfall in Dallas history, where a full foot of snow took out power over half of the city and gave the Czarina the chance to make her first snow sculptures.
With the possibility of the North Texas equivalent of being buried alive in a snowdrift, a February or March show became a risk. Most if not all of the larger temperate carnivorous plants are still locked in winter dormancy, and won’t come out until at least St. Patrick’s Day. Tropical carnivores tend to fuss and drop dead when exposed to a few hours of sub-freezing temperatures, such as encountered when Dallas’s Central Expressway becomes a luge track. Hence, waiting until the likelihood of a last-minute snowstorm recedes in the calendar makes a lot of sense.
When asking “So what changed your mind?”, it’s easy to say that last year’s experiences with ConDFW encouraged another run. I might also mention that ConDFW XII runs this year in a much superior hotel, where the dealer’s space is MUCH more accessible. That’s not the real reason. The real reason has everything to do with ConDFW’s convention chair, Amie Spengler.
See, back in early 1999, at the height of my writing days, I received an invitation to be a guest at AggieCon, the long-running science fiction convention run by and at Texas A&M University. The details of that three-day weekend are long and sordid (let’s just say that being trapped on a panel with Bruce Sterling mooing “It’s on the Viridian List! Have I mentioned the Viridian List?” over and over some 50 times in 60 minutes is something that even Dick Cheney would find offensive), but what stood out was the professionalism of the student volunteer staff. Those kids were fast, they were efficient, and most of all, they were on the ball. Having survived many a convention in those days where programming and even hotel spaces were things to be fussed about another day (my favorite was the convention in Oregon with some four different event schedules for guests and attendees, and none of them synched), you have no idea how much fun it was to watch this in action.
Back then, Amie was just a volunteer. Now, she’s the convention chair. Go buy her a drink at the show, because she and the rest of the ConDFW staff earned one. See you there?