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Stupid Sh*t I Agreed To Do For Fandom While Sober

The Full “Chris Garcia”

spiral-clockAlthough I do enjoy a good whiskey or rye, I am seldom drunk when I agree to do stuff. There has been one of two times when I’ve agreed to things while in a state of pure inebriation, like the zine dedicated to the show Archer called DangerZone!, but mostly, I’m stone cold sober when I agree to the various projects that I inevitably do a half-decent/half-shitty job at.

And one of them was a classic.

I am not a SMoF. My organizational skills are not exactly streets ahead, but I try, and I don’t say no unless I can’t bring myself to even try to attempt it. So, I agreed to help out the 2008 Westercon by running their Fanzine Lounge, a task I enjoy doing because it takes all the attention to detail of a brain-dead Chihuahua with ADD. I was happily setting up to produce the finest Fanzine Lounge I had ever thought of when I was asked to do just a little bit more.

“Hey, Chris, would you run the newsletter too?” James Daugherty asked.

Now, I love James, he and Kathryn are two of the people most directly responsible for my return to fandom in the early part of the last decade, but I had all sorts of strange visions running through my head. Visions of me with no sleep, slogging to get a thousand copies of the zine printed and worried that I’d never be able to pull it off.

I was half-right.

The Vegas Westercon was a lot of fun, but it didn’t have a lot to do with the convention itself. Linda and I got an AMAZING room with a Murphy bed! That might not sound like a luxury, but the more than 1000 square feet and the bathroom that was larger than my apartment all helped. It was the most comfortable convention room I’ve ever had, and I’ve been spoiled by the rooms at San Jose’s luxurious DoubleTree!

When you’ve got folks like Andy Trembley, Kevin Roche, John Hertz and Jason Schachat around, you’re sure to have a good time, and we did.

The Lounge itself was in a good location, slightly hidden behind a corner, but also in an area that had a direct path outside to the sleeping section of the hotel and the restaurants. When you’ve got folks like Andy Trembley, Kevin Roche, John Hertz and Jason Schachat around, you’re sure to have a good time, and we did.

I started off by creating a color version of Issue 1 of the Newsletter, creating the night before I left home and arrived in Vegas. It was a good-looking issue, almost appearing as if it had been created by someone who knew what they were doing. In the car on our way down to Vegas, Linda and I had packed four different computers: two laptops of Apple make, two desktops of Windows kind. That, I figured, would cover all the possible permutations of problems you can have in a newsletter office, and make my life easier. I set everything up and managed to get out a second edition that first day, made much easier because the total attendance was something along the lines of 300 people, so I figured 150 copies would be fine and I could print those on the printer than Kevin & Andy had loaned me.

I did that, meaning that we had a full-color daily newsletter.

I had hoped to do two day, and I managed it twice, but too often I’d get a piece of news five minutes after I’d done a layout and need to reconjigger everything. This led to another essential piece coming in, causing even more reconjiggering and a later zine.

These things happen.

A LOT!

The one matter was that of bodies. I had me and Jason Schachat as the regular reporters, Espana Sheriff and Bob Hole doing art, and John Hertz and Kevin Roche providing the Haiku of parties and so on. It was a slightly more literary newsletter, which was fun, but there were minor problems cropping up…

The first was timing. I had hoped to do two day, and I managed it twice, but too often I’d get a piece of news five minutes after I’d done a layout and need to reconjigger everything. This led to another essential piece coming in, causing even more reconjiggering and a later zine.

These things happen.

A LOT!

Then, one of my desktops just flat died, which was bad, but I could still do the layouts on one of the laptops. The only problem with that was that the files from the other computers would not translate to the Mac, so I had to start all the way over. That was the hard part, but it was also a wake-up call. I managed to get the desktop working and started laying out a final, major issue, with full-color images from the Masquerade, a piece from the author Guest of Honor (the now sadly departed Kage Baker) and a great interview with artist Lubov. It was a solid issue, and I was all ready to print it.

The desktop died again, but not until after I had put the issue on a USB drive. It was good enough for me!

I had managed to get a disk with my design program on it and put it on the other desktop, which had been used for the previous three days as the word processing/scanning computer, a role it filled most nobly.

Layout machine? Not so much.

I had failed to notice that the machine had Windows ME as its OS. That meant that I really couldn’t load much stuff on it, including the copy of InDesign. This was bad. I then hurried to take the content from the memory stick and get them into a usable form so I could recreate the issue. I hadn’t had to pull any late nights, so having to do one to recreate the final issue would have been fine.

Except the files wouldn’t open.

In fact, none of the files on the data stick would. Those files included the drivers for the Mac to run the printer. In addition, neither of the machines had internet access, which meant that I had no way to get any of those films from the working machine onto any of the working laptops.

I had become the fail…

There never was a review of the Masquerade or any words from the Writer GoH in any of the newsletters for Westercon 61, for which I was deeply ashamed for about five minutes… and then there was an issue of The Drink Tank to get out.

That material had basically gone to the Land of Wind and Ghosts, which meant that I would never be able to print it, and even worse, that I had no way to get other software from anyone who had internet access on their machines and put it onto my machines! I managed to get a different USB stick, but they couldn’t get either any of their machines to recognize the files either!

As it was, I cancelled the final issue. There never was a review of the Masquerade or any words from the Writer GoH in any of the newsletters for Westercon 61, for which I was deeply ashamed for about five minutes… and then there was an issue of The Drink Tank to get out.

You’d think I’d have learned my lesson, that doing two jobs, even like running a Fanzine Lounge and a Newsletter, and would never do it again. At the San Jose Westercon, Bobbie DuFault asked if I would do the newsletter. I had already been put down as doing the Lounge. Of course, this time I was much smarter and I thought about it.

I did end up saying yes, but at least I can say I had a couple of shots in me when I did.

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