Saturday was the big budget meeting for Otakon, and it was held in Philadelphia for a change, nice and close to us. We still dropped our doggie, Una, at the pet sitter for the day, where she would participate in a vertible puppy party, as the pet sitter would have seven dogs with her that day!
The Dormouse gave us a ride, and since The Dormouse was on the board, we had to be there bright and early at 9.
A chronic multitasker, I brought along everything I needed to begin design of the winter issue of Wild Violet, which I plan to get online in the next few weeks.
I made good progress, getting the entire poetry section laid out, in addition to most of the fiction section. Since the work was primarily visual , it was easy for me to split my attention.
Normally, we wait until the annual staff retreat in January to approve the budget, but in this case, we did it early, so that it would match up better with our tax filing.
As usual, there were some debates over items, but we came to a consensus on the most important points and voted to approve it.
The best part of the meeting was seeing some people in person I only usually see at Otakon meetings, including The Doctor and her husband. I showed around our wedding photos, a sample of which I carry now in a small photo album. Once more, I got more compliments on my wedding dress, which I simply loved.
Speaking of weddings, the hotel was getting ready for a reception that would take place later in the day. The couple was clearly going for a winter or Christmas theme. Early in the day, the hotel had already set up a table in the hallway covered with white tablecloths, snowflakes and the escort cards, which were also decorated with snowflakes. The couple had many photos of themselves on the table, including a poster-sized one on an easel.
Little candy trays spelled out "LOVE," filled with Hershey's kisses in silver wrapping paper. Once the hotel staff realized what sort of traffic would be going up and down the hallway as people came and left from the meeting room, they covered the candy dishes with the corner of the tablecloth!
In the atrium area, where the cocktail hour would be held, we saw little tables covered with silver table cloths, topped with a centerpiece of a large, flat snowflake. The table where they would probably be picking up their hors d'oeuvres or crudite was covered with white, along with some fake snow and bride and groom snowpeople.
As the day wore on, the hotel staff hung green garlands to complete the look. The reception would be in the room where we held our budget meeting, which was the reason we had to be out at 4 on the dot.
Of course, the winter theme of that wedding was aided by the existing Christmas decorations in the hotel. In the meeting room where we met were two Christmas trees, and another was in the lobby, right by a pond with real fish in it.
For our lunch break we didn't have much time, so we went to the hotel restaurant and ordered soup and salads. We were joined by The AMV Editor, who is going to be running Otakon's AMV contest this year. I told him about some of the projects I have in the works, and he has knowledge about a wide range of media, so he gave me some ideas for how to carry them out, including a suggestion of a program that might be good for layout of published materials.
At lunch, I also spoke to the Otakon officer who is putting together the Otakon Wiki, an online resource on information about the convention for staff use. I will be the editor for this project, and as such, will get to decide how it's put together. We talked about what we might like to do.
So while I didn't contribute much in the budget portion of the meeting, I did get to talk about some important projects, both personal and Otakon.
At the close of the meeting, everyone exited the room to make plans for dinner. The Gryphon connected with The Godfather, who is the head of Guest Relations. Since once again The Gryphon will help with Industry Relations, he told me that he was going to talk business with The Godfather and get dinner with him. He said I should feel free to have dinner somewhere with my friends.
I got together with The Dormouse, The Cheshire Cat, The Paper, The Treasurer and The Pirate and discussed plans. Since it was so early, we thought we'd wait a little before eating. We agreed to meet at the home of The Cheshire Cat and The Paper, who went ahead to do a little cleaning.
On the way there, The Pirate called me to say there was "a metric tonne" of Otakon staffers headed for the Charlie Brown steakhouse. He wanted to know if our group wanted to join them. I told him that, from past experience, such huge groups were bad news in a restaurant, so I declined on behalf of the group.
When we arrived, The Cheshire Cat and The Paper had just finished cleaning, and they greeted us. Soon enough, the others arrived. We discussed where we might want to go and decided on a Japanese sushi buffet called Minado. After hanging around until about 6, we drove to the restaurant, where with a group of just six people, we had no trouble getting seated. (I'm told the Charlie Brown group consisted of 24 people! Metric tonne indeed!)
The sushi was some of the best I've had, and I was amazed by how great it was. I filled my plate with sushi the first time I went up, then went back for a couple more pieces. Truly, I didn't have room in my stomach for all the things I would have wanted to try. I'll have to leave that for another day. For dessert, I had some fruit and some green tea ice cream, along with a tiny square of an Oreo cheesecake, which was heavenly.
We were in high spirits, and The Pirate and I joked around about how this place was better than many similar buffets, where they think that, by offering a bank of deep-fried badness, they're appealing to the American consumer. We came up with other ideas for things to deep-fry. He suggested deep-frying a block of cream cheese or a whole roll of uncooked Pillsbury cookie dough. I told him about a party I attended with some WPSU staffers in college, where we tried just about every food in the host's pantry in the Fry Daddy.
The waitress came up and asked The Pirate if he wanted more water. He said yes, and I asked her if she could deep fry it. She looked very confused, so I apologized and told her we were just being silly and that we loved the food.
As we were leaving the restaurant, I noticed a strap hanging from The Pirate's back pocket, where he kept his keys. It was red with silver stripes, and in the evening light it looked like a really big Swiss Army knife. I asked him about it, and he revealed it was, instead, a strap from which the keys were hanging.
"Why are you looking at my butt anyway?" he teased.
"Because it's jingling," I said. Then added, "Oh, come on! I'm a married woman!" I flashed my wedding band.
Back at the home of The Cheshire Cat and The Paper, we all swapped driving-related stories, trying to one-up each other. The Paper's story of hitting a patch of ice on the highway, turning 270 degrees and running off the road just in front of a tractor-trailer certainly beat mine of the time I did a 360 after slowing down on a country road in front of a supposedly haunted house. The reason: picking on my younger sister, who was riding with me. "Let's stop at the haunted house," I'd suggested, when the car hit a patch of ice.
Fortunately, no one was hurt in any of these stories. Or else, of course, none of us would have been there to tell them.
At about 8:30, I had The Dormouse drive me home so that I could pick Una up at the appointed time. I was told she'd had a great day with the other doggies, and I even got to meet them, including an eight-month old Sheltie who was simply adorable.
The Gryphon made it home soon after me, and we swapped stories about our dinner experiences. Instead of driving stories, he and his dining companions had showed each other horrible I.D. pictures, including the eerie ones from B.J.'s Warehouse, where they take your photo and convert it into some sort of UPC code. Weird.
You can deep fry just about anything, but you probably shouldn't.