24 August 1999
AltFanThingieCon '99

I have one word for the inaugural AltFanThingieCon. Exhausting! While it was only a small gathering (ok, ok, there was only the two of us but we did enough for four!), it was jam-packed and an absolute barrel of laughs. There were a few hiccups (Morningstar couldn't make it and we lost our original chat venue so I had to organise something at the last minute), but on the whole, it was great.

It all began Friday night (Thursday evening for most of the rest of the thingies). Reg drove down from the country to my place and we sat up watching bad French comedy on the TV with the sound turned down (it was subtitled) and listening to garbage playing on the stereo. We did our usual book exchanges and sat up until some ridiculous hour discussing life, the universe and Neil.

The next morning, we were up bright and early... well, we were up early, anyway. Damned time zone differences. Bleary-eyed and yawning, we fired up a couple of PCs and logged into the chat room. At least Reg logged in. It was at this point that I discovered that I was a complete moron and had not registered on egroups and therefore could not chat. So Reg and I became the aus-borg and chatted under Reg's login while I waited for egroups to register me. Incidentally, if Reg calling you 'sweetie' at any point over the weekend disturbed you, it was probably me at the keyboard.

I patiently (yes, that is a loose interpretation of the word 'patiently') played with Lego sets--including a really cool glow-in-the-dark one--while Reg did most of the chatting. I think I only knocked him over once in my eagerness to respond to something in the chat room. I'm sure the bruising will fade over time… after chatting with a multitude of thingies, we headed off to the city to do some shopping and grab a bite to eat.

We visited two great bookstores--Slow Glass Books and Minotaur--and Reg scored what I'm sure is the only Neil autograph at thingiecon! He picked up a signed copy of Neverwhere, the perfect replacement for the copy he had that disappeared after being loaned to a friend. I was searching for a hard cover copy with the tube map, but I wasn't quite as lucky. We also called into this huge store that sold 'Hello Kitty' like stuff. I got to add to my list of 'things I'm going to do that will one day make me a million bucks' with my idea of 'Hello Roadkill'. The perky-goths will love it! All I need is a small fluffy animal and a truck...

We headed back to chat again later in the afternoon and caught up with more thingies. Fortunately, Reg and I were no longer assimilated, although I did manage to magically clone myself for a while there. We led some rousing thingie group harmonies on 'Karma Chameleon' and 'Goodbye, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu' (despite Reg's screams of agony at the thought of singing songs from 'The Sound Of Music'). we also caught up with the recently delurked Brian and Fade, which was very cool.

Dinner was at a local Japanese restaurant, where Reg bravely tried sushi and sashimi for the first time. No wasabi rabbits, though. and I discovered I had competition for the pickled ginger. Grr! We then retired to an appalling faux-Irish pub. Reg did the newsgroup proud by drinking pints of Kilkenny (everybody: "oh my god! Reg is drinking Kilkenny!") and I got completely blasted on pints of Caffreys. However, we did manage to solve the problems of the world that night. It is just a pity we forgot to take notes...

The following morning was another early one. Once I had cleared the roadkill out of my mouth, we hopped back into the chat room and watched as the topic went from censorship to periods to phantom pregnancies to kidnapping Neil to virginity. And everything else in between. We are nothing if not a diverse group of people!

Reg and I had to bail though, it was a glorious day outside and we had a picnic planned. We headed for the William Ricketts sanctuary in the Dandenong Ranges for lunch. the sanctuary features clay sculptures of aboriginal people and stories of the Dreamtime (sort of semi-obgaiman!) set into a natural landscape. it is quite eerie to walk around and see tiny faces peering out of tree stumps and disembodied hands reaching out to you from the ground.

I am of the earth
I am a son of the earth
I am the trees, the rivers, the rock
I am kin to the earth's creatures
I am kin to the earth's creations
The earth is my mother
The white man is also of the earth
But he is mad
For what man in his right mind
Would rape his own mother
(William Rickets)

The artist, William Ricketts, created them to celebrate aboriginal culture and to highlight the environmental and spiritual destruction inflicted on the land by the white settlers. Beautiful and thought-provoking.

Earthly mother primal, pure, perfect
Wholesome of life--love giving of itself
She is the light of the earth
Ever flowing--all in all
Follow her light from the visible
To the invisible within your innermost self
Then the vastness of your vision
Transcends the physical eye
It is then the body becomes suffused
With a light love and beauty
We then know this love light and beauty
To be the divine spring within us
The living waters flowing outwards upon all earth life
Your earthly mother's law is reverence for life
Become this law then your body given you
By your earthly mother will never know disease or death
(William Ricketts)

On our way home, however, we experienced the deadly beauty of the Australian bush. We found a Lesser Rainbow Banded Hoop Python in the back of Reg's car (lesser because the further north you go, the bigger these suckers get). Reg was brave and donned his 'Crocodile Hunter' hat while I screamed like a girl and did the 'kill it!' dance. He was able to kill it with a stick (three cheers for Reg!). Rainbow Banded Hoop Pythons are quite common around here, but quite deadly.

In the hope that there might be some thingies still in the chat room when we got back, we logged in, but you were all out. It was Saturday night for you lot, after all! So Reg and I parked ourselves in a nearby café to have a few quiet drinkies and watch the passing parade (made even more amusing by the hat sale that appeared to be occurring nearby--you would be amazed at what people will put on their head in the name of fashion).
After dinner, we headed back to my place and watched Reg's copy of 'Lord Of The Rings' (which I had not seen). By this stage it was pretty late (but not too late!) and it was time for Reg to head for home. I then resisted the urge to read some of the books I had bought and collapsed into bed.

ladymisstree • 11:58 PM


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