Ellen (ennienyc) wrote,

Con day 1

I don't remember anything else happening in the days before the convention (let's see, I did laundry late Saturday night and got 2 weeks of NYT puzzles done since Will's going to Indiana after con), so we'll skip right to the trip. I'm paranoid enough not to blog publicly about upcoming travel (as if anyone wants to steal 1000s of magazines, 900 books, etc.), so now I can say I spent a long weekend in San Antonio for the National Puzzlers' League convention.

Other than changing planes, I've never been in Texas. It did not sound like my kind of place - hot, flat, goyish. My father did have a cousin Marilyn who lived in Galveston and was married to state senator "Babe" Schwartz (hey, it's Texas). Despite the web site, Babe and Marilyn are apparently still alive.

I wanted a nonstop flight, so the tradeoff was that it was at 8:55 a.m. I didn't want to lug luggage (ooh, that's why it's called "lug"gage) and wanted the convenience of door-to-door service, so reserved the Super Shuttle to Newark. They're so scared you'll miss the plane that they pick you up insanely early, in this case 6 a.m. I prepaid online, including tip. 

My schedule recently has been to sleep during the day, so I just napped a lot the day before and stayed up straight through to my pickup. The van already had 4 other people. After me, it went to the West 60s, to Val-U's building. That would have been something if she came out, but it was a couple. The trip went uneventfully.

I got my bag out of the back, and went toward the terminal when people started shouting at me to come back. The driver asked if I had all my bags (I did), and if I was prepaid (I was, but shouldn't he have known that? He believed me in any case). Another vanmate said, "You were in 'Wordplay'!"

Unlike the Miami trip, the E-ticket machine allowed me to check in. Though the airport was crowded even at 7 a.m., the lines moved so fast I could barely take off my belt and necklace to avoid setting off the security alarms. And wonder of wonders, the gate was the FIRST one after security, so no miles of walking.

I read and started drafting this blog entry on the laptop, and Wampahoofus and the Voks family eventually arrived. We sat on the runway a while (this always seems to happen when I fly Continental), but made up the time and arrived as scheduled around noon. We were all able to fit in the rental car, and their GPS "Vanessa" guided us the short distance to the hotel. I don't know why everyone was so concerned about getting from the airport; it's not like Montana where special arrangements were needed.

On the ground, we were immediately hit with a HOT blast of air. I mean, oppressively hot and humid. I'm used to the hot, humid, YUCK feeling every time I arrive in Florida (the land where towels never dry), but this was even worse. People in the airport were wearing cowboy hats and talked in Texas accents, so it felt like alien territory.

The hotel would not let us check in until 3 p.m. (first time that's happened to me at a con), so we checked our bags, put my laptop in the car trunk, and went in search of lunch. The walk to Market Square wasn't long, but seemed that way in the massive heat. The hotel gave us coupons for La Margarita, so we ate there in not-so-great air conditioning. I had a quesadilla/tortilla combo which was good and not too spicy. The coupon gave us free sopapillas (basically fried dough) for dessert.

After the trek back, check-in was finally allowed. They only had a first-floor room ready for me which didn't feel safe, but it was better than no room. I kept the curtains leading to the sliding glass doors closed the whole time. The Holiday Inn was adequate, but it was somehow not as classy as any Marriott, Hyatt, or the boutique hotels we stayed at for the "Wordplay" fests.

I made quick rounds of the meeting room in the lobby and hospitality suite (picking up handouts that will probably remain unsolved for years), but realized it would be best to take a nap as I was still up from the day before. I woke up just before the night's program, missing dinner which was fine since I was full from lunch. Later, I had some hospitality room fruit, cheese and muffins.

Most people cited cryptic crosswords as their favorites in the intros, but I prefer regular crosswords and cross sums. devjoe has described the games in great detail. I wasn't crazy about the 5-minute flat writing, since that's just not enough time and more creative than I'd like. For the 50/50 trivia, my table came up a question about "2001." 3 of a Kind was OK, but some of the answers were just a tad off or inelegant, like using telephone instead of Saturn as something with rings.

The official cryptics were distributed, and no one asked me to co-solve and I didn't pursue anyone either. I wasn't sure I wanted to do them at all, but might have if asked. This was a contrast to the con (1999, I think) where I set up partnerships in advance by E-mail. I heard tmcay had a great game, and reserved a slot at 2:30 a.m.   In the meantime, I played Noam's "Jeopardy!" (I won, if I recall correctly), a bit of Catchphrase, and cramerica's shapely mini-extravaganza with Spiel and Roy.  Sixth Sense was fantastic, making imaginative use of the visual.  I didn't do well, but that didn't detract from the fun. 


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