Sky Commodore’s Autumn Masquerade Ball Review

 

A little off topic… we’ve got a new tradition! You have to go to the Tilted Kilt for dinner when you’re in Dallas. It’s like Hooters, but the food and uniforms are way better. On topic, we loved the Sky Commodore’s Ball, the Flight Museum venue, and the performances by Marquis of Vaudeville, Steam Powered Giraffe, and the Circus Freaks!

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Anime Fest 2012 Review

NANANANANANANANA! Bat Dave!

We always tend to have a good time, but this was the biggest anime convention we’ve been to! It was huge! There were tons of people and the hotel was ginormous! Anime Fest was so busy that I was never bored. Security stopped by the table each day to make sure everything was going well.

I didn’t attend any panels, but I explored a lot. I took a seat in the Japanese Tea Ceremony to learn something cultural. The ladies had some very lovely kimono on. They were really nice and let the Steam Engine Intrepid store their merchandise in the room at the end of the night. There were so many amazing costumes, ridiculously cute kemonomimi (Japanese for “Animal Ears” – like catgirls), and the silliest of shenanigans. I fondly recall signing to the Portal ending theme Still Alive in front of Hair By Kat, laughing at the many times we’ve seen people dancing to Gangnam Style, and taking pictures. There were a lot of cute plushies, action figures, artists, Japanese candy, and more.

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Arklatex 2012 Review

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We had a good time at Arklatex, the Texarkana Comic Convention. It was a small, cozy, convention with a lot of comic book vendors. The con was not inside the hotel, but it wasn’t too far from it. They tell us that next year it will be inside the hotel and will be bigger. The staff was very nice and even let us have extra space on the last day to show off our crafting skills!

They had a sound system setup along with a projector that played movie previews and other fun stuff. There was a costume contest and an art contest. The con attendees had some great costumes. It was very interesting to met the differnent guests and vendors, and everyone was so personable.

There was General Motti (Star Wars Actor), the 501st (a Star Wars group), the Texarkana Renfaire table, shirts with bat-staches (batman with a batman-mustache),  and a charming boy named Daily who was there with his uncle (a comic book vendor).

This convention was more about just having a good time… which inspired some shenanigans. Our Captain was lent a giant squid that she roamed the con floor with… having a squid battle, making squid comments, and generally having a laugh with attendees and vendors. Several of us posed with the giant mustaches, and other random silliness. We accomplished what we set out to do. We made enough money to break even on going to the convention, we had fun with our friends and the con-goers, we got our name out there… and we got invited back for next year! Yes, we’ll be going to Arklatex 2013.

See more of our photos on Facebook: [Con Floor] [ASH] [Shenanigans]

Ama-con Review

10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…

That was the crowd counting down the time until they could enter the convention… but that’s not where the awesome started. We ALMOST didn’t make it to Ama-con because our crew mate Bennett Locke has to have surgery. He was determined to go and drove us 4 hours from Oklahoma City to help our first solo vending table. He was balancing pain the whole way, and he kicked ass working the table with us!

When we arrived in Amarillo at about 11:30PM, we were greeted by Jim Trent and Cpt. Cedric Whittaker at the door while they were having a smoke. They told us we would love this hotel, and we did! There were steampunk worthy displays as you walked into the hotel.

The hotel looked small, but it was so nice looking inside and great air conditioning. There was a nice tv in the lobby and tv’s posted in dining booths. Room service was not available at that time, but they had a little alcove of microwaveable and fridge foods you could purchase (like a mini pizza and a salad).  There were also drinks, nail clippers, single dose pain killers, Q-tips, and a lot of little provisions you might need in the middle of the night. Kevin, the night manager, was all smiles (even in the middle of the night). He was professional, nice, and very accommodating. When we asked for more blankets, he was personally at our door on the 5th floor within about 6 minutes. The suite as so nice, roomy, and just a treat! It was a great start to our weekend. Bravo on the hotel choice!

We arrived at the Civic Center and were assisted with bringing in all of our stuff. We didn’t have to look far to get some helpers. They were quick and efficient. The convention staff was just great!  At one point, while setting up our vending table,  my crew (and myself) were feeling the effects of the heat. A staff member takes the initiative to offer us any assistance we need, so we asked if they could get us some water. They came back with 8 bottles of water for our crew of three. At the end of the night when it was time to break down the table, they were there asking if we needed help. They waited at the table patiently for several minutes and then promptly got our stuff out to the car and packed. We really didn’t have to ask for help or hunt down people… they were just there and ready. We were impressed with how well the staff treated us. Bravo on your staff! They were fantastic!

In the background, we heard the count down of the crowd waiting to come inside. They were literally counting down and then they cheered! It was a great feeling to hear the crowds excitement. There were so many people! There were many amazing costumes and smiling faces. Some of our favorite costumes were Maka and Blair the Witch from Souleater,  Snake from Metal Gear Solid (including the box), Vash the Stampede,  Naruto, Portal Girl and Tenzin! Vash and several others are part of a bi-weekly nerf war. Vash was such a friendly guy and we have plans to work with him in the near future. We made several contacts with people who are eager to get involved. At times, it felt like waves of people were buying at the table, or crowds were engaged at our table. It turns out, many of the vendors in our area made some decent profit. We sold a lot more stuff than we expected to sell. It was all so flattering and humbling! Lots of our business cards were picked up and lots of talk of commissions… including artwork.

Speaking of our vending table… we had great placement. We were not far from the entrance, as we could see the door and hear the waiting crowd. Behind the curtain, behind us, was Katrine McCorbie. She shared her extension cord with us generously. Then we were right beside Marquis Of Vaudeville! Toby was his usual friendly self and greeted us with a smile. The whole band was friendly, easy to chat with, and open for hugs. Stacey was a real pleasure and even bought one of our toys to take home! We also enjoyed goobing with Kelly about Metal Gear Solid. Right around the corner from us was Airship Isabella. It was so nice to be that close, that we could go visit with them and they could just pop over to say “Hi” whenever they or us felt like it.

We actually received a lot of  love. Fox bounced back and forth, chatting, and trading admiration for toys. We love Fox! He’s currently working on a Snowy Owl toy for me, and he walked away from our table with a Tribble. Amelia popped in a few times and we talked about several things, from designing our new toy goggles, to educating us on their vending wisdom. For the past year, we’ve been learning from Airship Isabella and other vendors about the do’s and don’ts of vending. We’ve been there during setup, watching Cpt. Whittaker posing in thought and waving his hands like a conductor, directing his crew to create the best setup for their vending space. If you watch and listen, you can learn a lot from ASI. Their crew is great about sharing wisdom and they do this for a living. It was also nice to meander around the corner to say “Hi” to Cpt. Lazuli Delacru (of the Neo Dulcimer) and have him say genuinely that he misses us (we haven’t been to a con together in a while)… complete with a hug! Cpt. Delacru was full of his usual silly good-natured charm.

Shea (Aleister Kidd II of the Mal De Ojo Pirates) was very generous with his words and praises. He was a blast to sit/stand around with talking about the steampunk community and random stories. His praise was flattering and made our experience just that much better. He and Jesse Thaxton (who looked amazing in her Siren costume) were vending right across from us. Another brilliantly placed table near us. It just felt like our corner of the room was saturated in comradery. When our toy top hats didn’t fit someone’s toy, we directed them to Marquis Of Vaudeville‘s table for their bigger mini hats (which are gorgeous), or if they wanted more elaborate googles we sent them to ASI, and if someone really loved octopods we pointed out the giant (AND SO SOFT) octopus on Jesse’s table. They were all giving back the same respect and comradery. ASI was directing people to us if they wanted cheaper goggles or wanted a nerf mod. Even lunch was a cooperative event between us, ASI, and Shea. There was a felt community presence in our corner of the convention for sure.

We encouraged customers to check out the Steampunk 101 panel by Airship Isabella (ASI). We also promoted Octopodicon quite a bit. People were asking about how you get involved in Steampunk, how to get started in making stuff, and many other questions. We told them all to come check out Octopodicon! We told them about the professors and educational atmosphere that will be there. We told the Octo-Fanciers about the makeshop we’ll be hosting which will feature a special baby octopus with top hats and mustaches! We saw a lot of interest and we really hope people come out in October!

We actually bought two octopods from other vendors. One was a cute little red one from Turner’s Tokens that we named Ama (yes, after Amacon). Ama Octopus with came with its own little necklace and a matching necklace for me. What a novel idea! We also paid for a pre-order of Jesse’s giant octopus. Her octopus is so pretty and cuddle… it’s so SOFT! I was giving it drive-by cuddles back and forth until my lovely husband decided it was time to buy one for me. I highly recommend this toy! Jesse was, also, very sweet as she is at every con we’ve seen her at. We talked about toys… of course! We are talking about sharing ideas and sketches… but you’ll just have to wait to see what we come up with!

The performances on stage was great, we could hear the performances and the crowd. We were too busy to really check out the performances… but I dodged the table for a few minutes to see the dancing dragon! The convention attendees were all so wonderful! They were friendly, excited, and full of energy. They asked so many questions and were really engaged by the convention and Steampunk. We enjoyed meeting everyone and all the conversations we’ve had in that one day.

On Sunday morning, we had a great insightful conversation with Cpt. Whittaker, and then we had a short meeting with Jim Trent. During the convention, he was just as much of a gentleman as he usually is. He’s always smiling and ready to share a kind, or honest, word. Our meeting really didn’t have anything to do with the convention, but it’s the last time we’d get to talk to him face-to-face for a while. We talked about some exciting LARP things to come… not just SCARS but Aether Skies too. There’s still a lot of work to be done and we’re excited to work with Jim and ASI.

We have to say that this convention experience was surprising, humbling, flattering, esteem-building, community strengthening, and just amazing feeling! If you didn’t go to Ama-com, then you missed out! We would love to join Ama-con again next year.

Soonercon 2012 Review

Our last Soonercon (back in 2007) was a gaming convention, but it looks like it’s evolved into a comic and scifi convention (now 2012). The con was bigger than we expected, and it was heavy with vendors and guests. While our group did host and attend panels, we decided that this review would not be about the panels. We visited every table, excluding the art room; assuming that we didn’t miss anyone. So, we’re going to tell you about the vendors and the guests we met. We don’t have any criticism in our review and we’ll be covering our favorites first!
Hospitality, Cosplay, Zombies, and Dogs! OH MY!

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There were so many great costumes! People are so creative. Unfortunately, only six people showed up for the zombie walk. However, those six were awesome! There were three zombies and three umbrella corps (who happen to be from Steam Engine Intrepid and Airship Horizons). We even managed to get some kids posing in the photos as victims! That was a lot of fun. Those were some of the nicest zombies we’ve ever met.
Also worth mentioning was the free food in the con suite and in the Green Room.  Thank you Nico, Jenn, Noddy, and everyone who help bring the visitors some hospitality! Having a place to grab a bite was very appreciated, especially for those who were low on funds or simply just didn’t have time to run out and get dinner until later in the evening. It was also a great place to just relax and get to know people. There were, also, a few dogs around the hotel because the Sheraton is a dog friendly hotel.
Here’s the rest of the shout outs to all the cosplayers, zombies, dogs, and guests we met this weekend:
Kelli (zombie in the skirt)
Kodi (zombie in the black shirt)
Shana (zombie in the white shirt)
Shannon McCarthy & Scott Lund (Umbrella Corps)
Daniel Wright (Hazmat)
Celeste (child victim in pink) 
Chloe (child victim in red and white shirt)
Itzl (no photo, but he’s always with Noddy)
Xoco (white chihuahua dog)
Kyoshi (the big dog)
Zoey (australian sheep dog puppy) & Nina (human)
Obiwan (the little ball of fur dog)
Peter S. Beagle (Wonderful author who had some very romantic life stories to share.)
Necro Kittie, Gin McRight, and  Matthew Yonk (steampunk – Airhsip 9th Wave)
Scott Lund & Shannon McCarthy (steampunk – Steam Engine Intrepid, and some pirates YAR!)
Joseph Codere (steampunk)
Ron & Kit Holley (The Riddler & Batgirl) along with their son Grayson (Robin) and his best friend Shaina (Supergirl).
Cecil McDonal (the 7th Doctor)
Chris (the young 11th Doctor)
Alta Beorn (Time Lady – Ramona II)
Sean (the 4th Doctor)
Nicole (the dalek), Nikolas (the tardis), and Chris (the 11th doctor)
We didn’t catch the name of the other 4th doctor and that’s our Captain in the photo with him wearing the costume for her Order character, Ren Asthea.
John (Steampunk Luigi) & Eddie (Steampunk Mario)
Ashley Clayton (Princess Leia in the Ewok Village)
Dena Curtis (slave Leia)
Chris Curtis (Jedi Obiwan)
Evan (star trek uniform)
Latetia Duke (female jedi)
Jimmie Morgan (Lando Calrissian – Billy Dee Williams Look-a-like – looklikebillydeewilliams@gmail.com)
Scott Lund (Steampunk Storm Trooper)
We didn’t get the name of the Boba Fett or the kids, unfortunately!
Kyle (young Ghostbuster) – we misplaced the names for the other Ghostbusters!
Xander (Professor Stein – Soul Eater)
David & Staci (Deadmau5)
Daniel (Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter)
Blaine (Bane… with green Deadmau5 ears in the background)
Shawn (steampunk – white lab coat)
Laura (Raggedy Anne)
Zenon “Z” Awful (pirate)
Paula Sophia Schonauer (an actual veteran Police Offer of Oklahoma City)
Lady Giselle & Annie (the lady and her little faery girl)
Amy (Jean Grey Black Queen and several other costumes)
Booster Gold & Blue Beetle (Sorry, they didn’t give their real names!)
Evan (Captain America)
Cathy (Steampunk Poison Ivy)
We didn’t catch the name of the Columbia – Rocky Horror girl.
Levina (Gothic Lolita)
Hollie (Steampunk)
Aly (Steampunk)
Jennene (Steampunk Victorian – mooharpest@me.com)
Rayne (red fuzzy punk)
Eve (catgirl with Rayne)
We did not catch the names of the last 5 people.
Airship Horizons
We test ran our products for the first time at Soonercon. We sold a lot of handmade Steampunk Mascots and Nerf mods. Our Steampunk Mascots were dress-up (vests, belts, ties, top hats, monocles, mustaches, etc) Dodo Birds, Monsters, Jackalopes, and a chocolate-scented Kitty. We also had non-dress-up octopuses, some Miyazaki’s, and a dinosaur. We had only a few nerfs mods. Sales went well! We plan to sell again at other conventions.

Aetherfest 2012 Review

As you read this review please keep in mind that it is written from only the opinions and observations from our crew. We were not on convention staff and we were not vendors. We sat in on one panel (Dark Steampunk) with Steam Engine Intrepid, and otherwise were just VIP-bought attendees there to enjoy the convention like most others. Also, it’s important to know that we were not at the first Aetherfest, so this was a first impression for us as well. With that said, we’ll cover what we didn’t like first, and then cover what we did like, so we can end on a good note.

What We Didn’t Like

We were part of the Dark Steampunk panel with Steam Engine Intrepid at twelve thirty in the afternoon as the first panel of the convention. This was too early, and everyone had to make additional plans and struggle to be there for that panel. The Dark Professor was still scheduled to be at work at that time, so he had to pull some strings in order to be at the panel. Three people (including myself) were there on time and the rest showed up as soon as they could. We only had 30 minutes for the panel.

In addition to this, the hotel check-in wasn’t until 4pm which meant people didn’t have rooms to get changed into costumes and had nowhere to put their luggage. This made it very inconvenient and stressful. We feel like the convention panels started too early prior to hotel check-in. The hotel liked saying that this is a standard check-in for ALL hotels, but we disagree. We’ve been attending a lot conventions for over 10 years (mostly larp and gaming cons) all over the US and this is the first hotel we’ve ever been to that had such a late check-in. Most hotels we’ve been too were noon to 2pm check-in. So, maybe check-in is just late in the day out in Texas, but in all honesty it felt like a poor excuse.

Fortunately, there were people who were kind enough to share their room space (as a few people arrived a day early). Both Cameron (one of the Convention planners) and Jeremiah & Kelly Loder offered us a place to get ready. We stored our luggage in The Loder’s room and got into costume. We’ll talk more about these kinds of positive things further on.

While it was nice to have the same room for all the panels, which made it super easy to find any panel, it had some draw backs for us. There were few panels that we were interested in at this convention. Not to say that the panels weren’t good. When we didn’t want to attend a specific panel, there really wasn’t anything else for us to do. At most conventions, there are panels scheduled on top of each other, so there are more choices. At this convention, the panel didn’t overlap so that you could attend all the panels. With only one panel running at a time, there were times where we felt like there was nothing to do if you weren’t interested in gaming or buying something in the vendors room. We also felt like some popular panels or interesting panels were too short, and some panels were too long.

While it was nice having a description of each panel on the schedule, it wasn’t as easy to check the times of the events. Having the time grid makes it easy to see when and where a panel or event is scheduled and how everything lines up. If there was a schedule sheet like this floating around, we missed it. The schedule we had was missing an open and closing time for the vendors room, registration, and the SCARS Larp… or we didn’t see it, which still poses an issue. We couldn’t properly plan a visit to the vendors room, or coordinate with people to play in the LARP together. We completely missed it, which was disappointing.

First, we had to deal with hotel issues the majority of the day on Friday – which we’ll get to later – so we didn’t have a chance to play. Then on Saturday, we had some prior obligations during the morning and noon, which wasn’t a big deal because we figured we’d play after noon into the evening. We were then being stopped by random people wanting to role play with us and needing to discuss breaking a spell… obviously there was something fun going on and people wanted to role play with us. So, we stopped to talk to Jim (who was running the LARP) only to find out the LARP was going to be over in about an hour. There was going to be soft larp all night, but the main event was pretty much over by the time we got food and other obligations out of the way. This was very disappointing! If we had known the actual LARP schedule, we could have planned our activities better. If this was posted somewhere, I can’t imagine how we missed it.

As for vendors, there were a couple of observations. First, there seemed to be a lot of empty space that could have been used for more vendors. Butterfly Creations was up in the terrace in the miserable heat outside, and judging from the space in the vendors room all weekend, they could have been in placed in the comfort of the air conditioned vendors room. However, we don’t really know if they were in the terrace for a specific reason or by request, this was just an observation of space vs location.

In fact, we feel like more guest vending could have been accommodated in the vendors room as well. Having the guests vending in the gaming room felt out of the way and less trafficked. I was told there was a sign that directed people to the guest vending, and I did hear some announcements here and there directing people to them, but it didn’t seem like this was enough. I never saw the sign, so I’m not sure what else to say about the advertising. One of our crew members spent a majority of his time in the gaming room and he observed traffic to and from the Con-Ops room and some flow for the auction, but not much traffic overall. Even our Captain took a stroll up there and spent a couple of hours of observation and concurred that it seemed like a lack of traffic. It’s shame, because they were very friendly and welcoming, and there was some really nice stuff up there!

Our crew had the VIP badges, because we enjoy the extra perks… but we didn’t feel it this time. We got shirts, but they didn’t accommodate our heavier sized crew member. He informed them weeks prior to the event that he would need a 4X size. At the registration table, the shirt vendor said he did not get this information from whomever handled our transaction, so our crew member didn’t get a shirt. Then there was the preferred seating that we thought VIP passes would include. There was no clearly mark VIP seating. We didn’t attend many panels this time around, so we can’t say whether or not it posed a problem. It still felt like the perks were a bit lacking. Then there was the dinner.

We love the idea of having a VIP dinner, but it was very poorly communicated. We didn’t know what we would be getting for diner and didn’t get a choice. We were sitting at the table with salads and drinks being brought out and none of the wait staff could tell us what the meal was going to be. Airship Aurora joined us for dinner and their Captain notified them they needed a vegetarian meal. It looked like an impromptu toss together of vegetables and didn’t look all that appetizing or fulfilling… but I can’t know for sure since I wasn’t the one eating it. The salad and chicken dinner wasn’t too bad for the majority of our crew, but one of our crew mates didn’t like it at all. Not having a choice was less of a bother then not knowing what we were getting until it arrived at the table. Also, having the dinner outside in Texas on a hot humid day made the experience far less enjoyable for us. We would have loved to enjoy more of the performances and table mingling, but it was just too miserable outside. Our Captain was dealing with a health issue (non-contagious) all weekend, so being in the heat for long periods was just not an option.

So, now that we’ve covered the Convention specific topics, let’s get to the root of the problem… the Hotel. As beautiful as that hotel was, it was not worth the terrible service. The St Anthony Hotel in San Antonio, TX is supposed to be a Luxury Hotel, but it lacked the Luxury service. This may sound harsh, but we had a terrible experience that caused an outburst of anger. We currently have no plans to attend the next Aetherfest if it’s at the same hotel. Luckily, I saw a comment on a recent thread that says the next Aetherfest won’t be there – good! We felt like they didn’t care about the Steampunk convention, as much as they say they did, as well as didn’t provide our crew and friends with the proper service that we payed for.

First of all, it took the hotel 9 hours to get our room situation resolved, and even then it was sub-par and making due with what we could get. The 4pm check-in and poor excuses was annoying at best, but not unmanageable. However, the nine hours of stress and anger was completely unacceptable. We arrived early because we needed to be ready for the Dark Steampunk panel… we wanted enough time to arrive, get breakfast, get into costume, and hopefully checked in. We spoke to the front desk about early check-in and advised them of exactly what we needed. They said they would call us as soon as what we needed was available. They never called us. As people with the same type of rooms and arrangements were saying they had checked in, we got the impression that they had our type of rooms available but hadn’t bothered to contact us. So, we check the front desk and sure enough there are rooms available. We were not thrilled that they hadn’t bothered to contact us. Fine, it was another annoying but manageable situation. We actually loved the room we were in… it was spacious and lovely. Then The Intrepid arrived.

We find out there are no adjoining rooms, which was what was on the reservations. It was specifically asked that Intrepid and Horizons have adjoining rooms on the reservations and we were told that would happen. When we were later told there is no such type of room at the hotel, we felt lied to. As a compromise, we agreed to have us move into another room and have our crews side by side… but the rooms weren’t cleaned yet. So, we have Intrepid and the Captain of Airship Aurora in our room until everyone can get their rooms worked out. During this compromise, our Captain very specifically asked, does our room have TWO bathrooms AND TWO beds. They said yes. She asked a second time TWO BATHROOMS, and was told yes again.

We waited several hours and talked to the front desk three times to finally get the rooms. The rooms were not correct. They did not have two bathrooms. Even the Intrepid crew didn’t get the rooms they needed. One bathroom will not work for three adults and three children. Due to some health issues between Horizon crew members, it’s extremely inconvenient to share the bathroom, so this is just not acceptable. So, then we have to move rooms yet again, and wait yet again. When we get to our next room, there are people in it.

At this point, we’ve changed rooms, never got what our (both crews) reservations where set for, and it’s been nine hours. After being in a car for 8 hours, and then dealing with the hotel for 9 hours, we are tired, hungry, and cranky. Our Captain had been on the side lines, fuming, letting the First Officer and Intrepid deal with the issue. Now, the Captain goes off like a bomb. Attempts from our First Officer and She IS are fruitless as our Captain storms through the hotel and goes off at the front desk. You have to know that we don’t make scenes, throw tantrums, and foster drama, but at this point our Captain is so angry she is seeing red. People at the front desk are overwhelmed and not dealing with the situation appropriately. At that point, the staff should have immediately fetched a manager… instead the Captain demands a manager. In frustration of the lack of ability of the staff to react appropriately, she turns and goes upstairs to the management office and gets one herself.

We won’t go into details on the explicits, but our demands are met. The manager finds us an appropriate room then escorts us up to it to inspect it before moving anything. There were apologies, hugs (yes, management hugged the Captain), and in the end they comped the first night and parking charges for both crews, provided dinner for Intrepid, and also supplied some beverages for the Order Birthday Party (we’ll tell you about that later on).

Now, don’t get me wrong, all was not well. This room was smaller than the original room and not nearly as nice. The bed posts were obnoxious because they constricted the view of the TV and the beds were extremely creeky. No one could turn over in the bed or get up for a potty without waking up everyone else. This room was not even on the same floor as the Intrepid. Our two crews very much wanted to be close, but alas we didn’t get what we wanted. At least at this point, the bomb was defused and Captain was able to tend to her health needs.

There were other great disappointments with this hotel. One of our crew members spotted a roach… only one… but one is enough to cause a problem if it happens to travel home in the luggage or end up in someone’s food in the kitchen. We talked to house keeping and told them very specifically that we needed more towels and toilet paper for BOTH bathrooms. They were asked three times, and in the end only supplied one bathroom. We had to ask them again for more towels and toilet paper. They also rang the room door bell every morning at 9am while we’re still sleeping, which is very annoying. Why don’t they do their rounds at noon like other hotels we’ve been to? There were also occasions when I had placed the latch so that the door wouldn’t close all the way because I was tired of having to go let people in the room every ten minutes while I’m trying to relax. Every ten or so minutes house keeping was knocking on the door yelling into the room “Do you want your door open, Miss?” Why yes! Yes I do. That’s why it’s open. Now please stop asking.

For lunch on Saturday, we arrive at the pub an hour and 15 minutes prior to the Birthday party. There are several empty but not yet cleaned tables. We sit at the one clean table. There is no one to take orders, so you have to go up to the bar to make your order or to get a menu. Our order consisted of two cheeseburgers, one nachos, and three drinks. As we waited for nearly the entire hour and 15 minutes, we see the bus boy come around and slowly clean one table and then disappear. So there are several people standing around who eventually leave when no one bothers to clear tables. Finally, a bar/kitchen manager comes by and asks how we are doing. We complain and she very quickly gets our order taken care of. By this time, we have to very quickly scarf down food… no room for tasting it! Then get off to our other obligations. All in all, the staff of the hotel seemed pretty incompetent or perhaps they were just lazy.

The majority of the hotel was hot. When we first arrived at the hotel, the lobby was miserable. Then several hours later, the lobby was suddenly very cool and nice. Obviously, they had just turned on, or turned up the A/C. The hallways and bathrooms were all hot. The vendors room, gaming room, and ballroom were ice cold. They obviously had good A/C, but it really felt like they were cutting corners. For a Luxury hotel, you would think the whole building would be air conditioned. Before the Church Convention, the lobby was nice and cold. Yes, the church convention.

One minute, there is Aetherfest and then suddenly, I come down and find a Church event with a casino setup in the lobby with scantily clad woman and their young children present (how inappropriate). I start hearing that people are being kicked out of the lobby, that these church people are harassing our members about being in the lobby because they are having a private party. There were people saying that the Hotel breeched the Aetherfest contract, because our registration and vending room had to be closed and the lobby was pretty much off limits. Personally, we walked through that lobby whenever we pleased, because it was ridiculous, but we didn’t get hassled by anyone.

The next day, the lobby was hot again and despite complaints it remained hot. The excuse that it’s just spotty was just that, a lame excuse. When the lobby was crowded with scantily clad church goers, the lobby was obviously air conditioned and well capable of handling the occupancy. The hotel clearly had no regard for the comfort of the Aetherfest guests but cared plenty for the other convention party.

On Saturday, Airship Isabella begins getting their vending stuff prepared. It’s my understanding that they have a private guest room setup for their vending. This is where the Order Birthday Party is supposed to happen because ASI is great like that! The manager asks me where the birthday party will be (since they are providing some drinks) and when I mention the location she says there is a mistake because ASI doesn’t have a private room in the contract. So, ASI ends up setting up their vending in the main lobby. It’s not a huge set back as far as I can tell, because the front lobby gets the most traffic and the party was held in the lobby without a hitch. However, this situation greatly annoyed our Horizons crew. We may not be part of Airship Isabella, but we have a great fondness for them and it only added to the negative hotel experience.

This whole ordeal made us feel like the hotel didn’t really care about this convention. They said several times that Aetherfest was important but their actions proved otherwise.

What We Enjoyed

The aesthetics of the hotel were amazing! There is no doubt that this hotel is gorgeous. It was an 1800’s style Victorian hotel with lots of brass, a grandfather clock, and huge chandeliers. We were very excited to come to this hotel because we wanted to take pictures. Sadly, due to the constant disappointments and heat, we didn’t do the photos we had intended.

The hotel was two blocks away from The Alamo. The Steampunk group gathered and walked together in a parade to the Alamo to take a giant group photo. It was hot outside, but it was great! People out in the town were fascinated and taking photos of us. It was really cool.

As we mentioned earlier on, when we didn’t have a hotel room yet, both Cameron and The Loder’s offered to let us use their rooms to get into costume and store our luggage. They didn’t have much room in their single-bed room but they were very generous, letting three people hang out in their room and even allow one of us to nap on their bed while they went out for a walk in town. We talk to other people who said others had done the same for them. We also had people in our room temporarily. It was very nice that people were helping each other out and trying to make the best out of situations. This is part of what makes such a great community!

There was a point in which Pablo (who ran the convention), and Cpt. Whittaker and Amelia Whittaker of Airship Isabella (ASI) were having a private talk with hotel management. After the meeting, this manager approached the Captain and First Officer to talk about the issues our crew experienced. This gave us the impression that Pablo and ASI addressed the fact that we had issues, which was fantastic! It’s nice knowing that people in our community put some real care and backing into each other. Management was checking in with our Captain throughout the weekend.

From our observations, both Pablo and Cameron handled the hotel issues and complaints as calmly and with as much poise as anyone possibly could. They remained positive in attitude and friendly all weekend. Also, seeing a recent comment that the next Aetherfest wouldn’t be at that hotel means we can make plans to attend without dreading the hotel. Pablo was also very receptive to the feedback that our First Officer gave him. We appreciate the hard work and positive nature of both hosts.

Despite what we didn’t like some things about how the panels were arranged, it was nice knowing exactly where every panel was and not having to choose between two great panels. You could go to any panel you wanted to go to. This was extremely convenient. It also a lot of fun being part of the Dark Steampunk panel again. There were interested people and some laughter.

Saturday was when most of the fun happened for us, since the majority of Friday was wasted. The Order Birthday Party was great. The Order and Faust came out to give love to The Child. There was chocolate trains and gears, cupcakes, some drinks, and presents. The Child had a good time, and everyone seemed to really enjoy the short but pleasant festivity. Even Darwin Prophet was playing music on the piano for everyone!

It was also really cool having Airship Isabella in the main lobby (Peacock Alley). It seemed like no matter where you were headed, you could stop and say “Hi!” to any number of the ASI crew. Being right in the lobby meant they were often the first steampunks any hotel guests would see and talk to. It drew in some curiosity and possibly attracted new people to the community. In fact, one of our favorite things to do is buy stuff from ASI! Our First Officer had some new commissions to pick up and as always, we loved it! I highly recommend going to ASI for commissions for things like armor, masks, gun holsters, goggles, and top hats (and just about anything). They put a lot of effort, love, and pride into their work and we’ve never been disappointed!

Speaking of ASI, we had a great private talk with Cpt Whittaker and She IS. This meeting was one thing we looked forward to, in order to share ideas and get input on plans for the future. It’s not something we can really talk about at this time, but it’s worth saying that there is a lot of creativity that goes into the community and more to come. We were both flattered and inspired, and we hope to help contribute a lot more to the community in the coming year. It was hard to get him pinned down, but we got our schedules worked out!

We love the idea of VIP passes with perks. At the Emerald City Expo we really enjoyed the dinner (with entertainment) and preferred seating (seats reserved up front at panels and concerts). Despite the disappointments we mentioned earlier in this article, we did still like that there were VIP passes at this convention. It’s nice having one meal that you don’t have to spend on at the convention, since it’s included with your VIP purchase. It was a nice dinner where we could mingle with other Airship Crews. We had a great time!

We also enjoyed the gaming room. The gaming room was nice and cool, so when the lobby and other locations were miserably hot, it was nice to take a break in the gaming room. The Guest Vendors were so welcoming and nice… and in some occasions they were entertainingly silly. On Saturday night a group of us (including Little Beard) enjoyed a card game and let off some steam until about 2am in the morning. It was great that the game room stayed open all night, so people had a place to gather and have a good time without resorting to a cramped hotel room. This also meant that others could just drop in and join the game. This was just an impromptu thing and a fun time!

The auction was another great thing to come out of this convention. Our First Officer Thomas Reinier brought up the idea of having a charity auction and our group COGS (Central Oklahoma Grassland Steamers) decided on Autism Speaks as the charity. He brought the idea to A Steampowered Cause to get it in motion, since we were not prepared to plan it ourselves. There was a lot of work put into it and the auction went very well ($1300 raised)! We’d like to say thank you to Jennifer Anne Rodriguez, Robb Bates, and everyone who donated or bid at the auction!

It was also a surprise and pleasure to find Shane DeFreest at the convention with a press pass. We consider Shane to be a Titan in the rpg industry. We met Shane back in a LARPing club we’d been in for about 10+ years. It was great being able to chat with him about our community and our new hobby of Steampunk. He seemed to really enjoy himself and he fit in well. Our First Officer introduced him to Airship Isabella and we hope they get a chance to talk more! We think he’d be a great asset to the community.

As always, the people are the best part of the convention. We loved mingling and talking with people, making jokes and being utterly silly, getting to know people, and just having fun together. We enjoyed the company of Steam Engine Intrepid (because we love you guys!), Airship Isabella, Airship Aurora, Little Beard, The Loder’s, and many other crews and steamers. Thank you all for making this convention worth it!

In conclusion, we were disappointed but we accomplished the goals we had and greatly enjoyed the people and events. Next year, we are hopeful for something great.