Not Explaining The Convention We Didn’t Go To


My love and I were wondering last weekend when MediaWest*Con might be. This is a small but ancient science fiction/TV/movies/et cetera convention that’s been held in Lansing for the past Like 37 years [1]. We had no idea. We only found out about it last year because a friend was going to it and asked if we wanted to meet up for dinner during a slow stretch. It turned out the convention was being held just that weekend, right as we were wondering when it might be.

We couldn’t go. They only sell 700 attending memberships and were sold out. But we found this magnificent question and answer on their web site:

3. Why do you have Apocryphal memberships and allow pets?

We found some people were buying full memberships for their stuffed critters, so we started offering Apocryphal memberships for stuffed or live critters and for alternate identities so as not to take up already limited regular memberships.

As for pets, we had started bringing our dogs to the con so we didn’t have to board them, which cleared the way for others to bring their pets, as long as they get along with the other animals and members (which goes for the humans as well!). Some people miss their pets too much, and some pets don’t do well without their people.

This is my favorite sort of explanation. It’s clear, concise, and doesn’t explain a thing. That thing: wait, there were so many people buying memberships for their stuffed dolls that it was creating resentment in the standby list? How many people was that? Surely not one, because who’d notice that? Ten? Again, nobody would notice ten people not there because toys were instead. 680? That’s more plausible. It suggests there a time in Like 1994[2], when the convention was twenty people and hundreds upon hundreds of plush dolls dressed in Star Trek, Blake’s 7, and Bruce Campbell costumes. All staring at the people who couldn’t get in. And someone declared, “there must be something we can do! And I know what it is!” And that lone person was a stuffed Vulcan-eared teddy bear dressed up like George Francisco from Alien Nation, and was the voice of reason.

Also I like how pets are allowed because hey, pets.


[1] 35 or 38 years depending on how you count some stuff.

[2] For example 1993, 1995, or possibly 1994.

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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there.

4 thoughts on “Not Explaining The Convention We Didn’t Go To”

  1. Interesting you mention Blake’s 7 costumes. Or Blake’s 7 at all, which nobody ever remembers these days, except half a dozen people at sci-fi conventions on odd-numbered years. A pity, it was far better than any other show its its genre. A crew of psychopaths who weren’t exactly good, even if they weren’t exactly evil – this in a time when stories tended to be black-and-white. I suppose the special effects let it down (the alien fleet that clearly consisted of spray-painted yoghurt pots dangling on strings was a give-away at the end of the second season), but then that’s British for you, innit.

    I don’t know if anybody remembers ‘Moonbase 3’, either (it starred Ralph Bates, among other people). Another great British sci-fi of the period, with proper scientific science advice (as opposed to Hollywood style science advice) from James Burke.

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    1. Blake’s 7 was one of those series I always heard about, coming of age as a science fiction fan in the late 80s, but mostly by articles in Starlog that somehow never quite left me clear about what the show was about, besides, something or other in space. And then somewhere in the mid-90s it stopped being talked about, at least in the (American-dominated) science fiction circles I heard about, as if the attempt to make a semi-United-States version of Doctor Who crowded out everything else.

      But I do think of Blake’s 7 as the sort of thing that the serious (American) science fiction fan of the late 80s, hoping to stand out as a Real Connoisseur among all those Doctor Who fanboys, would cite. So it has the right popular-but-obscure sound for me.

      I don’t remember hearing of Moonbase 3 before, although the premise sounds interesting and I’m glad to read on Wikipedia that copies were found. Also that the description of the last episode, with an attempt to melt the polar icecaps (!) to free up new land for development (?!) somehow goes horribly wrong, sounds like possibly the Most British Science Fiction Of The 70s thing ever. Something to make Space: 1999‘s whole attitude of “let’s tromp on into the void until we die!” seem giddy.

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  2. I watched all the eps of Blake’s 7 when it first showed in the seventies. Definitely deserves chasing up. That last episode of ‘Moonbase 3’ was chilling – I watched it as a kid on first run and the memory of it never left me. But that was the thing about UK sci-fi, especially in the early 1970s – it tackled really significant adult issues in direct ways. Another was Anderson’s ‘UFO’, which was really a drama about people, edgy for its day, and very much in line with Brit TV of the day – almost contemporary with ‘The Professionals’, which was similar in approach. The fact that ‘UFO’ also dealt with aliens and actually featured spinning flying saucers making ‘woo woo’ noises as they flew was secondary (but did mean it was relegated to a childrens’ timeslot on broadcast, which kind of killed it.)

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    1. I don’t remember hearing of Moonbase 3 before but am intrigued. UFO I remember, although only dimly. I don’t think it aired where I might see it before the 1990s and the Sci-Fi Channel’s glory days of being filled with Gerry Anderson shows plus In Search Of reruns. That one I enjoyed the more the more I paid attention. The more casually I watched the less any of it registered. Which you’d think would necessarily follow, but there are shows you can just dip into and out of without getting too lost.

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