Sunday, August 28, 2011

Adventures at Mer-Con & the World Mermaid Awards - Part I

I've been holding off writing a Mer-Con and World Mermaid Awards report because I've basically been sleep-walking through life since I returned from Las Vegas two Wednesdays ago ... had to plunge straight into pulling on all my animal husbandry skills on the farm and deal with the death of a gorgeous newborn lamb who didn't make it through the week despite having an utterly devoted mother (sobbed so much my dog Jake started shaking and consoling me!); cleaning up the family home for my parents who were returning from overseas after a near four month stint in Europe sailing through the Norwegian fiords, visiting the restored historical and cultural German city Dresden that had been bombed into oblivion during WWII, scoffing gelato on the Cinque Terre Trail in Italy and climbing the Alps in Austria amongst other activities. Then straight into a weekend of GRAPHIC at the Sydney Opera House followed by a week where I basically decompressed. I only really got my groove back yesterday. It wasn't jetlag, as I can sleep on planes and have no problem with multiple time zones, but more a case of sheer exhaustion after many months of working five jobs and running the farm by myself. Had to deal with broken plumbing, fox raids on the sheep pen, and lots of other things that just sadly and badly went wrong during a miserable Sydney winter.

Anyway ... downloaded pics yesterday and thought you might want to have a quick look at them. Las Vegas was pretty full-on so there was no time for R & R. MerCon and the WMA had shifted from the Mirage to the Silverton Hotel which was located 11 miles off the strip and had changed from a two-day event to a one-day event (see previous blog post). I had decided to keep my booking at the Mirage because I had already despatched two boxes of goods to the Business Centre before the announcement was made that the convention had moved. The other reason was that the special rates we had obtained were considerably cheaper than even the 20-25% off sale prices being advertised through Vegas accommodation websites. I don't get a chance to actually stay in first class accommodation very often and I just thought ... indulge, Julie .... it's your birthright. I indulged all right ... the room was lovely and the bed was the type you just want to snuggle up in all day and order room service. Alas, it was not too be. I kept late hours and had early mornings.

After arriving on the Wednesday, I had a quick shower and then picked up two boxes of merchandise from the Business Centre. I then headed off to the Bellagio to pick up some Cirque tickets for my sister before making a pit stop at the Jean Philippe Patisserie to indulge in some window drooling at the delightful sweet treats. I vowed to have one cake a day but it just didn't happen... we were far too busy so a raspberry tart on the first day just had to do.

Back at the hotel, I was expecting my friend and diva (I say this in the most loving way because she was born to stride down a staircase at a Broadway musical and belt out the signature song to a standing ovation!) Katherine Benoit from Wisconsin who has been my pen pal since we were 13 after we met in a NYC camping ground. There was a loud knock at the door and she swept into the room to give me a big loving bear hug. I bestowed on her some cans of passionfruit pulp which she craves and can't get back home plus a Black Mermaid™ Vegas t-shirt, and she gave me a lovely bottle of an obscure perfume that I love and I can't find back home. We then grabbed some eel sushi and looked for spas that offered manicures / pedicures and hairdressing services at a decent price. It was not too be. The starting price for a shampoo and blow-wave was US$85, which is just plain ridiculous. We didn't have time to go off the strip to look for alternative salons so I accepted the fact that my hair wasn't going to be mermaid-like in any shape or form during our stay. Turned out the budgeted beauty money went on cab fares to and from various venues (the buses were fine on the strip but a bit unpredictable otherwise).

The next day was my birthday but we were in full work-drill mode. Kathy gave me a lovely watch with mermaid trinkets inside the clockface, a gorgeous mermaid pendant and a purple glass slipper to reflect my love of shoes. We then shoved all our Black Mermaid™ Vegas product into a suitcase and caught a cab out to the Silverton which turned out to be partly a mermaid-themed hotel with a mermaid bar, a gallery wall of Will Cormier's gorgeous mermaid artwork; a huge aquarium, which showcased mermaids feeding the marine life at scheduled times; and an indoor waterfall with its own live ducks near a fishing shop.

Checked in our suitcase with the bell-hop and proceeded to look around. The front desk didn't know much about the convention so we just explored. We met Arlene Brooks who was a mermaid at Weeki Wachee in Florida in 1967, who turned out to be sharp, energetic and hilarious in one sprightly mer package. Also found the pool which was to be the venue for the Hannah Pool Party the following night. It wasn't very big so we wondered how all the mers were going to fit in. Sat down at the mermaid lounge in silver scale-like mermaid tail chairs suitably named after mermaid or ocean characters – Arial, Flipper and the like – and watched luminescent jellyfish in the tanks behind the mermaid figurehead sculpture.

We then found the actual space where Mer-Con was being held – a large white room with a stage, chandeliers and what looked like ornamental antlers around the place. The hotel conference manager said we could only set up the next morning at 6.30 so we left and then proceeded to play every mermaid (and sea monkey) slot game we could find at a $1.00 per gaming machine. Lost everything (by that I mean about five bucks)!

We were starving by now so we grabbed a meal at the buffet which I am sorry to say was not that good. We ended up only eating once a day for the first five days because by the time we made it home each night, it was far too late to eat as it would have stressed out our digestive systems. We caught a bus back to the terminal outside the strip and then another bus to our hotel then had a quick nap and got ready for a book signing at Barnes & Noble which was about 15 miles out of town. The cab driver was quite amusing. He offered to take us to a bookstore that was actually in town. We had to explain our rationale to him because he had no concept of a signing.

At the bookstore, guest of honour Hannah Mermaid read a passage from Carolyn Turgeon's Mermaid (a beautiful retelling of A Little Mermaid which I've just started reading), followed by readings from Tera Lynn Childs who writes the Fins series for young adults, Matthea Harvey who writes and recites mermaid poetry that even a philistine like I can understand and appreciate, and the effervescent Mrs Weeki Wachee Kylee Trochee, resplendent in a blue tail as opposed to Hannah Mermaid's shimmering green, yellow and pink tail. And for all you mermaid neophytes ... remember that in the "mer" world, the tail is everything.


Cat said...

Wow! Looks like a wonderful event and a fun way to spend your birthday. Glad you were able to attend

Black Mermaid Productions said...

Thanks, Cat.