Monday, September 12, 2011

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

Kathy and I got up early and caught a cab to the convention at 7am to set up for an 8am opening. It was pretty deserted except for some other vendors who had the same idea as we did. We grabbed a table, staked out our space, and quickly unpacked. Once people started ambling in, it turned into a full on meet-and-greet. We were delighted to say hello to many of our previous readers, as well as to connect with new readers and FaceBook friends. Hail to the mermaids in the crowd – Mermaid Malena (middle of second picture), Marla, Shelley, Cate, Sora, Anita and co. We saw them in their human incarnation and later on poolside in their mermaid incarnation.

People embraced Elf~Fin and we loved that (and them!). The story is only at its beginning but some enthusiastic fans read it from cover to cover and then returned immediately to deconstruct it with me and make early proclamations about who their favourite characters were. We also brought some Black Mermaid™ (Las Vegas) stock with us ... The mugs sold out and we sold a little of everything else. I was really happy that the cushions did well because that's my favourite product. Many people enquired about t-shirts but we didn't have the resources to bring in mirrors, and multiple sizes in multiple colours in multiple styles. We directed – and indeed are still directing people – to the Black Mermaid Boutique for clothing. Unfortunately, we had ordered stock for a two-day convention and it was reduced to one-day event, so we had to send our surplus products back home the next day which cost a veritable fortune and had Kathy sitting on top of the boxes and me taping madly to squash them into US Postal Service regulation sizes.

The afternoon brought the Mermaid Pageant. I could only see glimpses from my vantage point but was delighted to hear that Aussie little mermaid – 4-year old Isabella Chidiac from Shimmerbaby Mermaids (that's her mum Renae on the right in the second picture) – won the children's category. This was followed by an author panel session then the Hannah Pool Party where Hannah Mermaid and MeduSirena performed before a huge crowd. There were mermaids galore. Kathy took the plunge but I stayed on shore and chatted away. We didn't stay for the World Mermaid Awards because we had an offer to be delivered to the Mirage doorstop with all our multiple boxes and luggage – an offer too good to refuse. We got in around 10.30 and then I spent the next hour repacking everything into three boxes. Then we just crashed.

The next day we took a taxi to a post office which was near the airport (thank goodness it was open on a Saturday!). We wanted to get all our chores out of the way so we could have a bit of fun during our last couple of days. We had our first real meal at lunch time when we split an enormous mouth-high New York Reuben Sandwich with requisite pickle from the Carnegie Deli. Carolyn Turgeon, Matthea and Merman Chris picked us up and headed to the Star Trek Convention which was on at the Rio. My Australian friend, Trekkie and comics artist extraordinaire Marcelo Baez and his wife Rachael had told me about it before I left and lamented the fact they wouldn't be able to see it so I said I would step in and check it out. We didn't have much time and we got there just as the convention doors burst open and all the delegates streamed out. Didn't see any actors but did get talk to some great Trekkies who were exceptionally friendly and quite centred and sane.

We then hit the Mer-Con VIP Pool Party which was held at Sita Lange (the organiser's) place. Great house and particularly great pool with bridges, waterfalls, a small spa – a perfect location for photo ops. I sat on the side of the pool, dangled my feet in the water and pretty much talked to most of the guests during the next few hours and watched the many beautiful mermaids cavort through the water (that's Diana Godin in the pic below), testing their tails and posing for photos. For the mermaid neophytes amongst you ... tails and hair are everything! We left after about four hours and by the time we got back it was too late to have dinner again.

The next morning we headed to the Parisian for breakfast. Our stomachs had shrunk so much during the last five days from a lack of food that despite the delicious fare we were nearly sick. We must add that the Parisian restrooms are gorgeous – ceramic flower decorated basins and toilets. We took photos. We then talked to a British tourist who said the toilets were equally as gorgeous in the men's room and he had taken pics as well.

We missed meeting up with Renae Chidiac and her girls and went shopping in Caesar's Palace, the New York, the Adidas shop and Sephora at Planet Hollywood. I always buy makeup and running shoes when I'm in the USA. I also stop by Bath and Body Works, this time to stock up on Coconut and Lime Body Butter. Returned to the Mirage and then headed over to Treasure Island to see Cirque du Soleil Mystere. The show was delightful – magical, homo-erotic in parts, innocent and sophisticated at the same time. We were in the front row middle and Kathy got a small walk-on audience participation part which she relished. We paid for our hotel, negotiated and late checkout and then returned to our room. I spent the next three hours watching Reba reruns (as well as half of The Da Vinci Code) while packing and repacking and turfing things I no longer needed to squeeze everything into my suitcase and carry-on luggage so they wouldn't break the scales at the airport. Finally got a few hours sleep.

On our last day we hopped on a bus and headed downtown to visit the shop where Pawn Stars is filmed. Coincidentally it was screening for the first time in Australia that week. Kathy had lugged in a photo album of old WWII fighter pilot photos to see if they could be valued but the guy doing the assessment said the shop didn't handle that kind of memorabilia. The bouncer at the door was downright scary.

We returned to the Mirage, grabbed lunch at the buffet and Kathy departed for Wisconsin again. I want to thank her here for her fabulous support ... she was a great pillar of strength to me during our entire Mer-Con adventure.

I waited around for a couple of hours then headed to the airport. After passing through security I stopped at a small kiosk to buy an OJ then watched a woman in a black track suit walk up beside me. I asked her whether she had enjoyed the Star Trek convention. She said she had, and told me she was on her way to Australia to attend another in Melbourne followed by one in Sydney. We chatted for a few minutes and then I headed towards my gate. She ended up at the same gate but in one row behind where I was sitting. At an opportune moment and so that I wouldn't draw too much attention to her and breach her privacy, I approached her again and told her it would be my honour if she would accept a copy of Elf~Fin. She smiled and held her hand out. I gave her the copy, thanked her and moved away. It turned out I had accidentally sat down at the wrong gate ... lucky I checked my ticket otherwise I could have missed my flight.

By the way, the woman was Kate Mulgrew who played Captain Janeway on Voyager.

I promptly texted Marcelo and Rachael in Australia who just said "Awesome!".

It turned out that Rachael got to meet Kate too at the Sydney event a week later.


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