Another WesterCon gone, and a successful one it was, too. A couple of days before the Con began, Earl was saying gloomily that the Committee was $100 in the red, and he didn't know whether they'd pull out of it or not. After the Con, the Committee was able to pass $100 on to next year's WesterCon Committee, and put another $100 in storage for any future WesterCon that doesn't get a gift from its immediate predecessor. I heard that the hotel sold about 4 times as much liquor as it was expecting to, which should get us invited back, in case we ever want to go back.
The TOFF fund is now over the $600 mark, thanks largely to funds collected at the WesterCon. Our little maneki-neko, which was on duty in the Art Show room, got filled several times with small change. The FIAWOL and FIJAGH buttons that the Trimbles had brought sold just about enough to make back the expenses for their printing, so any that're sold from this point on are pure profit for TOFF. The auction of the material donated by Gene Rodenberry brought over $150 alone, and we have more to bring to the NyCon. We've got what amounts to a flat $75 bid for the 12 pages of original Atom comic-book artwork that you saw displayed around the walls of the comic-book exhibit room, too. People (well, kids) kept asking me whether it was for sale, and as a set or as individual sheets? I told them that, although we'd like to keep the story together for scholarly purposes, we'd probably have to break it up and sell it by the sheet to get maximum value for TOFF; so, in the mail order bid we'll be holding, we'll start out with a $75 minimum for those who do want a chance to buy the whole set, and sell it by the sheet if we can't get the minimum. "Oh, I'll pay the $75," said one kid who'd already spent more than that in the auction, so we know he's got the money. At any rate, with what TOFF made at this WesterCon, and with what it'll probably make at the NyCon, we should make our $1,000 goal in plenty of time to assure Takumi and his wife that they will indeed be coming to the '68 WorldCon.
Going through all of the stuff that I got at the Con, I find the latest issue of WORLD COINS, which Dan Alderson was kind enough to pick up for me, since it's all sold out here in Los Angeles. The reason that I mention this is that it has an article on the paper money of Tibet (pre-Red China), which says that Tibetan paper money carried a printer's stamp reading "The government house, by Heaven appointed, completely victorious in ten directions." I'm going buggy trying to figure out what those ten directions could possibly be. Do any of you have any suggestions?
Instead of merely being good for all debts, public and private, Tibetan money possessed "full value which brings glory, power, profit, happiness." Let's remember that when we finally design that much-talked-about fannish currency.
Getting back to the Con itself, those who felt that the TriCon was too crowded for comfort must've been quite happy with this WesterCon. The attendance at most events seemed very light, even though I hear that we had an estimated total attendance of over 300, which is doing very well for a WesterCon. The program that seemed to me to be the best attended was the costume ball, which was played to a packed room, but was well handled. The fashion show and the two Gilbert & Sullivan pastiches were also well attended, but aside from that, the main ballroom was less crowded than I expected it would ordinarily have been. There were speculations by some (light gripes from those who hoped to sell things) that the light turnout was actually due to the light programming that the ConCom had arranged. Instead of programs all day long, to get fans out of bed early and to keep 'em around the hotel, the light programming provided no incentive to get up before noon, and with many program items loosely scheduled during the afternoon, with an hour or two between events, many people just skipped some things to leave the hotel and go shopping or sightseeing around L.A. Ben Stark in particular said that he always sells more during a heavily programmed Con than during a lightly programmed one. (I suppose that we can expect a heavily programmed BayCon II, then.
The costume ball was particularly excellent. There were a number of superb costumes and almost no really bad ones. All too often, a costume ball will get 4 or 5 Draculas, and the like, and several loosely thrown-together jobs that aren't seriously in competition, but that get the wearers one walk-through of the judging line. This year, though, there was only one Dracula, and almost all of the costumes were well-made and very good looking. The judges had to juggle the categories around a bit to be able to award the prizes to the best costumes, but I don't disagree with any of their choices. The background music was very well applied by changing records on a record player, I believe, demonstrating clearly that a live band is not only a useless expense but an esthetic liability. I don't know who selected the music, but the right melodies were played with the right costumes, and the music never drowned out the announcer. The special performance of 'Spaceboy' was also a success; the poem that read so badly in the Program Book was very impressive as presented visually on the stage by Miss Marly, and the rapid pulse of the electronic music and the poem's delivery offset the poor quality of the verse itself. Though the room was crowded, I don't think that anybody's view was blocked; the m.c. and his helpers did a good job of getting all of the people in the front of the room to sit down. This is the sort of performance that deserves to be emulated, and I hope that future costume balls at WesterCons and WorldCons can match it.
On the whole, the hotel itself was quite good. The main complaint was against the price of food, but there were enough coffee shops within a couple of blocks that this didn't present much of a problem. The rooms were nice and large (the double that I shared with Len Bailes was, at least), at a reasonable price. The elevators were acceptably prompt; and I noticed that several of the delays that did occur could be traced to certain fans who made a habit of punching the buttons for every single floor as they got out. The fact that the main program room and the registration desk were across a fire escape from the rest of the Con was a trifle disconcerting, but no real trouble once the layout of the hotel was once learned. ("I've just figured out that this is really the Labyrinth Sheraton", as somebody remarked.) The fans all seemed to have rooms fairly close together, and I didn't hear of any parties being broken up because of noise. All in all, it was a definite relief after last year's fiasco.
Not too many people attended the business session at the end of the last day; I gather that a lot of people thought that it had been called off, since Brandon had given the '68 WesterCon to the Bay Area by fiat a couple of days earlier. The business that was brought up -- to require that WesterCons be bid for two years in advance -- was rightly tabled, since it involved too drastic and important a change to be considered fully in the small time allotted to it here. Now we have a whole year to examine all of its advantages and pitfalls.
And they say that Earl Kemp is working on a serious bid for Tijuana in '69...