I can only imagine what it's like for guys who have gone to hundreds of conventions over the decades. I'm maybe four hours out of Too Many Games and it's already becoming a dreamlike miasma. Within 24 hours I won't remember what day I met anyone. Within a week most of the people will vague up into abstractions: a good dye job here, a awesome t-shirt there. Basically, what I'm saying is that the only guy I'll remember is the guy with aggro con-funk who looked like he overnighted in a Mumbai sewage ditch. Very friendly guy: I liked him a lot.
Before it all gets whooshed out of my head like so much Level 4 biocontaminant, lets see how much I can remember that's worth telling.
-- Signed a book for a mom to her son Andrew, who was elsewhere. Then a dad and his son come up, and I'm a single second away from writing down his name, which is also Andrew, when the mom shows up. She's his mom: both parents independently decided to buy the book for him. Andrew, you have awesome parents.
--A while back I signed a book for a guy named Eugene, who disappeared before I could give it to him. Ever since then, as small talk, I ask if anyone at the con knows a Eugene, because I have a book for him. "Eugene" is my one-armed, six-fingered man. Sunday a guy comes up with some buds, picks up a book, and opens it. Turns out he picked up the special Eugene edition. "Hey, Eugene, he already signed it for you," his friend said. I gasp. EUGENE! I HAVE FOUND A EUGENE! I Sharpied in a bit about how the book was fated to be reunited with its Eugene.
--First time this has happened to me, but a woman told me that she had my book at home and was reading it as we spoke. Well, she read it when she was at home, not at the convention, but she was in the process of reading it.
--Two dudes running a candle booth were across the aisle from me. Cool candles: one was shaped like a foamy glass of beer, and the man who bought it kept walking by me. I got fishhooked three times in a row by the same glass, always thinking it was going to spill. Turns out the guys, when not chandlers, were from Machinima. (That's me in the yellow shirt in their video.) Tens of thousands of people were watching from that unassuming candle shop all weekend.
--Across from me were some nice vendors selling gorgeous handmade quilts, radically underpriced. They had so many they had to drape two -- a Batman and a Superman -- over on my side of the partition, I didn't mind -- love Justice League -- but they also had a Mario quilt. They were happy enough to switch Supes for my favorite plumber, and all of the sudden my table got some primo advertising.
--Next to the undercover Machinima folks was brentalfloss -- well, he was there when he wasn't performing. I took the opportunity, when his line died down, to bring him over a copy of the Mario book with a question. A reviewer had said I referenced one of Brent's songs. I didn't remember doing so, but I have a chapter that has about a hundred Mario references a page, so it may very well have slipped in. He happily skimmed through the chapter, checking through the lists of Mario mentions, until he says "there."
--The guy in the table next to me was an insanely talented artist who customized hats. My cousins stopped by for the show, and one of them walked away with a dynamite Captain Olimar. I had the privilege of watching him, from scratch, in like an hour, take a blank hat and turn it into the single coolest piece of Zelda merchandise I'd ever seen. And he could ape just about any style: manga, blocky, stylized, lotsa colors, shading, airbrush, you name it. One of the more experienced vendors came over and started to laugh when he found out the hats were going for $20. "Twenty? These are FIFTY-DOLLAR HATS!" He was absolutely right. (If only I didn't have a massive Irish head...)
--I met a man who called himself Fat Chris: in my opinion, "Fat" Chris didn't eve make the top ten percent of fatness for this con, but maybe he's been working out. Anyway, Chris has all but about ten NES games: a serious collection. And he's one closer to a perfect run: he found a rarity that usually goes for $50 online for $30. Chris talked him down to $25.
-- I was hourly stunned at how much everyone in the con knew. Whenever I tried to impress someone with knowledge, they countered with their own knowledge. Maybe it got me brownie points, though, to know that that's not just a Wonder Woman shirt but a Phil Jimenez Wonder Woman shirt.
-- I have the same goal at every con: a Virtual Boy. Hard to find, but I found one here. Problem was, I found one before I even got to my booth, and I decided I'd head back there after a signing or two to reward myself. I didn't make it back in time, because I saw that Virtual Boy in the hands of a satisfied customer. He was buying it for parts. BTW, I could tell it was my white-whale Virtual Boy because the damn thing was muddy.
--Another white-whale item for me was a book called Phoenix by Leonard Herman. I've tracked down almost every video game book ever written -- and was reading some of them during the lags during the convention -- but I could never find Phoenix. Saturday morning, a guy walks by the booth holding Phoenix. The verb I'd use to describe what happened next was "accost": I accosted the guy and asked where he got that.
He got it from Leonard Herman. Who had been sitting 30 feet away from me and I didn't even notice. Needless to say, I now have a (autographed!) copy of Phoenix, and am one step closer to EVERY VIDEO GAME BOOK EVER...EVER...EVER...
I could go on and on and on, but it's now 11:30 and I'm tired, and the Mountain Dew was a very very long time ago. I will sadly shortchange everyone else I met during the con: the websites guys, the developers, the artists, the gamers, the collectors, the kids. I will be up all night if I keeping typing up "con stories." To quote someone with a Scottish accent, "let it go, Indiana."