I had a very good time in Minneapolis at Fiddler’s Green. Tried to bid on a number of things, but came up short in all of them. Got lots of things signed, though, and ate lots of wonderful food.
Started on very little sleep, as I decided my vaguely Gaiman related costume would be Arthur Dent (he wrote the first guide to the Guide), and figured out how to make my Treo into a mini Hitchhiker’s Guide (splash screen said ‘Don’t Panic’, mp3s from the radio show, the Infocom game, a pdf of the first book, and almost the movie trailer – rate was too high for the player). I didn’t get to bed until 4:30, and had to get up again by 6:30. I slept on the plane some. I would have called it a puddlejumper if it hadn’t had jet engines, but it got us there quickly enough.
We got a cab to the Millennium hotel, who allowed us to check in right away. It was the only long stretch of uninterrupted time, so we unpacked, then strolled around downtown, mostly Nicollet Mall. The Target was enormous. We ate lunch at Marshall Fields – soup and sandwiches. Back at the hotel, registration had started, and we got in line. Afterwards, we headed up to the 14th floor where there was a release party for Neil’s new chapbook, and he and the artist were signing. Next we volunteered to do jobs. Jill worked at the registration desk while I guarded the con suite for a couple hours. Since I couldn’t leave, Jill came up and we had food from Davanniâ€™s – I had another sandwich (salami and bacon) and Jill had lasagna, plus we shared a salad. After dinner, Neil read a cool new story, “Sunbird”, followed by a new passage of “Anansi Boys”. Then he showed new footage of “Mirrormask”, the film from him and Dave McKean. He actually had the whole thing on DVD, but couldn’t be convinced to show us the whole thing. Jill went to bed, and I went upstairs to see Luciar, a girl mostly influenced by Tori (I enjoyed her sparse cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow”).
Saturday morning I got up early to go to panels. The second one was for Comic Book Legal Defense Fund members only, a screening of “A Short Film About John Bolton”, the first film Neil’s directed. Very cool, and well done. Then we went to Sawatdee, a Thai place nearby that’d been recommended to me. Not bad – I had the duck. After lunch, more panels, and lots of signing – I got almost everything signed that afternoon. During the signing for Neil, the girl in front of us had all 10 of the hardcovers, and there was a two item limit. I suggest she have him sign all the spines at once – and she did! I got pictures, too. By far the coolest thing was the panel where Neil, Caitlin Kiernan, and Karen Berger came up with a two page Sandman story, and a following panel where Charles Vess, Jill Thompson, and Todd Klein made it come to life.
We went to the closest restaurant to the hotel, Ichiban. A Japanese steakhouse, Neil (noted sushi connoisseur) had mentioned the sushi was decent, so we went to the sushi bar. $28 for all you can eat, and I do believe we got our money’s worth. Jill even tried raw sushi for the first time (we’ll see if she does it again). After dinner was the big auction. I tried for a couple items, but they quickly got too rich for my blood (I went to $4600 for the two page story, and would have gone to $5000, but it ended up going for $10,000). There was also a nice piece by Terry Moore of Death, but was out of my range very fast. It was fun watching the bidding, and there were some priceless comments from the guests of honor. We changed into our costumes (Jill was a modified spider woman) and went right back downstairs. The Folk Underground (featuring Lorraine, Neil’s assistant) closed out the night. I have their CDs, but had never seen any of Neil’s tunes performed live before. Between sets, some interesting pictures were staged, including Neil with five Deliriums. It was after 1 by the time we got up to our room.
Sunday we got out early to have breakfast at Hell’s Kitchen. I’d gone by it on Friday, and vowed to eat there. By far my favorite meal of the weekend; I had the huevos rancheros and sausage bread (sausage, pecans, and black coffee, but it was delicious). I left Jill to pay the bill so I could rush back to get to the second auction, featuring pieces from the art show as well as things they hadn’t gotten to in the regular auction. I wanted a piece by Todd Klein of Dream in his library (if you’ve seen our library you know it would fit right in), and I got in a bidding war with one other guy. I thought the piece would go for $300, and set a $500 limit, but Jill kept urging me on, and I went up to $1100 before letting the guy take it for $1200. It was the only hand colored print, but maybe I can find a black and white version. There were a couple other books and magazines I bid on, but I lost all of them (people were just bidding to win). It was good, though, as the CBLDF took in nearly $45,000 from the weekend. A couple more panels and it was time for us to go. We shopped and ate at the airport, and got home by 10. We were wiped, and were in bed long before midnight.
Pictures are now up here.