Monday, August 20, 2012
Can You Help a Ghetto Nerd Attend the World Science Fiction Convention Here in Chicago?
You know us black folks, we are always asking folks for something. It is one of our "black habits" as Redd Foxx would say.
Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention (also known as Worldcon), is one of the largest, and longest running, science fiction conferences in the United States (and to my knowledge on Earth). On a lark, and without complete information, I threw my name into the proverbial hat and offered myself up as a panelist for the event.
I very much enjoy giving talks at non-academic fan events and hanging out with fellow geeks and nerds. I also take it as a professional and personal obligation to talk about "serious" stuff, i.e. politics, race, culture, etc. with an audience that often "gets" that there is real substance to their hobby, but just needs the language and a few examples to help them along in realizing what they already know.
To my surprise, the organizers of Chicon 7 asked me to be on three panels--one of which is a meet and great "literary beer" where fans get to talk to authors and other such folks. Yes, I was surprised about that last one too. I was also surprised that panelists, all of them save for "honored guests," are expected to pay for their entry fees to the conference.
When confronted with having to pay for conferences I either 1) sneak in; 2) share a badge with a friend; or 3) ask my department for some money. These are not options for Worldcon here in Chicago as 1) I have been told they are pretty tight with security and checking badges; 2) only one person I know is going, and I don't think that I could pass as "Heather"; and 3) Worldcon falls between budgetary request cycles and my boss folks will also not pay for association memberships.
I am ultimately of two minds. I would like to go, and I think there could be some good professional networking done which will help me out with various projects including WARN. Life is funny, as you never know where and when good things can happen: for example, I may very well be offered one of the high honors of geekdom in the near future because of some folks I met at Chicago's C2E2. If it happens, I will of course share the good news with all of you.
I also think it would be great to represent for the ghetto nerd set. Science fiction and fandom can be very "white" spaces; it is good to shake things up a bit and make sure that a diversity of voices are represented.
On the other hand, I am not so moved as to come up with the 300 dollars out of pocket, in essence paying to present and do work, at a convention. I have other responsibilities regarding family and a 16 year old dog that I must prioritize, regardless of the temptation to do otherwise.
[For those of you who are justifiably curious, I did my research and Stamford Animal Rescue will be getting the money we collected a few months ago.]
This leaves me with hand open, and begging bowl out, to the friends and fans of We Are Respectable Negroes. I learned from my last semi-successful fundraising effort that you need to repeat your pleas for donations more than once. I cannot promise that I will do that, save for a few ghetto nerd related posts, in order to keep fundraising pitch in the foreground. To do more crosses over to nagging...and that isn't cool.
Apparently, fundraisers are also most successful when they are time-limited. I need to confirm with the conference no later than Friday of this week (or Monday at the latest).
Finally, the experts on these matters suggest that you should give people who are kind enough to donate money a "thank you" or some type of gift and incentive. I like stories and sharing. Hopefully, those stories are not just interesting to me given my delusional state of sustained egomania and borderline narcissism. If we can get me to Worldcon I will offer up the following "gifts."
1. I will share some excerpts from my zombie novella. This will be your chance to laugh, mock, make fun of, and see me exposed as the literary wannabe hack that I really am. A few friends have read parts of Zombie Lives. The response ranges from "great" to "good, but do more of x,y,z" and "you have something solid here that you should send to an agent." One friend doesn't get the genre--and said it just wasn't her cup of tea despite her appreciation for what I was trying to bring to the table in writing a zombie novella that is "about something."
2. Here on WARN, I often, and in a playful manner, talk about sex and taking the ladies to Space Mountain (in reality the ride is more like The Tea Cups at Disneyland). Sometimes these episodes end in embarrassment, confusion, or laughter--usually at me and not with me.
We have two possibilities (of many here) from my catalog of epic sexual and romantic fails.
I can offer up a true story about a night of random intimacy, with a relative stranger which was ruined mid foreplay by an argument about Abraham Lincoln, the color line, and Emancipation.
Or, I can entertain and titillate, as I share a night of great shame and George from Seinfeld-like incompetence and bad luck. Details? Let's just say that this ruined night involves a sex goddess, a dog, pepper spray, and my wounded masculinity.
It is August and the start of school is approaching. For those of you with kids, money is probably especially tight this time of year. However, if folks can find a dollar or two to throw in the virtual tip jar/donation box in the upper right hand part of the screen, I would very much appreciate the gesture.
If I am able to attend Worldcon I will of course share stories, gossip, photos, and any fun things that happen to transpire. Thank you for indulging me.