Scenes from Penguicon

It’s Saturday night at Penguicon. A few hours ago I blatantly pulled social rank on someone, and I am not ashamed. This is how it happened.

So, it all started when I was playing Dominion with my wife Cathy and a couple of friends in in the game room. Heather the swordmistress of Polaris (a woman as beautiful as she is deadly and one of my best friends) texted me saying “We have glow-in-the-dark beat sticks! Join us!”…and, after finishing the game, I joined Heather and a gaggle of my sword-geek friends in roaming around the party halls mock-dueling with the glow-in-the-dark foam beat sticks and making silly noises.

Came a point in our wanderings where we heard rumor that the Vikings were planning to raid the Romans, who are usually the pirates. To make sense of this, you need to know that Cathy’s and my friend Joe Saul (with which we have been known to do Internet Law panels at previous Penguicons) has a tradition of roaming the convention halls with a gang of friends in elaborate pirate costumes, pulling a ship-shaped cart full of strong grog which they dispense to all and sundry (and beauteous them pirate wenches be, arr!) . Spontaneous dancing has oft been induced by the boom box cleverly concealed in yonder vessel.

Well, except this year they changed it up a little, as the ship morphed into a columnated classical temple and everybody wore togas and legionary costume and the odd gladiatorial rig. And the wenches be just as beautiful in dancing silks, ave!

For some reason I never quite sorted out there had been another gang of people show up wearing seriously cheesy Viking costumes – plastic horned helmets with LEDs on. I was electrified by a rumor that the Vikings were planning to raid the Romans.

“My Viking blood calls to me!” I declaimed to my sword-geek friends, flourishing my glowing green foamy beat-stick above my head; “I must raid the Romans!” I duly scampered off after the Vikings, who were taking the elevators to the 14th floor to muster in preparation for their foray.

So I catch up with the Vikings, who are stripping for battle by stowing away their drinks cart (and the striped square-sail on a small boom that made it properly Viking).

“Can I join your raid, please?”, I said, waving my magic sword for effect. “Can I have a helmet?” Guy looks at me and says “Well, they’re reserved for members. You’d have to join I3.”

“What’s I3?” I asked. “It’s a hackerspace in Ferndale” he said.

My eyes lit up with an unholy glee and I said “My name is Eric Raymond. Could I be considered a member?” He grinned and said “Ex officio” and handed me a cheesy helmet. With a blinking LED of my very own!

And thus it was that I joined the Viking raid as we stormed up the stairs to the 16th floor and charged the Roman party position. The Emperor Saul suggested we settle our differences with a dance-off, and much shaking of costumed booty ensued.

You know, I don’t try to pull hacker rank very often, but this seemed like the perfect time to do it. Those guys will probably be telling other geeks how ESR went a-Viking with them for years. There are pictures. And they insisted I keep the helmet.

37 thoughts on “Scenes from Penguicon

  1. Damn, I wish I could have afforded to to the whole weekend instead of day-tripping…

    Sounds like good times to me.

  2. [...] and a couple of friends in in the game room.

    This part is grammatically incorrect. ;)

  3. Even though you sided with the Vikings, it was great meeting you the other night – I’m the Roman Gladiator with whom you discussed linguistics in the con suite. Glad you had a good time, and I hope next time you’ll fight on our side!

  4. The hotel will be sending you the bill for the damage, now that you’ve outed yourself.

  5. Next time, take five or six people with you of various shapes, ages and sizes. Have one proclaim “I’m Eric Raymond”, then the rest should jump in saying “NO! STRING THAT IMPOSTOR!! I’M ERIC RAYMOND!!!!!“. It would be interesting to see the field tests that are devised on the fly to resolve such an interesting situation.

  6. The hotel will be sending you the bill for the damage, now that you’ve outed yourself

    I’ve stayed in that hotel five or six times for various con-type events, but not since they went from being the Troy Hilton to the Troy Mariott. You would be surprised what they let you get away with there.

    Next time, take five or six people with you of various shapes, ages and sizes. Have one proclaim “I’m Eric Raymond”, then the rest should jump in saying “NO! STRING THAT IMPOSTOR!! I’M ERIC RAYMOND!!!!!“. It would be interesting to see the field tests that are devised on the fly to resolve such an interesting situation.

    I doubt that would work well. Mr. Raymond’s picture is posted all over the Internet and has been published on at least one edition of The Cathedral and the Bazaar. Fame kinda sucks that way.

  7. I don’t think there’s a hackerspace, user group, or open-source-related organization anywhere that wouldn’t declare you an ex officio member on the spot. The same would go for any of the other “demigods” of open source. (Everyone knows who they are. Or should.)

  8. >Have one proclaim “I’m Eric Raymond”, then the rest should jump in saying “NO! STRING THAT IMPOSTOR!! I’M ERIC RAYMOND!!!!!“.

    What field tests? The Romans would simply crucify all of us on the Appian Way.

  9. Um. Remember Elmer Fudd and his horned helmet in What’s Opera, Doc?

    Good.

    You get one guess what the Vikings chanted as they marched on the Romans. Shame on you if you need more than one.

  10. I’ve stayed in that hotel five or six times for various con-type events, but not since they went from being the Troy Hilton to the Troy Mariott. You would be surprised what they let you get away with there.

    That amazes me, but I still have scars from Boskone 24.

  11. >Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit?

    Very close, but we weren’t hunting rabbits this time.

  12. I would say it, but “Romans” Fudd-ized would become “Womans”, which would give that particular chant a secondary meaning I didn’t intend.

  13. @Jeff Read:
    Just spell it ‘whoahmans’ and I think you’d be fine as long as you don’t mention Keanu Reeves in the same sentence. Ouch, too late.

  14. I’m Blasted Bill, the i3 member who organized the Viking ship this year. The idea was actually Joe’s(the one who runs the Romans/Pirates.) In a panel he once mentioned that he wanted to see another group invade as Vikings. Yes our costumes were extremely cheese. We spent many many hours working on our ship and ran out of time and energy for the costumes. We will do better if there is a next time. I’m not sure who you talked to 1st Eric, but I would have instantly granted you full status in our ranks. Of course I’ve known you from Penguicon for many years. The Roman / Viking dance battle is an epic moment at Penguicon that will be very hard to top and I’m glad you were there to join in and document it on your blog! I will post link to the video as soon as I get it. See you at Penguicon 2012!!! Thanks!!!

  15. > Just spell it ‘whoahmans’ and I think you’d be fine as long as you don’t mention Keanu Reeves in the same sentence.

    Well played, sir. I’m still recovering from the soda I snorted up my nose after the snicker it caused. May have got some on my keyboard as well…

  16. “Look, pal, you want a free hat, come back when your name’s Don Knuth.”

    (Just because that idea came to me when reading this, and it’s amusing.

    Not because you’re you, but because Knuth’s Knuth.)

  17. …and 24 hours later, Navy SEALs were dumping lead into the skuill of Bin laden.

    Coincidence?

  18. Well, all things said and done, it was an epic battle, and without said vikings, we romans never would have had anyone to overthrow ;]

    good times!

  19. It was great fun!
    (I’m Jolly, aka Caesar’s eastern ally and leader of Jolly’s Minions!)

    Glad you could come party with the Romans :D

  20. And thus it was that I joined the Viking raid as we stormed up the stairs to the 16th floor and charged the Roman party position. The Emperor Saul suggested we settle our differences with a dance-off, and much shaking of costumed booty ensued.

    Erm, that hotel doesn’t have a 16th floor.

  21. >Erm, that hotel doesn’t have a 16th floor.

    Er, why did I see “16″ on the stairwell doors then?

  22. >I was hoping to catch a glimpse of ESR shaking his groove thang….

    Not a chance. I have a large head (yeah, I know…) and the cheesy helmet was actually too small for me. Had to frequently clap hand to it to keep it from falling off just walking around; it wouldn’t have stayed perched for a picosecond under the stress of groove-thang shaking.

  23. I recall being “ranked” eons ago in a lunch line at a Perl conference at the SJ Marriot by ESR durring the early Cathedral stirrings. tchrist, a much rankier member, at least for that gathering and that time, patiently maintained social order like the rest of us sheeple. I guess a sense of entitlement goes a long way.

  24. Hello Eric! So glad to get to know you this weekend, and glad you told this story to the world! I’d be happy to talk more about your anthropological theories of geekdom.

  25. ESR: “What field tests? The Romans would simply crucify all of us on the Appian Way.”

    I can see the signs on the crosses now:
    “Viking Raids/Never Pay” “You’re Nailed Up On/The Appian Way” “To Remind The Others/Stay Away” “SPQR”
    C’mon, you never thought Burma Shave invented that, did you?

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