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LoneStarCon2 · The 55th World Science Fiction Convention · Thursday, August 28, 1997

Everything I Needed to Know I Learned by Throwing a Party

Mike Glyer

Issue One



Volunteers Needed!

Maitz Shirts Flying off the Rack

Everything I Needed to Know I Learned by Throwing a Party

Poets of the Caribbean

Masqurade Info

Special Interest Groups

Weird Fannish Stuff and Fan Program

Filk Programming

Weapons Policy

WSFS New Business Deadline Today

There are opposing schools of thought as to whether programming or parties are more important ingredients of a WorldCon. I'm not sure why. I've often heard fans at room parties bragging, "I've missed all the programming so far," but I've never heard anyone at a party bragging that he'd been to all the programming and gone home. This kind of statistical proof should speak for itself.

While it's fairly obvious how much literary and scientific wisdom comes out at programs, it's easy to overlook how much is learned by throwing parties. Hosting parties leads to an insatiable desire for solving the physical mysteries of the universe. For example, where does all the ice in the hotel come from? Ross Pavlac (Chicon IV co-chair, and part of the Chicago in 2000 bid) would always make it his first priority to discover the "Mother Lode Ice Machine" in the back areas of the hotel. Then, like a pioneering bee he would return to the hive (the party suite) and communicate to other workers to follow him to gather ice for filling bathtubs (where beverages were cooled and stored). If the hotel had no "Mother Lode" machine, he would give us cardboard boxes to raid the smaller ice machines on every floor. I learned from this the importance of having the help of many "weak minds and strong bodies." Hosting parties instills a sensitivity to ecological issues. I became aware of the "global warming" phenomenon as early as 1973, when I had to haul cases of beer to the Royal York Hotel in Toronto from the state licensed store in the railway station across the street, through summer humidity that made the walls sweat and worked on the wallpaper to produce a smell of vintage mold never since equaled by a convention hotel in North America.

There's no end to the personal growth that comes from throwing parties, particularly if a lot of chocolate is involved. They also expand the mind in every direction - into topics as vital as world peace, or as gratifying as high fashion. For example, while party shopping during a con, I crossed the path of Keith Kato in a supermarket. Keith is famed for his chili parties, and especially the palate-melting "Silverberg grade" chili. Keith looked like he was dressed for the beach, and tried to explain how hot it would be while cooking in his room. "You probably didn't know that I make chili in my swimming trunks," Keith explained. "How do you keep it from running out?" I asked. Keith spent many years pursuing the grail of a chili hot enough to please Bob Silverberg's discriminating palate. And he succeeded, which taught me that a fan always needs a goal even beyond his wildest dreams, in case he attains them.

It may be an exaggeration to say that everything can be learned by throwing parties, and no one needs to know the things they can learn from attending the convention program. But I doubt it.

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