We awoke a bit funned out, concerned it might be a touch of Conventioneer’s Disease. More likely it was a mild hangover.
After a filling breakfast, we started interviewing the attendees, to get a general consensus of the past events. I couldn’t find a single person who had attended any of the discussion panels, which always struck me as live chat rooms. The program never listed what the topics were, and I was completely unable to find the rooms where they were held, so we opted not to cover them.
A few of the vendors and quite a few of the guests had complained to the management about their rooms, which resulted in their bills being torn up and asked to leave immediately. Most of them wound up at the Day’s or Comfort Inns up the road. This left us wishing we’d been that smart.
The food remained a sticking point among the vegans, but I’d long concluded that vegans get what they deserve. Especially when two of those vegans were chain smoking as they bitched. Health-conscious my ass.
The over-all consensus seemed to be that Moonlight Rising was the best-organized con most people had ever been to. The people who had only ever been to one other convention before had little to compare things to, and were thus very satisfied. The bulk of the complaints seemed to come from the people who were long-time convention-goers. The cost, the aggravation, all came from people who had suffered through the drawbacks of past conventions. There were no complaints leveled towards the guests and few leveled towards the coordinators. Even the anti-Ingrids had warmed to her by Sunday. Most of the angriest-feelings were diffused quickly by even the smallest interaction with the guests.
After our aforementioned scalped photo-session, we hung out in the green room – or rooms, as the coordinators kept moving us around – with Amber and her mother, Diane. They have been and will probably always be two of the nicest people we’d ever meet. Diane recounted the deer story for us, which resulted in a great amount of the deer peppered across the hood of the car and a near-hopelessly-dented fender. AAA was not supposed to help them as the accident took place on an interstate, but fortunately the owner of the tow-truck had his wife with him, and she recognized Amber immediately. The car was fixed in exchange for an autograph. (That never happens when I claim to be Amber.) And while they were both suffering from fatigue, they took time for the fans, never once conveying that they were as exhausted as they were. This went for the rest of the guests across the board. I’ve witnessed con guests throw fits that bordered on psychotic episodes, but nothing like that happened at this one. So say what you want about “Buffy,” like or dislike the show or Sarah Michele Gellar, but this group of actors was the nicest you’d ever want to meet. They justify the unconditional love that comes from their fans.
As for the con attendees… again, Amy and I have been to a decades’ worth of conventions. You meet a lot of pleasant, like-minded fans as well as a staggering amount of banjo-playing mouth-breathers who are completely devoid of social skills. You are usually surrounded by that “con aroma” that is spawned by too many people too lax with their personal hygiene.
I would say that the majority of the fans I met at Moonlight Rising have been of the former camp, with a shocking very few in the latter. Hell, ninety-percent of the people I spoke to could actually hold a conversation on topics other than “Buffy.” And while I was getting a bit Buffied out by the constant episode quoting and song excerpts sung in a key unknown to the human concept of music, I did not return home hating “Buffy” (which is a good thing considering I just bought the 4th season on DVD).
Personally, I think it’s safe to say that the majority of the people had a good time, problems and hotel considered. I thought that would be safe to say, anyway, before checking out some of the Buffy message-boards floating around the net. Many – MANY – people are voicing their dissatisfaction of the convention, with particular attention being delivered to the herding, the belittling, Julie Caitlin Brown’s “nazi-like” demeanor, and the food poisoning. One young woman emailed me privately – “I did not spend a thousand dollars on airline, hotel and tickets to fulfill someone else’s con fantasy!” Weeding out the obvious responses by people who will bitch about anything, there was a good number of unsatisfied customers.
What to glean from this adventure? Boycott the Friar Tuck Death Spa, seems to be the primary one. Hopefully, Aria and company will learn from the complaints and try to improve upon any future Moonlight Rising conventions. Perhaps because we were “fellow professionals”, Julie Caitlin Brown went easy on Amy and I. I don’t know for sure. It was certainly the strangest con experience I’d ever had…

Posted on July 2, 2003 in Features by

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