We made the short drive from Royal Oak to Romulus on Friday afternoon, arriving just in time to congratulate our hotel liaison/hospitality director/chief headbreaker Jeremy Lance, who had taken time out of his busy day to marry the lovely and talented Geralyn.
After that, we settled in for a Penguicon tradition – discussing Wil Wheaton’s absence. Through a terrible string of luck, Wil has now had to cancel on us three times in five years – this time due to either a sinus infection or swine flu, depending on whether you believe him or the internet rumors. We believe him, although it’s possible that he couldn’t stand the idea of being in Detroit as two hockey teams that he loathes – the Red Wings and the Ducks – battled in the playoffs.
The hotel is set up for people watching. Many rooms feature balconies overlooking the 80-foot-high atrium in the lobby. Our room, directly above the Grand Staircase taking guests from the lobby to a large open area on the third floor, gave us a chance to confuse many of our friends by talking to them from ten feet above their heads.
As always on Friday, the highlight was the Opening Ceremonies. Con chair Matt Arnold ran the show, overcoming an early interruption from the Acme Delivery Yak, as well as the unexpected arrival of Dr. Horrible, who explained that he’s the one that has been kidnapping Wil Wheaton all these years.
Luckily for all involved, Captain Hammer arrived to chase off the evil Doctor. Unfortunately, Captain Hammer then stayed around to give a speech. Luckily, there being children in the room, he didn’t tell us what his hammer actually is.
There was a reading of Wil’s apology – he won the crowd over with humor, sincerity and, most importantly, by announcing that he was cheering for the Red Wings – before Matt got down to the business of introducing the remaining Guests of Honor. Several were first-time GoHs, and were unsure about the format, but they all handled the situation with class, dignity and wit. A couple of the programming GoHs looked a bit concerned by what they had seen – most programming conventions don’t have Stormtroopers wandering the lobby – but I’m sure they will be fine after some time to adjust and/or a trip to the bar.
Many of our other “nifty” guests were introduced, although John Scalzi missed his applause. He was, and this will come as no shock to people who have attended a con with him, in the bar. Of course, given his upcoming pirate duties, no one can really blame him.
The rest of the evening was a typical con Friday night. Everyone wanted to party, everyone realized they were exhausted after a long week of real life, and most of us crawled into bed earlier than we planned. That’s OK, though, because we’ll make up for it on Saturday!