[NOTE: The follow in an account of the details of the WestCoast RASSMcon FACPOV ... namely mine! All times are local PDT.]
After arriving at the FAO "Overpriced" Schwartz at 10 AM ... yes, I like my Schwartz for cheap ... I waited under the first of the AT-ATs we sighted hoping that somebody would show up. Not long after arriving (and circling the top floor of the Schwartz) did two people wearing Boba Fett t-shirts arrive! Using the Force (which still works at Schwartz despite its markup on everything) I recognized these two as potential Jedi candidates (Oblio and Mondak). I decided to take it upon myself to train these too, despite their advanced age (they both are really too old to begin the training, but I was in need of candidates fast). BTW: Mondak was easy to recongize as she speaks this strange language ... Kiwi, yes is it! She also does an excellent imitation of American, but none the less, Oblio acted as our offical interpeter.
While waiting for the remaining two of our gathering to arrive, we chatted and looked at the cool (did I mention overpriced?) toys and collectibles for sale. Of note: FAO has a huge Millennium Falcon that *is* to scale for the 12" SW figures ... not the squat stinking TRU Falcon which is in scale to the 3 3/4" SW figures, but a much larger and proportional Falcon.
Oblio made a starling discover while "investigating" some of the loose SW toys on the shelf. It appears that Applause toys has designed a hideous *2* headed R2-D2 figure! :( It was gross, and I'll not describe it, but my advice to all is don't touch R2-D2s that you don't know where they've been. Some might have 2 heads! :(
Finally Princess Leia (or was is somebody else, like Jill, she just had hair that looked very much like Leia on Endor) and her companion Wizard (oddly he was mostly invisible and didn't photograph well) popped in around 11 AM and asked my two Jedi candidates if they were SW fans. Thus began my first Jedi Test, how do RASSMers introduce themselves ... oddly! The answer is oddly. ;)
You think I'm going to tell you more! Hah! When *your* turn to be tested it is, know you will. But for now you are not ready! And well, you should be not, as this is about us, not you.
OK, we quickly decided that it was time for lunch in Chinatown (and I decided to embark upon Jedi Test #2: the march of endurance). My friend Yoda is frankly a softie. To test his last student, Luke, he only made the child run through the forest and climb a few ropes. In the urban jungle I decided to have everybody march up the steepest hill in San Francisco (along the Powell & Hyde cable car lines). Amazingly they all made it to the top of the hill, but not pleased were they when I informed them that we needed to walk down several more blocks.
Eventually we made it to SF Chinatown (Grant Street). We wandered up and down Grant street, stopping at one store that advertised "50% off all SW toys". Good prices they had, but time was wasting. We marched on until we found a lunch place ... Chinese food of course.
We ordered five different dishes and chatted while eating. Oblio and Mondak wanted to use primative chop sticks ... what can I say, the girl has corrupted Oblio! Wizard and I tried to teach Mondak the benefits of the fork, but alas the Kiwi was not ready! :(
We eventually bugged out and hiked up another very steep hill (SF has plenty of steep hills) back to the Powell & Hyde cable car lines. There we waited for exactly one full cable car to pass when the young Jedi decided that we needed to find another way to get to Fisherman's Warf. They have no patience! Anyway, we all pilled into a limo and had our driver take us to the Warf (NOTE: July to Sept is peak tourist season in SF ... cable cars are hard to get on).
While at the Warf the Jedi shopped (and I took a brief exit to free some fish friends, sneaking back before they could notice my absence). We saw Antony Daniels' stunt double ... the robot-man stunk, but not half as bad as the other SF "gimme your money street acts", while walking to visit the Sea Lions that have taken over the marina. Apparently they are protected under the US Marine Mammal code (where is the justice in that, fish should be protected, not water apes!) and thus they have claimed part of Pier 39 as their own. Judging from the smell, I very much doubt anybody is going to argue.
After talking to my marine associates, I led the students to Ghirardelli Square (this is a famous SF Chocolate company). This was the dark time. Somebody cut in front of Oblio, so he tried to give him the Jedi Look of Death! He failed. I think the Vulcan Death Grip would have worked better. Anyway, we ate our chocolate ice cream and then marched back to our autos.
Our next stop was at Wizard's work. Wizard, as many of you might not know is a spy. He works for NASA, right next to their Death Star Shield Generator in an Imperial ... er NASA bunker that is guarded by guards and another AT-AT. Wizard snuck us into his base (NASA/AMES super computing center) and showed me something that I would give the world for! :) Some way super fast machines that NEED my programs! The machines called to me! "Mike, we need your model." or "Mike, please pick us, we want to run your work!" or "We are fast, your program is slow, let us speed it up for you!" Alas, I couldn't find any ZIP disks to download my research on the machines. :(
Finally we all traveled to Jill's Sister*s*' place in Santa Clara. Right, multiple sisters. I wasn't sure how many sisters she has, but it appears Jill fulfilled her job as the big sister perfectly, as they all claim that she would force them to watch SW over and over and over again. Judging from the boxes of Jill's SW tapes ... I'd call them well used! :)
The 5 of us sat down and watched SW and the ESB (of course talking all about ourselves and SW). As is the local custom, we ate pizza while watching the ESB! Her sisters watched parts of the Empire Strike's Back, Oblio has since told me that one of her sisters was eating pizza, but I don't remember that. I don't know what time of day it was when we arrived at her sisters' place, but it was 3 AM, when Wizard and I left.
Overall it was a great experience. You'll notice I didn't talk much about the people themselves. If you want to ask me about what I thought, then find me on #rassm and ask! :) But I will say everybody seemed very real (except Wizard, 'cause I think he is still invisible, but spies are like that) and super cool. If you have the chance to spend a day meeting somebody online whom you spend time with, then I highly recommend you make plans to meet these people. Interestingly enough I'd say that the four people I meet did seem a bit like their on-line selves. Fortunately they are all super cool on-line people, which meant that off-line they were the same.
Watching the films together *is* a good idea. It gives you a chance to talk, and you'll be surprised by the stories that pop up while the tape is rolling!
NOTE: I've met other on-line people (RASSMers) before! :)
To Jill: Thank you so much for tricking your sisters into allowing us to watch the films at their place! BTW if your sister does not want that TV, I think I can find a good home for it! It was HUGE!
-- Michael Mierzwa