Let's Do Lunch

Babble From the Head Fool

(Originally written for Foolscap I by Dave Howell)

There's a new Wendy's Hamburgers being built near Foolscap's hotel.

Now, I realize that many people, including many of you planning to attend Foolscap, don't usually get very excited about fast food. Nevertheless, this is actually a rather symbolic event for this con. A lot of the best moments of a convention occur not in the official programming events, but in the "unofficial" times between, and one of the best times between is when people get together for meals.

Actually getting a group of people together for a meal can be one of the most difficult things to do. Some people want to go to a five o'clock panel, others want to do six. There's some friends who'd love to come, as soon as one other friend arrives, but by the time they show up, a different member doesn't have time to go very far, because they have to be back for the reception. And so on. Sound familiar? Sometimes you invite people who invite people you've never met, and you meet somebody new, but more often than not, it's familiar faces who got awfully hungry waiting to go and now have to eat fast to get back in time.

Those of you who read the first progress report have been warned that Foolscap is doing a lot of experimenting with traditional convention conventions, so to speak. One of those is the event schedule. Lunch and Dinner are placed squarely in the programming grid. Everybody will be having meals at the same time. And we mean everybody. If you think that a break in programming is a good chance to see the Art Show or visit the Dealer's Room, think again. Dealers get to have lunch too; the only place at the con that will be open during meal breaks is Hospitality. If you're afraid this means you won't ever get to see the Art Show or Dealer's Room, relax. They'll be open in the evenings. As you can see from the tentative event grid elsewhere in this Progress Report, on Saturday both of them are open until 11 at night. (Dealers we have spoken to, by the way, have been very enthusiastic about actually getting to eat something besides a sandwich gobbled at their table during the occasional slow moment.)

Scheduling lunch makes it a lot easier to decide when to eat, but it makes where a bit worse. I've also been to many cons where I ate at the hotel restaurant a lot, because I or somebody in the group didn't really have time to go very far. Most conventions I've attended only had one or two places to eat within easy walking distance, and many haven't had more than that close by even if you were really willing to stretch your legs.

With the new Wendy's, Foolscap has eight sources of food within a couple minute's walk. Don't worry, it's not all fast food. Sure, there's a Taco Bell and Jack In The Box next to the Wendy's, and a 7-11 with a real deli sandwich counter across the street from them, so we even have 24-hour food within walking distance. The hotel's restaurant, Vic's Broiler, is good enough that I have gone there to eat on more than one occasion, and Tukwilly's (across the street in the Embassy Suites hotel) is even better and has a 50% off "early dinner" deal. (As I write this, our schedule overlaps with their offer, but I'm not promising that'll still be true this summer.) Or if Vic's is too crowded and Tukwilly's too snooty, you can go to Barnaby's just down the street and get a steak.

That's if you're all on foot and moving slowly. If somebody in the group has a car, well, choose your restaurant ahead of time. There are more than forty restaurants in about a two minute drive from our site. (I haven't finished counting the ones within five minutes.) Japanese, Italian, Mandarin, Mexican. Wraps, 'Spro, Deli, Burgers. Zoopa and ZiPani. Tony Roma's and Red Robin. Starbuck's at Barnes&Noble or the Cafe at Borders. Even a Denny's for the "I'm hungry and it's 3 am" crowd.

It's true that if you want exceptional cuisine or something way more ethnic than teriyaki, you'll have to go a little farther. Downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill, and West Seattle are all less than fifteen minutes away by car, so you ought to be able to find what you want.

We're even going to help with dinner conversation. Adapting a great idea that we first met at Potlatch and crossing it with the "Koffeeklatches" that have been appearing at WorldCons, we're going to have a big bulletin board (or something) for setting up meal events. If you've got something you'd like to talk about, pick a meal time and a restaurant, and post the notice. Like minded individuals sign up, and Presto! You've got company for the meal and a topic of conversation. We'll be encouraging some of the more well-known attendees to consider "hosting" meals so that a fan could sign up for dinner with a favorite author, or aspiring writers could join an editor for casual conversation, or a seasoned con-runner can answer questions from new fen.

For example, many cons will have a "good things/bad things" panel where people can praise or criticize. Because we have so few event slots, we probably won't do that. Instead, I and other members of the ConCom will host lunches about conrunning and/or Foolscap. (You can also just track me down and make suggestions for improvement in person, of course.) I wouldn't be at all surprised to see somebody do a Buffy The Vampire Slayer dinner (perhaps getting stakes at Stamford's? Er, steaks.) Perhaps we'll see a Best Works of Avram Davidson dinner, or a What's Wrong With The Hugos dinner. Wanna talk about SF Potential Of The Y2K Bug? Computers, The Future of Art? E-books, The Future of Literature? Why Ochre And Parchment Is The Wave Of The Future? Do it. "Re-program" our convention. If programming didn't hit your favorite topic, or if a panel runs out of time but folks haven't run out of things to say, tell them "Let's Do Lunch."