Originally posted Oct29/99; last updated Jul16/05
The following is my motss.con.xii con report, or my experiences of the 12th soc.motss.con (held Oct 1-4 in Memphis TN). If you don't like such things, feel free to hit 'n' and not read it. It won't bother me. Much.
Arrived safe and sound in Memphis, where I was quickly reminded that efficiency was not in the hotel's long suit. After waiting half an hour or more for the "hotel shuttle" to arrive, which it didn't, I took a cab to the hotel. Unpacked, grabbed lunch, and hung about in the lobby waiting for the Gracelanders to come back.
As more and more folks arrived (the Graceland bunch, other motsseurs who didn't go to Graceland, later arrivals, and so on), we more or less took over the lobby area, rearranging furniture to suit (much as we did back in DC in '95). Around 7ish, Tim and Mack carted the food upstairs to the suite we'd gotten for the night (conveniently located between my room and David Broudy's) and set it up. Lots of good food, good drink, and good company. A nice kick-off for the con.
Woke up in time for a leisurely breakfast with Lisa Cohen, Ayana Craven, and Mike Reaser — more liesurely than we'd expected since the waitroid had been out all night previously at Blues festival events and was... not on the top of her game, to put it mildly. The food was at least tolerable, though, for an el cheapo breakfast buffet.
Around 10 that morning we all — well, almost — hiked over to the bank of the Mississippi River to board the boat for the tour around the area. Was a lot of fun, and no matter what everyone else thinks, the narrator/captain did a perfectly acceptable job. I tuned him out when I wanted to ignore him, no problem. Nice sights, nice company, gorgeous weather.
After we docked back on the TN side of the river, a group of us traipsed over to Robinson's for barbecue. The BBQ ribs there are dry-spiced; instead of a ketchuppy wet sauce, the spices and herbs are applied dry and allowed to age with the meat. Very yummy and not nearly as messy as I'd've expected ribs — dry or wet — to be.
After lunch I took a quick disco nap then went down to the lobby. We met around 6, took some snapshots of the opera crowd in their finery before they left, then headed out ourselves via taxi (we went to the bus station a block and a half away since they didn't seem to want to come to the hotel) to Aubergine for dinner. This was definitely the foofy dinner: roasted lamb on a crouton with rosemary cream sauce; a lobster and canellini bean salad with lime-mango dressing; a granita of cassis and port; 24-hour braised veal shoulder, with baby carrots, roasted potatoes, and a fantastic reduction; 2 bottles of Sandford Pinot Noir (tres yummy) after a bottle of indifferent Aramonte. Dessert was the chocolate fudge pyramid: a chocolate pyramid-shaped cake, filled with warm chocolate fudge, served with chocolate sorbet on a chocolate sauce with powdered sugar and mint to finish the presentation. I added a glass of 20-year ruby port (Sandemans, I think). Spent the next half hour or more digesting out to the hotel. The company was grand and the weather most enjoyable.
Some people went out to the bars, and I was tempted, but I was also tired and drunk (amazing what a glass of port on top of too much food and too much wine can do). So I went to bed — and crashed hard. (I almost crashed hard in the lobby before the bar crowd left, too.)
Brunch day! We wandered back to the river and over a few blocks to the monorail station, amidst much chatter and Simpsons references (mostly derving from the song). Buy tickets, take the uneventful ride over to Mud Island, and wander on over to the (attached) Riverwalk Cafe restaurant — but good ol' homos with no sense of direction are we, so we wound up at their back door. They let us in anyhow. :-)
The brunch menu bears repeating:
I had the potsticker (one) and the chicken; both were very yummy. The pastry was a strawberry Napoleon and quite tasty.
After brunch we felt a little adventurous so we wandered over to where the Memphis Belle aircraft was on display. Got to get a close look at a piece of history. And, outside the display, at a lot of (live) butterflies. (Didja know Morph gets squicked by butterflies? Spiders are fine but butterflies drive her nutty. Just an FYI.) Then we walked over to the top of the Mississippi River and meandered all the way downstream to the Gulf of Mexico. On the scale model, anyhow. We spent some time doing "You are here... <stomp>!" on the scale map of Memphis, and poiting out various features to each other, and chuckling over the signs that didn't quite say "Please don't sue us if you get hurt wading in the scale map of the river."
At the Gulf Café at the end of the river, we had some drinks (except Darren Cobb, who had 2 hamburgers sans buns (the burgers, not him, even though John Dorrance of the omnipresent ass wasn't there)), and watched the twinks versus pocket bears paddleboat olympics — Aric Olnes and Darren Cobb in one boat and Mike Thomas and someone else in another (twinks won). After a while — shortly after the monorail station ostensibly closed, even! — we started heading back. I caught the first monorail over, wandered over to the streetcar station, and headed back to the hotel via streetcar. (No, not on Desire.)
After getting back to the hotel we more or less decided to go do dinner. Tim and Mack wanted their lives back so they bailed for the comfort of their own home (and ran in terror from the rest of us, no doubt :-) ). But before they left they suggested a restaurant on Beale Street (in the heart of downtown and the site of the now-finished Blues festival) — and a good thing, too! 20-odd of us descended on the place for food, most of us ordering ribs, and had a ball pigging out.
Managed to get up in time for the Stragglers' Breakfast across the street at the Café Expresso in the Peabody Hotel. Slow service abounded (so it's not just the Benchmark), but the chocolate croissant was tres yummy. After breakfast and goodbyes, I headed off to the airport in a cab with Robert Coren and John Gintell and then caught my uneventful flight home.
And have been playing catch-up ever since.