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StarFest 2009

21 April 2009

Martian Chess

I attended StarFest 2009 in Denver this year. We were predicted to get 20 inches of snow over the weekend, but we got maybe a fifth of that, so the 40-minute commute from my home to the Denver Tech Center hotel was tolerable.

I’ve helped run the Looney Labs demos the past few years. This year, our time slot was Saturday and Sunday, 8:30-10:30. While it seemed like a cursed time, it turned out to be a boon. Attendance was high, people were friendlier, and having it that early meant we didn’t miss any of the feature attractions.

My elementary schoolers love looking at the people in costume and spending their allowance in the dealer’s room. They save up for weeks, sometimes into months for that weekend. My high schooler is the same way, though more aloof about it. Their favorite room is probably the anime room, where they get exposed to new shows and to shows I enjoyed as a kid. This year, it was the classic animated Transformers. The art and model rooms are also popular stops.

This year, in the model room, Robbie the Robot had some fun with my kids (or at least his operator did). The operator can key in certain phrases and almost have a dialogue. My daughter had turned away from the life-size replica only to hear it ask, “HOW OLD ARE YOU, LITTLE GIRL?” Her double take and the look of ecstatic shock on her face with worth the price of admission.

We also attended the screening of the sci-fi short Shaqani to support its star Rachel Graham, who starred alongside the kids in Gaslight Theater’s Peter Pan production last year.

I’d never stayed late before. My son melted down around 5pm, so I drove them home and returned for the evening. It’s a different experience entirely! The music was deafening and the hotel become one giant party!

At dinner, I met a woman named Maya through a mutual friend, and we discussed Jim Butcher. It turns out we both though the first book was wonderful but put the second book down halfway through! Conversation led to her Kindle, and through it, she introduced me to Simon R. Green’s Nightside series. I’ll looking forward to digging in.

After dinner, my friend Ann — adorned in a stunning full-length green corset, I might add — and I attended a free screening of the movie Ink, which was marred by the muddy acoustics in the Main Events room. Often the faint dialogue was unintelligible, other times it was drowned out by the party music outside whenever a door was opened. I liked the film enough that I want to try it again in a theater proper.

We left Ink two thirds in for the Dr. Horrible Singalong, which was fantastic. I paid for the fact it started at midnight, though, by driving back home only to return early in the morning. Next year, I intend to get a room!

Icehouse pieces

Sunday, my son and I returned for the Sunday demo. The next presenter had to cancel, so we actually ran our demo until 11am. Zendo and Martian Chess were the order of the day, and we got some contact information for another local Rabbit, Dave, who wanted to take a more active roll next year. Hurray!

I have to admit, since Looney Labs has stopped supporting their Demo Rabbits, the appeal has diminished quite a bit. I lost my EcoFluxx deck last year, and spent several minutes located all the pyramid pieces for my Icehouse sets. A couple were allowing their toddlers to play with them unsupervised. It came to my attention when my fellow demo rabbit almost impaled his foot on one, and it took several minutes for me to locate them all. Next year, we’re toying with the idea of expanding beyond Looney Labs games into Quiddler, Five Crowns, and other favorites.

After the demo, my teen and I were excited by the idea of ComicFest and GameFest, but we found the adjacent hotel’s ballroom far too small a space for the demand. There was no place to stand and admire anything. The aisleways where artists and illustrators were showing their work was disgracefully narrow, barely three feet wide. I hope the organizers make note of the conditions those folks had to endure and give them more room next year!

Overall, a wonderful time was had by all. I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Ann, Christine, Bruce, Thor, Eric, and Varina for their contributions to the festivities.

I just wish that for people like me to whom the guests are a secondary consideration, it could be a less expensive experience. Tickets this year were roughly $30 per adult per day and $20 per kid. Fortunately, as presenters, my son and I received free passes. Otherwise, it might well become cost-prohibitive.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 21 April 2009 11:25 am

    Hello,

    I was just reading your webpage about the Denver Starfest this year. How many people attend the fest, I’ve never heard of it and lived in Boulder.

    We are building an online community specifically for those with an interest in science, space, health and technology. I’d like to invite you to join our knowledge network. Joining is simple, free, and secure:

    http://www.redOrbit.com/friends

    Come share your thoughts, publish your research, debate colleagues from around the world, post videos and photos, and much more all in one place.

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    Matt

    • neontapir permalink
      26 May 2009 9:30 pm

      Sorry for the long delay. Certain in the high hundreds, maybe a thousand people attend.

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