Had a dinner with Poppy Z. Brite that was, because she knows chefs, not only quite simply one of the best meals I've ever had but, toward the end, when the chef decided to feed us Cobra Wine (grumpy looking drowned cobra in bottle full of alcohol with ginseng root behind it like a clutching dead hand) one of the most surreal.
I really enjoyed the panels at Exoticon. There was one for would-be-writers I did with my evil twin Steve Brust, which had about 40 people there, in a small hall, and everyone there wanted answers to specific problems with writing, and either Steve or I was able to say "OK, well, when that hapens to me...." a lot. It was just the right size, and I felt like everyone in the room learned stuff (including me and Steve). And it had that comfortable quality that conventions have when they aren't too large.
Small conventions seem to be getting harder and harder to make happen; there was concern that this might be the last Exoticon (they were in the black, but still paying off from last year) and I got an e-mail to say that Knoxville's ConCat has just been cancelled.
One could perhaps hypothesize that if more people pregistered for such conventions they would cope more easily with the slings and arrows of outrageous wossname. I wonder if the reluctance to preregister is in any way related to September 11th, or to people wanting to travel less, or having less money, or if they just assume that these little conventions will always happen, like Spring.