It’s almost OVGE time

NOT THE MIND PROBEA great big box of books landed on my doorstep with a resounding thud today, which is pretty much the last step in getting ready for OVGE this Saturday. I think that may actually set a new record for me: I’m finished figuring out what to bring a week out, rather than freaking out the night before. (There have been a couple of years where my theme was decided, and signage and other graphical aids designed and printed to match, literally the night before.) Of course, now the trick is to not spend the next few days second-guessing myself.

One thing that’s causing me not-inconsiderable nervousness is that my whole theme this year is constructed around the notion of debuting a science fiction reference book at a video game convention, as opposed to doing it at, oh, say, a sci-fi convention. Also, most of the stuff I’ve brought in years past has been liquidated the eBay way. There are no more $1 soundtrack CDs. There are only a handful of Intellivision games left over. There’s a paltry handful of Playstation games to sell, including a few imports that are hard-to-find. The entire stock I have on hand of the Phosphor Dot Fossils and Classic Gaming Expo DVDs will be present. And 15 copies of the book.

And that’s it.

The good news is that half of the table will be claimed by Kent, who is doing his own thing this year. He’s showing off a bit of retro-computing history that, had it gotten a bit more attention back in the day, would’ve caused quite a stir and would’ve laughed in the face of the late ’80s/early ’90s incompatibility problem. I can almost guarantee that you have not seen or even heard of this item before, as it was available and then gone again in the blink of an eye. I’m confident that, for the game and computer fans who have no interest in Doctor Who, Kent’s display will fulfill the classic gaming side of things.

Still, it seems like a pretty decent bet that there’s going to be some crossover in the audience, right? Man, I hope so. 15 copies of the book, plus a large print of the cover art and a T-shirt of the cover art, exhausted my meager funds for launching said book.

The reason I sprang for the artwork and the shirt was that I was also enquiring about getting a table at Tulsa Trek Expo the following weekend. From where I’m sitting now, still eBaying stuff off in an effort to come up with gas money to get to Tulsa and back (keep in mind, I’ve been out of work since October, and as for online book sales, I don’t see that money for 60 days), it may be a blessing in disguise that I’m not going to Tulsa Trek Expo. In order to make it there – let alone get a room for two nights – sales at OVGE would have to have gone astoundingly well the previous weekend.

As it is, my inquiries about getting a table at Tulsa Trek were met with complete silence. I realize that I’m in the “inner circle” of OVGE exhibitors: as of next year’s show, OVGE will be ten years old (!!), and to say that Jesse Hardesty has been easy to work with over all these years would be an understatement. To say that I’m thankful for this would also be an understatement. The last time I was unemployed for this long (when my son was an infant and I stayed home with him full time), I was barely able to pay my table fees, showed up dead broke, and went home with a house payment worth of cash in hand. That doesn’t happen every year, but let me tell you, it really needed to happen that year, and it did. Ususally I’m happy if I break even on the trip and can buy something for Kent and me to eat on the drive home while we’re both valiantly struggling, having been up since 4am, not to fall asleep at the wheel. (The kicker is that Kent’s usually worked a punishingly long shift the day before OVGE to make up for not being available to work the day of OVGE. The fact that anyone encourages me to keep showing up for this year after year is a miracle in itself.)

HELLO OUT THEREThe point is – every year when OVGE is announced, Jesse doesn’t even really need to ask me if I’m showing up. I am showing up. He’s beyond graciously accomodating in saving a space for me. But that’s spoiled me a bit: I was completely unprepared to hear nothing but static from the organizers of Tulsa Trek Expo. Even a simple “sorry, we’re out of room” would’ve sufficed. I’m sure they think of a one-day video game convention like OVGE as small-time stuff, but they could learn a thing or two from how it’s run.

It would still make a huge amount of sense to pop VWORP!1 at a sci-fi expo. It’s just not going to happen at this one. The silent treatment gives me great pause in any thoughts of getting a table at next year’s show, at which point I’ll have a Star Trek book out, which would be aimed right down the throat of that audience.

If VWORP!1 does exceptionally well sales-wise, I might consider this year’s Chicago TARDIS, but that won’t be cheap. The book sales between now and November would have to pay for the whole trip. The odds are probably better that a missing episode of The Evil Of The Daleks will show up between now and then. (It’s not that I don’t think I’ve written a decent book, but I’m trying to be realistic here. I’m fully aware that the economy’s so far down the shitter that I’m lucky – and grateful – if anyone buys the thing at all.)

Anyway, that’s the story of why I’m debuting my little sci-fi TV guidebook at a convention that’s more of a hotbed of Pac-Man activity. It’s a calculated gamble that there’s some crossover between these two areas of geekery. I’m a bit torqued off that I spent money on a giant piece of artwork and a T-shirt that’ll only be seen at one show – I’m not sure I would’ve gone that far if I had known what would happen. I don’t want to give the organizers of the Expo a black eye, but… respond to someone when they’re trying to throw money at you for a table, yeah?

In the meantime, I’m kind of at peace with everything at this point. Which is a remarkable thing at five days out.

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