As of course you know – most of our happy little family here at LumCorp trekked down to Austin for the past few days to attend the UO Faire. We met a lot of really great folks, got a ton of positive and some constructive negative feedback, had great fun pelting people with small rubber objects (not to be confused with those OTHER rubber objects a few booths down from us – more on that later) and all in all – a great time was had by all.

Before I go into the trip – let me clear up one small misconception that is apparently more widespread than I thought. I am Mrs. The Mad. That’s what LOH stands for, Lum’s Other Half. I’ve taken some flack over not having my ‘own identity’ at times, when in fact I do – I picked that handle and I wear it quite proudly.

First we had some folks thinking Myschyf attended – and most that were
confused thought she was the sweet young thing hanging around our booth in the stylish floor length PVC black hefty bag. (Not to be confused with our beloved leader Auereus who was the sweet young male thing in the matching stylish PVC hefty bag suit with stylish whip accessory over his shoulder.) No, that was Lietgardis – Myschyf did not attend. Both Auereus and Liet assured us that their outfits were unplanned, but they did make one of the nicest well coordinated couples there. Pity they aren’t a couple.

Second misconception newsflash Myschyf is NOT married to Lum – at least not that they’ve let ME know about. I am fairly certain of this fact. If nothing but empirical proof will serve, Myschyf was told of this upon our arrival home and it’s reported she fell to the ground laughing, and we are hopeful here at the Lum hacienda that she didn’t hurt anything like her writing arm in the process.

I was shocked at the number of people that came up to ME and said they
liked my writing. Honored, humbled – and at this moment confused. It wasn’t till after I had heard enough Myschyf is married to Lum comments that I began to wonder. Ummmm, do they like what I write – or do they like what Myschyf writes – or perhaps Liet? Not that it matters in the slightest – we were deeply touched that folks found articles here at Lums to be worthwhile reading, at times funny and at times a voice for them. That’s why we write and personal feedback of that nature (both good and bad) was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

Ok, now that that is all out of the way – let’s go onto some stray Faire notes.

Step 1 – find the freaking convention center.

We were following someone who shall remain nameless – oh yeah – just follow me. We had no idea we had Mario Andretti on staff. Anyway, once we got into the bowels of Austin downtown – we promptly lose our guide. But that’s ok – Lum has great Sense Heading. We’ll just keep going towards the less than stellar part of town – everyone knows of course that’s where all cities put their convention centers. Follow the telltale signs to the redlight/homeless part of town – BINGO – there it is. I must say Austin’s ‘bad’ part of town is quite a bit nicer than Little Rock’s – score one for Texas.

We arrive – find the group in the lobby. The HAPPY FUN BALLS have arrived, which of course were immediately decrated and start flying thru the air towards those patient people in queue to register. Amid mumblings of WTF, and that look from the VERY patient, sweet Austin Police Officer that did not seem to appreciate he had just been beaned with an OFFICIAL happy fun ball, from that moment on our mission was to make sure everyone was in proud possession of at least one. Some lucky souls even came away with two – one black and one VERY RARE white happy fun ball. A few that demonstrated sufficient juggling skill were even given three. Moral of this story – well, there are several.

Austin Police Officers have a much better sense of humor than those around here. Score two for Texas.

Not every woman has the opportunity to give away her husband’s balls for two days.

Some people like to tempt fate – although clearly marked DO NOT TAUNT – Fun Balls were seen taunted on a regular basis (Note – YOU WERE WARNED).

Small soft pieces of rubber make infinitely superior missiles over messy vegetables and rotten fruit for less than stellar performers.

Step 2 – why we were really supposed to be there

For conferences and face time with OSI – I’ll give them an A. Things did not run quite as smoothly as they probably could have in some aspects – but this was OSIs first attempt at this and I for one was prepared for many more glitches than the very minor ones that did occur. For the most part – the conferences were a huge success. Perhaps more important I’ll give these guys an A+ for effort – and for getting out and mingling and talking to folks when they WEREN’T in an organized conference. It would have been easy to have huddled away from the crazed masses in anything but an official forum, but they were all knee deep in people one to one when not officially occupied elsewhere. That took some guts guys – I salute you.

Over in the corner there was a silent auction for charity – GREAT TOUCH. Old copies of the Ultimas including Akalabeth were up for bids – as well as many little dragon statuettes hand painted by various OSI staffers and developers.

Entertainment ranged from ummmm, eclectic – yeah – that’s a good word, eclectic – to pretty damn good. The Madrigal singers from UT were excellent and I enjoyed the Shaolin Kung Fu demonstrations very much. I was a bit disappointed Midas didn’t perform, but was told he is a definite possibility for the next and that circumstances prevented him being at this one. The Grim Fairies also performed. Ummmm, they sound great in the UO2 demos but live – ummmm – maybe it was the heroin chic chick in the funky fairie outfit prancing around with what looked like a dimestore wand, bent double like she had some bad sushi the night before – grunge fairy is not my cup of tea I guess. I chalked it up to the marvels of electronic editing. Given enough electronic manipulation – anyone can look or sound good I suppose, but keep it Memorex – live loses something in the translation.

There weren’t many booths, I’m sure that can be expanded in the next faire. We had our booth of course – and Stratics had one. The folks directly across from us were selling ‘safe swords’ – basically nerf bats for big boys (and girls) to spar with – actually a pretty cool concept. I chatted with them a bit – they make each and every one lovingly themselves by hand. Not sure how many sales they got, but I sure enjoyed watching them and the folks that stopped by spar.

To our right was a costumer – a bit glitzy for my taste (I prefer my Ren costuming a bit more period accurate and less fantasy) but the stuff was nice. Not sure they sold anything other than a few hats, but they added to the feel nicely.

Down from them were the SCA guys – a natural for this type of Faire.

Now we come to the booth of contention – and arguably one of the more

popular booths. Forbidden Fruit is a store in Austin that sells all sorts of things – bondage gear, sex toys, etc. Ok – call me a prude now – go ahead, get it out of your system. THIS HAD NO BUSINESS BEING THERE. I don’t care how popular it was – I don’t care who in Austin may or may not consider it their favorite store – THERE WERE KIDS AT THIS CONVENTION. Big red dildos on display – and Satan’s Cheerleaders prancing about did NOT belong in this venue with children present. The PVC nun’s habit was simply in poor taste – but the rest crossed the line. I came perilously close to bringing our 13yr old son with us. If I had – THIS paragraph would have been my story – and on the front page. Perhaps folks that did bring their children would like to comment on this further.

I won’t comment a lot on the 3rd Dawn demos that were setup. I didn’t get a chance to set down and play with it personally – watched a lot. I’ll leave it to those that actually had hands on experience to comment as many already have. Given the stage it’s in – I thought it looked great and the expandability seems an awesome step forward for UO.

I’d probably have more to say about the UO2 trailer which was shown at the mixer at the end of the second day if I could have seen more of it than the top 3rd of the screen over folks heads. They ran it several times, I never could get to the front of the crowd to see it. I must say – the top 3rd looked spectacular.