Pictures follow (not of the washrooms).
As she has taken to doing on our trips, atara kept the story of our vacation in a paper journal. There is nothing wrong with BLOGs or on-line journals, but a hand-written paper journal is somehow more satisfying on a visceral level. I haven't asked her if she ever plans to scan this, or transcribe it into an electronic form.
If you are a fan of Brutalist architecture, then you would love this hotel. The lobby is a big, open wonderland of overlaid, offset concrete walkways centred by a large concrete pillar with four glass elevators. I have stayed at a lot of hotels in my time, but in many respects this is one of the most fascinating. It is also the best convention hotel I have stayed at in terms of layout, facilities, and open spaces for people to just hang out. I am really pleased to hear that MFF has booked this hotel through the end of 2015.
While this is not a terrible picture of Derpy Hooves, I wish I had taken some earlier out in the lobby from a better angle. She was much cuter with the envelope stuck in her mouth, and you can't see her wings in this picture. While there were arguably better technical suits at the convention, this was my sentimental favourite.
We spent a fair bit of money in this restaurant. While I'd like to have gone off-site for dinner, we managed to book ourselves fairly solid with obligations before the convention even started. I think I am going to make a personal vow to generally avoid smorgasbords where they offer unlimited bacon because I am weak, and I partake far too readily when it is offered. I took this picture while we were sitting on the bench killing time between our late checkout and our flight home. This was a really interesting restaurant; its walls were made up by the seat backs, which formed a large C around the kitchen area. Here you can see one of the waiters preparing a table for any potential late lunchers.
The lighting in this hotel could have come directly from a Stanley Kubrick movie. There were lighted floors, lighted tables, lighted bars and in this case a ribbon of light running the length of the orange-red Naugahyde benches along the wall opposite the check-in desks.
Here is a look at the benches and restaurant from another angle. I remember them being a little more red than this, but either my digital camera or my memory has a bad handle on colours.
Oh ya, and there were a bunch of guys like this running around all over the place during the convention. You could hardly turn around without running into Furries. The last count I heard pegged the fursuit parade at 574 participants this year. We were busy and missed much of it, but we got a good spot in the lower lobby to catch about the last third of it. I only took a couple of picture because the lighting was very poor down there, and I could not get close enough to get good use out of my flash.
Even though we missed most of the parade, I don't think we really missed a lot. I don't mean this to be disparaging toward the suits, nor the people wearing them. The fact is that quality of the suits has improved dramatically in the years since we have started attending these conventions. You can see that quite plainly in the couple of pictures that I have posted. The age of baggy suits with huge, oversized, overly cartoony heads is gone. I liked a lot of the suits I saw, but none of them really stood out. As suit after suit paraded by, I started to get this nagging feeling of deja vu. Hadn't I just seen that one? And that one too?
To me, the suits are starting to look a bit like quality animé. That is, they are very good, but it looks like they are all being produced by the same five or so people. When I close my eyes and try to imagine any of the individual suits at the convention, there are really only four that come to mind: Derpy, the snow leopard with the light-up paws, feet and tail (I kept meaning to catch his name and never got close enough to do so at any point), and a blue husky girl who had the cutest eyes, and the lone quadruped who I saw in the parade. The rest all just kind of run together for me.
Here is the snow leopard of which I spoke. As you can see from the squeeing going on in the background, I was not the only one who liked this suit.
This is the quadruped suit I mentioned. I could not get a good angle for a shot of the suit actually walking, but playing dead is a pretty good picture as well. I only saw this suit in the parade, which leads me to suspect that it is a bit tricky to move around in a quadruped suit. I don't know if this is the same person who had the quadruped goat suit a few years back, but they had the movements down pretty good. I wish the picture did it more justice.
The majority of pictures I took at the convention were while we were killing time between our late checkout and our flight. We sat in the lobby while atara updated her journal. Eventually I got bored and started walking around the hotel taking pictures of random things. This is another example of the interesting lighting throughout the lobby. Here you can see the cooks hard at work catering to the late lunch crowd. The interesting mood lighting and stark, concrete architecture really complimented each other well.
The animé tentacle monster gracing the ceiling of the elevator lobby made me a bit nervous. It's not that I didn't like it, but I felt this compulsive need to check that my brains had not been sucked out after I got in the elevator. Since we were only one floor up, we took the stairs through most of the convention to avoid the long delays and over-crowded elevators.
I spoke of lighted floors and tables earlier; here is an example of both. The backdrop to this picture is the central elevator lobby with its four glass elevators. The bottoms of the elevators were lighted as well, and they slowly changed colours. Although I am not prone to post-convention depression, the sight of a lobby full of people with their bags packed for departure made me a little sad.
The cake was not a lie. It was delicious and moist. It also has one of the cutest cake toppers I have seen.
Alas, even "cute" does not spare one from the knife of doom, as is captured here in this wonderfully candid shot captured by atara. And while I am leeching pictures from her, here is another.
It's Derpy Hooves again, with a plonq for scale. In this one you can see the wings and envelope that I did not capture in my own picture. This also makes me realize how badly I did the colour correction in my own picture. I will have to go back and fix that at some point.
This is either a unique, hand-painted Zecora or a cheap plastic replica of the same. In either case I picked her up in the dealers' room and to the surprise of both atara and myself, got her home intact.
We did not spend a lot of time at this bar because the drinks were friggin' expensive. On the other hand, pictures are free, and the bar looks wonderfully moody when it is empty. Also trust me when I say that I was not going out of my way to try and make the hotel look empty in these pictures - the lobby was actually quite crowded. People just seemed to scurry out of the way of my camera light cockroaches caught in the beam of a flash light.
Here is an example of the colour-changing elevators. I was too lazy to get the white balance exactly the same on both pictures, but it is close enough to clearly illustrate the colour change.
This sculpture hung over the restaurant. If you stare at it long enough you can see infinity. Some of the magic is lost if you look too closely and notice how dusty some of the balls have become.
This little book saw a lot of use through the course of the convention. As usual, I glanced through mine on the very first day to see if there was anything that interested me and then we used atara's book for the rest of the time we were there since it turned out we both wanted to attend the same panels anyway.
As we were leaving, we spied this chocolate shop at the airport that was carrying a line of chocolate bars that we like. We knew that they would not be cheap, so we started carefully sifting through them, trying to find 2-3 that we both agreed on. That's when the evil girl behind the register mentioned that they had a "buy five, pay for six" sale (or some permutation on that). We picked out the ten that we wanted and then slowly whittled the selection down to these six.
Overall it was a wonderful convention, as usual. I especially like the hotel, and other than a few glitches with the registration, everything was run in an efficient and professional manner.
It was nice being able to see everybody again, though I wish I'd had a chance to visit more with some of you. Hopefully we won't be quite as pre-booked when we come down next year.