Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pantheacon Hotel Lottery Rant

How many of you managed to find rooms here in the Double Tree Hotel?

Alas, I was all ready to enter the hotel room lottery on March 17th, 2012 at 12:00.00pm - but I sneezed and missed the Window of Opportunity.

I see the need though: The DoubleTree was infamous for promising one thing to the Pcon organizers, but entirely failing to relay these instructions to their reservations point man, a cab driver in New Delhi named Carlos.

Carlos would give any room to anyone, or 3 or 10, or 20, until they were all gone. Then, just for kicks, he'd reserve 'em all again! Whoopee!

Something had to be done. But that something turned out to be the world's first 48 month year.

As I said, I sneezed at noon on March 17th, and so missed the first round of the room lottery. No problem, they said, your still valid - just hang loose until the next round.

And. So. I. Waited.

April: when the corn shoots are green and a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of underpants - love! and he ceases thinking altogether. 

May? Sure. I guess Ancient Ways is busy making sure that every room checks out. I guess they do this by walking from Oakland to here, in order to purge and focus, and then physically feel the walls in a single room to make sure it exists. Then they walk back, and make a note about it. Once refreshed and rested they then repeat the process.

June? I enquired, hat in hand, and was told that the Pcon volunteers were very busy. The door was then slammed shut in my face, and my hat became dusty.

July: Season of celebration! Me, I was camped out by my mailbox, sweaty, sunburned, watching the horizon desperately for a sign, any sign, that the next round of the room lottery would soon get underway.

The Lion, Flying Monkey, Mayor, Glinda, Oz & the Scarecrow.
August: I dunno, Maybe they were physically counting every room at the Doubletree again, just to make extra double secret sure. 

I was busy anyway. For Lughanasadh that year I led my first public ritual for 80 very surprised celebrants, writing myself the role of Lord Mayor of Munchkinland and thereby achieving one of my life's goals, namely, to be the world's tallest midget. Good times.

From out of the forest I invoked The Scarecrow from the East, The Lion from the South, The Tin Woodsman from the West, and from the North, Toto. Jason Mankey played the Lion, cuz, let's face it, he's pretty much in costume already. And all 80 of the celebrants became Dorothy. My priestess was Glinda, played by Skot, in a tailor-made ruby-red renaissance ball gown, who entered the circle by swinging on a rope, over a creek. We even rigged a tornado on the way in to be our cense and asperge*. And forget Star Wars and Harry Potter; The Wizard of Oz is the greatest cultural mythos of modern times.

Glinda (Skot) and The Mayor (Angus)
In September we were told that the second room lottery would take place "After Samhain". I didn't mind because I was busy signing up to be a presenter at this years Pantheacon. For those who don't know, the application process for this is formidable, and if you are foolish enough to want to do TWO seminars, you have to go through the whole entire process twice.

My second presentation was going to be a big, affirming ritual open to anyone who does NOT self-identify as Z Budapest. But that got turned down for some reason. 

Registering to be a presenter is a big process: every aspect of the presentation, from how the doors will be handled, to whether you need a lectern, to the precise wording of the blurbs in the program, all of this must be settled and turned in by September 15th, 5 full months before the convention.

Which I was fine with, I do it every year. But this year it felt weird to be signing on and making all these decisions and agreeing to do all this, when I had no idea if I would even have a room at the hotel that I was presenting in.

And I know what your thinking - and it is not a nice thought! Could I play the 'presenter should get a room card'? Could I stoop to weasel my way into a reservation this way? There is some tread to be found here, certainly. I mean, individually I'm not very important. I just stand up here and tell my little stories and hopefully keep your attention for an hour or so. But collectively, the presenters of Pcon have a case.

Just think what Pantheacon would be like without the presentations. Pcon with no rituals, seminars or concerts. A blank program. The weekend would go like this:
  • Sleep
  • Cafe ho-hum
  • nap
  • Absinthe
  • fucking
  • sleep
  • regrets
  • cafe ho hum
  • nap
  • sushi
  • absinthe
  • fucking - in the hot tub!
  • thrown out by security
  • sleep - on the curb
  • Denny's
  • crying

The presenters are everything to the convention. And we do not get paid, or even get our registrations discounted. In full disclosure though I must confess, with great embarrassment, that we do get a special ribbon. So that balances everything out.

No, in answer to your slimy thought process. I did not play the 'your-nothing-without-us-give-me-a-goddamn-room' card.

No! Not for you. You have always followed the rules,
and so you shall be punished. (from
October! The agrarian cycle is now complete, we have waited from the Sowing to the Reaping, and still no word on why the second round of the room lottery has not transpired.

November! Ah, but the volunteers were busy in November because they needed to check out all the rooms that were given over to handicapped and special needs persons. They apparently did this by driving to every single address around the country, coming into each house, and tapping the person on the leg to make sure they were disabled. So that took some time.

December! The 17th, to be exact. Maybe being four days out from the End of the World was the final push that got the lottery going.

March 17th to December 17th is 9 full months. 275 days had passed since I sneezed and missed round one.

Here are some things you can do in 9 months:
  • Fly to Mars and still have time to build a gift shop.
  • Write, record and release Sgt. Pepper AND Magical Mystery Tour.
  • You can build a hotel.
  • You can listen to the complete works of Bach, 175 hours, straight through, 37 times, with time leftover for potty breaks.
  • You can walk from L.A. to Chicago to New York City to Washington, D.C. (Done that.)
  • 1986, age 20, on the Great Peace March across the U.S.
    Please excuse the teeny shorts and the tube socks; it WAS the 80's.
  • You can grow another human inside yourself. (Have not done that.)

So! Long story, long....Admiral Karen and I did not get a room here at the Doubletree, and since the overflow hotels were long since filled up by the smart kids, we are currently staying at the nearest place we could find, a Best Western in San Luis Obispo.

It's a nice place. Good view of the Cal Poly campus. Mints on the pillow each day. And on our way in each morning, right about sunrise, we can stop by our house in Santa Cruz and get the mail and water the plants. But we have to leave the Con every day about 3pm in order to get back in time to get a good nights sleep.

So yeah, we're kinda screwed tonight. By the time we make it back to SLO town we'll have just enough time to eat the mints on the pillow before we have to turn around and drive back here tomorrow.

Close to all the stores! (from
So I understand the need for the room lottery system. But I am not a fan of the implementation. The inexplicable 9 month gap between round one and round two has severely constipated good people who have to schedule flights, childcare, make the wares that are sold in the vendor room and write the seminars, rituals and concerts that are kinda key to the whole Pcon experience.

Carlos, the Indian cab driver, is probably having himself a pretty good giggle about all of this.

Angus McMahan

*Copies of that ritual, along with 15 other slightly-less-zany sabbats written by Jason, are available HERE.


  1. Naturally, the amenities that your hotel offers will significantly influence its energy use patterns. A hotel that has an indoor pool, sauna, Jacuzzi, and/or restaurant will have a different energy profile than a hotel offering only guestrooms. Thankfully, there are energy-efficient opportunities for these additional amenities, too. Thanks.

    1. Well that is certainly a unique take on this article. Thanks for reading!

      (just assuming that last part.)

  2. My University uses a lottery system to assign dorm rooms.