Since roughy 2/3 of every update on this site is about space, I had the pleasure of being sent from the Something Awful home office in Wichita, Kansas, to beautiful Houston, Texas, to cover the 2005 International Astronauts Convention. I must say that it was quite a hoot, and I learned a lot about space and teamwork, as well as a little something about myself. The convention was started in 1968 to celebrate space travel, and to give thanks to the brave men who risked their lives in the name of science and exploration. The event is a chance for the space community to get together and share new ideas and thoughts, as well as to just kick up their heels and have a good ole time in the heart of Texas. When I arrived at the convention at the Houston Holiday Inn Center, I was starry eyed and my panties were sopping wet in anticipation. Ever since I was a small child I wanted to be an astronaut, or a cowboy, or a choo-choo train. This was a dream come true, and I couldn't wait to get in there and make some new space friends that hopefully didn't have space herpes.
Breakfast Meet and Greet
The registration and meet and greet started promptly at 9:00. Large sunburned men in Hawaiian shirts and beige shorts filled the conference area with their oafish wives. I was getting a lot of attention as usual because I was dressed up in my own homemade space suit. I go to a lot of Sci-Fi conventions and have won awards for my clever costumes. I knew that I was probably a shoo-in for the winner this year since I was the only one that bothered to dress up. You snooze, you lose. After paying the $40 registration fee, I was given a package of reading material and a button that says "I'll brake for Mars!" I put the button on my denim baseball cap that I was wearing backwards on my space suit helmet. After getting our goodies, we were greeted at breakfast by none other than Darryl Strawberry, the baseball legend and drug addict. He shook hands, asked for some change, and then out of nowhere he screamed and jumped out of the 10th story window because he thought he saw an elf outside. The breakfast buffet was very hearty and delicious. Texans really do know how to make you feel right at home.
There was a bit of confusion on who was going to be the guest speaker at the start of the event. Originally John Glenn was scheduled to be the speaker, but he was taking a nap, so they got that chimp that was in the Apollo 11 mission. Unfortunately, Darryl Strawberry seized the chimp right before he jumped out the window. On short notice they managed to get ahold of a Russian Cosmonaut, Yuri Korsakov, and teleported him to Houston to give the speech. Despite my misgivings, Yuri was very well spoken and seemed to know what he was talking about, but it was all in Russian and there was no translator present. Everybody nodded politely, and clapped at the appropriate pauses, but for all we knew he could be cursing our capitalist nation for bankrupting his country and taking all their beautiful woman away in the form of mail order brides. After his speech, I approached Yuri and admitted that I had ordered Russian mail order brides before but they all got away because I accidentally left the backyard fence open. I don't think he understood me and tried to escape. I chased him into the lobby, but he did a really cool spin kick that knocked me to the carpet, and then turned on his jet pack and crashed through the hotel ceiling. One day I will catch Yuri Korsakov.
Fan Fiction/Art booths
Like all conventions, one of the great things that people can share is an artistic rendering showing off their enthusiasm for a given subject. Another large room held various booths filled with all sorts of artwork, writing, and wax sculptures, all dedicated to the space program. Most of them were extremely well done works of art, made by talented and dedicated fans. I wandered over to the 18+ sections to check out the astronaut slash fiction and artwork. One ink drawing showed Buzz Aldrin giving Alan Sheppard a blowjob while he piloted the moon buggy along the lunar surface, with Earth visible in the background. Then I saw some really graphic images that I cannot relate here for legal purposes, but they were well worth their price and I filled the back of my Escort with this erotic space art to be viewed later in the privacy of my basement.
Lunch with Fun and Games
All of the activity sure works up a mean appetite. Lunch was served promptly at noon and consisted of food tubes full of nutritional paste that the real astronauts eat! At first I thought they were handing out complementary tubes of toothpaste and ended up going to the bathroom and brushing my teeth with pork chops. Boy was my face red. After lunch we were led out to the grassy courtyard where there were free pony rides! I got to ride a pony and it was lots of fun. But then something happened that was really gross. An astronaut was riding a pony in front of me and the pony went to the bathroom and poo-poo fell out of its butt, and then my pony stepped on the poo. It really smelled and I knew then that eating that second tube of pork chop was a bad idea. Sure enough, I leaned over the side of the pony and threw up, right on top of the poo pile. Then everybody started throwing up, even the ponies. It was gross, poo is gross.
Fantasy Space Camp
For those who pitched in an extra 30 bucks at registration, like me, you got to attend the special fantasy space camp set up in a pavilion in the back of the hotel. It was a simulation on what it's like being a superstar astronaut and the rigors of training it takes to do their job in space. The first thing the instructors did was slap the plastic helmet I was wearing off my head and call me a disgrace to the human race. I think this was just a bit of hazing on their part so I played along. Then they made us strip, hosed us down with cold water, and sprayed us with a delousing powder. Then they made us wear black and white striped pajamas and locked us behind a fenced in area with hurricane barbed wire running across the top. A few of us tried to ask questions but were struck down by the blunt force of the guard's rifle. It was only about an hour later when I realized that I wandered to the wrong side of the hotel's pavilion and was participating in the fantasy concentration camp, just one of the events from the 2005 Concentration Camp Convention that was taking place the same day. Eventually, I hatched a plan with a couple of my fellow brave prisoners to escape the clutches of our evil captors, but I was caught on the barbed wire and then they shot me. It was only with a paint gun but it really hurt and now I have a huge welt on my cheek. It turned out to be a lot of fun and I plan to go next year.
The festive atmosphere of the event was toned down to a somber silence when everybody filed into the conference center to pay tribute to the brave souls who lost their lives on space missions that went horribly wrong. A video montage showed all of the crew members waving for the last time before walking into the shuttle and then the explosion in the sky afterwards. Nobody was left unmoved, and open weeping could be heard throughout the room. I was playing Super Mario Cart on my new Game Boy Advance (it's metallic green), but I turned the volume all the way down in respect for the dead. My favorite kart is Donkey Kong. Sure he's slow, but I like to bully around the other karts, especially Toad. I think maybe it was because I was beat up in school a lot and now I am trying to overcompensate for my shame by being a jerk in my video game fantasy world. While I thought about this, I started to cry, and then the shuttles blew up again on the large screen. If they'd only let pure, white Aryan men into space, this never would've happened.
Getting right back on track after the memorial service, there was an eating contest with a couple famous astronauts leading the way. I've never been known to shy away from a few dozen eggs or a bucket of wieners, so I signed up. A few of the heavier contestants scoffed at my appearance; that of a very slim fancy lad who had never gorged in his life. This was my wild card, for they underestimated me just like Jung Fow Ping, the 125 pound Chinese man who took the world record for pickled pigs' feet in 1998. I decided my best bet was the boiled eggs, and when the starter pistol sounded, I started sucking them down like a madman. The audience was in wide-eyed disbelief after the timer sounded and I had eaten over 43 eggs. Everybody cheered and I was awarded an oversized check for $100 and a trophy that said "Space Piggy". I was dizzy with elation and eggs, so I went back to my hotel room to rest until the dance that night.
The Astronauts Ball
I still felt a little ill from all the eggs, but I tried to ignore it the best I could and put on my tuxedo and grabbed my cane and top hat. There was no way in heck I was going to miss this gala event because of a little tummy ache. But then when I was making my way down the stairs I tripped over my own feet and fell down the stairs and broke both of my legs. I was rushed to the Houston St. Mercy hospital and was in an extreme amount of pain. They gave me morphine but I had a bad reaction to it and bit a nurse's ear off and then the ER doctor punched me out. It was a terrible way to end what turned out to be a great day, but there will always be 2006. In an ironic twist, I shared a room with Darryl Strawberry and Oliver the space chimp, who had both suffered serious injuries from their 10-story fall. Darryl turned out to have a chronic snoring problem, and the chimp smothered him with a pillow. It was for the best.
I want to thank the Something Awful travel department for flying me out to Houston to cover the event and covering all costs, although hopefully next time I'll get to sit in coach instead of "freezing luggage bin". I hope you had as much fun reading about the convention as I did partaking in it.
(I want to give a special thanks to fellow writer "Livestock" who gave me this idea after I begged him to give me an idea because I'm just a hack. After reading my update, he told me "no thanks" but I am giving him credit anyways cause I'm a huge jerk).
Transgressive author Chuck Palahniuk is here to help with tips and tricks to hacking your life.
Not what I had in mind when I ordered an Italian gondolier. This is literally just a tiny toy. Needless to say, the Italian businessmen were not impressed and I looked like a damn fool. We lost the pizza pie account and will have to lay off half our factory.
Time to applaud the man who applauds in a loop until the end of time.
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