Location: Towson, MD
Shore Leave acts as an annual 'class reunion' for the USS Blackheart, with many of her crew attending from far-flung locations. It is common for the Blackheart crew to gather at the CO's house in Delaware after the con for a day of low-impact recreation and relaxation.
Location: Timonium, MD
Many consider Farpoint to be the 'wintertime Shore Leave' since they're both smaller, fan-run affairs in the same metropolitan area. Farpoint tends to take place in the dead of winter, but that doesn't stop Blackheart crew from attending and having a great time.
Location: Atlanta, GA
TXA is still considered a 'new' fan-run convention, now entering its second year. Spun off by the creative team behind Dragon*Con's 'TrekTrax,' TXA has always welcomed Blackheart crew with open arms.
From time to time, members of the USS Blackheart will congregate at science fiction conventions. As a member, you’ll be informed of these events through the ship’s mailing list, ‘Privateers.’ Here are some helpful hints and packing ideas.
If You Don’t Look Good, We Don’t Look Good
“Clean clothes. Deodorant. More soap. More deodorant. Toothpaste. Even more soap. Do you see a theme?” -- GEN Scott Akers
Scott has a point. Sci-Fi conventions (and Linux conferences) are well-known for hosting many folks that seem to be hydrophobic. One of the reasons that the USS Blackheart’s contingent seems to be such a well-groomed group of attractive men and women is simply because we make an effort to look decent and smell good. Shower at least every 24 hours. Use soap, use shampoo. Use deodorant. Shave. Be clean. Look good. Smell good. If your shirt gets dirty, change into a clean one.
We have a number of production folks aboard that have spent time getting other folks camera-ready, and they’re happy to help you, as well. We can suggest clothing and accessories that will look good on you. While we can’t turn everyone into a rock star, we can probably help you look like less of a fashion victim. Our quartermaster has a lot of items that look good on numerous
At a convention, it’s a fairly crazy event. After a couple of days awake, you might not be aware that you’re wearing yesterday’s shirt, Change clothes at least every 24 hours, no matter what.
Energy is Measured in Calories
Unless you are a professional athlete, the chances are good that you don’t burn nearly as many daily calories in ‘real life’ as you will at a convention. Keep this in mind and make sure that you’re eating well throughout the convention. If you don’t normally eat breakfast, it is encouraged that you do so during the convention. Be good to yourself and carry a nutritious snack with you. Some of us like peanuts, others like Clif bars. Also, we’re going to say this three times: Comfortable shoes, comfortable shoes, comfortable shoes.
The Blackheart Raiding Party Carry-All
We will be assigning shoulder bags to crew teams; One bag should be enough for 3-4 crew to work from at any given time. If you’re not assigned one at the convention, this is a good guide for your own bag. Here are the bag’s contents: A Sharpie. Pens. A pad of paper. A small bag of peanuts. A cellphone. Caffeine, Melatonin, Multivitamins, Diphenhydramine and Naproxen Sodium. Calling cards. A camera. Spare batteries for electronics. A small first-aid kit. Gum or mints. Moist towelettes. A flask of Black Strap Rum. An FMRS radio tuned to a secure channel. A multi-tool. Empty space -- Enough to hold a paperback book and several flat 8x10 glossy photos.
The Hotel Is Not Your Friend
There’s a dangerous thought that comes up when you’re getting ready for a convention, and it is this: ‘The hotel should have that.’ Guess what? They probably don’t -- At least they don’t have what you need when you need it. Also, it’s important to note that the hotel does have some things, but that in a lot of cases you’re better off bringing something from home anyway. For example, your own toiletries and one large dark-colored towel. It is usually better to be prepared.
Seriously — The Hotel Is Not Your Friend
Hotel prices for just about everything are crazy. Usually, the crew of the Blackheart will make an effort to depart from the convention hotel in order to procure items at a local grocery store, where 12 ounces of soda are available in cases for under three dollars per case, and snacks are both plentiful and inexpensive. Here on the Blackheart, we feel that your money is better spent on cool trinkets from the Dealer’s Room or assorted other nifty take-homes from the con -- Not receipts.
Camera and Costume Etiquette
People get dressed-up for conventions, and a tremendous majority of people in costume are convention guests, just like us. Please do not assume that a guy dressed as a Klingon wants to pose with you. If you’d like a picture with them, ask politely.
Please take special care around folks in costume. Many costumes restrict vision, and if you’re in their blind spot, they may not see you coming. Please refrain from touching costumes unless you have permission. They are often much more expensive (and time-consuming to create) than you’d think. The Commanding Officer of the Blackheart will not be held financially responsible if you decide to scratch someone’s ‘Boba Fett’ outfit.
Bring cash where possible. It helps divide up the dinner bill, and you should always assume that the hotel's ATM is completely empty. Besides, many opportunities to buy things at conventions happen on a cash-only basis, especially autographs. The Commanding Officer still owes the Executive Officer money from the last Shore Leave, he just hasn't seen her since then. He swears he'll pay it back, but he swears a lot.
Assume that if you hear about a convention three months before it’s supposed to take place, all of the rooms are already booked. You can call the hotel and ask, but the chances are generally not good. In many cases, folks book rooms for next year when the convention ends.