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                       THE GATEWAY AMIGA CONVENTION
  Pete W Storonskij                           

I'll just skip the part where we drove on the highway for about a dozen
hours to get into St. Louis, and subsequently went on a rollercoaster ride
in the big clover leaves in the extensive St. Louis Interstate system.
Let's just say that we found the convention site a half a day in advance,
so we had lots of time to make sure we were there when they opened.

When we entered, the first thing that we saw were a lot of yellow
smiley-faced balloons. :) :) :)  There were tons of them, and since they
were lighter then air, a ton of balloons is quite a lot.  The balloons
were mostly on the ceiling, and in columns set between the tables, and
attached to every other nook and cranny in the place.

Soon there were a lot of people filling in the convention.  The maximum
occupancy was 35 for the main room, but that was exceeded by just the
exhibitors.  With the addition of enthusiastic convention goers, the
hallways made for a nice place to meet people. :)

There were lots of exhibitor booths, too.  There was the coffee counter at
the Scharp Designs table, and a Toaster at half of the others.  There were
two Toasters at the NewTek booth, as well as Spike and a few others to
command the Toasters to make weird shapes.  Dale Larson of Intangible
Assets Manufacturing was putting Commodore-symbol Smiley faces on people. 

The best decoration there was the Amiga Report TV set encrusted with
miscellaneous plastic and computer parts.  It was showing a Portable Jason
Compton unit called Legacy.  There was also a full sized, Interactive
Jason Compton there to answer any questions, pose for pictures, and so
forth. The Portable Jason Unit was stuck in a 2 minute 38 second feedback
loop and was fully immersed in selling copies of itself, where as the Full
Sized Jason was flanked by three technitians from the Amiga Report staff
feverishly replacing parts on Jason to make sure he kept on running :) 
Every once in a while, one of the technitians had to pull out the fire
extinguisher to quash a fire starting in one of Jason's main panels. 

I had noticed that all of the exhibitors had name tags, but the rest of us
had no name tags, so I found a nice looking piece of non-Amiga related
paper and put my name and other important information on it, and I fixed
it to my sweater :)  Then, I went around talking to everyone.  I had
gotten back to the Amiga Report booth for the fifth time when Pat Larken
of the Kentuckiana Planetary Empire walked by and recognized me :)
"Nuclear Golf" he said, pointing at me, smiling.  A fan had discovered me
:), thereafter, I was smiling like all those yellow balloons :) :). 

I also brought my portfolio of snow sculptures to show to people,
including the leaning Tower of Pisa and a gothic cathedral with all of
those flying buttresses. :) 

At the end of the first day, the convention started to draw names from the
registry.  I was just about to start a conversation when my Dad came over
and said that I wad won something :).  I start heading through the people
crowded around the front of the convention table while my smile
continually grew until I had out smiled all of the balloons.  I had won
papers for a possible A4000 to be drawn for a bit later, in the NorthWest
Amiga Group Headquarters sometime in the near future :) :D :D.  So go
ahead and cross your fingers for me :).


The last day of a convention is always reserved for all around sillyness. 
With this in mind, I tossed out my old name tag and created a new one from
scratch.  It read: "Pete W Storonskij: ALIEN SPY".  I attached the name
tag to the front of my B52 StratoFortress T-shirt.

My Mom entered the convention armed with a black permanent marker and
started redesigning all of the smiley-faced balloons. ::::)  I entered
with my own smile and started pointing out that I was an Alien Spy.
Everyone liked my new identity :^] I also managed to draw some creative
things on a few of the balloons, as well as the 30 minute old Alien Spy
logo. :O

I was deciding what to draw on a balloon when I had noticed that the
Interactive Jason Compton had gotten loose and was roaming around the
exhibits, passing out fliers and causing havoc in general.  The Amiga
Report Technitians came by just in time with their fire extinguishers in
hand and proceeded in carting the Interactive Jason back to Central
Control for a complete refit. :">

Before long, most of the balloons were now cats, dogs, pigs, and various
other things. :X A few of the balloons had found their way into the inset
lights and were happy to glow a bright yellow.