Many of you have seen, and some of you have asked, about the "Triad of Erf" logo that appears on the lower left-paw side of the Foxx Den homepage. It started as a private joke between James Bruner and myself, and now encompasses a finite number of e-mail friends that has been described as walking into a coffee house and finding all of your friends at a table where you sit down and start chatting.

One of our members, NASA's own Dr. David Ellis, pulled a surprise on us. One day last January, I received a letter stating much to my surprise that I was officially pre-registered for Anthrocon 2001! Seems The Good Doctor took the liberty of not only pre-registering us all, but also was providing transportation and lodging at the hotel for us!!

Well … as you can imagine I (for one) could've been knocked over by a gentle breeze. The Good Doctor came into a tiny but powerful windfall, and was saw it as a way to bring the entire contingent of Erf together. "The best friends we never met" were going to meet!

Unfortunately, three of us couldn't make it. Scott Kellogg of the Internet comic strip 21st Century Fox had a scheduling conflict with work. Ricky "Whip-Lash" Boone who owns and runs Foxx Den's new home PlanetFurry had family issues. Raphael Yervantian from Australia plain "didn't know about you crazy Yanks". And they were all sorely missed.

The Good Doctor David planned to bring in myself and Mike Mullig (Tyler Leone) from Pittsburgh, himself and Bill Morris (Cyberhorn) from Cleveland, James Bruner (James Sheppard) from Knoxville, Max Blackrabbit from Newfoundland, "Maxx" Celis from Guatemala, Shawna Sandbom (Kyrin) along with her husband Kris and new baby Alex from San Francisco, Mark White from Canada … sheesh, I think that was all! He'd booked four rooms at the Adams Mark Hotel in Philadelphia (the site of Anthrocon 2001) and a junior suite to be used as a hotel room/eating-meeting place.

Now: to get everyone there.

The plans were to leave the Thursday before and return the Monday after. Unfortunately due to a crossed wire, Mike didn't plan for Monday off. Just as well for him, as he was planning on attending the Pennsic Wars a couple of weeks later. No biggie, but it meant he couldn't ride down in The Good Doctor's mini-van. And as the car trip from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia is too long IMHO to let someone make on his own, I opted to ride along and come home a day early (which worked out, I got a chance to recoup before going back to work, which it turns out I very much needed).

Wednesday evening, the night before.

Game Plan: Keith Dickenson (Hikaru Katayama of Identity Crisis fame) drives from Kansas City to Cleveland, meets up with The Good Doctor Ellis and Cyberhorn, and after Cyber's classes they drive to Eau Claire to meet me and stay the night. Mike Mullig drives from Pittsburgh to Eau Claire for the same reason, and Thursday morning we all leave together, convoy-style (insert Convoy lyrics here). ETA for Mike, 8:30-ish. ETA for the bunch from Cleveland, 10:30-ish.

Dave, Cyber, and Keith showed up around 8:45 PM. We talked and visited until about 11:15, at which time Mike still had not shown up. Keith, being the polar bear that he is, opted to stay at a hotel as even with the air conditioning going, it was a little on the warm side for him. After a frantic phone call to Mike's house, he turned up around 12:30 in the A of M. Seems Mike took the Slippery Rock exit (I knew I should've given him alternate directions from there!) instead of the next exit for Grove City, and with pun intended he zigged instead of zagging, and ended up on New Castle; roughly an hour away from Eau Claire. But he got there, and somewhere between 2 and 3 AM we all got to sleep.

And woke up somewhere between 6:30 and 7:30.



After bagels and beverages we got rolling about 10 minutes late, 9:10 or thereabouts. In Clarion we picked up Keith, who fired up his Global Positioning System on his laptop. Dave had already passed out small walkie-talkies to each of us so we could all stay in contact, which they turned out to be waaaaaaay too much fun, especially when Keith (now known as Mr. GPS) missed an exit.

Coming in from the northern part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it took slightly longer than we'd anticipated, and we arrived in Philadelphia just in time for evening rush hour. I called the hotel on my cell phone -- James Bruner had been there since around 9:30 in the morning, and hadn't left his room all day waiting for us! I told him we were almost there, and his reply was "Bring food, I'm hunnnnnngry!"

It wasn't long after that we arrived at the Adams Mark Hotel. Keith led the way in, followed by Dave and Cyber, followed by Mike and me. We pulled up to the curb to unload, and as soon as we did, Dave's battery died dead. After all the work he had put into that thing, the one thing no one thought to check, don't it figure?

Registration was interesting. Seems Adams Mark thought they were an airline and overbooked the hotel. Along with Anthrocon, they'd book an "African-American" Evangelical convention as well, with a ballroom accommodation on the same floor as Anthrocon! So, picture if you will, a sea of furs in the lobby of a "better" hotel, some in fursuit, some wearing collars, most dressed like your basic fur-con conventioneer, intermixed with very well dressed black people who had as little idea we were there as we did they were.

And they wanted the elevators as much as we did.

I found a courtesy phone and called James, told him what I was wearing, and to come down to the lobby. I joined Dave at the registration desk, and stood so God and everyone could see my T-shirt. Eventually we made contact with James, about the same time the hotel was telling Dave that they not only were spreading us all over the hotel instead of in one block of rooms (as they'd promised last winter), but they'd changed the junior suite to a regular room.

Let's just say Dave straightened that out.

Well we unloaded and got our room assignments, Dave got his van jumpstarted, and we all eventually ended up in Dave's suite on the 14th floor where James got to nosh. Getting to the 12th floor (where our room was), the 14th floor (Dave's suite), and anywhere else in the hotel vertically was a thrill ride not even Kennywood could top.

During the course of the convention:

1 elevator broke
1 elevator had its cable replaced with bungee cords
Another elevator broke
All working elevators were slower than Rosie O'Donnell on her way to a Weight Watcher's meeting
For whatever reason, Adams Mark only got one of the broken elevators repaired

The best was the bungee-vator, which would bounce as the doors opened and remain bouncing for a couple of seconds after. Mike and I discovered this on Day One, where Mike got off on the second floor, only one floor above the lobby, waved to me, and said "I'll see you downstairs!" and walked down.

Well, most of us are now registered at the hotel, now we need to get registered into the convention. This requires a photo-identification … and my Pennsylvania driver's license is sitting on the headboard of my bed in Eau Claire. Also, we're still waiting for Maxx from Guatemala and the Sandbom's from San Francisco. By now Mark White and Max the Black Rabbit had arrived, the Sandbom's flight had been rerouted due to a storm over Houston, Texas, and delayed really good, and Maxx missed connecting with them and had to fly ahead without 'em. He made it to the hotel well after 9:30.

Something I've always known about Maxx is that he's most likely my biggest fan in the world. And this was pushed home to me Thursday evening when Cyber's voice interrupted us in the lobby by announcing "Look who I found!" And with him was a guy wearing an orange ball cap with Tony the Tiger and a varsity jacket with the Kellogg's logo (Maxx is the system administrator for Kellogg's of Central America). He walked toward our group, appeared to be ready to start with James shaking hands, then saw me in my Sabrina T-shirt (I'd since changed), recognized me, screamed like a groupie and ran toward me, grabbed me in a very serious bear-hug, and lifted me off of the floor and began spinning me around clockwise … all I could do was let go and enjoy the ride and listen to the laughter!

Well, I hadn't seen Mike lately, so I went looking for him. When I'd returned, he and everyone but Cyber and Maxx had gone through the pre-registration line. So I followed Cyber and Maxx, and we became the line.

Sorta. Their network was down (software glitch took the printers down). Registration closes at 10:00, and we got there about 9:58. They took Cyber, but Maxx and I were gonna hafta wait until tomorrow. (insert grumble here) Cyber suggested I ask about my lack of photo-ID, so I did. Thankfully, the registration guy referred this to another, who was willing to accept my Giant Eagle grocery story ID and my pre-reg letter. They processed me after getting me to verify my address, phone number, blood type, shoe size, and make me promise to e-mail them when I get home to be sure it was me they gave my badge to. Maxx, however, the only one behind me, still got screwed and had to wait. That burned me, but I'm not in charge, so there wasn't much that could be done, and Maxx had to wait until Friday irregardless.

Back at the suite we were all getting together and comparing our travel notes. Max BR had very generously offered to do our con badges. Now if you know Max, you know he's got a crush on Sabrina almost as much as I do. I handed him my badge and heard, "I know what you want … " But I can't do that to Max. "I never tell the doctor how to operate," I told him, and left it to him to so as he wished. And he did a bee-yootiful badge of Chris Foxx and his valentine, which if you missed it you can see here.

It was nearly 1:00 when Kris, Shawna, and Alex arrived, much to the relief of everybody. We had a small meet-n-greet party. Style Wagner of Dela the Hooda dropped in, a few people I didn't recognize, some I did. Maxx did some drawings, and presented me with the originals of a couple of the pieces appearing in his Gallery, and one picture of Sabrina that will never see the light of day (and no, don't ask!). He brought a little bit of Guatemala with him too: a cotton shirt and pants for summertime lounging (I was so thankful for that shirt the two days I was rushed to the hospital for my kidney stone! It was a button down, not a pull-over) with matching wallet, and to share, a bottle of genuine Guatemalan rum ... and folks, if you've had the rum we buy here in the United States, you have not had rum! This was some of the best adult beverage I've ever had the pleasure of imbibing (for those of you in Rio Linda and West Palm Beach, I liked it); very smooth, and I'm not one to drink any adult distilled beverage straight. This was very good, though, and now I'm envious because I can't buy it here (hence the green background)! I had decided that Maxx should take back something he can't buy there, and I had to make up for the fact that he'd asked if I could get him a Pittsburgh Penguins T-shirt, which I couldn't get before leaving (and there's not a chance in Hades Hole that you're gonna find one in Philadelphia!). So America was represented with a bottle of Heinz green ketchup, and from my private library a copy of Howard Stern's Private Parts. He liked the movie, so I thought he'd enjoy reading the autobiography, and he says he did, so I'm happy.

We were all together until fairly close to 3:00 in the A of M, and by that time everyone was ready for bed. Looooong day!

And that was only the beginning!

Saturday morning, Mike and I each got up around the same time. Mike, being a martial artist, took his belt and went down to the hotel gymnasium for his morning workout, and I did some morning exercises in the room. Ended up in The Suite for breakfast.

Then, the grueling trial for Maxx, Kris, and Kyrin.


Mike took Dave into town where Dave could purchase a new battery for his minivan. Cyberhorn went to start working security. Max had to go get his table in the Dealer's Room set up, as did Keith, James went his own way, I went mine.

Instead of my Sabrina tee-shirt (I know, shame on me for six weeks), I had on my Official ERF Anthrocon 2001 tee-shirt. Mine was black, and on the back had the image of all of our furry characters upon it. Art was by Maxx, coloring was by Ricky Boone, tee-shirt manufacture was by Kyrin. So if you saw this picture on the back of a black tee-shirt and didn't know who it was, it was me.

I kept Maxx company in the registration line (least I could do since he got rear-ended out of pre-registering the night before), then spent some time with Kris and Kyrin, helping to babysit their little one Alex. During the wait I also met a couple of fans, one who recognized me from my namebadge; works security for NASCAR (I think; some big-name auto races anyway), then met Kiefer, aka Dorsola, who hosts the site that mirrors The Stories with musical accompaniment. When I went back to the registration area, Uncle Kage had volunteered himself to entertain everyone caught in the line (due to the printers constantly going down (software-related, I couldn't help)) with his usual incredible stories. In Artist's Alley I met Grandma Kage, leaned in, and in my best Myron Cohen voice told her "That's a good boy you have there." She then showed me where he got his talent by telling me about his growing up between two sisters. Nice family, I hope I meet her again sometime.

Maxx and I had plans to go to lunch (he was dying to have an authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwich), but he went out of his own, so I had lunch in The Suite. When I'd returned to the con I ran into some of ERF little by little. There were a couple of panels James wanted to attend, and I was planning on hanging out with him too, but for some reason we couldn't track down the ones we wanted. So, off to the Dealer's Room.

I paid my respects to Eric, and made my circuit of the room. Maxx was dying to meet Eric Schwartz -- after all, he's the reason Maxx wanted to become an artist in the first place -- but an attack of shyness forced him to just study his work for sale. This is where I reap the benefits of being 40: I caught Eric's attention and said, "This gentleman came all the way from Guatemala just to meet you," and walked away. Another one of Maxx's dreams came true.

Finally got to meet Steve Corbett of Shanda Fantasy Arts; he and I had become good friends since we'd missed each other last Anthrocon and I was determined to connect! Had the chance to meet some other fans, and some serious people in the furry community too; Nexxus for one, a gentleman from United Publications, Josh Fox, Rava Purr, Jim Lane, Mike Seymour, and Lord knows I can't remember them all! Had quite a privilege this time around, and it was amazing to me how many were fans of mine!

I perused the art auction and caught up with James. While we toured the Dealer's Room though, I began feeling a pain in the right side of the back of my neck. Slowly it migrated to the back of my skull, and demanded attention of me. When it moved to the top of my head and began throbbing … according to James I was pale, and he thought I was having a heart attack. Eventually it slid back down, but wouldn't go completely away. This would plague me every day of the con, and after I came home.

We decided to go to The Olive Garden for dinner. Steve caught up with us and joined us. When we arrived, they told us we'd have about a 10-15 minute wait, which turned into a roughly half hour to forty minute wait. Outside. Interestingly enough, an entourage with Eric came by shortly after us, saw us waiting, and had the good sense to eat elsewhere. Now understand, I eat at Olive Garden from time to time, but this kind of a wait was unconscionable; even Dave was getting upset, and he's one of the coolest cucumbers I know.

Well, we finally got seated, and placed our orders. This could not, of course, go mundanely … Steve was the last of us to order, and order he did. In his best, booming real radio announcer's voice:

"I want a human head."


"On a plate."

And the poor waitress didn't know what to do!

I wasn't sure about James or Mike; they were almost falling out of their chairs laughing!

Heck, serves 'em right for making us wait so long!

And after the meal, everyone agreed, we'd all had better. Mike had ordered an appetizer that never came. James got a rotten portion of lasagna. Seems everyone had a bad meal except me, and Steve (he only had a dessert; he'd eaten dinner already).

Back at the room, Kyrin and Cyberhorn asked Max if he'd draw in their sketchbooks. James and I went down to his room, Mark and Maxx eventually joined us. But before they did, as I followed James into the room, I saw it.

In all it's glory.

Laying on Max's bed. With a big rubber band around it.

What every furry fan drools about.

The Bible of Zig Zag.

Holy crow.

"James," I said, my eyes upon the Holy Grail of Furrydom, "do you think Max would mind if I peeked inside?"

And James, well … "He wouldn't have left it out if he didn't want you to look at it."

There is a God.

And He is good.

And The Bible of Zig Zag was wonderful. I want one!

Every page was a treasure. Every page was perfection.

For those of you asking "what the heck is he talking about?", first of all shame on you for not knowing! But Bible of Zig Zag is a collection of Zig Zag art drawn by other artists for Max. It's a hard-cover oversized sketchbook that has page after wonderful page of work.

When Mark and Maxx had arrived, they had the honor of perusing it too. Maxx was near drooling (confidentially, so was I), wishing he could draw in it. James and I both told him, "Ask!" It was evident he wasn't about to.

He'd forgotten how I got him to meet Eric Schwartz.

When Max finally arrived with an armload of fresh prints from Kinko's, someone had to take the initiative!

"Max, Maxx was wanting to know if he can do a piece in The Bible.

You could sense Maxx's anxiety from there.

And Max extended a hand and said, "Go for it!"

You could sense Maxx's excitement from there!

Maxx had his bottle of Guatemalan rum and took part in a custom in his country (at least he said it's a custom in his country) and toasted Max before he took part in a great venture.

And he did a great sketch! Of Maxx meeting Zig Zag for the first time. You had to see it. Zig Zag never looked better with clothes on.

When another artist came by, I think Rivercoon but I can't remember to save my life, I excused myself; it was getting late and I went up to bed.

Saturday was about the same. Same fun, same meeting people, same damned headache. Mike, James, and I sat in on some of the Pawpet Show. James went to his room partway through, Kiefer caught up with me and we went to The Zoo to talk about the possibility of a Clarence and Cindy spinoff. I felt awful; my headache was taking its toll on me and I didn't want to let on to him. When we broke up the meet I went back to the ballroom just a few minutes late to listen to Uncle Kage, and that took my mind off of my headache! The man is a comical genius! And you'd never know the man is the proud owner of a Ph.D.!

In The Suite Kyrin gave me some Advil for my headache; it helped some. James and Mike wanted to be sure I was drinking water and keeping myself hydrated. We all swapped comic books and art, Max raised an eyebrow when he saw I had some Sabrina art that he didn't (and boy, was I smug!). We all had pizza from, of all places, Chris' Pizza, and it wasn't bad either! Everyone else got to see The Bible of Zig Zag and of course, I took advantage of having a second look through!

James and I got an invitation from Jim Lane, a fan of ours from Florida, to come down to his room for a visit. James was tired, and expected to only spend about 20 minutes.

He woke up, and we spent three hours!

So you can well imagine I went to bed shortly thereafter.

Sunday was the last day for Mike and me. Mike had to go back to work Monday morning, and I didn't want him to drive all the way cross-commonwealth by himself, so I'd volunteered to leave the con early. We spent as much time as we could safely spend, and left about two hours later than we'd planned, around 2:30 PM.

And talked almost nonstop the trip home.

Had a wonderful time!