Arisia 2012

Last year I bitched about the Green Room.  It was broke, and they fixed it.  This year the food was excellent (loved the beef stew!), the volunteers were friendly and helpful, and the room was kept tidy and appealing.  So, credit to the organizers for doing it right.  (And the souvenir book is pretty darn awesome, too, thanks to GsOH Phil and Kaja Foglio and Gareth Hinds!)

This year’s finger of shame points at the hotel which, in an act of jaw-dropping bad judgement, booked non-Arisia guests on either side of Barfleet.  You know this would not end well, and it didn’t.

I missed Barfleet altogether – didn’t even have a chance to sample the Horta – because I had panels scheduled opposite the start of the party.  By the time I got out, the guano had already hit the nacelle.  Complaints of noise were registered by the non-Arisia guests and hotel security showed up to shut the party down.  Captain Bhagczech grabbed the Horta and got it to safety before it could be confiscated.  The hotel took all the rest, and left an awful lot of people very, very unhappy.

"Captain, did you hear something hissing outside the door?"

According to my informant, Will “uses his power for good and not evil” Frank, the Hotel, the Convention, and the UBS Shameless got together and discussed the matter with their respective legal advisors, then negotiated a truce of sorts, details still to be settled, but the Barship got its booze back.  Lessons were learned all around from this incident, including don’t trust the hotel not to do something really stupid.  It takes several hours to set up a Barfleet party, so they couldn’t just move to another suite once the complaint was lodged (and they had plenty of offers).  In the future precautions will be taken before set-up to make sure there are no uptight mundane prudes flanking the party suite.

Between this and the loss of two valuable crewmen at 6Pi-Con (a.k.a. “Hurricon”, where half the attendees fled before the onslaught of Hurricane Irene), the UBS Shameless has not had a good season.

Other parties I wandered through included Rocket Fuel, where they engineered a concoction consisting of frozen fruit juice, warp plasma alcohol (illegal in many states) which was poured into a bucket to a gusty rendition of Monty Python’s Philosopher’s Song (which the crowd in attendance sang to enthusiastic perfection) and then a monstrous block of dry ice was added, with the classic effect.  Alas, I was not able to sample the final product (Note to self: ask Programming not to schedule me for anything after 9:00) but Will Frank (who would never perjure himself) assures me it was remarkable.  (BTW, he also tells me the Horta wasn’t so bad this time.)

The Star Trek theme party was DS9, and they recreated Quark’s bar.  A couple of Ferengi wandered about, handing out strips of gold-pressed latinum with the invitation on them.  Ferengi don’t go handing out strips of latinum unless they have an underlying motive.  Seems they had a Dabo wheel set up at the party at which one could place bets in latinum.  I pointed out to the Ferengi minding the wheel that they’d have a great deal more interest if they had a Dabo girl running it.  He invited me to try my hand.  I’m a bit long in the tooth and short on glamour, but I was game.  And in the time I was running the wheel (under close supervision, of course) we had precious few winners.  The barkeepers got most of their latinum back.  Losers were consoled with complimentary Romulan ale or Klingon blood wine.  I don’t believe there were any unsatisfied customers.

I had thought last year’s panel on the Autism Spectrum went very well; in spite of being late at night on a Sunday, we had a big crowd and a great discussion which when on out into the corridor after it was over.  This year’s, however was a disappointment.  The moderator monopolized the panel, a pity since she had the least of interest to say; a greater pity since our panel included Eric M. Van who had previously talked on the subject (from a neurochemistry POV) to a packed room and had a great deal of expertise to offer.  The moderator also did not manage questions well, and was positively rude to one member of the audience who was clearly handicapped and repeatedly pleaded for accommodation.  This person, who was on the spectrum herself, asked for order, since she had difficulties understanding if more than one person talked at once.  The moderator not only ignored her plea, but when it was repeated, the moderator gave her a demeaning, condescending lecture.  I was appalled and embarrassed.

Proving that humor is the best anti-gravity device are (L to R) me, Paula Lieberman, Ira Nayman, Christopher Davis, and Eric Zuckerman.

Fortunately, this travesty was followed by a whopping good panel on Humor in SF/F (mostly SF), masterfully moderated by Eric “in the Elevator” Zuckerman.  Along with fellow UnCONventional anthologist Ira “yer mother’s balls” Nayman, Paula Lieberman, and Christopher Davis, we explored the vast range of humor, intentional and not, in everything from Red Dwarf to Portal 2, the Star Trek movies to Terry Prachett, classic Hollywood SciFi, comics, and MST3K.  Great audience who contributed their own suggestions for candidates in all the categories we discussed.  Well, discussed and chuckled fondly over; no, make that roared with unapologetic hysterics.  Panels have no right to be this fun.

I’m jiggered if I can figure why they stuck us in the Independence Room for our panel on “Self” or “No Self?” Neuroscience in SF.  It has a big table which we all had to pack in around; chairs filled fast and folks had to BYOC or stand against the wall.  The scheduled moderator couldn’t make it, so Eric M. Van did the honors, and a grand time was had by all with heated debate and fascinating digressions (which characterize all the best panels).  By the end of it, Eric was furiously making notes on subjects for future panels he wanted to do, and may the gods grant me the privilege of being on at least one of them.

Must give a shout out to Mario “It all started in Rotwang’s lab” Di Giacomo, Tim Lieder and Stephen R. Wilk, my fellow panelists discussing the Many Faces of Frankenstein.  Kudos to Stephen for the amazing pile of Monster media he schlepped in to illustrate the evolution of Mary Shelley’s creation.  And to Jeff Warner, Daniel Kimmel, Troy Minkowsky and Ian Schleifer for giving great panel on The Alien as Metaphor (we have met the aliens and they are us).  It was the only panel I was able to sneak away to and attend, and I enjoyed it very much, even if it was Monday and I was largely somnambulating at that point.

Vikki Ciaffone autographs a copy of UnCONventional

UnCONventional Release Party
The big event for me and my fellow UnCONventionals was the long-awaited release of the Anthology that Publisher/editor Kate Kaynak and co-editor Trisha “Awesome” Wooldridge have labored so long and mightily over.  We had a Rapid-Fire Reading Sunday morning followed by a Release party Sunday night with the most amazing cake you have ever seen.  It put to shame anything GLaDOS could have come up with (so delicious and moist).  Sales were brisk and anthology authors were passing around copies of the book and autographing it.  Half the first run has already sold, and it’s still a newborn.

Author/Editor/Publisher, Kate Kaynak

Here’s Kate’s quick summary and photos from the event.

The anthology is full of great stories, something for everyone’s taste, fairies, vampires, werewolves and such, comic books and academics, scifi and silliness.  It really runs all over the place.  One of my personal favorites is Vikki Ciaffone’s “Belief” (maybe it’s the nod to Lovecraft; maybe it’s the delightful ending line).  I like to think I’m a pretty good reader, but lordy, your experience of Ira Nayman’s “Escalation is Academic” is not complete until you have heard him belt out the quintessential speech in full Scottish kilt: “Van der Whall, ye raggedy old bastard!  How’s yer mother’s balls?”

UnCONventional Broads Kimberly Long-Ewing and Jennifer Allis Provost

There’s always those folks you don’t see except at conventions.  I wonder why I never have enough time to do everything I want to, and I realize it’s largely because I spend so much time standing around the lobby, the Green Room, or the Broad Universe table in the Dealer’s Room chatting with people. I ran into David Larochelle; we got to be friends after doing a couple of panels together at Hurricon.  The Pi-Con folks were passing out “I survived Hurricon 2011” ribbons to add to our badges to identify ourselves.  By the way, if you haven’t checked out Pi-Con yet, you should.  It’s held at the end of August in Enfield Connecticut, right over the border, a small, friendly, uber-geeky con sort of like a mini-Arisia.

Pixel's new gear (detail below)

Then there are the people you know you should recognize but just can’t place.  This guy with a beard came into the UnCONventional party, and I kept trying to figure where I knew him from.  (Socially Awkward Penguin would never just go up to the person and ask.)  It wasn’t until I reviewed my posts on past cons that it hit me. It was Gordon Linzner, editor emeritus of Space and Time Magazine.  It was back in the old hotel, the one with the glass elevators.  I had a solo reading way up at some god (and fan) forsaken outpost on the tenth floor.  When I got there, I found James D. Macdonald and Gordon Linzner, who had the previous time slots, sitting in the empty room telling each other A Duck Walked into a Bar jokes.  We spent the next half hour recanting shaggy doggerel stories.  Later that evening, Gordon and I ran into each other again and ended up wandering around the hotel in search of parties.

Damn, I wish I’d gone up and said ‘hello’ to him.

And of course there were costumes.  Gorgeous, absurd, astonishing and elaborate.  I managed to snag a few photos as I raced from here to there, but my clunky old digital camera leaves a great deal to be desired, and many stellar opportunities passed before I could dig it out and get it turned on.  I also took terrible notes this time around, so if anyone wants to tag somebody they recognize, I’d be pleased if you’d let me know and I’ll add a caption.

One of the ladies from the following group asked for copies of the photos I took of them, and I gave her my card.  Haven’t heard back.  But in case she’s reading this, I have a couple more that came out okay.  Glad to share.  Just send me your email address.

Thanks to the Broads who made the Godiva Hour (which ended up lasting until midnight) a success, not only with great conversation and contributions of food and drink, but may I also offer a personal thanks for listening and helping. I am following up on your advice. Thanks to Roxanne Bland for her assistance with the BroadPod podcast, and for sharing her thoughts and experiences over martinis. I wish you all the best.

Until next Arisia, live long and prosper.


3 responses

19 01 2012
Mario Di Giacomo

Great seeing you! Hope to see you more that twice a year.

20 01 2012
J. Andrews

Great writeup and pics!

21 01 2012
Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert

You do good recap, Justine 🙂

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