Arisia was last weekend. I truly can't remember having such a good time at a con. Almost invariably, I spend Sunday afternoon at Arisia feeling excluded and mopey; there was none of that this year. Several possible explanations: 1) I now have portable internet devices, so even when I'm alone it's harder for me to feel cut off; 2) I was in the asymptotic, asymptomatic tail of a cold, so I didn't donate blood; or 3) I've finally gotten over myself and figured out how to have a good time. I hope it's not #2, since I really like donating blood at Arisia. But if that's what craters my mood I may have to give it up.
- I was alone on the elevator when a small boy in a fez got on with his father. After a couple of floors, I looked down at him and said, "Fezzes are cool." He lit up like a sonic screwdriver and bounced around the elevator. I felt awesome.
- Friday evening, there was a "panel" called "Learn/Assist with shooting a Live TV Show." I guessed, perhaps correctly, that this meant "Crap! We forgot to schedule camera people for an event!" On a whim, I headed down to the ballroom, where Syd Weinstein (WorldCon videographer and ex-PBS cameraman) gave a dozen of us a very efficient crash-course in operating TV cameras. An hour and a half later, a live feed from our cameras was being streamed throughout the hotel, while Syd directed us through the cans strapped to our heads: "Camera three, can you get a two-shot on Klaatu and Betty? Tilt down a little—hold it. Good. Go camera three." (I was camera three.) The show was the Post-Meridian Radio Players' production of The Day the Earth Stood Still. It was hard to pay much attention to the show, since I was concentrating so hard on Syd's voice, and I had to stand in a back-breaking S position to hug the camera. But it was a great experience, and I like to hope I exceeded Syd's expectations — he had to scold the other two cameras for going soft a couple of times, but I began getting more complicated direction (like a simultaneous pan and zoom: "Okay, camera three, here's your chance to try something"). The only dark spot was during the lesson, when an older man suffering some sort of palsy stumbled into me, knocking me — and, almost, the camera — off the two-foot platform. I hit a chair, and sported a bruised shin for the rest of the con. (Very visible, as I wore my kilt all weekend.)
- To soothe my aching back and shin, I decided to close out Friday night in the hotel's hot tub, and what with running into one person and another it turned into a hot tub party. It felt good to be the one making something happen at Arisia, and oh my God I went to bed more relaxed than I'd been in ages.
- The cosplayers were great this year. The lovely young woman at the top of this post was wearing a TARDIS dress that was "bigger on the inside," and my iPhone photos of her have since been BoingBoinged, Reddited, ThinkGeeked, and who knows what else. I saw a dapper steampunk Cyberman, a fierce Leela with a working K-9 (who could go down the escalator!), a creepy weeping angel, a headless automaton (from The Girl in the Fireplace), a nybble of light-up Tron folks, a great Biggs, and many more.
- I chatted with Devo Spice in the dealers' room, and sat in on one of his concerts. Sparsely attended, but funny, and I like supporting Dr. Demento alumni.
- The Saturday night club dance was less 80s-tastic than sometimes, but the DJing was more dynamic, with crossfades and looping and other technical hoo-hah. I got over myself and found the groove and flailed a lot on the dance floor. A few dancers thought it was hilarious when I started talking to my puppety hands during Dance Magic Dance. We closed the party down at 3:30AM.
- Also late at night on Saturday, I watched Starship Eros, a ridiculous SF porn film from the immediate post-Star Wars period. The miniature shots recalled Gerry Anderson without depth of focus, and the robot stud wore a C-3PO mask. When "Threepio" lost his erection, I got a big laugh by whining, "This droid's got a bad motivator!"
- At the Masquerade, I got another laugh by gently heckling Marty Gear, God of Masquerades and aging Lothario. After a sexy Birds of Prey number, during which they sang about their desire to seduce Batman, Marty quipped, "I wonder if they would believe that Batman is my secret identity." After the laughter died down, into the lull, I called out, "Alfred, maybe." Marty went red, the tech crew gave me high fives, and I felt very pleased with myself.
- I bought a button in the dealers' room that says "STILL NOT QUEEN," and wore it around on Sunday. I think it's hilarious.
- I happened to check the Twitter feed on Sunday evening and saw @marnen: Setting up my #theremin outside Harbor ballroom at #Arisia! So I ambled up there and got to play ineptly with a theremin, satisfying one of my life goals.
- On my way to the theremin, I got to be a Vomit Knight. Hooray! No, it's a good thing. Explanation: I passed a tweenage Link throwing up near the escalators. I checked to see if she was okay, ran to get hotel maintenance, then guarded the vomit from the feet of passersby while she went to get cleaned up. I passed her being taken care of by a friend shortly thereafter, and she thanked me profusely. Made me feel all Boy-Scouty.
- I bid on the BEST THING IN THE WORLD in the art show: one of three six-foot fleece centipede scarves. Sunday afternoon, I found out I'd won my bid, and wore Mr. Snuggles for the rest of the day, feeling so very happy and grinning like a maniac. I'm not sure why, but something about having a giant centipede wrapped around my neck made people want to smile at me and talk to me and take my picture.
I also won a papercraft trilobite pin from the same artist and a nicely stripped muskrat skull from a taxidermist / jeweler, each for $5. Bargain! Then, around midnight, as I was getting ready to ride the Silver Line home, kdsorceress caught my attention to tell me that my centipede buddy had walked into the lobby: her friend Kate was wearing one of the other centipede scarves. Furthermore, she was the one who'd stripped the muskrat skull! Turns out she works at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard, which is like the Holy Land for me. (Seriously, it's probably my favorite spot in the Greater Boston Area. My coffee table proudly displays a book describing its secrets.) There followed half an hour of fanboy babbling from me, and behind-the-scenes stories from her, and a lot of bemused blinking from the other people hanging out with us. Such a great way to end the con, and now I have an "in" at the MCZ.
I floated through Arisia on a silver cloud this year. Everything went my way, and even when my brain went fuzzy I found things to keep the high going. I felt freer to tell people I liked their costumes, or whatever other cool thing they were up to. When I had the choice, I chose engagement, and a spirit of volunteerism. Worked out pretty well.