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Almost done with a *very* long weekend at Arisia. Generally been a great time -- worked hard, got to spend lots of time with friends, and have had a lot of fun.

But I'll call out tonight's unexpected joy: the Hamilton Sing-Along. Exactly what it sounds like: something like 80 people in a room, with the Hamilton soundtrack playing, folks scrolling the lyrics on a big projector, and a little bit of floorshow from the folks who've done this before. It wouldn't have occurred to me that it's a show that *can* work for sing-along, but while it's a bit challenging it turns out to be a blast with a crowd like that.

A particular ridiculous joy behind the cut:His Royal Yellowness )
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I've been attending Arisia from the beginning, and been to nearly all of them, but I've always been strictly "arts-track", in SCA terminology. Some years I've run LARPs; most years I've been on piles of panels -- I quite enjoy both.

But this year I only got into one panel (well, two, but one conflicting with the Ball), and was genuinely concerned of finding myself at loose ends: I don't really have a "posse" any more, and it's too easy to get lost in the crowd. So I decided it was time to jump into volunteering; it was a lot of fun.

I wound up splitting my time. I spent nine hours on-call as deputy Press Liaison -- when press showed up, getting them to go through all the paperwork, answering their questions and sending them on their way, all of which was low-impact fun. But mainly, I spent 16 hours at Arisia Headquarters, basically Volunteer Central. This got described to me as the center of the whirlwind, to which my reaction was, "Hey, I'm a serial autocrat -- I like whirlwind". And it was a blast: lots of activity, helping folks solve problems, with occasional pauses of working through the paperwork.

Of course, I still had to get in some arts-track time. The Renaissance Ball, was, as always, pretty great -- despite getting the sub-optimal slot of 5-6:30pm, we had a solid 50-60 people on the floor the entire time: enough to comfortably fill the place. It's always high-energy, full of new folks learning the dances with the help of a bunch of experienced people. And my one panel -- Feats of Memorization -- went surprisingly well for 10am on Monday. The three of us represented three different traditions: me with Masonic ritual, Grim talking about period poetry and bardic arts, and a fellow focusing on a combination of Talmud and trivia contests.

So between all that, and some good hangout time with [livejournal.com profile] metahacker, Berek, and my friend Katie from Minneapolis, this was one of my best cons in years. And the moral of the story seems to be that my tastes in SCA activities transfer to other places...
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So this past weekend was Arisia, which I did pretty full-immersion. (It's not Kate's cup of tea -- too big and crowded -- so I was on my own for it.)


Overall, it was a good time. Three of my four panels were great, which is a perfectly fine track record. (The "Hellboy's 20th Anniversary" panel was kind of doomed from the start -- having that geeky a panel at 10pm Friday is an uphill battle -- but was pleasant enough.) The SCA Ball was a blast as always, with 50-75 people up and dancing, and AFAIK having fun.

The food trucks (this year's new idea) weren't a complete success, but better than not having them. (I failed to get lunch at them both times I tried -- they were out of food by the time I got there the first time, and the line has half an hour long out in the cold the second time.)

The Masquerade was good, and the half-time show better than usual -- it turned out to be the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers doing a tour of historical dance styles, using a Doctor Who framing story as the excuse. Lots of fun to watch -- I hadn't realized that Antonia had become so much the headliner for the troupe, but she's become a truly excellent performer.


But above all, this Arisia reminded me of just how much I enjoy good, hearty folk singing, and how much I've missed it. Mind, I grew up musical -- I've been going to folk festivals since I was 3, and was singing on stage in elementary school. I don't do it a lot in the SCA because I'm not deeply into period music, but I do always enjoy a good bardic circle.

This past weekend, I was wandering the hallways late Saturday evening, when I heard some music coming from the elevator lobby, of all places. It turned out that a bunch of folks (a mix of Sassafrass, Stranger Ways and friends) had sat down and simply started to have fun; they waved me over and I mostly listened, since I didn't know most of what they were singing. Then they decided to wander over to the filksing, so I tagged along.

The filksing reminded me of several things:
First, at a filk I can turn off my Laurel brain entirely, and sing more or less anything I like.
Second, I have a fairly large songbook. (Which turns out to be hard to access via Google Drive, but I managed.)
Third, I'm a better-than-average singer. Not great by any means, but I've had more training and practice than most filkers.

So that was a hoot, and I sought out the filk room again Sunday night. This time around wasn't quite as much of a success -- it was unmoderated, and I quickly began to realize that, in that environment, the people who aren't quite as good *and* don't realize it wind up dominating the time. But I still had a decent time for a while.

(The award for "Demented Filk of the Weekend" was introduced by asking the audience, "Who here likes the Muppets? Okay, who likes Babylon 5? Great -- who likes both?" And then he launched into a rendition of "Rainbow Connection", replacing the word "rainbow" with "Vorlon" throughout. The result is wrongity-wrong-wrong.)

Anyway, after I couldn't cope with any more of everybody jumping over everyone else (around 1am), I wandered outside -- only to discover that a bunch of folks had preceded me out to the lobby, and set up a jam session instead. *That* was a complete blast. There were half a dozen instruments or so, and a dozen-plus singers; the consensus rule was that we would mostly focus on stuff that at least much of the crowd knew and could join in on. I wound up spending about an hour and a half going, "I really should go to bed now, but this is *way* too much fun" -- I knew most of the songs, and this was an environment where I could just jump in and belt them out.


So the upshot of this is to remind me that I need to make more of an effort to find the bardic circles, filks and jams, and join it. As mentioned above, Google Drive has proven to be a problematic way for me to maintain my songbook (which was a single long text file, much of it 20+ years old), so -- me being me -- I am in the process of transcribing it into a new Querki Space. I'm about halfway through that now, and expect that I'll begin to put more effort into collecting again once it's done. In the long run, it may turn out to be a decent candidate for Querki's crowdsourcing features, when I get around to those...
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Oh, right -- it's time for the usual "where to find me" post, aka "What panels am I on?"

This year I seem to have wound up unusually heavy on comics panels -- understandable, but I may find myself a bit overwhelmed with the sheer geekery of it. (All of Arisia is geeky, but there's something *especially* geeky about comic-book panels.) The stuff I'm on/running:
  • Comics Year in Review (Friday, 7pm) -- hmm. What *has* come out this year that was especially noteworthy? I have fewer ideas than usual.

  • When Comics Creators Go Off the Deep End (Friday, 10pm)

  • Worst Episode Ever (Saturday, 1pm) -- suggestions solicited. I can think of some ripe examples, but I'm sure I'm missing a lot.

  • Future Directions in Personal Computing (Saturday, 5:30pm) -- with Alex Feinman, among others

  • SCA Ball / Renaissance Dance (Sunday, 3pm) -- everyone is strongly encouraged to come to this. We need both dancers with some clue to spread around the floor, and folks to explain the SCA.

  • The Finite vs. Open-Ended Story (Monday, 1pm) -- the one comics panel I'm really looking forward to
I'm also especially looking forward to the Sassafrass / Stranger Ways concert and "Hallucinating Shakespeare" -- both of which, of course, partly overlap with my panels. Argh. (And maybe this insane game show that I gather Scratch is running.)

How about you? What are you looking forward to as likely highlights of Arisia?

Oh, and Kate's not going to be at the con (she has a conflict this weekend), so I'm going to be looking for people to hang out with. This is one of those "yes, I'm shyer than you think" things; invites to join into stuff would be welcomed...
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I just happened to wander over to the Arisia 2011 site, and got a squee from seeing that one of the GoHs is Shaenon Garrity. Her webcomic Narbonic was a particular fave of mine, so I get to be a bit of a fanboy. It's particularly recommended to the Girl Genius fans out there -- it's the other comic about the travails of a cute mad scientist. The story wrapped up a couple of years ago, and is currently re-running in "Director's Cut" fashion, with commentary...
jducoeur: (Default)
I just happened to wander over to the Arisia 2011 site, and got a squee from seeing that one of the GoHs is Shaenon Garrity. Her webcomic Narbonic was a particular fave of mine, so I get to be a bit of a fanboy. It's particularly recommended to the Girl Genius fans out there -- it's the other comic about the travails of a cute mad scientist. The story wrapped up a couple of years ago, and is currently re-running in "Director's Cut" fashion, with commentary...
jducoeur: (Default)
Got notified on Tuesday that we had floated to the top of the Hyatt waiting list for Arisia. (The Hyatt may be evil, but they're awfully convenient.) Went through the rigamarole to get a reservation: make a fake reservation for Thursday, pass the reservation number to the Arisia Innkeeper, who submits it to the Hyatt staff, who mutate it into an actual Fri-Mon reservation. The Hyatt website still just shows the Thursday one, but I just spoke with the hotel on the phone, and they confirmed that *they* think we're in for the convention. So I've cancelled my reservation at Le Meridien. (Which was cheaper and probably nicer, but the shuttle bus would put a mild crimp in my planning.)

I confess, I'm really looking forward to next year, and the prospect of a hotel that is (hopefully) actually big enough. (And hopefully less evil.) But in the meantime, yay for the Arisia Innkeeper, who is negotiating this PITA process with the hotel for getting people off the waiting list...
jducoeur: (Default)
Got notified on Tuesday that we had floated to the top of the Hyatt waiting list for Arisia. (The Hyatt may be evil, but they're awfully convenient.) Went through the rigamarole to get a reservation: make a fake reservation for Thursday, pass the reservation number to the Arisia Innkeeper, who submits it to the Hyatt staff, who mutate it into an actual Fri-Mon reservation. The Hyatt website still just shows the Thursday one, but I just spoke with the hotel on the phone, and they confirmed that *they* think we're in for the convention. So I've cancelled my reservation at Le Meridien. (Which was cheaper and probably nicer, but the shuttle bus would put a mild crimp in my planning.)

I confess, I'm really looking forward to next year, and the prospect of a hotel that is (hopefully) actually big enough. (And hopefully less evil.) But in the meantime, yay for the Arisia Innkeeper, who is negotiating this PITA process with the hotel for getting people off the waiting list...
jducoeur: (Default)
Okay, it shouldn't really be a surprise from the Pelican, but I have to admit that helping out with Coat Check was rather fun.

I hadn't been officially signed up for it: my panel schedule was busy enough that I was hanging loose for the rest of the weekend. But [livejournal.com profile] msmemory had signed up for the Friday and Saturday closing shifts, so I came along to help out. Those particular shifts (10-12pm) turn out to suit me well, because they're pretty frenetic: lots of people needing to get their coats fetched out of storage in a fairly short period of time, as everyone gets the clue that things will be closing soon.

It's oddly relaxing for such a busy experience -- all the dashing in and out, trying to figure out whether this rather-worn ticket is a red 74 or an orange one, finding out how bad most people are at describing their own coats. And yet it's not really brainwork, just high-speed search and destroy through a room tightly packed with down and wool. The result is rather energizing, a sort of real-world video game, just right to give me my second wind before a little late party-hopping.

So I'll have to remember that for next year: it's a volunteer shift that suits me rather nicely...
jducoeur: (Default)
Okay, it shouldn't really be a surprise from the Pelican, but I have to admit that helping out with Coat Check was rather fun.

I hadn't been officially signed up for it: my panel schedule was busy enough that I was hanging loose for the rest of the weekend. But [livejournal.com profile] msmemory had signed up for the Friday and Saturday closing shifts, so I came along to help out. Those particular shifts (10-12pm) turn out to suit me well, because they're pretty frenetic: lots of people needing to get their coats fetched out of storage in a fairly short period of time, as everyone gets the clue that things will be closing soon.

It's oddly relaxing for such a busy experience -- all the dashing in and out, trying to figure out whether this rather-worn ticket is a red 74 or an orange one, finding out how bad most people are at describing their own coats. And yet it's not really brainwork, just high-speed search and destroy through a room tightly packed with down and wool. The result is rather energizing, a sort of real-world video game, just right to give me my second wind before a little late party-hopping.

So I'll have to remember that for next year: it's a volunteer shift that suits me rather nicely...
jducoeur: (Default)
Continuing with random memories from Arisia...

One of the joys this year was that my two favorite panels were the two I moderated. I expected The Future of Online Community to be interesting and free-wheeling, which it was, but The Ephemeral City took me by surprise -- not just in how much fun it was, but in how much I learned.

In particular, I was surprised at how *different* the examples were. We had two people representing Pennsic, one from Burning Man, and one from the Rainbow Gathering. (About which I had known little.) To my amusement, Pennsic was by far the most *conventional* of the three.

We think of ourselves as weird and different, but by and large we don't tend to challenge the mundane status quo. Indeed, Pennsic is by now deeply intertwined with the area it is embedded in -- we bring a huge amount of money into the local economy, work with the local medics, and so on. By contrast, Burning Man exists somewhat uneasily with the mundane world around it, and the Rainbow Gathering is quite the serious challenge: since it doesn't really recognize the legitimacy of the authorities (or the mundane economy), it sounds like it rather pisses them off.

The result was a fascinating discussion at a higher meta-level than I'd expected. I had lots of topics planned (as usual: I like to go into panels with a list of ideas, in case things slow down) on subjects like how their bureaucracies run, and how the economy of the city functions. Instead, we wound up spending a lot of time talking about whether to have a bureaucracy at all (Burning Man apparently has one, although it's lighter-weight than Pennsic's; Rainbow is very intentionally anarchic), and both of the others more or less forbid the use of mundane money on-site.

Neat stuff, and a good reminder that there are lots of other kinds of good weirdness in the world. Sometime I really must check them out...
jducoeur: (Default)
Continuing with random memories from Arisia...

One of the joys this year was that my two favorite panels were the two I moderated. I expected The Future of Online Community to be interesting and free-wheeling, which it was, but The Ephemeral City took me by surprise -- not just in how much fun it was, but in how much I learned.

In particular, I was surprised at how *different* the examples were. We had two people representing Pennsic, one from Burning Man, and one from the Rainbow Gathering. (About which I had known little.) To my amusement, Pennsic was by far the most *conventional* of the three.

We think of ourselves as weird and different, but by and large we don't tend to challenge the mundane status quo. Indeed, Pennsic is by now deeply intertwined with the area it is embedded in -- we bring a huge amount of money into the local economy, work with the local medics, and so on. By contrast, Burning Man exists somewhat uneasily with the mundane world around it, and the Rainbow Gathering is quite the serious challenge: since it doesn't really recognize the legitimacy of the authorities (or the mundane economy), it sounds like it rather pisses them off.

The result was a fascinating discussion at a higher meta-level than I'd expected. I had lots of topics planned (as usual: I like to go into panels with a list of ideas, in case things slow down) on subjects like how their bureaucracies run, and how the economy of the city functions. Instead, we wound up spending a lot of time talking about whether to have a bureaucracy at all (Burning Man apparently has one, although it's lighter-weight than Pennsic's; Rainbow is very intentionally anarchic), and both of the others more or less forbid the use of mundane money on-site.

Neat stuff, and a good reminder that there are lots of other kinds of good weirdness in the world. Sometime I really must check them out...
jducoeur: (Default)
Hmm. Looking at my Arisia schedule, I see that one of my panels has vanished. That's okay: it was the 10pm Sunday panel, which I thought was a bit dicey to begin with (I gave it better than even odds of simply failing), and losing that makes my day look less crazy. (Still six panels, but ending at 8pm rather than 11pm.)

That said, it does seem like the concom needs to improve its communication a bit. The only reason I found out about the change was that a friend of mine mentioned that *her* schedule had changed significantly with no notification, so I decided to take a look. Making changes isn't necessarily a bad thing (in my case, it was precisely the alteration I would have preferred anyway), but folks' expectations got set by the original notice of "these are your panels", so I think there's a danger of people being badly surprised here...
jducoeur: (Default)
Hmm. Looking at my Arisia schedule, I see that one of my panels has vanished. That's okay: it was the 10pm Sunday panel, which I thought was a bit dicey to begin with (I gave it better than even odds of simply failing), and losing that makes my day look less crazy. (Still six panels, but ending at 8pm rather than 11pm.)

That said, it does seem like the concom needs to improve its communication a bit. The only reason I found out about the change was that a friend of mine mentioned that *her* schedule had changed significantly with no notification, so I decided to take a look. Making changes isn't necessarily a bad thing (in my case, it was precisely the alteration I would have preferred anyway), but folks' expectations got set by the original notice of "these are your panels", so I think there's a danger of people being badly surprised here...
jducoeur: (Default)
Lessee -- a random assortment of recollections:

The panels I was on all went decently well. Far as I can tell, the con somewhat constrained the number of panels to make sure they were better-attended, which is a *lovely* idea in my book. As expected, "LJ and the Nature of Community" was a rollicking good time -- I wound up moderating it (because [livejournal.com profile] shadesong unexpectedly had to pull out), and managed to just barely keep a measure of control. Also as expected, we barely scratched the surface of a topic that could probably support an entire conference unto itself. Somewhat more to my surprise, the Steampunk in Comics panel was jammed silly; I really didn't think we had enough topic for that panel, but it got run fairly loosely by Mario and attendees seemed to enjoy themselves.

Perhaps the most interesting thing that came out of my panels was from the Morality Play one. One of the audience members brought up the notion of the Five Foundations of Morality, which apparently made its way around LJ a while back but while I hadn't checked out. It's a fascinating way of breaking down what people mean by "moral", and is particularly interesting to me as a writer trying to introduce conflict into his games and create varied characters. I'm going to need to explore this idea further.

The hotel restaurant proved generally solid, if a smidgeon pricey: the paella was dreadful, but the flank steak excellent. And the bar's nacho platter is preposterously expensive ($15), but turned out to be quite good and enough for dinner for the two of us. (Useful to remember for the next time we wind up watching the Pats in the playoffs in the hotel bar.) I am glad we went out to the Green Street Grill for our Friday date, though.

The view from our 12th-floor hotel room was beautiful; the room was marred only by the thermostat's inability to understand that yes, it's warm enough in here and we don't need any more heat. This seems to have been a common problem: a group of us wound up guarding the door to Touchy Subjects in SF, discouraging anyone else from going in, lest mass heatstroke result.

Never made it up to the Art Show, I'm afraid, and did only a brief pass through Dealer's Row. (I am gradually talking myself into buying the $200 book of 10th century Baghdadi cooking at Poison Pen Press.) Exhaustion claimed me before getting to the dance, so I feel like something of a wimp; on the plus side, I managed to not make myself sick this year. Didn't make it to the Lodge meeting, which was a bit too close to the Masquerade. We did get to spend a while playing Giant Squid vs. Homosexuality, which was a fine party game. And I spent an hour or two just standing in the middle of the hotel lobby as friends swirled around me, engaging in free-flowing conversations -- always the best part of a con for me.

In general, a good time. I still think this hotel is a bit ill-suited for the convention, but it works significantly better when the elevators are functioning. And the atrium is really fascinating on Saturday night, when the whole con is crawling around on the balconies, wandering from party to party...
jducoeur: (Default)
Lessee -- a random assortment of recollections:

The panels I was on all went decently well. Far as I can tell, the con somewhat constrained the number of panels to make sure they were better-attended, which is a *lovely* idea in my book. As expected, "LJ and the Nature of Community" was a rollicking good time -- I wound up moderating it (because [livejournal.com profile] shadesong unexpectedly had to pull out), and managed to just barely keep a measure of control. Also as expected, we barely scratched the surface of a topic that could probably support an entire conference unto itself. Somewhat more to my surprise, the Steampunk in Comics panel was jammed silly; I really didn't think we had enough topic for that panel, but it got run fairly loosely by Mario and attendees seemed to enjoy themselves.

Perhaps the most interesting thing that came out of my panels was from the Morality Play one. One of the audience members brought up the notion of the Five Foundations of Morality, which apparently made its way around LJ a while back but while I hadn't checked out. It's a fascinating way of breaking down what people mean by "moral", and is particularly interesting to me as a writer trying to introduce conflict into his games and create varied characters. I'm going to need to explore this idea further.

The hotel restaurant proved generally solid, if a smidgeon pricey: the paella was dreadful, but the flank steak excellent. And the bar's nacho platter is preposterously expensive ($15), but turned out to be quite good and enough for dinner for the two of us. (Useful to remember for the next time we wind up watching the Pats in the playoffs in the hotel bar.) I am glad we went out to the Green Street Grill for our Friday date, though.

The view from our 12th-floor hotel room was beautiful; the room was marred only by the thermostat's inability to understand that yes, it's warm enough in here and we don't need any more heat. This seems to have been a common problem: a group of us wound up guarding the door to Touchy Subjects in SF, discouraging anyone else from going in, lest mass heatstroke result.

Never made it up to the Art Show, I'm afraid, and did only a brief pass through Dealer's Row. (I am gradually talking myself into buying the $200 book of 10th century Baghdadi cooking at Poison Pen Press.) Exhaustion claimed me before getting to the dance, so I feel like something of a wimp; on the plus side, I managed to not make myself sick this year. Didn't make it to the Lodge meeting, which was a bit too close to the Masquerade. We did get to spend a while playing Giant Squid vs. Homosexuality, which was a fine party game. And I spent an hour or two just standing in the middle of the hotel lobby as friends swirled around me, engaging in free-flowing conversations -- always the best part of a con for me.

In general, a good time. I still think this hotel is a bit ill-suited for the convention, but it works significantly better when the elevators are functioning. And the atrium is really fascinating on Saturday night, when the whole con is crawling around on the balconies, wandering from party to party...

Panels

Jan. 7th, 2008 10:48 pm
jducoeur: (Default)
Okay -- just got my final panel list for Arisia, and it's better than the first draft. Five panels, covering my range of interests reasonably well (two LARP, two comics, one online). I am amused at the degree to which I'm on the usual panels with the usual people -- I could almost have predicted who I'd wind up on which panels with, since we often wind up together year after year.

All look interesting, but the winner is probably going to be the "LJ and the Nature of Community" panel: it's a *great* topic and a fine list of people to hash through the topic with. Pity that I have another panel right afterwards, because I'd bet that this is one that we could easily continue for hours...

Panels

Jan. 7th, 2008 10:48 pm
jducoeur: (Default)
Okay -- just got my final panel list for Arisia, and it's better than the first draft. Five panels, covering my range of interests reasonably well (two LARP, two comics, one online). I am amused at the degree to which I'm on the usual panels with the usual people -- I could almost have predicted who I'd wind up on which panels with, since we often wind up together year after year.

All look interesting, but the winner is probably going to be the "LJ and the Nature of Community" panel: it's a *great* topic and a fine list of people to hash through the topic with. Pity that I have another panel right afterwards, because I'd bet that this is one that we could easily continue for hours...

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