I attended with a small cluster of three friends, who have more ties to the local community, so this did give me introduction to various people, though the problem is that S, the friend who introduced me, and I are very different people. We get along great, at times tempering certain aspects of each other's personalities. But S is very much a social connections person. A story told to me this weekend told of somebody's boyfriend's cousin's roommate's friend who is currently dating that first person's ex-boyfriend, or something to that effect. What this means is that upon being introduced to somebody, I am given a geneology of how S knows them and who this person knows that I've already met. This sort of introduction tends to put me at a tremendous disadvantage as it forces me to try to identify vague acquaintances and steers conversation to topics that I know nothing about (as my connection is 'a friend of mine since high school' this is a dead end). So, I spent a fair part of my time at the convention feeling like a moth at a window, bumping against the glass, wondering where the opening is.
The first panel I attended was called "The Elimination of Distance." I am still unsure what the topic of the panel was meant to be. There was a lack of agenda. From the beginning I was skeptical, when one panelist said, "I don't really draw a line between real life and my on-line life." There are levels to which I understand this. There are some people who have made a transfer from being purely on-line friends to having a place in my meat-life. And some people who are local that I interact with quite a bit online. But there are people who have not crossed those bounds, and it's important to be aware of it. Even that same panelist hit upon the fact that in rl she is more emotionally distant than she is online, which would be a difference between the two interactions, and one that I don't think is entirely uncommon. Which I think hits upon something that none of the panelists touched upon, which is that maybe distance is a good thing. Sometimes spewing out everything you're feeling or thinking isn't positive. Not just because somebody you know can find what you've said online, but because you start losing the ability to communicate in more day to day interactions. Small talk is an important safety valve that should not be overlooked. All in all, what I found was that members of the audience were more skeptical than the panelists. Given that the audience was generally tech and net savvy, most of them would have made better panelists since they had a distance that the panelists (all of whom in someway make their living through connectivity) don't.
The second one I attended was "The Sexual Revolution through science-fiction" But admittedly, I didn't stay more than 10 minutes. Of the four people on the panel, only one seemed to have any credentials beyond "I read a lot of sci-fi" and as she was trying to introduce herself, another panelist who interjected a rather pointless story of how she was once tossed out of a bar for her objections to a 'Beauty and the Geek ' contest or something. If her outburst right than was any indication, then the actual reasons for her expulsion were probably that they decided she already had enough to drink, or that she was downright insane. She was slurring like crazy, and was barely coherent. (Having a speech impediment that I've more or less conquered, I have little tolerence for people who have not made similar effort on their own behalf. I consider it symptomatic of a certain segment of geekdom, a sort of Mad Scientist syndrome which declares that "They made fun of me for X, but they don't understand!" Sometimes, there's good reason to disdain X.) When they did start talking, it was more stream of concious, "Oh, did you read this one? Some good sex in there." Not exactly what I was hoping for, so, I didn't stick with it, and took to wandering about a bit. I caught about 20 minutes of King Kong where he fights the T-Rex. I found the audience sadly quiet. As the woman is being chased by dinosaurs, I really wanted to yell out, "See! Blondes do have more fun!"
The next day, I caught half a panel called "Escaping the Conventional Future." I came in late, and while writing sci-fi isn't my thing, and there wasn't any advice for me to really take from it, I enjoyed listening to a bunch of authors discussing their writing process.
I stuck around for the next panel on Steam-punk. I haven't read much of the genre, so it was good to get a few suggested reads out of it. I think they over-stated the differences between cyber and steam punk, and missed the gothic tones to the genre. Besides the elements of gears, etc, they missed the aesthetic of gas lamps, and grease under fingernails. There's something about them that is essential elements to the mood and tone of the genre.
After that was "The Best Webcomics You're Not Reading." I have a list of comics to check out that I haven't looked at yet. Some of them, I was already aware of like "Dresden Codak." On the panel were the folks from the site Websnark and the finale was when Eric from the site debuted a new comic which was in fact a little movie which he got various webcartoonists to illustrate asking Wednesday, the other Websnarker, to marry him. It was pretty sweet, and she said yes.
Vendors: essentially dull.
Art show: better done than we were expecting, but ultimately boring and derivative.
Masquerade: Some of the costumes were pretty cool, but the process was ultimately slow moving and dull.
Dance: It's been a really long time since I've gone dancing, and there's something nice about a place like this where people are more accepting towards bad dancing, and just wanting to have a good time with it. Of course, a fair portion of the music was better suited for silliness. You just can't dance seriously to "Barbi Girl." Still, I found at times that I was on the same part of the floor with the same woman, and that either she thought I wasn't half bad, or that I was amusing enough that if our eyes met, she'd give me a smile. I even sat down and made conversation with her during a prolonged period of industrial music.
"I don't know how to dance to this stuff," she admitted.
"Oh, it's easy, just imagine that you're the biggest, baddest person on the dance floor."
"That's right, I'll be the biggest, baddest dryad here!"
I lost track of her eventually, but given how utterly shy I can be, I'm always proud of myself when I don't look back on an occassion wishing I'd sone somthing.
I've probably missed a thousand topics I wanted to touch on. But that is more or less the aeth's eye view of the con.
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