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Arisia Con Report


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#1 Alchemist

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 11:56 AM

You thought Boskone was full of freaks? Ha! You haven't seen anything until you've been to Boston's OTHER annual sf con.

Long ago, legend has it, there was only one big con in Boston each year.* However, a bunch of stuff happened. The organizers started having "creative differences". Plus the con got banned from the hotel they always used, due to excessive rowdiness. Eventually, a decision was made to split the con in two. Boskone became the serious, literature-oriented con. Arisia became the con for those who prefer gaming, media sf, and strutting around in bondage gear.

Arisia got under way yesterday afternoon. I didn't make it there until 8 or 9 pm, so I missed most of the panels (okay, I probably wouldn't have gone to the panels anyway). So I just wandered around with Julia the Sandwich Siren (moniker courtesy of Bronn Stone) and some other people, looking for cool parties.

There was a Sith Charity Ball, with a lot of stormtroopers, Darth Vader, and an enormous Jabba the Hut puppet. We tried dancing for a while, but it was mostly industrial goth music that we weren't so much in the mood for.

Next we wandered down Dealers' Row. There's an entire floor of the hotel pretty much devoted to dealers, each dealer in a separate hotel room, and many of them stay open quite late. You can do a lot of shopping at Arisia. As long as your interests run not so much to books as to jewelry, corsets and furry costumes.

Then we moved on to the party floor. For whatever reason, Arisia tends to enforce the no alcohol at open parties rule more strictly than other cons, so only one party was serving alcohol. They had a keg of beer and a tasty punch that they told us was concoted of 7 different types of alcohol and a bit of orange juice. They wouldn't tell anyone what the different types of alcohol were, you had to try and guess. I guessed gin and Campari for two of them, because the punch tasted vaguely like Fire and Blood, but was wrong on both counts. Where are Xray and Mr. X when you need them?!

We didn't stay too long at this party, though. As we walked in the door, whom did we see hulking in the middle of the room but Primordial Man! I studiously avoided eye contact, and warned my friends not to eat any unwrapped food in that room. Fortunately, we avoided having to interact with him during the short time it took us to knock back our punch and head for the door.

The parties were generally enjoyable, once my eyes had accustomed themselves to the parade of robed Jedis dueling with lightsabers, bearded men with long braided hair and Utilikilts, leather-clad couples groping one another in public, and women swathed in perforated rubber and Mardi Gras beads, their nipples shielded from view by strips of Duck tape. The best party was the pyjama party in a large suite on the 11th floor (not the party floor!). For some reason, it had fewer freaks than most of the other parties. Perhaps because it was a little out of the way. They had cocoa and hot cider, and encouraged guests to wear their pyjamas (though there was no strict pyjama dress code).

I stayed at the pyjama party until around 1:30. That was when a guy in a Utilikilt started explaining how the best way to navigate around Boston is by smell. "Different parts of Boston smell different," he said earnestly. "You can always figure out which direction you're walking by the smell gradient."

"Oh!" I said, glancing at my watch. I feigned a yawn. "Look at the time."

*My improptu history of Boston cons is cobbled together mostly from what I happen to remember people telling me at parties after I'd been drinking, so don't quote me on any of it.

**I asked one of the SMOFs why the Boston cons are suddenly in such CRAPPY locations (Arisia is a mile or so from the nearest subway stop, and you all know about Boskone). He said that it's because all of a sudden a lot of organizations with big annual conventions have discovered that Boston is a bit cheaper than the other cities they used to meet in, so booking convention space at hotels has become a lot more competitive, and cons haven't been able to compete for the good locations. For what it's worth.

#2 Xray the Enforcer

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 12:13 PM

:rofl:

Shit, woman. You shoulda asked if Primordial was gonna be at Boskone! One of these years I have to see Arisia, if only because I miss the freaks and, let's face it, I kinda like corsets. :P

YOU WHO SPEAK OF DARWIN, I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY TO YOU.

ETA: what the hell is it about Utilikilts that turns guys freaky? (BTW, was it the same Utilikilt guy who is always at Boskone, or a new one?)

Edited by Xray the Enforcer, 19 January 2008 - 12:14 PM.


#3 Bronn Stone

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 06:30 PM

How can one negotiate Boston by smell when Primordial Man moves????

Sounds like fun.

Now I want a sandwich.

#4 Regina

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 09:43 AM

OMG, you always have the best con reports. :rofl:

#5 Alchemist

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 12:32 PM

:rofl:

Shit, woman. You shoulda asked if Primordial was gonna be at Boskone! One of these years I have to see Arisia, if only because I miss the freaks and, let's face it, I kinda like corsets. :P

YOU WHO SPEAK OF DARWIN, I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY TO YOU.

ETA: what the hell is it about Utilikilts that turns guys freaky? (BTW, was it the same Utilikilt guy who is always at Boskone, or a new one?)


That would have required me to actually speak to Primordial Man, and I feared he might have interpreted that as a show of interest in his 2x4.

I didn't buy a corset, but I did buy a 12th century style dress with flowing silk sleeves and a chain link belt. Now I feel all Westerosi.

I don't remember Boskone Utilikilt guy that well; not sure whether the Arisia guy is the same one. There are a LOT of Utilikilt wearers at Arisia. (At one point in the not-so-distant past I seriously considered buying my own Utilikilt, but fortunately came to my senses. Not that it's any dorkier than the 12th century style dress.)

#6 Alchemist

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 01:21 PM

I made it back to Arisia around 3 pm on Saturday. My plan for the afternoon was to go through the dealers' floor, but this actually took much longer than I had expected, not just because I was suddenly consumed by the insane desire to purchase Ren Fair garb, but also because I kept running into people I knew. Since I'm local, and most of my friends are also geeks. Strangely, more of my local friends attend Arisia than Boskone; I guess they share Xray's love of corsets. ;)

Eventually (after a break to go out for Chinese food with some friends who'd tried to buy day passes but found they were sold out), I made it through the dealers' floor. In addition to the aforementioned dress, I bought books (mostly obscure cookbooks) and a lot of jewelry. Arisia is attended by some wonderful jewelry makers. Sign of the Unicorn wasn't there (that's the one Xray, Regina and I always seem to end up at), but there's a great one called Angelwear Creations (really beautiful stuff, and though there's the occasional dragon or fairy piece, most of it is non-geeky), and another one that seems to specialize in ropes of pearls and semiprecious stones, and one called Materialis (I think) that has magnetic jewelry.

After finally making it through the dealers' floor, it was 9 pm, and time to go check out some more parties. The two best parties were quite large, occupying entire suites, and off the main party floor. Both served copious amounts of alcohol, but they dealt with the restrictions by checking everyone's ID at the door, and watching to make sure no one took booze out of their party.

One of these parties was the Arisia Saturday Night Science Fair, featuring (in addition to non-scientific blender drinks), layered beverages with an explanation of the science involved and a table giving specific gravities for many common spirits and liqueurs, and something called rocket fuel. Rocket fuel consists of pure ethyl alcohol snitched from a science lab, concentrated lemonade and limeade, water, and dry ice. I'd sampled rocket fuel at previous Arisias, and didn't see the need to try it again. It's okay, but you have to be careful because sometimes you end up with chunks of dry ice in your drink, which is a bit hazardous. Some pretentious geek in the audience for the rocket fuel mixing was telling everyone that laboratory alcohol is prepared industrially from ethane gas. Close, but not quite. Do you have any idea what the activation barrier is for breaking that unactivated C-H bond? (it's actually made from ethylene, which is a hell of a lot more reactive)

The other party was thrown by a group called Barfleet, which exists for the sole purpose of throwing parties at cons. It was a little freaky, because I felt like I'd walked into an alternate world version of a Brotherhood without Banners party, if BwB had a predominantly science fiction theme. As Julia put it, "Lots of alcohol, and people with social skills!" They had a serious bar going on, with both good booze (including a bottle of Jameson's and one of Bailey's) and locally distilled vodka in plastic jugs. They were peddling raffle tickets, t-shirts and plastic cups with their logo on it to raise money (hmm, maybe plastic cups would be a good fundraiser for Worldcon...). They had a smoothly-run party, with bartenders and roaming security. They even looked like us. I'm not kidding. And, to top it all off, Primordial Man spent much of the evening there, sitting in a chair in the corner.

Not only that, but I was wearing my Dorne t-shirt, and one of the Barfleet people came up to me and mentioned how much she loves GRRM, and that she has his website bookmarked ... she also told me that a LOT of the Barfleet members are huge Martin fans.

It was very surreal.

The good parties got very crowded as the night wore on, so eventually a group of us ended up hanging out on a couch outside one of the elevators, just watching everyone go by in their crazy attire. I left around 1:30, because I needed to get my stuff from the coat check before it closed (too much shopping!).

A couple other interesting things.

Primordial Man is also known, among some local folk who attend cons, as Andre the Giant. He's apparently quite famous for his bad pick-up lines (including "Are those real?" - I don't think he used that one on any of us, did he?), and general lack of etiquette.

The Barfleet party had this wonderful herbal liqueur from Taiwan that they'd picked up in Chinatown here - I'd never tried it before, but it was really delightful! They told me which liquor store to go to, so I'll have to bring a bottle to Boskone for everyone to try.

#7 Xray the Enforcer

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 07:17 PM

Close, but not quite. Do you have any idea what the activation barrier is for breaking that unactivated C-H bond? (it's actually made from ethylene, which is a hell of a lot more reactive)


Best. Con. Report. Comment. EVER. :rofl:

OK, Alchemist, we have to stop buying the same fucking clothes (hello weird strappy full length black skirts from France). I was looking at 12th Century dresses the other week, too. (didn't buy one, though).

I gotta meet these Barfleet people.

#8 Yagathai

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 09:32 PM

I gotta meet these Barfleet people.


Yes. We all need to meet them.

And then destroy them. There isn't room enough in fandom for the both of us.

#9 Xray the Enforcer

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 10:06 PM

Yes. We all need to meet them.

And then destroy them. There isn't room enough in fandom for the both of us.


I prefer an assimilation route. More people to work the party.

#10 Yagathai

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 11:21 PM

I prefer an assimilation route. More people to work the party.


Conquest is a form of assimilation.

#11 Xray the Enforcer

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 09:54 AM

Conquest is a form of assimilation.


What will our weapons be? Booze alone, or do we need a cudgel?

Re: Sign of the Unicorn -- The woman who does that has a set Con schedule each year, and only goes to 5 or 6 of 'em. Lucky for me (unlucky for my budget), WFC and Boskone are two of the regular ones.

#12 Lany Cassandra

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 02:02 PM

thank you for the very entertaining reports.

#13 MuthaHydra / Lord Jo

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 03:10 PM

ZOMG - just when you thought it was safe to back into the party ...

BUT DID HE HAVE A 2 BY 4 IN HIS PANTS ?

eta- I have just laughed my arse off at this. I had resigned myself to not going to Boskone, but I wonder ...

Edited by Ser Mel T, 21 January 2008 - 03:11 PM.


#14 Regina

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 03:21 PM

I had resigned myself to not going to Boskone, but I wonder ...


*applies peer pressure*
Come on, you know you want to...all the cool kids are doing it.
;)