mabfan (Michael A. Burstein) (mabfan) wrote,
mabfan (Michael A. Burstein)

Arisia '07 Report

As usual for Martin Luther King Day weekend, gnomi and I attended the Arisia science fiction convention. This year, the convention moved to a smaller hotel, the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge. (Those of you who are local might know it as the ziggurat.) In general, we had a good time, but it does make it hard to catch up on LiveJournal.

Nomi has posted Arisia in a Nutshell, By the Numbers, but if you want a slightly more descriptive summary of what we did, from my perspective, read on.

I had to work my regular hours on Friday, so at 3 pm I left work and took a taxi to the hotel. Nomi, bless her heart, was able to go home from work first to pick up all our stuff and call for a taxi to help her with our luggage and kosher food. So I checked us into the room and picked up our badges and program participant packets, and then I waited for Nomi to arrive. When she did, we got a bellman to help us bring our stuff up to our room in the "shabbas block" on the second floor. It amused me that the "shabbas block" wing of rooms was tucked away behind the (unkosher) restaurant, which we had to pass through every time to get to our room. ("No, I'm not cutting the buffet line, I just want to get back to my room. Thanks!")

Two years ago, at Arisia '05, Nomi and I volunteered to organize the joint shabbas dinner. Last year, because we were throwing a much larger than usual party on Saturday night to celebrate Nomi's birthday, we decided to do shabbat dinner on our own and forgo the joint dinner. From what I gathered, no one stepped forward to organize a joint dinner this year, so we ended up having dinner by ourselves again. Actually, it was more of a family thing, as Nomi's mother attended Arisia again and so joined us for dinner.

(As a side note, people who tried to say hello to me on Friday afternoon as I was checking in should remember that I'm always racing the sun at that time; I need to make sure that we're checked into our room and set up for shabbat before it begins. For example, if the hotel hadn't delivered our refrigerator by 4:15 pm, I wouldn't have been able to call down to the front desk to inquire as to its whereabouts. Please forgive me if I seemed unduly distracted; I was.)

Friday night, after dinner, we went to three panels: "Superman and the Sins of Copyright," "I Expect You to Die," and "The Annihilation of Distance." Nomi was a panelist on the third panel. We then managed to make our way to the Boskone party via the Con Suite. ianrandalstrock introduced us to lonfiction, a writer with a background that I personally found fascinating.

Our first panel of the morning was at 10 am: "Pluto: Pedantic Planetary Problem." Nomi and I were on it with Stephen C. Fisher, Steven Hammond, and Shane Tourtellotte. I think we gave a pretty good overview of what led to Pluto's demotion and where we expect things to go from here, and I had a chance to plug "The Great Pluto Debate" taking place at the Clay Center on February 4. (More on that later.)

At 11 am we went to the Esther Friesner movie-casting event, and Nomi got to play a chicken on a unicycle. ("She's a chicken, I tell you! A giant chicken!")

At 12 noon we split up. Nomi went to "The Movie Year in Review," but I was interested in seeing what I could learn from "Podcasting 101: A Beginner's Approach." As I've recently posted here, I've become interested in podcasts and podcasting, and might want to consider trying it myself. I've also been interviewed for a podcast, which was released this weekend; again, more on that later.

Nomi and I met up in our room a little after 1 pm for kiddush and lunch. Then, rather appropriately, we attended the panel "Religion in Science Fiction" at 2 pm.

We had to split up again at 3 pm because we had been programmed against each other for that hour. We had asked programming not to do that, as we like to attend each other's panels. However, in this case, we found that we had been programmed on panels devoted to our separate interests of knitting and comic books. So we had decided not to bring up the issue, but just to go to the panels. Mine was called "Keeping the Faith: Changes in Your Comics," and it was ostensibly devoted to how fans deal with changes in creative teams on their favorite books. Interestingly enough, the first question the moderator gave us was to name our one favorite book, and we all named comics that satisfied two criteria. They were all non-superhero books, and they all had one creative voice (usually the writer) behind the book. For example, I named Fables, which is pretty much driven by Bill Willingham. Given the topic of the panel, perhaps this is significant. Then again, I could be reading more into it than I should.

At 4 pm Nomi moderated the panel "There's No Star Trek! And No Buffy!" The upshot of the panel is that there's a lot of good genre television out there today.

We returned to our room for Havdalah and then made our one and only trip to the Dealers Room and Dealers Row. As usual, I bought Nomi a pair of Angelwear Creations earrings as a birthday present.

And then it was time to hold our usual open house to celebrate Nomi's birthday. We had a lot of folks stop by, both people who were attending Arisia and people who just came by for the party. If I try to list everyone here, I'm sure I'll forget some, so rather than do that I'll just express a blanket thank-you to those of you who came by to wish Nomi a happy birthday. You know who you are.

For local conventions, Nomi and I have a tradition we follow that Nomi came up with a few years ago. In order to avoid the problems of standing in long checkout lines and storing our stuff somewhere when we don't have a car, we pack up and check out of the hotel early, bring our stuff home, and then daytrip the rest of the con. We left the Hyatt at 9:15 am, cabbed our stuff home, and ate breakfast at Rubin's with friends before returning to the hotel. I had my final panel at 1 pm, but beforehand I had a meeting scheduled with another writer to discuss a project. In addition, while Nomi spent an hour knitting I wandered the con chatting with people.

At 1 pm I did my final panel, "Eye of Argon: The Professionals." The point of this panel was for each panelist in turn to read aloud from "The Eye of Argon" until making a mistake or collapsing in a fit of laughter. I managed once to get through a paragraph, but most of the time I couldn't help but laugh. The prose from that work is simply...unbelievable. Apparently, there's a copy of it online I could link to, but I refuse to subject anyone to that kind of torture. :-)

Nomi and I made it to one last panel, a comparison of Batman Begins and Superman Returns. The audience was eager to participate in the discussion, and the moderator did an excellent job of letting all of us comment along with the panelists.

And that was our Arisia. We saw some friends as we left, then ate dinner at Taam China with folks who were in for the convention (and again, you all know who you are).
Tags: boston, brookline, conventions, jewish, personal, pluto, science-fiction

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