Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb
mamadeb

Arisia Report

To get it out of the way:

The Arisia concom lost their longtime hotel through no fault of their own. They had eleven months to scramble for a new one in a tight and expensive market. They found one that almost worked and did their best with it. They deserve much credit.

Yes, we broke the elevators, and yes, the elevators were inadequate for the job at hand but they weren't designed for that job - transporting 2,000 people to their rooms and to the upper floors 24 hours/day. Cons always break elevators (except for places like the Rye Town Hilton, where elevators are only necessary for people who can't physically climb any stairs or for transporting cargo, since nothing is more than three floors away.) but this was a bit worse than usual.

And here both the hotel staff and the con staff also deserve much credit for keeping things moving anyway.

I can't speak to the rest of the problems.



We took the Chinatown bus on Thursday, spending the night at the Park Plaza. We'd have spent it at the Hyatt, but reservations were sticky. The Park Plaza was, btw, empty. They upgraded our room from a single full-sized bed to a double, with correspondingly more room. We found out later that the medical conference that was to have been there canceled.

Friday morning, we checked out, checked our bags into left luggage and took the T (acquiring a Charlie Card - why did they name their new bus pass after a guy who never got home? - in the process) to Brookline, there to have pizza at Cafe Eilat, shop for food at The Butcherie and look for books at the Israel Bookshop. We realized we could carry the purchases easily enough, so we took the T back, got our luggage and got a cab for the Hyatt.

Where we entered into what looked like chaos. It wasn't - it was well under control - but there were people and luggage and lines and lines and lines, and there was a snack bar and hot dog cart in the middle of things. However, I checked in - and the desk clerk, Anthony, was most helpful and also a Star Trek fan. One of us. :) I will add right here that I was very grateful we got the room, and even though it wasn't in the Shabbat block, it was only one one floor up on the 3rd, which was lovely. We also got our fridge.

Registration was a bit confusing, but we got through it, and then we stopped for coffee in the hotel bar. This is something we intend to make a practice of, since coffee is about the only thing we feel comfortable buying from hotel food services. Also, after the stresses of travel and check in and all that, it's nice to just *sit* and go over the programs and talk to each other. I'd planned my panels the night before.

Then there was the flurry of getting ready for Shabbat and all, with the fridge arriving just as I was taking my shower. Fortunately, jonbaker was there. Normally at that point, we'd have checked out any panels or gone to the Dealer's room if it was open, but given where it was, it didn't happen. Instead, we wandered Dealer's Row and checked in with friends until dinner.

We had all our Shabbat meals alone. It was nice for a change, but not for always. After dinner, I had my first panel, "Why LiveJournal?", which I thought went well, although one of my co-panelists didn't like that I didn't allow questions from the audience until halfway through. *Shrug*.

Went to a couple more panels in the same room and to a private party. We finished with the filking, which we very much enjoyed. The room was small, but so was the group and it was very pleasant and relaxing. (I *am* wondering, though, if the existence of purely filk conventions is affecting the filking in general cons? Or is that a panel idea?)

Next day, I had coffee in the green room before going to my next panel, "Hermione Granger". This room was too tiny for the purpose. Michael Trachtenberg does a wonderful job with Green Room and has for years. He tries to create a welcoming space for program participants to hang out and talk and relax while providing three meals and snacks and drinks. This room was just too small for relaxing - it was basically eat and go. (Side note: Green rooms and staff dens are supposed to feed the "masses" - the program participants and the con staff. That's what they're there for. And that's hard enough to do under budget while also worrying about special diets - just providing a vegetarian option should be sufficient for anyone. I bring my own food because I don't expect the con to provide "real food" I can eat. Soda, coffee, chips, veggies and fruit make me happy. However, I don't extend this attitude towards con suites. I find con suites that provide "real food" to be unwelcoming places - they often short the snack budget for the real food one, so there's often nothing but drinks there.) However, I still managed to have nice chats there. And very good coffee.

The Hermione Granger panel went well - I had great copanelists. And, to my amusement, the front row had three women in House colors - a Slytherin, a Hufflepuff knitting the very scarf she was wearing and one dressed as Harry himself. I found myself wishing I was wearing my own Ravenclaw scarf. We all love Hermione. There was a brief seque of "Slash is evil because it sexualizes children" but I tried to deflect that. Also, she thought explicit het was also wrong. And it was way off topic, anyway.

So. Lunch and wandering and I got to the 16th floor for a panel on fannish crafting. Here I will have to add that people were knitting and crafting all over the place at the con, and it was very cool. One woman was covering a knit stuffed dragon with multicolored patches.

Then I got to my Planetary Panel, where I sat like a lump. I should not have been there. I knew far less than the other panelists. I should have cried off - my fault.

Shabbat being over, I went to the room and had a bite to eat and changed clothes and started knitting (there were no panels at that point.) Eventually, we wandered over to Burstein's party, where I gave gnomi a gift, and watched some Masquerade. Then I went to fabricdragon's room on Dealer's Row, where I bought yarn and patterns and learned some spinning techniques, and cast on for my second sleeve and chatted and it was much, much fun. So was the filking when we got there - just the right-sized group for strict bardic. I even picked once.

Sunday there was shopping - I finally got to the Dealer's Room - more chat in the Green Room and my last two panels - "Star Trek, 40 years of IDIC, Pointy Ears and...something", which I was supposed to moderate (which I found out at-con) but since another panelist wanted the job, I let him have it. He did a fine job, too. And finally, "Harry Potter and the Heroic Journey", which was my second withfernwithy and was also a lot of fun with some good stuff inside. I also went to the convention "Stitch and Bitch" - my first one, as it happens. I need to do this again. One thing I noted was that everyone in my immediate area was knitting English. Seeing it in action made my later attempts much easier. I'm still sticking with continental, but it never hurts to learn new skills.

We also went to the gripe session, which was interesting. I did give some praise for the moderator's clocks - simple battery operated clocks with the hour hands removed and the 50-55 minute spot filled in. Made moderating much easier.

We had our traditional dinner with the Bursteins plus other friends and then got back for the dead dog filk. This pretty much broke up by eleven, by which time I was back in the room and watching television. (BTW - way fun cab driver on the way back - he was a fan. We talked Star Trek and Star Wars.)

Next day, we got a cab back to the bus station and got on another Chinatown bus and rode home. The cab ride home was a tad eventful - new driver who got confused by Chinatown and at one point shut off the meter and seemed to be looking for a place to leave us off. We persuaded him to turn it back on and to listen to Jonathan's directions. Once that was done, all was well,and we paid him for all of the time in the cab.

And then we were home. :)
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