January 21, 2014

Annual Arisia Report

        This weekend was the Arisia sci fi/fantasy/fandom convention in Boston, and my third time attending.  As before, I had a display of my block prints in the art show, I enjoyed seeing peoples’ costumes, I attended lots of panels mostly about issues of reading and writing speculative fiction, and I came away with lots to think about.  I had hoped to have a more cohesive response for today’s blog post, but instead I’m just going to share a few unrelated quotations from panelists.

        “Some of my really visually skilled male students can figure it out from the diagrams.”  I took a workshop to learn how to make a Byzantine weave chain maille bracelet (this stupid spelling indicates jewelry as opposed to armor.)  When our teacher said these words, just in passing before leaning in to work one-on-one with someone, I think everyone in the class was shocked.  After a moment someone at the end of the table asked very cautiously, “Why do you say male students?”  I replied, “I think she means chain mail students, not men,” and a relieved ripple of laughter passed around the room.  The poor teacher looked up to realize what everyone had been thinking and hastened to confirm, “I meant mail with an i!”  So the moral of that story is, don’t jump to offense without questioning first.  Sometimes no one is actually insulting anyone at all.  (And by the way, the bracelet came out very cool!)

        “Do-gooders are boring.”  Yup, this opinion again, stated by a panelist on the topic of spirituality in sci fi/fantasy, and how he loves Greek mythology because the gods are so flawed.  Whether this is actually the majority opinion I can’t say, and if it is, by how great a majority the “good is boring” camp predominates I don’t know either.  All I can say is that I hold a different opinion that I wish would be acknowledged more often.  Here’s my previous discussion of my love for good good guys.

        “When we had my kids’ nerd mitvah we started with A New Hope, because we’re orthodox.”  I was greatly amused by this bon mot.  Certainly it’s interesting to think about what non-religious, possibly even frivolous cultural beliefs are important to us, and how we try to go about inculcating them into our children.  (And how sometimes we just have to accept that our kids aren’t going to be passionate about all the same things we are.  For example, neither of my children shares my love of doll houses and miniatures.)

        Not a quotation, but a final unrelated comment: one of my favorite moments of the entire weekend was a belly dancing dalek.  She imagined and made an awesome belly-baring dalek costume involving various black and silver fabrics, styrofoam balls, and a silver and black toilet plunger.  She performed her dalek dance to this mash-up of the Doctor Who theme and a Green Day song, “Dr Who on Holiday.”  It’s exactly this sort of creativity, enthusiasm, and sense of humor that I think is the best of fandom and what makes Arisia so much fun.

        I’m happy to report that my sales in the art show were fantastic this year, and D was so pleased that he signed us up on the spot for Arisia 2015.  So… I’ll be back!

[Pictures: My art show display, photo by DLN, 2014;
Jennifer Pelland (aka Zia) as a dalek, photo by falconn67, 2014.]

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