I-CON is a convention held at Stony Brook University (SBU) on Long Island, which caters to all things geek: American & British TV shows, SF books, anime & manga, video & board games, cosplay, LARPing, etc. It doesn’t do any of them especially well1, but it does a lot. It’s run by the Sci Fi Forum of SBU, an ancient2 little club of a few diehards and people like me who drift in and out; the SFF’s other claim to fame is its club library: an enormous collection of SF-related books that runs into the tens of thousands. More specifically, I-CON is a 3-day weekend affair during Spring Break, before Easter.
I had never attended ICON before, and I had only attended a small one-day convention before: Toracon 2 on 22 April 2006 when I was attending RIT. (I and some others in the taekwondo club spend much of the day working security or being gophers.) I didn’t see or do much, although I got a hilarious photo of its organizer, the anime club president Liz Kovach, slumped over at the end clutching a bottle of ibuprofen. (I also got a shirt.) But I enjoyed what I did see & do, and knew I wanted to get to ICON when I had the chance, but it came before I realized one year and another year I was gone and another year it was not on Stony Brook campus so I assumed it’d be a disaster (it was) and avoided it which brought me to… 2010.
As a penurious student, the $39 pass was a little daunting and I elected to become a volunteer: one pays a $20 deposit, gets a badge/ticket, works 8 hours, and gets one’s Andrew Jackson back. Any spare time at I-CON is one’s profit. (If one welshes, the bond is forfeit and one’s name goes on a blacklist. The blacklist was much mooted, but I never saw it in evidence.)
An email inquiry brought a rote response & PDF. I printed it out and mailed it on Monday, but by Thursday evening there was no response. So I just showed up in the big SBU gymnasium at 5PM.
A group of volunteers & staffers had gathered (perhaps 20 or so at any one time). Our job was to assemble roughly 227 tables (each with 2 chairs) into 9 rectangles, each positioned down to a few inches. To do this, we had a single 3’x3’ poster-board with AutoCAD blueprint, some tape measures, and a box of gloves. The tables were rather heavy (at least 15lbs each). We would take them in pairs, or if we were daring, a table per person.
It’s a little odd that people can spend hours moving and positioning tables, and yet insist on holding them horizontally, parallel to the ground—one of the most awkward ways to move a heavy table—and not realize that they are easier to carry vertically (one hand on top to steer and one below to hold), and more maneuverable to boot. It is a good example of how people can lack mindfulness about what they are doing.
(I also noticed that my heavy grip exerciser paid off here: I found it much easier to handle tables than in the past, because I could grip and hold almost any angle or place on the tables. Grip exercisers: not just for fighting RSI boredom!)
It took hours. On Saturday, I would wander through the gymnasium, looking at all the dealers, and notice how most of them had shifted around and moved tables. If volunteering hadn’t been time-based but results-based, I think I would have choked on my own bile.
The volunteers and I-CON staffers there were not, as I had expected, as uniformly male and unattractive as the stereotypes indicate. I was quite surprised at how many women were there (perhaps a third); and not a few were lookers, too. This confirms me in the opinion that occurred to me during Toracon 2007: women like to dress in costume, and cosplay is a mechanism of genius for gender-balancing conventions. (May Ahura Mazda blight me if this is not true!)
The camaraderie made the time fly by and it wasn’t long before several squares were set up. Then we had to shift them a foot. Again, we set up more tables. And shifted them. The staffers would huddle around the schematic and after much measuring and finger-pointing, have us undo the previous shift. I focused on loading dollies with tables—much less frustrating! (The same amount of time and work was wasted, of course, but at least I wasn’t the one seeing my work undone.)
At about 7:30 PM, Bill (a big burly old guy in his 40s, last name, I think, Nussbaum) called us together and announced what we all suspected: the table of submarine sandwichs (chicken, ham, and vegetarian), cookies (chocolate chip), and soda (canned, with cups & ice) was for us and that it was a venerable I-CON tradition to feed its setup volunteers. We chowed down. (It was then that the SBU ping pong club came in and started playing. None of them seemed very good; I never saw them exchange more than 4 practice volleys in a row.)
Back to table positioning! This time they decided to move 6 squares or ‘islands’. Maddening! I kept thinking, half a meter doesn’t matter! (And was proven right on Saturday as previously noted.) I was relieved when we finished with that—I had been hanging out at the control table and listening to the gossip—and could begin putting up the curtains. That was more interesting: 2 islands were not just tables & chairs, but had curtains marking them off. (On Saturday, I noticed that most of the curtain sections didn’t have anything special, but a few dealers put them to good use with their clothing stock.)
You had to slide the curtains on first, and then connect the beams together, and only then could everyone grab a beam and hoist the whole assemblage up as if it were an Amish barn-raising. That done, we had to move all the excess tables & chairs and pack them into the leftover corner. (I wound up moving at least 100 chairs—I counted.) By this point, it was 10 PM. I signed out, with 5 out of my 8 hours finished. Little did I know how difficult it would be to do the remaining 3 and get my money back!
I slept well.
On Friday, after much confusion about how Dani & Molly were getting to I-CON and back (first they were going with me, then not, then I was taking them home at midnight), I set off and arrived at 5 PM, a solid hour before any events began. I found the gym busy as a bee hive, and was quickly told that the volunteer table had moved to the Student Activities Center (SAC)—the big student building in the middle of the campus. The line out the door surprised me: the schedule didn’t list any particularly awesome events starting at 6, so why were >200 people queued? I bypassed that line; it was for the little people who had to pay for their tickets. This turned out to be a disaster: the volunteer table had to be reorganized twice, and where I had been at the very head of the line, I got shunted to the very end. I didn’t get my badge until 6:20, and I was told there were no volunteer hours available that night and to try back in the morning. Oh well.
Badge in hand, I set off to the third floor of the SAC—the meeting rooms had all been appropriated for various panels and discussion groups.
I first went to ‘Something about Steampunk’, hosted by some authors of the same; a few women had nice steampunk costumes (refer to previous comment about cosplay, genius of). The discussion wasn’t particularly enlightening, and when I got minimal response to my point that steampunk like Girl Genius was only thinly disguised fantasy/magic and this indicated that steampunk was already a played-out genre akin to Tolkienesque fantasy, I moved on.
What I wanted next was what I assumed was the H.P. Lovecraft discussion—“Even Death Will Die”—but I found it had been canceled for lack of participation. The next, ‘Hitler in Spaaace!’—likewise. (I never did hear what that one was supposed to be about.)
From lack of alternative, I wandered into a room labeled ‘Flashforward reading’. The delay at the volunteer table meant that I wandered in just as the animated author (Robert J. Sawyer) wound to a close. After some discussion, I suddenly realized that he had been reading from his script from a TV show called FlashForward adapted from a novel he had written, and that I had already watched 2 or 3 episodes of it. I was quite surprised. Conventions are supposed to be for this sort of meeting, but I hadn’t expected to find anyone of personal interest other than Tiffany Grant or Samuel Delaney.
The scene was a deleted scene, so he was not giving major spoilers. But his Q&A was interesting. He mentioned that a number of scenes had been deleted (and explained that TV DVD collections rarely came with deleted scenes because TV shows are on such a tight budget they they never film scenes which may be deleted), and described a cinematographically nice one of in which a character would be identifying a victim on the ground of a football field to the blase governmental functionary guiding her, and the slow pullout which revealed the entire field covered in rows of victims and other pairs of people identifying bodies.
I also found interesting his description of why the timeframe of the eponymous prescience had been changed from 20 years to just 6 months: the many expensive actors would require too much makeup and their beauty would be under-utilized in scenes set 20 years in the future. The exact 6 months figure comes from the author’s suggestion that the series progress in ‘real-time’—the roughly weekly interval each episode spanned in-universe being that of the interval between each broadcast. This change came at some cost to the plot (one character gets pregnant and raises a baby in 20 years without any issues, sure—but in 6 months?), and the conceit turned out to be a waste anyway because the show got put on hiatus and missed all the scheduled dates.
He also bemoaned how the network punched up the violence, toned down the philosophy and musings, and how it was the most expensive show Disney was producing at the time. (All those actors and locations, apparently.) Likewise, he described how writing was done: collectively, and the credits listing author are allocated by contract and impressionistically—one’s contract specifies 1 credit, and the head writer one week will say that this episode feels more like your work than someone else, and so you get the credit this week. Rather a strange system, but very Hollywood. (I believe his writing credit was for the script he was reading to us, episode 19, which would air weeks after I-CON.)
He related with amusement how the network wished to hide that the series was based on a book as much as possible, because obviously the book spoils the mystery driving the first several episodes—what caused the flashforward. He was coy about what a second season might focus on, saying only that they had ideas. My guess is a repeat of the original (physics experiment gone wrong). He didn’t seem very optimistic, and he was right to—it turned out to be a moot discussion because FlashForward was not renewed and was outright canceled (not enough ratings for the money).
Leaving, I found the ‘rabid fanboys’ discussion in the Psychology building about to start. It was some old convention hands discussing bad experiences. (One panelist was an impressive Kamina of Gurren Lagann; the impressive part was not the pants or the blue body-paint tattoos, though they were perfectly executed, but that he had the physique to put it off: washboard abs, well-defined pecs etc.)
Fangirls, apparently, are very prone to ‘glomping’ people—hugging violently, from behind, unexpectedly, and the Kamina had particularly suffered their depredations. (The Kamina guy was the first of two people at I-CON that I would’ve sworn I knew from the RIT anime club, but didn’t.)
Just as I began to weary, who should walk in but my old Internet acquaintance ‘Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici’! (V for short). He was dressed as ever as the character V from V for Vendetta. I knew for certain that this was not a random V cosplayer because the panelists asked each their favorite anime, and V said Evangelion. His verbal style and absolutist responses were quite consistent with his online persona, which should not have surprised me. (“As above, so below.”)
We had both come expecting Tiffany Grant, the English voice actor of the Evangelion character Asuka Soryu Langley, and who has had contact with many Eva principals such as Yuko Miyamura, aside from her extensive experience in the American anime industry. But alas, she wasn’t at that panel. V had a nice list of Grant’s schedule & questions to ask her (among other things; I was impressed by his preparation), which I should’ve asked to copy. But I didn’t. So I left, after chatting with one of the convention staffers hanging out; it turned out that she knew V from when he was an SBU student with the anime/video game club3. (V is currently a European history grad student after graduating in 2008.)
So from 8 to 9 PM, I wandered across the campus to the earth sciences building where a ‘Popular Media Licenses & Gaming’ panel was running. It was reasonably well attended. The two authors didn’t give much concrete information4, but they were certainly enthusiastic and enjoyed their work. As a former Star Wars nerd and fan of its Expanded Universe(based largely on novelizations farmed out to these sorts of authors), I was a little shocked at the almost complete lack of coordination or guidance authors received from the licensors; one man told us that he had finished a novel almost entirely and was getting ready to hand it in, when he was told that a main character of his—crucial to the entire plot—was getting killed off in another work set earlier, and could he please fix his book? Amazing.
I headed back over to the psychology building, and just across from the previous panel, Tiffany Grant was shooting the breeze and taking questions about ADR.
ADR directing, I gathered, has principally to do with taking the fairly literal translated script and tweaking so it both makes sense in English and matches the mouth-flaps. And yelling at the VAs to do better or something. The script challenges were her principal topic; how does one handle the Japanese honorifics like -san or -kun? They’re frequent, and so important that an unwashed monolingual subtitle-watcher like me picks up on them and understands when they’re being used as insults or jokes or characterization, but how does that carry over to the dub?
She mentioned one anime—Sister Princess, I think—in which each of a dozen female characters regarded the protagonist as their brother, and each had a different pronoun/nickname for him! They wound up coming with a boatload of variations on ‘brother’: ‘bro’, ‘honored brother’, etc.
Unusually, the problem could be the dub needing more material. When dubbing Excel Saga, the American VA for Excel turned out to speak faster than the Japanese VA did; the Japanese VA was unable to say all the things she was scripted to, and so the dub wound up being ‘truer’ than the original! But that’s unusual, since the character Excel is hyperactive.
V was there before I was, and kept trying to steer the subject to Evangelion. She hadn’t yet seen the new movie, Rebuild 2.0, and so couldn’t comment; but she did have an interesting anecdote for us. She had been in Japan for some reason or other, and was in the Hello Kitty! theme park there (Grant is nuts for Hello Kitty!, and was wearing appropriate HK merchandise) with Yuki Miyamura. Grant, remember, was the English VA of Asuka; Miyamura is the original Japanese VA. Both were not particularly well-known VAs, and they both made their name with Asuka. (Evangelion was an extremely popular series in both Japan & America.)
V also asked about the recent corporate travails of Grant’s longtime employer ADV, an old American anime company which recently got partially bought and even more recently despised its buyer and dissolved in a complex legal kabuki that lead to its assets being sold to a group of shell corporations. Or something. Apparently they’re still working, however they work.
When I left ADR scripting, I didn’t really know what to do. An art show was supposed to be starting in the Javits lecture center (7 or 8 big auditoriums stuck together), but when I got there, they were comically unready. They didn’t open up until 3 hours after they were scheduled to! (There was some nice art, but nothing especially interesting.)
So I wandered across the hall to an auditorium playing a movie called Moon. I had vaguely heard of it when it was released in 2009, but I didn’t know anything about the plot.
It turned out to be pretty interesting: a man assigned to oversee mining on the Moon, who discovers he is the latest is a series of clones created and killed by the ruthless corporate overseers, and how he foils their plans and escapes to Earth. The premise is more than a little silly: there’s no need for humans to be on the Moon, since the round-trip lag is less than 5 seconds. And if robotics or AI were so advanced that the clones’ HAL-like overseer could feel sympathy for them and seek to aid the clones, there would doubly be no need for clones! It was a fairly short movie though—I think it ran from 10 to 11:30—and not too bad as SF movies go.
At that point, the art show finally opened (partially). After browsing through, I came out and ran into none other than my SBU acquaintance Serge. We decided to go check out the ball room in the SAC devoted to board & card games, and wound up playing a card game called Illuminatus!. Along with a strange short old red-headed woman who joined our group, we attempted to puzzle out the rules about joining conspiracy cards and attacking other groups. We didn’t play it right and didn’t get very far in the game, but we enjoyed ourselves until about 1:30 AM when we were kicked out. Serge and his friend may or may not’ve gone off to a Denny’s; I begged off, since I wanted to get in early the next day (that day, to be precise!), and I was feeling kind of sleepy anyway.
Needless to say, I wound up oversleeping. I wasn’t terribly impressed by the early events, but after a kerfuffle as to how Molly & her ex-boyfriend Matt & Danni were getting home—we agreed to rendezvous at a concert at midnight—I got there for the tail end of a big panel in the Javits center, about ‘Voice Acting, Then and Now’, which was the last time I saw Tiffany Grant.
The panel was 6 or 7 former/current voice actors and other anime industry ronin like that. I didn’t hear much, but they did say that things were hard now but not quite as hard as it was a few months ago when the industry was imploding5 and hiring no one, and that as ever the key to VA work was acting classes and lots of networking. At that point, a pudgy young woman stood up and delivered her story: back at ICON 2007 she had asked pretty much that question and gotten that answer; taking it to heart, she took acting lessons and began working, and was at this moment a successful English voice actor in South Korea recording English language lessons. She got a round of applause. (She didn’t say whether she came all the way from South Korea to attend ICON; I kind of hope not. Airfare is at least $1000.) I thought that was interesting—it had never occurred to me before that English might be so valued in South Korea. And the Korean language is easier than Japanese6.
I don’t recall Grant saying very much of interest, although she struck a note of optimism that demand for dubbing might soon recover from the big American anime implosion in 2008-2009.
The panel quickly wrapped up at 2 PM, and I hurried off to a panel in the SAC—‘Writing Unique Heroes and Memorable Villains’. This turned out to be a black-haired and bearded young guy energetically and comically ranting about overused villain traits and actions. He delivered his material very well, but I found the sentiments kind of stale. (The room was absolutely packed, though.)
I proceeded across the hall, and spent the next hour in ‘Queer politics in SF’. This was a round-table (literally) in the same room as the FlashForward reading, and was basically adoring fans and LGBT people asking Samuel Delaney (and some other guy) random questions. (The strange thing I would find out later from Wikipedia is that Delaney apparently is from a black family, though he looks as white as sour cream. I don’t understand that at all.) I don’t remember any especial interesting tidbits there, although some questions focused on Dhalgren, to which Delaney made noises about the symbolism not being hugely literal and significant, which makes sense to me. (Not that I ever finished Dhalgren.)
At 3, I ducked out and went over to Harriman Hall, into the same place as before; this time Adrian was lecturing about medieval feasts. That was interesting, although I wonder how general the ideas she presented were—did many medieval countries really have a conception of the courses of a feast settling down in layers in the stomach to be digested, and that the courses should be designed accordingly? It seems a little strange. But I enjoyed reading her recipe books.
Nearing 4, I left and caught the tail end of ‘So you wanna write horror’, a discussion led by some Miskatonic River Press reps; they were discussing how very important connections and networking were in getting your stuff published. Apparently geek-dominated areas are little more rational and meritocratic than anywhere else.
The panel I was actually there for, ‘Superman: American god?’, started late. I have no idea who those 2 guys were—but they were namedropping names I don’t know and talking about college radio and all sorts of obscure Superman things. As I sipped my tea from my thermos, I tried one or two questions to get back to the title topic (which could actually make for an interesting discussion), but quickly they got back to being off-topic.
So about 4:30 I arsed off to The polymath, or, the life and opinions of Samuel R. Delaney. It turned out to be as promised—Delaney in front of a camera (with occasional background shifts), talking. Some more deprecatory comments about Dhalgren were expressed, but I didn’t hang around to find out more, and left at 5pm for a panel in the SAC about ‘autonomous warfare’ (think the drones the US used so much in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan).
That was fairly interesting. One dude was actually employed by the Army for vehicle maintenance, and he kept the discussion from getting too silly.
When that ended, I went over to ‘The Colder Side of Global Warming’. This fellow has an intricate theory that excess heating changes Arctic weather patterns such that the temperature suddenly drops, ice becomes persistent, and glaciers begin moving down, but the Ice Age precipitated thereby then disrupts the disruption, leading to another warm period. I don’t know whether his theory is widely accepted, but it was a very well done slide-show, and it’s an interesting scheme—would be very good for a SF book, I think. When I asked him some hard questions about the predictions the theory makes7, he replied capably. I don’t entirely know what to make of him; he has some crackpot characteristics8, but lacks others.
One good part of his theory is that it predicts significant cooling and ice expansion in my lifetime and that is quite different from most global warming related predictions that I’ve read of. So I will find out sooner or later.
Exhausted and fascinated by the theory, I stayed all the way to the end, even though the cosplay contest had already started. At 8, I rushed over. The auditorium was stuffed, and most seats were taken. I tried to squeeze into the first section of seats, stepping over the giant head of a Where the Wild Things Are cosplay, only to nearly rip the horn off when it got caught on my drover coat! (My coat is a duster, to be technical, though its manufacturer, the Australian Outback Collection, calls it something else.) (I would link to a video on Vimeo.com of the contest, but it seems to have disappeared and left no trace. This only encourages my paranoia regarding linkrot and makes me feel smugger that I downloaded it.)
Chagrined, I circled around the back and wound up sitting in the middle of a high school group. It was kind of amusing watching their dynamics—there were 3 guys and a girl, and one of the guys clearly had the hots for her, but she was diffident. Eventually, she gave me a slice of their pizza. That was nice of her.
The cosplay contest itself consisted of 4 or 5 elaborate costumers going up and possibly doing some gimmick, interspersed with skits. Some of the skits were remarkably elaborate. I was blown away by one of the longer skits which featured 5 or 6 people well-dressed as characters from Invader Zim—Zim in a big green cardboard head, a fellow dressed in black who manipulated a large Gir doll, a guy dressed (hair slicked and all) as Zim’s rival Dib, the ever-sarcastic Gaz, and Dib & Gaz’s father (with a remarkably good lab coat and goggles). The voices were so pitch-perfect I wondered if they were lip-syncing part of an episode.
There were a few Pokemon cosplayers, the Wild Thing mentioned earlier, and some magical girls.
Particularly memorable was the Pokemon one. As he walked up the stage, someone in the audience began humming the theme song to the original Pokemon anime. (The very first English one, the one that begins ‘I wanna be the very best’; see http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Theme)
I think it probably started in the second story of the auditorium, where I could see a Volteon cosplayer as well as the cosplayer who was on stage. Whomever started it, soon it was picked up, and before long, the entire darn audience was singing it. (I know it was spontaneous because toward the end, it began to get kind of ragged and miss verses as people reached their limits.)
200 or 300 people singing that theme song together and dancing in the aisles is a sight to behold. The video online of the contest is incomplete and missed the best part; I felt sad as I reflected that lifelogging would have preserved it.
Watching the video reminds me of a few things—the quick game of ‘Where’s Waldo?’. (That cosplayer was seated on the ground floor completely opposite of me.) The Megaman cosplayer left before he won a prize; I’d see him the next day while guarding the stairs, and would tell him that he’d won.
Finally, at 10 PM the festivities ended. There was more dancing, of course. But I pulled myself out and rested for the next 2 hours at another of the auditoriums, which was marathoning Irresponsible Captain Tylor—some good comedic light SF. It was somewhat curious to watch, since I had earlier seen Tylor OVAs, but here was the original series. in media res is not always the best place to start, let us say.
At midnight sharp, I headed for Voltaire. It was quite important to be there, since I had promised to rendezvous with Molly and Dani.
I got there a little after Voltaire had started. I discovered Dani fairly quickly (she was dressed as some sort of witch) but no one else, and that Molly had brought her ex-boyfriend Matt along. Matt had no ticket. He could not enter. Molly refused to go in without him.
I was struck by their stupidity (the solution is obvious—Molly and Dani, who have tickets, enter. Molly then exits carrying her ticket and Dani’s ticket. Matt then enters using Dani’s ticket. Simple!) and solved the problem myself.
Voltaire turns out to be this Hispanic guy who specializes in humorous and somewhat macabre songs. I actually wound up enjoying a fair amount of it, even if the songs he sang in Spanish were lost on me, and I couldn’t sing along to his “BRAINS!” song. In what must’ve been a treat for the real fans there, he sang some songs from an upcoming album of country music. (I didn’t like them.)
He told one amusing anecdote: he was performing in a concert in Mexico, where his albums have not been released (and his albums are in English anyway), and he suddenly noticed that the audience was singing along to every single song. Apparently they had all downloaded or watched his material online and memorized the lyrics. In another language. Sometimes I forget how strange the Internet and its people can be.
At some point on Saturday, well before the cosplay contest, there was a charity auction. There were some signed items from guests, and random SF stuff. I wound up bidding on some fake laminated IDs. (I had buyer’s remorse, and gave them to Dani, who seemed to like them more.) I also spent ~$20 on the official I-CON 29 t-shirt. It was sort of purple, with an manga-style illustration of The Wizard of Oz characters being sucked up into a whirlwind9. That was actually a major bargain; even if I had worked 10 hours or more as a volunteer, there was still no guarantee I would get an official T-shirt, and they were as scarce as hen’s teeth. I wanted it because that meant my grand record of attending a convention and always getting an official t-shirt would stand. Granted, I have attended exactly 2 conventions in my life, but still!
I tried to bid on Marc Gunn’s donation of “Includes FOUR CDs: Whiskers in the Jar, Irish Drinking Songs for Cat Lovers, Live at the Cactus Cafe, and Irish Drinking Songs: The Cat Lover’s Companion, plus one bonus CD of traditional Celtic Music.” But the bidding went to over 40 dollars! I like the concept, and enjoyed listening to them later at http://www.catdrinkingsongs.com/cat_nip.shtml but that was just too much on top of the shirt and ID.
Come Sunday morning, I remembered that my Andrew Johnson was still in hock to I-CON, and the blacklist loomed. I might want to work the next year, after all. From Friday, I had 5 hours down. But I still needed 3 more, and I’d gotten shut out of Saturday, and of course Sunday was the last day.
I looked at the schedule and fortunately, there didn’t seem to be very much going on. (Most of the notable stuff was US television material, which I don’t follow. Minor characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or whatever do not interest me.) So, I’d work the afternoon.
I didn’t look at the calendar, and unfortunately forgot that it was Palm Sunday and the family expected me to go to church. Oh dear. After a number of Google searches, and checking dozens of church locations, I found a church that would be having Mass quite late—around 4 or 5. It wasn’t terribly far away either. So we agreed that I would drive myself and Dani and Molly from I-CON to that Mass.
I showed up at noon, and went off to the SAC and asked for 3 hours. Sure, no problem—we need someone to guard the stairs in the gym to stop unticketed people from getting in to the dealers. (The gym again!) The volunteer table had been relocated from Friday, but shortly I was relieving 2 young girls (whom I didn’t recognize) from their spot in the ‘exit’. Because there were 2 stairwells going down from the complex entrance to the gym proper, one had been designed ‘in’ and the other ‘out’. I was assigned to ‘out’. This made the job quite easy—I basically only had to stop people from going down. (Suppose I had spotted someone sans ticket. What was I going to do, throw them out? That’s exactly what they wanted to do!)
I had, of course, brought along my thermos full of tea. In the corner of the landing, I had a folding chair. It was actually kind of pleasant sitting there and watching the people pass. (A bit cramped, though.) It was there I met the Megaman cosplayer again, for example. I saw a great many other cosplayers pass out, and not a few pass out. And out again. I would not have previously guessed how many people would go in and out multiple times.
Several people wanted to go up, to the elevated running track around the gym. Most of them I refused, but I let through the ones that just wanted photographs. The hive of dealers and hundreds of costumed people meandering through must have been an impressive sight.
One problem was that one of the aforementioned C-list actresses was having a signing on the top level at 3 or so, so all sorts of workerbees and security people were in and out, and I was often quizzed by fans about how to get in and when.
The signing itself was interesting. It was quite commercial (apparently you were expected to buy the photos and other merchandise available on the line), and some of the photos were quite risque. But I suppose ‘fan service’ is nothing new.
Most curiously for me, while guarding I met this Chinese guy. He apparently was a SBU student at the Southampton campus who had taken a bus to the main campus for I-CON. I don’t recall how our conversation started, but eventually he learned that I was planning to go to Mass, and asked to come along. He seemed harmless enough, and I was in a generous mood, so I offered to take him. (As I said, it wasn’t terribly far from SBU or home, and to go home from that church, I would be going up Nesconset anyway, and from Nesconset to the SBU campus is a hop, skip, and jump.) To my surprise, he agreed to come. So, that was that.
I had told Nussbaum that I only wanted 3 hours, so at 3 I was released. Surely enough time to make it to Mass! But unfortunately no one at the gym volunteer table would sign off on my hours, so Nussbaum decided to go along to the SAC in person to confirm it.
Well, alright. Time was short, but I wanted my $20 back. We got to the SAC—and just as we were entering, the fire alarm went off!
We had to wait a good 20 minutes to go in. And while we were waiting, it started to rain. (Adding insult to injury, it stopped right after we went in.)
Finally, after much arguing, I had my money back and no blacklist entry. We scooted off in a hurry to the dorm parking lot I stashed my car in, and off to Patchogue or wherever!
The Mass was boring as ever, although they had somewhat different procedures. John (the Asian fellow’s name) was polite and reverent enough. I never did ask where he came from or whether he was actually Catholic, so it’s possible he came along out of boredom or curiosity. (He mentioned that the bus back to Southampton wasn’t scheduled until 11 PM or so.)
As I dropped him off in SBU, he gave me $10—which was much more than I deserved, but he insisted. I never know how hard to object or what I really should take, so I just accepted. (Susan later criticized me for taking it. Oh well.)
The drive back was uneventful. I-CON 2010 was over for me.
Dating back to the 1970s.↩︎
The ‘Animated Perspectives’ club; I couldn’t recommend them—they struck me as far inferior to comparable clubs such as RIT’s.↩︎
I don’t know why, but people on panels hate giving specific names in their examples. Either they are irrationally afraid of regrettably blunt comments or people in these industries have awfully thin skins.↩︎
Which is a whole topic all its own—the rise of scanlation sites like OneManga.com, streaming services like Crunchyroll, delayed effects from fansubbers distributing via BitTorrent over broadband (and not technically involved methods like bots on IRC channels or private FTP topsites), and the popping of the anime production bubble in Japan and anime licensing bubble in America. But I am not qualified to speak about this topic.↩︎
I believe my best question was that this theory predicts that there could only be Ice Ages when there is an enclosed Arctic Ocean, which exists only recently, and so we ought to see zero Ice Ages in periods with, say, Pangaea.↩︎
For example, why hasn’t this theory been embraced by the global warming mainstream? It would be a perfect reply to mavericks who argue that the benefits of global warming (in enabling more resource exploitation in Siberia & Canada, or opening the Northwest Passage to commercial traffic, or increasing farming yields in middle latitudes) outweigh the costs and our opposition to global warming is basically a status quo bias—the benefits would only be temporary and the eventual Ice Age would impose incredible costs (such as leveling Europe and most of North America).↩︎
Oz was apparently the official theme that year. Despite the fact that I never saw a single reference to Oz anywhere other than my t-shirt!↩︎