strausmouse (strausmouse) wrote,

Balancing Dinosaurs and Sodomy

I went to Boskone, a sci-fi/fantasy convention in Boston.  This was not one of those conventions where everyone was in crazy costumes, with giant Star Wars displays or anything.  This was just a convention with workshops and panels for the dedicated sci-fi or fantasy fan. 
Why did I go?  Well I needed to get away for a night, and jamietr was going to be there, and I've had an interest in seeing what a sci-fi convention is all about, so I figured - why not? 

My head is filled with so much incredible info and experiences that I want to impart to you all, and I think the best way to do that is in two parts.  Part #1 will be a rundown of my activities in chronological order, and then part #2 will be my humorous/clever/inane/witty/stupid commentary on everything from part #1.  So here goes.

Part 1

1:20 pm - arrived at the Westin Waterfront Hotel, adjacent to the Boston Convention Center.  I soon discovered that the Boskone convention was relegated to the hotel only - nothing took place inside the convention center.  Ok.

2:00pm - met up with Jamie, bought my admission to the convention, received fancy badge here:

3:00pm - attended a panel discussion (because Jamie wanted to go) about short story writing.  During this event, I had an opportunity to use Jamie's iPhone to check my email.  This thing is awesome.  I don't know if it's worth $600...but it really is a nifty device.  Oh, the title of this post came from that panel discussion - one of the authors said something to the effect of "a good story should have a balance of dinosaurs and sodomy, metaphorically speaking."  I understood what he meant.

4:00 - Jamie stayed for a panel discussion about the newest Battlestar Galactica TV series.  I left for a separate one that was about music.  More on this in part #2.

5:00 - Went back to where Jamie was, met mabfan, an accomplished sci-fi writer and quite a nice guy.  Then Jamie and I left for dinner.  We walked down to the waterfront and ate at a sports bar & grill on the water, as made evident by Jamie here:

Being that we were in Boston, I had a lobster roll - it was fantastic, and nearly worth the $17 it cost.  We saw a groovy statue on the way back, dedicated to the Polish underground soldiers who fought the Nazis in WWII and the Russians during the Cold War occupation:

7:00pm - had a drink in the lobby bar area.  Our waitress was ambiguously hitting on us...or she was just bored.  In fact she said she was really bored and that's why she was talking to us, but I suspect she was covering up her true intentions. 

8:00pm - attended a panel discussion where two story titles were mashed together to create a new title, and the panel had to come up with a plot for this new story.  Example: "The Return of the King and I."  The plot they came up with involved orcs ballroom dancing.  The only other titles I recognized was when someone suggested, "Soylent Green Acres."

9:00pm - expecting an awards ceremony, we instead were treated to a live reading of a short story entitled, "The Stinky Princess."  5 actors performed the story on a stage, with the audience creating the sound effects.

10:00pm - 12:30pm - we talked with a few other conventioneers, wandered the "party floor" where many of the guests were having room parties, complete with beer-filled bathtubs (beer in bottles) and sci-fi novels scattered about.

I left at 10:00am this morning after a quick breakfast with Jamie.

Part 2

JESUS JUMPED-UP CHRIST!  What an unbelievable experience.  The first thing I noticed was that 90% of the people there looked like 90% of the people I worked with at Blizzard, testing computer games.  The other 10% looked like old college professors.  And then there was me and Jamie, who looked like nobody else at the convention.  In fact, the waitress at the bar asked if we were part of the group.  I asked her if we looked like we were, and she said no.  But then we showed her our bad-ass badges, and she raised an eyebrow in surprise.  There were more men with ponytails there than I'd ever seen grouped together in one place...ever.  And there was one guy who I think really was the stereotypical nerdy sci-fi geek - he had his pants pulled up to his chest, his NASA polo shirt tucked in, and his thick glasses dangled at the end of his nose.  But I'm sure his IQ is about 657.  There was a guy in a black vest and a kilt, a guy in a red cape, and a guy in an orange jumpsuit with a propeller beanie.  And everyone was wearing glasses.  Lenscrafters should sponsor one of these was nuts.
But here's the thing - I totally respect these people.  There's this crazy hippie vibe going on - they don't care what's cool, they don't care how they look to other people, they don't conform...they are who they are and if you don't like it, catch the next spaceship to Uranus.  And I completely dig that. 
But on the other hand, some small part of me wants to say, "Hey, you're 45 years old and you're going to a discussion on Elves.  Hello???"

The first panel was not interesting to me, but I can appreciate how writers like Jamie would find it useful.  The second panel I went to was absolute madness.  There were 5 performers at the front of the room, and the idea was that each would perform a song that somehow connected to the song preceding it.  What I didn't know (but should have) was that the songs would all be about characters and things from the sci-fi/fantasy world.  And I also didn't know that there is a name for these types of singing events:  filking. 
Sounds dirty, right?  Well it wasn't - it was 180 degrees from dirty, actually. 
To give you a quick idea of what went on, the first song was about Beowulf.  And the chorus went something like, "Hi-ho, the epic poem, the poem known as Beowulf!"  And during this chorus, everyone sang along!!!  I nearly shit myself.  The next song I actually knew - it was Weird Al's "The Saga Begins," which is about Star Wars Episode 1, sung to the tune of "American Pie."  And then the third song was a 60's style war protest song...about the Clones from Star Wars Episode 2.  It was both awesome and completely horrifying at the same time.
But here's the thing about the whole hour-long event - everyone knew all the words to all the songs.  I was astounded.  There were songs about dragons, about the Mars Rover, about "Watership Down," and people not only sang along but provided backup harmony vocals and percussion.  It was like a hippie sing-a-long or something.  I sat in the back corner covering my mouth the whole time.  It was incredible.

One crazy observation I made was that there seems to be a weird sub-culture within the sci-fi community: knitters.  At each panel and throughout the hotel, the majority of the female conventioneers were knitting.  Jamie had no explanation for this.  I don't know if I actually want to know why this occurs, but it really was strange.

We met  a woman who can best be described as being a sci-fi "groupie."  She mainly was hitting on Jamie, and seemed to have little knowledge of any sci-fi/fantasy literature.  She was more curious about Jamie's anatomy.  She seemed a bit suspicious when Jamie told her he was a writer.  "You're so much more athletic-looking than anyone else here," she said.  She asked Jamie if I was married when I left the room for a moment.  Then she told us she really wanted to party that night.  I hope she found the Anakin of her dreams.

The most ironic thing that happened was that last night I partied more than I had in quite a while...and it was at a science fiction convention!
Of all the places to get free booze and hang out with people...a sci-fi convention.
It was an educational and fun experience...I really had a great time.
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