Friday, January 15, 2010

On the road again: Boston, day 3 - Arisia, day 1

The con officially began today, and so, of course, did my con-related duties. Work filled much of my day and late into the night, but scattered among the work hours were two panels and a tasty dinner.

The first panel, Trauma as Character Development, preceded dinner. Five of us discussed trauma from both personal and literary perspectives. The (admittedly too small) room was packed, with people leaning against the rear wall and many folks turning away after being unable to make it inside. The discussion never came together as well as I would have liked, but it was interesting and seemed to keep the audience fully engaged for the entire hour. At the end, one young woman came up and thanked me for a rather forceful statement I'd made about people with PTSD; what the statement meant to her was enough, all by itself, to make the entire trip worthwhile.

Dinner found us at Troquet, where we, of course, tried the tasting menu. In keeping with the norms for this trip so far, it was good but not great. Perhaps our standards have grown too high. Still, we quite enjoyed it, and one item was actually the best of its kind I have ever tasted: the small scoop of salty caramel ice cream. It was amazing, utterly perfect.

After some more work, I headed downstairs for my second panel of the evening: Tokyo's Media Shadow. I wasn't sure before entering the room if I had much to contribute, and afterward I was positive: I did not. All of five people showed up to watch the five-person panel, and a few of those in the audience came with the panelists. I don't know how it played from the house's perspective, but to me it was a train wreck of a panel that never came together in focus and that wallowed often in inaccuracy and stereotypes. I apologize to those five audience members for not contributing more, but after a bit I became concerned that if I were to speak, I might not be entirely polite or appropriate.

That said, I still must praise Arisia's programming folks for holding generally strong panels and its members for usually turning out in good numbers. The topic could have resulted in a solid or better discussion, but we panelists failed to deliver the goods.

And now, to write.

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