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Readercon was conned, and we spent an extra night to take an elderly relative out for dinner with his SO and Son (Legal Seafood in the Burlington Mall), and very glad we did for the company. And the food. Legal Seafood is kind of an institution. They don't have much on the menu, but the fish is always very high quality and very well prepared. One of the joys of flying through National Airport in DC was having a bowl of LS Chowder in between flights. Odd bit of local custom: I Discovered that in Boston, they have the mix backwards from what I'm used to with large food portions (groaning plates of food) and small drink ones (a "Pint" can't be more than 12 fluid Ounces, it would seem from the glass size. U.S. Pints are supposed to be 16 fluid ounces, and a EU "pint" is really a 1/2 Litre, so Canadians go to 20oz to have nearly round "pints" in both measurement systems, but that means a squeeze more beer, too, don't mind if I do, thank you), but when in Boston....

I'm not sure what to think of ReaderCon. Partly because I have never entirely warmed to cons to begin with, and I found this one really challenging for being social, since the schedule is so packed and the gaps so few. Not even decent gaps for dinner, and scant parties. With Cara Sposa not feeling 100% and wanting to bow out to read in our hotel fifteen minutes away, I found I was spending a lot of my time in commute instead of conversation, and what conversations I managed were constantly cut short by interruptions and the lure of yet another panel. And the fact that I am learning to listen when my body says sleep, which nowadays happens around 10PM.

Also, there's the fact that I "know" so many of the attendees by trolling the online venues. This invokes an awkwardness that is similar to the awkwardness of office parties, wherein people who normally "work together" suddenly together in a common space, with the opportunity to talk about.... well, pretty much what they've talked about all the time. The accessibility granted to us by the InterNet also means that the anticipation of meeting is damped a bit by familiarity. But it was pleasant to see actual faces and read body language to fill in the details that are missed online.

So, altogether, I'm glad I came if only to meet some of these people I know only by distance. Had brief but pleasantly relaxing dinner with asakiyume, spending most of the time discussing political and living-memory-historical changes with her dad. Occasionally ran by acwise in between panels, and 1/2 minute conversations with handful_ofdust (who did a splendid job on her shared-teaching litreactor class, I can attest mightily, along with John Langan, and the two Shirley Jackson winners from this year's ReaderCon: Jeffrey Ford and Kaaron Warren). If she does teach another class, I'd give it a strong recommendation. And I enjoyed spending some short quality bits with old friends. But ultimately, I wasn't feeling much like pushing myself on other people whom I'd barely met or only talked to online. So sorry if I didn't introduce myself. It's nothing personal.

Readercon was also a con of panels. Lots of panels. The panels themselves were of a mixed lot, but on the whole more intelligent than your average panel, and there was plenty of local colour. But altogether, I don't get a lot out of cons anymore, just like I don't get all that much out of workshopping. I think these four-ish years of getting to know the ropes is coming to a close, and I'm due to concentrate on simply writing and making things go. Like those websites crying out for my attention, and that novel that needs finishing. Oh, and those half-dozen short stories begun but not finished.

A big thank you to everyone who helped make Readercon work, though, and to everyone who took the time to point me in the right direction. That's what I'm taking away from the weekend: this is a great community and it's trying really hard to do what's right and to lift everybody up. But it's also the end of an era. I feel the birds are growing restless, and perhaps they need to be a bit more audacious, a bit more daring. The world needs birds like that.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
wasabi_poptart
Jul. 15th, 2013 04:39 pm (UTC)
I am curious to know how last year's harassment controversy affected this year's event.
barry_king
Jul. 16th, 2013 12:41 am (UTC)
Honestly, I woudn't know. But one thing I can say is that I am glad they've codified rules of conduct, and I find their code to be well-worded and clear despite its brevity.

Let me give you an example. In Brunei, I worked in the embassy during the summer. There was a woman there who, when I said goodbye before leaving, and shook her hand, asked:

"Don't you give me a kiss when you say goodbye?"

And me, raised on the Arabic/European tradition of huggankiss, I lent over and kissed her on the cheeks.

Little did I know that because of such *whew* hot-blooded TV series as "Cagney & Lacey", the average Bruneian believed that nothing happened in America that didn't involve crime or sex, so she thought in some strange way that she was being risqué and daring. And she had a boring marriage to some functionary what-and-what. So I actually almost caused a diplomatic incident, wherein the aggrieved husband would accuse me of corrupting his wife with my American ways. My dad gave me a short, sharp, talking-to. But understood where I would have got all the nuance wrong.

What does this have to do with code-of-conduct, when COC is basically about "don't be a creepy sumbitch in the worst way"? Well, it's about how if you don't really know the rules... and SFF people, including myself, don't entirely understand where people are coming from much of the time... rules are important. They make things clear. They remove the vagueness.

So altogether, I thought everyone was well-behaved. But not any different from any other con. So I think that maybe what they've achieved is the real aim: to counter the creepy-feely-wicked-uncle-ernie type of impulse from the normal "hey, I love you all because you're nothing like the mean people I went to school with" impulse.
asakiyume
Jul. 15th, 2013 05:31 pm (UTC)
I think I find Readercon supremely frustrating for bringing me in close proximity with so many people whom I'd like to talk to in a more than passing fashion--and then not making that possible. But I don't think that's Readercon's fault; I think it's just the nature of the connish beast. So I try to plan to have at least a couple of good conversations and regrets about the rest, but hopes for some future date, for the rest.

It was great to see and meet both of you!
barry_king
Jul. 16th, 2013 12:30 am (UTC)
Likewise. I love your dad. You're very lucky to have him.

What you say about cons is true, but I found Readercon to be

1) very well run, meaning that panels did not exceed their time EVAR; there was very little "oh-I-just-want-to-show-how-clever-I-am-in-some-small-point-of-little-interest". and some content was really world-class.

2) Maybe a little too earnest. I would have appreciated time for lunch and/or dinner, and maybe for some debauchery afterwards. As a child of a diplomat, I find the "reception" to be a most enlightening format of panel. Which is not to say that the general reception that was had was bad, but it was WAY too big. You need privacy for these things; little corners to talk to. Holding a cocktail party in a ballroom is almost... gauche. Five parties on a party floor is much more intimate and revealing. I prefer that format.
bogwitch64
Jul. 16th, 2013 02:01 pm (UTC)
Readercon was my first con as a "pro." I did my first panel there. And I got to meet the divine Lady Francesca! And her dad. Alas, what she says is true--there's time for only a couple of good convo's; and what you said, getting a passing hello + a few extra words is pretty much all you get when you really looked forward to meeting people in the flesh.

It is the connish way, though. They always go so fast. You never get to really spend time with all the people you'd like to. It's either panels, or socializing--rarely both. At least at World Fantasy, (and ConQuest--a small con out in Kansas City) there are tons of parties at night to squeeze it all in.
barry_king
Jul. 16th, 2013 05:40 pm (UTC)
We have something rather similar in Toronto with Ad-Astra. It's not really media heavy, and there's more gaps in the programme and time for socializing.
shadesong
Jul. 15th, 2013 09:28 pm (UTC)
I wish I'd known you were there!
barry_king
Jul. 16th, 2013 12:25 am (UTC)
Sorry... I went to a couple of your panels. CW4, for sure. I can't remember what the other one was. Oh, yes. It was the "all to well" panel. Very well done, I thought. And it gave me some insight, after all. I hadn't really realized it, but I hadn't written any poetry that I was willing to show the world until after my parents had passed. Or much fiction, either. I sympathized with handful_ofdust's position. I've had poetry about a parent accidentally read by that parent to no good result. That might explain a long dearth of not being public about poetry. But actually, I suspect that the real culprit is working 60 hours a week in DC for 10 years.

Anyway, kudos on your presentation. I don't think you'd remember me, but I was the tall guy with weird curly hair in an orange shirt.
acwise
Jul. 18th, 2013 08:27 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad we finally got to meet in person! I'm sorry we didn't have more time to actually sit down and chat, but that seems to be the ongoing refrain for the con. If we're both there again next year, at least the bar and lobby will be back, so there will be more places where we could theoretically sit down and chat when not running between panels.
barry_king
Jul. 21st, 2013 12:55 am (UTC)
Likewise. Yes, it would have been good to have more of those spaces. Really kind of awkward this time around, but at least we were warned.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )