At the airport, I was subjected to my first real bag check. They checked my laptop to make sure it was in fact a real laptop and not a weapon of destruction, then searched my body with the metal detector and, worst of all, had me take off my shoes. Luckily, it was early in the day, I'd Desenexed before the trip and I had no sock holes to speak of.
Time to fly.
Arriving in Boston, I could see that it was cloudy and cold. "Cold" being roughly forty degrees cooler than it was in Austin. I'd brought a jacket, but the temperature change, from "Fuckin'hot" to "Brisk" was jarring.
I caught a quick shuttle to the hotel and shared it with two attendees of the conference. There was that great moment where you're silent, and then slowly realize that they're going to the same place for the same reason. We chatted all the way there, quickly moving on to talking about the forums, people we like, discussions we've had, and hearing it all in real voices, not the modulated typewritten ones.
At the hotel, I met up with the main organizer, the tireless Fabrisse and went to the main meeting room. The conference was much better organized than I expected. There was a table set up to set people up with their rooms and nametags; there were bags of goodies (cleverly, and in reference to the show, there were Clark candy bars and blu botols of Ty Nant water); pictures were taken. I was greeted warmly, and could already see that little clusters of people
In the main meeting room, I could already see people clustering in little groups, not breaking too far away from people they either already knew or folks they'd created quick bonds with. I sat by myself for a little while, secretly disappointed that I wasn't being mauled. But when I moved around and started talking to people, and once people figured out who I was, people were chatty and enthusiastic.
I've experiences this phenomenon at more than one convention, and I'm going to go ahead and assume that in the world of "fandom," the place where fans of Buffy, Star Trek, X-Files, whatever, get together and organize, that this is a common occurrence.
I call them the Angry Moaners. For the entire weekend, there was a very, very small group of people who secluded themselves from the rest of the attendees. This is all fine and good -- not everybody is interested in being cuddly and social. But the degree to which they went to stand apart -- from demanding that changes and improvements be made to a conference schedule they had no part in planning, to generally being scowly and lording over the proceedings as if they were the only people who could possibly understand what it truly is to be a fan of a television show. In their wine cellar of negativity, they were able to create a sprightly, vintage cabernet of pissiness. And let me tell you something -- their seeming annoyance at everybody else was a full-bodied, rich melange of sour grapes.
But enough about the Angry Moaners. Just about everyone else was charming, funny, and more than accommodating. There was tons of laughter, lots of hugs and much, much drinking.
(Airplane note -- I just ate the same hot chicken sandwich I had on the way to Boston two days ago and a bag of Ruffles.
Now, the bag of Ruffles. There were four of them. Four Ruffles. That's barely a Ruff. And chips #3 and #4 were actually one chip that had broken into two halves. I know these are dangerous, uncertain times we live in, airline industry, but damn; stiffing us of chips isn't going to make potential attackers less bloated, and therefore more likely to leap up and attack mid-flight.)
There was a great panel by ktbaxter explaining the history of Superman, from the early comic books to the "Crisis" that consolidated all the multiple universes, to the movies and how they fit in with the world of Smallville.
There was a great discussion about Smallville fan fiction that delved into talk about characterization and some theories as to why the show and its fan fiction became so popular so quickly.
Then in the afternoon, it was my turn. I presented a little PowerPoint thing that really has no nutritional content as recommended by the FDA, and is mostly silly.
People asked great questions about what recapping is all about, what it's like to work for TWOP and what I think about the show in general. After over an hour of speaking, my throat was getting sore. There were also the Angry Moaners who did ask questions, but also went out of their way not to find a single thing I said remotely humorous. Whatever, Moaners.
By this time, people were meeting everyone they'd missed before, but also coalescing into smaller groups that would wander from hotel room to hotel room, in search of liquor or gossip. For me, it was mostly Miss Windy, Farkanator and Aegean that I hung out with.
My room became one of two Party Centrals Friday night. I was elsewhere, partaking of some vicious Jolly Rancher-flavored green mixed liquor (they called it "Kryptonite") and wandered back to my room to find six people squeezed into my bed, some napping, all looking like a Precious Moments figurines, only drunker. They all politely scattered and left, leaving me alone with a huge King-sized bed.
The next night, the after-con festivities (following a hilarious video Tresca put together detailing each Gayest Look of the Episode I'd awarded through the season, including footage of the scenes in question), we were looking for a place to go. We asked an honest-to-goodness Irish cop who directed us to Pat Flannagans (swear I'm not making this up), while his wife went on and on about how they have a new dance floor. They did indeed, and a bunch of us got our grooves on dancing to a lot of Top-40 Hip Hip, which was all good and fine by me.
I also got a bit of Boston culture exposure. I was in the incredibly cramped bathroom, attending to the consequences of some earlier beverages when I hear a guy say, in a heavy Boston brogue, "Hey, it sure is crowded in here, yeah?"
And the other three guys the bathroom spent the next 10 minutes finding various ways of saying how much they agreed with him.
"Aw, yeah, I mean without a doubt, ya got it right there."
"Ya know, I was just thinkin' the same thing, and then there ya go, pullin' it outta my like ya've got psychic skills, my friend!"
"It's crowded yeah, and I'm glad ya said that because it's nothing but the truth, I'll give ya that."
I'm told that's a common thing; agreeing to the obvious is a form of bonding among beer drinkers in Boston.
The next day, it was time to pack it all in and get ready to head home. Fark was kind enough to give me a driving tour through Boston. I saw the Commons, Beacon Hill, lots of water and very, very old looking brick buildings, a gorgeous arched hotel, very rich neighborhoods and other fantastic sights. Fark knows the area well, and he was able to point out what used to be water, what was landfilled, where a one-mile tunnel was being built, what the deal is with the sludgy water and the sewage. (No Jack the Ripper stories, though.)
It was my first real taste of Boston proper outside the hotel. I tried to soak as much in as I could, but I didn't have time to walk the streets, to see the parceled, shared garden areas or to visit Chinatown or see the inside of the Boston public library, which I'm told is gorgeous.
Best sign in Massachusetts: "Three-Finger Eddie's Fireworks Stand."
This wasn't really a trip for seeing the city. It was to be part of something that, in a really small, but I hope significant way, I helped bring along. This amazingly smart and cohesive fan base for this show is forming and growing and creating a community. It was kind of nice to see it begin its nascent growth.
At Logan, just before the trip back, a bunch of the attendees ended up at the airport at about the same time. We drank coffees and sat next to a nearly hidden room where foreign passengers were processed through security.
A girl, maybe 14, sat on her oversized suitcase, clutching an enormous matted-fur teddy bear that had a Little Orphan Annie red dress.
"Nice bear," I said. She smiled.
The members of the convention chatted, and behind some of the Boston Conners, I could glimpse the girl singing, not a glimpse of self consciousness, in her soft-as-snow voice. We were chatting and saying our goodbyes, hugging and making plans to chat online later what what will no doubt be for weeks or months to come, disseminating the weekend.
The girl sang, an inadvertent soundtrack to all our parting ways.
She could have been anywhere but this airport. She had a bear, a trunk and a bubble of self possession -- a perfectly spherical musical blanket that I hope she carries to all her faraway flightpaths.
One thing: I wrote a review of The Bourne Identity for our paper. You can still find it online for a few more days. Check it out here. Nope, sorry; I didn't get to see Scooby-Doo.
NASA's most advanced computer bank, circa 1981.