I did in fact make it to Vividcon more or less in one piece! The only further drama left unreported was that once I got to O'Hare, there was the trouble with my bag, which had been sent from Newark on a later flight than the one I'd been on... I beat my suitcase to Chicago by about forty five minutes, and had to wait to claim it. This was exacerbated by the fact that the very friendly people on the American flight I'd switched to had no fucking clue what United had done with my bag. But no matter, I made it to the hotel around 2PM Friday, just minutes after the food I'd ordered for Shabbos dinner arrived. The hotel staff very helpfully stashed it in a refrigerator until I showed up to claim it. And then the weekend actually got good.
When I got to the con, after a shower and clothing change that made me feel vaguely human again after fifteen hours in trains and planes and airports, I went down to the con suite and found ghost_lingering
, the only con attendees I'd met in person before (Proudly Team Fake Birthday!) So that was kind of reassuring to my social anxiety. After brief hellos, we stopped in on the first hour of milly
's panel on use of text in vids, which was full of interesting and inspirational ideas that I will probably never follow through on. And then I had to change clothes again into more Shabbos-y clothing and get the food ready for the Shabbos dinner I hosted.
It was me and kass
. We tried to bentsch licht but the air conditioning blew out the candles almost as soon as they were lit, which I suppose is better than setting off the fire alarm and sprinklers, as we were worried we might. Then kass
made a lovely Kiddush and we ate and talked about all sorts of fascinating stuff with the glorious oneupsmanship that comes of a pile of smart and creative people being in the same room together. This was a complicated weekend for me Jewishly speaking, but this dinner was an unambiguously positive Jewish moment for me and I was so glad to have it. (Also, to the three of you who cornered me at some point afterward and offered to pay for 'their share' of the meal: NO! I mean, thank you for offering, but hosting guests for Shabbos dinner isn't just a mitzvah, it is the clearest thing one can do in emulation of Avraham Avinu. You are not taking that away from me. I was so happy to have all of you at my Shabbos table and that is all the payment I need!)
And then we hurriedly put away the leftovers because it was time for Premieres. They do Vividcon Premieres in two rooms- a main room where supposedly everyone very seriously watches the vids in respectful silence and an overflow room where a little talking and reacting to the vids is allowed (but everyone is seriously there to see the vids, so it's not like people were having irrelevant conversations over the vids). I went to the overflow room and had a really great time, and I'm not sure I ever want to try the main room experience, but it was an extraordinary Premieres show and it was amazing to watch it with so many people who were so attuned to all of the nuances of what makes a great vid great.
Highlights of premieres for me were the Fringe vid "1985", Eurovision vid "Tribute", and ALL THE STAR WARS VIDS. If The Force Awakens was good for anything, it was awakening the enthusiasm and creative impulses of hordes of Star Wars fans. There were so many great Star Wars vid premieres all weekend, not just as Premieres, but the ones at Premieres were wonderfully technically intricate and emotionally expressive vids that surveyed the full breadth of the history of the Star Wars narrative arc and knew exactly how to go for the kill. So many Star Wars feels. So many feels in general, was the story of the weekend. jmtorres
's "1985" was hilarious, but in that "Oh, Walter, you're the most heartbreaking monster" kind of way that never forgot just how destructive 1985 Walter was despite its clear affection for him. I was sitting next to kerithwyn
, who basically didn't stop vibrating with excitement from that vid for the next day. And just generally, more Fringe vids is always amazing. I should finish more of mine. :/
's "Tribute", which, holy hell, the batshit is strong. I only know Eurovision from osmosis and seeing gifs, but this vid committed to just how outrageously image dependent Eurovision is. And how music might sometimes take second fiddle to image- this is not the greatest song in the world, this is just a tribute. But the aesthetic power of Eurovision is there anyway.
After premieres I went to sleep. Haha, no, just kidding. Intelligent Ferret would have gone to sleep, but I am not Intelligent Ferret. There was trivia. Trivia, I say! How can I be expected to resist trivia? I am mere flesh, after all. I teamed with jarrow
, and someone else... ohvienna
, maybe? Too much of trivia was vidding and Vividcon-specific knowledge I did not have, but I contributed a little and we had great fun coming up with new ways to fold our answer slips before submitting them.
And then I went to sleep. For real this time. I'd had quite a day, after all. I deserved some sleep. And after all that had happened, it had turned out to be a pretty good day, but it was not the day I'd hoped it would be. I wanted to get in Thursday night so I could ease my way into the Vividcon experience, but instead I came in running and didn't stop running and a part of me never really felt settled in. I really hope next year, (if I go next year, which I probably will) I can get the full weekend experience. Unlike the weekend regional cons I'm more familiar with, Vividcon uses the full Friday for programming, which it needs to do since more of its programming comes in two hour blocks that just eat up the schedule quickly- and has to be that way, if they're going to have time to show vids and do discussion.
Also in the very brief time at the con I had on Friday, I got to see just how amazingly friendly everyone was. I hadn't really worried that much since I knew a bunch of #vidding people who were at the con, so I figured there I had a built in group of people to hang out with, but a part of me did worry about all these new people. And it was great to actually meet elipie
after years of talking to them in irc, but lots of other people just walked up to me and introduced themselves and started talking about vids, and it was so great meeting all these wonderful people. I am not good at meeting new people, not good at introducing myself, but it felt like a thing I could safely do at the con and I did it a bunch and people were okay with it. It was weird because on the other hand, I can see why people might find the con isolating, because despite the great amount of friendliness extended to me as a newbie who barely knew anyone, this was also a convention full of people who have been going to Vividcon together for a decade or more, and the depth of the relationships was intimidating. I definitely felt that, too, that sense of not wanting to jump in when people who'd known each forever and only got to see each other once a year were talking, but... I dunno, it was weird, but mostly it was great.
Saturday morning there was premieres vid review, where people sat in a room and discussed responses to the premieres. This was really neat, hearing really smart people unpack the vids we'd only seen once or twice, kind of figuring them out as we want along. It's fascinating to see all the different kinds of things people see in vids, things I don't necessarily always key on but are important to others. Vid Review was led by jarrow
, aka Sisarrow
, who had so many smart things to say about vids and who still managed to keep the panel moving at the frenetic pace needed to cover all the vids. After Vid Review we broke for lunch.
After lunch, there was a panel on the breadth of Star Trek vids and Star Trek feels, that opened with cosmic_llin
's "Long Live" making everyone in the room cry and... continued to more crying, with some laughing mixed in.
Then there was ghost_lingering
's panel on nonmusical audio in vids, which introduced a very useful set of taxons for thinking about audio- Is it musical/nonmusical/semi-musical? Is it found audio or created audio?
Then, uh... I think a nap and then dinner and then getting ready for Club Vivid.
I guess the thing to say about Club Vivid is that it lives up to its advertising. Beforehand several people, particularly jarrow
, were telling me about how awesome Club Vivid is. And I believed them, but I also figured that nothing is equally awesome for everyone, that there would be elements of CVV that different people would value more or less. But CVV is pretty much all things to all people. It's an exceptional event, the perfect geek dance party.
It's hard to point to a technical reason why this is. I mean, I think there are technical reasons for it- opening with the Joxer Dance as a dancing icebreaker of deep fannish significance, the availability of plentiful alcohol starting an hour before the dancing, the presence and placement of alternate quieter locations for people overwhelmed by the dancing and loud music and flashing lights, the fact that the vids having been created by con-goers gives everyone an investment in enjoyment... in many respects, Club Vivid is in fact very well designed, and clearly honed by years of running it. But more than any of these technical aspects, it is just the fact that so many long-time con-goers have committed fully to making Club Vivid a place that they and everyone else can enjoy. And that's not something I can explain well. I've been at awkward geek dance parties where pressure was applied to lure people out onto the dance floor, and it led to resistance and half-hearted dancing. Nobody put pressure on anyone at CVV, they were just clearly having so much fun, and having fun in so many different ways, that there was no other option but to have fun.
I was nervous as hell when my own Club Vivid premiere played, but people went out of their way to reassure me. anoel
went up to me beforehand and told me they were excited to see a West Wing vid at Club Vivid, and their enthusiasm was such that it somehow didn't make me feel even more pressured. And ghost_lingering
, my beta, kept telling me over and over that people were going to like the vid. I am so appreciative of that support. And then the vid happened, and blink and it was over- all I could see while it was happening was the tiny technical glitches I'd missed before, but people seemed to like it- a bunch of people came over to tell me I'd awoken their Toby Feels, which was really the whole point of the exercise, especially since I was probably the only person at the con who knew what the lyrics meant. And then I could go back to dancing without being stressed.
After CVV, I went up to my room, lit some candles, sat on the floor and read Eicha, the book of Lamentations traditionally recited on Tisha B'av. It was hard to go from the joy of CVV to the sadness of Tisha B'av, and the whole experience was weird, but it felt important to me. I feel like as a Jew I carry so much with me all the time. Paris, and Tel Aviv, and so many others, just adding a little weight to my emotional load everywhere I go. Tisha B'Av in a way is a moment to unload myself.
It's very striking in Perek Gimel of Eicha, how easy it is to read the second half of the perek as sarcasm, especially in light of the first half of the perek. (3:15-19) "He hath filled me with bitterness, He hath sated me with wormwood. He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, He hath made me to wallow in ashes. And I said: 'My strength is perished, and mine expectation from the LORD.' And my soul is removed far off from peace, I forgot prosperity. Remember mine affliction and mine anguish, the wormwood and the gall." That is Yirmiyahu's perspective in the beginning of the Perek, his misery and his doubt and his suffering, but then he shifts. (3:21) "This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope." And it looks at first like he is turning inward to his faith to endure the hardship with honest sincerity and belief, but listen as he goes on: (3:26-29) "It is good that a man should quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone and keep silence, because He hath laid it upon him. Let him put his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope." That doesn't like honest faith. That sounds like too-good-to-be-true faith. It sounds like a parody of faith, like the parroting of faith by a man embittered, a man mocking the idea of being faithful to God when God has been faithless.
And perhaps paradoxically, and perhaps not paradoxically, for Yirmiyahu was a true prophet of great power- speaking those words was an unburdening. Speaking those words of disappointment and frustration with God's delayed mercy centered me, brought me back to my faith.
But on the whole, Tisha B'av was hard at the con. Everyone was eating, everyone was enjoying, and I was not eating but I was definitely enjoying, too, and yet the fasting was keeping me mindful of the meaning of the day, of the fundamental loss that is so central to contemporary Judaism, of Jerusalem as a centering point for the whole nation. And I struggled between those pulls, struggled to be present and engaged at the convention when most of the people I was talking to didn't understand the significance of the day.
Sunday morning I watched part of the Nearly New vidshow, then spent a few hours in the con suite, staffing it for an hour and then chatting with a rotating cast of awesome people about fanfic and vidding and the history of disease and convention history and traffic mishaps and ... oh, I love hanging out with hordes of geeks. And then I went to the Challenge vidshow, which was also full of terrific vids. I think my favorite was trelkez
's Kate from Lost vid... I've only seen the first season and a half of the show, and I have little interest in seeing any more, but this vid was so excellent at presenting's Kate's story and so visually striking and beautiful.
And then I flew home and I am exhausted now but very glad I went to Vividcon, and hopeful that next year, with no flight delays and no Jewish fast days, I'll have a more normal and more unreservedly enjoyable con experience.