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A fringefur's review of Anthrocon 2013

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Time for another fringefurry report on Anthrocon. Yes, rather belated. The intended audience includes both furries and National Puzzlers' League members, if you wonder about the choice of content.

The last time I did a report for Flayrah, someone complained that being mostly interested in furry comics and webcomics doesn't make one a 'fringe' furry. Well, there wasn't a single comic-related event in over 160 program items. A couple of panels on making cartoons, and two or three categories in the Ursa Major awards for 2012, which were announced at the con, but that's it. Still plenty for me to enjoy, though.

Furries are generally regarded as lowest on the geek (un)prestige ladder, but you wouldn't know it from the scene in Pittsburgh; just about every establishment near the David L. Lawrence convention center welcomed the furry invasion, including a furry-themed menu at the upscale Seviche restaurant (I just got a couple of the regular items. Good stuff). Anthrocon is the biggest furcon in the world, and 5577 registered members make a crowd that's worth cultivating. The Doubletree, being an overflow hotel, wasn't very thematic; no souvenir room cardkeys, though they did provide furry 'do not disturb' signs with '6: 2: 1' on them. That's the Anthrocon honcho's recommendation for conventions: minimum of six hours' sleep, two meals, one shower per day. Seemed to work, as I didn't catch convention crud from anyone.

I got in early on Wednesday and went book shopping, visited the Zoo (the general gathering place, in the nearest hotel), ate, inventoried, slept. Thursday was more of the same, plus standing in long long lines for registration. You definitely need to preregister for this con. While I was standing in line, a happy fun ball came rolling around. Actually it was a Sphero, bought by Austron, and controlled by smartphone rather than rolling at random. Fun to watch others reacting to it. The area had a 'Warning: Glomp Zone' but I only saw one person get glomped. (It's a sort of attack hug.) Also got some ice cream at Ben & Jerry's. I wanted a vanilla malted but they didn't carry vanilla, having swapped it out for butter crunch or something. I skipped the pre-con mixer and the dance (which lasted till 0200) and just rested up after watching the Fourth of July fireworks from a convention center balcony. We weren't allowed on the roof because of lightning, though the rain never reached us.

Friday

On Friday the con got into full swing, with up to 25 simultaneous lines of programming in the afternoon. Not many conflicts for me; as usual, I skipped the creative events, like making and performing in fursuits, writing, puppet making, and arting, as well as panels on transfurmation, Pokéfurs, yada yada; meet-and-greets for furs from Ohio, the Northeast, and elsewhere, and for fans of things like rodents, foxes, taurs, kemono, automobiles and motorsports (the con theme this year was 'The Fast and the Furrious'); and the tabletop and video gaming. I kinda wish I'd tried out Collie of Duty, a cutthroat sheep-herding card game, but maybe next year.

The opening ceremonies had the usual introductions of staffers and guests of honor, words about the code of conduct, and such. Uncle Kage, the chief organizer, did his usual sterling work. One new thing: sign language interpreters for this and many other events. This year's charity was Equine Angels, rescuers of unwanted horses, for which there were auctions, a raffle, poker, and bucket brigades. One kid with a bucket collected $808 in less than two hours. I'm not much of an animal lover, so I didn't contribute anything, but they raised a record $31,255 without me.

I skipped the charity Texas Hold 'Em tournament, preferring to blow my cash at the dealers' room. I picked up a couple of fine webcomic collections (Kevin & Kell and Precocious), a bunch of stuff from the notorious and very tall Karno (Kjartan Arnörsson, recently back from visiting family in Iceland), and a stack of North American Fur.

Then it was off to 'Meet Tom Minton', the artist guest of honor. His career in animation goes back more than thirty years, back to when no one wanted to be an animator (five years later, everyone did). He started out with garbage manufacturers like Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, and Ruby Spears, but in 1987 got a chance to write and draw for the two seasons of Mighty Mouse: the New Adventures. I'd never seen it before; the two cartoons he showed were moderately well drawn and far more intelligent than anything else of the period. I particularly liked the change of Oilcan Harry from mustache-twirling villain to obsessed stalker of Pearl Pureheart. Later he spent fifteen years in two stints at Warner Brothers, producing what I, with my limited knowledge of TV, consider the best cartoons of the last fifty or sixty years: Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain. (He also served as head model for the Brain. Yes!) No need to practice 'the illusion of action' there. He played several of those, and the Animaniacs theme is still going through my head two weeks later. This and his Saturday panel were fascinating backstage looks at the US animation industry, and if you ever get a chance to hear him talk, I recommend you take it.

After that I went to the art show for a while, then to K.P.'s 'Charades Impossible!' In this event, a phrase like 'the 1906 San Francisco earthquake' or 'Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands' or 'John Lennon' is displayed on a screen for the audience and for a fursuiter who must clue it for an uncostumed guesser. In 60 seconds. Actually, I think they may have had more time for the first two, which I'm quoting from last year's list. Besides the time limit, the fursuiters were inexperienced; to my recollection, none of them did 'sounds like' clues, only a couple did syllables or categories, and they often forgot to give word counts. Add the difficulty of doing subtle hand movements with costumed paws, and it's no surprise they were something like 0 for 15. In general it was an accomplishment when they could elicit one correct word.

I took notes on a few. For 'Space Station Mir', pointing upward and making sweeping motions elicited 'space' but miming an orbit didn't get anything further. Given 'Uranium 235', with a previous restriction that numbers couldn't be clued directly, as by finger counting, a cluer tried making 2 3 5 shapes with his body. Nobody got the idea. For 'Hyper Text [sic] Transmission Protocol (HTTP)' the cluer typed and typed until someone said 'text', but that was it. Another cluer, given 'Mount Kilimanjaro', did a few pelvic thrusts and got 'mount' surprisingly fast, but got nowhere with the rest. People wondered afterward what he or she might have done with 'second word, third syllable'. When 'Medula oblongata' came up, there were shouts of 'Misspelled!' from the audience, and one 'It has a Q!'. The guy at the computer obligingly put up 'Medulla Q. Oblongata' a few seconds later. The cluer kept running a finger across the top of their skull but couldn't get any brain-related word. It's down at the bottom anyway. One sour note was a skunk who twice complained to his guesser as if it weren't his own fault. Given 'quarter-pounder with cheese' he mimed eating something with both hands and then sketched a curvy M in the air. A good starting point, but when the guesser didn't get it, instead of trying another approach, he just kept repeating it until time ran out. The second time he blamed the victim I razzed him loudly. I have no notes on 'Toronto, Canada' (where's the province?), 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic', 'Cards Against Humanity', 'The Western Black Rhino', and 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'. 'Cards Against Humanity', by the way, is like a very nasty version of 'Apples to Apples'. Each round, one player asks a question from a Black Card, and everyone else answers with their funniest White Card, or in some cases two. Like 'If God didn't want us to enjoy ____ he wouldn't have given us ____' with 'Insatiable bloodlust' and 'All of this Blood'.

Next I went to the Pawpets performance--meh; left early. Skipped Sardyuon, a Japanese visitor who does juggling and acrobatic stunts in a fursuit, in favor of supper and the Ursa Major awards. The awards presentation took about half an hour instead of the scheduled two because there was almost no information on the nominees. I know Fuzzy Logic beat out Flayrah, but I have no idea what it is; I'll have to hit the Web. I follow five of ten nominees in the two webcomic categories; I think I'll give the others a second look. I knew nothing of the five novel nominees but I noticed that Flight of the Star Phoenix by Bernard Doove was one (it won) and Flight of the Godkin Griffin by M.C.A. Hogarth was another.

I skipped the comedy act of 2 the Ranting Griffin in favor of a Peter S. Beagle reading. I've never read The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche; very moving. After that I spent some time in the boardgames room, but don't have much to report.

Saturday

Certified DerpSaturday is the big day. I started with a quick visit to the dealer's room. I'd seen people wearing 'Certified Fox/Wolf/Fezcat/Chaos!/Drunk' tags all over the place, so I went to Mary Mouse's table and found she had 150 different tags. Not being an animal, I finally selected Certified Derp.

Then a more leisurely walk through the art show. Good as usual, but I found less than usual to comment on. The usual fine work from Dark Natasha, Ursula Vernon, and Diana Sprinkle, with rather less new from the latter two. [Ursula may been busy with graphic novels.] I was struck by the quality of the Russians' art; you can see for yourself on Fur Affinity (antaeusru, spottythecheetah, and miles-df), but beware of NSFW art. Sarah Clemens had adorable pictures of a (non-anthro) cat and a slightly smaller dragon; I commend magnusandloki.com to your attention. I have indecipherable notes on Azuma and Tina Klein-Lebbink (dinos on punch?). But I think that I most enjoyed Tex Tubs's parodies of famous artworks; go to his FA account and have a look at The Bird With a Pearl Earring (Vermeer), La condition furie (Magritte), Composition with Red, Yellow, Blue, and Fursuiter (Mondrian), Meowna Lisa, and others.

The fursuit parade was at 14:00. This year they had someone from the Guinness Book of World Records to certify it as the world's largest assembly of people in full fursuit attire. There was no existing record, so they could have made it with three, but the unofficial count was an even 1300. With that many fursuits in less than an hour, they tend to blend together, but I made a few notes. I counted only six birds, three Pokémon, two walruses, and just two My Little Ponies. MLP was everywhere, to the point where I couldn't hear 'Yay!' without thinking it was a MLP reference, but I guess a fursuit with hooves instead of fingers is too inconvenient. The one 'theme' that struck me was furries carrying oversized food: an ice cream sandwich, a rib with meat, bones, a taco, Reese's Pieces, a waffle, a pickle, Heinz ketchup, and a hamburger.

Also a panda with a chainsaw, a fox playing cymbals, a landshark, a sexy bunneh with ears playing music, some cute mice (above average, like all the few costumed pairs), a sabertooth with antlers, Beetlejuice, a fox balancing a water bottle on his muzzle (it didn't look stuck on), a black unicorn in a kilt, a fine black bat, a canine in a race car (the only nod to the convention theme that I recall), a dog with a French horn, a fox in a wizard suit, an otter with his forearm engulfed by a shark, a flashing mouse, the evil scuttling lizard in a lab coat from last year, a wolf with a sword through his torso, and a wolf in a 'Free shrugs' T-shirt (parodying the usual 'free hugs'). I didn't notice two people I'd seen elsewhere: a catgirl mechanic covered with grease splotches and carrying a wrench half her size, and a beautiful blue kyrin.

Uncle Kage's Story Hour is the highlight of the convention for me, but after reading my few notes, I can only say you had to be there. I am likewise silent on the masquerade performances. There was some good dancing, though I thought the best was Sardyuon's catgirl assistant (whose plate-spinning act I found unimpressive) dancing to the music played after the masquerade and curtain call had ended and the performers were slowly leaving the stage. [Video: 1 - 2 - 3]

After that I headed to the game rooms. The fighting videogames are fun to watch, but when I tried a simple one in solo learning mode I decided I was never going to have the coordination to be anything but a target. So, off to the table games. These were dominated by games of the Magic: the Gathering type and fantasy miniatures wargames, so I didn't get much play in. Would have tried a Munchkin had the timing been right. Usually I find a Set array a good attractant, but this year I never got more than one person at a time. Never did get a game of Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirl going.

Mafia has been played at several NPLcons. To quote Wikipedia,

In its simplest form Mafia is played by two teams: the mafia, whose members know each other's identity, and the innocents, who begin knowing only the number of mafiosi in the game. Live games require a moderator who does not participate as a player. There are two phases: "night", when the mafia has the opportunity to eliminate a player, and "day", when all players vote to "lynch" (eliminate) a suspect. These phases follow each other as night and day until all of the mafia has been eliminated, or until the mafia outnumbers the innocents.

A derived version is called 'Werewolf', which in turn has been made into at least five different commercial games. Of these, both 'Are You a Werewolf?' and 'Lupus in Tabula' had play sessions on the schedule. There was also a new version [tested at furry events since last year], 'Are You a Changeling?', based on a My Little Pony episode. I did not go near any of these.

Another game that NPLers will recognize was Telephone Pictionary, though the organizer had another name for it. In this game each player writes a phrase to be clued at the top of a sheet and passes the sheet to the left. The recipient draws a picture to clue the phrase, folds the original out of sight, and passes to the left. The next recipient writes their interpretation of the picture, folds the picture out of sight, and passes to the left. And so on for a fixed number of turns. I picked up a few sheets after the game, and here are two:

Amurika!
[sketchy US flag]
Flag of USA
[man with flag on staff]
'Merica
[can of Bud and flag]
Freedom
[man in box with bars, arrow from that to man in box without bars]
Prison Break
Cat and Mouse
[stick-figure cat + stick-figure mouse]
Fast Food {aw, come on!}
[burger with motion lines behind it]
Flying Hamburger
[hamburger in midair with trees and clouds in background; the shading on the patty looks vaguely toothy]
Flying Hamburger Monster
[big burger with fangs, man fleeing it]
Man gets attacked by a burger

'I like cake', on the other hand, ended as 'I Love Making Cake!' after four iterations. Ho hum.

Sunday

Not much happened Sunday. A last run through the dealers' room and Artist Alley, some gaming, Iron Author: Worst of the Worst, and closing ceremonies. IAWW presented the results of the Friday Iron Author challenge to write the worst short story possible. The judging criteria were a little unclear, particularly the difference between real and imaginary points, and the winner didn't didn't seem to be the one whose complex-number score had the largest magnitude. The horribleness was mostly squick rather than Eye of Argon, because that's easier to do, but the winner was mostly horribly earnest Pokémon fan fiction.

Miscellaneous

  • Furs, like NPLers, tend to have noms. I saw Phox Sillanpaa (after Frans Sillanpää, the first Finnish Nobelist), who couldn't get umlauts on his con badge. After that I looked for more and noticed Jokan Bunneh, Ialdabaoth, Vermilion Violator, Talon Vague, Ethelwulf [from Æthelwulf], Ksharbaugh, Private Eye Pony and Police Wolf, Xepher l'Assassino, and Sivenom. I asked Exkhaniber if his name was Arthurian; no, he started as Khan, then Khaniber, which people confused with a Japanese furry artist named Karabiner, so he became an ex-.
  • For the first time I saw Necomimi, battery-operated cat ears whose motions purportedly mirror the wearer's mental state. Actually there are only two or three states described, and conceivably electrodeless reading of brainwaves could produce a couple of bits of information, but I doubt it.
  • A 12'x4' photo of the 1300 fursuiters brought $500 at the charity auction. [In total, the auction raised $10,090]
  • There was a badge in the format of a license plate with the number 2X4X8. From an actual plate.
  • GoH Larry Dixon said 'This is the best sustained hallucination I've had in years.'

The Element of Surprise

T-shirts I liked

Are you stalking me?
'Cause that would be super.
It's all fun and games until someone posts a video
I ?
BRO
NY
Asteroids are nature's way of saying
How's that space program coming along?
What do we want?
Time travel!
When do we want it?
Irrelevant!
Soylent cupcakes are made of ponies

Comments

Your rating: None

In the Art Show, Tina Klein-Lebbink had several pieces drawn or printed on old computer punch cards, some featuring extinct animals (dinosaurs, saber-toothed tiger, etc.), evoking parallels to extinct technology.

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I just love the idea of a "fringe furry". It is almost as if someone has the authority on what "furry" even means.

Strange; I always thought the furry fandom is most famous for not knowing what the heck it is.

Well, I'll be...

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I wonder if there's a furry version of Tony Harris ranting on Facebook right now.

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Nah, that's about 17th, just above squeaking. And I say again, 0 for 160. If I'm not a fringe furry, I'm at least a fringe Anthroconfurry.
And thanks for the explanation, PeterCat.

Always carry a grapefruit, Treesong

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I think we're all fringe-furries in our own ways.

(The last t-shirt is my favorite).

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There's a song for fringe furs. It goes something like this...

When I take you out, tonight, with me,
Honey, here's the way it's goin' to be:
You will pad behind a team of pastel ponies,
It's the slickest con you'll ever see!

Wolves and cats and mice better scurry
When I take you out for the furry,
When I take you out for the furry with the fringe on top!

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About the author

Treesongread storiescontact (login required)

    from West Chester, PA, interested in furry and word puzzles