Ari Rockefeller presents PAS SpringFestNY 2012 — One Day, One Venue, All Over the Place

                Considering I have been unemployed for about 2½ years before taking up my current job, I should have virtually nothing but high praise for my new vocation and source of steady income. And I do…mostly. The only problem I have is that the five-days-on-two-days-off moves the two days off closer and closer to the start of the workweek with each passing week. Should a convention come up on one weekend and my days off are Tuesday and Wednesday, that leaves me in a state of pretty-much-boned. I don’t get scheduled days off; if I want to or need to be elsewhere, I have to call it in…and not get paid for that day.

                It was only a matter of great fortune that I had off Saturday and Sunday, as I asked other members of our adventuring party if they were free that weekend. I didn’t want to be a bother, so they suggested I come up; it wasn’t until the day before I departed that I learned there was convention in the city. A convention, you say? And I am to cover it, you also say? Groovy! Thus, my travels took me to PAS SpringFestNY 2012 at the Polytechnic Institute of NYU. I had never heard of this convention before, so I figured, why not, it could be a fun experience, and a good way to kill two days in the city.
                I left straight for New York right after work, having meticulously packed my stuff the night before; unbelievably enough, a phone charger, the one thing I bring with me every day to work, was left in my car at the bus station. We’re off to a great start. I did manage to make it to the city in good time, where we ate, drank and made merry that night. We made it to the college by about 10:30, and took in the sights.
                The convention can’t be described without the word “clusterfuck.”  From what I’ve read about their history, they’ve been doing this for ten years. Though it’s run by, essentially, the college’s anime club, their history of doing this leaves them with no excuse for things to be so…disorganized. Plus, if you wanted to get any kind of internet access while at the con, you were stuck with the Poly-Wi-Fi or Poly-Guest networks…which was ultimately moot because you needed to be a student at the school to have login credentials to the network. Wonderful.
                Technical issues plagued more than one panel, including the first panel I went to, “You Wrote What? How to Write Good Fanfiction.” The panel was an hour and a half long, but the technical issues with the presentation, especially the projection, weren’t sorted out until the 35-minute mark. People kept filing in for the first fifteen minutes of the panel. I got there early, and thought I’d be the only one there…the technical issues didn’t help. For what it’s worth, the woman presenting it—a TMNT fanatic—was knowledgeable about the topic, going through the ins and outs of what to do and what not to do, with the canon characters, original characters (don’t overemphasize them unless the story is about them, specifically), plot lines (avoid overly complicated plots as much as possible) and characterizations. She had a special brand of vitriol for Mary Sues (and Gary Stus, but since they’re mostly the product of female fanfic writers, she referred to them as Mary Sues almost exclusively), trashing common traits of the character. She was also quick to point out aversions to such a character, by giving them human flaws to make them more relatable, as well as immediately balancing out good qualities with bad qualities. There was also a warning throughout to leave favoritism out as much as possible, in all traits of fanfic writing. Oh, and I turned another attendee on to RiffTrax. So it wasn’t a complete loss.
                Once that panel was over, I took some time to wander around the convention hall. The gymnasium housed the Dealers’ Room/Artists’ Alley, with no real distinction between which is which; artists had miscellaneous wares, dealers had artwork. A little chaotic, but not too bad. The cafeteria was up and running, offering breakfast dishes, pizza, salads, miscellaneous snacks, among others. Thankfully it was reasonably priced. I ended up indulging in some barbecue chicken pizza, which was surprisingly good.
                There were two rooms for gaming—one for video gaming, the other for tabletop and card gaming. I’ve never seen a more heated game of Blokus in my entire life; it, as it was explained to me, isn’t a game until one player calls another player an asshole. I made and brought two Magic: the Gathering decks for EDH play, and hadn’t had the opportunity to really play them. Thankfully, I managed to find plenty of worthy opponents to play against.
                After playing some Magic, I made my way down to the panel called, “VanderFist Presents: Tokusatsu and You!” The panel discussed the popularity, longevity and history of the Super Sentai and Kamen Rider series. I don’t have very much exposure to the former, so I’m grateful for the knowledge bombs they were dropping. They had plenty of clips to show off, usually with or without context. The various Riders are powered by any number of sources, either high technology or magic in most cases. Super Sentai focused on teams, while Kamen Rider was mostly on one or two riders at a time. They were also kind enough to show us the second episode of Go-Busters.
                After that, there was…much ado about nothing, really. The Dealers’ Room/Artists’ Alley shut down at around 4, and there were few panels after that. While meandering around the convention, I stumbled on a video room that was (very obviously) an 18+ affair. They were showing hentai…and the room was packed. Although, with that many people watching, it wasn’t so much about watching hentai as it was snarking the bajesus out of it. Also, two people running the room like to periodically flip the lights on and yell out, “Hand check!” making everyone in the room raise their hands—1) because as it was an 18+ panel, you had to have on a special wristband (blue) as a quick reference that you were over eighteen; and 2) …well, you figure it out.
                We ended up closing out the con by taking in the maid show come closing time in the maid café. The dancing was decent enough, but it was hampered by a few audio issues. There was also the string of interviews and video recordings we’re known for, and after that, we transformed and rolled out. The night concluded with more wandering around New York City, then doing some grocery shopping for a nice, home-cooked meal.
                Sunday was nothing to write home about; I hung out around DJ’s apartment for the majority of the morning, and then caught a bus back down to South Jersey. And that was how that weekend went for me.
                Have you ever gotten something for free…and still feel like you got ripped off? That’s what PAS SpringFest felt like. For having ten years of experience running an anime convention, the logistical shortcomings are unacceptable. The lack of signage and even using wristbands in place of actual passes made the entire convention look incredibly low-rent and shoddily put together. The tickets were free, but they were first-come-first-serve. It wouldn’t hurt to charge even just $5; at least then, they can use the proceeds to improve the con the next time around. But then again, hey…what do you want for nothing?
Ari Rockefeller

Ari Rockefeller

When he is not training Pokémon and being the very best, the Master of the Written Word churns out convention, video game, anime and movie reviews like clockwork. No one is more productive and dangerous with a pen and paper (or, in this case, a keyboard).

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