Good panels this year -- lots of panelists, good topics, adequate focus. I found out at the last moment that I was the moderator for "The Annihilation of Distance", on the subject of social effects of the Net: that was fun and interesting, but big enough a topic to be a somewhat diffuse panel. The "LJ and Your Social Life" panel was a tad more rah-rah than I'd have preferred, but did spend at least a while getting into the meat of the subject. The "Keeping the Faith" comics panel was fun, if predictably geeky. "Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November", the V panel, was surprisingly good, maybe the best panel of the weekend: a really intense discussion of civil liberties, terrorism, civic responsibility and all those other things that the book was supposed to get people thinking about. (With surprisingly little grousing about the differences between the comic and the movie; mostly, we used those differences as springboards for more interesting debate.)
The new hotel is pretty, but a bit cramped. In particular, there isn't quite enough just-hang-out-and-schmooze space, and having to walk half a mile from my parking space wasn't ideal. I hope we eventually get back to the Park Plaza (again), but I've dealt with worse.
The Masquerade was truly excellent, although many of the best entries were the Zodiac presentations from Worldcon. Brian's giant Minotaur was (as is usual for Brian) a masterpiece.
Surprisingly few trailers afterwards, but I was rather impressed by the one for "Star Trek: Of Gods and Men", the "fanfic" movie in the New Voyages series. The acting and writing look fairly bad, but the story might be entertaining (a wide-ranging mirror-universe story, I think), and they had at least *three* real actors playing the mirror-universe versions of their characters (Uhura, Chekhov, and Tuvok, the Vulcan from Voyager). I'm not quite sure how they are luring them into playing in something that clearly has no budget to speak of, but it's fascinating to see the lines between "official" and fan-generated fiction blurring.
Missed the Lodge meeting (having gotten sucked into the Masquerade), but hung out for quite a while afterwards schmoozing with various folks, including catching up with shava23. Lots of discussion about the possibility of creating a Research Lodge for MA, and *maybe* having it meet at the various science fiction conventions in the area -- kind of wacky, but cool enough to be very interesting. baron_steffan, you interested in being put in touch with this?
Shopping was fine, although not very inspiring -- I'm afraid I've simply seen most of the usual Arisia dealers too many times. Bought my usual 2**5 buttons from Nancy. Primary expense was a couple of *fabulously* expensive cookbooks from Poison Pen: the new Scully translation of La Varenne and "Soup for the Qan", the big translation of period Mongolian cookbooks, as well as a new translation of al-Baghdadi. The life of the cookbook completist is an expensive one.
Oh, and Toscanini's new "French Press Coffee" flavor is really, really good, especially with Rum Caramel sauce on top...