Berserkon 2013 recap, part one: My Artisan Homies

It’s fortunate that I wasn’t in this particular event for the money, because then my it would have been like going to the Sahara to sit on the beach and stick your feet in the ocean. I threw a bunch of money at Berserkon because I wanted a good excuse to go to Duluth once a year, and a gaming convention there would be just the thing, and the first time they tried to raise the investment dough via Kickstarter, it missed the mark. So the second time around, I dropped enough coin to cover a pair of 3-day passes for me and a friend, an artisan table to hock my goods, and a few other things.

Unfortunately, my shotgun method of covering these things meant that the organizers completely forgot I was coming as an artisan, and forgot to include me in the floor plan, the flier, program, and all advertising. So….f**k.

The GOOD NEWS was that to rectify it I ended up squeezing my table in with a bunch of the greatest ‘con mates ever, and I want to plug them as soon as possible.

To my left was a crazy viking. His name was Steinarr, but pronounced SteinRARR! and I’m not kidding. Don’t forget that first R or he will smack you with a club for sounding like some stupid pirate.  All joking aside, Steinarr was a riot but an extremely smart and extremely hospitable fellow, which is good because he runs a Viking themed inn. I got a small semester’s worth of Viking history, a critique of my Leif Eriksson book, and a goodly amount of philosophical debate on why Vikings vs. Stormtroopers should be the new Pirates vs. Ninjas. He also is well in agreement with me on avoiding processed foods and genetically modified foods wherever possible. I started to explain to him why I have trouble with GMO corn and he finished the explanation for me. Turns out in his pre-Nordic warrior days he was the lead biotechnologist for one of the big agribusiness conglomerates. Not liking where it was ultimately going, he made a small fortune and then GTFO, so to speak. That enabled him to buy an inn, raise 100% of his own food through hydroponics and contained fish streams, and begin hand making Viking gear and weapons. Everything on his menu is likely raised, grown, or cultured right on site, wine and cheese included.

The woman on my right sold hand-made crafts, and a lot of them were cute anime-like floppy animal hats. She offered me a Japanese dessert and told me the name, which I promptly forgot. It was also all-natural, despite being bright pink and tasting like something that might arise if a strawberry got into a threesome with a marshmallow and a donut hole. If I recall correctly, the outer part was apparently made from rice and the inner part was maybe made from some sort of creamy mixture combining equal parts sugar and breast milk from the Virgin Mary. It tasted delicious and I think it made an old scar disappear. I exaggerate, but not much.
     Anyway, I got to talking about all the caps and said the only hat that I would be in the market for would be hard to get now because the other evil empire realized money could still be made off the show’s corpse. She said, “Oh! I have a bunch of those.  I just can’t put them out.”  You see, when Fox sold the rights to “official Jayne hats” to some asshole company I’m not going to bother looking up, the next step was to send cease and desists out to anyone who was selling “Jayne hats.” She wrote a letter to Fox complaining, and not only did they tell her to go take a long walk off a short pier, they also let her know that she was on their radar and they better not catch her selling them anywhere.

This, of course, pissed me off.

Me: “So….when you USED to sell those hats, how much did they cost?”

Her: “Fifteen bucks.”

Me: “Ah.  On an unrelated note, I’d like to thank you again for making space for me, and would like to give you this fifteen dollars for subleasing your space.”

Her: “That’s not necess…”

Me (dropping the money on her table): “Damn it’s cold in here. I wish I had something to keep my head warm.”

Her (getting it): “Well, I’ve got these multi-colored hats here. I can’t sell them anymore, but I suppose you can have this.”

Me: “Thank you!  Mind if I wear this for the whole convention as I sit next to you?”

Her: “Not at all.”

The conversation piece on my head led to an additional windfall of commerce at her table through some convoluted process of capitalism that I really couldn’t quite follow and certainly would not be able to describe with any helpful detail should I need to in the case of, say, a subpoena or affidavit of any kind where such detail might make a difference.

Now that all that’s said and done, I suggest–nay, DEMAND– that should you be in the market for a bunch of awesome gamer bead sprites, fleece hats with My Little Pony “cutie marks” on them (including DERPY HOOVES, for crying out loud) such as I purchased for my girls, or Star Wars dice bags, that you go see Jenny Richardson on Etsy at Maple House Creations.

But if you were one of those people who might want an iconic hat from a sci-fi show that was cancelled long before its time and has a massive cult following, I would not be inclined to recommend you to private message her on Facebook where you probably should not ask how you might find and/or purchase such a thing, because I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t know.

Moving on….

Perhaps you like zombies. Perhaps you like the smurfs. Perhaps you are just sick enough to think it might be awesome if those two things were combined into a comic book series called “The Smurfing Dead.” If so, you need to talk to this guy. Josh Hoban and I chatted about comics, superhero movies and cartoons, and the zombie apocalypse until my throat ran dry. This guy is awesome, and not just because he actually bought some of my stuff. In fact, I think he might have been the only one.  Despite his macabre outer layer, there’s an awesomely kind inner layer that is a visual arts teacher for the Duluth school district. And under that layer there’s the muscles and intestines layer that I imagine he agonizes how to draw properly when he depicts himself getting mauled in various zombie con sketches you can purchase if you aren’t purchasing any of his comics proper such as “Captain Artichoke” or “Apocalypse City.”  He has a Facebook page, but I don’t want to link it for fear that some young child will be blinded by an image of Gargamel forcing smurfs to reinact that horrifying scene from South Park’s “Human CentIpad.”

More to come, with pictures.  But for now, go give my new friends some love. And possibly therapy.

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Author of over sixty children's books, as well writer of textbook materials and standardized exam text. I may have helped teach your children...

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