DiamonDie's Altparty V report
By DiamonDie/foobug^Numedia Cyclops^Hugi
The fifth Alternative Party was held in the center of Helsinki, Finland 9th-11th of January 2004, in a place called "culture arena Gloria". I arrived there at 16:30 on Friday. Doors had already opened at 12, but not many people were present besides the organizers. I was given a visitor badge held together by transparent tape (otherwise they'd break). Some of the bands were performing a sound check on the stage. There was no net connection set up yet. I couldn't resist trying the sponsored Sun Workstations. They ran Gnome so I started playing Mahjongg. To my surprise I noticed that Tazze was also playing Mahjongg.
A lot of sceners were arriving and we gathered in the lounge to chat. I met Koos and we watched some random '98 demos on my laptop. The opening ceremony started a bit late, at 18:20. It took another hour for me to get my Internet connection working, one of my cables was dead and the other wasn't long enough to reach the hub. Fortunately qbic brought another hub. During that time we enjoyed the peculiar gig of Helsinki Computer Orchestra. Bethvoid and kataja plugged their SNES on the other side of the table and started playing Mario.
Älymystö started their show at 19:45. They stated "Dear audience. this is not music - this is genocide". It was a rather nice gig. After that I went grocery shopping with hot, MegaMies and hydro. We encountered a group of sceners, most of them left for bar Leijuva Lahna. Later hot, jaffa, yessa, Wolf, MegaMies and I went to Black Door and ld0d appeared there soon after, some MFX guys were there too. We watched the final results of the Finnish Pop Idol on the tv there, felt rather absurd.
When we returned, Yrjänä Sauros had already started his poetic show accompanied by BassCadet. Hot and I went upstairs to listen to Jagu's DJ set, which was excellent. Unluckily there weren't many listening and when we started dancing he informed us that it was the last song, but fortunately he had recorded it on MD. I entered my gfx and video to the compos and Lobotomy gave me a sheet of cute Altparty stickers. The main audio system was entertaining us with Sabrina.
My laptop screen was projected on the big screen, but partycle censored it after I opened juhtolv's weblog. Damn. Ananasmurska guys were playing Duck Hunt, but Ion was coding their basic demo - on Excel! In the lounge people were watching anime on Koira's laptop. I was already feeling very tired, but had to submit ld0d's prod to the software synthesis compo and ended up watching Spiikki and someone else making weird sounds with the music equipment upstairs. Some of the noises sounded like bomb attacks while others resembled elephants or drills.
Unssi appeared at night, piss drunk. He had been to bar Ctrl, lost his wallet and tried to hit on two girls but failed miserably. Fortunately he was tired and wandered off to sleep after telling his story three times. Some guys kept on playing Duck Hunt with different shooting strategies (rambo, blind, kungfu etc). I tried to get some sleep myself, but didn't really succeed until 7:30 when I finally managed to borrow a sleeping bag from hth. Can't really blame the partyhall noise, since it was nonexistent. Demos were running on the big screen, without any sound. I remember that once while I was half asleep Koira(?) told weird stories about birds flying into the sun and how the mallard's head is like an antimagnetic helmet that repels all kinds of minerals, making it impossible to hit a mallard in the head with a rock (erm).
I woke up at 9:30 to Flo's demo Luutia. Soon they started the customary "people are tired, let's show them random humorous video clips everyone has seen a thousand times but which are still funny at this time of the morning" show with Matti Nykänen - Elämä on laiffia and continued it with Eye of the tiger and Star Wreck 3. Bethvoid and I ended up in FIDA, a Christian second hand store, looking for retro computers. We stumbled upon an old IBM PC, loads of typewriters (both traditional and electric), a bunch of answering machines, but no cool hardware. I found a funny old book about bodybuilding and wanted to buy it for Altparty prizes, but since it cost 2.50e I opted for a brand new Windows XP magazine instead (original price 15.50e, paid 1e).
Back in the partyhall MFX had claimed the screen with their demos. We watched several iSO demos on visy's computer. I went to build my Elite ship together with Tazze and scoopr, soon spiikki joined us too. Tazze's ship was girly with flowers, bees and peace signs, saying "Make love, not war". I decorated mine with a jigsaw texture, which turned out to be a frustrating process.
Real time comic drawing was supposed to start at 15:00, but it was delayed because the organizers couldn't think of a topic. First they announced "?SYNTAX ERROR", but in the end the topic was "my day as a stethoscope". I drew a really lame comic. Immediately after that Setok held the real time short story compo, which only had a couple of attendants besides me. The topic was "black magic bag". Next I participated in the sewing compo (Brother had sponsored sewing machines) and then in the mobile photography compo, I took semi-macro pictures of a mixer, a sewing machine, stibe's SLR camera etc and a cool shot of an architectonic detail which in the picture looked like a long tunnel.
At 17:00 the makers of Star Wreck (a Finnish indie Star Trek parody) appeared on stage. They showed us the trailer and an exclusive scene, both of which were cool. We also got to ask questions. MIDI music compo was scheduled to start at 6, but before that a Finnish parliament member Jyrki J.J. Kasvi delivered a speech. He was invited as a special guest, due to having been involved in the computer world a lot, writing books, articles and columns. Unfortunately he's still recovering from rebound cancer and couldn't stay for long. After his speech I handed him a "Nerd of the year 2003" diploma from the getnolife nerd association. He seemed happy about the award.
Before the General MIDI music compo they played a MIDI version of Haddaway's What Is Love. The compo started with jobe's song We Operate, which was cool, though of course little different from his other music. Sauli's Sunny Games started the usual shouting fad. It was a nice, almost groovy tune. Little Bitchard delivered a catchy quality tune, as always, named Gone Laserdancing. Waffle's Hiippailua (Sneaking about) sounded already much more like a MIDI. Pinza's electro song had sharp basslines. Nunna/ISO (aka astu) had an interesting and very short tune. Tonic's Rue Tama was quite MIDI'ish. Paaris's BaBiBu was rather bad, but ended with a weird effect that didn't sound like MIDI at all.
Ld0d arrived at 19:00, just before the software synthesis compo, which started with his excellent synth, playing a melodic trance tune called Glowing. Viznut's Linux synth was called Trollenscheisse (troll shit) and was totally different - and surprisingly didn't have a pWp melody. Jormation by Vesuri wasn't exactly a song but 7 different executables that played some sounds. Gasman's Llamazonia was a tiny synth made with Perl and sounded rather horrid, but it turned out the playback had been buggy and it was replayed, then it sounded good. BassCadet's Wavebuilder was an ordinary softsynth.
The two-color graphics compo contained 11 entries. Most of them were B&W, even though you were allowed to use any combination of two colors. There were pixeled pictures, pictures drawn with Paint, photo manipulations etc. I can't remember much about it any more. Most of the entries were serious. My entry was a big eye (from a stock photo) with a pendragon symbol in the pupil (I stole the name Apt Pupil from Stephen King). My little sister had drawn a dolphin under a raincloud.
_LUKE_ appeared shortly after 21, in time for the much delayed basic compo. First prod was tAAt's Hikiliikkuja, which was very decent considering it was done with GW-Basic. Spiikki's demo was quite cool too, but Naemok's Sikakreisi invoked feelings of motion sickness with its shaky cubes. Can't remember much from ISO's entry and the only thing I recall from Oksennus 2 (Vomit 2) is a red textmode scene and the fact there was no music. RV-1991 had a very simple demo, but it had a cool effect.
Mutsiis kans (Your momma too) by Tukka was just as awful as the other Tukka prods, the first minutes consisted of very slow sine scrollers - which were shown twice each, causing suicidal feelings in the audience. Fortunately Ananasmurska's Excellence was shown next and it was much cooler, you wouldn't believe one can do such things on Excel but it was Visual Basic after all. Lucid's AmigaBasic demo must have been rather forgettable too, I only remember that the music sounded buggy because of the weird tempo. Sieni pakottaa (Sieni enforces?) by Nyyrikki was a MSX demo with rather cool effects, too bad it was shown without the music in the compo but later they got the audio working and reshowed it. After the Basic compo Ravel started chatting on the bigscreen on IRC-galleria, which turned out to be great fun.
The entries in the silent movie compo weren't allowed any sound, but BassCadet was playing keyboard the way he felt appropriate and I think he did a great job. You could also choose not to have piano music in your entry, but not many wished so. The compo started with Ravel's "Altparty trailer", made with his camera phone and Windows XP Movie Maker. Vihannexia by MegaMies had a great concept, I guess I shouldn't spoil it, but it featured vegetables and some neat tricks. Harmu's wild was an animated story of the legendary Harmu cops. Aropupu by ISO wasn't something one expects from ISO, it was a short but cool 3d animation.
Tukka's wild could be called avantgarde, it had some random stuff filmed in a school and then a long dance scene. The compo Mac proved its nasty side by having some annoying problems during the compo, an automatic brightness control thing kept appearing on the screen and refused to be disabled. Nosfe sent fuckings to Apple. Our wild Paranoid was the sixth video showed. In the beginning people kept shouting "Soittakaa Paranoid" so when our text screen "Soitetaan Paranoid" came up it invoked a lot of applause. Some also kept making remarks about the way the instruments were played and how they sounded.
Stibe's video was a neat Helsinki slideshow. Infinity^2 by nosfe was filmed at a graveyard and displayed a political message in the end. Perselintu had an angsty music video with aBHO singing emo kid lyrics (they were explained in text screens). During that BassCadet played a noisy version of a Beatles song. "Virne voittaa nosfen kompossa" (Virne beats nosfe in the compo) was an epic story where nosfe ran away from virne. "Agnosia live" wasn't exactly a silent movie. It featured an Agnosia gig from a previous Altstork party, BassCadet brought up violent noise from the piano, nosfe banged a gong on the stage and kept roaring "Agnosiaaaaaaaaaaargh". In the end he collapsed on a table near the stage. I later heard his throat bled after the performance and he lost his voice for a couple of days.
After Silent movie a lot of people rushed to the nearby bars, even though the poetry recital compo was supposed to start soon. While waiting for the compo to start I glanced through the sewing and comic entries. Voting system was set up, it functioned via ssh like the previous year. I also met hydron who had just arrived. The compo had seven entries. First one was Felice with his Ode to RIAA which sounded perhaps more like a speech than a poem. ABHO was second, his performance had a lot of heavy breathing and it was like rap, but with a much slower speed. I stepped on stage as the third one and I think I did well with my poem Aamukuva despite being really tired and not having rehearsed enough.
Ravel had a humorous poem, Astu performed for ISO and was very incoherent. He started his show by raising a dildo (which he accidentally dropped) and saying "by the power of greyskull". Lobotomy settled for a minimalist and plain way of reciting his message. Nosfe could only whisper, but fortunately there were microphones so he could perform too. K-Statik was supposed to read his 12-part Second Reality haiku, but it was on his laptop which he forgot home.
The dynamic demo compo was a bit disappointing with only seven entries and the quality wasn't particularly high. The first prod Juustomaariageneraattori was the funniest demo I've seen for a while. Two minimalist cartoon characters spoke randomly to each other and it cracked the audience up every time. MFX's demo looked totally random, actually you couldn't tell whether it was dynamic, as it looked just as random every time. Noir by Mäyrä would have made a good slideshow, it showcased a lot of excellent photos of Helsinki, but also a cheesy Max Payne like storyline. TI-5517 ("TI-75") was a TI-85 demo where all the effects used the imaging properties of the calculator. It was really horrible, as was Tukka's other demo Tukkage (on VIC-20). Bandwagon & Fit presented a lovely demo with a lot of mice. The last entry was an Atari demo mostly in ugly "ASCII" art, with a lot of lame humor. It was disqualified due to not being dynamic.
After the demo compo scene gathered in the lounge. Many left home for sleep. Alt-TV had a special broadcast shown on the bigscreen. They were experiencing severe technical problems, but Lobotomy handled the situation by singing an "a moment" tune for several minutes. He was rather incoherent considering the fact he was sober. We saw "interesting" videoclips of astu, paavi and aropupu wrestling, trying a dildo dipped in chili oil etc. DTM and pupuguru had an interactive interview program. Lobotomy's earlier Siniaalto interview was also shown, they talked about "tesno music".
I went to look at the Elite ships, short stories, sewing compo entries and comics. There were more short stories than I had thought, seven. Many of them had something to do with crack. There were as much as 16 comics and 18 sewing entries. Ansichrist's comic really stood out and not only because it was colored. Koos didn't even realize it was an entry first, thinking it was an ad poster. I digged both of the comics by Exile members, the same guys who had also done the comic-like demo. At least three or four comics had the stethoscope examining female breasts.
Sewing compo had very different entries. My favorite was the one by "Karvaisten Örkkien kasvatusyhdistys" (The organization for raising hairy orcs), it had a cute troll/orc and some text in handwriting - not something easy to pull off with a sewing machine. There was also a 3d cube, a couple of flowers, a carrot, a Sleber Eid logo, some demo effects and the Hindu OM syllable. I liked Spiikki's Elite ship with whirl-like patterns, but the obvious winner was depressio's huge ship, it even had red leds. Ansichrist's Afrikka looked really wicked, but not really like an Elite ship.
I dozed off a little and woke up at 9 to the peculiar home videos on the big screen. They featured a lot of ketchup blood and fake vomit, also a lot of stuff was broken, severed or burnt. One of the movies was a poor play dough animation. There was a weird video which was pretending to be in Antique Greece, including a newscast, some ads and a movie about the Greek olympics. Zeus had a nice cotton beard.
Voting ended at 12. We got to watch the newest LOTR trailer and some truck and stair dismounting. At 12:45 they showed mobile photography entries. My photo was shown first and the image preview program crashed. There was a huge bunch of entries, most of which were totally crappy. I guess I could have won had someone not used the same concept as I did. The winner was HyDro/Gluterol, IMO a mediocre picture.
At 13:00 it was time to announce the results of the Text Mode Demo compo and to show all the 8 qualified entries in an ascending order by the ranks. Sweet Sauna Girls was really weird with bright colors and odd music, weird rasterization too. Continuum started with a matrix. The music was clearly a FC ripoff. Wormhole by Aardwolf looked quite crappy to me. The Doom level was nice anyway. Prod #5, Armageddon, had a matrix too and used a space theme. Porcine was weird and not that stylish, but looked much better when I watched it for the second time. I found Zero by Northern Dragons nice despite not knowing it was a 4k intro. Kaleido's demo was noisy and very cool. The winner, Bolognese Alpha Designs had great music and visuals weren't bad either. They received a signed Mindcandy dvd, a tAAt t-shirt and some other stuff for the prize.
The prize ceremony was delayed by some 40 minutes, they had to take down the big screen, write the texts on the diplomas and I think they fetched some prizes too. Marycloud served as the "gala girl", wearing a pretty crimson dress and long black gloves. She hugged everyone, ravel hugged only the girls. Rasak won a Nokia phone in the mobile gaming compo and uncle-x complained that "this is like The Party, game compos have the best prizes". I was really surprised to place third in the gfx compo, which was won by ansichrist. Winning the realtime short story compo was also a nice surprise. Ravel hugged me really tight both times, raising me up in the air, eek. Someone also yelled "show your tits", ravel said it had shocked the Nokia representative.
Depression won the elite ship building compo and ISO claimed the sewing compo, the latter being clearly namevoting. The winners of the general MIDI music compo were no surprise, Little Bitchard, Pinza and Unique. Little Bitchard also showed his boob. Viznut had to settle for the second place in the software synthesis compo, ld0d won, commenting "halpa kiksu ok". First prize in poetry recital went to ISO, which sucked since astu didn't even recite a poem. Nosfe came second and again he was asked to deliver a speech, which would have proved rather difficult after the Agnosia performance.
Ansichrist won realtime comic drawing. Also a little surprisingly we placed #3 in silent movie. Harmu was second and MegaMies won with a clear margin. And yes, Virne did rank better than nosfe (if Agnosia doesn't count). Ananasmurska won the Basic demo compo with their Excellence, ISO came second and tAAt third. Dynamic demo compo had notable margins between all participants. MFX came third, Fit/Bandwagon were second and Exile Studios won. They got a whole bunch of stuff, like a Sun workstation and deer/reindeer horns that nosfe donated during the prizegiving ceremony.
After the prizegiving it was time to go home and to stay awake for seven more hours in order to preserve my geeky circadian rhythm. Altparty was a nice party, don't let the eclectic compos and events fool you, it was not a joke, just not a dead serious party. And who needs dead serious anyway. Sewing machines and comics are cool and the people at Altparty are always cool.