Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Mythcon, day 2

The concom was very attentive to my needs and requests, which I much appreciate, but otherwise I didn't find the experience of being Guest of Honor very different from my normal Mythcon attendance. Since I'm always there, people are used to me: nobody goshwowed me or asked for my autograph.

The main programming difference was that I had a plenary session for my paper, and that came on Saturday morning. Owing to the pandemic I had two and a half years to decide what to talk about, and I went through several ideas. Abandoning any idea of discussing the conference theme of aliens and others, because I didn't really have anything of moment I wanted to say about it - after some online exchange with the concom, I had suggested I moderate a theme panel, and that came on Sunday - I decided to clean out the back of my refrigerator of academic topics, and cobbled together notes for five unfinished, or too fragmentary to publish, papers on Tolkien or Lewis.

When I test-read the first draft it took an hour, so I cut it by 10%, but I also added bits, especially when I learned I was being placed as the graduation speaker for four Mythies who'd earned BAs or PhDs during the pandemic and never got a proper graduation ceremony. This came now in a makeshift way, with a tiny chorus humming "Pomp and Circumstance" as the grads walked across the front of the classroom.

So I took an hour anyway, remembering to take a Marco Rubio sip of water between each section. There was time for a couple of comments at the end of the session, but what particularly pleased me was afterwards, when a couple of definitely feminist women, a noted Tolkien scholar and a Mythopoeic Award-winning author, both told me I was on the right track with my analysis of what's really burning people who complain about Lewis's Problem of Susan or Tolkien's Problem of Eowyn. There was also a shout-out on Discord is response to my reference to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I got to an excellent paper on Tolkien's monsters by a fellow who always gives excellent papers, and B's discussion session on Encanto - she proposed and co-led it - where the most interesting new-to-me comment was a claim that Mirabel misinterpreted Bruno's second vision - it's not Isabela she's supposed to hug, it's (a younger image of) Abuela, whom Isabela rather resembles. Actually, I replied, it's both: when Mirabel and Isabela reconcile, the house's cracks start to heal, until Abuela interrupts and berates them. Good discussion of a provocative and endlessly rewatchable movie.

A few of us old-timers held a "Mythcon memories" discussion session, then B and I took a couple who are friends of ours out to dinner at Albuquerque's finest Italian restaurant, as we were definitely in a mood for something other than NM local cuisine.

After a long day, and not much sleep the night before, I barely survived the brief costume competition, and collapsed into bed about 7:30. I awoke again at 10 p.m. long enough to make a brief appearance at the con suite, briefer because I was almost the only one wearing a mask, and then back to bed.

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