Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Mythcon, days 0-1

(As there were no functioning business terminals at the hotel, and posting blog entries on my tablet is too difficult, I postponed my Mythcon report until I got home.)

They said it would be easy to fly to Albuquerque. Just take this plane from San Francisco. A brief stop in Burbank - you don't even need to get off the plane - and you're there in less than four hours.

Hah. When we arrived at SFO two hours before scheduled flight time, the flight was already listed as 20 minutes late, and this steadily increased until it settled at one hour. Eventually, clock time caught up with the steadily receding flight time, and the flight actually boarded and took off.

At Burbank, us continuing passengers were at first told to stay on the plane. Then we were told to offload briefly, but we could leave our hand baggage on board. Then we were told the inspectors examining a bird strike had decided we needed a new plane. They'd bring our hand luggage in - you can imagine what a mess of identifying bags that was - and we were to walk down the length of the concourse and wait at another gate for someone to find the time to bring the new plane in from storage.

Eventually we did get to Albuquerque, but over three hours after the original arrival time, and too late - Albuquerque wraps up early - for dinner at any desirable locale. But it wasn't a messup for the ages, and we were intact and ready for Mythcon.

Our hotel, a rather sketchy Hampton Inn in an industrial district east of downtown, had besides no functioning business computers no available appropriate meeting rooms, so the committee had rented the facilities of an on-vacation charter school a block away. Temperatures were in the mid-90s and humid, and the hardy walked back and forth, but the committee also rented a golf cart to shuttle members. We, however (B and I), decided not to rely on this and rented a car, and a good thing too as it turned out.

Registration opened at the school at the crack of noon, with the first papers scheduled for 2 PM. Everyone was, by con regulation, masked during programming; adherence elsewhen was spottier. I attended a fascinating analysis of "Black Finrod," a phenomenon of Tolkien fan artists depicting that Silmarillion elf as black-skinned, for a variety of reasons ranging from increasing the diversity of racial representation in the story to practicing one's artistic technique to, literally, "Why not?"

I should make clear that, despite my postings last week on distinguishing Tolkien's work from fan or media creations, I consider this trend wholly benign. Fan artists are not attempting to codify representation of the characters as film versions effectively do, and most are exemplary in clarifying when they are extrapolating, inventing new ideas, or interpolating their own where Tolkien remains silent. This is exactly the treatment I'd prefer from people engaged in such projects.

At 5 PM began the reception, held on the roof garden of the food hall, repurposed from some small industrial facility, across the street from the hotel. The first hour passed pleasantly enough, then the daily thunderstorm arrived. At 6 on the dot the cold blustery winds arrived. Then came some lightning strikes in the distance, then the rain, first slow then torrential. With the wind. As I pointed out to the co-chair, "If the rain is coming in sideways, then the awning serves no purpose."

A cooler evening gradually ensued, but the party broke up about 9. And so - at least for us - to bed, a theme of early retirement that would become characteristic of this rather unusual Mythcon.

to be continued

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