Lunacon 51 (2)
Some thoughts on my second con (should that be “sec-con”?), jotted down at midnight, though they’ll be posted much later.
The first panel I intended to attend was “Yesterday’s Tomorrows”, a documentary on the failed vision of futurists from the 1930s through 1960s. Due to the weird layout and unpredictable spacetime anomalies that have caused the Lunarians to christen this hotel the “Escher Hilton”, I arrived at the room far in advance of the panel. Indeed, I arrived at the start of “Not 2B Toyed With”, a 12-minute movie that the moderator assured us was absolutely hilarious. She had to assure us, because she couldn’t show us, because in the rush to pack for the con, she’d left the DVD at home. But she was appropriately contrite and, at the suggest of a snarky audience member (me), proceeded to illustrate by sock puppets, stopping only when, well, she ran out of socks and hands to put them on.
As it turned out, “Not 2B Toyed With” – even though it never actually showed – was a better presentation than “Yesterday’s Tomorrows”. The latter, it developed, was a 1999 documentary financed by Disney and shown on Showtime exactly once. The moderators liked to call it “the documentary Disney won’t let you see” (since the studio hasn’t released it at all) but there isn’t anything spectacular about it. Instead it was a bunch of self-involved baby boomers narcissisizing about their impressions of the vision of futurists. It had a lot of cuts to semi-celebrities pontificating, like you find in those “I Love the 80s” shows on VH-1. It was a true waste of my 90 minutes.
I spent some time in the game room, watching some people play “Ninja Burger”, a Munchin-esque game from Steve Jackson Games. It looked pretty fun, actually, and funny and clever as you’d expect from SJG. I also played a round of BANG!, a spaghetti Western shoot-em-up card game. It’s one of those games with hidden objectives – no one knows who the outlaws or deputies are – that had a complicated but manageable cardplay system. I was “The Apache Kid” and the renegade, and I did well for two rounds, until I was accidentally blown up by the very same dynamite I’d put into play. *Sigh* It’s from Mayfair Games, and I think I’ll try to find it online when I get home.
I dropped back to my room to get some dinner (the restaurant was closed by now – a costly mistake on my part) and then went to “Sex Done Right”, a panel on writing about, well, sex. And though it’s easy enough to dive for the gutter, it was actually a semi-serious writers’ craft panel. It had a certain self-involvement among the panel members, though, that quickly killed my interest in their thoughts on writing. I check out as soon as one said, in all seriousness, “But then the werecat morphed and I had to think, will he rip through her? She couldn’t morph, of course, since she was a vampire….” That told me I’d wandered into a particular corner of fanspace, one that holds no attraction for me (and, to be snobbish, one that seems to draw poor talent).
I was also reintroduced to that universal con character, Annoying Guy One Seat Over. There was a nebbish first-time con goer sitting next to me who was too enthusiastic, too eager, and too clueless to be tolerated. Many panels seem to develop such a guy – who has to comment on everything, who is clueless about his cluelessness, and who overrates his own intelligence/humor/relevance. The major ecological function of Annoying Guy One Seat Over is to spread humility – to remind us that we too can be annoying, overbearing, etc. Many a time in a panel I sit back and ask myself, “Is that really a valid point? Or am I devolving into Annoying Guy One Seat Over?” It’s a useful check.