Sunday, October 08, 2006

Albacon Day 2: From Basketball to 'Beauty Queens'

I can't believe I forgot to blog about the creepiest thing we encountered: Friday night, after marvelling at the basketball coach gathering on the other side of the floor, we were leaning over the balcony looking at the pool are below. There was a woman and three children in descending ages. The youngest was perfoming to music from a boom box. We finally realized that she was prancing around like a stripper beause she was practicing for a pageant. Ew -- it was disconcerting to see this little child shimmying along.

We had no idea -- Saturday we competed all day with the blasting thump of music from the pageant next door. Parades of little Jon-Benets ran in and out of the ballroom adjacent to ours, either in spangly costumes and garish makeup or in gigantic plastic curlers. It was really icky and really loud.

I went to a panel on "going beyond medievalism" in fantasy, but was quickly irked by one panelist who characterized history as being divided by the sudden leap to reason in the 18th century -- a ridiculous notion that overlooks the employment of the scientific methods by many in the Middle Ages from Albertus Magnus onward (not to mention the continued popularlity of rather irrational ideas even today). It was as ill-informed as the other panelist calling the Middle Ages the "Dark Ages" -- a notion as offensive as it is misguided. But then this was the same panelist who referred to animism as "primitive" (because it was different from her beliefs?). Neither of them seemed to recognize that the chief problem has been 2nd hand Tolkien: I may not like Tolkien's style, but he knew his stuff. Too many people have only read Tolkien and his imitators, and know (and apparently care) nothing about the time they are supposedly portraying. Fortunately, there was one panelist who countered this misguided opinion with a little common sense: Melissa Scott. I saw her on a couple of panels and was impressed with her thoughtfulness. I'll have to check out her books.

Another, more amusing thing to check out: look at the cover illo on this book, then imagine this woman sitting at a panel, stroking her pen with two fingers from the top down repeatedly. Hmmm -- sometimes a pen is your best friend.

There was a panel on the best and worst sf films, which predictably devolved into a lively debate with completey partisan defenses. That was amusing. There was a panel on the state of comics, which predictably seldom got beyond the "comics=superheroes" equation. That was not so amusing.

Back today for more...and by the way:


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