Thursday, August 9, 2007


Okay. I'm done now. (And I even made some fresh tomato sauce for tonight's pasta.)

Yes, I was a little apprehensive about going to Mythcon again after so many years. Was it the same as in the old days? Yes and no.

It was different in that I knew almost no one at the con except Swan Lady with whom I'd made the seven hour drive from Southern California to Berkeley. I felt oddly invisible, somewhat like Scrooge trailing round after the Ghost of Christmas Present. I don't mean to imply that people ignored me, but I realized that I had no links and no "history" with anyone present. It gave an oddly light feeling to the con.

When scanning name tags I did see a few vaguely familiar names: folk who'd written stuff or done fantasy art work, people I must have heard friends mention in the past.

The other difference was that I'd never heard of any of the finalists for the Mythopoeic Awards. It's not surprising that I didn't know they were finalists since I had pretty much dropped out of these circles. But I had never even heard of any of these titles or authors. Except for Tim Powers, of course, whose recently published Three Days to Never did not -- alas! -- win the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. But now I have some nice new titles to look up at the public library. And I will probably try to buy copies of The Ring of Words by Peter Gilliver, et al., which is about Tolkien's work on the OED and Gemstone of Paradise by G. Ronald Murphy whose presentation "The Holy Grail in Wolfram's Parzival," has inspired me to read both his book and Wolfram's.

Um, I don't think we had papers about "the erotic life of Earthsea" or "slash fiction from Lord of the Rings fandom" in the old days, but perhaps I was too wrapped up with other things to notice.

Things that were the same?

They still have an opening procession.

I attended some really good panels, papers, and readings, but unfortunately missed some that were scheduled at the same time as other good stuff. I should especially mention a talk with recorded music given by David Bratman, "Music and Middle-earth."

They still close the Mythcon by singing "What do you do with a drunken Hobbit?"

And Mythies are still silly!

Among the evening festivities was "Lord of the Ringos," the Tolkien musical that the Beatles would have written. Even I, who spent the '60s with my nose in a book and never got into the whole Beatles thing, had absorbed enough background radiation from the culture to find this immensely funny.

And the Not Ready For Mythcon Players presented an extremely brief and impromptu take-off on the J.K. Rowlings books in which "Harry Trotter" is sent by "Applecore" (who promptly falls over and dies) to pick up seven magical items from the local wizardly convenience store . As far as I can remember the seven segments were titled:

  • Harry Trotter and the Sorcerer's Scone
  • Harry Trotter and the Cauldron of Sea Crabs
  • Harry Trotter and the Poisoner of Marzipan
  • Harry Trotter and the Giblets of Fire
  • Harry Trotter and the Order of the Fish Sticks
  • Harry Trotter and the Half Blood-Orange
  • Harry Trotter and the Deathly Marshmallows
Someone narrated the stories while the players, costumed in bed sheets, mimed the action. In the exciting denouement Harry Trotter duels the Voldemort character with Applecore's credit card.

Not silly, but even more delightful, was a concert by a musical group called Broceliande whose concert included musical settings of Tolkien's poems which appeared in their album The Starlit Jewel (now unfortunately out of print). They also play "Celtic music from the British isles and the Medieval and Renaissance music of the European courts and countrysides, with an emphasis on music inspired by or traditionally performed during each of the four seasons." They are sooo good! I don't usually buy CDs (that was always my husband's job), but I bought two of theirs.

They played many non-Tolkien pieces including a Cantiga Medley (Court of Alfonso X, 12th c.), a favorite which I hadn't heard since our record player broke during the Northridge earthquake of '94. A tiny clip of it is on their website.

Guest of Honor Ellen Kushner gave a one woman show, "Thomas the Rhymer," based on her Mythopoeic Fantasy Award-winning novel. It was very enjoyable. I'd read her book in preparation for Mythcon and had wished I knew more about ballads, especially what they sounded like. So this was perfect programming for me.

Both she and Delia Sherman were very gracious co-Guests of Honor who brought much to the various presentations and panels in which they participated. At Sunday night's banquet they were ceremonially presented with Food Sculptures -- a new (to me) Mythcon tradition in which various individuals construct and present to the Guest of Honor artistic works created from banquet components, most of them having a punning title. My favorite was "Rhombus the Timer," using one of the delicious butternut squash filled ravioli to construct a little clock face. It was a dreaful pun on Ellen Kushner's Thomas the Rhymer.

Delia Sherman's guest of honor speech was warmly received. At one point she listed the sorts of books she was reading when she was young and they were all books I had read and loved -- but that could probably have been said by everyone else in the audience too!

Glen Goodknight, the founder of the Mythopoeic Society, attended the banquet. Apparently he's been away from active participation in the Society for some time. Everyone seemed glad to see him, and his speech commemorating the founding of the Society 40 years ago was strongly applauded. My husband, who had been very active in the Society in its early days, had known Glen fairly well. Glen had not heard of his death until that evening and kindly made an opportunity to offer condolences.

Sherwood Smith spoke about her joyful discovery of the Mythopoeic Society during her teens. Her description of finally finding other people like herself resonated with everyone there. At the time she was innocently unaware of the hazards of her bus route to attend discussion meetings, which required an hour long wait in the middle of Skid Row in order to transfer to another bus. I suppose most of us didn't have to work that hard to get to meetings, but I dare say many of us would have been willing to.

Well, there is probably more to tell about, but I've got an appointment in 15 minutes. I must bustle!


Lynn said...

I really enjoyed seeing you and I didn't find this blog until tracking backwards from your post on Sherwood's Mythcon 40 at UCLA announcement - I do hope you will come. And I don't believe that *I* knew of your husband's death until reading this entry, being that bit removed from your inner and even middle circles --sad face-- all the blessings of heaven to you and I hope indeed to see you at Mythcon next July--

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

Hi, Lynn!

I'm sorry the news of his death never reached you. At the time, I notified some of his old Mythie friends and asked them to disseminate the news of his death and information about the funeral to anyone in the Society who might be interested to know. But I suppose it was inevitable that some people should have missed hearing about it.

Yes, I'll definitely be at the next Mythcon and will look forward to seeing you then.