Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn
milwaukeesfs

WisCon Saturday

Saturday morning was cool and drizzly when we got up, so instead of taking an extended walk around the Farmer's Market, we went more or less directly over to Café Soleil (L'Etoile's morning bakery operation) for obligatory (for us) croissants and pain au chocolat, pausing to admire such flowers, herbs, and mushrooms as were on offer along our way.

Georgie got to moderate "Anarchy 101: It's Not Chaos," (#70) at 10:00AM, with M.J. Hardman, Farah Mendelsohn, and Jef a. Smith. This was a very informative panel with a lot of good information to provide. I know that Georgie didn't get anywhere nearly through all her notes, and the other panelists were similarly well prepared and the audience very interested. I was very pleased with the presentation over all and thought it went very well.

Then, lunch break, a first pass at the dealer's room (we ultimately bought a few more books than some years, and some jewelry) and the Tiptree Bake Sale, which had many very yummy things, as ever.

At 1:00PM, Georgie was in the chair again for "Science/Religion/Art" (#88), which sought to add a third value to the too-often two-sided "science vs. religion" debate. This was a great panel for this subject, since we had Georgie (artist and art historian), Ted A Kosmatka (author), Marna Nightingale (religious anthropologist), John H. Kim (physicist and teacher), and Brad Lyau (science historian). Georgie had been afraid the panel might disintegrate, but instead it pulled together nicely, giving a good look at the reality of the perceived schism between science and religion, and how art affects and draws from both. I particularly liked Marna Nightingale's idealized "functional" definitions (which I'm paraphrasing from memory--): Science is the study of how the Universe works. Religion is the philosophy of how we relate to the Universe. It was pretty well agreed that, sticking to those functional descriptions, there need not be conflict between the two, but that absolutism on either side destroys the potential for harmony.

We then went to hear "The Continuing Vision and Revision of the Transgressive Woman Warrior," (#111). Presenters Kate Fruend and Valerie Guyant did a good job reviewing the current status of the woman warrior figure and to what extent any can be considered truly transgressive as opposed to being merely extensions of the early "Wonder Woman" type of male fantasy figure. A good point was brought up wondering whether or not it was useful to have role models that have to be superhuman (Buffy, River Tam) as opposed to talented normals like Sarah Connor or Zoe Washburne from "Firefly." I did not find the presenters' defense of the coercive aspects of Anita Blake's current situation in her series quite convincing, but, admittedly, I am one who finds this turn of events in Laurel Hamilton's writings creepy. Still, all in all, an enjoyable program item.

"The Treatment of Aging in Science Fiction and Fantasy" (#123) was next. This panel really never picked up steam, since the panelists (Eleanor Arnason, Gerri Balter, Richard Chwedyk, Magenta Griffith and Diana Sherman) pretty much admitted that there wasn't much subject matter in the SF field to work with, and fantasy wasn't much of a consideration since it was full of immortal or very long-lived elves, wizards and vampires, etc.
The discussion did get into issues of ANTI-aging, taking up such works as Elizabeth Moon's "Herris Serrano" universe and the problems that can occur from having effective anti-aging treatments available; and the frequent used plot device of putting older characters into new young bodies (John Scalzi's "Old Man's War," among others). Between panelists and audience members the discussion managed to maintain reasonable interest until time ran out.

For dinner, we went to Nadia's on State Street along with friends Darlene Coltrain and Steven Vincent Johnson. Nadia's is a fine dining restaurant we haven't been to in a couple of years, and we were pleased to find that standards had not fallen off. I had a nice dry sherry as aperitif, and Georgie and I split an appetizer of roasted foie gras with apples and dried fruits that was just delicious. We traded tastes for a sample of the mussels that Darlene and Steve had ordered, and found those excellent as well. Entrees were Norwegian salmon in Pommery mustard butter sauce for Georgie (lovely!), and I had a seared duck breast with "lavender honey and peppery lime sauce," which was one of the best duck dishes I have had. Steve had the salmon as well, and Darlene opted for the grilled double lamb cotlette with garlic and rosemary sauce, which was also pronounced very fine. The only disappointment came with dessert. We were all pretty much too full to all order desserts, but Darlene convinced us that we could lessen her burden by taking tastes if she ordered the strawberry shortcake. When it came, the 'shortcake' portion consisted of a very bland, white, sugary pound cake which wasn't what anyone had been expecting or wanting, although I must say that the strawberries and whipped cream were good. Service was attentive, so overall I rated the dining experience very very good.
We went back to our hotel room and chatted a bit, with Steve and I sitting on the sidelines while Georgie and Darlene hammered out a barter exchange of artwork. Darlene had seen a reproduction of one of Georgie's drawings (one I call "Demon Cat") at OddCon and very much wanted to acquire the original. It was agreed that the bargaining would continue in the dealers' room next morning when Darlene's wares were available to be considered.
We went back downstairs for more panels, and chose "Witches and Wizards: Gender and Power in Portrayals of Magic," (#141), which was the weakest panel we attended all weekend. None of the panelists seemed to have a grasp of the topic either in history or in literature. Other than providing some examples in which "witches" tend to be old, ugly, and poor (Brothers Grimm) whereas "wizards" (cf. Merlin) have responsible government positions, no one made a real effort to either support or tear down any argument that the distinctions were cultural, stereotypical, or even real.
We wandered over to the Tiptree auction and caught the last bit, Ellen closing up active auctioneering a bit past scheduled time, with the very reasonable statement that no one needed to keep going until midnight to squeeze out the last five dollar bid. We ended our evening again with a brief pass through the parties.
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