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

TeslaCon 4, Saturday, part 1

We had another decent night's sleep at the Comfort Suites. The one drawback we found there was that closet space is lacking, although there are numerous bureau drawers to use. Consequently, we had clothing and gear strewn around on every available surface, but the hotel staff was good about honoring our "Do Not Disturb", so things worked out well enough. Breakfast entrees were genuine scrambled eggs, a bit over-scrambled so falling into small bits, but still tasty; and pork sausage patties.

For Saturday day, Georgie wore her new ensemble, consisting of the pale gold gown we bought from Pendragon Costumes at Bristol Ren Faire in September, and the new hat from Ravenworks we bought Friday. The effect was splendid, and she got many complements on the outfit.

The first panel we went to "Journalism in Steampunk," featuring "Steampunk Chronicle" Editor Emilie Bush. Instead of being about how journalism is depicted in Steampunk, this presentation was about journalism covering Steampunk and how it is portrayed on sites such as the Chronicle, blogs, magazines, etc., and the application of journalistic standards and ethics (or the lack thereof) to such reportage. As a trained and experienced professional journalist, she (justly) views with alarm the overwhelming of real journalism by shallow sensationalism, ignorant credulity, and amateurish self-regard. These things may be particularly endemic in ego-driven areas such as fandoms, but, in my opinion, the critique could be well applied to the Internet as a whole. Ms. Bush gave a good talk on basic journalism, which seemed well received by the audience.

At 1:00PM, we went to "Lord Bobbins" speech on "Defining Steampunk." Although no one can doubt Eric's sincerity in wanting to keep Steampunk fandom as a "big tent" and to spread the word, the text, "Steampunk is what you make of it," was hardly profound. Nevertheless, since he was preaching to the converted, the speech was generally well received. I'm not as sure about the "Bobbins Initiative," to recruit more fans for Steampunk is going to make people run out and drag in new folks. I think that the plateau in fan convention attendance is a fact for the foreseeable future. For a number of reasons I won't go into here, I tend to believe that fannish sorts generally are marginalized in employment and economically, and have been disproportionally affected by the Great Recession and the slow recovery. Unless and until there's a genuine economic upturn-which I, frankly, don't see happening-time and dollars for hobbies are going to continue to be scarce resources.

At 2:30, we went to "But He Said He Was a Scientist!", which was an entertaining survey of pseudo-sciences current before and during the Steampunk Era, including such ideas as "phlogiston," "caloric," "N-rays," and "electro-gravitics".

Then, it was time to change for the Bobbins dinner. Georgie changed into an elegant black gown that she had made Steampunk by adding chains and medallions to a very good effect, and accessorized with her gold shawl and a lovely fan. I wore my white tie and tails with "Dr. Duquesne's" decorations. The doors of the dinner room did not open on time then, either, but queuing up gave us an opportunity to chat with the other elegantly turned out guests, and I also had the pleasure of meeting the "Chancellor" of Romania, who was actually in the wrong line and destined for the villains' dinner.

The Chancellor is a "Lycanbrom" (sp?), one of a tribe of descendants of Romanian peasants modified by the infamous Dr. Moreau before he moved to his island. (When I first heard the name, I heard "lichen brow," and so was looking for people with mossy foreheads--.) In the aftermath of the Ether War, they have taken over Romania or a large part thereof, and established a pariah state that is a haven for SWARM and its terrorist allies. The lycanbrom are rather swarthy, sharp-toothed people who affect wolfish furs as part of their clothing, and have a familiar, boorish manner. The effect is rather like half-orcs or Klingons in a Steampunk setting, with a dash of "Jagermonster" from the "Girl Genius" comic.

(I later learned from our friend, Kelly Lowrey, who had been following the convention's murder mystery plot, that the scientist who had disappeared under mysterious circumstances and was presumed dead, had supposedly discovered a way to decouple the lycanbrom's "wolf parts" from the human parts, this being part of the ongoing intrigue.)

The Bobbins dinner was, frankly, delicious. The menu was:
§ Pumpkin soup with sage crème and toasted peppitos.
§ Riesling poached pear stuffed with goat cheese. Black walnut candied and Vinaigrette.
§ Elderberry inter-miso.
§ Monkfish with two sauces. Smoked tomato and popcorn butter. Truffle spaghetti squash.
§ Drunken beef, potato dauphenoise, bacon sauce, port wine reduction and brussels sprouts.
§ Apple Gallette for dessert.
Everything was excellent, with the only criticism being that the crust on the apple gallette was on the tough side.

Dinner was also an amusing experience. The blurb for the dinner had indicated that "challenges would be sent back and forth," something I was looking forward to. It turned out the challenging mostly came our way. We had a visit from the tree-demon thing, who snarled and menaced us, to notably little effect. We were also addressed by a motley group apparently representing the SWARM factions, who lamely read off insults swiped from Shakespeare and Month Python. I think I surprised them by replying with what I fancied was an appropriate Southerner's "brag", which I hoped the others present found amusing.

Most of the people seem to be there to see what will happen rather than interacting, which puts quite a burden on William Dezoma, who plays "Kapitan Krieger," Lord Bobbins' chief henchman and poor relation. He's an experienced actor and good at improvisation but maintaining a monolog over an hour-plus dinner is quite a job. Thus, he doesn't seem to mind when I or Georgie occasionally pick up the conversational ball. I suppose it's gauche to recount one's on bon mots, but I was really pleased with myself when, after getting the Kapitan, who was giving hints about next year's scenario, to admit that the "Freya," the craft for the "journey to the center of the earth," would be able to bore through solid rock, I replied, "Aha! Only Lord Bobbins could build such an exciting boring machine!"

After a moment's 'take', Dezoma frankly broke out laughing. Lord Bobbins, who had been making conversation with the lady next to him, seemed quite nonplussed when it was repeated to him. Oh, well, I thought it added to the fun.

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Tags: steampunk, teslacon
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