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» Monday, September 07, 2020"Faith Manages"
In the spring, when the COVID-19 lockdowns began, we could only wonder peripherally about what would happen in the future. Right then the hospitalization and death statistics were too overwhelming. Cobb County cancelled the spring Library Book Sale two days before the event, even though I was already planning a way to get through the event safely (mask and then leaving the books downstairs for a week to let any germs die—the thought then was the virus only lasted on surfaces 72 hours). We managed to make it to Atomicon; Helen, GA, shut down the very next day.
As the spring, and then the summer moved on, more and more things were cancelled: Smyrna's Spring Jonquil Festival, Media West Con, then MomoCon and LibertyCon. DragonCon held out till the last minute, but then in July we got the word it was too cancelled.
Sadness, but a little bit of relief, too. Imagine DragonCon wearing masks, in all that heat! Certainly there would be fewer people, as many would choose not to travel and especially not to fly, but crowds... And frankly I wasn't really feeling up to it physically. In the spring, before it got hot, I was walking two miles a day and didn't feel bad, but every summer is harder and harder on me, and the thought of having to prep all the snacks, and cook the chicken and make the sandwiches, and then, the worst of all, having to get up early on Friday to fight rush hour traffic. The worst thing about summer is sleeping because even with the thermostat down to 68°F and three fans going, it's simply too warm.
Then the chatter started on the various Facebook groups devoted to DragonCon tracks: BritTrack, American Sci-Fi Classics, SF Literature, etc. They were going to try to do some virtual stuff; arrange some interviews via Zoom and post the videos on YouTube. Well, okay. This would be some small solace, but what, really, could they do?
"What could they do?" indeed! They succeeded past our wildest dreams. Eventually DragonCon Goes Virtual had a Roku channel that was split up into three tracks. One was "DCTVLand," which showed panels from previous years. We were treated to the classic 2009 panel with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, John Barrowman and Kai Owen discussing Torchwood in 2012, several interviews with the late Stan Lee and with Brian Henson, son of Jim, and more. A second track was the Fan Track, which featured panels from each of the multiple programming tracks at DragonCon actual: a BritTrack panel about tea and programming, costuming panels, Star Trek reunion panels, etc. The final track was "Main Programming," which included a virtual masquerade and a virtual parade. People sent in videos of themselves in costume to the former, people in costume marched around their back yards, local parks, and their own streets, and this was strung into a virtual parade interspersed with historical video of past parades.
What wasn't on Roku was on YouTube. BritTrack did a whole string of panels, including two on James Bond and one on Sherlock Holmes archetypes (Adrian Monk, anyone? Or Gregory House?) American SciFi Classics turned out some delightful stuff. Saw a Zoom interview with author Jim Butcher, old panels with Grant Imahara 😭, Alton Brown, Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk, Carrie Fisher 😭, and a brand new panel with the cast of Star Trek: Voyager. We even had a performance by the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company that knocked our socks off. Also, it has apparently been a tradition at the masquerade—we haven't gone in years; too long a line—to play "Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century" during the judging. However, since DragonCon was being broadcast, they couldn't do it due to copyright violation. So they had people act it out. It was hysterical. You can watch it here!
In short, it was a weird idea that totally, fabulously, worked. Heck, there's programming online we still haven't seen. And they've promised us all this nonsense will be available through the $10 streaming membership we bought. Several of the tracks have their programming up on YouTube without a streaming membership. So many people schemed, dreamed, worked hard, and then gave us something we didn't imagine they could: they gave us DragonCon weekend.
In the words of J. Michael Straczynski: "Faith manages."
Thank all of you, and God bless. (Stay well!)