We ended up having a really nice time at Conjuration. Again, it's highly Harry Potter oriented, but they have a very nice writer's track, and we spent a lot of time at those panels.
We were a little discombobulated Saturday morning, so did not arrive in time for an 11 a.m. panel that I was interested in; however, we discovered the schedule online was not accurate, either, and that panel wasn't being held. Alas, it also meant that the raptor demonstration we had wanted to see wasn't going to happen this weekend either. It was okay, though; we found things to do. In fact, I knew the moderator of the first panel we attended: Dr. Dea Mazingo-Gorman, who did the anthropology panels at Anachrocon. "When Magic Gets Sciency" was about customs in ancient societies that were considered "magical" back then that have a scientific basis. For instance, in ancient Egypt, worshipers of Horus wore eye makeup that identified them as members. While this eye makeup had lead in it, it also protected the Horus-worshippers from eye infections caused by bathing in the Nile due to its scientific properties. Another was Lake Avernus, which is near Pozzuoli, Italy. There are caves in the area which caused death when you entered them. Turns out the lake is the caldera of a former volcano and poisonous gas still issues into the caves. Also talked a lot about the interconnectedness of ravens and wolves, which appear in many different mythologies including Native Americans. Apparently when wolves vanished from Yellowstone, so did the ravens; when they reintroduced wolves, the ravens came back. Neat panel.
"Sometimes You Can Judge a Book by Its Cover" was a fun panel about cover art past and present for fantasy novels, and how good covers can persuade you to read a book even if you don't know what it's about. But it was the next two hours that were the most fun: "Dragons, Wizards & Pens," a writing "contest" involving four writers, a moderator, and suggested words. The writers were given a word and then had to write an opening sentence for a story, and the audience voted on which was the best opening line. Half were audience suggestions and we suggested "budgie" (another suggested word was "carburetor," so I think budgie wasn't so bad!). The entries were hilarious; if laughter really is the best medicine, we had a dose of the best.
"Static Character vs. Dynamic" was a good discussion about static (characters that stay the same, like Batman or Indiana Jones) versus dynamic (characters who change). Next was our final Saturday panel, "To Tell the Truth--Or Not," in which our panel of writers had to tell a real-life story from a prompt and we had to decide if they were telling the truth or lying. They were quite clever at it.
We also cruised the dealer's room a couple of times and James bought me the updated version of Alan Siler's book Doctor Who's Greatest Hits for our anniversary (later I got Alan to autograph it), and talked to one of the authors who was on the "Dragons" panel, Barbara Evers.
Came home to scritch the budgie and walk the dog (and turn back all the clocks and the timers) and drop into bed to do it all over again. This time we were a bit more collected and arrived mostly in time for the 10 a.m. panel: "To Trope or Not to Trope," about the tropes in stories we hated, the ones that have been done to death, and the ones that we love to have "flipped."
We didn't have anything we really wanted to see next, but stayed for an interesting discussion about being a mother in the Harry Potter universe. The three panelists were all mothers—in fact, one had to take time out occasionally to tend her little ones (looked like about two and four). I think the most difficult thing about being a wizard mom would be when the kids started to manifest magic and you would have to teach them not to!
We sat and ate our sandwiches and talked to some folks, and then went back to the panel circuit. Alan Siler did a panel about the old "Land of Oz" amusement park in North Carolina. It was very popular in the 1970s, but then closed after a fire and was abandoned. It's since been fixed up and opens two weeks out of the year, with the performers all volunteers. The woman who plays Glinda originally played Dorothy in the 1970s. Alan went there in the 1970s, when he was age seven, and then went back with the television crew of The Unseen World. A lot of marriage proposals apparently take place there because one or both people went to the park as children.
The next panel was "World Building 101," which was exactly as it sounds. Most of the authors began with characters, but a few did begin with the worlds they needed.
The last panel was called "The Storyteller's Toolbox" and was conducted by John Adcox. He was challenging the teaching of the three-act story structure and says it's more like a four-act structure instead, and illustrated this by applying the structure of Star Wars to his four-act graphic. It made a lot of sense.
Before we left James bought me two books for my birthday, the first in an independent series about a witch and her sentient cat.
We came home and James made an easy supper of ramen noodles and Trader Joe's orange chicken. Later we watched Call the Midwife. Is
it me or has the series been kind of "by the numbers" this
season? Maybe it was because of the difficulties of filming with the
pandemic going around, but I'm just not feeling the love this year.
Usually I cry at the end of several episodes; this year it's "okay, this
bad thing happened, but everyone was supportive and the baby was okay."
Labels: conventions, friends, shopping, standard time, television