Sunday, April 9, 2017

221B Con 2017: Saturday Night's Alright For F . . . Everything!

Okay, where was I . . .  starting to get worn out here at 221B Con, but to paraphrase an old Letterman line, it's a good kind of worn out.

Costume exhibition! That's it. Not a contest, just a totally for fun, let a celebrity guest introduce you and walk on stage, get cheered, and walk off. Costumes range from classic Sherlock, to fan art given life, to anime characters, to . . . well, a "fancy gentleman" going to the annual meeting of the Amateur Mendicants in the story "The Adventure of the Beggar's Feast" by Lyndsay Faye in her book The Whole Art of Detection, complete with his curio cabinet receipt in pocket. (Buy the book, read the story.)

The crowd at the costume exhibition has more participants than non-participants, but everybody there seemed to have ramped up their cheering and clapping at the previous night's burlesque show and they were a wonderful audience. Curtis Armstrong introduced each costume with his usual flair, and since I've had to miss too many of his sessions already, I'm really looking forward to tomorrow morning's Q & A. But back to the costumes . . .

. . . okay, now it's 1:39 A.M. and it's a little hard to get back to costumes, but they were cool and my old top hat is much coveted. ("Scott & Co., Hatters to the King and the Royal Family, 1 Old Bond Street, Piccadilly W. Made for Saks-Fifth Avenue, New York" -- that "King" part dates it.) I wore it at the first 221B Con, so it was a return engagement. But why am I wasting time writing about my hat? (It's late and I'm punchy, that's why.)

I wore my costume to sit on the "Fannish Estate Planning" panel, where Tim Johnson was probably our star player, though Diana Williams carried the ball on organizing and moderating, and David McAllister had some solid input. The key to fannish estate planning? Do some research, there's a lot to know. A lot of data flowed in that one, and one felt it was still just the tip of the ice berg.

I then had an hour to get out of my costume, relax, and prepare for "Arthur 'Continuity' Doyle," which had about forty-four people in it. How do I know? Because I hand-stitched fifty text-booklets for the participants and had six left. (The old Baker Street Digressions format, for those collectors out there who remember those rarities.) They basically laid out Watson's primary continuity error quotes in a timeline by years so we could all refer to the original text as we spun our theories on just what the heck was going on with Watson's first name, his wives, his wound, the Billys, the landladies, the Moriartys, etc. Lots of fun there, with Amy Thomas, special guest Martin Powell, and Lyndsay Faye as the forty-four helped us work out just how such things were happening in the Canon.

On my way down the hall after that panel, Marilynne McKay yanked Steve Mason and I on to her next panel, "Canon Book Club: Jewels of the Crown," where we got into five of the classic stories, the basics and random thoughts on things like who was the true villain of "Golden Pince-nez."

Next stop was to drop by the Three Patch Podcast suite for the Crobabies wedding reception. A crocheted couple of fellows named Sherlock and John who were familiar to many a con-goer got married this weekend, and some beautiful photos of that event were taken. Sherlock Peoria's longtime lead actors,  Action Sherlock and Stout Fellow John Watson, wanted me to carry a wedding present down as a token of their esteem, and the happy couple was seated at their head table at the reception while guests buzzed with excitement. I felt myself fading, so I didn't wait for the wedding toasts, as much as I would have liked to hear those, and headed for one last tour of the con before bed.

Having never seen 221B Con karaoke in person, I had to stop in at the pavillion for a moment to check it out and wound up staying for about ten or twelve songs. Why? And what does karaoke have to do with Sherlock Holmes, as Howard asked me earlier in the evening? Well, answers: Unlike every karaoke bar in Peoria where somebody has to sing the song about keying her cheating husbands car and that song about the horse and the cherry tree EVERY FREAKIN' NIGHT, 221B Con Karaoke tended to be mostly upbeat dance tunes. A few unfamiliar ones at first, but then they got down to laying down the classics, including a rendition of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" that had everyone dancing. (Except an old, tired blogger who just was rocking his non-rocking chair and bobbing his top hat head -- did I mention I put my hat and vest back on for the wedding reception?)

At one point, someone got up to sing and prefaced their tune with "I don't sing karaoke anywhere else, because this is where I am most comfortable." It made perfect sense because 221B Con has a definite feeling of community, and I realized that what what karaoke had to do with Sherlock Holmes: It's just another part of the community building between Sherlockian friends. You can't talk about Sherlock Holmes all the time, so why not sing and dance together into the night? And the young and the young at heart, they do love to sing and dance.

There was also somebody named Betty, who everybody wanted to be their girlfriend. Go, Betty!

After the DJ had to reset the tunes at one point and started playing "Bye-bye-bye" as an interlude, I took that as an omen to finally head for some needed rest. Buuuuuutttttt . . . then I poked my head in the bar and decided to say "hi" to Crystal Noll, con goddess, which led to a lovely conversation on the con, blogging, and the Sherlockian world in general. Well worth losing a little more sleep!

But remember when I wrote about that singlestick demo I went to earlier? Well, apparently I was supposed to be on a "Sherlockian Societies" panel, which had somehow evolved from the ASH panel that I had originally been accepted for but the name change didn't lock into my head, and before I could leave the bar, Monica Schmidt had to put on my top hat and admonish me properly for my truancy. Which is the fancy way of describing . . . well, anyway, once a purdy lady in a bar tells ya yer a worthless polecat, it's time to head for the old bunkhouse, amigo.

And when I'm so tired I'm palaverin' in cowboy lingo, it is definitely time to get some shut-eye.

G'nite, pardners. Tomorrow is another day.

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