Saturday, April 8, 2017

221B Con: Second Friday Night Update

Driving down to Atlanta, I heard someone on a podcast refer to a lyric from the band "Yes" that went "Don't surround yourself with yourself." And while we always think of cons as a place we go to find like-minded people, one of the things I love dearly about 221B Con is all the people here who don't think like me. Because I've seen all of my thoughts, and I want to learn something new. And our friend Sherlock Holmes has always been a one man portal to learning something new.

So when we last left our hero, he was headed down to a panel called "ABO 1 (+18)" . . . abbreviation to be explained shortly. Of course, my Central Time senses had me an hour off, so I wound up heading into the bar with an hour to kill and found inimitable Sherlockian sword-wielder, Ashley Polasek who will be a vital part of the singlestick demo tomorrow, with no chairs at her table. A couple of chairs were found by the waitress, to accommodate myself and the imminent arrival of Curtis Armstrong, after which followed some great stories of starstruck encounters and awkward proms, the arrival of three Baker Street Babes (Amy, Sara, and Lyndsay), and eventually the walking entertainment that is Tim Greer. Chairs were discovered and/or stolen for all, chairs being in short supply in the Perimeter Marriott bar with so many people inviting new and old friends to their tables.

Now, there was no reason to leave such a table that one is lucky to find one's self at, but I had determined to hit that "ABO" panel and a handy Tweet told me the time had come. Mistake, right? That was a great table! But, no! Let me explain "ABO" to you.

"ABO" stands for "Alpha Beta Omega" as in Omegaverse, a particular brand of sci-fi/fantasy fanfic that evolved from someone pondering werewolf sex. I had looked into it after last year's con and read a particularly lovely fic called "The Gilded Cage" by Beautiful Fiction. The thing that makes Omegaverse more interesting to me than normal Johnlock fanfic is that it tends to inspire some real thought in its writers as they try to figure out the social dynamics of humans who have a completely different biology than us. It can be very smart.

And if you think fiction derived from werewolf sex sounds ridiculous, well, the writers and readers of Omegaverse fic tend to also know just how silly it all can sound. Which makes their panel discussions some of the most hysterically funny stuff you'll hear at the con. (Or maybe this was just a really good team of panelists.) There's also a lot of sense to it, as they talked about how Omegaverse fic allows writers to explore power dynamics without all the baggage that comes with the standard genders, extend sexual tension beyond the first sexual encounter (Oh, how Moonlighting once needed this!), and the way it allows for much more uninhibited expressions of pure passion.

And how do you end a really good panel in a way that tops every other panel in the weekend? Have one of the panelists ask another to marry her. Seriously. Had me in tears, too, which was not what I expected from "ABO" hour.

From there I had to take a quick break to hit the restroom before a panel I was sitting on began immediately in the same room, "Fandom Generations." Of course, the restrooms in the place I was familiar with now had some marvelously gender-friendly signs on them that I wasn't able to decipher on the fly and at a con of predominantly female attendance, I was hesitant to rush into either. So, nine stories up to my hotel room, nine stories back down to the panel, and I make a comically late run-in. This will soon be paired with a comically early run-out from the same panel as I try to get to the burlesque show on time, but in between it was a pretty good panel.

Nea Dodson, Lynne Stephens, Diana Williams, and myself were those who made it to the con out of our scheduled six, and we each opened with a bit on what we thought the biggest generational shift in fandom had been. Being a bit of a goof as explained earlier, I'd missed the earliest thoughts on the matter, but there were a lot to come. Big topics were the shift from using actual names to internet aliases, the way porny fanfic was once a much more underground, in-the-closet activity, and the quirks and benefits of getting your fiction published in a physical 'zine.

Lynne brought an old (things from the nineties are "old" now . . . weird) copy of 221B Baker Street that she and I both had stories printed in, and I started having flashbacks to MediaWest*Con of years ago, which Nea also had spoken of, a part of Sherlockiana that often didn't interact with the old school scion societies even then, being more a part of the general fandom community. It's very had to make generalizations about our Sherlockian past, because we all have different stories from the road to today. I get a lot wrong that way, as regular readers of this blog will sometimes call me on, but that's why I'm here at 221B Con yet again.

Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson are being celebrated here with mighty exuberance. It might not all make sense to a given Sherlockian, and there are a lot of other fandoms poking their way into the mix, as well as random bits like the ball pit which require a certain in-joke background, but learning about every little odd thing and how it has connected itself to Sherlock and John is part of the fun.

I've always loved exploring an environment full of wonderful new things, and 221B Con provides.

It also has a burlesque show with Sherlock Holmes in it. And one fabulous young lady who was every incarnation of Dr. Who and wound up being a Tardis. And Ron Weasley discovering Hermione was a bit of a dominatrix. But that's all I'm saying about that in a blog, except that the proceeds go to the Beacon Society, which just makes it all the cooler.

And that, I think, is enough for one night. Saturday is coming.

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