Saturday, April 9, 2022

221B Con 2022: Saturday, Saturday

 It's 10:15 AM, and I'm in a Magnus Archives panel. Now, one might say (if you are not my friend Mary), "What are the Magnus Archives?" Is that connected to Sherlock Holmes? And that eternal question, "How did I get here?"

Well, there is a "What else are you into?" factor to 221B Con with its array of content. Whether you came to this place via Conan Doyle, Jeremy Brett, Benedict Cumberbatch, or just friends of same, Sherlockians and their associates tend to have interests in common. So if you wander into a panel that's completely unknown to you --- like this one, about a horror podcast much beloved by everyone in this room -- there's a strong chance it's something you might want to try. And hearing what people love about that thing will definitely tell you whether you want to try that thing.

I had already stopped in the Stranger's Room to talk to see how the con's Diogenes Club folks are doing, and down to the dealer's room (realizing I would have to take purchases back up to the room, so holding out a little longer.

At the half-hour mark, I slip down the hall to "Canon and Mythos," a panel on the crossover areas of Holmes Canon and H.P. Lovecraft's mythos of horror. August Derleth comes up by the ten minute mark, a fellow who seems to be coming up a bit this year, and Arkham House's combo printing both Lovecraftian horror and Sherlockian pastiche. Lovecraft's racism comes up, of course, and The Mountain of Madness and Other Stories gets a recommendation as a gateway to avoid his worse works that time.

This is the point of 221B Con, early on Saturday, when you start seeing the panels you're going to have to miss out on if you're going to get everything done you need to do. Plans fall apart, regrets begin to surface, but the roller coaster car of this ride has left the station, so it's time to just hang on and ride.

I was going to avoid "Venereal Disease in the Sherlockian Canon" at all cost, but as is typical of 221B Con, I ran into Marilynne McKay in the Stranger's Room who told me that was her presentation. Marilynne is the sort of speaker who is completely comfortable at the head of the room, doling out facts with a healthy seasoning of warm wit, making a potentially gross-gross-gross topic a very rewarding hour.

After that came food time, and the füd trück was offering a good selection of things today (Why umlauts on the spelling of "food truck?" Emphasis! The arrival of the füd trück was a greatly welcomed thing when the con first got it, and like all legend and lore of the con, it is celebrated in our con culture.) The weather outside was very cold this year, and the hotel kindly opened the doors to its unused steakhouse and let us take our lunches in there. I chose the black bean burger, a side salad, and a brownie, and wound up lunching with Madeline Quinones, Ashley Polasek, and Curtis Armstrong in the steakhouse, which was a very happy thing, and prepared me for the full Ashley brain sitting in the Alpha Inn Goose Club Pub Trivia hour, which I then left to prepare for.

The Alpha Inn Goose Club Pub Trivia hour was something I originally came up with for a 2020 Holmes in the Heartland conference in St. Louis that never happened due to the pandemic. That year I had also prepared to test my pub trivia building skills at 221B Con before that event, and since the 2020 con was also cancelled, a full two years ago. Way back then, I had made some wooden coins with a goose for souvenir score tokens, and finally getting to use them was a great relief. The other thing about me doing a "pub trivia" event? It's really going to be a game show. I grew up in the era of the daytime game show and the genre is burned within me.

So mix Family Feud, Jeopardy, some ding bells, a prize box with a five-second limit, and Steve Mason in a white hoodie turned into a goose costume, and you get what I think a trivia contest should look like. The British Museum team on the right side of the room squared off against the London Library on the left side of the room, and in the end, I forgot to ask for counts of "Goose Club pence" to see who actually won. I would guess it was the British Museum, the team with Dr, Ashley Polasek on it, but the London Library team also had Howard Ostrom among their brains, so it was still a good competition. Many goose jokes were made, the movie "Holmes and Watson" got mentioned, life was good at the Alpha Inn.

But nobody wanted any of the blue carbuncles that Steve the goose kept coughing up. Covid safety, I guess.

Another nice social meal, this time with Ed, Kristen, and Madeline, a touch of Charleton Heston in the hotel room as I spent a little time with the relaxing good Carter, then down to listen to a bit of "Mystery and Archeology" to hear the current state of archeology work, then over to Historical Men's Fashions, which were being expertly explained and demonstrated -- cuffs, collars, cravats, ascots, waistcoats, and some fascinating history on all of it. Since I came in a few minutes late, I'm not sure who the presenter is, but he knows his stuff.

When he gets to questions, I slip over to "How to Podcast" to see if I can pick up any tips -- I do have to put out an episode of the Watsonian Weekly this week. Everyone's podcast experience is different, but certain familiar commonalities come up. Running gags, "shooting shit" episodes, how bits just evolve with a podcast. Editing podcasts comes up as a key determinant of how length and how often a podcast comes out are determined. Editors are so key. Finding someone who actually likes editing audio? A miracle.

I like that this year's panel is emphasizing how you have to do this for the love of doing it, without expectations of profit or sudden popularity. Some discussion of being a podcast in a network comes up, which is interesting to me as a lone wolf podcaster -- the community of podcasters seems to be a major factor in non-commercial podcasts, with some of the benefits of cross-pollination publicity. 

It's good to hear what other podcasters are dealing with in their podcast lives, especially when they're doing very different things from what you do. Of course, this session gets a little bit feeling like "discussing my second job," so maybe not as much fun as some other panels. Podcasting is something where I really enjoy writing and creating content (even if it's one-draft rough and messy stuff) but the work side -- editing, publishing, routines -- is still work.

Unlike blogging, which is just type-type-type-publish! Speaking of which . . . it's 9:16 PM, let's drop this report!

1 comment: