I've always been jealous of my friends who have LJ blogs, because of the interactivity it allows. So, on the advice of a fellow writer I met at Philcon, I'm going to start mirroring my blog entries from Musings: An Online Journal of Sorts.
Once again, The Gryphon and I were invited to be panelists at Philcon, held this year in the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel at 17th and Race Streets.
I didn't have as many responsibilities as he did, though, probably because I responded so late to their request for information about what sort of schedule I preferred and on which panels I'd like to participate.
Friday night, I met with The Gryphon for dinner in Center City, rushing to the train station and making it just minutes before the train was due. Naturally, it was late, and I nursed my chagrin while I waited.
We ate at the Marathon Grill at 1339 Chestnut, one of our favorite places, since it has a reasonably priced menu, good food and lots of healthy options.
I was a little worried The Gryphon wouldn't make his panel at 8 p.m., but the service was quick and we made it to the hotel with plenty of time to register and get our schedules. The dim hallway outside of the elevator on the floor where the Green Room was located looked like it was straight out of a Tim Burton movie, with dark purple striped wallpaper and two bright red chairs at the far end. I took a couple pictures with my camera, which are absent from my camera card, having mysteriously disappeared into the ether. Perhaps that hallway truly was haunted.
The Gryphon's first panel of the weekend was "From the Book to the Tabletop: Playing Games in and with Licensed Properties." He was on all gaming panels that weekend, due to his position as a member and GM in PAGE (Philadelphia Area Gaming Enthusiasts).
I headed to "Evolution of Vampires in Literature," a panel I'd actually volunteered to be on, since I've done quite a bit of research into the subject, having produced a four-hour radio show, "In Search of the Vampire," on the vampire mythos. They had a very qualified panel, so I'm not surprised they didn't have room for me: two vampire novelists, L.A. Banks and Stephanie Burke; Jonathan Maberry, author of Vampire Universe, an encyclopedia of mythological creatures, and author of the vampire novel Ghost Road Blues; Darrell Schweitzer, former editor of Weird Tales and editor of The Secret History of Vampires; and the moderator, Trina E. King, a librarian who has done research into the subject.
(from left) L.A. Banks, Jonathan Maberry, Trina E. King, Darrell Schweitzer
They engaged in a lively discussion of the image of the vampire in English literature, reaching all the way back to the earliest days in the 1820s, when people were reading reports of so-called real vampires in newspapers and booklets.
I was already familiar with most of the information, but I did learn a few things, such as that Bram Stoker wrote much of Dracula in Philadelphia and that his notes for the book are on display at the Rosenbach Museum and Library. I must needs make a pilgrimage.
The panel also mentioned a variety of books that sounded worth reading, including Vampires, Burial and Death by Paul Barber and The Monsters in and Among Us, a Freudian analysis of the vampire mythos.
Near the end, they took questions from the audience, and I asked them what they thought about Anne Rice's use of the vampire mythos in her Vampire Chronicles, since she had clearly done her research. They agreed that she made good use of that research and also that she had been integral to reinvigorating interest in vampires, as well as developing the new vampire type: The Sexy Vampire.
Afterwards, I said hi to Jonathan Maberry and told him that I wanted to buy his book, Vampire Universe. He told me it would be available in the dealers' room all day on Saturday. I've been on panels with him before and also attended many panels where he was a panelist. We've spent time, too, talking about the business of writing, and I always enjoy hearing his thoughts. Without intending to, I actually attended three of his panels that weekend. Chances are, if he's on a panel, it's a topic that would interest me.
As I left the panel, I passed through a large room where they were setting up for a luau. A staffer was distributing leis, and I got one for me and for The Gryphon, promising we'd be back later.
The Gryphon and I met up and walked over to the art room, where they were supposed to be having a reception. On the way, we ran into the keynote speaker, author Eric Flint. I introduced myself to him and asked him about setting up an interview later that weekend. He was open to that, so he pulled out his schedule and we set a time for Sunday after his last panel.
We browsed the art gallery and, of all the art in there, one of my favorites was a print of Rittenhouse Square by Philadelphia artist Zhe-Zhou Jiang, founder of the Huaguang Art & Cultural Center. To my delight, he had a booth in the corner, selling prints and books. One of his books was on sale, and since he offered that both he and his two sons, who both have paintings in the book, would sign it, I purchased it.
The little boys had been having fun with some other children, making sculptures out of modeling clay on a nearby table, but they good-naturedly signed the pages where their art appeared, both in Chinese and English. I told the artist they're very smart, talented boys. Certainly, based on their work in the book, they inherited some art abilities from their dad.
As panelists, we had been given tickets for free drinks at the reception, and we tried to figure out where they might be available. After perusing the entire room, we wandered out into the hallway, where we ran into DJ Rock, who had been our wedding DJ and who was dressed in luau gear.
After chatting with him, he said he was going to return to the luau, and that's when we all discovered the bartender's stand, where he was distributing drinks. I ordered a rum and Diet Coke, which was a bit strong and lasted me the evening.
The Gryphon and I walked down to the luau. Music was playing, and tables were decorated with pineapples and coconuts, with plates of candies. Some little kids danced on the dance floor, while the adults socialized, many of them wearing Hawaiian garb.
I got talking to a woman I recognized from last year, when she'd worn a patchwork dress that looked very much like a Civil War era dress, hoop skirt and all. We talked about that, and she told me that her wedding dress had been a vintage dress that was similar in style. I took the opportunity to tell her about my book project, My Wedding, My Way: Real Women, Real Weddings, Real Budgets.
She started telling me about her wedding, and she had so much good information, I asked if she minded if I recorded it. She said fine, so we sat at a table and I interviewed her until a friend of her dragged her away. We exchanged e-mail addresses so we could continue the conversation later.
The Gryphon got to talking to a friend of his, the Game Designer, who plays and develops military strategy games. They spent much of the rest of the evening chatting at a table in that same room, even after the luau officially ended.
While The Gryphon was engaged in conversation, I walked down to Panel 9, which was where the anime track was taking place, to look for more of our friends. Their last panel of the evening, "These Are a Few of My Favorite Scenes," was still going. The panelists were playing anime clips and explaining why they liked them or why they felt they were significant.
The White Rabbit and The Dormouse were on the panel, which was moderated by The Pop Culture Junkie.
(from left) Pop Culture Junkie, White Rabbit, The Dormouse and another panelist
The panel went longer than it had been scheduled, and I watched until about 1 a.m., when I went to get The Gryphon so we could go home. We had a long day ahead of us on Saturday and needed some sleep.
By then, I had acquired a coconut, since they gave away the table decorations at the luau. It was a great conversation started, I discovered. One guy in the audience at the animal panel, whose badge only said "Nightmare Inc.," claimed he could open it with a palm strike. While part of me wanted to see if he could truly accomplish the feat, The White Rabbit and I told him to give it back.
"It will be messy," The White Rabbit said.
"Yeah, and I won't be able to eat the coconut!" That was, after all, why I'd taken it to begin with.