A New England Odyssey

Saturday, August 19, 1995

     Sorry for the delay in my updates – things at the convention were pretty hectic, and I got behind on these things. They’re taking me over an hour to put together, and at the end of a long day all I want to do is sleep. With that in mind, here come the next 4 updates:
     Today was the first big day of the con, and after getting up late, I stayed in the room working on the update for the day before. During that time, I missed a couple of interesting panels: Lovecraft’s Rejected Stories, and On At the Mountains of Madness. Pam and George managed to catch some of them and thought they were pretty good. By the time I had wrapped things up, it was quickly approaching lunchtime.
     I went down to the convention area where I met up with S.T. and Dave. Although they had both had a large breakfast, they seemed eager to get a bite to eat (and, as always, S.T. wanted some tea). Before long, not only were S.T., Dave, George, Pam, and I going to lunch, but Will Murray invited himself along. Six people in a Pontiac Grand Am is a bit of a fit, but when we met downstairs, Will had hooked up with two friends, one of which had a car, so our original plans stood, just with an extra car. Outside, it took us several more minutes to hook up, as we drove around looking for Will and his buddies.
     For a group our size with probably widely varied tastes, I figured that going to a buffet would be the best idea. I’d remembered seeing a Hometown Buffet in Danvers, so I struck off in that direction. Most of the restaurants were on route 114, but I turned off on Center Street hoping to find something closer. As we wound through the streets of rural Danvers, I suspected that not only did my passengers think I was lost, but so did the three in the car behind me. A couple of miles further the road we were on intersected with route 114, and almost immediately on the right was Hometown Buffet.
     Since it was about 1:30 p.m., the place was packed and we had to wait in line several minutes before we were set loose on the food. Several of the guys hadn’t been to such a place before – Will Murray asked, “What do we do?” I told them to grab a plate and load it up. One of them later asked if we were allowed to go back for seconds. Despite the bland food associated with buffets, everybody seemed very pleased with the selection, and S.T., who had planned only to get some dessert, ended up also getting some fried chicken and a salad. And another dessert. Will made some remark about what pigs we were, having gotten seconds and sometimes thirds, while he had only gotten “firsts.” S.T. returned some amusing barbs; those two apparently see a pretty good amount of each other, but don’t exactly see eye-to-eye.
     Both S.T. and Dave had to be back at 2:30 for some panels, but S.T. wasn’t too worried about it. Dave, on the other hand, left with Will and his friends to get back early. On the way back, we had to stop at Staples to have some copies made of my Internet panel handout, which was going on in a few hours. While I ran inside, S.T., George, and Pam stayed in the car and apparently discussed films, particularly those Lovecraftian.
     We got S.T. back to the resort three minutes late, which he didn’t seem to mind too much. Since we weren’t sure which panel to go to (S.T.’s or Dave’s), we opted to go for Steve Mariconda’s panel, “A Reader-Response Approach to the Lovecraft Mythos.” Unlike many other panels where the panelists simply talk, Steve had prepared numerous transparency slides and handouts. The room was pretty well filled, and I think everyone appreciated the seminar-like style of his panel. However, the subject matter was a bit too subtle for most, and despite his excellent presentation and ability to entertain, I doubt that many people got much out of it. Faye Ringel had some questions at the end which ended up involving Rev. Bob Price, and the last few minutes were taken up with their discussion, rather than Steve’s.
     At this point, Dave and S.T. were available for an hour, so I thought I’d look them up to demonstrate some database programs in FoxPro. I found S.T. easily enough, but Dave was nowhere to be found. S.T. and I searched the building top to bottom, to no avail. Finally, we decided to look in on one of the seminars titled, “Myth(os) Abuse,” which we had thought he couldn’t possibly be in. Well, there he was, so we dragged him out and up to my room. There, I demonstrated the Lovecraft letters database, my outlining (FAQ) database, and my News database, mainly to make them aware of the capabilities of database applications. Technology isn’t their strong suit, so they had a lot of questions, and could see the usefulness of such a tool. I suspect, however, that S.T. is somewhat skeptical of how likely we are to put together something that he’ll use. We’ll work on him some more.
     When 4:30 rolled around, S.T. had to be in on the “Pre-Mythos Authors” panel, so we all went down to attend that panel. The other panelists included Scott Briggs, Peter Cannon, and Faye Ringel. They discussed such authors as Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, Lord Dunsany, Ambrose Bierce, Edgar Allan Poe, and lesser-known New England authors “who preceded (and possibly) inspired Lovecraft.” When the panel concluded, there were two- and-a-half hours until my Internet panel, so we went up to our room and relaxed.
     Just before 8, we headed down to the conference rooms and got ready for the panel. John Tynes, head of Pagan Publishing, was already there, but Dave Schultz hadn’t shown up yet. When it was time, John began by introducing himself, myself, and the as-of-yet-unseen Dave. I started off by making certain everyone had one of my handouts, and I briefly explained what was on it: newsgroups, FTP sites, e-mail addresses, and Web Pages. We discussed the merit of what was out there on the net and concluded that, as the axiom goes, 90% of everything is crap. Dave arrived and talked about the Lovecraft Transcription Project some, and John brought up questions or topics whenever there were no questions from the audience. S.T. asked some questions of Dave that prompted him to tell some anecdotes involving how we’ve gathered information on and through the net.
     One I recall occurred when the two of them were looking for some old amateur publications that were published in the ’20s. The New York Library didn’t have them, nor did the John Hay Library in Providence. However, some obscure university in Arizona (Tempe’s Arizona State University, which I work very near) happened to have them, yet wanted to charge several hundred dollars for the necessary information. S.T. remarked that it was unfortunate that they didn’t know anyone in the area to get them in person. Dave commented that they did – me. So next weekend, I went on down to ASU, pulled the dusty issues off the shelves, and made less than $5 of photocopies, which I promptly sent to S.T. Problem solved. On another occasion, they had found that the papers of Henry G. Weiss, a correspondent of Lovecraft’s, were held at a Historical Society in Tucson, and that they might contain some letters from Lovecraft. Several weekends later Pam and I took a day trip to Tucson, went through Weiss’ effects, but found nothing.
     The panel went pretty well, and we kept it pretty entertaining for the admittedly small (15) audience. George managed to get it all on videotape, so those of you in Phoenix may get to see it (*YAWN!*). Immediately after our panel was the “Arkham, Dunwich, and – Foxfield?” panel which discussed Lovecraftian sites in New England. Dave commented that Pam and I should be on this one, but instead, Faye Ringel, Don Burleson, and Will Murray were on it. Several months back, S.T. and Dave had discovered a map, drawn by Lovecraft, of a fictional town that he’d never used in any stories: Foxfield. It’s probably based in part on Deerfield, Massachusetts, which Lovecraft visited one or two times and wrote favorably about.
     Will was clearly very taken with the idea of Foxfield and went on about it at length. He had with him a facsimile of Lovecraft’s map and had hastily copied it to a large piece of cardboard, which several of us found quite amusing. Every time that Faye or Don would lead the discussion in one direction, Will would pull it right back to Foxfield. Nonetheless, some good questions were asked that provided the audience with information about other significant areas in New England, besides the never-used Foxfield.
     By the time this panel wrapped up, it was just after 10 p.m. and George, Pam, and I were a bit hungry. Not wanting a huge meal, we decided to drive down to the International House of Pancakes that we’d eaten at two years ago when attending the first NecronomiCon. While we waited for our food, George and I played some RoadBlasters, getting the fourth and second place scores, respectively. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a gas station/convenience mart to get some munchies for the morning. After that, we just went back to the hotel and crashed. What a long day!