Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pantheacon 2012 Post-Mortem (part 4)

(Or, what I actually did, versus what I said I was gonna do.)

Part 4: Two-Nap Saturday and the best evening ever at Pcon.

"Pleased to meet you. The
name's Dionysus."
(Please start your three-hour tour with parts ONETWO and  THREE. Thanking you.)

Saturday……Saturday? Saturday. where am I? Hell, who am I? Oh yeah. It’s Pantheacon. Aaarghblbblblbl…..gimme a minute here…..

Admiral Karen was also up early, so we had a leisurely breakfast at café Ho-Hum.

Saturday, 9am

We chose Village Witchery 102, the follow-up to the “Egg Roll” class I had taken yesterday. Hexeba obviously wasn’t at the same parties I was at last night, as she was bright and fiery at oh-my-goddess-in the morning. In this class we were presented with ideas on what to fill our various juju bags with. It was like a homey cooking show hosted by Marie Laveau.

(I was sad to miss my yearly yoga appointment with the lovely Holly Allender Kraig, but I wanted to do something with Admiral Karen.)

Saturday, 11am

Next up was Lon Milo DuQuette’s “The Holy Guardian Angel: Isn’t it Romantic?” which was packed. Lon was…..Lon. But I was less than myself. I kept waiting patiently for him to get to the next plot point, but that is missing the point of Lon. Lon is a journey, not a destination.

Ah, Lon. I'll catch up to you
on Sunday, K?
But my late night of doing the revelatory watusi had finally caught up with me and the Nap Elves were jumping up and down on my face. I snuck out and barely made it back to the room before crashing and burning big time. ZZZZZzzzzzz………

Saturday, 1:30pm

I awoke about 1:30pm, meaning I was gonna miss the next round of workshops. Rats. But now that I had rested, my body wanted washing and feeding. After a shower Karen answered my text by saying she was shopping.

On my way to the vendor room I ran into another stray of mine. Garett is a young metal singer who showed up to a Community Seed Open Circle the week before and had just arrived on site for his very first Pantheacon. I took him underwing and got him registered and then took him to the vendor room and showed him around. It was nice to realize that not all strays are drug-addled lunatics.

Lunch at Café Ho-Hum followed. Karen and I were distracted by the arrival of our friend Bear, who pulled up a chair and regaled us with tales of the often hazardous (and stinky) life on a farm. Garett was also distracted, by this really cute girl at the next table. By the end of the meal we had caught up with Bear and Garett had successfully retrieved the girls phone number……ah, Pcon……..

Saturday, 3:30pm.

This one was in bold face in my phone calendar: Jason Mankey doing “Drawing Down the Moon: The Mechanics of Invoking Deity”. After an inexplicable shunning last year the kindly gnomes at Ancient Ways had rebounded by giving Jason both the 3:30pm AND 7pm slots on Saturday – something that goes against their own guidelines. I was both jealous of Jason and feeling sorry for him. Two presentations in prime time is quite the feather in any presenters cap, but giving back to back seminars (even with the dinner break in between) is an enormous mental and physical energy drain.

(He's thinking up new dick jokes.)
And, trooper that he is, he was also scheduled to host a Happy Hour in his party suite during that break. Insanity!

Anyway, his presentation on Drawing Down the Moon was vintage Mankey: Peerless research coupled with a totally bonkers presentation. He traced the concept of invoking deity across the arc of History and across all the cultures of the world, illustrating it all with wonderful slides and sprinkling his trademark Junior High level humor throughout. It was like the History Channel had been overtaken by Beavis and Butthead.

And I will point out (since he is too modest to do so) that he packed the big Fir room while going up against Raven Grimassi, Orion Foxwood, AND Chris Penczak!

Neither Karen or I was hungry during the dinner break that followed, so we went back to our room and napped AGAIN. Pantheacon is an energy reservoir, but a very leaky one.

Saturday, 7pm

We barely made it to Jason’s next presentation on time. “Elixir of Life: Alcohol as a Sacrament in Religion” was less about the Church history of booze and more about the entire History of World Civilization, over a couple of beers. Fascinating stuff, and a slightly depleted Jason nevertheless pulled it off with Dash and Style. Well done, Sir. Cheers!

Changes were noted and appreciated. Well done, kids!
We staggered out of that and got right into line for the next item on the program. 

And here I would like to give a big shout out to Ancient Ways for stepping up their game this year. I had detailed before all the subtle ways that the Double Tree Hotel has improved since last years Pantheacon. Well the Con Ops / Gryphon folks were also busy during the off-season.
  • The program was posted back in November, something like two months earlier than normal.
  • There was an interactive customization feature online, where you could make your choices at each time slot and then print out just those choices.
  • This in turn was available as an iCal download, which was not only SUPER-HANDY (your custom schedule right there on your phone) but hopefully will eventually cut down on the amount of big, expensive programs that they have to print for all of us.
But there was more:
  • The tech people did such a great job this year that they were pretty much invisible, which I am sure was their goal. Slideshows were smooth, sound boards were staffed, and presenters had whatever little devices and gizmos they had asked for. In fact, the only break down in Tech Providence I heard about was for MY SEMINAR. (But we’ll address that in due course.)
  • Scholarly items had been inserted into the evening program and dance rituals were available during the day. Yay!
  • There were lots more volunteers on hand for everything, staffing the new mini info desk by the elevators, running extra chairs to the rooms that needed them, and herding the lines to get into the big room seminars.

Some folks complained about being moved around and having people shout every few minutes about which line was for which presentation, but I think it was a HUGE improvement over having 1,500 people crammed pell-mell into the area outside the tree rooms. Now we were all strung out throughout the mezzanine area and down the railing towards the Silicon Valley Room. When the doors were opened for each room, each line was then surgically injected into its room like a giant hypodermic full of pagans. Presto!

Saturday, 9pm

No rest for the wicked. From Alcohol we plunged straight into Lucifer himself with “The Ole Time Good Spell Feri Pagan Tent Revival”.

And again, I could sense an overhaul and an upgrade to this always entertaining and enlightening hour of Sin and Redemption (and how they’re really the same thing). The musicians were talented, the choir had been whipped into shape, the invocations were tantalizing (all 37 invocations – Feri folks want EVERYONE to come to their parties). Mama Jenya’s homily
was downright scary in its nakedness and Brother Philip’s sermon
 was head-banging in its intensity, head-turning in its surprises and head-exploding in its revelations. I was in tears by the end, and they were tears of gratitude. Excellent work, one and all.

Saturday, 11pm

After that we were all pretty well destroyed (but in a good way!), and also totally WIRED. We decided to stop in and see what “A Modern Dionysian Initiation” was all about, with escape plans so we could go to Don Schulz’s Midnight Drum Jam later on.

Hahaha! Sorry, Don: We never made it.

The program notes for the Dionsyian thing were pretty bland: “Through this initiatory rite we will give you back stage access into what goes on during a Dionysian initiation.” Wow, way to SIZZLE it, kids.

Hey, it's a Pantheon too. Or maybe it's a remake of the
Brady Bunch. (That's probably next year.)
Turns out the whole thing was a dodge. We walked into a full blown ROCKY HORROR stage show, with each member of the cast taking on the role of one of the Greek Gods. Mind-bending. The humor was simultaneously X-rated AND Junior High (The role of Rocky was taken by a 15 inch dildo), the songs were subtly re-written to reflect this most ancient (and intense) of sagas, and the audience shout-outs were slyly guided by cast members in the audience.

It all culminated in one of the deepest, most dramatic scenes I’ve ever witnessed in all my years of Pcon rituals: The final confrontation between Dionysus (Frank N. Furter) and Hera (Magenta) as he demands to be acknowledged as Divine and given a place in Mount Olympus. The silly, sexy little stage show got suddenly Really Dark, as the Sweet Transvestite of the second generation of modern Paganism simultaneously acknowledged and pushed aside some of the calcified worldviews of our revered elders. It is indeed time to give the trannies and queers a place at all of our tables.

A wild, WILD time with a cast that was bound and determined to push every envelope that attempted to contain them.

And, at an hour and 45 minutes, it was the longest presentation I’ve ever encountered at Pantheacon (longer than the movie!). We crawled out of the Fir room, stumbled down the stairs and zombie-walked to the Sushi Bar, where we met some more of our friends. A quick poll showed that the triple header of Jason's  Elxir of Life Seminar, the Dust Bunnies’ Feri Tent Revial, and the Circle of Dionysus’ Modern Intiation was the best evening we’d ever spent at Pantheacon.

What would Sunday hold for us? Would we be up for anything? Except, oops, Sunday was the day of MY PRESENTATION. Oh, ye gawds…….


Angus McMahan


  1. Brother Angus, you're too kind! It's our pleasure to spend the year listening to the Revival tell us what it wants so we can work our pretty butts off making it so. Oh, she's a beautiful and terrible mistress! Or presentation. Whatever.

    I can't wait to hear you review your own SELF!

  2. I missed seeing you, Angus!!! It looks like we "see" each other more online than in person!

    Holly A Kraig

  3. Haha! I saw you once, from the back, at a distance. A nice view to be sure, but hardly satisfying. Next year!