Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pantheacon 2014, Part 4: Sunday

4 out of 5 dentists recommend that you begin your journey with THURSDAY, FRIDAY and/or SATURDAY.

Sunday morning at Pantheacon for many people means rolling over and saying: "Hello. And you are......?"

Or at the very least: "Wait....who am I?"

Being sober and married I had neither of these problems, and so my Sunday morning was the time for clear-eyed reflection. And what I realized was that I had seen, like, two things a day for the entire weekend. I would need to up my average if I was going to avoid looking like a complete doofus in these here reviews.

I mean, if I'm going to spend the entire convention just sitting in Cafe Ho-Hum and complaining about the food and service, I could just skip the whole Registration fee, right?

Keep in mind that just a few hours earlier THIS had
been in my viewfinder. 
So Admiral Karen and I rouse ourselves and dutifully trudge off to a Sunday morning, 9am workshop. The "Bring on the Rain!" ritual, which was conducted by a small squad of children.

Freakin' ADORABLE children. With a little coaxing and script help these mop tops welcomed everyone, made announcements, called the quarters and the Lord and Lady, cast the circle, introduced the Working, pulled off a fun little activity for us, and then respectfully took down the Circle.

Did I mention the absinthe?
A Bravo and Brava job! The Working consisted of all of us marching around in a circle with noisemakers while we called upon the Rain Spirits by chanting the most Secretest High Ceremagickalest word spell of all.......

"Its raining, It's pouring / the old man is snoring / he bumped his head / fell out of bed / and couldn't get up in the mor-ning /

( are now oath-bound not to give away this superdoublesecret spell!)

I'm still seeing those damned green ice cube lights.
See it? Down there? No, further down.
Keep going. You'll get there eventually.
What stopped me from really getting into this working (I mean besides the absinthe the night before, my absurd bedtime and the 3 previous days of Convention life), was the text of the chant.

The first two lines are about the weather. Got it. But the other four graphically depict a debilitating cranial trauma that has our elderly protagonist lying paralyzed on the floor of his bedroom.

And we are supposed to SING this to our impressionable offspring at bedtime. "Pleasant dreams honey! Hope you don't wake up a paraplegic. Nighty-night!"

That aside, the kids did a great job. And we were back out in the hall by 9:35am.

And yes, there were cute boys too.
Jason and Christopher Penczak. Not appearing in your
picture: Their eye glasses, which instantly vaporized
 the moment my camera came into view. 
Oh no......must resist the siren call...........of Cafe Ho-Hum........20 bucks for the steam table of woe............yes! No! Quick! Into the elevator! I'm not even hungry........!

I made it to 10:30am, when I got a text from Jason Mankey that the Patheos Pagan Blogger Breakfast was in full swing. The.......what? Did I know about this?

Out of 664 and down the stairs and off to........wait for it........

Christine gets ready for the
1899 ritual.
Cafe Ho-Hum.

You win this round, Diner of Doom. What I love about my fellow bloggers at Patheos is how sweet and funny and humane they all are. Even the ones who never write that way. And they all seemed welcoming of me pulling up a spare chair and wedging myself in, even though I rarely post anything at AskAngus.*

And Cafe Ho-Hum never disappoints. As I was leaving the table to make an 11am seminar, P. Sufenas Virius Lupus (whose name I can never remember, so I just call him - in my mind - "Harry Potter Spell") got an $85.00 bill for 5 breakfast buffets, four of which he most assuredly did NOT order.

(P. writes about this particular breakfast HERE. In fact, much better than I am.)
Mykey, our door guardian and
Circle Caster.

At 10:55 Karen and I were settled in for "The Horned Goddess and the Green Lady".
At 11:00 the room was full.
At 11:05 the room was restless.
And at 11:10 a Tech from ConOps addressed the crowd, with what amounted to a shrug.
Our teacher was nowhere to be found, had not checked in at the Green Room and, well, like that.

(Maybe she bumped her head and fell out of bed!)

At 11:15 Karen and I just surrendered and stood in front of our nemesis, our savior, our drug, our downfall, our deliverance..........

..........and Cafe Ho-Hum was closed.

Matt gets his moves down
Go back and read that last sentence slowly. Or read this one: Cafe Ho-Hum, A/K/A "Sprigs", a diner in the middle of a huge hotel, in the middle of a weekend, in the middle of a fucking convention - is CLOSED for an hour.

People are eating there (or at least staring at what is on their plates), and being served (or are waiting patiently to be served), but we, the biggest fans of the place, with cash money hanging out of our pockets, are not welcome. There was a 'closed' sign and everything.

Amber gets her 19th Century
gameface going.
So, shaking our heads at the beauty of Cafe Ho-Hum - I mean, just when you think that they have come up with the absolute worst way to serve you a meal, they go and up the ante even more! - we cruise across the street to the Matrix "casino". Where I am quickly and efficiently served a breakfast so delicious that I ordered another one right away! (Also, Olympics coverage on 150 screens that are the size of Nebraska.)

Steph brings the Attitude.
And after a morning like that - I was doing my best to be productive! - I think I deserved a nice nap. And I got a very lovely one. I mean, I think I did. I was kind of unconscious at the time.

Later, showered and shaved, my day of being a good little conventioneer continued with a 3:30pm course on Palmistry entitled "In the Palm of Your Hand".

at 3:25pm I was in my seat in the room.
at 3:30pm the room was getting restless, because the instructor had not shown up yet.
Yes, we all hid our badges before
the start.
And I was thinking: Is it ME? Am I casting a wave of Convention Destruction before me? First the 'Green Lady' lady goes up in smoke, then Cafe What-the-Fuck decides that they will just shut down at lunchtime, and now the afternoon slot is also headed to the land of belly up!

Geez, maybe I really shouldn't have called P. Sufenas Virius Lupus "Harry Potter Spell".

Ari, trying to maneuver in a ballroom
not set up for us.
But then, oh thank the Gods, our instructor, Kooch, does show up to her own seminar. Whew. And she begins her lecture by being chewed out by a Tech from ConOps for being late to her own gig, which was rather awesome to watch.

We then pair off so we can read each others palms. Since I arrived alone I partnered with the person to my left, who just happened to be a SUPER CUTE coed. Ah, Pantheacon, how I love thee.

Anyhoo, the idea here is to hold the clients hands and look at their paws closely. This will give you all sorts of information to work with before you actually, you know, read their palm. If this sounds familiar to you Benedict Cumberbatch fans, it is.

The whole spiffy crew. Photo by a passing ConOps worker.
After an hour we had picked up all sorts of very cool Sherlock Holmes deduction techniques (electrical content, temperature, moisture content, rings, scars, calluses, tattoos), to use in the first two minutes of the reading.

But it was also an hour into a 90 minute session of Palmistry and we hadn’t gotten around, to you know, THE PALM. Oh well, and I had to leave early anyway.

So I took the lovely little hands of my Coed in my own one last time, looked deep into her searching eyes, earnestly told her that she was a sexual deviant and a closet Justin Bieber fan who really shouldn't hide her bisexuality anymore, and quietly left the room.

Just kidding: I wouldn't call anyone a Justin Bieber fan.
And of course, as the photographer,
I got no pictures of myself.
So I took this one of me in the outfit
when I got home.

Back in the Neighbor of the Beast it was time to DRESS once again. And not in the kilt and supremely Gay Shirt like last night. Tonight it was the dress shoes, white spats, leather pants, high collar shirt, suspenders, black cutaway swallowtail coat and white opera gloves.

My coven, the Oak Court, was presenting Jason's 1899 Ritual at 7pm in the Oak ballroom (gotta love the synchronicity), and so we gathered at 5:30pm so we could have a run-through in our room.

Except we couldn't get into our room, because some other group was using it for their rehearsal. Huh?

Apparently you can do such a thing. And, we found out, you need to reserve your own room for the dinner break if you wish to practice there before your own rite.
Some of our celebrants were
dressed appropriately. Or
inapproptiately, as it were.

Oooookay. So not wanting to have a turf war rumble (we were dressed too nicely), we just sidled over to the next ballroom and used that space to practice in.

We had had several run-throughs before this, of course, but none with the entire cast and none with the snappy outfits. And oh man, do those things make a difference.

(See HERE for Jason's more indepth look at the history of this historical rite.)

I only had a small role, I didn't even have to memorize anything, and I have a dozen years of large, public ritual experience. And yet I was nervous! Why? Because this was not a 'nice' ritual. This was not a playlet of self-examination. This was not a sacred arts-and-crafts period.

Another Well-dressed celebrant.
Pagan Circles in the 19th Century were furtive, paranoid affairs, undertaken in the strictest of secrecy with the harshest of penalties for divulging anything, to anyone, at any time. The tone of the 1899 ritual was serious - deadly serious.

And though nobody knows the Oak Court coven, a LOT of folks know Jason and I - and we are the last people think of when they think 'serious'. But the crowd seemed to get the 'straight-face-with-a-wink' vibe of our stern little museum piece. Yay!

Our 19th century playlet was everything we could have wished for. 200 plus people, in a good mood (but not TOO good, if you know what I mean), cues that went off flawlessly, a CD player that worked, and loads and loads of lovely poetry to spout to the masses.

Along with some hefty curses, for good measure. 

The folks all went along with a Working that consisted of placing a sizable rock under your tongue and then reciting a whole bunch of lines. "I conjure thee, O stone!" came out more like "Iah wonbur zee woh stoba!" And I don't think I was the only one who suffered a tongue cramp.

Jason, April and Ari. Blondes, Brunettes, Redheads....
Those Druids put on a mighty fine room.
My role was unnamed, but I was kind of the God introducer, assistant door guardian and stern finger waggler to the crowd. My big moment came when I got to read an Algernon Swinburne poem about Pan.

What did it sound like? It sounded just like the kind of poem written by someone named 'Algernon Swinburne' would sound like. Except I only got through half of it before Jason suddenly announced "Hail Pan!" and went right into the next part of the ritual.

Ah, well. See if I play wingman for YOU tonight, buddy.

By now, the hallways had started to look like this.
The applause afterward was loud and long and was way more than I expected. Clean up was pretty easy and the Oak Court dispersed to the four winds. Good job everyone!

(Reviews from other Pcon reviewers have been most kind: Psychopomp and 
Robert Alan Hager)

I changed out of most of my archaic clothes - I'm just gonna blithely assume that leather pants were 'period' for the 1890's - and Admiral Karen and I took off to the ADF druid room. There we quickly met up with Jason, Ari, April, Cath and Matt and we all hit the road (Or 'hallways' technically) to see if there was any life left in this convention.

April is no doubt making some sort of
wise and profound point here.
We saw all kinds of suites, from the packed and welcoming, to the almost empty, to the downright hostile. Each of the members of the "Pretty Hair Twins Posse" seem to know someone in each of these rooms (or met someone right away in any case), and so we spent a few minutes in each room while some member of our group caught up with a friend, or got to know someone new.

This is getting to be a tradition, and I am all for it. But, alas, it WAS Sunday, and the party was finally petering out. I bid adieu to our dwindling posse at Midnight and headed back to the Neighbor of the Beast.

Monday morning meant that it was time to pack up 664 and vamoose. And it tells a lot about the (lack of) mindset of the Admiral and myself that we got our first load to the elevators and then realized that we both had left the room keys in the room.


But upon returning from the car I sweet-talked a maid into letting us back into our room for a minute. Whew. We were back home in Santa Cruz by noon, and I awoke sometime around...dusk.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
Monday morning........
And so ended my Pantheacon for 2014. 

Reflections? Just that having two big presentations at 7pm on two different days meant that I missed a LOT of the afternoon and evening activities. I had lots of fun at the parties, don't-get-me-wrong, but next year I think I'll just stick to my own seminar and go out and see everyone else's shows the rest of the time.

But really, Pantheacon doesn't end for me until I post this here very Sunday review. The nine blog posts that made up Pagan Humor 6 have also been posted this week, along with these four reviews, for a grand total of close to 20,000 words. 

All of them heartfelt, all of them free, and all of them for you.

If you like what you've read here over the past week please leave a comment or share your favorite post(s) on Facebook or Google+ or whatever. Click the buttons and spread the love.

Now, what wacky playshops can I plan for SOLARIS....??

Blessed Be,
Captain General Angus McMahan

*Its your fault I rarely post on AskAngus. Its an advice column, but nobody’s asking for advice. Ask me a question, and I will write a post about it. (*wink)


  1. hehe - the actual rain chant the kids were singing was - "It's raining it's pouring/this drought stuff is getting boring/bring the rain to come again/ it could happening in the morning/ rain, rain, come again/ come again and stay within . . California."

    1. Ah, well, that makes much more sense! Thanks!

  2. Don Barks, Tech HeadFebruary 28, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    And the Tech Staff wants to assure you that the ritual worked! We had a rainstorm... in the Tech Room bathroom that morning! Luckily, no gear was damaged in the flood. We simply ushered it 2x2 into the waiting coracle...

  3. Your efforts were greatly appreciated, although I'm finally thinking of giving the stone a decent burial

    1. I conjour THEE, O stone! Yeah, go for it. Maybe under your front porch or somewhere where you could use some Protection.