Saturday, February 2, 2019

Chattacon 44 Report!

Chattacon Panel: "What in Hell Do We Want from Horror?"
(Left to right: Gregory Nicoll, Tim Waggoner, Me, Scott W. Baker)

Last week I attended Chattacon 44 here in Chattanooga, TN.  As I noted earlier, Chattacon has been a tradition for me since 2015.  Another tradition has been my reports on Chattacon!

Here are some highlights of my experience at Chattacon 44!

  • This year Chattacon moved to its once and future home: the Read House hotel.  Chatta-lore has it that Chattacon used to be there 20 or 25 years ago.  The hotel is newly renovated and near lots of restaurants, including the iconic Chattanooga experience: The City Café.  For the most part The Read House was a great location, once you learn to navigate the narrow hallways.  The biggest problem is that the ballroom was turned into three separate rooms with only thin curtains that didn't reach the ceiling separating them.  It was really difficult to hear anything at most of the panels in those rooms.
  • This year I again volunteered as a panelist, which is always fun.  I was on several panels with friends I met last year.  One of the panels, "What in Hell Do We Want from Horror?" was partly inspired by my horror and philosophy class from last semester.  Another panel, "What Do Utopia and Dystopia Do for Us?", was sparsely attended (it was at 11am on Sunday) but helped me think through another possible future course on pop culture and philosophy.  Since I was on so many horror-related panels, I was on a few panels with special guest Tim Waggoner.
  • The Chattacon Consuite was awesome as always, if a bit cramped this year.  Hey all other cons, you need to learn from Chattacon that the secrets to an amazing consuite are simple: free beer and Little Debbie snacks!
  • I met a few new people, including several people who weren't "new" per se but who I hadn't talked to much before.  Small cons like Chattacon are like a small town: if you hang out long enough you see all the same people and if you hang out some more you might even get to know some of them.  And of course I chatted a bit with the famous "Orange Mike" Lowrey.
  • You always meet interesting people at cons.  Usually it's a good kind of interesting, like all the great costumes, discussing science fiction literature with knowledgeable strangers, or being able to make your geekiest Star Trek references without being met by the blank/hostile looks of the mundane non-nerd world. Occasionally it's a bad interesting, like a person who insisted on conspiracy theories like they're normal or another who claimed that white European culture is under threat by immigration and that I, as a white man, should be worried. (That last one caused someone to walk out of the room and me to end the panel early.  It was tense and seemingly out of nowhere, and made it clear how the whole Trump phenomenon has emboldened white people to say racist shit more openly.  At the time I tried to address the issue Socratically to see if the person might talk his way out of it, but it only got worse.  I said I was looking forward to a future America where white people are a minority; later on I realized I should've said I was totally fine living in Hawaii and New Mexico.  Anyway, it was a bad/weird moment in an otherwise great Chattacon experience).
  • The best part of Chattacon, and other cons, is the community of fandom, a place where you can let your geek flag fly proudly.  I'm looking forward to Chattacon 45 next year, and in the meantime I have Connooga and CONvergence to look forward to!

Me and my fellow panelist for "What Do Utopia and Dystopia Do For Us?"

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