More specifically, the second panel of the day: RETURN TO MIDDLE EARTH IN 2011 (2 pm), focusing in on Peter Jackson's HOBBIT. Unfortunately the Moderator didn't show up, and this panel really needed one to keep them focused. As it was, we all proved that everyone in the room, panelist and audience alike, were well-stocked-up on internet rumors and perfectly willing to share them. I came away from it an hour later no wiser than before, though in the meantime I'd heard much speculation, been presented with one "inside scoop" that was wildly implausible, and been really, really annoyed by some idiot's frustration that, as she put it, she cdn't have any Silm. movies "until Christopher Tolkien croaks"* -- one panelist mildly demurred that, all things considered, we owed CT quite a lot; I'd have preferred to see her boo'd out of the room. Oh well.
The one interesting idea to take away from the event, I thought, was the observation by one panelist (named Chris Nilsson) that in THE HOBBIT Bilbo is v. good w. words, and often able to talk people out of things or establish friendly relations through speaking w. those he encounters. Don't think I've seen that pt made in quite that way before, so that's an idea to remember.
After that, it was back to dealer's room, where I got to see Bruce again and meet his friend Tori, who seems v. nice; we reminisced about my having edited Bruce's v. first roleplaying design, the excellent GATES OF FIRESTORM PEAK. Much to my surprise, while we were chatting I was hailed by my friend Miranda,** whom I was v. glad to see; hadn't even known she was in town. Caught up on some of her news while doing some browsing; she bought a sort of Edward Gorey tarot and I picked up two books: WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU MEET CTHULHU by Rachel Gray (no doubt full of amusingly futile advice) and THE SECRET HISTORY OF FANTASY, ed Peter S. Beagle -- this latter for its introduction*** and afterwords, which tie in nicely w. a project I started on back in 1983 but had to abandon in late '86 and may still someday return to. The same booth also had some Discworld and Doctor Who dvds and a dvd of THE GREEN SLIME, one of the worst science fiction movies ever made (and the obvious source for one of D&D's most iconic monsters). I also ran into Erik, and we chatted about various early science fiction/fantasy authors, this being a shared common interest between us (though he tends more to the science fiction and I more to the fantasy end).
Then it was over to the final panel of the day: IS TABLETOP GAMING DEAD? **** (4pm) w. Jeff Grubb, Sean Reynolds (another ex-TSR/WotC friend), Erik, Jeff Combos, and Jeremy (whose had been at the lunch, but whose last name I didn't catch) -- these last two actually NOT being ex-fellow employees of mine from TSR or WotC days. Having immediately settled the official question ("NO"), they shifted into matters such as 'why do people think it is?', to which Jeff G. suggested it was the number of classic/golden age rpg companies that'd been bought out (WotC, White Wolf) or shut down (West End, Iron Crown, FASA) or faded into insignificance over the past ten or fifteen years, with Paiso being one of the few to rise to major-player stature in recent years. The loss of a lot of independent gaming stores, I suspect, is another element, though this did not come up per se. The best comment of the panel I don't seem to have written down, but it was the assertion (by Jeff G., I think) that rpgs have a distinctive quality that can't be reproduced by any other type of game; therefore those who like it continue to like it; it's a lifelong hobby, not a passing fad.
Afterwards, on my way back to dealers' room I was hailed by Dan'l Kaufman, another ex-WotC friend who I usually see about once a year at GwenCon (where we're going to run across one another now that GwenCon has run its course, don't know -- NorWesCon, perhaps); got to meet several of his friends and learn about their video parody project. Then made my final swing through the book room, resisted temptation, and ending by collecting my LAND OF LEGEND Tolkien goodies and departing around five thirty.
After that came a long-delayed meal, a quiet evening, some reading, some poking about online, and now this. All in all, a pleasant day, seeing a lot of friends I haven't seen in far too long. Maybe next year I'll alternate it with SAKURACON -- if I find a way to avoid spending 3+ hours in the registration line, like last time.
*not only was it stunningly rude, but the self-evident stupidity of the remark entirely escaped her -- as if we'd even HAVE a published SILMARILLION without Christopher. Gah!
**another ex-TSR/ex-WotC, and one of the best editors that department at WotC ever had.
***which praises both Bellairs and Hughart -- both of whom authored works I rank among the all-time ten best fantasy novels.
****e.g., D&D, CALL OF CTHLUHU, &c. -- so-called here to distinguish them from computer games.