Brian McNaughton

The Loreyers, Rod Heather and Sean O'Leary, drove me up I-95 through Connecticut. It was one long parking lot, and it took us more than six hours to get from NJ to Divine Providence. As recent epulations had rendered me crapulous, this was even more painful than it might have been, but we had a diversity of tapes ranging from Richard Wagner through Lou Reed to Pogue to divert us. Unfortunately, Rod had brought the purely orchestral versions of "Das Ring", and I have always said that listening to Wagner without the singing is like jacking off with gloves on, but it's better than nothing.

And I further diverted myself by beginning the composition of my "Friday Jones Blues."

Incidentally, there is a MacDonald's in Connecticut that grows corn as a part of the ornamental display of plants at its entrance. This strikes me as the height of decadence, and I kept an eye out for Marie Antoinette and her sheep, but no luck.

After arriving in Providence and getting lost, we found the Marriott, where I stepped up to the bar and began the arduous, expensive and thankless labor of getting as drunk as I possibly could. In the course of this, I ran into the gang from F&B, the great Joe Pulver, and Christophe Thill and his marvelously lovely, charming, and thoroughly French companion, Muriel. We all went out to an Italian restaurant, where I got on Dan Clore's case rather mercilessly, but enchanted all those assembled with my first public rendition of the "Friday Jones Blues" (provisional version) and, for Christophe and Muriel, "La Marseillaise."

At least, I think they were all enchanted. . . .

Friday, I moderated a panel that went rather well, thanks to those beside me, Joe Pulver and Will Murray: "Why I Write Mythos Fiction." Thank God I was the moderator, who was only required to nod wisely and redirect the line of fire. These guys actually think about what they are doing. Asking me about my writing is like asking a pig about pork chops.

Later I did a reading of my contributions from two Lovecraftian round-robins, "The Horror from Below" and "Herbert West: Reincarnated." Although it was sparsely attended and these are certainly not the best things I have ever written, I think it was the best reading I have ever given. (Those hours I spent at the bar, chatting up the lovely barmaid, a native of Providence, were not wasted: I was able to produce a pretty good facsimile of HPL's accent.)

I can't resist a plug -- my contribution to the Herbert West thing, "The Horror from the Holy Land" is available in the current issue of Parts, which can be purchased through Necronomicon Press.

Friday night (Lovecraft's birthday!), I was invited to a clambake at an elegant restaurant called Hemenway's, thrown by the F&B gang -- Philip Rahman, Dwayne Olson, Scott Wyatt and Peder Whatsisname. (Sorry, Peder!) I think these Minnesota gun-nuts were surprised and delighted to learn that a leftwing, pointy-head, effete Easterner like myself owned a Colt Dragoon .44 and shared their views on . . . well, we shouldn't get into that.

But the greatest thing was that I got to sit next to Fred Chappell, the Guest of Honor. My admiration for this gentleman was boundless even before I met him. If HPL were around today and read the things that have been done in his name, he would say of Fred Chappell, "Hey! At long last, somebody got it right!" Read "The Adder." Read "The Lodger." Read Dagon. Read any damn thing he's ever written.

Mr. Chappell has a big rep as a mainstream/academic writer and poet, but if he was troubled by the slightest sneaking thought that he was slumming by appearing among all us fanboy loonies, it didn't show. He was gracious and friendly and indefatigably accessible. At one point he wanted to know how the name "Utpatel" (the WT artist) was pronounced, for the sake of an immediately upcoming panel, but he didn't want to disturb Bob Price at breakfast. (I said, "Hell, I'm no Southern gentleman," and went and disturbed Bob Price.)

This leads inevitably to the shortcomings of the Con. None of Fred's books were available in the dealers' room. Very few of mine were, either. Fred tried to buy a copy of The Throne of Bones on Sunday and couldn't find one. Joe Pulver had to move heaven and earth to get a few copies of his splendid novel, Nightmare's Disciple, delivered from Chaosium.

This certainly isn't the fault of the organizers -- organizer, I should say, since Franklin Hummell seems to have done it all himself, and I must say he looked suitably stressed and apologetic. But the whole thing had a slapdash, patched-together, last-minute feel, and it was sparsely attended.

Strange panel-topics abounded, and conflicts were absurd. I found myself on a dorky panel called, "The Worst of HPL," that was supposed to go on for an hour and a half. By mutual agreement, we trimmed it to an hour. The Pulverizer was cast alone with the intimidating S.T. Joshi on a panel about Robert W. Chambers. Whatever his merits as a writer, Joe is not a Chambers scholar.

The Con was extraordinarily valuable to me. I managed to sell (in principle) a couple of collections of my short stories. And Darrell Schweitzer insisted that I submit something to Weird Tales. We were in a hotel bathroom at the time, and when he slammed the door and said, "You must submit to me!" I was momentarily alarmed.

The whole thing was summed up when I checked out. I had subjected my room to an exhaustive examination, meaning to leave nothing behind, and bopped down the hall to the elevators -- a long bop, since my room was located just this side of the Plateau of Leng -- when someone accosted me for an autograph. I agreed, but I noticed something odd about my speech. Goddamn! I had left my teeth soaking in the sink.

Okay, I know you're all waiting for it, and I never got up the nerve to sing it to her face. I was hoping that Rod or Sean would go up to her and say, "Hey, my friend likes you." I never even mustered the nerve to say hi.

I got a Jones for Friday, I don't know what to do.
I got a Jones for Friday, I don't know what to do.
That day is like a woman I once knew.
On Thursday night I come to get a beer.
On Thursday night I come to get a beer.
The barman say that Friday just ain't here.
On Saturday night, I lost my Friday Jones.
I say, on Saturday night I lost my Friday Jones.
But she'll come back like Lovecraft's long-dead bones.

What I need is a bridge. And no tooth jokes about that, please.


© 1999 Edward P. Berglund
"NecronomiCon Report": © 1999 Brian McNaughton. All rights reserved. This originally appeared on the alt.horror.cthulhu newsgroup.
Graphic © 1999 Erebus Graphic Design. All rights reserved. Email to: James V. Kracht.

Created: December 5, 1999; Updated: August 9, 2004