The Six Cons of Henry VIII commentary
G. Hanak   circa 1994  revised 2007
©2007 by Gary Hanak

Archon is an annual St Louis area science fiction convention. For many years, it was held at Henry VIII hotel in North County, up by the airport. Rumor control had it that the upcoming airport expansion plan, otherwise known as W1W, would soon end the reign of Henry VIII--not to mention being the source of my getting screwed pretty royally not once but twice during my divorce of many, many years ago.

At any rate, for a variety of reasons the convention was moved over to Collinsville, Illinois, in 1993. Those of us who were used to Henry were rather sorry to see his reign draw to a close, especially for those of us who experienced that first year at Holiday Inn and at the Gateway Convention Center. Besides, a lot of people liked Henry VIII because it was probably as close to being inside of a TARDIS as most of them were ever likely to get.

In a lackluster corner of olde St Lou, near the
   place where the aeroplanes park
There is a large montage of brick, wood, and stone that
   holds a dear place in each heart
Sometimes he's a boor, and he's crude, unkind -- but the
   first thing he usually recalls to mind
Are the cons that he's hosted from time to time:
   The Six Cons of Henry VIII

From midnight to dawn we have warbled in song, or as
   near as we cared to come to it
In the Tudor or St George rooms right down the hall from where
   all the odd artists types do it.
But this year in Gateway we played in the hallway
   competing with MUZAK and boozers:
The overhead speakers and the old barfly geezers who were
   thinking that we were all losers

Now, it is a fact, particularly back then, that filking was not a major concern of Archon. In fact, it still isn't, in spite of my annoying presence on the committee these past few years. We were used to small, closed rooms with no air circulation but plenty of sonic connections to loud, usually amplified, and heavily rhythmic sound-laden activities--but we usually did have a room. However, that first year in Gateway, we had no room, no publicity, no 'Do Not Pass Go, Go Directly to Jail'--well, after all, that would have provided us with a room--and we wound up outside the hotel bar in a sort of alcove, with elevator music coming soothingly from the ceiling. I mean, if you haven't heard the Boston Symphany's version of "All Along the Watchtower", you just haven't lived, man…

Eleven was ancient, a long time ago, and the
   Toastmaster hailed from Britain
He once sold computers from DIGITAL until by the
   old SF bug he was bitten
Then he lived on the West Coast, a garrulous host with
   lots of tall tales and good times
And James, he still says it was due to a bet with some
   friends that he's now writing plot lines

Actually, he hails from Ireland. However, I was hampered by a suitable rhyme for either "Ireland" or "Erin" that also was phonetically close to "bitten". Yes, I could have come up with something else, but I'm lazy, and Britain includes at least part of Ireland. I'll just hope he never hears this song and takes offense from it…

But in further defense of my use of "Britain", however, it is said that the English can't resist a bet. James Hogan, who at the time had just come out with the "Giants" novels, had been working for DEC and writing for fun. Some of his friendd happened to find out he wrote stories, and came out with something like "You'll never get anything published", to which James said "Bet!", and they did, and then he did, and they lost. Then, when sales of his stories were starting to take off and he was considering what to do about that, they came out with "You'll never be able to make a living doing that". Having little sympathy for those who can't profit from their past mistakes, James again said "Bet!", and, being slow learners, they did, and then he did, again, and now he's a celebrated and not unwealthy author. I assume.

So, I have this chance to talk with this guy whom I am just in awe of, thinking that I'll hear first-hand all sorts of revelations of the Olympian sort. And what do I hear? Rather colorful and hopefully fictional stories involving British army officers and unwilling camels, that's what. Such is life.

Twelve is obscure, since few records survive, but it's
   sure that we all partied hard
And Fourteen was mem'rable because of the fact that the
   whole guest list came from the Wild Cards
Thirteen was the scene for the great David Brin, and by
   now Vic was MC for life
At Fifteen I drank and caroused and I grinned, and at
   dawn woke up one angry wife

14 was interesting because that was when the whole multiple author thing was taking off. We had a dozen guests, all authors in the same literary universe. Yeah, Wilds Cards--how'd you guess? Costumes in the Masquerade that year tended to be rather thin…

However, by 15, I was one of the regulars of the filk circle, and I tended to play musical support overlong and overdo it somewhat in general, being not a spring chicken even that far back. To alleviate the raw throat syndrome thus incurred, I was offered by a lady of whom you'll hear more later a concoction formally referred to as "Romulan Blue Ale", but informally referred to as "Blue Shit". It had Everclear, blue Kool-aid, and some other blue fluid, but all I know for certain is that a) it deadens enough nerves to allow you to play and sing far longer than you should, b) it makes you do things you normally wouldn't do, and c) it eats holes in the hotel carpet should you spill it. As part of syndrome b), I eventually made my way back to the room where my wife, and a couple of friends of ours, were foolishly sleeping at 6 am. I woke them all up, apparently gigglng the whole while, and made them go with me to see "Android", which I thought was a great film but which, it turns out, they didn't think quite worth 6 am in the morning. And yes, my wife was not happy. More about that later as well…

At number sixteen, why, a wedding was held. Every-
   one had their best Star Fleet things on
The Captain and Chief Engineer said their piece, and the
   Best Man appeared to be Klingon
We filked and they wedded with the aid and abetment of the
   newsies from 4, 5, and 2
And the ale from Romulus some of us did have too much, and for
   days we regretted The Blue

Actually, the Best Man appeared to be an approximately six foot eight gay Klingon, complete with purple robes, long stemmed lily, and an electric toy of a type probably illegal here in Missouri…

Now, the lady mentioned in the last stanza was not an insignificant presence. She was pretty much the matriarch of a fairly large group of folks, and quite used to having her will be done. Her husband had asked his father, a rather small African-American man, to perform the ceremony--his father, the Baptist minister. His father, who looked to be a pretty conservative Baptist minister. His father, who looked to be a pretty conservative Baptist minister and didn't look as if he'd really been clued about the circumstances under which said wedding ceremony was to occur. Maybe it was just me, but, underneath his frock hat, white minister's collar, and black coat, I swear his face had that "OK, I'll do it, but I'm going to kill him later" look about it.

Anyway, this formidible lady, who, sadly, was taken from us far too young, once again managed to keep me refreshed with the infamous "Blue Shit". My wife, who is not at all formidible-looking, and who was really quite fond of this lady, nevertheless went up to her the next morning, and said, with all graciousness and good manner of upbringing, "If you ever give my husband Blue Shit again, I'll rip your tits off". And this formidible lady, who probably outmassed my wife something like 2 to 1, looked down at her and said, "…ok…".

And, you know, to the end of her days, I never did get any more Blue Shit from that woman.

In a lackluster corner of olde St Lou, near the
   place where the aeroplanes park
There was a large montage of brick, wood, and stone, that
   held a dear place in each heart
And we now and then gather to fix in our minds those
   days that can still bring a tear to our eyes
And we lift up our glasses and toast at least six times
   To those cons of the edifice
   Soon to be under AirBus
   The Six Cons of Henry VIII