The trip started on a bad note, when I stopped at the bank to move money from my savings account to my checking account so my checks wouldn't bounce, and they told me that all but $100 of my deposit wouldn't be available for 5 days. This is new; they haven't claimed to need such a long delay to be sure a deposit is good in the past, and I find it particularly inappropriate that they'd try to impose it now, when they should be clearing my check electronically before my car leaves the drive-through. Fortunately, my balance inquiry shows that the IRS has finally deposited my refund.
The drive up was uneventful. We stopped at the rest area just south of the Cook County line and had a picnic lunch; it was surprisingly chilly after the previous several days, but nice. The shortcut from I-57 to I-294 via US 6 (159th St.) was a definite win; the traffic coming south was backed up for miles from the construction around the intersection of I-80 and I-294. Traffic was moderately heavy but moving well enough. I had one scary moment, when I didn't have time to avoid a large chunk of truck tire and went over it. It knocked one side of one of the panels that protect the underside of the car from mud and such loose, and flapped a bit, but the car seemed to be completely operable.
Made it to the hotel without further ado, got into the hotel room without trouble, got checked into the art show without trouble (the room was pretty full but there were a few panels left), and then looked through the art show. There was a real professional nature photographer exhibiting there; I believe his name was M. J. Shupe, and he had some awesome stuff. (His photo of a flying short-eared owl won the best in show prize.) I hope I'll be able to make images like that when I grow up. Made a pass through the dealer's room, where I didn't buy anything except for a copy of Smoke and Ashes and a copy of the CD reissue of Traveller, since I was trying to go easy on the money and I didn't find anything else I had to have. There are more books I want to read, but birder2 was buying copies, and we generally don't both need a copy. There are more CDs I want, but they'll still be there next time.
I then went to the LiveJournal meetup panel, where there weren't very many people, but some amusing stories. It was cool to be in a small group with Guest of Honor Jo Walton. Her accent is something to listen to, and she's quite entertaining to listen to. My wallet fell out of my pocket during this panel, but when I realized it was missing, I went back to the room, and rmjwell and the rest of the next panel returned it to me, so I could breathe again.
I wasn't proactive about dinner, so around this time birder2 and I went up the road to Schmaltz's Deli and brought some yummy back to eat in the room. That place is definitely worth remembering if future DucKons are in the same hotel -- it is walkable if one has time and decent weather, or a very short drive up Naperville Rd. from the hotel, and at least in my limited experience, it qualifies as a very good deli.
Opening ceremonies were next; a brief schtick presented by the Klingons of "Red Shirt Survivor", starring a giant man-eating tribble, was funny. Jo Walton hadn't realized she was supposed to speak, and was amusingly unready. After the other guests were introduced, we got a brief show from the folks from the Wild Bird Sanctuary, who were officially the Young Fan guests, but were a big hit with the adults at the convention too. The audience got to have a Harris Hawk fly right over their heads -- how cool is that?
Next up was filkertom's serious song set. This had originally been scheduled as a serious set by ericcoleman, but he was unable to attend because of a family emergency, and Tom was willing to step up and fill in. It was great to hear Tom sing songs like Falling Free, Hellraiser, Starlight and Saxophone, and Storm Dancing again. There was only one song that I didn't know in the set -- Cool Air -- but all the songs are cool. I hope Tom will be willing to do this more often. I love the funny songs, but the serious songs really move me. I also, finally, got my copy of The Last Hero On Earth. I'll have to talk about that later in another post.
Open filking came next. It got off to a bit of a rough start; we got onto a computer song theme, and I decided to try to pull out Brian "Tinker" Leo's "The IBM Computer", but when I tried to run through the chords, I was not as quiet as I meant to be, and Jordin interrupted a highly entertaining story to rebuke me. I don't doubt that I deserved it, but I was flustered enough that I didn't jump in the second Jordin finished, and someone (perhaps it was billroper, memory is hazy) launched into a non-computer song. "The IBM Computer" is a funny song, but to get the full impact, one needs to be able to play the original ("The Mary Ellen Carter") better than I can, and I only consider trying the song when the circle is solidly stuck on computer songs. I declined to do the song next. Someone stuck in another computer song (that might have been when filkertom did "When I Was A Boy", or that might have been earlier, as I say, memory is hazy), and I sang the song, and people did laugh, but I felt uncomfortable about it. I think I redeemed myself somewhat when I did a good version of "Dangerous Color". And I know someone came up to me later and said that I'd done a great job, but I can't remember for sure who it was. Am I becoming feebleminded or something? The music was generally good, but most people drifted off moderately early. When chasophonic and chirosinger showed up, I enjoyed just letting the music wash over me. Their impromptu vocal backup band was really awesome. I gave my punched-up version of "Black Davie's Ride" a shot, but I'm not sure how successful it was. I'm getting a little better on that, but it's harder than it seems like it should be for me to get the rhythm right on that song. And I was fading, so I went to bed.
Saturday, I caught part of Art Warneke and Deirdre Murphy in concert. This was another last minute schedule change; Barisha Letterman and Carol Ferraro had been scheduled, but Carol wasn't there because her husband John just got a kidney transplant, and she was with him in the hospital. Word came in during the convention that John's new kidney is working. Art and Deirdre sounded good, though certainly different from Barisha and Carol.
Next was one of the most frustrating times in the convention, because musicmutt's concert was up against Jordin and beamjockey as "Rocket Talk with Fizz and Fuse the Reactor Brothers". The latter wasn't as funny as I'd expected, but it still had some great moments, with questions like "If there's a fire on the space station, is it safe to take the space elevator, or should I take the stairs?"
At 2, we had the full hour show with the birds of prey, with free flight demos from a Hooded Vulture and a Eurasian Barn Owl as well as the lovely Harris Hawk. Birds of prey are almost as cool as big cats. The presentation didn't have a lot of information that was new to me, but getting to see the birds up close was more than worth it.
The rest of the afternoon was concerts, starting with filkertom again, with a rockin' good show, followed by Riverfolk, with several familiar songs and a few new ones, and finally filk GoH Jordin Kare. I missed a few minutes of Jordin's concert because I wanted to check the art show, where I found at 5:25 that Teresa Mather had bid on Chillin', which was really cool, but that none of the other pieces had attracted bids, so I was feeling down. Jordin's concert was marred by Frank Hayes' Disease, but I do enjoy his material.
After the concert, a number of us trooped off to the hotel's prime rib buffet. The filkers had tables for 20, which was a smaller turnout than I expected, but not a bad group. The food was OK, but I ate more than I should have. After dinner, we had a party for musicmutt and chirosinger in the filk suite. I hadn't been expecting organized schtick, so I left the good camera in my room, but got some shots with the pocket camera as janmagic put the couple through a ducky mock wedding, with bride and groom arrayed in garlands of rubber ducks, blinky ducky rings, and vows where they had to assert that they found their spouse just ducky and agreed to attend all future DucKons, followed by tnatj and almeda singing tnatj's song about "She's going up north to steal her Canadian -- they're really quite rare you know", followed by beige_alert and Joyce presenting the couple with a pair of Pig Pillows, and then cake, which had blue icing that turned several people's tongues blue. I started to regret overindulging at the buffet, as I started to have some digestive trouble, but I was OK as I hit a couple of other parties while waiting for the filk to start (since the filk was scheduled for the main stage after the art auction). But when I got back to my room after wandering through some parties, the icky really hit, and I ended up feeling too drained to be up to dragging myself to the filk.
The only slight upside to going to bed early Saturday was that I didn't have trouble getting up Sunday. I managed to get most of my stuff to the car, the guitar to the filkroom, caught the Python University Follies, where Samuel Travis Clemmons was in good form, lukeski was sharp, and mostly not rapping, which is good. Grease Wars must be side-splitting to someone who's actually familiar with the original musical; for me, it's funny, but not to die for. And I got to hear wormquartet perform for the first time. Shoebox (wormquartet) is certainly very strange (the fact that one guy on stage uses the stage name "Worm Quartet" is just a hint), but overall less funny than I was hoping for. But I'm glad I caught the show; now I know. Then I ducked out to collect my art from the art show, where I found that I'd actually sold a second piece (so it wasn't quite as much of a bust as I thought), and then back for half of filker0's concert. I hung around for the pun panel and closing ceremonies, while almeda and anach started a guerila filk jam in the hallway that ended up replacing the scheduled one. I tried to do my medley of Ryan's Star and Cold Dreams, but forgot the words to Cold Dreams, which kind of spoiled the medley effect.
The after-con festivities started with the pizza party in the filk suite. I'd only pre-paid for one piece of pizza, because I didn't trust my guts, but I was so hungry after inhaling one piece that I had a second, and I felt OK. birder2 and I negotiated a deadline for leaving of 8 (so that we could get home at a halfway reasonable time), so I actively pushed people to move from the filk suite to the con suite at 7 and start the filk. I did Someday, without messing up the chords very often. The chords aren't very hard, and it's just one pattern, G-D-Bm-Em-Am-D-G, through the whole song, but for some reason I always get tangled up in it. But billroper commented that the E major (instead of Em) in the chorus "makes the whole song", so he at least was listening. And I slipped "The Word of God" in just before 8, and put the guitar away. I encountered beamjockey, Kelley, and Andy Anda as they were coming back from dinner and I was leaving to get the car.
On the way home, Nature provided a treat; the full moon was playing hide and seek with broken clouds, and looking really pretty. I stopped at the rest area in Iroquois County to stretch and take pictures. The new CDs were also treats; more on those later.