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Marcon - Phil's Rambling Rants
May 31st, 2004
11:21 pm

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Marcon
Back from Marcon, and I'm going to try to write a bit about it before the memories dribble out my ears.

The trip got started a little late, but uneventfully. I was running around like a headless chicken Thursday night trying to organize things, and didn't get to sleep as early as I wanted. Friday morning, I was still disorganized, and wasn't ready to go until 10 minutes after we were supposed to leave. My mom didn't show up until 20 minutes after we were supposed to leave, so it didn't much matter.

We got to the hotel around 4:30. The web site wasn't absolutely clear, but seemed to say that parking would be $21 a day in the convenient parking below the hotel, and $4 in another garage, and recommended unloading stuff at the front door of the hotel and parking in the other garage. The bellman provided a cart for the luggage and handed me a map to where the other garage was -- not that the map was really needed. Where I needed the map was getting back from the garage to the hotel; I missed a turn in the maze of skywalks and wandered confused into some office tower. Got back to the Hyatt and checked in; when I asked for a room on a low floor, they put me at the end of the hall on the 7th floor. Which is actually about the 10th floor in height, but I wanted to be as low as I could, in case I had to walk up to my room when someone set off the fire alarm. The bellman who'd provided us the cart to unload the car expected to take our stuff to our rooms, and, so as to spare my shoulder muscles, I didn't argue, though I usually handle my stuff myself.

Got to my room, and discovered that the end of the hall room is a weird architectural orphan -- very oddly shaped, and not much floor space. But since it was just me, I thought it was kinda cool. I washed up a bit, and started waiting for my stuff to show up. About the time I was thinking that letting the bellman have my stuff was a bad idea, he showed up.

I went down and paid for my badge. (Somehow, in the spazz that has been my May, I completely forgot about preregistering for the con until Thursday night. Oops. Fortunately, the stupid tax (difference between at-the-door and prereg price) was only $15.) Came out of the registration room, and discovered that my mom, who had pre-reged, was just getting into a 20-minute line for pre-reg, when there had been no line for at-the-door.

Did a quick once-through of the dealer's room. Started at Larry Smith's book table, where I started my stack with Smoke and Shadows, and picked up a few more. Then off to a T shirt table run by a young artist named Jessica Peffer, dba neondragonart.com. I hadn't seen her work before, but based on what she had here, I hope to see more in the future! Then picked up some CD's from The Secret Empire, aka billroper's table. I selected the CD remaster/reissue of Midlife Crisis as my souvenir-for-autographs, and got Dr. Jane's autograph at the table as she stopped in to pick up instruments from Bill. Said hi to Butch Honeck, Juanita Coulson, and a few others; didn't buy anything else. The dealer's room didn't seem as big and cool this year as I remembered it being in the past. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that the last time I was at Marcon, I was in the throes of a Magic addiction, so all the game dealers that were primarily selling Magic cards were cool. This time, all they rated was a quick look to see if they had any board games I wanted (none of them did) and walk on.

Next was a quick look in the art show. It wasn't all the way set up when we got there, but it seemed pretty thin. Bob Eggleton was artist GoH, but there were only a handful of his pieces on display, and most of the other professional artists whose work I enjoy and even occasionally buy seemed to be absent. It was only later in the convention that I twigged to the fact that there was no voice auction -- the bid sheet auction would be open until late Saturday night, and that was it. Which is great for casual art buyers, but likely to be very unpopular with artists. I'll be watching with mild interest for reaction from the various parts of the community to this idea -- will other cons start doing it? Will art buyers learn to get as stupid in the silent auction as they do in the voice auction, or will the artists just lose out on those lucrative sales?

Next, a quick stop in the food court. The last time I was at Marcon, half of the restaurants at the food court were closed down for construction; I was disappointed to see that, though the construction is done, there are still only half as many restaurants as there once were. Had an OK food-court-cajun dinner, but resolved to escape the food court for a real meal Saturday night. More on that later.

Next up was filkertom's concert. Well-attended, as expected. Funny, of course. But I'm afraid I don't remember many details other than the sheep puppet shtick-a-long for "Sheep Marketing Ploy".

Tom's concert was followed by open filk, with Tom as "host". Early on, I was fighting with the low G string, which was slipping badly; I was starting to worry that something was wrong with the tuner, when it finally seemed willing to hold, and Tom thought I was trying to go -- I guess I wasn't being as unobtrusive as I meant to with my tuning. So, even though I wasn't really ready, I launched into "After Life Goes By", and managed to pull it off pretty well. Unfortunately, I had just run up to my room after the concert, grabbed the guitar, and run back, without running through any songs or getting myself mentally ready for anything, and after that first song, I didn't feel ready to go with anything, and I mostly sat and listened. I did "Dandelion Wine", by sexybass, hopefully not too badly; I think I have the chords and the basic rhythm down pretty solidly on that one, but I have the definite feeling that there's something missing from my performance of it. Cindy and Jane showed up, but mostly listened; I think they'd had a tiring trip out. I did get Cindy's autograph on my souvenir CD. Aaron Billodeau was also there, and impressed people with "Lord of the Damned", as well as a bad case of Frank Hayes' disease. He forgot the words to a couple of his own songs, and Juanita kept razzing him about bringing a lyric book.

Even though I didn't sing much, I was up late enough on Friday that I wasn't even going to think about getting to a 10 AM concert. So I missed braider. Which I regret, but if I had dragged myself to it, I would have been meatloaf for the rest of the day. I managed to get up in time to have lunch before the Dementia Showcase at 1, which was pretty cool. The Good Doctor pulled in a decent crowd, and filker0 led off (in a random drawing) with Nate Bucklin's "I Can't Get Over You" (played in his own, rather than Nate's, style), and then melted some brains with the lullaby about demons. (Have I mentioned that filker0 is one truly sick puppy?) Other filkers showcased included Juanita, Steve Simmons, mrpsyklops and braider, as well as filk GoHs Dr. Jane and Cindy; I think the Dr. Demento audience was there for filkertom and Luke Ski, but hopefully they got someting out of the other performances. It is really great that when Dr. Demento is a guest at SF cons, he goes out of his way to bring filkers to the attention of his audience.

The Dementia Showcase was followed by a concert by billroper. Which was very sparsely attended, I'm sad to report, but Bill is nothing if not a trouper, and he soldiered on in spite of having 15 people in a room with seating for 300, which can't have been very heartening. Gretchen joined him for the first couple of songs, and then he went solo, with new material and songs from Seven Miles a Second. I missed part of the show; my camera battery got weak and I didn't want it to die before the guest of honor concert, so, not having had the foresight to have the spare battery on my person, I had to go back to the room and get it. I enjoyed what I did hear.

Next up was the Guest of Honor concert, featuring Dr. Jane Robinson and Cynthia McQuillin. It's been 15 years since Cindy's been in the midwest, so this was a real treat. It was, in fact, what it took to get me to Marcon, which I usually don't go to (Memorial Day weekend is very inconvenient for me). Both Jane and Cindy have written tons of songs I really like, and they're both really nice people we get to see far too little of, so this was a Big Event, and I'm frankly puzzled as to why there weren't more filkers there. It would have been good just to be able to see them, and fine to just hear them perform some of the familiar songs live for us, but they gave us much more than that, with several new songs from Cindy with cool arrangements from Dr. Jane. More new material, in fact, than fit in the concert; they had new stuff in the filk that night too.

For dinner, my mom and I joined janmagic and Art Warneke. We all agreed that we didn't want to spend the whole weekend eating nothing but the food court food, so I dusted off a several-years-old recommendation from my friend Carl and dragged the group to Barley's, a brew pub a couple of blocks north of the Hyatt on High St. I was somewhat chagrined when I saw the prices on the menu -- I hadn't realized that dinner would be setting us back $30 each. But everyone agreed the food was wonderful. My mom told me to thank Carl.

Rennie Levine was supposed to have had a concert at 7, but she was ill and couldn't come to the convention. This was a bummer, but it did mean that dinner wasn't rushed, and gave me time to take a nap before the filking opened at 10, which I needed, and a little time to get some songs spruced up and ready. I did Anne Passovoy's "Dangerous Color", which has been a mainstay of my repertoire ever since the_gwenzilliad gave me a "Cool!" and asked for the lyrics when I first did it in her presence. I was just a bit worried about it this time, because my new strings were still very bright and zingy, and I play this song very quietly, but I was able to control that, and apparently got the rest of the performance right too, because it was very well received. I also remember doing "Dancing Bear", which was a little rough until the memory came on line, but not too bad, and "Zero G Polka", which seemed like it had to follow Dr. Jane and Cindy doing "Graviportal Polka" -- unfortunately, I made a complete and total hash of it; I couldn't find the rhythm to save my life. I should have ditched the guitar and just sung it acapella. And as things were breaking up, I had Art do "Discovery" (by Chris de Burgh, but we all learned it from decadentdave, so I could follow it with "St. Brendan's Fair Isle", and my challenge to the audience as to what the connection between the two songs is. Nobody's gotten it yet; I'm going to have to come up with an actual prize to award to the first person that figures it out. It was a good filk.

Since we were staying over Sunday night, there was no getting up early Sunday morning and rushing to be out of the hotel room. I got up around 12:30, paid for my books in the dealers' room, got a sandwich in the food court, and got to the filk room for singlemaltsilk's concert. She gave us a very professional concert, with short, pithy, worthwhile introductions to the songs, and her wonderful singing, and 3 songs I hadn't heard before, but very much want to hear again. I think some nervousness was showing through, because her tempo was a bit too quick on a couple, but her voice is always a marvel. There was only one big thing wrong with her concert, and that's that it was too short! I want more!

After singlemaltsilk's half-hour set, we got a set from mrpsyklops, who followed the only way a mortal could hope to, with humor. A solid set, but I was disappointed that he didn't give us his wonderful settting of Tom Bombadil's Song.

The dead dog filk was thinly attended, which gave me a chance to get in more songs than I had the rest of the convention. I remember I did "The SF Editor's Lament" and "The Light-Ship" pretty well, and made a hash of trying to intersperse "The Chicago Reel" between verses of "Fun and Games".

Robin Nakkula and her husband Alan (whose last name eludes me) took me, my mom, and qnvhrtz to a nice little Mexican place they frequent a few miles from the convention, where we had a nice dinner and a pleasant conversation. We returned to the con just about the time the filk room was due to be locked up, so we went to the con suite, where everyone who was still around was lining up for pizza. Got to spend a pleasant couple of hours listening to stories from Fan GoHs Bjo and John Trimble, whom I had meant once before, 23 years ago at the first west coast filkcon. On the elevator going back to our rooms, I showed Bjo "Chillin'", my picture of 3 tigers in one tank, and when I said that I'd taken it myself, she said she would have been interested in hearing my stories, but it was late. I had almost worked my way up to pulling out the pictures in the con suite, but hadn't quite gotten up the nerve.

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