We got to the con somewhere around 4. Construction on the tollways created some congestion but it wasn't too bad. The hotel wanted to put me on the 6th floor. I asked the clerk for a lower floor and ended up on 2. This turned out to be the smoking party floor, but the hallway, though slightly stinky, was never really smoky, the room was fine, and if there were any loud parties they didn't run late. I took my art down, got my badge, and checked into the art show. Then started looking for dinner companions, without success, so birder2 and I walked to Schmaltz' and split a pastrami sandwich, knishes, and a salad they described as Greek. Then it was the filk guests' concert. With Frank, Murray, and Moonwulf trading songs, it felt almost like being at Chambanacon 20 years ago. Then there was open filking; I'm struggling to remember any of it. I did Swing the Cat with chirosinger sitting on the floor in front of me trying to write down the chords. It really puffs my ego that a musician of her caliber would be interested in the details of how I play a song. musicmutt sang "Guest Room", his tribute to Dave Alway, and I read Dave's poem "Madison's Mourning". There was an overly-talented (flashy guitarist who also played keyboard, creditably, and piano accordion, the first time I can recall seeing that instrument in a filk) fellow named, if I'm not confused, Gary, who sang what I assume were original songs (or at least lyrics) that were actual thoughtful examinations of things that come up in science fiction stories. I didn't stay stay up terribly late, in the hope of having something left for the rest of the weekend.
Saturday I woke up earlier than I'd really meant to, but when I got to the con suite I'd missed breakfast and they said they wouldn't put out any real food for some time, so I wandered back down to the con and milled around looking for someone to eat with for a while before I gave up and walked to Schmaltz' again. I got a barbeque beef sandwich to go, and took it back to the con suite, where I conversed with TC and Marcey while the sandwich of doom repeatedly attacked me. (Note to self, avoid the barbeque beef, it tastes good but it is horribly messy.) Wandered back down to the con, saw the art show, wandered through the dealers' room and picked up a stack of CDs from billroper. I didn't see any books at Larry Smith's table that I wanted to read that I didn't think birder2 was going to get, and I decided that if I needed my own copy of Heart of Valor, I'd wait until Windycon when I could get it signed. (In theory I could buy it now and bring it along to Windy, but in practice I never actually remember to bring books to be signed.) I missed ericcoleman's concert while I did this, and most of filkertom's as well, but since I really wanted to get to stuff for the rest of the afternoon, I had to miss concerts if I was going to see the art show and the dealer's room. Next was the World Bird Sanctuary show, which was awesome. The science is pretty dumbed down, but the presentation is very effective, and the birds are gorgeous. This year, they had an African White-Necked Raven who did tricks. He was trained to pick up pop cans from audience members and drop them in a recycle bin on stage, which was a hoot. And he was trained to take money from people and stuff it in the big donation box he was perched on, which was very funny. I fed him a $5 and a $1, and collected my faux-gold World Bird Sanctuary medallion, which I wore proudly for the rest of the weekend. This was followed by Riverfolk's concert, which was of course wonderful, even though I already knew almost all the songs. After that, I skipped Moonwulf's concert, because up against it was a panel called "Tales from the Big Cat Sanctuary". A fellow named Michael Sawyer, who has been associated with Tiger Touch in Nevada for some time, and now that he's in the Chicago area volunteers at Valley of the Kings, had some slides and stuff to tell. Unfortunately, he didn't have much audience. After the panel, we chatted for the next hour about big cat stuff. Somewhere in there, I realized that I've talked to him a couple of times at VOTK, but I hadn't attached a name to him. I was afraid that I'd totally missed dinner by this time, but I wandered by the hotel restaurant where the prime rib buffet was, and was summoned to the filk table. Most people were finishing up, but a few people were still eating, including Art Warneke and his, oh my god, fiancée. Whose name might be Cynthia, unless it's something else. I don't do names. Seeing him behaving like a smitten teenager makes me think there might be hope for me too. I told them about the mess in my life; she shared some of the mess in hers, and they talked about the logistical problems it will be for her to move in with him. And I ate half a cow or something. After dinner, I wandered over to the lobby outside the main stage, where gundo and co-conspirators ericcoleman, anach, and some guy I didn't know whose name I believe was Mike were staging a full electronic drum set and other dangerous devices. They allowed as to how they were trying to pull off some kind of hard rock-filk fusion, and I told them I was willing to help hold off the mobs with pitchforks as long as they didn't turn it up to 11. And then one of the most awesome hall costumes I've ever seen came by. When I first saw it all I saw was a lion walking on its hind legs; the wings and stinger of the manticore were hard to see from the front. I had no idea who was inside the thing, but whoever it was played it really well, treating me to a wonderful show of being menaced, with the only sound being a very low growl. It would have been very intimidating if I weren't so fully rooted in the reality that it was just a costume. And we chatted and waited around for the art auction to end, and I went and got my guitar, and we chatted and waited for the art auction to end, and I sat in the alternate filk room and sang "After Life Goes By", and we received word the art auction was over, and I headed back, and there was setting up, and most of the filkers migrated from the packed alternate room, creating an overcrowded circle in 1/3 of the huge ballroom since nobody would listen to almeda and her wise circle-setup-fu. But we had a great filk, and Toyboat, as the aforementioned conspiracy styles itself, managed to escape unrent by pitchforks, even though they tempted fate with a rock version of Mary O'Meara. In future, I hope they (a) get the balance between the instruments better, so we can hear something besides guitars, and (b) perform some classic filk songs using the real melodies and a rock sensibility, because I think the audience will find that easier to digest. I think the highlight of the evening was chasophonic singing "Whiter Shade of Pale", accompanied by aaanda on fiddle and Gary playing the accordion as if it were a Hammond B-3. Somewhere in there, filker0 launched into "And the Lovely Mary Lou". I'm sorry for being rude, but I just can't stand that song, and I left the room, where I encountered Michael again, and he revealed that he was the manticore earlier. We chatted a little more, but he was trying to head home, since he was off to VOTK the next day. Great filk, but by about 3 AM, staying awake had become painful, so I went off to bed.
Sunday started way too early. I woke up at 8 and couldn't get back to sleep. Gave up and got up at 10, tried to find some food, put my stuff in the car, wandered around a lot looking for birder2, registered for next year since it was $30, got my art (sold two pieces, Rajah's Throne (the new one) and Chillin', which paid for next year's registration), caught the balance of musicmutt's concert, sat down with chirosinger and showed her the chords to "Swing the Cat", caught the balance of Barisha and Carol's concert (which sadly was just the two of them; Carol Flynt didn't make it), and headed home, stopping at the Popeye's on 159th St. Listened to the two new albums from Dodeka on the way home; positive first impressions, but I don't remember enough to really talk about them. Except for the part where "Not Everybody Dies" came up on Falling Toward Orion, and I was puzzled because I was sure that song was on Seven Miles a Second and I didn't understand why it was repeated. Of course, it's not actually on the earlier album. I don't know why I was so sure it was.
I mostly left out the parts where I got a lot of hugs and words of encouragement about my life situation and had a lot of those brief moments of friendship that are what a con is really all about. I mostly don't remember when they happened, and they mostly don't make good conrep material. But really, they're what a con is for.