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Windycon - Phil's Rambling Rants
November 11th, 2007
10:09 pm

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Windycon
So, I have returned from Windycon, and I will write a bit about my experience.

By taking the whole day off work, I was able to get to the con in quite reasonable time; we (being myself and birder2 who was riding with me) pulled into the parking lot at about 2:30.  This was slightly earlier than necessary (as in "in time to get a parking space"), but not by all that much.  I checked into the hotel and got my badge without incident.  Putting my art in the art show struck a bad note, when I discovered that the software Windycon uses does not print bid sheets.  (Since it's pretty much the same people working the art show at all of the Chicago cons, I was expecting them to be using the same technology as well.)  So I had to fill out bid sheets by hand, and I felt grumpy about this, because I'd convinced myself that I wasn't going to have to do it.  After I got my art hung, I looked through the show.  I was actually fairly impressed by the spread of Artist GoH Jody Lee's work.  Jody Lee first appeared on the scene on the covers of Mercedes Lackey's early work, and to be polite, I hated those covers.  But she's definitely gotten better.

After I got done in the art show I started looking for dinner companions, but wasn't finding anyone.  birder2 and I finally had the buffet at the hotel restaurant alone.  The food was OK, but I couldn't help comparing it to the food at the Illini Union Ballroom, which costs a lot less and is a good deal better.  Next was opening ceremonies, which were dominated by toastmaster Richard Chwedyk.  (I'd check the spelling of that name, but they've already taken down the website and put up the basic info about next year.)  I'd never heard Mr. Chwedyk's name pronounced, and I couldn't figure out what to do with that Chw, but it turns out that the initial consonants sound like those of "schwa".  His demeanor suggested that he was very reluctant to be at the podium, but the amount that he talked certainly didn't.  Fortunately, he was pretty funny, but it was still a pretty long opening ceremony, even though the guests he was introducing didn't say much.  Tanya Huff did get one good line in, though: she said that while many authors are not filk friendly, she is so filk-friendly that she's "practically humping its leg".

Opening ceremonies led into a couple of the high points of the con.  First was a performance of ladyat's filk operetta interpretation of Tanya's "Choice of Ending".  The songs that I could hear were very good.  Unfortunately, there were some that I could not hear, because the singers were not miked adequately and mofilker's otherwise superb keyboards were mixed too high.  billroper was disturbingly good singing the villain.  Really, Bill, when you sound *that* happy when you're playing a monster, you make your friends worried.  This musical goodness was followed by a special concert by chasophonic.  I'd head most of the songs before, but I still enjoy them, and there were a couple I hadn't heard but definitely want to hear again -- in particular, an original that he says he wrote while he was unable to sing for a year called (I believe) "North of Winter" which was soul-tinglingly awesome.  This concert also featured a special reprise of something which happened at 3:30 AM in the filk room at DucKon which for some reason nearly everyone involved thought was extremely funny.  mofilker is an accomplished accordion player, and somehow, in that 3:30 AM kind of way, he ended up putting a lovely accordion line behind chasophonic's rendition of "Whiter Shade of Pale", while pretty much the whole room (including the performers) were laughing so hard they could scarcely sit up straight.  *I* don't understand why it's funny; I thought it sounded great.  And I don't think it wouldn't have been all that funny then, except we were all pretty well into the teehee zone.  But anyway, Chas and Gary got into that, and chaoticgoodchic dragged me out of my chair and made me dance with her.  Even though I don't know how to dance, it was *fun*.  And I'm sure that there are pictures all over the Net already from all the cellphone cameras that were aimed at us.

Before hitting the open filk, I wanted to go to the ISFiC party to get my copy of the book.  I was slightly miffed when I didn't discover that said party was in the east tower until I'd already gone back to the west.  (Stupid hotel.)  I got my book and got it signed, and realized that the guests of honor were all sitting around swapping tales, and I couldn't tear myself away for a while.  But I wanted to get to the filk, so I hiked back to the filk end of the hotel and got my guitar.  I walked into the filk room as mofilker was singing a song about "The Trouble With Tribbles" which I felt compelled to follow with Julia Ecklar's "Tribbles" -- which, judging by the audience reaction, some people hadn't heard before.  Unfortunately, the rest of Friday night is pretty much a blur.  I remember that by about 12:30 I was well aware that it was way past my bedtime, but I somehow didn't make it out of the room until after 2.

Saturday, I woke up somewhere around 10.  I wanted to catch Carla Ulbrich's concert, so I didn't just go back to sleep.  I had a little breakfast in the room, took a walk around the outside of the hotel, and listened to Carla (who, sadly, hasn't been doing much new -- but she's still fun).  I then had a sandwich in my room, and went to Tanya Huff's reading, which was most unfortunately scheduled at the same time as mofilker's concert.  After we discovered that the reading was scheduled in a broom closet in which the waiting crowd would not fit, there was some delay while we switched with the panel next door, which had a room that was still pretty small but at least a bit better.  She gave us a short story about a Brownie troop leader with a troop of the other kind of Brownies that had me nearly falling off my chair for 45 minutes.  This was followed by a concert by bedlamhouse and ladyat, again, mostly familiar material, but still very much appreciated.  The "weird instruments" panel was kinda weak, but I did get to try bedlamhouse's practice Uillean pipes, which I found mechanically difficult enough to keep pressurized that I didn't get to the point of trying to actually make music.  Not that I didn't respect Uillean pipers before, but now I respect them even more.

After this, I made the mistake of going to the art show and looking to see if there were any bids on my art.  This was a mistake because there weren't, and it was a real emotional blow.  Intellectually I know that cons are not a good venue for selling my photographs, but I've always sold at least one piece at every Chicago con, and I really thought that the otters would attract bids.  Up to this point in the con, I was in a pretty good space emotionally, but that kicked me into "life sucks, I think I'll just go sit in a corner and rot" any time I wasn't being actively energized by something going on for the rest of the con.

filkertom gave us a fun concert.  We then moved to the filk room for the pizza party.  I didn't really want pizza, but it was a better deal than the hotel buffet and at least there was company.  (Can any Chicago folks speak to whether Giordano's pizza is any good anymore when you actually eat at the restaurant?  It used to be great, but what's been delivered to the last few cons is nowhere near as good as I expect.)  We sat around for hours trying to get a filk started, with the sonic space mostly filled by gundo and anach, until I guess some party let out, and chasophonic and a guy from Minneapolis whose name I believe was Dave (good odds there, considering the number of Daves in Minneapolis) came in and showed us how this music thing is done.  The filk really got rolling, but unfortunately, I was really running out of steam, and when the schedule called for interrupting the high musical energy to try to recreate the Torcon "Chapter and Verse" panel, I just kinda fell over.  Rather than try to wake myself up and filk until late, and then end up being non-functional all next week, I just went to bed.

Sunday morning, I ate, got stuff in the car, listened to filker0 and spiritdance's concert (which was great -- nice to have Melissa have a mike so we can hear her), got my unsold art out of the art show, went to a panel on future politics which was kinda lame, and then to closing ceremonies, where it was officially announced that next year's Windycon will be in Lombard, which is primarily significant because it means it won't be in the crappy hotel with the utterly horrible parking situation (and there was much rejoicing).  There were supposed to be 2x10s after that, but (a) only gundo and I signed up, and (b) we didn't have a sound system except for the hotel PA.  I sang "Crane Dance", which I've been wanting to sing ever since seeing the cranes last weekend, and recited Dave Alway's "Quad Drill".  The few people still present said nice things, but they were filk regulars anyway.

A dinner expedition to the Ram brew pub was being organized, but I decided that I really needed to come home, unpack, and sleep; if we'd gone, I figure we'd be pulling into Champaign about now.  And as I'm about to fall over into my keyboard, I think it's a very good thing that I'm already home.  Plus, any con report would have been delayed until Tuesday (or never) if it hadn't been written tonight.

Thanks to those of you who bought EFRC calendars.  If I missed getting a calendar to someone who wanted one, I'm sorry.  I was not firing on all mental cylinders for a lot of the con.  (And if I was rude or just not fun to be with, I apologize for that too.)

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Comments
 
[User Picture]
From:billroper
Date:November 12th, 2007 04:42 am (UTC)
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Well, you see, with the operetta, what you have to remember is that monsters of that type are very happy when they're winning.

The rest of us are very happy when they're not.

As far as the hotel change, I don't think that there's anyone rejoicing more than the concom. (Says the ISFiC board member...) Of course, I could be wrong...
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From:catsittingstill
Date:November 12th, 2007 02:40 pm (UTC)
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Sigh. You make me wish I could have gone. Though it does sound like a good thing that the con is changing hotels.

Hope you get caught up on your sleep soon!
From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 12th, 2007 02:56 pm (UTC)
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I hear you sent me a calendar, which I appreciate very, very much! I haven't seen Peggi lately but will at the Saturday Concom.

I am sorry the Con was not great for you. I was stuck at a business conference or would have gone this year. I have never been to Windycon yet; maybe next year.
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From:tigertoy
Date:November 14th, 2007 12:29 am (UTC)
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I missed you at OVFF, and I know life has been kinda sucky for you lately, so I wanted to give you a little boost.
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From:billroper
Date:November 12th, 2007 05:05 pm (UTC)
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Giordano's pizza is ok, but it's not my stuffed pizza of choice. Of the local chains, I prefer Edwardo's. And I quite like Allegretti's, which is our neighborhood place and wouldn't have been too far from the hotel, but daisy_knotwise thinks their sauce is too sweet.
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From:chaoticgoodchic
Date:November 13th, 2007 02:40 am (UTC)
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My favorite is still Giordano's, but I agree that Allegretti's is excellent. It's a close 2nd in my book.

I'm sorry that this CON experience was rather lackluster for you. I kinda felt that way during OVFF. The important thing is to always concentrate on all the good things you experience.

Oh, your rendition of Crane Song was brilliant!! It obviously meant something to you for you to bring so much emotion and expression to the piece instead of just standing up there and la-la-la-ing through it. I've never heard it done better and I've heard it MANY times.

My friend, I don't know if you know this about yourself, but you don't "leak" very much. What I mean is that whatever is going on inside of you isn't very apparent on the outside. If you've ever wondered why people don't ask you "what's wrong", this could be why. So, if you ever need a hug, just ask! Your community cares about you.
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From:tigertoy
Date:November 14th, 2007 12:28 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the kind words about Crane Dance. I've sorta-kinda considered it in my repertoire for years, but haven't actually sung it in a long time. I struggle with the rhythm, which is a lot more complex than the average filk song. I suspect that it bothers people less because it's not as much a singalong song as other songs where I'm always confused about where the downbeats go. Seeing thousands of cranes the weekend before had made me think of the song, and it really was running through my head a lot of the time, so I wanted to sing it at the con.

Thank you for helping make the con much better than it would have been. The dance on Friday night was great.
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From:born_to_me
Date:November 14th, 2007 04:58 pm (UTC)
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Spoken word has long been one of my favorite things, and I'd love to do more of it in the circles too. Maybe we can encourage each other? (I mentioned this in my own con report, too.)
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