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DucKon report - Phil's Rambling Rants
June 15th, 2008
09:58 pm

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DucKon report
The trip up Friday was uneventful.  We left on time (which makes this trip one for the record books) and encountered no traffic or other problems.  I-57 was fully open where it had been closed for the tornado.  At the rest area at Monee, I asked the attendant if I was heading for trouble, and she advised me that I could expect a significant delay at the intersection of I-355 and I-88 and recommended detouring by way of 75th St to Naper.  As I came north, it didn't look like we were heading into trouble, but I decided better safe than sorry and took the recommended detour.  The detour was as easy as it could be, but it was surface streets, so it probably added 10 minutes to the trip.  I checked in uneventfully, asked to be moved down from the 5th floor, and got moved to the second floor.  Room 213, to be exact, which I mention because due to an oddity in building layout this room is ENORMOUS (though slightly irregularly shaped).  It was so big that I called the desk to make sure that they hadn't made a mistake and given me a room that was supposed to cost way more than normal, since (a) I didn't want to take a chance that they would try to tack the extra charge onto my bill, and (b) I didn't want to have to worry that the hotel would ask me to move later when they discovered their mistake and I was moved in.  They assured me that it was fine, and I unpacked a bit, where I discovered that my neti pot was missing.  The saline was there, but not the pot.  Grumble.

Since it was only about 4:00 and no programming started until 6, I took the chance to take a look through the art show.  I wasn't showing anything this year, because I've become dissatisfied with the framing and presentation of the work that I have, but I haven't actually implemented a better solution.  Also, I think I've pretty much tapped out the market for my existing work and I have nothing new.  I didn't see anything I had to have, which is fortunate since now is not a good time for me to be buying expensive things.  Then I made a pass through the dealers' room and picked out a couple of books.

I failed to come up with any companions for dinner.  I went to Walgreen's and bought another neti pot.  When I left I'd been thinking I'd buy myself dinner on the way back, but I decided that was silly and I just had a sandwich in my room, which meant that I had time to see Opening Ceremonies and Ookla's acoustic vs. electric gig.  I was drafted to help move the filk beer, during which process it started to rain.  After that, I went into the parking lot where I thought the Tesla coils were supposed to be and saw nothing, which made me believe that they'd been preempted by the rain, but I wandered around the building and discovered that I'd misunderstood where it was.  So I actually got to see the singing Tesla coils.  A couple of the GT guys (Todd Johnson and Steve sorry-I-can't-remember-your-name) have a pair of big Tesla coils which are driven by a microprocessor which can turn the lightning on and off very quickly, and they got the brilliant idea of modulating it to tune the sound.  They have it perfected to the point where it's a MIDI output device, so they could theoretically play anything that's limited to two one-voice channels.  The tone quality isn't such that it's giong to replace the violin for musical performance, but it does accurately reproduce pitch, so it's actually making music.  15 foot lightning dancing on queue with the BZZAP tuned to make music.  How cool is that?  Answer: it sounds pretty damn cool, but the reality is so much cooler than what you imagine that you truly must see it if you get the chance.

Friday night we had a fairly big circle.  The music was good, but there was a very disturbing tendency to be going strictly around the circle.  I don't remember a lot, but one thing I do remember was that Andy Anda came in just as sweetmusic_27 was leaving, and she stayed around and they actually played together on "This World" and it was a musical orgasm.  Somehow even though I only did a couple of songs myself it was very late by the time I got to my room.

Saturday I slept late and when I did get up I felt like I still needed to sleep a lot more.  I got to a little of phillip2637's concert, and I wish I'd gotten to more of it.  Between the concert and circles, I heard more of his stuff than I have before, and I was pretty impressed.  Then I went to the birds of prey show, because I'm totally a sucker for a chance to see raptors up close.  The first bird they had flying over the audience was Rifle the Harris hawk.  She did several passes from the handler on stage to a handler in the back, but on the first one going to the back of the room, I had been totally oblivious that the handler in the back of the room was moving around and had in fact stopped directly behind me.  So Rifle flew right over my head and fluffed my hair with the wind of her passing.  What a rush!  Unfortunately, I was feeling tired enough at that point that I needed some down time, so I went to my room for a while.  I missed mo_filker's concert and most of Ookla's.  I did get to the Bohnhoff's concert.  I've heard them play live a few times, and I've got their albums, and I remember that Jeff is an absolutely amazing guitar player.  I'd somehow kinda forgotten that Maya is a really good singer.  It's not like I was expecting her to be bad.  I knew she'd be on key and on rhythm.  But I was blown away by the power and tone quality of her voice.

After the concerts we went to the hotel's prime rib buffet, where I ate entirely too much food, and then went to my room and dozed for a while.  When I was ready to move again, I watched the Tesla coils for a while, which unfortunately meant that I missed all but the last song of sexybass and sposter's set.  After that, there was a lot of general milling around, because I and a lot of other people were waiting for the art auction to finish so Toyboat could take the stage.  And, as is the nature of art auctions, that took a long time.

I probably would avoid Toyboat's performances if they weren't friends, because heavy metal is not my thing musically.  I appreciate a pretty wide range of musical styles, but intentionally distorted electric guitar is pretty low on my list of sounds that I like to see used.  However, I have to say that it is really well suited to Tom Smith's "Hellraiser", and their cover of that song was a highlight of the weekend.  It was also pretty cool to hear "Roman Wall Blues", which I think of as erriccoleman's song even though I know he didn't write it with a band behind it.  "Uplift" worked pretty well for me too.

By the time Toyboat was done, it was close to midnight.  There was a fairly big filk in a very small alternate room, and there was already another unscheduled alternate filk featuring Ookla in another room.  I have standing orders from chirosinger that I have to do "Swing the Cat" at every con, and if sweetmusic_27 then I have to recruit her, because it's a song that really needs a fiddle and she likes playing it with me.  This required a little arranging, because they were in different circles, but it was managed.  And then somehow we migrated to the main stage area which was now open, and got a circle going, which was good for a while, but unfortunately I hit a wall with what I swear was an audible splat at about 3:00.

Sunday, I managed to get up, eat some breakfast in the room, get my stuff to the car, and get to nearly all of Mike Whitaker's concert, which rocked.  Then we had Riverfolk's concert, which was of course awesome -- but I noticed that they played almost all their usual repertoire, even though they'd done some other songs in circle (really wall, of course).  Of course I'm too fuzzy-headed to remember any particular songs, but I was starting to think that they should have enough material for another album soon.

Then I hugged a bunch of people and we started trying to leave.  It took a while; we actually watched closing ceremonies, and found that they were selling memberships for next year for only $30, even though they didn't actually mention this in the closing ceremonies.  I would be pretty unlikely to miss any DucKon, but next year Seanan is going to be filk GoH, so I will be there even if I'm living in New Zealand and I have to swim.  (I am quite unable to swim.  Many people spent years trying to each me and I could never figure it out.  Nonetheless, I would swim around the world to be at DucKon with Seanan as filk guest if I had to, because that's how necessariy it is to be there.)  So getting a deal on my membership, and being sure it's done?  Win.

I'm sure there's a lot more I should be saying, but I have to go to bed soon.

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[User Picture]
From:phillip2637
Date:June 17th, 2008 03:02 am (UTC)
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Thank you; that means a lot to me.

After four years, I'm starting to get more comfortable with my place in filk. I will never have a wonderful voice or be a great guitar player (though I'll keep trying to improve), but because I'm reasonably confident now that I have a set of songs that are capable of entertaining a fair number of people, I no longer let those missing pieces make me feel totally unworthy.
[User Picture]
From:tigertoy
Date:June 17th, 2008 01:10 pm (UTC)
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Neither of us are likely to ever play like Jeff Bohnhoff, but the great thing about the guitar is that we don't have to be virtuosos to be worth listening to.
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