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Windycon report, part 1 - Phil's Rambling Rants
November 15th, 2004
06:20 pm

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Windycon report, part 1
I will now try to write a text-only Windycon report before it all fades.  (I will try to post pictures later, but the pictures are at home, and I am at work.)

The trip got off to a good start, actually leaving my mom's driveway at 12:34, which comes pretty close to being on the road by 12:30. I'd realized by then that I'd forgotten the battery charger for my camera (I thought I already told people to hit me with large blunt objects if I did that again), but I wasn't going to take most of an hour to go home and fetch it. Traffic was moderate and the drive went smoothly; we got to the hotel around 3:30 (I didn't note the exact time). It was easy to find the hotel, and the only problem I had was that I initially pulled in the wrong driveway, and it appeared to be necessary to make a left back onto Mannheim and another left in the right driveway. This was a pain but eventually accomplished.

I checked in. The hotel knew about my reservation but had apparently lost the instructions that I was supposed to be located near the filk. I think they said I was on the 10th floor, and definitely in the wrong tower. But when I told them that I'd been supposed to be located near janmagic's room, they quickly found another room. I got to the room and was slightly nonplused to realize that it was a handicap-accessible room; I could use the room just fine but I was worried that I would be displacing someone who genuinely needed it, so I called the front desk and checked to make sure they hadn't made a mistake and they assured me it was OK.

After hauling my crap to the room (which, with two guitars, absolutely requires either a cart or two trips; I went with the two trips this time, but I'm definitely thinking of buying a cart), I got registered and began getting oriented in the hotel, which was slightly confusing but not really that hard to understand. It would have helped a great deal if the hotel map printed in the pocket program had been labeled with not only the hotel's names of various rooms but also with what con functions were in them. This information was included on some of the maps that were posted on the walls but not in the program book.

I shortly ran into Filk GoH Barry Childs-Helton, and spent the next half an hour or so helping Barry and the rest of the band get all of their stuff to their rooms. (In addition to Barry and Sally, the other members of Barry's current (non-filk) band Wild Mercy were both there for a concert Friday night. Unfortunately, Jen the harper had prior professional commitments -- two weddings on Saturday -- so we only got to see her for the concert, but Debbie was there for the weekend and seemed to be enjoying it.) I helped Jan with some signage for the filk, and then my mom, Jan, her husband Nick, and I had dinner at the buffet in the hotel restaurant. The regular menu at this restaurant was a little too tony for most fans -- $20.50 for meatloaf?! -- but they had prepared an all-you-can-eat buffet for $9.95. The choices were limited but the food was good, it was there, and on Friday it wasn't very busy so it worked very well.

I went to Opening Ceremonies after dinner, where the usual boredom of opening ceremonies was lightened by someone -- my memory is fuzzy, I think it was last year's con chair Steven Silver -- doing an unscheduled presentation to this year's chair Bonnie Jones. It seems Bonnie made some remark on the occasion of taking on the mantle of chairman that she wished to be known as something approximating Her Royal High Chair-ness. The title did not catch on with the rest of the concom, but it was remembered, and she was presented with her throne -- a high chair. She went along with the gag to the extent of actually sitting in the high chair, which she could just manage since she's a fairly small woman. The other high point of Opening Ceremonies was hearing GoH Robert Sawyer speak. Funny, erudite, interesting, and I really wish I'd gotten to hear him more later in the con but somehow I didn't.

After Opening Ceremonies was an episode of the fannish version of Let's Make a Deal, with billroper as Monty Hall. Bill and Gretchen did a really great job of preparing this schtick, and also had managed to come up with some pretty cool prizes, and the actual presentation was handled very well. It was disappointing that so few people attended; I think more people would have shown up if they'd known that there were going to be real prizes that you'd actually want (culminating in two free room nights at the hotel). Also disappointing to me was that nobody seemed to pay any attention to the tarantula on my head. I thought it was appropriate to reprise my OVFF hat for Let's Make a Deal, but it wasn't enough to get me a prize.

After Let's Make a Deal was the largest schedule frustration of the weekend. ericcoleman's concert was scheduled at the same time as Christain Ready's Hubble slideshow. I really wanted to show up to show my support for my friend Eric and to try to connect actual songs to the titles I know from his LJ, but I also really wanted to see Chris' pictures. I ended up opting for Eric's concert, which was pretty cool.

After Eric's concert, there was a little open filk, with the highlight being singlemaltsilk's oh so cool vampire song (her music to Michael Longcor's words). And I simply cannot remember the name of the song, which is making me feel very senile. This brief bit of filking ended when it was time for Wild Mercy to start doing sound checks. Wild Mercy delivered a really kick ass concert, which was followed by a good open filk, where I got to tell the story of how I'd borrowed Barry's guitar at ConClave and liked it so much I bought one of my own, and to demonstrate why I wanted a 6-string, I played "Drunken Angel", pretty badly by the standards of what I'm trying to achieve but hopefully it didn't completely suck to the audience. Few details of the filk remain in my mind. There were a lot of Star Trek songs -- I remember doing Julia Ecklar's "Tribbles" -- and a good time seemed to be had by all until 3-ish.

I will continue this report in another post, since I'm late for dinner now.

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[User Picture]
From:tigertoy
Date:November 15th, 2004 04:19 pm (UTC)
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Argh! Note to self -- the Deepest Sender cut tag feature will turn selected text into a cut tag, but it trashes the formatting of the stuff it puts into the cut tag. I will try to restore the paragraphs and LJ user tags that it threw away.
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From:tigertoy
Date:November 15th, 2004 04:25 pm (UTC)
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There, that looks better. Dinner now.
[User Picture]
From:ericcoleman
Date:November 15th, 2004 06:24 pm (UTC)
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>I ended up opting for Eric's concert,

Thank you ...

>which was pretty cool.

And thank you even more ...

>I played "Drunken Angel", pretty badly by the standards of what I'm
>trying to achieve but hopefully it didn't completely suck to the audience.

What I got from it was that you weren't quite used to the guitar yet. It certainly wasn't bad, just a bit awkward but done very nicely.

There are two players I have watched over the last few years who continue to amaze me with how far you have come, you and Anach.
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From:beige_alert
Date:November 16th, 2004 09:24 am (UTC)
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I have to agree that Phil is doing some great stuff these days, and I'm especially impressed by anach since he and I started doing this music thing at roughly the same time, and we've both improved a lot since then, but in my case, I've improved from marginally functional to almost as good as he was when we started.
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From:msminlr
Date:November 15th, 2004 06:48 pm (UTC)
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I went with the two trips this time, but I'm definitely thinking of buying a cart

Yesterday at Sam's I saw a flatbed "monster cart" with a handle that folds down onto the loadbed for storage/transport. Somewhere around $45-$50. I can see where it would be a challenge, though, (because of the size of the wheels on it) to devise a packing scheme for a really STUFFED car trunk which would allow the cart to be the last thing in before closing the lid.
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From:singlemaltsilk
Date:November 15th, 2004 07:54 pm (UTC)
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The song title is 'Beyond', and thank you. If memory serves, you were one of the very first to hear it as a work-in-progress a couple of years ago during one of Wulf's songwriting workshops at ConFusion. Or I could be hallucinating again...

On the subject of carts, I have a great, lightweight combo cart/hand truck/step ladder/dolley called a 'Total Trolley'. I saw it on an infomercial, but didn't order until I saw another dealer using one at a convention, and she said she loved hers. I'm very happy with mine. I'll have it at Chambanacon if you want to check it out.
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From:tigertoy
Date:November 15th, 2004 09:49 pm (UTC)
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I don't think I had heard it before your concert at Marcon. I don't try to write songs, so I don't feel the urge to go to songwriting workshops.

You could entrance me singing the phone book to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb, and I love vampire songs, so you shouldn't be surprised that you have a hit as far as I'm concerned.
[User Picture]
From:tigertoy
Date:November 15th, 2004 09:53 pm (UTC)
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As to the carts, it's one of those situations where first I have to figure out what I want and then I have to see if I can find it. I need to decide if I'm really looking for a cart to take my guitars and bag of stuff to the filk, or if I want a bigger cart that I could put everything on.
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From:singlemaltsilk
Date:November 15th, 2004 10:26 pm (UTC)
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If you decide it's just for getting your gear to the filk room, I know a couple of people who have strap thingies that allow them to carry one guitar backpack style. That might be enough for you.
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From:billroper
Date:November 16th, 2004 08:17 am (UTC)
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I'll give the minority report on multiple instruments:

Generally, I think this is a bad idea. If you are a young, normal, healthy adult and can't carry your instruments and music in two hands, you may be bringing too many instruments to the filk. It takes up more space, it causes more chaos in the circle as you're switching around, and it usually doesn't improve the quality of the sing.

There are exceptions to this rule. But they start at Bill Maraschiello and work down from there. :)

Ok, more seriously, what are the exceptions?

1) You play something huge like a harp or string bass.
2) You have one extra instrument that you can usually keep tucked away easily -- a mandolin comes to mind.
3) You have a few different drums that have distinctive sounds and that don't take up much space. Or guitars that are well stowed. And then you get there early to set up. And stay late. :)
4) You are far enough along in years that a cart seems like a really good idea.

(Actually, looking back at your original post, I see the discussion is more oriented toward getting to and from the car. Carts are a great idea there if you have more than you can handle. Just not such a great idea for the filk.)
[User Picture]
From:tigertoy
Date:November 16th, 2004 10:22 am (UTC)
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In principle, I agree with the idea that only carrying what you can handle is a good idea. In fact, before I had the second guitar I liked to leave the case in the room and only carry the guitar itself and the bag with my filk book, etc. Leaving the case behind does more to minimize the awkwardness and disruption of getting in and out of the room than anything else.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to only carry one guitar to the filk, and still *have* both of them to play on. There are some songs I play that do not work on a 12 string, and there are others that definitely sound much better on the 12. Having two guitars is new for me and I am not sure if I will continue to take both to the filk all the time, but I am sure that whichever one I leave behind I will find myself wanting.

The really important aspect of traveling light but not too light, beyond exercising some restraint if you own a whole music store's worth of instruments, is in the other stuff, not the instruments. Unless you have a much better memory than I have, you should always have a book. (It's important to learn to perform to the audience and not the book, but Frank Hayes' disease is really a funny-once joke. And it's been done.) If you have a book, you should have a music stand. People who use chairs as music stands are a minor peeve of mine: they hold the music too low, tending to cause the person to scrunch down and project into the floor, and the chair back gets between the person and the circle blocking the view. And I really prefer to have a guitar stand to set my guitar in, rather than trusting that it won't get knocked over while I'm going to the bathroom.
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