June 9th, 2016

krazy koati

Renaissance or Rennai'ssance, it's still a Renaissance

Last year bunny_hugger joined the Morphicon Atomic Spectacle of Doom, the live 90-minute show written by someone who can't be at the convention and performed by whoever happens to volunteer the day of the show and participate in a hasty rehearsal and discovery that nobody really knows what the heck the sketches are about. It was a rough experience and she swore off doing that again. So after the pinball panel and some slight recuperation time, including I believe another look at the bunnies on the patio, she went off to join the show's successor, Anthrohio Live. I didn't quite work up the courage to go along with her, nor to, as I had last year, sit in on rehearsals and watch the spectacle get ready to spectate.

It would be lucky she went, too, because she was the only person with puppets, or the slightest puppeteering experience, to do so. I probably should've joined the show. But the writer, supposing there to be a strong puppeteering track still at Anthrohio, had written a piece that called for three puppets to be on-stage simultaneously. Ideally, in fact, two sets of three identical puppets. That was right out. But between her characters and having two arms bunny_hugger was able to supply the whole puppet needs of the show and two-thirds of the puppet performance needs.

And me? During all this? I walked around some to drum up more votes for my Trash Panda: Yes Or No survey. And paid another visit to the rabbit rescue people on the patio and talked some about our rabbit's ongoing problems. And I dropped in on another species SIG, this one for the canines. There were a lot of them there, which shows just how popular wolves, foxes, and huskies continue to be in the fandom. They took turns with a cute gimmick, too, passing around a plush dog to signify who was to speak. I owned up that I wasn't any kind of dog but was just there gathering intelligence. Also listening to people's character stories, which came in two varieties. There's the people who have complex and involved backstories about their characters and their origin worlds which they admit have sometimes mutated in detail. And there's the people who, dunno, their character's just them but a husky. It takes all kinds.

I also got to peek in on the end of the Frankenfursuit competition. The premise there: here's a room full of fabric, buttons, boxes, tape, sewing stuff. Build something. Considering the participants had two hours and whatever they could scrounge, the outfits they put together were ... quite Five Nights At Freddy's but respectable for all that. It's the sort of event that inspires one, not just because it seems like fun to do but because of the reassurance that if someone can make something not actively hideous in every possible way with two hours of trying, surely, there's hope for doing something serious.

So how was the Anthrohio Live show? Well, I enjoyed it. It was the typical blend of sketches with slightly-too-complicated writing given the potluck nature of the performers and that they'd get maybe two rehearsals in. And that microphones would be a fine theory for many of the performers. And it had the typical mix of sketches that were definitely on-theme, and sketches that were references to some pop culture thing, often video games, that I didn't know. But you know when things just read like they're references to something. There were the forays into pretty funny bad taste, and a couple of attempts at spoofing stuff in the news.

So yeah, they did a Donald Trump sketch, with a performer who didn't show much evidence of having ever heard of Trump or how he speaks. This included, bunny_hugger would tell me, a bit of wonderfully crafted but ultimately wasted work on the writer's part. The bit had the Trump character taking questions from the audience. There were scripted bits for a fair number of possible questions people might ask, plus some catch-alls in case nothing quite fit. And that's just brilliant. The trouble is that, at least, I wasn't clear whether we in the audience were actually supposed to ask questions or whether we were to wait for a confederate who was part of the show to ask something. Alkali, taking seriously his role of making performance events actually run, stepped up and asked a question (which got, I learned, the generic catch-all, possibly because the performer didn't recognize a keyword in the question. In his defense, he was in fursuit. I gather that's generally a good way to temporarily lose your sense of sight, sound, direction, balance, and not-suffering-heatstroke). It got the sketch done, although it left the audience unsure about whether we were supposed to take part.

bunny_hugger described the rehearsal as excruciatingly long and dull --- there just was almost no puppet work to do, and she wasn't appearing on stage directly --- but that is about what I expected. She got paid a measly one or maybe two of the coins for the guild project, nowhere near satisfying for the time she put into it.

It's left me feeling like, boy, we need more puppet stuff. Maybe I should pitch a Complete Amateur Puppeteering panel for next year. Although I know that's just the first step to being the fantastically unqualified puppetmaster for Michigan-Ohio conventions and that's a terrifying prospect to me too.

Trivia: The first known case of human zinc deficiency came to light in 1968, in Iran. Source: Molecules At An Exhibition: The Science of Everyday Life, John Emsley.

Currently Reading: The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Company, John Keay.