austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

And she's always brewing up tea

Sunday we began a little bit earlier --- just a few minutes, but that was enough earlier that we were able to start eating at the breakfast buffet rather than grab stuff to hop onto the shuttle over to the Con Hotel. This may seem like a tiny difference, but it was welcome, particularly for what it did in making it less complicated to get onto the shuttle. Also for letting us grab extra boxes of the chocolate mints. Those were really good.

The first panel to which bunny_hugger and I went, or wanted to go, was on Advanced Puppeteering, which makes for a nice bit of continuity since the panels I went to at the last con I attended, a decade or so ago, were on Introductory Puppeteering, with Vixie leading the business both times around. I did say I've got a subclinical case of puppeteering as a hobby in me. bunny_hugger has a more serious case, to the extent of having several puppets she's got to actually seriously practicing with. One of them was her squirrel, Chitter, which she carried pretty much the whole convention and who only occasionally commanded attention for his endearingly grumpy manner. Another is a bunny whom she hopes to develop into a Ray Davies-like singer, and which she loaned me so my hands wouldn't go completely bare for the panel. She's been practicing singing various tunes, particularly ``Have A Cuppa Tea'', which would become a recurring theme through the day.

Many people brought puppets of various kinds for the panel, so we didn't stand out particularly, at least until Vixie pointed out that we were employing some generally good puppeteering habits. Specifically, we both had our opposite arms crossed around so that the puppets appeared to be sitting more or less on the arms not manipulating their heads and arms, rather than floating in space or calling attention to how they had these arms growing out their backs. And we were also doing fairly well at keeping the puppets in motion, doing little things like looking around or wiggling paws, which helps the puppets keep up the illusion of life. A motionless puppet looks spectacularly dead. I was particularly thrilled to get mentioned for this because those were the most important lessons I took from the Introductory Pupeteering from Vixie ages ago and it's always nice to know you haven't lost skills in the interim.

The next panel and the next we attended was in the same room, and about puppet construction. Unfortunately the mass-produced puppets that are reasonably easy to buy aren't very good for performing: they tend to be too sturdy --- which means heavy --- and often not particularly flexible for extended playing, and even when that isn't a problem, their designs are copyrighted by whoever made them so there are potential problems in public performances. Also most tend to be on the small side, except of course when the performer is so small that the puppet has to be held way up at the outer limits of a person's arm length. We got a bit of explanation and a bit of slightly scary description of how to adapt an existing puppet to something of better design --- in particular, how to take an existing puppet apart so as to re-create the pattern, and enlarge it to something more suitable --- and for that matter saw something I'd never quite grasped when I took home economics in middle school. They showed how to do some basic but functional stitches that would not just instantly rip apart, which had always been beyond me. Since it's been over a month since I saw this, it's probably beyond me again, but it was nice having a few moments where I thought I knew how to put a couple stitches in.

After all this we had a fair bit of free time, actually, so we did some poking about for food --- I believe that we ended up snacking at the Con Lounge, since they kept bringing out pretty respectable things to eat. Yes, some of this was corn chips or peanut M&M's or other things we probably shouldn't have eaten so much of, but some of it was things like granola bars that were surprisingly tasty and pretty filling. Also these breaks would give us time to catch people when we could more or less see their badges, or to whom we could show off our paired badges. (For that matter in a little gathering in the Con Lounge I described eagerly a paper I had the insight for to augustforth, while he showed me one of the books he relies on and we found the point of commonality in our research, which amounts to the spherical harmonic functions.)

Trivia: To be eligible for the five-dollar-a-day wage the Ford Motor Company began offering in 1914 employes had to have at least six months' service, be at least twenty-two years old (or be married, or be supporting a widowed mother or next-of-kin), and satisfy other conditions to respect Henry Ford's demand for a ``clean, sober, and industrious life''. Source: Ford: The Men And The Machine, Robert Lacey.

Currently Reading: Empire Of The Air: The Men Who Made Radio, Tom Lewis.

[ Also: the memorial service for argon_centaur on spindizzy_muck has ben set for 6 pm Pacific time on Sunday the 10th. ]


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