austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

When you're listening late at night you may think the band are not quite right

Saturday opened sooner than Friday did, for the good reason that species sigs are held at unspeakably early hours in the morning and I wanted to go to the Raccoons sig.

OK, it's not actually required that they be unspeakably early, but it feels like it. They definitely had us gathering at 11 am, though, and while bunny_hugger and I made it, I was woozy yet. The sig was low-key as the other species-sigs I attended would be; basically, we introduced one another and snacked (in this case on fancy jellybeans of flavors maybe too sophisticated to be made into jellybean form). There aren't as many raccoons in the fandom as people seem to think, but we make up for it by having got tired of the Raccoon Song sooner than the crowd did.

Following the sig was the fursuit parade, so we rushed away to give bunny_hugger time to get in her costume and hope she'd licked the eye-fogging problem. This time around gave her some hope as the eye stayed clear longer, but it wouldn't be repeated and the eye fogging has been extremely frustrating to her and not much easier for me. There had been a call going around for wranglers to help guide the fursuiters along the designated path, particularly as they were going not by the official published route or the Rain Day alternate route but rather an improvised hybrid created because it was a non-rainy day yet there were people working on the landscaping outside. I volunteered to help wrangle fursuiters, but somehow this didn't quite connect into doing anything beside removing chairs from the path of fursuiters at the assembly room.

From my perspective, at least, the parade went successfully, with everyone getting out of the assembly room without tripping dangerously over a chair, table, or loose wire, although it was a near thing. However, I saw mostly the rear of the parade, since I stuck around helping the fursuiters get out of the assembly room intact, so didn't get to see the anticipatory approach of much of anything, and had very short-lived views of one person who had a four-footed lion costume that was awfully impressive. I got a few photographs, at least, and more in the final hanging-out in the parking lot where the group photos and major photo sessions, as well as distributing of water, was done.

For lunch this time we went back to the shopping center with the enormous abandoned parking lots, but went to the Mexican restaurant up front where I had an extra-cheese cheese quesadilla with cheese. That was getting along the line of the cheese level I like in foods.

Between the raccoons sig, the parade, and lunch, we hadn't yet had time to walk through the dealer's room, so we made a quick visit. I ended up pretty heavily lobbied for the Ringtail Cafe comic books, particularly, although the folks selling it admitted that in the five (or so) issues to date they haven't actually managed to get a coati in. I kind of expected that.

Between the raccoons sig, the parade, lunch, and the dealer's room, we hadn't yet had time to go hunting for the geocached items. We had a starting clue and a little time before the rodents sig so we looked to see what we could make of it. Our starting clue was a small map of the con space and a clue whose words I forget but where the presence of the word ``before'' indicated that it had to be something in grid square B4 on the map. It turned out to be a small cache hidden on top of the vending machine. We took it back to the room, stamped our letterboxing stamps into its log book, and took out the next clue which we'd be able to figure out when we got a moment. Surely.

Funny thing about rodents, in a sig which included a nice set of cheeses to snack on. Coatis, obviously, aren't rodents. Neither are rabbits, according to more recent research and thought about things like their tooth structure. bunny_hugger is right on top of this sort of thing and grew pretty naturally into a position of authority in talking about rodents. I offered my snarky observation that there's not actually any such thing as a rodent. The rats at the panel seemed to take this in pretty good stride, but rats as a community have a pretty strong sense of self-esteem and there were a surprising number of them. They also found a strong pro-rat song from an obscure Hanna-Barbera Heidi cartoon movie that I remembered because they used a musical sting for that in advertising Cartoon Network movies for years, even though I never saw the movie.

bunny_hugger also did a little wandering around in costume, joining the number of fursuiters and partial suiters who added that strange air to the weekend of people who happened to be at this hotel and had no idea what was going on. At one point we lingered by the windows outside the pool and a couple of kids were delighted by the bunny they saw hopping around outside. I honestly wonder what their parents made of it, and how the kids will remember the hotel where there were the bunnies and stuff.

Remember how we saw right through the first geocache clue and figured we were looking good to solve the rest? Yeah, you can probably see where this is going. See, the clues to the next location talked about a thing being in black and white, and in the corner, and ... what the heck did that mean? We came up with several very good theories, I think the least implausible being looking in the art auction for a section of black-and-white artwork (there wasn't), but we just weren't getting it. It turned out the second cache was in a corner of the con suite. This would be explained to us that the black-and-white reference was supposed to make us think of salt-and-pepper, as many of the suite snacks were very salty. This probably made perfect sense while writing the clues but I really only claimed to get it so that the organizer would stop trying to explain how it made sense if you just looked at it the right way.

This isn't to say we didn't find the second, but it was by systematic search of likely locations rather than reasoning through the clues --- a search which also turned up caches numbers four and seven, as I recall it. Actually, it wasn't by systematic search so much as bunny_hugger wanting to check something online so we sat down in the Internet Room corner of the con suite and what do you think was next to us?

Well, we failed, but we were fairly sure we'd get back on track with the third clue, as soon as we finished a bit of grazing in the con suite that would serve for dinner. And while we were eating we saw someone come in, find the cache, and take it away; we supposed that to be one of the other geocache expedition folks taking it off to examine in private (where it would attract less attention from those not in the know; a certain public-yet-secret air is part of the geocache-and-letterbox experience). It turned out to be one of the organizers, though, taking in all the caches because it was the end of the day. We would learn where the other undiscovered caches were (and our basic guess on the third's location was correct), but in the end, rats.

Again more things happened in the evening, including a Spectacle of Doom show featuring a dozen or so performers in a loopy series of sketches based here on Alice in Wonderland but done with that free-form slightly questionable taste that you get when folks from the Internet get together to write stuff. OK, I was bothered by where the humor in ``unbirthday parties'' was going. But there was some pretty inspired loopiness as well, in this case from the casting of the Cheshire Cat as the Chasheen Cat, which I initially thought just a weird mispronunciation. No. They meant to have the character talk in Charlie Sheen-isms. I don't know whether they're authentic or synthesized imitation Charlie Sheen-ish talk, but it made for the strongest, most non sequiturish parts of the show and brought bunny_hugger to regular giggling lasting to right this minute, in fact. And beyond.

I stuck around afterward for the Atomic Comedy Hour of Doom, while bunny_hugger went to the dance. Well, I'm interested in comedy, and this was an hour or so of, ah, amateur comedy. One of the performers (the first) I thought was doing pretty well, although after a coherent set of jokes he went on starting on another thread, which felt to me not organically tied to the first set and not long enough to be a second thread of jokes. The last one told a story about being at a gas pump, being obnoxiously honked at by a person who pulled in behind him despite there being five other available gas pumps, and so going about all the petty passive-aggressive ways to fill the pump slowly while the other person grew more frustrated. That sort of story demands one kind of resolution, of course, the discovery that he's been inflicting revenge unfairly and was the first person to do something obnoxious (like blocking the only working pump), but in the told version, there wasn't any sort of payoff. It was just, he got bizarrely honked at while filling the tank, so he pettily wasted time and drove off unscathed. I don't doubt, really, that this actually happened, but ... it needed some kind of resolution.

Since the show was open to amateur comers I had some stirring thoughts about going on stage myself. I even thought of what to do, since I didn't have anything prepared: I could read, or at least reconstruct, one of my humor columns, and I figured the best choice would be the tale of my blood donation. As I listened and judged what was and wasn't working for the others I got more confident that I could acquit myself well, and I remembered sharply just how the bit began. It needed a stronger ending, but I was able to think of one there, too. And then I realized I couldn't remember just how I got from the beginning to the end. With some concentration I was able to reconstruct some of the middle points, and maybe I'd be able to improvise something connecting the pieces I remembered; after all, it's not like the story has a uniquely fixed form or that anyone would recognize it from blog form. Only ... hum ... how did I get to the high points, and I realized, the more I thought of it the more key points I needed to hit; could I think of enough to construct an organic whole?

And then SonicBlu, the emcee, came on, asked if there were any other volunteers, and in the moment I spent on the brink of volunteering something distracted him, he moved on to more professional performing matters and the moment was lost.

Maybe there'll be open-mic performing at Midwest FurFest. The blood donation story would probably work as well, but it'll need minor fixups in case next winter doesn't start as cold as the past one did.

Ah well. I met back up with bunny_hugger and reported on the amateur comedy, which came out about as she'd expected. We danced a while, and went back to karaoke.

With this third night of karaoke I ventured away from some of my early restrictions, partly by accident. For example, I tried singing the Royal Guardsmen's ``Snoopy Versus The Red Baron''. Fun fact about ``Snoopy Versus The Red Baron'' which I'd forgotten: it's got almost no melody. The instrumental part is pretty much just the drumbeat (and, bunny_hugger notes, an obvious key change about two-thirds through). Nearly the whole of the song depends on the singer's voice. Oh, and there's not much of a hook to say when any particular verse should begin or end; the karaoke feed sweeps its colored light across the words, but nobody would take that too closely as a key for when to sing or not.

And another challenging bit: I tried ``Singing In The Rain'', a favorite song of people who enjoy this whole ``life'' thing as a concept. Of course, they used the version from the 1952 musical, because nobody actually believes it's a late 20s song, even though late 20s arrangements are easier to sing. (If I remember right, the only song from Singing In The Rain which wasn't contemporary to the late 20s was ``Make 'Em Laugh'', which was plagiarized.) But where this opens up potential trouble is, there are long verse-free portions where Gene Kelly would dance.

Rather than stand around ridiculously, then, I decided to swing the microphone around like it were an umbrella, and to leap around as if I were jumping into puddles. While I took reasonable care that I didn't knock over the whole setup --- holding the microphone cable in my opposite hand, primarily, so it'd be out of range of my clumsy feet --- the motion alarmed the onlookers, who warned me I was going to knock things over. Since I was certain I wasn't going to knock things over, the warnings made me think I'd messed that up, producing all kinds of confusion. Well.

I got through without knocking anything over, or being knocked over, and the audience whether impressed that I was putting dance into my act or just glad that I'd got through without thousands of dollars in damage setting the hotel on fire applauded with more than average enthusiasm.

Trivia: The British Museum began opening for Sunday afternoon visits in 1885, and the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery did so from 1896. Source: Sunday: A History Of The First Day From Babylonia To The Super Bowl, Craig Harline.

Currently Reading: The Second City Unscripted: Revolution and Revelation At The World-Famous Comedy Theater, Mike Thomas. I know a lot of people who seem to have great senses of humor talk up the geniusness of Chris Farley, but man, I never saw it on TV. He just looked like a loud guy throwing his body around. Maybe it plays better in person. Some folks just do that; I understand people who didn't like Mary Jo Pehl as Pearl Forrester on Mystery Science Theater 3000, though I always did; but in person there's not really room for saying she's not the most attention-drawing person on stage.

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