Baron Dave Romm (barondave) wrote,
Baron Dave Romm

Dementia Radio Stole My Sharpie: A Marscon 2006 report

Back in 1982, Chicon IV, the World Science Fiction Convention, was being held down the street from the Church of the Subgenius convention. Chicon was fun, but I ducked off to see the Bobs now and then. The SubGenius con was reveling in a punk phase, with lots of drunken whippersnappers doing all sorts of semi-musical things in a poorly lit grungy room. It was fun too, in it's own way. I merrily went from one to the other, though my heart was with the sf con.

Marscon 2006 seemed like three conventions and I was only at two of them.

The science programming, the literary programming and the parties/consuite were all off the main floor, and going up to the 4th floor or 13th floor was like entering a different dimension with the same color scheme. People slowed down to talk. You could hear people talk. People talked, rather than were talked at. Things got said. It felt like a small convention.

Every now and then I'd see some of the teens. I've known some of them for many years, intersecting mainly at Marscon. I don't know what they do at the con; gaming, I think. They don't seem to go to programming or even the Main Stage Events, but are in the consuite or the atrium on the 2nd floor. Nice people; I get hugs now and then. But I don't know what they do "at con" besides hang out with their friends; do you need to do more?

The Dementia Music Track at Marscon had been around, but was solidified by the visit of Dr. Demento in 2004. This year, there was more -- and better -- filk than ever. (Filk defined as self-written parody with stfnal roots performed on a stage to an audience, not filk defined as everyone singing along with songbooks to sftnal songs in a music circle, not "filk defined as writer/performers taking their turns playing their favorite songs in a bardic circle.) Most of the performers were at least semi-professional and most had CDs to sell. And most were pretty good. The Main Stage at Marscon 2006 often felt very much like the Subgenius convention in 1982, not the least because I had to walk a long way from the programming track to get to it.

I was on five panels, and my voice was shot. For the fifth panel, a reading of Russian Folk Literature on Sunday, I did something I've never done in 30 years of being on convention programming: I ducked out. I was there at the beginning in case they needed me, so I don't feel guilty, but it was a reading and I could barely talk. Once again, the best panel -- and best attended -- was on Conspiracy Theories. I suggested the panel largely to get Dean Haglund (one of the Lone Gunman on The X-Files, but we held our own. ericcoleman, Marsconcom Rich Brown and I held forth. Mostly Eric. We were joined near the end by wormquartet who was still frazzled from a 26 hour drive to get here. The Circle Story was fun, but those kind of things really need a larger drunken audience late at night. The panel on Bypassing Government To Get To Space suffered from the lack of a real science person on board and my nearly gone throat; I hope everyone got something out of it anyway.

I brought a whole bunch of Shockwave CDs and sold very few. But I traded for a lot of stuff, including a ticket to see Dean Haglund's Improv Show, which was great. My final haul, comprising freebies, trades and purchases: 13 CDs, 2 DVDs and a book. Got two interviews on the iPod, took a couple hundred pictures, talked with interesting people I'd never met and caught up with old friends.

Maybe because of the tectonic-plates-moving-away-from-each-other nature of Marscon, but i was more than a bit bemused at times. For large swaths of the con, I'm Well Known. More and more people realize I'm world famous. For others, I'm just a guy over there. I went to the Raymond and Scum concert. It was fun, though loud, and I stuck around but blocked my ears to save them for later. This was commented on stage. "My favorite part of the show is this guy", he said, pointing to me. I waved back. After their show, I had the two of them sign my copy of Laughter Is A Powerful Weapon Vol. 2, "Oh, did you just get this?" "Hey," I replied with what modesty I could summon, "I'm in it." Dementia Radio was broadcasting live from the con; a streaming service with stats, so they could state how many people were listening: Sometimes it got up to three. The guy running around with a mic doing a poor Chuck Barris imitation, didn't know who I was. He kept bypassing to me to grab people in costume; yeah, ignore the guy with decades of radio experience for something that can't be seen on the air. He later borrowed one of my Sharpies to get an autograph; never saw him or the Sharpie again. To be fair, Dementia Radio DJ Particle, emiofbrie tried to steer him to me. (On the other hand, her interruptions at Luke Ski's DVD concert has moved her CD down the stack.) I never did get on stage to do my long-prepared rendition of wormquartet's Magnum Opus Mommy's Broken.

The con chairs did a good job stitching many threads together, raptivo did a fine job with Opening Ceremonies. wyngarde did a good job organizing the Dementian Music Track and (mostly) keeping them on time while lukeski ramped up the energy level. I had the honor of being in the video of my favorite Luke Ski song! Sort of in the background at the end of the show, but you can probably see me. Whee!

Marscon would have been better for me if I was in full voice. It was larger than last year, with a warm body count of 741 (announced at Closing Ceremonies), but with barely overlapping subfandoms. Still, I had fun and registered for next year. To fix the things I think need fixing probably requires more of my involvement, and I'm not sure I want to take the plunge into another con.

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