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Method Con: A Rune conreport for LJ

Method Con: A relaxing conreport

Note: I wrote this for Rune and will send it to Matt in a bit. I wanted to test drive it on LJ, and add the video of Nate and a few links. Comments and corrections are appreciated.

Method Con (aka METHOD Con) was held October 18-20, 2013CE at the SpringHill Suites Marriott, a change in venue from previous years. A nice change, as the smaller hotel fit the small con very nicely. Just over fifty people inhabited several function rooms of various sizes and shapes, all close to one another. The staff was friendly and helpful. The Gaming Room was almost always busy with gamers, and the Programming Room's adaptability made it ideal for brainstorming, a buffet dinner or music concerts.

I had a relaxed time. Carole and I ducked in briefly on Thursday to help set up, but Patricia Zetelumen, Emily Stewart, Laura Krentz, Liz Fish, Hershey Lima, Magenta Griffith and the concom had everything in hand. We hung out, got the nickel tour. Carole eyed the Jacuzzi, and made plans.

20131018 Cupcake decorating at Methodcon
Cupcake decorating. Method Con 10/18/13

The theme of the con was "Steampunk", off of which hung decorations and badge design. A few people brought their steampunk costumes , and had their pictures taken against a green screen.

For a relaxacon, there was a lot of hands-on programming. I didn't make any steampunk water bottles or decorate any cupcakes, but I did play a bit of Money Duck. At the dinner break, a bunch of us went to a restaurant so close that several people walked. I had Tea-Soaked Duck, which was delicious, but we all tried a bit of everything. Rounded out Friday by spending time in the Music Room listening to Laramie Sasseville, Nate Bucklin and Peggy O'Neil.

Carole did sneak off and take a nice long hot tub soak. Aaah.

The clouds dissuaded us from stargazing or checking out the lunar eclipse, but Rachel Kronick ran a Worldbuilding session which was appropriately silly. The session results were left on the wall, adding to the decorations.

20131019 Gaming
Gaming at Method Con 10/19/13

On Saturday, I missed the Nature Walk, but got to the Minicon 49 Brainstorming which was followed by a Minicon 49 concom meeting. Many nifty ideas were slung and added to the wiki for further consideration. The plans for Minicon are proceeding apace.

The Indian buffet dinner was well organized far in advanced. The final realization was delicious and communal. More music, a few games, some ham wine, a couple of concerts… wow, the day went quick.

20131019 Nate & Teresa
Nate and Teresa in concert at Method Con 10/19/13

Sunday was the relaxing day of the relaxicon. I didn't even get to Closing Ceremonies. Made the dinner expedition to the Tea House. The Dead Dog Party was laid back. A few games, a few conversations, but many were on their smartphones. We could do that at home. So we did.

Method Con may have been small, but the swirl of events and different combinations of people at those events made it seem larger, at least to me. Thanks again to Patricia & co.

Public Facebook Gallery: 20131017-20 Method Con

Nate Bucklin, "Afraid of the Desperate" 10/19/13 link
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First World Problem caused by staying home

I managed to apply for a passport even though I already have one.

Last time I needed a passport for travel was in 2005. I kept my old passports in my travel section, and one I got in 2009 in the logical place where I could find it if I needed to apply for a job or decided to go someplace. When looking through my stuff a few months ago, I found the one that expired, utterly forgot that I had a new passport, and reapplied.

The application requires you send in your old passport, with some money and a new picture. Since I hadn't sent in the one that's current, I got the previous passport back today, with the forms for reapplication if I lost the current one. But I hadn't. I just forgot.

Having been told I did have a current passport, I looked around until I found it. I wish I had looked there a few months ago, but that ship has sailed even though I could have been on it with a valid passport.

I called them. Apparently, this is not an uncommon occurrence. "I get one of these calls, not every day, but most days" said the guy on the phone. Well, gee.

So my two main options are:

a) Do nothing. My passport is good. Disadvantage: I will have lost the application fee, which I can reluctantly shrug off as Stupidity Tax.

b) Send in my current passport. I don't even have to reapply or send in more money, just include the letter they sent. Advantage: I'll have a passport good for a few more years than it otherwise would have been.

Has this ever happened to anyone reading this? If so, what did you do? I'm leaning towards b), but we'll see.
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2013 Fringe Festival Days 5, 6 & 10

Carole and I went to nine Fringes and I reviewed all of them for the Fringe site (except the one horrible tech rehearsal). But I have been remiss in posting about the Fringe here on LJ. So let me catch up.

Public Facebook gallery: 20130728-0811 Minnesota Fringe Festival

Day 5

20130805 Two Fringe volunteers holding up water bottles
Two Fringe volunteers hold up the Fringe Festival 20th Anniversary water bottles at the Illusion Theater 8/5/13

Four Humors' Lolita: A Three Man Show

x x x x x

"Don't tell mom I ate all your bacon"

Three men play all the parts while making geeky asides about "Lolita" and other movies. This shouldn't work, but it does. And we are the better for it.

The very few misfires and slow spots are inundated under the broad farce. A gesture, a glance, a repeated line are all squeezed to great effect.

If Stanley Kubrick weren't dead, this would kill him. So it's a good thing he is.

Day 6

To Mars With Tesla or The Interplanetary Machinations of Evil Thomas Edison

x x x 1/2 (rounded down for the Fringe site)

"Meanwhile, back at the wig…" or Georges Méliès, eat your heart out

Some nifty physical comedy and great live music can't raise this show above mediocrity. Presented as a silent film, with title cards and no dialog, the story follows Tesla and Edison to Mars. Tesla was that weird and his feud with Edison was that personal. Still, comedy from real events could have been milked without resorting to an sf plot that doesn't hold Martian air. A good show, but not an outstanding one. I wanted to use "Meanwhile, back at the wig" as the title of this review but it's been taken. Three and a half stars, rounded down for being only 45 min.

I don't know why this didn't strike my funny bone as much as it did some. Oh well.

vgqn and magscanner were in town, and several of us saw the Fringe show together, then met up with Larry to go eat at Victory 44. A fun time.

20130806 Dinner expedition after Fringe show
Dinner expedition to Victory 44 after the Fringe show, 8/6/13

another review and a couple of pics under the cutCollapse )

Continued from 2013 Fringe Festival Day 8: An extra-Fringe outing
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2013 Fringe Festival Day 8: An extra-Fringe outing

I didn't Fringe on Thursday, but I did go to a show. "The Almanac Trail" was sort of like a three-hour Fringe show with snacks.

George Mann and I have been friends for more than a decade, via correspondence and his records. We finally meet in person when he gives a concert here in Mpls.

The Almanac Trail

In 1941, young singers Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Lee Hays and Millard Lampell are gaining fame in New York City. They are invited to California to give a concert, so they plan a tour, visiting union halls across the country. In 2013, George Mann and Rik Palieri recreate this tour, stoping in the same venues (as best they can 70 years later) and singing union songs.

Great stuff, which still holds up. And the message about unions is as important now as it was in the days of company goons. I did an interview with them, which I edited for KFAI, and video taped a few songs.

Public Facebook gallery: 20130808 Almanac Trail concert

20130808 George Mann and Baron Dave
George Mann and Baron Dave 8/8/13

20130808 George Mann and Rik Palieri
George Mann and Rik Palieri 8/8/13

two videos under the cutCollapse )
A good concert with good stories and good songs. The union members were friendly and engaging. A good time.

Continued from 2013 Fringe Festival Day 3: A Filipino Autobiography

Continuing in 2013 Fringe Festival Days 5, 6 & 10
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2013 Fringe Festival Day 3: A Filipino Autobiography

I'll be on the air tomorrow, Monday, at 7:10am on KFAI-FM, talking about the Fringe.

I spent most of the day working on Nicollet Repaving photos. I'm way behind. I'll probably blow off Sunday at the Fringe to stay home and catch up. Already today I edited two more interviews for the air, posted a Fringe video, and still need to work on road pics. But in the meantime:

20130803 Dave, Nicole and Carole outside the Playwright's Center
Dave, Nicole and Carole, after her performance at the Playwrights' Center 8/3/13

Forgetting the Details

x x x x 1/2 rounded up

A true story with a little Tagalog

A fine, affecting, one-woman play about family. Her Philippines-born grandmother, who raised Nicole when her parents divorced, gets Alzheimer's. Not everyone reacts well. Nicole effortlessly portrays several family members as well as herself at various ages. Her autobiographical story mixes laughter and anguish, and rings true across cultures. Four and a half stars, rounded up for an engaging performance.

Added for LJ: The Fringe has lots of these kinds of autobiographies. Most, especially the ones from other cultures than my own, are worth seeing. Some stories are more interesting (to me) than others. Some are presented better. Nicole's Fringe show, edited down from a longer play, is excellent, slowly drawing you into her family. She's a superb actress. She's also a loquacious and engaging interviewee.

Nicole Maxali "Forgetting the Details" MN Fringe 8/3/13

Continued from 2013 Fringe Festival Day 2: A quick Fringe with Werewolves

Continuing in 2013 Fringe Festival Day 8: An extra-Fringe outing
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2013 Fringe Festival Day 2: A quick Fringe with Werewolves

We didn't have a lot planned for today. I worked on getting Nicollet Repaving photos done (I'm way behind) and other chores. Firmed up plans to be the Fringe expert on KFAI, aired one interview with Natalie Wass and scheduled me to be on The Morning Show at about 7:10am on Monday. So the weekend will be busy, but probably not heavy Fringing.

But in the meantime:

How To Date A Werewolf (or, Lonesome, Wild and Blue)

x x x 1/2 (rounded up to four on the Fringe site)

Death and the maidens

A three-creature play about being The Other, presented with wit and daring. How do you find love when you could turn into a werewolf at any moment, and you could infect your partner? Oh, and your best friend's a zombie who gives advice about ordering in restaurants. The occasional heavy-handed metaphor slows things a bit. Three and a half stars rounded up for a delightfully nuanced performance by Joy Dolo.

Carole like this one more than I did, though I think we both wound up around four stars.

Continued from 2013 Fringe Festival Day 1: A Five Star Start.

Continuing with 2013 Fringe Festival Day 3: A Filipino Autobiography
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2013 Fringe Festival Day 1: A Five Star Start

These Old Shoes

x x x x x

A small story, told beautifully; Superb Acting and Staging

A small story, told beautifully. Without sets or costume changes, the actors slip from young to old, from today to the 50s, from love to love. The Music Box is an excellent venue for this troupe.

Transatlantic Love Affair did the Fringe shows The Ballad of the Pale Fisherman, Red Resurrected and others. All of which I liked a lot. They're local, and keep saying they're going to remount a show, so I'll have to keep my eyes peeled.

I didn't take any pics during the show, nor right afterwards, but we had dinner at the Asian Taste, across the street from the Music Box Theatre. That location has been a number of restaurants over the years, and I wanted to check it out. Nothing to write home about, but the prices and portions were reasonable. They have an all-you-can-eat sushi bar for $22. Might have to try that out. In the meantime, at the next table was the cast of Marilyn and Jackie at the Pearly Gates. Carole, who's from Martha's Vineyard and encountered Jackie several times, regaled them with Jackie and John-John stories.
20130801 Marilyn and Jackie at the Pearly Gates

Walking back to the car, we encountered this rabbit, who seemed as curious about us as we were of it. Probably a pet, but we didn't get too close.
20130801 Rabbit

Continued from 2013 Fringe Festival: Before the Beginning

Continuing in Day 2: A quick Fringe with Werewolves.
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2013 Fringe Festival: Before the Beginning

Public FB gallery (which will be added to): 20130728- Minnesota Fringe Festival

Once again, I'm not doing a Total Immersion Fringe. The City of Mpls recognizes I'm a journalist, even if the Fringe doesn't, and I'm still covering the Nicollet Repaving project, though not as industriously as last year. When they're all done (ie with the trees and street art put in) I'll make slide show/Ken Burns movies. But I digress.

The 2013 Minnesota Fringe Festival is still loads of fun. I couldn't make it to the two preview Fringe-for-all events, but I did go to three tech rehearsals and made the Ootifest (the Out-Of-Towners Showcase).

Here are reviews of the three shows Carole and I saw in rehearsal. Please allow that a rehearsal, even a tech/dress rehearsal, isn't the same as a performance with a full audience.

Fashion Risk or the Accidental Nudist

xxxx 1/2

Naturalism as a lifestyle

20130728 Natalie Rae Wass and parents

It's one thing to write and perform an autobiographical play with lots of nudity that's good enough to bring your parents to. It's quite another thing to have an autobiographical play with lots of nudity that your parents are in. Naked.

Natalie's play is basically a one-woman show about growing up, but there are another nine people who walk around, mostly naked, as she relates stories from her life. The nudity is casual, and it doesn't take long before it seems natural. Which is the point. Self-image and fitting-in issues traumatize most kids, no matter what your lifestyle, no matter who your parents are. By the end, we know Natalie better, on the inside, and even gain insight into her parents.

Four stars for the play, rounded up a half star for the costuming and success when there isn't any. (I don't know if I can give half-stars on the Fringe site.)

Baron Dave interview with Natalie Rae Wass (4:37)

The Concept of Anxiety


Ruminations on death and a bit of geekery

20130730 Phillip Andrew Bennett Low

Phillip Andrew Bennett Low is always interesting. His rapid-fire monologues usually have enough content, somewhere, and enough cerebration to make the experience worthwhile. Here, his ruminations on death meander around the subject, and little bits of dialog are splintered into fragments that coalesce, I think. The geeky jokes are fun, but a side issue. More than a little conceptual, which I like.

Phil is in at least five Fringes. I don't know how he memorizes all those words. But I'm glad he does.

Baron Dave interview with Phillip Bennett Low

click here for the rest of the reviews and commentaryCollapse )
Time and energy may not permit more Fringing. I tend not to drink when there's Fun Stuff happening, so hanging out at Fringe Central is iffy, though I may drop by. We'll see.

Continued in Day 1: A Five Star Start
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Comics turned into movies: A brief overview

This was prompted by a Facebook post by former Superman writer Martin Pasko, who decried the current state of the two big comic companies, now owned by Disney and Warner. In the thread, it was noted that the 2013 blockbuster movies based on comic characters features characters, with few exceptions, from fifty years ago or more. I was tempted to see how much of a trend this really was. Sorry for using Wikipedia as a main source, but I was in a hurry.

Popeye; First appearance: Thimble Theater (comic strip), January 17, 1929. Popeye quickly became the featured character and later the strip took his name.
First appearance at the movies: Popeye the Sailor. The Fleischer cartoons starting in 1933 and continuing, off and on, for twenty-five years.
First appearance in radio: 1935
First feature length film: Well, I'm going to give two dates. The Fleischer studios produced 108 Popeye cartoons, 105 in black and white. The remaining three were two reelers (double length, about a half hour), starting with Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor in 1936. However, a true live-action feature length movie had to wait until the Robert Altman Popeye with Robin Williams in 1980.

So... Popeye went from origin to cultural icon in the movie theaters (and eventually on tv) in just a few years, but waited many years for a live action film. And is still waiting for a good one.

Superman. First appearance: Action #1, June 1938
First appearance at the movies: Superman The Fleischer animated seres 1941-43.
First appearance in film: Superman: A serial in 15 chapters, 1948
He was at the 1939 New York World's Fair (in 1940), on the radio in the 40s and on tv in 1952.

So... Superman went from origin to being on the big screen in three years, but waited nearly ten years for his first live action film serial.
much more under the cutCollapse )
What does this tell us?

I hope this small sample of list of English-language comics turned into movies adds some perspective to Disney's buyout of Marvel and Warner's ownership of DC. Basically, with few exceptions, comic books were a great way to introduce the American public to a character. Then came tv, movies, CGI and big budgets. Comic books writ large can make it in the movies, but only if the characters are well established and their backstories well-known.

Comic books used to drive people's perception of the heros. Spiderman's unsung hero was Steve Ditko, who gave the hero a distinctive look. Don't step on Superman's cape. The Dark Knight is an image as well as an action. Captain America never gives up.

Now... not so much. We have remakes and reimaginings. I don't particularly begrudge anyone for trying, but they don't succeed all that often. I'd like plenty of movies and tv shows much better if they gave a nod to the influences rather than trying to reinvent a character and tripping over their cape.

But that's just me.
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Convergence 2013 photos now up

Convergence 2013 has come and gone (except for the Volunteers Party 7/20/13). The Souvenir Guide (which is sort of like a Program Book) is available as a pdf download

Announced attendance: 6789. Roughly 15% larger than last year, iirc. Frankly, it didn't feel as crowded. Aside from the massive influx of people trying to register on the July 4 holiday (wait times were four hours or more), the steps taken to alleviate the crush of people seemed to work.

On the other hand, this con seemed more drenched in alcohol. Drinking has always been a part of the con, and excessive drink an undercurrent, but this year more people that I read online or encountered in person seemed to brag about it and just assume that getting drunk was part of the con experience. Humph.

I had a great time. Carole and I took it easy and commuted. We left when we wanted to, got sleep, food and showers. Highlights, in no apparent order:

Courtney McClean and the Dirty Curls. I've seen Courtney's band play several times over the years, but this was the first performance I've seen with a full six-member ensemble. The harmonies were great, the songs funny and risque. Wonderful.

• All four of my panels were fun, and the two radio panels were erudite, humorous and chock-filled with good advice. On the "Convergence 101" panel, I was an Elder, who had been to more cons than anyone else on the panel, and gave the Inside Scoop to first time congoers (eg explaining why old-timers called the hotel "The RadiShTree"). The "Ask A Scientist" panel, designed to explain things to five-year-olds, was great, and the five-year-olds were rapt.

• The two digeridoo players in an impromptu concert. Music popped up all over the place. I tried to get the dulcimer player to join the digeridoo players, but the moment passed.

• Randomly ducking into parties and making friends.

• Opening Ceremonies was lots of fun. Easy to get a seat, and they nicely balanced entertainment with proffering necessary information.

• The MN-StF party was packed with interesting people and good food.

• The official con photographers. Of which I was not one. That freed me up, journalistically speaking. I didn't feel the need to get pictures of, for example, Opening Ceremonies. They had that covered. My usual method is to wander peripatetically and take photos of whatever interests me or of something I haven't seen before. I posed a lot of people, and captured many moments on the fly. I still experienced a lot of the con, but didn't worry if I missed anything. I had fun.

Public Facebook Galleries:

20130703-4 Convergence Wednesday and Thursday

20130705-07 Convergence Friday, Saturday and Sunday