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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]

Con report (and a rant.)

We were supposed to have left at 9:30AM on Friday. We actually left at 11:30, which was an hour later than I'd thought we would, but still left us plenty of leeway. Jonathan packed the car since I'm still on the disabled list with my arm and all. Our luggage include three coolers - two soft and one hard - full of food, plus grocery bags of nonperishables I'd just left in the car overnight.

We hit bad traffic on the outbound Verazzano Bridge (which is, btw, my favorite bridge - it's so big and beautiful and graceful as it soars above the water) and so crept across slowly.

Note 1. EZ Pass is something I will not willingly travel with out. It makes a journey like this just that much easier. We have a special suction cup holder so we can fix it to the windshield of whatever rental car we're driving. This is much easier than holding it on by hand while driving, or even while the other person drives. Safer, too.

The traffic improved over Staten Island and into New Jersey. We took our first rest stop at 1:30, where I made egg salad sandwiches, which we ate in the food court area. Jonathan also took the time to say the afternoon service, which meant that after we said the grace after meals, he stood up, faced east and prayed silently from memory. Jonathan "shuckles" - he makes small bowing movements with his upper body when he prays. This is automatic. But the people at the next table stared a bit.

From then on, we leapfrogged from rest stop to rest stop, going to approximately every other one for bathroom or coffee or both, gliding through the toll booths with our ezpass, which worked all the way down. Since the car had a CD player, we played filk CD's.

There was one bad moment - we were playing Steve MacDonald's "Crossroads" CD, which included his song "Journey's End" - a lovely song about how it may be a long journey to the stars, but we need to keep making these steps. And it included this line, "Columbia glides in to land." We bought it before the Columbia disaster.

I cried. It's hard to drive at that point.

Also, we hit some bad patches of traffic heading into Delaware and Baltimore. However, we managed to not only get to the con way before sunset, we even had time to meet reginagiraffe.


Check in, register at the con, meet people, arrange for Shabbat dinner in our room (second floor! Yay! Smoking room! Boo! Double beds. Um.), get ready for Shabbat, get the room ready for company, tell the people who showed up while Jonathan was in the shower to come back *just* a little later, arrange for other people to bring food and soda. Light candles.

Note 2. The best and safest way to light candles is to use tea lights in special holders on a surface covered with aluminum foil. The table I chose had a glass top, so even safer.

Say the evening service (okay, watch the guys do it. I'm lazy.) Make kiddush and motzi (bless the day over wine; say the blessing over bread), eat dinner while chatting and keeping track of Aaron the almost five year old. Find out that Aaron's mommy and daddy *both* had panels at the same time that night and they were waiting for a gopher to watch him.

Volunteer to watch Aaron.

We conclude with the final blessings, and everyone goes their separate ways. Aaron pushes the buttons for me - he's *four*, it's only rabbinic and he *wants* to do it. He also wants to use the doorkeys. And they're on the ninth floor.

Spend an hour and a quarter playing Trouble with the four year old. Become the local Trouble champion because can't figure out how to cheat so he'll win.

Go back to room. Read for a while and then go to sleep before the timer shuts the light off. This despite the fact that you and your husband are large and are accustomed to sleeping in a king sized bed, and a double bed is much too small.

Next morning - husband prays morning service. Make kiddush (still blessing the day over wine. Wine is *bad* - usually a good wine, but not this time.) Go to panels.

I've forgotten most of the panels I attended, except that half of them had Keith DeCandido, who writes and edits media tie-in novels, most notably Star Trek, and whom I first met when he was a bouncy kid out of college. I believe his ex-wife writes fanfic. If she doesn't, someone with her same name does.

So does he, but he gets paid for it, and he has to write under their rules.

I did learn that the fact that I got an actual rejection notice for the story I submitted to Strange New Worlds (a Star Trek fanfic anthology) was amazingly good. That I got a handwritten comment was even better.

I kinda burbled.

However, what did the rest of my fellow rejectees get if not a rejection note?

Hung out at the consuite for a while - they had coffee. Took a long nap. Missed Steve's concert. :(

Wore my bodice dress most of the day.

It's not as tight as it used to be.

Changed into different clothes after my nap. Wandered around and went to panels instead of the Masquerade. Met norabombay as she sat on line for the Masquerade and found out where her room party was.

When the time came, went to the party. Chatted with her and with ase. Also met fairestcat.

We then wandered to a couple more parties before deciding to filk. Jonathan got his filk books.

This is a rant. This is a rant about the tyranny of the guitar.

Jonathan does not play an insrument. Okay, he does, but it's a wind instrument, and not very useful at filksings. Also, we normally do filk on Friday nights, and he can't play anything then. And this filk was filled with guitars, the instrument of choice for filkers, plus two harps and a keyboard. And maybe a couple of filkhogs, but I will not mention them by name - and honestly, at least one person with that reputation behaved him/herself quite well. And the mode was Chaos. A chaos filk is when people jump in at will with songs or followups, and there is no one to moderate anything.

This is not necessarily a bad thing.

The problem is that, when instrument players think they want to play a song, they do the entirely natural thing of begining the tune or, in the case of guitar players, strumming. This then signals that there is a filker up, and they introduce the songs (and that's another rant) and then play and sing.

But this makes it more difficult for the a cappella singer, or the storyteller, who have no natural way to call attention to themselves and have to fight to be heard over the instruments. It's also hard for the newbies of either variety because they are intimidated by the sheer talent in the center circle - and there were some talented people at that filk sing, all of whom were a pleasure to hear.

For various reasons, the bardic circle, where you sit in your place and, when it comes your turn, you pick (a song, a singer or both), pass (obvious) or play, has fallen out of favor on the East Coast. In large part, it's because it can take hours to go round the circle, and one can fall asleep or leave before one's turn comes up. Still, it had it's charms, and I think it works well in small groups.

This is speaking as someone who almost always passes, and rarely picks. And *never* plays.

Other solutions are having a filk ghod or ghoddess there - someone with authority who can say, "You've been here for a while. Do you have anything you'd like to play or hear?" Because "picking" also falls by the wayside in Chaos. Or to use a form like "poker chip", which is rather complex, but ensures everyone has a turn, no one has to wait if they must sing *now*, and practically encourages picking. Or officially designate an "a capella, no instruments allowed" filk room.

rant over.

We had a whole Sunday. This is weird for a con, where we normally go home on Sunday.

I went to an improvisational writing workshop, and it turned into sixth grade writing exercises. I left early in disgust to go to a Boogie Knights concert. That was fun. And then I went shopping and bought books, and a necklace for a friend, and then went to nycajun's concert. We passed around a card for his birthday while he sang his lovely elegy for Dr. McCoy/DeForest Kelley. We stayed for his girlfriend's concert.

I then went to a panel about religion in fantasy writing. And that's a rant, too.

We'd arranged for a kosher dinner mission with the Felds and another friend, and met with them around five to figure out minor details, such as what kind of food and where.

While waiting for the valet to deliver my car, Steve MacDonald mentioned filkerdave's house filk next Friday night, and asked if I might have one on Thursday for those of us who couldn't attend Dave's. I said I'd think about it. I like Steve, and housefilks are fun. I did mention that my last housefilk happened right after Columbia's accident.

I later remembered I have a pakua evaluation that night, and I can't change that. :(

I was also asked to run the con suite for next year's Conterpoint. I think I will, but I won't be sure until Concertino this year.

Dinner was fun, and really good. We'll have to go there again next time we're in the area.

We went to a couple of panels after dinner, including one on ADD and giftedness, which, as a former special ed teacher, I found fascinating.

I even went to another Keith DeCandido panel.

We then went to the SMOF party in a secret location, as befits a party for Secret Masters of Fandom.

I run kosher con suites for tiny filk conventions, but this apparently qualifies. :) Also, we knew a lot of people there and it was a nice, quiet place to talk.

And then we filked. The circle was much smaller, and that made a difference, I think. And Jonathan was much more aggressive, and that also made a difference. And we sang happy birthday to one man, and talked about another's illness and sang a lot, and not just the "ose" (sad, from "ose and morose") stuff, but happy, fun stuff, perverted stuff even. We stayed until 2:30 and would have stayed longer if I didn't have the long drive ahead.

I skipped the Monday panels, and we were on the road by 11:30, and only hit bad traffic once. We were home before 7PM.

It was a good con. I like it.


*waves and hugs*

Squidge was down most of the weekend plus we had guests so I couldn't say 'hi' to anyone for you.

Glad you had a safe trip home!

Glad you (mostly) had fun. And I have the same complaints about chaos filks. It sucks to be an a-capella performer at a chaos filk.

I need to emphasize that most of the instrument players were not doing this maliciously, or even consciously. The majority of filkers are generous and welcoming, whatever their filking style, and once a-capella singers get attention, they are encouraged to sing - and the instrument players will even try to pick up the tune - not to show up, but to help.

Of course, there are filk hogs, but there would be filk hogs in an a-capella room as well. Instruments don't hog circles; people hog circles.

I'm just feeling my husband's frustration.

Oh yes; I didn't mean to imply otherwise either. The problem is almost always one of communication, not one of manners.

I've heard of cases where an a-capella singer has showed up with a guitar, strummed it to get his turn, and then set it down and performed. It seems a bit cumbersome, but I guess that works.

Points for creativity, though.

Let's see how the folks at ConCertino (I think that's the next filk con) handle this one.

Have you ever seen the "Minyan Rest Area" sign on the way up to the Catskills?

Apparently, there had been a higher than usual amount of accidents one summer as men pulled over their cars to daven, so whomever is in charge of that area of the highway, designated a specific stopping area for davening.

Not only have we *seen* the Mincha area (we pronounce it Min-cha, as in "charge"), Jonathan has used it - although never with an actual minyan.

Just out of curiosity, where did you have dinner? I'm only asking because there's a distinct possibility that we were in the same place at the same time.

Sabra Grill. We were there with the Felds, including Aaron, and our friend Zev, from around 6 to 7PM.

ah. I haven't been there yet.

But I was mighty close. Come to think of it, I should have known we weren't in the same place at the same time, because if I'd seen the Felds, I would have stopped by to say hello.

I'm glad you mostly had a good time at the Con. I'm sorry that this wasn't a Con my husband decided to go to, because it would have been nice to run into you (I've never been to a con in my life, save 1/2 an hour at Icon searching for my then-boyfriend...but I'd have made an exception if there were people there I wanted to run into)


I'm (despite the rant)so inspired!

Let me explain...

I grew up what I call High Church Reform(aka ham- and- cheese Jewish) and only become observant as an adult. The idea of trying to make Shabbat at something like a convention has seemed unbearably overwhelming, to the point where I've just reflexively dismissed it as an impossibility.

It's great to hear an account of things being managed so gracefully. I 'm starting to think that it just may be possible for someone like me. (As soon as I've weaned my son, who has informed me that he's going to nurse "forever.")

OTOH, he also says he'll be all grown up and driving his own car by the summer, so it's posssible that his idea of "forever" differs from mine.





How to keep Shabbat at a convention.


Oh, *thank you*--I've bookmarked the page for reference! :-)


I did learn that the fact that I got an actual rejection notice for the story I submitted to Strange New Worlds (a Star Trek fanfic anthology) was amazingly good. That I got a handwritten comment was even better.

Oooh, this is good to know! And excellent for you as well. I got two rejection notes from them -- one with a handwritten note and one without. I was debating whether to try again and this comment from you made me more inspired to give it another shot. Thanks!

I've forgotten most of the panels I attended, except that half of them had Keith DeCandido, who writes and edits media tie-in novels, most notably Star Trek, and whom I first met when he was a bouncy kid out of college. I believe his ex-wife writes fanfic. If she doesn't, someone with her same name does.

Is it Terri Osbourne? I believe she lives with Keith -- I don't know what her relationship to him is but I belonged to an SNW list for a very short period of time and she was on there and had some comments for other writers based on what Keith has told her in the past. In fact, I think she's getting published in an upcoming anthology (not SNW) that another ficcer (altariel) is getting published in as well. The name escapes me at the moment though.

You should do it again.

It gave me hope, as well. What I'm going to do is pick up a couple of DS9 novels - that being my favorite Trek - and the last Strange New Worlds.

And hope that a brain turned mostly to slash can come up with adventure beyond giving beloved major characters a drug addiction.

No, Keith's first wife was Marina Frantz.