Now, where were we? Oh yes, on Saturday, where I finally got to go to a panel I wasn’t actually on – a Japanese SF panel hosted pretty much by Haikasoru. I’ve known Nick Mamatas online for years and years and years, and now we’ve finally met in person! Along with Toh EnJoe! Who signed his book for me, since he was right there. How often does that happen in North America? Approximately never. And yet:
The Self-Reference Engine
So that’s extremely cool. But Saturday was also the day for me to start doing panels, most notably the two-hour Cascadia’s Got Talent! event I kept talking about beforehand.
Cascadia’s Got a Trophy! The robots dance. Scott outdid himself.
Cascadia’s Got a Gong!
Cascadia’s Got Judges! Nicole Dieker, Lex Lingo, Shubzilla, and C0splay
Being out of exile really showed. I estimate we doubled our usual attendance, setting a clear record. We had eight entrants – another record – counting…
Okay, so, this takes a lot of explanation to get all of it. But. The original Star Trek had episode called The Naked Time. It involved this infection that made people act out in various ways: Sulu became a French fencer, things like that. In this episode, Ensign Riley decided he was Captain, took over engineering, and sang – repeatedly, and very badly – “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen,” over shipwide intercom.
While looking for prizes for our little show, I came across a Mitch Miller album (“PARTY!” edition). Almost none of you will remember Mitch Miller, or Sing Along with Mitch!, which was a TV show featuring simple chorus-driven arrangements of songs, to which people would song along.
On this album were several songs, including, yes… “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen.” I’m not sure what a maudlin dirge like “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen” is doing on a “PARTY!” album of any sort whatsoever, because if this is what you’re singing at your party, you’re not only doing party wrong, your party is outright broken.
But it was there, and the result (in mp3 form) is perhaps predictable. My grand plan was to get Starfleet-uniformed fans to come up on stage and start the same song over and over again, getting gonged off sooner each time. I only got one volunteer, but he played it really well. After he was driven from the stage, he stormed it again later in the show for another go, which was hilarious.
Amazingly and confusingly, the eighth contestant, Paul Not My Housemate Paul, came up and did a lovely hammer dulcimer performance, thus demonstrating that apparently what our silly comedy based more or less on drunkenness and the moral equivalent of fart jokes really needed was a moment of quiet beauty… and unironically walked off with the trophy.
I don’t even know how to process that. But the show was a riot all around, except for the people who were trying to be good, and they actually were. And that in and of itself was plenty entertaining.
Aside from the trophy, we gave away a couple of LPs: The Singing Legislator, which was filled with some old-time church-organ pain warbled to by a one-term special-election California state representative, and Wayne Newton Sings Hit Songs from 1964 which must’ve been recorded when he was, I don’t know, twelve? Because his performance made the Bee Gees sound like The Three Tenors. When I put on the first track, Minion Paul thought I had the turntable set to the wrong speed, and I thought it was a Peggy Lee duet. But no, that’s just Wayne. Plus, we gave away our traditional terrible, terrible all-expenses-paid trip to Kenmore (consisting of two Metro bus passes), and a polka CD with a spectacularly hideous cover.
Really, everyone wins. Or loses. Depending on your point of view.
“Find Your Instrument” followed immediately; it ran pretty much the same as last year, only with less cacophony, because we had a bigger room. I think it was the only panel that didn’t feel more crowded than the previous year despite being in a room three times larger – but we all kept busy, that’s for certain. I gave Irish Bouzouki demonstrations to probably a dozen people, and got about six or seven of them to actually try playing.
Then time for concerts! We didn’t do Electric Night lighting for Death*Star, not because we don’t care, but because I was already too damn busy and it was a lot of work for a single act.
C0splay and Bill Beats
Funny thing; C0splay told me they have two entirely different fandoms at Norwescon, the group that comes to their official show, and then the group that comes to their room party. They’re pretty widely different in age and demographics, and there’s very little overlap. I need to get these people mixing a bit, somehow or other. Like everyone else, they had a very good crowd, but their party audience not showing for their official show (and vice-versa) actually explains a few things.
Jen and I were working the Twitter feed pretty hard. I started doing 20-minutes-before tweets, with photos like this:
Miss Clicks! Miss Clicks! Three minutes to curtain, Miss Clicks!
Then start-of-show and 10-minutes-in tweets (“The Doubleclicks RIGHT NOW! Evergreen 1&2!”) and each wave seemed to catch a few more people. I’d use live shots for the promos:
At the start of the show, The Doubleclicks weren’t quite to standing-room-only. But after the second tweet, a bunch more people came in, and they went SRO:
Their Crowd (enlarge)
We were also promoting the livestream a lot. A bunch of us had sent out mail to all our fan lists and subscribers and followers, and we got audiences in the mid-60s – enough to say “dozens,” I think – online, in addition to the people in the room.
K at his Kart
The Video Board (enlarge)
Energy in the room just kept ramping up. I’m not a bad MC (in the sense of being a presenter, not in the sense of nerdcore/rap) and I had a lot of fun whipping up the crowd more every opportunity I could. I don’t have any photos of myself, of course, but I wore the supervillain stagewear that I use for my own shows, MCing as Solarbird, the Lightbringer. I found a tiny picture on a snippet of video, but it’s pretty tiny.
The Doubleclicks were followed by Molly Lewis, of course. She did a smashing job, as usual, with Vixy & Tony again as her Completely Different Band backup band.
Soundchecking the Tenor Uke
Molly Lewis (with guest Vixy of Vixy & Tony, A Completely Different Band)
Molly was another case where I got to show off MCing – when I told that crowd to blow the roof off for Molly Lewis, they damn well did. Goddamn that was loud, and awesome.
I also took the time to take some Ambush Selfies. I should take more of these. It’s kind of like, “I’mma gonna photobomb my own selfies and so are you and you can’t stop either of us.” That might be a little high concept, but that’s how I roll.
AMBUSH SELFIE! (1)
AMBUSH SELFIE! (2)
There would’ve been another one but I had the wrong camera active on my phone somehow. I have a hilarious picture of Startled Kaede Tinney that I will not post because rude, but yeah. XD
Saturday night after the shows, I did my usual party swing. Sadly, I couldn’t find Torrey, and she coudln’t find me, so we failed to hook up and be Norwescon Drinking Buddies this year! Sadness. But there’s always next year, I suppose. She actually kind of missed an extra good time, because … okay, I’m gonna brag here, because it was that kind of year.
Everybody kept buying me drinks in response to nwcMUSIC this year. Everybody. I kept a lid on it and didn’t get too blasted, but people were buying the supervillain more alcohol everywhere I went.
These people are brave. XD
Sunday! Sunday. I scheduled myself for three panels in a row on Sunday. This was … actually, I was pretty okay. I’d drank a lot, but I’d also spaced it and drank a lot of water. Home Recording I and II stayed pretty well on track, and we had pretty decent turnout for both. Vixy & Tony both had things to say – particularly Tony, it’s basically “Tony’s Panel I and II.” But Lex Lingo had some really nice thoughts to drop in, and I’ve had some contact from people at the panel post-convention asking follow-up questions, which I’m happy to answer. The handout I distributed at the first panel is here, and I have a whole series of posts on building your own home studio here.
Shubzilla took a photo from the audience:
(photo via Shubilla’s tumblr)
Between parts I and II, though, I’d scheduled this year’s one experimental panel: Cypher vs. Housefilk: FIGHT!. Basically, I threw some nerdcore and chiptunes and filk people all on a panel – with me in the middle) to talk about their home music get-togethers. I didn’t honestly know what would happen, but it turns out Jonny Nero is a really good panel moderator. We had a really relevant discussion on similarities and differences between the two. There was a lot of note-taking to transplant ideas, too, which is great.
Then in the Q&A period, someone asked Shubzilla if she would demonstrate some freestyle, and she of course totally did since she’s awesome that way. And afterwards, Jonny Nero asked our filker on the panel if she’d do something from filk, but she wasn’t actually a performer, so I jumped in and said I could do the one filk song I do in my shows sometimes. (It’s my version of Frank Hayes’s The S-100 Bus, with his lyrics and my music. You can download my version for free.)
But going into the bridge, where I usually make a joke about the solo I haven’t written yet, I start the chords, look at Shub, and say “take it.”
And she did. Out of nowhere, we got one of those moments of pure awesomeness that cannot be predicted but will just happen. Jonny Nero grabbed his phone and started shooting video, I shifted my already-not-filky-really rhythm just a little bit more to match her rap pattern and we do like, I don’t even know. 12 bars? 16 bars? It felt like a lot. And then I took it back and stuck the finish and it was amazing.
I still can’t believe that panel actually worked. Over on the Facebook Norwescon page, one person listed it as their favourite moment of the entire convention. If I could make this alchemy happen at will, I really would rule the world, and everyone would love it.
Then it was time for teardown and loadout. I missed the first part of Onions and Roses, but apparently several people made very nice comments about nwcMUSIC this year, which is always incredibly gratifying. One of the groups doing so tracked me down later and gave me what they called a Challenge Coin. They described it as a military tradition; Wikipedia seems to know about it. I am, of course, honoured:
As far as most of the concom was concerned, Norwescon ended then, at 6pm. But nwcMUSIC had other ideas. K had decided to restream all the shows starting at noon on Sunday, and he also streamed a new interview with Molly that didn’t even start until 10pm. We saw a whole new crop of viewers on the fansupported.tv channel; the peak viewership I saw there was mid-60s, but I wasn’t watching it the whole time.
Basically, the whole damn thing was so over the top this year we just didn’t want to stop, so Norwescon wasn’t over until nwcMUSIC said it was over.
Which in this case meant 10:30 Sunday night. \n/
So, yeah! I don’t know how we top this. I really don’t, at least, not yet. I had a bunch of things in my five-year plan, like livestreaming and full-event CD sales. As of now, year four, we’ve hit all of them.
I guess it’s time for stretch goals. I have some ideas. And it’s not that everything is perfect, either. One of the nuts I haven’t been able to crack is open filk. We don’t have very big ones. I’d like to fix that. Norwescon has managed large ones in the past, so it’s doable – tho’ that was before Conflikt was in town. Angi Long and I are talking about this in comments on yesterday’s post, if you’re curious. There are many constraints I have to work with here, but drop in and add your thoughts.
PS: If you like any of the pictures, most have higher resolution versions available on my Flickr photostream. Enjoy.