Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pantheacon 2012 Post-Mortem (part 5)

(Or, what I actually did, versus what I said I was gonna do.)

Part 5: Sunday, SUNDAY, Sunday.

Ready to serve beer at Oktoberfest.
(You won't get all the running jokes if you haven't studied parts ONETWOTHREE and FOUR. Just Sayin'.)

I am one of those annoying ‘Morning People’. Bright and chipper at Oh-My-Gods-AM and ready for a 10 mile hike at the crack of dawn. And all without caffeine. As such, I have learned to hide my loathsome freakishness from the rest of the world.

When Admiral Karen and I stay in hotels I always prepare an ‘escape pile’ every evening. I know I’ll be up before her, so I make a stack of clothes, phone, computer, comb, etcetera so I can sneak out at first light when I am up and bouncing off the walls. It has made for a happier marriage and less bruising and swelling on my part.

So, even though I was up till all hours on Saturday night I still jettisoned myself via the escape pile at 6am Sunday Morning. Down at Café Ho-Hum I bumped into my friend Nancy, who is another of the “Morning People” mutants. We compared notes over breakfast.

7am and no text from the Admiral, but here comes Mykey, so I had ANOTHER breakfast with him. I think Café Ho-Hum should name a table after me or something. Got the text from Karen, so I brought her a large coffee and listened politely while she made strange morning noises that she thought was some sort of language.
Look! I'm burning daylight here. Gotta go!

Sunday, 10am

I was in line when the Vendor room opened, and snagged one of the reading tables just upstream from Thalassa Prime. I love reading tarot at Pantheacon. It’s usually a surprise for most shoppers, I don’t charge much of anything, and you get the best view of what I call “Sunday Fashion”.

Most people bring several outfits to Pcon, usually centered around what is happening in the evenings. Daytime is for comfies, nighttime is for Fairy Tale Leathers or what have you. But by Sunday morning most conventioneers resemble extras from “The Walking Dead” and their fashion choices also get a little blurry and compromised.

So passing me by at the table was an endless parade of sweat pants topped by corsets, ripped hoodies with Pan fur pants, 4 inch heels and pajamas and fairy wings on sideways, and so on.

Let's see.....what haven't I tried here today?
Reading from 10am to Noon meant that I missed two different presentation times, but I was on survival mode and not really registering properly.

So I had lunch at Café Ho-Hum, making it my 3rd meal there in 6 hours. I didn’t even need the menu by this time.

Sunday, 1pm

I was completely out of sync with the Con by this point, so I hit 'reset' and went back to bed.

Woke up at 3pm, leaped out of bed and my body went “I don’t THINK so, Cowboy” and sent me off for another nap.

Sunday, 4pm

And just who IS this "Max", anyway?
Woke up at 4pm to a text from Karen saying I should come down to see Lon Milo DuQuette in Club Max. Sounded good, and I felt bad about sneaking out of Lon’s earlier offering.

Club Max is surprisingly spacious inside. I had never set foot in there in 8 years of Pantheacons, because it was always the Muggle Oasis. All these years, every Friday and Saturday night you would see these strange people in the Doubletree, who were dressed smartly, in the latest fashions, with short, business haircuts and no-nonsense attitudes.

They would use the valet parking outside and make these dramatic entrances via the loud, automatic doors, and head straight (and I mean STRAIGHT) for Club Max, looking neither left nor right at all of us wacky witches, who were dressed like an X-rated Disney Cartoon written by Terry Pratchett and directed by Tim Burton.

With 10,000% more photons than reality.
Club Max was THEIR domain. But the disco dance club was closed on Sundays, so Ancient Ways took it over and turned it into a presentation room. It’s a mixed bag. On the plus side it can hold upwards of 200 people, most of them seated in cushy recliners. On the minus side is the lighting, all of which is focused on the small dance floor in front of the stage.

I felt for Lon, up there with his guitar, singing his beautiful and funny songs and not being able to see a single soul in the audience. I tried to block out that I would soon be up there, struggling with the same problem.

Sunday, 5pm

The dinner break called for hot dogs. I’m not sure which member of my tribe instituted the forays to NYPD Pizza and Dogs, but I fully endorse the concept. The food is good, it’s half the price of Café Ho-Hum, and it’s only two blocks from the Doubletree.

Oh, what a GESTURE!
And on the way there and back you get this marvelous chemical reaction. You get to breathe REAL AIR, and not the recycled airliner air that you’ve been attempting to feed your brain with all weekend. It’s like reverse intoxication. Oh! Hello world! It’s Me! Aaahh……

Sunday, 7pm

I wasn’t on until 9pm, but I had a lot to do in the run-up. First up was shower and shave, dressing for the occasion, and gathering all my props, power cords, the car keys (foreshadowing) and, oh yeah, the 8 tons of SCRIPT.

The act ahead of me was Alexander James Adams, who played about sixteen different instruments, sang wonderfully and was devilishly handsome to boot. Nice guy too. Admiral Karen and I got a nice booth in the pitch blackness and I made some last minute notes on my script, using my phone as a light in the darkness.

At 8pm I was outside the disco, waiting for my videographers, both of whom showed up, and on time. Yay! I gave them their helper badges and we schlepped their cameras and tripods into Club Max, trying to be as quiet as possible.

I left Mark and Eric to talk shop and set up angles while I went to work on the door monitors. See, last year at my Pagan Humor seminar I muffed the instructions to my door monitor and he closed both doors when the clock struck the hour and wouldn’t let ANYONE in. I was busy doing the last minute stuff and didn’t notice until about halfway through my spiel that almost none of my friends were there.

So this year I was going to exorcise that embarrassing moment. I had a fairly elaborate gag planned, and it required the assistance of the door monitors. Trouble is, they are a valuable and flighty lot and they kept getting called away to other assignments. So I brought in two of my friends, Mykey and Matthew to assist me.

Not appearing in your picture: A proper podium.
Also last year was some major wonkage with the Hotel people. I arrived in the Carmel / Monterey Room for my show and found a raised stage, a slide show screen and a long table and chairs on the stage, all set for a discussion panel. None of which was needed, or asked for. But my lectern arrived, so at least I had a place to set my drink and my props and such.

This year I was taking no chances. On the paperwork I had clicked the boxes for an extension cord (to power the phone while it recorded me), a wireless microphone (just in case there wasn’t a real mic on hand), the precious lectern, and a CD player (on the off chance that the act in front of me ended early and there was lots of dead air space before my start time.)

At the green room check-in on Friday morning I had reviewed these requests with the Pcon Staff, only cancelling the CD player, as I had brought my own. I remember distinctly watching the CD player being crossed off.

Sunday, 8:45pm

You can see where I am going with this. At 8:45pm I was told No extension cord, no wireless mic, NO LECTERN, but hey! Here’s your CD player!

Eric, Admiral Karen, Mark and your Author try
to find anything else that could possibly go wrong.
Ay-yi-yi. Everything else I could do without but I needed the podium, badly. But, as I said above, this year I was taking no chances. This is what the car keys were for. I ran up to Admiral Karen and said “Trunk. Music stand. Go!”

Meanwhile Mark, Eric and my friend Katie had commandeered the sound and light boards and were trying to get enough light on me for their cameras and enough sound on the mic for me to be heard.

I guess every year is going to be a whole Keystone Kops routine just before I go on. (*sigh*) I had visions of Karen running all the way across the first floor of the convention, swinging the music stand in front of her like a scimitar, while “Ride of the Valkyries” boomed on the soundtrack.

She made it with 5 minutes to spare. Now I had a place to at least hold the 90 pages of script, but no place for my props or drinks. A chair would have to suffice.

Sadly I am looking more and more like this every year.
And we’re off. And this is why I always have a big sigh and am so happy to finally be able to say “Good Evening” to the crowd. It means the grim slapstick is over and I can relax and just tell my little stories.

The Door Monitor gag was me relating last years screw-up, comparing last years door monitor with Gandalf guarding the bridge at Khazad-Dum. I wrote a little dialogue between my friends and Gandy, climaxing with me screaming “You Shall Not Pass!” Then I told the crowd that I had a new policy. “Open the goddamn doors! Everyone is welcome.”

Mykey opens the curtain, the crowd turns and then Matthew, playing the ‘door monitor’ screams “You Shall Not Pass!!” (which probably scared more than a few patrons at the sushi bar.)

It all worked wonderfully, got a big laugh and I hope some ghosts of last year were evaporated.

"And the Chevy Nova." One cool thing about microphones: It's real easy to make fun explosion noises.
The rest of my talk went well, despite the awkwardness of having to use a microphone, and having it off to one side. The biggest weirdness was that, from my view on stage, I was playing to four people. I heard later that the place was full but due to the dance floor lighting I could only see the four people who happened to be in the edge of the spotlights. But thankfully they all seemed to be having a good time. It would have been tragic if one of them had been some drunk guy asleep or something.

I couldn't see the crowd, but I could FEEL them, and the energy exchange between audience and performer is, I think, the greatest drug of all. It really felt like I had 200 people with me in the car as we roadtripped around the West. 

Fun in the receiving line. Megan Rose had a REALLY good time.
As always, 11,000 words and 90 minutes seemed to fly right by and before I knew it it was applause, curtsy and let’s clear the stage for the next act.

But this year I had an actual receiving line waiting for me off stage. Luckily I had my ribbons with me, so I could hand ‘em out to all the lovely people who stopped by to say “hi”. It was definitely important for me, because this was the first time I had seen their faces!

Sunday, 11pm

It was 11pm now, and I was totally high from the seminar. The party rooms awaited! I put Karen to bed, grabbed Jason and the “Pretty Hair Twins” made the rounds.

Angus (Lughansadh), Amanda (Beltane) and
Jason (Samhain). It's gonna be a great year
for Community Seed rituals.
The Green Faery Absinthe Party was definitely missed this year. Even though many other party rooms tried to take up the slack, it was just nice to have one central party to go to and then hive off from. I believe there was more traffic at the various Hospitality Suites too, but I’ve never been comfortable in their claustrophobic atmosphere. It seems that most of the folks who have these rooms spend almost the entire weekend in them, seeing only others of their kind, and only journeying out for the seminars and presentations that are also on their narrow path. Walking into that kind of energy is really difficult and awkward for an eclectic like myself. I am so obviously an outsider that even though I am consciously treated kindly, unconsciously I still am made to feel like a trespasser.

The Pagan Alliance Suite was an exception to this opinion. Maybe because they themselves are an umbrella group, their suite was much more ‘open’ feeling. I relaxed. Jason and I reeled in Amanda at some point and it occurred to me that we had the leaders of the next three Community Seed Rituals in one place. Amanda was helming Beltane, I was busting my director’s cherry with Lughansadh, and Jason (and Ari) were doing Samhain.

Amanda has a goofy hat. See it?
Up there? Higher. Hiiiiigher.....
Drinks were drunk. World problems were solved. Girls were kissed. “Suggestive” photos were taken. About 2am I bid the younger generation adieu and went back to my floor. As I approached my room, I heard, down the hall or next door to us, a woman have an extended, shuddering orgasm. And that, I think, is the perfect climax to Pantheacon.

Monday, 9am

I’ve made it to maybe two Monday presentations in 8 years, and this year wouldn’t be any different. It was time to go home.

You could sense the change everywhere. Just a few hours before you couldn’t get from one floor to another without people complimenting how your boobs looked in your corset or having strangers check your kilt to see if you were ‘regimental’. But on Monday Morning everyone was back to staring raptly at some random point in the ceiling of the car. (*sigh*)

The Merry-Meet-go-round had come to a standstill. Please exit to your right and re-enter Civilization.

I have now spent 8,200 words (over 5 posts) describing my adventures at Pcon, 2012. Couple this with the complete articles that I used in my seminar and you have over 23,000 words that I have posted on this blog in ONE WEEK. All free. All for you.

Mutton and Jeff had a good time, and hope you did too.
And what is amazing to me is that my story is not extreme. It IS unique, in that almost nobody sees the exact same things as somebody else (and even if they did, their impressions from them would be different.) All 2,500 of us have a wild and wonderful story to tell about their weekend. My tale is but one small vector in a sea of thousands upon thousands of trajectories.

And outside of lodging and food, the whole weekend cost you $65.00.

Thank you for reading. And thank you, Pantheacon, for being. Blessed Be.

Angus McMahan

P.S. I hope you had as much fun reading these as I did writing them. If you liked ‘em, forward or share them with your friends. And please comment – or else I’ll think I’m only reaching the four people on the edge of the spotlights. (*wink*)


  1. I'm enjoying the write-ups! Makes the Con Crud not so bad

  2. Loved reading about your adventures! You have actually convinced me that PCon might be worth attending.

  3. Then my nefarious plan is working! Bwa-ha-ha!!

  4. SO loving reliving PCon through your writing and noticing some familiar photos in this post - hey, that's my hat! lol

  5. Sorry for missing your SundayNightMax-ness. Always exhausted myself from work... but thoroughly enjoyed reading your 5 parter. Thank you for sharing your side of Pcon. ~X~

  6. Thanks Phyll! Hope you finally got warm after the Arctic Vendor Room!

  7. But what ever happened to Belfry?

    1. am very happy to have no idea what Ms. Snowflake is up to.

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