Friday, February 21, 2014

Pantheacon 2014, Part 2: Friday

(Starting with part 1, please. Thanking you: THURSDAY.)

I was up early as always, but I had my 'escape pile' all ready by the door. I went to the lobby, wrote my notes about Thursday, and just kind of anticipated what this place would look like in a few hours. It was a delicious feeling.

At 7am I got a small container of cream for the Admirals Coffee and took it up to the room. I left it discreetly outside the door, tiptoed away, and sent her a text from the elevator.

I know how important it is to sleep in, and have all the components of the Coffee Ritual readily available upon waking. Of such gestures do we build our lives together. 

Eventually she roused herself and we descended to Cafe Ho-Hum, eagerly anticipating what culinary oddities and service bizzarities would be ours to savor. Cafe Ho-Hum, as always did not disappoint:
  • The two of us were seated at a table laid out for four people.
  • There was sugar all over my bench seat.
  • There was one fork for the four place settings.
  • The buffet eggs were sumultaneously dry AND greasy, which is quite a feat.

Katie and I have sympathetic tattooage.
The toaster raised my Costco English muffin to slightly above room temperature. I ran it through a second time and I got some slight dark discoloration here and there on the edges, if you squinted real hard. 6 - 8 more times through and it might have even toasted the damned thing.

Time to Register for the convention, but it looked like we would be waiting for awhile. According to the Pcon Program (available online), 2014 registration opens on “Friday, Feb. 17.”, which would make it either the year 2012, or 2018.

I’m gonna need a second breakfast if I’m going to wait 4 years to get my Con badge.

Once that had been squared away it was off to the Green Room for Presenter check in. I like doing that early, not only to check the item off my list but also to watch the earnest volunteers flail as they frantically learn the ropes on the fly. It's sweet.

Now, what were my problems again?
Now what? The Opening Ritual isn't for 3 hours and my stomach is still trying to figure out what the hell it was I had had for breakfast. So I ended up laying around under the covers - with music playing on the iPod. Admiral Karen points out that these are kind of mixed messages. Nap or get off the pot, Ang 'ol boy.

So I got up and went swimming. I swam a bunch of laps on the hypotenuse of the pool and then went to the deep end and practiced one handed handstands and double back flips. Pools are awesome. Even when you are by yourself.

Next off was the Hot tub. This I shared with Holly Tannen, a lovely and talented musician and singer. We compared notes on the bizarre stage set-ups we've encountered here at Pantheacon. I've arrived in my designated room and found, at various times, an unwanted stage, a panel discussion set-up, a slide show lay out, no microphones, 3 microphones, and so on.

Ready for the Pombagira
Its the Performers equivalent of dining at Cafe Ho-Hum: You never know what your going to get, but its always unintentionally entertaining.

Holly went to the pool and I stayed a little longer in the hot tub. As I was drying off I heard a knock behind me and remembered that there is a window here to one of the hallways of the lobby. Turning around I saw two very gay acquaintances of mine, who gave me a good head to toe looksee and then they both gave me a big thumbs up. So I guess all that exercise and diet is working.

The Opening Ritual was charming, as always. I enjoy setting the intentions of the weekend and casting the circle for the entire weekend. And, lets be honest, I'm also getting a headstart on who is going to be my ConCrush for the next 4 days.

First up officially for Pantheacon 2014 was Mojo and Magic in Blues Music, with Kenny Klein. Now I have a huge collection of Delta and Chicago blues and I played in a band named Quazimojo for 15 years. I thought I knew my stuff. But I learned a LOT from this presentation.

Karen's hand-knitted shawl makes
a great over skirt.
Try this one for size: Post civil war there are thousands of unemployed black musicians with tons of cheap instruments left behind by the Southern Ex-soldiers (and future farmers). These musicians then get jobs in the two biggest growth industries of Reconstruction: Funerals and Brothels. Pianos, guitars and banjoes go to the Cat Houses and create Blues. Brass instruments go to the parading Second Line funerals and create Jazz.

That doesn't address the 'Mojo and Magic' part, however. And aside from some suggestive lyrics in Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters tunes there apparently isn't much. Were these musicians aware of Hoodoo? It seems that way. And.......that's it.

This presentation was a lot like the show Treme: Not much point, no real resolution - but great music!

During the break I toured the vendor room. Great wares, sparkly people, but MAN is that room stinky! Even the hallway outside was saturated with the funk. Whew! I revisited the vendors on Monday morning, when the miasma had dissipated a bit.

3:30pm found me at Jason Mankey's "Finding the God: Male Archetypes of Deity in the Craft". This was the new show that Jason had been working on for months, and it did not disappoint. First rate scholarship and an energetic telling, tempered (quite hilariously) by a slideshow that was so color-corrupted that it made each of the pictures look like one of Brian Froud's 'Pressed Fairies'.

I know pretty people.
That's the Lord of the Sun? It looks like a STAIN. I look forward to a repeat run-through of this seminar so we can actually see what Jason was talking about.

I had sleep for dinner and then dinner for the 7pm slot. Katie and her enticing friends came over to watch the Olympics while Karen and I dressed for the evening.

9pm found us at the Green Fairy party, admiring the lighting scheme that Jason and I had erected the night before. The party, much like the Con, was just warming up, however.

11pm was, of course, the Pombagira, which has gotten quite the makeover in the last couple of years. Better drumming, better chants, lower lights all make for a much more conducive vehicle with which to invoke the spirit of the Sacred Harlot of Rio.

Me and my 2nd wife, with our Pomba beads.
And look at the nice rope lights up there!
I only have one problem with the Pomba 2.0: It's too short. 20 minutes of warm up and rules, 20 minutes of working and 20 minutes of cool down. For the second year in a row we are out in the foyer by Midnight. Oh. Okay.

Its not like there is anything following this - it's the last item on the agenda. And after all the work and prep that the Umbanda House puts into this, I am surprised that they are so eager to cut it off so quickly. 10 or 20 more minutes of dancing would tip us over into absolute Ecstacy.

Afterward I shared a crowded elevator, and it was basically a gropefest. After all of the necessary restrictions of the Pomba, it was total release to be able to ogle and touch. Freedom! You can only keep the pagans repressed for so long!

Back to the Green fairy party, which was now in full swing. Or 'swig', as it were.

I talked shop with friends old and new and it was a delight to just surf on the collective zap of 100 energy workers all crammed into two rooms.

Jasons favorite place to be.
By 1:30am I was back in 664 (The Neighbor of the Beast) giving a tarot reading to my friend Cath.

Somewhere around 2:30am I finally went to sleep. And so ended the first full (half day!) of Pantheacon 2014.

For me at least: Karen was up at 4am to watch live Hockey for 3 hours. Did I mention I live with a sports fan?


Angus McMahan


  1. We would love to keep the dancing going but alas it is governed by the Pcon staff and we are forced to shut it down on their time line. We run the very real risk of being cut off without grounding people if we run over, so we time our set down to the second. The actual timing (we run a timer on every song) on the music is 9 minutes and 30 seconds of warm up, not including the social drumming that is happening as people enter. the warm up is followed by 44 minutes of invocation until we release, followed by 8 minutes and 30 seconds of grounding into the lullaby. To have the 44 minutes of invocation feel like 20 is a good sign, the ultimate 'times flies when your having fun' experience. We work every year to refine the experience and give people the longest possible journey into the trance and a strong ground out. Next year we will work again to give the best experience possible, we are thinking already about not breaking up the warm up from the invoke so we just continue the rise until we release and ground. Like all things - it is a living process and we relish any thoughts on improving.

    1. Interesting, Gwen. Thanks for writing. You really can't play past midnight? When there are things like the Midnight drum circle that happen?

  2. Angus, while your humorous comments regarding things like room setups and critique of Pomba's running time are taken with grace and humor, I have to ask if you completed a PantheaCon Feedback form? These are each read by several people who try to take any advice/suggestions seriously. While we can't always change things, we do value and seriously consider each suggestion. If you filled out a form, thanks! If not:

    One other thought, PantheaCon runs fewer staff than other similar sized conferences. We are always looking for volunteers to help things run more smoothly. You can read more about this by going to the following link and clicking the Volunteers (aka Gryphons) link:

    I am greatly enjoying your blog posts and heard great things about your presentation!

    Don Barks, PantheaCon Tech Head

    1. Not only did I fill out a feedback form, I showed one to my audience and asked them to do the same. :-)

  3. And I don't know why I'm listed as "Unknown". I know who I am!