Thursday, February 18, 2016

Pantheacon 2016: Saturday

5 hours sleep? Suuuure. Not a problem. As long as I get a nap later. Which is why I have a better record for attending 9am workshops then 11am ones.

I used the Emergency Escape Pile (EEP®) by the door and was up and writing in the lobby by 6am. What was I writing? Why, last nights adventures!

I brought Admiral Karen a Doughnut for breakfast, and it had pink frosting and little candy hearts on it. So, Valentines day. Boom.

9am (Read 8:30) found me finding a seat (Lie: I was enmeshed in the 2nd row early) for Lora O’Brien’s “A practical guide to Irish Magick”.

This turned out to be a delightful sequel/prequel/equal companion piece to her
Not a whole lot of distraction at 6am.
popular “A practical guide to Irish Spirituality”, which I caught last year.

(I even bought the book, and enjoyed it thoroughly. You should too.)

Lora was delightfully chatty this early in the morning, and this put her over her time, but she pulled it together like a pro and finished strong. I do so admire excellent public speakers.

11am had me headed for “Ancient Egyptian Divination” but on the way I stopped in to the room for a two hour nap.

Oh. Oops. Sorry, Isis!

Lora, way too awake
- but its also 5pm, Irish time.
At 12:30 I woke up to the best text ever: “We have a table at cafe ho-hum!”

I covered my privates in some manner and flew down the stairs. Admiral Karen replayed my smooth doughnut move by ordering me a Turkey Club.

This WAS cafe ho-hum though, so this particular turkey belonged to a club that had taken vows of ‘no taste’.

The bacon had been shown a picture of a fire several hours previously. Seriously, bacon should not be juicy. But by applying mustard to every single bite I was able to convince my stomach to accept this invader from the planet Bland.

(And there it sat, the immovable object, all afternoon.)

Lora again, with the stage and tables
behind her. 
By 1pm I was back in 554, prepping for my 3:30pm show. Shower and shave, lay out the outfit (Saturday was the day for the pre-planned ensembles), and pack all of the props, aids, plan B’s and emergency tools.

Overkill? Perhaps. But all of this is meditative for me. Packing the gig bags is my Grounding.

Admiral Karen arrives and we lug the luggage down to outside of the Carmel/Monterey room to await the rest of the crew.

And yes, we are waiting for Ms. O’Brien to finish. I swear I’m not stalking you, Lora!

Setting up with Mark. Photo by Chris Illes.
2:30pm, My video team arrives, right on time. Ah, Mark and Mykey, you make this punctual pagan proud!

3pm: Did I mention that Lora is a pro? Right on time with the big finish. Loud, sustained applause and then all of my staff into the room! Gogogo!

The last 4 years we’ve been at Club Max, usually starting at 7pm. So we’ve had the whole 2 hour dinner break to set up leisurely. Not this year, though! Club Max had imploded and now we only have 1/2 an hour to set up the cameras, microphones, wire me up, and greet the crowd.

Photo by Chris Illes, who caught every single
elongated second of 'the burp'.
And what do you know? This was the easiest, smoothest, most relaxing set up, ever. There’s a lesson in there somewhere, but I was too busy to catch it.

When I needed help I just grabbed friends from the audience. You, watch the door. You, get me a mic stand. You, take some pictures. You, scan the crowd for parents with kids.

This last was important. Being used to an evening slot in the abandoned nightclub, I had written a fairly R-rated seminar, long before I found out that I would be presenting in the middle of the afternoon in a brightly lit room. Oops.

As always, I am amazed at how relaxed
 I am on stage.  Photo by Chris Illes.
I lucked out though: No minors. Whew!

Mark the videographer decided I should be standing on the stage, so we had to move two tables to the back. He pulled from the back and I pushed from the front. I was told later that I should think these sorts of actions out beforehand, as I was wearing a mini-kilt with no underwear. Oh. Oh. Sorry for the  buffalo shot, everyone! 

(Again, glad there were no kids present!)

3:35 struck and I took a moment to collect myself, even though I was already standing on the stage. (And everyone there had already seen my little Angus.)

I’m not nervous in doing shows, but the strangest part of the 90 minutes was right off the bat when I had to announce that I was selling Product. Awkward!

My blurb from the Pantheacon Program. 
After that though I got to hang out and tell my stories to a full house of new friends.

It always seem to go by in a minute, but I am always exhausted from the energy expenditure afterwards. Just saying 12,000 words is Exertion!

And yeah, that IS one short kilt!
(Photo by Chris Illes)
Afterwards there is usually a reception line where I connect with folks and hand out ribbons. I had Admiral Karen on DVD selling duty, so I had both hands free and headspace to hang with my fans.

But I hadn’t counted on the siren song of dinner. Once I said the final punchline and thanked them for coming, they applauded quite vigorously and then it was like the Gamera alarm went off or something. 

Blink! And it was just me and my team left behind, while dust and Con ribbons slowly fluttered to the carpet.

DVD available on the main page of
Angus-land. 2 1/2 hours!
Okay then. Well, we managed to sell a few DVDs on the fly, so that was nice.

(And one attendee did stop long enough to inform me that she had seen my junk during the set-up.)

I said my thanks to Mark and Mykey and then Karen and I schlepped all the crap back up to the room. 

My audience had just informed me by their cartoony running feet that it was indeed dinnertime, but I was too wired to eat yet - and the tasteless turkey club was still holding meetings in my stomach.

Karen and her "Blossom"
So we went to the vendor room, where I met a true ascended Master of this Life: Blossom Merz, the Weaving Monk

Every so often in this veil of tears you are blessed to encounter a being who has mastered the Zen. Someone who has nothing and yet radiates everything. 

A seeker who works hard, challenges himself, leaps into the unknown, and yet is also completely at ease with this lifetime. Such a person is Blossom.

Katie, always making friends.
And his creations are literally the stuff of legend. He weaves Ruanas, a design from Venezuela, which is an open fronted poncho, but very thick. His ideas are magnificent and often very geeky, and each ruana has a history and a story to tell.

As Karen was deciding on one other owners came into his stall, and he welcomed back each of his creations like they were old friends. 

So now Karen has “A Blossom”, and I don’t think she will ever be without it.
Captain General!

But now we were hungry and we had a full evening of wildness planned. So it was time to enact another of our Pantheacon traditions: Room Service.

And the rumor was that it comes from Spencers, the spectacularly over-priced Steak House, and not cafe ho-hum. 

Well, the food was excellent, so maybe it was Spencers, but the hu-mans assembling our meal were definitely from the Ho-Hum side of the kitchen: 

Admiral Karen’s burger came with potato chips and not french fries!!!!
No, please don't EXIT!
(photo by Alex Bond.
Used with permission.)

Yes; true. That really happened. Much Yosemite Sam cursing ensued. I had to go get her Blossom and drape it over her to quench her sorrow and rage.

Lesson: Always check under the domes before handing the guy a tip.

Alright, turn up the music! It is time to Dress for Excess. And I knew I was going to end up at the Hexenfest Pirate Party, so I went with full on Captain General.

Still photos never do bellydancers
Justice. (photo by Alex Bond.)
First up! The Sharon Knight and Winter acoustic show. I knew that I would be missing their Pandemonaeon set on Sunday, so I wanted to see them in their acoustic pairing. They are always honest and warm. And they had really good sound this time. And an extremely tempting merch table. I’m gonna have to step up my game.

Next up, in the same room! was The Hero's Journey Through Bellydance. Except that in all of the dressing frenzy Karen and I had forgotten to snag our water bottles.

So I zipped up to the room in between shows and managed to get in a few pictures while waiting for the elevators. Fun! In the elevators some guy said that I should consider underwear when moving tables before my show.
Me and Karen and Little Nancy, riveted.
(Photo by Zephyre Lilith. Used with permission.)

A LOT of work went into the bellydance show: 12 different archetypes were presented, in solos, duets and sometimes entire troupes. And this year they were in a Rock Star room, so there was a higher ceiling! Huzzah!

Nikki and Doreet. Dance as Pyschodrama.
(photo by Alex Bond. Used with permission)
But there was also no backstage, so part of the show became watching the dancers who just came off the stage (zombies), those who were going on next (stretching), and the quirky mannerisms of the sound guy and the emcee. All of this formed kind of a “geek chorus” off to the side.

The dancers and performances were all over the map, but all were well received. 

A mid-show stand out was Doreet and Nikki, who enacted a troubled soul who is being goaded on by her shadow self until she rebels and breaks free of her own negative inaction. All told with excellent choreography and superior acting. I was not the only one in tears at the end of this dance.

Pirate Party!!!
All of us needed a drink after that, so after dropping off the Admiral at the room I trooped on up the 1067 to attend the Hexenfest Pirate Party. This was just down the hall from the mighty Green Fairy Party, which had a waiting line outside, so many people just wandered into this room instead. 

Which meant it was WALL-to-WALL people in there. I couldn’t see much of the decor but everything I could see made me feel right at home. 

The reason for this was that almost all of these flags and skulls and whatnot had come from The Freaky Tiki! It was great fun to see my old pirate gear spruced up and flying high again!

Hey, I know that stuff!
I was handed a glass of absinthe - um, thanks! and then I saw my friend Bear sitting on the couch, leaving a big puddle of Charisma, like he does wherever he goes.

We caught up for a few minutes and then I rose and stepped away to get a few pictures of Ankhira’s spectacular lighting effect on the room. 

This put me standing next to the line to the bartenders, and I fell into a conversation with a lovely woman whom we will call “Luna”.

We chatted for a few minutes, and then Luna says to me: “Excuse me, I would like to speak with the gentleman behind you.”
Jesamyn and Jason.


So, having just been shot out of the saddle that was inside a cannon, I found it easy to step aside and allow Luna to pursue an apparently much greater Prize.

The trajectory of my rejection took me to the corner of the room, where I had a great conversation with Helen Hawk, one of the honchos at North Bay Reclaiming, while I tended to my psychic wounds.

We compared her group with mine, Community Seed. And found that we had made many of the same mistakes, and learned the same lessons. 

This bit of affirmation was most welcome, as I watched Luna, on her knees in front of Bear, touching his knees and making a most sincere case for whatever she had in body mind for the evening.
So let me tell you why I left Lutheranism......

I was still laughing at myself as I sauntered off down the hall to the Green Fairy party, stopping only to wipe away the powder burns from my lacerated ego.

And, huzzah! My whole coven was there! Let the Healing begin! 

After the heartfelt Bowie toast at midnight it was suddenly Dance Party time, which I had never seen happen at the absinthe party. 

I happened to have a seat on the couch, flanked by bi-sexual coven mates on both sides, and the dancers were so close that our feet were almost continuously stepped on.

Sabrina, in our face.
No complaints!
Only mild complaints were heard from my wingwomen, however. They did mention, however, that they had seen my junk earlier when I was moving tables before my show. (*sigh)

Speaking of my genitalia, by 12:30pm though I had had to pee for a couple of hours already, and I hadn’t because it is so hard to do with leather pants and several belts on. 

So I just said my good nights and tottered off to bed. 

I’m old.

(Yes, Sunday happened. All TOO SOON.)

Angus McMahan


  1. I do love your way of telling a/your story, my friend. Good stuff, here.

    Re: my part in your story; it's a case study in how we each see things differently. I felt off my game and subdued, not shiny. I've been in gloomy hibernation for some time. I almost made the mistake of not going to PCon at all. Having a few moments with quality people, notably including your fine self, made it a good decision to buckle up and show up. Thank you.

    Like you, that young lady saw *something* in me, even if I wasn't really feeling pretty, witty or gay. Too bad that the phone number she drunkenly put into my phone answers with "We're sorry. All circuits are busy. Please try your call again later". *blarg*

  2. Like I said, Bear, about a billion people would kill to have your default setting of charisma. :-)