12 July 2013

DeepSouthCon 50 Report: Day 1

Day 1: Friday, June 15, 2012

I attended DeepSouthCon 50 in Huntsville, Alabama June 15–17, 2012.  While it wasn't my first convention, it was my first serious science fiction convention. However, I was there for the music track. I'm a big fan of The FuMP (The Funny Music Project), which features numerous "dementia artists." (Thanks to Dr. Demento, comedy music has become known as dementia.) Several FuMP artsts were attending the con, a few of which I've been corresponding with in various ways for a while, and this was my first chance to meet them in person.

I requested the day off work well in advance, being uncertain just when the con was going to start. This turned out to be a good thing, because it let me get several last minute things done that day. Registration opened at noon, but I didn't make it until two or three o'clock. After registering, I checked out the art show and the dealer's room, where I knew one local dealer, Science Fiction Collectibles.

First meetings

Afterwards, I went up to the con suite, where I happened to find the dementia fan known as WildCard. He regularly hangs out in the Dementia Radio IRC channel when I hop on during the FuMPcast recordings on Thursday nights. Thankfully, I'd been able to find photos of him on Facebook in advance of the con, or I'd have had no idea what he looks like, because chatting on IRC was the sole interaction we'd had up to then. He was with two other dementia fans known as JayeKitty and PoohBear47. Yes, all these people have real names and I even known them (now), but I'll stick with their noms de dementia for the blog.

The great Luke Ski & Superhorse
I hung out with them, migrating downstairs near a bar.  It was then that the great Luke Ski showed up!  I got to introduce myself and get a photo of him and his Superhorse puppet before he wandered off to post flyers about his concert.  Superhorse is a character from some Cirque du So What sketches, a sketch comedy group made primarily of four of the FuMP musicians.  He's voiced by another member, but Luke (and his wife, Sara) are the puppet makers.

At that point I had to join my family at church for dinner.  They'd scheduled our church's Vacation Bible School (VBS) for the day.  It lasted all day, having the children's families come together for a lasagna dinner in the evening.  Once that was done and my wife was almost at the point where she could leave – she'd been a volunteer as well – I returned to the con.

I arrived just before or just as the opening ceremonies started.  Unfortunately, the room was packed, so I had to stand at the door at first.  I was eventually able to migrate in and finally make it to a seat on the far side of the room.  The ceremonies consisted primarily of Doc Taylor of the Rocket City Rednecks (which you can see on the National Geographic Channel) introducing the various guests, including Dr. Demento.

There was one guest at the con outside the musical ones I was interested in: Jody Lynn Nye, the late Robert Aspirin's co-author for the last few Myth Adventures books.  Unfortunately, the opening ceremonies would be the only time I'd see her during the entire con, and I wasn't able to get her to autograph my copy of Myth-Fortunes.  She had a couple panels, but I missed them both.

Because it was the 50th – or perhaps the 49th, there was some debate – DeepSouth Con, they had cake in the wake of the opening ceremonies.  Dr. Demento was one of the first ones served and I learned an interesting (and irrelevant) factoid:  Dr. Demento is allergic to chocolate.  I was in no hurry and didn't grab a piece of cake until a little later when the main room had cleared out a bit and I could move around easier.

So I wandered back out toward the lobby and discover Luke's wife, Sara Trice, had come over.  It turned out she and Luke weren't staying in the Embassy Suites where the convention was held, but at the Holiday Inn across the street, as were many others.  I had just finished my cake, so I made sure to wipe my face thoroughly of any of the bright blue icing that might be on it.  I then went up to introduce myself as one of those "anal-retentive freaks" from the FuMPcast.  As I smiled broadly, she seemed to pleased to meet me, but informed me my teeth were blue.  D'oh!

Meeting Shoebox

While milling about in the hotel lobby, Shoebox of Worm Quartet and Chris Mezzolesta of Power Salad showed up together. I'd made a special plan for introducing myself to Shoebox. You see, just a few months before DeepSouthCon, I'd volunteered for the job of putting together the monthly FuMP newsletter. Each one ends with a bit called "In Other News" and involves Shoebox, because he writes them. So it's my job to remind him to do so each month. Here's an example:
In other news, Shoebox is laminating the electric waterfowl of infinite tomfoolery with the underwater waitress hammer. In bed.
As you can see, to say that these bits are a little weird would be an understatement, so I decided to see if I could out-weird him. (I later had second thoughts, but decided I'd regret it forever if I didn't try.)

The one other thing you need to know about Shoebox, if you don't already, is that he was once profiled on VH-1's Totally Obsessed for his obsession with Pac-Man. As an expression of that obsession, he created a site called the 1st Church of Pac-Man. If you've read this blog, you'll know that I'm also a big fan of the classic video games of the 1980s.

So, when Shoebox shows up, I move away from the dementia music group because I don't want Shoebox to know who I am yet. I  skulk around the lobby, waiting for an opportunity. Finally, I get one. Wearing my vintage Pac-Man necktie and holding a tin of Pac-Man candy, I go up to the Rev. Shoebox (of the aforementioned church), offer him the tin as an offering to the "great round golden one", and ask for a blessing. (I had a whole little spiel I worked out and memorized ahead of time, but sadly as I write this -- nine months later -- I've forgotten the details.) I have no idea what Shoebox was thinking, but he appeared to take it perfectly in stride, handed the things he was holding to his friend, Alchav of Soggy Potato Chips, and asked me something about having faith in Pac-Man, using flowery language equal to what I'd said, placed his hands upon me and blessed me. Then I thanked him and revealed to him just who I was.

The rest of the night

[I started this entry shortly after DeepSouthCon. First I did a brief outline of what I wanted to talk about, then I started writing. I got down to the part about meeting Shoebox and put it aside for what ended up being months. I wanted to write a nice, long narrative report so I could bask in the nostalgia of it later. (In case you hadn't noticed, I'm big on nostalgia.) But now the memories aren't nearly as sharp as they were and, perhaps more importantly, I realize this has gotten far longer than anyone on the Internet is going to read. So henceforth I convert to a bunch of quick memories.]
  • Now that I didn't have to worry about keeping my identity from Shoebox, I introduced myself to Chris Mezzolesta. Needless to say, it wasn't as exciting as what I went through with Shoebox, but Chris is a nice guy and it was a pleasure to meet him.
  • I learned, sadly, that what was in the case Shoebox was carrying was actually Chris' guitar and not Shoebox's new keytar because Shoebox hadn't had time yet to learn how to play it. The keytar was a stretch goal on Shoebox's Kickstarter campaign to publish his new CD, to which I'd contributed.  I'd joked on the FuMPcast that my donation had bought up to 2% of the instrument and Shoebox responded that the lower C# was mine. I'd wanted a quick video of him playing that note for me.

Comedy Music Sampler Concert

  • The main attraction of the night was the comedy variety show featuring Chris Mezzolesta (Power Salad), Seamonkey, Shoebox (Worm Quartet), Steve Goodie, Danny Birt, and the great Luke Ski.
  • I believe it was during this concert that I first met Mad Mike and his wife.
  • One surreal bit was having Dr. Demento, dressed casually in a t-shirt and not his signature tux and top hat, sit next to me for the concert. On the other side of him was former comedy musician Rob Balder.
  • Seamonkey asked if anyone in the audience was Catholic, warned us the song was offensive, and then performed "Altarboy." (A rather obscene song about a priest and an altar boy.)
  • After he was done, one guy in the audience said that wasn't offensive enough. He borrowed a guitar and proceeded to sing a parody of "Puff the Magic Dragon" with the same theme as "Altarboy". Seamonkey bowed to him at the end.
  • Danny Birt noted that everyone in the audience seemed to be familiar with the song's being sung, so he  -- assuming we'd also know Jonathan Coultan -- did a Coultan parody.
Danny Birt
The great Luke Ski performing "Grease Wars"

Chris Mezzolesta of Power Salad


Shoebox of Worm Quartet

Steve Goodie
Here's the songs I recorded during the concert as a single playlist.

The Boobles concert

Juan Melon (Seamonkey) of the Boobles
The final concert of the night was The Boobles.  The Boobles is a project of Seamonkey's.  He's raising money for breast cancer research by recording breast-themed parodies of Beatles' songs.  Although the song's have been recorded with many other artists, the concert was mainly him with pre-recorded backing tracks.
  • At the end of "I Want to See Your Cans", Danny Birt came up and stuffed a dollar in Seamonkey's pants. Seamonkey revealed the next day that he forgot about it until he undressed back in his hotel room when it fell out of his pants.
  • Seamonkey had Shoebox perform "Double D's" during the concert. Since Seamonkey wasn't singing, he wore his boob mask and swayed along beside Shoebox. At one point he discovered he could suck in the mask and began doing so rhythmically, which freaked out Shoebox when he noticed it. Luckily for you, I caught that bit on video. (It starts at the 1:45 mark, but watch the whole thing.)

Thus ended the first day of the con, which was actually sometime well after midnight on Saturday.

[On to Day 2, or even Day 3, if you want.]

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