Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The 5 that make the other 360 tolerable

In about a week, Marscon 2011 will be upon us. The question I get asked is "Why is this convention so special compared to others?" Thinking about it, I have 12 reasons:

1. The trip - Unlike other conventions where driving alone is common, I have never travelled to Marscon with fewer than 6 other people ranging from 1 to 4 vehicles including one rented since 2005. Why? It makes the 400 mile ride both ways seem a lot shorter and in my opinion, it makes the con start earlier and last later. The ride back is usually filled with playing new music acquired at the con and usually with a stop to drop off one of the passengers whose parents set up food for us. I still find it amazing that ten people last year got out of their cars at a gas station in northern Wisconsin all quoting a sketch from a CD we were listening to and confusing the hell out of the people there.

2. The atmosphere - In listening to the recordings made from the con, there is a level of excitement and enthusiasm that is unmatched anywhere else and it shows in the performers. Almost every year one of the artists burns out their voice from the excitement. I am not even going to try to count the number of times the Carson Ave sketches will be referenced on and off stage this weekend.

3. The opening sketch - Wyngarde, Brian and Luke open the con with a elaborate sketch which is rarely seen at other cons. It has ranged from a talk show to a game show, to vampires, to creating con agent Luke Bauer who got a report of a Madman on the Loose threatening to sing in the karoake room.

4. The regular music artists - I get to see Luke Ski, ShoEboX, Devo Spice, Carrie Dahlby, Rob Balder, Power Salad and the Nick Atoms/Possible Oscar perform at other conventions but Marscon in the only one where they all get together.

5. The special music guests - Over the years Luke Ski has been able to bring artists from all over the US including Ookla the Mok, Paul and Storm, MC Lars, Shaffer the Darklord, Throwing Toasters and this year TV's Kyle. Many of them had Marscon as their first sci-fi convention performance. There is a possibility of a group from Englad making the trip for 2012.

6. The music - With the ability of most performers to record at home, they can create songs together. Marscon gives them the chance to take their individually recorded items and perform them together sometimes for the first and only time. Often artists will do something special for the con like premiere new material or do something different with their older stuff like the one time an individual artist had a 4 member band join him on stage to play a song that has 7 notes and 2 words which got a standing ovation from the audience.

7. The pool gatherings - Many hotels have a pool. However it is different at Marscon as they turn into sing a longs in the hot tub usually before and after the con.

8. Parties - Twin Cities area cons are known for the creative parties and though the 4th of July weekend Convergence is the greatest, the night scene on the 13th floor at Marscon holds its own. There is Karaoke Joes which has not closed until after the sun rises, creatively themed parties, the filk lounge which has live music, our group of people, and the birth of Party Rob Balder who this year is hosting a Saturday might party on a 30 passenger bus complete with live music. There have been legendary nights none topped by a visit from British soldiers who were staying overnight at the hotel before heading off to desert training in Arizona to eventually serve in Iraq/Afganastan.

9. Wrestling - Mr Tuesday takes the performers from the con, uses a video wrestling game to create their characters and has them battle in a 20 person battle royal which gets shown at the con late Saturday night to the drunk crowd which reacts like they do in the WWE. The attitude of the fans against one of the people in the ring actually confused his mother who does not understand that the wrestler that is hated the most is usually one of the most popular ones.

10. Fan Showcase - After people recover from the Saturday night parties, they head to the karoake room late Sunday morning. DJ Particle runs the show where anyone there can perform their song or a cover as long as they either have the music with them or the ability to play. Some of the acts which now have either main stage or party shows started perfroming at this. Last year, I tried to perfrom a song in it last year after getting permission from the music Guests of Honor but my daughter realized what was happening and changed the file from the background music to the song to telling me I should not sing.

11. Smackdown - The traditional end of the music at the con has each performer doing one song that is usually not theirs. It has ranged from covering a classic tune to providing a new way of doing a song that someone else has done.

12. Kahn's - Before people head their seperate ways after the con ends on Sunday, many head to this Mongolian buffet for one last meal together. It is a combination of great food and conversation and last hugs before saying goodbye and before heading back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep before the drive home on Monday. I salute the staff there by ringing their gong with my head on the way out.

While trying to compile this list I came to the realization that since I refer Marscon as my "Christmas" and that I listed 12 things, I could create a song. I neither have the money or ability to get a decent soundtrack or compose lyrics nor have the ability to make it sound good.

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