June 13th, 2004

kick it!

First Impressions - MR04, pt.1

Despite the fact that we'd been planning this for the best part of a year, and I'd visited the MR message board a couple of times prior to going, I really had no idea of what to expect at this sort of thing. On the whole, I was pleasantly surprised, even if my overall impression of the event is of something fairly lowkey and somewhat badly managed. Below the surface, things were brewing and there were some weird politics going on, but none of it really affected me. I'm glad to have had this experience, while at the same time I can honestly say that I'm not likely to ever repeat it. Even though I enjoyed myself immensely while in PA, half the time I went around wondering what I was doing there. Experiencing at first hand how serious, if not to say downright obsessive, some people can get over a TV-show and the actors who perform in it...at times it could be quite scary. But it was fun.

For me, the best thing about the whole event was finally meeting up with my on-line friends,
julchek and calove, and finding out how well we got on in real life. Julie came to meet me off the plane and there was no awkwardness at all -- well, not once she got over the initial shock of my continental style of hugging. I may be able to fool most people into thinking I'm British simply by opening my mouth, but my distinctly mainland European greeting rituals always give the lie to that ;).
We hung around the airport for a few hours waiting for Cass's plane to land, and then drove straight down to the Split Rock resort, where we arrived on Thursday evening after dark. Jules, having signed up as a volunteer, had an early start ahead of her and Cass and I were faily jetlagged, so after checking into our suite, we didn't leave it again except for a short visit to Karla's, the registrar's, room, where we got our first inkling of the amount of chaos that goes into the organisation of this sort of event.
In the morning, Jules went to attend to her duties in the dealer room while Cass and I went exploring around the lake and ended up having lots of fun playing midget golf in the sweltering heat. On the way back up to our room, we noticed Tom Lenk and Danny Strong had arrived, which reminded us of why we were there again, but to be honest, it's now all such a blur that I can't really recall what came next. I think there may have been a Q&A (James C. Leary's) that we attended -- but really, my mind's a blank. That night though, we were invited to a party a door or two further down. Cass was still a bit out of it, so she decided to give it a miss, but I went and met a great bunch of people there. Some of the guests turned up as well; neither Adam Busch nor Tom Lenk stayed for very long, but Danny Strong settled in to regale us with stories of auditions and Amsterdam. Julie got a bit drunk (but not annoyingly so), and got talking to Eric Kufs of Common Rotation about music. She's a musician herself so the topic comes up naturally with her. She had brought her flute to the convention but in the end never could find the time to play it for us, more's the pity.
Later that evening, we all went down to see James Leary's short film Stunt Cocks, which shocked some people while others thought it was hilarious (personally, I didn't pay that much attention as I got kind of busy talking to people, so I really can't say all that much about it), and then we trundled back up to B, C & R's suite to continue with the party. Sleep caught up with me quickly, and I left shortly after. Jules got in in the wee small hours and decided to watch Chance again, but when I went to check up on her, she was passed out on the sofa with the lights on and the DVD playing. I never did manage to get back to sleep after that.

With 2/3-s of our party either groggy from lack of sleep or hung over, we had something of a late start and barely made it to JM's photoshoot in time (but it's kinder to say that we timed it exactly), which felt like it was over in seconds (and it probably was). I can't wait for the picture to arrive in the post and maybe then I'll have more of a recollection of it :). I'm told he turned to shake my hand, but I'd already walked off and didn't notice!

Jules and Cass had been roped in to facilitate the fan panel on 'What Does the Soul Mean in the Jossverse?', which was well-attended even if no conclusions were reached. Adam Busch made an impromptu appearance with his squeezebox in the middle of it, which lightened the mood considerably; we later learned that another panel ('Could Spike Have Been Redeemed Without A Soul?') got quite heated with people walking out white-knuckled. We dropped in on a fan fiction panel and I can now put a face to eurydice72, which is nice. However, she handed me the perfect excuse not to approach her when she remarked that she still felt surprised and uncomfortable when people came up to her and heaped praises on her for her stories. I'd only have babbled, anyway.

Saturday night was concert night. We'd looked in on the soundcheck from the windows for a few minutes, and were highly amused by what a complete tart JM could be, playing to the galleries as he did.

Then it was time for the Common Rotation gig and they completely blew me away. I'd never heard anything of their music before, but on the strength of that one concert, I've become a fan. At the beginning of the show, something went wrong with the equipment, and the professional way they dealt with it impressed everyone deeply. They ended their set with a powerful and very poignant version of a song called Pawn, which went straight to the gut -- when it finished, I was in tears. That doesn't happen to me all that often, so after that I simply had to have their album(s). For once in my life, I didn't think twice about queueing up for something. I told Adam I thought that what I'd just seen and heard had been inspired, but he wasn't satisfied with that and wanted to hear me say it had been brilliant. Hey! I'm a repressed NW-European: we don't do brilliant -- but in hindsight, I have no qualms admitting that it had been exactly that. Eric surprised and impressed me by remembering my name from the previous evening - well, sort of: I was 'the girl with the amazing name', apparently. :)
Anyway, Common Rotation will be going on tour with They Might Be Giants soon, after which, in the Aug/Sept timeframe, they will be doing some of their living room concerts on both the East and West Coast. If you live on either of these coasts and have a big enough living room to make it worth their while, contact Jordan Katz. You'll not regret it. Also, buy their albums. They're...well, brilliant.