Monday, July 7, 2014

Travel Journal: FL Supercon '14

Downtown Miami on the 4th of July
My time at FL Supercon was spent almost entirely behind a booth but I feel that the adventure is no less worth of being written. The adventure starts on Wednesday, the day before the convention. While on a break at work I took a few minutes to refresh myself on the exhibitor code of conduct and was surprised to see that the event started on THURSDAY, not Friday, as I had previously thought. In a panic, I contacted my partner in crime Peter Pepper (whom I would be sharing a booth with) to inform him that we'd have to depart a full day earlier than expected, called out of work for Thursday, finished out the day at work, and rushed to prepare for the journey. The following morning at 6am Peter and I loaded up the tour van, got gas, caught a quick breakfast, and departed for Miami before 6:45am. The typical problems I've associated with the tour van were not present, save for a cluster of spiders guarding the fusleodge. We arrived at the con, timely at 10:10am, unloaded, and moved dozens of boxes to our booth, #314. Notably my wheeled tote broke, making the loading process more difficult than it should have been. In a flash we set up the booth and were ready for business by con opening.

As I started to play accordion, which is what I do when I'm at these conventions, an awesome cosplayer immediately ran to the booth, face full of recognition and a huge grin. After a few awkward moments of big hugs and greetings where I had no idea who I was talking to she finally identified herself as Destiny Faith-Hope, a close friend, battle-sibling, a former neighbor, roommate (who had moved to Mississippi years ago), and a former member of Random Encounter! It turned out she and her S.O. Rob Smith III (who is also a former roommate, neighbor, battle-brother, and close friend) were not only in Florida, but were the booth next to mine! Neither of us had recognized each other at first, until I started playing music. There was a lot of catching up throughout the weekend. I've missed them both and it was really cool to run into them.

Throughout the day I played accordion, sold CD's, introduced people to my band, and got to chat with some really interesting folks, including 2 members of the band Hypnotic Tones, which i'd never heard of but now like. The first evening, after the con closed at 7:30pm, Peter and I caught food with some of his friends at a German (actually Austrian) restaurant, joined them at their house later, and I got to play with a quasi-Egyptian short-haired cat which was extremely playful to the point where I'd compare its behaviors to being dog-like... It even enjoyed playing fetch and fell asleep on my lap!

The next morning we were back at the booth by 10:10am (traffic), and played music. When Peter left to go hang out with the cast of the Walking Dead a number of people asked if I was Peter Pepper, which greatly amused me, and later in the day a messenger with a short blue wig and big glasses stopped by to give me a mysterious hand written note, sealed with an octopus pin. When I looked up from the note the messenger was gone and I was left with an anonymous letter of admiration. It was really elegant, written in cursive. It talked about my "ashen locks" and how my accordion playing, seen from afar, had tugged at the heartstrings of the author, and how s/he did not want to talk to me for fear that I would steal his/her heart. As I'm the one in the band most easily described as "the one with the hat and the broken nose", and with the other bandmates being more good looking than myself, such a politely written letter of admiration caught me quite off-guard. Peter suggested that perhaps I got it because I was approachable, but I was quick to point out that I hadn't technically been approached.

The day went on, more people were met, and I spoke at length with the makers of Sanctum Polis, a new retro RPG i'm interested in. Peter, friends, and I caught a 4th of July dinner at an Asian diner in downtown Miami called Bonding, and we shared food as random people shot of fireworks in the streets, oddly close to and the skyscrapers we were near. We missed the big fireworks display and caught a silly 80's movie about a boy who gets kidnapped by aliens and travels at the speed of light for 8 years. Before I fell asleep I noticed a business card one of our friends had that matched the artwork on the pin from the aforementioned letter and used my phone to find the location of the artist's booth at Supercon.

The following morning we arrived a little bit early so I stopped by the booth of the artist who made the pin (from the letter), casually said "I got your letter", handed her a CD, and walked away. The letters were really flattering, so I thought no harm in it. It was only an hour later that I realized that the woman's expression was more confused than the face of someone trying to hide the fact that they'd been found out. So, I went back to the booth and explained myself to her. She said that a Frenchman had given them (her and the guy at her booth) a 2 page poem about their art as well, albeit not anonymously, and suggested that perhaps the Frenchman liked my work as well... But the handwriting from their note (which they wanted to show me) wasn't cursive and was signed completely differently. Odd... The three of us laughed about it and I went back to my booth to continue the day. Throughout the day I saw familiar folks from Sanshee, fellow vendors and artists from cons past, people who i'd met at Megacons and Shadowcons of years past, people i'd never met before who knew of Random Encounter from Spotify/iTunes/Youtube/or the general internet, and a lot of people who had seen our performances with Video Games Live. At one point I met a guy who had seen us back in 2007. The conversation went something like
"Holy S***! Random Encounter! I remember you guys from 2007, you guys were awesome!"
Me: "Then I have some extremely good news for you... we got a lot better."
Hilarity ensued. Towards the end of the day the blue haired guy stopped by while I was in the middle of a conversation and said "message for you" while dropping something. Before I could stop him he'd already run away and I had a second anonymous letter of admiration, this one describing that this person liked the music I was playing, specifically the Game of Thrones theme I'd remembered how to play earlier that day. It seemed that perhaps this wasn't a blast-letter series made by the Frenchman after all...

That evening we ate at a really nice French place we found on Yelp (I wish I'd remember the name). They had amazing cheeses and a Belgium chocolate moose that's the best I've ever had. I think Peter went off to party with the GoT cast or something. I went to sleep. The next morning, I alone went back to the booth, arriving an hour or so early. Somewhere mid-day my friend Jennifer (one of the con organizers) stopped by and chatted for awhile about how the convention was going. She also brought up the fact that I'd apparently met her sister and sold her sister an album solely on the fact that she (Jennifer's sister) had said "my sister will really like this", not knowing that Jennifer had backed that album on Kickstarter. Awhile later I got a really horrible photo with really good Khal Drogo and Peter Baelish cosplayers I won't post (it's REALLY bad), and played accordion some more. I gave a personal concert to some kids who had all of our albums but had never seen the band in person, and mid way through the day a girl stopped by with a mysterious note for me. I quickly asked her not to run and she said that she actually had no idea what the whole thing was about, but that she (bored) had been asked by a stranger if she could deliver a letter to me. The cover of the letter clarified "I seem to have lost my other courier" and once again the contents were sealed with a pin from the shop i'd visited the day before. The courier was just as amused as I was at the situation, which I fully explained, and agreed to try to counter-deliver a CD with the message "got your letters" (and mysteriously vanish like a ninja). The courier also verified that a woman had indeed given her the note (not that i'm against men admiring me, though I'm not bisexual/gay, I was just curious). It was only after the courier left that it dawned on me that she very well could have been the author.

Later in the day a man playing a saxophone, dressed as the Sexy Sax Man, stopped by and we totally jammed out on Careless Whisper. It's extra silly because my name is Careless and it was about mid way through the song that I realized that it was THE Sexy Sax Man! Peter (who had appeared with his camera at the last moment) caught a bit of the jam on camera and also verified that he was the real deal. It was pretty awesome and totally unexpected.

All in all, I pride myself most on making people smile, living up to the archetype of "entertainer/storyteller" and this weekend I brought smiles to dozens of faces of people who were clearly having a bad time (without telling them to smile, which I see as being rude). By playing my accordion (and making silly faces) I got three babies to flat out stop crying, two really distressed ladies to cheer up, and a guy who looked like he was going to fight someone to switch his mood a full 360 by the time they walked away. That was the real victory of the weekend. At the end of it all, still having some semblance of a voice not yet lost, I gave my best rendition of -72 hours- and while Peter, myself, and two friends were all packing up the booth, chatting about the weekend, I noticed a scrap of paper on the table that wasn't there a few seconds prior... It was a fourth note! This ninja had somehow solo-delivered a really nice thank-you card (for the CD, which she'd received) without any of us noticing its delivery! All of us were pretty impressed with the mystery admirer and loaded up the van in under an hour. We caught dinner on the rough side of town and drove back north well into the early hours of the morning, chatting about a fictional group of bad-land bandits we hope to write a silly story about one day.

Like I said before, though I spent 9 hours each day sitting at a booth FL Supercon was still quite the adventure. Here's to you, Supercon!

1 comment:

  1. I'm happy you enjoyed my letters as much as I now enjoy your guys' music! Hopefully I'll be able to see you guys play live one day. =)