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March 21, 2008

Idiots'Fest 2008: Day 2

Okay -
I know, I know, I know. Idiots'Fest already seems like so long ago now that it hardly seems time to continue writing about it. I mean, the time to continue writing about it was weeks ago. Nevertheless, I think the event was definitely documentary-worthy. And so, better late than never, as the saying goes.

First off, BookPlate was prepared for the masses with multiple copies of Jim's and Brian's books, featured prominently in the front window.

We also had Victor's book on hand, which didn't really fit in the bookshelf slots, so ended up on top (a short person must have taken the above picture, where Victor's book is nearly cropped out - hm. I wonder who that could be...). Apparently Tom and Sarah (bookstore owners extraordinnaire) also thought that the books "Byrd's Great Adventure", "Facing Death", and "Fruits & Nuts" were somehow appropriate to the Fest. I will not argue. They really know how to sell books.

For some people, Day 2 of Idiots'Fest started at about 5 in the morning. By "some people" I mean Sam and Bill, who had to start up the smoker for the blowout barbecue bonanza that wasn't actually happening until 6 in the pm. People who take their barbecue seriously get up at 5 in the morning. These guys look serious, now, don't they?

This is what was going on in the rest of the Idiots'Fest venue at 5 in the morning:

Not much happening. We took this opportunity to go out to breakfast with all of the featured performers. Well, not at 5 in the morning. We came together at the more civilized hour of 10. It occurred to me at 6:30 in the morning that with a party of 15, we probably should have made a reservation. So, I called The Village Bakery, and luckily, being bakers, they were up at 6:30, and happily complied with my request.

Being super pregnant has given me free license to make demands like a double side of bacon without anyone giving me flack (other than matthew). Though you can't see it in this photo, the most excellent Rich Flynn was sitting to the other side of me, gazing at me in unabashed admiration. He's a bacon man.

I also volunteered to eat the mini donuts that were really more party sprinkles than anything else. I have to admit, this wasn't such a great idea after the bacon bonanza.

After filling our bellies with all kinds of goodness, we headed over to BookPlate to get folks to sign posters, assembly-line style. Everyone proved to have adequate enough writing skills for the task (if not the appropriate attention span - matthew's signature was conspicuously absent on a number of posters, and he had to be tracked down later to finish the job).

At this point in the game, Aidan needed to start preparing himself for his upcoming coolness. Apparently, hanging out in the corner behind a drumset is a natural entree into cool, so he was done with that after about two seconds.

He was wildly successful at being cool all afternoon and all evening, with the help of the drum set and some wicked good drumming skills.

So, the festivities were set to commence at 2:30 pm. Circa 2:23 pm there was not a soul in the room who was not directly affiliated with Idiots'Fest (performers, BookPlate employees, WC students available to help with catering and moving chairs and tables, Bob and Seiko). I must admit, I began to fret. We had asked Pete at Play it Again Sam's next door to stay open late and be an aperitifs vendor and I was starting to worry that we'd personally have to start boozing it up to make his time worthwhile. And, if that were the case, then I was relieved that there were only 12 people in the room to watch the performance. However, at 2:30 exactly, people began to flood the room. And flood. And FLOOD! I was so excited that apparently I forgot to take pictures for the next hour and a half.

So there are no pictures here of Josh Shenk's eloquent introduction, of Matthew's breathlessly excited and twitchy yet remarkably coherent introduction, of Victor's hilarious stand-up routine, of our reading/slideshow accompanied by music, or of Brian Slattery's awesome and compelling reading/singing/sideshow. Slattery ended his set with readings of random books off of the shelves, which were a real coup - "Strange Animals" to 80s synth was especially gratifying, though the biggest hit was the speed metal rendition of "Little House on the Prairie" - the shock and horror in the room was nearly as palpable as the wild delight.

I also neglected to take any pictures of the intermission that followed.

I finally came to my senses during Wecht's string theory lecture, perhaps because he made audience members do ridiculous things to support his arguments, and I was so happy to see that every single person who was called upon to act embraced the task with great aplomb.

See, for example, Victor, best friend Stella, and my very first art instructor Marcy Dunn Ramsey pretending to be subatomic particles cozying up to each other.

Or best friend Stella's little bro, California Joe, behaving like a very powerful and well-toned *insert name of relevant subatomic particle here*.

Or this gentleman, who shall remain anonymous (I'm sure he would so prefer) being reduced to nothing by Wecht's almighty hand.

Wecht didn't want to let that one go, and insisted on mocking him as well.

Then Matthew introduced our star speaker, Jim Shepard.

Jim's reading was so wonderful and funny and moving and sad that I once again promptly forgot my duties to record this great event and instead sat in the dark alternately smiling and dabbing at my weepy eyes. I would blame my great emotional swings during the reading on preggo hormones, but the truth of the matter is, I saw some other folks going through the same. So I guess we'll have to chalk it up to a stellar reading.

I came back to my senses when the food arrived - I cannot tell you how frickin' good this brisket was. And the ribs! And the sauce! And the veggies! (Actually, I really can't tell you how good the veggies were because I was collecting money at the door, and by the time I got to eat, the veggies were all gone). But Sam and Wild Bill sure put on a lovely display - there are better pictures of the whole spread, but I was so in love with the brisket that I just took a picture of that. Sorry.

Matthew and I also received some baby items from our friends JT and Stacey. Look closely at the embroidered endearments on the front.

Actually, I realize you probably can't read them no matter how closely you look at them. Sorry to mislead you and make you go through all the trouble. The one on the left says "motherplucker" and the one on the right says "joonyer idiot". And so we brim with pride.

After that, it was time for rockin' the house. Textual Healing (the somewhat impromptu band in its premiere performance) was awesome. They even played a remarkably convincing version of Everything in its Right Place by Radiohead. Complete with the "bleeyb-blyee blyee-yib yb-bleee-bleeeb-yb-bleehhh"s that sound all electronica, but apparently flow forth from the mouth of the great Rich Flynn like, um, I don't know, put your own simile in here. That was one of my personal faves, though I think the crowd was most smitten with Don't Stop Believing by Journey. You should have seen the old hippies swarm. Drew's very own Beaver Song and I Don't Wanna Brush My Teeth were also a big hits.

Of course, everything had to stop for Brian to sign one of his books. For Mom. She literally stood up and stopped the show and said, "Us old folks need to get home. Can you sign this for me now please?" The life of a rock star is just so plagued. Have you no shame, Seiko?

Apparently not.

Once mom had gotten her outrageous demands out of the way, the show was able to go on. Matthew stepped in on a number of songs with some wicked harp playing (that's harmonica, for those of you who are wondering where in the world matthew learned to play one of those string instrument-type harps) (if I had only had to live through him learning how to play the string instrument, I would probably love him just a little more than I do now. As it is, Iggy and I both have suffered through the heartbreak of intensive harmonica practice. I hate to say it, but you just love someone less when they've made you go through that) (though, I have to say, the payoff was worth it. He ROCKED.).

At one point I was even asked to come up and do a reading from a book off the shelves. I chose John Barth's Letters, in part because he's a Chestertonian, and in part because he is an honorary subscriber that rocks. Yes, he gets our silly little books and even sent us a nice postcard telling us he couldn't make the Fest. How awesome is that? Anyway, he was honored with a reading to some improvised soft jazz. I think it came out pretty well, but I was on the other side of the microphone, so who knows. I won't bring it up here, but there were all kinds of arrangements made to make sound recordings of this event, and we found out at the end of it all that none of them worked. So it's all in the ether. No album to be cut. Which is a real shame. But don't talk to Matthew or Drew about it, or you might make them cry.

Just look how much fun was had. I have no idea what Wecht was doing here, but he sure captured the apathetic rocker pose. Rich Flynn, not so much. That's what I would call JOLLY. The jolly bassist.

So, the festivities wrapped up around 10:30. Amazingly, a number of people stuck around for the whole event. Play it Again Sam's was packed for a good portion of the evening, allaying my fears that enough booze would be consumed to make staying open worthwhile for them. I think there was one old lady there who probably made it worthwhile all own her own. Once it was all over, we packed up and cleaned up with the help of a lot of really nice people. It was amazing how quickly it went from Fest to empty back room. Those folks at Woodstock hardly left such a light footprint. We obviously had a much more civilized festival than they did.

Once we were all finished, us young folks thought we should do some hanging out and being cool rockers ourselves. We searched all over for an open liquor store, but didn't have any luck. We scraped together some beers that were leftover from the barbecue boys' stash, and headed over to the temporary headquarters of the band (supplied by WC, thank you thank you). Hijinx ensued.


But only for about 20 minutes, after which we all realized we're getting old and mostly just wanted to go to bed. How pathetic is that?

And so ended Day 2 of Idiots'Fest.

Day 3 was all about recovery and return. We gathered at the barn for brunch (I bought like 4 gallons of coffee from Dunkin' Donuts and there wasn't a drop left) before everyone headed out in their respective directions. Here's the only decent group shot we got:

I know, I know, I look like a snorking little hunchback, but everyone else looked good, so I did the right thing.

And finally, I got a picture of my two favorite writers. Look how happy Matthew is to be in the company of Jim Shepard. I mean, the boy doesn't glow any brighter than that.

And then notice how Jim looks like he's a little concerned for his personal safety. Don't worry, Jim. Part of the maniacal grin is due to the fact that two of those gallons of coffee were consumed by Matthew alone. And the rest of it is the glee in knowing that he pulled off this whole event without a single casualty or flesh wound. It really is too bad he accidentally elbowed you in the face right after this picture was taken.

A small price to pay for such a fan-frickin'-tastic event. You honor us with your sacrifice.

Posted by ribbu at March 21, 2008 07:06 PM