It was beautiful, man.
ConBust was amazing. I had little doubt that it would be, but I was not expecting the way in which it would be amazing. This tiny show, with its undeniable heart and soul, continues to impress me every single year.
Amazing aspect 1: My wife was with me. She and I used to be seen together regularly on the convention circuit, but the birth of our son has kept her home for the majority of shows these past two years. She was with me at ConBust, however, with our son last year and the year prior. What made this year amazing? Our son wasn’t with us. With his grandma and grandpa offering to babysit, we got to have an old-fashioned low-key convention weekend to ourselves. Amazing.
Amazing aspect 2: The panels. ConBust’s panels are the beating heart of the show and I’ve spoken about their quality before, but the energy there this past weekend was dialed up to 11. Sometimes, as a panelist, you have to struggle to get a crowd involved in your talk. Such was not the case this past weekend, where the attendees were so eager to contribute that I had to play moderator. It was never unruly, but the enthusiasm was palpable. I spoke on eight(!) panels over the weekend, but my job was easy. I also got to sing the theme song to “The Flight of Dragons” for the first time in ages.
Amazing aspect 3: Geeks In Love. This is a panel I’ve spoken on for numerous years. Last year and last weekend I was co-panelists with The Steampunk Family. There is an emotional honesty in these talks, where those in attendance are seeking relationship advice, insight, help, counsel, and everything in between. This past weekend the conversation went off-track in ways no one was prepared for. We began talking about love, communication, relationship dynamics… but soon we were deep into gender roles, the politics of courtesy and intent in social media and video game chat, what’s considered being genuinely nice and what’s “putting coins into the nude machine,” and other topics that were very raw, very deep, very sensitive, and altogether fascinating. For the next two days, everyone who shared in that experience found me at my table and wanted to speak further on the topics, and the panel itself. My wife and I were even talking about it in the hotel room later that same night! The panels at ConBust are always memorable, but this one is going to stick with me for a while.
Amazing aspect 4: I DJed the Artist Alley. I bring my music everywhere I go, and every year I bring some manner of playing it in the ConBust Artist Alley. I don’t bring a large sound system or play anything at obtrusive volumes, but a small speaker hooked in to my old-school iPod can fill a quiet room with music with surprising ease. My taste in music is surprisingly eccentric to people who assume I’m only a metalhead. I love seeing the surprise on their face when they hear classic rock, hip-hop, dance, and even bluegrass from my little iPod. This year my selection was turning more heads than usual, and I can only assume it was enjoyable for everyone because no one complained (to my face).
ConBust is an amazing experience for me and has cemented itself as a show my heart cannot afford to miss. From now on, if there is a conflict in schedules between shows, ConBust will always take precedence. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll manage to bring Garth along, too.