My Balticon 44 (2010) Wrapup, Part 2

Part two of Balticon by strobe light.

Saturday evening: I was on a panel at 5 PM with Phil Rossi, Norm Sherman, Dan Tabor and Thomas Gideon. It was called “Art, Music and Literature in an Age of Technological Reproducibility.” We talked about creative commons licensing and the ethics of piracy and how not to freak out when people lift your creative work. It was a fine panel and I think we all acquitted ourselves just fine. Afterwards I had dinner with Gideon, Mistress Jett, Dan Tabor and MA in the PA (who knitted my bad ass Jayne hats), and Kevin Crosby. Kevin gave me an enormous amount of legal advice that I can use for my movie, not really specific answers but ways that I should be asking the questions. It was all great.

After coming back from dinner, we ran into Phil Rossi in front of the hotel. I asked if he needed any help loading in, and he said no, “… But. I could use a guitar tech to help keep these guitars in tune.” This is where it got a little weird. I found out later that Phil was under the impression I was a guitar player, which I am not. I played bass when I was younger but stopped 22 years ago. I asked if he had a tuner, and offered to do it if he couldn’t find anyone else more qualified.

I went and did some other stuff and then went back to the room a little before the show and we committed that I would do the job. It sort of became like a waking version of one of those anxiety dreams, where I’m on “stage” (really the front of a hotel ballroom) with only minimal ideas of what I’m doing. As Phil traded guitars between his acoustic and electric, I’d take them off to the side, plug them into the electronic tuner and go. I said before that I’m not a guitar player but I’m not color blind and I can read the difference between red and green LEDs. The first time I tuned Phil’s acoustic I had a true bit of stress because I could not get the B string right. I wasn’t sure how much song remained, whether this guitar was going to be used the next song or later, and how much longer it would take or even if I could ever get the damn thing right. Finally, I turned loose of it about 45 seconds before Phil was looking for it. Bullet ducked.

Overall, the whole thing was kind of like those anxiety dreams I still have to this day. Usually in them, I’m in a test that I am not prepared for or realize it is the end of a semester and I forgot to drop a class I long since stopped attending. Standing just offstage tuning guitars that I’m not exactly sure how to work is pretty similar to that. It was a good experience though. I really dig Phil’s music and was glad to be a minor part of it. Check out Phil’s stuff, for Dobbs’ sake!

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

3 thoughts on “My Balticon 44 (2010) Wrapup, Part 2”

  1. hugh says:

    Maybe Phil’s guitar tuner is a bit fussy. My son plays guitar. At first we got him the cheapest tuner. It was a mistake. I had to have the strings nearly perfect before it would lock on the string I was tuning on the electric, and it never worked right with the acoustic guitar. My son couldn’t tune with it at all. Finally it got so flakey he had to get a new one. He bought a Korg tuner and has no trouble tuning his guitars with it. That’s good because I used to always have to holler over the electric guitar: “Can’t you tell it’s out of tune?”, then go tune it so my ears didn’t hurt.

  2. dave says:

    I’m not that experience, but I think it was the strings. They had been really recently changed on both of them which was why he wanted to have someone tuning the idle guitar. Phil did tell me that as much trouble as I had with the acoustic, that one was tuned better than the electric general. I couldn’t do anything by ear because the band was playing 3 feet away, so it was pure faith in the tuner.

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