The streets of the Twin Cities in spring can feel like the State Fair Grounds an hour before the gates first open. There's a palpable buzz in the air. A frantic potential is poised to go kinetic on every corner. As the weather warms, artists of all ilks gear up for the coming year, and more than a few are worth noting here, at the outset of April.
Minicon turns 50
Minicon is Minnesota's longest running sci-fi/fantasy convention, but it's no longer the little concern started by a bunch of fans at the Coffman Union back in the late Sixties. This weekend, the con celebrates its 50th year in operation by inviting past guests of honor back for a four day soirée at the Doubletree Bloomington. Authors Jane Yolen, Larry Niven and Brandon Sanderson join Tor publisher Tom Doherty, artist Michael Whelan, musical guest Adam Stemple and dozens of other authors, artists and impassioned creatives from the local sci-fi/fantasy scene.
Newer, more profit-driven cons are popping up all over the fandom landscape these days. Some, like Nerd-Con, even seem to think they're the first ones who ever ran an event "for Nerds by Nerds." That in mind, taking a step away from the glam and noise of those events and settling in at one of the more established, smaller, volunteer-run cons that first put the Twin Cities on the fandom map is a good way to remember that conventions can be more than just giant, expensive pop culture vomitoria.
(April 2 - 5, Doubletree Hotel, 7800 Normandale Blvd, Bloomington. $20-65.) www.mnstf.org/minicon50)
Local 'vore' filmmakers seek crowd funding
Vorarephilia, popularly known as "vore," is a sexual fetish where arousal is brought about by the act of one creature consuming another creature, most commonly manifested by monsters eating women. I just learned this, so now I'm making all of you aware of it as well. Because I refuse to suffer alone.
Fetish filmmaker R.P. Whalen has teamed up with local documentarian Daniel Schneidkraut on an Indiegogo campaign to fund the construction of an enormous people-eating sex monster, to be used for their various cinematic needs. Contributing to the project wins you a variety of rewards, from signed copies of their past films to acting roles in the current project, and even the chance to be one of the first people eaten by their creature, dubbed 'Vorehemoth, Destroyer of Mankind.'
Seems tasteful enough...
Speaking of Crowd Funding
There are a few local authors running around Minicon this weekend with book projects in play on Kickstarter.
Aimee Kuzenski, who writes the 'Deus Ex Familia' series, has thrown her second book to the mercy of the internet in a bid to fund its printing, cover art and marketing expenses. The book, titled 'To Break My Enemies,' is the second in a series of modern fantasy stories in which Minerva, Goddess of Conquest and Justice (and one of the legendary Four Horsemen,) goes to meet her destiny head on.
Ozgur Sahin, also at Minicon, is setting out to put 'The Wrath of Brotherhood' into hardcover. The book, recognized as a 2015 Historical Novel Society Editor's Choice, is a historical pirate novel set in the 17th Century Caribbean. Already an eBook, the hardcover edition would lend all of the various benefits that a printed book enjoys, such as getting signed and being lent to friends.
"Buying a printed and signed copy is like receiving a story, a souvenir and a handshake all rolled into one item," says Sahin, who promises a high-quality hardcover if his funding goals are met.
Speaking of geek culture
(Because, let's face it, that's where this went.)
I think it's safe for all of us to start thinking of Dessa as a geek. Granted, she isn't alone. All of the Doomtree crew have consistently displayed a penchant for the dropping of subtle lyrical geek references throughout their careers, but they've usually remained subtle about it. Doomtree, like Disco Stu, doesn't advertise.
If Dessa's not out of the nerd closet yet, though, she's well on her way: She can write circles around most of the other authors in town, her lyrics often hint at a sense of outcast genius, and anyone who ever went to her trivia nights at the Nomad knew about her love of philosophy and science fiction, among other things which appeal to the smart and awkward.
If all that wasn't enough, add in her recent roles as the opening act for Welcome to Night Vale. And, if you still need more convincing, consider her guest spot at this October's NerdCon, (not to be confused with the Nerd-Con mentioned above, or with this Nerd Con, or the derivative Nerd-Kon; because, as a society, we've apparently gotten much better at starting new cons than we have at naming them,) where she'll join such Minicon alumni as Steven Brust and John Scalzi. So, yes. She's officially a geek.
She may be the coolest, most bad-ass geek in the Twin Cities, but she's still a geek. She's our Vin Diesel.
And, assuming that all geeks everywhere will one day elect me to represent their collective interests, let me be the first to say that we're glad she's on our side.
More Local Arts
Let's take a moment to congratulate the winners of the 2015 Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam Series Finals.
Sam Daiker, Julie Pekala, Kaaha Nasteexo, Isha Camara, Donte Collins and Duncan Slagle are now slated to represent Minnesota at the 2015 Brave New Voices international poetry slam festival in Atlanta, GA, this July. And we're excited to see how they fare in the balmy spoken-word Mecca of the South.
Also, Danami officially released his long-awaited EP, Before the Wait, at the end of March with a big, brash soulful bonanza at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis.
The event, dubbed Soulnami, was a theatrical concert (part stage production, part concert) celebrating Danami's CD release and highlighting the influence of his hip-hop roots over his Motown-flavored modern soul sound. The video for his first single, 'Have You Seen Her,' is on Youtube.
Speaking of videos, Nsikak dropped a dark, dystopian video last month for the song 'History.' In it, a post-apocalyptic world reminiscent of AMC's The Walking Dead is plagued by mobs of masked bandits who roam through a shattered, disconnected post-Internet world.
The Twin Cities, well-known for the stunning music videos produced by its thriving local music scene, may have just found its most visually interesting and chilling entry of the year. (Not as chilling as vore, but chilling nonetheless.)
There's at least one really interesting show coming up early next week: Dream of the Wild will share the Amsterdam stage with DJ Kool Akiem and sitarist Brett Mcnamara on Tuesday, April 7. Slam poet Twitch Hylland hosts the event, which promises to play hopscotch all over the musical spectrum, as Dream of the Wild present a sound and style akin to the blending of early Live, G. Love and Citizen Cope. Not to mention a bass player who looks conspicuously like John Hodgman.
(April 7. 9 pm. Amsterdam Bar and Hall, 6 W 6th St, St Paul. Free)
(Rob Callahan spends his time tracking local artists who are so obscure you've probably never heard of them. You can, though, by following him on twitter. Email him if what you're doing is something he should know about.)
[All images provided. Vore image by Karbo and gamera1985]