by Rache

Weekend in Sherwood 9 (Herne protect us, this has been going on since 1992) 
has come and gone and seems like it was a blazing success.  Thanks to Christine 
Alexander for running a fantastic event!

For starters, it was a great hotel -- the Southgate Holiday Inn actually has 
sort of a tree theme, with carvings of leaves in the wooden doors of the 
function rooms :)  I actually got in Wednesday evening dead tired (I'd had about 
seven hours of sleep total in the 72 hours leading up to getting on the 
airplane), so I took a nap for two hours, then went out for supper with Chris, her 
husband Todd and U.K. con attendees Nikke Allen and Alison in the hotel 
restaurant.  I was afraid I wouldn't be able to sleep after that due to my nap and the 
time zone change -- it was 10 PM in Detroit, but only 7 PM on the West Coast, 
where I'd just come from, but I was so tired, and it was so comfortable and 
cool in the room, that I went to bed and slept for nine hours.  I got up in the 
morning, went to breakfast -- Nikke had eaten but kept me company -- then went 
back to my room.  My con roommate Tara arrived around 11 AM.  She was also 
suffering from sleep deprivation -- so we both decided that napping sounded like 
a brilliant idea.  Don't worry, all this sleeping stops soon :)

Chris came by around 1.  We went to lunch and then Chris and I went out to 
her home to get together all the stuff that needed to be packed up and brought 
to the hotel for the con.  Many of the big (and small) things used during the 
con are kept at Chris's home in the year or years between conventions, and it 
all needs to get from there to the hotel, which is quite the hassle -- Tara had 
in fact volunteered to come out and help, but the vehicles going back to the 
hotel were going to be so crammed that this was decided against, as there 
would be no way of getting an extra human back.  Chris' husband Todd got home and 
then Joan Ludlow arrived with her van.  Into the van went the art show flats, 
the TV, the DVD player, the big screen projector and the VCR, plus boxes of 
videotapes for the video room, the program books, Major Oaks props, etc., etc., 
etc.  Chris and Todd took their car and I rode shotgun with Joan -- it was a 
nice chance to catch up, since we hadn't seen each other since Weekend 8 in 

By the time we got to the hotel, the joint was jumping with RoS fans.  
Friends were greeting each other in the lobby and the restaurant.  We barged into 
the latter and shanghaied Rolf Granlund and Mick Spencer to help unload the 
heavier items from the van and the car.  At this point, I remained at the hotel. 
Chris and husband Todd went out to the airport to pick up guest of honor Mark 
Ryan and his girlfriend Tamara (who, Mark explained at a panel, was one of the 
art department staff on "King Arthur," which is how they met).  Congoers who 
were still up and about got to hang out with Mark, Tamara, Chris and Todd for 
awhile in the lobby.  I have to say, the service I experienced was terrific.  
Mark and Tamara got in at about a quarter to 12 and the bar was closing up, but 
we (the congoers) felt it was only right they should get a drink after 
traveling in from Los Angeles, so I went into the bar and said I could see they were 
closing, but our guests of honor had just arrived and could we please, please 
purchase them something.  The bartender very kindly took the liquor back out 
and made two drinks.

I have seen a couple of complaints about the hotel.  I have none.  For 
starters, the temperature control was fantastic -- really comfortable, cool without 
being too cold -- you'd sure never know it was about 96 degrees outside all 
weekend unless you *went* outside.  The cleaning staff were amazingly diligent 
-- they respected the "Do Not Disturb" sign, but if you didn't put it up, they 
cleaned the rooms what seemed like four times a day.  I also usually got 
pretty quick service in the hotel restaurant -- Monday morning, when I was leaving 
to catch my plane home, I told the waitress I was in a hurry and I sat down, 
ordered, got my food, ate and was back out in 20 minutes flat.  I loved the 
room fridge -- I'm a vegetarian, so it was great to be able to keep food in the 
room.  Chris had very kindly taken me to a supermarket the day before the con, 
so I had an assortment of veggies, apples and veggie food that could be eaten 
cold (the room also had a microwave, but I left that alone) and it all seemed 

Then it was time for the Great Pizza Adventure.  Mark, Tamara and a number of 
other people out in the lobby had just arrived without having eaten for many 
hours.  It was decided to call out for pizza.  Unfortunately, by this time it 
was 12:30 AM and the local pizza places had all stopped delivering.  An 
establishment called Downriver Pizza, found through the Yellow Pages, was open until 
2 and would take our order if we'd pick it up.  Annette Vogel very kindly 
consented to drive and I went with her.  In fact, Downriver Pizza is only about 
10-15 minutes from the hotel.  However, during our ordering of the pizza, the 
establishment left out one little fact -- nowhere on the outside of the 
building does it *say* Downriver Pizza -- it says "Coney Island" something.  So 
Annette and I sailed right past it and drove down a darkened road like something 
out of a "Twilight Zone" episode where an alien ship is about to land on the 
edge of the horizon.  Finally, we called the pizza place and the very patient 
gentleman at the other end of the line talked us back around to the pizza joint 
-- if you've ever seen "Airport '75," with the control tower trying to help 
Karen Black land the airplane, it was kind of like that :)  But we ultimately got 
the pizza, which was still hot, everybody had a great 2 AM chat in the lobby 
and it already felt like a convention.

The convention officially started Friday morning with the opening of both 
Registration and the Dealers Room, where people could buy clothing, jewelry, 
zines, RoS photos, Tarot paraphernalia and tea.  It certainly seemed like the "Tea 
Hags" (this is the name of the business, *not* a pejorative comment on the 
lovely proprietors!) did very well over the weekend, because they sold a 
distinctive, very comfortable type of blouse in jewel tones that I saw more and more 
people wearing over the weekend.  (I wound up buying and wearing a dark blue 
one with black Celtic designs on it.)  The art show, with some very beautiful 
pieces, was on display in the center of the room -- Barb Johnson (also a dealer 
who had some really cool stuff -- I bought a necklace) is in charge of the 
art show and the sale of the art pieces. 

People who wanted to volunteer to help out at the convention also checked in 
with "Da Mama" Lila Bess, who is in charge of the "gofers" and ran the gofer 
hole (which was a great place to get munchies or just hang out throughout the 

Master costumer Kitty Gamarra (who made a lot of the costumes attendees wore 
at the con) and Janet Van Meter -- both ladies costumed in various Marion 
outfits throughout much of the con -- were scheduled to do a 10 AM panel on 
costuming -- they were joined by Julianne Toomey-Kautz.

Unfortunately, while this panel was occurring, our convention videographer, 
Lorraine Mumaw, had tripped and fallen -- not in the course of videotaping 
anything, as in fact Lorraine's sister/our other videographer Donnalyn Mumaw was 
just settling in to tape the costuming panel -- but simply as an unhappy 
accident.  Lorraine had to go to the hospital (Donnalyn went with her), where it was 
discovered that her arm was broken in several places.  When released from the 
hospital later in the day, Lorraine bravely returned to the con rather than 
heading home -- proving that Weekend is better than bedrest! :)

At 11 AM, Laura Chevening, Helen Avry and Tara O'Shea headed up a panel on 
fan fiction in zines and on the Internet.  At noon, pro novelist Diane Carey 
gave a talk on writing.

At 1, it was time for opening ceremonies and a panel with Mark.  As Mark gave 
several talks over the weekend, I cannot remember what was said at which 
panel, but some of the topics he covered included:
the practical joke with gristle played on Jason Connery by Clive Mantle
the famous bed out the fire escape story
working with the horse Pringle
Terry Walsh's stuntman walk
Working on "King Arthur"
Ioan Gruffudd realizing, some time in the middle of "King Arthur," that he 
was sort of playing Nasir, complete with two swords
working on "Alias" (Mark's scene was mostly cut)
RoS archery master Gabe Cronelly's poem about drinking (there's no point in 
my typing it here -- you have to hear Mark quoting it with his Gabe Cronelly 
imitation to get the effect)
The elaborate measures taken by the entire RoS company to surprise one of the 
stuntmen on his birthday

Around 3, there was a photograph/autograph session held, while we -- that is 
myself and the cast -- held our first rehearsal for the Major Oak Awards, 
known as the Oakies.  These are awards for zine achievement -- the first ceremony 
was held at Herne's Con 2 and they've been held ever since at Weekend in 
Sherwood.  As this was Weekend 9, these were the tenth (Herne protect us!) Major 
Oak Awards.  Now, it might have seemed to anybody who was following this closely 
that there was a potential hiccup, in that while there are new zines *this* 
year -- 2005 (Albion 13 is out and Rolf Granlund and MaryAnn McKinnon are both 
bringing out new zines soon) -- there weren't any in 2003 or 2004.  However, 
it was felt by a number of persons other than myself that there should *be* a 
Major Oak Awards, so after a lot of discussion, it was decided that we'd use 
this opportunity to retrospectively honor all of the zines that have come out in 
the fandom over the past 20 years.  There are a *huge* amount of zines for 
such a relatively small fandom -- almost 100 anthologies and many more 
novels/novellas.  The short stories run into the thousands and while I haven't counted, 
I wouldn't be surprised if the poems didn't number over ten thousand.  RoS is 
a very prolific fandom in literary terms.  We also added some Internet 
categories (website, story, poem and artwork) to this year's ballot, which was 
distributed via email to the Weekend in Sherwood attendees and both RoS email 
lists.  Just listing all the zines and all the novels created a massive ballot. We 
also had a huge (for us) Oakie *cast* this year, with veteran performers Kitt
y, Helen, Julianne and Rolf, returning performers Charley McKinnon (who had 
joined us last time as Huntingdon) and Mick Spencer (who has been in previous 
Oakie performances) and new performer Matt Whitney. One minor glitch here -- Mick 
had originally been drafted to run the photo/autograph session. He wound up 
setting it up with Annette Vogel, who then ran it on her own with volunteer 
help, while he was sequestered in Oakie rehearsals.

When we broke, Kitty went to supervise the meeting of the entrants in the 
upcoming costume contest. Following this, Julianne ran pavane practice for an 
hour -- the pavane recreates the dance from "Herne's Son," which is performed 
during the Weekend banquet (both the banquet and the pavane are Weekend 
traditions), followed by a skit, which changes from year to year.

The banquet is one of the convention highlights -- everybody is encouraged to 
come in garb and signs up for the table where they've signed up to sit -- the 
Loxley table, the Huntingdon table, the Marion table, etc.  Normally, you can 
easily tell which table is which because there's a nice photo of the 
character sitting in the middle of the table, supported by a plastic frame.  Chris 
painstakingly printed out photos of all of the relevant characters and put them 
in their frames on Thursday.  Yours truly managed to misplace them -- I finally 
found them in my hotel room, where they were hidden by an outflung corner of 
bedspread -- which is why, if you were there and wondering about it, the 
photos appeared on the table *during* the meal instead of before.  There was a lot 
of food that everybody seemed to enjoy and people moved from table to table, 
visiting with friends and our guests Mark and Tamara.

When the meal concluded, the costume contest was held.  All of the entrants 
had a little narrative, read by costume contest chief Kitty, as they displayed 
their outfits and performed a bit in the character that went with the costume. 
 After some consultation and consideration, the winners were announced.

When the banquet broke up, people did one of three things.  They went to bed, 
they went into the bar or they came to filking.  Filking consists of sitting 
around singing songs, mostly written by fans and mostly relating to Robin of 
Sherwood.  Amy Fritsch, who couldn't attend the con this year, had nevertheless 
sent her huge compendium of filking sheets, which contain the lyrics to 
pretty much every song known to RoS fandom.  Everybody attending the filking 
session gets a copy (which they have to return at the end of the session), so they 
can sing along and also figure out what songs they want to do -- we go around 
in a circle, so everybody gets the opportunity to perform and/or choose a song 
for the group in turn.  Original and new songs are always welcome in addition 
to the ones in the compendium.

After an hour or so of filking, I felt I had reached my energy limits on both 
guitar-playing (I accompany other singers on guitar if I know the music to 
their songs, as well as playing on my own stuff) and singing, so I put the 
guitar away and headed into the bar.  This was a merry old time.  There was an 
excellent live band, and pretty much everybody from our rather sizable group 
(including Mark and Tamara) got up at some point, dancing with each other and the 

At 2 AM, I'm told some people stayed up and kept partying.  I fell into my 
bed, asked the front desk for a 7:30 wakeup call and promptly went to sleep.

I woke up Saturday morning at 7:30 AM, showered and got a quick breakfast.  
This made me far less industrious and helpful than the many con attendees who  
got up bright and early for Mary Bertke's "Sherwood Like to Be in Shape Again" 
workout session from 8 to 9.  I congratulate all the healthy con attendees  
who were there.  I was in rolling forward like a tank -- or, to be RoS-era  
about it, siege engine -- mode.

Julianne and I briefly conferred about what the heck it was we were going  to 
do at our 9 AM fan panel, entitled "Robin Hood and Minstrelsy."  This panel 
was, I believe, originally proposed to a Robin Hood scholar, who was supposed 
to share his knowledge of the actual ancient ballads.  Laura and Chris asked 
me to be on the panel due to my involvement with RoS filking (I am sorry to 
say I don't know that much about the old ballads, but I have some experience 
at least with the "minstrelsy" that's been inspired by RoS).  Then the 
scholar wasn't able to attend the con and Julianne was asked to be on the panel.  
So far, so good -- except that between our other con responsibilities and our 
real-life responsibilities, both of us had somehow failed to think of what 
exactly we were going to do on this panel.  Add to this the fact that we were 
both fairly groggy and Julianne was fending off something akin to stomach flu 
and you had the makings of possibly not the best organized fan panel that has 
ever occurred.  Julianne and I thought that perhaps we could expound on the 
idea that perhaps one of the reasons Robin Hood (the legend, as opposed to 
"just" RoS) has survived all this time was because it started out being passed 
around in ballad form -- and perhaps that's one of the reasons the fandom 
seems to have inspired an unusual amount (especially given the size of the 
fandom) of original filks.  We presented these theories to the panel attendees and 
a fun discussion ensued, proving that if you bring RoS up, you can get even 
a bunch of people who are half-asleep to wake up and talk about it.

The next panel consisted of me and Helen talking about "All Things  
Gisburne," which of course included a lot of all of fond memories from ourselves and 
everyone present at the panel of the late Robert Addie, excellent Gisburne, 
wonderful actor and as everyone who was at Weekend 8 in 2003 will attest, 
extraordinary convention guest.  

Between 11 AM and noon, I dictatorially locked Kitty, Helen, Mick, Julianne, 
Rolf, Charlie and Matt in another Oakie rehearsal.  I'm not sure what was 
going on in the rest of the con.

At noon, it was time for another guest panel with Mark Ryan, with special  
guests by telephone Clive Mantle (from his home in England, with six-month-old  
son Harry nearby) and Ray Winstone (from Boston, where he's making the movie  
"The Departed" for director Martin Scorsese).  Clive revealed that he's now  
writing a screenplay and a children's book, did the Hallmark production -- now  
scheduled to air on NBC -- of "The Poseidon Adventure," told his version of  
relentlessly teasing Jason Connery with a piece of gristle, talked about why 
he  left "Casualty," talked about the joys of working with Clint Eastwood on 
"White Hunter, Black Heart" in Africa and about new fatherhood. Ray talked 
about working with Martin Scorsese -- who really impressed Ray with his modest, 
gentle demeanor at their first meeting -- his daughters (the eldest two, Lois 
and Jamie, are now actresses), about trying a North Country accent for his 
animated role as Soldier Sam in "The Magic Roundabout" only to be told he'd 
been hired for his normal speaking voice and said he was "gutted" not to be able 
to be at the convention with the rest of us.  For the record -- the 
convention was trying to reach Richard Carpenter (this wasn't announced as Chris 
didn't want to disappoint anyone if it didn't work out), but as it turned out, we 
found out later that a storm had knocked out the phone lines in Kip's 
neighborhood and service was out for about a week, so there was no way this could 
have happened.

Due to the generosity of Clive, Ray and Mark with their time, the guest  
panel scheduled until 1:30 lasted until almost 3.  This meant that the fan panel 
scheduled for 2 PM, "Fellow Travelers in Sherwood" (about characters who help 
the outlaws), which was to have been chaired by Laura and Rolf, had to be  
cancelled. Ophelia and Jim Julien held their sword demo workshop. Then the  
archery tournament took place, run by Janet and Julianne. This consists of photos 
of the villains being shot with rubber arrows.  Apparently the biggest 
casualty was Kevin Costner as Robin, a photo that went down multiple times. Then 
came another photograph/autograph session followed by Russ Herschler's 
chainmail demonstration. Next up was the medieval dance workshop, run by Janet 
(Julianne was scheduled to run it as well but had to rest due to the 
aforementioned unwellness). We then had another Oakie rehearsal, while Chris and Todd set 
up their bigscreen projector in the programming room. We ended the Oakie 
rehearsal and those of us still awake came in in the middle of "Lord of the 
Trees." This was followed by "Sheriff of Nottingham" (a big Nasir episode in honor 
of Mark) and finally the RoS outtake reel, which is hysterical -- probably  
one of the best and longest outtake reels ever at about 70 minutes.

I don't know what anybody else did after the screening -- I went back to my  
room and promptly fell asleep.

Sunday, I got up at 7 AM.  The Oakie dress rehearsal started at 8 AM and 
went for two hours.  I have to hand it to the wonderful and energetic cast -- 
they produced costume pieces and props from Herne-knows-where.  We needed a 
wimple for Lady Margaret, a fright wig for Mad Mab and most of a costume for 
Robert of Huntingdon, and there they were.  I have an anxiety about the Oakies 
that tends to be almost full-time. Basically, as soon as one Oakie performance 
ends, I start vaguely worrying about what we'll do next time, no matter how 
far away it is. This gets acute once we're within a year of the actual con. I 
have nightmares of the kind suffered by actors who dream of being on stage 
naked and not knowing their lines. This year, I had my favorite Oakie  
nightmare ever -- I dreamed I was at Weekend, it was Sunday morning, and not only had 
we not rehearsed, but -- in the dream -- there was no script, no award 
certificates and I hadn't compiled the ballot. In the dream, for some reason, this 
seemed to mean that I should take a rented car (I hadn't rented one in real 
life, because I never get to leave the hotel anyway during the con) and drive 
out to get breakfast.  In the road, I encountered a pet supply shop, where 
the owner and four short-nosed aardvarks we re trying to solve the murder of 
the aardvarks' previous owner.  I shared this with the Oakie cast, so if you 
heard them making a joke about aardvarks ...

Then it was time to actually *do* the Oakies.  This year's script was  
inspired by Chris telling me about a production she and Todd had seen which crammed 
the entire history of "Star Wars" into a low-budget show. The Oakies crammed 
a low-budget history of parts of RoS into the awards presentation.  Btw, if 
you were there, while after years of trial and error, we now use the  
certificates in rehearsal so the presenters can practice saying the sometimes  
esoteric titles and names right, we use blank sheets of paper during practice for 
awards given to people who are performing in the Oakies, so they can be  
honestly surprised during the actual ceremony.  Rolf as Loxley and Charley as 
Huntingdon came racing in, declaring it was time to present the Major Oak Awards.  
Kitty as Marion is fretting over the fact that as no new RoS zines have come 
out in 2003 and 2004, there can't be any Major Oak Awards -- but there can if 
we're honoring the last 20 years of RoS fanfic and artwork!   Julilanne as 
Much (eventually doubling as Lady Margaret and Mad Mab), Helen as Herne, Mick 
as Scarlet and Nasir (his eyebrow dialogue was brilliant) and Matt as Tuck and 
Little John -- with both Rolf and Charley taking turns as Gisburne and Rolf 
also being Owen of Clun -- rounded out the characters.  We also had the 
"rolling mist" for Herne's entrance -- consisting of Helen as Herne being pushed 
in on a luggage cart draped with a sheet adorned with a "Mist" sign -- a 
quarter-staff fight with paper towel rolls, a swordfight with rolls of silver 
wrapping paper and a change in Herne's antlers, which this year were played by a 
promotional baseball cap I had been sent with felt antlers attached to it.  
If this all sounds insane and cheesy beyond belief --  congratulations, you 
have grasped the spirit of the Major Oak Awards.

The awards are, however, perfectly serious in their intention to honor RoS  
fan writers, artists and poets.  Invariably, in trying to compile a ballot  
that honors everybody, some items were inadvertently left out.  As ballot  
compiler, I apologize to the editors of Silver Arrow, Under the Greenwood Tree and 
the Alternative Robin of Sherwood Zine, and the prolific RoS illustrators.

The Oakies seemed to go over well.  Thanks again to Kitty, Helen, Julianne, 
Rolf, Mick, Charley and Matt for working like aardvarks and being very funny 
and patient.

After this, it was time for the charity auction, which raised 1400 dollars  
(that's a lot for a small convention) for Cancer Hospice -- direct service and  
aid for people suffering from cancer. This was auctioneered by the ever-game 
and entertaining Mark Ryan, who then did more Q&A prior to closing  

Finally, it was time for the gofer party, which is a wind-down get-together  
for con staff and volunteers (gofers). Because a lot of attendees at Weekend  
volunteer to help out, the party includes a good-sized portion of the con.   
Mark and Tamara joined us for an event that wound up going from 5 PM to 4 AM.  
(I zoned out at about 3:30 but was told how late it went by survivors.)

In the morning, it was time for fast breakfasts, fond farewells and treks  
back to the airport.  Again, bless the hotel restaurant -- I sat down, said I 
had 20 minutes, and I ordered, got my food, ate and was ready to leave in 20 

Chris is looking at June 2007 for Weekend in Sherwood 10. It's not over, it  
will never be over -- and we wouldn't want it any other way.  Here's a great 
Internet cheer for Chris for making Weekend in Sherwood happen, year after  
year, as a convention like no other!