Tag Archives: Funky Finds Experience

The Aftermath: Funky Finds 2015 – 6

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And that’s about it for now. Unfortunately, next spring’s Funky Finds show runs opposite the long-reserved All-Con show, but don’t let that stop you. As for next fall, that depends completely upon the state of affairs at Midtown, so we may be moving to a new location at that time and we may not. Let’s see what happens, eh?

The Aftermath: Funky Finds 2015 – 5

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The Aftermath: Funky Finds 2015 – 4

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The Aftermath: Funky Finds 2015 – 3

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The Aftermath: Funky Finds 2015 – 1

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Having the new space is fun and all, but any retailer will tell you that 90 percent of the battle is getting the general public to notice that you exist.With that in mind, it was time to return to traveling shows, with a weekend in Fort Worth for the Funky Finds Holiday Shopping Experience in November. Having much more preparation and propagation space meant having both more selection and more plants total, and the beautiful weather meant that the crowds kept coming for the entire weekend. Since it had been three years since the last Triffid Ranch presentation, I didn’t know if anyone remembered the booth from 2012, but that wasn’t a worry.

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As far as the plants were concerned, it was a calculated risk: sometimes the beginning of November is balmy and mild, and sometimes it’s pushing freezing with rain and ice, and Fort Worth usually deflects the worst of the local weather away from Dallas as storms travel east. This wasn’t a concern, other than the quick rainstorm on Saturday morning, and the crowd was the largest I’ve seen at Funky Finds since I first started attending in 2010. (Has it really been that long?)

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Future events and current developments

Well. September already, and everything is starting to gel. Lots of new developments with the Triffid Ranch, and all of them good. Now if I could invent the 47-hour day or remove the need for sleep, things will be spiffy.

Firstly, some may have noticed the new logo, courtesy of Gallantry Web Design. This whole summer has been nothing but change, and the logo sums it all up. The next plan is to update the rest of this site: things have been quiet here for far too long.

Now to developments. The first of these involves the new Perot Museum of Nature & Science in downtown Dallas, and its First Thursday Late Night events on the first Thursday of every month. This month, the subject is “Botanicals,” which entails a lecture by yours truly in the lower auditorium. Any excuse to get out to the Perot after normal hours is a good one, and you can either come to listen to me yammering away, or come out for the screening of the equally grim and gritty Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Either way, admission to the special events is free with a regular museum admission, so use this as a opportunity to see the rest of the museum without worrying about fighting the traffic while heading home.

Otherwise, the real news is that, after two months, the space at Midtown (formerly Valley View Mall) is nearly ready, with an official opening on September 19 to coincide with September’s ArtWalk. After that, the new space is open every third Saturday, from 6 until 10, and otherwise open by appointment. More details will follow closer to the opening, but one of the big upshots is that this allows the opportunity to produce enclosures and containers too big and bulky to bring out to individual weekend shows, as well as carrying carnivores too esoteric or too specialized for beginning enthusiasts.

This isn’t to say that the shows are stopping, though. Plans for a return to regular show tours fell apart due to several potential shows collapsing, but the following three are absolutes:

  • Funky Finds Holiday Shopping Experience in Fort Worth: It’s been a very long time since the Triffid Ranch last traveled to Fort Worth, and it’s about time to return to the Funky Finds show the weekend of November 7. Expect a lot of new species, a lot of new enclosures, and a general experience unlike anything else you’ve ever seen at a handmade craft show. It’s good to be back.
  • All-Con in Dallas: After skipping out on the 2015 show due to scheduling issues, there’s nothing quite like coming out of winter blues in March 2016 with four days of carnivores at All-Con, now at a much superior and more central location. This show starts right about the time temperate carnivores start emerging from winter dormancy, so it’s just as much about the new blooms as it is about the rest of the plants. In addition, with the new workspace, expect to see a lot of things that simply haven’t been possible to bring out in previous years. John Belushi was right: March 2016 will come in like a lion, and go out like a salt marsh harvest mouse.
  • Texas Frightmare Weekend in Irving: Once again, this is the big one. Texas Frightmare Weekend is the show to which all others in the Dallas area should be judged, and all of the surprises from previous years will be eclipsed by the arrangements and enclosures planned for the May show. Get your tickets now, as they sell out incredibly fast these days, and keep an eye open for special Triffid Ranch promotions only seen at Frightmare.

And as one final extra, the plan is extremely tentative, but 2016 may be the year that the Triffid Ranch escapes Texas, at least for one weekend. The idea is to haul everything the weekend of August 17 to Kansas City, Missouri for MidAmeriCon II, the 74th annual WorldCon. Again, that’s the idea: while Kansas City is about an eight-hour drive from Dallas, we also have the logistics of interstate plant certifications and dealing with KC’s not inconsiderable summer heat. If it works out, though, look for the distinctive logo above in KC, and with luck, this may be the first of many traveling shows outside of Texas. We hope.

Upcoming Shows: the June 2013 edition

Five years ago, the Texas Triffid Ranch started out as little more than a hobby with delusions of grandeur, with a stock comprised of cuttings and offshoots from my own collection of carnivorous plants. This year has already seen more shows than in the Triffid Ranch’s first two years, and the fourth quarter of 2013 is going to be a blowout. In the meantime, not counting tentative shows or definite shows where entry isn’t possible right now, here’s the schedule so far:

  • The remainder of June and July are going to be show-free at the moment, partially because of the heat, but things start moving in August. That begins the weekend of August 10 and 11, when the Triffid Ranch makes its first appearance at the Arlington NARBC reptile and amphibian show in the shadow of Cowboys Stadium. Expect lots of good craziness with other vendors (several of whom are old friends), a tremendous variety of reptiles, enclosures, and supplies, and one carnivorous plant nursery trying to keep up.
  • For the last five years, I’ve received requests about two shows in the Dallas area. One is beyond impractical, for a multitude of reasons. The other, though, was an entertaining notion. Several fellow vendors at other shows kept nuhdzing me about it. “Lots of people out there. They’re fun folks. You really need to be out there!” This year, I listened to them, which is why Labor Day weekend marks the first appearance of the Triffid Ranch at Anime Fest in downtown Dallas. Among other things, this marks the first Triffid Ranch four-day event, which should act as a good gauge for next year’s four-day All-Con in March. Besides, where else should I spend a birthday weekend?
  • And then there’s the big one. The event that started it all, five years ago. Specifically, FenCon X in Addison. Not only will this be a revelation as far as plants and arrangements are concerned, but this year’s show features several arrangements normally too big to show. Specifically, one big one is going to be a charity sale for the Arlington Archosaur Site, on behalf of a friend who sadly won’t be at FenCon to give me grief.

Believe it or not, this isn’t the end of things. Obviously, there’s the big Funky Finds Experience show in Fort Worth in November, as well as the possibility of another show at the end of the month. In addition, after having long, fascinating conversations with people coming up to Dallas for particular events, it’s time to consider events in Houston and Galveston. As always, details will follow.

The Aftermath: Funky Finds Holiday Shopping Experience – 2

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Last year, I had to skip out on the autumn Funky Finds Holiday Shopping Experience show at Fort Worth’s Will Rogers Center because of the drought. Most of my plants survived the summer, but then September and October were so brutally hot and dry that the thought of doing a serious show in November was nearly impossible. I regretted it, and Jessica, the Funky Finds co-founder, regretted it, but we both figured that it was better to try again in 2012 than bring out a gaggle of stressed and heat-blasted plants to the 2012 show. Oh, how glad we both were that we held off for a year.

As usual, any excuse to come out to Fort Worth is a good one, and my last visit was long enough away that I didn’t realize how much the whole Fort Worth Stockyards area was changing. The new and improved Fort Worth Museum of Science & History is now fully operational, the National Cowgirl Museum just celebrated its tenth anniversary, and the Kimbell Art Museum appears to be halfway through an extensive expansion. Combine that with other events at the Will Rogers Center, which included a model train expo and a paint horse competition, and Texas Christian University’s big football game against Kansas State, and we had a LOT of people coming by. Not all of them stopped to look at carnivorous plants, but enough did…

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Bhut Jolokia peppers

Due to a combination of an abnormally warm winter and a marginally cooler but extremely dry summer, Funky Finds was the perfect place to show off a collection of happy and healthy hot peppers. In particular, when I pointed out that most Capsicum peppers make good container plants, and that I had Bhut Jolokia peppers that already had pepper buds on them, you can imagine how quickly these left with new families.

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One of the aspects of doing Triffid Ranch shows that’s the most enjoyable is that I literally have no idea who’s coming through the doors at a given venue. At Funky Finds, this was more true than usual, because of the location of the Will Rogers Center. Teachers, grad students, musicians, rodeo stars…that’s half of the fun of a Funky Finds show. Think “Calgary Stampede“, with more cactus and fewer Mounties. And yes, I mean that as a compliment to both cities.

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And that does it for 2012. I only have 360 days to get ready for the next one, so it’s going to be an absolute mindblower when everything’s done.

The Aftermath: Funky Finds Holiday Shopping Experience 2012 – 1

View of Funky Finds hall

You know you had fun at a plant exhibition when you can’t talk about it for a couple of days, and it’s taken me four days to recover from the Funky Finds Holiday Shopping Experience in Fort Worth last weekend. It’s a good thing this is the last official Triffid Ranch show of the year, because I’m going to have to work overtime next year to prepare for next November’s show.

Texas Triffid Ranch booth - front

To begin, say hello to the front of the booth, because this is the last year you’ll see it like this. That old vinyl banner has served the cause well for the last four years, but it’s time to retire it and get something a bit more fitting.

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As a note to crafters and other potential proprietors, one of the best things about Funky Finds, for me, is the amount of room in its spaces. This year, it meant expanding around the corner and introducing new plant varieties, including the very popular Bhut Jolokia peppers. Next year…well, you’ll have to come out to find out, won’t you?

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Everyone at the show may have been gearing up for the winter holidays, but there’s room for a bit of Jack Skellington among the Santas, isn’t there?

Texas Triffid Ranch booth - de Marigny display

If you like the displays, you can imagine the customers…

New Triffid Ranch show: Funky Finds, November 10-11

And with three days before the Funky Finds Holiday Experience in Fort Worth, it’s time to make plans. Come out if you can, wave hello if you can’t, and help celebrate the last Triffid Ranch show of 2012. I have Plans for 2013, but for now, let’s just say that 2012 has been a blast so far.

Triffid Ranch shows: the schedule so far

The day started with a reminder of an impending guest lecture for the Four Seasons Garden Club in Dallas this Thursday, and that’s when life intruded. Not a little intrusion, either: that’s also the day the Czarina’s dentist scheduled her for emergency dental surgery. Same exact time, too. Add to that the need for her to be under general anaesthesia, her general reactions to general anaesthesia, and her insistence that I didn’t have to be there to bring her home, and you might understand why one of our favorite date movies was The Whole Nine Yards.

That didn’t stop her from guilt-tripping me with exclamations of “Oh, don’t worry. I’ll just sit here in the dark, er, I mean, I’ll get someone to take me in. I don’t want to get in the way of the lecture.” I love her madly, but I knew better.

“No. And this isn’t just my fear of the Elbows of DOOOOOM talking. I am NOT going to skip out on you.”

“It’s all right. I’ll call my mother and have her drive me home.”

“Oh, and I can tell how this will work. Halfway through the lecture, I’ll get a call asking for permission to transfer you to the ICU because you had a bad reaction to the anaesthesia.”

“It won’t be that bad…would it?”

“Well, no. I’ll probably get a call asking for permission to harvest your organs. I’d definitely have to leave the garden club then. They’d probably get ticked off at me for not leaving at that point.”

Hence, because she knows how much I loathe cell phones and answering calls in the middle of lectures, she backed off, and the wonderful people at the Four Seasons Garden Club considerately rescheduled the lecture for next January. That should work pretty well: after the holiday season is over, it’s time to emphasize that you can’t feed family members overstaying their welcome to Venus flytraps. Well, unless you have lots of flytraps, and the person in question is minced, and at that point, the police are probably going to figure it out.

That doesn’t mean that other shows and events aren’t an option. October and November are booked, and let’s not get started with next year. To give an idea:

First Annual Reptile & Amphibian Day: Things snowball. With the Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas closing and transferring to the new Perot Museum of Nature & Science, the annual Discovery Days event involving reptiles and amphibians won’t be running this November. With the temporary cancellation of Discovery Days until the new museum opens, the Dallas-Fort Worth Herpetological Society needed a new venue for an outreach presentation to show that reptiles and amphibians aren’t horrible things. I may be, though, so we have to question the wisdom of inviting the Triffid Ranch to display carnivorous plants for this year’s first annual Reptile & Amphibian Day at the University of Texas at Arlington. It’s too late, though, as they’re stuck with me all day on October 13. Depending upon this year’s turnout, we’ll see if the DFWHS wants to host a second one in 2013, but I have hopes. (As an additional notice, this event will have no animals or plants available for sale. This is educational, not commercial, but this might also be a great time to join the DFWHS, as well as some of the associated clubs and organizations showing plants and animals as well.)

The Shadow Society Presents The Vampire’s Masquerade Halloween Ball: Goth fashion. Carnivorous plants. Halloween. All out at the Crown & Harp on Greenville Avenue near downtown Dallas. Toby and Tracy, Shadow Society proprietors and DJs, already lined up a plethora of music and events, and the season should do the rest.

The Funky Finds Experience – Fort Worth: Right now, my garage resembles a set from an early-1970s episode of Doctor Who, and the living room is worse. That’s because I’m frantically building and planting arrangements and enclosures for this year’s Funky Finds Experience at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth on November 10-11. Artists and crafters already fill the entire allotted space, so come out to see the carnivores and wander around to see what else you can’t live without.

After Funky Finds, things should settle down a bit. The temperate carnivores go back into winter dormancy, the tropical carnivores slow down a bit, and we silly humans wait to see if we have a winter like this last one, or a winter like 2011. I, for one, wouldn’t mind one like 1998-1999: just enough cold to kill off the bugs, but not so much that it kills off everything else. We definitely don’t need a repeat of the 2010 record snowfall, as fun as it was at the time. That’s also because things start out lively early in 2013, and the last thing we need is another massive freeze in mid-February.

ConDFW: The first Triffid Ranch show of the year follows the cycle from 2012, with a show at the literary science fiction convention ConDFW in Addison, Texas. With it being this early in the year, the focus will be mostly on tropical and other non-dormant flora, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t expect some surprises.

All-Con: Three weeks later, prepare to return to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Addison, because now it’s time for All-Con, a more media-related convention coming up on its eighth year. With luck, we won’t be looking at sudden last-minute freezes or snowstorms, which means that it might be time to present a display of Sarracenia blooms if they’re cooperating at the time. As usual, details will follow.

Texas Frightmare Weekend 2013: Okay, here’s the big one, as in “so big, it takes up the entire Hyatt Regency DFW Airport.” Not only is Texas Frightmare becoming the horror equivalent of the San Diego Comic-Con or Dragon*Con in Atlanta, but I’m proud and flattered to become one of the draws for attendees every year. With this being the Triffid Ranch’s fifth show at Texas Frightmare, get ready for some extra surprises, and not just my using deodorant and mouthwash.

FenCon X: And here’s the other big show, scheduled for Texas-OU Weekend in Addison. (Just talk to the folks at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and let them know you’ll be at all three big shows, and they’ll probably be glad to accommodate you.) The new Web site is now live with guests and programming, and the Triffid Ranch jumps in with plans for a much larger space than previous years. The added joy? With it starting in October, out-of-state visitors can at least prepare for the end of summer temperatures. (Judging by last weekend’s cold snap as a precedent, bring a bathing suit AND a jacket. You’ll probably need both.)

Tentative plans: Not only does this year mark the largest number of Triffid Ranch shows to date, but it’s time to expand a bit into reptile and amphibian shows. Right now, tentative plans involve registering tables at both ReptiCon in Ennis at the end of October 2013 and the North American Reptile Breeders Conference in Arlington on August 11-13. As the comics used to say, watch this space.

As a final note, I’m regularly asked at shows “Do you have a physical address?” Until now, that answer is “no”, and not just because liability issues prevent me from opening up everything so people can “see the plants”. Up until now, opening a storefront to display plant enclosures and sell individual specimens hasn’t been practical or sane. In 2013, that may change. With luck, I’ll be able to share the news in a few weeks. With luck.

Boosting the signal

It’s been a few weeks since any obvious, deliberate self-promotion has appeared here, but that has to change. The fall show season is heating up, and it’s no fun to do them when nobody else comes out.

Firstly, the Triffid Ranch returns for FenCon IX, our fifth show out there, and hopefully our best yet. It’s been eight years since I first heard about this show, and I apologize profusely for doubting its chances for survival back then every time I attend a new one. If you’re local, or if you have other reasons to come out to the Dallas area the weekend of September 21, hie thee hence. If you can’t get out there next week, make serious plans for FenCon X: I’ve been sworn to secrecy as to upcoming plans, which is easy because I haven’t heard anything, but I understand that 2013 will surprise everybody.

Secondly, the Triffid Ranch conducts its annual slowdown at the end of November as all of the plants go into winter dormancy, but there’s still time for the Funky Finds Holiday Shopping Experience in Fort Worth the weekend of November 10 and 11. Now that a lot of the insanity about parking issues at the Will Rogers Memorial Center have abated, this should be a spectacular show, and this includes my bringing out arrangements and items too big to display at other shows. As always, any excuse to come out to Fort Worth is a good one, and this is a pretty good excuse.

Finally, a regular complaint I hear is that “you’re not open for business between shows,” which suggests that maybe a venue for more regular shows might be a good idea. Because of this, I’m currently researching the option of more shows, particularly at the Dallas Handmade Arts Fair, or a more regular presence at a venue such as Lula B’s. Comments, criticisms, recommendations?

Things To Do In Dallas (And Fort Worth) When You’re Dead

To hear natives tell it, absolutely nothing happens in the Dallas area during the summer. “It’s too hot to do anything,” they say. “The real action hits in autumn, when the big yellow hurty thing in the sky stops trying to turn us into ash.” “We don’t even like going out swimming, because the water evaporates before you can dive off the high board.”

Yeah, don’t you believe it. If you fall for that, you’ll fall for the real whoppers, such as how getting a degree in journalism is a guarantee of high and stable income for the rest of your life. (Well, it is if you moonlight as something much less socially reprehensible than a music or film critic.) My problem is that I give everyone the benefit of the doubt, especially concerning the journalism degree, and then the rest of the summer is booked solid.

Anyway, to start the festivities, I sympathize with those who have families this time of the year. By the middle of August, the kids are both going insane from a two-month diet of cable television and the impending dread of the new school year, and they want to do something. Their parents are going insane with the realization that if they don’t take vacation time now, they won’t have any opportunity to take a vacation until after Christmas, and that they have a long four-month intervening slog in the linen mines until they’re paroled. Both take a good look outside, stick a finger out from underneath sunscreen and shade cloth, scream as the radiation leaves them able to see the bones in that finger before the flesh catches fire, and decide “Whatever we do, it’s going to be someplace with air conditioning and thick ceilings.” Not that I blame them in the slightest, as this is the time of the year that makes me impersonate the lifestyle of my totem animal and stay underground.

Well, the good news is that the Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas’s Fair Park is run by people who think like sane parents, which is why it’s hosting this weekend’s upcoming Discovery Days event, Discover Going Green, before school starts. The Triffid Ranch will be out there to show off a selection of carnivorous plants, carnivorous plant impersonators, and general oddballs on both Saturday and Sunday, so stop by and say hello.

As for the first serious Triffid Ranch show of the fall season, we’re now officially 45 days away from FenCon IX, running in Addison this September 21 through 23. Same hotel as previous years, but with luck, we’ll be seeing the first serious break in the heat about then. You may think you don’t want to deal with gullywasher storms on the weekend, but anything beats the smell of burning flint everywhere you walk. The start of autumn weather not only promises to make things easier on the folks coming out from places where the local hydrogen in the atmosphere doesn’t spontaneously fuse, but it may make for some particularly interesting plant arrangements.

And lest I forget, announcements for the 2013 Texas Frightmare Weekend see release next week, and along with that, first availability of passes. Naturally, the Triffid Ranch plans to crash the party again: at this point, the idea is to be the first in line for vendor’s spaces. Considering the crowds at the 2013 show, get your tickets as soon as they’re available, because the weekend passes could very easily be sold out six months before the show. It’s happened before.

Finally, last year’s drought put paid to previous plans, but it’s time to return to the Funky Finds Holiday Shopping Experience in Fort Worth the weekend of November 10. Any excuse to go to Fort Worth is a good excuse, and I certainly don’t have problems with spending the weekend at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. That is, if there’s room to squeeze in the Triffid Ranch. We’ll see.