Tim Wick made a lovely list of random CONvergence highlights over on his blog, and it sounded like a lovely idea. This is me, totally stealing that idea.
I spent the 4th of July drinking massive amounts of gin and vodka (not in the same glass) in a Burnsville hotel room with my friends Jason, Pam, and Poe. I’ve known J since I was about 15 or 16, which is when we met on the Benden Weyr BBS back in the mists of ancient history. Stories were told. Twitter was flooded with quotes. Many pizzas were demolished. It was perfect.
Jerry Belich, Cargill, Kelvin Hatle, Eryn Hildebrandt, and several others decided to swede a film during CONvergence. On Thursday afternoon, I got to help them film for a while. Not only did the start and finish all the filming on Thursday, Jerry had a rough cut by Friday morning. HOLY HANNAH. It will need a little post production, but it should be done soon. I’ll post it when it’s finished.
MAD ART LAB PANEL – Panel 1 of 20
Wdonohue from the world of Twitter turned into a Booze Genie and simply gave me an entire bottle of scotch at this panel, and it was WRAPPED IN MATH. Best scotch ever! (For the record, it was Balvenie 14 year, which had been aged in rum casks. Also, I only drank about 1/3rd of the bottle at the convention.)
The Mad Art Lab panel was excellent! The other ladies from the site put together individual bags full of craft supplies for each audience member, and everyone was instructed to make art while we all talked. Hundreds of photos were taken; I’ll link to them when they go up.
THE GEEK LIFE LIVE RECORDING – Panel 2 of 20
Our audience was small but lively, and I didn’t know everyone in the room! I call that progress!
Our special guest, Sammy Sarzoza, was fun to talk with! He told us about the Warming by the Fire Kickstarter project, which has a trailer they made for a total budget of $25.
Paul gave me a bottle of homebrewed apple liquor of some sort.
I spent much of the panel giving Paul’s Laphroiag to John Kovalic, who was sitting in the audience.
SMACKDOWN – Panel 3 of 20
While preparing for the Smackdown panel, I got to catch the tail end of Marion Call’s mainstage performance. What a treat! I also ran into in the hotel bar later that night, where we talked about typewriters. She has a lovely typewriter key bracelet.
SMACKDOWN WAS AWESOME. My video clips went over well. Bonnie Burton and Sharon Stiteler stole the show as they progressively got drunker and, well, filthier. Including myself in the contestant list was a good laugh. There were no technical glitches. The audience laughed a lot. I flooded Twitter. Miss Piggy won, which is the second time in a row that Smackdown has been won by a Muppet.
ALIENS IN DEPTH – Panel 4 of 20
For an 11am panel, we sure had a decent-sized audience!
This panel killed. We did our homework pre-con and had a ton of things to talk about: the way it was filmed, Ripley as a feminist character, the Heroes’ Journey structure, director’s cut vs. theatrical cut… Seriously, this team killed it. Thanks to Mike Hallenbeck and Jon Cazares who (separately!) came up with the panel idea and brought it to me, and to Tim Wick and Lex Larson for adding their volumes of knowledge.
DR. BLINK – Panel 5 of 20
John Kovalic, Christopher Jones, Joseph Scrimshaw, Eryn Hildebrandt, and I packed a tiny room with news of the long-dormant Dr. Blink comic. We capped the talk with a reading of Joseph’s spec script for the animated series we hope to make. The script is A LOT of fun to read out loud.
This is the first panel I actually attended. I’m VERY glad I did, because it was incredibly informative. It was fantastic to hear about the origin, assembly, creation, and marketing of a film in so much detail, and Cargill is a great storyteller. I can’t wait to see the movie.
THE YEAR IN REVIEW – Panel 6 of 20
I love this panel every year. Basically, we just talk about the movies that came out since last year’s CONvergence, and thus we get the chance to plug the lesser-known genre gems that we’ve all turned up. This year’s panel lineup included Brian Salisbury, C. Robert Cargill, Lyrae Anderson, Romeo Azar, and myself — mostly all Fantastic Fest denizens. It turned out great. I’m particularly pleased that I’m not alone in my adoration for Elite Squad: The Enemy Within.
DINNER! (KIND OF!)
I had a little time between panels, so I went to one of the Sofitel’s upscale French restaurants with John Kovalic, Eryn Hildebrant, Jerry Belich, Joseph Scrimshaw, C. Robert Cargill, and Jessica Cargill. Unfortunately, I ran out of time, so I had to leave before my food arrived, and the skies opened up and poured rain as I walked out… which is why I showed up to my next panel soaking wet and carrying a box of asparagus risotto.
THIS MODEL LIFE – Panel 7 of 20
I was a little worried about this panel, because it was supposed to be about the special effects of Toho’s Gojira films. Yes, I know Gojira films like the back of my hand, but I didn’t have a whole lot of intrinsic knowledge about the special effects in particular, so I did a lot of homework. As it turned out, I wound up having the most specific knowledge on the panel. Mostly Bonnie Burton, Steven Jones, and Mark Stegbauer talked more about the films in general. It turned out well, really.
In the course of my research for this panel, I turned up a great documentary about the creation of Gojira’s effects, entitled Bringing Godzilla Down to Size. It’s available free on YouTube, and it was directed by Alex Cox (aka the guy who made Repo Man).
Bonnie introduced me to these, and now I want one.
She also created the phrase “medicinal Godzilla.”
FIRST ISSUE: LIVE – Panel 8 of 20
Fes Works, Marcus, and I all got together to record an episode of First Issue live, and decided to include the actual artist and writer of the comic book in our review. Thus, we did Street Heroes 2005 Issue #1, and had the great opportunity to interview Steven Jones and Christopher Jones about it. As usual, Steve and Chris were great sports about our review, and they were very entertaining.
Even better, it was great to see Marcus in good health!
COCKTAILS WITH CTHULHU – Panel 9 of 20
This one was Pat Harrigan’s brainchild. He wanted to do a drinking panel, a la Drinking with Geeks, but he also wanted to combine it with academic study of famed teetotaler H. P. Lovecraft. Thus, the usual HPL drinking nerds were roped in (Joseph Scrimshaw, Tim Uren, and myself), along with Dawn Krosnowski (yay!) and Jerry Belich (as bartender!). We had cultist robes and atmospheric LED candles and everything!
Jerry’s cocktails were appropriately horrifying. The best one involved champagne and absinthe, as well as a gummi octopus sitting on top of the glass. (We called this a “Death in the Morning, Afternoon, and Evening”.) As soon as the candy dropped in the drink, the carbonation turned it into a fizzy explosion. Dawn and I unintentionally snorted a lot of champagne because of this.
We had a drunk spelling bee with Lovecraftian words. This was AWESOME.
I drank something through a kazoo. It kind of worked.
We closed by leading the audience in song, with a drinking song written by H. P. Lovecraft himself (!). Tim Uren even brought words printed on giant sheets of paper, so we had “follow the bouncing gummi octopus!”
We packed the room for this panel. Thus, I’m pretty sure we’ll be doing Potables with Poe for next year.
GEEKS WITHOUT GOD LIVE RECORDING – Panel 10 of 20
I’ve already plugged this project in a previous post here, but once again, I’d like to thank Tim Wick, Molly Glover, and Nick Glover for letting me be on their very first episode. What a hoot!
Even better, I got to hear them record their second episode with Kammy Lyon. Do you know how difficult it is to be sitting at a panel table, but you have to SHUT THE HELL UP for the whole second half hour? Especially when Kammy is being all fun and stuff?
It’s amazing that the Geeks Without God team managed to pack a whole panel room at 9:30am on a Saturday. WOW.
THE PHYSICS OF SUPER FASHION – Panel 11 out of 20
Roy Cook (comics guy) joined Mad Art Labbers Ryan Consell (armorer), Emily Finke (costumer), and myself on this one. I feel like I mostly just brought up subjects and let the rest of them take over (“Boob plates! Discuss!”), which is fine by me. It was a lively and fun panel.
I was very pleased that we had several people in the audience in costume, as they were used for many demonstrations. (“Hey Robin, do you have any peripheral vision in that mask?”)
Best quote: “Oh no! Dazzler’s after us! Hit the beach!”
ALL ABOUT FIRESIGN
Here’s another panel I just attended. Best part: hearing from Phil Proctor about how Heidi Fleiss’ dog ate his bed. The panel also had great content involving Phil Proctor and David Ossman reminiscing about the days of radio theater with Firesign, but it’s hard to beat a tale that involves a whorehouse and an upholstry-hungry dog.
After the panel, I met Phil, David, Richard Fish, and Melinda Peterson for the first time. Firesign was due to perform with the Killer B’s show that night, so I wanted to make contact prior to the show. I barely got to talk to David, but Phil, Richard, and Melinda are all utterly delightful people.
POWERPOINT KARAOKE – Panel 12 out of 20
THIS KILLED. Holy cow, did this show kill. Tim Wick, Joseph Scrimshaw, Tim Uren, and Jen Scott all absolutely slaughtered the audience. Jen even got an entire audience to touch each other on command.
Tim Wick flashed his nipple, too, but I’m not sure I’d call that a highlight.
Joseph’s presentation was entitled, “Why Tim Wick Is a Bitch.” It was glorious.
I’ve been complimented a lot on the slides for this particular show, but I must stress that Bill Stiteler deserves half the credit. We each create half the slides for every show.
TARANTINO: FEMINIST FILMMAKER? – Panel 13 of 20
This one involved Tim Wick, Bill Stiteler, Windy Bowlsby, and myself talking about Tarantino for an hour. I don’t think any of us did any homework, which, given the fine quality of the panel we gave, says a lot about how well the details of Tarantino films stick to our brains. I love doing movie panels with these people.
I also love that Windy showed up in full roller derby gear.
OMG OMG OMG I HAD LUNCH WITH FIRESIGN.
Mr. Ossman never turned up (and dropped from the Killer B’s show), but I had a lovely time talking with Phil, Melinda, and Richard. We hashed out the details of the show, then wound up talking about old B movies, old Firesign projects, and other things. It wound up that Melinda didn’t feel comfortable with doing improv (which is fine, as I’d rather have her be comfortable and we already had a large team lined up), so Phil and Richard opted instead to tag-team for the guest slot.
Near the end of the conversation, I said something about always wanting a foley artist for Killer B’s. Richard and Phil both lit up. “Hey, I think Tony might be interested…!” “I don’t know why we didn’t think of that before!”
Suddenly, THE UNIVERSE HAD DROPPED A FIRESIGN FOLEY ARTIST INTO MY LAP. He was not only at CONvergence, but HE HAD HIS GEAR WITH HIM. And he WAS COMFORTABLE WITH IMPROV.
My brain exploded about five times over.
And did I say earlier that Phil, Melinda, and Richard are charming people? Because they totally are.
OBSSESSED LIVE RECORDING
After lunch, I caught the tail end of the Obsessed panel, which was led by Joseph Scrimshaw and featured Bonnie Burton and Paul Cornell. This is the panel that introduced me to the concept of Roller Jousting. I expect the podcasts to be released soon.
CRASH COURSE TO PODCASTING – Panel 14 of 20
This is the panel I wasn’t originally scheduled for, but it needed people and thus I got sucked in, alongside Fes Works, Scott White, and a gent whose name I do not recall. It was a rather low-key, small panel, which was fine give the sort of evening that was ahead of me.
There was a woman in the audience whose podcast got more hits than any of ours, combined, by a factor of ten. That was… humbling.
DRINKING WITH GEEKS – Panel 15 of 20
Once again, we packed the room. I mean PACKED.
The audience brought some amazing things for us, including Rogue Voodoo Donut Maple Bacon Ale (yes, it’s a real thing, and it tastes like forest fires), booze-steeped fruit (SO GOOD), and snorting rubber pigs (which were prominently marked FOR DOG USE ONLY).
My co-panelists horrified me with their Mystery Booze selections. Bill’s wasabi vodka was JUST NOT RIGHT.
I drank Joseph Scrimshaw saliva. You read that right.
Jerry brought miracle berry tablets. They made pure lime juice into the greatest thing in the world.
And the best part of all this? The ASL interpreters upstaged us all. I don’t care if whether we have deaf audience members or not — I want ASL interpreters at all future Drinking with Geeks panels!
ART AUCTION – Panel 16 of 20
Because I was double-booked, I wound up going into Art Auction late, and then leaving early because I had to help Tony Brewer set up for Killer B’s. But I did auctioneer for a while! In fact, even in my inebriated state from Drinking with Geeks, I managed to sell a light switch plate for an obscene, three-figure amount of cash. I am proud.
KILLER B’S IMPROV MOVIE SHOW – Panel 17 of 20
I had lots of help setting up the room, for which I am always thankful. I was especially thankful for the help of Richard Fish, who basically took over setting up the soundboard for Jerry and Tony.
The show was AWESOME. As always, I’m giddy as hell that I get to work with such amazingly talented people. Our home team (Kelvin Hatle, Tim Uren, Joseph Scrimshaw, and Aric McKeown) held down the fort as Richard and Phil tag-teamed in the guest spot. Jerry, as always, was spot-on with Theremin. And Tony Brewer, the foley artist that was dropped upon this show from the heavens only a few hours before, was AWESOME. I wish he lived closer to the Twin Cities, because I’d LOVE to have him do more shows.
After the show, I heard Phil networking with the gents of the home team. It made me smile.
ONE ON ONE WITH BONNIE BURTON – Panel 18 of 20
I think all of CONvergence fell in love with Bonnie Burton over the weekend. She’s the perfect Guest of Honor for this CVG: unapologetically nerdy, funny, mischievous, and bursting with energy. I’m pleased that she seems to like us, too.
I was asked a while ago to be the interviewer for her one-on-one panel, and I’d been a bit nervous about it. I’ve followed her on Twitter for a long while, but following someone on Twitter often means that you know what a person eats for lunch, but not a whole lot about them. However, I got a good chance to be on other panels with her earlier in the weekend, and I did some homework, so I came in decently prepared.
Then again, I probably could have walked in cold and still had a great interview, because she’s the easiest person to interview in the world. When you ask her a question, she’ll go on her own for at least 10 minutes, and the audience will love it.
We totally did the awkward hug thing after the panel. It was awesome.
IRON ARTIST – Panel 19 of 20
Jerry Belich and I had the mad idea of building our art out of candy this year. Somehow, in involved making high school stereotypes out of circus peanuts, an elevator out of Starburst candies, and an alien invasion out of green gummi bears and pipe cleaners. It was held together with hope and blue cake frosting.
As we were moving in for the event, a roll of CD ROM VERSION stickers fell out of my craft bin. Somehow, this turned into me carpeting everything possible with CD ROM STICKERS. Including Matt Waterhouse.
The other artists on the panel took things far more seriously. My brain still cannot understand how John Kovalic can finish so many giant Munchkin cards in under an hour. Holy cats.
Despite the expert antics of the panel, the whole thing was won by a kid in the front row. Well played, young Nolan. Well played.
I had some time to kill before my final panel, so I went out into the convention and stuck more CD ROM VERSION stickers on anything that didn’t move fast enough to get away. I almost managed to get rid of them all.
I’ve had that roll of stickers for at least 15 years. This was by far the best and most amusing use I’ve ever found for them.
PRIMATES IN FACT, FICTION, AND FANTASY – Panel 20 of 20
It seems fitting that I’d end my record-breaking run of panels with the annual panel I do at Krushenko’s with Eric Heideman and Pam Keesey. This year’s creature of choice was primates, which really made me wish I knew anthropology better than I currently do. That said, I had handouts for the audience. Handouts are cool.
As per tradition, I ran the back-of-house camera for Closing Ceremony. This year, the camera equipment was AWESOME. I have no idea what I was running, but whatever it was, it was bigger than I am, and it had great focus control.
The Closing Ceremony video was AWESOME and I had absolutely nothing to do with it.
Also awesome was Live Action Set’s retelling of Kill Bill.
There are few things as rewarding as the post-con dinner. Everyone is exhausted, thrilled, hungry, and hopped up on adrenaline and caffeine. Yeah, we were eating at Olive Garden, but whatever. I was so happy to gorge myself on bread products while sharing war stories.
I spent much of Dead Dog talking with Pam Keesey and Tim Wick, which was fantastic because I haven’t caught up with Pam in years.
I spent another huge chunk of Dead Dog talking with Rob Callahan and others, which was also fantastic because I don’t think I’ve ever had an actual conversation wth Rob. We always just seem to run into each other here and there.
And, of course, I talked a lot with a whole bunch of other people I see more often. This includes promising to bake experimental chocolate pepper cakes with Seth Sweep.
MONDAY PSYCHO SUZI’S SUPER DEAD DOG
It’s now tradition that there’s a Monday lunch outing to Psycho Suzi’s with the Chicago crowd, so I had a lovely lunch with the out-of-towners. Best of all, I got to say goodbye to Poe before he went to the airport, because I saw him for maybe thirty seconds of the entire convention.
Also cool: Tim Hoyt somehow managed to get a Fiat 500 out of the car rental place, and I got to see it before he drove it back to the airport. Now I want a Fiat.
Thank you to everyone who makes this glorious monster run, especially Programming for indulging my whims. Thank you to everyone who said hello, even briefly. Thank you to everyone who offered me a drink. Thank you to the parties that I never got to visit, but about which I heard all these great stories. Thank you to everyone who dressed in costume, who hung up a silly sign, who sang a capella in the hallway, who let me put a sticker on them, who stayed up late or got up early, who did anything with gusto and enthusiasm. This was an awesome year, and I can’t think of anything bad to say about it. You guys — convention committee and volunteers and members — are awesome.