Category Archives: Killer B’s

Thank You, CONvergence

CVG2013logo
Last weekend was bonkers.

It’s bonkers every year for me, because CONvergence always happens on/near the 4th of July weekend each year. As I’ve described previously in this blog, CONvergence is a sci-fi/fantasy smorgasbord convention that erupts yearly in Minneapolis, MN. This year was the convention’s 15th iteration, and it was packed to the gills with somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000 colorful, fun, creative, silly, smart, and otherwise awesome people.

This was also the 15th year I’ve been involved with the convention at some level. Every year, it finds new ways to surprise me. The reason the convention continues to grow is because of the amazing people who make it happen and who make it fun. I am only a tiny cog in this network; CONvergence is a true testament to what can be accomplished by a few hundred creative people who want to host a really rippin’ great event.

I was on twenty panels in four days. I could never have survived such a thing without the help of a lot of people.

Buckle up, kids, this will be a long ride.

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CONvergence Is Imminent!

CVG2013logoOne of the things consuming my life lately is CONvergence 2013, which will invade on July 4th and then continue through the weekend. CONvergence is the 800-pound gorilla of Minnesota conventions, where an expected 7,000 people will show up and proceed to nerd out, dress up, and boogie down until the whole thing vanishes again like Brigadoon.

CONvergence is my “home” convention. I started attending sci-fi conventions back in the early 1990s with Minicon, which back then was the equivalent 800-pound Minnesotan gorilla. I did some volunteering with Minicon, but it wasn’t until CONvergence started up and inherited the giant-convention mantle from Minicon in 1999 where I really started spending time contributing to the community. I’ve spent a lot of time making tiny segments of CONvergence go, in various capacities: party host, co-head of parties, video team lackey, publications minion, badger, panelist, money counter, general gadfly.

These days, I’m mostly just a panelist. But oh, do they ever put me to work!

Last year, I broke the CONvergence record by sitting on 20 panels in one year. This year, I said I was going to take it easy, so I wound up cutting my schedule down from 22 panels back down to 20. Ah, the easy life!

Thus, if you spend any time in a random panel room at CONvergence next week, there is something like a 5% overall chance I’ll be talking at you for an hour. It seems like a 20-panel slate would make for a larger percentage, but that’s just a testament to just how much amazing stuff happens at CONvergence every year. And that’s just panels. That doesn’t count the parties and the dances and the dealers room and the art show and Paul Cornell teaching everyone in the parking lot how to play cricket. (Okay, the Paul Cornell thing actually is on the panel schedule, but I think you get my point.)

Anyway, if you actually want to catch me at CONvergence and say hello (and you should!), here’s where you can find me:

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Accumulation of Activities

I have been ridiculously busy as of late. In a nutshell, here’s what I’ve been up to:

webcomic_341The Webcomic Beacon: A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to lend my film expertise to a recording of The Webcomic Beacon podcast about James Bond. The episode also features comic artist Rich Morris, who does webcomics about gaming, Dr. Who, and now James Bond.
kongAnimation Aficionados: I was also asked to lend my film expertise to the Animation Aficionados podcast about the original 1933 version of King Kong. The episode was recorded about a week before Ray Harryhausen passed away, so I unfortunately spend part of the episode waxing poetic about the fact that he was still alive. Still, that shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying giant stop-motion gorillas.
TGL LogoThe Geek Life: The Geek Life podcast is nearing its 200th episode! A few weeks ago, we also started recording the show live online, via Google Hangouts. If you are free on Tuesday nights around 8:00pm Central Time, you can watch us nerd-out in live video. Just watch the show’s Twitter feed or Google+ page for the weekly link. If you want to comment at us while we are recording, use the #thegeeklifetv hashtag on Twitter. You can also see us live — as in, live live — at CONvergence.
Drinking with GeeksDrinking with Geeks: The new Drinking with Geeks podcast is now running full-steam ahead! Four episodes are up, and more are on their way. If you are a Twin Cities local and want to join in the Drinking with Geeks social hour and see the podcast recorded live, simply show up at the Bryant Lake Bowl at the appointed time. (Watch the web site for dates and times.) Also, if you are attending CONvergence this 4th of July weekend, you will be able to see the usual gladiatorial Drinking with Geeks panel, followed by a brand-new experiment called Hungover with Geeks.
KillerBsThe Killer B’s Improv Movie Show: The Killer B’s show will also be back at CONvergence this year! Once again, you will be able to watch in awe as improv comedians, musicians, and a sound effects artist create a brand-new live soundtrack for films they have never seen before.
PowerPoint KaraokePowerPoint Karaoke: This PowerPoint Karaoke season is wrapping up! Our last Bryant Lake Bowl show until the autumn will be on Thursday, May 30th. After that, we will be returning to CONvergence to use up all the slides that are simply too nerdy for a general audience. Show up at either venue to watch improv comedians give PowerPoint presentations about slides they have never seen before.
FirstIssueFirst Issue: The First Issue video podcast continues to chug along, and more updates are on their way. You will also be able to see the show recorded live at CONvergence, as we interview Mark Stegbauer about his work and take a look at his very first comics inking gig.
CVG2013logoCONvergence: Speaking of CONvergence, it looks like I will be on around 20 panels again this year. Madness! Once the schedule is firmed up, I will make a separate post of what is going on and where.
soundandfoleyThe Sound and the Foley: My new blogging endeavor, The Sound and the Foley, is up and running strong! It seems that other folks are as fascinated by memetic sound as I am. I have a list of blog post ideas as long as my arm, so it seems I will have no shortage of material to write about.
CollegeOfCuriosityThe College of Curiosity Conference: Finally, I will be speaking at the Conference of Curiosity in Chicago, IL on May 25th, on the subject of The Sound and the Foley project. The other speakers are folks like Hal Bidlack and magician Dennis Watkins, so if you’re in the Chicago area, you should feed your curiosity and join us!

CONvergence Highlights

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.

WEDNESDAY

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.

SWEDING

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

Mr. @wdonohue gave me scotch wrapped in MATH! #cvg2012Wdonohue 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. Continue Reading →

Killer B’s and Funny Ladies

Around seven or eight years ago, Jerry Belich and I founded Killer B’s Improv Movie Show. For those of you who don’t attend CONvergence or shows at HUGE Theater, Killer B’s is something like a hybrid between Mystery Science Theater 3000, J-Men Forever, and Comedy Sportz. I find clips of oddball film footage, edit them together, and remove all the sound. Then, a team of comedians and a Theremin player replace the entire soundtrack during a live show. Since the people doing the sound work have no idea what is going to play on screen, the comedy is pure improv.

The project started, oddly enough, as a sort of avant garde music format. Originally, I was just going to find the movies and strip the sound, and Jerry was going to play Theremin to the footage. I can’t remember who thought of adding voice actors, but that’s really what made the show come together.

See, I’ve been a longtime fan of the Twin Cities’ improv comedy community. I’d see Improv a Go Go almost weekly at the Brave New Workshop, watching actors forge experimental new improvisational formats for the pittance of a $1 admission. (IAGG is now at HUGE and costs $5, but this Wild West attitude toward improv comedy continues today.) While I have some stage experience myself, I always knew that stage improv was never my strong point, so I always watched in awe as I saw friends form strange comedic alchemy in front of me. I could see how the gears fit together, but never could get to the point where it felt natural to do improv comedy myself.

The Killer B’s format, though, was a eureka moment for me. I could contribute back to the community that I loved so much. I just had to play to my particular skills: a vast knowledge of obscure films, competency at Final Cut Pro, and friendships with other talented people.

The team sprang together. I was the editor. Jerry was on Theremin. Three talented comedians from Soylent Theater, all geeks and all very funny, formed the core of the voice talent: Joseph Scrimshaw, Kelvin Hatle, and Tim Uren.

Other voice actors have joined us for various shows: Nels Lennes, Aric McKeown, Amanda Schuckman, Wally Wingert, Chuck McCann, Richard Fish, and Phil Proctor. We’ve also been joined onstage by guitarist Scott Keever and foley artist Tony Brewer. All have been fantastic to work with. Everyone brings something different to the table.

However, do you notice anything about that lineup? I sure do. Continue Reading →