Thank You, CONvergence

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.

Thank you to Hair Police, who have nothing really to do with the convention, except for the fact that they gave me this hairdo…

...and then this happened.

…and thus I was very easy to locate throughout the entire convention.

Thank you to the Registration people, who set up shop a day early so I (and others) could pick up our badges before the rush on Thursday. (…and oh, there was a rush.) They also managed the temporary badges for a few of my co-panelists, and all that stuff went down without a hitch, despite long lines on Thursday.

Thank you to the Vilification Tennis people, who took it upon themselves to perform an impromptu comedy show for the people who endured loooong waits in the Registration line on Thursday afternoon. (As it turns out, when 4,000 people show up at the same time, it takes a long time to get badges out to them. Like, hours. The line was atrocious. And yet other people around the convention pitched in where they could to make their wait more endurable, and that was cool.)

Thank you to the Mainstage crew, who were able to deal with my insanely busy schedule and squeeze in a tech slot so I could test my computer setup prior to the Super Spy Smackdown event.

Thank you to the funny people of the Super Spy Smackdown panel. Christopher Jones, Tim Wick, and I do all the pre-planning for the panel each year, and they’re always a joy to brainstorm with. Tim Wick is also the best moderator in the world, and I thank him for enduring my weird need to put up photos of every non-canon James Bond actor I could find. Also many thanks to the super-funny people who made the panel super-funny: Kelvin Hatle, Dawn Krosnowski, Caroline Smycox, Tim Uren, Joseph Scrimshaw, and Jeremy Stomberg.

Thank you to Pat Harrigan for spearheading the Poe’s Potables panel, which is the one panel that got me really drunk this weekend. Actually, I should thank Jerry Belich and Carrie Rainey for the actual drunkenness, because they were doing the actual drunkening. Pat was valiantly keeping the panel erudite while the rest of us played drinking games with the amontillado. I’m not sure if I should thank Dawn Krosnowski for passing me her share of drinks, but I did love her mad-lib version of “The Raven”. And Tim Uren is just a gem on any panel. I also thank whomever brought the fake birds to the panel, because one of them lived in my hair for a couple of days. I apologize to everyone for my drunken spoilage of Life of Pi.

Thank you to everyone who squeezed into a tiny room at Hotel Sofitel for an early morning Monty Python panel. SUPER SPECIAL thanks to this guy, who brought gumby costumes for the audience to wear:

This fine gent showed up at the Monty Python panel. And had costumes for others, too. #cvg2013

…Also, thank you to everyone at that panel for keeping rampant quoting at a minimum.

Thanks to the team of the In Depth panel, who valiantly tackled Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining this year. Jon Cazares, Romeo Azar, Tim Wick, Mike Hallenbeck, and I all spent a lot of time pre-convention poring through the tiniest details of the film, and I am always so pleased at what the five of us come up with to talk about. I love how my teammates all have their areas of expertise, and how we all catch different things.

Thank you to everyone who PACKED one of the large panel rooms for the first outing of Judging a Book by Its Cover, a thing that only happened because Jerry Belich and I said, “Hey, this would be fun.” Super special thanks to Chrys Buckholtz, Dawn Krosnowski, and Windy Bowlsby for being our inaugural guinea pigs, and to Tim Wick for once again falling on the MC sword for us. Extra special thanks go to Tim and Windy, because they got added to the panel at the very last minute without any idea of what was going to happen. Also, an extra special cherry-on-top thanks goes to Tim, who was able to modify the panel rules on the fly so that everyone would have the maximum fun times. Despite our slapdash preparation, everyone banded together and the audience loved it. You guys are all amazing.

Thank you to P.Z. Myers, Greg Laden, Laura Okagaki, and our super special mystery panelist (Brianne?), who all helped me bring the Grosser than Fiction panel to life. My concept was to have a bunch of biologists gross out an audience for an hour with true stories of the squishiest of sciences, and the team did not disappoint. Greg’s stories of pygmies and P.Z.’s tales of fish fellatio are true highlights of my year.

Thank you to all the Skepchicks, who throw a rocking party with great drinks and smart people and cushy armchairs.

Thank you to everyone who PACKED the PowerPoint Karaoke panel, and who laughed so heartily with our four excellent victims (Paul Cornell, Caroline Smycox, Bill Corbett, and C. Robert Cargill). Good gravy, there were a lot of you:

Good gravy, there are a lot of you at PowerPoint Karaoke! #cvg2013

Also, thank you to Bill Stitler, without whom PowerPoint Karaoke would not exist. Thank you for pulling me into your madness, Bill!

Thank you to Tim Wick, Molly Glover, and Nick Glover, who had me back as the anniversary guest of the Geeks Without God podcast. They even let me re-answer one of my Five Questions, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a whole damn year. Whew! Keep doing the good work guys — your podcast is amazing, even when I’m not on it.

Thank you to Sharon Stiteler, who shared the Internet with me:

.@birdchick has the Internet! #cvg2013

Thank you to Jeremy Stomberg and Romeo Azar for letting me join the Mega Panel for the first time. Thank you to Miranda for the beer, and thank you to Christopher Jones for giving me his beer as well. BEER!

Thank you to Jerry Belich, Joseph Scrimshaw, and Bill Stitler for being part of the team that makes Drinking With Geeks happen. Also, my apologies to everyone on the panel (which also included Virginia Corbett, C. Robert Cargill, Laurie Richardson, and Tim Uren) for all the PB&J vodka and Malort. Thank you to whomever you were who introduced me to the fuzzy bottle of Wild Africa, and also thanks to everyone who pulled the curtains across the window when Jeremy Stomberg smooshed himself against the glass from the parking lot.

SUPER DUPER MEGA AMAZING SPECIAL THANKS to everyone on the Killer B’s Improv Movie Show team: Jerry Belich, Chad Dutton, Scott Keever, Molly Glover, Joseph Scrimshaw, Tim Uren, Kelvin Hatle, and Aric McKeown. You guys rock my world. You made the audience laugh nonstop. You gave me a theremin/piano version of the Super Mario Brothers theme. When the DVD player DIED in the middle of the show, you kept the show going while I fixed the A/V. You dealt with two — TWO — clips of Sharktopus. You guys are amazing.

Thanks to the small squadron of cute young men, who hung out with me at the Fearless Comedy party, despite the fact that my boyfriend was hovering around me in a Dr. Insano outfit and never breaking character.

And here's @fesworks as Dr. Insano...

Also thanks to the Fearless Comedy party for making me (and everyone else) part of their alcohol evacuation plans on Saturday night. I didn’t think it was possible to devour that many booze-steeped cherries in a single evening.

Thank you to Erik Hess, who wandered around CONvergence and documented all the cool stuff on his camera and then made us all look good in City Pages.

Thank you to the Drinking with Geeks team for waking up early on Sunday morning in order to do the first ever Hungover with Geeks. Also thanks to Tim Wick for being our designated teetotaler, and for slugging that 5-Hour Energy Shot for the entertainment of all.

Thanks to the ONE guy who showed up to see our First Issue live videocast recording. You, sir, were the best one-man audience in the world.

Thanks to Tim Wick for creating Art: Impossible as a surrogate for the missing Iron Artist event. Also thanks to Jerry Belich, my most excellent collaborator, who turned me into Captain Bionic Unicorn Hamster, using only pipe cleaners.

Super special thanks to everyone on the Canines in Fact, Folklore, Fiction, and Film, who had to start without me when I was delayed by the Art: Impossible event. Jennifer Mencken and Matt Kessen especially rocked the Fact portion of the panel.

Thanks to the room parties who stayed open on Sunday night (the Ghostbusters room, Vice City… and I think a couple of others). This was the liveliest Dead Dog party I’d seen at CONvergence in years. Also, thanks to Doug Yoder, who endured my impromptu Programming post-mortem discussion in the Ghostbusters room.

There were several panels I didn’t mention, as they were more “standard” panels that I just participated in and didn’t run, but thank you to all the panelists I worked with. Thank you to all of the audiences who came in to see us. It was lovely to see all of you.

Thank you to Kelvin Hatle, my longtime convention roommate. The snacks in our hotel room kept me alive all weekend.

And, finally, thank you to Fes Works, who helped me run equipment to and from our room, who kept me fed when I didn’t have time to eat between panels, who rubbed my neck when I was high-strung, and who just generally leapt in to save the day whenever I needed it. Thank you SO MUCH. And yes, I admit that you make a fine Freddie Mercury.

In which @fesworks turned into Freddie Mercury this weekend.


  1. 1) You must always include the umlaut in Malört, otherwise the bottle demons will escape.
    2) Of course Fes never breaks character. He’s always IN character, regardless of the situation. Though I suspect that Freddy Mercury may be the essence of the real Fes, because Ghu help us if he’s ACTUALLY Dr. Insano.
    3) Next CONvergence, I’m leaving Geneva at 4am, and arriving ready for the reg line with a full tank of coffee.

    (This is by no means a complete list, I believe a dedicated Tumblr is going to be necessary…)

  2. For reals, it was a really good time this year. I now follow a bunch more people on twitter. I don’t regret a single event I went to, although I sometimes wish I could have been other places at the same time as well. It’s always good to see you. Can’t wait until 2014.

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