I wrote this a couple of weeks ago and just now posting after recovering from sickness and moving.
I am flying back from an amazing two days in San Jose, CA. On Thursday, April 19th, 2018, I participated in the AV/IT Summit. This was my first time attending any professional event with such an AV and IT focus and I did not know what to expect. My friend Bradford Benn had recommended me as a speaker for the AV/IT Summit SCN ThinkTank. When the organization contacted me to come on a panel, I felt like I needed to expose my lack of technological knowledge. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, and through my years as an Event Manager and Designer I have a fairly strong working knowledge of the AV/IT needed to do my job. But the other speakers for this event included Disney Imagineers, Theme Park Designers, Museum Exhibition Designers and people who physically make the new technology I need to exist to do cool events. Bradford reminded me I was not invited to be the tech expert and I accepted my fate, worried that a mocking crowd of AV/IT elitist were in my future.
What I discovered was an amazing geeky community that I could truly relate to. The first speaker was Greg Kadorian, Walt Disney Imagineer and very cool retired guy (complete with Hawaiian shirt). His experience is extensive and spoke on the designs and innovations made at Disney. While discussing one particular theme park ride design and installation, he made comments about technology and cable connectors that I did not understand, but from context understood the joke. Something to the effect of ‘and these guys used THESE connectors, for flexibility but didn’t think about the connectors. So everything is installed and wired and now they have 1000 of these WRONG connectors. Can you believe it? Well, we all know what happens next, hours of replacing one THOUSAND of these connectors that could have been saved had they asked the right question.’ The crowd laughed as they nodded their heads in agreement with almost too keen an understanding, some having been there themselves it seems.
We are excited to have Card Kingdom as the KSSK official sponsor! They are great people and we are happy to have them on board. And apparently so are they:
“Card Kingdom couldn’t be happier to be a part of Kris and Scott’s Scott and Kris Show! We think these guys are awesome, and we are excited to be the sponsor of their show at The Triple Door. After all the support they’ve given to our store, it was an easy call to support them.” – The Team at Card Kingdom
Now that I am coming out of my post-cruise fog I can put together some words to describe the awesomeness that occurred at sea. When people ask me what JoCo Cruise Crazy is, I find myself trying to pick the perfect words. The real answer is it is summer camp for adults. It is a group of friends old and new reunited to celebrate common interests, have fun, and play games. Oh, and there are some entertainers and performances. But really, it’s about the people.
I don’t want to sell myself and talent short (hopefully my employers are not reading…) but we are sort of ancillary. The real joy is the community. A game room open 24 hours a day as old friends and new play a plethora of games. The game library was seriously impressive. Wizards of the Coast donated Magic half decks and two copies of Wrath of Ashardalon and Conquest of Nerath board games. (Thanks WotC!) The rest of the library was supplied by Sea Monkeys. (Sea Monkeys is the community-voted name for the JCCC attendees).
There are so many wonderful things that happened on this cruise it’s hard to narrow it down. Let me cover my highlights.
Day 1 (leaving Port)
Hodgman Towel Monkeys. On the cruise, the room steward leaves you towels every night assembled in the form of an animal. Last year John Hodgman pointed out that the towel monkey is particularly creepy — something Paul and Storm highlighted in the fun promotional video we filmed on our site visit.
This year it was decided to pull a prank on Hodgman by filling his room with towel monkeys on the first day of the cruise. Seriously, this is something we had listed in our official memo with Holland America.
Day 2 (Half Moon Cay)
Half Moon Cay is an island owned by Holland America Line (HAL). Last year we had a fabulous time and this year was even better. Since it is HAL’s island, all the food is free and the bars take your key card, just like on board. We were the only ship in port which added to the perfect tropical seclusion.
This year we reserved a section of the beach for our group. Vi Hart led folks in a fun activity of building shapes out of nerds in the ocean. I loved this event because I saw so many smiling faces and so much laughter. As people came out of the water and walked by me, they thanked me for cruise (though it’s not really my cruise). I heard exclamations of “This is the most fun I’ve ever had!” and “This is the BEST vacation ever!” And it’s only day two.
Day 3 (at Sea)
Our first at sea day found the gaming room packed! It was great to see folks taking advantage of the space. We had explained to the HAL folks that this room would be packed and it made sense for us to have a 24-hour room. They did not believe us. It takes a special kind of group to be indoors gaming when there is a sunny Caribbean outside.
Since this was the first day without a port of call, it meant extra events, including a morning Q&A with the performers. At-sea days quickly turned into my crazy days. Solving problems in every corner of the ship and planning for the evening show kept me on my toes. I don’t like to be bored and I love what I do. Despite being extremely busy, I loved (most) every minute of it.
Day 4 (Aruba)
From a Liz sanity perspective, this was the easiest day for me. We had no major shows, only the DJ Flans dance party that night. We pulled into Aruba around 1 p.m. which gave me enough time to get prep work done and then hit the beach. I took a taxi with Scarface (JoCo’s assistant) and Scarfriend (Scarface’s friend) to the resort-area beaches. When we arrived we found many other Sea Monkeys and took over a patch of beach for hanging out, drinking beer, and swimming.
The best part of the Aruba was the “Party Bus” ride back to the ship. This shuttle between the beach and the port is the best way to ride. Filled with Sea Monkeys, the bus took off and cranked up the tunes. Dance music blasted from the speakers as we all danced along, waving arms, grooving to the beat and getting down…as best we could from a seated position. This is definitely one of my favorite memories of the cruise.
Day 5 (Curaçao)
This was the day I was adopted as an honorary Wheaton. I was determined to hit the beach early in the day, but I didn’t want to go it alone. The Wheaton family came to my rescue and invited me along. The goal was to find a good place for snorkeling, and we did. We just didn’t have any snorkel gear. As Anne Wheaton and I explored the beach area for snorkel gear (which was all rented out) we discovered seals, lizards, and other crazy wild life.
I am fortunate to have such wonderful friends all over the world. Of course, this means I don’t get the chance to see them all that often. The cruise is fun for me because I get to see my far-away friends. I get to hang out on a beautiful beach and catch up on what’s going on in their lives. Or just laugh about stupid things. The cruise would not be as fun or fantastic if it wasn’t for my friends.
Day 6 (at Sea)
One of the signature JCCC events is the Paul F. Tompkins Memorial Moustache Formal. This year was the second annual event, with the added wrinkle of Feztravaganza. Appropriately scheduled for a formal dinner night, everyone was wearing their finest attire. Walking out onto the back deck (Sea View Aft) you were greeted with a beautiful sight — hundreds of Sea Monkeys in fancy dress, custom fezzes, and fake (or real) moustaches. The most bizarre cocktail party ever. Even the bartenders and servers were wearing the fake moustaches.
As a side note, I have to say that the staff on the Westerdam was fabulous. It appears that the majority of cruise-goers they encounter have lost their sense of humor, fun, and respect for others. These are the complainers. The staff repeatedly said how much they loved our group. We are a fun, lively bunch who treats the staff and crew with respect and appreciation. Like last year, we were told by a few of the crew that they would be requesting to work on our cruise next year.
A party with moustaches and fezzes. This is the type of event that can only occur with a group of nerds. And when you having it on a cruise ship, it can only be JoCo Cruise Crazy.
Day 7 (at Sea)
The last day at sea is bittersweet. Looking back on the whole week I was excited to get to land (and 3G) and let the world know how much fun I had. Yet, it has to end. There is something magical about that last night. The final concert with Jonathan Coulton was spectacular.
We had a “So Long and Thanks for All the Drinks!” farewell cocktail party. Many thanks were given and I was pulled aside by many for a personal thank you for running such a wonderful event. Group pictures were taken, hugs given, information exchanged. Then we went to pack. Walking the halls that night I encountered Sea Monkeys here and there. I saw a group playing the last few games in the gaming room, a few stargazers out on the back deck, and my personal favorite — an elevator ukulele sing-a-long. As I stepped into the elevator it was explained that this group wanted to play music and sing but needed a quite space where they wouldn’t wake anyone up. At 2 a.m. an empty elevator seemed to be as good a place as any. So I sang along, traveled a few decks and got off at my stop. It was great to see such a happy group easily making their own fun.
From a production stand point, this year was wonderfully successful. Last year was fun and super crazy. I worked hard to keep things on track and ensure everyone was having a good time. I had a few last-minute folks help out, and I felt like I kept most everything under control. But I’ve been told that our crazed state was clear and the Sea Monkeys had a great time, but could tell it was our first cruise.
This year we much more ambitious, adding more events both on the boat and at ports of call. We had a 24-hour gaming room. Did I mention there were twice as many Sea Monkeys? I was much busier this year, but with the help of Scarface and the elite team of volunteers (called Helper Monkeys) we pulled off a nearly flawless cruise. This time I worked my butt off and the feedback I got was that it was smoothly run, well-organized event, and there was no sign of our stress. Success!
Sorry this is a week late, I was sick last week. Better late than never, right?
Two weekends ago I went to Geek Girl Con. A celebration of women and fandom, geek girls (and women) from all around came to cosplay, speak and participate in this first year convention. I have to admit, at first I was a little wary. Whenever any group is highlighted by race, gender or religion there can be an “us vs them” mentality.
As I prepared for the con I wondered, was this going to be a negative anti-male fest? Was this going to be a poorly attended and disorganized first year con that will die out in the first year? I wasn’t alone in my concerns. Folks I talked echoed my concerns. However, I am happy to report that this convention was well-organized with a positive presence celebrating women and pop culture. This convention was just what I would want it to be.
Rather than segregate and stratify women from men in this community of fans, the convention celebrated strong female characters that women and girls can look up to. Looking around in the geeky world of pop culture, women are often portrayed as over-sexed, stripper clad ‘heroes’ or weak damsels in distress. This convention highlighted the characters that represent real women, strong women, and not just strong in the sense of caring a gun, kicking butt and taking names, but strong in character, strong in sense of mind, ability, with control over their surroundings and emotions. These are the characters that I love.
Since we are recognizing strong characters, the guests and panelists were not just women. There were men! Male panelists included authors and writers who have contributed to the new female presence with their creation of strong female characters. This was well discussed in the panel Character Studies: Geek Girls in Popular Culture. Panelist Javier Grillo-Marxuach described it well, he creates interesting characters, the gender is not the key component. It doesn’t matter to him if the characters are male or female. What he wants to create is a character that he finds interesting and has an interesting story to tell. What makes a character strong? Panelist Amy Berg talked about the characters she creates, characters that are empowered rather than have powers. She wants to emphasize their smarts and ability to solve problems with their brains and intellect. These are the type of characters that we can relate to.
I had fantastic time at the convention. After panels and browsing the show floor, I got to hang out with friends and make new friends over dinner and epic karaoke. I discovered that Javier Grillo-Marxuach is spectacular performer and rock a mean “Faith of Heart” (the Star Trek Enterprise theme song).
There was such a wonderfully positive atmosphere at Geek Girl Con. By the end of the convention folks were talking about 2012 and saying, “see you next year.” I for one plan to be there next year. This was a great celebration of women and pop culture, but this was also just a hell of a lot of fun.
Life is funny sometimes. Last week I was totally sure I was moving to Los Angeles on October 2nd. As of yesterday, that has changed. I am still planning on moving to Los Angeles, but in spring. I have work in January through April that puts me on the road and I don’t really need a home base during that time. With that in mind, moving to LA was only going to be for three months and then I’d be back in April. As it turns out, the awesome gig that was bringing me to LA in October has been pushed to spring.
I have spent a great deal of time thinking about this move over the past few days. There are logistics, finances, people, jobs…so much involved to make this happen for just three months. I began to wonder if it made more sense to wait until April anyway. I could ship my stuff to the west coast, hang with my family, get my car fixed (did I mention my sister works at a car fixer place?) and then go on the road in January and move to LA in April. There are many variables, but it boiled down to one thing. Would the opportunities in LA still be there in April? Am I gaining a huge advantage by going now that I won’t have in April?
As the decision weighed on me and friends and family offered their input, I got a little crazy in the mess. Seriously, how hard is it to pick a city, a state, –hell, a coast? Then I got the news I needed. The big opportunities were pushed to spring. There is no huge advantage to moving now.
So, I guess I have my answer. And there it is. Just like that, I’m on Plan B (not that birth control thing, but my back up plan). I am headed back to Seattle to regroup, work on some projects and fix up my (stupid) car. I have a crazy 2012 ahead of me and with it comes Los Angeles. I still wish I could go now. On the inside I am pouting that I want to move to LA now… I want to go NOOOOW. (Pouty face foot stomp)
Sometimes being a grown up is stupid.
And the lesson is….
Life can change very quickly. Saturday I was blogging about how I am moving to LA, now I’m moving to Seattle. Maybe I’ll be moving to Costa Rica next week. Who knows? This is the joy of the unknown world of being a freelance Dammit Liz. I guess the way to look at it is this: My projects and future are full of uncertainty and surprises, so I am choosing to create some stability to prepare for the coming insanity. Or does that just sound crazy?
For my east coast friends, I’ll miss you all! For my Los Angeles friends, sorry I can’t make it now, but I’ll see you in a few months! For my Seattle friends, watch out here I come! Also, if you know of anyone needing an event manager in the next month or so let me know.
I am still following my dream, with a slight road bump, if you would like to donate to the cause, I have a link for that.
I was going to write a post about my time in Seattle and PAX, or the adventures I had at Dragon*Con. But in the past few days I have officially decided to move from sleepy Connecticut to Los Angeles, so that is what’s on my mind.
I moved out here to Connecticut from Seattle in January. Despite having done a cross country move before, rather recently, I am feeling a little overwhelmed. (Pardon me while I work through my emotions on my blog). The scary part is that I’m going into the unknown. I am fortunate enough to have some work lined up for the next six months or so, but after that who knows. I have given up on the corporate office world and ventured out into the unknown and unpredictable world of freelance. There are many of us out there, hacking through the dense vegetation of instability, extra work, inconsistent paychecks and lack of health insurance (don’t worry Mom, I’m getting an individual plan). It’s comforting to know I’m not out there alone, and I guess that’s sort of the point. Projects don’t come randomly from the sky (well, I guess once in a while they do), they come from friends, contacts, recommendations, twitter.
An aside on twitter, I would probably not be where I am today if it weren’t for social media, especially twitter. Social media is an amazing thing; I have meet new friends, keep in touch with others, and feel a sense of community with those who share common interests. This has given me the ability to stay in touch with friends that ended up recommending me for work. I have a whole theory about networking that I should write about later.
So here I am, ready to embark on a journey into the world without that comforting steady paycheck and consistent work. When this opportunity in LA came up I was hesitant, then I realized if I had a reliable car and a significant savings I would hop in my car and drive across country no problem. So it wasn’t the work, the inconsistency, the unknown that scared me, it was money. That means the only thing holding me back from my dream, a new lifestyle that seems to be meant for me, is financial. This is something I can overcome, and it is worth it. I hate to talk about money, but it has been on my mind and held me back at first, so I want to let you know. I want to encourage anyone out there that is afraid to make the leap and let them know that there are ways around it. Once you have that attitude you can do anything. (With that in mind, I have added a PayPal donations page to my website if you would like to help me pursue my dreams. The link is HERE).
As for what I’m working on? Well there’s [REDACTED] and [REDACTED], then the cruise and 3 weeks of [REDACTED], also FarkCon. Plus I’m in talks for potential work on a couple of projects with [REDACTED]. So there’s a lot going on.
I will be updating my website more often and keep you all in the loop. Thanks to everyone who has been encouraging and supportive, it’s what I’ve needed to take on this next chapter of my life.
“The jump is so frightening between where I am and where I want to be…because of all I may become I will close my eyes and leap!”
For those of you who don’t know what this w00tstock is, check out w00tstock.net. Basically it is a sort or nerd vaudeville or geek variety show. The show was created by actor and author Wil Wheaton, Mythbuster Adam Savage, and musical comedy duo Paul and Storm. Their first three shows last year (version 1.x) were so well received that they expanded the show this year with 12 performances across the country (version 2.x).
w00tstock Tour 2010 – episode 1: (Los Angeles v2.6)
The one where Weird Al jumped on stage with an accordion
This tour was a fantastic experience. It is difficult to fully explain how amazing this was without writing a novel. I will attempt to do it justice on my blog.
This was the first tour of this size that I’ve worked on. Five shows in nine days can be an easy thing, that is, if you aren’t flying across the country. To report on the trip, I will post about each city individually.
It is important to be said that Wil was extremely missed on this tour. If the show had not been fully booked when Wil had to pull out, we probably would have considered cancelling. And here’s why: Wil Wheaton is truly the spirit of w00tstock. The shows, the sense of community, the casual format, all of these things are really from the heart of Wil. Despite our great “stand-in Wils” the show was truly lacking something. Now don’t worry all of you who saw the show- I know you had a great time and enjoyed yourselves. But just wait until the Wheaton factor is back.
Now that I have cleared that up, let me tell you about the show.
Los Angeles (Largo at the Coronet Theater)
Thinking back to the start of the tour seems like years ago- or a month or so at least. The trip was so packed with events and experiences that my sense of time completely changed. Storm refers to it as its own separate time, out of the regular timeline. Road Time. I understand now, a week seemed like a month.
This show was in honor of Dr. Demento’s 40th anniversary. He introduced all of our musical acts in his signature suit and top hat. It was an honor to meet the man who has been such in an influence in musical comedy genre. That’s what we do here at w00tstock. Dr. D’s show launched Al Yankovic’s career and brought silly and hilarious songs to many.
I MET WEIRD AL! There I said it. Meeting Al Yankovic was a geeky childhood dream come true. He’s such a nice guy, professional and easy going. He arrived in time for the show and sat on the side of the stage, on the floor, watching the entire show. Not every celebrity cameo will do this. It was also great to see how elated the other performers were when he complimented their bit or act.
The plan for Al was simple. At the end of Dr. Demento’s set, everyone came out to sing “Shaving Cream.” Dr. D needed some sort of accompaniment, and after asking everyone on stage if they could play, it seemed t
hat there was no hope. Then the one and only Weird Al Yankovic jumped out on stage in heroic fashion with his trusty accordion to save the day! He was greeted with a cry of surprise and joy from the crowd. We can say: “And the crowd went wild.”
Al had taken a picture of the gang backstage and held it, tweeting it 30 seconds before he went out on st
age. I laughed as the twitter feed responded with “what the?” then “OMG
Weird Al is on stage!” It was a delightful performance as Dr. Demento led everyone in a rendition of “Shaving Cream.” As with w00tstock tradition, it was one of a few “finales” for the show that night.
A confession: I had been lobbying for Garfunkel and Oates for a long time. So I was ecstatic when I heard they were in the show.
As a fan of their work, it was great to finally meet Mo and Jed- another couple of sweet, down to earth people. It was surprising to see how nervous Mo was. She was even surprised. Not to worry, their performance went off without a hitch. I almost had to kick out some folks who snuck backstage, until Mo vouched for them. This Fran Kranz guy… I dunno.
On a side note: Fran is supposed to be a part of another project I’ve worked on, JourneyQuest. www.journey-quest.com
I always enjoy w00tstock because I get to work with my friends. The first hour or so of the w00tstock reunion involves lots of hugs, catching up, and relaying new and old stories. It’s like the first day of school, without the school part.
I was fully entertained watching Hard n’ Phirm for the first time. It was one of those great performances. They had the chemistry of performing together many, many, times, but the enthusiasm and energy that comes with playing together after an extended break. So much fun.
Backstage at Largo has limited space. Adam says it’s his favorite space because it is such close quarters. I can see why, it creates this close knit group, producing unique and interesting conversations amongst performers and crew.
My one “fire” turned out to be something to laugh at later. Despite the fact it was a bit intense, it was crazy funny (after the fact) when Phirman missed his cue and I had to run through backstage, outside, upstairs into the practice room, swing open the door and cry “YOU’RE ON!” That was the only mishap during a show on this tour.
After LA, we took off for New York. I always wish we could bring everyone with us. Hopefully one day we will make this w00tstock a three day festival of sorts and we can all hang out in one place.
I am writing this on my flight down to Los Angeles to start the five city tour of w00tstock. This trip will be my first tour to cross the nation (from LA to New York) and I am excited to see what will happen. This job is one of my favorites. Every day I “work” on this show I feel so very lucky to be a part of a spectacular show. The talent and people brought together for each w00tstock continue to amaze me.
With that in mind, I created a list of what I am looking forward to:
Super awesome surprises in Los Angeles
Going to New York for the first time and performing at the Best Buy theater in Times Square
Mini-reunion with Enforcers on the East Coast
Working with Neil Gaiman (again!)
Meeting new and talented performers
There will certainly be many exciting adventures this week. I hope to report them all. For instant updates, follow me on twitter.
At long last my update from w00tstock San Francisco. I am preparing for the w00tstock tour coming up next week and with w00tstock on my mind it is time to write. The tour takes us to LA, New York, Boston, Austin and Dallas. The excitement for this trip continues to build as new and exciting surprises develop. I plan to update from the road, but we shall see. As a side note, it is unfortunate that “Boston” and “Austin” sound so much alike. I have had multiple instances of confusing the two.
San Francisco is a great city for a w00tstock. In fact, it is so great we had two sold out shows! I have many favorite memories from these shows.
I surprised Wil with a cardboard stand up Dalek. He hung out backstage with us for the first show and finally made it on the stage for the second. He was kind enough to fill the Finn spot, since our drummer Jason Finn (of Presidents of the United States of America fame) was not able to make the second show. Before introducing Wil to the Dalek, he was equipped with a sonic screwdriver. He was prepared as the Dalek ambushed him in the greenroom. Due to Wil’s quick reflexes the Dalek was quickly defeated and the greenroom hummus was safe once again.
Surprises such as the Dalek are part of our w00tstock tradition. In San Diego we surprised Paul and Storm with themed panties. What shall happen next week?
Friday morning a few of us drove out to the bombing range on the Mythbusters set. I have to say this was very cool. I continue to make fun of Wil for the fact he preferred to sleep in rather than see an explosion, but you know, that’s an everyday thing for him. Part of the fun of this trip was riding out of the city in a car with Paul, Storm and Phirman. These guys are hilarious and the car ride was quite entertaining. We joked back and forth and shared cool internet videos we had found. Thank god for iPhones.
Molly Lewis and her boyfriend Chris met us at the bombing range. (I just love typing “bombing range”). The explosion was on the smaller scale, but the excitement was being on the “set”. Recognizing the range from the show and laughing with friends.
Grant Imahara made a special robot for the show, the now famous beerbot. Thursday night was his premier and he walked on stage to much applause. Of course, it was Grant in costume. It was quite an ordeal trying to get beer bot to the stage. We picked up the costume that morning, a great excuse to see M7, and it had not been tested fully. We didn’t have much room to dress Grant backstage, and with his lack of mobility we needed to set him up as close to the stage as possible. I staged him in the hallway behind stage left. This was a great location to access the stairs and offered some set up space. Unfortunately, it was also the path to the kitchen for all the servers. Grant and the dressing crew did a fancy dance with the servers trying to suit up and not knock over plates of nachos passing by.
As we prepped for the show I measured the stairs and discovered beerbot’s “feet” were bigger than the steps and Grant would need to side step or tiptoe to get on stage. We compromised with a crew of us escorting him on stage. I ended up as back up so that he didn’t knock over the microphones and keyboard. Once on stage beerbot performed his intended task and opened a beer. Well, he tried to. The beer opening had never been tested and proved…difficult. With some assistance, beerbot succeeded to cheers from the crowd.
After beerbot’s first appearance, Grant went on stage in partial bot costume, to introduce Molly. His entrance was greeted with chanting from the audience, “BEERBOT! BEERBOT!” I don’t think Grant was expecting this. It is safe to say that beerbot was a success; another fun addition to the w00tstock list of surprise appearances.
I always enjoy watching w00tstock from the side of the stage. It has become a tradition to have the performers on the side of the stage watching. There is definitely and added element of entertainment when the group is in plain view. Their reactions are priceless. As Wil and Molly hold up special drawn pictures on their iPads while Paul and Storm perform (and try not to laugh) you can’t help but laugh along. Looking at the group of friends I get to work with was pretty amazing. I was standing there watching Paul and Storm perform next to Molly Lewis, Wil Wheaton, Adam Savage, Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, Bonnie Burton, Mike Phirman, and so many others. I love what I do and I can’t wait for new adventures next week.