Gone Daddy Gone

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Consumer Info, Podcast

Apologies to those that tried to view my blog recently. Thanks to a ridiculous failure by Go Daddy we were down from Thursday until this morning. We switched to a new hosting company on Sunday, thinking that we’d be able to use the regular back-ups my husband has to get the sites us and running. Alas, we discovered that whatever magic he uses to make this happen had a failure of its own, resulting in incomplete back-ups and no ability to get the site up until Go Daddy stepped up and did their job.

Both Chooch and I have given folks recommendations to use Go Daddy, and if you are one of those people RUN, DO NOT WALK to another company. This uncaring company SUCKED on customer service, and left us with no help, no fixes and pathetic response time.

We’ve switched to a company that our trusted friend, Paul Fischer, gave a glowing review. I now happily proclaim that Go Daddy can go frak themselves.

Chooch is working hard to get our other sites up. In our typical luck, we had an episode of Into the Blender ready since last Tuesday that we scheduled for release on Saturday in hopes of returning to a regular bi-weekly schedule. Hopefully that will be ready at some point this morning as well.

I also ask that imhosted be gentle and kind with us. We’ve been hurt before, and badly. It may take us some time to fully trust again, but we’re willing to try.

And since I now have this great song stuck in my head, allow me to share it with you.

Gone Daddy Gone by the Violent Femmes

Balticon 44 Part 3 (Final) – Sunday and Monday

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Convention Attendance, Dizzy, Friends, Podcast, Uncategorized

Sunday was an extremely rough day with dizziness, disorientation and migraine but in hindsight I’m lucky it was the only full day of it. Still, I missed a hell of a lot of amazing things and I can’t wait for all the recordings to hit the feeds.

Chooch slept in, so I headed out solo. I started the day right by grabbing lunch with P.G. and Christiana, again at Baja Fresh. We chatted about a variety of things and it was the kick-start I needed to get my brain energized and ready to tackle the day. I can neither confirm nor deny that there was plotting for Balticon 45.

I finally made it to the Dealer’s Room, sort of. I actually only made it to the Dragon Moon Press table, where the paparazzi was in full effect. In other words, a group of us were standing all in a group so pictures were snapped. Did I mention that I love my friends?

Sadly, farewells began again on Sunday, as Doug “Geek Acres” Rapson departed. I had missed the DS Breakfasts because I ended up on an opposite schedule, and found that we really didn’t have much time to catch up. I made a point of finding him in the lobby before he left and am very glad I did. Somewhere there are pictures, but I can’t find them right now on Flickr and I don’t have any in my sets 🙁

There were so many folks in the lobby, that I ended up spending quite a bit of time there chatting with folks and gathering more author signatures for the books we had picked up over the last year. It was at this time that I discovered my ability to summon J.R. Blackwell by simply tweeting her name! Sadly, this only appears to work while at Balticon since my subsequent attempts have failed.

Happily I was given a spot on the schedule to record an episode of my new podcast, Girls’ Rules. I took advantage of some of the amazing authors at the con by asking Philippa Ballantine, J.R. Blackwell, Christiana Ellis and Mur Lafferty to join me. Color me surprised, they all agreed! I was not feeling my best, but was energized by the panelists and the full audience. I found the discussion to fascinating as the women gave their different points of view and experiences as female authors and podcasters. Yes, I’m extremely biased but have gotten the same opinion from others. I was also encouraged by the support they gave the project and look forward to living up to their kind words. I haven’t posted it yet because the file we got from the official equipment was only two minutes long. Luckily, Chooch had recorded it with our H4N but he’s been working on improving the audio as much as possible before posting.

I completely fell apart shortly after the panel from relief, dizziness and then my brain just went *POOF*. I ended up grabbing dinner at Outback with Chooch, Jett, Helen, Patrick, P.G. and Zach. It was a great time and fascinating conversation, but I did have  some disorientation, confusion and fatigue. I was really having trouble following the conversation at times, and formulating responses. I was just keeping my mouth shut for the most part as my dear friends and husband knew something was up already, and I didn’t want to worry anyone.  I had resigned myself to napping as soon as possible, as that is one thing that sometimes gives relief. I bumped into Bruce Press and his AMAZING family, and let me just say that if any of them ever want to show you a picture of something they found in their hotel room you should RUN, not walk away.

Having a solid meal helped, so in spite of how I was feeling I went to the Grow Up New Media panel. I was curious to see how this panel went, as there was talk about it being very caustic towards podcasters that are supportive of new media productions regardless of their “quality”. I was intrigued by this because, if true, it didn’t seem to take the purely personal opinion of the podcaster in the hot seat into account. Who’s to judge that something I enjoy is “bad”? Chooch and I already only support podcasts and novels that we enjoy, and only minimally promote things purely out of friendship.

In I went braced for insults, and instead got hit in the face by logic I couldn’t really argue with from Evo Terra. And it was on the subject of the annual NaNoWriMo program. He pointed out that the point of NaNoWriMo is to see if you are able to write a novel, and questioned why someone that won would need to do NaNo again. If you have already proven you can, then just write another novel. Simple, right? I had been on a panel the day before discussing NaNo and my possible plans to do it again in the future. Add to that the fact that I haven’t even finished my first edits on the one I wrote last year, and I now have a lot to think about. Judge me all you want, the community support for NaNo participants is addictive and having a deadline with public accountability definitely helped to keep me motivated.

I hit rock bottom about halfway into the panel, and headed back to take a nap in our room. Chooch headed off to Living Proof, a meet-up with home brewers and ale connoisseurs held by Thomas “cmdln” Gidon and John Taylor Williams. This was one of the many conflicts for me over the weekend, because in spite of my dislike for beer of any kind I happen to genuinely adore Thomas and John. Sleep won out so I napped until eleven or so, and I’m really glad I did.

Chooch was staying at Living Proof longer than we had planned, so I headed over to Books and Braun solo. I still felt pretty disoriented and wandered around a bit in a daze before grabbing a seat. Pip and Tee were giving a hell of a good reading, and even popped the cork to celebrate their announcement of the publication of Books and Braun in 2011! It was going swimmingly until someone in the audience decided to grind the panel to a halt to make a phone call during their show to spread the news. Tee and Pip handled the interruption and resumed the fun. Congratulations to them both as they launch the book and also the newest phase of their relationship. I wish them every happiness that can be found in this world!

I returned to our room and P.G. had some folks gathered for a party. I talked Zach into coming in with me, and felt guilty for doing so as he immediately became the insult gauge for some “jokes”. Yes, I’m very protective of my friends and I wouldn’t have invited him in had I known that would be his greeting. After a brief time he headed out as he had originally planned since he had a very early flight, so we said our goodbyes.

The rest of the party was a lot of fun and I finally got to chat with some friends I really enjoy including Patrick and Brent, to name a few. I even got to meet even more amazing women, including Sheila Dee. If you don’t know who I mean, I’ll be describe her by saying that Evo Terra is lucky enough to be her husband. (She had introduced herself as Evo’s wife, and I told her we needed to shake that description up a bit). She is a real pleasure, and I’m glad we finally had a chance to get to know each other. I briefly chatted with author Gail Carriger, and am really looking forward to reading her highly acclaimed books. I also got to actually meet and chat with Starla Hutchton. I’d heard her name before as two friends had mentioned her beautiful singing voice, and she was also there at the pre-dawn concert Phil gave the night before in the hotel courtyard. As we talked I found out she also has a novel she has been podcasting and based solely on how much I enjoyed our chat, I’ve already added it to my listening pile. That’s saying something because I came out with a much shorter list than in either of the previous two years. After looking at her “Cast” page, I have no idea how I missed hearing about it, as I have several friends on the list as well as following several others’ projects.

The party grew, and the room ended up pretty packed. Since we were on the ground floor we spilled out onto the balcony and stairs. We again welcomed the sunrise in the company of friends, and then headed off to bed.

Favorite Moments:

  • Dave Slusher wearing his Prom King sash.
  • Becoming smitten with Starla’s new baby. Thank you, technology.

Defeats By Nature (Either mine or witnessed by me):

  • Guest Eating Shrub – I witnessed and assisted on the rescue.
  • Slippery Grass of Doom – I witnessed several after my own defeat.
  • Evil Day Star – Me, my roomies, and The Hobo.

Monday

Heartbreak. As awesome as Friday is with the joy of seeing old and new friends, is as crappy as Monday is with the departures of amazing people, most of whom you won’t see until next May.

Visiting in the lobby, that’s what it was all about for me. I didn’t make it anywhere else once I got there, as I was not only saying goodbyes, but also doing brief interviews with women for upcoming Girls’ Rules episodes. There are tons of photos in Flickr as people departed. After several hours, we finally headed out to grab a late lunch at Noodle & Co. with a quite large group.

I was feeling extremely sick, and it was my own fault. I hadn’t eaten anything other than 100 calorie snack bar since the night before and it was after 3 pm before we left the hotel to eat. Once fed, I noticed that Chooch and I weren’t the only ones hoping to extend the experience just a bit longer as folks lingered over their empty plates while chatting. More photos, and pretty much the only real chat time with Scott Philips, Nutty, and Nathan.

I was sad for those that I didn’t get to spend time with, but that’s unfortunately the nature of con attendance. While I was sad to say goodbye to everyone, I was excited to head home because our oldest son cleared his schedule to have dinner with us to celebrate his nineteenth birthday.

As was true after last years’ Balticon and Dragon*Con, as we pulled out of town it started raining. I’m still trying to remember when the rain actually started in 2008…

Favorite Moments:

  • Being pleasantly surprised by someone that I’m no longer very close with, even though it ended up just being fodder for insult by another. Lesson learned once and for all, as I’m now DONE with that endless source of negativity.
  • Holding hands with Baby Seidman, as she was nestled on Carrie’s shoulder.
  • Receiving a lovely purple wildflower that Elf Princess had picked.

Note: While I’ve decided to never take this much time to write a recap post, I have to admit it would have likely been twice as long had I remembered every special moment and genuinely fascinating encounter from the weekend. I want to thank everyone that I interacted with virtually and especially in person over the weekend, because that helped to shape my experience. Whether it was wonderful, unpleasant (yes, there were a few), awkward, inspirational or just a shy moment, I thank you.

Balticon 44 Part 2 – Saturday

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Convention Attendance, Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Dizzy, Friends, Podcast, Uncategorized

Saturday started rough for me, I was feeling pretty lousy and slept in past a breakfast as well as the first two of the three hours of the Master’s Audio Session with John Taylor Williams, Dan Sawyer and Arioch Morningstar that Chooch was moderating. I finally made it in for the last hour or so and found the conversation was waa-aaay over my head. I’m not surprised having missed the first two hours, but I loved seeing some of my favorite guys up there being all big-brained and what-not.

Afterward, we headed up to Heather’s room to meet with the cast of the Metamor City Live that was being recorded later in the day. There we found Heather, Marc Bailey, Kim Fortuner and Chris Lester running lines much to the amusement of Grailpup (Heather and Marc’s 13 month old son). He was fascinated as the reading went on, it was adorable.

We then returned to catch the rest of the New Media to Old panel with Phil Rossi, Bill DeSmedt, Nathan Lowell, Christiana Ellis and Brand Gamblin. The room was glistening with awesome, and I grabbed Bill for a signature and photo with Chooch. Bill DeSmedt is the author of Singularity, which is a fantastic novel dealing with intrigue, black holes and captivating characters. It’s tough to track down a copy as it’s out of print, but he has podcast it and his narration is fantastic! I met him last year, and while Chooch was a huge fan I had not listened yet. This year I went a bit fangirl because I loved it and his follow-up podcast explaining some of the more complex scientific concepts in Doctor Jack’s Soapbox Seminars.

Realizing we hadn’t eaten, we lucked into a trip to Baja Fresh with Christiana Ellis and Dave Slusher. These two peeps are the bee’s knees and while I did get some time with both of them, I left Balticon WANTING MORE! (Yes, I’m greedy.)

We hurried back to ensure that we would have seats for Jared Axelrod’s new podcast launch of “Fables of the Flying City”, and I’m so glad we did! I was really excited, because of not having been to a tea party of any sort since it involved a toy set and imaginary tea. Jared delivered a tea party that made up for that lapse. We were served tea of our choosing and dessert by a fabulously outfitted cast that included his wife J.R. Blackwell and friends Jennifer Rodgers and Russell Collins. Jennifer is an amazing artist, someone whose beautiful work I have followed and Russell is a brilliant composer. You may recall he wrote the “Aliens You Will Meet” theme and also the music for the new podcast of Jared’s. We were treated to a grand announcement of Jared’s publication in the fall of a graphic novel for the series he is now podcasting the prequel for.

At four p.m. was the NaNoWriMo for Noobs panel that I suggested. Chooch moderated for me again, as I was overtired and a bit nervous about taking the lead. We were joined by Mur Lafferty, P.G. Holyfield and Nathan Lowell. I had asked Zach Ricks to attend as I had wanted him on the panel but there was concern about the number of participants. I carefully chose for a balance of professional writers and non-writers, and those that had won or not won a NaNoWriMo challenge. In addition, nearly all on the panel had provided community sort in one way or another whether simply through Twitter support or via blog or podcast. I was thrilled to discover that Lee Budar-Danoff, a representatives from the Maryland NaNoWriMo group, had found the panel and joined us with some of her associates. They were able to provide more in-depth information about that and the Young Writer’s Program. Once the audio for this and the other panels I participated in is posted, I’ll link to it from my blog.

Our friend Pat, aka Fantastic Foe from our City of Heroes Podcast, invited us to a surprise birthday for his wife Lisa, so we headed to the Con Suite for the celebration. They very generously donated a huge cake for our new media party later that night. It was delicious and GREATLY appreciated! Happy Birthday to Lisa!

We then headed up for Chris Lester’s Metamor City Live reading, along with Chris, Heather Welliver, Philippa Ballantine, Gail Carriger (author of “Soulless” and “Changeless”), Dan Sawyer, Kim Fortuner, Marc “Grailwolf” Bailey. The story was brilliant and funny, and I was incredibly flattered to be included again this year. Luckily, my part was at the very beginning because I started feeling pretty damn sick about halfway through.

I faded pretty quickly, and hubby decided food would help so off we went to Noodle & Company. I’m a bit foggy on the details, but this may have been the trip that included Christiana, Rich and Susan along with a whole other crowd that was there when we arrived. I split off for a nap in the room, and ended up just resting and catching up with Patrick as he finally arrived and was getting ready for the book launch party.

Chooch and I then went to the book launch party for P.G. Holyfield, Patrick McLean and Nathan Lowell, but shortly thereafter Chooch went off to start grabbing gear for the concert at 9 pm.  I luckily got a seat even though I missed the first few minutes and was just in time to listen as they read from each others books. First, Nate read “The Vampire in My Attic” from Patrick’s book “Stories I Told Myself”. Then, P.G. read “The Old Dog” from the same book. Ironically, these were two of my favorites so I was tickled pink! Patrick then read a passage from Nate’s “Quarter Share” and Nate read a the first scene from P.G.’s “Murder at Avedon Hill”. It was absolutely riveting hearing these stories in the voices of the other authors. Each of them has a unique and masterful touch when narrating, and it was a real treat for all in the room. It seemed the authors felt the same way. Sadly, you will never hear this if you weren’t in the room, because they didn’t record the event.

After the book launch, it was FINALLY time to watch the Phil Rossi and the Awakening concert. Yes, I’m a fan of Phil’s music and would have attended either way, but Chooch had just joined the band and I was crazy excited to see my man play bass in a band for the first time. He was understandably feeling stress, as he had about a week and a half to learn all of the songs and because the concert was only the third time he had played with them. For some reason, the previous act went well into our time, so by the time they left the stage and the band was set up it was about half an hour late. Lookit, I admit that I’m biased, but I loved the music and thought they sounded great!

I was able to catch almost a half hour, but had to leave to start setting up for the new media party that Chooch and I were throwing. I was pretty pissed at the earlier band for taking so much time away from my enjoyment, but off I went with some of my Prom Committee members to set up. Many thanks to Bruce Press and Tim Dodge for breaking down the camcorder and bringing it to me at the party!

The folks that came and helped with the prom set-up were AMAZING. People had volunteered to help, and they really came and worked their asses off! There were so many that I thanked that night, but am afraid to list them here for fear of missing someone. I feel extremely grateful to have so many people that are willing to frantically pitch in to make the party a success, and we TRULY could not have done it without their help. In addition, about a week before the party after Chooch and I had sunk hundreds of dollars into it, we finally did as had been suggested and started a chip-in to help offset costs and to make sure we had food for everyone to enjoy. The huge amount of donations we received rejuvenated our efforts to make this the best possible party and off we went spending again! For the donors, you can look around the room and see the difference you made, and I thank you on behalf of the attendees as well as Chooch and myself!

The party was a success, and we crowned Dave Slusher as Prom King and Helen “Cynical Woman” Madden as Prom Queen as they came in first place in the costume contest. May their reign be long and geeky! There are MANY pictures from the prom in flickr from other folks, sadly I was too busy to take my camera out at all. My friend Dan Tabor of many cool things, including Geekadelphia, took these photos for me, before and during the party. Thanks again, Dan! But for the kindness of others, I wouldn’t even have a photo with Chooch in front of the Stargate portal that we quilted!

The party is pretty much a blur for me, other than having fantastic conversations with fascinating folks. I chatted for a good long time with Brad Smith from the Second Shift audio drama, and I knew he was my kind of people when he stopped talking mid-conversation to sing along with a Jonathan Coulton song that was playing.

As the party wound down, I again found myself blessed to have countless helpers assisting with the clean-up around 2 am. We donated the non-perishable items to the gamers next door, having already invited them to come through and eat what they like since we had so much food left over. Ensuring that the hotel staff would vacuum we were off to our own devices. Exhausted, but not ready for sleep yet because the adrenaline was still flowing we ended up laughing and chatting until the sun came up with a wild and fascinating variety of people. And yes, Phil Rossi treated those of us in the courtyard in the pre-dawn hours with a serenade with Starla Hutchton and Dan Sawyer singing along at times. We were all thrilled to discover that Dan Sawyer has the voice of an angel.

Favorite moments:
Brad Smith’s reaction to realizing I had just introduced him to the author of the Seanachai, Patrick McLean.
P.G.’s face during his book launch party. Happy P.G. was happy.
Mighty Mur Lafferty telling me that I am an author. (Still processing that.)
Seeing the joy on my husband’s face as he played bass.

Photos from Saturday only:

Balticon 44 Part 1 – Thursday and Friday

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Convention Attendance, Dizzy, Friends, Podcast

*phew* That was quite a week. After returning from Balticon it’s been hectic with preparations for my nephew’s high school graduation (a whole year early!) and our oldest son’s 19th birthday party. I finally got photos edited and posted on Sunday and am finally able to do my post about Balticon itself. There are so many people and amazing moments that there is no way to capture them all, so am doing a few highlights from each extremely full and fabulous day. Also, I’m writing these as journal entries for myself so this will be lengthy, but I’ll break it up into a few posts for sanity’s sake.

THURSDAY
Hubby worked from home on Thursday, while I busily ran last minute party preparation and packing. He then delivered our goldie Kaylee to her beloved kennel. After loading up our car Tetris-style to get everything we needed, it was clear that our car would burst if we put even a wafer thin item in there.

Disappointed that we didn’t actually get on the road until 6 pm, we still found a way to enjoy the drive. I spent a good portion catching up with my dear friend Heather Welliver on the phone, and the rest doing some plotting and planning for the weekend. Have I mentioned that Chooch has a wicked sense of humor? We had an extra giggle as we both realized that the last push out the door had us both forget our wedding rings. We joked about being unwed for the weekend, but let’s be honest about the fact that no one else makes my heart go pitter-pat like my man.

We arrived in record time, luckily having missed rush hour and getting the jump on Memorial Day travel traffic. We roomed once again with P.G. Holyfield and Patrick McLean, as we had such a wonderful time with them at Dragon*Con. Both Patricks are brilliant writers, so go buy their books immediately.

P.G. was kind enough to set down his drink and help us unload the car, and I ran to Greg and Carrie’s room to stash some party treats in their fridge. I was thrilled at this, because they have just had a daughter that I had yet to meet. I practically raced down the hall to see Carrie and babe, and was blown away by their beauty. I nommed baby toes and hugged on mama as we chatted and caught up. For you Apple fanboys, it was also my first sighting of an iPad in the wild.

I grabbed Chooch and P.G. for a visit with Carrie and the baby. That little beauty can throw down some fierce Kyoot Aggro so we spent some time there cooing over her before making it to the bar.

Ah, the bar. The drinks are subpar and overpriced, but this is the natural gathering place as people arrive. The sea of awesome is a blur, so I won’t try and name everyone I saw there as we hugged and got caught up with each other. Since most folks arrive on Friday it wasn’t a full-on glompfest as would be seen the next day. As the night progressed, we grabbed Christiana Ellis and headed back to our room for some Pandemic. To say we had a good time time would be a tremendous understatement as we encountered drinks, viral doom and spiders. We saved the world and headed to bed around 5 or 6 a.m. When it’s that late, specifics don’t really matter, do they?

Out Of Context Theater:
“Backgammon porn” – I believe Doc Coleman said this at the bar?
“It’s gonna eat me!” – Viv, after a spider sighting.
“Somebody give me a bikini so I can flip Viv off!” – P.G. while playing Pandemic

Twitter thread that amuses me:

Christiana – I have cured red and black. @vividmuse @choochus and @pgholyfield haven’t cured shit.
P.G. – @christianaellis I may not have cured anything, but I made you spit tostitos across the room.
Christiana – @PGHolyfield And onto your leg. I was TRYING to share! Ingrate.

I, of course, was giggling uncontrollably and contributed nothing.

I spoiled My Inner Child by…
…putting together a Tinkerbell puzzle with Elf Princess. She is delightful and sweet, and I love our playtime together.

Friday
Having no panels or any other need to get up early, we slept in. We grabbed food and headed out to get some last minute party supplies, since we figured Saturday would be crazy. In spite of rushing around, we sadly missed Chris Lester’s reading, but made it just in time for the 5:00 pm panels. The first of many difficult choices had to be made, as Mur Lafferty and P.G. Holyfield both had readings at the same time. We ended up splitting, with each of us going to one knowing that they would be recorded but still wishing we could be at both. P.G. did a reading from Murder at Avedon Hill, his recent release published from Dragon Moon Press. He ended it early to go to Mur’s, but by the time I got in there it had ended.

I got to spend some time very briefly with M.A. in PA and her new podcast partner Sara. As was true during previous Balticon weekends, I didn’t see much of M.A. and this year I saw even less of her. Luckily, we’ve had the opportunity to visit with each other previously this year, but it was something I definitely missed.

We grabbed dinner at Noodle & Company with P.G., Jett, Carrie, Greg and Baby and had a wonderful time as we chatted and gazed at the beautiful baby. Back to the hotel in time for Chooch’s Being a Parent in the World of New Media and Social Networking panel and while the conversation veered off topic a few times it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Chooch and I split up after that, as he attended Thomas “cmdln” Gideon’s FLOSS and Tech Geek BOF while I went to the scheduled J.R. Blackwell Reading. As had been hinted, Dr. Mercury made an appearance in J.R.’s place, and provided delicious entertainment. First an explanation of who she is, and then readings of exploits. Later, she kidnapped Mur Lafferty and forced her (against her will, naturally) to do readings including one from the collaboration between J.R. and Mur titled Her Side. It was one of the high points of the weekend for me, in that J.R. completely immersed herself in the Dr. Mercury persona to the delight of the entire audience. I had actually intended on slipping out a few minutes early to prepare for our show at 11 pm, but was unable to tear myself away until after Dr. Mercury exited.

We had invited our friends Christiana Ellis, cmdln and P.G. Holyfield to our Into The Blender Live recording to discuss movies, and I can’t speak for anyone else but I greatly enjoyed our chat. I was going to moderate the discussion, but passed my notes to Chooch when I started feeling under the weather. I could feel … it’s hard to explain what it feels like, but almost a jittery twitch in my jaw when the stutter is starting up. I also felt a little disoriented, but after I sat back and took a break from the conversation I felt a bit better. Chooch knew this was possible and took over, so I’m hoping it wasn’t obvious. We had a great crowd, many familiar faces and some new ones which is always a pleasant surprise. The audience participation was fantastic, which we had worried about with our family-friendly show at 11:00 pm.

Afterward, we hung some signs announcing our “Geek Prom” new media party that Jett Micheyl kindly made for us along with Thomas. We ended up in the bar since there were so many more folks that had just arrived that day. I met folks I only knew from Twitter, and glomped many friends that I rarely get to see. FYI, Chris Lester gives AMAZING hugs.

We closed the bar and finally made our way to our room with some friends including Susan, Rich, and Dave Slusher. I think Chooch and I got to sleep around 3 in the morning. That was our only early night, and it was tough to pull away from them but forced ourselves because Chooch had an early panel and I was fearful of not getting enough rest and being even more sick the next day. It was especially tough because I don’t get to see P.G., Rich and Susan NEARLY as much as I would like. And Dave Slusher is someone that I met VERY briefly at last Balticon, spent a bit more time with at Dragon*Con and finally got to really chat with him during this weekend. He is a fantastic and dynamic person, with a truly generous and nurturing spirit.

Out Of Context Theater:
From me: From @pgholyfield: “I’ll pull it out at the reading.” *
“It’s the wood that I like” -Keetara

*He was talking about untucking his shirt, but I thought he’d get more attendees if I left that fact out. On a related note, his reading was packed. 😉

My Balticon flickr stream is viewable below and includes photos from the entire weekend.

What I Learned Today

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Friends, Music, Podcast

It is a long standing joke between Chooch and I that I have a technology destroying aura (TDA). It was with understandable trepidation that I went about the steps necessary to post the second episode of my new podcast, Girls’ Rules. Now, I have done editing for well over a year on our other podcasts, but have only started learning all the other production pieces with this new project. I am striving towards being able to confidently do the full production myself, and while I’m making great strides I had yet to do it all by myself without Chooch.

I decided the best thing to do was to charge forward while he was at work so that I would be unable to lean on him. Full disclosure – I did call him twice, but happily did all the steps myself including posting it to my site and to iTunes. Still nervous, I sent M.A. in PA a direct message in the hopes that she could error check the episode for me. The site post was fine, but the iTunes post was a two minute truncated song instead of my one hour+ long episode. For some reason, I was completely unable to see the episode on iTunes at all, but was unable to find an error with the posting I made. Being clueless on how to fix the problem, I just let it sit until Chooch got home. I was greatly relieved by what he discovered, as it was something that neither of us could have anticipated.

The error occurred because of a link I included in the lengthy show notes. It was to my favorite song of Heather Welliver’s with The Shillas, called Faithful. For whatever reason, iTunes grabbed her song instead of the podcast, and Chooch confirmed this was happening with a test post.  I’m happy to say that through my TDA, we now know not to link to .mp3 files as part of a wordpress with podpress post. Yay for learning new things!

I have happily linked to it above, so NYAH NYAH, iTunes!

All Hail Balticon!

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Convention Attendance, Podcast

Balticon is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention held annually over Memorial Day weekend in the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland. This will be my third year in attendance, and my second as a participant.

Besides attending countless other fascinating events, I will be participating in the following:

Into The Blender Live! -Friday at 11 pm in the Chesapeake
Come join Chooch and I as we do a live recording of our blended family podcast. Last year’s live recording included a discussion on family gaming.

NaNoWriMo for Noobs – Saturday at 3 pm in the Chesapeake
This discussion includes prior National Novel Writing Month participants P.G. Holyfield, Mur Lafferty, Nathan Lowell, Chooch and myself. Come and learn what it is, and how panelists either won or lost.

Live Metamor City – Saturday at 5 pm in the Chesapeake
Attend a live recording of a new story by Chris Lester in his Parsec winning story series, Metamor City.

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Prom, aka the Balticon New Media Party – Saturday at 11 pm in the Derby
Join Chooch and I as we again host the New Media Party and costume contest. Light refreshments will be served and costumes are not required to attend. Tee Morris will DJ, Podcasting’s Rich Sigfrit will be the Master of Ceremonies, and Phil Rossi will perform an acoustic set after the costume contest judging.  Judging for the costume contest is expected to start at 11:30 pm.

Girls’ Rules Live! – Sunday at 4 pm in the Chesapeake
My all-female podcast be recorded live with a very distinguished panel of published authors: Philippa Ballantine, J. R. Blackwell, Christiana Ellis, and Mighty Mur Lafferty. M.A. in PA and Jett Micheyl will also be there.

There are so many talented and magnificent people that participate, I highly recommend this convention to any that have a of sci-fi/fantasy interests, and especially those with a love for new media. By all accounts, this is the best gathering of those producing podcasts and/or podcasting their written works.

Please say hello, and I apologize in advance for my shyness 😛

Farpoint 2010

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Convention Attendance, Dizzy, Knitting, Podcast, Twitter/Facebook

Chooch and I treated each other to Farpoint attendance this year as our Valentine’s Day gifts. Yes, it was waaaaay more than we normally spend for this corporate holiday, but due to the double blizzard whammy and extreme cabin fever we couldn’t resist the lure of friends and stars all gathered together into one big awesome pile of humanity.

Our last minute issue was whether or not the replacement wires for my heart monitor would arrive on Friday so we could leave early on Saturday to get our money’s worth out of the con. It’s not a cheap one at a door price of $75 for the weekend, plus the sharing of room costs with our dear friend Thomas, aka The Command Line. The package arrived on Friday, Hooray for Baldrick! *ahem* Sorry, Chooch has been playing his dvd set “The Black Adder” as our new lullaby as a break from “Seinfeld”.

We got there, and immediately walked right into our friends and luckily in time for Command Line’s panel which included some other friends, Marc Bailey (aka Grailwolf), Nobilis, and Paul Fischer. I was sad that his amazing wife and daughter could not attend due to illness but glad for the time with Paul. My bestie, M.A. in PA, and her hubby Dan Tabor arrived during the panel. It was also attended by our besties Heather Welliver and Grailpup, who are Marc Bailey’s wife and son (for those unfortunate enough not to know who they are).

We attended the Q&A discussion by Felicia Day, and she was as charming and adorable as ever. I had a question I wanted to ask her, but was having some of my health issues and decided against it as I didn’t want to end up stuttering and stumbling while speaking. There were many fantastic questions, and she was extremely entertaining. More later on this fey creature.

Dinner at Bertucci’s with Command Line, MAinPA, Dan, Chooch and myself and we were later joined by Paul Fischer. It was a delightful meal, primarily because of the company. Yes, the food was good but the conversations we have would make any meal enjoyable.

We attended the Masquerade, which was a first for Chooch and I at any con. We intended on staying only for the beginning, which our friends (Fantastic Foe, aka @patman23 on Twitter along with his beautiful wife Lisa and their endearing daughter ‘G’) would be in but ended up staying through a good portion simply because the costumes were so amazing! Our friends were actually there during the entire Masquerade, serving as The Ninjas that were assisting the participants with getting off stage and they even did an adorable but brief performance when they were introduced! They were fantastic and I’m really glad they lured us there with their presence. We left the Masquerade to take some pix of our friends and ended up wandering a bit and making our way back down to the Masquerade in time to see the most exciting auction of the night!

While waiting for the judges to determine the winners, an auction was held to raise funds for Vietnam Veterans of America. The previous two years had earned $3,000 each and the auctioneer was hoping to match or beat that. The real excitement came during the bidding for the coveted ‘Lunch with Felicia Day’ which had a proxy bid was $300.  As Thomas, Chooch and I watched in amazement the bidding continued and finally was won at $5,000! It was amazing to see, especially as Ms. Day was obviously blown away by the amounts being bid for, as she reminded the bidders, ‘just lunch’. She was blushing adorably, but occasionally vamped a bit in an effort to raise the bidding. The gentleman that won the auction was the subject of tweets and conversation for the rest of the weekend. Well done for a wonderful cause!

Afterward, Chooch, Thomas and I luckily were unable to find seating at the hotel bar. I say luckily, because we headed into the dining room instead and ran into a table filled with hawesome (Grailwolf, Heather, Grailpup, Laura Burns, John Cmar and Helen Madden) and joined them. We ended up staying for several hours having a raucous good time. We even experienced the debut of The Green Boner, much to our horror. Laura showed me some of her favorite knitting sites and books, which was a boon for this knitting noob! When actor Lee Arenberg walked through the restaurant we made eye contact and he said hello. He’s officially now my homeboy, right?!?  A few drinks and countless giggles later we split off and headed back to our hotel for an exciting adventure in parking in a snow-filled lot.

Next day found us at breakfast at the hotel restaurant, and I was anxious to get in line for the Felicia Day signing opportunity. When we met her, I was able to ask my question about resources for fun/funky/geeky knitting projects but having put her on the spot she was unable to think of any. It was otherwise a wonderful chat, and we were able to get a better picture with her than we got at Dragon*Con.  As we talked, she said she remembered our conversation back then so am assuming that we are now BFF’s.  I’m relieved to report that I didn’t embarrass myself as much as I did at D*C, when I ‘fangirled’ all over the place. Lookit, I’m growing! We also got a copy of Season 2 of The Guild signed, but there were no copies of Season 3 available yet, sadly.

We visited the Dealer Room, and made some purchases. I was thrilled to discover cartoonist Kevin Bolk and his hilarious comics “Watchbabies” (if the Watchmen were babies), “I’m My Own Mascot”, and “Wookie-Ookies” (Star Wars done with babies). All are creative, intelligent and beautifully done so I bought those items and Mr. Bolk was kind enough to sign them for us. I love finding unexpected new things such as this, and it made the trip through the Dealer Room well worth the time invested.

We later lined up to meet Lee Arenberg. He was delightful and it was a real pleasure to chat with him. We talked about all manner of topics, and he was charming and a truly fun guy! I was sad later when I realized that I forgot to mention our BFF moment in the restaurant the night before. He even gave me his email address to send him a link to our podcast, due to his interest in the topic of blended families. Score!

Our other sightings included Mira Furlan and Sam Witwer. I didn’t recognize the latter when he got on and then off our elevator and then got back off when he realized when we were going up rather than down. He only registered as being ‘teh cexce’ to me at that time, which he definitely is! Ms. Furlan was also there and while I spotted her several times, I didn’t get to meet her.

We caught the tail end of Command Line’s panel Copyright or Copywrong with Steve Wilson and Marc Okrand. I wish we could have met them as well, but they both bolted off in different directions after the panel. We grabbed Thomas, M.A., and Dan and headed out for a tasty lunch at Baja Fresh and returned in time for Dan’s interview with Ms. Day for his wonderfully written blog series on Geekadelphia. I cannot wait to read it, as he was very happy with the interview itself! Dan the Fan? Piffle. Dan the MAN!

Many enjoyable hours in the atrium were spent with friends between panels, events and meals. Laura brought in her case of packed full of BPAL and her knitting and I was very envious of both. Later I got another quick knitting lesson from M.A., this time on purling. Turns out my previous attempts were correct, but I needed M.A. to guide me through it anyways.  All the time spent with friends between other events truly made the weekend even more special. We returned home exhausted but exhilarated with our filled heart containers.

The End of CoHPodcast

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Podcast

Chooch released the first episode of CoHPodcast in October of 2007. He was doing this as a solo podcast, essentially because I was being a big chicken. After a few episodes, I joined the podcast and around that same time we also started the Into the Blender podcast.

At the time, we were playing several times a week and were very much addicted to the game. We have always considered ourselves casual players, since we enjoyed playing through the content rather than the min/maxing and hardcore studying of stats in order to squeeze out every bit of effectiveness from our toon possible. I have great respect for those players that find enjoyment in this aspect, I’m just not one of them.  My preference is to grab a toon and jump into the fray with my healing, tanking or damage dealing.

Since then, our lives have become more complex through several different changes. I would credit podcasting itself with the greatest change, expanding our circle of friends and therefore the number of social engagements that we attend. We continued the podcast with our regular schedule until some other issues came into play.

Last year, we considered ending the podcast due to time constraints and guilt at our irregular podcast release schedule. We discussed it at length, sometimes quite passionately. We decided to continue for only one reason: the community. We were literally unable to walk away from the amazing people that we had found through the podcast. We decided to eliminate one aspect that we adored, the feedback segment, in an effort to continue the podcast by lessening the time investment necessary as we found that approximately half of the episode length was relaying the various forms of feedback we had received. Also, this started to feel like a ‘pat ourselves on the back’ segment and although we had it at the end to allow folks to skip it without penalty, it still seemed self-congratulatory since they were overwhelmingly flattering.

We were still unable to keep the schedule, and even our City of Heroes playtime dwindled. I really believe that the lack of time in game led to our reluctance to put out podcasts on a game we were no longer playing on any regular schedule. We started to feel like frauds, but decided to continue because we could at least relay the news items for our listeners.

We finally decided to end the podcast in the fall of last year. We felt we could not end it until we released the long-promised Transcendence Trial vidcast, so we went to work putting that together. We didn’t realize the time investment, so that took longer to release than planned but we finally got it out thanks to the help of friends.  The only thing left was to record the last episode. To be honest, we dragged our feet on this, again because we so love the community. While sitting in front of the mic, I suggested we finally do the blooper episode we had been talking about for ages. And maybe give the listeners one last opportunity to give feedback, if they are so inclined.

So it’s done. Episode 50 (Ding!) is recorded and in the wild. We really like that our 50th episode is our last, as it’s currently the highest level attainable in the game. Our end-game content will be at least one more episode, and also anything we find in the future that would be of interest to our gaming-minded listeners will be dropped into the feed. This will include coverage of any gaming panels we attend at upcoming cons.

Feel free to comment at the website, in iTunes, via email to cohpodcast@gmail.com or by voicemail at the Into the Blender number – (413) 669-4720. We have no idea how long it will take to cull through the fifty-plus episodes (including special episodes) to pull out bloopers, and post it to the feed. I think I’ll steal from the CoH devs for this estimate.  Soon™.

Good hunting, Heroes!