Couple of Thoughts This Halloween

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Fibromyalgia, Games, Health, Too Long For Twitter

 

First thought:

I again surveyed my blog land, and I have about 60 draft pieces that I’m trying to edit to post. With my neurological and physical health issues, I struggle immensely to get the wording right before a migraine hits or dizziness/nausea forces me to leave the computer screen.

My goal will be to post at least one a week and CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED:

  • I am lowering my self-editing in order to get the thoughts out before I lose them. This blog has turned into more of an online journal than originally intended;
  • I need to keep posting to the outside world to stop feeling so isolated from it. Personal in nature and likely emo at times;
  • There will likely be multiple and unrelated topics within one post. I ache for brevity;
  • If you’ve not had a comment approved here before, I have to Allow it to be visible on my page. I don’t gather lists or info to sell or use either nefariously or for the Greater Good. (Morally and also, “Rawr!”);
  • My site, my rules.

Second thought, which I also posted in Twitter and Facebook:

Dunno where, but I may do an chat as a movie/game lover w/limiting health issues. Do Creators even realize when they deny their loyal fans?

I’m planning on something super short and solo, since I can’t wrangle moderating the discussion and/or Google+ Hangout, which is where I’d do it.

On this subject, please direct responses to me at VivMuse@gmail.com, as my hope is to maintain privacy and no spoilers for what the episode may contain. I’ll likely include your suggestions/thoughts/experiences.

I’m really just wanting to get the word out there, since I’ve only seen one Creator in my social media circles offer up something with folks with vision and other accessibility limitations in mind. I find myself bringing it up (likely too often) on SpecFicMedia.com Presents: Consumption ‘Cast, which is a weekly attempt to join hubby Chooch and friends P.G. Holyfield and Christiana Ellis. Last night it occurred to me that Creators, especially of visual mediums, might like a few experiences to help widen their audience of prospective future fans.

(If I get my IT guy in to help with the running of the show, I’ll consider guests, too and other than those in my dream cast, responses VIA EMAIL will be first considered, if and when I do this project.)

Related thought:

The Creator thinking outside of the box by designing a game with Accessibility in mind is the very talented musician and game designer, Russell Collins. His successful Kickstarter for his game, “Tears of a Machine.

I backed it and I’m hoping to do a review after I play with some friends (possibly recorded for posting). I’m so very excited to try it, as J.R. Blackwell and Jennifer Rogers are also a part of the project and I’ve LONG been fans of theirs. Check it out!

Third thought:

 Happy Halloween!

May your fun be safe but skurrrry! Our Housies are all sick/just getting better, so healing vibes, prayers, or sacrificial meatballs to the SMitS would be greatly appreciated. It’s a super fun night in our home, and I’d hate  for our Wee Housies to miss out on any planned fun.

Wee Housies' Halloween excitement = each of my departures via garage until it comes down, since it is now the perfect hiding spot for real spiders.
Related Thought:

I’m linking to a segment on The Daily Show with a fave new comedic actress of mine Kristen Schaal. I loved her on Wilfred and 30 Rock, AND she does/did voice work for many of my fave animated movies/TV shows, like Gravity Falls (voice of Mabel, my spirit animal) and Adventure Time.

In the segment I link to (WARNING: NSFW or with kids in the room unless you want to spend some time explaining the whats and whys of a vagina costume.), she chimes in on the annual sexy-female Halloween costume debate and presents THE best sexual female costume EVAR. It went up for auction later to benefit a charity, so if you just want to see the picture and skip the interview you can do so by clicky THIS linky.

Yes, I wanted to own it. No, I wouldn’t have ever worn it out in public, tempting as it would be…

Fourth thought: 

If I am able to type coherently tomorrow, you’ll learn one of the reasons why 2013 is Lucky ’13 for me.

 

Hectic Silence

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Family, Health, Household

Apologies for the sporadic posting here, in Twitter, and in Facebook. We have so many things going on right now that it’s been hard to maintain contact as we’re in constant motion.

The house is still on the market, as the Open House yielded no offers. Nor have any of those that have viewed it before and after. We’re still waiting it out, and hoping it sells sooner rather than later, but it’s not encouraging.

There has been a lot of activity with Chooch’s band, Ditched by Kate, as they have been playing shows and are preparing for a fierce throwdown at Balticon on May 28th at 7:00 pm in the Garden Room.

We’re also really excited about their EP Launch Party on Tuesday, May 31st at Jammin Java in Vienna. There will be three other acts performing, and as soon as I know their performance time it will be posted on the official Ditched by Kate site. If you are unable to attend either show, we will be posting information on how to order the Stumble EP very soon.

In other news, I’m fulfilling button orders for Balticon and if you are interested in purchasing some custom buttons with either your design or a design that we create for you, please take a look at my fledgling business, Vivid Muse Creations, LLC.

As for non-business stuff, I’m excitedly planning out the summer visit for my youngest son, LT. It’s a bit chaotic with the house on the market, but we will have a wonderful time!

I’m having some issues with running after the Komen 5k, as the final hill has caused me continuing knee pain. That partnered with my flared up back pain (manageable) and some pulled muscles in my ribs have finally forced me to take a short break from running in the hopes of not doing long-term damage. It’s just fast-paced walking for me now, but I’ll be pulling out my bike this week as well. I’ve been afraid of riding it in case I get dizzy on it, but I won’t know until I get on it. With padding and helmet to protect me, I’m going to give it a try. I promise if I fall to take pix of the boo-boo’s and have a hilarious telling of it here.

I’m really bummed, because I signed up for an 8k for next Saturday, thanks to a $10 registration fee through Groupon, but I’m now thinking I won’t be able to even attempt it, let alone finish it. If I’m lucky and rest up and can restart my training, then the 10k in mid-June is still possible.

We are having great fun watching George R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” series on HBO every Sunday night, and we hop on Skype with friends P.G. Holyfield, Christiana Ellis and Nuchtchas (Nutty) Nimlas on Monday nights to record our Beyond the Wall Podcast. We discuss the series, the books and it is always a lot of fun. I’m grateful the P.G. is bearing the brunt of the production work, as he’s doing a wonderful job and I’m very proud to be a part of it. He just created a promo for it from outtakes that shows how much fun we have, but I think it’s likely NSFW or kids.

We’ve sadly had little to no time for gaming. I’m having increased difficulty as I almost always end up extremely dizzy and nauseous during a gaming session and usually end up with a migraine. We treasure the time with our long-time gaming friends and I’m refusing to let that stop me. I’m learning some tricks to minimize it and will keep trying new ones.

On a teensy note, I willingly tried asparagus and portabello mushrooms last night and they were delicious in the pasta dish our dear friend Jenn made. I’m tentatively branching out as I am continuing my quest for healthier foods that may or may not make my pee smell funny.

Pulp Fiction (94)

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: AFI's Top 100 Movies, Movies

In spite of my usual aversion to splattery violence, I have loved this movie since I first saw it oh-so-many years ago. Chooch and I watched it last week with our nineteen year old son, and it was his first viewing. He was sitting at a location that allowed us to see his reactions to the many shocking scenes, and it was entertaining to behold.

There are many extremely talented actors in the film, and one or two popular actors that in my opinion don’t typically stretch their acting muscles beyond their usual character type. Somehow, Tarantino was able to pull amazing performances out of each of them as well. Makes me wonder if I would like Tom Cruise in a Tarantino film…?

Pulp Fiction is an amazing film that I’ve seen several times, however seeing my son’s reactions to the more surprising scenes, like the mess Vincent makes of the backseat of the car and the adrenaline shot given to Mrs. Wallace, made it seem like watching it for the first time again.

As an aside, I do love Tim Roth so very much, and will watch him in anything. Yes, that includes the weird veiny creature he was turned into in the latest Hulk movie. And in my dreams he calls *me* honey bunny.

This is a movie I will watch again and again, because the human story interwoven makes the gore and violence seem less graphic somehow. It is an exception to my usual low tolerance for violence, and it absolutely belongs on the AFI list. I need to peek at Christiana and Mike’s updated list to see how it compares for me in their ranking, but I plan on waiting until watching the movie in spot number 91 on the list, and every tenth movie after that.

Next up is French Connection, which has arrived from Netflix. I’ll be waiting for hubby to watch it with me, so it may not be viewed until the coming weekend. I’ve never seen it, but have of course heard of it. Other than an epic car chase, I don’t know anything else. And I’m fuzzy on whether or not there’s actually a car chase.

Ben Hur (100), Toy Story (99) and Yankee Doodle Dandy (98)

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: AFI's Top 100 Movies, Chooch, Movies

As I mentioned in a previous post, Chooch and I are following behind Christiana Ellis and Mike Meitin in their quest to watch all 100 of the AFI Top 100 Movies.

We use Netflix, with Chooch and I each having our own queue. It’s worked beautifully, and we always have something wonderful waiting for us. It’s very rare that something comes for one that the other doesn’t want to watch, but it does happen.

Since I was inspired to finally watch these by Christiana and Mike’s new podcast series, I decided to take the hit on my Netflix queue for whatever we don’t already own, and while updating my Netflix queue I made the following discoveries:

  • I’ve already seen 47 of the top 100. We’ve decided to re-watch them, to decide if we agree with the ranking.
  • The Color Purple is not on the list. I’m sure people will disagree, but I’m extremely disappointed.
  • Little Big Man is another shocking admission from the list.
  • The Godfather, Parts I (#2) and II (#32) are both on the list. I completely agree with Part I, but I have to wonder about Part II. Especially with the two movies I listed above being absent. It’s not that it wasn’t good, I just don’t remember it being SO good that it merits being on the list. I’ll revisit this item when I view it again.
  • I’m very excited to finally see some of the movies that Hollywood legends starred in. I’ve never seen a Buster Keaton movie, nor an entire Charlie Chaplin or Marx Brothers’ film. Many of the movies caused me to squee as I added them, because I’m excited to finally have an excuse to watch them.

On to my thoughts on the first three that we’ve viewed.

#100 – Ben Hur
This was my first viewing, and the first thing I’ll admit is that I had no clue how entrenched it is in the story of Christ. The lives of Jesus Christ and Judah Ben Hur intersect at a few points, and many events in Judah’s life are put into motion because of Christ. At one of their meetings, I began to wonder if the tiny seedling of inspiration for the Forrest Gump concept started here. This is a very long 212 minute movie. By that I mean it seemed like it took a lot longer than 212 minutes to watch. I loved the grandness of the film and some elements of the story truly moved me. While I can see how this was a ground-breaking movie in 1959, it is not a movie I plan on ever watching again.

#99 – Toy Story
No big surprise, but I’ve viewed this movie dozens of times. I saw it in the theater when it was released, and have watched it when my kids played it at home. I really do love this movie, and like many of my generation and younger, I can recite whole sections of dialog. I did learn one new thing, which was that Joss Whedon was one of the folks that wrote the screenplay.

#98 – Yankee Doodle Dandy
I hadn’t seen and knew nothing about this movie, other than that my friend Leslie LOVES it. While there were some very touching points in the movie, in general I was underwhelmed. I even questioned why it was on the list since I could think of a few musicals that are better (in my opinion) that are NOT on the list.

I was pretty annoyed, so hit up Wikipedia for some background and discovered that it is based on a real person, George M. Cohan. I had assumed that the famous songs were born in this musical, but learned that he wrote them, including  “Over There”, “Give My Regards to Broadway,” and “The Yankee Doodle Boy.” The same article states “he is considered the father of American musical comedy”. Those things, coupled with what must have been a grand production in 1942 made me understand why this film was so important. While I don’t plan any additional viewings (Sorry, Leslie), I certainly understand it’s existence on the list.

My favorite line from the movie occurs upon the birth of George M. Cohan when his Irish father announces “He’s crying with a brogue!”.

I apologize if I’m re-hashing anything Christiana and Mike already mentioned. I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I want to post my thoughts before or after listening to their coverage, so have not listened yet.

Next up, Bladerunner!

One Hundred Movies, Finally

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: AFI's Top 100 Movies, Chooch, Movies

I’m happy to report that I’ve finally started watching the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Movies, and I owe my thanks to Christiana Ellis. Chooch and I have talked about going through the list before but we never actually started. Now that Christiana has started her new podcast endeavor, Watching 100 Movies, we’ve finally gotten started.

Christiana and her usual partner in media consumption discussions, Mike Meitin, have already released three episodes discussing the first six films (numbers 100 through 95). We are behind their schedule, but have now gotten our Netflix queue in order to hopefully catch up, but at least follow along. We’ve watched 100 – 98, and I thought I’d give short posts on my thoughts of the movies. I’m hoping this will keep me from getting too far behind, or from stopping when a cluster of unappealing movies are next. There, now I have accountability.

My next post will be about the first three movies on the list. Before that, I thought I’d briefly tell you about my movie tastes.

  • I love movies, especially in the theater. I think the suspension of any interruption to be almost necessary for immersion into the world that I’m watching, except for the most exceptional films.
  • I will see anything and everything starring Kevin Spacey, Audrey Hepburn, Johnny Depp, Sandra Bullock and Denzel Washington. I’m sure there are others, but these are the first that come to mind.
  • I love some musicals, including “West Side Story”, “My Fair Lady”, “Moulin Rouge” and “Sunday in the Park with George”.
  • I find war movies, all of them, particularly difficult to watch. While I’m not a pacifist, I do have great difficulty watching mass numbers of humanity get blown to pieces. Empathy/sympathy/whatever overwhelms me and so it is extremely rare that I’m able to get past that to enjoyment.
  • This same issue is why I have trouble with some other films, such as “Meet The Fockers”, “Falling Down” and “Pursuit of Happyness”. I never finished watching any of these. In fact, since the standard theme in Ben Stiller movies is for terrible thing after terrible thing to happen in a ridiculously long string of unlucky events, I also tend to avoid his movies. I find that the continual beating down of a character unenjoyable, even when I know that eventually the tide will likely turn to his or her favor.
  • That said, I have a particular love of dramas. When a film or actor’s performance is able to reach out and touch my soul in a resonating way? Heavenly, even if I’m sobbing.

Expect a post sometime this week on films 100 (Ben Hur), 99 (Toy Story), and 98 (Yankee Doodle Dandy).

Thanks to Christiana and Mike for motivating us to finally watch all these movies!

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.

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 😛