Dragon*Con 2014

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Friends, Too Long For Twitter

Note: There were so many tears, hugs and things happened that the trip is a haze, other than overwhelming and unending kindness, that I am literally relying on photos, as is true for all of August and most of September. I’m trying to make my way through it, so bear with me as I will be editing as I am better able to fill in my timeline.

The Original Plan

Earlier this year, after Chooch, P.G. and I decided again against attending Dragon*Con this year and planned instead to spend a frugal and fun weekend together again, and planned for all (as possible) future Labor Day weekends, whether we could swing Dragon*Con or not. Same as Balticon would forever be our “home con(vention). Roomies for Life and all that.

We knew we could re-consider, same as he had the year before, possibly making the drive to Hotlanta if we made the coveted “Short List” of actual nominees for the Parsec Awards.

Then P.G. was feeling sick in July.

Somewhere around there we found out we made had indeed made the short list for both our P.G.-created podcasts, SpecFicMedia.com Presents: Beyond the Wall, A Game of Thrones Podcast, as well as SFM.com Presents: Consumption (discussing all entertainment media we were consuming).

Obviously, Dragon*Con was the last thing on our mind, so when doing our battle planning for his fight against cancer, which included physical and emotional support, we included in our plans a cathartic and community-building opportunity. Blogs, video podcasts, Kickstarter, books, music, games, everything was possible when you had so little to lose.

And then, before it could even sink in that he had cancer – OUR Patrick?!?! Are you fucking KIDDING me?!?! – and *poof* he was gone.

We were then asked by many friends and peers and members of P.G’s family to please go and honor him at Dragon*Con. And while not having any desire to be drenched in sadness, but in desperate need of seeing people that understood better what the Con Family loss actually was. People that understood how we were feeling, in the weird no-family-land of our Con Family, and they would be there. They said they had hugs awaiting us. If you know me, I can’t resist a hug. Especially in days like these.

The Revised Plan
So, we  plotted it out. Originally, Kim, Chooch and I were to drive there on Sunday, attend the Parsec Awards, possibly stay for dinner with friends and drive home the same night.

The Again Revised Plan
Learning of the fundraising tribute event Scott Sigler and AB Kovacs were planning for P.G. at Dragon Con in the Hilton Hotel bar on Saturday is what got Chooch and I to Atlanta and Dragon*Con a full day earlier than planned, with the tremendous kindnesses and free beds, thanks to the Cosmically Sainted folks at Cosmoquest, which is what gave us the ability to make the long trek on no sleep and adrenaline long run out. Pamela Gay and her esteemed peers and staff are the very best of people.

The Event
Mr. Sigler spoke of P.G. Holyfield in a way that would have had him gruffly mumbling a self-deprecating comment and pointing out someone else as being more deserving. Because that’s how P.G. rolled. Always humble about how awesome he was to oh, so very many of us. I have proof in my inbox of just how awesome that an impact he had on folks, so much so that I’m struggling to pull it all together in time for the memorial weekend, planned October 11th and 12th, right around the corner.

One of the best parts was the “surprise” that Ms. Kovacs planned for Sigler with — a surprise gathering inspired of costumed fans of his galactic football book series, “The Rookie,” which I know someone will correct if I got details wrong.

The Result
People came in lovingly hand made, full galactic football league costumes, and many faces I feared seeing grief on were wearing costumes that made the whole thing even more surreal. But it was immensely easier for me to see their pain and hold their hands until we both felt better.

Some that came for that portion, knew Patrick and some didn’t, but they lifted a drink anyways, as Scott Sigler commanded.

His challenge was to make an additional donation based on how many showed up to toast in tribute* to the Patrick G. Holyfield Children’s Trust. He donated $5 per Toaster (not Cylon, the people that lifted a glass.) and $6 if they wore a hat like PG’s, which was a signature look for Patrick in all the areas of his life, I have discovered.

And Sigler blew me away with the resulting donation amount, based on 69 people, gathered in person to pay tribute. Seriously, the trusted toast counter ( John Cmar) said it and I had to roll my eyes. I mean, really?! LOL, yes, really.

The resulting donation? I don’t even think there were that many people in the entire restaurant. But that’s how Sigler rolls.**

Pictures from the Saturday night event are available for purchase from Bruce Press Photography. I covet the one with my clinging and grieving with Nicole, wearing what in hindsight reveals spider-like aspects I didn’t even notice until now. 

(Here is a peek at that specific picture. It’s kinda embarrassing, but very honest, so I lurve it.)

Our own pictures to follow, I have hundreds to sort, still. There are a few posted in my Flickr already, username Vivid Muse.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* with that damned Tuaca, Patrick McLean

** In my heart forever, that Scott Sigler is. Even though most of his books scare me too much to read and the rest are sports-ball in space, somehow. The sports-ball part was a major hurdle, but it’s done. He’s in. Done deal.
And AB, aka A Real Girl, was already there. AND she told my way my fave story of Sigler’s will never be published.

 

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.

Second Honeymoon

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Exercise, Half-Marathon, Knitting, No Whining, Soulful

We lucked into a fantastically cheap but very brief “weekend” away. It actually began Sunday and ended on Tuesday when we packed up and left gorgeous Virginia Beach. It’s pretty chilly and deserted in early March, which suited us fine because it also meant fewer people. Besides, you just cannot beat the view if you’re an ocean lover.

We’ve been through a lot in recent months, with a lot more coming up and needed to recharge our batteries. We had no plans upon our arrival, although we had some toys to entertain ourselves, and just wanted to “be” without any demands. I don’t think I tweeted or FB’d much, except for a few DM’s to keep plans on track. The bass we brought for my lesson sat untouched and we didn’t even open Game of Thrones.

We emerged from a nasty rain storm, but the weather almost immediately turned sunny with temps in the mid-50’s. Warm enough for us, to be sure. Our hotel was beautiful and we even got a free bump to a larger, oceanfront room due to a low vacancy rate.  After hanging on our balcony and enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the ocean and hanging in our room for a bit, we headed out for dinner at a place that I immediately envisioned Chooch’s band playing in, and would love to wave a magic wand and make that happen. (Ditched by Kate tours Virginia Beach? Sounds good to me!) We headed back and settled in for the night, door thrown open to hear the ocean in spite of the cold.

The next morning, I arose and headed out for a run. It was the single most invigorating run of my life, what with the view, the biting wind, and ocean sounds. My pace really suffered because I kept stopping to take pictures. With our “no plans” rule, I wasn’t sure that I’d make it back out with Chooch before we left so I took full advantage of having remembered my little all-weather camera.

I even found the spot from 2 (or was it 3?) years ago when I did a break-neck paced drive to Virginia Beach with a visiting friend from New Mexico. She’d never seen an ocean before, and I found that unacceptable. On the last day of her visit, we had just enough time to race down here, play in the sand for 15 minutes or so, and then race back to Reagan airport for her flight back home. It was a deliciously fun time, and reminded me of my teenage years where no plan was too crazy.

After my run yesterday, I inadvertently woke up Chooch when I returned to the room to stretch out my tight muscles. I ran for a bit on the sand for the first time, but even tougher was running into the very strong winds. My skin was very smooth after the sandblasting it got, but I don’t recommend it.

We got moving, and headed down for our complimentary restaurant breakfasts. (Did I mention this trip was cheap? That was partly due to breakfast being served until 11, which we decided meant we only had to pay for one meal each day.)

Chooch had some stuff going on at work, so we headed up to the room so he could plug in the laptop and get to it. We then remembered a beautiful spot next to the restaurant with an internet cafe/work stations so he grabbed his work stuff and I grabbed my knitting and we sat in this beautiful seating area with a wall of beach and ocean in front of us. Way better than a wall with a TV, don’t you think?

After that was done, we headed out to the aquarium. This is something that we do in every city we visit that has one, a tradition we started while dating with an aquarium on the Oregon Coast when I first visited him in 2002. Although it’s not terribly huge, we spent hours because we love marine life so much. Seals, jellyfish, sharks, rays, coral and all manner of underwater life were beautiful and charming as expected. I’d say the otters were the most fun to watch as they frolicked and played as only they can, but we also have a special affinity for turtles. My favorite was seeing both a pair of cardinals and the seahorses, for the significance they hold for me. <3

At this point, we were starving and we grabbed a tasty dinner and headed back to the hotel with some ice cream for later. (The room had a mini-fridge.) We chilled out with the ocean sounds serenading us and eventually we … well … it was romantic and all … so … we couldn’t resist… recording our podcast, Into the Blender. HA! You thought you were going to get some naughty time info, didn’t you? Not gonna happen, loveys! What happens in Virginia Beach stays in Virginia Beach. Mostly.

We actually are behind on our self-imposed bi-weekly schedule, partly because of my impromptu trip to Arkansas and partly due to social gatherings we committed to before I knew I would be traveling. So we sat and recorded enough content for either a two hour episode or three 45-ish minute episodes. The editing goal will be three episodes, which pleases me. I like having buffer for exactly the type of events that delayed our release this time.

Tuesday morning, I woke early, started writing this post and headed back to bed for a bit. We eventually got up, got ready for the day and grabbed our tasty free breakfast again. I grabbed some waffle sections from the buffet, and couldn’t help but giggle when the sign said “waffle sticks” as it brought to mind the South Park “fish sticks” bit. I shared that with hubby, and we recited the funniest joke of all time, slightly modified.

Joke Teller: “Do you like waffle sticks?”
Butt of Joke: “Yes.”
Joke Teller: “So you like to put waffle sticks in your mouth?”
Butt of Joke: “Yes.”
Joke Teller: “You are a gay waffle.”

Yes, that’s how my mind works on a romantic weekend. And yes, you should pity Chooch.

We then went for a walk on the beach, the first one for Chooch since we arrived. We went up to water’s edge, but I chose not to put my toes in considering how cold it was. We were bundled up in heavy coats and the wind was strong and stinging. We took some photos and walked along the beach as I wanted to show him a Neptune sculpture further down the boardwalk.

We chatted, cleaned up some trash on the beach and met a beautiful and loving dog that was being walked by the family that rescued him from near death by an abusive owner. The dog, Russell, was part Akita and part … breeds I don’t recall. Lookit, he was sweet and beautiful, I was distracted. Check out the photos below to see how he looks now. Shockingly, he was only 17 pounds when the family rescued him a few years ago and is now healthy and content with just a few remaining behavioral issues, none of which we witnessed. I’d have never guessed how terrible a start he’d had in this life if they hadn’t told us.

Being so close to the air base, every time a plane went overhead Chooch would look up and announce what type it was. After marveling at the Neptune statue, we made our way back to the car. It was a beautiful ending to our trip, as Chooch drove home and we hammered out some story ideas.

Home now, I refuse to sulk that it’s over. Instead, I choose to be joyful that we had this time away from most of the demands of our life and I feel even more in love and dedicated to my husband than ever before. I already was, but somehow feel those things even stronger, which I didn’t think was possible. We just needed to unclench from the stress we were feeling and experiencing and knew this was our only chance for a very long time. We also knew we’d never be able to do it this cheaply again, so dove in.

I feel more than grateful for him and our life together, and suggest that if you can steal a few moments away for yourself, either with or without a loved one, just to luxuriate in unstructured playtime, you should definitely do it. Take a day or two and slow down, sleep, relax and just be. It will serve you beautifully, at least it has for us.

I’ve loaded a bunch of photos (90 or so), about a quarter of those we took. There are also some videos. Most of the collection is from the Virginia Aquarium at Virginia Beach. Note: The very last photo is prolly NSFW or kids, but it is jokey in nature. I’ve marked it as restricted, but you’ll be able to view it if you click that you want to.

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!

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!

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!