Thoughts on Rabbitcon
The basic problem with bringing a quorum of writers for a given site to the scenic and ridiculously picturesque wilds of New England in May for an extended weekend of drinking, revelry, Rock Band and epic marathon gaming sessions is that nobody wants to get back on Tuesday and do work. God knows I don’t, so you will have to indulge me as I wax a bit nostalgic.
When it comes right down to it, Rabbitcon was an unqualified success, and for a man who had expected to be able to generate relatively little interest in the board gaming aspects of the weekend also an eye-opening surprise. Impeccably hosted by what I now officially think of as a convenient “friend-hub”, a person to whom you can attach in leech-like fashion to siphon off friends rather than having to go out and make your own, the entire event was virtually flawless.
Well, there was that one time that poor Cory grew pale and quiet after I plied him with bourbon shots, but that’s hardly worth a mention.
Allow me to share with you my favorite Rabbitcon moments — or at least the ones I can disclose without being exposed to litigation. Those of you looking forward to regular GWJ content, we resume our regular schedule tomorrow.
Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game — By Sunday I was a full-on board game geek, and this particular game took the entire experience to the next level. Playing along with Katerin (Go team, human!) and four other intrepid players this was a six-hour exploration of social dynamics, paranoia, hive mind, Kobayashi Maru scenarios and betrayal. The rules of the game are meaningless -- this game is simply about who is and who is not a cylon, and the dynamics of play do a genius job of managing to cast reasonable and equal suspicion on every player.
Our particular game was clearly unwinnable by humans no less than 138 different times, and declared unbalanced in favor of the Cylons to the point of being broken only 20 minutes before we humans won. It is, and this is important, exactly as despairing, hopeless and ridiculously full of life-changing escapes as the show was in its first two seasons. When we escaped three basestars and a swarm of fighters while fighting back a boarding party of centurions from heavy raiders, all with virtually no food, fuel or morale by rolling a monstrously unlikely series of dice to jump the fleet and set up a winning strategy, well that was a moment unlike any other. Honestly, I get chills just thinking about it.
Rock Band — I shamelessly admit that I have been practicing my Rock Band skills for two solid months, so that I could arrive and unleash drumming and guitar work to boggle the minds of onlookers. I won’t be coy — every time someone wandered into the room to watch me execute double beats, back beats, fills and rolls on the hardest songs my self-worth increased by a factor of ten.
Eventually Rabbit’s wife had to school me on proper social etiquette, and I learned how to simply say thank you rather than spout thinly veiled false modesty that was certainly both cloying and nauseating. What I did not expect was to enjoy singing in front of a group, and while very few songs were comfortably in my range, I realize now that I had been longing for years to unleash the Billy Idol primal scream of White Wedding on an unsuspecting public so that people outside were forced to come investigate. Rabbit has audio documentation of this event, and I do not want to hear it.
That is all irrelevant however to the joy of listening to Katerin make guitar sounds during Rush songs. Comedy, thy name is Lara. Also of note, Cory’s mad singing skills. If you ask nicely, particularly with alcohol, he will croon ballads for you.
Delicious Ribs — Rabbit’s friend Rob — not that Rob — is not only an outstanding game designer. He is a wizard of the grill, and created glorious, succulent and tender morsels that described a menagerie of tastes to envelop my senses. I am from the south, so I know from ribs, and this man can do things with grills that angels themselves could not.
Imaginary People Come to Life — For the most part I assume that none of you are real, and the entire community is some kind of delusion I have imagined to sate my attention lust. When forum names take on corporeal form it is at first jarring and then an epiphany.
I don’t know why I continue to be surprised that the community is exactly as friendly, smart, engaging, witty and open in real life as they are online, but there is nothing better than walking into a room full of strangers only to discover that none of them are strangers at all. Pyroman, Wordsmythe, Demiurge, E Hunnie, Cmitts, Rabbit, Drunken Slepnier, Katerin, Certis — there are real people behind these and many other iconic personas. They are even more awesome than you already suspect.
Goodjers are, however, huggers. Be warned.
Live Show! — In general I record the podcast in a quiet room, by myself, in front of a microphone that fills the majority of my otherwise boring view while hundreds of miles away from my nearest co-podcaster. Being in a room with most of the crew, and live in front of an audience, was a joy I wasn’t entirely prepared for. I will forever lust for the immediacy of the feedback, the participation of listeners and the heightened sense of connection with the rest of the cast.
I realize, for those of you who stayed for the After-Show, that it was a terribly self-indulgent exercise, but it’s because none of us wanted that show to end. Whether it will be a particularly good podcast, I can’t say for sure, but it is easily the most fun I’ve ever had recording.
Ten Thousand Other Things — Cory's endless twittering. Julian’s awesome kids. The Snorlax. Making smores. Don’t Stop Believin’. Being lapped in History of the World. The third case of Corona. Wordsmythe hopelessly trying to teach me real drums. The Canadian National Sport. Driving through a Norman Rockwell painting.
The memories are indistinct, jumbled and joyous. All I can say is if you are invited to a Rabbitcon and if you can make it there, then you would be doing yourself a deep disservice to not attend.