Soup and Sociability

Now with New Notes on NAN in Manhattan!

The Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup can is back in effect. As regular visitors here know, and anyone else can find oat via the link, it signals that one's blog is being updated more sporadically than usual. I have plenty of reviews and odd bits of commentary almost ready to go, but I keep dropping them to get my old Lost posts back up, the post on this past week's Lost finished, and my grand think-piece post(s) on Lost in shape.

Did I say "find oat"?

That's Canadian scribe, superblogger, and sweetheart Nikki Stafford, whose Season Six edition of Finding 'Lost' is now available for pre-order on Amazon and who has just received her own label on this blog, rubbing off on me after the Nik at Nite meetup in New York City. Eight of us and a "plus one" were in attendance, including the sisters and blogging buddies behind the sublime Sonshine Thoughts and Slumpvis Musings, Rebecca and Naomi. We of course talked aboat Lost, including how the cosmos told me that Widmore was coming back to the Island and what I now suspect this season's flashes are showing us, prompting me to republish the post in which the former occurred posthaste while seriously compelling me to publish the latter in my own words to give context to the odd physical evidence that Ms. Stafford rescued from our table at the restaurant. You can find oat how attractive I look while doing that weird photo semi-slouch over in Nikki's latest dispatch (click on the photo there to enlarge it if you dare).

Update: More on the meetup after the book cover...

I came very close to not making it to NYC. After some poor sleep and not enough of it — I'd left the window open, so noise and wind were blowing in, but I wasn't awake enough to get up and close it for
hours — I had a bad morning. That's not unusual (and it's rarely 'cause of an open window); it was particularly frustrating, however, because I'd tried to have an easy day before to optimize my chances of making the meetup. Luckily, I took a nap, and the bad morning may have been a blessing in disguise, because no matter how fatigued I might be I'm not going to fall asleep unless I need sleep.

What the nap meant, though, was that while I had more energy and a better chance of handling the trip to Manhattan I'd missed most of the affordable trains that would've got me there by 7 p.m. Since the next Amtrak train back to Philly from NYC after 11:15 p.m. was
3 a.m., I'd been thinking of driving anyway, but the nap also pushed the drive up into the danger zone. I still might've been okay if I'd left when I was ready, but I hit a snag that enervated me for a good half-hour; when I checked the train and bus schedules again, naturally everything under aboat $150 was sold oat or not in time. So I drove.

Oh, I should have taken the train. Even having to rush to Penn Station in New York for an 11:15 train home, which I'd assumed would mean ducking oat of the party early, would've given me more time than I had after my
four-and-a-quarter hour drive to NYC — over an hour of which was spent the last five miles from the restaurant, most of that all but parked in traffic approaching the Lincoln Tunnel. I didn't get to Jekyll & Hyde's until around 9 p.m., and spent less than half the time in Manhattan that I spent in the car round-trip. Yet cramps and exasperation and self-flagellation and all, it was worth it. And not just because I got to drive my car through the theater district.

My few hours with the
Nik at Nite gang were an absolute blast (no Lost-minded pun intended). Along with Nikki and the previously mentioned super-sister set, Rebecca and Naomi, the group included Joanie G., who came equipped with discount coupons for various parking garages (alas, not mine, but it's my fault for not parking where she recommended); TV Writer, whose real name I may not be at liberty to share, and who writes great reviews of great television with which I've sadly failed to keep up (she's in good company there) in part because I'm at least an episode behind on so much so often; Kevie, an animation and advertising illustrator whose art/process blog I'm embarrassed to say I'd never even seen until now but is full of great stuff (including some awesome Iron Man sketches posted just the other day); and Jeff H., who recommended the restaurant (which is probably why he knew to sit way inside the booth, away from the wandering hosts), with his indulgent non-Lost-watching girlfriend.

I didn't even get everybody's names at the restaurant, let alone have the opportunity to chat one-on-one, because it was so dim and so loud (and I was so late; it's understandable that some folks had to depart at a reasonable hour), but I can't blame Jeff for the recommendation. The whole motif was quite cool, an old-timey, family-friendly horror-movie theme with some
very committed characters wandering the room, but while Kevie vouched for the cocktails my chicken sandwich made me regret my latest lapse from vegetarianism. We didn't come for the food, of course, and the main problem was that the spectacle was a little too loud a little too often, although there are likely plenty of places in Manhattan on a Friday night that would've been just as noisy and less accommodating.

At one point, I actually touched Nikki's hand while she was talking (apologies to "Mr. Stafford") after having a delayed reaction to how strange it was to be speaking with her face-to-face. Way back in the days of AOL's chat rooms and Doug Pratt's great Comics/Animation Forum on CompuServe, I had occasion to meet people in the flesh at conventions whom I'd only known through online conversation, but there were usually friends in common whom I already knew from "real life" to ease the transition. Even weirder to me is that I'd never seen the faces or heard the voices behind the names back then, yet it's somehow stranger to relate in person to folks one
has seen via not just written comments but photos and even videos, as I have, however briefly, Nikki, Rebecca, and Naomi. My sudden stroke of surreality didn't knock things off track for too long, thankfully, and what I'm most thankful for — besides the very company itself — is that the scene energized me more than it exhausted me until it was time to go; I'm just afraid that, in my excitement, I talked too much.

Only adding to the dreamlike nature of the whole experience in retrospect is the buffer of the drive up and back from Philadelphia, long hours in the car spent in service of too few hours in a dungeon surrounded by the neon lights of a foreign land. Somehow it almost doesn't feel real, but I kinda like that, and I can't wait to do it again.


SonshineMusic i.e. Rebecca T. said...

I've said this everywhere, but it was so much fun and I'm glad you braved that horrific drive. :)

VW: quivalmo - oh I know there's a good definition for this, but alas my brain will not provide one.

Teebore said...

As I've been saying everyone on the blogosphere, jealous!

I've had the experience of meeting a few 'internet-only' friends face to face at cons and the like on occasion, and it is indeed a surreal (and fun) experience.

Blam said...

This was absolutely one of the best off-Internet meetups I've ever experienced. Not that I don't treasure having solidified other friendships and acquaintances I'd made online through "real-world" contact in years past, but by the time I got online I was already working in comics retail and journalism, so conventions were at least partly business (I know: poor me) — and there was inevitably too little time to hang out or too much shop talk when doing so or too much pressure to network or too much fear that socializing was seen as schmoozing, etc. From what established pros have told me, this never goes away.

I guess the so-far unwritten implication here is that all my previous online connections were through comics, because they were. There were chat rooms and message boards the last time I had a computer, but no Facebook or widespread blogging, and even if I talked movies, TV, music, baseball, or politics it tended to be within comics circles; when I finally got my laptop and regular high-speed Internet access a couple of years ago, Nikki's was the first place I went and outside of (re)connecting with friends it's been the hub of my online activity save for chat lists dedicated to comics.

The most surreal element of this meetup, as I said, was seeing/hearing Rebecca, Naomi, and Nikki in person after photos and vlogs. Putting a face and a voice to a name and comments can be quite a surprise, but it was weirder to not be surprised, like interacting with someone I'd only seen on TV. I hope we get to meet sometime, Teebore, and you're encouraged to wear your Dharma jumpsuit and stroke your chin as we talk just to freak me out.

Nikki Stafford said...

Fantastic post, Mr. Blam. What I loved most about meeting you was that you were just as charismatic and entertaining in person as you are on the blog, and you made me laugh harder than anything else that night (I mean that in a good way!) From the way you held off Ms. Misery and dealt with that rather annoying but precocious child standing next to you to the jokes you made while chatting about Lost, you were awesome. I was so thrilled to meet you, and happy that you came, albeit immensely guilty that you had to endure such terrible conditions to get there. I loved hearing everythign you had to talk aboat. ;)

I hope we can all get together again!

AchingHope said...

Yay! I had so much fun too! And no, you didn't talk too much.

That drive sounds completely awful though :(

Ah, good times, good times.