Considering that PAX East happened over three weeks ago, I’m very overdue to write about it… sorry about that! And I don’t want to seem ungrateful for The Shaft Podcast going to the expense of getting me to Boston, so here goes!
Soooooo, after spending 21 hours at Manchester Airport, about 10 hours travelling after that, and a hairy moment at Boston Logan Airport where I thought they wouldn’t actually let me into the country, I was left with about 70 minutes to get myself from Logan to PAX before Brent Copeland, Eric Fullerton and myself had to show up to get the panel ready. Luckily, it’s ridiculously easy to make the journey – thumbs up to those who made it that way – and so I ended up at PAX in good time…
And then, I was actually meeting Brent and Eric in the flesh for the first time – an awesome and slightly weird experience, especially considering that I thought I’d never meet them. It was a real shame that Wes was brought down by the flu, because I know it would have been awesome to meet him, too. The three of us met up outside the front entrance of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, whereupon I was given a huge bearhug by Brent, and a welcoming brohug from Eric. But then, we had to get our backsides in gear, because there was a panel to do!
While we waited to be let into the Naga Theater, I asked Brent about the format and content of the panel – and my nervousness wasn’t helped any when he told me that there was no plan as such >.< Winging it has never been a strength of mine, and all I could do was hope that I wouldn’t mess up. Brent also told me, once we were actually inside the theater, that I’d been submitted as moderator so that they could at least bring me to PAX, and I didn’t actually have to do the moderation part. But I told him that I’d have a go; what I didn’t tell him was why I wanted to…
Ever since I’d accepted Brent’s generous offer, nearly two months earlier, I’d been practicing what I was going to say as an introduction to the panel… hundreds of times. There was no way I was going to waste all that mental effort by not doing what I’d been asked to do! Also, I knew that if I was able to have a handheld microphone, I’d stand a much better chance of getting through without too much trouble. Why? Well, as I’d mentioned in my announcement post, I’ve been a bingo caller, and used a handheld microphone to do the calling. The mic is tied in as a prop to my “stage persona”, and I therefore feel way more confident if I have one in my hand.
When we started the panel, though, I was up in the centre, with a small standing microphone. Still, it was better than trying to project all the way to the back of the hall – which was much larger than I’d imagined it to be. I’d tried to look up the Naga Theater on Google, in the hope of seeing pictures of the venue, but I pulled up nothing. As the audience members were filing in, I was getting rather more nervous, and thought I was going to have an anxiety attack. Thankfully, I didn’t – otherwise that would have ruined everything for me.
Oh, and I also got to meet Direwolf20 and Paul Soares Jr while we milled around, waiting for the audience to come in. They, like the rest of the Minecrafters I met at PAX, were charming and very personable, and it was a pleasure to meet them
And then, it was time – and the introduction I gave was nothing like what I had in my head, but I still did OK, especially going by the kind words everyone gave me in person, and on Twitter. Despite being very tired, I was actually happy to go out on the floor and take questions, because it meant that I did end up with a handheld mic. I messed up a couple of times, but nobody’s perfect
There are a couple of great videos of the panel, from Guude (although you don’t see so much of me in this one, because the camera was relatively static), and Twitch, who was streaming it (the panel starts at 5:07:22, and frustratingly, there’s music over the first minute or so).
After that, the rest of the weekend almost seemed to go by in a blur. Eric, Brent and I joined a group of YouTubers for dinner, on Friday evening: GenerikB, UncleGodfather, Aureylian, Wolv21, IAmSp00n, and Marc_IRL (aka Marc Watson from Mojang). I found out that Marc and GenerikB in particular are even funnier in person than via Twitter or videos (the latter in Genny’s case), and I had a blast. It also boded well for Marc’s improv show on Sunday
Saturday, I split up from Eric and Brent for a couple of hours to actually have a look around PAX itself, and I have to say that I got huge warm fuzzies, seeing hundreds and hundreds of people nerding out so hard I also had something of a struggle to locate a decent wifi signal, so that I could keep in touch with Kristal – I was missing her a lot, and not having a constant Internet connection was somewhat wearing.
As for Saturday evening… oh, wow. Marc (I think) was the one who organized the evening’s entertainment, starting with a trip to Haru, an excellent sushi restaurant in Boston. I’m probably going to miss out names, here, but I’m going to rack my brains and try to remember the names of the people I met (and heard): In addition to the people from Friday evening, there was Direwolf20, Florastar, AntVenom, CavemanGaming, IHasCupquake, SuperMCGamer (who congratulated me on my moderation of The Shaft’s panel), PauseUnpauses, and Guude. But that was by no means the entirety of the party – there were about 35-40 YouTubers all in one place. It was phenomenal, as was the food And, courtesy of Direwolf20, Eric got to try sushi for the first time – and loved it I, meanwhile, was chowing down on this vision of loveliness:
The deliciousness that was my sushi platter at Haru
While we were at Haru, Direwolf20 was seated on my right, and so I took the opportunity to ask him (jokingly), “Why are you so hard on Soaryn?” (Soaryn is the creator of the excellent Xycraft mod, by the way.) Thing is, Dire comes off as sounding a bit bossy towards Soaryn – and I added that when Kristal and I talk about him, I refer to him as “Mister Bossy-Pants” Dire pointed out that he tends to pick on his friends a little, in a joking and harmless way – which I totally understand, because Kristal and I do it to each other a lot I commented, “I’ve been waiting for the day when it gets to be too much for Soaryn, and he just flips out on you!” As far as I could tell, Dire took the joking well… at least, I hope he did, because I think he’s a great YouTuber, and his videos have been very informative when I’ve been working on my own apiary set-up
After we had stuffed ourselves to the gills with seafood (does that make it cannibalism? ), the under-21s headed on to a bowling alley, while the over-21s moved on to Kings, a bar with karaoke and bowling. But no bowling took place with our group, as it turned out: We had a wonderfully raucous time with the karaoke. Whoever was kindly buying my Pepsi all night: thank you! I was actually very tempted to break my vow never to do karaoke (I can’t hold a tune to save my life), but I wasn’t self-persuasive enough… Still, watching the others in the group get up and do their thing was delightful – especially GenerikB singing The Love Boat Theme and (later on) Ring of Fire, and Marc getting his groove on with Zoot Suit Riot Guude has a video for that part of the night, too! (Oh, it’s NSFW for language in places.)
So 2am rolls around, and while the majority of the party went on to a 24-hour bowling alley, I was with the smaller group, including Brent and a rather drunk Eric, plus Pause, Guude and GenerikB (and possibly some others, but I can’t recall). When we learned that most places closed at 2am, we somehow ended up in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel until 4am, with Brent and Eric chatting away to Genny, while I was fighting the need to sleep. Oh, and Brent encountered Jonathan Coulton, and got to say hi to him… Eric and I missed the whole thing! >.<
Then Eric decided he wanted to head for the bowling alley that everyone else had gone to and, somehow, he managed to win the debate… So we ended up there, until 6am… Guude very kindly paid for me to play, so I got a game or two in before we all left
The most fun part of that scenario started at the Sheraton: There was a guy called Patrick, who had been playing music at a contest or something, and he was just hanging around the lobby, bored. A number of us befriended him, but when taxis turned up to go to the bowling, he said (amused), “I’m not going with you mother****ers!” But when Eric, Brent and I got to the bowling alley, there he was! That was great, because he was fun to hang out with, and a very talented musician. He had his instrument bag with him, and if I recall correctly, he eventually pulled about seven or eight instruments out of that thing! I wish I’d been filming the scene with my phone, because Pause and Guude were just losing it, every time a new instrument emerged from Patrick’s bag
With all the late-night shenanigans, it was a wonder that the three of us even woke up in time to change hotels. We made it, though the time was inconvenient – we ended up missing Marc Watson’s improv show. I was really bummed about that, because it was the second of the only two panels I’d actually wanted to watch! (The other was Joe Hills’ and Art Frederick’s panel – which, it turned out, was scheduled immediately after ours.)
The three of us didn’t actually get to PAX Day 3 – I slept for much of the day, but to be honest, I’d pretty much seen everything I’d wanted to see.
It was sad to have to part ways with Brent and Eric; I’d had a great time with them. And I also didn’t want to have to leave the USA, but it’s not like I had a choice.
Before I boarded the plane home, though, there was an exciting little moment: Trying to see if I could meet up with @OMGitsfirefoxx before it was too late to do so! Bouncing around from pillar to post at PAX meant that I didn’t have the opportunity to meet her at the event itself (and I missed out on meeting my friend Elliya, too), but I had the chance at Logan Airport – had I not already gone through Security! Sod it, thought I, I can go through again. So I came back out of the “airside” area, and scrambled around, trying to find Firefoxx in time – and with both of us updating our position via Twitter, some of our mutual followers were kept in suspense, wondering whether we’d actually find each other! Well, we did:
Me with @OMGitsfirefoxx – yay, we found each other!
And then, it was time to go back through Security, and wait for the plane. Sigh.
PAX East actually felt a little like the poor relation to PAX Prime. Sure, Mike and Jerry were there, as were Paul and Storm, Jonathan Coulton, and Scott Kurtz (whom I was too nervous to say hi to – plus I was broke, so it felt even more awkward, since he was at his merch table). But it would have been nice to meet (or at least see) Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day, and when I’d checked the schedule a few weeks before PAX, I was disappointed to see that neither of them would be there
Still, as I hear so often (in relation to other conventions), it was more about meeting up with the community, and that was a heck of a lot of fun. I’m hugely grateful to the Dead Workers Party for going to all the expense of bringing me to PAX (and feeding me!), because without them, none of this would have been possible!
And now, time for the slew of pics I took while I was there, in no particular order:
PauseUnpause – I think the only time the smile left his face was when he was taking a drink…
I made a new friend – Florastar!
Marc Watson (aka Marc_IRL) – an excellent person, and a lot of fun!
Patrick, our unlikely straggler, plays us a tune on his instrument.
Guude and Eric Fullerton
PauseUnpause, getting his laughing gear around a huge straw for a huge drink
Joe Hills, holding forth on some subject or other
Good thing I didn’t have any money – I’d have had to get rid of my packed clothing to be able to bring home the dice I’d have bought!
Oh, crap. I think I’m in its detection area…
The awesome sight of hundreds of people nerding out.
The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center – site for PAX
Those wacky funsters, Eric Fullerton and Brent Copeland.
The Boston skyline – beautiful.
Oh, Brent, you so silly.
The wait to be seated in the restaurant proves too much for Eric.
GenerikB – Mindcracker, and fellow FTB-bee enthusiast.
Direwolf20 – so awesome, an FTB modpack was named after him!
Brent and Florastar – sorry it’s so blurry >.<
UncleGodfather, looking all moody and serious-like.