September 24th, 2009

bad idea, XKCD, what could go wrong, That Idiot Shawn

Making the world a weirder place! XKCD appearance at Borderlands, fun for all!

jai_dit had been bemoaning the fact that Randall Munroe of XKCD was going to be in the Bay Area with book release events, and he could not justify the expense of tickets to some of the closer events. When he found out about tonight's event, he decreed that he was going, and encouraged any of the usual local crowd who could make it to join him.

I overshot my planned departure time by over half an hour, which made me wince at the likely lateness. JD called me as I was headed for the freeway to let me know that [info - personal] janinedog was there and they were headed for dinner, and did I mind terribly (we'd originally thought about dinner after). I did not mind; I was running late as it was and I'd had a snack prior. No worries. I did my usual evening-event-in-town routine: park at Daly City BART, ride in, walk to the event.

I chose to get off at the 24 and Mission station under the (mistaken) impression it was closer. It was 7:18 by this point. I limped as fast as I could for Borderlands. When I arrived, I was relieved to see that nothing had started happening yet, although people were congregated in chairs. It was a smaller turnout than Seanan McGuire's release party, but that was perfectly fine with me. [info - personal] nova waved me over. She had been saving some chairs for Janine and JD, but they had not returned from their getting-food-adventures yet. Stacey advised that tupshin was on his way too, much to my delight. And Tupshin did arrive, and suddenly I was hugged by another part of the internet that I was not expecting to see! (Not Tupshin.) Tupshin and the Unexpected Part of the Internet settled down in Janine and JD's other saved seats, and then Randall Munroe appeared.

He started talking about the process of getting XKCD published before I'd even properly got my camera out, but I managed to get it out before too long. I'm just going to dump all the video here and get it out of the way; there's a lot of it.

A whole playlist on YouTube so you don't have to keep telling the next one to play.

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I tried to split it up manually, but the first file was too long anyway, and I didn't want to miss the amount of time it would take to stop and start the recording. (Notice how I'm not used to editing video yet.) The second file commences.

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At this juncture I was glad that I stopped when I did, because I got a battery warning. I fumbled in my pocket for the lipstick case with the spare batteries (best innovation ever), and hurriedly stuffed them in just as jai_dit asked if he ever read the comments on LJ feeds.

Mr. Munroe said that in fact sometimes he did, and wondered aloud if Jassa was still up to his(?) old tricks. This was greeted with great hilarity. Fresh batteries locked and loaded, I resumed recording.

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He went into the publishing process, his creative process, his art, what he did for the book (commented, scanned, red-inked), the page numbering system (it's a surprise; I'll wait and see if Tupshin figures it out), gaming comment moderation systems to get readers, and all sorts of entertaining things. You can hear me say "Oh honey" near the beginning of his backup tale of woe, which culminated in Collapse ).

Partway through the chat, Ripley came in and hopped up on the table. This provided us all with an immediate illustration of the Cat Proximity Principle. At several points Ripley climbed on Tupshin. Hilarity abounded, particularly when Ripley began nomming on Tupshin's shirt. Tupshin handed Ripley back. Ripley stole Mr. Munroe's water bottle lid and started playing floor hockey with it. (There was one sneeze from an allergic customer, but that was it as far as cat allergy incidents go.) Buttering a cat is a very efficient way to butter the whole house.

Things wound down about ten until nine. JD and Janine joined the crew; they'd been standing in the back. The Unexpected Portions of the Internet had to leave by nine, so there was a very quick amount of chatter and shop talk; there will be Folsom Street Fair attendance! Other meetup plans were made. The signing commenced, with people in an orderly line, but permission for people who had to hop out early to jump the line. Tupshin was giving a ride to the Unexpected Portions of the Internet, so he did just that, and did a bit of networking. (I hope it bears fruit. Or fruitz. Or whatever.) There was then a key crisis, where Tupshin suspected Ripley of nicking his keys, but he found them, in an unexpected pocket.

Long line was long. There was a lot of chatter. Someone whose username I did not entirely catch, but who created in 2003, was standing next to me; we share a love for Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool. JD took himself off to the couch in back to actually get his supper eaten, and rejoined the end of the line with not much noticeable progress.

There was much hilarity. I explained my views on Twilight, and my opinion of what its major problem is (first person narration by a *painfully accurate* teenager), and suggested to the assemblage that it is best read from a library/borrowed/etc. copy, in a group, with popcorn, and someone quoting the best lines. I also mentioned Growing Up Cullen, as that continues to amuse me without end. I pondered out loud what might happen if the Fanlore wiki and TvTropes were to join forces and cross-link, as they can be similar, but fill different needs.

Stacey came back and showed off how her book had been signed: with the capitalization corrected. (Note to readers who are not LJ volunteers: LiveJournal is properly capitalized with the internal capital on Journal as well.)

At last, I reached the front of the line. Mr. Munroe signed my book on my favorite. He'd been asking everyone what they do, since it was a geeky sort of event; he seemed surprised that someone could do both LiveJournal and Dreamwidth at the same time. There were a whole, whole bunch of LiveJournal and previous LiveJournal people there, with a good showing for Dreamwidth too. He was aware of Dreamwidth as one of the two majority female open source projects out there. :D

JD was next (and possibly last). He got Organic Fuel signed, with a bonus capping pun.

The whole train departed at this juncture: JD for his bus, and Stacey, Janine, and me for BART. We traversed the streets mostly without incident, save for one hysterical moment with a fellow in need of cash. "Donate to the United Negro Hamburger Fund?" he asked us, on Valencia heading for 16th Street. (Well, that's what Janine and Stacey report that he said, and my extrapolation supports that; I heard "Donate to the Uniteumumblkttkkhhhamburger Fund?", which is normal when it's outside with noise and dark and I can't lip-read.) The "SMILE" guy was nowhere to be seen. (Last week, there was a guy with a sign that said "SMILE", exhorting people to cheer up, and give him change. Having just finished a crying jag, I was in no mood to do so, but I did flip him a Vulcan salute.)

Once underground, we took our separate trains. I recognized and greeted someone from the signing just as my train arrived, then happily read the book on the train on the way home. I stopped in Daly City to advise the station attendant that there was either (hopefully) a spilled beverage or (ick) urine in the elevator to platforms 1 and 2, then drove off into the merry night.

[info - personal] janinedog's writeup:

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