Here’s my PME 2006 rundown, which I’ve been writing somewhat all along but just haven’t punched into final form yet. I’ll break this down into separate posts as it makes sense. Right now I’m too tired to look up the links for everything. I’ll add the missing ones in later. Let’s pick up where I stopped from the MYR airport last week.
When I got to my gate in Atlanta, I met Dave Jackson and Robin Maiden who were on my flight. It wasn’t until very late in the game that I realized that I was loaded down stickers for both my show and AmigoFish with me, so I should stick them to my backpack. I did, and then as I walked down the jetway from behind me a voice said “Dave?” It was Ray Slakinski, who was the person behind me in line. He figured that if I had both stickers on the pack, there was a good chance it was me.
The flight was fine, and pretty uneventful. I worked on the talk, futzed with the computer a little, and started reading Poppy Z. Brite’s Soul Kitchen. By the time we landed, we were a little behind schedule. We took the shuttle back to the hotel, checked in and I tried to do the badge pickup/speaker reception thing but it was already all shut down. I walked around the Marriot some, saw more people and eventually went out on a jaunt to an Applebee’s in Rancho Cucamonga with Michael Butler, Joe Klein, Jasper Borgman and the Couches. It was fine and good conversation but kind of a shlep there and back, so it sucked some energy out of the evening. Joe treated, which was nice of him.
When we returned, we hung out at the hotel bar some and saw all kinds of people. I renewed my acquaintance with John Furrier (who I sat next to at Benihana’s last year) and talked to Gary from Podcast Pickle (who was kind of bummed about this). I met Nicole Simon in person for the first time, which was a nice surprise since I had no idea she was even coming. The bar was completely crazy, and I learned my lesson last year about trying to yell over the crowd too much the night before my talk so I folded the tent relatively early (midnight, which was 3 AM my time) despite trash talk from my compadres.
Friday I was up at 5 AM California time, whether I wanted to be or not. I got up and went to the fitness center to do the orbital trainer for a while. Shortly before I left Paul Colligan got there. I was frankly surprised to see another PME person in the fitness center that time of day. I thought about grabbing some breakfast at the hotel, but I decided to work on the assumption that the speaker ready room would feed us. After showering, and suiting up I headed across the street to the convention center at the early hour of 7:30 AM. I was able to get checked in and grab some coffee but there was no food in there. Uh oh. On the upside, Annelise was running the ready room again this year. She was so nice last year and even bent the rules to allow me to interview Simon Steadman in there rather than have to move all my gear. Sitting in the ready room, I worked on the final touches of the talk and saw some more folks. Eventually, I was able to cadge a little food.
I went to see the Leo Laporte and Ronald Moore keynotes. To be honest, I wasn’t wildly impressed with either. Last year, Leo was like a pentacostal preacher breathing the fire of independence and passion. This year, he was a lot like someone trying to convince you to buy insurance that you aren’t sure you need. Ronald Moore’s talk was OK and people seemed to like it but personally it didn’t do so much for me. I don’t like the Battlestar Galactica TV show and while I tried it out with the podcast it was an interesting excercise and a good use of the tech but not one that resonates with me for this specific application.
After that, it was off to my room to set up. Just like last year, the sound/AV person in the room was a complete crackerjack. Mel, I think was his name. We were set up in like 90 seconds and it just went smooth as silk. Unlike the professionals at CNN, I was self-aware enough to check the mike pack before I went to the bathroom. The talk seemed to go off well and people liked it. Unfortunately this year, all the panels and talks I saw on the second floor were more lightly attended than you’d expect. Because of the traffic pattern, there just wasn’t anything else up there to have people walk by and say “Hmm, this seems interesting.” The positive side is that everyone who is there really does care and hunted it down specifically. [Update: I got the evaluations faxed back, and they were all pretty positive so I think people got something out of the talk.]
Once my talk was done, I flitted back to the hotel room to change out of the suit. I was getting into the market for some kind of lunch. Butler convinced me to ride the Hummer limo over to the Podshow suite at the Sheraton. I wasn’t so wild about it, but he worked on me for a while until I gave in. Right before we left, I ran into Susan Kitchens. My nightmare scenario was that I’d go to this silly lunch in the ridiculous limo and never see her again, which would be a pretty bad trade off. I rode the limo and when we got out, I proclaimed loudly “I cannot be bought by Podshow … but I’m willing to let them try.” I hung out in the somewhat weird scene in the suite, ate the free food and had a drink or two. On the way back, I ran into Dawn and Drew and their posse, including Nick “Movie” Starr.
In the limo on the way back, we talked and fooled around with cameras and such. Drew and I poured glasses of whiskey from the decanter in the limo, and I made a “toast to the boogie” to his video camera. It all seemed fun until I remember that I had promised Ray Slakinski that I’d be on a panel with him for Podango at 3:15. It was maybe 2:00 PM at that point. I ran back into Susan and we talked and walked the show floor together for a while. I went to look for the “Unconference” to meet up with Ray. Somewhere along the line, I had been given bad intelligence that this was in the Marriot hotel. In fact, it was right at the very front of the show floor in what one would consider an unmissable spot but I missed it. Somehow, the fact that it was actually in the Podango booth eluded me. After floundering for a while, I got there late but they were running late so I didn’t really hold them up. This whiskey on the rocks was settling in good, so I was nice and loose for this panel thing that was me and Ray talking about the early days of podcasting. I tried to be a trooper and do what was asked, but I secretly feared I was boring the hell out of the audience. After that, a little bit more of the floor where I talked to Scoble and got him to stick an AmigoFish sticker on his tripod leg. I thought that was quite cool.
A trip back to the room to call home and chill for a few minutes happened and then it was off to the Podcast Circle Jerk (aka Podcast Awards). It was pointed out to me that the room across from the main ballroom had all the same bar and food as the main one with a line 1/10th the length. I went over and fixed a plate, got a drink and talked with Brian and Tina Ibbot for a while and with Ricky Spero for a long time. John Furrier bought me a drink at some point and I chatted with a number of people. I headed across the hall for the festivities and they were already over. For the second consecutive year, I didn’t actually see any of the awards ceremony. I’m not explicitly boycotting them, but I also am not on fire to see them either so I wasn’t really torn up about missing them.
In the evening, I went to the Podtrac party where I met Darusha Wehm for the first time. She is on Team ITC and in fact punched up my copy for the most recent Voices episode but we really have only had minimal interaction up to this point. She had been at my talk, but I didn’t know that was her because I didn’t know what she looked like. I did a lot of hanging out with Butler at this party, talked with Sam Levin and more with Ray Slakinski and his PopCurrent partner whose name I am blanking on right now [Update: Mark Jeffries, thanks Ray]. Somewhere in the middle of this party, Brother Love did a performance that was, ummmm, interesting. One of his own songs played on the PA while he danced around and sang along and lip synced and interjected lots of “Give it up for ___ ” type silliness. Depending on the tuning of your postmodern irony sensors, it was either pretty bad or completely fantastic. Somewhere before the evening was out, Darusha made sure to tell me that I was incorrectly referring to myself in my talk as an “anarcho-capitalist”, that it is a more specific term than the goofy way I mean it.
When that party wound down we went on to the infamous Evo and Tee Wingin’ It / LibSyn / Kiptronic / IODA party. What is there to say about it but “Wow.” There were a number of highly surreal moments. At one point, I walked out into the main room and seated on the back of a couch were the three naked body painted women plus Ray Slakinski. Later when I was waiting to use the bathroom, the women were showering off the body paint. It is weird how quickly you can get inured to naked people walking around. I don’t recall any flashes going off, but I hope there isn’t a lot of documentary evidence of all this with me in it. Either the photo has me looking at the women or oblivious to them, and either way I come out like a schmuck.
Oddly enough, this party is the one where I had the long conversation about Irish politics with the British musician/risk assessor (was his name John? Sorry dude). It seemed kind of jarring with the surroundings, but it was really interesting. He seemed surprised that I was as interested as I was in the subject, and that I knew at least some of the history of Sinn Fein and the IRA. He took me way back, like many centuries in the history lesson. I found it all fascinating.
As you might could have expected, this party was busted and shut down. We split up and went various ways. Some people went to the Doubletree hotel bar, most went back to the Marriot to the Podcast Pickle party. Some of the same elements showed up there, so it started getting insane as well. I don’t actually remember much of this one, but it was fun enough and there was more conversation. I bailed on it after a while, went down to the hotel bar which oddly enough was flat empty. I sat with Mike Geoghegan and Len and Nora from Jawbone for a few minutes and then called it a night.