Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Darwinfish Fry

Let’s see… what happened this week…?

There was my trip to Pittsburgh, a family excursion out to Schenley Park before my parents’ big anniversary party and then the party itself… but first, let’s talk about…
Note:  All pics are clickable to bring up a larger, more eye-rocking version.

First of all, I guess I’m the last participant to write about it.  You can find Cassie’s recap and the now-famous “Sweet Jesus” story on Sisters From Different Misters.  Also Carpetbagger, AskCherlock, and Bitchburgh have provided their takes on this precedent-setting gathering of Pittsburgh-based bloggers (plus me).

Sunday was a tough day for me from the get-go.  Still in bed and hung over to the bejesus, my brother-in-law Scotty called my room to get me to come down to breakfast with he and my sister, my brother and his family, and an old friend of my dad’s.  Fifteen minutes later, I appeared to join the party.  I could sense the presence of bacon in the room, so I hit the breakfast buffet with full gusto.

That might have been a slight mistake, because after a quick detour to chill at the hotel pool and spa, we headed over to my Aunt’s house for dinner.

Yes, dinner, before my other dinner.  But if you’ve ever eaten with an Italian family, (or if you’re in one) you know that it’s futile to try to avoid eating.  You can say “no” a dozen times, but still a plate will be set in front of you and food will appear.  I didn’t even try to fight it this time; I just tried to take small portions.  (I was unsuccessful, but I tried.)  I had some rigatoni, some grilled chicken, some hot sausage… I forget what else.  Luckily I had about 2 hours before my intended dinner at the D-fish Fry at 7:00.

I planned to leave early so I could get to the restaurant early and be sure everything was set up properly.  (Remember, I’m the Planning Guy… I seek to leave nothing to chance.)  But right at 6:15, I got a text from Ginny of That’s Church, saying that she just sent me an email. 

Uh-oh… that can’t be good news.”

So I scurried into my aunt’s den to access my email.  Yep… bad news.  Ginny’s husband was out of town, due to be back by 6:00, but was running 3 hours late.  She wouldn’t be able to get there before it was over, so she had to cancel.  Also, I saw an email from Burgh Baby, who also had real life interfere with her plans to join us.

There was only one thing going through my mind at that point:  “Squeee!  I got a text from PittGirl!!!

A lot of us were excited to meet her, but I was anxious to tell her (again) about how she was the reason I even started blogging in the first place.  Hers and Burgh Baby’s sites were the first blogs I read regularly.  She was my inspiration (as described in my first post), and I found most of my current blog-friends through her site’s comments and links.  I consider her the Fairy Godmother of Pittsburgh Blogging and wanted to tell her so.  Both Ginny and Burgh Baby do so much actual good in the community it almost makes me feel guilty about the collection of rants, stories, and potty jokes that make up my blog.  Almost… then I snap out of it.

So I thought I was going to be late but ended up arriving right when I intended, at 6:45.  As I walked in, I could see that Cassie and Carly already had things well in hand, as our long, giant table for 15 was getting the finishing touches.  And right off the bat, they had to show me the picture from the restroom (as seen on the Sisters site), featuring 2 toilets side by side and no dividing wall.

The sisters are just as dazzling in person as you would expect from their blog.

Cassie is a non-stop ball of energy and fun, even pregnant, and immediately went to work sucking all the air out of the room with her commentary.  Not that I’m complaining… she’s highly entertaining.  Cher thinks that she should start a stand-up act with the stuff that happens to her.  I agree.  And as a sideshow, she can display her freakishly long fingers!

That was my first order of business… see just how long they were, and lo and behold, they were as long as mine.  (I’m 6’3”, she’s 5’8”, which is still tall, but dayum!)  The pic doesn’t do them justice… they’re like long pale spider-legs.

The quote of the night, besides her Sweet Jesus story, was Cassie saying, “I beat my husband all the time.”  (OK, she was talking Wii, but still…)

Seriously, Cassie will always be special to me because she was my first non-family/friend commenter and earliest supporter.  As I told her, “you always remember your first.”

Carly is the quieter of the two, but I’m sure that’s not for lack of trying, just lack of opportunity.

Like an older sister, she probably prefers to supervise from a distance while baby-sister runs wild.  But she is as poised and striking as could be.  Now if only we can get her to post more often!  She promised…

Dawn and Dan came in next…

Dawn is a frequent commenter here (as “DG”) and was the only one there that didn’t have a blog.  I felt kind of bad because all night long they had to answer the question, “And what’s your blog?”  But they were fun and charming to talk to, and we’re all trying to press them into starting one.  Hey, they’d have an immediate group of supporters, right there at the table.

There was no mistaking when the “Cherlocks”, Rich and Cher, walked in.

Rich, as promised, I did not use either of those “other” shots I had when you were wearing that unfortunate choice of emergency eyewear.  You’re welcome!

The Cherlocks have been my biggest supporters and cheerleaders and for that I’m eternally grateful.  Cher first commented on my post about being whacked on cold medicine and creating my Poisoning Pigeons in the Park video last September and had been coming back ever since.  Their own blog is a rare oasis of sanity and civility, whether discussing politics, economics, or their own stories.  Everything Cassie said about them, (in her recap) I echo with gusto.  And to boot, Cher is a local girl… local to the area in which my dad grew up and my aunt currently lives. 

I tried to get my folks to drop by for a few minutes because I knew they would love to talk to Cher and Rich (as well as everyone else).  But given the nature of how everyone was in town up at my aunt’s to see them, it would have been difficult for them to duck out.

For some reason, most of the blogs I follow are written by women.  I don’t know why… it just turned out that way, but one giant exception is Carpetbaggery.  Mr. and Mrs. Carpetbagger came in next. 

They are transplants from the Chicago area and live in a fixed up former bar and speakeasy in Lawrenceville.  The funny thing is that he is from the exact same suburb I lived in back when I was in 3rd and 4th grade, Glen Ellyn IL.  Small freakin’ world!

Bagger writes about the same kind of things I try to do… a little of this and a little of that, but always with an entertaining way of making a point.  I wanted to talk with them more than I was able to, but they were sitting on the other side of Cassie, so there was only so much oxygen to go around.

(Cassie never misses out on a chance to point out how old I am compared to her, (and as I learned last night, even her MOM is younger than me!) so I am perfectly within bounds to tease her about the speed and quantity of her talking.)

Really… it was the table.  I should have found a way to have it arranged in a circle or something because if you were at one end of the table, it was like if someone was two-people down from you, it was as though they were in another room.

That became more of an issue when the fabulous bitches from Bitchburgh came blowing in.  These three, Hot Mama, Wormy, and Mindbling (with their men in tow) brought a giant jump of energy into the room. 

Mindbling (left) is stuffed with child and is due in September.  That’s her man Maverick with her, with Hot Mama on the right.

Wormy and Chilla sat with Mindbling and Mav down at the other end of the table and Hot Mama and Papa sat up on my end, so I got to hear the story of Bitchburgh from her.  (It evolved from Mindbling’s own blog.)  We got her to have Wormy tell the story behind how she came by that, um, unusual web moniker.  (Long story short, it rhymed with “Permy” and evolved from there with Bling refusing to let it die.)

Later in the evening, Wormy switched with Hot Mama and brought her Cheshire Cat grin down to my side of the table so I got to talk with her a bit.  In fact, she spotted my notebook, on which I had some notes jotted down in case the conversation lagged.

Hey, I’m Planning Guy, right?  What if after all the build up, we all just sat there staring at each other, grasping for things to talk about?  I wanted to have something handy to toss out there.  But thankfully, we just hit the ground yapping and never stopped all night.

Anyway, Wormy called me on it and insisted I cover all points with her.  Mostly it was just blogging things about why we started blogs, how obsessively we track hits, what we think about buttons and regular themes (which none of us seem to use) or what we think of people that just show up in our hit counts for copying our pictures.  Y’know… nuts and bolts blogging stuff. 

Then we were entertained when Wormy and Bagger engaged in some extra-marital bumping, right there in front of Mrs. Bagger. 

It was like Wild Kingdom for phone geeks.

All too soon, Cassie and Carly had to go… they had a long trip ahead of them back to Slippery Rock.  The only plus was that since they were sitting in the middle, all of us could shift down, thus getting the people at the ends of the group closer together so we could have a more communal conversation.  Plus there was obviously more oxygen available with Cassie gone.  (I’m sorry, Cass… that’s the last time I bring it up.)  (heehee)

I never realized how far so many had to come to show up in little Coraopolis.  Maybe next time I can find a more centrally located place.  But the fact that so many came out leaves me humbled and awestruck.

There’s so much misunderstanding about what we do, by people that aren’t involved.  I don’t know how many times someone wondered if we would all just sit there texting each other.  And I kept getting asked, “You’re going to dinner with these people and you’ve really never met?”  And of course, people still think this is all like some kind of blind dating scam, where when you think you’re talking to some hot chickie, it’s really a fat dude in his mother’s basement.

What I try to tell people is that this is what I was meant to do.  I’ve spent my life looking for outlets to write, inspire and entertain.  Apparently I just had to wait for PCs to be invented.  (And then many more years for me to learn what the hell to do with them.)

Bagger said it best in his Friday post in anticipation of the event: “This isn’t computer dating; it’s a community of souls and minds who enjoy expressing themselves and sharing the expressions of others.” 

The people I met Sunday night are supporters, inspirations, mentors and kindred spirits.  But I can no longer call them my blogger friends… they are just… my friends.  And I can’t wait to hang out with them again.

Thank you so much to all that attended.  You made my year.  (Hands clasped, Ed McMahon bow…) 

(That’s a guy that used to be on TV, Cassie, but you probably weren’t allowed to stay up late enough to see him…yinz kin look it up.)

All pictures not from me were taken by The Cherlocks.  No prizes for guessing whose is whose.


Anonymous said...

nice article, sounds like you had a great time!

bluzdude said...

We certainly did! The first of many, I hope...

C.C. said...

Beautifully put my friend...lovely time, wonderful experience. Can't wait to see you at Podcamp!

Cher Duncombe said...

Bluz, you provided all of us with fun and merriment we are not soon to forget. You have a good and kind heart and trusted that we would all be the same. And so it was. We became more than bloggers that evening, we did indeed become friends...with a few more links! Thanks for a beautiful time. Now about those pictures of Rich....

And Podcamp is????

bluzdude said...

Wormy and Cher,
Loved meeting you both. I wish I could have spent an hour talking with everyone individually! Thus is the peril of the big table.

I'm going to seriously investigate Podcamp and see if I can make my way there. (Cher- Podcamp is Sept 18-19... a great big blogging seminar with many of our favorite bloggers presenting various topics, including our Bitchburgh friends) (as presenters, not topics.) Sounds like a blast!

bluzdude said...

And through all of this, I totally forgot to mention the FOOD! My fish sandwich was HUGE and very tasty. If only I hadn't already eaten dinner. I don't know what everyone else had, but the pizzas I saw looked yummy...

Burgh Baby said...

I'm STILL mad I didn't make it and to compensate, I'm buying Ginny a pair of fairy wings. She TOTALLY is the fairy godmother type. I'm going to make sure they are pink and sparkly.

bluzdude said...

A pair of fairy wings would suit her perfectly. What the hell, it's not like she could look any goofier than the picture she's got up on her site today...

We missed you too, Michelle, and we'll be sure to include you in the next one. Hey, maybe I'll see you at Podcamp! (If I can get Pinky to sign my permission slip, that is...)

vange said...

Okay, the next one of these you host needs to be in the Albuquerque area. You hear me, Mr. Planner?

bluzdude said...

Maybe we can get one of the tech-geeks we had there to set up a web cam at the table!

Or maybe you can take the same advice I gave Bachelor Girl... Southwest. Airlines. It's On!

Hotmama said...

You said it all, great post...it was awesome to meet you and everyone else as well. You are exactly how I imagined you to be...warm and friendly, I knew I was gonna like you the second I walked in. Actually, I knew it for the last year that I have been reading your blog. Can't wait for Podcamp, I reallllllly hope you make it out. xo

Cassie said...

Ditto to everyone else's comments. And just you be glad that since I'm TYPING this, I am physically unable to reduce your oxygen supply. So there.


bluzdude said...

Hot Mama,
Thank you, that's so sweet of you to say. I'll try my best for Podcamp!

Cassie dear,
I wouldn't have you be any other way. I tease because I love! Meeting you all was a real treat. Like I said, it made my year.

Carly said...

This get together has seriously inspired me to write more blogs! I had so much fun meeting everyone and thanks bluz for making this happen. Sorry I was a bit quiet, but it's just my style. Besides, I think Cassie said enough for the both of us, lol!

bluzdude said...

Oh, don't apologize! You have a quiet grace and dignity that will never be overlooked.

I tend to do that a lot when in groups too... just kind of sit back and take it all in. I'm very uncomfortable being the center of attention... I guess that's why I write instead of perform.

I loved meeting you and look forward to seeing you again. And I'm glad you're going to write more. Seize the power of the pen! Or keyboard... y'know...

Jennifer Juniper said...

It looks like y'all had so much fun!! I'm crazy jealous!!

bluzdude said...

We certainly did, Jennifer. I recommend meetups for every local sleeper cell of bloggers.

vange said...

What, you're too good to plan and host a dinner in Duke city?!? SW flies here, too ya know!


DG said...

You felt sorry for me? Seriously? Getting to spend the evening talking to and listening to all y'all? Poor me. Boo hoo. And, I might have been inspired by the meet up. By the time Darwinfish Fry 2 rolls around I might not be the only non-blogger in the room.

bluzdude said...

I just took my turn... now it's yours!

Not like "pity" feeling sorry, it's just that you kept getting asked about it. But I hope our encouragement took root and you and Dan start a blog of your own.

Just remember... your blog, your rules. Make it whatever you want it to be.

And what, there might be other non-bloggers in the room? Is someone planning on sabotaging Blogger??

Miley said...

aww, that's awesome! I'm still jealous but I'm really glad you all had a good time. It's like hanging out with old friends, eh?

Jennifer Juniper said...

LMAO!! Sleeper cell!!

stilladog said...

Very sorry the Steel City Slant was not represented at the Fish Fry. I had planned a trip up, but last week a friend's mom became deathly ill (and she's still not doing very well) so I ended up staying home to try and help his family. Still touch and go on that one. Apologies- Stilladog

Anonymous said...

Bluz! Best fish fry ever at which I don't think anyone had actual fish!

You'll have to let me know when you'll be in town again and maybe the Baggers can host a bash.

bluzdude said...

It was exactly like hanging out with people I’d known for years. I think you learn more about people, faster, through their blogs than in real life.

You and Jennifer should totally have a blog party… just set up a web cam!

Dude, you’re practically in my neighborhood during the day… we should get together for drinks after work sometime.

I had the fish (see the picture on this post) and it was exquisite! And huge! Hot Mama got one too and she took about half of it home. (which I should have done if I had any sense.)

You might just be “on” with the Bagger Bash idea.

One-Eyed Dick said...

OK, Bluz, I owe you an apology. I thought for sure that this whole "Fish Fry" idea was a law-enforcement sting operation where people with outstanding warrants are invited to some phony event in order to arrest them.

Although there were some pretty shady-looking characters there....

bluzdude said...

Shhhhh! This one was just to set up the next event, where we reel in the big fish!

But yeah, the rain forest wasn't this shady...

Luckily, I like it in the shade.

Miley said...

Ok, that sounds wrong... me and jenn setting up a webcam LMAO. Well, we'll see. We maintained our relationship for almost 10 years with occasional phone calls and (get this) HANDWRITTEN LETTERS.

There's tons of efriends I wish I could meet. You are right - you learn them SOOO much faster online. I did actually meet one - another jen. Who is friends with this jenn's crazy sister. Whoda thunk it?

If we do a bloggy thing down here, we'll be sure to at least take pictures.

bluzdude said...

I guess I was lucky that I fell into a group of people that are in one place, (before eventually finding friends throughout the country in far-off places like Houston.)

Jennifer Juniper said...

We could do a blog party.. it might be fun. And hey, if noone else came then we'd still have a blast!!

Raven said...

Sounds like a great time, I'm so jealous!! I'm glad you had fun though.

red pen mama said...

I am so sorry I missed it — I mean, I was kinda disappointed before, but now I'm really sad! Ah, well. You'll be back. Right??

Gina said...

I'm so sorry I couldn't make it! Hopefully, there will be a next time!

bluzdude said...

Wow! Hot Blogger on Blogger action! I'll tune in!

Good things happen when you get out of the house!

RPM and Gina,
We missed ya! But don’t worry… we’ll get the band back together again. And RPM, by then, you’ll be ready for a night out, without the whole menagerie!

Anonymous said...

Sounds SO fun! I'm so glad you were all able to arrange something like this. How cool. Some of my fellow lj friends have met in person, too. It's a new world we live in now.

I LOL'd at this: :)
"I could sense the presence of bacon in the room"

I also like to bring a bunch of people together, then sit back and absorb. Interesting.

Great post.

bluzdude said...

Thanks Cristy,
Wish you could have been there. I bet you're within driving distance, although I know it would have been an uncomfortable trip for you.

Maybe you'll feel better by the time we do it again!

Anonymous said...

Oh, man, that would be so cool!

I think Pittsburgh is about 3 hrs away, which would be totally doable.

bluzdude said...

Hey, you're closer to Pittsburgh than I am. You can do it!