Thursday, July 12, 2012:
It was six in the morning, on the seventh floor, when I was repeatedly awoken by what sounded like a guy shouting in perhaps an arabic-type accent, "Atheists! Aaaatheists!" over and over, and in my half-asleep state, wondered if he was planning to bomb TAM.
` Sounding as though he was right outside the door, I was too paranoid to get back to my room on the eleventh floor. Since I was also not taking my Al-Qaeda delusions seriously, I so wished I'd had a pair of earplugs with me so that I could get back to sleep.
` I swear he was saying, "Atheists! Atheists! Aaaaatheists!", or perhaps it was another word in another language that sounded like "atheists" when attenuated through the walls.
This went on for a couple of hours, until such time that it was quiet and I slipped back to my room without incidence, where I greeted my roommate Leonard, and realized that this was the first time I had encountered him in the hotel room we were sharing.
` I took a shower and we went off to breakfast at this cafe on the corner of the hallway adjacent to the blinging, pinging casino. I had a yogurt parfait, which came with a bowl because it was too big to fit into the parfait glass, and finished Leonard's last piece of lox, as protein is essential when trying to stave off hunger.
` Leonard and I spent a lot of time together on our own, although we did get spend some time meeting such people as Ray Hyman, creator of the Skeptic's Toolbox.
Without being a dork, I also talked to Michael Shermer about writing articles for Skeptic, and how many words they should be. Then I ran into Penn Jillette and one of his associates (probably Mike Goudeau, but I don't remember), and nearly bounced and flapped after him into the Grand Ballroom where he was setting up for his Sunday School podcast.
` I introduced myself and then went back out the doors, discovering that they were locked from the outside -- they must have known I was coming!
And that was just the beginning.
At some point, I started talking to this guy with very little hair or beard, and upon noticing his TAM badge, blurted out something like, "You're Derek Colunduno?" Ha!! He said that since his stroke, he's been having to shave his head periodically in order to get his brain checked, and eventually just wound up keeping it that way.
` I didn't realize this, since on Facebook, his picture basically consists of the photo/logo for Skepticality (as currently pictured here). Someone nearby offered to get a picture of me and him, and I agreed to that, since there would probably not be many photos of myself here without me holding the camera myself (although luckily, I was wrong about this, considering the number of other people taking pictures of me!).
` Here's our bad view of Penn and Mike Goudeau -- who is known for his comedic juggling, stunts, tricks and, I later found out, extreme pancakes:
` I didn't mention that I was just beginning a wild-making endorphin rush that I knew would last for days, which was triggered by my not feeling well (= my reproductive organs beginning their slightly unpleasant stage, which happens a few times a year).
` Believe it or not, I actually became so good at captivating men at TAM that I was asked what my secrets were -- this was the one that I never told anyone. Apparently, the smell of semi-fresh blood emanating from a woman's crotch also seems to drive the guys crazy, but you didn't really want to know that. Of course not.
I basically spent a lot of time talking to people, many I had previously met, including Brian Gregory and Brian Dunning.
` At around that time, I discovered the SGU Room and found it to be unlocked! Mua ha ha ha ha! I just had to steal something, so I used my camera to capture the wild photons that were bouncing around in there. Aren't they lovely?
` To my right you can see Sachie Howard (HokoleleMom), who was really awesome and even paid for me and Leonard! She also made sure everyone tried whatever crazier-sounding stuff they were brave enough to try.
I really dug Paul Anagnostopoulos' name (which is apparently an-agnostic?), although name coolness notwithstanding, these people were calling forum members by their forum names, which I found a tad surreal.
` Also at some point, Jeff Wagg was texting 'Hi' to everyone at the table. Wish you were here!
Did I mention that Sachie wanted to make sure people got to try some really interesting and slimy genuine Japanese morsels? Look at the strings on that stuff! I recall Leonard saying that fermented bean curd doesn't actually taste like feet, nor much of anything at all.
` I snuck up behind him and whispered "Vibraphone!" in his ear and shortly thereafter squeaked his head, as you can see in this video:
I did in fact wash my hand sometime after that, in one of the Haunted Sinks. I call them that because at one point, when I was all alone in the Amazingly Empty Bathroom, I was washing my hands and one of the sinks off to my right turned itself on and off, and then the same thing happened with a sink on the other side of me, and I wasn't even close to their infrared sensors!
` Totally haunted, right?
` Here's my somewhat bloated and water-retaining self, thinking of all the evil I can do once I get back to Grand Ballroom A.
This "clip" is more like it, and contains George as well:
Upon resuming my mingling, that was when I became conscious of one of the jokes I was using when people would ask me if this was my first TAM: I would tell them, "Yes, so please be gentle,"
I totally freaked out JC, just by being myself.
` Speaking of crazy beards, there was this guy named James Walker who had the silent film villain look going on.
` There were also such people as Timothy Fletcher and Cathran Neelie, but I don't remember who is who.
Like a weirdo, I took a photo of Barbara Drescher's family posing for a picture -- that's Barbara's mother in law, who does skeptical stuff, too, although I don't quite remember her name.
` Through the door, I could see a show going on called Wait, Wait, Don't Fool Me! According to the program description:
Join Brian Thompson and a panel of hilarious celebrity guests as they compete to see who knows the most about current events, pop culture, and terrible puns. Cash bar.As I didn't have a ticket to this show (nor any of the workshops that had been going on all day), I didn't dare sneak in the back door -- but I sure did think about how cool that would be if I got away with it! No, really:
` For a little while I got to sit down between Geo and Leo (who was still straightening his bow tie), while watching things such as Todd Robbins apparently dissolving an audience member with sulphuric acid and dumping his remains through a trapdoor. I recall Leonard telling me the actual reaction when sulphuric acid is mixed with human body, but don't really remember what it was.
The evil and dead guy who dissolved the little boys in sulphuric acid was said to be Albert Fish, the guy in the gray suit, and a person like that could be anywhere -- of course, I gave Geo a paranoid look and he looked at me from the corner of his eyes.
` All I can say is, this show is really messed up -- it's got tricks from "divining" names out of the "spirit world" through various means, which seems to impress the audience participants, as well as gory stuff like killing people and bringing people back to life and oh my gosh what is wrong with Teller and Robbins?
` At one point, Robbins takes dead Margerie out of one of the "dead" audience members, Dave, and she was completely naked, and then turned really old and ran into the audience, and the lights went out and all you could see were people in special suits hiding in the dark, invisible to all but the infrared cameras.
` All I've got to say is, yes, it is as freaky as the trailer suggests -- there are even video warnings/explanations, and Robbins did one of those here.
I thought it was friggin' awesome and so wished I had been in the audience of the actual stage show, although I would have not seen the people skulking about in the dark. Someone said, "Don't say anything negative, Teller is right there!"
` And then, he went up to the front of the room -- look, a ghost is passing by in front! Or is it?!
` Later on, I got the sense to actually take a good long look out of my hotel window, and noticed just how nice the view is despite looking down on a roof that has spotlights that shine back up at the hotel windows even in the daytime -- hence the reflections on the glass.