Soup and Sociability

The can of Campbell’s soup is back in effect. Which signals, as regular visitors here know and the rest of you can find oat in another post, that one’s blog is being updated more sporadically than usual. I’ve plenty of reviews and bits of commentary almost ready to go, but I keep dropping them to get my old Lost entries back up, the look at this past week’s episode finished, and my grand think-piece(s) on the series in shape.

Can of Campbell's Bean with Bacon soup in front of several Finding 'Lost' books

Did I say “find oat”?

That’s Canadian scribe, superblogger, and sweetheart Nikki Stafford — whose Season Six edition of Finding Lost is now available for pre-order and who has just received her very own label here — rubbing off on me after the Nik at Nite meetup in New York City. Eight of us and a plus-one were in attendance, including the sisters behind the Sonshine Thoughts and Slumpvis Musings blogs, Rebecca and Naomi. We of course talked aboat Lost, including how the cosmos told me that Widmore was coming back to the Island and what I now suspect this season’s flashes are showing us, prompting me to republish the post in which the former occurred ASAP while seriously compelling me to publish the latter in my own words to give context to the scribbling I made on a napkin that Ms. Stafford rescued from our table at the restaurant. (You can see me doing that odd photo lean-in over in Nikki’s latest dispatch.)

Unpublished draft cover to Finding 'Lost' book with black and white kings on chessboard against forest background

I came awfully close to not making it to NYC. After some poor sleep the night before,
I took a nap, which meant that while I’d have more energy and a better chance of handling the trip to Manhattan I was too late getting oat to make one of the affordable trains which would’ve got me there by 7 p.m. Since the next Amtrak back to Philly from NYC after 11:15 wasn’t until 3 a.m., I’d been thinking of driving anyway; however, the nap also pushed the drive up into the danger zone. I still might’ve been okay had I left when I was ready, but I hit a snag that enervated me for a good half-hour, so when I checked the train and bus schedules again naturally everything at the right time under aboat $150 was sold oat. Thus, I drove.

Oh, I should have taken the train. Even having to rush to Penn Station in New York
for an 11:15 train home, which I’d assumed would mean ducking oat of the party early, would’ve given me far more time than I had after my four-and-a-quarter-hours drive to NYC — over an hour of which was spent the last five miles from the restaurant, most of that all but parked in traffic approaching the Lincoln Tunnel. I didn’t get to Jekyll & Hyde’s until around 9 p.m., and spent less than half the time in Manhattan that I spent in the car round-trip. Yet with all the cramps and exasperation and self-flagellation, it was worth it, and not just because I got to cruise through the delightful vibes of the theater district.

My few hours with the Nik at Nite gang were an absolute blast (no Lost-minded Jughead pun intended). Beyond Nikki and the previously mentioned pair of Rebecca and Naomi, the group included Joanie G., who came equipped with discount coupons for various parking garages (alas, not mine, but it’s my fault for not parking where she recommended); TV Writer, whose real name I may not be at liberty to share, and who writes great reviews of great television which I’ve sadly failed to keep up with (she’s in good company there) in part because I’m behind on so much so often; Kevie, an illustrator in animation and advertising whose pics-and-process blog Kevie Metal I’m embarrassed to say I’d never seen until now but is full of neat stuff (including awesome Iron Man sketches shared the other day); and Jeff H., who recommended the restaurant (and so knew to sit well inside the booth away from the wandering hosts) together with his indulgent non-Lost-watching girlfriend.

I didn’t even get everybody’s names at the restaurant, let alone have the opportunity
to chat one-on-one, because it was so dim and so noisy in there and I was so late that some folks understandably had to depart at a reasonable hour. Jeff’s recommendation was still nifty. The whole motif was quite cool — an old-fashioned, classic-horror-movie theme with very committed characters wandering the room — but while Kevie vouched for the cocktails my chicken sandwich made me regret my latest fall off the wagon of vegetarianism. We didn’t come for the food, of course, and the main problem was that the spectacle was a little too intrusive a little too often, although there are surely plenty of places in Manhattan on a Friday night that would’ve been equally loud and less accommodating.

At one point, I actually touched Nikki’s hand while she was talking after having a delayed reaction to how strange it was to be speaking with her face-to-face. Way back
in the days of America Online’s chat rooms and the Comics/Animation Forum on CompuServe, I had occasion to meet people in the flesh at conventions whom I’d only known through conversation in cyberspace, but there were usually friends in common from real life given the connected nature of the comics world. Even weirder to me is that I’d never seen the faces or heard the voices behind the names back then, yet for some reason it’s at least as surprising to relate in person to folks I have seen via photos and videos in the cases of Nikki, Rebecca, and Naomi. My sudden stroke of surreality didn’t knock things off track for long, and the scene thankfully energized me more than it exhausted me until it was over. I’m just afraid that in my excitement I talked way too much.

Adding to the phantasmagorical nature of the experience in retrospect is the buffer of the drive up and back from Philadelphia, several nightmarish hours in the car spent in service of a few in a dungeon surrounded by the dreamy neon lights of a foreign land.
I kinda like that it almost doesn’t seem true and I can’t wait to do it again.

Related: Any Time at All Head Space Nowhere Man
From Dusts ’til Dawn Got to Get You into My Life


  1. I've said this everywhere, but it was so much fun and I'm glad you braved that horrific drive. :)

    VW: quivalmo - oh I know there's a good definition for this, but alas my brain will not provide one.

  2. As I've been saying everyone on the blogosphere, jealous!

    I've had the experience of meeting a few 'internet-only' friends face to face at cons and the like on occasion, and it is indeed a surreal (and fun) experience.


  3. This was absolutely one of the best off-Internet meetups I've ever experienced. Not that I don't treasure having solidified other friendships and acquaintances I'd made online through "real-world" contact in years past, but by the time I got online I was already working in comics retail and journalism, so conventions were at least partly business (I know: poor me) — and there was inevitably too little time to hang out or too much shop talk when doing so or too much pressure to network or too much fear that socializing was seen as schmoozing, etc. From what established pros have told me, this never goes away.

    I guess the so-far unwritten implication here is that all my previous online connections were through comics, because they were. There were chat rooms and message boards the last time I had a computer, but no Facebook or widespread blogging, and even if I talked movies, TV, music, baseball, or politics it tended to be within comics circles; when I finally got my laptop and regular high-speed Internet access a couple of years ago, Nikki's was the first place I went and outside of (re)connecting with friends it's been the hub of my online activity save for chat lists dedicated to comics.

    The most surreal element of this meetup, as I said, was seeing/hearing Rebecca, Naomi, and Nikki in person after photos and vlogs. Putting a face and a voice to a name and comments can be quite a surprise, but it was weirder to not be surprised, like interacting with someone I'd only seen on TV. I hope we get to meet sometime, Teebore, and you're encouraged to wear your Dharma jumpsuit and stroke your chin as we talk just to freak me out.

  4. Fantastic post, Mr. Blam. What I loved most about meeting you was that you were just as charismatic and entertaining in person as you are on the blog, and you made me laugh harder than anything else that night (I mean that in a good way!) From the way you held off Ms. Misery and dealt with that rather annoying but precocious child standing next to you to the jokes you made while chatting about Lost, you were awesome. I was so thrilled to meet you, and happy that you came, albeit immensely guilty that you had to endure such terrible conditions to get there. I loved hearing everythign you had to talk aboat. ;)

    I hope we can all get together again!

  5. Yay! I had so much fun too! And no, you didn't talk too much.

    That drive sounds completely awful though :(

    Ah, good times, good times.