Category Archives: Travel

My trip to Australia was amazeballs

I am home from Australia, and only mostly dead exhausted. Go me!

I'm too tired for a proper post about the entire trip, but I'll offer a few memories and highlights:

I did not meet a single unkind person the entire time I was in Australia. I realize that my sample size was quite small, but it was still remarkable to me. Even the cranky old bus driver we encountered one day was more amusing than anything else. 

I snuggled a Koala. I have pictures that I'll share in the near future.

The show we did in Melbourne with the MSO was fantastic, and I'm very proud of the show we put on. Standing on the stage next to the orchestra while they played the theme to HALO is a memory I'll not soon forget.

Supanova was spectacular in both cities. Everyone involved in the show was kind and easygoing, and so were all the fans I met while I was there. If they invite me back for other shows in the future, I'm almost certainly going to say yes.

I spent a fair amount of time with Chandler Riggs (he plays Carl on Walking Dead) and his dad. We made a video together that makes me laugh so hard, I pee a little. I'll edit and upload it soon. He's a great kid, and I felt a certain kinship with him, on account of us both being kids on a popular TV show. He has a great sense of humour about staying in the house, too.

You know who are awesome? James and Oliver Phelps, who played the Weasley Twins in Harry Potter. Those guys are like the freaking Beatles at conventions, but they never act like it. I like them so much, I wish I was a bigger Potter fanboy.

If you ever go to Brisbane, make the effort to get out to Moreton Island. It's really worth it.

Okay, that's all for now. I have to get ready to go to Calgary this weekend.

Greetings from Australia!

Greetings from Australia! I’ve been here for something like four days (I say “something like” because the time travel thing that happens when you cross the International Date Line is still confusing me), and I just love it.

Anne and I are in Melbourne, which I’ve found to be an absoulutely wonderful city. My sample size is very small, but every Australian I’ve encountered since I’ve been here has been friendly, kind, and generally awesome. The food is fantastic, and the city itself is beautiful.

When I’m not rehearsing for Thursday’s performance at the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Anne and I have been exploring the city. Yesterday, we made music by dancing around in front of a giant theremin, walked up and down about a dozen alleys (I think they call them “laneways” or something like that, here) that were covered with all sorts of gorgeous street art, and ate a pizza that was covered with nutella, strawberries, and slivered almonds. If you’d told me three days ago that I would eat that on purpose, I would have told you that you were crazy. If you’d bet me a million dollars that I’d actually enjoy it, I’d now be in your debt for the rest of my life.

So, yanno, build the time machine, meet me in Melbourne last Sunday, and start planning to make enough money from me to fund the construction of your time machine.

Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I helped build that time machine?

Restaurants I’ve fallen in love with: Cookie in the central business district, and The Local Taphouse in St. Kilda. Food I’ve fallen in love with: all of it, especially baked beans on toast for breakfast. And even though Anne wants to kill Vegemite with fire, I’m starting to like a thin smear of it on toast with honey or marmalade.

In case you’re here in Melbourne: come to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on Thursday for Video Games Unplugged: Symphony of Legends. It’s going to be amazing. Then, come to Supanova this weekend!

The weather has been nasty and cold, but it’s supposed to start turning around today, just in time for us to go to Brisbane on Monday. I’m super excited to have a few days to myself on the Gold Coast before Supanova happens there, a week from Saturday.

… I just realized that I haven’t yet listened to Men At Work or INXS in the original Australian, so I think I should go do that before I go to rehearsal.

Question for Locals (in Melbourne and Gold Coast): Can you suggest a “must see”, “must do” and warn me off of “not worth your time” activities? Anne and I like to get away from touristy things and find places that locals enjoy.

I forgot to mention that I’m coming to Australia

This Friday, I'm heading to Melbourne to present Video Games Unplugged with Scott Kurtz and Kris Straub. The show is going to be amazing: the MSO will play music from games like Bioshock 2, Heavy Rain, and Final Fantasy. As the music plays, they'll show the games on a huge screen. And did I mention that it's presented by Scott, Kris, and me? Yeah, that too.

I'm also going to be at Supanova in Melbourne April 13-15, and at Supanova Gold Cost April 20-22.

I've never been to Australia before, and though I'm a little unsettled by the idea of a 16 hour flight, I'm currently about 55% excited, 45% teetering-on-an-anxiety-attack-about-the-whole-thing.

Because of the International Date Line, I leave on Friday, but I don't arrive until Sunday. Then, on the way back, I actually land in Los Angeles four hours before I take off. I'm considering wearing a bowtie and a fez for the trip.

Someone found my Kindle on the airplane this weekend. I’d really like it back.

I left my Kindle on an airplane this weekend (post-convention exhaustion will do that to you), and someone found it.

I know that someone found it, because they've been using my account to buy games and books. Based on the purchases, I'm fairly sure the person who found my Kindle (which is named Wheatley) is young, possibly a teenager or a college student. He or she likes Scrabble, Battleship, Spelling Star, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and something called Telesa. He or she also hopes to learn Samoan, French, and Spanish. He or she has spent a fair amount of my money on these things.

I used Amazon's Personal Document thing to send a note to my Kindle, thanking the person for finding it, and telling them that I can be contacted at [email protected] to arrange its return.

I'm hopeful that this person will do the right thing and get in touch.


I called Amazon, reported it stolen, and they deactivated it after refunding me the fradulent purchases.

This isn't the end of the world; I can afford a new Kindle (thank Steve the Fruitbat), and in the grand scheme of things, it isn't the biggest of deals… but I sincerely hoped that whoever has my Kindle now would have read the note I sent to it, which is titled TO THE PERSON WHO FOUND MY KINDLE, and gotten in touch to return it to me. I want to believe in the basic goodness of people.

I really hope that it wasn't just taken by some kid who decided to keep something because, you know, Finders Keepers. I really hope that it was taken by some dirtbag who turned around and sold it to a kid who is too young to know that "this Kindle comes with whatever you want and you never have to pay for it, just give me fifty bucks for meth!" or whatever is a pretty clear flag that something isn't totally honest with this thing.

Anyway, it looks like I'm not getting it back, and all someone has for their trouble is a useless piece of plastic and wires.

“It’s Like Geek Summer Camp for Adults.”

Our second day was spent at sea, which would normally mean it's time to sleep in… but we had a Q&A panel at 9:30am (6:30am, according my my jet lagged brain) so I was up nice and early (damn early… too early… according to my brain) to make it there on time.

I'd guess that about 1/4 of the Seamonkey population came out to interrogate all of the performers, and we had as much fun as we did last year. As expected, The Hodgman and the F. Tompkins were hilarious.

After the Q&A… I can't remember what I did. But it's safe to assume that I spent the remainder of the day sitting by the aft pool, reading and sunning myself, and making sure that the inside of the pirate ship still worked.

You know, I realized that I didn't make notes for every day, because I was too busy just enjoying every day. I guess that's why I don't have lots of video of my kids when they were little, because it was more important to me to be there than behind a camera.

So let's just wrap this up like this: The cruise was amazing. Anne observed that it's like Geek Summer Camp for Adults, and I was as impressed by her observation as I was jealous that I didn't make it first. By the end of the cruise, I was looking forward to the next cruise with the same excitement and "is it time to go yet?" excitement that, until last week, had been reserved exclusively for PAX.

Every single one of the shows was great to watch, but it was the "second stage" stuff: the Karaoke, the other Karaoke, the Open Mic, the Joseph Scrimshaw Show, and the two DJ Flans dance parties that really blew me away. These events were more intimate than the big stage shows, and felt like they were more about all of us doing a thing together than they were about us enjoying watching a thing together. If there's one reason everyone should go on a JoCoCruiseCrazy (seriously, enough of us so we can get a whole boat without any Snorks to complain at us about things), that's it.

I'm sure there are other stories to tell about the cruise, but I'm drawing a blank. If there's something from our voyage that you'd like me to write about, leave a comment and I'll see what shakes out of my brain, which is convinced that it's still on the boat.

JCCC2: in which I “sing” Karaoke on a boat.

So this is a thing that happened.

It has everything Karaoke should traditionally have: not-very-good singing, not-very-good dancing, fucking up of lyrics, and the obligatory small glass of magic juice* responsible for the entire thing.

Enjoy… if you dare:

On our performer mailing list, John Hodgman kept saying that he was going to turn this into a Murder Cruise… none of us believed him, but I can see that he was successful, because I just murdered that poor song. Well played, Hodgman. Well played indeed, sir.

Very special thinks to KatyHaile for sharing my shame with the world, and preserving it for future generations.

*A type of "sauce" if you will.

I am no longer on a boat. This is a thing that happened when I was on a boat.

I'm getting better at writing titles that have something to do with the content of the post, I think, and for that I am going to celebrate with a quick spin in my chair.


Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way, here's something that happened when I was on a boat. Well, not when I was actually on the boat, but I could see the boat when this happened so…

Okay, fine. I haven't gotten as good at titles as I thought. THERE! ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?!

Day One: Half Moon Cay

Holland America goes to this private island in the Bahamas that is everything you'd expect from a private beach in the Caribbean, if you were expecting a beautiful white crescent beach with a giant pirate ship on it, and inside the pirate ship is a bar.

We spent the day playing Frisbee and Ball on the beach, with occasional breaks to visit the pirate ship.

"This is the best in the world," I said to Ryan while we were swimming in the ocean. In February.

"Yeah, it totally doesn't suck," he said.

I reached up to catch the Frisbee that Nolan had thrown to us. It skipped off my fingertips and floated on the surface a few feet away. While I swam over to pick it up I said, "In fact, I believe that this has been scientifically proved to not suck." 

"Are you sure?" 

I threw the Frisbee back to Nolan, who caught it behind his back.

"Yes. My control for this test was sitting inside at home last week because it was too cold to go outside and do anything."

"Have you published this report?" He asked.

I hollered to a Seamonkey* who was nearby, "This totally doesn't suck!"

"You got that right!" He hollered back.

"See? Published and peer-reviewed."

"Seems legit," Ryan said.

More later…

*Passengers on JoCoCruseCrazy are called Seamonkeys. For science. You monster.

in which a suitcase is packed

Tomorrow morning, I'm going to get into a giant aluminium tube and fly across the continent to America's Wang. Then, on Sunday, I'll get on a boat and spend a week doing nerdy stuff with nerds in the middle of the ocean. It should be pretty awesome.

Earlier today, I folded my laundry, and put it on the bed. I laid out the various items of clothing I need to take with me on the cruise next week, carefully considering what nerd T-shirts would make the cut, and which ones would have to stay home.

I took my suit, and a clean white dress shirt out of the closet. I walked around the room, trying to find a place to hang them up. When I realized there wasn't a place to hang them up, I carefully laid them on the bed.

"The cats aren't in the house, so this will be fine here for a few minutes," I thought to myself.

I went into my office, and prepared my backpack: I took out some things I didn't need, including an old call sheet, and realized that the last time I took this backpack anywhere, I was working on Eureka. I had a little bit of a sad. I put some books in a pocket next to my Kindle. I put my bag of dice inside, and grabbed a couple of small, social games: Werewolf, Resistance, Fluxx, and a couple of Button Men, just in case. I printed out my performance setlist and put it into the pocket where I'd usually put my laptop. (My laptop is staying home, because the Internet on the ship costs eleventy billion dollars a second, and I'd rather read books, play games, and relax in the sun with my friends and family than hang out online, where I spend pretty much all of my free time when we're home.

I made sure my various chargers, extra batteries, headphones, and other nerd essentials were in their proper place. Then, having confirmed that I had everything I would need to entertain myself and survive a zombie apocalypse, I headed back into my bedroom to load up my suitcase.

My black cat was sleeping in the middle of my white dress shirt. My black and white cat was sleeping on my black kilt.

"Are you fucking serious, you guys?" I said. 

The cats did not reply. One of them rolled over and purred enthusiastically, while the other put her ears back and flicked her tail.

I sighed. "Okay, get up," I said. "These are going back into the closet until I pack them."

The cats let me know that they were very displeased with me, in the usual manner. I let them know that I would get over it, in the usual manner.

I hung up my fancy clothes, and put my normal clothes into my suitcase. The cats glared at me from the floor.

"You'll get over it," I said.

That's when I realized that I was alone in the house, and talking to my cats.

…turns out that this is the perfect time to take a working vacation.