Stephanie Goes to (the First-Ever) PodCon 2017


    I donated to PodCon‘s Indiegogo campaign on a whim back in… March? I knew I wanted to go back to Washington as a treat for my upcoming 30th birthday and saw that this potential podcast celebration/convention was scheduled for the month before my birthday in Seattle. So, perfect! And thus, the campaign was funded and the planning commenced. I conned Bee into going, who then got her friend Anne to go as well.


    As an additional gift to me, my friend Caitlin got me a ticket for The Adventure Zone live in Tacoma the night before PodCon kicked off. Since it’s a bit of a hike from Seattle, Anne and I found another person to split our Lyft with to the show. (Thanks, Edwin!) What we did not anticipate was the insane traffic caused by two accidents and dense, soupy PNW fog. It definitely looked like something out of an X-Files episode. So, we all go to know each other and our cool driver very well on our two-hour journey. Since so many people were stuck in traffic and tweeting about it, the good ol’ McElBoys even delayed the show. When they made this announcement at the show, everyone actually cheered.

    The Adventure Zone was, of course, amazing. It was Candlenights themed and insanely hilarious. Griffin was the most frustrated I’ve ever seen him. Plus, despite the very enjoyable Commitment campaign, I always miss Tres Horny Boys. We headed back to the hotel and attempted to get food at the hotel bar (we did not succeed). However, Travis McElroy was sitting a couple tables away, receiving his/Magnus’s real-life Flaming Poisoning Raging Sword of Doom and playing with it. So, we unintentionally got a free preview of the sword in all its glory.


    The opening show was just a preview of the fun to be had for the weekend. It was lots of hilarity and excitement with most of the podcast guests getting everyone hyped, as well as the PodCon founders: Travis & Justin McElroy, Hank Green, Joseph Fink, and Jeffrey Cranor.

    After the opening show, I headed to the Still Buffering live show, hosted by Dr. Sydnee Smirl McElroy, Teylor Smirl, and Rileigh Smirl. They discussed holiday gifts for teens then and now, which included scrunchies, LipSmackers, easily breakable donut earrings, emoji bathbombs, and more. At the end of the show, the sisters lingered, so I word vomited a bunch of love at Sydnee because Sawbones is probably my favorite podcast. I thanked her for making it since Sawbones got me through some crappy work days and also taught me a lot of cool stuff. And then I talked to Teylor about Buffy cosplay. She was so sweet and said, “Nice to meet you, Buffy.” Sydnee also gave me one of the LipSmackers, so that is my favorite random PodCon souvenir.

    While walking back from that, Cecil Baldwin of Welcome to Nightvale approached me to compliment my Laura Palmer shirt. Random encounter! (I’ve never listened to WTNV but that was still very exciting.)

    And then it was time for puppets! Anne is an incredible plush making lady, and she made adorable puppets of Magnus, Taako, and Merle from The Adventure Zone. So, Bee and I were more than happy to take on the role of puppeteer for the entire weekend. We crashed the TAZ photoshoot with our puppets, taking selfies with people. I attempted to do the Taako voice as best I could and decided then and there that I must cosplay Taako ASAP. Anyway, everyone was extremely kind and excited to be there. Plus, everyone’s costumes were amazing. It was a fun shoot.

    We attended a panel about developing serial storytelling (where I squee’d about TANIS and The Black Tapes), then caught Criminal, which was a surprisingly hilarious show. I was anticipating some murdery true crime. I may need to subscribe because Phoebe’s voice was so very soothing. My Brother, My Brother and Me live was after that. LISTEN! TORONOTOOO! It was, as always, hilarious. And the audience questions were actually good! Great job, PodCon.


    Sawbones was first up and it was, no joke, the funniest Sawbones I’ve ever heard. The topic of conversation was coffee. However, Justin could not quite grasp the concept of how an enema worked (it will all make sense when you hear it). So, he decided to demonstrate on stage with Sydnee’s help. Oh man, it was so good.

    I went to the bathroom when it was over since I had been chugging coffee during the show and, as we all learned at the show, coffee is a diuretic. (Okay, I already knew that… but still.) On my way back, I was taking pictures of the downtown Seattle scenery when I turned around to see Justin McElroy himself taking a photo with someone, so I asked him if I could get a picture. And he was nice enough to appear just as thrilled to be taking a photo with me as I certainly was with him.

    Next up was The The Adventure Zone Zone where we got a preview of an animated trailer for the show. All it did was make me want an entire animated series of the show. I know, I know, there’s a graphic novel coming out but… their voices really do make it what it is. We also learned that TAZ will be going weekly for these shorter campaign bursts starting in January. (And I’m like, yay but also oh no, how will I ever keep up!?) Travis showed off his Magnus sword for the crowd and the boys answered some fun questions.

    I had my Still Buffering signing after that. All the signings were done by a lottery system that you entered well before the con — and I was lucky enough to get into one. And the best part? There was no extra charge for an autograph or selfie like at all the other conventions of the world. I took a selfie with the Smirl sisters and had a lovely time chatting with the fans who were also waiting. Get this — we got to SIT IN CHAIRS while we waited and line up one row at a time. I feel like all other LineCons are some sort of torture system now that I’ve been treated to such luxury.

    I opted to shove a quesadilla into my face shortly after this and listened in on a meet-up about fandom podcasts, then went to a panel about starting your own podcast. (‘Cause, y’know, it was inevitable — and boy, do I have such a fun idea. I can’t wait to actually get the first episode recorded now that I’ve done a basic outline.) And then, sadly, it was time for the closing show. It all went by so fast!

    The closing show was a bunch of hilarious snippets, hosted by the gorgeous Symphony Sanders and Gaby Dunn. My favorite part was the “Smart Stuff” live show with Justin McElroy and Roman Mars. I was dying. And then, of course, the standup set by Aparna Nancherla destroyed me. It was so good.

    When the show closed out, we got stopped by several more people for photos with the puppets, including one of the volunteers, who was positioned at the end of the podcast guest channel. Plus, we were having a dance party to “All Star” — the most appropriate closing song. As people were taking photos, I saw the entire McElroy/Smirl clan coming down the way. Travis spotted me with the Taako puppet and pointed at me/Taako saying, “THAT’S AMAZING!” And then Griffin made some sort of excited/distressed noise as he ran away. Charlie waved to us/the puppets, as did the Smirls. And good ol’ Clint McElroy, everyone’s favorite internet dad, stopped to take photos with the puppets. It was such a lovely, crazy end to the convention. Thanks, McElroys & Smirls, for being so nice to your fans even when you were likely exhausted/hangry.

    Anyhoo, for a first-year convention, PodCon was definitely really well run. Everything was on time, easy to find (once you knew where you were going), and well organized. And while I want it to be successful, there’s always something special about a convention that’s so small and intimate. It’s easier to make connections with people and bump into your favorite podcast guest and randomly tell them you love them/their show/get a picture with them/etc.

    And not only was it an enjoyable convention experience where I got to see so many amazing live shows and find some new podcasts to listen to, it was also insanely inspiring. I spent many hours yesterday finally sitting down to do the outline of the podcast I’ve been wanting to start for many months. So, thank you, PodCon, guests, fellow attendees, and Bee & Anne for joining me for this experimental adventure. Y’all rock.

    And now… onto a zillion photos:

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    Stephanie Reads Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier


    For those that had trouble digesting the very densely packed Secret History of Twin Peaks, The Final Dossier may be more of a fun read. Plus, it’s way shorter.

    While I enjoyed the Secret History, it took me forever to get through it because, frankly, some parts of history are boring. It goes all the way back to Lewis & Clark’s expeditions (maybe even before, it’s been a while) up through the 1990s. But overall, I enjoyed how the Twin Peaks mythos was fit into real-world history. I think it’s well worth reading for Margaret and Carl Rodd’s alien encounter as children, the Packard family history, Ed and Norma’s tragic love affair (that we now know has a very happy ending), and why Josie is THE WORST.

    Both books are fabulously, intricately designed to look like you’re holding files or newspaper clippings, so having the physical copy is well worth the investment. Especially the Secret History.

    While the Secret History focuses more on the origin of the mythology, the Final Dossier focuses on all those Twin Peaks characters we’ve come to know and love over 25+ years. We play catch up with some of them we didn’t get as many details on in the Secret History, learn intricate backstories that we never knew before that may shed light on some things from the original series (especially Norma and Annie) while still leaving us with even more questions as we go over some of the major events of The Return.

    Major spoilers ahead…

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    Stephanie’s 8 Favorite Spoopy Movies


    Poltergeist (1982): This will forever remain my favorite scary movie of all time. I remember my mom didn’t want to show it to me when I was too young because I looked a lot like Carol Anne. It didn’t matter, I was still afraid I’d get sucked into the TV. Or that my closet would eat me in the middle of the night. I still get creeped out when I forget to turn the light off in the closet and close the door. I just love how this movie slowly builds on the creepiness through things moving about on their to complete and utter insanity. And just when you think the house is “clean,” shit gets even CRAZIER. It’s just so fun and creepy. It’s a must-watch movie for me every October.

    The Craft: How do I even begin to explain how much I love The Craft? I think it was one of the most formative movies of my pre-teen and teen years. I related to these girls, going to a co-ed Catholic high school and having a couple close girlfriends who I definitely tried “light as a feather, stiff as a board” with during sleepovers. (I think most girls did this, yes?) Thankfully, I also had a mom who enabled my obsession with this movie and took me to the local “New Age” store so we could get incense, candles, stones, books, etc. And even now, I think that movie has influenced my wardrobe, makeup, and jewelry choices. If you knew me in middle/high school, then you totally get it.

    ANYWAY, the movie is the ultimate girl power movie. To put it as simply as possible, four girls who have some subtle magic powers team up as friends and cast spells on the men that have wronged them. The spells aren’t hokey. Everything is based on real mythology and principles. And obviously, while the results are exaggerated, it feels real. It turns into a true horror movie for the last 15 minutes. The soundtrack is one of the best movie soundtracks ever, and I still listen to it regularly. There’s no movie like it and no movie that resonates so strongly with me still today.

    The Witch: “Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?” I like to call this movie my origin story. (It doesn’t help that one of my friends is convinced the main girl looks like me, ha!) This is a great psychological thriller that builds a quiet terror throughout an isolated family in 1630 New England — a few decades before the great witch panic of Salem. What happens when a witch in the woods steals a baby and terrorizes a family from afar by slowly driving them all insane? The teen girl is to blame, of course. There are some haunting images throughout this film and the final scene is… perfection.

    The Strangers: I have a fascination with home invasion movies and this one takes the cake. Why do so many people insist on living in remote places so far from civilization!? Sure, it’s peaceful but there are so many crazy, murdery people out there! This one is horrifying because it seems all too plausible. There’s no rhyme or reason for the violence done to the couple. It’s done simply “because you were home.” *shudder*

    10 Cloverfield Lane: What happens when you crash your car and you’re locked in an undergrounder bunker with a man who may or may not be an insane homicidal maniac? I love, love this movie. And I love Mary Elizabeth Winstead. If you can’t tell, I tend to love horror/creepy movies that aren’t blatant about it being a horror movie. We really don’t know what‘s going on in this one. Is there really an apocalypse happening outside? Or is this man just completely batshit crazy? Does he want to murder the others or does he just want some companionship? Go watch it because it’s so, so good.

    Alien: This is classic horror at its best. I hope you’ve seen it. If not, you need to correct that immediately. What’s better than Sigourney Weaver being the ultimate badass while looking super foxy. An alien slowly and gruesomely taking out a ragtag crew trapped on a spaceship. A cat, which survives the whole film. It’s perfect.

    Get Out: Jordan Peele (of Key & Peele) created one of the most harrowing horror movies of the modern era. It plays on the discomfort of white families attempting to welcome their daughter’s new black suitor. They overcompensate by talking about Obama and attempting to prove they’re not racist because of all their black friends! They seem awkward but well-intentioned. But as the family getaway progresses, things prove to be more and more alarming. It’s uncomfortable, gruesome, hilarious at times (because it’s written by Peele), and psychologically crazy.

    Cabin in the Woods: I couldn’t make this list without this one! It starts out just like every other horror movie: a group of horny 20-somethings heading to a cabin in the woods for a weekend of drinking and frivolity when suddenly they’re being axe-murdered by zombies. But… we soon learn this is all being orchestrated by a team behind the scenes with a slew of monster-movie tropes at their disposal. It all just depends on which horror the victims “select” in a dark basement full of creepy antiques. The cast is fantastic: Thor (before he was Thor), Fran Kranz from “Dollhouse,” Amy Acker, Jesse Williams, Bradley Whitford, Tom Lenk,  and, of course, Sigourney Weaver.

    Honorable Mentions Because I Couldn’t Decide and Love Spoopy Movies: Trick R Treat, Aliens, The Conjuring, The Ring, Ju On, Hausu, The Descent, It Follows, Paranormal Activity, The Blair Witch Project, The Babadook, Scream, Black Christmas (1974), The Others, The House of the Devil, The Fly, Eraserhead, The Birds, and many, many more!

    What are your favorite spoopy movies?