The Sharknado of Wineries

There’s a reason why most wineries do their tastings after the tour. The usual tack is to take the group around, explain all of the stuff about growing seasons, aging barrels and spotlessly clean tanks and THEN get people silly on wine. You know, get them silly…sell them wine.

However, the winery that Chris and I visited took a different strategy on Saturday, possibly because the winery was also playing host to a wedding and two receptions which were keeping the staff plenty busy. We did our tasting first, and our bartender gave me a couple tastes more than I should have been given; if I’d been offered another ounce, I’d have had to refuse it out of fear of being “that girl” on the tour. The one who won’t shut up, touches things she’s not supposed to touch, and actually answers the guide’s rhetorical questions. Little did we know.

By the time the wedding parties cleared out and the tour started, almost everyone on the tour was pretty far gone. In fact, I was the only female on the tour who hadn’t become “that girl,” and I wasn’t doing too much better. I just kept smiling at Chris in that way that says “I have SO many things to say about this, but I am so drunk that I can’t telling if I’m whispering, so let’s wait til we get in the car.”

One woman interrupted so much that her husband asked her if she worked there right before the tour guide asked her (very nicely and jokingly) if she wanted to guide the tour. Another man just kept patting his wife on the shoulder as if to say “maybe you shouldn’t have almost put your mouth on the tank tap as if to drink out of it.”

As the comedy ended and we settled up our tasting and tour bill, Chris and I stepped out of the double doors that led to the parking lot to hear a man in an Affliction shirt yell “let me drive, fag! I’m not even drunk!”

No word on whether he was with one of the wedding parties, with the bridal shower on the back porch, or just there because the winery is in an otherwise dry county.

“This is the Sharknado of wineries. Like, it’s not so bad that you can’t handle it, but it’s bad enough to be funny.”

Postcards from the Edge (Dragon*Con-clusion)

Sunday was normal until the evening. The morning held a True Blood panel, followed by afternoon sushi. Then…well…

I went back to the condo to put on my going out clothes, because I was planning on hitting Celldweller’s performance at midnight. Thus, at 6:00, I found myself in the company of a cab driver who didn’t like air conditioning and spent the entire ride YELLING into his phone in Swahili or something.

“BLAH BLAH BLAH coca leaf BLAH BLAH BLAH very addictive.”

Hey, buddy. I don’t know what kind of Miami Vice bullshit you’re talking about up there, but maybe you could turn on the a/c?

I made it to the Dark Muse panel on time, but some other guys weren’t so lucky. About 20 minutes in, 5 dudes (who were probably drunk), walked in and caused some big disruption.

“Is this a dungeon?” asked the leader, who looked a lot like Mika (for the purposes of this story, we’ll call him FauxMika).

“Are you going to act like a douche?” answers Steven from Ego Likeness.

You’d think that would be all it would take for the guys to either shut up or leave. Wrong. They spent the next 10 minutes giggling, doing loud things on their cell phones and stopping the panel to ask Donna what band she’s in. Eventually, the lady sitting behind them whispered something (all I heard was “you’re being a jerk…”) and they left to a round of applause.

After dark muse, I went to hang out with Attention System Dude before attempting the Celldweller show. Attempting? Yes.

See, they’d decided NOT to clear the room between Celldweller and Cruxshadows. The result: a line of Cruxshadows fans wrapping most of the way around the hotel. “If these people all get in, there’s not gonna be any room to dance anyway.” Also, I didn’t want to stand there. Also, I could have gone to hang out with Dude some more…which was what I did. That is, that’s what I did until we swapped badges and I gave the show another shot. First plan: see if there’s room now that everyone was inside. Backup plan: use his all-access badge to sneak in via backstage. A little sketchy, since I am so totally not the queen of believable lying.

I didn’t have to lie my ass off, which is good because it probably would have resulted in being kicked out or something. The show was good, and my only regret is that I stayed just a LITTLE too long to get a post-show drink, since the booze all got tucked away at 2am. Sadness.

Went back to hang with Dude some more and ended up helping (or attempting to help) pack up his booth before he gave me a ride back to sis’s condo. Now, readers, let’s keep minds out of the gutter on this one. For one thing, it was 3:30 by that time. For the second thing, he had a drunk friend and friend’s wife in the back seat. (“Dude! I’m sorry for being a cunt!”) For the third thing, my sister lives in Fort Knox. We had to say goodbye in the mailbox room just off the lobby, and the concierge straight-up STOOD there and watched us say goodbye (thanks, guy…you’re a pal…really). I promise next time I do something, it’ll be super-whorey and I’ll tell you all about it. OK, maybe not.

Anyway, I made it home safely and took a shower and a little bit of a nap before I woke up and started writing so I wouldn’t forget everything from the blur of the last 4 days.

I shudder to think of how much stuff is now in my email inbox. Tomorrow is going to be…interesting.

Postcards from the Edge (Dragon*Con, part three)

There is but one rule on Saturday morning at Dragon*Con: you cannot win against the parade. Silly silly us, walking around trying to find some way around, over or under that thing. After 30 minutes of negotiating crowded sidewalks in stacks (stupid me, thinking it would be an easy walking day, just cause we took a cab to the hotels), I said “Whit…we can’t win…I give up…let’s just wait it out.”

We were trying to cross the parade route to get in line early for that morning’s True Blood panel. It was not to be, but we still got decent seats anyway, once the parade was over.

After that, I went to the amusing “Gigs From Hell” panel and then went to find my sister who was at brunch with her friends. They had decided on a day of bar hopping, so I somehow ended up in a loud bar (honestly, get a rug or some upholstered furniture or something) eating my salad while perched on a couch. Since I can’t hang with a day of drinking (it’s the long, slow burn that will do you in), I went headed back to the con for Voltaire’s panel.

We’d gone a couple blocks out to find Loudest Bar Ever, which meant I had to negotiate a street of drunk LSU fans in stack boots.

“Hey! Do you know where there’s a liquor store?”
“No…I’m not from here.”
“Want to have dinner sometime?”
“Uh…what? No…”
“I don’t have a problem with your lifestyle! It’s cool, baby!”

Needless to say, I was all too happy to go a couple more blocks, where I ran into a flock of Steampunk kids and felt relatively non-irate again. It’s not drunk sports fans that I hate. It’s that I’m not allowed to stab any of them.

After some prompting, Voltaire told the story of how he got banned from D*C for life, which clearly didn’t take, as he’s been there every year for 11 years. A fun story that ends with him getting banned for some 4am sexual activity at his merch booth. After that, I met back up with sis and we went back to the condo. I took a cab back to the con later for panels about Tim Burton and Repo! Shadowcasts and then met up with sis and friends for some pizza and then much-needed resting of eyes.

Weird cab rides, douchebags, hanging out with a boy, and getting cockblocked by a concierge.

Postcards from the Edge (Dragon*Con, part one)

There’s something about Chattanooga. No matter the day or time you attempt to pass through, you’re going to sit in traffic. It’s like half of the highways in Chattanooga were built solely for people who just want to pass through Chattanooga and not actually stay. If that’s true, they probably should have built more lanes.

Despite Chattanooga traffic and the slightly testy mood brought on by slogging my way through the first 4 chapters of an audiobook of New Moon (really, Bella, stop being emo and move on with the plot already), I made it to Atlanta.

“We better shake a tail feather and get down to pre-registration,” I told my sister, “it’s already 8 and pre-reg closes at ten.”

We arrived to find a line literally encircling the hotel where badges were being stashed. About 45 minutes after being in this line, I went to find an employeee. See, my sister hadn’t pre-registered and just wanted to make sure she could even BUY a ticket from the long line.

“Oh, she can just walk on in. That line’s maybe 15 minutes.”

Really? Because what the fuck.

She went on in to get her ticket. As I stood in the line, I started wondering if it would just be faster to come back early the next morning. On the one hand, I could end up standing in the sun for hours and missing the first True Blood panel. On the other hand, I’d just driven four hours and, at 10:00, I’d had a total of one PowerBar all day. If I had to stand there unti 2am (I was told the next day that this is how long the line lasted), someone was going to die.

“Fuck this. I’m coming to find you.”

After that text, I started walking around the building until I saw some guy who looked sort of official. Well, just in the sense that he was walking near the line and already has his badge on.

“Do you work here?”
“Kind of…?”
“If someone went to just buy a ticket, where would I find that person?”
“I don’t know. I’m just in a band. But let’s go look for her.”

As I roamed the lobby with one of the dudes from Attention System, I explained that I had to just come back tomorrow. “Because if I stay here, I’d have to kill and eat someone and even if the police understood, I’m still a vegetarian.”

“Amy, even if you come back at 7:00 tomorrow, the line will be around the building again” came the words from a Nashville homie who happened to be working the information desk.

“What time would I have to get here to NOT find a line around the building?”

“5:00. But pre-reg doesn’t open until 8:00, so you’d still be in line for a while.”

We’re talking about a 5 to 6 hour line, people. This is when my brain went into survival mode.

“I wonder if I could just find someone at the front of the line and offer him a blow job.”

(KIDDING, people. Not serious. Kidding.)

This would be the point at which I found my sister, who had been texting me from the credit card line for ten minutes telling me that some pre-teen had been repeatedly farting in her direction the entire time she was in the credit card line. “Not to mention that every transaction was taking a solid five minutes. What’s WITH these people?” The Mauk sisters are not amused by inefficiency.

As a last ditch, we decided to check Will Call.

The fellow working the will-call booth was having a little trouble with the alphabet (m still lies between l and n, dude…and are you drunk already?), so he just handed me the binder.

“Not here. Say, purely hypothetically, that I slipped you 50 bucks. Would that work?” He thought I was joking.

(Not joking, people. Serious. Not joking.)

“But you don’t have to go all the way back to the beginning of the line. You can just go to the end of the ‘m’ line.”

OK, so it was a total dick move. It was. But he told us to go over there. What are we going to do? Insist on waiting for 6 hours? So, we went to the end of the ‘m’ line and were out of there within an hour. One good dick move deserves another, I guess.

To you, I say this: that line was bullshit. It is not “part of the con experience.” It’s fucking stupid. It is not “a chance to meet people in line,” it’s fucking stupid. Funneling 40,000 people into one room where they will find ONE person manning ONE binder for everyone whose name starts with a certain letter is fucking stupid.

I know that the people working in there are almost all volunteers, they have no reason to care about hurrying or providing good customer service or any of that. They’re tired, too. They’ve been dealing with pissed-off people all day. There’s no perfect way to manage that many people. I get all of that, but making people stand in line for 6 hours (possibly in the heat and sun) is so far from a perfect system that it’s completely unacceptable. D*C’s been going on long enough that they should have been able to figure this one out by now. Just because most of the people at D*C are too nice to start a fucking riot doesn’t make a 6-hour line OK. That’s all I have to say about that.

Anyway, we got out of there by 10:30 and went promptly to The Nook for a drink and some onion rings.

True Blood, Mexican food and Steven from Ego Likeness calling someone an asshole (thus tripling my respect for him).