Scandalous Adventures: Bizarro Con 2014
Hey. My name is Tiffany Scandal and I'm a good-for-nothing broad.
I've just returned from the most magical weekend ever: Bizarro Con 2014.
Hosted by the wonderful people at Eraserhead Press, Portland's very own publisher of bizarro fiction, this event takes place in the enchanting (and haunted) Edgefield Manor in Troutdale, Oregon.
Checked in Thursday afternoon. Immediately found dried blood and a dead fly in my room. There was also a strange ticking noise in the room, but it's all easy shit to ignore once you've had enough to drink and work your way to exhaustion. Anyway, nerves a little tingly. I had been looking forward to this event all year. Bizarro Con is such a fucking magical experience, I know that for the months to come, I'll start many of my sentences with, "and this one time at Bizarro Con . . ." Yes, Bizarro Con is my band camp. Let me fill you in on why.
Friendly, creative people EVERYWHERE. As soon as I walked into the Ad House to pick up my badge, I was instantly welcomed with smiles and hugs. Saying hello and catching up with friends I hadn't seen since last year, meeting people I had become acquainted with online because of our mutual love for books and weird shit. It took me almost an hour to circle the first floor -- and this was just with saying hi to people.
Opening ceremonies commenced. Rose O'Keefe, publisher for Eraserhead Press, gave a wonderful speech about Eraserhead Press celebrating 15 fabulous years of being in business. She shared its start, growth, and goals for the future. This was the seventh annual Bizarro Con, and considering everyone in attendance, it's very promising that this gathering will only grow larger with each coming year. As much as I love the intimacy of the gathering, it is pretty fucking exciting to see a community of creative people grow. Now if only Edgefield would also grow to accommodate the awesome parties that'll be hosted in the years to come.
So thursday night is usually mellow. People are slowly trickling in, so there's a lot of hanging out at bars, wandering the halls, catching up with whoever you can because once the weekend gets going, it goes by fast.
Friday morning. 8 am. Writer's workshop with Cody Goodfellow. I take a little hair of the dog and start my morning with a screwdriver and a bagel. The focus of this workshop is how to build better worlds and plots for stories. Implementing the infamous John Skipp's notecard method, we jotted down our basic outlines from the prompt we were given. Once we lay the cards down, we start filling in gaps, making our stories grow. The exercise was a lot of fun, and I got to sit next to great dudes like Vince Kramer (author of Gigantic Death Worm and Death Machines Of Death), Ross E. Lockhart (author of Chick Bassist and publisher at Word Horde), and Gabino Iglesias (author of Gutmouth and the forthcoming novel Zero Saints)
After the workshop, I ran to my room to practice for my reading. An hour of second guessing my selection and making sure I don't go over my allotted time, I finally just threw in the towel and said, "fuck it." Read or die, and I fucking read. By a FIRE.
Cut to watching more readings, soaking in a heated pool with my boo, and preparing for a fantastic friday night party with some fucking brilliant live performances scheduled.
Every performance was ace. There were good brews made with love from Rose O'Keefe and Jason Rizos. There were babes:
And punkrock dragqueens:
Saturday was the day where you needed to have multiples of you. So many kick ass panels and readings happening at the same time. Running between buildings on ice-covered concrete isn't as fun as sounds when you're pressed for time and are constantly carrying shit in your hands. but you make do because you want to absorb as much of this experience as you can.
Saturday night is also host to the most fantastic awards ceremony and banquet, and also entertains you with the always wild Ultimate Bizarro Showdown. Great food, good people, and tons of laughs and people go up on stage and try to find the the best way to tell you the funniest and strangest story that they can. This year's winner:
Sunday was filled with food, trying to not feel like utter garbage because of all that you drank and how little you slept, and catching even more great panels. I even got to moderate one myself on the writing process and had the honor of sharing the table with John Skipp (author, screenwriter, film director, songwriter, publisher at Fungasm Press, and probably a million other awesome things), Laura Lee Bahr (author of Haunt, playwright, and actress), and Carlton Mellick III (godfather of the bizarro movement and author of 43 books).
Sunday also included a bizarro wine tasting excursion hosted by Kevin L Donihe (who will tell you that wine is made from rocks that come from rivers of sadness and to not pair them with anything poisonous) and an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session in the soaking pool with Rose O'Keefe and Carlton Mellick III. A wonderful wrap-up to a magical weekend. I'm already counting down the days to the next Bizarro Con.
Now, I'm back at home and curled up with my cats. The strange ticking sound from the hotel room seems to have followed me back, but fuck it, don't ghosts make life more interesting anyway?
Keep it creepy.