Not@Comic-Con Adventures (Day 3 – Saturday)

I’ve written a lot about fandom in the many years I’ve been writing stuff on the Internet. Fandom takes on many forms and Comic-Con is a great way to see how fandom works.

On Saturday, we weren’t at Comic-Con. We did however have a very cool genre fandom related event, and we didn’t even have to leave home for it!

What we missed at Comic-Con:

Chuck Panel
Joss Whedon Panel
The Guild Panel
Fables Panel
Mythbusters Panel

I’m certain either reviews or in the cases of Chuck, Whedon and The Guild, the full video of the panels are online and ready for me to catch up on. I don’t really know any other details as I’ve been a bit busy!

What we did instead:

“This is from Vienna’s Eclectic Arts fanzine interview:

Mark: When you were talking about cooking, it reminded me of like a dinner show where fans could pay, like, $200 to have a meal cooked by you (laughs)

V: (laughs) That’d be kind of amazing. I was actually thinking….Alex is an amazing cook. He’s much better than I am, and I was thinking at some point we should do some kind of event where there’s a show, and then there’s also a separate event where people come over and we cook for them or something (laughs). That would be really funny. We both enjoy food a lot. If there’s a way to make it a part of what we do musically that would be pretty fun.

I was thinking at some point like what if I did a show in which I was singing songs that I grew up with, like Chinese songs that I grew up with and maybe there’d be a story behind each one accompanied by some kind of food. So it’d be like a series of, like, a tapas kind of dinner (laughs). With songs, you know, to go with each one. I thought that’d be kind of cool. It’s one of the projects that I’ve decided to set aside time to develop a little more over this summer.

OK Bay Area Tengsters, summer’s here, and Vienna’s here, by good luck – it’s time to make this dinner party happen! We may not get a typical performance, but we do have Rock Band 3. \m/

The guest list is closed; this is a thank you for your dedication over the years! But we need to know how many people to cook for, so if you need to +1 please let us know in advance. The address will be sent to attendees.

The party starts at 5. Dinner will be served at 6:30pm. If you have dietary needs, let us know and Vienna will be happy to work with it.

If something comes up with Vienna’s schedule, we hope you’ll still join us for a fan get-together. It’s been a while!”

Vienna Teng was going to cook for her fans and we were hosting the party at our house.

My wife’s grandmother was excited about the prospect of us hosting the gathering and truly did almost all of the preparation work to get the house ready for holding slightly under 30 guests at once for dinner and a couple of other activities.

My wife discovered (through some browsing of Kickstarter) a truly disturbing party game called Cards Against Humanity and we ordered one of the 13 remaining copies of it and had it shipped in time for the party.

On Friday night after the Ben Folds show, we bought some “emergency food” in case we didn’t end up having enough to feed all of the guests a proper dinner. That food consisted of a party size Stouffer’s four cheese lasanga, a vegetable tray, some Newman’s Own Lemonade, chips and salsa.

On Saturday morning we put table cloths on the dining room and kitchen tables and the “open” rooms in the house actually looked ready to serve our guests needs. My wife’s grandmother did a wonderful job preparing things.

We celebrated by going to Popeye’s Chicken and Batter Up for lunch. Popeye’s is the same sort of low quality chicken you can get at any of their chain locations. No need for me to describe. Batter Up on the other hand seems to be unique to one hole-in-the-wall location. They have gourmet batter coated corndogs made with tasty sausage combinations and also had some interesting battered and fried desserts. We tried the Snickers and Reese’s Peanut Butter cup desserts and my wife had a lemon chicken and turkey with sun-dried tomato sausage combo. The deep-fried and battered Snickers was the highlight of the experience for me. In this case, Snickers actually really did satisfy.

We got home and got ready for our guests to start to arrive. They started arriving at 4pm.

We had lots of food.

A couple of my favorite dishes at dinner were Vienna’s combination of cauliflower and nectarines seasoned and cooked together and a tasty pasta dish made by another friend. Favorite dessert, despite there being MANY great desserts (I tried to sample as many as I could but was too full still from that deep fried Snickers to eat too much) was the simple batch of oatmeal cookies from Vienna’s sister.

After the crowd ate and started to settle in, we opened up Cards Against Humanity and somewhat to my surprise, everyone kind of embraced the idea of playing along. We laughed and cringed depending on the combination of black and white cards and ultimately had a fun time learning which of us was most horrible, even though we all seem like such nice people.

The game wrapped up at 9:50, ten minutes before the party was supposed to officially end. We said goodbye to some of our guests and were sad to see them go. The energy of having twenty-some people in our living room/dining room/kitchen and hallway was pretty amazing.

Someone asked for a song. One of the guests had brought a guitar but he wasn’t yet ready to play. Instead, we started up Rock Band 3 and took rotations amongst many of the remaining guests on the different instruments.

Fifteen songs later, it was time for another break. Some people went for more dinner. Others departed. It was already well after midnight.

A small group of us were talking in the kitchen when it suddenly got quiet. Vienna had picked up the other guest’s guitar and started playing.

She played three songs on the guitar:

Cranberry Lane (Ari Hest cover)
Don’t Be Afraid (The Paper Raincoat cover)
Seedling #4

The guest that brought the guitar then did a short set of his own. He has some really great song fragments and I hope to one day hear the finished product from him. It was really nice to have him share with us like that.

We talked a bit about our piano. One of the other guests attempted to play it earlier and a couple of the keys no longer made sound when they were pressed. Vienna told a couple of road stories and I shared the tale of Ben Folds and the broken sustain pedal from the night before.

Eventually this lead to Vienna Teng playing four songs on our piano in our living room.

In My Arrival
Boy at the Piano
Winter (Tori Amos cover)

When Vienna sang Winter and many of the remaining guests lent their voices to the song as well, it really felt magical.

The party winded down with a two song encore, our traditional closing numbers of “The Final Countdown” by Europe and “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey on Rock Band.

After that, almost everyone said their goodbyes. One friend stayed to help us decompress from the excitement a bit.

The party officially ended around 5AM.

In the eight years or so that we’ve known Vienna, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a house concert with her in our home. This was a far better experience than any house concert I’ve ever been to. It was a personal, social and warm and interactive event. Everyone could play as much of an active role as they so chose. We all shared what we wanted to and in return got to experience what each of the others shared.

It was really one of the best social experiences of my life.

Host a dinner party with great friends and warm strangers: Achievement Unlocked

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