June 4, 2010

ODTUG Kaleidoscope Scores John Heffron (and other social events)

There's a ton of new social news for ODTUG Kaleidoscope this year, but let's not bury the lead:

I don't know about you, but after the nature-assisted disaster that was Collaborate's "Beach Party Except In a Ballroom" event, I'm glad to see someone step up and spend some money on some A-list talent. John Heffron, winner of the second season of Last Comic Standing (and in my opinion, the funniest winner by far with only Alonzo Bodden coming close), will be the featured act at Wednesday night's closing celebration.

While John Heffron isn't quite Aerosmith, he's the biggest name I've seen performing at a conference in a while outside of OpenWorld. I'm about to make myself sound pretentious by saying that I liked John Heffron since back before he skyrocketed to fame on Last Comic Standing. He did a lot of college campuses. Ya, I'm basically trying to say I knew (of) him way back when he was a nobody. Trust me: if you like geeky humor, if you've ever gone to school, or you've ever been married, you'll love him. Beware: you may laugh so hard you wet yourself.

My company did agree to foot part of the bill to afford him, so I'm hoping to get a decent seat. If you're coming to Kaleidoscope, make sure you get to the event early or you'll be standing in the way back. If you haven't signed up yet, the advance rate expires on June 9th, so hurry up. Attendance is up more than 40% over last year and rumor has it that the hotel is almost booked up. If the hotel is booked up by the time you sign up, the good news is that the Marriott Wardman Park is right on the Metro line so lots of other hotels are a nice subway stop away.

There's also an awesome band playing before and after John. They're covering '80s and '90s songs so there will doubtless be much dancing and signing along too before the party breaks up to play all-night games of Werewolf. Wednesday's fun (not including Werewolf) is from 6:30-10PM.

For anyone who doesn't know (which probably means you live in the USA and think soccer is a horrible sport because it can end in a fraking tie), the FIFA World Cup will be held in South Africa from June 11 - July 11. That means the final 16 teams will be vying for the World Cup right smack in the middle of Kaleidoscope. The schedule is at http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/matches/kostage.html.

Rather than ignore the hooligans cheering on their countries (did I mention that Team America is so much better at soccering stuff than your stupid fill in your country here banana republic?), Kaleidoscope will be embracing them. That's right: they'll be showing all the games during the week on large-screens and then assuming the right team wins, they'll be replaying the games too. In all seriousness, wear your favorite team's jersey all week and watch the games live and just a little bit later than live (if you want to actually attend the sessions).

I don't think they have the World Cup screening location announced yet, but there will definitely be some World Cup action being broadcast at the conference. America, f*@% ya! U-S-A...U-S-A... Note that I find it highly unlikely that the USA will still be playing at that point, but I figured I'd practice my chanting just in case.

If you're already planning on playing lots of rock music during your opening night reception, what are two ways to possibly improve? Easy: add technology and the potential for major public humiliation. That's right, we're playing Rock Band on the PS3 on stages high above the exhibit hall floor and everyone is invited to participate and cheer along. Here's the description from the ODTUG website:
We’ll be rocking while talking...

Traditionally, opening receptions at conferences have string quartets or jazz trios soothing you to sleep with every note. ODTUG Kaleidoscope 2010 will bring you non-stop rock brought to you by… you. That’s right, we have two Rock Band PS3 setups on stages high above the reception crowd and the exhibit hall floor. Participants will be able to choose from hundreds of downloaded songs from Rock Band and Rock Band 2 as bands, made up of Kaleidoscope attendees, go head-to-head on drums, guitar, bass, and vocals. We only have one rule: the vocalist picks the song, but beyond that, anything goes as long as it won’t get us arrested.

Rockers wearing appropriate concert attire (still have your ’87 Guns ‘N Roses black tee lying around?) will be given preference as we form lines to rock out in front of God, country, and your fellow K’Scopers. Prizes will be awarded to the best performers, which are far more about impressing the crowd than it is playing the right notes, since we’ll have “No Fail Mode” turned on. Come one and all as you wow us with your rock and roll acumen, and yes, our amps do go all the way to 11. If you wish to sign up for your place in rock history ahead of others getting talked into it on-site, e-mail events@odtug.com. We who are about to rock, salute you.

Yes, that's a picture of me above playing Rock Band at the interRel booth at Kaleidoscope 2009 and I'm wearing a totally inappropriate interRel shirt. Who rocks out wearing a polo? Make sure you bring some good rock concert t-shirt apparel to the Sunday event. You don't want to be the only one wearing a suit when you're in the rocking out in the presence of rock gods. My good friend, Gary Crisci, and I are agreeing to go in full KISS makeup if we can get two people to join us, so bring your camera phones too.

If you want to sign up ahead of time to get your place in line, e-mail events@odtug.com with your name, your song you want (so we can make sure to have it downloaded), and what instrument (guitar, bass, drums, or mic) you want to play. We'll make sure to put you in a band.

I know what you're thinking: how could they possibly cram anymore fun, ODTUGy goodness into one week? By starting some activities at midnight and going until dawn. That's right: Werewolf, which swept the conference last year and is becoming the biggest thing since the iPad in the tech world, makes it on to the official schedule this time around.

For anyone that doesn't know, Werewolf (the "game of mob rule") is a party game for 8-68 players. It's done in a circle and basically, you have a few werewolves and a whole lot of villagers. Each night during the game (a day typically lasts 10-15 minutes), the werewolves pick a villager to devour (at which point, that villager is out of the game). Each day, the villagers try to figure out who in their group is not really a villager but is actually a dirty, stinking werewolf. Once they've picked someone out, they vote to lynch the person at which time we find out if he was really a werewolf or just a villager looking suspicious.

The majority of the time, the villagers are wrong, so they lynch one of their own and then go to sleep so the werewolves can pick off another villager. The villagers win if they find all the werewolves and the wolves win if they eat all the villagers. That's the big picture in a nutshell.

So what makes it so fun? Simply put, watching the werewolves lie through their teeth while the villagers try to decipher the lies makes for a fascinatingly hilarious look into human psychology. It's quick to learn and really fun to play. Games will be held every single night of the conference starting at midnight for those who think sleep is something best saved until you're dead. Oh, and we're holding a beginner game a little earlier on Sunday night for those who haven't played before but want to learn without the experienced people eating them alive.

Oh, if anyone wants a copy of the game, there are a ton of editions out there. My personal favorite is made by my Facebook friend, Ted Alspach. It's called "Ultimate Werewolf: Ultimate Edition" (Ted has a flair for marketing) and it's the best version I've seen bar none.

Party on, Edward.
This is probably my last Kaleidoscope update before the conference. As I've said above, attendance is way up over last year, so if you haven't already signed up, make sure to do so by June 9th. It's a huge educational opportunity for those in the Hyperion/EPM community and beyond, but it's also gore fun than a barrel of werewolves. Hope to see you in a few weeks!