Around the bend and back home again

Austin Sunset

I’m back from , feeling exhausted but still vibrating from the exhilaration of the past six days. This was my first year at the conference and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was pretty much pleased with the whole experience. My brain still feels like oatmeal in a Baggie, so instead of writing a rambling 2000-word that might verge on the incoherent, I’ll summarize in bullet points.

  • Best panel: The very first panel I sat in on. Hot-wiring the Creative Process was presented by Curt Cloninger, and it was an ass-kicker. I’ve been a big fan of how Curt presents design concepts (check out the course curricula available on his site), and had hopes that his panel would be illuminating. I wasn’t disappointed, and walked away feeling the spark of inspiration tickling my nose.

  • Best food: Nothing could compare to the soul-warming decadence of the meal we had at the Castle Hill Café, but for cheaper grub the unabashed meat party at the Ironworks BBQ was a welcome sight. Other tasty vittles were had at the Magnolia Café and El Sol y La Luna, both so cheap it must have been illegal.

  • Best party: This one is a tie. The conference was bookended by two great bashes, both of which made the official SXSW parties seem rather stale in comparison. Everyone got their mojo working with the opening annual Break Bread with Brad party, hosted by the debonair Brad Graham, and the festivities closed with the unfortunately named Kreate Kookies with Kevin (aka “KKK”), emceed by Kevin “The Connector” Smokler.

  • Best non-conference activity: This is a tough one. Saturday’s game of Kick! was pretty entertaining (nerds akimbo!), and the more artistic Fray Cafée 5 and 20x2 were both hilarious, thought-provoking, and inspiring. I give the very slight edge to the Fray Café, though 20x2 was very, very cool, and also was responsible for spawning the next category…

Scrotum Hacks
Long live the inside joke!
  • Best inside joke that was beaten into the ground: This was undoubtedly the bulletproof run of scrotum jokes that ensued after 20x2, though the constant querying as to the hotness of a certain panellist was also given a good beating.

  • Most surreal moment: This has to be seeing people walk up to Eric Meyer just to take a photo of him - no introductions, no conversation, just photos, like he was a web guru Mount Rushmore. I’m pretty sure I saw this happen at least twice. Celebrity is a strange beast, but nerds are even stranger.

Toronto from the air

No social experience can be complete without people to be sociable with, and SXSW 2005 wouldn’t have been the incredible fun that it was without all of the cool people I got to meet and hang with. These folks took a little (or a lot) of their time to say hello and make my SXSW experience all uplifting sonatas, dancing flamingos, and coffee-out-the-nose hilarious.

Thank you: Alex Bischoff, Amanda Udoff, Andy Budd, Ari Brown, Brad Graham, Christine Tremoulet, Dan “Sheik” Budiac, Daniel Boud, Dave Thomas, David Nunez, David Tom, Dick Wood, Dinah Sanders, Esin Salter, George Kelly, Ian Schuler, Jeff Rider, Jeremy Keith, Jessica Teeter, Joe Clark, Jon Hicks, Josh Benson, Josh Greenberg, Katie Sunstrom, Ken Schafer, Leia Scofield, Michael Brown, Nick Finck, Nikolai Nolan, Robert Nagle, Steve Champeon, Tantek Celik, Wes Felter, Sarah who wants to travel to Montreal, and anyone else I spoke with that my addled brain is forgetting.

Extra special shout-outs and who’s-your-daddy to the following people who made my trip even more memorable and fun:

James McNally, Kevin Lawver, Brent Gulanowski, and the Master of Connections, Kevin Smokler. Y’all rock so hard it makes Ted Nugent hide his head in shame.

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