A Wedding, A Meetup, A Woman Never Happier– Part 4

I woke up Sunday morning and was able to chat with Megan for a bit before she headed out for her flight. I gifted her a bottle of Sicilian wine that we hoped to sit down and share, but, due to the crazy weekend, that shall be the next time we meet. The other bottle I gifted to Graham Doyle, of The Irish Pubcast fame, via Simon.

I packed up my stuff and took it over to Kevin and Roz’s room, since Cindy and I couldn’t check into our room until later that day. Cindy and Simon headed for NYC to see Spiderman: Turn off the Dark and I had plans with Paul and moTT to go tag along with the Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave! guys to Collingwood Flea Market.

I got down to the hotel lobby and it took me almost an hour to head out of there because everyone was saying goodbyes. Linnitt gifted me a beautiful bracelet from Guatemala.  After all the “see you later’s” were said (and I was starting to feel a little bit of the post meetup blues), Carrie, Steven, Crystal, and Ed were all heading back home, so they swung me by to meet up with Paul and moTT for our big adventure.

We drove about 45 minutes or so, and finally arrived at the fabled Collingwood Flea Market. moTT went off to do some bargain hunting, so Paul and I began our search for the TESD guys. We found them inside at the messy comic book guy’s stall (his name escapes me right now). We browsed a bit and came across a pellet/BB gun stall that had their guns made to look like real weapons (or to me, anything I could name off of MW2 or Black Ops).

The guys were already towards the end of their time there, since they had gotten there earlier to try and sell some stuff before recording. We met up with Git' ‘Em Steve-Dave and listened to Q and Walt interview this guy who was full of conspiracy theories before heading for the car.

Since moTT was heading in the opposite direction for home, Paul and I hopped in with Ming to head back to Red Bank. He dropped us off at the train station because we were going to head up to NYC to meet up with Cindy and Simon. Good thing, we didn’t hop on the train since Simon texted back and said they were coming back after the show and were heading to dinner with the British contingency.

Paul and I grabbed a snack at the bakery near the train station and walked back to the Stash. I’m so glad Paul is a patient guy and was having a conversation with Sunday Jeff, as I probably did a good 20-30 laps around the Stash. I had been in the Stash every day up until that point, but never had enough time to actually browse. When I finally felt I had browsed enough, I bought my collection of books and headed for Jack’s Music Shoppe across the street.

The day before when I was shopping with Chase, I had found a couple vinyls that I liked. I found a few more this day that were perfect, including Rise Against’s new album. Paul joined me after a bit and we were in Jack’s until closing time.

Since Cindy and Simon hadn’t returned from NYC yet and neither Paul nor I had lunch, we headed to yet another fabled TESD spot, Zebu Forno. This place is just like Panera Bread but with more of an Italian take. I can’t quite remember what Paul had, but I had a sandwich and a balsamic strawberry arugula salad that was delectable. As we had time to kill and there was free wi-fi, Paul and I just chilled at Zebu for a bit chatting, tweeting, and charging our phones. Just a nice comfortable atmosphere to relax.

I think it was about 2 to 3 hours later when we got the call that it was time for dinner, so we met up with quite the number of people at Olive Garden. Cindy, Simon, Paul D, Kevin, Martin, Cally, Karla and Dex. I believe we were there until closing time. Paul, Karla, Dex and I finalized our plans for NYC the next day, and headed to sleep.

The next morning, we got up and headed for the Big Apple. We got into Penn Station, where someone swore that Dex was famous and Karla, Paul and I were his entourage. Dex played it up real well too! So we walked from there to the Shake Shack to meet up with Frank #3 for lunch. I have been hearing about the legendary Shake Shack for quite some time, and it definitely lived up to its legacy.

Following the Shake Shack, we decided that we wanted to be touristy on this trip and headed for the Empire State Building, where Crystal met us for our trip to the top. I got us a reduced entrance fee due to my military ID and we headed up. New York City looks so small from up there. I think at one point I said to Dex something along the lines of “But Central Park is right there!”. Yeah, good one, Mandie.

I really have a tempting to Photoshop King Kong into this picture. It was really sunny and hot on the ground, but very overcast and breezy at the top. Still an excellent view though.

After the Empire State Building, we had to part from Paul as he headed for his plane back to Canada. Crystal still had some time before work and led Karla, Dex and myself to Midtown Comics. I sincerely wish Paul had a later flight once I got in there. It’s what geeks think about if they think of the promised land.

I wandered about Midtown Comics for quite a bit. Picked up some T-shirts books, and some odds and ends. I was very glad that I brought my hefty backpack since I knew that if I made it to Midtown, I’d be buying a bit of stuff.

From Midtown, Dex, Karla and I headed for Times Square. Crystal had departed once we had reached Midtown as she had to get ready for work. We just kept walking until we finally hit Central Park and then we hit the Subway to meet Robb at S’Mac for dinner.

By this point in the day, my feet were absolutely killing me. I had decided in all my infinite wisdom to wear my unbroken-in Clerks Etnies. Bad idea. Karla and Dex still wanted to walk around a bit. There was no way that I was going to be able to keep up so I decided to head back for Penn Station. Robb accompanied me over there and saw me safely onto the train back to Red Bank.

I made it back just fine, besides getting a headache from the chick who had “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne as her text notification. Every 20 seconds it was “Hey Hey, You You, I don’t like your girlfriend”. Quite a few of my Canadian friends got a kick out of this.

The next day, Cindy and I got up a bit early because it was our last day, but also because it was Podcasting Day! Cindy and I did a special episode of The Irish Pubcast with Simon at the Dublin House. Along with having our last meal of the trip with Simon. I definitely wore my brand spanking new Pubcast t-shirt and we got some shots for the Pubcast Facebook page.

We, then, followed that up with watching the guys from Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave record both their regular episode and TESD: Overkill. It was seriously like having my own private Smodcastle show. The guys were absolutely awesome and I am so glad to meet them. I can’t wait to see them in live-show mode in October.

Ming met Cindy and I at the Stash and we went for dinner at Boondocks Fishery, down on the river. A few months prior to the trip, I had sponsored Ming in the Superhero Half Marathon. He surprised me with a medal from it. I’m still not sure where I want to hang it. I think I’ll save it in the box that I have with all my stuff for when I have an office again. My Mini Cooper is too small to have things hanging from the rearview.
Boondocks was an awesome place to eat. The food was fantastic. This is what Ming and I split for dinner.

After Boondocks, we headed for the park right on the river, as Red Bank was hosting movies in the park that week. So Cindy, Ming and I all watched Austin Powers in the park. It was seriously the perfect end to a perfect trip and my first big VA meetup.

A Wedding, A Meetup, A Woman Never Happier– Part 3, The Wedding!

I left off at the beginning of Gavin and Nikki’s big day. Megan was up and out the door early to go document the joyous day, and I spent the day meeting up with various Boardies who I hadn’t seen because they got in late or were arriving that day.

As food was a priority for most of us, I found Carrie and Steven, so we could head to the Broadway Diner. A slew of Boardies came in and out. Karla and Dex, Zeta, Trevor and his wife, Jen, Kevin and Maria. And finally our dining partners showed up! My fellow Connecticunt and the fluffiness herself, Linnitt, and her awesome hubby, Korey.

Afterwards, we walked to the Stash to see if we could help with anything and we found the Waltons. Everything was taken care of for later in the day, so I darted across the street with Chase to get a glimpse of the prestigious Jack’s Music Shoppe. I seriously could be in there all day and never get tired of it.
The Jay and Silent Bob Secret Stash can only hold so many people. There were about 15 or so of us Boardies that weren’t going to be at the actual ceremony, so we got together in Carrie and Steven’s room for a listening party. Right here is where I would include the link to their SMarriage on Smodcast.com, but it still isn’t uploaded.

We got some snacks and drinks, and had quite the bit of company. As much as I would have loved to have been at the Stash, I think the listening party was better as I got to spend some time with a few people that I had been looking forward to doing so with. Right in the middle of the ceremony, KT, Dawn, Amanda and David all showed up after driving halfway across the country. I got to have the biggest and best Bunny hug in the whole world.

Another great thing about the listening party was that we got to lounge to listen to the ceremony and then had about an hour or so to get ready for the reception. The dress I wore was one that I had picked especially for Gavin and Nikki’s wedding. I was so happy to finally wear it.

The reception was a wonderful time. I got to meet even more Boardies that I had been looking forward to meeting. People like Jon and most of our British contingency, who (thanks to Gerry) all knew who I was before I introduced myself.

Nikki was absolutely gorgeous in her dress. I loved that all the groomsmen had the LOTR green leaf brooch (probably not called that since they are guys, but whatever). Simon’s best man speech was epic and a great time was had by all.

Before I had flown up for the wedding, my friend had seen the wedding invitation on the table and didn’t understand the whole theme of Lord of the Rings vs Star Wars. One side of the room was Lord of the Rings and the other was Star Wars. Even though I was pro-LOTR, I was sitting on the Star Wars side. That worked in my favor, though, as I got to sit next to two of my most favorite people in the world, Jamie and Chase Walton. These are definitely two of the most wonderful people. Hands down. Unfortunately, we got absolutely no pictures together during the few days that they came up, but there’s always October.

We also shared our table with Troy, and his wife. I got to sit and chat with Troy for awhile. He’s one helluva awesome guy and I can relate with him a lot due to a lot of the things he has experienced in his life. Definitely looking forward to picking his brain again. There’s many people like that in the VA community. I spent a lot of my time just asking questions to people and listening. I do have to say I prefer talking one on one with people than through typing, but we do what we have to do to keep in touch.

One of the big highlights of my night was my dance partner for the night, Adam. I have to go back a bit because Adam and I didn’t really get on back on the Version 2 part of the board, and once the newest version rolled out, he really hasn’t been seen around. I knew about him through mostly everyone else, and we had chatted a bit the day and night before the reception. Not a lot of people really know how much I love to dance. I have never taken lessons, but at family parties, clubs, or what have you, I am usually one of the first people on the dance floor. The reception was no exception and having a great partner like Adam made it even better.

One of my favorite moments of the night was when Adam came around and told everyone that we had to get on the dance floor to dance and sing to “Don’t Stop Believin”. This prompted an outburst from Paul Saunders that left me in stitches. For those who didn’t witness this, Paul cannot stand “Don’t Stop Believin” because there is no such thing as South Detroit. I, being me, had to push him further and ask what the hell he was talking about. See, Paul is Canadian and grew up in Ontario, part of which could be considered South Detroit. Hence, South Detroit not existing. He proved his point later on that evening via Google Maps.
I’m going to transgress again! Remember, how I got those Clerks Etnies? Gavin came over to me and told me to go get them. Megan took a few pictures of Gavin, myself, Simon and Paul all in our Etnies. And yes, I wore my Etnies with my pretty dress. Definitely my favorite picture of the entire weekend.

Photos courtesy of Unblinking I Photography

Speaking of Megan, I didn’t get to spend as much time with her as I had wanted due to the fact that she was technically “working”. I hope to spend more time with her at a later date, but for the little time that we did have, she is absolutely amazing. A little tornado that one.
The night wouldn’t have been complete if not for our wonderful DJ, yet another Boardie, Nate 3.0 himself. Very dapper in his vest. All he needed was the BSG Official Soundtrack and his music set would have been complete.

The only real complaint I had about the night was any time I put my drink down (whether to grab my camera to take a pic or run to the bathroom), the wait staff immediately grabbed it and got rid of it. I seriously had 2 full Gin and Tonics that went missing within 5 minutes of getting them from the bar. It was an open bar, but I didn’t expect to have to keep going back for another when I didn’t even finish the first.

Time flew and soon it was time to vacate the reception hall. We moved the party into the hotel bar that was hosting karaoke and a few of our girls were able to get some songs in. Jess sang Zombie (I think) and KT sang us some Rebel Yell, which, had I known, I would have jumped there with her for. After the bar shut down, we headed up to Gavin and Nikki’s room for more drinks and conversation. This is when Paul showed me that there is no such existence as South Detroit.

At some point everyone started heading downstairs for a smoke break, and I went to mine and Megan’s room and fell asleep. This is a lesson to be learned everyone. If I say that I need to “go get something” or I have to go to my room for some reason, don’t let me go alone and pop some caffeine into my drink.

A Wedding, A Meetup, A Woman Never Happier–The First 2 Days

So I left off on July 7th. I was on a plane heading to Red Bank, New Jersey to the wedding of two of the finest people that I have the pleasure of knowing. Out of all the people that were invited to the wedding, I had only met one of those people in person before. Needless to say, I was a bundle of nerves.

My plane was originally supposed to come in after Cindy’s, but we left on time and somehow arrived early. I texted Simon as soon as we landed to let him know that I was on the ground. He met me at baggage claim and we went to get Cindy. As soon as we got over there, Simon surprised Cindy and I with the most awesome poster (that I now own).

The Irish Pubcast is a podcast that Simon and another fellow Boardie, Wayne, started with their friend, Graham, in Dublin, Ireland. Its one of my most favorite podcasts to listen to as I can always count on my Irishmen for a pick me up. During our trip, Cindy and I recorded an episode of Pubcast with Simon. If you’d like to listen, it can be found here.

We quickly headed for the train and headed for Red Bank. As we were walking from the train station, we were taken by surprise as out of no where popped Gavin. We chatted for a few and we continued our trek to mecca, aka Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, where Ming was waiting to greet us. I also got to meet the dubious shopkeep, Walt, and Mike (who so damn awesome the entire time we were there). We stopped for a bite at the Dublin House and then headed for our hotels to gear up for Bachelor and Bachelorette shenanigans.

The boys all headed to New York City for the Bachelor party, while all of us girls (and a few of the guys) stayed in Red Bank for the Bachelorette party. We had dinner at The Downtown CafĂ©. I had just recently started using Foursquare (after being too afraid to use it in Italy due to OPSEC). I checked in to The Downtown and got us 30% off our meal.  /hi5 to me! We had a grand time, took it easy (we only hopped to one other bar!) since we knew the next few days would be packed with excitement.

Quick tangent, the food at all these different restaurants in Red Bank is just absolutely amazing. From the Dublin House to Broadway Grill, Broadway Diner, The Downtown, Boondocks. Oh so good!

Cindy and I took our time getting ready on Friday since the boys were still in NYC and we wanted to gear ourselves up for the Dublin House pre-wedding party that night. We watched the shuttle launch then headed out to grab some lunch at the Broadway Grill then to the Stash for awhile before picking up Megan at the Red Bank train station.

Another quick tangent, Cindy and I had a discussion during our lunch this day about just how picturesque Red Bank it is. It is the town you think of when you think about Anytown, USA.

I roomed with Cindy for the first night in NJ and for the last 3 nights. In between that, I roomed with Megan. Her and I went to go get in our room and get settled before heading up to Gavin and Nikki’s room for a little Dublin House pre-gaming.

It was here that I got two surprises! I finally met the notorious Vulgarian and VASHL biotch, Paul Saunders and Adam (aka SBF), AND I was presented Clerks Etnies by Gavin!

The Dublin House get-together wasn’t a rehearsal dinner at all, but more of a gathering of all the Boardies who were in or around the area. I met so many awesome people. I chatted with the only and only ArtistJim. I finally met and was bear-hugged by the Mom and Pop of the VA Board, Kevin and Maria. Dianae drove down from NY and we had a uniting of the American Ladies of Pubcast. We partied hard and then took the party back to the hotel for jello shots, poker, and shenanigans before heading to bed to gear up for the big day!


So much has happened since I got back from Italy in June. I’ve been meaning to sit and write it all down for awhile. I’m going to start with my trip to New Jersey back in July. First, I’m going to have to give some back story.

Back in high school, my two best friends introduced me to the world known as the View Askewniverse. A world created by director/writer/all around sensational man, Kevin Smith. We all fell in love with this world of witty characters and felt like we could relate in our own way to it all.

Now fast forward about 7 years to 2008. We all have graduated high school and I am just starting my second tour in the Navy stationed in Italy. I had been on deployment for 7 and 1/2 months in 2007 and missed the beginnings of SModcast. My boss (who is also a big Kevin Smith and View Askew fan) introduces me to SModcast. As I listened, it was like I was reintroduced to Kevin again. This time as the man, rather than as Silent Bob. I also had picked up two of his three books, My Boring-Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith and Shootin’ the Sh*t with Kevin Smith: The Best of the SModcast. Reading and listening along Kevin mentions the View Askew Board a number of times. I had seen it back before I went on deployment and meant to join, but it just didn’t happen, In February of 2009, I joined and my life has absolutely and forever changed for the better.

I have talked to and cultivated friendships with so many wonderful people. I feel as though I found my people (especially after NJ, but I’ll get to that later). Just having one thing in common (at first) to come together on a message board and feel as though I have lifelong friends and people that I can always count on is the absolute greatest thing.

After about a year of being on the board and talking with my good friend, Gerry, I started making plans to visit him in Czech Republic where he lives with his family. Soon after that, another Boardie, named Simon joined the mix and I was planning my first VA meetup! Things came together beautifully and my friend, Lynette and I had a wonderful two week vacation. First visiting Brno and Prague with Simon and Gerry, and continuing onto Dresden and Berlin, Germany.

I spent just about a week with Simon and a few days with Gerry, and that alone had me hyped up for when I was to return stateside after my 3 year tour.

There’s a group of us that play a little game that we like to call Mafia and there was a thread on what is now known as Version 2 of the Board where a group of people came together. It’s now a very notorious aspect of Board history, but not many people understand that underneath the exterior that they perceived, was a close knit group of people that still haven’t fallen by the wayside of each other.

We had movie nights along with a chat room. We would host video chats. People could (and still can) be counted on no matter what the situation. It was in these chats that I grew to know some of the group of people. In the video chats, especially, because we could just talk to each other. One of the very best days was my birthday in 2010. I took the day off of work and was going through quite a rough time. These people stayed on video chat with me throughout the day to make sure that I had a good birthday, even if I didn’t really move from the computer.

Fast forward to June 2011. I have just come home from my tour in Italy and I receive a wedding invitation in the mail from Gavin and Nikki. Even though, I think we talked about it, I was still so awed to receive one as I hadn’t even met them yet! This is how awesome the VA community is. Relationships can be cultivated to such a point that it’s hard to imagine that these people weren’t always in your life.

So on July 7th (also my final day in the Navy), I was on an airplane heading towards Newark International Airport where Simon was picking up myself and another Boardie friend of ours, Cindy. We were heading to Red Bank, New Jersey to celebrate the wedding of Gavin and Nikki. The events surrounding my visit and the wedding will be continued in my next post.

Extra Life 2011 - Gaming for 24 hours to support the Children's Miracle Network

I am the Team Leader for Delta Special Ops' participation in Extra Life 2011. DSO is a gaming clan that I have been a member of for just over 3 years now. We believe in fair and honorable gaming.

Extra Life is an annual 24-hour video game marathon that raises money to help kids at Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. This year’s event begins at 8 a.m. on Oct. 15, 2011. Each participant is asked to raise money by recruiting at least four sponsors to give $1 for each hour of the marathon (that’s just $24 per sponsor). I would like to push the envelope and raise as much as possible. I would like to blow the goals out of the water, but I need your help to do it!

I would love for you to sponsor me by pledging for my hours of gameplay. If you would like to do so, please go to this link http://www.extra-life.org/participant/AmandaMarron. I am playing in support of Shands Hospital for Children at the University of Florida.

If you would like to join our team, please feel free to do so! The more the merrier.

Thank you so much!

Children are our future. Let's help them get there.