• Member Since 23rd Mar, 2014
  • offline last seen Monday

Vivid Syntax

Convention Runner, Statistician, and lover of all things Soarburn

More Blog Posts168

  • 12 weeks
    Life of Syn - Convention Overload, JINGLEMAS!!!, and something for the pervs

    Hello, folks!

    It turns out that running three conventions in a year ends up taking all your pony time. Who knew? I regret not posting much during the finale and not doing more one-shot storytelling, but sometimes you just have to direct the programming for a few thousand people, you know?

    But we're back!

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    1 comments · 126 views
  • 12 weeks
    Sensation: Appleloosa

    Huh. Lookee here.

    I wonder what's behind that little red bubble? I guess we'll all have to find out tomorrow, November 26th at around 7PM Central time. :raritywink:

    0 comments · 53 views
  • 22 weeks
    Update on Sensation: Appleloosa


    If you've been around the site for a while, you might have read that and thought, "Oh no, he's announcing he's not going to finish it." No worries - we've all been through that sadness, and I would never do that to you. :heart:

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    3 comments · 116 views
  • 28 weeks
    Bringing It Home - MLP-MSP F Con Report!

    Back at Ciderfest 2018, Charlie Worthley pulled me aside late one night and showed me a video. I screamed, and a couple tables' worth of people stared at me like I was crazy.

    And wonderfully crazy I was, because when Charlie asked me to be Vice Chair for MLP-MSP F, I immediately said yes.

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    2 comments · 213 views
  • 37 weeks
    MLP-MSP F! The Most Acronym-Heavy Con is Upon Us!

    Hi, all!

    I'm super bad about promotion, which is why I'm not in charge of PR, but here's a quick announcement: I'm the Vice Chair of MLP-MSP F! It's going to be a fantastic weekend (June 14th-16th), and if you're on the fence, you should totally come!

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    3 comments · 92 views

Bringing It Home - MLP-MSP F Con Report! · 3:14am Aug 3rd, 2019

Back at Ciderfest 2018, Charlie Worthley pulled me aside late one night and showed me a video. I screamed, and a couple tables' worth of people stared at me like I was crazy.

And wonderfully crazy I was, because when Charlie asked me to be Vice Chair for MLP-MSP F, I immediately said yes.

This, but happier.

Come along and learn about amazing staffers, the art of schmoozing, parents of bronies, and some constantly expanding perspective.



The original idea was for me to sit back during Whinny City and just kind of observe, so that I could learn the ins and outs and be completely prepared to Vice Chair MLP-MSP. See, the way we'd laid it out, we would do everything for MLP-MSP at the same time as Whinny, and it would be no problem to run both of them in parallel.


Long (LONG) story short: we pretty much brought this convention together in two months. I'll keep saying this until I die, but the staff at the Midwest Brony conventions are the best people in the biz. There were times when I would get teary-eyed at how much work they put in, all for free, and I can't thank you all enough for your tireless efforts. You're just as crazy as me.

I could go on, but I'd just be robbing myself of future material for Con Chair Chat panels, so let's get on with the show!


Thursday – Hit the Ground Running

There's this weird calm before the storm on the day the convention opens. At this point, it's too late to change anything major, so you just brace yourself for the things that will go wrong, and you hope for the best.

I got there around noon with Tom Ink (the French Brony) in tow, and I dropped him off in just enough time to give Senshi a drive to get our truck full of AV equipment. When I got back, we had a quick meeting with the hotel staff to go over everything and make any last-minute requests. BIG shout-out to Amanda at the Hyatt – she's legit the best hotel staff I've ever worked with, and I can't recommend her enough.

After that, it was time for AV load-in and set-up, and…

...and I'm having trouble remembering much of that night, honestly. There was quick Chipotle and some setup and dealing with a shipping issue (not that shipping – there are no issues there), but a lot of it is a blur. One of the sad things about being so involved is how much of your focus is on keeping things running. It's the concept of "flow" if you've ever heard of that. There's not really time to process or to reflect and solidify the memories. I only took 12 pictures during the whole con, and looking back now, it's getting me a little down.

But I don't want to focus on the sad parts. Best Roommate Charlie D showed up after work and before the Pub Trot, and he let me into the room. Charlie and Zari are both treasured friends of mine, and they always take care of me during the conventions, making sure I'm breathing and (most of all) eating. Thank you both so much for keeping me going.

The Pub Trot went well, I'm told, and I collapsed into bed once AV needed more technical skill than just hitting things with a hammer.


Friday – What Needs to be Done

After a quick shower, I met my Special Events Staff to do a hotel walkthrough. Fluff, Steve, Ike, and Kyle – y'all killed it. Thank you for being so willing to jump in whenever you were needed and hold down the Charity Room fort all weekend. I'd consider myself extremely lucky to have any of you back on staff.

Opening Ceremonies was a big moment for me. I don't remember hardly anything I said, because almost all of it was off the cuff. It's the sort of thing you'd think we would rehearse ahead of time, but nah. Charlie let me know I was going to be the first one on stage a few minutes before we started, and away I went! There was a little mic trouble, but thankfully I have a loud voice, so hopefully it wasn't too bad when I finally shouted, "MLP-MSP F! Is! Happening!!!"

When you're focused on a project, you only get so many moments of lucidity, only a few moments where you come up for air and actually look at everything around you. Seeing the big crowd at Opening Ceremonies is burned in my mind forever, and I'm shaking my head even now as I think about how lucky I am to have gotten to kick off an event that is so important to me.

We welcomed a LOT of amazing folks on stage, and despite me standing awkwardly aside at times, my great hope is that my energy and excitement came through. One thing that helped was a wonderful gift from Charlie, Sweet Cream, and Screw Loose: my very own Vivid custom Vice Chair Costume!

...which went SUPER well with my khaki pants of a slightly different color.

Opening Ceremonies wrapped up, and I ran to the Author Meetup for all of 5 minutes (sorry again, folks!) before I had to run to the next event.

In a fun turn of events, I also ended up hosting the GOH panel on Friday, where I got to ask the guests to ask the audience questions. It was… interesting, but luckily Andrea, Mitch, Gabe, and Brenda were super professional and willing to roll with our craziness.

Up next was the hour-long event that took the most coordination on my part: the beer tasting with Lakes & Legends. Derrick, the owner, came and demonstrated five beers, and holy cow, y'all – the Dock Start is a new favorite of mine. Their taproom is a block and a half away from the hotel if you're ever in that part of town. Fun times were had, I poured a couple hundred pours of beer, and our attendees were sated.

Beer horses!

But I was not to stray from the second floor panel room, for you see, I was taking tickets at the next big event down there: the VIP cocktail hour. I stood outside and monitored the door, since my staff had either already put in a ton of hours for the day or, in two cases, were sponsors and got to go to the event (did I mention my Special Events staff is awesome?).

And this leads to one of the weirdest moments of the convention, something that happened on Saturday but that resonates here: I didn't attend the cocktail hour. In my mind, this was normal: I hadn't bought a ticket, and I was on staff, and one of the things that we tell our staff all the time is that, for myriad and sometimes contractual reasons, they don't get any special privileges with ticketed or GOH events. I didn't want to abuse my position to go in and hang with people when I hadn't paid, because it didn't seem fair. However, after I also missed the VIP dinner on Saturday (I was on a panel at the time, so it was more because of unfortunate planning than anything else), Charlie made explicit something that I hadn't considered: as Vice Chair, it was my job to come to these events and schmooze. For years, I've always thought of it as, "Charlie is the Chair, and people like him, so he's the one that should be at the events." I wish it had clicked earlier, not because I wanted to go to the events (though it would have been awesome), but more because I want to fulfill my duties as best as I can.

Quick aside: this is one of the more minor mistakes I made as Vice. I've made a ton, and I can't thank Charlie enough for his patience with me (even though I'm sure he's reading this and thinking, "Stop apologizing, Vivid. I was thankful to have you."). Every single person on staff makes mistakes, some more visible than others, but making those mistakes gives us a chance to learn. If you've ever thought about volunteering but have been afraid that you don't have the skills or that you might mess up, then think of it this way: the convention isn't some big test. It's practice, just like every other experience in your life. You practice and get better, and you learn to trust your team and have the humility to acknowledge where you can improve. Some of my areas for improvement are delegation and understanding my own worth. For others, it might be resource planning or big-picture thinking under pressure. That's all okay. We're human (well, horses), and learning to fail is part of growing. Keep trying, fail, and learn. It can lead to some amazing opportunities.

After the cocktail hour, I was wiped out, and my husband Landon showed up as well to support me at the convention. I ran around taking care of things for a while (a couple hours? I have no idea), but Zari caught up with me and forced me to come eat.

Love you, Landon. :heart:

And on the way to Brit's, I got a fateful text message from my mom about what I was doing the next day.

I'm incredibly lucky to have the relationship that I do with my parents. They're generally supportive and we're on great terms, but having grown up queer, my default has always been to hide my personal life from them. It's something I've worked hard to combat, but all this pony stuff? It always felt like a line I didn't really want to cross. My sister knew about it for a while before then, but I was torn about telling my parents. On the one hoof, I could keep it from them, and they'd never know. On the other, this was their only chance to see me do something like this – it was the last Minneapolis convention, after all. I knew they'd be proud of me, even if they didn't really get it, and I wanted to share this part of me that's been so important in my life for nearly a decade with them.

Fortunately, like I said, I was exhausted. I think I turned to my husband on the way there and said something like, "It's a good thing she texted now, because I have zero [censor]fucks[/censor] left to give." With that, I called them and invited them to the convention for the Saturday afternoon activities.

Dinner was grand, if a bit loud. I had a weird, sour beef sandwich thing with Landon, Charlie, Zari, Tom, Dewy, Nevy, and a few others (sorry for those I missed – again, was barely seeing straight at this point).

We headed back to the hotel, I took care of some work, and then we hit up the AD Vendor Hall, where a collection of fancy horse lads were commenting on everyone in there. I regret not going up and saying hello, but I was beat. I had just enough energy to go see J Haller and friends at the bad fanfic panel, where I finally got to hear the freaking Twilight Sparkle blimp fiction. It was a good way to end the night.

By which I mean I was up until 2:30 or so locking stuff up and dealing with late-night issues, but at least it was easy work that didn't involve much more than shambling like a zombie and doing menial tasks.


Saturday – The Magic of Relationships

Breakfast must have happened at some point, I think?

There was work to do in the Charity Auction room that morning, but my staff had it mostly handled. The biggest thing was coordinating with Mitch to sign stuff, since he wasn't going to be there on Sunday.

Aaaaaand then I started pacing around the autograph room waiting for my parents to show up, because holy heck was I nervous. Michelle Worthley calmed me down (you're the best!) and I was legit excited when I saw them and welcomed them.

And I gotta hand it to my parents. They were super chill and legit excited for me and for the convention. They didn't judge or say it was weird, and in fact they said it was kind of cool being the outsiders on what seemed like an alien planet. They even got their badges comped when Charlie saw me in the registration line (Charlie: "Vivid, you're not actually paying for a couple con badges for your parents, are you?" Me: "...Yes?" Charlie to the Reg staff: "These are free.”). My parents thought it was super cool and were very grateful. I still had duties to attend to, but Landon showed them around the convention space, and my dad bought some stuff from the vendor hall.

They stayed to watch the new episode (and I reeeeeally wish it hadn't been a full-of-tears, continuity-heavy CMC episode, but what can you do?) as well as for the script reading (which I'll come back to), and they were very happy to be a part of everything. I got to sit with them a bit between events and chat with them a little more, and they headed out about three hours after they had arrived. When I called my dad the next day on Father's Day, he expressed again how happy he was to come and see what I do with my weird little life. I'm a very lucky pony.

Anyway, back to the script reading! I was nervous about this one (as I always am), since I was trying something different on this one. I was going for more of an episode feel for one specific reason: at one of my first script readings back at Whinny, Andrea mentioned that she wished there were more Fluttershy episodes, and I resolved to deliver. I had a TON of fun writing it, and I was backstage for the whole performance.

Massive digital applause for Andrea, Mitch, Gabe, and our community guest readers Saberspark, Fiaura, Pixelkitties, and even Scope. They all did a phenomenal job with it, they improvised a bunch to punch up the humor (which I was very grateful for – my number one goal for all of these is for them and the audience to have fun with them), and most of the jokes landed the way I wanted. Gabe especially was PHENOMENAL, and he went above and beyond for one of the hardest things I've ever asked a performer to do in one of these readings, but he nailed it. Thanks again to everyone who came to see it! I got my copy signed, and now I just need to get it framed.

After that came a quick peek into the Cosplay Contest, which Crackle's Cousin Cosplay helped us run again. Again, giant thanks to them for helping out. They run a much better show there than I can, and I appreciate all their work from the bottom of my heart.

Wow, this is getting long. It's like this was a meaningful convention or something.

After that came the Iron Author contest. Fiaura and I were the judges, and I had a ton of fun being a showman and annoying the crap out of authors while they wrote us bespoke fanfiction.

Look how happy exactly two of us are!

Unfortunately, the Iron Author competition overlapped with the sponsor dinner, so I missed out on that opportunity, and Charlie let me know that next time I Vice, I should plan on attending. Live and learn.

After that, I got to be on a panel with Con Chair Charlie – the Con Chair Chat. This one was mostly Charlie talking, which makes sense since most of the questions were aimed at him (remember what I said about him being the face of the convention?), but I got to throw in a few little tidbits that people hopefully found interesting. It was an honor to sit next to him like that.

Beards aren’t mandatory to run conventions, but they don’t hurt.

Up next came Charlie and Pixel's Bottle Share. I was really proud of the Rude Awakening I brought from Wicked Wort, and the consensus was that it was weird as heck but appreciated by the aficionados. Success!

After that was dinner at the Sushi Train with some very good friends. It was a lot of fun, and I love me some good sushi. Plus, it was close by! Huzzah! Slightly less achy feet!

There was some hanging out, more bouncing around until lock-up time at 2AM, and then a plop onto a couch to sleep.


Sunday – The End of the Beginning

My day started with breakfast with Zari, Charlie D, Landon, and Squirrel at the hotel, after which point I went to a panel about script-writing with Fiaura. Fiaura is one of my favorite people. She's incredibly generous with her time, very driven, always cares about doing a good job, and she puts her brain and heart and soul into these conventions. We're extremely lucky to have her, and I enjoyed being on another panel with her.

After that, I started running around getting things signed by the guests for the charity auction. This would be a theme of the day, as the charity auction is the biggest event that Special Events runs (and one of the biggest events of the con in terms of time and attendance).

Shortly before the auction, I began breaking down. I went into convention panic mode and bought a bunch of merch (and I'm glad I did), then I went with Landon to talk in our room, and the tears flooded out. What got me was that as soon as I left the room, I would have to start setting up the charity auction, and then that was it. All my time was budgeted, I would go into work mode, and it would be over. I cried for a good five minutes, collected myself, gave my husband a hug, and dove back in.

The charity auction went very smoothly. We had Silver Quill, Fiaura, and Foal Papers as our auctioneers, and I jumped in as well, partly because of my schmoozing lesson from the prior day and partly because I just wanted to. It went extremely well (and if I made an ass of myself, please let me know), we raised over $12,000 for Give Us Wings, breaking our previous record!

Here are a few of the highlights:

Pop Tarts! For Charity!

A wild script appears! This one sold for $480. Yay!

Look at the wide range of emotions on display!

What you see above in the last one is the EXACT moment when everything came crashing down for Foal Papers. He promised to give up tea for a year if someone bid at least $100 on a box of coffee signed by Larson. I immediately bid. Have a great year, Foaly! :scootangel:

Once all that was done, we rolled right into Closing Ceremonies. We had a song by Vocal Score, our Gaming is Magic tournament finale, a few more guest appearances, and Charlie and I completely forgetting to invite Betsy from Give Us Wings back onstage to talk about the charity one more time. :facehoof: 

But we pressed on, and Charlie and I got to close MLP-MSP F together (literally at the same time with the same words - life’s an improv game, folks). 

And honestly, I wasn’t sad. Maybe it’s because I’d already gotten my tears out, but it felt more like a proper send-off than a sad goodbye. We’d already gotten our sad goodbye at MSP 3, and this was a time to celebrate the wonderful community that we still have.

Finally realizing my duties (and with one more poke from Charlie), I went outside the Mane Events Hall to schmooze. I spoke with dozens of attendees, broad smiles on their faces, from 14-year-olds attending their first convention to someone who had gotten engaged on the Mane Stage the day prior. Their sentiments were overwhelming, but the message that came through all of them was this: we’d given this convention a proper send-off, and that’s the best feedback I could hope for. I stood outside there for about an hour, and talking to so many happy attendees was a hell of a reward for all the work I’d put in over the prior months.

Though to be fair, the work wasn’t yet done. AV still had loadout. Lost runs a great show, and I have the utmost respect for her ability to keep people together and working even after a weekend of craziness. We finished loadout earlier than any other convention (BIG thanks to everyone that pitched in and helped!), and I was invited as an honorary AV member to come to the AV dinner at Brits afterwards, where I gave a bit of ham-fisted thank-you speech to the AV team that honestly was a little over-the-top, but hopefully the sentiment came through.

I found a Lost!

At that point, Landon had to leave, but I got to spend some time with Charlie D, Zari, and Greyscale in the hotel room, just grabbing a beer and chilling while Zari showed us a game called Oxenfree. It was nice to just sit a bit with close friends and decompress, and I’m thankful again to all of them for taking care of me.

That wasn’t the only celebrating that night: there was still the staff party afterwards. I walked in, and Fiaura immediately poured me a drink she called “Vice Chair’s Lament.” Here are the red flag that should have tipped me off to what I was in for:

  • She poured it behind the counter so I couldn’t see what was in it
  • She was breaking her “no drinking before 10 or fewer people are in the room” rule to have one as well
  • It got stuck in the shaker, as which point she said, “Oh, right. These ingredients [something something chemistry creating a vacuum].” 
  • Her telling me: “You have to drink it like a shot.”

Suffice to say, strong stuff. Tasty, though!

I also went and hung out in the back room for a bit with Charlie and Michelle. Charlie was seated like the Godfather at a couch in the back, and if felt very mob-family to be there. 

Though apparently I was the one to slay Charlie that evening, and all I had to do was point out something I noticed about one of our mascots. Here he is after I told him:

Charlie D’s reaction to seeing this picture: “Oh no! His innocence!”

I ended up staying until 3, which is later than I’d intended, but it was worth it to chat with everyone. 

Monday - Loadout and Real Life

Charlie D worked early that Monday, but he said goodbye to me before he left. Apparently. According to him, I said something when he did so, but I was waaaaaay out of it.

I checked out of my room after packing up, then brought Tom to the airport for his flight, at which point I came back to the hotel to help with loadout.

And now, let’s have a conversation about plushies.

Plushies! They’re adorable. My Hoof Work plush even marched with me in the Pride parade a couple weeks ago. But the thing is: we don’t sell all of them, and they need to go somewhere.

And that somewhere is someone’s car.

I ended up taking a lot of the plushies, which now live in my basement. It’s as magical and also annoying as you might imagine. There was lots more loadout that went until around 3PM or so, but we managed to do it.

Michelle’s comment about me: “Why do we all look sweaty and gross and you look exactly the same?! WHY ARE YOU SO BEAUTIFUL!?"

After that, the Chicago crew had to get on the road, and we said our final goodbyes.

Just kidding!

We stopped at Surley for a quick beer and some food, and then we actually said our goodbyes.

After that, I went ho–JUST KIDDING! My husband had a concert in a park, and at that point it didn’t make sense to go home before then.

So finally, at around 9:30 PM on Monday, I got home and collapsed into bed, only to wake up at 6:30 the next day for work.


Final Thoughts

As beautiful and amazing as it was, MLP-MSP F convention was extremely difficult. I burned out hard afterwards, to the point that I didn’t want anything to do with MLP for over a month afterwards (I’m still recovering, and I’m hoping the new episodes will help inspire me again). That’s the major reason why this convention report took so long and why I haven’t written anything new lately (apologies for the delays). The convention put a lot of stress on my time and my relationships, especially with my husband, and I’m immensely grateful that he has been so patient with me for the past several months.

Was it worth it? I believe so. There were so many happy faces, and we did so much good, and I got to share this part of my life with my parents and so many others. It went well. I did lots of things. I gained even more respect for everything Charlie has to deal with at every single convention, and I hope that, reading this, all of you will be a bit more forgiving when a convention does something you don’t agree with. It is so. Freaking. Hard to run a convention, and being on the outside, you only get to see maaaaybe 5% of what goes into every decision that we have to make.

Me with the most dedicated, generous person I know.

I’m glad MLP-MSP got its last hurrah, and I’m eternally grateful I was asked and trusted enough to help out. The staff are amazing, and I truly, truly gave it everything I had. If you got to come to this convention, then I hope it was everything you dreamed and more. It certainly was for me. And if you had to sit this one out, I hope you can find a few more ways to stay connected to this wonderful community of ours. There may come a time soon when I step off the ride, but until then, thank you all for believing in me and in this remarkable celebration of life and friendship.

See you at Ciderfest,


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Comments ( 2 )

Many, MANY thanks for all the hard work you and the rest of the team put in to what was one heck of a fun weekend. I owe you all a round of pizza and/or beer at some point.

Glad you survived!

Breakfast must have happened at some point, I think?

This. I try to remember to eat when working a convention. Sometimes it only happens because my wife tracks me down⁠—either with food or to drag me to the food.

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