A return to form
Instead of my usual links, this week is a post about the latest XOXO Festival. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of links throughout, and next weekend will be a return to form.
This year marked my 4th XOXO, and my 3rd at Revolution Hall. Last year was _big_, which meant it was even harder to wave at, or spend time with the other amazing attendees I knew. This year, it felt just right. I still waved at too many folks, and wished I had time to have a number of small dinners over the next year instead of so many “hey, I see you, sorry I’ve gotta run!” However, I got to spend time with a smallish group of friends, see all the talks I wanted, and even play some amazing new
If you’ve never been to XOXO, and you make things on the internet, and enjoy building relationships, this is a great place for you.
As usually, the first day of the conference was a social one—with Glitch doing an Appy Hour, and Panic showing off the Playdate.
It was super cool seeing all the strange community games and creations of Glitch users, along with a few presentations, and the Playdate is something I can’t wait to own. Topped-off with a dinner at Kachka, a lot of upcoming games, and one of the most hilarious videos I’ve seen in a while, wherein Brian Gilbert attempts to calculate his pet’s HP, Friday was a delight. The weather held, the toilets were uniquely chill
and the layout of the festival ensure I could wander and find neat things.
One of the first pieces of advice I’d give anyone going to a multi-day festival is “don’t drink too much on the first night”. I didn’t take my own advice. I wasn’t ill, but a combination of 3 glasses of wine and too little sleep meant 10am felt _very_ early. Thankfully my hotel had Proud Mary coffee, and XOXO had Deadstock. A breakfast sandwich from Fried Egg I’m in Love completed my resurrection.
Day two felt a little longer, as I sat through every talk, alternately crying and laughing. A definite emotional rollercoaster. Helen and Hrishikesh were excellent hosts, and seeing their banter develop over the weekend makes me hope they host again next year. I missed the Andy’s camaraderie at times, but I hope _only_ being responsible for the whole festival was a nice change from also MCing.
Lunch was Basilisk. Unbeatable fried chicken I eat every time I visit Portland. Yes, even when I’m there for hours.
Favorite talks from Saturday: Harry Brewis (very funny guy who I didn’t know anything about beforehand), Hundred Rabbits (delightful French Canadian vegan sailors), and Soleil Ho (what happens when you become the representation?!).
After a quick dinner, I sat down for a night of unforgettable podcasts. I watched a man interview a chainsaw, and was utterly destroyed by Demi and Miel with special guests Neil and Mike doing Ray Parker Jr’s Ghostbuster song. The number of folks I heard singing “bustin’ makes me feel good” after this podcast taping tells me I wasn’t alone.
Day 3 (Closing time)
Coffee. Sandwich. Almost there. I was wiped at this point, but the talks were delightful. Mikki Kendall, Jenny Odell, and Rhea Butcher were my favorites from Sunday. A great mix of comedy and art. Food highlights were Navarre (another favorite), and dinner at Sardine Head. OMG Sardine Head. Oxidated white wine. Salt-cured anchovy. Dang.
The karaoke list was full by the time my friends and I got back from dinner, and a cab ride that included an episode of King of the Hill.
It was fun watching various speakers and friends sing Pavement, Lizzo, and of course, the Ghostbuster’s theme. I ended my night with my friends Jenny and Joe, drinking on the balcony at my hotel. Our friend André’s room was right by the balcony, and he wandered out mid-way through. That moment of kismet was generally how the whole conference felt—friends wandering by, saying hi, and going on adventures.
A great year
XOXO at its best feels like what I imagine a community should feel like. It’s full of new people, old people, dear friends, and acquaintances. If XOXO was every day, I would lose my mind, but once a year, it feels incredible to be surrounded by so many people I care about, as we’re inspired together by talks, art, and each other. I’m so glad I got to go to Portland, for the first time as a non-resident, for XOXO. I can’t wait for another year of this magical festival, and hope many of the same folks will get to attend. My only regret is that I can’t somehow bring Snorri with me too. He’d hate it.