Bushman’s Blogtoberfest: The Story From My Perspective

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Photos by MJ Klein

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that all the photos from this event are available in a single group on Flickr.  I encourage all the Flickrites who attended this event to add their photos to this group.  Thanks!

The story of Bushman’s Blogtoberfest party began long ago, almost as soon as the first party was over.  I wanted to bring the Taiwan English bloggers together on a scale that had never been done before.  The first order of business was to find a place to have the party.

While some people complained about the event being held in Hukou, most people welcomed the break and an opportunity to visit a small town to relax.  Most people also recognized the economic advantage of having an event like this in a small town where prices could be kept at a minimum.  Indeed, if this event had been held in Taipei it would have cost several times what it did, ignoring the fact that finding a place where we could do what we wanted is pretty much next to impossible.

Karaoke Night

Michael Turton and Agnes at the original restaurant

Everyone knows about Shao-hui’s the place where the first Blogger party was held.  Shao-hui recently moved next door to a new building and her place is so busy that it wouldn’t be possible to hold the party there.

Since that time last year, a place opened just up the road from Shao-hui’s. The original name was loosely translated as “family” in Chinese.  The shot above is our friend Michael Turton singing there with Agnes, one of Saumen’s friends who was out with all of us that evening.

Karaoke Night

Saumen and Agnes

The original place had pink and black lights and that made it interesting in the evening.  Unfortunately for the owner, it went out of business after a few months.

Adong

Adong

Agong (left) with Shao-hui’s husband, at Shao-hui’s Thai restaurant

A few months later, Adong took over the now-closed restaurant, and has been successfully running it ever since.  With food comparable to Shao-hui’s in both price and quality, Adong has succeeded where others have failed.  Not as busy as Shao-hui’s, Adong’s new restaurant seemed like the ideal place to hold a party.  So, in August when I approached him about the idea, he agreed that his place would be suitable and we struck a deal.

Karaoke

Not everyone enjoys singing karaoke, but most people seem to enjoy watching others sing – especially if the singing is humorous.  With two months to go, I began the process of trying to get Adong’s machine outfitted with English karaoke songe.  Believe it or not, in all that time I was not successful. On the very last day before the party, October 24th, the technician was supposed to come to the restaurant and install the English song package, consisting of more than 400 songs.  He never showed up.  Hui-chen called Adong, who in turn called the technician, only to find out that the guy was in Taipei and wouldn’t be coming.  People here don’t call unless it’s a problem for them. Not having the English song package wasn’t a problem for the technician, so why would he call to say he couldn’t install it as agreed?

This is one of the frustrating things about living on this side of the world – people are indifferent to the problems they cause others by not keeping to their agreements.  Indeed, the obligation to keep agreements is not a strong point.

As a last resort I brought my own personal equipment and karaoke CD collection.  Except for the time lag when changing discs, it worked as well as anything else.  So it wasn’t a total loss.

Using my own equipment also allowed me to present a few songs performed live by myself, Mr. Oath (of the Fong Band) and Carrie.  It was fun of course but I am reluctant to push such live performances on a captive audience like that.  However, several friends of mine in attendance rather insisted that we do that, so I hope it wasn’t disappointing!  We have been concentrating on writing new songs and programming the drum machine for the recordings and we haven’t been rehearsing like we did during the live show season.

The Sponsor

I had been in contact with Aaron at Utterli (formerly Utterz) about providing me with some promotional items to give away at the party.  I use and recommend Utterli for moblogging as it’s more versatile than Twitter and in addition to not being limited to such short text messages, Utterli handles photos, video and audio in a single web based application.  Utterli can also cross-post to Twitter, various blogging platforms and other sites as well.  I use my mobile phone to create the content, such as a photo or video, upload it to Utterli, and they do the rest.  Easy.

The problem is the promotional materials didn’t arrive in time for the event.  Aaron has apologized profusely for this, and I do understand what happened.  They are rolling out new products, and have over a million site visitors each month.  They’re quite busy!  So, I intend to hold onto the promotional items and I will use them to promote Utterli at other events in the future.  As a former US national talk show host, I have had many such promotional arrangements in the past.  For fun, I’ll post some photos of the promotional items in the near future.

Other Preparations

My wife Hui-chen helped me a great deal with the menu’s for the event.  We created a Chinese-English menu of all the items to make it easier on the guests.  I also inputted the song titles, song and disc numbers into a spreadsheet and created song lists and then compiled them into the booklets that were placed on the tables.  Without those 2 items, the party wouldn’t have gone as smoothly.

We had also made arrangements with Adong to be personally responsible for the total bill.  We wanted to create a worry-free environment, where people could order and eat or drink whatever they wanted, without thinking about the cost.  Hui-chen and I calculated the average cost per person based on last year’s party and the price of the dishes at Adong’s restaurant.  We came up with an individual per-person price of NT400.  In the interest of full disclosure, I will divulge the financial information at the end of this article.

The Party

I headed out to Adong’s place around 13:30 and began setting up my equipment.  Adong had already moved the tables into place.  I worked in the hot room without the AC on until the guests arrived.  This explains why my shirt looked as if I had dumped a bucket of water on myself.

Blogtoberfest

Some people were concerned about not being able to find the place, so I made this simple sign out of individually printed sheets of paper.  Functional but not pretty.

Blogtoberfest

Adong gave his wife a short little pep talk about the work ahead.  They were both on their feet for more than 8 hours, and they really busted their humps cranking out the food!

Blogtoberfest

Blogtoberfest

These shots show the room setup before the guests arrived.  I used the karaoke system television set for my own DVD player.

Blogtoberfest

Andres and the Yu family and friends were the first to arrive.  Next, were Todd & Cathy.  Then, our good friend David Reid arrived from Taipei on his bicycle.  Michael Turton had stayed over the night before in our home so he was right there from the beginning.  I’m really glad too because I’ve missed him at the last couple of events we’ve held.  As you can see, there are dishes on the table.  Adong and his wife got to work right away!  The service was excellent!

Blogtoberfest

I was very happy to see friends getting together like this.  For many of us, there aren’t so many opportunities to meet up with other bloggers and friends.  This is one of the major reasons why I like to organize these events.

Blogtoberfest

It wasn’t long before the place began to fill up!  There were a couple people I had never met before and I was very happy to do so.  I gave a short series of announcments (along with some stupid jokes that didn’t go over, but what else is new?), and then it was time for the “program” to begin.  I say that jokingly because there is no agenda except having a good time.

Blogtoberfest

I was pretty busy but I did have a chance to sit down and talk with a few of the guests.

Photo by Craig

My good friend Mr. Oath graciously agreed to come down and sing a few songs for the party.

CFImages_Blogtoberfest-2410

Photo by Craig

Always a pleasure, I got to play a tune live with Carrie.  I wish we knew more songs to play together live – maybe we should work up a few for the future?

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Andres listens intently to the live music

Fortunately the live music didn’t go on for very long.  I was both very tired and also 1/2 in the bag!

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Todd was showing Carrie his “nice face.”

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This is Carrie, “doing Todd.

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One of my favorite shots of the evening, is this one featuring Ashish on the right, and Bailey Cross on the left.  I had just met Bailey in Taipei a week ago at the blogger meetup organized by Byron.  Bailey is a fellow BBQ afficiando and a real “smoke blower” as we say.  He runs a grill and BBQ website.  I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed meeting this gentleman and talking about food, drink and travel.  Come back soon, Bailey!

But we also have some news about Ashish:

Blogtoberfest

There is going to be a little Tumbler in Taiwan soon!  Or, should I say “Toddler In Taiwan?” as his wife Selena is expecting!

Blogtoberfest

This is a shot of Michael Turton checking in with Mark Forman, who unfortunately couldn’t make it.  Mark, lots of people were asking for you.  We missed you.

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David, thanks for teasing us with your Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!

As the sun when down, so did the booze.  We turned on those pink and black lights….

Blogtoberfest

Blogtoberfest

Some people were shy about singing.

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Some weren’t.

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And some people weren’t even remotely shy about singing!

But you know me – I had to do some kind of theater that night!  So, I “demanded” that Michael Turton come up and sign some songs like he had done at Shao-hui’s in the past.  Michael, I know it was a major PITA but it was absolutely hysterical hearing you sing English songs in Chinese on the fly!

Two Michaels sing karaoke

Photo by David Reid

This is Michael Turton singing with me.  Thanks for being such a good sport man.  I had feigned being “upset” with Michael for making me sing karaoke at my wedding last year.  Of course it was a big spoof but you should have seen the look on the guest’s faces!  Andres has a series of videos of the party and one of them includes this scene.  Listen how the guests are laughing as Michael sings in Chinese!

Blogtoberfest

Blogtoberfest

Hearing John and Carrie sing together was really nice.  They’re getting married soon.  John said to me “wow, I should sing more” after seeing Carrie’s positive reaction to his crooning.  Yeah man, you should.

On a side note, every single Thai woman in the neighorbood who saw John (including Adong’s wife) has said to me that John is perhaps the most handsome man they’ve ever seen.  I waited awhile before I told them about Carrie though.  Their reactions were priceless!  John, I have framed photos of you for sale in the Hukou market.  Contact me about your share at your convenience.

Eventually, the party wound down and the people went on their various ways.

Blogtoberfest

A few went back to our home and hang out on our ledengary roof for awhile, but it was clear that the party pretty much tired everyone out, and so it was time for this one to come to an end.

I would like to personally thank everyone who attended this party, which (despite a few negative comments about Hukou) I am declaring to be a rousing success.

Attendees:

  1. Andres, Karen, Becky & Tiffany
  2. David Edwards & Catherine
  3. Michael Turton
  4. David Reid
  5. Todd Alperovitz & Cathy
  6. Bailey Cross
  7. Craig, Selina & Emily
  8. Carrie & John
  9. Darren Melrose & Family
  10. Neil Thompson & Family
  11. Ashish & Selina
  12. Mei Lee
  13. Mark Wilbur
  14. Wayne Cabradilla

Plus Hui-chen and myself!

Financial Disclosure

  1. Total Bill: NT13,320
  2. Collected: NT10,900
  3. Total Number of People Who Paid: 27
  4. Balance Due: NT2420

Note, that one person paid NT500 and insisted on us keeping the extra NT100.  In retrospect we should have charged NT500 per person and it would have worked out a bit closer.  It wasn’t our intention to make money on this party anyway.

I hope you enjoyed reading about Bushman’s Blogtoberfest party as much as we enjoyed hosting this event!

Thanks for reading!

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16 comments

  1. Pingback: MJ Klein
  2. What a great turnout. Well done on all that organising. I was really keen to attend and looks like I missed a great event. Can I suggest Kaohsiung for next meetup :-). It would have been great to put voices to all those photos and stories.
    Cheers,
    Stephen

    Stephens last blog post..No bycatch but too much tuna

  3. I declare it a success because there are no photos of me in this post. That’s good enough for me!

    Seriously, thanks MJ and Hui-chen. We had a great time, great food and I think Selina became a fan of Sangsom – I’ll have to watch out when we go to Thailand at CNY.

    cfimagess last blog post..Mingun Paya, Burma

  4. Hi MJ,

    Great photos! Good times! Can’t wait for the next one. And yes, once things settle down and John and I have some free time, I would love to work on some new live songs with you. We’ll see you when we get back. Thanks so much for everything.

    Oh, and CONGRATULATIONS for your award on Taiwanderful!

    Carries last blog post..How To Improve Your Online Image

  5. AWESOME party AWESOME people and AWESOME fun. We had tremendous fun being part of Blogtoberfest MJ. Seriously man, huge huge thanks to you and Hui Chen for arranging this smashing event. It was crazy out there. Super delicious food, sang som, creative minds from all over the world and the music. Can we have it twice a year 😛

    Ashishs last blog post..A long weekend in Sanxia

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