For today's festivities, a handful of some of the coolest best friends organized/planned a series of community meet-ups throughout the day. Special thanks to Joey Noelle, Nikki Powell, Jonathan "Xyger" Landeros, Sean Pitts, Barrett Courtney, and probably many more that I'm forgetting.
Up first was Alcatraz Island. Approximately 20 of us bought tickets for and hopped on a boat that took us to the infamous prison at 10am. The boat-ride over was fairly short and gave those of us who hadn't met yet a quick chance to do some introductions. On the island we sat through a message from the forest rangers basically telling us about some of the rules and regulations on the island, as well as when the boats back to the mainland. The whole thing reminded me eerily of Oxenfree.
Sean Pitts took charge (as he is often wont to do in the Kinda Funny community) and let the group up and around the island a bit. We occasionally were taking breaks to take pictures and tweet out when the iffy wireless networks would allow it. Eventually he started to break out his new selfie stick (a returning favorite from last year's event that tragically broke during the Sunday in the Park meet-up). While he worked on getting the bluetooth synced up, I just used my long arms to take an impromptu Alcatraz group selfie on my own. I didn't get everyone in there, but it's a good looking group nonetheless.
Eventually we made our way into the prison and opted to take the guided audio tour. So everyone got handed a set of headphones with a little remote and was directed upstairs into the prison. Following along with the narrator's instructions (a former guard at the prison), we were let in and out of the halls and told some of the prison's history: stuff like a deadly prison riot, some of the famous residents, and an escape from Alcatraz tale that made me want to watch Shawshank Redemption again. All around, it was a pretty cool and interesting tour that we were all experiencing together, even though we all hearing the guide through our own individual headphones at our own pace.
As we left, the tour left us in the Alcatraz gift shop (as most touristy things will). While there, I decided to pick up another "mug" for Hawkin's Tea Time: a stainless steel replica of the types of cups that the inmates would have had. Not only is there no risk of that breaking en route back to England, but it will also probably be an all-around horrible contraption to drink his tea out of. Mwahahaha!
After catching a boat back to the mainland, the group of us walked down to Pier 39 (from Pier 33) to meet up with a lot more Best Friends for lunch. As I led the group up to the Hard Rock Cafe at the front of the Pier, I saw a couple of separate groups talking wearing a flurry of Kinda Funny shirts and we all brought every one together. Hugs. Introductions. Lifelong friendships being forged (if it's anything like Wing Wings last year anyway). After about 15 minutes of assorted mingling, people started getting hungry so we began breaking away into smaller groups to eat. We've run into problems bringing large groups of Best Friends together for food in the past so it was a calculated decision to go somewhere we could hit a lot of smaller places. And it worked. Suddenly our group of 50-ish had a few people going for seafood, a few into Americana, some just grabbing a corn dog and Oreo churro from a cart (okay, that one was maybe just me).
Prior to lunch, a handful of friends who didn't go to Alcatraz went to a light brunch instead so they weren't particularly hungry and instead went to hang out with the sea lions. I took my corn dog and churro and joined them. We had a great time, falling right back into the beautiful familiar rhythms of whenever we might have last hung out: PAX East, PAX South, PlayStation Experience, last year's Kinda Funny Live. I described the experience to Eric Petralia thusly:
Normally, I absolutely identify as an introvert. Back home, hanging out at a bar or in groups of friends drains my batteries and spending time alone recharges them. The exception to that standard has become these events. Last week, I was trudging along all week but somehow I knew, as soon as I was out here seeing my friends from across the country, that it would pick me right back up. And that's exactly what happened.
Catching up with these friends and learning about the goings-on in their lives since we last talked might be my favorite part of going to these events.
After some time with the sea lions, Xyger started misbehaving, taking a shiny little card and reflecting the light into people's eyes. I went into full-blown dad mode and confiscated it and put him in a time out. As a result, the ongoing joke that I'm the responsible "dad" of the group was brought to new heights when I was given the new nickname "Daddy Trevor."
So that's a thing now.
Later, we went to the Mirror Maze (a room set up with a labyrinth of mirrors where the goal is to get from the entrance to the exit without running into too many mirrors or getting stuck in too many dead-ends. Nikki Powell and I made it almost immediately through the maze, while some of the other members of our group took a little bit longer. Following that, we all began to reconvene near the center of the boardwalk. When we were pretty much all together, Sean went up to the second level to record all of us singing "Happy Birthday" to Kevin Coello.
With my phone dying and a minor fire that I needed to address for work, I took my leave from the group temporarily in order to get back to the hotel room. I charged up my phone, sent a couple work emails, and began writing the Alcatraz portion of this post while my phone charged up.
Unfortunately this meant I missed most of the time at Crissy Park, looking upon the Golden Gate Bridge. But since I had already earned myself a pretty decent sunburn, I imagine less time outdoors here was probably the right call for me. Eventually, though, I grabbed an Uber and headed across town, enjoying quite possibly my favorite driver to date. Mark was personable without feeling annoying to intrusive. I listened as he chatted up to two ladies I was sharing an UberPool with and even talked about my time on Alcatraz, and a little bit about the whole Kinda Funny weekend experience, describing how I was getting to spend time with friends from all across the country and even world. They all thought that was a pretty cool thing.
I showed up just as everyone at the park was deciding to take some big group pictures. Whether or not they had waited specifically for me to arrive was a flattering concept but also probably not true. After a couple pictures we all began to disperse again.
A handful of us returned to our hotel room. There was some Super Smash Bros. on Wii U (Sean Pitts, Luis Menchaca, and Jordan Town spent some time battling - and as much as Luis would like me to rewrite history, Sean won the day). Sean headed off to the Foundry for SF Game Night while the rest of us ordered pizza and put on a movie. As has been chronicled elsewhere on Twitter, Greg Miller wound up showing up and hanging out with the Best Friends at the Foundry. Meanwhile, we watched Unfriended.
Continuing the theme of Old Man/Daddy Trevor, Unfriended (for the unitiated) is a horror movie told entirely on a computer screen. A girl killed herself a year ago because a viral video had embarrassed her and her peers cyber-bullied her. Now, on the anniversary of her death a Skype call between friends gets interrupted by the spirit of the girl and she tortures and kills them one by one. I don't do movie reviews here but yeah about a minute into this movie, I just wanted all of the characters to die because they represented everything I despise about the trolliest of high school stereotypes. Unfortunately, I had to suffer through another hour and a half or so. On the plus side, watching it with friends meant tearing it to shreds.
Then I hopped in for a quick shower while the rest of the room started watching Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. So we went for the one-two punch of movie genres Trevor loves: horror and zombies. And in case it doesn't read: that's full-blown sarcasm right there. Those are the last two kinds of movies I would ever watch on my own.
So rather than watch the movie, I hopped on here to write up the rest of this entry. The gang seems to be enjoying this one better than Unfriended. And from what I'm hearing from my friends, (screams of disgust and horror "Oh god! Oh no! Oooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhh!") I think I made the right call focusing on wrapping this up. I'm not a fan of gore, and the comedy in this movie certainly sounds like a lot of it is driven from how over-the-top obscene they push it.
But even if the movies weren't my cup of tea, the company was A/10.
And tomorrow, we're off on a whole new set of adventures.