I’ve been procrastinating about this since Tuesday. I know I promised to finish up my RightOnline Recap, but in the back of my mind sits this notion that doing so will place it irretrievably in the past. I think I need to work a bit on my overly sentimental streak….
At the Kruiser, Kruiser Kabana
After Friday night’s Breitbart Tribute, the plan was to eventually make our way to the infamous #KruiserKabana – a party tradition started several years ago by the incomparable @StephenKruiser. I’d not yet had the pleasure of attending the Kabana, so was rather looking forward to it. Somehow, I managed to copy the suite number down wrong, and had it pegged for the 32nd Floor. As Hammy (@e2pilot) and I wandered 32, looking for a suite that didn’t exist, I had visions of a night wasted wandering the many corridors of The Venetian. Fortunately, after a text and a quick scan of the #RO12 timeline, I was able to confirm it was actually on the 36th Floor, and we soon managed to locate the fun.
I had promised myself I would make a point at this gathering to snag pictures of/with as many of my friends as I could. So, after a warm welcome from Kruiser and Emily Zanotti (@emzanotti)
a fair amount of the rest of my evening consisted of doing just that. First, there was my “Twitter-daughter,” Hannah Drazich (@HDrazich). No, of course, she’s not actually my daughter, but after learning that I’m the same age as her mother, she adopted me and vice-versa. (I am not going to whine here about being old. I am not gonna do it. No siree.) Familial Twitter ties notwithstanding, I was so looking forward to meeting Hannah, and was so happy to finally do so. She is lovely, whip-smart, and an absolute sweetheart, and I am quite certain her real mother is exceedingly proud of her!
Next, there was my good friend, Duke (@IrishDuke2). Though my eyes are closed in this one, I can’t help but love it for the expression on his face.
And it was my pleasure to pose with two of my favorite folk from Indy, Josh “Silk” Gillespie (@JoshGillespie) and Lauren Fakes (@LaurenFakes). This was Josh’s first venture to Vegas, and we had such grand plans to make it memorable for him. I’m not entirely certain we succeeded in that. Although, the Mermaid tattoo, really is a sight to behold….
I was also pleased to snap this pic of three of my favorite Tweeps: Sarah Rumpf (@rumpfshaker), Sean Hackbarth (@SeanHackbarth) and Kemberlee Kaye (@red_red_head). If you are reading this and, for some bizarre reason do not follow these fine folk on Twitter, you’re doing it wrong!
I absolutely love this one of my roommates! Here’s Gwen (@scvbuckeye), Jack (@Mr_Fastbucks) and Jen (@Somethingabtjen). Alright, Jack wasn’t really one of our roomies, but I’m sure he’d make a fine one nonetheless.
I had a very nice time meeting and chatting with Duane Patterson (@RadioBlogger), Hugh Hewitt’s producer and host of Duane FM. He’s well on his way to achieving his million-follower quest!
I also enjoyed shooting the breeze with @TookieW – who was surprised to learn I’m a St. Louisan and that I’m older than him. (That second bit was pure flattery, but I’ll take it.) Speaking of St. Louis, I was pleased to finally meet Jim Hoft (@GatewayPundit), too! Somewhere, in the midst of all this, I had a chance to speak briefly with John Grant (@JohnG405), who was gracious enough to have me on his radio show a couple weeks back. Was nice to meet him in person, as well!
Then there was my favorite cupcake, Ms. April Gregory (@AprilDGregory).
A bonus of having RightOnline in Vegas was that I knew it meant @hipstervative would be in attendance. Here he is with his lovely wife @Brit_Cain. They are truly one of the cutest couples I’ve ever seen.
And…our gracious host once again — here with @EyeOnPolitics:
Two of my most fun Vegas buddies, Greg (@CajunConservatv) and Katrina Rice (@Veribatim), were also on hand and looking sharp Friday evening!
First time I met this guy, we took a pic with @Mamaswati (who was sorely missed at RightOnline!) which she hashtagged as #FriendsForever. It seemed fitting then, and still does. Here I am with my good friend @FingersMalloy:
While enjoying the Kabana, we got word that Glen Asbury (@GlenAsbury) was having travel issues, and was apparently stuck at LAX. I was relieved to see that he finally made it and was able to come join the fun for a bit. Here he is with Sean and April.
Knowing that we had a long day ahead of us on Saturday, I imposed a 2:00 a.m. curfew on myself for Friday — and kept it! Still, Saturday morning came all too quickly. (As I got ready, I noticed my Twitter timeline was suspiciously quiet, so I suspect I wasn’t alone in feeling that way.) I managed to make it downstairs in time to catch the tail-end of the complimentary Continental Breakfast and share a bagel with Hammy (@e2pilot) and fellow St. Louisan Doug Welch (@Styx1972).
Properly fortified, it was time to enjoy the morning speeches in the main conference room. @MichelleMalkin spoke again — using hashtag props to illustrate the power of Twitter and the voice of JustABloggers. Hugh Hewitt, Guy Benson and Rodger Hedgecock also addressed the crowd. Then it was time for the Breakout Sessions to begin. Hammy and I opted for the one titled “Social Media, Smarter: How to Rule Facebook and Twitter,” presented by @NickSchaper, @MichelleMalkin, @KatieHarbath and @LachlanMarkay, and moderated by Nansen Malin (@nansen). True to the title, the panel offered up some great tips on how to make the most of…Facebook and Twitter. Meanwhile, @DemonSheep heartily encouraged me to hurl a pen cap at the back of Kevin McKeever’s (@bankofkev’s) head, but I refrained.
After, I made my way up to Michelle and asked if we could take a picture together. Hammy was gracious enough to serve as photographer.
Unfortunately, when I attempted to return the favor with his camera, I botched the auto-focus feature, and I’m afraid I left him with only a very fuzzy shot of the two of them. I owe him a drink!
I also made a point to grab a pic with another fellow St. Louisan, Stacy Washington. I knew her “He Said/She Said” co-host Demetrius Minor (@dminor85) would be happy!
I’ll confess, I missed out on the second breakout session. My stomach was rumbling and lunch was needed. I caught up with Fingers and Melanie Hall (@MelanieAnn79) and headed to the food court for some grub. It occurred to me I really had not eaten much since I’d gotten to Vegas, so I thought a cheeseburger was in order. I’ve had Johnny Rocket’s before and assumed it would hit the spot, but I’m sad to report, the burger was not worth the wait. Still, the company was good!
Back to the conference, I joined Hammy for the Lunch Session in the main conference room. U.S. Representative Joe Heck (R-NV) spoke. He was followed by a Townhall Q&A with Tracy Henke, Lars Larson, Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) and S.E. Cupp (@SECupp). Audience members were encouraged to tweet their questions via the #ROTownhall hashtag. My favorite had to be (@MissRuth1021’s)
My friends are expecting me to come back from Vegas hitched or at least engaged. What should I do to make this happen? #ROTownhall #RO12
(I understand she did receive an offer on that!)
The next breakout session featured “Mastering Multimedia: Optimizing your Blog with Videos and Podcasting,” presented by Ben Howe (@BenHowe), Thomas LaDuke (@IrishDuke2) and @FingersMalloy. I understand some of The Snark Factor audience regulars were a wee bit disappointed to learn there would be no Chat Room to accompany the presentation, but the guys did a nice job sharing the tricks of the trade, including some good software recommendations. (#PowerGrandma, anyone?)
Ben also showed his fantastic “Two Paths” video as an example of the power of video and new media.
The final panel of the day was “Digital Activism: How your Mobile Phone is Changing the Face of Grassroots,” presented by Javier Manjarres (@THESHARKTANK1), Steven Green (@VodkaPundit) and Stephen Kruiser (@StephenKruiser). True to form, Kruiser was sporting the #NoPants look. He also shared these wise words to the activist audience: “You should be pimping the crap out of yourself.”
I was very pleased that afternoon when I had an opportunity to pose for a pic with S.E. Cupp. A friend of mine had offered to donate $100 to my favorite charity if I managed to get a picture of her. I did him one better and got one with her, thanks to Fingers. And the best part? $100 was donated to The American Cancer Society. Can’t beat that!
Last Night in Vegas
The breakout sessions complete, it was time to get ready for that evening’s festivities, which included a Cocktail Reception, followed by the Closing Dinner. I made a point to grab some more pics while at the reception. Here I am with two of the loveliest ladies on Twitter, Amelia Hamilton (@AmeliaHammy) and Kemberlee Kaye (@red_red_head).
I love this one of two more of the Twitterati, Jim J (@anthropocon) and Teri Christoph (@TeriChristoph).
I was happy when Evan Pokroy (@EvanPokroy) managed to join us via Skype, compliments of Ben Howe. It was almost like he was there. Almost! And I was happy to finally meet @JeromeHudson, as well. I also enjoyed spending a bit of time with the wonderful Chastains (@ZacChastain & @MaryChastain), even if Mary couldn’t decide whether to keep her shoes on or off!
Also loved this pic of @LarryOConnor and me. No, I was not goosing him!
And was happy to see another favorite, Jon David Kahn (@MrJonDavid)
Dinner was held in the main ballroom, and featured some phenomenal speeches. I especially liked Dana Loesch’s comment regarding the “legacy media” – “They’re competing against you for eyeballs.” Jon David gave a fantastic rendition of “American Heart” with Breitbart up on the screen behind him.
A brief stop by The Bourbon Room afforded me the chance to finally meet Mandy Nagy (@LibertyChick) and @AblativMeatshld, and to do some nefarious plotting with @TookieW.
As mentioned earlier, we had promised Josh Gillespie a big night out on the town. It didn’t quite work out the way we had originally envisioned. Still, he and Mark Warner (@MWarner95), Hannah Drazich (@HDrazich), Lauren Fakes (@LaurenFakes), Hammy (@e2pilot) and I made our way out of The Venetian and down the Strip a ways. If nothing else, the Carnaval Court Bar afforded us some interesting people-watching opportunities. There were ladies dancing high above the crowd in cages, but the most impressive sight was the gentleman on the ground who apparently subscribed heartily to the “communication via dance” method of impressing said ladies.
About an hour of that was all we could take, so we made our way back to The Venetian. The Bourbon Room was packed by this point, and I ventured in, only to be called out as “Badge Lady” repeatedly by the green haired, hair-band wannabe DJ. (Yes, I was still sporting my conference badge at this point.) Rather than endure much of that, I opted to head back up to the Kruiser Kabana with the gang.
And another fine evening in the Kabana, it was. I especially enjoyed the collaborative love note sent to the sorely-missed John Brodigan (@Brodigan) by @Somethingabtjen, @LaurenFakes, @AmeliaHammy, @MWarner95, @Veribatim and myself. We put our new media skillz to good use! Though our chat time was brief, I enjoyed seeing @Rachelveronica and @Chris_Mayer. Also, I took a fuller tour of the Kabana this time, and was mightily impressed by the separate work out room, sauna and bathroom-the-size-of-my-house it featured. I hated to see it all end but, though I had no self-imposed curfew that night, I sent myself back to my room at an arguably reasonable hour — for Vegas, anyway.
Time to Say Goodbye Again
Always, my least favorite part of events such as this is the fact that they must end, and the friends who have gathered from far and wide have to say their goodbyes. I was happy to share lunch with April Gregory, Alex Nelson (@awnelson17), Duane Lester (@bodhi1), Fingers Malloy, @MissRuth1021, Teri Christoph and Duke (@IrishDuke2). The burger was actually pretty good at I ❤ Burgers (once it was cooked all the way, that is, and once it finally arrived 45 minutes later). The tater tots were good, too. The whole splitting-of-the-bill and taking-half-an-hour-to-cash-people-out bit left everyone a tad disgruntled, though, I’m afraid. There’s a word that would fit the situation perfectly, but I’ll not employ it here.
The highlight of the meal may have been this pose by Duke:
I am not entirely certain of the message he was attempting to convey, but as Duane rightly noted at the time, “If we ever start losing to liberals online, I will blame @IrishDuke2.”
After that, there were quick hugs goodbye for Duane, Fingers and Teri. Then another quick goodbye to April and MissRuth. Duke, Alex and I wandered around a bit. We ventured out into the heat…103, was it? And I snapped this pic from the walkway.
We mosied back into the casino and took up residence at the center bar, where the next several hours were spent playing Black Jack and Video Poker. At one point, I was up $160 (having invested $80). To make Duke feel better, I made sure to give $80 of it back and break even. Kemberlee came and joined us for awhile, as did Hannah and Lauren. We covered such an interesting array of conversation topics that afternoon — it really was rather fun and relaxing. And I was reminded, once again, that I am pretty well blessed in the Friend Department. Now, if only we could figure out the whole Transporter thing. (That has to be better than flying!)
Disclaimer: There were a number of people I saw or met briefly during the conference (in addition to those I’ve included) but did not get to spend near enough time chatting with. I started trying to list them, but then realized what an exercise in futility that would be. Inevitably, I would forget to include someone. As it is, I fear I haven’t done the event, or the people justice.
Which brings me to this: Where possible, I have included Twitter handles. This is not purely for identification. More importantly, it is to encourage anyone who might be reading this to make a point to follow those mentioned. Yes, much of my recap has been about the social aspects of the event, rather than the substantive programs. But many — most — of the people I have mentioned form the heart and soul of the conservative movement, at least in the “new media” realm. These are the JustABloggers. These are the Breitbart Army. These are people who are working hard and making a difference. And if the conservative cause matters to you, then you will want to follow them. That is the beauty of the Online Age.
Special thanks to AFPF for hosting a fantastic event. So glad I was able to be a part of it!