The inaugural event had been cobbled together with very short notice - less than a month in fact - and the whole thing had a very loose, almost haphazard feel to it. The whole shebang came together in less than a month, as I remember it, and I was ironing transfers onto t-shirts in a makeshift sweatshop with my girls the night before the out-of-towners arrived.
But the gathering was a success, and before it was even over, Island Mike had said, "Next year, my place." It was not a question.
And so it was that two of us flew and three of us drove out to Vancouver Island in March of 2007 to drink beers, play games, share meals, stay up too late and laugh uproariously while doing so. At some point during the proceedings we deployed a camera and tripod for a quick self-timer group photo of us in front of the Warhammer 40,000 table.
|Yeah, yeah, we get it: the years have left their mark. Well, except for Rob, obvsly.|
We've grabbed a group photo pretty much every year since, but about a decade in, we became bored with the familiar, mediocre, team photo shot, and began to experiment with slightly more creative staging, culminating in last year's excellent jersey-alley composition:
|Framed copies of this pic with signed mattes were part of this year's swag!|
Having unleashed the beast now, I suppose it is not altogether surprising that this year's photo took about two hours to rig up and shoot, although you probably wouldn't know it to look at it.
This is not really the final product either, but a good example to share in the meantime. The actual photo is trying to evoke a candid, late-night, 'crypto-nerd lounge' vibe, requiring a lot of men to dress up who do not do so on a regular basis a number of whom are both contented and comforted in that fact. Their commitment, however, to the loosely articulated idea I shared in an email a few months ago was pronounced enough that they were willing to squeeze into old suits, jackets and ties and allow themselves to be posed like enormous mannequins and shot and flashed (oo, that sounds saucier than it probably needs to) for the better part of an hour.
And this posing only took place after we had spent another hour or so dressing the set, moving and remounting decorations, creating props and gags that are far too small or subtle to be spotted on the screen of a mobile device, where I imagine most people will see them. (For example, that martini glass doesn't have an olive, but the 30-sided dice from Formula Dé (which can also be seen in the brilliant poster in the background, commissioned for this event)).
But pictures are a key part of memory, and every time I look at the one we spent a lot of time on, I am going to remember not only a brilliant weekend and the games we played, but the camaraderie we shared, and everything we did to get to this point.
- Moving a heavy table to three different positions before finally settling on one.
- Printing out and cutting out a paper chessboard because it turned out there was none to be had in the house.
- Calculating the proper amount of used and empty glassware to convey conviviality without suggesting full-blown alcohol dependency or abuse.
- Lending a nerdy tie to a brother disappointed in his lack of thematic neckwear.
- Experimenting with the volumetric capacity of a variety of glassware in order to support a number of dice-based gags.
- Meticulously lining up a number of characterful bottles along the countertop, only to completely eclipse them with five sturdy blokes.
- Most importantly, the brainstorming, collaboration and idea sharing that saw everyone contribute something to a creatively staged photo.
Best of all, we came away with 2-3 other non-boring photo ideas which will take far less labour to execute, so we should be good now until G&G XVI or so. But I'm really looking forward to the one Earl is finishing up; it will be a special memento of a special time, spent with extraordinary men who share a phenomenal commitment to fun and fellowship.
Is it an exceptional event, or an event made exceptional by those who attend it? Truly, a koan worthy of a Zen master. Either way, even this photo captures a surprising amount of it.