Thursday, January 14, 2021

Fortress Party 2018 Retrospective Part 4: Slytherin Common Room

I don't have a lot of pictures from the Slytherin Common Room, but here is the important part. We put beautiful foam picture frames around TV screens, and showed videos of illustrious dead Slytherin headmasters and headmistresses carrying on with each other all night. 

Filming these was a delight. The actors sat on opposite sides of the room while we recorded them simultaneously. Every now and then we would hold up a piece of paper that said something like "Quidditch is rigged" or "Speak in Parseltongue," and these talented actors improvised the rest. And Scarlett spend the whole time trying not to laugh. 

There was a shelf full of Slytherin wands. Each one was labelled with it's owner and the makeup of the wand. (i.e. Horace Slughorn, 11.5", Balsa Wood with a core of Ogre Pubic Hair.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Fortress Party 2018 Retrospective, Part 3: Geisha House and Clue

We had designed rooms around a specific kind of alcohol before. The Bloc Party was a vodka bar, Finnegan's Wake was all about Irish Whiskey, and the only drink at Box Party was boxed wine. 

In 2018, we had The Geisha House, and all of the drinks were based on sake. Ew.

As usual, we had a rotating cast of bartenders sharing the same oversized costume. 

Frankly, nobody likes sake, so Danielle, our resident mixologist, had her work cut out for her. Here is what she came up with. 

Geisha House - Sake Bar Menu 
Sake, Guernsey Egg Nog, five-spice

Ramen Back:
Shot of sake with a ramen broth chaser
Starting at 9pm
Shiso Mojito:
Sake, lime, fresh mint, shiso leaf, matcha tea, bubbles
Starting at 10 pm
Mount Fuji:
Sake, fresh apple cider, spiced vanilla vodka, citrus

Starting at 11 pm
Winter Rose:
Sake, peach, vodka, lemon, rose, ginger ale

We also served the best non-alc in Fortress Party history: bubble tea!

The bar was attached to the actual Geisha House. There was a two story pod hotel. Usually, there is only room for one person in a pod, but bubble tea brings people together. 

At the edge of this picture, you can see part of our Koi pond. It was a kiddie pool with fake water and rubber Koi in. It started out as a kiddie pool with real water and fake Koi but the structural integrity of the pool was dubious, and we had a flood a couple days before the party. So we cleaned it up and went with fake water.

The following signs were taped up all over the walls. Obviously, this is not original content, but I still laugh when I see these so I had to share. 

The interactive game this year was Clue. Guests were trying to solve the murder of John Doe or Jane Doe. 

They started by scanning the QR code in the middle of this cork board. Their  phone would then tell them to find (and scan) a perpetrator, a location, and a weapon. The weapons were all here in Ziploc bags. The perps were guests, wearing the appropriate the appropriate trucker hat (i.e. Colonel Mustard was wearing the yellow one.) And the locations were actual rooms in the fort. So to solve a murder, you had to go to at least one known place, and find one guest who was moving around. 

Once you successfully scanned the murderer, the room, and the weapon, you would be directed back to the Clue headquarters and told to find the sticker representing one specific murder victim, and stick it to their shirt.

The victims were all celebrity John and Jane Does. Seen here: Lithgow, Lennon, Stewart, Fonda, Goodall, Voight, Krasinski, Denver, Cusak, and possibly Wayne. It turns out, there are a lot more well-known Johns than Janes.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Fortress Party 2018 Retrospective, Part 2: Dia De Los Muertos

Our house came with a generous supply of lacy curtains, none of which had any business being on our windows. They have been repurposed for Fortress Parties over the years, but never so well as for the altar in the Dia de los Muertos room. 

Here we found another use for the golden fiddle from the 2014's The Devil Went Up to Michigan

A few years prior, I had ordered something from Musician's Friend, and they sent me a free acoustic guitar as an add-on, but it arrived with a split neck. They replaced it, of course, but what were we to do with a hopelessly broken guitar? Paint it to look like a prop from Coco, of course. 

This painting of Saint Anthony was leftover from a Penny Seats production. With a little face paint, he fit right in. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Fortress Party 2018 Retrospective, Part 1B: The Wren Faire (Puffin Tumble, Rapunzel Chicken Sings, Joust)

The Wren Faire was full of historically accurate entertainment options. Rapunzel Chicken Sings featured a stuffed Angry Bird doll with about 10 blonde wigs pinned to its head in series. When someone pushed the red button, a speaker behind Rapunzel would play one a Bird Song. 

We made these songs by downloading karaoke versions, having Lauren sing them (often with modified lyrics), and adding a filter to her voice to make it sound an octave higher. Sometimes, like in "Blackbird," the auto-tune failed completely and chose a dramatically different key for the vocals. We figured Rapunzel Chicken was just a little pitchy sometimes, so we went with it.

The video of celebrity birds was playing in a different room, but for the sake of this retrospective, I mixed it with clips of some of the Rapunzel songs. (It's hard enough to get through this four minute video, let alone listen to the full versions of each of these screechy songs.)


In the depths of our deep storage room, there was a functioning game of Joust projected on a sheet. The controllers on the table in the foreground give a sense of size. 

Puffin Tumble was supposed to mimic the bawdy comedy shows at Ren Faires. 

Lady Bird (a.ka. Perty Birdie) and Bard Bird (a.k.a. Diry Birdie) told off-color jokes and sang risqué songs. We figured no one would be listening too closely, so we didn't close this room off to kids. 

Here is the full Puffin Tumble recording, in all of its disgusting glory, including the dirty bird songs we found to accompany their act.

Supplement: Puffin Tumble script

Bard Bird: 

Hail and well met, good lady! I’ve just flown in from Phoenix, and boy, are mine arms tired! My hollow, lightweight bones are weary and long for a respite.  

Lady Bird: 

Good morrow and welcome! Might I fetch you a tankard of ale to wet your beak? 

Bard Bird: 

Aye! And might you share one with me? Long have I been in migration. It was the sweet song of your voice on the breeze that lured me here to divine the heavenly source. Perch with me, perch with me, kind lady. 

Lady Bird: 

You flatter me, kind sir, but you doth not fool me. You dribble sweet words into my ear from your honeyed tongue. But you are far too practiced at your song of seduction! You are but a freebird seeking to feast on mine seed before depositing yours. 

Bard Bird: 

Dear lady! Remove thine beak from mine heart! My words aren’t practiced. I am winging it, moved as I am by your sublime visage and vibrant plumage. Please, allow me to illustrate my most virtuous of intentions with a song of fellowship and good tidings! 

Lady Bird:

I hold no dominion over you. Sing your song, knave, loud and true. And then begone, lest I stick you with a very large bill. 

Bard Bird: 

Thank you, sweet lady, for indulging me. I hope this song might alleviate your fowl mood. I sing for you now The Ballad of the Cock & Tits:

Traveled long and hard and hot, the wayward cock sought rest.

Soaking wet and glistening sweat, he headed toward yon nest. 

Two tits within there welcomed him, he thrust himself between them. 

Warm and moist, he thrice rejoiced, coughing out a milky phlegm.

Warm and moist, he thrice rejoiced, coughing out a milky phlegm.

Yes, yes, yes, good song, good song!

Lady Bird: 

That was splendid, good sir! Please forgive me my earlier stormy disposition. I knew not you were a gentleman of such gifts. I will join you for that ale, if it is not too much a burden. 

Bard Bird:

A burden? No! You, sweet lady, look light as a feather, and I am stiff as a board. Let us all hoist our tankards! 

(Song: “I Went to the Market to Buy a Cock”)

Lady Bird:

Ah, it does my spirit good to be among such a merry group of revelers! Perhaps I might return the favour with a joke? What did the bird of prey say when his wife laid a snowy plover egg?

Well, this is hawkward! A-ha-ha-ha-ha! Now, another song! 

(Song: “Has Anybody Seen My Cock?”)

Bard Bird:

Good masters! Sweet ladies! I know of but one way to help this party take flight: SHOW US YOUR TITS, BOOBIES, AND PECKERS! Tits, boobies, and peckers of course being assorted types of birds. Ah, ornithology does give me a cheep thrill. And now, my cloaca aches for another song! 

(Song: “The Bantam Cock”)

Lady Bird:

My lords and pheasants. We are here to sing for you all night, and it’s exhausting. I feel like I’m huffin’ and puffin’.

Bard Bird:

Well I’m just puffin!

Lady Bird:

We are Puffin Tumble. I’m the Perty Birdie.

Bard Bird:

And I’m the Dirty Pirdie.

Lady Bird:

And you’re the lucky duckies who get to hear our next song.

(Song: “The Cuckoo’s Nest”)

Lady Bird:

Thank you, kind revelers. If you like our show, be sure to tweet about us. Or retweet. #puffintumble #bawdybirdies #welovepoopingoncars

Bard Bird:

Now raise your cup, or if you’re turkey, raise your gobble gobble gobblet, and let’s have another song.

(Song: “Has Anybody Seen My Cock?” v2) 

Lady Bird:

Oh, dirty birdy, you don’t look well.

Bard Bird:

No, I have CHIRPIES. It’s a CANARIAL disease. It’s unTWEETable.

Lady Bird:

Well, that might make it harder to pick up CHICKS. Perhaps another song will cheer you up.

(Song: “Three Birds”)

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Fortress Party 2018 Retrospective, Part 1A: The Wren Faire (Entrance, The Grizzly Beak, Madame Crow-many)

The Wren Faire was a series of small rooms that took up most of the basement at Fortress Party 2018. It was the avian version of all things you would find at a Renaissance Faire... period costumes, bawdy theatrics, musical acts, games, and beer. 

This bridge, which was borrowed from the local Boy Scouts chapter, was making its second appearance, after straddling the canal in Carnevale de Venezia in 2016. Ironically, it was not used in the actual Boy Scouts room in 2017. 

This symbol appeared on signs directing guests to the Wren Faire. 

There was a bar called The Grizzly Beak. The owner of the Grizzly Peak, the brew pub for which this was named, donated beer for the occasion. 

We also served Wild TurkeyThe Famous Grouse, Grey Goose, and a mixed drink called Tequila Mockingbird.

At nine pm, we opened up the room Madame Crow-many, the fortune teller. 

A zigzag of PVC pipe held little plastic Easter eggs, so that one would be dispensed at a time. The eggs could be opened, and each contained a slip of paper with a bird-themed fortune on it, one for each guest. For posterity (and because it took a long time to write all of these), here is the complete list of fortunes. 
  • While there’s no shame in admitting you don’t know everything, there’s actually quite a lot of shame in admitting you can’t figure out how to eat birdseed.
  • You’ll continue to spend your days covered in feathers and bird poop, proving that being dressed by birds every morning isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. 
  • There are some kinds of pain that never go away, but after all these years you’d think they’d come up with a way to get that lobster to let go of your beak.
  • You will never be able to explain to anyone’s satisfaction how all those storks could just appear out of nowhere.
  • You and your nest will be whisked away to a remote island by a wealthy sportsman who has waited all his life to hunt the Least Dangerous Game.
  • Traveling the world for five years certainly taught you things you’d never have learned otherwise, but you wish someone had told you the worm was on a string tied to a stick on your hat.
  • The early bird gets the worm. It’s the middle of the night, and you’re not going to get jack.
  • This week will teach you that there are certain things that really can’t be faked, such as love, respect, and laying eggs.
  • Don’t beat up your chicks. That would be do-NEST-ic violence.
  • Venus rising in your sign indicates trouble getting your eggs fertilized, which is problematic because, for astronomical reasons, Venus going to be rising in your sign for the next 87 years.
  • Only one major thing will happen to you in the nest this week. After that, however, it won’t really be possible for anything to ever happen to you again.
  • You will prove true an old adage: If flamingos stood on NO legs, they’d fall down.
  • Thinking about cock fighting? Violence never solves anything. However, it’s just fine for a quick temporary fix in many situations.
  • You’ll wake up in a New Orleans brothel between a dead Big Bird and a duffel bag full of cash, but unfortunately, it’s all easily explained and is cleared up within minutes.
  • You’re getting better at figuring out what your dreams really mean. However, all that stuff that happens when you’re awake is still pretty baffling, because you’re a duck.
  • The stars say that you will have a decent week but will rely too much on dried straw in your nest construction. Seriously, there are around 200 billion stars in the Milky Way alone, and some of them can be pretty specific.
  • You’re not the kind of individual who can wear those stylish strappy heels, mostly because you’re too stupid to figure out how to put shoes on your webbed feet.
  • Remember: The patient raindrops can eventually wear away even the hardest stone. Don’t let them touch your feathers if you value your life.
  • They say it’s never too late to do something meaningful with your life, which is a nice idea, but you actually have about nine days before you’re shot by one of those Duck Dynasty guys.
  • For the last time: Once your first hatchling is dead, the next one in line does not automatically become your firstborn, so cool it with all the sacrifices.
  • Pluto rising in your sign this week indicates vast trouble ahead, as even an eagle really shouldn’t be able to see Pluto with the naked eye like that.
  • Your ravenous hunger for mice will be quashed when you find out how it’s made and how much artificial crap is in it.
  • Darkwing Duck will appear to you in a dream and explain to you at embarrassing length why you’re not quite good enough for Donald Duck to appear in your dreams.
  • It’s unclear whether you’re going to murder baby chickens or if you’re a baby chicken who murders people, but the stars are pretty certain you’re going to be known as the Baby Chicken Murderer.
  • You’ve succeeded in breeding penguins in captivity, but the hard part will be getting them to breed with each other.
  • Sometimes you just have to push the baby birds out of the nest and see if they fly. Other times, you have to push them into a volcano to see if they melt.
  • Apus is a small constellation in the southern hemisphere. It represents a bird-of-paradise, and its name means “without feet” in Greek, because the Ancient Greeks thought it was rude to look under a bird to check for feet.
  • You should avoid making any financial decisions next week, as the pain you’ll be in from being defeathered and broiled will probably affect your judgment.
  • When the stork brings a baby to your doorstep, it’s time to confront your husband about cheating on you with a stork.
  • The stars predict that you would not be able to run around with no head for as long as a chicken can. The stars also believe in using the scientific method to test their predictions.
  • Don’t worry: There is nothing wrong with you that emergency gizzard surgery within the next 90 minutes won’t solve.
  • A regular routine can provide much-needed structure, but you might be better off if you didn’t start every day with a guy trying to saw your wings off.
  • You’ll be saddened when it turns out that all those people who only like you for your eggs turn out not to be very good friends.
  • Love, wisdom, and luck are all strong in your zodiac sign this week, providing further proof that zodiac signs don’t apply to geese.
  • You will soon be judged by a jury of your peers, which is a good thing, as anyone who isn’t a self-centered screeching seagull would probably want you dead.
  • You’ll become embroiled in a vicious conflict between those who feel the Eagles are overrated and those who want control of the cocaine trade on the Eastern Seaboard.
  • You are about to embark on a great journey across an infinite ocean of possibilities, the most likely of which is ending up as a 4-piece order of McNuggets.
  • The stars have nothing to say to you this week, as they’re trying to work on their own future for once, if you don’t mind.
  • Lead with your heart, and you will find yourself at the front of the flying V.
  • You have a big ugly dewlap.
  • If you want to be the one Thanksgiving turkey that The President pardons, you better not rat him out to the media.
  • On the first Day of Christmas, someone will put you in a pear tree and give you to their true love.
  • Don’t forget to get your avian flu shot this year. It sucks, but it’s better than avian flu.
  • Toni Morrison was pretty smart, but she if she realized how much you like showtunes, she could have also figured out WHAT the caged bird sings.
  • One of you in the hand is worth two of you in the bush.
  • True love will careen into your life without warning next week, spin you around, take your breath away, dislocate your beak, shatter your brittle wing bones, and move on without having noticed you.
  • If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, you should find out if it’s single.
  • What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. In both cases, the answer is a swift death before they poop all over the athletic field.
  • You have always been a proud and beautiful peacock, but you will achieve lasting glory when you are killed and stuffed so that the people drawing the NBC logo have some inspiration.
  • Why not kill two birds with one stone? If you do, do not, under any circumstances, let the cops find the stone.
  • Your talons look gorgeous tonight, darling! You must tell me where you had them done!
  • Sometimes, it feels like you’re just flapping and flapping and never really get anywhere.
  • When you’re a cardinal, it seems like people have a lot of rules pertaining just to you.
  • You will try to replace the baby’s diaper with a clean one, but it’s as free as a bird, and this bird you cannot change.
  • If you got really good at jazz saxophone, they might give you the nickname, “Person.”
  • Quoth The Raven, “Stop quothing me without proper attribution.”
  • You will soon discover that you are not a duckling after all, but even among swans, you will still be considered ugly.
  • You are literally the albatross around someone’s neck.
  • You are neither a loon nor a cuckoo, but you are crazy as a jaybird.
  • That thing you just did? That’s so Raven.
  • Your name will soon be added to a list alongside the carrier pigeon, the dodo, and great auk.
  • Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.
  • Like our nation’s emblematic bird, you are rare, majestic, and completely bald.
  • There are some things you just can’t unpeck.
  • Seek out opportunities to get together with friends on a telephone wire this week.
  • You are bird-brained. Own it.
  • Nobody wants to be a canary in a coal mine, but it’s better than being a canary on a landmine.
  • Take some time to get in touch with your spiritual side and go to a place of public worship, like a bird sanctuary.
  • Get out there on the dance floor and shake a tailfeather.
  • The chickens are coming home to roost. You should get customized family reunion T-shirts printed.