Sunday, November 22, 2020

Fortress Party 2013, Part 5: Finnegan's Wake

Welcome to Finnegan's Wake, the most Guinness-soaked open-casket funeral this side of County Tipperary.

We borrowed this aluminum coffin from a friend of a friend. It had never been used (we think), but the owners kept it outside for years, so we had to clean it pretty aggressively to bring it into the house. Even though that was several weeks before Fortress Party, the overwhelming smell of Lysol was still pervasive on the night of the party. 

The dearly departed Tim Finnegan was buried with his Tulamore Dew and two bars of Irish Spring, just as he would have wanted.

The band was called Dublin Audio Force, an homage to Greg's real band at the time, Detroit Audio Force. 

The setlist was all Irish drinking songs, and the lyrics were projected on this monitor so guests could sing along. The songs all came from a cassette that someone had given me as a birthday present in high school. The singer's Irish brogue was so thick that we couldn't understand half the lyrics. Rather than look them up, we transliterated them then best we could, which led to lines like, "The parish church did clone me" and, "I wish I was in some gnome, some garden." 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Fortress Party 2013 Retrospective, Part 4: Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones was Fortress Party 2013's "After Nine" room. Because kids shouldn't be exposed to potty humor. 

The Iron Throne itself. This may or may not have been Lauren's grandmother's silverware.

Every house is Westeros had a throne and a sigil with their noble house words. 

PLOP-IT was an interactive game like Hasbro's BOP-IT, but played with a toilet. 

When you started the game, it would play the Game of Thrones music, and bark commands at you like "Flush It," "Plop It," "Plunge It," and "Lift It," at progressively faster speeds.  

Appendix: House Words
Baratheon - The King's Load
Stark - Take the Brown
Tully - Family Dookie Honor
Lannister - A Lannister Always Pees His Debts
Greyjoy - We Do Not Soil
Targaryen - It Burns

Friday, November 20, 2020

Fortress Party 2013 Retrospective, part 3: 1-Up, Cirque du Soleil, and Fratlantis

This room was called 1-Up. I had wanted to do s Super Mario room for years, but never thought we could pull it off. Then Skippy showed up and did all the heavy lifting. He built and painted the giant wooden bricks and the green pipes.

...and the foam piranha plants. 

Cirque du Soleil was full of fluorescent lights, sparkly costumes that don't quite make sense, and exotic aerialists. This particular Cirque show was called, "Imbecilique." This blue head made its fourth fortress appearance, this time as the smartly-dressed ticket booth agent. 

We had majestic experimental music playing. There was a topless guy with a diablo, a woman on a trapeze.

And this guy. I'm not really sure what purpose he served. 

A frat house in Atlantis? That's Fratlantis, of course. The pun was the best part of the room. 

The second best part was the giant floating remote-control clownfish. 

And frat houses have jocks, and jocks need jock straps. (These were also making their fourth Fortress Party appearance, I believe...)   

There was a foosball table in Fratlantis.

But it was full of sand and seashells.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Fortress Party 2013 Retrospective, Part 2: The Legend of Sleepy Challah

The Legend of Sleepy Challah featured the the Bar Mitzvah of the Headless Horseman (or rather... Hirschman.)  

As he read from the Torah from atop his trusty steed, sword in hand. the Headless Horseboy became a Headless Horseman. 

The father of the Bar Mitzvah boy is presumably beaming with pride, though it is hard to tell. Because he is also headless. 

We bought a case of custom-printed pumpkin-orange yarmulkes, which the first fifty guests got to wear throughout the night. Knowing this will make future Fortress Party 2013 pictures make more sense. 

Of course, there was a collage of the Bar Mitzvah boy, looking dapper with his fresh gourd head. 

And what is Bar Mitzvah without a party, and what's a Bar Mitzvah party without light-up dance floor? This amazing piece of tech was hand-made by Sean Murphy, and has reappeared in one form or another (although usually this form) in every subsequent Fortress Party. 

DJ Louis Dang pumped up the Bar Mitzvah partygoers all night long. Every now and then, the DJ would call a "Champagne Snowball."

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Fortress Party 2013 Retrospective, Part 1: Ellis Island

By 2013, the Fortress Party StEering Committee (FOPSEC) was in full swing. We had at team of builders, programers, designers, creatives and grunts trying to inject at least a little wow-factor into every room. 

This little guy had a fan blowing underneath him, so the arms waved around to welcome everyone to Fortress Party 2013. 

The first stop was Ellis Island. Having completed a treacherous transoceanic voyage, guests walked up a gangplank to their new home in the U.S.A. 

As they disembarked, the first thing they saw was grand visage of Lady Liberty Mutual herself. (Again, we respectfully added a black rectangle to protect the identity of the model.) 

The statue's slogan had been updated somewhat to reflect our capitalist values. Read it out loud for full effect.

This immigration officer awaited them as they first set for onto American soil. 

Guests would enter their name into the registry. The name their parents gave them, their Old-World name that no one in America could pronounce. The computer would print out a name badge with a new Americanized surname, that was uniformly that immigrant's corporate sponsor. In the old world, you. may have been Daniel Klein, but in America, you would be known as Daniel T-Mobile or Daniel I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Fortress Party 2012 Retrospective, Part 5: Small World, Spoiler Alert, and Bloc Party

Velcome bick to Fortress Party Tventy Tvelve! Ve vill be vith you in a moment. 

But first, let's go back to the first room guests saw when they entered the house. Building off the success of the Google Street View room in 2011, we decided to try our hand at another immersive video room. In this case, we went for reproducing the Magic Kingdom's infamously annoying It's a Small World ride.

The first thing we needed was a cutout of a beloved cartoon character showing the height requirement for the ride. Obviously, this is not a Disney character, but an actress who had starred in a Penny Seats'  production earlier that year. The cutout was a prop in the show, and like all Penny Seats props, it ended up in our basement afterwards. It turns out, she wasn't entirely thrilled with us using her image for a Fortress Party prop. (That's why I'm going with the black bars over the eyes in this picture.)

Earlier in 2012, we took the kids to Disneyworld. We went on the It's a Small World ride, which is every bit as amazing as you remember it! We sat in the front, and pointed our cameras at about 45 degree angles to try to capture video of the whole ride. These were projected on two sheets. 

Skippy made these delightful multinational foam children which flanked you during the ride. And of course, the song played over and over and over and over...

In the basement, next to the keg, there was an alcove called Spoiler Alert. Jason made a PowerPoint that ran continuously, revealing the surprise endings to movies and TV shows. If you wanted a beer, you had no choice but to look at it. 

Finally, there was a Russian vodka bar called Bloc Party.  

There was fake snow on the floor (for the third time), Matryoshka dolls, cabbages, and other Russian drinks and props.

The wall was decorated with signed photos of Russian celebrities who had visited the bar.

"One spilled drink is a tragedy. A million spilled drinks is a statistic" - Joe

The bartender served vodka shots on an ice luge, while it lasted. The owner of the pointing finger clearly just noticed how cool this is. 

The server's outfit was passed between bartenders throughout the night. Not shown: white go-go boots. 

Most of the bartenders were friendly.

But some of them were able to channel their inner Galina Reznikov. 

Clean-up day. December 8, 2012