In the forty-second episode of the WordPress Briefing podcast, Josepha Haden Chomphosy reads a WordPress Halloween story completed by contributor-submitted Mad Libs.
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Editor: Dustin Hartzler
Logo: Javier Arce
Production: Santana Inniss
Music: Spooky edit by Timothy Volpert
Mad Lib Contributors: Juan Lucha, Lauren Stein, robinwpdeveloper, Birgit Pauli-Haack, Madison Swain-Bowden, Ken Gagne, Julia Golomb, kawserz, Sé Reed, Mumtahina Faguni, Clea Mahoney
Download Mad Libs:
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[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:00:00]
Howdy, Halloween nerds! And welcome to the WordPress Briefing, a podcast where I’m normally very serious, but today is Halloween! And gosh, do I love a chance to celebrate. So today, the most serious thing I have is this WordPress themed Halloween Madlib for you. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Here we go.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:00:43]
I was so excited to learn that WordCamp would be on Halloween this year, and now it’s finally here. After a full day of workshops and mingling, I am exhausted. But I’ve got just enough time to return to the hotel and prepare for the after party. It’s a themed costume event organized by the Docs team, and I cannot wait.
Walking into my room, I give a big yawn and realize just how tired I am. The bed is looking extra comfortable right now. Surely a little nap wouldn’t hurt, right? As soon as my head hits the pillow, I’m out like a light, but almost immediately, my eyes snap back open, a flash of lightning lights up the room, and I hear rain pouring down outside.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:01:23]
After another flash, the lights in the room start to flicker. That’s strange, I think to myself, but I have an after party to get to. There must have been a power surge because when I look back at the clock, it’s reset and flashing 12:00 am. I check my phone, but it’s dead too. I’m not quite sure how long I’ve been sleeping, so I don’t know if I have enough time to change into my full Ninja Turtles costume.
I just put the mask on and head down to the lobby to meet my WordPress friends. When the elevator dings open in the lobby, it’s completely empty. No concierge, no hotel staff, and no WordPress friends. That’s weird. The lights also seem dimmer. And, are those urgent Trac tickets on the lobby lounge chairs?
I’m wondering where everybody is, but I keep walking toward the convention hall. A shadow suddenly moves in the corner of my eye, and I spin around but only see my own face reflecting in a hallway mirror. Hmm, that’s odd. I notice that the cute Ninja Turtle mask looks a little less cute somehow. The eyes are angry red, and the teeth are now sharp-looking fangs.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:02:33]
Before I can take off the mask for a closer look, I see another shadow move in the corner of the mirror. When I turn around this time, I see the faint outline of a person. It looks familiar. Could that be Matt Mullenweg? Darn it. They disappear into the convention hall before I can even call out, ‘howdy!’ And so I break into a jog to follow after them.
Walking into the hall, I can hear the musical stylings of WordPress Jazzer Duke Ellington playing on a gramophone. I bob my head to the music, super relieved to see the room full of WordPressers dressed up and dancing. I head over to some of the folks from my Make team to chat, but oddly, they won’t stop dancing. They’re smiling and dancing and cheering each other on.
Some of them are even doing the electric slide. It’s actually kind of impressive, but it’s still a little strange that no one will stop dancing to talk to me. Actually, now that I think about it, none of the party goers seem to be noticing me at all. Wondering what’s going on, I start backing up toward the door.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:03:32]
I jump a little as it slams behind me with the loud sound of an old door creaking and the heavy click of a lock.
That’s when I noticed the shadowy familiar figure again. This time they’re standing by an open door on the other side of the hall. They seem to be watching me. They lift a white gloved hand and motion for me to follow before disappearing through the door again.
I run after the mysterious figure weaving between groups of dancing WordCamp goers. Could they be under a spell, I wonder while running past. I exit the convention space and enter a small hallway that seems to twist and turn. It feels a lot longer than I remember. I continue running through it and suddenly find myself back in the Contributor Day conference room.
The shadow person is nowhere to be found, and as I walk around the contributor tables, I quickly notice that the exit back to the hotel has also disappeared. Okay, so this is getting really weird. My first thought is to get my Make team involved, but since they won’t stop dancing, I know I need to devise a different plan.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:04:34]
That’s when I noticed the big glass box at the center of the room. I am almost certain it wasn’t there during Contributor Day. I approach the box cautiously. Inside I see a shiny silver goblet of gently fizzing WordPress blue liquid, possibly blueberry flavored if I had to guess. Attached to the goblet stem is a ribbon with a note in EB Garamond that reads: Merge Me.
At first, I chuckle at the poor attempt at a GitHub joke until I spot another note scrolled on the glass in black marker. It says,
Bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble;
Find your escape route on the double;
Bring back the community and one thing more;
Merge the elixir with your core.
As I’m trying to decode the odd poem’s meaning, a flash of lightning lurches across the room, and a clap of thunder follows behind.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:05:24]
I shield my eyes before looking up to find that I am no longer alone. It’s the shadowy figure again, except in the light of this room, I can finally see that it’s not anyone familiar. It is a lumpy-looking being, and it’s wearing a witch costume. The costume-clad figure looks very unsteady on its feet like it might fall over.
And just as I’m about to ask if they’re all right, the person suddenly topples over into a heap of robes and broomsticks. I can see spots of yellow fur and a few pairs of fuzzy ears. Aha! There was a wisdom of Wapuus under that witchy costume.
They blink cutely at me for a moment and then quickly scurry into a surprisingly organized line. I watch, totally confused, as the line of Wapuus starts moving methodically back toward the convention hall. They take three steps, and then they turn to the side, take another three steps, and then turn to the other side.
The last Wapuu in the line turns to look at me and motions with its tiny paw to follow. That’s when the words on the glass box finally click. I have to bring the community back. All the dancing WordPressers need to return to the contributor tables to break the spell. The Wapuus have started a conga line to help lead the way.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:06:35]
So, off I go. Following the tiny conga line through the twisting hallway and into the convention hall. As I’m dancing behind the Wapuus, I’m happy to see all my fellow WordCamp attendees falling into step behind me. My steadily growing conga line is weaving its way through the hall, picking up WordPressers, wearing mouse costumes, and Frankensteins and penguin costumes, and that’s when the Wapuus changed their course, leading us back through the twisting hallway and into the Contributor Day conference room.
With the first part of the riddle solved, I’m glad to see that everyone has finally stopped dancing. Some folks are happy to sit down and get off their feet. Others are wondering how they ended up back in the contributor room. My Make team waves at me from across the room. I noticed there’s still no exit, but the glass box has disappeared. With the goblet free, there’s just one thing left for me to do.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:07:27]
I rush toward it, dodging Wapuus and a pile of kicked-off shoes. Except that the closer I think I’m getting to the goblet, the further away it feels. I run faster, weaving through people and tables, and just when I feel close enough to reach out for the goblet, I trip over a live-streaming cable, and I wake up in my hotel room.
Sitting up quickly, I realize it was all just a very strange dream. Outside, the sun is setting in a clear sky with no storm in sight. I try to shake it off. I change into my Ninja Turtles costume, ready to do my best Monster Mash at the after party with all of my WordPress friends. As I walk out of the hotel room, I pause for a quick costume check in the mirror.
Before heading downstairs, I take a quick glance at the digital clock on the nightstand to see the time. Huh, that’s odd. Next to the digital clock sits a fuzzy plush Wapuu wearing a witch costume. That wasn’t there before, was it? And if I didn’t know any better, I almost think I see it wink.