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Archive for August, 2009

WorldCon Report, Day 4: Fighting the Power

Ordered room service for breakfast on Saturday. Hey, I was on vacation. Ya gotta order room service at least once, right? Plus, I had a hankering for pancakes–real pancakes, not the crepes that were available on the hotel’s breakfast buffet.

Truth be told, what I really wanted was some maple syrup.

Seriously. The maple syrup in Canada is wonderful. It is the apotheosis of maple syrup. If the only syrup you know is that sugary goop that cowers in bottles on the shelves of American supermarkets–and you’ll note that none of them dare to put the word maple on their labels anymore–hie thee north of the border and get a taste of the real stuff.

My only programming on Saturday was the Battlestar Galactica panel, which included my friend Amy Sisson, Suzanne Church, Eliza Baynes, and David Clink. Lots of audience participation on this one, well managed by David, but it can be boiled down to this: the ending sucked. Those of you who have seen it know this already.

(Operational note: I must at some point have failed to properly propitiate the scheduling gods, as the BSG panel was opposite a Neil Gaiman reading. Further evidence of the scheduling gods’ wrath is forthcoming.)

The Odfellow dinner was Saturday night. More name-dropping: Bob Sojka and David Hendrickson, whom I neglected to mention in the previous post, and new Odfellows Brad Hafford and Buck (whose last name I’ve forgotten, sorry). Was delighted to find fellow ’98 alum Rich Bradford and son among the crew. Rich’s appearance was a pleasant surprise; I hadn’t seen him since Odyssey. Dinner was a crowded, chaotic affair. While the food and company were both fine, the restaurant staff had apparently never been asked to split checks before, which made it difficult for those of us deducting our expenses to get receipts. But a few of us managed a neat way around that, by paying our shares with credit cards. Ha! We really stuck it to Da Man, there.

Stickin’ it to Da Man, part II: After the masquerade–always a good time at WorldCon–it was back to the Delta for more parties. After the previous evening’s fiasco, the hotel staff had gotten even more draconian, not allowing anyone up to the crowded party floors–5 and 28–until people came down from those floors. This resulted in a long line. Ah, but the plan had a fatal flaw: if you were going to your room, you were allowed on an elevator immediately. Well, it just so happened that my room was on the 26th floor. From there, it was just two flights of stairs to reach the parties. Can’t stop the rock, you bastards!

At the Hadley Rille party, I ran into the irrepressible Camille Alexa, who promptly took me by the arm and informed me that I would be her guide/escort as she made the rounds. Well, OK. Off we went into the swirling crowds, with me running interference. We chatted up various and sundry, including Leah Bobet, with whom I had a panel the following day. Later, we found ourselves headed for the Intercontinental Bar, accompanied by none other than Larry Niven. Don’t ask me how it happened; I attribute it to Hurricane Camille. While at the Intercontinental, I got to meet Patty Garcia, publicist for Tor. Once it became clear that the Intercontinental was done serving alcohol for the evening–at least to us–we all headed back to the Delta (except for Larry Niven, who called it a night). Parties were winding down by that time, as most of them were out of booze. I took that as a sign that it was time for bed.

Next installment: Professional advice for breakfast, and I get a Hugo (only to have it taken away).

Progress Report, in which I contemplate awesome gravy

Owing to WorldCon fallout and family obligations, I managed only 4.3K words on Wet Work, bringing Magic Meter to here:

I’m done folding in the short story, and the first act is now behind me. This means two things: 1) no more artificially inflated word counts; and 2) now I fling myself into the Great Unknown–aka the second act, the Muddle in the Middle, and by various other terms that decorum prevents me from listing here.

The story’s in there somewhere. I think. I hope.

One week away from WotF. Oddly, I’m nowhere near as stressed about it as I was about WorldCon. I dunno; maybe it’s because all I really need to do is show up. I’m eligible for the Grand Prize, and that’s got to be worth a skipped heartbeat or two, but the fact is that it’s entirely out of my hands at this point. "Gone Black" has already exceeded my expectations; anything else would be gravy. Very awesome gravy, mind you, but gravy nonetheless.

I mean really awesome gravy.

But still.

Your snippet:

WorldCon Report, Day 3: A Taste of Canada

Out of bed early, despite the Tor party from the previous night.  My first programming item was at 9:00 am, and since I was up already, I decided to crash the Codexian breakfast.  I had originally thought I wouldn’t have time for it, but then I decided to give it a shot.  Livin’ on the edge, doncha know.

Time for more name dropping.  As I recall, I met the following folks at breakfast:  Larry Hodges, Pat Lundrigan, Sandra Tayler and husband Howard (creator of web comic Schlock Mercenary), Elaine Isaak (once again at the other end of a long table), Eric James Stone and his friend Heidi, Tony Pi, Tom Crosshill, and a few other folks I mentioned yesterday.  Apologies if I’m forgetting anyone.

Anyway, I bolted from breakfast and headed back to the Delta for my first programming item–a writing workshop.  Jody Lynn Nye and I were the two "pros"–although to be honest, she’s more deserving of the title than I.  And two of the participants were friends of mine with more than a little genre writing cred themselves:  Amy Sisson and Geoffrey Jacoby, graduates of Clarion and Odyssey, respectively.  It felt a little weird to be critting their stuff as a "pro," but they seemed cool with it, and the session went well.  And I made $5 (Canadian) in the bargain.  Turns out that Oz Drummond, workshop coordinator extraordinaire, wanted to reimburse us for the cost of making our own manuscript copies.  Works for me.

After the workshop, I headed to the Palais des congress (I just enjoy typing that) and ran into John Pitts.  We were both a bit peckish, and as I was slated for a panel scheduled to run from 12:30 to 3:00, I thought it might be a good idea to get some more consummables in me.  We went to a food court upstairs, where I had occasion to try a genuine Quebecois delicacy called poutine.  This, for the uninitiated, is a combination of french fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy.

If I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’.

But it was tasty, even if it was a heart attack waiting to happen.

My 12:30 panel wound up getting cancelled (hard to screen a movie and have a discussion about it when no one thinks to acquire the DVD) (!).  Then it was time for my interview for The People vs. George Lucas–my big break!  It was so surreal, standing in the colorful lobby of the Palais des congress–there, I did it again–answering Alexandre Phillipe’s questions, trying to be natural and witty and entertaining and insightful all at the same time.  I said at least one boneheaded thing, which I devoutly hope he edits out–and no, I’m not telling you what it was.  And I might have been good for one or two quotes.  We’ll see.  Even if nothing comes of it, I still enjoyed my star turn.

Up next on my busy slate was the Odyssey panel, wherein Odyssey grads get to flog the program.  I love doing this, as Odyssey was such a great experience for me.  And it was wonderful to see Jeanne Cavelos again, and to meet Ellen Denham and her husband Stephan.  The panel was sparsely attended, sad to say, but at least one person there seemed very interested.  We’ll see you there next year, right, Annie?

Then it was time for a quick run back to the hotel, and back to the Palais des congress for my final panel–an intro to the guitar, on the kids’ programming track.  I don’t mind telling you, this was the panel I was sweating the most.  The kids’ programming room was basically this giant open space littered with toys and craft projects, with amped-up children running hither and yon, as they are wont to do.  Even so, about four or five of them actually came over to listen to me demonstrate how a guitar works, and get a little hands-on involvement.  Holding their attention for more than five minutes at a time was a bit of a challenge, but it seemed to go over well.  At least I got some good use out of my guitar, which I had gone to the trouble of hauling across the continent just for this panel.

The days’ business done, it was party time.  First up was the Analog/Asimov’s party in the SFWA suite, where I nearly got frostbite from opening a can of frozen Heineken.  The parts that weren’t frozen came bubbling out in a cascade of icy foam, and . . . well, it wasn’t pretty.  I just had to stand there, holding the damned beer over a trash can as it did its best Old Faithful imitation–and Jee-zus was it cold.  Eric’s friend Heidi was good enough to fetch me a napkin or two.  She might very well have saved my fingers from amputation.  (Thanks, Heidi!)

Then, just as the party was getting into gear, hotel management came in and broke it up, informing everyone in no uncertain terms that since we weren’t on a party floor, we had to vacate.  Immediately.  Yikes.  I felt really bad for Sheila Williams, who had worked so hard putting everything together.

Needless to say, my night of partying had gotten off to an inauspicious start.  But all was not lost.  On the 28th floor, John Pitts and I eventually found the Tor.com party, where guests were taking turns playing Rock Band.  You know I couldn’t pass that up.  I took vocals on Jethro Tull’s "Aqualung."  Yep, nothing like a song about an old pervert to liven up a room.

Mission accomplished.  I eventually made it to bed.

In our next thrilling installment:  Maple syrup, stickin’ it to Da Man, and Hurricane Camille.  Stay tuned!