Portland's Ursula K. LeGuin (who proudly called herself "an Oregonian who was born in California") read poetry, which is actually a brave thing to do in a large venue; as poetry is often very intimate, not exactly an art form that causes cheering in the aisles, it might have been hard for her to gauge how they were going over. (Still, at least she could be heard; she mentioned that at her 2005 Wordstock appearance, she was drowned out for 20 minutes...by the crowd nearby listening to Sarah Vowell.) She ended the reading with a more obvious crowd pleaser, something almost Dr. Seuss-like called "Loud Cows," and that made plenty of us laugh. She then answered questions thoughtfully and with amusement, making a lot of fun of a really bad cable TV adaptation of some of her EarthSea stories. (It reminded me of how Madeline L'Engle reacted to a bad TV movie of A Wrinkle In Time: "It met my expectations. I expected it to be bad, and it was.")
I next attended a panel on comic books, with local writers and artists. Portland has a really strong comic book-making scene (two notable publishers are based here, Dark Horse and Oni Press, and one of Marvel Comics' most popular writers, Brian Michael Bendis, lives here, too), and the people there are in love with the medium. That was fun, too. I kept trying to come up with questions, but realized it was worth it just to listen to the questions others had, like local critic and filmmaker David Walker, who turns out to be a comics appreciator, too.
Probably the most fun thing I attended was the last thing, which was an appearance by humorist Christopher Moore (I've read his books Coyote Blue and Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal). He began by reading an essay about why he, um, doesn't read his stuff at readings. He really doesn't, so he wrote the essay to explain this, and the essay became popular, too, so now he "has to" read that! I laughed my barking laugh more than once during this. Moore is someone who can be funny and serious at the same time; his latest novel (A Dirty Job) is a good example of that, as it was inspired by his mom's terminal illness and her time in hospice care, including the six times that she rallied and felt just fine, blessing her morphine and cooking meals and being funny. (One of his siblings sat their mother down one of these times and asked, "You do know you're dying, right?") Moore spoke well about learning to deal better with death...and got in laughs at his expense about wanting his mom's drugs after she passed away! "You crash on a deserted island, you're the one with all the Vicodin, you're gonna be running things," he said. This segueed into a rant about "Lost": "And if I were running things, we would have opened the hatch on the first day! There was no need to stretch that out for two years!"
I needed to run errands that night, so I didn't stick around after that, though I did treat myself to a shake and fries at the nearby Red Robin then headed home. Those groceries I then got are very happy I bought them. I give groceries a good home.