September 5th, 2008



Finally, Pi-Con, in bullet form, the easiest way to recount it nearly two weeks later (see, I was going to get around to it):

* The drive from Boston to West Springfield went nicely, with shadesong and her daughter Elayna companionable companions. ’Song was also handy as a back-up GPS; I might’ve passed a key turn without her.

* Hugs, hugs, hugs. Once upon a time I had to remind myself that I like being touchy-feely, and so I was happy to hug my way into the hotel. (Sighted in the lobby within the first few minutes of my arriving were octoberland, zarhooie and hughcasey. slipjig, rafaela and kradical arrived later, and were hugged properly too.)

* I wasn’t organized enough to make it to any of the first panels at 5 p.m. Friday (I wish I’d seen Dystopian Fiction; I love stories about The End of the World As We Know It, plus my friend octoberland and our future new friend saraphina_marie were on it), so my first panel was Blogging 101. The panel thing: stimulating. All weekend, the panels engaged my brain, so I’d go Yeah! That’s a good point! and That reminds me of that good point and Is that thought of mine worth adding to the discussion? And even when I didn’t have anything to add to the general discussion, I’d had a good thought that I’d keep to myself. (I discussed it with me!) And a few times I did, happily, have something to add, and I felt open to add it. And add it I did. This convention stuff is worthy stuff, I should do it more…

* …so I can get to more panels. I had my first experience of the heartbreak of not-attending-something-cool-itis, because of scheduling conflicts or because of needing a break. Many of you are used to that. I’m learning it.

* Drive-by snark c/o Keith R.A. DeCandido (kradical) about the short story collection I was reading in the lobby the first night: “Look at this amazing thing I’ve invented. It’s called the wheel!”

(He explained that he felt the stories in McSweeny’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Stories were for the most part not as ground-breaking as its editor seemed to think, and that science fiction had already been doing what the collection’s “ground-breaking” stories had done. He did say he liked Harlan Ellison’s story “Goodbye to All That,” though.)

* The hotel was one story in the front, two stories in the middle and four stories back where most of us stayed. The four-story part for some reason was called “the tower,” which ain’t much of a tower but which allowed shadesong to use her sense of the dramatic: “I’m in the tallest room in the tallest tower.”

* Glorious sight early Saturday: erotica author Genevieve Iseult Eldredge (a.k.a. new LiveJournaler girlyengine) and her partner practicing both martial arts moves and coordinated fan-opening in the hall between the lobby and the courtyard. Footfalls and the snap of suddenly-extended handheld fans echoed. Arresting. I knew not to mess with them…and to be on their side in a fight. At the other end of the day, I had a great chat with girlyengine, who can spring thoughtful rants with the best of them, and with a Northeast accent to boot. Rants always sound better with a Northeast accent.

* My first note-quite-there attempt to describe the fun art of onezumi: A cross between Gorillaz and the Powerpuff Girls. That’s not quite right, darn it.

* Social Me: I don’t always get to “hang out” with people. So I did more of that at Pi-Con than normal: in the lobby, in the dealers’ room, in one of the hotel rooms Saturday night (and that was a hilarious time that I’m not going to talk about, because I’m allowed some “what happens at con stays at con” moments), and at the Panera Bread in the shopping center across the road Saturday. (A shopping center, by the way, with apparently NO WAY TO GET OVER TO IT except by car. No crosswalks, even at the traffic light. The hell? I went on a walk Saturday night hoping for dinner over at that shopping center, and was thwarted by West Springfield apparently not believing in pedestrians. I’d been warned that West Springfield was a real “you can’t get there from here” town, but I didn’t really realize that until then. /Rant…) Not only did I hang out, but I felt willing and able and allowed to say stuff, make suggestions, spout off, all that. I don’t have the social anxiety of some people I know, but in my experience I’m usually the quiet one (or I feel like I’m the quiet one, as other Pi-Con attendees knew I wasn’t quiet there).

Later, I felt myself about to retreat into my shell, and gave myself a talking-to: Chris, it’s okay to be social! If you can’t be social here, something’s wrong, man. C’mon, you used to be a reporter, interacting with an even wider spectrum of humanity; you can interact with fellow geeks. Don’t miss out on meeting people. Sexy, sexy geek people. (No lie. Attractiveness-wise, this was EXACTLY my crowd.) I got past that bump in the road.

* I already liked kradical as a writer and an LJ commentator; now I like him in person. And I’m getting to know his worthy fiancée terri_osborne, both of whom I had a long chat with when they were signing their books Saturday. (This is also where UtilitKilt-wearing hughcasey forgot at a key moment that he was wearing his UtiliKilt the way actual Scotsmen often wear kilts. He put on a show that at least one woman across the room appreciated. There, that’s the one bit of beefcake in this entry!)

* I ate enough, I slept enough, I showered enough. These are important considerations at a con. I think I paced myself well enough.

* Mayhap my most useful moment: retrieving a Pepsi for the caffeine-needing norda while she was working the dealers’ room Saturday.

* I heard readings: young adult fiction by Debra Killeen, a chapter from kradical’s second Supernatural tie-in novel (plus two of his short-short stories, one called “A Vampire and a Vampire Hunter Walk Into a Bar…” and one, I kid you not, about clowns of the Apocalypse), erotica by Cecilia Tan and Genevieve Iseult Eldredge, a mix of serious and silly stories by shadesong, and – a real treat for me – the first pieces of fiction I’d heard from my friend octoberland. She’s written a zombie fairy tale. A ZOMBIE FAIRY TALE. And it’s a lovely, gentle, romantic piece. I know good writers.

* On Sunday morning, the video game room broke out one of its big guns, Rock Band, the all singing all dancing I mean all instrument-playing game that’s been huge this past year among people who play video games. Which doesn’t usually include me, so I’m at a bit of a remove, but I have fun watching people play it.

* Hey, are any of the songs on Rock Band songs that “Weird Al” Yankovic has parodied? ’Cause then people could sing his lyrics! I suggested that, but with no knowledge of the full catalog of songs you can play on Rock Band.

And that’s not nearly all about my trip to Pi-Con, but I want to post this so I can have those moments later where I think Oh crap! I should’ve added that! So you might hear more about my con adventures later.

It might be bad of me to think this:

I didn't watch the RNC, but I heard how Bristol Palin's boyfriend had a pure deer-in-the-headlights look, as if he were thinking Crap: I've gone from sleeping with her to being on one of the biggest political stages in the country. Erp.

I kind of hope at some point Bristol tried to make him more comfortable by leaning over and whispering to him Don't worry, I'll make you more comfortable later. I can't get any more pregnant.

When Harlan recommends something, it stays recommended (Thumbs up for The Helm)

From a post Harlan Ellison made earlier this week on the message board at Harlan Ellison Dot Com:
- Tuesday, September 2 2008 16:26:47

It is my hope, vainglorious at best, that if I am remembered not for my already-widely-misquoted "The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity," it will, pleezgawd, be my equally pithy "Yeah, sure, 'Life is Hard,' but if it weren't, EVERYbody would be doing it."

I don't think it was Edna St. Vincent Millay who said this, but she's handy, so I'll thus attribute: "Life isn't one damn thing after another; it's the same damn thing, over and over."

Life throws us very few good chomps in a day. Every once inna, however, the universe slips up and something delicious, a fine ort of lagniappe, edges through the rift sidewise:


Eddie Izzard. Burn Notice. Hydrox. Akira Kurosawa. Madras mango corn soup. Keds Hi-Tops. Blossom Dearie. Any page of Gerald Kersh.

The Republicans tossing us Sarah Palin to masticate. (Having been unable, one presumes, to find either a bus to toss her under, or a rabid pack of seven-headed dogs to toss her TO.}

The Magna Carta. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. The Iliad. The Odyssey. Krema Natural Chunky peanut butter.

Really nifty stuff is the lagniappe I trumpet.

And last...drifting on an ambient breeze...I come to the to you...a solid, kids, a solid I do you. Not a BIG DEAL, just a small delight that might bring a crease of joy to your lips.

A comic book.

Don't start with me. If I'd said it was a grand mystery thriller by a French auteur, you'd cock your little walnuts with alertitude, and hmmm with expectation. Snobbish arses!
A comic book.

A GOOD little comic book. I think it is peaches!

Only the first issue has appeared, but it's out there, at your nearest comic shop. The author is a new guy, first time in the batting cage, and a little encouragement to his publisher would not hurt. His name is Jim Hardison, and his mini-series comic from Dark Horse is called


Bart Sears is the artist, that toe-tapping favorite Dave Land is the editor, as I said--a Dark Horse Comic--and its existence will not change the course of mighty rivers, nor will it alleviate starvation in parched and piteous nations. But in this world of more dark than light, most of the time, this li'l item made me happy. I laughed, I cried, I winced, I waltzed, it became a part of me!

Go thee, and do likewise. Further, deponent sayeth not.

Yr. Pal, Harlan
Link added to a web page for The Helm, 'cause I'm helpful like that.