Sunday, June 11, 2000
One year ago: Foolscap I
Two years ago: Preview
Three years ago: A Tool-using Animal
Saturday Jack and I had a relaxing morning. I enjoy taking all the time I want to wake up. Jack needs to wake up slowly, at any time! It's so great to have a chance to snuggle together. But I think I might have made a bad choice when I bought my bed last year, regarding Jack's back. He's stiff and sore when he wakes up here, though I find the bed very comfortable.
We drove down to Olympia to pick up Jack's daughter H---. I like it when we take the back roads for part of the trip. All the little country towns and farms and houses are more interesting to look at than the interstate highway, although it sometimes makes for a longer trip time. This trip Jack made a wrong turn, so instead of the country road we'd meant to be on, we took a different route. It sent us through the suburb (Countryside? Countryview?) that is the northern edge of the greater Olympia area. This is one of those developments that is completely maze-like, with no way to guess which streets are the through roads. Jack eventually remembered the secret way to come out the other side, and we picked up H----.
Jack suggested eating at Johnny's in Fife, as we've done before, but I wasn't hungry yet. I countered with eating in the Southcenter area, closer to the convention hotel. I wasn't hungry on the drive, but I was when we got there. We needed to find a place with low- to no-fat options for the sake of Jack's gall bladder, so I suggested Zoopa! which has all-you-can-eat salad, soup, pasta, baked potatoes, and bread and baked goods. I'd never been there, but I'd heard about it before.
We got there just as they were opening, I think. All three of us had a good meal. The food wasn't spectacular, but it was tasty and satisfying. I like the environment -- high ceiling, big fake trees, bright and airy. And it was a good choice for Jack, since he was able to find stuff that tasted ok and fit his current strict non-fat diet.
* * * * * * * *
We arrived at the con, and H--- was duly registered. The first programming item after the lunch break was the Guest of Honor talk. Frederick Pohl told interesting stories and answered questions. He talked about previous trips to Seattle, a Hawaiian cruise to see an eclipse, where he also saw lava flowing into the Pacific, editing magazines, and his early days in fandom (see "The Way the Future Was" if you can find a copy).
I think I set my expectations too high for the next two panels I sampled. (I say "sampled" because I didn't stay at either one for the whole time.) My friend Ian Haggeman was moderating Sex Determination and the Future of Gender, and I know he has interesting things to say on that topic. But the discussion veered into various panel members and audience members just giving their opinions on gender issues, and I was getting irritated by the ill-informed nature of a lot of the opinions, so I bailed.
My friend Neil Rest was on the panel for the discussion on From the Morlocks to Neverwhere, about the underworld as a literary motif. This was better than the last, but there was a lot of "Oh, remember that book 'so and so'? Didn't they go underground in it?" and not too much detailed exigesis. (I shouldn't complain too much, since I didn't contribute any brilliant insights myself.)
Jack, H---- and I also spent time in the dealers room, art show, and hospitality suite. At one point I picked up a big omnibus volume of the Morgaine saga by CJ Cherryh, and asked H---- to take a look at the first few pages to see if it interested her. I turned away to look at other books, then asked her "H----? H----? do you like it?" She continued staring intently at the pages, so I guess she did. I bought it for her.
* * * * * * * *
When the dinner time slot rolled around, Jack couldn't go with us -- he had organized a nanoprogramming item, a small-group gathering that might be about anything the organizer wanted to discuss. He and some of the Bellingham crowd wanted to storyboard a parody movie they have in mind, "Mission Impossible to Mars." So H---- and I were on our own for dinner. At first we thought about joining a group that was going to dinner in Dave Howell's classic Packard, but the number of people grew too large. So instead we recruited Neil Rest, and went to Zoopa, again! Neil was in the mood for a salad, which is why I suggested it. I was amused but slightly shocked to see some of the same people still on duty there, from eleven thirty am to six pm!
Jack and Jim Kling were up on the second-floor mezzanine when we returned. They showed H---- and me the sketches that had resulted from the group movie brainstorming. So far they seem to have more story elements inspired by Mission to Mars than from Mission Impossible II, but then I haven't seen MI2.
The highlight of the evening was the room party that David Levine and Kate Yule gave, in honor of David being a Clarion West student this summer. He's already on sabbatical, and will be in Seattle for six weeks. Those in the know encouraged him not to commit to meeting up with friends while there, or doing sightseeing. It's write, write, critique, and write at this sf-writing bootcamp. We'll see him at the readings and the weekly parties on Friday nights. The party was fun! Good food, and some entertaining discussion with David and Elf Sternberg. I think I've met Elf once before, but I've known of him online for many years. What were we talking about (I think I was mostly just listening)? Oh, yes -- it was about how much should you explain to readers. What level of cultural literacy can you assume? Seems like these days you can't count on people knowing classic myths or literary stuff (one thing that makes Shakespeare tough for some). You can count on most folks knowing popular brand names or TV theme songs. Stephen King does well incorporating that type of allusion. But the shelf life of that kind of reference will surely be much shorter than the older culture.
We didn't stick around too late. Jack was tired and so were H--- and I! Jack's gall bladder is constantly bothering him on some level. He had his meds with him, but didn't take any.
* * * * * * * *
We hadn't bought banquet/brunch tickets ahead of time, so there was no rush on getting to the hotel this morning. The brunch did sell out, though, which is a good thing for the convention. The auction was still going on when we arrived (it benefitted the con), but we didn't bid on anything.
I went to the Guest of Honor interview with Ginjer Buchanan. Jerry and Suzle were the interviewers. I think the problem was that they know her too well! The interesting stories from years gone by didn't get enough chance to come out in detail; instead, there was a preponderance of unexplained inside jokes. I did get a better handle on Ginjer and her current and past accomplishments from the profiles in the program book.
Amy Thompson had devised a program item called The Literary Taste Test that I liked. She, David Howell, and two other folks had pages from books that they read aloud. The gimmick was that no one knew (except Amy, I guess) what the book, author, or era was. Some were even translations! Then the panel and audience speculated about the passage, said if we liked it, and so on. I was proud of myself -- I pegged the last selection as being by Lord Dunsany.
We were hanging out in the hospitality suite. I wasn't being entertained by people trading reviews of how bad Battlefield Earth was (seemed like belaboring the obvious), so I made noises to Jack about me leaving soon. He needed to stick around because Dave Howell was going to lend him the Viking helmet that he'd outbid Jack on at Potlatch, so I offered to take H---- to the train. A quick hug, and we were off. It turned out that it was good we left when we did! I got her to the train station to pick up her pre-bought ticket with not that much time to spare.
The people out of old romance,
And people that have never been,
And those that on the border dance
Between old history and between
-- Lord Dunsany, "The Riders"