Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Cheryl & the Corpse Flower

No, it's not the latest off-Broadway musical (yet: hmmmmm...), but the latest photo of Perilous Cheryl (AKA Cranky Yanky) at the side of the titan arum at ECSU. Drop by the New England Anomaly's blog for more info and links to other pictures. It will be flowering soon and smelling like a corpse.

I still think it looks like a giant bok choy!

UPDATE: the flower has bloomed (8/31/07)! Go see the latest pix at the NE Anomaly.

One Down

A day of teaching done -- and it wasn't too bad. Well, there was the lack of sound in the "smart" classroom where I'm teaching the film class, which is a bit of a problem (obviously). I thought perhaps I missed something simple, but the tech guy was unable to find the problem either (good thing media support is in the first level of the same building). He brought us a media cart and promised the problems would be solved. Fingers crossed.

Teaching is always an anxiety-provoking endeavour: the struggle to do well, to always wonder if you're doing it well enough, and the ever-quiet Saint Rose students staring at me with their big eyes. the difficulty is always getting them talking. It helps that I've got three repeats (i.e. students who have been in a class with me before) in the creative writing class and four in the film class. The latter looks to be lively -- a variety of students were speaking up on the first day, so yay.

I put an image from the gallery at Gode Cookery at the top of this post. It's a great site with recipes for medieval food, but they also have this great collection of clip art. I always dip into it for images on my syllabuses (I always put images on my syllabuses, somehow it looks a little more lively, or so I imagine: does a student faced with a very detailed syllabus in a 10 point font really feel somewhat cheered to see a lovely medieval woodcut at the top of it? Let's hope).

It still feels good to realize I have only three classes to teach (goodbye 4/4 load!) and they're reasonable in size -- and not one of them is composition! Hurrah -- and two are explicitly medieval, so yay me.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Island Life

Gene & Kate

Yesterday afternoon we headed up to Green Island (not to be confused with the town of Green Island), the new home of pal Paul.

Yes, that's right: we know someone who owns an island. How cool is that?

Well, as you can tell from the pictures Gene took, pretty cool indeed. Paul retrieved us from the Schaghticoke side of the river, ferrying us across to the island where his folks and his sister and brother-in-law were already enjoying the island life. The cottage there was built by a guy with a lumber business, so it's gorgeous wood, well-built. Having grown up with a more rustic cabin, it looked amazingly shiny inside and out. We scouted around the island observing the flora and fauna (ooh, even a skeleton of something dog-sized, or perhaps beaver? Paul had seen some beavers at work in the river) while the gulls, geese, ducks and cormorants cried. We even saw a heron fly by. There was an amazing variety of mosses in the woods, varying from springy and soft to brittle and dry. Such a variety of conditions on one small land mass, and what fun to explore. We sat on the porch with a cool drink and drank in the peace of island life. Paul told us about some of the challenges of setting up life on an island -- like getting an address. His island's in the river, a border between two counties. The landing site is in one town, the island itself technically in another. It's between two locks of the Champlain Canal of the Hudson.

It's far simpler to have a friend with an island -- especially when he asks if you'd be willing to hold onto a spare set of keys. You bet we will.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I Can Stop Anytime I Want To...

Linked by lucius_t at the inferior4+1:

75%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?


C'mon -- how would I know what my friends are up to if I don't read their blogs? And vice versa...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Birthday Boys

Today is Jorge Luis Borges' birthday. Why not stop by Ubuweb and see this fabulous documentary on his life and writing? Or pick up Dream Tigers and find yourself elsewhere.

It is also Stephen Fry's birthday. The BBC is serving some fine cake in the shape of a variety of programs commemorating his 50th, including a short show where he details some of his guilty pleasures from Abba to Georgette Heyer (I went by the local library to check out one of her books and picked up a couple of things from their on-going book sale). Fry is the eclectic kind of public intellectual that seems unthinkable at present in this country, what with our worship of everything anti-intellectual. Thinking, while not yet a crime, is certainly looked upon with contempt. Raise a glass to Fry, who sincerely believes that thinking is not only worthwhile, but entertaining and well worth celebrating. More QI!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Jean Paul Sartre is rightly famous for suggesting in his play Huis Clos [No Exit] that hell is other people.

I would amend that by saying hell is in fact meetings with other people.

To be fair, the meetings I had to attend today have been necessary and informative. But the shock of suddenly being surrounded by lots of people for extended periods of time is always a little overwhelming; particularly when you've spent a good deal of the last few months quietly with little company. At home we have the radio on much of the time, but that's as close as we get to a crowd on most days.

I know, I know -- I was at a few big conferences this summer, but it's not the same. You move, you circulate, you go to your hotel room. You can take a breather (so to speak) in the ladies room without people beginning to wonder if you're having bladder trouble, because nobody is paying attention to what you do (unlike at meetings where everyone else who is not fully engaged in the proceedings is wondering what's up with you sneaking out of the room so frequently).

It's all part of acclimating yourself to the fall semester...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Gawker Excoriates You

This time, it's all about your reading habits, and not that outfit you wear (you know the one). You can read about the original AP poll here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Guardian Gets Medieval

I wish I could be hanging out with Benjamin Bagby in Edinburgh like Rowena Smith. Well, at least I have his DVD. She describes him thus: "Benjamin Bagby, whose one-man performance of Beowulf, complete with subtitles for those whose Anglo-Saxon is a little rusty, is the unlikely hot ticket of the Edinburgh festival..."

Need I add: well, of course!

Warp Your Mind

Head on over to magician Chris Welsh's site to enjoy a little optical magic (i.e. the above image is not animated!). Browse around his site for more entertaining reality warps.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Something Accomplished

It feels good to send off a completed project, in this case a review of Laura Stark's The Magical Self for the Journal of Folklore Research Reviews. Fewer sounds of construction here on campus, a newly landscaped yard and a (finally completed) parking lot.

Of course, this is also the week in which things really kick off on campus, so I'll be seeing a lot more of it than I have recently -- even if the construction continues. That bane of modern existence -- meetings -- start up in earnest Thursday.

And no, my syllabuses are not ready.

The Face in the Crowd

Do you Shaboo? Marko does, too (shoo-be-doo-be-doo).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Trinoc*coN Pix

Gene has uploaded the pictures from Trinoc*coN. Here's the cast of Con-Eire, looking a bit nervous before the recording began. Enjoy the pictures of Doctor Zaius, congealed processed foods and people in funny hats.

Other People's Words

By way of John Van Druten (in Playwright at Work), here's Robert Graves' "A Pinch of Salt":

When a dream is born in you
With a sudden clamorous pain,
When you know the dream is true
And lovely, with no flaw nor strain,
O then, be careful, or with sudden clutch
You'll hurt the delicate thing you prize so much.

Dreams are like a bird that mocks,
Flirting the feathers of his tail.
When you seize at the salt box,
Over the hedge you'll see him sail.
Old birds are neither caught with salt nor chaff:
They watch you from the apple bough and laugh.

Poet, never chase the dream.
Laugh yourself and turn away.
Mask your hunger; let it seem
Small matter if he come or stay;
But when he nestles in your hand at last,
Close up your fingers tight and hold him fast.

You can hear it read aloud to you (always a treat) at LibriVox.

It's not that I'm not writing, by the by. Just overwhelmed by tasks and lack of time. The construction noises continued this morning at a much too early hour -- I guess they need to finish before classes begin. Next door, the motorcycle gal's kids bounce on the sproingy trampoline and tear at my concentration. Work to do, work to do.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sonnet XXIX

When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur’d like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee,—and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

(Reading Germaine Greer's commentary on the sonnets and considering the gift of partnership)

Friday, August 17, 2007


Liz Hand over at the inferior 4+1 wrote today about Ubuweb. Wow -- what a site! Like I need another place to waste time, but just look at all the artists listed -- people like Beckett and Deren and Burroughs and Cocteau! What a cornucopia of delights. Video and audio both -- a treasure trove for sure. I think I need a little Artaud right now (well, after Marko's show, of course).

Back on the Beat

I still haven't managed to get a new inner tube for the bike. I figured that I could just pick one up at Target, but they only have mountain bike tires and tubes. So once more I find myself walking up Bought Road, which has its drawbacks. Namely a) people drive so fast they whoosh by and you fear for your life and b) they stare at you as if they had never seen a person walking before (something I know not to be true). Once I get up the hill, it's better.

Turkeys on both sides of the road, a lone one in the yard of the house by the power lines and a group of six behind the house with the blue gazing ball. Judging by the sides of the road the top litterers are smokers, beer drinkers and fast food customers. But I did see some gold finches and lots of wild flowers, so it wasn't all ugly. The worst moment was seeing a little striped kitty by the side of the road in front of the religious school, so I hugged my Kipper when I got home. He will stay an indoor cat.

I've been considering the theme of liminality in my own writing (after thinking about Neil's formula and worrying that I have one, too), and it strikes me that our house was no accident. While our address is in Watervliet, our house is not. A neighbor told Gene a story about the old guy who once lived being dropped off at the driveway in great distress by the Watervliet police or rescue, because this house is actually in Colonie (which 'round these parts is pronounced col-uh-KNEE). Guess we live in the house on the borderland.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More Quiet

Over at Elena's there are more pages of our comic, Jane Quiet. She writes, "It's amazing the amount of time it's taking to draw something which in the end, a person can pick up and read in about five minutes." Ain't it the truth? Years sometimes spent writing a book that an excited reader can finish overnight. Nevertheless, we find it worth doing, and I can't wait to see what Elena does with my words -- even if the final product can be consumed in minutes.

Quiet otherwise seems hard to find: the construction, the trains, the loud trucks rattling down the street, the noisy stereos blaring from passing cars all conspire to make me cranky. So much to do -- and increasingly less time in which to do it. Meetings start up the 23rd, classes begin the 27th. Argh -- this always happens when I try to cram so much work into the short months of summer.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Review: Stardust

I posted to the Horror list about the film first, as there's been a conversation going on about it since its release. Suitably, I spoke of the horror elements first:

A song by Take That! The horror, the horror! Without Robbie Williams even! Steve Bissette thought the Titanic nod was more horrifying, but I thought that was a bit more of a wink than a nod. You can read his much longer review (well, it's Steve) here.

The short review: fun. There's no way any film could match the extraordinary beauty of Charles Vess' images. Perhaps an animated film that simply put his drawings in motion, but the film captures the feel of his illustrations with some success. I'm a bit prejudiced, obviously. I have a print of Vess' illustration for the anthology The Green Man (signed) hanging in front of me as I type this. If I look back over either shoulder, I'll see one or the other of his cards framed: a witch flying over a moonlit sky, a black cat sitting like Jiji on the end of her broom, or Puck swinging on a wind blown tree, laughing madly.

Putting that aside, I enjoyed the film which follows the source tale much more than the previews indicated. Yes, De Niro as the air pirate, Captain Shakespeare, is a big interpolation, but he's eminently entertaining. His ship is a good bit more steam-punk looking that the original crafts, but it fits within director Matthew Vaughn's less magical imagining of the story. Faerie is far less faerie-filled, which is a pity. Perhaps he feared it becoming too fey -- I doubt any of the viewers would have minded. We had the two teens in front of us who clapped enthusiastically at the end, waved their lit cell phones in the air to the anthemic Take That song (the new lighters, I guess) and afterward, in the ladies room, continued to gush. In fact, the one gal said if she had to choose between seeing the Harry Potter movie again and Stardust, she would probably choose the latter, even considering "the absolute gorgeousness of Gary Oldman" (Sirius Black in the Harry Potter films).

Michelle Pfeiffer is a lot of fun. The fantastic supporting cast is drawn from just about every BritCom in the last ten years and there's also the always reliable Rupert Everett (but not enough of him!). Claire Danes is adequate as the star Yvaine, but she lacks the sparkle needed to really make the role more than just an object. The less said about Siena Miller, the better, but she's hardly essential. Charlie Cox is likable as Tristran and grew on me over the course of the film, although I couldn't help wishing that Ben Barnes, who played Tristran's father Dunstan as a young man, had been chosen instead (he's going to be Prince Caspian in the next two Narnia films, so we'll be seeing more of him).

No Tori tree -- how sad is that!

There's less blood over all (except for one good joke) but more violence. I think the popularity of the Pirates franchise had an effect on the shape of the movie. It follows what I have begun to think of as Neil's formula (I won't put it here as it will spoil the film for anyone who hasn't seen it), but all these quibbles aside, I did enjoy it. Oh, the bombastic score is one more quibble, as it can be overbearing at times.

Bottom line -- a movie with some magic and imagination is a rarity these days. If it's not as good as it could be, well, few films live up to the beauty of a good book. Books just have so much more they can accomplish. Most viewers (who ask far less of films) will be delighted and amazed, charmed by the story and amused by the humor. I enjoyed it more than this review ends up sounding and I recommend it to anyone who needs a little magic in her life right about now.

And go look at Charles' site!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Last Monday night, we all listened with rapt attention as Mildred read from her work in progress. We had just come to a very tense part when the door bell rang and we all jumped. It was only Susan's new next-door neighbors coming over for a drink, but it sure had a strong effect (far better than at least one or two of the films we watched during the visit, so kudos to Mildred).

That's the wonderful magic of writing -- having such an effect with only the words on a page (or, in this case, words in our ears): The power to transport the audience to another world, another time or just another mind. The best stories have an impact that can last a lifetime. What stories are still in your head from childhood? What story changed your life in some important way? Good questions on a hot summer day.

I've sent off the latest story on its first journey; we'll see what comes of that. Another had come back with a rejection and I'll have to review emails to recall where it's been, so I can send it somewhere new (I've been bad about keeping the database updated). As one of the other writers repeated this past weekend, if you can do something other than write, you should. If you cannot, you deal with the endless rejections as best you can and keep writing.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Caution Tape

I tried to go in to my office to work after picking Gene up from the airport this morning. Not only are they still not done with the driveway, but they had caution tape across the front porch (presumably because the new steps had been poured -- hey, no more gaping hole!). I needed to water my plants, poor things, and grab a few books.

"Can I get to my office?" I asked one of the guys. He shrugged, so I ducked under the tape and went to my office anyway. There's one gnome still guarding the door (alas, alone now). I watered the plants, grabbed a couple of books and went back across the street to chat with Barbara, our department secretary. She had no idea how much longer all this would be going on. "My power was off for a week and a half!" Sigh. Guess no one can get much work done lately: summer on campus -- they have to cram in all the big work. We still need to get our little things done, too.

Time to get to that book review, I guess.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

From Trinoc*coN to 2Pi-Con (III)

Sunday at Trinoc*coN: After a late night, morning came too soon, so I was yawning on my way to the second part of the writing workshop. As it turned out we had about half as many people on each side of the table, so it was good that I showed up. The participants had revised their drafts and come up with much more compelling “hooks” and vivid details. We left them with the exhortation to keep writing and make it a habit. Then I ran off to do my reading.

I love reading my stories aloud. I realize that many writers are not particularly good at reading their own work and I have seen far too many academics drone on in a monotone that quickly puts you to sleep, but I like to think I’m not half bad at presenting my work. Once again I should thank UConn for preparing us well for paper delivery at conferences (especially Carolyn Coulson and Chris Fee who helped us first year medieval students prepare our first conference papers). So I read my zombie western a little speedily (it was rather long and I wanted to make sure it fit into the hour) but it also fit the pace of the story and seemed to garner a few chuckles along the way. I had some good feedback from folks that would fix some weak spots and correct some factual errors with guns (thanks, Mildred). On the whole, it seemed to get a hearty thumbs up.

I next joined Gene for Storytelling Across the Media with Alex Sokoloff, Sandra McDonald, and Alex Wilson. Alex S laid out her game plan for the novel which was much the same as when she wrote screenplays, using the standard formula, kind of like the way pop songs get written (my writing is more like jazz then, and who listens to jazz? sigh). We all shared our experiences in drama, comics and film and came to the conclusion that the story mattered most.

A quick lunch with not terrible service later, I was back for the Collaboration isn’t for Everyone with Dale Bailey and Cap’n George RR. It was the last panel of the con. Everyone was exhausted. I did my best to make George do all the talking and, failing that, make Dale talk. Occasionally I filled in a few words about doing Jane Quiet with Elena and all the nice surprises in that. Then we checked out of the hotel and went off to enjoy the time at Susan’s. Another great Trinoc*coN with lots of fun.

Sunday at 2Pi-Con:
The late horror panel was poorly attended, but I had fun chatting with Jennifer Williams and Terry Franklin. I was glad to find Jennifer a big fan of Lost Skeleton. I thought maybe everyone was at the dance, but Terry said he had come from there and had been the only one dancing. Huh. I was up for breakfast, but pleased to find checkout wasn’t until noon. My 10 o’clock panel with Catie Murphy and Sean Kane gave me an excuse to show off my Lapp shaman’s drum. We even had an audience of two. Then I went up to pack up my belongings and move the car into the shade.

Once I was checked out, I headed over to a panel with Catie and Mike Kabongo. I ended up being the only audience for a while, so I had to move up front and offer my opinions, too (of course, I did). I met up with Sara Harvey for our Feminist Writing panel, but no one else came, so we just yakked for a good while. Sara had a lot of entertaining stories about when she worked for Disney, and she’s quite a hoot anyway (not to mention sparkly). We decided things weren’t boding well for our 3pm panel, and sure enough when the time rolled around there was nary an audience to be found. I waited around, scribbling the opening lines from Beowulf on the whiteboard (I'm such a geek). Some of us ended up chatting in the hallway, all saying we had had a good time and were so exhausted, but somehow suddenly unable to break the newly-formed gravity of the group, exchanging business cards and farewells. I finally broke away with the impetus of a joke about puppets (naturally) and jumped in the car for a beautiful drive home through the Berkshires, to be met by a crying Kipper, who’s still shadowing me all around the house wherever I go.

It would have been more fun if my sweetie or some friends were there to share the experience, but what can you do? I met some great, interesting people and the panels were fun if little attended. I’d give it another go. I think I’d pitch different panels, knowing now the things that don’t seem to be of interest to the crowds (well, let’s hope there were crowds somewhere). With luck their attendance will grow too; it's hard to get a con going the first few years. Good work, Mike et. al.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

From Trinoc*coN to 2Pi-Con (II)

Saturday at Trinoc*coN: The earliest thing on Saturday was 11, so we got to sleep in a bit more than usual. While Gene headed off to the first comics panel, I went down to join the Writing Workshop with Allen Wold, Alex Sokoloff and Sandra McDonald. There was a pretty large group -- about a dozen -- from high school students to a retiree. It’s a difficult thing to offer spur of the moment critiques, but it was a fairly fearless panel and everyone was enthusiastic, particularly for the two high school girls who showed a good bit of talent. There were some terrific paragraphs (an opening paragraph is about all you can do in a brief workshop). We left them with the exhortation to revise and improve for part 2 of the workshop the next morning.

After that I went to hear Elizabeth Hand read. I love her books and I was thrilled to hear her read a story with an Icelandic angle. Susan had mentioned she wanted to speak to me, so we made arrangements eventually to meet up for an early dinner, since I knew our lot would be eating before the auction. Mildred and Birdie saw everyone as they gathered materials for the auction. Up next for me was the panel “How to Keep Writing While You Still Have a Day Job” with Dale Bailey, Nathan Ballingrud and Sandra. We offered tips and tricks, mostly coming down to the truth that if you really are a writer, you will make the time.

I headed over to Gene’s panel on writing about comics, which took place as a kind of roundtable since the audience had ended up being small (there’s a large contingency of web comics folks, but not as much for comics as a medium). We took a little break before the auction set up, which went about as smoothly as it ever had (could it be the co-chairs who organized everything so well?). We all met up with Liz and her son Tristan and headed over to the Skybox.

On the plus side, Liz and I bonded over Iceland and Finland and had a great time yakking. She signed my copy of Mortal Love with a very nice and personal inscription, which is so much more satisfying than a simple signature. I just love her style ever since I first read Waking the Moon, which was recommended by folks on the Horror list.

On the negative side: Worst. Service. Ever.

The Skybox is known for its poor service, but that night really took the cake. We heard the next day that they had hundreds of dollars in walk-offs, which was no surprise at all. It took too long to get the food and it became nearly impossible to get the check, and when it came, it took even longer to finally get it right. Gene and I were finally got the last portion of the check more or less correct and I ran off to the auction, which was already underway, while he headed over to the Marvel vs DC Jeopardy (where he did quite well, of course). Fortunately, there were so many volunteers helping at the auction that I was not necessary until late in the show.

The auction ran late but raised a good deal of money for the Literacy Council of Wake County. We missed John Kessel’s presentation of his episode of “Masters of Science Fiction” so we’ll have to catch up with it later. Instead we decided to enjoy a well-earned celebration (well, earned by Mildred, Birdie and Susan -- can't say I worked that hard) and hit one of the sponsored parties. We even made a late night trip back to the Skybox where we got the absolute best service ever. Go figure -- we asked the server why she wasn’t there all the time. Food came at once, drinks even faster and the check as soon as we asked for it. Was it really that difficult?

Saturday at 2Pi-Con: Breakfast is included with my room -- not bad, a buffet of the usual stuff. Only Lipton tea, as in my room (which is why I do bring my own tea like a snob -- life is too short to drink Lipton). I went to the small press comics panel to tell them Gene was not going to be there and ended up being the audience for the two panelists, Rick Silva and Mike Luoma. We all talked about the comics we’re working on. Of course, I only have the one so far, but I was pleased to have a chance to show off Elena’s fine work.

My 11 am panel was supposed to be on Myth and Folklore, but the audience was slow to materialize, so Sara Harvey and Michael Kabongo (thanks for the nifty pen!) and I just chatted with the gradually increasing audience about a variety of topics, occasionally dragging ourselves back on topic. While the audiences haven’t been strong so far, I have to say I’ve enjoyed all the other panelists I’ve met. We’ve had great discussions that an eager audience might have appreciated. There are people here -- somewhere. Maybe they’re all LARPing.

My battery has been acting weird, too. Last night it suddenly went from about 68% to nothing. I didn’t really think too much of that as it’s been on its last legs for a bit (have to break down and buy a new one, about $125). But it failed to charge this morning, I noticed when I first started writing this post, showing only about 25% for ages. I popped the battery out and then put it back in, jiggled the cord which was showing green instead of amber (which indicates it’s charging) and now the battery shows 100% again. Hmph. If all else fails I carry the cord down to the lobby, too.

Maybe I can get another spider baby. I had a beer in the Parrot Café last night between panels. It came in a plastic cup. Eventually I found out that this was due to the café’s proximity to the pool. People could take food and drink into the pool area, but they had to make sure it was not lethal. There were spider plants hanging all around the café which was tricked out to look like a lost Margaritaville cabana. I had to leave my big spider-plant behind in Houston, so I thought I needed another. Surely no one would miss it if I plucked a little baby from one of the shoots. I thought perhaps I could just walk by one of the ones outside the window and surreptitiously remove one, but when I stood up, one of the runners hit me in the face, so I just yanked the end off and dropped it in my bag. It’s in some water in a cup right now. Hopefully it will root easily.

This afternoon I had the Writing About Genre Fiction panel that was to have been with Gene. The one woman who showed at the start agreed that maybe we should just adjourn to the bar, but another audience member turned up and we all had a nice chat that kind of turned toward writing tips in general and how to break past the various barriers that we put in front of ourselves.

After that it was over to the Middle Ages on Film where I turned out to be the only panelist in attendance (I knew George Claxton wouldn’t be there because he had said so the night before at the Doctor Who panel). The guy from Higgins Armory wasn’t there, but some of his friends were, who also knew Amy West, a pal of mine from UConn. At least there was a pretty good audience, so I fell into teacher mode and put them to work for much of the discussion, asking them their faves and worsts, why so many medieval films are so terrible and what it would take to make a good one. It ended up being a lot of fun.

Next was the Retelling Fairy tales panel with GOH C. E. Murphy, who’d been on the Buffy panel with me last night. A good audience whom, once again, we put to work after we ran out of things to say. It was fun and there was an interesting variety of folks there to make the discussion lively. I had a break after that (until the horror panel at 10pm) so I decided to go to Northampton and check out Raven Books, where I bought a couple of things, then went to the Tibetan restaurant -- yum!

On the way back, in addition to seeing a red-tail hawk flying off with her dinner (maybe a rabbit?), I had a “I’m not in Houston” moment, windows rolled down on a beautiful day, the Pioneer Valley stretching out before me, Shonen Knife on the stereo, and green green everywhere. Ah.

Down to the lobby now to upload this. I doubt I’ll feel like writing after the panel, but I did get some done in between things today (including the serial!).

[So as I'm typing this Jeff Lord from Higgins introduced himself, so I finally got to meet him. Pity I still haven't seen his sword-fighting techniques, but ah well -- sooner or later. Missed him at PCA, missed him on the panel today, but finally we got to say a hello.]

Friday, August 10, 2007

From Trinoc*coN to 2Pi-Con

Friday at Trinoc*coN: We arrived Friday from a trouble-free journey (little did we know what lay ahead for the return!) to see almost instantly Susan, Mildred and Birdie pulling up at the curb. We headed off to the hotel. Things were just getting underway, so we checked out the dealer’s room and a viking figure was thrust upon me. We were surprised to see a rep from McFarland there (Horrifying Sex is a McFarland book) but he had some deals, so we cam home a with a few more titles.

We were supposed to have a rehearsal of Con-Eire at 6, but we were missing a few cast members (Lee and Laura were at another con and Van was re-scheduled opposite the play), so our first job was to recruit some brave souls, which we managed to do (well, Susan and Mildred did). We had our first of too many meals at the Skybox, AKA the black hole where service died. Somehow we managed to get back in time for the Meet the Guests session, then set up for the radio play at 9. Intrepid newbies filled the ranks and were an excellent addition. Best of all, it was being recorded! What fun –

Except for one thing: the fire alarm.

Sharing the convention space that weekend was a reunion. We had thought it was a very large family reunion, but it turned out to be a reunion of people who used to live in Newburgh, NY. About a third of the way into the play, the fire alarm went off and we all had to go outside. Later we found out that it was a kid in the reunion bunch, but at the time, who knew? What pros -- the cast returned, picked up from the top of the page and went on as if there were no break at all. We celebrated with drinks at the bar and in the room (cheaper that way).

Friday at 2Pi-Con:
With Gene grounded in NC, I was on my own. Fortunately I had a pleasant detour before things started with the Hatfields who were in the area for a trip, so we met up in Northampton for a late lunch at the Japanese/Chinese restaurant (because the Tibetan restaurant was closing between lunch and dinner. Great to see them and catch up a little.

I got here in time to check in, see my room with the enormous bed and get my badge before the first panel on Buffy. My fellow panelists were there -- there was just one problem. We didn’t have an audience. After a little searching, we turned up one and eventually another came.

Which was more than I got for my reading. Ah well. But I did make some of the necessary edits to the zombie western story, so that was worthwhile, as well as doing a little other writing.

At 9 was the Doctor Who panel, where we at least had as many audience members as panelists (2) so that was something. Since I have not seen most of the early DWs, I thought I should have been on the other side of the table, but oh well. Hopefully tomorrow there will be more folks in attendance.

More on both tomorrow -- right now I have to go down to the lobby where the wireless is.

Jane Quiet

The ever fabulous Elena Steier has put up the first pages of our joint project Jane Quiet on her blog for the Goth Scouts. This came about because I thought it would be great to do a comic with Elena (I'm surrounded by all these wonderfully talented people, why not make better use of them? Hence the chapbooks with Joey and the QOE). She wanted to do one without word balloons and mentioned liking the John Silence stories of Algernon Blackwood, so I ran with that to make Jane Quiet (har har), a wordless comic.

Oh, she also asked for a super gnarly monster, so I made one of those too.

She's going to preview it on line, so stop by to see that (and her hilarious Goth Scout adventures, too). It's a different kind of writing and a fun challenge to convey the story solely through images. I have read comics scripts before -- mostly ones by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, so not your typical examples, I suppose. But who wants to be normal? I can't wait to see what it looks like -- that's the fun part of collaboration.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Jiggety Jig

Home again -- and what lovely weather! Got Gene's byzantine tangle of cords sorted out and plugged in so I have internet. Now it's off to FedEx to send Gene some of his medication, if Kipper will let go of me long enough.

Oooh -- Horrifying Sex is here. Paperback -- and I thought it was only hardcover.

Even better -- a Hello Kitty guitar pick! Thanks, Marko!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Travel Update

After spending all day either calling to get Gene's ticket altered, or at the airport not catching my flight, we're feeling a bit irked and tired (not to mention still sick, in Gene's case).

We typically threaten Susan every year after Trinoc*coN that we'll never leave. I think she's beginning to fear it will be coming true. Fingers crossed, I leave tomorrow morning at 6.30 by way of Cleveland this time. The delays tonight would have made sure that I did not catch my connecting flight to Albany and would have had to stay in Newark overnight. Lovely.

For Gene, we found out it was cheaper to cancel his current ticket and buy a one way on Southwest. $100 to change and $200 difference in the ticket for him to leave on Friday, so he'll be leaving Monday morning -- missing 2Pi-Con entirely, which is a shame. But he's definitely not up to travel at present. Nothing quite a s painful as an earache.

Good thing Susan and Ron are welcoming hosts to unexpected guests :-}

Poor Kipper!

Crossing Fingers

Gene's at the doctor's office, seeing how bad his earache is and whether he can fly today. He did not have a good night. I woke up to find Chelsea (the 16 year old Maine coon cat) licking my arm, Hemi (the black and white skittish cat) darting out the door, and Gene downstairs on the couch, trying to get some rest from his tossing and turning.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Trinoc*coN Survived

I'll get around to a serious write-up later, but for now, just a string of words: Liz Hand, Alex Sokoloff, George RR, the auction, the Skybox and the world's worst service *ever* in a restaurant, Furries! argh, lots of fun, lots of laughs. My reading went over well, I think. Good feedback too -- a couple of things to change before I submit it somewhere.

Yes, there are pictures. Yes, some of them of people who are sleeping and don't know the pictures are being taken of them. Hee hee.

Gene, Mildred, Birdie and I are now lazing around Susan and Ron's palatial home, surrounded by cats and a giant TV, so indolence begins big time. Giant screen tv + junkfood + friends + cats = sheer indulgence. We'll never leave...

Gene-Gene the name-check machine: What a star!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Trinoc*coN Bound!

We're off quite early in the morning for our annual junket to North Carolina for Trinoc*coN and a chance to meet-up with our friends. Susan and Ron are our hosts, Mildred and Birdie are our entertainment ;-) Well, so are the cats.

Trinoc*coN's GOHs include George R. R. Martin, Matthew McFarland and Thomas Fleming. I'm particularly pleased, too, that they got Elizabeth Hand as a special guest. Friday is the performance -- and recording! -- of my radio play Con-Eire, which ought to be a lot of fun. Trinoc*coN is a small con, so you get to see more without feeling so overwhelmed (i.e. DragonCon).

Of course, the best part is seeing friends. We're going to hang around a couple of extra days so we can play, chat, eat too much, watch bad horror movies (and maybe some good ones, too), loll around in Susan's new house, and as usual, threaten never to leave.

I can't believe the Tori tickets for the Palace Theater show go on sale tomorrow while we're in the air. If I wanted to pay $110, I could get a VIP ticket today. Fingers crossed, it won't sell out before I get a chance to buy a couple tickets. It would be the first chance to see her in our new home.

Not Becoming (to) Jane

Normally, I would be all excited about a new film touching on Jane Austen's life. She's one of the greatest writers who ever lived. If you haven't read her and you think you know anything about her books, you're mistaken. Read her. That's all I can say.

But Becoming Jane is a movie starring Brooklyn-born Anne Hathaway.

Yes -- another movie that suggests we can't quite believe Britons playing Britons (Zellweger-itis), as well as one that also suggests we can't imagine a writer writing anything but what they have lived, and of course, that no woman can actually do anything without a man to point the way, to give her the incentive and to provide a reason for living.


But don't take my word for it; head on over to the AustenBlog for an earful.

[Thanks to BlogHer for leading me to it.]

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Beowulf Cures Cancer?

My pal Scott Nokes over at Unlocked Wordhoard has been following the news trail on the upcoming Gaiman/Avery Beowulf (which looks like a video game, sigh), but he found this far more interesting Beowulf film -- that's also raising money for cancer research.

Yay! It takes liberties, too, but some interesting ones. Could be worse...

Mini-Reviews: Harry Potter, Simpsons

The Simpsons Movie: No Alf Clausen? A crime!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
: Not a single game of quidditch? Feh!

Oh, all right -- I'm just lazy. And the arrival of August 1st brings with it the first glimpse of the end of the summer: classes begin August 27th. There's a whole lot to be done before then, so a panicky feeling descends. "Somehow it will all get done", right? It's sounding less convincing now.

I may get around to reviewing those two cultural touchstones, but in the meantime I think you might be able to find other reviews somewhere.