Friday, January 23, 2009

I have no excuse

I really don't. I should have known better. Hell, I did know better, but I still went to see Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. It's not that the movie completely sucked; it didn't. It's simply that it was another of those "eh" films, one that never made it to good but never fully embraced its badness, either, so you leave the theater knowing you got exactly what you expected and feeling a bit wistful about that fact.

Rhona Mitry was gorgeous, and the director wisely devoted as much of her screen time as possible to her lips, because she definitely wasn't earning points on the acting front.

Bill Nighy gave it his best, but it wasn't enough, not this time.

Wait for the DVD to come out, then pick it up, think of my comments, put it back down, and move on.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The 2009 Award Self-Pimpage Post

I did this last year after reading a similar post by John Scalzi on his blog. It's Hugo award nomination time once again, so I've decided to do this post once more.

Here's what I've published in the last year that's eligible for a Hugo:

Best Novel: Slanted Jack
Best Short Story: "Reunion" in Transhuman, which Toni Weisskopf and I edited.

To nominate for the Hugos, you have to be a member--attending or supporting, either will do--of the WorldCon (or of the last Worldcon) by January 31 and submit your nomination so the Worldcon folks receive it before the end of the day on February 28.

Put differently, if you want to vote, it costs only $50 to buy a supporting membership.

If you're interested, you can learn more and download the nomination form from the Worldcon site's pages on the topic.

Like any SF writer, I'd love to win a Hugo, but that's really all the campaigning I'm comfortable doing.

If you care about the Hugos, nominate, then vote. A surprisingly small number of people can make a big difference in the award; for example, it takes only around 50 nominations for a novel to make the ballot. If you don't vote, don't complain when works you loved don't appear on the Hugo ballot.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'm back

and without any incident, unless you count the guy in the seat in front of me who was so big that the seat leaned backward even though he hadn't pressed the lean button. It simply couldn't hold his weight. (No, the seat wasn't broken; it righted itself and locked when he wasn't in it. It just couldn't hold him.) Fortunately, the next row back was empty, so I was able to escape the guy's slowly tilting mass.

Raleigh was cold when we landed, but Boston was colder, so it felt like coming home to warmth. Good deal.

Obama got busy today, and that's excellent news. I hope he continues to push forward to realize his campaign promises. I'd love for my current belief in him to end up being justified.

My personal situation is akin to being snowed in, but with the mass being not snow but rather unpacking, several feet of snail mail, and a ton of email, plus a book on which I'm still hammering out concepts. Much to do, so to it I go.

Here's hoping a year from now I'm still optimistic about Obama.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Overcome with emotion

I am. I really am. I'm stuck in Boston due to the snow in Raleigh; even if I could have made it home (doubtful), no one could have come to collect me from the airport.

Being stuck here is not the problem, however. I have a fine hotel room, good company, will eat a great dinner (back to Oishii we go), and have been able to work all day. As a bonus, I got to watch the inauguration live, something I would not have been able to do had the Raleigh snowstorm not kept me here.

The inauguration is the problem. It really got to me. For the first time since my teen years, despite all the intervening decades have taught me, almost against my will I find that I believe again in a politician. I know President Obama is no saint, but I honestly believe he is a smart, idealistic, clever man who may continue to make history. I wish I could participate in some meaningful way, but I really can't; employing people, writing, and taking care of those I love is what I can manage and must be enough.

Obama is also the first president to be younger than me. Intimations of mortality are all around me, and today they draw too close and I realize that I have accomplished so very little, almost nothing, really.

And then there's the article I read. I love basketball. I miss playing it. I was never any good, not really, but I've always loved it, though in the past decade or so from a great distance. So it was that when Bill (thanks!) pointed me to this article on this day, I could not help but be touched yet again. I loved pickup basketball, loved the fact that who you were was how you played, that nothing else mattered, and I still do, though it's been years since I've stepped onto a court.

I love that our President loves basketball, listens to music I know, uses technology, and has so many other points of connection to me and others like me.

Most of all, though, I love that he seems to understand the enormity of the challenges we all face, is willing to tackle them, and has good ideas about doing so.

Let's all join in and help him change this country--and the world--for the better.

Monday, January 19, 2009

On the road again: Arisia, day 5 - Panel of the damned

No, I won't write which panel it was; I don't want to hurt some of the people involved.

It was, though, hellish.

Over two dozen fans crammed into a room to discuss hardcore geek stuff. Two of the panelists, including the moderator, bagged.

The crowd was into it. Forget the whole panelist/audience separation; they had points to make, and they were going to make them!

One panelist twirled his hair and pulled it from his head to its furthest point, as if trying to remove his brain to escape the room. When that failed, he pulled some hair into his mouth, chewed on it, and finally tugged it out from where it had gotten stuck in his teeth. Later, he picked his nose, studied the output carefully, and then chewed thoughtfully on it.

Another panelist simply twitched from side to side and, when he could stand it no longer, took over and talked until he found himself lost.

I spoke from time to time and worked to remain cogent. When I was quiet, I watched the audience as long as I could stand it, then hid in my iPhone, playing a game and computing the number of seconds until I could escape legitimately.

Ah, the audience.

A woman tilted her head to the side and stayed that way until drool ran from the lower lip corner to the tip of her chin, at which point she slurped it back up, righted her head, wiped her chin, and then slowly tilted into another iteration.

A man chair-danced through an apparently choreographed sequence: scratch right shoulder, scratch left shoulder, scratch stomach with both hands, scratch crotch with both hands, repeat.

A fellow with many points to make bounced up and down in excitement until the self-appointed moderator called on him.

Two women in the far rear corner stroked each other's shoulders gently and from time to time fell into hardcore necking, only to emerge a few seconds later wild-eyed and apparently ready to dive anew into the geek topic at hand.

There's more, but I ate recently.

Aren't you sorry you missed this one?

Because I can

I interrupt my normal travel reporting to bring you these two bits of weirdness.

First, the funniest condom commercial ever. You must have your sound turned up for it to deliver its full effect.

WARNING: Kids, don't press the play button. Move on.

Next, because it gets stuck in my head from time to time, I thought I'd share the pain. The video did not originally accompany the song, but it's sufficiently odd that I thought you might enjoy it.

With the inauguration parties this weekend, you have to admit that it's so groovy now that people are finally getting together.

I now return us to our normal programming.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

On the road again: Arisia, day 4

Arisia contains more adult-oriented programming than any other SF con of which I'm aware. From panels on the poly lifestyle to various kink discussions, the program provides a far wider range of topics than one typically finds at these affairs. I usually give these additional offerings a wide berth, but sometimes you can't help but encounter this side of the con, as in this handmade notice, which was hanging on the door of one of the vendors here.

It's the "and cake" that really makes this sign special.

In other news, it's been snowing off and on all day, and what began as beautiful (as in this photo of a hotel courtyard) turned into a hassle as we rode very slowly back to the hotel after dinner. Not that I'm complaining about the pace, mind you; I was quite pleased to have a cabbie who took seriously the very bad and more than a little dangerous weather.

The meal in question, by the way, proved to be quite a disappointment, as the chefs at L'Espalier, who had last year dazzled us with a wonderful tasting menu, this time managed to damage every dish they produced. Whether it was the foie gras, which they rendered tasteless via the application of too many Middle Eastern spices, or the scallop, which they so soaked in lemon juice that all you could taste was lemon, the beautiful ingredients inevitably vanished in the face of sub-par preparation. It'll take a great deal to persuade me to eat here when I next return to Boston.

On the road again: Arisia, day 3

I began the day after a rather long and delicious sleep, so I entered the small hotel gym with more than my usual enthusiasm. The previous day, free headphones had been plentiful, so I left my earbuds in the room. This gym still hates me: no free headphones. So, I walked the treadmill while alternately watching the silent TV and pondering Children No More.

The race each way across the glassed-in walkway was thrilling, as always.

Dave Seeley, who is the artist guest of honor, led an art show tour that I quite enjoyed. Dave began by discussing the works he had on display--and asking me to talk a bit about his cover for the Transhuman anthology--and then gave his perspective on quite a few other pieces in the show.

From his tour we went to a bellydance performance in the main ballroom. We emerged a sweaty forty-five minutes later with two distinct impressions:

1) All the dancers were at least decent, with several very good and quite a lot of fun to watch.

2) It is possible to fill a ballroom with so much fan ass stench that the smell actually begins to solidify in the air and obscure your vision.

Rarely have I been happier to hide for a few minutes in my own, fan-ass-free room and breathe its odor-free atmosphere.

Dinner was a great tasting menu at No. 9 Park. We'd read some foodie online comments that suggested the place had lost its way, but our server at Oishii had recommended it, so we gave it a go. The foodies were wrong; she was right. With the exception of an unsatisfying and extremely sticky dessert, each course was delightful. I highly recommend this place.


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