Saturday, May 30, 2009

Public vs. private life and an odd letter

Some people have asked me why I don't more often list the names of folks who go with me to events or provide more details when I discuss family topics. The answer is two simple statements:

1) I accept that by blogging I have decided to share part of my life publicly.

2) Those others have not made that choice.
I don't discuss information from others without their permission. I often blog late at night or in a break from work, times when reaching others can be difficult, so I also rarely have the time to get such permissions.

Having said all that, Sarah did give me the okay to let folks know that her high-school graduation--an event I expect to find quite emotional--is tomorrow, and she will be attending Duke University next. I mention this last bit not because of how extremely proud of her I am (though I am, of course, very proud of her and Scott), but because of the rather amazing letter I received today from Duke.

To be more accurate, the letter itself was not amazing; it was the expected long missive about the money I will soon owe them. What was amazing was the salutation on the front of the envelope above Sarah's name and our address:
To the payer of the tuition for
As far as I'm concerned, political correctness has gone too far when it leads institutions to have to write such impersonal addresses. I'm not a parent, I'm a payer of tuition!

Of course, it is an accurate designation, but really, Duke folks, couldn't you have found something either nicer or at least funnier? For example, I would vastly have preferred any of the following:
Yo, Moneypants!

It's tuition time; are you ready to rumble?

You should have thought of this before you let her apply!

Sure, our endowment would buy Africa, but now we want your money, too!

Sold that kidney yet?
or even
Stop whining and get out your checkbook. You're our bitch now.
Yes, indeed I am, and happy to be it. I cannot imagine a better investment than the education of my children.

I wonder if I'll get a "Duke's Bitch" t-shirt....

Friday, May 29, 2009

How low can I go with movies?

Thanks for asking. A few examples might be in order.

For the late show this year at the beach, I've already accumulated many gems, including

The Zombie Diaries
The Zombie Pack
Zombies Anonymous
Attack Girls Swim Team vs. the Undead
Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus
and, yes,
Special Dead
We will watch them, oh yes, we will.

That's how low.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My lies from the Liars' Panel

I don't want to undercut any podcasting that Balticon might offer of the Liars' Panel I moderated, but I also thought you might find it amusing to learn a little more about that bit of programming. Here are the questions I gave each of the panelists:

1. What’s the most outrageous place you’ve ever had sex?

2. What’s the strangest food you’ve eaten?

3. What secret talent do you possess that few would suspect?

4. What’s your most embarrassing celebrity crush?

5. What’s your weirdest possession?

6. What guilty pleasure would others not expect you to have?

7. What’s the oddest group you’ve ever joined?

8. What’s the worst job you’ve had?

9. What’s the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in school?
Like all the other panelists, I lied on three of them. Here are my notes for those three:
4. What’s your most embarrassing celebrity crush?

Tyra Banks. She modeled swim suits, underwear, and everything else. She’s busty and curvy and gorgeous. She runs a talk show and a reality show, America’s Next Top Model, all while continuing to look great.

6. What guilty pleasure would others not expect you to have?

Obsessive lawn work. When I can’t relax, I go out into the yard and work. I love trimming, hedging, mowing, and pretty much everything about gardening. I don’t try for esoteric plants, but we now have amazing spreads of azaleas, mums, and tulips.

8. What’s the worst job you’ve had?

Being a waiter in a particularly nasty Denny’s, back when most Denny’s restaurants were basically diners. Though I still love diners, I can tell you from first-hand experience that the movies romanticize both the wait staff and the clients. Diner patrons treat you like shit and tip miserably. I hated that job.
Of those, I hope never to change the last, and I sure won't ever have lawn work as a pleasure.

About Tyra, though, I make no promises.

She is, after all, fierce.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On the road again: Balticon, day 6

I'm home after a long drive made longer by the rain and the traffic and the frequent appearances of drivers with road IQs below the air pressure ratings of their vehicles' tires.

Dinner last night was an amazing tasting menu at the kitchen table in The Inn at Little Washington, a most wonderful place indeed.

The best sign of the drive was this one, a handwritten masterpiece on the side of the road sitting just below an old but more formal FOR SALE sign:

I wonder why they listed the babies last, but I was pleased to see they were the only offering to rate asterisks.

I must now resume normal life. Much to do, so to it, I go.

Monday, May 25, 2009

On the road again: Balticon, day 5

My main con activity of the day was a morning "kaffeeklatch," which is an event in which a small number of folks sign up to meet with you and get to ask you whatever questions they like. In the past, no one has shown up for mine, which made the events rather easy to do. Today, however, eight folks appeared, though honesty compels me to admit that half were friends. We chatted for an hour on all sorts of topics, and as best I can tell, everyone had a good time.

I have to say again that being one of the guests of honor at a Balticon is a very nice thing indeed. My handler and now friend, Ticia, was wonderful, always pleasant and on the ball and a step ahead of me. Every single concom person I met was gracious and nice. They paid my expenses and gave me a generous meal per diem allowance. All my events garnered substantial audiences.

I fear my SF convention status may well have peaked with being the past Compton Crook winner at Balticon, but if it has, I at least was able to enjoy a very nice peak. Thank you, Balticon team. You guys are great!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

On the road again: Balticon, day 4

The morning began too early for my taste, which is to say that it was still a.m., with a volunteers' breakfast. The goal was to let those who do the hard work of the con get to spend some time with its guests, which is in principle a goal I support. I was barely awake, however, so I'm afraid I mostly sat at a table, nibbled a bagel, and spoke with the few other folks sitting near me.

After that, we rushed to the Baen Books panel, where we fought the projector, ultimately triumphed, and did a ninety-minute presentation on upcoming Baen titles, cover designs, and so on. We also gave away a lot of free books, ARCs, and other stuff. The crowd was a pretty good size, and I think everyone had a nice time.

I exited that room with about one hour to go to my one-man show, Science Magic Sex. I spent part of the time reviewing the act, part setting up, and part waiting. The hotel escalator was having problems, so we started five minutes late to allow folks to get settled. I don't know the exact size of the audience, but all the estimates I heard put it well north of a hundred and possibly as high as a hundred and fifty, which didn't fill the room but was still big enough to give it good energy.

I had planned a fifty-minute set, which is the time the con asked panels to run, but I had a clear hour slot with a free half hour after me, so I did a bit over an hour. Everyone laughed when they should have, didn't laugh at the wrong times, and at the end I received quite a lot of very nice applause. Friends who I think are telling me the truth all agreed that the show was very good and of professional comedian quality, which is what I was seeking. We also raised some money for RIF through the t-shirt sales--though shirts still remain. I did get some notes I trusted, and I made some of my own--and will, no doubt, make more when I get to watch a recording. Still, to the degree that I am able to be, I'm happy with how it went.

Now, I hope other cons ask me to do it again.

Dinner was at The Woodberry Kitchen, a delightful place where we all ate too much but not so much that any of us was in pain.

I'm now off to walk a bit and contemplate more of today's work.

On the road again: Balticon, day 3

The hotel's bandwidth has been so slow prior to tonight that you could almost hear the screaming of the bits as the comm elves shoved them one by one down the Interweb tubes that feed this place. Tonight, though, the bandwidth has miraculously improved to the point of being merely worse than anything I've experienced since the dreaded Omni in Atlanta and the Super 8 in Biloxi, so I'm basking in the happy glow of electronic flow.

My first con activity of the day was a Guests of Honor brunch, which was pleasant but brief because I had to leave early to do an interview with Paul Fischer of the fine Balticon podcast team. I'm not sure when it'll be up, but when I notice it, I'll let you know about it. My guess is that it'll appear sometime in the next month or so.

I then headed to the Compton Crook winners panel, where our moderator lead four Crooks through a series of writing-related questions. I think it went reasonably well, and the mid-size audience seemed happy, so I was happy.

I stayed in the same room but slid two chairs to the left for my next gig, moderating the Liars' Panel. This one went extremely well, with a ton of laugher and fine answers from all participants. In the process, we raised $249 (I think) for Reading Is Fundamental (RIF). In the hall afterward, we raised a bit more money for RIF by selling a few Science Magic Sex show t-shirts--though in all honesty I must admit all of them went to friends. I hope we sell more tomorrow after the show, which I hope goes well.

By the way, after telling people in the Crooks panel that Overthrowing Heaven was not available yet and so was not in the dealers' room, several folks brought me copies to sign. It seems that the formidable Glennis Le Blanc had managed to get some. I have to hope she sells them all!

In the evening, I helped Marty Gear present the awards to the young writers after the young fans section of the masquerade, then watched the rest of the the show and headed to Kyle's for the UFC PPV. If you're an MMA fan, you had to be impressed with the way Lyoto Machida handled Rashad Evans en route to winning the light heavyweight belt. Machida is simply amazing.

I'm doing a one-man, one-hour show in eleven hours and I'm exhausted, so I'm outta here. I hope your weekend is going well.


Blog Archive