Saturday, November 5, 2011

On the road again: a long trip, day 11
CONtraflow, New Orleans, day 3

Today, as per the plan, the con kept me rather busy.

I began by emceeing the costume contest, which was a lot of fun. We had several very young fans in costumes, and all were cute and nice and exactly what you'd hope they'd be. The youngest, a twenty-two-month-old Tigger, kept charging the small stage, to the amusement of all.

After a dinner break, I then was the auctioneer for the slave auction, a local tradition. In it, volunteers agreed to be auctioned as "slaves" to others who got to be their "masters" for two hours. I put the words in quotes because all the services involved remained unspecified until after the auction and required the agreement of both parties. In addition to the people, I also had to auction a Kathy Ireland life-size cardboard cut-out and an inflatable love doll. The adults-only crowd was loud and very much into it, and we raised a fair amount of money for the con.

I'm writing this entry in the break between the end of the auction and my spoken-word show, Mr. Poor Choices. I'm performing in the hotel's lounge, Rumors, which has no real stage normally but which will put in a temporary six-inch one for me and illuminate me with three ceiling lamps. Given the state of my voice--rather tired at this point--I am glad I will have a mic.

Tomorrow, I'll report on how the show went.

Did I mention I heart Charlie Jane Anders?

Glen Duncan wrote a silly and dumbheaded review here. SF blogs went up in arms immediately, with cause. A few folks have asked what I thought about it, but rather than write anything, I'm going to refer you directly to this wonderful response by the redoubtable Charlie Jane Anders.

I've met Anders but never had the chance to talk with her. One of my greatest regrets about getting so sick at this past World Fantasy Con is that as I was heading back to the room, shrunken in on myself and feeling horrible and shaky from fever, she said hi to me. I wish I'd been in shape to talk.

Anyway, if you don't know her work on io9, you're missing out.

Friday, November 4, 2011

On the road again: a long trip, day 10
CONtraflow, New Orleans, day 2

Today passed in a gumbo of con and work. After a morning work session, Publisher Toni took us into the French Quarter for a delightful lunch at Emeril's. Before you give a Bourdain-inspired jab at Emeril, note that his food has always been good--and was so today. Crucially, however, his banana cream pie recipe remains the best I've ever had. Getting to savor a piece today was a great treat.

After lunch, I worked out some opening ceremonies logistics with the redoubtable Raymond Boudreau, the con's assistant chair and guest liaison.

More work, then the ceremonies themselves, for much of which I was on the mic introducing guests. I started off terribly by, after a confusing set of conversations that I ended up misunderstanding, introducing the wrong person several times before finally giving control to the con chair, Rebecca Smith. My apologies again to Rebecca.

Dinner was a tasty muffuletta from a nearby small place, and then I hit a panel and visited with folks around the con. Work bracketed the con time, of course.

Tomorrow, I have an easy day followed by a very busy evening that will include an hour of stand-up in the hotel's Rumors lounge (yes, that is the real name). Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

On the road again: a long trip, day 9
Silicon Valley, day 4
CONtraflow, New Orleans, day 1

I'm never going to like a morning that starts with me rolling into the shower at four a.m., so today did not have a happy start for me. Two flights with a two-hour layover between them yielded about eight hours of head pain from almost complete ear congestion. Now, though, my ears are nearly back to normal, which is a treat.

DFW did bring the joy of the Red Mango parfait, three hundred delicious calories that brighten any day.

Unfortunately, DFW also treated us to a royal clusterfuck as the airport authority closed the Skytrains for a while. Walking from where we were to where we needed to be was possible but would have meant trudging for several miles--which is exactly what we started to do. We then encountered the aforementioned Red Mango, however, and could not pass it by. By the time we had enjoyed our treats, the trains were up and running.

We hit the rental car here at high rush hour, so the twenty-five-minute drive from the airport took more like a hundred minutes, none of them fun.

Now that I'm at the con hotel, though, all is well. Pre-con dinner with the con team was fun, the hotel is fine, the bandwidth (free) is better than what fancier hotels charge high daily fees to use, and my work is almost done.

Sleep awaits, and I cannot wait to greet it.

Oh, yeah: how great is this?

Insanely great, that's how great.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On the road again: a long trip, day 8
Silicon Valley, day 3

Today was work, work, and more work. Not much I can say about it.

My health continues to improve, though at a snail's pace. I'm fighting the coughing fits and slowly gaining ground, though tonight's minimal sleep will not help. (I hate getting up at four a.m.)

Because I have so little on which I can report aside from this blasted sickness, and because I'm bored to tears of that, I'm going to talk briefly again about PTSD sufferers in general and Dave in particular.

I've written many times before--and will no doubt write many times again--about the huge cost that trauma of certain types exacts from its victims. Veterans and abused kids are the particular groups I cover most often, because of my personal ties to and strong feelings about them--and because I am one of them.

At the risk of detracting from its mention in Dave's upcoming newsletter, the latest issue of which he was kind enough to let me read in advance of its general mailing, check out this photo of Dave, here a few years back from Viet Nam and slowly rebuilding himself from the rubble that experience made of him. I've known Dave since around 1982 and been his close friend since about 1985, and I can tell you that he looked better when I met him and has continued to improve.

This photo, though, is not of a man who fell apart. It's not of someone who committed acts of violence, or who fell into a bottle. The man in this picture had graduated from Duke Law School, was still married, was recently a father and an Assistant Town Attorney for Chapel Hill. He was writing.

This man was succeeding.

Still is.

This picture, though, captures in a perfect and wrenching instant the huge price Dave paid.

We cannot pay back Dave or any vet for his or her service; it doesn't work that way. We can, however, treat returning vets better, treat PTSD sufferers of all stripes better, and work diligently to avoid the need to subject more men and women to those experiences.

That, we can do, and we should.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On the road again: a long trip, day 7
Silicon Valley, day 2

In retrospect, I should have seen it coming. Decongestants, aspirin, and antibiotics all share one side effect: upset stomach. Add no food for a long time, then a fatty dinner, blend in the sickness you're trying to beat, and the result is a thirty-minute attack of wracking coughs at two in the morning. Wow, did that suck. I had forgotten just how much exercise you could get from coughing. I can't recommend it, however.

That's how the day began. The rest of the day went to work, about 17 hours of it, some of it live client meetings, some phone meetings, and a bunch of driving up and down the 101.

Room service dinner was a treat by the time I could manage it.

I'm way past sick of being sick. I am healing, but not fast enough for my taste.

While eating dinner, I saw on the Colbert Report a performance of a song from The Goat Rodeo Sessions. Everyone needs this album. Check out this Web exclusive video at Colbert Nation. Very cool stuff.

Monday, October 31, 2011

On the road again: a long trip, day 6
World Fantasy Con, San Diego, day 6
Silicon Valley, day 1

As you can tell from the overly long title, today was a travel day.

I awoke in San Diego feeling awful but definitely a tad better than the day before. Progress. After so much work I made us late, we did the pack/check-out/taxi/check-in/security tango and found our little commuter jet for LAX.

That flight was so short it barely had time to become unpleasant, which was quite nice. Unfortunately, a coughing spell hit me not long after boarding, so I had about half an hour of wracking pain.

LAX passed in a rush from plane to gate to shuttle to gate to plane, which was boarding when we reached it. Fortunately, a first-class upgrade had come through, so I was able to get plenty to drink and stave off the coughing during the slightly longer flight to SFO. I unfortunately could not fight the effects of a faster than normal landing process, so I emerged from the plane half deaf from the pressure in my head.

Go, decongestants, go!

After reversing the earlier dance, with a stop at a Safeway for crucial room supplies (water, Coke Zero, soft pretzels), I spent the rest of the day working.

Dinner was take-out from a nearby Max's. Mine was, of course, the traditional patty melt.

I passed exhausted a few hours ago, so I'm crashing. Ignore the timestamp of this post, for it is a lie.

Tomorrow, I have meetings, so I hope to be feeling a very great deal better.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

On the road again: a long trip, day 5
World Fantasy Con, San Diego, day 5

Today was not a good day, but today was, finally, the day I was expecting: I awoke feeling marginally better than when I went to sleep. I still have the fever and the draining and the coughing and the chapped nose and the raw lips, but I am ever so slightly better--or, at least, I believe I am--than when I crawled into bed. Plus, I did not wake up every single hour, a great treat.

My one con activity of the day was the awards banquet, which I did not want to miss. The food may have been the worst WFC banquet food ever, which is saying something. My entree, the inappropriately named tri-tips, looked and tasted roughly like what you'd expect if a pair of Shaquille O'Neal's dress shoes were chewed up and then spit out by the aliens from Attack the Block. By comparison, the paste-like mashed potatoes supporting them were miracles of culinary achievement.

Still, I am on the mend, and though the banquet left me shaking and exhausted, that is good news indeed.

Tomorrow, we head to another city.


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