Sunday, May 26, 2013

On the road again: Balticon, day 4

Once again, sleep did not come until very late, so I was happy that my first panel didn't start until noon.  At that time, I joined fellow participants Gay Haldeman, Mur Lafferty, and T.C. McCarthy on the Liars' Panel.

This event, as I've written before, is particularly notable because we do it for charity, in this case BSFS Books for Kids, a program in which the Baltimore Science Fiction Society buys books for kids who might not otherwise be able to afford them.  As moderator, I prepare a set of questions ahead of time and share them with the other panelists.  Each of us prepares our answers, some true and some lies.  We take turns answering each question.  After each response, the audience has the option of challenging the responder--at the cost of a buck if the responder is telling the truth.  If the responder is lying, he or she must pay ten bucks.  I choose questions that will encourage interesting responses.  All the money goes to the charity.

The result is usually an hour or an hour and a half (today's length) of great stories, laughter, and a few hundred bucks for charity.  Today's panel proved to be especially funny, with stories that frequently made the crowd roar.  We answered such questions as

  • What is the most unusual childhood possession you deeply loved?
  • What is the oddest prank you've pulled or had someone pull on you?
  • What's the most unusual thing to happen to you during sex?
Lunch and some work followed, until it was time for the Xenoarchaeology Road Show.  In this panel, Guest of Honor Joe Haldeman, Mur Lafferty, T.C. McCarthy, and I played the role of scientists who, 500 years from now, must guess the uses of objects discovered in an expedition to the ancient and now abandoned Earth.

None of the other panelists had seen any of the objects before, and I had done my best to ignore them, so we had to participate in an odd sort of improv comedy involving, one at a time, the objects in this picture:

Click on the image to see a larger version.

The fifty minutes passed quickly as the stories grew odder, each of us created worlds in which some of these objects were linked, and the audience laughed.

Dinner was with Kyle at the always reliable Pazo in downtown Baltimore.  We enjoyed many small plates of delicious treats ranging from Jamon Iberico to broccoli with cheese and peppers.  A visual oddity was the tres leches cake dessert, which was entirely more twee than any I had ever seen before.  Kyle may post a picture of me with it, though from the little I saw of the photo, I'm hoping he does not. 

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