Saturday, June 1, 2013

In Florida

I'm sitting in the kitchen of my brother and sister-in-law's lovely home in Florida.  It's late, and everyone else is in bed.  The last time I was here, it was because my mother had died, so it's nice to be visiting again under happier circumstances. 

I'll explain in another post why I'm here.  For now, suffice to say that it is the reason I'm still awake and staring at a computer.

Earlier tonight, a group of us enjoyed a tasty and fun meal at Bern's Steak House, a restaurant I haven't visited since my senior year of high school. I'm glad I was able to go back. 

Sorry for all the mystery, but I don't like to discuss projects until I finish them. 

For now, back to it. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Down to one

I polished off most of my deadline assignments today, including one writing piece.  One more hangs over me, but it's a doozy, and the deadline is very tight indeed.

That's not counting packing, of course.  I have to leave the house in nine hours and forty-six minutes, not that I'm counting.

Most of the deadlines were from work, but two related to writing.  Now, only the one incomplete writing piece remains.  I'll explain these writing deadlines later.

Now, though, I'm going to pack, return to that last assignment, and, eventually, grab a little sleep. 

I'm out.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I'm on a bunch of deadlines

so give a listen to these two songs, which I've been enjoying, and I'll catch up with you later.

So much interesting music in the world. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Well, damn: Jack Vance died

Jack Vance, one of the grand old writers of science fiction and fantasy, passed away at age 96 this weekend at his home in Oakland.  Within the field, Vance was well known, a SFWA Grand Master who was a writer's writer.  Outside the field, he never gained the recognition he deserved, as so many have noted, including the New York Times in this 2009 profile on him.

I never met Vance.  Now, I never will.  I have, though, like so many others, met his worlds and his language, and having done so, I am richer for the encounters.

The next time you're looking around for something to read, consider a Vance novel, perhaps his Dying Earth novels.  You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On the road again: Balticon, day 6

The drive home from the Inn at Little Washington is a long one that starts out as a beautiful ride through gorgeous Virginia mountains and becomes the usual nasty death race down I-95.  I spent it either driving or working in the car, though work became so intense that I had to pull over and hack away at my laptop in a McDonald's (for its free bandwidth) for over an hour.

Huddling over your laptop working in the corner of a McDonald's while Dr. Oz plays loudly on a TV directly over your head is a seriously sad way to spend an hour. 

Now, though, I'm home--until Saturday.  Then I fly off to do something odd.  More on that in another post.

For now, add to the list of must-see summer movies this awesome beast.

Oh, yeah.

Monday, May 27, 2013

On the road again: Balticon, day 5

The alarm rang far earlier than I wanted today (when does it not?), but that proved to be a very good thing, because the drive out of Baltimore was the easiest in years.  A few hours later, I was at one of the places I find most relaxing, The Inn at Little Washington.  The small town is delightful, the Inn itself wonderful, and the food of Chef and Owner Patrick O'Connell absolutely scrumptious.  Sitting in the kitchen table, watching the chefs work and enjoying the results of their labors, is a treat every year. 

Each Memorial Day, I think about the people I know and have known who serve or served in the military, giving their precious time and work to that service, sometimes giving their lives.  I have never been in the military, so I have no firsthand knowledge of what they've experienced, but from talking with them, I know the costs have been high.  Very high.

So on this day, I want to thank them, and the many more people I have never met, for all that they have given for the rest of us.  We will never understand all that it has cost them.

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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