Saturday, May 23, 2015

On the road again: Balticon, day 2

Despite sleeping almost nine hours, I awoke exhausted; I clearly have a lot of catching up to do on sleep.

Lunch had to be brief, and the nearby options are limited, so we ended up at a Chipotle for an unremarkable but completely reasonable meal. 

My first panel came with the title, "Reading As a Writer."  Five of us discussed how we read, what we read, and what we recommended people read to see examples of great craftsmanship in different areas.  The very small room stayed packed, people seemed interesting, and as best I can tell, it went well.

I roamed the con for a bit, checked out the art show and the dealers' room, and did some work I needed to accomplish.  I'm still not done with it, but getting closer.

My other panel today was supposed to focus on how to handle exposition, though the title, "Gadgets in Fiction: How Do You Work Technology into your Story?" made it sound more limited in focus than it actually proved to be.  We discussed a wide range of topics related to technology in fiction--and, on occasion, in the real world.  The packed room seemed interested throughout, and I generally enjoyed the discussion.

Dinner took us to Brian Voltaggio's Aggio in downtown Baltimore.  I hope to write a full review of the meal later, but in case I fail to do that, let me give you the one-line version:  Go there and order pasta. 

Party crawling and work filled the rest of the evening.

Tomorrow, my panels begin at 10:30 a.m., which is not my favorite time by a long shot, but which I agreed to accept so that I could host the always popular Baen Traveling Roadshow. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

On the road again: Balticon, day 1

Today, I slept as late as my schedule permitted.  Having the extra rest was grand.  I awoke still tired and could easily have slept around the clock, but I definitely felt better than the day before.

For lunch we headed to The Food Market in Hampden, where we enjoyed a delicious and interesting brunch.  I particularly liked a dish called The Smoky Bowl, which mixed traditional breakfast ingredients--eggs, English muffin, bacon, and potatoes--with a smoky Gouda cheese. 

At the con, I spent time with some friends and also devoted a fair amount of energy to making sure we were all set for the Opening Ceremonies.  It was once again my privilege to emcee that event, which went briskly and well, at least as far as I can tell.  (You'd have to ask the audience to be certain.)

After spending time at the various meet-the-guests events, I headed out to see Tomorrowland, which I will review separately later. 

Tonight, I will once again sleep a larger than normal number of hours, a prospect about which I am unreasonably happy.

Tomorrow, my first panels of the con.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

On the road again: Balticon, day 0

Wow, was I tired today.  I awoke after two hours and forty-five minutes of sleep and felt like a zombie.  That is not enough sleep for me. 

Most of the day went to the drive from Raleigh to the con, a drive that ended up taking us through rush hour traffic--the only kind D.C. seems to have. 

Dinner was a delicious meal at Woodberry Kitchen; by good fortune, Kyle was able to come.  As I've said many times, if you're in this area, you should absolutely eat at Woodberry.  Everything we tried was very good, with the tomato soup with "adorable grilled cheese" and the sharp cheddar mac and cheese side dishes being particular favorites.

Tomorrow, the con starts in earnest.  For those planning to attend, look me up and say hi.  I'll be emceeing the opening ceremonies on Friday, and then on Saturday and Sunday I'll be participating in six panel discussions.

Now, though, I will crash!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I know Tom Cruise is supposed to be a jerk

and from what I've read, he probably is, but I don't care; I still want to see this next installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise.

If the trailer is any indication, the series has regained its sense of humor, which is a good thing.  Even when the movies were taking themselves entirely too seriously, however, I was enjoying them.  So, I very much look forward to this next one, Mission Impossible:  Rogue Nation.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ample Hills Creamery: Ice cream you need to try

When I first heard about this Brooklyn shop that makes its own ice cream, I was interested but not compelled to action.  After I read a bit more about it, however, I decided I had to give it the taste test.  Fortunately, the shop's Web site offers an easy introduction to its products:  a collection of its classic flavors.

One large sum of money later, and a group of us were dipping spoons into pints in my kitchen.  (Yes, we were washing the spoons between tastes; no double-dipping in the gourmet ice creams, thank you very much.)  After sampling such flavors as Salted Crack Caramel and Chocolate Milk & Cookies, I'm happy to report that if you love ice cream, you need to order some of the delicious treats from Ample Hills Creamery.

The flavors are strong and tend toward the sweet, so a small helping of any one ice cream is probably more than enough.  Each flavor was distinctive, and all were different from what I've tasted elsewhere.

For my taste, Ample Hills Creamery is among the top ten ice cream sources I've tried--and I have tried a lot of them.  Where in the top ten is harder to say, but definitely in the top ten.

I look forward to sampling more of their flavors and encourage you to do the same.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Once more, with feeling: Go eat at Panciuto

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you're probably already well aware of how much I love Panciuto, a Hillsborough restaurant with fantastic food and a wonderful staff.  A group of us ate there recently, and the meal was once again delicious.  Among us, we sampled just about everything on that night's menu, and none of us had a bad bite.

Chef/owner Aaron Vandemark creates dishes that blend Southern and Italian cuisines in ways I've never tasted elsewhere.  He's particularly great with anything fried and with eggs, but his food is uniformly topnotch.  He regularly makes me like vegetables I think I hate, and his meat preparations are always spot on.

The place also simply makes me happy.  It's a family business with a family vibe, and I've felt comfortable in it from the first time I was there.

We're blessed in the Triangle with a wonderful and growing food scene, so we all have many wonderful options when we're considering dining out.  Panciuto should be one you always consider.  If you won't do it for the food, do it for me:  I want this restaurant to be available to me for as long as I'm alive.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Three things rattling around inside my head

Like everyone (I assume), I find from time to time that certain things have taken root in my head and simply will not go.  Eventually, of course, they tire of the place and move on, but for a while they refuse to budge and stay always just a thought away.

Three such bits are currently in residence, so to encourage them to move along, I'm going to share them with you.

The first is a song I blogged about last week, one I heard in the Delta Rae show and that has stayed with me every day since then, "Run."

The second is a passage from Nick Harkaway's marvelous first novel, The Gone-Away World.  I'm cheating a bit by copying the text from an online source, and I'm hoping the redoubtable Mr. Harkaway won't mind the citation.  (You should buy and read this book if you have not already done so.)

A woman who can eat a real bruschetta is a woman you can love and who can love you. Someone who pushes the thing away because it's messy is never going to cackle at you toothlessly across the living room of your retirement cottage or drag you back from your sixth heart attack by sheer furious affection. Never happen. You need a woman who isn't afraid of a faceful of olive oil for that.
I fell in love with the phrase "sheer furious affection" the moment I read it, and I expect to love it until I die.

My third recent companion is the Count's speech near the end of The Boat That Rocked.  This scene goes beyond that speech, but it's the speech that matters.

There.  With luck, these will all wander into your heads and give mine a break.


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