Saturday, August 22, 2015

On the road again: Sasquan, Spokane, day 4

Getting up in the eights is cruel punishment.  Doing so on a Saturday is cruel and unusual.  Doing so at a convention on a Saturday is just downright mean, but it's how my day began, thanks to a ten o'clock panel on SF comics.

The panel drew a surprisingly large crowd, but I have to say that I did a pretty bad job of it.  Comics writer Kurt Busiek, who definitely knew the most about the topic of the panelists, deservedly dominated the discussion, and I contributed rarely.

From there I looked around the dealers' room a bit and then headed to my reading, which to my surprise had an audience of over a dozen people, not all of whom I knew.  I read the opening from "All That's Left," my story in Onward, Drake!, as well as the afterword, and we talked a bit about the story.

A group of us walked to the Satellite Diner for breakfast/lunch.  My omelet, the "Meatyorite," was quite tasty, and everyone enjoyed their dishes.  For my money, though, the star of the show was Jerry's "The Cheese Bomb," which the menu describes as follows:

Parmesan encrusted bread, melted provolone and cheddar cheese.  Deep fried mozzarella cheese sticks nestled right there between more melted cheese. It's cheese on cheese served with cheese. it's da BOMB!
The sandwich looks as insane as it sounds.

Click the image to see a larger version.

We were prepared to call in medics should his arteries explode on the spot, but he survived the incident unscathed.

As we were waiting for the end of the reading before mine, a woman in a Slanted Jack shirt (and whose name I did not get) told me I should go to a local artisanal ice cream shop.  After a refreshing nap--what a treat!--we drove to that very place, the Brain Freeze Creamery.  The ice cream was excellent, and I am in that woman's debt.  (If you're reading this blog entry, thank you!)

I did a little work and then set out for the Hugo awards.  David Gerrold and Tananarive Due hosted the event, and they did a fine job of it, keeping the evening moving and being funny when appropriate.  A lot of controversy surrounded this year's Hugo's, but I've refrained thus far from commenting on any of it, and I'm not going to break that streak now.  My congratulations to the winners, and my condolences to those who went home empty-handed.

After a quick dinner in the hotel bar (the only late-night option readily available), I spent time at some parties and then crashed.  A long but generally good day at WorldCon.

Friday, August 21, 2015

On the road again: Sasquan, Spokane, day 3

I slept until noon today and awoke not fully rested but feeling much better.  After some email and a shower, I grabbed lunch at Fire Artisan Pizza.  Though so hipster it hurt, the restaurant served quite good pizza, so I'd eat there again.

Rather than hit the con in the afternoon, I decided to go see Hitman: Agent 47 at the nearby cinema multiplex.  In a pleasant surprise, a sign on the door to the mall explained the fake flowers I had seen in the park earlier.

Click an image to see a larger version.

I'm sorry that festival isn't happening while I'm in town.

We had time before the film, so we enjoyed small cups of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.  An afternoon film and ice cream makes for a pretty great day.

I may write more about the movie later, but suffice for now to say that it was exactly the sort of big, dumb fun I was in the mood for.

Afterward, it was time to head to the convention center to watch the masquerade.  The air outside is so heavy with dust that the entire day possessed an eerie post-apocalyptic vibe.

The picture doesn't convey how gray and brown the air was, nor how nasty it smelled or tasted.  Going outside in Spokane today was like diving into a tent that was on fire.  Not good, not good at all.

The masquerade was a large show with something like 46 contestants, many of them novices.  I enjoyed it, and the theater in which they held the event was lovely.

After dinner with friends at a local PF Chang's (open late and reliable), I spent a bit more time hanging with friends and then caught up on email.

Tomorrow, a panel and a reading await me.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

On the road again: Sasquan, Spokane, day 2

Today was chock full of con stuff.  After a quite reasonable amount of sleep, I headed to the convention center for a presentation by my friend and exceptional artist, John Picacio.  As always, I enjoyed seeing both his old and his new work.  I've been fortunate enough to have John do the covers to two of my books, and I've loved both works.

After a quick and reasonably tasty lunch at a nearby Mexican restaurant, I dived into a three-hour writers workshop, where I was one of three pro writers critiquing the works of three newer writers.  The sessions went well, and the event ended early enough that I could make it to Publisher Toni's Baen Traveling Roadshow presentation.

Dinner was a treat from Publisher Toni for a group of Baen authors.  We ate salads and (mostly) steaks at Clinkerdagger, a local institution.

In the latter part of the evening, I hung with friends new and old in the hotel bar.

After now having caught up on non-PT work, I intend to sleep a great deal.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

On the road again: Sasquan, Spokane, day 1

After working until the wee hours, I enjoyed a full night of rest and finally got out of bed feeling decent--not fully rested, but not exhausted, either.  That was a nice change and a reasonable way to begin the first real day of the WorldCon.

For reasons I do not know, my hotel has this room.

Click an image to see a larger version.

Part of me wants to see inside this room, to learn exactly what makes it a circus room.  Another part of me would rather leave the answer to my imagination.  To date, the latter part is winning, but that could change.

Along the rather long walk to the convention center, we stopped for a delicious lunch at Sante.

Maple pancakes with caramelized peaches, house-made bacon, and two fried eggs.  Yum.

After registering for the con, we headed to the opening ceremonies, which were SRO and unpleasantly hot--but worth the time.

The best part was this long bit at the beginning, in which a native-American storyteller beautifully shared with us some interesting stories.  He was very good at the nearly lost art of oral storytelling, and I quite enjoyed his presentation.

After a walk through the dealers' room, we headed out to the First Night events at a park adjoining the river.  Behind a fence there, some people were working on the construction of a new addition to the park.

The look of these fake flowers made me regret not getting to see the finished park.

If you haven't heard the news, wildfires are a problem right now in this part of the country.  Spokane is both quite hot and, because of the fires, very polluted.  The sky constantly looks dense and unpleasant, and after walking outside for even a short while, you need to bathe.

Weirder than the sky is the sun, which should not appear this cherry-red in the late afternoon.   (You'll have to blow up the image to see the sun clearly.  It really was that color; I made no changes to the photo.)

Why am I showing you this parking structure?

Because how cool is "PARKADE"?

Dinner was a nice meal with friends at Mizuna, where the food was locally sourced and tasty, though not remarkable.

After some non-PT work, I crawled parties with friends, and now I must crash.

Tomorrow, my con activities commence.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

On the road again: San Francisco, day 3
Sasquan, Spokane, day 0

I spent most of the day at the Intel Developer Conference, which provided a lot of intriguing glimpses at computing tech still to come.  Intel CEO Brian Krzanich's keynote address covered a lot of ground and included multiple demos, among them a set of dancing mechanical spiders.  Some folks are definitely going to have nightmares about those.

In the late afternoon, I flew to Spokane for Sasquan, this year's World Science Fiction Convention, or WorldCon.  My flight from Seattle to Spokane was an uneventful ride on a prop plane, but my flight from San Francisco to Seattle was easily one of the least pleasant airplane trips I've recently taken.  The issues began with the smell, which was like distilled ass that was then infused with the stench of a thousand sweaty jock straps.  The plane was very crowded, and I didn't have an exit-row seat, so I had to sit with my shoulders curled for two hours in this miasma of ass.  A little girl, no more than five, in the seat across the aisle from me kept poking me in the arm and asking what I was doing.  Her mother found this behavior cute.  I did not.

After checking into my hotel in Spokane, I grabbed dinner at a funky little place, the Satellite Diner.

Click an image to see a larger version.

A pair of short-order cooks

prepared for me a delicious patty melt

(yeah, I know it looks burned, but it wasn't) and a tasty simple salad.  The atmosphere was fun, the soundtrack playing was awesome (and featured lots of Motown), and I was quite happy to be there.

Tomorrow, I register for the con, and it officially begins.

Monday, August 17, 2015

On the road again: San Francisco, day 2

I spent almost the entire day in the hotel in meetings, registering at the conference, or working in my room.  I could afford only one break, and my favorite restaurant here (Benu) was closed, so I traded eating and working in my room for the time to go see a movie.

I chose Southpaw, which was playing nearby and had decent reviews. Though it was in many ways a conventional boxing movie, it differed enough from the norm--for example, it started with the protagonist on top--and the performances, notably Jake Gyllenaal's, were so good that I quite enjoyed it.

Tomorrow, the conference kicks off, I attend part of it, and then I'm off to WorldCon.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

On the road again: San Francisco, day 1

After five hours of sleep and a very long travel day, I am in San Francisco, where I'll be attending the Intel Developer Forum and having some meetings.

I was lucky enough to get an upgrade on the day's shorter flight, the one to Chicago, but I declined the lunch because it featured a return appearance of The Chicken of Sadness.  Not for me, this depressed bit of fowl carcass.

Instead, I enjoyed a tasty turkey sandwich from Wolfgang Puck in O'Hare.

I worked through almost all of the four hours and forty-three minutes of flying time that it took us to reach San Francisco.  No upgrade for this one, alas, but at least I had an exit row seat.

After some more work, I took a break and, despite Scott's warnings and incredibly funny summary, went to see the Fantastic Four at a nearby cinema.  I may write later about the movie, but only after I recover.  I don't quite understand why no one's been able to make a good movie out of this bedrock superhero comic, but this year's version continues the tradition of weak FF offerings.

So I could avoid falling behind on any work front, I broke with my usual dining practices and for dinner had a completely serviceable room service meal.

I hope to get out tomorrow for a good dinner, but work will decide what's possible.


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