Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Bouchercon idea SF cons should steal

Though a typical Bouchercon probably has a couple thousand attendees (I don't know the exact figures, so that is a guess), these cons don't seem as determined to have a ton of programming tracks as SF cons do.  Regardless of how many tracks there are, though, every Bouchercon I've attended has followed the same practice:  as soon as panels end, all the participants head to the book room and sit at tables, where they are available for discussion and book signings.

I love this idea.  You listen to a panel, hear some writers you like, and want to know more.  That's common enough.  At a typical SF con, you might never see those writers again.  At a Bouchercon, you can go to the book room, pick up one of their books, and get them to sign it.

The plan works.  Here's a shot of this Bouchercon's book room as it is beginning to fill up a few minutes after the end of a slate of panels.

Click the image to see a larger version.

A few minutes later, the room was thronged, people were buying books at nearly every dealer table, and writers and fans were chatting away at the far end of the space (not visible above).

I don't know if the concept would play as well at SF cons, but I'd love to try the experiment a few times.

Friday, October 13, 2017

You can't tell the books from the writer--or the writer from the books

I'm always surprised by the number of times at cons that I hear something along the lines of, "She doesn't look at all like I expected."  Even ignoring the fact that you can Google pretty much any writer these days and find pics of them, it's always a bad idea to assume that a writer's appearance and their work will have anything in common.  In addition, over time many writers change the types of books they write, so any one association would make no sense at all.

Enjoy the books, enjoy the writer, and don't expect them to look at all alike.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Two things I particularly like about Bouchercons

First and foremost, everyone I've ever met at a Bouchercon loves to read.  I'm as much a media fan as most folks, so I also appreciate the many media aspects of SF cons, but it's also great to go to a con at which everyone loves to read books. 

Unsurprisingly, at a typical Bouchercon, such as this one, the dealers' room--which Bouchercons tend to call "the book room"--contains either exclusively or nearly exclusively books.  I love wandering aisles of booksellers and seeing what's on offer. 

Again, don't take this as meaning I don't like the many other types of dealers at SF conventions; I have no problem with any of them and quite like some of them.  It's just great to be in a room so filled with booksellers.

The closest analog in the SF world is the World Fantasy Convention, which I also very much enjoy.  Because I read heavily in both SF and mystery, though, coming to Bouchercon is a special treat. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

30 years ago right about now

I was in this same Toronto hotel, looking out at the city, getting ready for a long day of consulting work.  That work would take me on the last step of a journey that would next lead to me moving to an apartment here in Toronto, where I lived for 16 weeks over the winter of 1987 and 1988.  I came to love this city during that time and have come back on multiple occasions since then.

This trip, I'm here to attend Bouchercon, the world mystery convention.  I also intend to take some time to reacquaint myself with this fine city. 

I'm very fortunate to be able to be here. 

Now, though, I'm going to crash after a rough day of work, travel, and work. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

My Tesla Model S at over 30K miles

(In the interest of transparency, I should note that I own stock in Tesla Motors.)

The other day, my Tesla Model S P85+, which I took home in June 2013, passed 30,000 miles.  A lot of folks have asked me in the past four years how I like or still like the car, so I thought I'd give an update here.

I still love it.  It drives as well as the day I bought it, handles as well as ever, and is simply a pleasure to own.  It's easily the best automobile I've ever driven or owned.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea:  I still love it.

Having said that, the car has a few minor but annoying flaws.  Its paucity of cupholders is a problem for people in the back seat, though not for me.  The floor mat in the rear routinely moves around and bunches up.  Every now and again, the charge port door will pop open after I've closed it.

Getting in and out of the car has always required care, because of the angle of the roof, and tall people find it particularly annoying.  Fortunately, I'm not particularly tall, so I have no problem with it.

In fact, the car has only one real issue:  it is not the newest, top-of-the-line Model S, the 100D with all the trimmings, the one car I truly lust for.

In my opinion, if you can afford a Model S--it is very expensive--and want the best car around, you should buy one.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Blade Runner 2049

Go see this movie.  It is absolutely worth your time.  You also don't need to have seen its predecessor, and you don't need a plot summary or spoilers to help you decipher the film; you can follow the story.

In fact, the less you read in advance about Blade Runner 2049, the better your movie-going experience will be.  Yes, that includes this blog entry; feel free to read the rest of this piece after you've watched the film once.

As strong as that endorsement is, let's be clear:  this picture has a lot of problems.  Some involve science, some involve story structure, and some involve its treatment of women; no woman here is ever far from the stereotype you will immediately be able to associate with her.

Despite all of that, though, you should watch the movie.  Visually, it is stunning, absolutely gorgeous, a ride through a future that is constantly overloading us on multiple levels.  It also asks great questions, important questions, and ones we cannot contemplate too much. 

The acting is uniformly strong.  Ryan Gosling's frequently unemotional performance style meshes perfectly with this role, but everyone in the movie plays their character well. 

Go see it.

I already look forward to watching it a second time.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Picking UFC 216's two championship fights: How I did

Perfectly, as it turned out.

In the first of the two title bouts, I expected the champion, Demetrious Johnson, to destroy the challenger, Ray Borg, and indeed Johnson did.  Johnson dominated Borg in every aspect of the game for the first four rounds, and near the end of the fifth he turned a suplex into an armbar and submitted Borg.  The finishing move was spectacular, but equally impressive was how utterly and completely Johnson beat down Borg.  To Borg's credit, he never stopped trying, but he was never a match for Johnson. 

If you are at all interested in MMA, take any chance you get to watch Johnson in action.  He is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

For the second championship match, I gave the nod to Tony Ferguson, who I said would wear down Kevin Lee in the later rounds.  I suppose I technically was right, in that Ferguson submitted Lee in the third round, but I was just barely correct; I had expected Lee to last longer. 

As I also predicted, Ferguson wasted no time in calling out Conor McGregor to unify the two 155-pound straps.  I doubt McGregor will do it, but I wish he would.

Maybe I should be putting money on these fights....


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