Saturday, November 4, 2017

Urban legends, barbecue, ice cream, and the UFC

After some work, I headed to my first--and only--panel of the convention.  The topic, "Urban Legends in the Age of Fake News," didn't excite me, in part because I refuse to accept the notions of alternative facts or a post-truth era.  Nonetheless, the panel seemed to entertain its audience, and the discussion moved along reasonably quickly, so I left feeling okay about the endeavor.

Lunch afterward took us to the Smoke Shack, a local barbecue joint that proved to be quite good.  We opted to share multiple dishes, including the brisket Frito pie, brisket mac-and-cheese, and brisket grilled cheese sandwich,

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as well as a two-meat sampler of brisket, sausage, mac-and-cheese, and creamed corn.

Every single dish was delicious, with the standalone brisket being the weakest link.  It was better than any brisket back home, but worse than yesterday's brisket at 2M.  The standout was the terrifying and life-threatening brisket grilled cheese sandwich, which was flat-out delicious--though obviously unhealthy.

After talking with friends, I retreated to my room to catch UFC 217, from the prelims to the PPV.  The only bad news was that I missed the first half hour of the prelims, because the football game on Fox Sports 1 ran long and the hotel didn't offer Fox Sports 2, which is where the Fox Sports programming gods moved the UFC. 

I had a great time watching the fights, which were uniformly strong.  The room-service dinner was passable--almost everyplace can manage a Cobb salad--and the fight card truly was great.  All three championship fights went to the challengers in great battles that ended in finishes. 

As a further treat, tonight I get an extra hour of sleep (well, we all do, but I do, too)!  I love that treat.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Of San Antonio barbecue and World Fantasy Con

San Antonio's barbecue scene has redeemed itself, thanks to a very good lunch at 2M Smokehouse.

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I had to go late to lunch due to work, so they were already out of almost everything, but we were able to snag some brisket and some pulled pork.

The brisket was moist and rich and flavorful--everything it should be, and way better than anything I've encountered back home.  It restored my faith in local brisket.  The pulled pork was also quite good, though the better barbecue joints back home can best it.

Overall, I left lunch full and happy to have had good brisket again.

I arrived here in San Antonio on Wednesday for the World Fantasy Convention, but you may have noticed that I've barely mentioned the con.  That's because aside from a quick tour of the art show, a fifteen-minute pass through the dealers' room, and a dinner with folks from my publisher, Baen Books, I haven't really been able to attend the con.  Work has kept me pinned to my room except for meals.

The same was largely true today, but I did manage to get out and participate in a longstanding WFC tradition, the Friday night giant autograph session.  In these gatherings, every author or artist present grabs a name tag, picks a spot at a table, plops onto a chair, and hopes people bring them books and other items to autograph.

This shot shows only one angle on the room, which for the fifty minutes I stayed was crowded and full of folks chatting, visiting, and getting books signed.  A few folks even brought me books to autograph, for which I was grateful.  I've been the person at the table whom no one visits, so having anyone bring by books is a treat.

Tomorrow, I have my only panel.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Searching for good barbecue in San Antonio

I used to tell folks back home that the worst bite of barbecue brisket I've tasted in Texas was better than the best bite I've eaten back home.

After a day and a half in San Antonio, I've learned I was wrong. 

It's still true that the worst bite of barbecue brisket I've tasted in Austin was better than the best bite I've eaten back home, but the magic might be available only in Austin. 

I've now eaten at two San Antonio barbecue joints--the highly rated The Granary and one of the local chain Bill Miller BBQ joints--and the brisket at both was thin and not well seasoned and basically on par with the best of what I can get back home.  Which is to say, not very good. 

I'm going to keep trying to find good brisket here, but this is not a very promising start. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Wandering with the dead in San Antonio

After dinner tonight, we wandered the lovely Pearl area of San Antonio.  Day of the Dead festivities were in full swing, and multiple brightly colored altars glowed in the night. 

This sight stood near the entrance to the area. 

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This altar by artist Regina Moya was one of my favorites.

It celebrated the life of Emma Tenayuca, a labor organizer. 

I found all of the altars moving, as each reminded me of people I've known and cared about who have died.

Though it may sound morose, the walk was more touching and humbling than upsetting, a lovely stroll on a warm night through warmer memories. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

San Antonio, Austin, Norfolk, and Cincinnati

What do all these cities have in common?  I'll be visiting them before November is half over.

I'm tired just thinking about all the travel.  Worse, I have to get up before seven to start this trek, and I haven't even started packing.

Better get to it.

Monday, October 30, 2017

You can now pre-order an anthology with a story of mine in it

I mentioned the story, "Another Solution," in a blog entry back in February.  I named the book, Star Destroyers, in a May entry.  Now, you can pre-order the book, which should appear on March 6, 2018.

Amazon has it, but I bet you can also pre-order it from your local independent bookstore. 

I've read David Drake's story and mine, and those two alone are worth your investment.  (Of course, I would say that.) 

Check it out.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A little over five years ago

my sister, Liza, sent me this paperweight, which Mom had kept by her computer in home after home. 

Click the image to see a larger version.

I wrote this blog entry after seeing the paperweight.

Over the intervening time, this half dome slid a bit behind the keyboard, so I rarely notice it. 

Today, as I was working at home, Greg Holden's "Lost Boy" began playing just as I grabbed a notebook and bumped the paperweight into view.

I found myself once again lost in staring at this little boy I cannot remember.  I hate having no memories before age ten, that I cannot recall this boy or the life he led, that in less than five years he would have been in a dozen fights and was being beaten daily and was puking on the ground while a Marine ground his boot into that kid's face.

If you wonder why I write so much about child abuse and victims of abuse of all kinds, stare at that kid and think about what abuse took from him. 

Took from me. 


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