(Last modified 28 July 1997.)

Wanderjahr: Week 47

Locations: Tacoma; Seattle
Dates: 7/6/97 - 7/12/97

I think it was Sunday, though it may've been Friday, when I woke up to find that my uncle David and my cousin Jesse had come to take my grandparents to brunch. Was great to get to see them again, but Peter and I didn't want to get to the con too late so we passed on brunch. We arrived at Westercon around noon and I couldn't get enthusiastic about the panels, so I went to hear Heather Alexander performing. She was delightful as usual, as was the sign-language interpreter for one of the songs (possibly her sister?) and the step-dancer who danced along with another of the songs. (A version of Alexander's song "Contraridance" featuring Goths and Filkers instead of Trolls and Fairies.) Followed Cat Faber out of that performance to the Developments in Medicine panel that I'd been intending to attend anyway; it turned out to be pretty cool, so I stayed for the whole thing and finally managed to ask Cat how to order her tapes. Eventually gave up on other panels, couldn't find anyone I knew, couldn't take the Punday punning event for more than about a minute, so Peter and I headed back to Tacoma.

The con was a lot of fun -- more fun than I've had at an sf convention in quite a while. I find it makes a tremendous difference to know people at the con. It also helped that I spent much of the weekend being gregarious, introducing myself to people who had no particular reason to want to meet me, and then attempting (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) to converse with them. It left me a little exhausted, as social interaction (especially with folks I don't know well) is always kinda tiring for me and there'd been quite a lot of it; but on the other hand, I'd had far more fun than I would've if I'd stuck to my usual stand-around-in-corners-wishing-I-knew-someone approach.

In some ways it was like several different conventions that only overlapped by virtue of being located in the same place at the same time. There was the pro and semipro con, writers and editors getting together to socialize and do business and talk about their jobs; there was the wacky con for/about Fandom, which I grew up in but am less and less comfortable with as time goes on; there was the live roleplaying, which I never participate in partly because it seems to eat up the entire weekend; there were the filkers, a group that feels more welcoming than any of the others to me but which I have mixed feelings about and have never really been part of; there was the media con, centered around J. Michael Straczynski and Babylon 5 (which, btw, made the cover of TV Guide just in time for the con); there were the artists, whom I rarely notice except when I go to the art show; and there were the costumes, whom I didn't even think of as a separate group until Peter related to me a conversation he had with a young woman who didn't know who Spider Robinson was and said she read mostly "the classics," by which she meant the Brontes. (Nothing wrong with the Brontes, just not what I expect someone at an sf con to mean when they talk about "the classics.") I suppose this many-cons-in-one thing is standard for a decent-sized convention, but it's only been in the past few years that I've started to notice it, and only now that I really saw how distinct the different groups can be...

Anyway. When Peter and I got back to Tacoma, we picked up Nancy and hooked up with my uncle Paul and my cousin Jason. Talked with them for a while, walked Jason to work at Pacific Lutheran University. Peter and Paul and I were wandering around the PLU campus when Peter noticed something odd about one of the many clouds of gnats in evidence: every time anyone spoke, they jumped. We experimented with this for several minutes; really quite amazing. Every loud or sharp noise made the entire cloud instantaneously leap a few inches up and to one side. Paul pointed out that it sorta looked like the bugs were laughing... I've never seen anything like it before.

I spent Monday mostly recuperating from the con. But hanging out with all those writers and editors had inspired me; I pulled out the three or four stories that were rejected in my last round of sending them out, back in February or so, and looked them over, and figured out who to send them to. Wrote a cover letter to Gordon Van Gelder, printed it (despite various problems with my printer), sent one story off. In the evening, played pinochle with my grandparents (first time I've played in years; I was way ahead, due to phenomenal luck, right up 'til the end, when Grandpa came up from way behind to beat me.) Talked with Arthur some about the screenplay late that night -- feels weird to be talking to him from the same time zone, after so long on the east coast.

On Tuesday, my new ink cartridge for my printer arrived. My experience with the various mail-order places goes in cycles of good and bad; this time around, MacWarehouse did quite a good job, even though they got my initial order wrong (they were very polite about it, recognized that it was their fault, and told me I didn't need to return the incorrect item (which is actually something I can use, just not what I'd wanted)). I spent a while putting together a cover letter to Gardner Dozois, then sent out another story to him. Took in a matinee, then went to Amy's place and got a ride with her to Seattle in pouring rain (my umbrella went completely to pieces, literally) to attend Lucius' reading. Good story, not remotely sf. Home again afterward.

Wednesday I buckled down and made some progress on the screenplay -- a good week for writing, all in all. Another matinee in the afternoon, then another trip up to Seattle (if I'd been more on top of things I would've arranged to stay in Seattle at least a few nights during my visit, to avoid these constant trips back and forth to Tacoma) for dinner and chat with Mary Anne and some of the other current Clarionettes (particularly Alex). This year's group makes dinner together in the dorm rather frequently, but I wasn't interested in what they were having so I stopped at the great Mexican place on Broadway (north of SCCC) and got a nostalgic burrito to take with me to the dorm. Eventually headed back to Tacoma.

Thursday morning I woke up with the strong urge to get my situation-puzzles list revision done. It's been something like four years since the last revision, and for the past year or two I've been planning to write a Perl script to generate both text and HTML versions of the next edition of the list, but never completed said script. So I spent the morning working on that project, and made some good progress. Saw yet another movie, this time with Peter and Nancy, then went to a Japanese place for dinner with them. Spent the evening updating this travelogue.

Another Friday, another blank. Until evening, when I drove up to Seattle yet again for Lucius' Clarion party. Saw & talked with many of the same people as the previous week, though there were fewer pros in attendance now that the con was over. Saw another alum from my year, Terri, for (I think) the first time since Clarion, talked a little with her. Ended up in a conversation with Omaha and a current CW student about SM that lasted 'til the party broke up; then drove John to the dorm and Omaha to her place. Nearly ran out of gas on the way back to Tacoma.

Late Saturday morning I packed up a weekend's worth of stuff and drove down to Portland. Spent the afternoon with Kristen, mostly at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (where she works but where I'd never been). Very nice science museum, cool folks working there, and a stunning OmniMax movie called something like The Living Sea which made me want to move to a South Sea island and learn to surf. Later, CJ Sewell and Greg arrived, en route from Baltimore to LA. (This CJ, not to be confused with the other CJ, is the one who had been out east when I was in LA, and who was in LA when I got to the DC area.) We had a nice evening, then got to see more of Portland on Sunday.


Movies, Books, etc.

Hercules
Fun songs, so-so to good art/animation (and oddly, Herc looks in several places like he was drawn by Zander Cannon, creator of the comic book Replacement God), pretty straightforward story. Quite a few good jokes, and a female lead who's got a little more depth than most Disney heroines (even if she's still a little stereotypical, at least it's a different stereotype this time).

My Best Friend's Wedding
Fairly enjoyable and kinda unusual romantic comedy which I can't talk about much because almost all of my reactions have to do with the final scene. However, I can say that Julia Roberts does a fine job and that almost every scene containing Rupert Everett (as her friend George) is superb, as is Everett himself.

Batman & Robin
Lousy flick, and I say that as someone who very much enjoyed Batman Forever. Bad acting, bad dialogue, ho-hum effects and action sequences, disappointing underuse of Clooney and O'Donnell (two of the best-looking actors around, in my opinion), and really almost nothing worthwhile except a few seconds here and there: specifically Uma Thurman's Mae West impression and Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl.


Jed Hartman <logos@kith.org>