(Last modified 24 December 1996.)

Wanderjahr: Week 17

Locations: Somerville; Boston; Reading
Dates: 12/8/96 - 12/14/96

Sunday I lazed around Michael's and dealt with email, then had dinner and watched a movie with Michael and Marguerite.

Monday I had lunch with Ruth and Gavin, then spent several hours wandering around Downtown Crossing. Checked out several bookstores, and looked at a bunch of VRML books at Borders. The only one even remotely close to ours is the one from Laura Lemay's Web Workshop, and less than half of that book has anything to do with VRML (the book focuses on spicing up a Web site with 3D, using a variety of means; looks pretty good for that purpose). The rest are almost entirely pre-2.0 books; a couple of them are little more than reprints of the spec, and one reprints most of SGI's VRML Web site in its entirety. A hint: any book that contains the phrase "No more drifting like a ghost through cold dead worlds..." is reprinting SGI's stuff; I wrote that phrase, and though Rikk dinged me for overblown writing, it never got taken out of SGI's Moving Worlds overview. Also, any book that uses the phrase "Enhanced Static Worlds" as a section header probably got it from SGI; that one was Rikk's originally. The perils of publishing to the public domain: people will reprint your stuff with no credits. (Actually I don't think that overview was in the public domain. And Rikk's how-I-got-involved-in-VRML "sushi lunch" story was reprinted in one of the books, apparently entirely without permission, and I doubt that was in the public domain.)

I was pleased to discover one of the books listed me among the half-dozen VRML luminaries the author thanked for help and advice. I suspect the author didn't know I was working on a competing book at the time.

Anyway, enough self-aggrandizement for one day. I spent the rest of the afternoon searching for a particular gift item which I was, in the end, unable to find. Sigh. I did get myself a jumprope, though, and several comic books: a large-size collection of a Rocketeer storyline (pulp '40s adventure); issue 12 of the original Tick series (I'd thought it only went up to 11); and three issues of Manya, a nicely-drawn non-fantastical comic about a young woman named Manya.

I met David VS for dinner: Indian food at Club India on Mass Ave. Not superb, but not bad. (Bear in mind that the dense population of world-class Indian restaurants in the South Bay has spoiled me for mediocre Indian food.) The staff kept dropping and breaking things; David suggested "Club Woops" as an alternative name.

Tuesday I had lunch with various folks at Addison-Wesley. We talked about the book, and other upcoming books, and promoting the book, and competing books, and so on and so forth. Fun, and nice to meet a couple of AW folks I'd previously only met via email. They gave me marvelous business-card-sized cards with which to advertise the book -- the front of the card shows the title and authors of the book, plus a thumbnail of the front cover, while the back gives a one-paragraph description. Includes ordering information and a Web URL. Way cool. Good food for lunch, at a little Italian place in or near Reading, the name of which I missed.

I spent the afternoon hanging out with Steph, had dinner with her and Harlan, then drove back to Somerville for poker. Stayed at Michael's again.

The next afternoon I drove back to Reading and picked up Steph; we took the T to Boylston and spent the afternoon and early evening shopping and chatting. I'm trying to learn about clothing -- what various items are called, how they look, names of fabrics, weaves, cuts, styles, and so on. I don't know nearly enough about such things, and I need to if I'm going to be able to write about it. I don't even notice what people are wearing most of the time... Anyway, spent Wednesday night at Steph and Harlan's.

Began reading Wuthering Heights but didn't get very far in it. I was expecting something like Jane Austen, even though I knew Gothic novels were really a different genre; I was therefore rather surprised at the tawdry and ill-mannered folk filling the pages, and impressed at the vivid bloodiness of at least one scene. Nothing remotely like Austen. Hope to finish reading this sometime soon.

Also read bits of a book titled My Battle, an English translation of a book by some guy named Adolf Hitler. This edition was published in Cambridge in 1933 and contained a preface that gushed about how wonderful it was to finally be able to present this great memoir by a renowned German leader in an English edition. I skimmed bits of it just to see what it was like; was struck by the passages describing the beginnings of Hitler's anti-Semitism, in which he abruptly went from thinking the trash press was being ridiculous in blaming the Jews for everything, to agreeing with said newspapers completely. <brrr>.

I spent much of Thursday on the phone to CA -- first a story conference with Arthur, then a chat with Kris & Scott. Worked on screenplay; we're up to 65 pages so far, at roughly a minute of screen time per page. All very rough, of course, but we're definitely making good progress.

Friday afternoon I went wreath shopping with Steph. We saw wreath material in the shape of a cross (presumably for Christians) and in the shape of a question mark (presumably for agnostics). (Steph said it was a candy-cane shape. I suppose she was probably right.) That evening we drove to Somerville for a well-attended story reading. Afterward, Harlan and Steph went home and I stayed at Bhadrika & Steve's. Had another nice long talk with Carrie before I got too tired to continue and stumbled off to bed.

I got up too early Saturday morning. Had some of Bhadrika's yummy muffins, which prompted me to start singing "coffins and muffins, alive, alive-o." Bhadrika played me an amusing Garrison Keillor parody of "Molly Malone" about how annoyed the singer is at Molly hawking cockles and mussels in the street, and saying he doesn't even like shellfish, especially not alive, alive-o.

A little later, went shopping with Mark, who'd graciously agreed to help me find a good coat. He almost convinced me to get a topcoat instead of a trenchcoat/raincoat -- I didn't think I liked topcoats on me, but found one that looked pretty good -- but after a couple hours of looking at various coats we walked into Macy's (at Downtown Crossing) and the perfect black trenchcoat leapt out at us. I tried on several others -- including a stunning silky single-breasted duster-like raincoat that we both fell in love with until we saw the $600 price tag -- but finally settled on the black one. We chatted at a cafe for an hour or so, then I came back to Somerville to drive my stuff over to Fran & Ed's; after my misadventures trying to transport baggage last time I stayed with them, I figured I'd try automotive transport this time. Since F&E were having a game-playing evening at their place, I gave Charles a ride; which turned out to be fortunate since we had to get through Harvard Square, something I'm incapable of doing by car without a competent navigator. My taking a few wrong turns near the end of the trip resulted in twenty minutes of driving around looking for parking near The Fenway, but eventually we got where we were going. And then I discovered that the coat Mark and I had spent all afternoon finding was almost an exact duplicate of the one Ed had been wearing for years...

The group gathered for games split up into two groups; some played the English version of Die Siedler, while the rest of us played Once Upon a Time, a fairytale storytelling card game from the folks at Atlas Games (available in fine game stores and Tower Records outlets near you). After much jollity, most folks went home. I stayed on for the next few days.

Movies, Books, etc.

Treads too softly around gay issues (casting Banderas as Hanks' lover but not even giving them a visible kiss?), but moving anyway. Washington particularly good as a homophobic lawyer, who's really what the movie's about.

Jed Hartman <logos@kith.org>