Downtime at WorldCon

Didn't sleep well or enough last night, mostly due to my pointlessly fretting about Mary Anne's ongoing cough (and about my having accidentally woken her shortly after she finally fell asleep).

So this morning even though I was awake by 8 a.m., I wasn't up for getting up and getting moving. The remarkably good window curtains helped maintain the illusion of it still being nighttime, which was nice, but the loud drilling and hammering from a nearby room were not conducive to further sleep. So I've been waffling between thinking I ought to at least look at today's schedule (WorldCon time is limited! There are always lots of interesting things to be doing!) and thinking maybe I should just take it easy. Taking some downtime amid the noise and haste is usually a good idea for me.

And then a Facebook post reminded me that I'd been meaning to post a couple of entries about Hugo voting subtleties, entries I wrote last month but decided it was silly to post. I found out yesterday that they may turn out to be relevant after all, so I'll go ahead and post them.

But first, a couple of notes on yesterday.

After my posts yesterday, I wandered back to the con, and chatted with Mary Anne for a bit before her Kaffeeklatsch. Then headed upstairs to a Sassafrass concert (the folks who wrote and performed “Somebody Will”), with special guest Jo Walton reading poetry. I'm not a huge fan of the Norse-mythology theme of most of Sassafrass's recent work, but they have lovely voices and very nice harmonies, and I always like songs that have two or more different sets of words going at the same time. And they gave some background on Norse myth that I hadn't been aware of, like Loki being Odin's blood brother.

After that, attended a good panel called “Rewriting Gender Defaults,” then chatted with Julia for a bit on the way back to the hotel.

(Aside: I keep finding out that although most people in sf are familiar with The Left Hand of Darkness, only some know about Le Guin's later essays defending, and subsequently repudiating, her choice to use male pronouns for the Gethenians; and very few are aware that she wrote a followup short story in 1995, “Coming of Age in Karhide,” that does a much better job of handling gender issues among the Gethenians. That story can be found in her collection The Birthday of the World, which is my second- or third-favorite Le Guin book; it contains several really excellent stories. Highly recommended.)

Mary Anne wanted to go to the Retro Hugos, or rather to the swing dance afterward. I hadn't planned on attending either of those, but she noted that Mary Robinette was co-emceeing, and I figured I would walk over with Mary Anne, say hi to Mary Robinette, and then go do something else; in particular, I thought I might attend Robert Reed's reading, and/or go to “I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue.”

(Aside for anyone confused by my reference to Mornington Crescent the other day: it's a game that was created for the British comedy radio show I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, in which players “move” around the London Tube map by naming stations, with the object being to reach Mornington Crescent. For more, see my 2004 entry about it; in particular, if you want to be let in on the joke, read the comments on that entry.)

But we watched the end of the Retro Hugos ceremony, and then chatted with Mary Robinette, and Mary Anne looked up how to swing dance on her phone and showed me some basic steps, and Mary Robinette showed us some more, and Mary Anne and I practiced a little, and then the band came back and started playing, and it turned out to be natural and easy to just keep going. So we swang danced (I'm sure that's the correct past tense, no?) for several songs, and learned the basics of the Charleston (which I thought was out-of-period, being a 1920s dance, but it turns out that it was adapted and updated in the 1930s), and it was all very nice. There were enough other beginners that my fumbling attempts didn't feel like a big deal, and as long as I pretended nobody could see us, I didn't get too terribly embarrassed. Knowing how to waltz helped, not with the steps themselves but with general ability to move my feet, and the notes Heather gave me on dancing way back at Susan and Matt's wedding also helped even though I don't remember everything she said in detail.

I don't think I'll make a regular habit of this dancing thing. But it was fun, and the moments when everything flowed were really nice.

Anyway, so that was yesterday. Not sure what today has in store, other than the “Beyond Bechdel” panel I'm on tonight. Will go look at schedule after I post my Hugo posts.

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