Category Archives: Fandom

No Worldcon For Us – Again

My calendar reminds me that right about now is when I was supposed to be finishing a long drive from LA to San Jose and checking into our hotel for this year’s World Science Fiction Convention (aka “Worldcon”).

That’s not happening. I’m not thrilled.

About six or seven weeks ago we cancelled our reservations and told friends that we weren’t going to be there. The Wings Over Camarillo airshow is this weekend and as the Finance Officer for the Wing it’s sort of critical that I be there. Last year I wasn’t (it was the total solar eclipse!) and for that I made the trip. And then had to work twice as hard for quite a while to get caught up. It was worth it (TOTAL FREAKIN’ SOLAR ECLIPSE!!) but as much as I love going to Worldcon, I have to do the responsible, “adulting” thing this year. There will be another one next year.

But as I saw the posts of friends from all over the country and even all over the world heading to San Jose, I got to thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve been to Worldcon. Then I got really depressed.

Nine years.

The last time we went was 2009 in Montreal. Which was great, because we had gotten to Denver in 2008. And the family got to LA in 2006. (I didn’t since I was doing my MBA program at Pepperdine and had class that entire weekend.) And we all went to Toronto in 2003 and San Jose in 2002! And from 1978 (my first con of any kind) in Phoenix through 1984 in Los Angeles I went for seven years in a row!

But since Montreal I’ve missed Melbourne, Reno, Chicago, San Antonio, London, Spokane, Kansas City, and Helsinki. Fine, London when I was unemployed for a while might have been a reasonable, responsible call. And Kansas City was fairly soon after I started my current job and I probably didn’t have any vacation time accrued yet. But what’s up with that Reno, Chicago, and San Antonio stretch? What was the excuse then?

I’m sure it was something along the lines of, “There will be another one next year.”

So next year it’s Dublin. And in 2020 it will be New Zealand. (Okay, the 2020 site selection voting is going on this weekend, but no one else has a bid, so…) And likely to be (only one current bid) Washington DC in 2021 , Chicago in 2022, and Minneapolis in 2073.

Too early to start planning my excuse/reason for missing it next year?

I’ll watch the Hugo awards and masquerade online… Wait, it just hit me. No, I won’t. They’ll be on at times when I’m tied up with my job at the air show.

Y’all have fun in San Jose. Say hello to fandom for me. I’ll be over here being adult, boring, mundane, and contemplating the similarities between a rut and a grave.

(Wow, THAT escalated quickly!)

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Filed under CAF, Fandom, Paul

FilkOntario Draws To A Close

It’s been a most wonderful weekend. The dead penguin party continues as we wind down.

Today’s HOF concert was a singular event for me, having dear friends performing my favorite songs. I also performed my signature song, “Ronald Reagan – Carl Sagan – San Diego Pagan Blues,” for the first time in many, many years.

I have seen many old friends and made many new friends, had some fascinating conversations, learned new songs, and even dragged out a decades-old song from PFNEN to sing. (In public and everything!)

A million thanks to the FilkOntario convention committee and Filk Hall of Fame jury, especially Dave & Judith Hayman and Peggi Warner-Lalonde, who have pulled off miracles to make it all run smoothly.

FilkOntario has been wonderful! I can’t wait to come back!!

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Filed under Fandom, Music, Travel

Slaying Delayed

Long day. All evening doing an online task which I do not enjoy but can not avoid. Not feeling the joy.

Listening to some tunes, as I have been known to do. (BTW, someone changed the key on “Jesus Christ Superstar.” I used to be able to sing along with that. Now it’s just ugly.) Tonight it’s Julia Ecklar for reasons I don’t recall, but I’m having a good time listening again.

Given the task and my mood, I’m ready for “Temper of Revenge.” As she says on the live version on another CD, “One set of chords and you’re all lusting for blood!”

So here we go! “Bring me my lance! Bring my shield! Strong as my sword is…”

“beep, beep! beep, beep! beep, beep!” My phone has cut off the music to have my alarm go off.

Stick a pin in that thought, I’ll be back in five minutes to wade hip deep into the demon horde, slinging entrails and limbs right and left with my massive broadsword. Right now it’s been two hours since dinner and I have to go do that blood test thing to make sure I’m not hypoglycemic.

Who knew that that’s what they meant by “lusting for blood?”

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At Consonance 2017

Too busy listening to concerts & chatting with friends I see far too rarely to write much. But (of course) there are pictures!

For Interfilk Guest Leslie Hudson’s concert there was plenty of help.

The Guest of Honor concert was the main event tonight. From left to right are Leslie Hudson, Mary Crowell, Betsy Tinney (amazing cello!), and GOHs Bill & Brenda Sutton.
For those I haven’t indoctrinated into SF true fandom, when I’m done having fun I’ll explain those terms.

For now, it’s the open filk:

With luck, we’ll be up way, way too late doing this!

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Go, Pokemon, Go! (And Don’t Come Back!)

It’s been a bit disturbing for the last week or so to see more and more people I follow and talk to on Twitter and Facebook succumbing to this latest craze.

I understand and expect many science fiction and fantasy fans to be jumping on the Pokemon Go bandwagon. Hell, I would be amazed if many of them weren’t first adopters or even beta testers. No worries, it goes with the territory.

I’m not surprised to see many of that generation (including my kids) embracing it enthusiastically. They grew up with Pokemon, they’ve played the games on one gaming platform after another from teeny-tiny monochrome LCD screens all the way up to Retina display supercomputers that you can carry in your pockets.

But the number of well respected scientists, writers, and researchers that are out there trying to “catch them all” caught me off guard. Aren’t these folks supposed to be out there solving the mysteries of the universe 24/7 and tweeting about it so that I can hover in their shadow? Isn’t that the job description?

Instead, I find that my friends from SF&F fandom are all chasing Pokemon. Younger people I follow (kids, nephews, nieces, etc) are all chasing Pokemon. And now a high percentage of my NASA, NASA Social, flying, astronomy, space exploration peeps and tweeps are all chasing Pokemon.

Thank god I don’t follow any celebrities or sports figures. I can only imagine what’s going on over in that sector.

This may be a classic “Get off my lawn!” moment for me. But augmented reality has been an intriguing possibility for years and I’ve been waiting for it to get into the mass markets. Where’s the app where you can turn on your phone’s camera in an unfamiliar city and have it show you where the nearest subway is or overlay on the picture directions to a restaurant you’ve picked? Where’s the app where you can go house or apartment hunting and have your phone tie into Zillow and show you the price and amenities for all the homes in a neighborhood, while also point out which direction and how far it is to the nearest park or school? Where’s the app where you can point your phone at a sign in a foreign city and have it translated into English for you?

Oh, right, that last one exists. WordLens will translate signs in German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Russian. On the fly, in real time, you can take something like this:

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(It’s what I had sitting on the desk – just go with it)

…into this:

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Nope, instead we’re getting the teeming masses who are (we hope) otherwise sane and rational critters out wandering about aimlessly, staring intently at their phones.

Staring intently and wandering about as they walk into the street, off of piers, into light posts, and so on. It’s madness.

Also, watch out for the Laws of Unintended Consequences. There are some nice stories out there with Marines catching burglars while playing, people getting outside and getting some exercise for the first time in ages, and people meeting people they otherwise never would have met and finding out that they’re just, you know, people. There are also stories of muggers realizing that the Pokemon gyms and hot spots are perfectly good places to find people with expensive phones who are paying absolutely no attention to their surroundings.

Then there’s the whole Westboro Baptist Church thing. Suffice it say that anything that royally pisses off those assholes is a good thing in my book.

I guess in the end, I just don’t get it. I would love to have a HoloDeck from the Enterprise, but this seems a bit lame.

So far as my personal unintended consequences go, I was briefly saddened while reading about people coming out of their houses for the first time in ages. I missed the window of opportunity to buy stock in companies making sunblock and sunglasses. It’s okay – I realized that there was still time to invest in companies that make aloe gel and Ben Gay.

 

 

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Filed under Computers, Distracted Driving, Fandom, Paul

All Together Now!

  It’s been years since the whole family has been together. 

Our son has been stationed overseas for years. Our daughters have been on various continents for months and years at a time, and while they’re back in California now, it’s a big state.

We’ll see them individually from time to time, and sometimes in pairs. Rarely all three. 2006 in St. Louis. 2011 (?) spring training in Phoenix.

This time it’s San Jose for Consonance, a small science fiction convention which centers around filk music. (I’ll explain later.)

For a day we’re together. With The Younger Daughter’s boyfriend, that’s a table for six.

(Thanks to Jim Robinson for taking our picture for me!)

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What Book Have You Read Multiple Times?

A question from The Younger Daughter the other day (“Should I read ‘Dune’ or ‘Time Enough For Love’?”) got me to re-reading Heinlein’s “Time Enough For Love” again. And by “again,” I mean like for at least the tenth time.

I know that many critics and fans don’t consider it to be one of Heinlein’s better works, and as I read it again I do find sections that don’t shine quite the way I remembered. Yet it’s still the one book I would take to a deserted island with me. Perhaps it’s the circumstances under which I first read it – lots of stress, lots of uncertainty, lots of dreams lying shattered about me, feeling isolated, lost, and abandoned. My eighteen-year-old mind was probably vulnerable at the time and I may have imprinted on that book the same way a baby duckling does on the first thing it sees.

(Thank god I didn’t read “Atlas Shrugged” at that point!)

Despite the 1960’s sensibilities and some supposedly far future technology that┬ámy cell phone can run rings around, as a whole I still find the book to be one that I hold near and dear to my heart.

Other books I’ve read multiple times – “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” by JRR Tolkein, “Dune” by Frank Herbert, “Starman Jones” by Robert Heinlein, “Ringworld” by Larry Niven, “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant” by Stephen Donaldson, the “Red Mars / Green Mars / Blue Mars” trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, “Startide Rising” by David Brin, the “Foreigner” books by CJ Cherryh, the earlier “Dragonriders Of Pern” books by Anne McCaffery, “Red Storm Rising” by Tom Clancy, “Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain, the “Titan” novels by John Varley…

“Red Storm Rising” is probably my second choice for my library on that deserted island, but I always come back to the Heinlein work.

So – what book or books have you read multiple times, and which one is your absolute favorite and why?

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Filed under Fandom, Science Fiction