Monthly Archives: July 2011

Ideas & Thoughts

Last week during Comic-Con, I had some mostly-idle thoughts related to the story I’ve been playing with off and on (more off than on) for the last 9 or 10 months, and my writing in general.  I’ve realized that when I write I can usually do OK with dialog and not so well with descriptive text – either scenery, or action.   Influenced, no doubt, by soaking in a comic-heavy environment {even with the strong media presence, Comic-Con still remains a comic-book convention at heart}, it occurred to me that one way I could resolve this problem would be to partner with an artist who could take the dialog (which I’d rewrite into more script form) and produce matching artwork.

Of course since the story is high-fantasy (it started as a D&D campaign I had nobody to run through), the artwork would probably suite me better if it was of a more “western” style.  I’d also have to get enough of the story figured out to actually hand stuff over to the illustrator.

Then, entirely independently, my brain last night took parts of a dream and tried to fashion it into something that might almost work as a plot for a movie.  Set in 1986, we have a group of college age nerds (SF fans, role-players, war-gamers etc. – probably all of the above for most of them) who end up involved in a Cold War crisis.

What I finally came up with is that the characters include the “black sheep” son of an old-money family who takes his friends to Europe on his family’s yacht.  For some reason, they end up hacking into a Soviet sattelte and replacing the regular broadcast with a sketch from an SNL type program, which ends up taunting the KGB or GRU into kidnapping them and forcing them into a test of knowledge and whits (i.e. a high-stakes trivia contest).

As usual, in the light of day I’m seeing some basic plot problems, but I would suspect that if I really were a writer I could probably resolve some of them into a workable idea.

One thing that kept coming into my mind was that you would need to remind 21st century audiences about the global political climate in the mid-1980’s at the beginning.  One idea that occurred to me would be to borrow from the Star Wars movies and have a crawl explaining the situation.  But I’m sure there would be more effective and less cliché way to do this.

But, when all is said and done, I suspect that real life and my talent limitations will keep both of these ideas from going much further.

An Alternate History Headline in Search of a Point of Departure

“Cricket: heading into day 3, The Saint Louis Cardinals lead The Chicago Cubs in a National League Test”

The Rest of Westercon

After my last travel/con report post (the one before my “Lessons Learned” post), I finished the half-day at work with a meeting on where my project will be going (one of a series of meetings).  After that, I was able to head out.

Since I needed to stop for lunch, I doubled back to a not-as-easy to reach shopping center just north (probably officially east) of US-101 near the office (between Great America Parkway and the exit) where I looked at a couple of places before deciding on getting a salad at a Wrap place.

I then headed to the airport to return the car – which is much easier to do in the daylight without traffic than in traffic after dark.  I got the car checked in and cleaned out and headed for the bus stop to where I’d get the free shuttle to the VTA light rail.  While waiting for the bus, a Southwest Airlines gate or ticket agent noticed my shirt (Offworld Designs Doctor Who venn diagram) and admitted to having watched much Doctor Who from as early as it was available in this country.

The light rail ride was fairly pleasant and quick.  When I got off the train, I was able to quickly walk to the hotel and head inside.  I headed up to our room and exchanged my work stuff (backback mostly) for my con badge, stopped at the nearby con suite for some water and headed downstairs.  I ended up borrowing a dolly from con ops and finding Alison so that we could bring the box with all of the San Diego fliers up to the table and set it up.  As it turned out since Alison needed to do her own concert promotion, Tara and I pretty much set up the table, and then spent an hour or two at the table talking up both the San Diego cons and the √66 bid.

Eventually, we determined that we needed dinner before setting up for the party, so we headed to our room, and then on to Pita Pit where we got dinner, and made a quick stop through the Marketplace by Safeway nearby before heading up to the room to set up the party.

The party went pretty well.  We did have a couple of people unable to figure out the 6:60pm start time (mundanely 7:00).  We were well attended, and many people took our buttons – many more or less officially pre-supporting the bid.  As we expected most of our pre-supports were $0.44 over the official price.

As it turned out, the party ran about twice the posted length before we had run (mostly) out of food and drink, and were down to a small enough attendance to shut the door and visit other parties.  We spent some time in the Spokane party (we know many of the key players in that Worldcon bid), including stopping by the Granzilla’s and Portland Westercon bids’ parties.

Saturday was a fairly quiet day for most of it.  I did a fair amount of talking, some shopping, and poked around at a couple of other things.  At this moment the only thing I’m sure I went to was the Bhonhoff’s concert.

After site selection balloting had closed, Tara and I joined the counting party (I had double excuse since I suspect that our bid might have gotten a few votes – albiet no first place votes – and as next year’s site selection administrator) where we got a front row seat and served at least in part as additional neutral parties for the count.  As is well known, the Granzilla’s un-filed bid won in the final total by 1 vote, which meant that the issue would be decided during the business meeting.

We remained in the room as Kevin Standlee in his role as chair of the business meeting was called, and the decisions were made to make the announcement before and after the masquerade, and that Sharon (site selection administrator)  would make the announcement before the event, and Kevin Standlee afterwards – Kevin Roche who was the MC could not make the announcement since he was also a key part of the Granzillas bid.

We then followed the party down to the masquerade, took up our seats in the audience and enjoyed the show.  After the masquerade, Tara and I tried to get shakes but found Peggy Sue’s closed (having given up on Johnny Rockets before the count when they couldn’t even take our order).  In the end, I grabbed another sandwich at Pita Pit (I was now hungry) and we followed up with yogurt from the place next door.

Sunday morning, I went to the Westercon 65 meeting, where I reinforced and confirmed my decision that my role as next year’s site selection admin had greatly increased to include a good sized dose of voter education and get out the vote.

Then I went to the marathon business meeting (about three hours by the clock, but it sure seemed longer).  It was frustrating even from my position.  Personally, I’m probably most frustrated by the fact that someone instantly moved to close debate before officially taking up the Portland bid.  I had planned on getting up in favor of the Portland bid.

The results of the meeting should be well known to anyone who cares, so I won’t detail them here.

I did some shopping on Sunday and ended up with a copy of Carcassone – which now I’ll have to find time to play (and convince Tara to play with me).

The highlight of the day, however, had to be the Girl Genius radio plays.  As much fun as most of the cast clearly had, it was quite obvious from the audience that the sound effects person – Victor Fogilo – was having the most fun.

Monday was a pretty typical last day of con.  We had to get out of our room, which slowed the morning down a bit.  But it was mostly a quiet day, and the only event I ended up at was closing ceremonies.

After closing, I headed over to the art show where I helped tear down the panels, bundle the supports and then load the truck.  By the time I was done loading the truck, I decided that the Fairmont does have a sauna – but since it doubles as their loading dock, it is not normally available to people.  (It is an indoor dock, and where the truck was parked was around the corner from the exit, so it was as warm and humid as outside – but without any breeze).

Tara and I then spent some time at the dead dog consuming too many Girl Scout cookies – the con suite had scored a large quantity of otherwise unsold (I’m sure) Girl Scout cookies, and had not run anywhere near through the lot, before heading for the airport.

Our trip to the airport, and wait were uneventful – other than the fact that we were plenty early and the airport was hot.  Our flight was smooth and arrived a bit early.  However, since the most popular fireworks in and around San Diego are the ones on San Diego Bay, there was a lot of traffic on Harbor Drive and nearby, which made it difficult for the parking lot shuttles to get back and forth.  Taxies and other off-airport transport appeared to be similarly impacted.  As a result it was about midnight when we got home to a cat who would not leave us – mostly Tara – alone all night.

Lessons Learned – From Near the Playing Field

This weekend, Tara and I were at Westercon 64 in San Jose.  There was some drama surrounding the site selection  – which makes my job as Westercon 65’s site selection administrator more interesting.  But, there are also lessons that I learned from my position very near the playing field: I was involved in the running of the other hoax bid (OK, I was the other hoax bid), and was watching closely as next year’s site selection person.

But the lessons I am talking about are lessons for bids – probably both Westercon and Worldcon bids.

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My Week

My week started fairly normally on Monday. However, near the end of the day I had a meeting related to both of the projects I am responsible for. But at that meeting things started to diverge from plans.

The week before, I’d mentioned to my boss (or the person I take work direction from rather than my supervisor – matrix organization) that I would be coming to San Jose on Thursday and could come up earlier if needed.  But since nothing had come of it, I figured that was off.  Nope!  He asked if I could fly up on Wednesday morning and work Wednesday and Thursday morning in the office.  I came up so that I could get the test system in Santa Clara working

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