A favourite song with a person's name in the title: Several options for this one, but I'm going with Hey there Delilah by Plain White T's. I generally really like songs that tell a bit of a story, and I can imagine the characters in this one so vividly. I like the balance of emotions; it's a sad song about missing a lover, but it's also optimistic and the music is at least somewhat catchy. And I like that they're apart because they're both pursuing their careers, it's not some passive muse waiting for her artist boyfriend to come home. It's not my usual musical style; indeed I discovered it simply by listening to chart radio like some young person who's in touch with the recent music scene.
Besides, I've been in long-distance relationships pretty much my entire adult life, so I can really relate. But no longer; I haven't posted about this in public yet, but in a couple of weeks I'm properly moving to Cambridge. So I'll be living full time in the same house as my husband and the same town as my Other Significant Others. And I won't be spending every Friday and Sunday evening commuting. I'm really really looking forward to this next phase in my life, but also at the moment up to my ears in arranging the move, and quite emotional about leaving the situation I've been settled in for 8 years.
This weekend I lead my last Shabbat morning service with my lovely community. They are understandably nervous about the future without me, and I will miss them absolutely terribly. I talked a bit about Re'eh, making sure that there's no comparison between Moses saying farewell to the Israelites and me saying farewell now. I discussed keeping sanctity while you're living in an imperfect situation, far away from Jewish centres. What compromises can you make (eating meat without making a Temple sacrifice) and what lines can't be crossed (worshipping in Pagan sites)? Then it will go well for you and your children after you, for all of time, because you will do what is good and right in the eyes of the Eternal your God. And we ate cakes made by my sister and the community gave me some really nice silver Shabbat candlesticks with engraved stands.
jack came up to help me sort the flat out. In lots of ways the decision making is the harder part of packing than the physical labour, so having my husband with me was an amazing help. I am really looking forward to living with him and properly sharing the work of running a household, because we're such a great team. Not just one day in the distant future when our dreams come true, but next month:
We'll have it good We'll have the life we knew we would My word is good
23andme is enrolling for a new study on depression and bipolar disorder.
qualifications: You are 18-50 years old and live in the United States. You have access to a desktop or laptop computer; smartphones and tablets will not work with this study. You have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder. You have been prescribed medication to treat major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder. You are willing to provide a saliva sample for DNA testing. You are willing to complete online study sessions over the course of nine months. Each study session takes between 10-30 minutes and may include surveys and a series of cognitive tests online.
If you have been diagnosed with major depression, or bipolar disorder I, or bipolar disorder II by a medical professional and you meet the other criteria listed above, you may be eligible to participate in this study.
What you get: If you are new to 23andMe, when you participate in this study, not only will you contribute to this first-of-its-kind research and help us take a step toward learning more about the genetics of depression and bipolar, but you will also experience 23andMe for yourself and receive over 70 personalized genetic reports online about your health, ancestry and traits.
You've helped maintain their internet presence for months or even years, despite hating everything they stand for. We all acknowledge and accept this as part of working for any company without a morality clause in the terms of service. But being legal doesn't make it moral, and isn't it better when there's less objectionable content out there? Even the most permissive terms include room for interpretation. WordPress previously claimed to "not censor, period", but its not censorship if they're saying the wrong things. What customers does your company have that should be 'reconsidered'?
Each day at work we're making the choice to keep those voices out there, helping the enemy. Have you developed conscientious objections? Isn't it time to take a stand? Your employer's policies don't have to tie your hands. Delete the bad websites. Route the objectionable emails to the trash. Those people don't belong on your servers, only the right kind of people do.
You work hard every day to keep the internet running like a well-oiled machine. This as just a bit more trash to clean up.
As I mentioned a while ago, after much anticipation, Rabbi Ethan Tucker and Rabbi Micha'el Rosenberg's book Gender Equality and Prayer in Jewish Law came out earlier this year. This book, in draft electronic form, has been much circulated among Open Orthodox connected people, so I've been hearing people talking about it for years. I read it and digested it slowly, because it's dense and thematically challenging, but finished it sometime during my travels last week.
The book is not prescriptive at all- it's not p'sak, an authoritative ruling on the questions it asks. It's a review of the halachic questions involved in a)Can women lead a prayer service? and b)Can women be counted as part of a minyan prayer quorum according to Orthodox Jewish law? It's not a simple question, and Tucker and Rosenberg write carefully to force the reader to think through all of the implications of the question.
In particular, Rabbis Tucker and Rosenberg take care to make sure halachic decisors do not reach the right end (which for them is clearly a reformulation of Jewish ritual practice that creates more space for women to participate equally) for the wrong reasons. For example, some prominent halachic decisors offer rulings that appear sympathetic to the egalitarian position, but which emerge from sexist understandings of a woman's capabilities and role in the community. One might be tempted to say "Oh, the Ran says this is okay, he's a Torah gadol, we have support to do what we're doing," but if holding by the Ran's position means affirming a sexist idea about women, that may undermine the egalitarian effort altogether.
Or a leniency on letting women participate may implicate other unintended consequences we wish to avoid. For example, such a leniency may exist in a statement about the participation of both women and minors in a service- we may wish to let women participate but continue to limit the participation of minors, and using this particular leniency would not allow us to do this.
A third set of such cautions applies because many of the restrictions Rabbinically applied on female participation in prayer services are in the name of kavod tzibbur- the honor of the synagogue community. This is a general sense the medieval Rabbis had that allowing women to lead services diminished the honor of the synagogue for some reason- there are various post-hoc theories about what the reason is, whether it's because it makes the men of the congregation seem uneducated, or because women are seen as inherently sexualized and impure, or something else. There is also a long body of Rabbinic literature that says that a community can waive a restriction about kavod tzibbur because of some other conflicting communal need... i.e. if a community only has nine men, some Rabbis say that they can waive kavod tzibbur in order to fulfill the minyan with a woman as the tenth. But, point out Rabbis Tucker and Rosenberg, waiving kavod tzibbur involves acknowledging the dishonor inherent in the act you're allowing. Thus to an egalitarian it's much preferable, though halachically more difficult, to establish that the act involves no breach of kavod tzibbur at all rather than waiving concern for kavod tzibbur. They offer some suggestions toward this end, arguing for example that women in the secular modern world are expected to participate equally in social institutions so that actually excluding them is a greater desecration of kavod tzibbur. This answer is not responsive to the medieval commentators who seem to think that the status of women as violating kavod tzibbur is not dependent on community context but is inherent in the shape of God's universe, but this position is clearly not uncontested.
I think I emerge from the book no more certain how the halacha should play out, but more certain that Orthodoxy needs to work harder to involve women in ritual. And I appreciated the way Rabbis Tucker and Rosenberg challenged me to think about the halacha in new ways and in deeper, subtler contexts. It's an unquestionably brilliant and important work.
I’ve been–I don’t think I’ve been doing it on the blog, but on Twitter and my FB page I’ve been keeping pretty close tabs on Wonder Woman all summer long. I’ve seen it five or six times in the theatre (including infamously flying to Liverpool to take my friend Leah to it to make sure she’d see it when her husband didn’t particularly want to!). I’ve been watching it break record after record–it was the biggest opening for the first weekend in June ever, it’s the biggest female-led, female-directed movie in history, Warner Bros have announced they’re going to be running a major Academy Awards campaign for it for Best Picture and Best Director (and I tell you, having seen it six times, I *still* think Gal Gadot deserves a Best Actress nomination). It stayed in theatres at nearly unprecedented numbers–it’s down to under 1000 now, but it only dropped that low last week–and I’ve just been hanging on to watching it go from success to success. It’s meant a lot to me. It shouldn’t *have* to, but it has.
And now I’m looking at this week’s nubers. $402.8m in North America as of Wednesday. $396m internationally (and that’s as of the weekend, because Box Office Mojo doesn’t get international numbers as rapidly). $798.7m all together, worldwide.
So I’m calling it: Wonder Woman is going to squeak over $800m worldwide *before* it opens in Japan on the 25th.
The fascinating thing is that Japan is a total wild card. At the worst it’ll play like the other DCEU movies and make about $15m there. But it’s a princess warrior movie, and Diana’s voice is being dubbed by the woman who does Sailor Moon’s voice, which is as canny a bit of casting as ever there was. And Japan *loves* princess movies. It *could* play like a Disney princess film and make tens of millions.
It needs $873,260,195 to beat Batman vs Superman by $1.
Come on, Wondy.
(Also the director, Patty Jenkins, is reported to be just about to sign a historic deal for the sequel, with the expectation of a payday unlike anything a woman director has ever seen. Come on, Wondy! #emotions)
That was not the Worldcon I would have liked; I'd hoped to do as several of my friends did, and travel overland and explore some of the region. Or at least to really get immersed in the con itself. And I'd have liked a proper holiday with my partners and their children, which hasn't really happened this year though we've had a few short breaks.
In reality I was only able to go for the long weekend. I spent an eye-watering amount of money on a trip that didn't quite work for me, between flights, accommodation, Worldcon membership (when I actually only ended up attending for half a day), and just general living expenses in a not very well planned trip to an expensive city. It feels churlish to complain about being in a position to spend a bit too much on a less than perfect trip, and in many ways it was good, just not quite what I'd hoped for.
"Merciful Heavens! but what do I care for the laws of nature and arithmetic, when, for some reason I dislike those laws and the fact that twice two makes four? Of course I cannot break through the wall by battering my head against it if I really have not the strength to knock it down, but I am not going to be reconciled to it simply because it is a stone wall and I have not the strength.
As though such a stone wall really were a consolation, and really did contain some word of conciliation, simply because it is as true as twice two makes four. Oh, absurdity of absurdities! How much better it is to understand it all, to recognise it all, all the impossibilities and the stone wall; not to be reconciled to one of those impossibilities and stone walls if it disgusts you to be reconciled to it; by the way of the most inevitable, logical combinations to reach the most revolting conclusions on the everlasting theme, that even for the stone wall you are yourself somehow to blame, though again it is as clear as day you are not to blame in the least, and therefore grinding your teeth in silent impotence to sink into luxurious inertia, brooding on the fact that there is no one even for you to feel vindictive against, that you have not, and perhaps never will have, an object for your spite, that it is a sleight of hand, a bit of juggling, a card- sharper’s trick, that it is simply a mess, no knowing what and no knowing who, but in spite of all these uncertainties and jugglings, still there is an ache in you, and the more you do not know, the worse the ache."
Or don’t, as you see fit. But if you’ve ever wondered how ordinary decent people let Nazi Germany happen, if you’ve ever thought “I would have done something, if I’d been alive back then,” well, this is how it happened, and what we do now is what we would have done then.
Hi. My name is [ ] and I’m a consitutent in [ ], zip code [ ]. I don’t need a response to this, but I do want this message passed on to my [ Senator / Congressperson ].
I’m calling to tell the Senator/Congress(person) that it is imperative that they denounce not only the Nazi gatherings in our country, but also the President of the United States, who has now openly defined himself as a white supremacist. Thoughts and prayers are, at this stage, deeply insufficient. Any action less than a full and swift removal of Donald Trump from the Presidential office is inadequate. We as Americans must be better than this, and the Senator/Congressperson, as an elected official, must stand up and say we will not tolerate fascist leadership. Every day that they delay doing so aligns them more powerfully with an authoritarian regime, and history will not be kind to those in government who do not take decisive action now.
Thank you for your time.
If you really hate talking to people on the phone, call during off-hours so you’ll get an answering machine. But call, because you can’t pull punches when you’re fighting fascists.
I didn't love this; I'm not sure how much it's a weaker member of the series and how much it's me. It is book 10 in a set of 19, of which the last five are still to be written. I may have left it too long since I read the previous volumes, or maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it. I decided I couldn't be bothered following all the complex allusions to the meta-structure of the whole series, and as a single novel it's never more than just ok. I didn't find Vlad's voice or Loiosh's asides witty, and the pacing dragged, and I didn't care about the mystery. Because I hadn't been following the chronology properly, the twist at the end wasn't a delightful surprise, it just unsatisfyingly didn't make sense.
When I was reading 50 books a year, I intended to read the whole series, because both the individual novels and the way they fit together into a complex whole appeal to me. Now that I read more like 15 or 20, I'm thinking I may drop this. Not sure; one weaker book doesn't mean the whole series isn't worth bothering with.
A taste of honey by Kai Ashante Wilson. This was a Hugo-nominated novella, which meant that several of my friends read it, and were enthusiastic about it. So I ended up reading the copy from my Hugo packet on the way back from Worldcon, which is not exactly in the spirit of things. And I regret not reading it in time to vote for it, not that it would have made much difference since McGuire's Every heart a doorway (which I wasn't keen on) won by miles.
Anyway, this is a really amazing fantasy romance story. It's beautifully written, great characters, twisty, thought-provoking plot. The worldbuilding is really deep; looking it up it turns out this is a companion novella in the setting of a novel, which I'm now definitely going to seek out. I had dismissed Wilson's Sorcerer of the Wildeeps mainly because the name is so clunky; I assumed it was parodic or just really generic swords and sorcery.
It's hard to describe exactly what's so great about AToH without spoilers, but it's a really moving romance, and has a lot to say about choices and sacrifices made for love. jack thought it maybe needed some content warnings; some of the content is about homophobia and abusive parenting. To me it didn't feel like misery porn, it felt as if it centred its variously Queer characters and described some of the bad things in their life as well as the good. But I can imagine some readers finding it hard going.
Up next: The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin. I'd been meaning to read this, though I'm a little scared of what I've heard about it, and I've now bumped it up my list since the sequel won a second Hugo.
Sunday morning at breakfast looked like everybody at the con hotel had just gone, “…yeah, no, screw it,” and not gotten up to eat. :)
*I’d* gotten up because I wanted to go to Walter Jon Williams’ guest of honor interview, which I did (although I went into the wrong room first and was pretty torn about leaving what proved to be an astronaut’s lecture, but did anyway). The first half of it was full of what I thought were really great general questions for a writer and I wanted to be answering them! The second half got more specific about his career, but as he said at the end of the hour, “Well, that got us up to 1985, so please come to the next convention for the other half…” :)
(jedward has sorry not sorry, get down low, i dont know why, and walking the wire on his playlist. dammit, norwegian air is supposed to have wifi on board and i’m dying to be tweeting this! also he’s singing a lot to himself, just under his breath, which for some reason i find wonderful. people should sing more! also, just in case anyone wondered: he can sing.)
I bailed on the con after that because I really wanted to see a little of Helsinki without it trying to drown me. This would have been better if I had not somehow failed to put a meet-up with somebody into my calendar and forgotten about it, but she forgave me and I had a nice walk around some harbor-type thing where there were a number of trees shattered by the previous night’s storm.
My impression of Helsinki was that it has wonderfully wide streets, excellent pedestrian areas, very good public transport, amazing bike lanes, a lot of very fit, Finnish-looking people, good tap water (they’ve got signs everywhere saying “you can drink water right from the sinks!”), and a sort of vaguely creepy Bladerunner-ish (to me) corporate ubiquitousness with innumerable signs proclaiming business affiliations everywhere vibe. It felt like being in a city labeled like Nascar jumpsuits. Someone I was with said it had a post-Soviet vibe to them, which may be more accurate, but it wasn’t what came to my mind. :)
I went out to dinnner with friends and tried to find the Dead Dog party, gave up and sent one of our party ahead, then thought we HAD found it and went through a lot of contortions to contact said party member, only to find out later we’d screwed up and he’d almost been at the actual party and we’d called him back. We felt very badly. *moop* And I was a little disappointed to not get to the party because I’d wanted to say goodbye to Nicholas, at least, only as we sat around in the hotel lobby he happened to come through so I got to say bye anyway, yay. :)
Shockingly, I completely failed to get to bed early, although I’d planned to. In the morning, Carol and I packed up, went downstairs to the lobby, happened to see eBear and Scott again, and then took ourselves off to the airport, where, to cap it all off, I sat next to half of Jedward, who smelled too much of cologne. And thus ends my Worldcon 2017 report!
(Except for the pictures post I’m going to do! And anything else I remember later! :))
(Like the moment on the way to the Hugos when I muttered (or so I thought), “That is an *extremely* attractive man,” about the gentleman in front of me, who was someone else’s husband. But apparently 3 days of convention was not good for my muttering skills, because he looked over his shoulder and smiled, which was both funny and mortifying. But my *god*, he really was extremely, *extremely* attractive.)
No FMK this week, because I am way behind on reading, and also because I am going eclipse-hunting over the weekend! I will be bringing eclipse-related books on that trip. And thinking about this xkcd strip which was the main thing that got me into the new year, anyway.
Probably it will rain all day, but at least I can say I tried.
So instead of books, since I will be doing a lot of driving in the middle of nowhere, my question this week is: What songs are on your eclipse playlist? "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "The Sun Is A Miasma of Incandescent Plasma", obviously. But what else?
I have been working on the book collection, though! I went through and re-did my to-read lists, of which there are three: one on the library website, which has 300 books on it, of books the library has; the Goodreads one, which includes only books my library doesn't have and has about 250; and ~2500 owned-but-unread, so that's totally doable at my current rate as long as I never add any more to any of the three lists.
(Anybody want to be goodreads friends, by the way? if we aren't already, drop me a line. my gr is connected to my rl so I don't link it here but I will def. add people.)
We got rid of about fifty cookery books. There's only about 200 left. That't TOTALLY reasonable for a family of two that cooks an actual meal at most twice a week, and usually from recipes we know by heart, right?
They asked me what I was seeking and of course, of course, I was sure it was important but. I'm sure I couldn't say. These were the days of studio apartments and casual nudity, of immortality and chocolate- days of the most confident insecurity. The old saw about: There are always at least two of us: the one that is seen and the one we imagine seen, and the distance between ourselves varies with weather, appetite, hormones, new shoes, current reading material, recent sexual encounters, eye contact with strangers, moon phase, dental hygiene, in the short term- but describes an arc or oscillation-with-trend over a lifetime. When I claimed to be a seeker the space between ourselves stretched vast as two mirrors, blind corridors offering no exit, no disengagement, a detente with the absent.
You see, darlings, I was sure I was an impostor. I knew I wasn't good enough, cool enough, artistic enough, free enough, weird enough, strong enough, tender enough, vulnerable enough, rough enough, hard enough, orgasmic enough, polyamorous enough, passionate enough,
I was sure that someone would eventually find out. I was sure I was the outsider, and that all this inside-ing was going to crash around me with that familiar contemptuous laughter.
In The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, there are two characters- Tomas and Franz. From Wikipedia:
Tomáš: A Czech surgeon and intellectual. Tomáš is a womanizer who lives for his work. He considers sex and love to be distinct entities: he has sex with many women but loves only his wife, Tereza. He sees no contradiction between these two positions. He explains womanizing as an imperative to explore female idiosyncrasies only expressed during sex.
Franz: Sabina's lover and a Geneva professor and idealist. Franz falls in love with Sabina, whom he considers a liberal and romantically tragic Czech dissident. He is a kind and compassionate man. As one of the novel's dreamers, Franz bases his actions on loyalty to the memories of his mother and Sabina. His life revolves completely around books and academia.
To then me, Tomáš was someone I wanted to be(secretly, guiltily): the seducer, the desired one, the winner- To then me, Franz was who I was- the pushover, the one who's missing out on all the fun stuff, the one whose partner is seduced, the one who isn't first, the loser.
I remember confessing, after a few bottles of wine one night, almost tearfully to my then-partner how distraught I was, at being Franz.
She laughed, stopped, looked up at me, found me serious and laughed again, shaking her head. "You're kind of an idiot, but you're not Franz," she said, "You are Tomáš. How could you possibly not see that?"
The seen, and the imagined-seen.
Of course, of course I didn't believe her, not really- Franz wouldn't, couldn't bear to cut himself on a truth that sharp.
Jelly Roll Morton - "King Porter Stomp" 1924 Benny Goodman and his All Stars- "King Porter Stomp" 1935 Pat Williams- "King Porter Stomp" 1968 Manhattan Transfer - "Stomp of King Porter" 1997 Wynton Marsalis - "King Porter Stomp" 1999
Billie Holliday- "They Can't Take That Away From Me" Ella Fitzgerald - "Take the A Train" Mary Lou Williams with Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy - "Mary's Idea" Albinia Jones with Don Byas' Swinging Seven - "Evil Gal Blues" Terri Lyne Carrington - "Mosaic Triad"
Worldcon, as mentioned, was something of a mixed bag. Helsinki itself was great, but the con had ups and downs.
I got in Monday afternoon and spent the afternoon holed up in my hotel room torn between a strong desire to start exploring and a brutal jetlag exhaustion. Exhaustion won, but I managed to stay awake in a stupor long enough to knock myself into the right time zone for Tuesday.
Tuesday I went on a con-organized bike tour of Helsinki. Helsinki has a billion to one scale model of the solar system scattered through the city and we set out to go from the sun to Pluto. The total ride including getting to the sun and getting back to return the bikes was about 25 miles, by far the longest bike ride I've ever done, and it was amazing. The views of the city we got were stunning, the treasure hunt aspect of finding the planets was a lot of fun, and I got to meet a variety of Worldcon members who I stayed in touch with throughout the con.
Subsequently I took advantage of Helsinki's city bike program to borrow bikes for shorter trips, mostly to-and-from the hotel and the convention center. Helsinki is full of bike lanes and people seem to be using them quite a lot. My hotel was about a 3/4 mile walk to the con... not a walk I minded doing, but it was much faster doing it on bike.
Wednesday morning, worried about undercurrents of uncertainty about lines for registration, I got to the con early... and was in and out with my badge in five minutes. Registration: Well managed, never the problem, unlike at Loncon where lines to get badges were over an hour in length for quite a while. Left at odds until the con started in the afternoon, I schlepped down to central Helsinki, prowled the streets for a while admiring the architecture and the trees, visited the Ateneum national art gallery (Finnish art has such an unsettlingly beautiful aesthetic!) and got lunch at the only kosher restaurant in Finland.
Then I headed back to the con, caught the opening ceremony, and then spent a few hours failing to get into panels. It turns out this Worldcon got a lot more people than expected, than they had space for, and than they had programming for. Particularly on Wednesday and Thursday, if you wanted to get into panels, you had to show up most of an hour before the panel started and get on line. This meant that you basically had to alternate panels and queueuing rather than being able to go to a panel every hour. It was frustrating. As time developed, they added more programming space and repeated some popular panels, and at the same time, people got a better sense for how long to wait for a panel, so the lines got better, though it remained a challenge all weekend to ensure you actually got into panels you were interested in. This was frustrating even though I didn't really care all that much about missing most of the panels, because other people were and it made everyone's time management much more finicky. It was a lot harder to make plans to hang out with people when they needed to budget not just an hour for that panel they wanted to see, but also the hour before for line waiting. I got a lot of my hanging out with friends time at Worldcon done waiting on lines for panels I didn't even want to see, because it seemed like a better use of my time than waiting alone on lines for panels that sounded more interesting to me personally.
After a bit of line waiting, I went to the FFA meetup, which was a better use of my time. Things said under the seal of FFA meetup are protected by privilege, but it was fun to meet FFA people from all over the world and we hung out for several hours avoiding panels and then stayed on line together for an ultimately disappointing panel on Pirate Erotica.
Thursday I skipped the con in the morning and instead met ambyr and her friends for a tour of the Helsinki synagogue. In the afternoon, I missed the chance to attend a panel on Golems (ambyr reassured me it wasn't very good), caught a panel on the history of fandom that did the usual stuff about Worldcon I and the Exclusion Acts but then swung over to an interesting and somewhat novel survey of the early history of Nordic fandom, saw a disjointed but compelling panel on diaspora writing with Zen Cho, Ken Liu, Liu Cixin, and Israeli editor Ehud Maimon, listened to Jeff Vandermeer do an excellent job of interviewing Johanna Sinisalo and drawing out her literary themes and structures. Then I caught up with ambyr and her friend and we got on line for the clipping concert.
clipping was so great! Daveed Diggs has incredible charisma and the lyrics are so densely clever and so intensely science fictional both in the sense of being preoccupied with technology and in the sense of being about estrangement, to borrow the theme of the Worldcon academic track. There was, however, this to-be-expected tension between hip hop culture and SF fan culture at the concert, made even deeper by con staff's refusal to remove the chairs from the concert hall. Diggs encouraged everyone to make into aisles and non-chair laden spaces in order to dance, which we did, but that only reinforced the way the concert had been artificially limited in scale by an inappropriate venue. More hilariously, when Diggs asked the room "Who here's from Helsinki?" and got a couple of polite hands raised, he doubled over laughing and then said "Let me explain something to you: At a hip hop concert, when someone mentions the place you're from, you're expected to make noise at the top of your lungs." The very premise of a hip hop concert at an SF con in Helsinki seemed fundamentally culturally mismatched, but it was a spectacular show that I'm so grateful to have seen even in its weird context.
Friday morning, I did the Stroll with the Stars constitutional with Guest of Honor Walter John Williams and Lawrence Schoen, then attended the Business Meeting. After contentious debate, the business meeting ratified the unnamed Young Adult award and approved the name Lodestar pending reratification by San Jose.
After the Business Meeting I was pretty peopled out. I went back to my hotel room for lunch and then was so zombied out that I decided to skip going back to the con in favor of chilling out in my room watching sitcoms and cheesy action movies until the Hugo Awards.
The Hugo Awards were fun to attend, though the ceremony dragged on a tad too long because of the decision to include the awarding of the Seiun (Japanese fandom awards) and Atorox (Finnish fandom awards) as part of the ceremony. It was a nice thought to internationalize the ceremony but in practice it didn't really give those awards the attention they deserved and made the Hugos run long. N.K. Jemisin won the Best Novel Hugo again (well deserved IMO, it was the top of my ballot), Ursula Vernon gave a delightfully ridiculous speech about whale fall, and the Puppies weren't even really able to mar the joy of the ceremony at all this time.
Saturday morning, I once again attended the Stroll with the Stars, with the always entertaining Scott Edelman as the star. (Helsinki totally half-assed Stroll with the Stars, which is usually a favorite part of the con for me. Past Worldcons have gotten more than just a single 'star' for the walk, and have had locals to guide the walk to introduce visitors to parts of the city they otherwise might have missed. The walks in Chicago took us through parts of Grant Park and other highlights of downtown Chicago. In London we got some walks along the Thames. In Helsinki, in addition to getting far lower attendance, the organizers didn't even bother to go along with us on the walk, leaving a bunch of visitors to Helsinki to navigate on their own.) Then I went to the business meeting again, where the Best Series Hugo became a thing after much argument. I was pretty peopled out after this, too, so maybe 'peopled' out shouldn't be the term I use so much as 'angry at the world because of the business meeting', but I went to various panels all afternoon anyway, including a panel on Netflix Marvel shows that was largely dissecting the many, many problems with Iron Fist, a panel on the trend to more SF being translated into English, and a panel on the way digital distribution was potentially going to force the Hugos to rethink some of its categories, one of these days. I otherwise hung around the convention talking to people, skipped the masquerade but caught some of Sassafras's Norse eddas-themed halftime show, and then went back to my hotel for the night.
Sunday I did Stroll with the Stars a last time, met up with liv and jack for a far too short ten minutes, then headed to the airport to go home.
I met a lot of awesome people, had a great time in Helsinki, and there were some really cool things at the Con. But the lines were a serious damper on the fun and I hope future Worldcons will be able to do better at managing crowd sizes..
The trouble with the first several days of Worldcon was that I was having so much fun I kept lying awake at night grinning like an idiot and keeping myself awake with happiness, which meant that although I technically went to bed about 3:15 on Saturday morning, it was tragically closer to 4 before sleep actually arrived.
And I had a 10am panel.
Frankly, my friends, I did not expect it to go well. None of us did, in fact. We were all privately agreeing that this was probably going to be a disaster, because we were just wrecked and nobody could think clearly and our voices were shot and yeah.
Surprisingly, it went REALLY WELL. Or at least we panelists thought so. :) We were talking about women writing comics and it turned out we had reasonably intelligent things to say, and we focused on our experiences with writing comics but broadened it into women artists as well, and it did seem to go well. We were very pleased. :)
Post-panel I had lunch with my friend Mika, and that was really nice. Then I caught up with Ursula and Kevin, and did an interview for Kevin’s organizational podcast, which was fun. I’ll link to it when it’s available. And it just occurs to me I didn’t actually get any pictures WITH them, which is a thing I keep failing to do. Well, next time. :)
SPEAKING OF NEXT TIME
Dublin has won the bid to host the 2019 Worldcon! I will of course be billing it as the “Come hang out with Catie!” con for the next two years, but to my delight, Diane Duane will be the guest of honor (I had a bet going with myself that she would be, and am smug to have won!) and Ian McDonald will be joining us, and it’s going to be a hell of a good party, so COME ON OVER!
I have real hopes that the core war room writers will all be able to make it, and if enough of us do, we’ll probably see about doing a panel about supporting other writers or something, which would be really neat. I’m so excited! I mean, odds were PRETTY GOOD that we were going to win (we were the only ones bidding), but I’m still unexpectedly chuffed for it to be official and to be able to say it’s time to start making real plans for getting here for it! YAY!
Anyway, during the afternoon I ran into my con-friend Margaret again, and she invited me to a little get-together off-site, which I decided would be nice to drop in to, as I wanted to get away from the con for a little while anyway. So I toddled into Helsinki and dropped by for just a little while, then went out to explore and look for dinner.
Instead I found a thunderstorm. I stopped to take a picture of it rolling in and posted on Twitter to say “thunderhead coming in over Helsinki, aka ‘soon i will be very wet'” and less than a minute later it hit. And when I say hit I mean hit. A huge wind came out of nowhere and snatched up all the grit from the roads and sidewalks and pelted into the air (and my clothes, and skin, and hair…) and some raindrops smashed down and within 90 seconds I was thoroughly damp.
And then the rain *really* started. Huge, smashing, dramatic raindrops that filled the streets in literally seconds and lightning was crashing everywhere and thunder was rolling and I still had to GET TO THE TRAM to get back to the hotel, so I went from ‘thoroughly damp’ to ‘soaked completely through’ and it was frankly exhilarating. If the amount of lightning hadn’t seemed so dangerous I might well have stayed out in it longer, but I dripped my way back to the hotel and took a shower and changed clothes completely, because literally soaked through.
By then I was brainless with hunger and it was still thundering and lighteninging, so I just ate at the hotel restaurant, but one of my friends happened upon me and joined me and we had a lovely couple hours of chatting before deciding to try to brave the celebratory Dublin 2019 partly. Although I went in with the intention of saying “Hello! Good night!” to everyone, and actually kept it. The funniest bit of that was crouching at at a table full of friends and Ian McDonald (who may have the drink taken) leaning over and roaring, “COME TO IRELAND!” at me cheerfully.
“She’s IN Ireland!” said everyone at the table.
Ian, still leaning, took this information under long and careful consideration. Long. And careful. Consideration. And then leaned slightly farther in at me and roared, “COME TO IRELAND!” again, which made us all laugh and I promised I would. (The next day I saw him and he gave me a slightly sheepish nod–I’m pretty sure he hadn’t remembered me, which is fine as it’d been quite some time since we’d last spoken, and I’ve cut my hair since then–and I thought it was all pretty funny. :))
(i’m sorry i’m typing this on the plane and a very cologne-laden young man is in the seat beside me and he took a nap and i looked over at him and i’m about 90% sure he’s half of jedward, altho his phone pictures, which he’s scrolling thru, only seem to have one blonde boy in them, but then i guess they would seem that way unless they were together in a photo and i just have to say that.)
I actually did take myself off to the room after that, but then in the great tradition of sleepovers everywhere Carol and I stayed up much too late talking (it’s the only night we did, and I’m really awfully glad we did, because great tradition of sleepovers everywhere!). We had a long and very funny discussion about Irish accents that featured Colin Farrell’s absolutely false Irish accent he uses while in America and which eventually landed on something that clarified a Thing About Irish English to me!
So Irish people are forEEEEVER saying they’ll be there in two minutes. Two. Always two. And they’re never ever ever there in two minutes. Ever. So! It turns out there’s an Irish word, cúpla, that means “a few”, and that because it sounds like “couple” there’s a kind of slide from Irish to English on that word which means that if you ask an Irish person if they want a couple cookies and they say yes, they then think you’re really kind of stingy if they only get TWO cookies.
But! I am now convinced that when Irish people say they’ll be there in two minutes, they’re moving *back* on that transliterative (is that the right word? it’ll do) slide, and what they really mean is cúpla, and that they’ll be there in a few minutes.
THIS MAKES SO MUCH SENSE!
(oh shit yeah no there’s pictures of both of them, it is half of jedward!!!)
Anyway, we went to bed after that except then I was still giddy and I was remembering that Kari and Camille and I had discussed cosplaying Josie & the Pussycats for Dublin 2019 and I had to post on Twitter to ask if other people kept themselves awake at night thinking that obviously it would be totally reasonable to actually learn to play the guitar and do a tribute concert at the con and then because it was clearly terribly important RIGHT THEN, trying to remember the words to Ballroom Blitz…
…or if it was just me that thought that way. :)
(Kari said it wasn’t just me but I did understand that I was Josie, right? And I was like yes, I did, although I wasn’t sure I was vocally up for that because Camille’s amazing and Kari’s Welsh, so, y’know, obvs. :))
2014 FBI study: "There were, on average, 16.4 [mass] shootings a year from 2007 to 2013, compared with an average of 6.4 shootings annually from 2000 to 2006. In the past 13 years, 486 people have been killed in such shootings, with 366 of the deaths in the past seven years." This was commissioned by Obama post-Sandy Hook, and was the first FBI study of its kind.
The astute among you may notice that Worldcon is over but I’m only just posting Day Three. This is due to a combination of things, firstly that in a fit of idiocy (fun, but idiocy) I was out until 3am Friday night/Saturday morning and was not prepared to write a blog post at that time, and secondly and far more annoyingly, that I wrote this whole damn post up last night, telling myself all the while that I needed to C&P it because it wasn’t going to post properly, and of course I forgot to copy it and then, as predicted, it didn’t post properly, and I lost everything I’d written and it was midnight so screw that noise.
“BATMAN,” said my roommate Carol, loudly and clearly, as her opening salvo of the morning, “was having to investigate a murder on Coronation Street…” Then she fell back asleep for 2 minutes & dreamed I’d insisted she prove she liked my books by licking the side of my face, as a true fan would. NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT LICK MY FACE (or any other part of me unless so invited. O.O)
I got to exactly zero panels on Friday; it was a BarCon day. I had breakfast with eBear and Scott and met a couple of their friends who were very cool, then dashed off to meet Kari for our scheduled morning gossip, which was somewhat thwarted by circumstances. I bobbled around and got a few more signatures in my autograph book, and met Kari and others for lunch instead, which was lovely. Oh, and went around the art show and met a couple of editors, which is always good. :) And I plunked down and a few people came over to say hi and I had a lovely chat with some readers, so that was really nice too.
I also met the most ADORABLE baby Wonder Woman, who was about 6 months old and overwhelmed/wide-eyed at all the noise and people, but when I greeted her she gave me an enormous toothless smile and I was totally charmed. :)
Then, because I had been inside for well over 24 hours at that point, and sitting for most of that time, I took myself on a little walk and found that Finland also has what we call Alaska cotton, which made me happy and now that I’m thinking about it I might go out and pick some tomorrow before I have to leave. (Now it is tomorrow and I doubt that’s going to happen, but oh well. What would I do with it anyway?)
And Then We Went To The Hugos!
I’d never been before, and had a lot of fun. My roommate was the stand-in to collect an award if it was won, so she invited me as her plus one, so I got to do all the shiny things associated with that. (I’d seen Adrian Tchaikovsky earlier in the day and asked if he was going. He said he hoped so, but he had to stand in line amongst the hoi polloi to see if he got in. I said I was fancy and had a ticket, and he said he would tug his forelock in accordance to his lowly station if he saw me. :))
The pre-Hugos reception didn’t have very much food (because of course it didn’t) and so after a while of talking to people–like the nice man pictured here–I went out to the food court and got…kebab. Messy sloppy kebab. (And Adrian saw me, and tugged his forelock!) I took the sloppy kebab into the reception hall and ate it VERY CAREFULLY (I dripped some on my shoe) and people took pictures of me eating kebab in my fancy dress and SEVERAL PEOPLE came over and asked, rather desperately, where I had gotten that, and were tragically dismayed to hear I’d gone and bought it in the food court. :) (The food court was very expensive but surprisingly good. All of the food I had from it was real food of quite decent quality.)
I thought the Hugos ceremony was very well run, and of course particularly enjoyed the bits where my friends won. I was disappointed, but not surprised, that Clipping (Daveed Diggs’ group) didn’t win, and delighted when the best editor award winner, Liz Grovinsky, was so rattled she forgot to get her award. There were some excellent speeches, more than one of which made me cry, and then there was also Ursula Vernon’s speech where she told everybody about whalefall because it’s really cool. :)
AND THEN WE WENT TO THE HUGO LOSERS PARTY
We ended up, through sheer good fortune, in the same shuttle van that brought GRRM himself, Nalo Hopkinson & her husband/partner/extremely nice man who was with her, and I think Ellen Datlow and Pat Cadigan, maybe, so we arrived in rather elite company. Beforehand we stood around and complained about high heels (“If only men wore them,” I said, “they wouldn’t be part of formal wear for very damn long. Of course, if it was the 16th century, men WOULD have been wearing them.”
And then a complete stranger came up and said, “Well, it used to be that men were the ones who wore high heels,” and I was like, “That is literally exactly what I just said” and he did, at least, apologize. For God’s sake. Anyway.)
The party was great fun! I talked with Nalo & the Extremely Charming Man (I really do think he’s her husband, and I know his name, but as he’s not mentioned on, like, her Wiki page, I’m inclined to leave his name to himself as his own business) for a bit, and re-introduced myself (for about the 3rd time, but as he said, “I don’t remember anyone who isn’t wearing a name tag,” and I have no expectation of BEING remembered) to GRRM, and met a Chinese editor who said, “Write SF, we’ll translate it,” which seems like an excellent plan, and I got to have a good chat with some Irish friends, and met some new people, and–oh, this was funny. I’d taken a picture of Ursula in her Loser’s Hat and posted it to Twitter, and a Tor editor (that I don’t even know personally!) in the States said “Oooh is Liz in a Loser’s Hat, can you get a picture!” so I did, all within about 3 minutes, and she was delighted and I was delighted and it was pretty funny and fun. :)
I went over to talk to Charlie Stross, who it turned out was on his way out the door (I swear, I talked to him 4 times for 45 seconds each over the entire week, which was not an ideal conversation vector!), so I ended up sitting down with Nicholas and another of the actual Hugo losers, and a couple of Nicholas’s work colleagues who were SF fans but had never heard of fandom and who were apparently having THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES, and next thing we knew it was 2:30am & I’d accidentally kicked Nicholas, who was so tired he didn’t notice until I apologized, so I said it was time for him to take me home (we were at the same hotel) and he did. We capped the night off with a Jamesons at the hotel bar, and I got to sleep around 3:30am.