Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Lost Geekend, Part II (Electric Boogaloo)

The Lost Geekend, Part I

Saturday (cont.)

The Beagle Has Landed
After a couple more panels (The Haunted City: Urban Fantasy Today and Playing in Someone Else's Sandbox: Franchise Fiction), Stephanie and I went to the signing table to meet Peter S. Beagle. Stephanie, who is usually the epitome of poise and composure, was utterly giggly about meeting her favorite author. But of course, she was charming and lovely when we got up to the table. Which is a good thing, because I was my usual gobsmacked self. Mr. Beagle was astonishingly nice and soft-spoken, and seemed genuinely delighted to meet Stephanie. He signed her book and DVD of The Last Unicorn, and even sent us to the Conlan Press table in the dealer room to get a new DVD case (hers was worn and covered with security-tape schmutz).

Stephanie chatted with Connor Cochran, who has been Peter's business manager for the past four years. She pointed out that she had purchased her DVD directly from Conlan Press, instead of buying it retail, and Connor thanked her profusely. When we were walking away, I asked her what the deal was, and she told me that Peter had been screwed over royally by Granada International, which owns the rights to The Last Unicorn film. When Peter discovered that Granada had sold nearly a million copies of the DVD without paying him royalties on it, Conlan Press began campaigning on his behalf. Conlan and Granada are still in negotiations (which are being mediated by an unnamed but "eminent" third party), and Connor is optimistic that the situation will soon be resolved. In the meantime, Lionsgate Entertainment has released a special 25th anniversary edition of the DVD, and has agreed to let Conlan Press market it directly, so at least Peter is getting some money from sales.

Later, after attending the Pop Culture Explosion panel (hosted by our old friends Glenn Yeffeth and Chris Roberson), Stephanie and I went to a reading by Peter S. Beagle. He read a couple of selections from his book The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche and Other Odd Acquaintances. His first piece, a clever short story entitled "The Naga," was a lot of fun. But for his second, he chose the non-fantasy story "My Daughter's Name is Sarah." It's a simple story, elegant and moving, told from the point of view of a father who marvels at his young daughter's happiness and desperately longs to protect her from the inevitable hurt and heartache he knows she'll one day feel. Peter wrote the story when he was 18, and hadn't looked at it in decades. His voice broke and his eyes teared up while he was reading it, and I think the entire audience got a little choked up. Seriously, if you're capable of listening to Peter S. Beagle read that story without getting all teary-eyed, then thank you visiting my blog, Vice President Cheney.

Mmmm... Just Love That New Author Smell
That evening, after hanging in the bar with my new best pal and droppable name Chris Roberson, Stephanie and I attended a book launch party for J.M. McDermott's Last Dragon. This is McDermott's first novel, and he was positively giddy with the experience. Not that I can blame him. I jokingly asked him if he'd provide a blurb for my first novel, and he said he'd be glad to read it, but couldn't promise anything. I really hope he likes Space Jesus.

Anyway, there was booze and Xbox 360 and raffles for several prizes. I won a nifty tote bag! I also bought Stephanie a copy of the novel, and she asked McDermott to sign it for her. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I have to admit the opening paragraph is a real grabber.

These Boots Were Made For Walking
After rubbing elbows with the McDermott entourage, Stephanie and I ran down to the lobby to see the results of the short story contest. I had submitted "But I Digress..." and "Orange Alert" for the judges' consideration, but somehow my literary genius was overlooked. Personally, I blame the Jew-run liberal media.

So we were making our way back up to the room when we passed a couple in the lobby. I wasn't really paying attention, but Stephanie immediately made a beeline for the woman and said, quite dramatically, "You must stop right now and tell me about your boots."

The woman's name was Shai (pronounced "shy," as she frequently introduced herself "I'm Shai, but I'm not.") and she was wearing turquoise boots. Stephanie was wearing what she lovingly calls her "bitch boots," and she and Shai fell into a discussion of all things bootational.

The guy, Paul, stood next to me while this was going on, watching with great interest. When Shai and Stephanie discovered they wore the same size, they swapped boots and walked around the lobby. Paul turned to me and confided, "I'm totally into boots, man. This is so hot."

I had assumed that Paul and Shai were a couple, but Paul told us that his wife was upstairs at a party and insisted that we should go up and "see her boots." I was a little leery, because I was imagining some kind of weird gathering of boot fetishists clomping around, listening to Boots Randolph, watching Das Boot, eating boot-shaped cookies and drinking PiƱa Coladas from, you know, boots. But Stephanie was game to check it out, so we went on up.

It turned out to be a fairly normal gathering of nerds who were there to promote their own convention coming up in May. We immediately spotted Paul's wife, who was parading around in a pair of shiny pink hip boots straight out of Frederick's of Hollywood. There was cheap champagne in plastic cups, and lots of joyous geeky chat. I know I say a lot of snarky things and you probably think I'm being a smartass, but I swear I mean this sincerely. I'm a total dweeb, and it can be downright exhilarating when a bunch of nerds, unfettered by public decorum, simply cut loose and let their geek flag fly.


All Good Things...
On Sunday morning, Stephanie's friend Heather made her way to the hotel to join us for a day of geeky fun. By the time she arrived and Stephanie got dressed, we'd missed the beginnings of the 11:00 panels. No great loss, although we had been mildly interested in hearing the presentation on the "open-source space program" entitled Luna City or Bust! Since the government and the military no longer have any interest in going to the moon, it's up to the general public to make our way up there and start staking out territory.

But we blew it off and went to grab lunch instead. We made it back for The Phantom Returns: Pulp Fiction for Modern Writers, which was a lot of fun. There was one guy in the audience whom Stephanie and I had seen before. He was tall and clean-cut, dressed in a button shirt and a sweater vest, and he was constantly stopping the panelists to ask them how to spell things so he could write it all down in his little notepad. So when he interrupted the discussion to ask the panelists for author recommendations, I let out a weary sigh and Stephanie whispered for me to be nice.

One of the panelists, an editor named Scott Cupp, suggested that Notebook Guy look into the works of "an up and comer named Christa Faust." Notebook Guy started scribbling furiously, then stopped and asked, "Is that Christa with a 'K' or with a 'C-H'?" I sighed again and muttered, "Is that Faust with an 'F' or with a 'P-H'?" and Stephanie nudged me in the ribs and told me to knock it off.

Afterwards, the three of us were having drinks at the bar and waiting for the It Was His Time: Killing Off Characters with Style panel to begin. It was obvious the convention was winding down. The crowds had dispersed, the booths in the dealer room were packing up, and the Klingons were on their way out the door, suitcases in hand.

Just then, Stina Leicht wandered by. Stephanie had spotted her at the hotel a couple of times that weekend, but we hadn't really had a chance to say more than hi. Stephanie waved her down, and she came over to the bar to chat with us. I even bought her a drink, and when she protested, I told her I didn't get the opportunity to buy drinks for real writers very often. Smooth, huh?

Of course, the subject turned to writing, as it inevitably does, and Stina let us in on a little secret. (I sincerely hope I'm not damaging her mystique by revealing this little tidbit to my threes of loyal readers.) Stina said that she honed her writing skills through... Dungeon Mastering! Yes, that's right! Stina parlayed her years of playing Dungeons & Dragons into a successful writing career. I think she may be my new hero.

So that was it. Our weekend in Nerd Paradise (or Nerdvana, if you will) was finally at an end. We said our goodbyes to Stina, and headed on home. But the good news is that both Stephanie and I are all gung-ho about writing again. Stephanie's already cranked out one short story that's totally brilliant, and I'd say that even if I weren't sleeping with her.

And me? I've been too busy writing this damn blog entry. But as soon as I'm done, I'm going to get right to work on my novel about Space Jesus and the guy who is half pirate and half race car. Don't miss Chris Irby's Space Jesus vs. Cap'n Bony Jack McZoomatron: Apocalyptic Smackdown in the Year 3000!

1 comment:

J M McDermott said...

What, and I'm not a droppable name?

You know I'm on the Nebula jury, right?

Hope you had a good time at the party. I wanted to stop by and let you know that if you encoutner a book this year that might get overlooked by the Nebula jury, take action and let me know about it.

Best of luck with Space Jesus!

-J M McD