Sleigh Ride to Heck and Back!
plus more #altHallelujah, WorldCon, and The Evil Wizard Smallbone
Delia & I have just returned from a week in Washington, DC, where we attended the 5-day World Science Fiction Convention, in its 79th year,and managed one museum and the Zoo. WorldCon is a Moveable Feast - last year it was supposed to be in Wellington, New Zealand (Covid Cancellation broke everyone’s heart!); next year is Chicago. It’s usually at the end of summer, and the fact that the committee was able to pull it off this year at all is a real tribute to their grit and determination.
It was held at the madly romantic Omni Shoreham hotel, a 1930s pleasure palace in whose nightclub everyone from Rudy Vallee to the Beatles played. It had the world’s best veranda, where we all hung out as much as we could in the open air; fortunately, the weather was extremely clement.
Delia & I stayed in a 1BR Air B&B apartment nearby, where we could invite people to dine in the safety of our living room on the fabulous takeout of many lands that is a feature of the Adams-Morgan neighborhood. Unfortunately, there was no actual dining table - so we all just sat on floor or couch around a large glass coffee table.
The laughter, the smart conversation every night . . . it all began to feel to me like we were brilliant young artists/writers in 1930s London or something. Friendships were formed, bonds were affirmed. This is really most of why we go to SFFcons.
The other reason is to be adored by enthusiastic readers, and there was plenty of that, too: We each appeared on several panels, and gave readings of our work. In the time allotted, I got about halfway through this story, The Duke of Riverside, which I love to perform because it is the only time I will ever get to sound like Nathan Detroit or Harry the Horse.
(Speaking of which - there has been a sudden spate of Guys and Dolls #altHallelujah numbers on Twitter this week:
I’ve heard that there’s a horse right here A horse whose name is Paul Revere And if the weather’s clear, the horse can do, yeah They say the horse’s foot’s all right And better if it rained last night This X means that the horse likes mud, it’s true, yeah
I heard right in this book that if A lady's prone to sneeze or sniff, Or cough a bit, the reason may be mental. No healing lies in spray or shot If she a wedded wife is not And fears her role is mostly ornamental.
I heard you had a dream last night About a boat to heaven, right? With passengers who disliked dice and whisky The people said, “Sit down, sit down “If devils get you, you will drown “Rockin’ the boat is really much too risky!”
Now where was I? Oh, yeah) :
As a result of all this, we barely noticed that we’re in the final days of “the holiday season!” So despite the fact that I would rather be lying around on a pile of laundry spilling from a half-opened suitcase watching a trashy movie, I am rushing to get this out so that you get a chance to hear this before it’s too late!
Do not miss listening to all 4:59 of this! You have no idea what’s going to happen. And I’m not going to tell you.
The perp on the right is Michael Manning, the musical half of the dear friends Delia & I spent the first 6 months of lockdown with in Tucson, Arizona, March-August 2020. He & his Alaskan* friend spend weeks putting together these duets: first choosing a piece, then practicing (and practicing and practicing…..omg you could go mad listening to each line being flawlessly perfected), then recording his part solo with the other part on earphones, the mixing the results.
The hats are something new, and I think they should keep them, even for Mozart or whatever comes next.
* CORRECTION: Mike says: “Jamie’s Canadian, not Alaskan - he lives on a farm in Bergen, Alberta where he grows vegetables and bakes elaborate breads in the summer for local markets when not traveling about judging competitions and delivering master classes.”
Three more shopping days to enter the Secret Space Laser contest!!
Thank you so much to everyone who’s entered already! There is still time if you cheat a little. Instructions are here - and here is where you may Add Your Comment to Enter.
One more kids’ book you might like to get, if I may have a moment to brag about my wife?
In the December 1, 2001 issue of Book Riot in a list of 25 OF THE BEST WINTER BOOKS FOR KIDS appears Delia Sherman’s THE EVIL WIZARD SMALLBONE!
Wiser heads than I are posting information about this new phase of the pandemic. I got this in a letter from a physician friend who knows a hawk from a handsaw:
“If you have the sniffles, sinus infection, or sore throat, headache, nausea/vomiting, tired or feel "off" - get tested and keep testing. The Omnicrom variant is not presenting the same way as other versions. You don't have to have fever!! People are testing negative for days and eventually turning positive. If you are suspicious it is COVID, please stay home, get a PCR test and avoid contact with others until you are asymptomatic.
“If your home test is positive...assume it is correct and get a PCR to confirm but quarantine until then!
“Even if it's not COVID, it is poor formto pass on your cold to others and scare them (and they may need to quarantine or get tested!)."
Please, stay healthy, stay vigilant, and stay hopeful.
Last night was the longest night. We can all turn toward the light now.
And that’s a good place to stop.
Be well -
All covid precautions were taken, both by the con and by us. No one could attend who wasn’t double-vaxxed, and masks were required at all times. But between the day we got on the train to go, and 7 days later when we returned, Omnicron exploded. Not gonna lie: it’s scary. Now everyone is home testing like mad, and reporting in if they test positive. You might like to read today’s report by a virologist friend who also attended the convention. He writes: “In Pandemic Life, I talk about risk-mitigation strategies I took, and also risks that I took, in attending Worldcon in Washington, DC this year. I left before a massive explosion of cases in my home city [New York], and I think if that had started before I left, I wouldn’t have gone at all. That said, I did go, and I’m sharing this because I think it’s important for us to think about how to live in a world with COVID-19, and part of that means trying to mitigate risk but also expecting that we’re going to be exposed to risk.”
You might also wish to subscribe to his excellent COVID Transmissions newsletter. I read it faithfully.
Science Fiction & Fantasy = SFF in our world
I have absolutely no idea why these notes are so huge. They aren’t supposed to be! But nothing can stop them!
That duet is amazing! They should definitely keep the hats.
A.C.Wise posited the Omni was haunted because people got lost in the many halls and stairways. I responded with this:
Well, let me tell you the story of a fan named Charlie,
such a ghastly tragedy
He put his handy schedule in his blue jean pockets
and went down to DisCon III
But did he ever return? No, he never returned, and his fate’s a mystery
He may walk forever through the halls of the Omni ‘cause he came to DisCon III.
He loved Star Trek and Star Wars and he dressed like the Doctor
and he’d read all the operas in space
He wore elf ears and steam goggles and his hair was dyed rainbow;
he’s a model of the true fen race.
Charlie strode off that morning with a hopeful spirit
and he waited for the lift to come.
When it got there two hours later, he was starved and dehydrated
and his legs and feet were numb
Charlie got to the lobby, and was so excited
to see scores of vaxxed fen in line
But the queue for registration took another six hours
Charlie wouldn’t have time to dine
Charlie finished up a panel in the Diplomat Ballroom
And he aimed for the Capitol Room
He just couldn’t wait to hear a reading from his favorite author
Or her tale of ghosts and gloom
The queue for the lift was long, hot, and sweaty
Charlie thought he would take the stairway
There were flights up and flights down, and stairs that went nowhere
Charlie just couldn’t find his way.
Charlie wandered the Palladium and he stumbled up a staircase
And went right down the other side.
It took twenty more minutes ‘til he found the elevator
And by then he felt about to die.
Charlie finally found the Promenade he thought he was seeking
But alas, it was west, not east.
Down a hallway, round a corner, and go past the elevator
Charlie couldn’t find his way in the least
He found ops and listening posts and even gender-neutral bathrooms
And a sign that pointed out his way.
That hall took him to the Blue Room and a sideroom called Prefunction
Charlie wondered if he’d last the day.
Charlie missed the reading, and he missed his dinner
And he missed John Scalzi’s soiree.
Never got to the firepit or the upper floor parties
Poor old Charlie simply passed away.
But did he ever return? No, he never returned, and his fate’s a mystery
He will haunt forever all these halls of the Omni ‘cause he came to DisCon III.