July 25th, 2007


The Mouth That Punishes: A Necon 27 Report

You know you've got an LJ addiction when you get all antsy because it's already Wednesday and you haven't posted your Necon report yet!

Necon reaffirmed its place as my top-of-the-heap annual conference this year. I won't try to name check everyone who helped make it so special -- really, it's all 200 campers who do that -- but I do want to say thanks to Craig, Chris, the Booths and everyone else who had a hand in planning, coordinating and running Necon. I've been attending for 8 years now -- which is remarkable when I think about it -- and have no problem with the idea of 8 more.

What happens at Necon generally stays at Necon, but here are some of my more harmless highlights from this year's gathering:

* drinking on the quad until 5 AM with Brian Keene and the gang on the very first night

* the next day, bitterly hung over, coming up with what should be Necon's new slogan: Necon: At Night We Celebrate Life, In the Morning We Pray for Death

* warning Brian he will not keep me up that late again

* staying up late drinking with Brian and the gang the next night too, the bastards

* coming up with a new YA horror series with leethomas, Stefan Petrucha and Kelli Jones called Tales of Mild Annoyance ("He came to her party and he wasn't even invited...MILD ANNOYANCE!")

* the dealer's room selling out of General Slocum's Gold by Friday night -- talk about an ego boost!

* finally meeting Kathy Ptacek and learning how to pronounce her last name (puh-TAH-sick)

* being able to sleep in on Saturday for the first Necon in years!

* even though I've been going to Necon for 8 years, this is the first year I played in the annual softball game. I'd like to think I helped Tom Monteleone's team finally win, but really, I sucked. I knew I'd be rusty and bad, but I didn't think I'd suck quite as much as I did. I was off to a good start with a nice hit -- which flew directly into westonochse's glove. Seriously, he didn't even have to move. It was all downhill from there.

* if it weren't for sarahlangan, Matt Schwartz, strange and leethomas sitting near me and keeping me entertained during the excruciating game show, I would have lost it. Thanks!

* the roast of Jim Moore - spectacular!

* Lisa Manetti's tarot reading -- I don't believe in that stuff, not really, but the reading turned out to be spot on

* hearing westonochse doesn't like HBO's The Wire, the best series on TV, and asking him if it's because the show doesn't have enough vampire outlaws from space in it

* best of all, of course, was seeing all the people I don't get to see very often anymore, especially former Who Wants Cake members leethomas and Stefan Petrucha!

I'm sure there's plenty more I'm leaving out, but I've still got con brain, so you'll have to excuse me. Or remind me.

Thank you, Necon 27! You take years off my life every time I go, but you're totally worth it.

Apres Necon: The New York Walking Tour of Doom (and Dampness)

After Necon, strange stayed with me for a day and a half to spend some quality tourist time in New York City. I was happy to show her around and do some things I never really do as a New Yorker, but unfortunately Monday was the only day we had for serious NYC exploration. Those of you in the area may remember Monday was cold, windy and almost constantly pouring -- not the weather New York Julys are known for. But we're tough and we weren't going to let a little thing like a Biblical-sized deluge stop us!

First stop: A visit to the offices of Leisure Books, where Don D'Auria graciously took some time out of his schedule to hang with us and answer our silly questions. The Leisure offices are much bigger than I imagined. I pictured Don alone in a small, 5x5 room where even the furniture was made from discarded manuscripts (the truth isn't far from that, but that's only Don's office), but overall they were actually quite spacious digs. Everyone we met was really nice and excited to see us. And we made sure to drop marysang's name as much as possible. Especially around the new publicity person.

Then it was off to Shopfest 2007! I brought strange to the Village to show her all the funky-punky stores, and made a startling discovery. Looking at the price tags in places like Trash Vaudeville and Search & Destroy, it became apparent that punk is no longer for the poor. Punk is only for the rich. Who else could afford a $50 Sex Pistols t-shirt? Disgusted, we hit Toy Tokyo, Forbidden Planet and Halloween Adventure to get the bad taste out of our mouths. (And I ran into actor/comedian/professional clown Peter Straus at Halloween Adventure, buying costumes and props for a new show in Taiwan. I haven't really seen him since we graduated Sarah Lawrence together in '91.)

After much crawling around in the rain, we headed to midtown for dinner at the Jekyll & Hyde Club. It's a total tourist trap, sort of a mix between DisneyWorld's Haunted Mansion and a restaurant, and ridiculously expensive, but I loved it. What could be cooler than a horror-themed restaurant? I want all my birthdays to be there from now on!

Lastly, I took her to Times Square to see it all lit up at night. We hit the Virgin Megastore and the gigantic Toys R Us, then reached our consumer saturation point and had to go home. Not to mention the fact that our feet were killing us and our bodies were still recovering from Necon -- a feat that takes almost as long as Necon itself.

It was great fun, though, and I'm glad she decided to stay for some extra vacation time. Unfortunately, now I have to get back to my regular routine. Blah.

Doctor Who: "Gridlock"

Science fiction is always at its best when it takes a contemporary issue and builds on it, usually to a satirical extreme. The "Gridlock" episode of Doctor Who -- which aired while I was at Necon; thank you, DVR! -- does this admirably with what is essentially a "traffic jam planet." Whole families live for years in their cars, always assuming the traffic will ease up soon and they'll be on their way. It's kind of how we felt on the I-95 coming home from Rhode Island!

I was never a big fan of the Face of Boe. He's basically a giant head in an oversized aquarium, so it's hard to take him seriously. Still, it's a testament to the show that they can still make you care about what he has to say. ("You are not alone." Tingle!)

Also...the Macra! The Macra were last seen in the 1967 serial "The Macra Terror", with Patrick Troughton as the Doctor. Unfortunately, that one was lost to the great Beeb video wipeout a few decades ago, so we'll never have the chance to see how 1967 BBC effects personnel visualized giant, sentient crabs. I'm going to guess there was a lot of papier-mache and some quick cut-aways to reaction shots.

Anyway, I love when the new Who features things I recognize from the old series, even when it's little stuff like the Macra, or the Autons in the very first episode. It makes me feel extra dorktastic.