DC Blogs

Well, the guy over at DC Blogs is going on a break, so there's no point in trying to think of something interesting to say until after the holiday.

Don't worry, I don't suppose that really changes much around here, anyway.

Is Janeway Next?

The last time I saw Othello was at the Washington Shakespeare Theatre with Captain Picard in the title role. Now, it looks like the Shakespeare Theatre is returning to the original race roles, with Captain Sisko performing the title role.

I wonder if Kate Mulgrew is busy for next year?

Local Book Festival

After the WorldCon and Edinburgh International Book Festival, it's nice to return and find that we already have something to do in September. Our own little city's book festival is 24 September. Not quite the same flood of SF/Fantasy as last year, but maybe a little plain vanilla fiction will be a nice change for a bit.

I Paid More than $27 for Less Than 10 Gallons of Gas Today

That's all I wanted to say. Just, I came back from Scotland and was shocked by the gas prices. Garsh.

Garden Door

We're back at The Goat after a quick night up to Perth. We stayed with friends in a country house that was just the kind of place that has Agatha Christie murders. Fortunately, nobody got hurt last night and we're safe in Glasgow again.

Actually, the house and grounds are now a retreat center. Click here to see further pictures from the Scotland trip.

Edinburgh International Book Festival

A Quick Report

Free wireless in Edinburgh at All Good Coffee shop. It's nice to have a free connection and the coffee's not bad, but the signal's a little weak and it would be grand if they had Splenda.

At any rate, the book festival has been interesting. We need to get over to meet friends, so I'll just report this conversation I overheard in line for Jasper Fforde last night:

WOMAN ONE: I just love his books. Have you read them?

WOMAN TWO: Oh, just the first one --

W1: Did you like it? Oh, you must have loved it because you're here.

W2: Well, I just wanted to see what sort of man would write a book like that...

If you get a chance to see Mr. Fforde, take it. He's terribly funny.

Survivor, by Chuck Palahniuk

I'm going to let you know right up front that Bob and Bertie don't really exist. They are mere figments of my imagination. These brothers are not me, and I am not them; but they wouldn't exist without me.

It's quite a responsibility, let me tell you.

So, from time-to-time it amuses me to help them out of predicaments and moderate their arguments. They're rarely grateful for my assistance, to be completely honest, but I perform this little service anyway. It's only fair.

They are my responsibility, after all.

And that's why the three of us are sitting in the New Deal Cafe. Bob and Bertie are pretty freaked out. I keep trying to explain to them that nothing should cause them so much stress, since they don't really exist and all.

It's not an approach that works, but it's my approach.

What are these imaginary brothers upset about? Once again, it seems they've got a hold of a book.

"I warned you about that," I say. "Which book?" Bertie holds up a silver paperback. I roll my eyes.

"It's disturbing," Bertie says defensively.

I sigh, not inwardly with discretion, but externally, with a gush of wind and the full force of my disdain. Bertie is always disturbed when he reads. Survivor is written by Chuck Palahniuk, who also wrote Fight Club. Personally, I spent the entire book wondering if Tender, the narrator, was going to turn out to really be the girl. Or his twin brother.

"You guys are not twins, you know," I tell Bertie and Bob.

"Well, not identical twins, no," says Bob.

"Bob, Bertie is three years older than you are. That's an awfully long birth process."

The two of them just stare at each other. I go on to remind them that they don't really exist anyway. Oddly enough, this doesn't seem to calm them down any more than the first time I mentioned it.

I have to flounder around a bit trying to figure out what is bothering them. If the twin brother thing isn't it, then it must be the whole work thing. Two of the main characters are stuck with unusual jobs. It's best not to think about Fertility's job, but here is how Tender describes his job:

Part of my job is to preview the menu for a dinner party tonight. This means taking a bus from the house where I work to another big house, and asking some strange cook what they expect everybody to eat. Who I work for doesn't like surprises, so part of my job is telling my employers ahead of time if tonight they'll be asked to eat something difficult like a lobster or an artichoke. If there's anything threatening on the menu, I have to teach them how to eat it right.

"Don't worry," I say, after I get another diet Cricket. "You'll never have a weird job like that. Trust me, I know everything about you."

"A job like that?" Bertie repeats as if the thought of a job had never occurred to him. "Why would we want a job?"

And it's true, a job has never been high on Bertie's list of wants. I decide to let this discussion track fade, because Survivor taught me that knowing too much about your own future can ruin your life. At one point, the narrator rants --

I need my moisturizer. I need to be photographed. I'm not like regular people, to survive I need to be constantly interviewed. I need to be in my natural habitat, on television. I need to run free, signing books.

"Who gave you this book?" I ask gruffly.

"Uh, our friend Heloise," says Bob. Now that makes some sense. The book is full of hints -- like how to cover up a bullet hole in a wall with toothpaste.

"I see. And you're worried that she was trying to send you some kind of message, right?" I lean back and cross my arms. I'm not sure whether to point out that they don't exist, since this is a dicey moment, talking about suicide and all. The book is a virtual love sonnet to suicide. It's on everybody's mind.

A guy's calling to say he's failing Algebra II.

Just as a point of practice, I say, Kill yourself.

A woman calls and says her kids won't behave.

Without missing a beat, I tell her, Kill yourself.

A man calls to say his car won't start.

Kill yourself.

A woman calls to ask what time the movie starts.

Kill yourself.


"Message?" asks Bob. "What kind of message? What's the book about?"

"About? What do you mean 'about'? Haven't you read the thing?" They had not. I have to peel off the label from the bottle of diet Cricket to keep my hands from strangling my progeny. It takes me a moment, but I finally swallow my creator-pride and ask what their problem could possibly be, "Considering," I remind them, "you don't actually exist."

"We can't agree on who gets to read it first," Bob says. I'm so astonished I can't speak. they came to me with such a piddling little problem? How long have they been brothers that they can't work this out on their own? I refuse to do every little thing for them. Sheez.

I must have said some of that out loud, because Bertie turns to Bob and says, "I told you he can't help us." Bob shrugs. "He doesn't really exist."

Loch Etive View

Sitting in a pub called The Goat here in Glasgow because it seems to have the only free wireless in the city. Wireless is not quite so prevalent as back home, but we'll make do, eh? Can you imagine, I'm squinting because the sun is so dang bright. It has been lovely weather, cool temps and only a few bits of rain. At any rate, those cheers in the background are from the dozens of football fans watching the screens. Sounds like quite a game on.

Don't ask me who is playing. Nobody is sporting any particular football colors.

After the hectic running about from the Convention, we hid in a small village called Taynuilt, two hours north of Glasgow. Taynuilt is near Loch Etive. We took a nice boat trip on the loch and attended a small ceilidh in town. The break was very relaxing, but now we're back to city life and staying in a hostel in Edinburgh.

A thing you should know about Edinburgh this time of year: it hosts the Festival and the Fringe Festival. We're here for another festival (the International Book Festival), so you can understand that the city is quite crowded. When we tried to check into the hostel, we found that our reservations were for June, not August! It was quite a shocker, and, of course, the city is fully booked up. But the manager was very helpful and they made a special wee room for us with one twin bed and a mattress on the floor. We'll move to another room today (the Brunette is back in Edinburgh now, moving our things) and then move again tomorrow. But at least there's a roof over our heads.

Mmmmm. The burger here is delicious.

Click here to see further pictures from the Taynuilt break.

Hal Duncan Reads


The convention wrapped up last week with a few visits to panels discussing more business-related issues like copyright, globalization, and small-press niches. There are a few extra pictures added to the set (the whole of which you can see here.

I chose this picture because it has Irn Bru in it and because the subject, Hal Duncan, was reading from Vellum. We'll be having a book tale about Vellum soon.

No. 7 Door


Friends are putting us up and putting up with us at their flat in Shawlands. They've been very kind and understanding of our strange hours and, of course, with the stigma attached to hosting science fiction conference attendees. I suppose we've helped some by not showing up on their doorstep in strange costumes. I'm not sure how the parishioners would react to Chewbacca marching up to the church. Oh, did I mention that we're staying in a church?

Click here for more pictures of Shawlands.

Gary Gibson Considers


The conference itself is a mixed bag, as you would expect with so many things going on. We're just out of a speech by a guest of honor whom we should not name. The presentation was all about his wretched experiences with an author that he "should not name." Christopher Priest's whinging was probably the worst we've had to sit through.

Otherwise, we've had a grand time. Formal highlights include readings by Connie Willis (her book remains unfinished), Gary (in a dungeon), and Kim Stanley Robinson (who decided to flood DC). KSR ended his reading with a wild whoop of an escaped primate. Very nice. We've also enjoyed panels on such subjects as the Creative Commons and Building a World for the Purpose of Blowing It Up.

Although there hasn't been a panel on Developing a Character for the Simple Purpose of Torturing Them Slowly Until they Break.

Informal highlights include all of the quick visits with Glaswegian writing friends. They've had readings, panelings, and signings. Oh, and they put on a play, which seemed a big hit.

Tonight are the Hugo Awards, and we have one day remaining for a few more panels and readings.

Click here to see more WorldCon photos.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles


This is pretty much our view of England. We did the drive from London to Glasgow in about 9 hours (maybe 10? I lost count), stopping about every hour at a rest area to reinvigorate with diet Coke or diet RedBull. We knew we'd crossed the border when we finally saw diet Irn Bru. We arrived safely, but utterly exhausted. I think that drive was the dumbest thing we've done in a while. Next time, get some sleep first.

We did catch the bus from Greenbelt Station up to BWI, and though the driver was somewhat gruff, the bus itself was much nicer than the bus from L'Enfant to Dulles. It had cushy seats and a luggage area.

Quickie

No access to free wireless yet, so no pictures to upload. The flight was horrible and the drive was entirely too long. Other than that, we're safe in Glasgow and wandering arround the armadillo. Glorious to be among so many geeks.

Why I Love The Brunette

Number 632 in a Series

We'll be boarding an international flight in a few hours leaving from BWI. We'll spend nearly three weeks in the wilds of Scotland. This might seem like a monumental undertaking, and it is. But there is one thing that makes me smile.

We are managing this trip without checking luggage.

Weather Forecast

A Travel Report

Only I would be excited about this forecast, but dang it'll be good to be away from this heat. I don't care about the rain.

Screenshot stolen from Weather.com

Purple Pepper Plants

A Garden Report

I'm sure you've been kept awake nights wondering about our peppers. Let me tell ya, they've been a growing. Here's a last picture of the peppers before we go off to Scotland. They're going to be ripe at just the wrong time. While we're an ocean away, these guys will start turning red and yellow as well as purple.