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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
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"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
RANDOM OBSERVATIONS ON ATTENDING RECONSTRUCTION, THE 2010 NASFIC
1. I am an old fan, and tired.
2. Some things in conventions have changed, but many things plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. Significant numbers of fans still like to go by one name on their name tag, like "Doug" or "Jane," which certainly helps make them memorable. Not so much.
3. I have no significant complaints or criticisms of the con committee or con; generally I commend them on a job pretty well done, as viewed from the outside.
4. The primary problem of the con was the smallness; I gather there were about 700 attendees, perhaps 800 max, and walk-ins amounted to in the neighborhood of 100 or a bit more. (If this is wrong, please correct me!)
5. As a result, spreading the con out over two hotels and a convention center ended up being... highly excessive. Ditto with that many programming tracks, audiences tended towards the the small, as in 8-40 or so, in the rooms I looked in, which I must say was a very sporadic sampling, and I did not attend any of the relatively Big Events, such as opening or closing ceremonies, or any of the GOH presentations.
6. Parties -- sorry, there were no parties, only "Meet and Greets" allowed -- were, as a rule, not overwhelmingly crowded, and were almost entirely conveniently grouped on the 16th and 17th floor, save for Bill Patterson's on the sixth floor, all in the Marriott, which was directly connected to the convention center, so the party circuit could hardly have been more convenient.
7. I ended up skipping the SFWA suite, since I really have no particular business being there these days, and skipping Toni's Baen Party, as it was the one party that seemed crowded, and I'm just shy, and didn't want to be presumptuous, and all that there.
8. Established that James Bacon doesn't know me from a hole in the wall, which is no surprise. All con long I played "do you recognize me?" with everyone. Most didn't. Said "hi" twice to David Hartwell, until on the third time, when we were chatting briefly, I made sure to let his eye catch my name-tag, and we had a couple of nice, if brief, chats after that.
9. Most of my chats tended to be brief. I really didn't know more than a couple of dozen people at the con, it felt like, although I also had that experience of quite a few people I either don't know, or have forgotten, greeting me with considerable familiarity, and as if we knew each other, so it's a two-way street. Still, there at least a dozen folks I'd hoped to run into, and never did, much to my regret, including particularly Brett Cox and Ranger Craig. Would have loved to have talked more with most of the folks I did talk some with, including Mike Walsh, Ben Yalow, Elspeth Kovar, Bill Patterson, Ed Dravecky, Bernadette Boskey, Arthur Hlavaty, and a number of others, but, oh well. Some folks I barely got to speak with in passing, such as Bruce Newrock, Tony Parker, Tim Illingworth, Joni Dashoff, a bit more with Judy Bemis; chatted very briefly with Steve Miller (see photographic proof on my Photo Album). I got to say only hello and goodbye to a few, such as Dave Cantor and Bruce Newrock. Saw, but did not get a chance to speak to, Joel Zakem, since I saw him at Bill and David's little biography panel, and not again. And so on.
But mostly I'm as not-very-comfortable-at-parties, unless I really know a bunch of people, and the party is pretty quiet, as ever.
And I think I was reverting to a considerable degree of shyness that I used to have in my early years, but have gotten vastly better at having less of, in the past twenty years. But the environment somehow made me much shyer again, in some curiously environmentally-induced way causing me to revert to older, poorer, habits.
11. Programming doubtless pleased many folks. I'd more or less say that I've certainly seen worse, and I've seen better. Off-hand, I'd call it kinda middling, but they also had a relatively limited number of folks to use. On the other hand, I couldn't help but notice that there were at least a couple of panels where I knew a hell of a lot more about the subject than the panelists.
Notably, a very nice seeming woman named Jennifer Liang, and Chris Garcia, did a panel on "Efanzines and blogs," which although I missed the first fifteen minutes of, by half an hour in they were saying they'd run out of things to talk about, after already engaging in a lot of digression into talking about online fandom in general, with very little talk about blogs. I did learn more about Robert Jordan fandom than I previously knew.
I tried a bit of goosing from the audience with leading questions, such as "so what would you say was the first sf blog, or the first significant sf blog?, and got "uh, I have no idea" responses. Man, they needed a moderator. And, you know, if you feel you're running out of things to say, you can go to questions, rather than repeatedly declaring the panel is probably over half way through, and every few minutes thereafter. Also, just not a great practice in general.
I may have misunderstood Jennifer Liang explaining that Tor.com was now a blog. Doubtless she said that the front page showed blogs, and the site had much else besides; my hearing isn't great, and my attention may have wandered for a moment.
12. Tiniest art show I've ever seen at any sf con of any sort.
13. The Chicago bid party had, among other decorations, a quite large blow-up of the program book of Chicon IV (1982). I was chatting with Mr. Yalow and Mr. Walsh at the party, and established that with Ben having been the Services Division head at Chicon IV, where I wore two hats as both Assistant Division head, and head of the three department Operations sub-division, and Mike was one of my Shift Supervisors, that we were the only three members of the Chicon IV committee at the party, and apparently at the con. (I'm probably wrong on the latter, so please correct me!)
14. Britain probably had the nicest party overall, although the frequent repeats on the very large screen tv of the bid video was slightly problematic for those well familiar with it online months ago, who found crowds of people constantly crowding in front of the screen.
There was a nice other video of famous British sf writers, though.
It couldn't help but occur to me that I had been the original American agent for the Britain Is Fine In '79 bid for Seacon '79, where I had even bent fannish ethics slightly by giving the bid a free function room at SunCon to throw the bid party -- although I would have done the same for the competition if they'd asked -- but none of the current British bidders would know that. As I said, old and tired. As ever, always amused to have other people explain fandom to me, or fanzines, or how conventions are run, or what they're like, etc. I pretty much nod and smile.
Not a soul at the British party recognized my D. West art tee-shirt. Or my BSFA tee-shirt. Or anyone at the con, for that matter, at least in terms of mentioning it to me.
On the other hand, my "RTFM" tee-shirt got a bunch of comments about how wonderful it was. And my "I'm not ignoring you; your comment is awaiting moderation" tee-shirt also got a few compliments, and one person's request to take a picture.
15. Overall, I had an okay time. I suppose it was worth two room nights, and the $120 membership; I was very glad to see some old friends.
I also realized that smoffing talk is of limited interest beyond a certain point when one isn't working on cons any more, but primarily because it's the exact same smof talk about how to run a con, what's gone wrong and right, etc., I already filled up on in the Seventies and Eighties, and very little has changed since then, save for some proper nouns, and relatively trivial details.
16. I remain unconvinced of the need for a NASFiC. But, hey, as long as enough people want to go to one, and put one on, it's fine with me.
17. Slightly regret not taking the cane, as a visual sign to folks that I needed to sit, not stand, and also for minor use, but was lucky that the hip pain and twinging stayed minor enough to merely make for mildly painful slight limp, with occasional oww twinges; no gout, yay.
18. Established that my preferred temperature in my hotel room is 63 degrees F.
19. I can make a few nitpicks about room for improvement in what the con did, but they're pretty nit-picky. (I would have made more spots where the daily newsletter could be found, but, as I said, this is highly trivial, and in any case, there wasn't much vital news, anyway. Stuff like that.)
20. I'll try to fill in the names of more folks I at least briefly chatted with, as I remember: met Nancy Collins finally. More to come. LATER: Saul Jaffe. Dick and Nicki Lynch. Warren Buff. Said hi to Scott Dennis. Said hello and about twenty seconds of conversation with John Hertz. Said hello to Hank Davis and received expected nod and slight grunt. Chatted at mild length with George Wells on Friday afternoon in the Fanzine Lounge, after not having seen each other since approximately 1976 or so. Heard Don Lundry was at the con! But never ran into him, drat it. Missed running into Tom Veal, unless, as is likely, I didn't recognize him; I was in the Chicago party several times on both nights, but only asked if he was there once or twice, I'm afraid. Exchanged a sentence or two with Brad Foster at the British party, but didn't get to any kind of "hello, nice to finally meet you."
21. Further random observations to come after I've rested some; I didn't have the sort of con experience that makes for a funny or amusing narrative -- I'm not saying I had a bad time, and insofar as there were negatives at the con, they were almost entirely personal, not the fault of the concom; but the con didn't provide a storyline for me worth writing up in more organized form.
22. My #1 insecurity: I have stained, bad, teeth at this point. Very visible if I open my mouth; this makes me terribly self-conscious about that until such time as I can at least get a cleaning. Also constant worry about bad breath and administering of breath minty things and mouthwash, but I'm sure some folks must have thought "ew, bad breath"; I did what I could.
Hey, and Joni Dashoff, I think it was, pointed out at one point that my fly was open, and was not being metaphoric. Oh, the shame of it all. Not to mention I noticed it happening slightly two other times; damned shorts zipper.
23. I reverted terribly to wandering self-centered anecdotes and losing my train of thought in substantial conversation; this is why I prefer to express myself in writing if I wish to be clear at any thought more complicated than a one-liner. Which even that I can mangle through the accidental word-substitution I'm more and more prone to in recent years.
24. Chatted twice with Rusty Hevelin! (If you don't know our history, I ain't tellin' ya now.)
25. Bagpipes should always be barred from sf cons as dangerous weapons. Jeebus fucking Ghu and Roscoe screwing together.
I'm talking with Elspeth and Mike at their table in the huckster room, when no less than about twelve feet away, at the table opposite, this motherfucking bagpiper opens up, and golly that helps conversation nearby.
Someone later confessed to me that he was the person who asked the guy to start performing right then, but I'll pretend I've forgotten who, for their sake, and because I have definitely forgotten that it was Steven Silver, since he has repented; so let's all pretend we don't know it was Steven's Fault. (Alternatively, to quote one of the late rich brown's favorite sayings: Or Maybe Not.)
26. Doing balloon sculptures for people is great; doing so by parking yourself in front of the escalator down to the huckster room/art show could work fine if you stood more than a foot away from the escalator entrance. Two whole feet would have been nice; three, outstanding. (Subnote: someone from the convention might have mentioned this to the fellow, but to be sure, traffic was so light it was merely a trivial annoyance, and nothing resembling in the faintest degree any kind of serious traffic blockage; you just had to say "excuse me, please," every time.)
27. Oh, yes. Many of you are familiar with: "The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that the English language is as pure as a crib-house whore. It not only borrows words from other languages; it has on occasion chased other languages down dark alley-ways, clubbed them unconscious and rifled their pockets for new vocabulary."
—James Nicoll, can.general, March 21, 1992
This has long been passed around as by anonymous and typically shortened to "English not only borrows words from other languages; it has on occasion chased other languages down dark alley-ways, clubbed them unconscious and rifled their pockets for new vocabulary."
A couple of women whose company was selling tee-shirts (one of several such tables in the huckster, room, Not That There's Anything Wrong With That) had a tee-shirt with that. No attribution. I asked them if they knew who had written that. Nope. Heard of James Nicoll? Nope. Suggested they might at least send him a courtesy copy. They took down contact info for him; I took down their contact info.
Belatedly, I realize I should have taken a picture.
To be clear, they said they were selling this particular tee-shirt as produced by a third party, and it's entirely possible, and far and away most likely, that James has always known about this.
28. Two conversations with Chris Barkley. He put me on the Worldcon subcommittee mailing list to Officially Recommend WTF To Do About The Semi-Prozine Category (without my in the least asking, which I didn't have the chutzpah to do!), which pleased me no end, since I'm one of the four co-writers who created that category. That is, I wrote a motion and got Craig Miller to co-sign it, and, I think, and I need to check this against the BM minutes, because I may be garbling slightly, and Marty Cantor and Mike Glicksohn had his version, and also Dick (I know his last name perfectly well, and it will come back to me momentarily [LATER: Richard Russell]) of Madison threw in some modification, and the resulting kludge came from a compromise between these motions, and produced the Best Semi-Prozine Hugo we have all loved and cherished for centuries now, worshipped beyond reason, particularly since I co-wrote it.
29. Was disappointed to miss the "Men Write Feminist Fiction" panel, as it clearly sounded like the panel with the most potential for disaster. Alas, missed it. Heard one second-hand version that made it sound dire, but it was only a single source.
31. I amused myself in the Fanzine Lounge, particularly on Friday, while the SFC part of the display was still there, noting of zines: yup, mentioned there, loc there, mentioned there, mentioned there, several dozens of times.
I'm reluctant to note that the Fanhistory Display and Fanzine Display (incidentally combined with my invention of the independent fan programing track, and also combining the Fanzine Fan Lounge, which I also invented), all in one mini-area of the hotel, I did at SunCon in 1977, with only Susan Wood's "All Our Yesterday's" room at Torcon II as any kind of precursor (unless you count the N3F), was, er, a heck of a lot more elaborate than what Reconstruction had. Ditto the fanhistory display I did for Avedon Carol at Constellation in 1983, or the one I co-did with Joe Siclari in 1986, and even the ones I did at Lunacon in 1976 and 1977.
I'm talking major displays of material from the 1930s and 1940s, partial runs of Hyphen, Quandry, Dimensions, Spaceship, Skyhook, dittoed Psychotic, Roger Ebert's Stymie, a zine by Gene Klein, aka Gene Simmons, and on and on with so many more zines from every era, but a focus on the older the better, along with elaborate displays on apas, an entire major section on Lee Hoffman, and just dozens of immensely rare items of the pre-1960 era, as well as wall displays, pictures, mimeos, historical artifacts, program books of the forties, distributions of current fanzines, a separate display of popular recent zines, on convention history, and on and on; I had a considerable amount of granularity, and explanatory text for context, as well as carefully considered exhibits, rather than a purely random spread of zines.
Chris is a lovely and enthusiastic man, and I certainly can't say that I think NASFiC overall would have benefited in any significant way from any kind of more significant fanhistory display; I doubt more than a dozen or two dozen people at most would have cared, if that many.
But it did seem a bit on the minimal side.
Lastly, the hours seemed to be "whenever Chris or someone decided not to leave." It was open a fair amount of the time, but a heck of a lot less than the posted hours. But, again, in fairness, aside from a brief hour on Friday, when some 20-25 people were there, I never again saw more than 8 or so folks in the room at an given time, if that many. But let me stress that my sampling, which certainly amounted to well over fifteen times over the course of Friday and Saturday, and four times Sunday morning, was hardly comprehensive. And, again, not any kind of major criticism, and no kind of complaint! Just, you know, observing. And although I would have been agreeable to holding down the room for an hour or two if that would have helped, no one asked me, but it's my fault for not specifically saying any such thing to Chris.
And, of course, Filthy Pierre. Whom I said hi to, noting that he wouldn't remember me, but we'd been at many cons together in the Seventies, and he indeed noddedly blankly, which is perfectly fair, because I don't remember ever having a conversation with him of much more than a handful of words, more than, hmm, come to think of it, that time I had to tell him (at either 1976 or 1977 Lunacon, or Iggy or SunCon; probably not Chicon IV or any of the others)) that I couldn't help him get his portable organ back from the hotel until the morning, after he'd left it locked up in a now-locked function space. Or something like that.
35. Other notable parties included a Capclave party, Texas in 2013, ASFA (didn't get to that), something for or by "1984" that I didn't go into and don't know who they were, a Renovation party (where Ben Yalow was mostly glued), Friends of Liad, the aforementioned Chicago bid party, and, um, a couple of others.
36. I maintained discipline, and did not spend a single penny in the huckster room, or buying anything at the con whatever!
I did this exactly by swearing to myself that I would buy nothing, or I'd have trouble drawing a line thereafter. I gave brief consideration to the notion of a lesser rule, such as "nothing subsequent to 1972, or 1960, or 1950, and over $5 a piece" but that might still have been dangerous.
And you know what? I again, over the course of the past decade, between books sent to me for review, and abebook.com purchases of books for $.01 and $3.99 shipping, own several dozen yet unread books, many of them door stops, all of which I desperately want to read. So there's no point to adding to my to-be-read shelves, and I damn well don't do myself well by owning more possessions to move.
So my sense won out: go, me.
Although, y'know, still wistfulness and some frustrated lust. Booooks. Fanzines. Pulps. Old paperbacks. My first loves. Great fiction I haven't caught up to. Nonfiction on sf I haven't caught up to. So many books by friends I haven't caught up to.
But, hey: sense over compulsive fannishness. Yay.
37. I wish I could remember who it was who I met in person for the first time who was telling me how they'd heard so much about me, and it was all either really really good, or really really bad; I agreed that I had one of those polarizing personalities.
I had one or two other variations of that conversation over the weekend, which was fine, because it's true.
ADDENDUM, 8/10/10, 6:23 p.m. [modified at 9:06 to delete some now pointless information]: Specifically to entry #27: Unsurprisingly, this turned out not to be true. That is, James Nicoll's permission had not been asked, nor had he been even sent a courtesy copy.
It does give off-shirt credit -- but the shirts are still unauthorized, and James Nicoll gets nothing from them:
English Doesn't Borrow from Other Languages T Shirt
100% Cotton Ash Shirt
This shirt has a paraphrase of a quotation made by James Nicoll. "The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."