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January 23, 2006

ConFusion Writeup

athenalumberjack.jpgAs Samwise Gamgee once said, well, I'm back. Hope you enjoyed Nick and Eliani's story -- I see it's been noted online in several places, almost all positively. I'm glad people liked it as much as I did.

I spent the weekend up at ConFusion, where I did a reading, quite a few panels, more than my share of dancing, and got my ass handed to me at Dance Dance Revolution by this guy, after me talking trash to him about it for a day or so beforehand. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. People were making excuses for me by suggesting that I just wasn't used to the particular pads, but no. I just got whupped. Being a man means admitting when you've been totally pwned.

As a whole I thought the convention was quite successful, but the moment of pure anecdotal fun came during Friday evening's guest of honor desert reception, as I was chatting with the convention's Fan Guest of Honor, Chuck Firment. I asked Chuck if he was staying out of trouble and when he answered that indeed he was, I replied that well, then, he wasn't doing his job. At which point he asked me to stand at a particular point near a low ledge and then announced to the entire room that everyone had kiss the top of my head at some point during the convention. Whereupon I was rushed by at least a dozen geeks who grabbed me, pulled me off the ledge and began the process of cranio-labial osculation. One man -- in a kilt -- actually licked my skull. All the rest of the con random people were coming up to me, kissing the top of my head, and then just wandering off. Because when the Fan Guest of Honor commands it, it must be done. It's a good thing Chuck didn't command them all to kiss my ass.

Later I related this story to Vernor Vinge, the writer Guest of Honor, who found it amusing but unaccountably passed on the opportunity to kiss my skull. Be that as it may, I told him that I would say that he did, and that the story would grow in the telling over the years so that many years from now it would be like the heterosexual science fiction writers' version of Brokeback Mountain, featuring only kisses and scalps, and in which Vernor Vinge tells me, over dinner at a Carribean-themed restaurant, that he wished he knew how to quit my skull. Bear in mind that in reality, the only portion of this which is true is that the two of us had dinner at a Carribean-themed restaurant, along with Tobias and Emily Buckell, Karl Schroeder and his lovely family, and Anne KG Murphy. But it feels true, in that James Frey I'm-making-shit-up-because-being-honest-won't-get-me-on-Oprah sort of way. So, yes. Vernor Vinge kissed my skull. I'll write about it in my upcoming memoir, A Million Little Kisses.

Back in the real world (the one in which no Hugo winner has ever in fact gotten anywhere near my scalp with his lips, or indeed any other body part), Mr. Vinge was indeed a fascinating fellow and a fine dinner companion, as were the Buckells, the Schroeders and Mrs. Murphy. I also managed to break bread with Steven Brust, who is always a pleasure to spend time with, and with Bill Schafer of Subterranean Press, who handed over my author copies of "Questions for a Soldier," which looked great (this means that all you folks who ordered copies should have them very soon), and managed also to spend a few moments with David Klecha and his family and friends, who included Merrie Haskell (Dave's most excellent story "Refuge" will be in the Subterranean magazine issue I'm editing); Dave and friends also showed up at my reading, which was most excellent of them.

I also was happy to spend time with Confusion staff and fans, many of which I regret to say I know only by first name and/or LiveJournal nickname, which as it turns out seems to be a more frequent occurance as life goes on. On the other hand, since so many people online refer to other people online by their nicknames with no confusion (no pun intended as regards the convention), I suppose it's no crime to say it was lovely to see Rikhei, Rennie, Tammylc and Matt Arnold (whose LJ name is actually his name, so that's easy) among others.

I'll stop name-checking at this point because namechecking eventually gets boring, but before I do I did want to give mad props to Sarah Zettel, who moderated a couple of panels I was on and did a wonderful job of keeping panelists and unruly audience members in line. As most people know I'm a fan of highly-competent moderating, and she is indeed highly competent.

Overall, a fine time. This is the second time I've been to ConFusion and both times I've gone I've enjoyed myself beyond all reason. If you're the con-going sort, consider that a plug.

Incidentally, the picture above: Athena with the toy I got her from Confusion, which is a plush lumberjack that stuffed with a werewolf -- which is to say that you can yank out the stuffing and it becomes a werewolf, at which point you stuff the lumberjack into the back of the werewolf and it becomes that creatures stuffing. As one person noted: "It's a topological cylinder!" That it is, I suppose, although that's not the reason I got it. Athena took it to school with her today; I'm looking forward to the inevitable parent-teacher conference.

Posted by john at January 23, 2006 10:33 AM

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Matt Arnold | January 23, 2006 01:22 PM

It was great to see you. Please don't rupture me with a wooden hair pin, OK?

And I've still never heard Rubber Soul.

John Scalzi | January 23, 2006 01:30 PM

Yes, I plan to rectify that soon! The Rubber Soul part, not the hair pin part. Also, apologies for incorrectly attributing your romantic situation (and no, I'm not talking about the goat). For some reason I had it in my mind you were hitched.

Djscman | January 23, 2006 02:10 PM

What conversational topics are taboo when you dine with literary luminaries? Do you discuss work you've written and what you're working on, or is there a tacit agreement not to talk shop?

It sounds like you had a lot of fun this weekend. For your next con, maybe you should get a pair of lips groove-cut into your hair (if applicable).

John Scalzi | January 23, 2006 02:23 PM

I think it really depends on who one is dining with, I suppose. At dinner we had four science fiction writers at the table, so shop was talked, but not exclusively or even as the majority in terms of subjects discussed. It was a pretty well-socialized group.

Kristy | January 23, 2006 04:42 PM

cranio-labial osculation

I'm sure you're already aware of how HOTT big words are, but just in case: *swoons*

Anne KG Murphy | January 23, 2006 06:19 PM

It was a pretty well socialized group, outside of the fact that there was little integration of wives into the science fiction, publishing, and technology discussion... which is part of why we went off on different topics from time to time, and it was good.

(And no, in case anyone is wondering, I was not playing the social role of wife so far as conversation went. I was acting somewhat in the stead of Vernor's Guest of Honor Liaison, Chad Childers, and was quite comfortable in the midst of the sf and technology discussion. Sitting in the middle of the author-heavy side of the table helped.)

...My favorite off-topic moment was probably when the Schroeders' young daughter started quietly chanting "Imhotep" into the screen of her portable entertainment center, sitting there with her headphones on. They said she wasn't watching The Mummy but I wasn't sure what she was doing. It was very cute.

Brendan | January 23, 2006 06:32 PM

It is good to be humble.

...or so I've heard.

John Scalzi | January 23, 2006 07:37 PM

Don't get cocky, young man! I will return!

Angie | January 23, 2006 11:44 PM

It was great fun to see you at Confusion. I must admit I'd never heard of you before, but after the wonderful reading, the Adventures In The Dessert line (no, I never did flash Matt Arnold, I am, sadly, far too behaved for that) and, well, the above mentioned cranial kissing, I shall be picking up a John Scalzi book soon. (Right after we move the 1200+ books we -already- have to the new house)

Glad you had a good time at 'Fusion!

Dane | January 24, 2006 11:29 AM

Now all you need to do is find a way to transfer your skull to a hermetically sealed matted-frame containing the individual kiss of whoever orders (and then pays for by credit card or cashiers check) the lovely display case/wall hanging memorializing their participation in the rite.

You'll make a killing!

{I get 5% of all proceeds.}

Karl Schroeder | January 25, 2006 11:19 AM

We all had a great time at the con. Paige got in the swimming she wanted, and Janice has been positively peppy since we got home; it's amazing what a couple of days of truly being *away* can do for you. It was great meeting you, John, and I hope to see you at other events.

John Scalzi | January 25, 2006 01:36 PM

As I understand you will be attending Penguicon, Karl, you will indeed see me soon!

Rikhei | October 17, 2006 03:40 PM

I was just rereading these comments and was reminded of the whole wooden hair stick incident. I'm happy to report that I now have both hair sticks back (the offending stick went missing for awhile) and a variety of other pointy hair accessories with which we can poke Matt.

Anonymous | April 8, 2007 12:14 PM

its a conerie

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