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May 30, 2006

Wiscon 30/06

jkswiscon30.jpg

First of all, a moment of silence for my cell phone, which apparently slipped the surly bonds of earth sometime on Saturday and hasn't been seen since. I suspect it has been bodily translated into heaven, where it will serve to take voice mail and blurry photos for the angels. If I had actually paid for the phone, I suspect I'd be truly annoyed. But since I didn't, eh. There are worse things that could happen. But this is an object example of why I can't have nice things. Because I lose them, you see.

Aside from the alien abduction of my cell phone, Wiscon was a whole lot of fun. Perhaps the best way to approach this is a series of bullet point impressions and comments

* Yes, during the Rat Bastard karaoke dance party, Ben Rosenbaum and I stripped to "You Can Leave Your Hat On." What happened was that as the song started, Lauren McLaughlin and Krissy said to me, "You should go out there and do a striptease to that song," and I said. "Well, if I'm going to do that, Ben Rosenbaum needs to do it with me." Why Ben Rosenbaum? Because when someone like, say, me, walks over casually to him and says, "Come on, Ben. Time for a strip tease," his reaction is to say "Yeah, okay." And then to do it. For the record, Ben is, like, totally hot. I, on the other hand, could stand to lose about 15 pounds. Also for the record, the nudity, while not exactly tasteful, was only from the waist up. Because neither Ben nor I is stupid.

* The salient comment about the whole stripping adventure, from, I think, Jeremy Lassen: "What was really scary about that was that you were totally sober the whole time." Why, yes. And this is exactly why you won't ever see me drunk. Because, really. God forbid. Incidentally, Jeremy Lassen's karaoke version of AC/DC's "Big Balls" immediately made it into Wiscon party history. And, I guess, so did Ben's and my show, but Jeremy didn't have to show any nipple to get there. You go, Jeremy Lassen.

* Yes, there are pictures. Several people have threatened to blackmail me with them. Since I keep demanding they send them to me so I can put them up, you can see how well that's working. Yes, I have shame. Just not in that direction.

* I had three panels at the convention, all of which, I thought, were pretty successful. The first was the "Chick Lit and Chick Flicks" panel, where I served primarily to offer thoughts about "chick films" over the years, with some anecdotal thoughts on chick lit itself. The "Does Your Baby Make You Smarter?" panel, I think was overall the best panel I was on, because fellow panelists Naomi Kritzer, Pat Cadigan and Jim Minz have smart and funny things to say on the subject, as did Kira Franz, who also went above and beyond by tracking down actual research on the panel subject and offering it up at the panel, thereby opening up whole new avenues of discussion. It's lovely when people do that. The "Naked Eye Astronomy" panel was also happily successful, with particular notice in this case going to Linda Susan Shore, who brought construction projects for everyone in the audience, and who acted as the panel's Googler, finding and exhibiting photos of some of the phenomena we were discussing in the panel.

I was the moderator on the last two panels, and let me tell you what I know about moderating: Excellent co-panelists make you look good as a moderator. These co-panelists made me look good as a moderator -- and made for excellent panels for the audience -- and I thank them for both.

* There's been a recent tradition at Wiscons that the Campbell nominees in attendance square off in a "Campbell Smackdown," and this year was no different: On Sunday Sarah Monette and I found ourselves stuffing our feet into pillowcases and having a sack race with very small sacks. This makes it rather harder, incidentally. And who won the smackdown? Well, we both did, since the race ended in a tie. We were both gracious in victory.

* One of the very nice things about Wiscon is that one meets a lot of really interesting people who are smart and clever and funny, and gets the idea that some of these folks might eventually turn out to be friends. This Wiscon I was fortunate to meet a lot of people who were mostly new to me, including Holly Black, Meg McCarron, Jeremy Lassen, Hal Duncan (who I met briefly in Scotland last year, for about five minutes, so this counts more), Veronica Schanoes, Lawrence Schimel, Mark Tiedemann, Christopher Barzak, Gary K. Wolfe (who went to the U of C), Richard Butner, Barbara Gilly, Karen Joy Fowler, Jay Lake, Geoff Ryman (who took to rubbing my head, possibly for good luck), David Schwartz (in whose company and with Richard Butner I had one of the more amusing 3am conversations I've had recently, involving both dolphin penises and the pope's home run record), Ron Serdiuk the bookseller from Australia and last but most emphatically not least, Cherie Priest, who is just a blast and a half. Plus there were all sorts of other people whose name escape me at the moment because, as you all know, I'm a moron.

That's a lot of new people to have spent at least a little of time with, while at the same time trying to see the people one already knows one likes. I think this contributes to the sensation that one sometimes gets at cons of simultaneously being happy that one gets to see so many smart, clever, funny and interesting people, and being sad that one doesn't get to see all of them enough. Hopefully I'll have more opportunities in the future to spend time with these folks, and add at least some of them to list of people I am humbled and fortunate to call friends.

* And now, what I know you've all really come for: The link to my Flickr set of pictures of Wiscon 30. Most of these were taken at Sign Out, because I'm just lazy that way, but it's a good mix of the folks who made this particular convention so very excellent. We'll be back.

Posted by john at May 30, 2006 07:21 PM

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Comments

Rachel | May 31, 2006 12:00 AM

It was nice meeting you. My CW pals and I were only near the karaoke floor for a little while (we went off to find a pub), but it looked like fun.

John Scalzi | May 31, 2006 12:13 AM

It was! And it was lovely to meet you too!

Lady M | May 31, 2006 01:33 AM

Wiscon sounds like it was a blast. At lunch today, I mentioned to my colleague that I'd placed an Amazon order for "Old Man's War." He's an ex-military fellow, so I thought that he might be interested in the premise - and it turns out that he's already read it and liked it! I had no idea that he read SF. Cool. Looking forward to the read.

Soni | May 31, 2006 02:16 AM

Tongue-touching contests, free-range male strippers, Big Balls karaoke and bathtubs full of soda.

Dude, I've really gotta start getting out to the cons more often.

Karen | May 31, 2006 03:13 AM

I should have thought of this before, and maybe you did think of this, but here goes anyway. Make sure you report the lost phone to the provider ASAP, and have them check whether it's been used since Saturday. I lost mine at Disneyland on Christmas Day, when there was no one at Sprint to take the call. When I did get through a few days later, I was told that someone had called Anaheim, Tarzana, and other fun places from my phone after it left my hands. It didn't affect my bill, but it was highly annoying. I hope that there's nothing confidential some lightfingered SF fan can retrieve by messing with yours.

CoolBlue | May 31, 2006 08:06 AM

My phone I could lose.

My PDA?

Now that's a whole 'nuther thing.

Tripp | May 31, 2006 10:26 AM

What are these 'cell' phones I keep hearing talk about?

Near as I can tell they must be communication-for-prisoners.

Douglas | May 31, 2006 12:03 PM

Never been to a con. Don't see it happening soon. I am not avoiding them, it just doesn't seem to be a big thing here in the states I frequent.

You and others have blogged about the super happy fun you have at these events and generally that includes some requisite compatriot author name dropping.

I am curious how this plays out for the pre-published and the fans. Do they get to hang out at the big kids table drinking and smoking and stripping and shooting the shit or do they sit in a dark corner muttering to each other, "Those are the authors. We can't go over there."?

John Scalzi | May 31, 2006 02:01 PM

Douglas:

"do they sit in a dark corner muttering to each other, 'Those are the authors. We can't go over there.'?"

Heh. Really, no. Since so many SF/F writers were fans before they were published (and so many continue to be fans afterward), the fan/pro schism is not really wide at all. And at Wiscon this is even less of the case, because there's a wide feminist and academic streak to the convention as well, so there are folks who are not SF writers in particular but are experts in other fields.

And in any event, certainly lots of unpublished and/or fans approached me, and I was very happy to chat with them.

HalDuncan | May 31, 2006 02:05 PM

Hey, John! Had a feckin blast hanging with ye, man. Looking forward to the next time.

Douglas: Half the time ye start chatting to folks and it's only later that ye find out they're an author or editor... or not, as the case may be. It's just that the folks who do the absurdist theatre panels, and the karaoke strip-teases, and shit like that, they're the ones ye just *gotta* mention if yer blogging the con.

I think some of the pre-published or the fans might tend to be a bit reticent to "bother" the pros (cause, man, I feel that way about Ryman or Delany) but generally there's so many folks the pros aren't necessarily going to *know* never mind care if yer "just" a fan or a newblood.

John Scalzi | May 31, 2006 02:16 PM

Hal!

Folks, Hal made the con, starting with his stirring rendition of Tom Waits' "The Piano Has Been Drinking," and going from there. I entirely recommend you all find a way to spend some time with him, beginning with picking up Vellum.

Looking forward to seeing you again, too, Hal. Hopefully we can drag you back across this side of the drink sometime.

Douglas | May 31, 2006 05:55 PM

Thanks John and Hal. When I read my question back it sounded a bit snottier than I had intended. It should have sounded more like I was probing for barriers to entry for my multi-stage stalking Scalzi plan.

Now if I can just figure out where Ohio might be on a map...

Pat Cadigan | June 1, 2006 10:00 PM

That clears up the mystery of the Very Small Sack Race I saw in passing.

Jeremy Lassen | June 4, 2006 04:30 PM

It was great meeting you at Wiscon. Too much fun was had. Can't wait for next year, and the possibility of running into you again at some other sundry genre convention. (worldcon? Worldfantasy? EndurACON!!!?!)

-jl

Scorpio | June 10, 2006 04:13 PM

You just need one of those neat keyrings the casinos give you so you don't lose your card -- slip the keyring around your phone's clip, and the clip the far end of the phone-cord-like tether to your belt loop. Voila -- a phone that can reach your ear, but that you will have a tough time leaving behind.

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