Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Rockstars and Writers and Friends (Oh My)!

Originally, back when the tickets for EvelynEvelyn first went on sale, and long before I knew Cheryl would be staying with me, the idea was to travel up to London on Saturday morning, see the gig, sleep, and head home early(ish) on Sunday, and I had prebooked cheap rail tickets with that in mind.
However, on Friday afternoon, my friend Cheryl mentioned that there might be an extra ninja gig on Sunday afternoon, that she was thinking of travelling up to London for the day to go, and would my train tickets let me stay too. . . Well, they wouldn't, but after checking out prices for new and more flexible tickets I decided it was doable, so we bought tickets for the gig, and arranged to meet up in Camden on Sunday once Cheryl's train arrived.

This meant that I had Sunday morning in London and I occupied myself with a soothing hour or so in the British Library.

Sadly, the new Maps exhibition doesn't open until 30th April, so I wasn't able to see that, but I did spend some time in the 'Treasures of the British Library' gallery, inspecting Magna Carta, Shakespear's handwriting, various illuminated manuscripts and the original, handwritten 'Alice in Wonderland' with Lewis Carroll's own illustrations.

This made me happy.

I then headed over to Camden, where I was able to grab some lunch, and enjoy the atmosphere of Camden Market, before meeting up with Cheryl and heading to the home of her friends the Clutes, who are lovely, warm and welcoming people, who live in a gorgeous flat filled with art and books and, as it turned out, rockstars and writers...

As we arrived, Amanda Fucking Palmer was just on her way out, to check out the venue - we were quickly introduced, and also met Amber & (a different) Jason, who I *think* are friends of Neil's..

Cheryl then took the opportunity to grab a quick interview with Neil, (Which has possibly the best opening question of any interview EVER), and which explained the chickens from last night.

Incidently, Neil did comment that he isn't really Neil Fucking Gaiman yet, as he isn't taking Amanda's name until they are actually married!

Then, when Amanda got back, Cheryl interviewed Amanda, about twitter, and gigs in space, after which Amanda & Neil left to do important pre-gig stuff.

Shortly afterwards, Cheryl & I went out to join Roz and @Cillygrrl14 in the queue, which was getting long, and quite full of ukuleles by that time.

The venue, Underworld is in the celler of the World's End pub, and so is dark, and there are various places where you get good acoustics, but not a very good view of the stage, so for much of the gig I could not see much, although could hear perfectly! Unforunately it did mean that I failed in my attempt to meet up with another TwitterFriend, @MotleyHippie.

The gig itself?

Bitter Ruin, who opened for EvelynEvelyn on Saturday played, as did Robots in Disguise, who I think opened for them at the KoKo show - both had quite short sets,as of course time was limited, with another EvelynEvelyn show due to start, over in Shepherds Bush, at 7, but both were very good - well worth keeping an eye out for!

Jason & Amanda then both played - Amada started with 'Fake Plastic Trees', then they moved on to some covers of EvelynEvelyn songs, and some of their individual works - Icarus, Ways to Love, ElephantElephant, the Electric Blanket song,(including a bonus 'punk version) Also Jacksons 'BillieJean' and NWA's 'Fuck tha Police'..
We also got to hear 'Do You Swear To Tell The Truth The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth So Help Your Black Ass'

Evelyn & Evelyn wereresting, but their little cloth avatars were on stage (except for when they went crowdsurfing...) and a little later, Amanda follwed their example, crowdsurfing as Jason played 'Anarchy in the UK' - Amanda managed to surf across to Neil for a kiss mid-surf (met with huge cheers from the crowd!)

I think this one is my favourite picture from the show - incidently, I am 99% sure that that is the back of Neil's head obscuring the bottom of the photo...

Amanda was also persauded to to sing 'Gaga, Palmer, Madonna'

(This video isn't mine - it's mjdanby's . I don't know who he is, but he shoots good youtube!))

The atmosphere was amazing, and Amanda & Jason both gave the impression that they were really enjoying being there!
After the gig, we spent a little more time with the Clutes before heading home.
All in all, a wonderful weekend.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Elephant Song!

I finally vanquished the YouTube demon and persauded it to let me upload! I give you Evelyn & Evelyn, and the Elphant Elephant song (from Saturday Night)

That was near the start of the show.

Much later, came the grand finale drinking song.

Yes, the camera **is** very wobbly. It's a drinking song. And Jason made us all get wasted by spinning in circles, before we were allowed to sing.;-

in which There Are Twins, Elephants And Chickens

So, Saturday morning involved a fairly stress-free journey to London (after seriously confusing the bloke in the ticket office in Trowbridge, by trying to buy single ticket to go from London to Trowbridge on Sunday...)

Shepherd's Bush, where the gig was, is unknown territory for me, so I decided to head straight there to find the hall and my hotel, which (somewhat to my surprise, as I have no sense of diection whatsoever, I found them without difficulty, so had time to change, and find food, before heading back to queue!

It was an interesting queue. I met up with Roz Kaveney (having been introduced via twitter by a mutual friend), was given a small elephant by a passing pirate (only an elephant, not an ElephantElephant, as there are fewer of them..) and a twix bar, met a conjoined twin puppet, and all to the sound of ukeleles in the queue... There was even a very brief, fly-by appearance by a certain Crazy-Haired writer en route to the stage door...

Inside, Bush Hall is interesting - lots of chandeliers & mirrors, and small enough to feel intimate.
Opening for the twins were Bitter Ruin who I belive were originally only due to open for the twins at the 'extra' KoKo show - they were excellent - having spent all my cash on EvelynEvelyn CDs and beer I didn't invest in their CD at the gig, but I think I may have to do so now!
Then the beautiful Miss Holly Gaiman, wearing a wnderful black & red dress which I didn't manage to get a decent picture of, brought "The Lost Airman" (later unmasked as Thomas Dolby) on stage to MC the twins show, in place of Sxip Shirey, followed, after a little encouragement, by the twins themselves.
The right-hand Evelyn (from their point of view) was suffering from a nasty cold, (and even blowing one's nose can be tricky, when it requires the cooperation of one's twin sister...) but carried on like the trouper she is!

We heard of EvelynEvelyns background & birth (with visual aids)
And about the Chicken Man (which involved a brief appearance by a live chicken, which, I was later informed by a Very Reliable Source, was one which actually belongs to, and lives at, the Bush Hall... sadly, the chicken seemed to be a little publicity shy, and I didn't manage to take its picture during its brief appearance. The twins were sustained with Twixes, then, between songs, they answered some questions submitted by the audience, after which there was some singing about Elephants (with enthusiastic audience participation) I have been trying to get my video to upload, but so far, without success - I'll add it later if I can get it to work.
After a lovely rendition of "I just need MySpace" the twins left the stage, although the standing ovation they got was enough to bring them back for an encore (Love Will Tear Us Apart") sung from the balcony at the back of the hall.

If you haven't already got the album , go get it now. What are you waiting for?

After the interval, we heard from Jason Webley, (Who looks most unlike himself, without his beard!) and then by Amanda Palmer - first time I have seen her play 'Coin Operated Boy' live.
Then Jason was back, for the heart-felt duet (born of touring) "Electric Blanket" and not long after thatm the evening ended, with a wonderfully raucous, full participation rendition of Jason Webley's Drinking Song . .

It was a wonderful finale to a fantastic evening, and if I could have gone back and started all over again from the beginning, and done it a second time, I would have.

I headed back to the hotel, tired, but very, very happy.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Squeeeee !

This is less a blog, more a prolonged Squee.

I just got back to my hotel following the "EvelynEvelyn" show at Bush Hall, which wa great!
From the moment I was given an elephant in the queue, I knew it was going to be good ... (I didn't get a conjoined pair of elephants, like a certain comb-deficient gentleman who happened to pass by, but one can't have everything.

Spent an interesting hour or so in the queue, then a show from
'Bitter Ruin',  EvelynEvelyn themselves, (I would really like to know where they sourced a live chicken, in the middle of London - that surely can't have come in with the rest of the props?) followed by Jason Webley and Amanda Palmer and a grand finale by absolutly everyone including the audience.  

Proper blog, with pictures,  and hopefully video, will follow, but in the mean time, Squeeeee

And the best part? Tomorrow afternoon is Amanda & Jason's last minute ninja gig in Camden, where I shall get to see them(but not the twins) play all over again.

Now tired, but very happy.

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Friday, 23 April 2010

In Which the are Politicians

As you may have noticed, we are shortly to have a General Election here, so the politicians are out in force, and, for the first time, there are televised debates between the leaders of the three main parties.

I don't generally get too excited over politics. I vote, whenever there is an election, becasue I feel I have a duty to use my vote, and because if you chose not to participate, I don't see that you then have any right to complain if you don't like the outcome. But I have never really felt that it makes much difference.

It doesn't help, of course, that the constituancy I live in has always, until now, been a very safe seat for the conservatives. The seat has been held by a Conservative MP solidly since 1924, which is a little discouraging if you are not a Conservative.
This year *may* be different. For one thing, the constituancy is affected by boundary changes so there will be a slightly different mix of people eligable to vote, and for another, the national picture seems different to previous elections, with the Liberal Democrats being a force to reckon with to a much greater extent than they have ever been in the past.

Here, the LibDems are the second party in any event, so they are who you vote for if you don't want a Tory - I think at the last election, the votes were roughly

Tory 44%
LibDeb 34%
Lab 19%

(I can't imagine ver being in a position where I'd vote Tory, but I would have to admit, (a little grudgingly) that if you're stuck with a Tory MP, the one we have is better than most. He has an iffy record on voting for measures which promote equality for gay people, but voted against going into the war in Afghanistan, in favour of an enquiry, and seems to have avoided the worst excesses of the expenses scams.. I don't like his party or what it stands for, but as a human being we could do a lot worse.)

Following on from the first two leadership debates, it is looking increasingly as though the LibDebs may be able to pick up a lot of votes across the board, and we could end up with a hung parliament, or with a situation where, as a result of the First Past the Post system, Labour or the Tories could end up with the majority of seats but a minority of the popular vote, either of which outcomes could lead to electoral reform and a change to a proprtional representaiton or single transferable vote system.

Me? I'm really hoping that the LibDebs get a big slice of the votes and of the seats. I'm not overly optimistic that they will - I suspect that there will be an awful lot of people who are not engaging in the debate and who will simply vote according to their traditional alleigance, so I'm guessing that a Tory win, but with a small majority, is more likely. But it will be interesting to watch, and either way, if the LibDems, who have to date appeared to be much more ethical and egalitarian that the Tories, much less inclined to erode our civil liberties than Labour, get a significant proprtion of the seats they may be able rein back the worst excesses of whichever party ends up in power...

I was also happy to hear Nick Clegg, in response to a question about the Pope's visit, state that he has no religious faith himself. Icould go on at length about that, but I see that Nick Harkaway has already said it, here more eloquently than I could..

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

A Mixed Week

it's been a funny old week, so far.

I had a rather depressing day in court, with an opposing lawyer (who does not really seem to be fulfilling her obligation to actually advise her client, as opposed to simply parroting what they say) decided that a personal attack on me was the way to go. It's not the first time this particular individual has behaved like this and I'm seriously considering speaking to the senior partner at her firm about it, as it's very unprofessional, quite apart from the personal unpleasantness. It's also in direct contravention of the code of practice for Family lawyers. *Sigh*

Yesterday I called my best friend, J - I was mostly calling to commiserate with her, as I knew she was planning to go to Istanbul for a long weekend (to meet up with her partner, who has been there for the past 10 days, working) and I guessed that with the ash from the volcano she would be unable to go. I was right, but I also learned that she had heard earlier in the day thet her grandmother has died. And of course, with her partner in Istanbul and no clear idea of how soon he'll be able to get back. I wish I lived close enough to be able to do more than just telephone. Death is never easy, even when you know (as in this case) that someone is dying, I think it is always something of a shock.

In happier news;

My Papa achieved another birthday (although he wasn't in when I called him to wish him happy birthday, so it's just as well I was, for once, organised enough to pop a card in the post!)

One of my colleagues, who keeps chickens, gave me some eggs, as they have a surplus, so this evening I was able to have an absolutely delicious omelette, made wioth eggs that really taste of eggs

And this weekend I shall be going to London, to see the EvelynEvelyn show, but in addition, thanks to Eyjafjallajokull, will get a chance to meet up in person with Adri, who so far I only know online, and who is stuck in the UK at present...

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Sunshine & Bumble Bees (and Volcanos)

I am sorry for all those people who are standed by the grounding of flights as a result of the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, but I have to say the lack of noise from flights is rather nice. I don't live under a major flight path, and have never thought of it as being particularly noisy here, but the quiet is VERY noticable. And as natural disasters go, this one is stunningly beautiful. I was watching the news earlier, and they had film showing the ash cloud above the volcano, shot through with crimson lightening caused by the eruption. It's (literally) awesome.

Despite the suggestions on the news that we were all to be buried under drifts of ash, it has in fact been a beautiful clear, bright, sunny dday - borrowed from June, not April. I cut my (postage-stamp sized) lawn, planted the rest of the lettuces and tomato seedlings I bought yesterday, plus some seedds which may, perhaps, one day become spring onions, and tidied up the (also postage-stamp sized patio. and, as I am still not 100%, in between I spent quite a lot of time sitting in the sunshine doing nothing much bar listen to the bumble bees and birdsong.

Although I did leave the house briefly to take the car to Kwikfit to get a new tyre fitted - whie they were doing tht, I wandered into town and ened up buying two new pairs of jeans, and a bag, and i have seen some shoes I may go back & buy, if they fit (I didn't try them on because I have a rather large blister right now, which doesn't seem the optimum condition for trying on shoes)

It's been a good, relaxing weekend. and next Saturday (volcanos and health permitting) I shall be in London fopr the EvelynEvelyn show.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

I An't Dead (yet)

So, it turned out that the bacteria (or virii) were just lulling me into a false sense of security, and instead of the worst being over last weekend, ameliorated by having a very good friend for company & tea making, they were just biding their time.
After J left on Sunday I curled up & snoozed, expecting to me more-or-less fit for purpose by Monday. Instead, by Monday morning I was at the stage where I took 3 attempts to succussfully make a cup of tea, (it seems that both tea & hot water play important roles in the process) and was coughing up half a lung every few minutes.

So I decided that I probably wasn't safe to drive a car, and that any advice I might be able to give my clients in between coughing all over them would probably not be very dependable, and went back to bed until Wednesday.

The rest of the week passed in a bit of a blur, as getting to work, getting home, and occasionally eating something took up all of my energy.

However, I do now appear to be on the mend, and I'm hoeful that I shall successfully see off this chest infection on the strength of my own immune system alone, no antibiotics.

Today, the sun is shining, I have spent some time in the garden, alternately sitting in the sun & enjoying the unusual lack of aeroplane noises & vapour trails, and getting my hands dirty planting out baby tomato and cauliflower plants. The fact that aftr planting 3 tomato seedlings I need to sit down and get my breath back is a hint that this bug is still out to get me, but sitting down to rest in the sunshine, with no sound but birdsong and bumbling bees is no hardship.

And tonight there will be a new episode of 'Dr Who', with Daleks & Winston Churchill...

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Friends, Theatre & Germs

So, I was expecting to be wiped out after a long weekend at Eastercon but not to the extent I have been. Unfortunately by Thursday it was clear I wasn't just over tired, but have managed to aquire a full blown chest & sinus infection. *sigh*
and I was in court on Friday, which is always particularly good fun when you are losing your voice!

However, on the plus side, my oldest friend, J was due to come visit for the weekend, and decided she still wanted to come despite risking my lurgy, so Friday evening saw me waiting for her at the station ( the train, for once, on time) and we then had a very relaxed, quiet weekend.

Saturday was a beautiful warm sunny day which we spent sitting out in the back garden, reading the papers & catching up, then in the evening we had tickets for Alan Bennett's 'Enjoy', at Bath Thatre Royal, starring Alison Steadman and David Troughton, so we headed into Bath for Nepalese food and the show. The play was pretty dark, but very funny.
And J being a sweetie, looked after me all weekend, bringing me tea & sympathy.
Sunday we met her parents for lunch, then she headed off with them, and I spent the afternoon mainlining honey & lemon, and hoping that next week will be quieter.

(PS this is my first attempt at posting by e-mail so if it has any weird hotmail ads in it, that'll be why. I'll edit later if need be)

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Odyssey 2010 - The Final Days

Monday started very late. Can't imagine why.

I made it for the 2nd half of of a panel on Language & Dialect in writing (would have made it for the first half, but I turned my ankle on the way, which slowed me down.) Very interesting, with discussions about whether readers in different parts of the world pick up on the same nuances when writers use different dialects or accents, particularly in relation to class and hearing the work in the author's voice once you have heard him (or her) speak.

Then nipped out for lunch with Cheryl Morgan (McDonalds seeming more appealing than anything available in the hotel....) before returning for the 'Icons, Symbolism & Archetypes' panel which was, on the whole, amiable (except for a few raised hackles at the suggestion, from the audience, that science was a belief system!) - favourite comments - "I'm an Anglican, but I like a bit of Wicca at the weekends" - Paul Cornell; Paul's assurances that not all Christians are narrow minded bigots, and Piers Beckley's response that not all Atheists are like Richard Dawkins...

Then headed to the 'Dollhouse, ethics and identity panel' but found it a bit frustrating as I could only hear 2 of the panellists.. I slightly regret not having gone to the Clangers symposium instead...

The final panel I went to was titled 'London as a SF/F Setting' - with Mike Carey, Mike Shevdon, Roz Kaveney,Sebastian Bleasdon and Pat Rigby-McMurray. It ended up being more about London in fact, than fiction, but was so interesting I didn't care it had wandered a little from the topic.

Looked in on the Dead Dog party, had a final pint, and then headed back to the hotel to pack, and sleep.

Then this morning, back to the hotel to breakfast with Cheryl Morgan and Anne K Murphy - hotel no longer sporting recruitment posters to combat the Cylon Threat, screens in lobby showing BBC news instead of Odyssey logos, in fact nothing interesting to look at at all.

Roundup of my EasterCon:

Panels etc. attended - about 20?
Books acquired 7
Books signed by authors 5
Hats acquired 2
Hours of sleep - far too few
Fun had - lots..

Monday, 5 April 2010

More EasterCon. Probably Sunday

An early start - I had put my name down for the Kaffeeklatch with Mike Carey, which was scheduled for 10 a.m., so necessitated getting to the Radisson by 9 to check the list. Happily, it was worth it, as I was on the list, so having marked myself in I was able to forage for coffee and ensure I was actually awake, before heading down to reclaim the room from the Clanger knitting panel immediately before us.

We were very lucky as not only did we get the conversation with Mike, there was no-one using the room from 11 and so we were able to simply carry on, and the kaffeeklatch ended up continuing until 1/4 to 12. Bonus!

There seemed to be a cross section of those who were primarily fans of Mike's comics / GNs and those coming in as fans of the Felix Castor novels, so part of the conversation veered into a quick run down of Mike's back catalogue and recommendations of where to start for a non-comic reader (possibly 'Season of Mists' followed by Lucifer)

There was talk about the 'grittiness' of the settings - the fact that the London in which Felix lives, and he other places he visits are very real, (except of course specific buildings etc which Mike invents - and which people apparently regularly claim to be familiar with!) as are elements such as the time taken to get from one part of it to another. Also talked about adapting other people's work, the fact that Mike has been offered but turned down suggestions that the Felix Castor books should be adapted as GNs (because, at least in part, of the difficulty in representing music in comics), but that a possible film is in the offing (Contracts have been "on the verge of being sent" for 2 years now...

We also talked about the Constantine film (general consensus seemed to be that it wasn't necessarily a bad film, as long as you don't expect it to be anything much to do with Hellblazer...) the importance of characters taking responsibility for their own actions and mistakes, Felix Castors's sex life (or lack thereof), families (born and made), Frankenstein and the morality of monsters, torture, John Constantine's successor, and reading recommendations from all around the table.

I'm pretty sure a good time was had by all - I certainly enjoyed it, and hope Mike did, too. The extra time meant that I missed the '1st editions & fine bindings' panel, which was a pity, but one cannot have everything.

After a couple of hours in the Green Room, which included a brief conversation with Paul Cornell & other waiting panellists about Jane Austen, lost in Austen and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, all conducted with the faint background smell of smoke & cordite from the Pyrotechnics display in the main hall, I headed down to the Hall for the Guest of Honour interview with Mike Carey, conducted by Paul Cornell.

This started late due to the pyro stuff, and some of the clean up had to go on during the interview, with people from (?Ops) mopping the stage as the interview continued!

The interview covered some of the same areas which were discussed at the Kaffeeklatch but also featured the Pantera comic "Probably the worst comicbook in the history of the world [,...] I convinced myself at the time that it was ironic, but it wasn't, it was just bad"- Mike Carey and more discussion of Lucifer, an how the character changed from Neil Gaiman's original character (Prompting Paul Cornell to declare "I love Lucifer. [pause] that wouldn't go down well with my wife")

Mike also talked about "The Unwritten" (including explaining that if/when JK Rowling's lawyers come knocking claiming it rips off Harry Potter the defence will be that no, it wasn't nicked from JKR but from 'Books of Magic'....
Both Paul & Mike seemed to be having fun during the interview, and we learned Mike's research consists of "bumming about on the internet...."

I had planned to stay for the European Torus & Alan Moore talks, but the lure of a shower & nap won out. I must say, that whatever its other failings, the Ibis cannot be faulted on water pressure :-)

I got back to the hotel in time for Ian Sorensen's "Harry Potter and the Half Cut Prince", billed as ' a musical with jokes and live quidittich. It was very funny, involving many appalling puns, reworked lyrics to such classics as 'Fame' and 'Pinball Wizard' , lots of Dr Who, Alan Rickman, Galaxy Quest and Rocky Horror references, and audience participation. All good, grubby fun!
An hour later, back in the hall for the Mitch Benn gig - introduced by Paul Cornell "He is one of us", Mitch's set included 'Be my Dr Who Girl', 'I might just have to Murder James Blunt' The Very Hungry caterpillar rock opera, 'Crap Shag' plus singing in dalek voice... this is a man who knows his audience. Lots of comedy between songs, including comments on not being a real Dr Who fan as he has never built his own Dalek, (and that what can what do with a dalek, except perhaps sulk) which amused me as I left, as I overheard a plaintive little voice saying "but I can think of *lots* of reasons to build a dalek"...

There seemed to be a lot of people queueing up to buy CDs afterwards some of whom didn't appear to have previously heard Mitch's stuff.

There were also lots of people milling around the atrium in fantastic costumes, preparing for the Steampunk Ball - also a rather splendid 10th Doctor.

It was shortly after this that I ended up in the Polo bar, where I had interesting conversations with several strangers, congratulated Paul Cornell & Cheryl Morgan on their Hugo nominations, drank guinness, and acquired a perfecty splendid hat from (I think) Sith Happens, before staggering back to the hotel at around 2 a.m.

Sadly, I didn't make it to the dealers room on Monday morning to get the e-mail address of the dealer from Brighton I was chatting to in the bar, so if you're reading this - sorry :(

Sunday, 4 April 2010

EasterCon - Saturday - Bad Science & Dr Who

So, it turns out that the Ibis has the worlds narrowest hotel beds and smallest duvets, so it is just as well the keep the place madly overheated... And who needs sleep, anyway?

The first event I wanted to attend was Iain M. Banks' GoH interview, which was at 11, so had a leisurely start to the day. The interview was excellent - very funny - speaking about the 'snobberati' looking down on him for writing SF, abut his early attempts at writing - as a 16 year old "..lot of sex and violence, of neither of which I had any experience of..." and about having wanted to write SciFi, but being unable to get published. he described writing 'The Wasp Factory', and those voices in his head criticising him for "giving up on writing SciFi for the miserable self satisfaction of getting published".....

He also mentioned having watched 'Mastermind' in which one of the contestants had his 'Culture' novels as a specialist subject. The contestant scored 26/27. Iain scored 19!
He claimed that he wrote primarily in winter when the weather is too unpleasant to go out, and therefore that were he to live in Southern California, he would therefore never write anything at all (except perhaps Haiku!)...

I have to confess that I haven't actually read any of his work except 'The Wasp Factory' but even without much prior knowledge I really enjoyed the interview (Now, if I can only manage Stretchy Time in order to have time to read more, I shall have to seek out & read some of his SF!

I then stayed on in the main hall for he next item, which was Ben Goldacre's Bad Science talk. I had been particularly looking forward to this as I had missed seeing him when he was at the Bath Lit. Fest. - it was lots of fun - serious points about bad science and poor reporting of scientific stores (NB: much of this seems to be due to editors, not scientists...) also, the 2000 years of medicine in 90 seconds!

having made reference to the Eloi & Morlocks and commenting on how this audience did not require the reference to be explained, he also christened this the "Picky fuckers convention" having been corrected for referring to Morpocks instead of Morlocks...)

Ben made the point that having had some genuine, ground-breaking medical discoveries and advances in the last century, with antibiotics / polio vaccines etc we/the media expect these to keep coming, and make them up when they don't.

I think Ben could easily have talked for much loner, and I would have been happy to listen for much longer - whilst I was broadly familiar with many of the problems he highlighted I really enjoyed the entertainment as well as the information part of the talk! (And managed to say hi & get my copy of Bad Science signed, at the end, which was nice!)

Following this I'd signed up for another greenroom shift, and then a quick dash back to the hotel to chill briefly before coming back for 6 p.m. - I had a dilemma, with 3 clashing events I wanted to go to, but in the end I decided (in common with 75% of the con) to watch the Dr Who premiere, on the basis that if I didn't, I might then find it hard to avoid spoilers...

I have to say, other than the practical issue of finding a large enough sofa to hide behind, I can definitely recommend watching Who in company with 900 or so fans...! I am not sure I am entirely ready to transfer my allegiance from the 1oth to the 11th Doctor, but I did enjoy it:) And the new TARDIS. Several very funny moments.
The evening continued for me with conversations with random people found sitting on sofas, then Sing-a-Long Buffy "Once More With Feeling" a small, but word-perfect audience and some excellent singing voices. I seem to recall calling in to the Friendly Scandinavians party, too (I can't help feeling there ought perhaps to have been an unfriendly Scandinavians party somewhere else, for balance...)

Saturday, 3 April 2010

EasterCon - Day One

Friday started early, in order that we could get to EasterCon at Heathrow at a reasonable time. The journey went well - not too much traffic (One of the advanages if you leave early, on a Bank Holiday Friday) and no navigational problems, apart from a minor glitch at the end when the SatNav tried to lead us astray (fortunately,Heathrow airport is pretty well signed, so we weren't fooled for long!)
We are not staying at the con hotel itself, but at the Ibis, which is about 10 minutes walk away and about 1/2 the price - AND we were able to check in early, so very satisfactory!

I spent the morning listening to a talk about timetravel, thena fascinating presentation by Juliet McKenna about Homer's Odyssey, and whether it was the wqorlds first fantasy novel (Answer, no, given that it is a dramatic poem ment to be performed, not a novel!) Juliet's enthusiasm was infectious; I really enjoyed it, and left wanting to re-read the Odyssey with her comments about the female characters, guest friendship and Odysseus's failings in mind.
After a pause for coffee and food, I then headed down to the Room Which Is Nowhere Near Anything Else (aka room 12) for a panel abuout "The English in the Marvelverse" with Mike Carey and Paul Cornell, moderated by Roz Kaveney - lots of fun, although it has to be said in wandred a little, at times, from the original brief... I rather liked the idea, floated by Paul cornell, of a comic in which Blade shows his English roots: "He should stake a couple of vamps, then have a cup of tea, and scones" which in turn led to a suggestion for a time-travelling 'Blade and Jane Austen' storyline . . . (I'd read that one!)
I had planned to stay for the next panel about whether one should censor what children read, but almopst without any conscious volition found myself instead, in the bar, where I bumped into Cheryl & Jetse de Vries, briefly met Ian Watson, and met (and got my shiny new book signed by)Mark Charan Newton and, after a very long wait, managed to acquire a very expensive pint of beer! The bar is a nice room, with comfy chairs, but very expensive, and considering how empty it was, astonishingly slow service..

However, refreshed and invigorated I moved on to a presentation by Dr Kari Maund (Kari Sperring) 'Arthur & Merlin - Where do the legends originate' which was fascinating - a whistle-stop tour of Gildas, Geoffrey of Monmouth etc which was very entertaining as well as informative - Gildas compared to the Daily Mail - a little later, I saw the first part of a panel about modern interpretsations of the Merlin legends, moderated by Kari, but unfortuntely couldn't stay to the end, as that sounded fun, too!
I then spent the evening volunteering in the Green Room, which mostly involed repeated runs to the bar, interspersed with the occasional delivery run, and then I finished the day with "Dr Horribles Sing-along-Blog", complete with proper singing along.
Lots of fun.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Quick Update, easterCon and other stuff

So, this week has been mostly dealing with mundane and unexciting stuff, hence not a lot of blogging.

Monday Tybalt had a visit to the vet, so I was very unpopular - he has been having some skin problems, one place on each of his shoulders, and one on his belly, which looked as though he had perhaps been scratched, and of course he keeps worrying at them, making them worse. So he has been wearing a lovely cone-head collar and being dabbled with antiseptic at regular intervals, as well as having an antibiotics shot. The verdict is that this could be a sensitivity to something he has come into contact with, or stress related, or it could just be that he did have a fight with someone and get scratched. However, it does appear that everything is healing now he can no loger get at the sore areas to lick them to pieces, although I am keeping the collar on for a few more days until they are completely gone, for fear that if I take it off him too soon, simply because I feel sorry for him as he walks into doorways, and complains about not being allowed out, he will undo all the good work.

This weekend I am off to EasterCon in London (or rather, Heathrow) - should be fun. Last time I went (to my first ever con!) was easterCon two years ago, which was at the same hotel and had Neil Gaiman, China Mieville and Charles Stross as Guests of Honour, all of whom are writers I'd go a long way to hear talking about their own work, which is really why I went - in cmbination, they were irrestistable.

This year, the GoHs are Alistair Reynolds, Mike Carey, Liz Williams and Iain M Banks - I have read and enjoyed Mike Carey's 'Felix Castor' novels, and the 'Lucifer' GNs, and I've read Iain Banks' 'The Wasp Factory', but I think that is all. This year I decided to go because o thought the con in general would be fun, rather than going to see a specific writer.

I'm hoping that there will be internet, both at the Radisson (where the con is being held) and the (much cheaper and less posh) Ibis down the road where I shall actually be staying. If there is, I should at least manage to tweet, if not blog. If I go silent, you will know that internet failed to matierialise...

I should be back home some time on Tuesday, probably in need of some major catching up on sleep....