Monday, May 29, 2006

Coming in to Land

Well, back again and none the worse for wear. Adventures continued as we left the hotel; Jeremy and I on a road trip are a unique experience, as Becky will tell you. It's kind of like Kermit and Fozzie in the Studebaker.... But with a lot more yelling and rude gestures. Apparently my inability to successfully pull over at Terminal 2 at O'Hare on the first go-round nearly caused him to miss his plane. Which I think would have been fuckin' hiLARious, but I suppose I might have felt differently in his position. Still--ha haaa!

Then I spent another 2 hours driving through construction around Chicago. Dammit.

High spots of the con included the aforementioned giant hot dog; a women in gaming panel; a panel on autism/Asperger's and its relationship to fandom; a panel on successful flirting and pickups at cons, which was pretty damn funny; and a number of readings by authors I'm vaguely aware of. (My usual sense of literary lameness was carried over to yet another con--I don't think I've read a fantasy book in over a year, and the only sci-fi was the new William Gibson. I swear, I'm really cutting edge, just in a non-fiction sort of a way. really. Totally cutting.) The autism panel was particuarly good, although I sat there with my hand up for a good 30 minutes without getting called on and finally gave up. Back when I worked in game retail, I noticed (it was impossible not to notice) that a significant percentage of people in our hobby show a lot of the key markers for autism and Asperger's. It was interesting to hear the issue discussed in regards to sci-fi fandom, as it doesn't really get talked about within the game industry... Also made a connection with one of the guys who was on the game panel, he apparently wants to talk further about women in the miniatures hobby for some research he's doing. I'd link to his website, but apparently I already lost his business card. I suppose that was predictable.... Maybe he'll email me.

And speaking of painting, I finally finished the commission that's been hanging overhead for 3 months and mailed it Friday before leaving. Yaaaay! Now I can start all the other projects that were lying in wait for that one to be done. I'd do it tonight, but it's way damn hot in the house, and the laptop has raised my body temperature to a dangerous level. So it'll have to wait.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Because Nothing Is Ever Typical

One of my problems with this con, as I've said before, is the sort of strange inner-circle/outer-fringe atmosphere that pervades the place. It really is lovely and friendly and warm and kind, but some people take the con very personally and seriously, and are extremely gushy and sentimental on the topic. There was an essay in the newsletter this morning that waxed sappily poetic on why Wiscon is so very special. Now, I look tremendously forward to going to Wiscon each year (despite a lot of foot-dragging around registration time.) But for me, the finer moments come between the panels and readings and such...
So we're walking down Dayton toward State Street, and see our friend Stephen across the road, and the following shouted conversation ensued:
JEREMY: Look! A giant hot dog!
And sure enough, a guy dressed as a giant hot dog was walking down State Street a block away. Kelly, our instant roommate, (she couldn't find other housing. Just Add Desperation!) was the only one of us possessed of a cell phone camera, and as soon as the pictures are posted, I'll link to them. She ran half a block, in sweltering heat and humidity, sacrificing her own personal dignity to get a picture of a man dressed up as a brat. We salute her. This, then is the true meaning of Wiscon--solidarity, fraternity, and public humiliation.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

I'm Evil.

I'm at a sci-fi convention in Madison, Wisconsin right now. That, in itself, isn't evil. But my roommate, Upyernoz, has been so kind as to leave his computer on and available in the room so I can check my email and blog on the hotel's WiFi connection. I have just utterly abused his kindness by taking advantage of the fact that he didn't log out of his own blogger account before leaving the room today, and posting something to his weblog. He really should know better. We've been playing practical jokes on each other for years. I just wish I could have come up with something better to post--but as he has a much larger readership than I do, and some of them actually take him seriously (lord, if they only knew him as I do...) I felt it might be bad to actually post something almost plausible and yet false. Don't think I couldn't have, Noz! I held myself in check! But oh.... what an opportunity.....

I have to go steal some food from the various parties now. And then go to a panel about librarians.Catch you on the flip side.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

"Search" Engine, My Ass

If Google were a real search engine, it could tell me where to find my goddamn car keys.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Way of All Flesh

When I was 16 or 17, I started hanging out at the local game store, as so many young nerds do. Eventually I got a job there as the scullery wench; the co-worker I got on with the best was a heavyset, red-bearded guy in his 30's who looked just like I always imagined the dwarves in The Hobbit to look (only taller, of course.) He got me started painting miniatures; he ran the very first role-playing game I ever tried; he introduced me to the works of H.P. Lovecraft by telling me the story of the Cats of Ulthar from memory one night when we both worked til close. Any time someone would come into the store and say, "Hey Kurt, how are you?" he would respond, thoughtfully, "Well, I'm just perfect." He encouraged my passing interests in history and medievalism, and thus was partially responsible for my ending up a medieval studies major in college. This tickled him no end when I told him about it, and he told me that it was my duty as a writer and historian to write a paper about the Black Plague and title it "The Way of All Flesh." It's too elegant a phrase to waste.

On Tuesday I got a call from Kurt's brother letting me know that Kurt had gone the way of all flesh the night before. He'd been ill with cancer for some time, though he remained confident of his ability to conquer it right up until the end.

He became a teacher late in life, and I expect to see many of his young charges at his funeral on Saturday. But as one of his earliest students, in a joyous variety of topics during those evenings at the game store, I'd like to be among the first to say Yes, were perfect.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Joys in da Hood

I graduated again yesterday. It was my nicest commencement since Vassar; I say this because the Loyola one was nothing short of hideous on nearly all fronts. I was unhappy with the degree, the ceremony took hours, it was impersonal, the chairs were uncomfortable and there was no chance to flee the area at any point during the process. IUPUI, on the other hand, strives for the slick efficiency of a well-oiled machine. The hooding ceremony was at 10, and every graduate candidate (a couple hundred of us I think) was hooded by 11; lunch was done by noon and it was off to the School of Liberal Arts commencement. This featured an actual commencement speaker--the mayor--whose speech topic seemed to be, "Why you shouldn't regret majoring in the Liberal Arts, although you probably will anyway." (Frances Fergusson gave a similar speech at the Vassar Alumni event back in November, and hers was a bit more inspirational and reassuing to me... but it's hard to compare with Fran, really. I don't hold that against the mayor.) The liberal arts commencement took only an hour or so, even with all the undergrads walking across the stage to get their rolled-up piece of paper that isn't a diploma but a letter congratulating you on eventually getting a diploma. The next event was the all-school commencement in the Hoosier Dome, but by this point I was done. Not even the lure of possibly seeing my own visiage on the Jumbo-tron (TM) was enough to get me to stick around longer. I was strongly tempted to keep my Masters' hood--after all, no one was checking them back in, and the rental was $34--but honesty and lack of closet space won out.

Wonder what I'll go back to school for next...?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Movieing Violations

Well, it's over. I managed to see 7 films in 7 days, and used up my entire 10-ticket bundle. What else did I see, you may ask? Sisters in Law, a documentary from Cameroon about female judges and lawyers dealing with family law and rape cases in a misogynistic society. It was funny and fascinating and sad, all at once. I highly recommend it. Iron Island is only the second Iranian film I've ever seen... And it was only slightly less confusing and strange than the first one. One of the reviews on IMDB says that Iron Island "lets you make up your own mind." I'm sorry, but I'd at least like for the director to give the story a clear point or a followable plot--I'm happy then to make up my mind what I thought of it, but give me something to work with, here! Iron Island has one of the coolest setups of any movie I saw this week; a sort of floating city of poor people are living aboard an abandoned oil tanker, run by a big-fish-small-pond kind of guy who's essentially exploiting the people, they work for him in exchange for rent etc. But there's a love plot that ends incomprehensibly, the people are eventually forced off the boat but it's not clear what will happen to them, and a little kid runs off into the ocean and disappears. (I know the last one is symbolic, but I'm not sure of what since the water represents freedom for fish, and his name is Baby Fish--but the water is also what was imprisoning the people on the boat. So I dont' get it. Maybe I'm just not subtle enough to watch Iranian films.) Last but not least was Kinky Boots, which is based on a true story of a shoe manufacturer in Britain who saves his dying business by starting to specialize in womens' style shoes for transvestites and drag queens. It featured The Operative from "Serenity" as the main drag queen, and it was nothing short of hilarious. Two thumbs up, 5 stars, and so on.

Now school's out, grading is done, I've been to Kalamazoo and back, and things are returning to "normal." I have to dismantle my whole fishtank soon, the thought is daunting to say the least. Maybe I can avoid it a bit longer if I keep blogging regularly...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Film Flam

The festival proceeds apace, marred somewhat by the fact that someone kipped the IFS cash box out of the projection booth at the art museum, sometime between Thursday night and Sunday morning. We lost about $150 and three new membership forms. Boo. Other than that, and some minor projection problems, it's all going swimmingly, and we had a number of new people show up at the IFS monthly screening tonight. Though if I see one more Stella Artois commercial before a film I may be forced to boycott their beer for life. (Apparentlly, one can grow tired even of funny European beer commercials.) Got a couple more reviews for you, whether you want them or not.

Lady Vengeance
Have you ever watched a movie, and said to yourself, "Wow, that was a great film, and I don't ever want to see it ever again"? I felt that way about Peter Greenaway's Pillow Book; it was tremendous and beautiful and fascinating, and it also made me want to barf and gave me creepy dreams for days afterwards. Chan-wook Park's Lady Vengeance was a lot like that (though not quite so much so.) It had moments of totally hilarious visual comedy, followed immediately by moments of "Dear god, that's so....wrong." It's not that it's totally gory--though there's a fair amount of blood and ick--but more just that the plot is plain disturbing. Much more so than the capsule on the link page would indicate. I don't think I want to see his other films, and while I really did like Lady Vengeance, I wouldn't recommend it if you're not in the mood for a bit of a mind fuck.

District 13
Brought to us by Luc Besson of La Femme Nikita fame, this is an action movie set in grimy future Paris, 2010. Upyernoz recommended this one to me as it got good reviews at the Philly Film Fest last month. While I'd not call it groundbreaking in terms of plot--it's kind of Escape From New York-ish--the martial arts and action sequences were beyond cool. The best I can describe it is sort of Matrix-style, but more beliveable; lots of jumps, kicks, and rolls and running up nearly sheer surfaces, all with no breaks in the movement. Each action flows into the next, it's like dance. And I'm told there was NO wire work in these sequences. If you see it, you'll find that as hard to believe as I do. I loved it.

I'm dividing my time between grading, movies, and yard work right now. Some time I need to work in painting, too, as I'm getting way behind.... Maybe next week.