Entries in The Game is Afoot (30)


Truer Words

Deb of Missives from Suburbia is hilarious. Plus, she's famous: she was recently on The Today Show. So you probably do want to be her friend, or at least one of her stalkers (keep it virtual; she has many large dogs). Deb contributed today's Scavenger Hunt request: What is your favorite cliché, and why?

A cliché is "a trite or overused expression," according to The Free Dictionary. My very most favorite cliché is "beyond a shadow of a doubt," for reasons that probably only long-time Mormons would understand. So I'll go with my second favorite: "Well, it's better than a sharp stick in the eye."

Why am I fond of this one? Because it's true; just about anything is better than a sharp stick in the eye. Except a plastic sword in the eye, as Christian accidentally found out yesterday, courtesy of Sir Daniel the Intrepid.

Other clichés often heard at the Perkins Corrall:

You don't have to like it; you just have to eat it.
Speak of the devil, and he shall appear.
Bring it on, Grandpa!
Santa, you're scaring me.
You can do hard things.
Dude, talk to the hand.
What the heck?
Did you want to heat/cool the whole neighborhood?
You said 'pie!'
Your shoe/book/ponytail holder didn't just fall into a wormhole; keep looking until you find it.

What, some of those aren't familiar to you? I can't imagine why not. They are all very useful shorthand for whole conversations; by all means adopt some as your own, if you like.


It's All Speculative

Jen of A2eatwrite is another one of these great bloggers who has dramatically improved the quality of my life. She's a talented writer with a wise and funny perspective on life; I am so glad to know her. Cross your fingers that you'll be able to find her YA paranormal novel in bookstores soon, because it's a treat!

Jen's contribution to my NaBloPoMo Scavenger Hunt is a particularly welcome one; she asked me to recap Christian's and my experience at the World Fantasy Convention, which was held the first weekend of this month. This year's WFC theme was "Ghosts and Revenants: Memory, History, and Folklore," so many of the panels and performances were centered around that theme.

Christian and I had a great time. Saratoga Springs is famed both for its mineral springs and for its race track; its lovely Victorian downtown area is thriving with great shops, spas, and restaurants of all sorts.
You can see the Con's riff on Saratoga in the photo above; this is the official T-shirt, featuring the running of "The Van Helsing Stakes," a speculative horse race between Dracula, Cthulhu (we immediately both thought of RaJ), the Headless Horseman, and a Ringwraith. We got to Saratoga a little after noon, picked up our registration packets, and went to lunch at a cute little restaurant on Main Street.

Our first con event was a reading by Jane Yolen. It's always nice when a talented writer is also a gifted out-loud reader; she was fabulous. Then we went to a panel that featured Esther Friesner and Paul Cornell, among others, discussing "The Varieties of Ghostly Experience."
Panels are a crapshoot: sometimes great, sometimes not. An author you love may be a terrible panelist: either so in love with the sound of his/her own voice that domination becomes inevitable, or too shy and retiring to speak up and contribute to the group discussion. Sometimes the panelists stray from the topic at hand; this can be good, but is more often frustrating. But I have often discovered new favorite writers because they were terrific panelists. You just never know.

Next was a reading by Dave Duncan. Oh, how I love this man. His writing is brilliant, and he sounds like a tenor version of Sean Connery. His reading was utterly charming.

After hearing Dave, we hit the bookseller's room, where we met Bruce Coville, a lovely human being who deserves every bit of his considerable success. We bought a book of his for James and one for Hope; he graciously signed them both.

Then we went next door to the art gallery. Many prominent sf/fantasy illustrators had booths featuring both original work and prints; Christian bought a cool signed print by Bob Eggleton, who happened to be right there at the time.

We went to dinner at a surprisingly authentic Mexican restaurant owned by a former jockey from Oaxaca. There's really nothing better than simple, straightforward Mexican food; yum.

Back we went to the Conference Center for the Autograph Party. WFC is mainly for authors and editors; the admission is capped very low, so the author-to-fan ratio is quite high. At the party, we could walk right up to fantasy greats like George R.R. Martin (with whom I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying, "Go home this instant and finish that long-overdue book") or Lois McMaster Bujold and chat for a bit.

Saturday morning's first panel was a winner: "Tolkien as a Horror Writer," with panelists like Jeanne Cavelos, Ysabeau Wilce, and Douglas Anderson. Next was another great one: "Robert Aickman and the Aesthetics of Ambiguity," with that rock star Peter Straub and Guest of Honor Lisa Tuttle. We were loving life.

After lunch came an hour-long reading with Guy Gavriel Kay. Fantastico. Then we heard a terrific panel of all Australian writers talking about ghosts Down Under, and Christian got some books signed by one of his (and my) favorites, Garth Nix. Very satisfying.

We went back to our hotel room to rest for a few hours, because the evening's program was going to run late. We watched a movie, ate some pizza, and hung out: good Mom-son time was had.

That evening, we went to "A Pleasing Terror," Alan Dean Foster's performance of two English ghost stories written by M.R. James. Foster was amazing; Jim Dale couldn't have done it better. The event was held by candlelight, and with just a few minor props, Foster had us spellbound. If you're going to be in London over the holidays, seek him out. Next was a great panel on Shirley Jackson featuring Kathryn Cramer and that slipstream goddess Kelly Link.

The next morning we enjoyed Christian's favorite panel, "The Ghosts of New York State," with historian Mason Winfield and fantasy icon Betty Ballantine, among others. Unfortunately, the next panel was rather a dud, which was a huge disappointment, as it was on Urban Fantasy. After that, we heard John Crowley, one of my favorite fantasy writers, read from his latest work-in-progress.

At that point, the only thing left was the World Fantasy Awards banquet. The food was horrid and our table company was questionable, but Guy Gavriel Kay gave a brilliant speech as Master of Ceremonies, and seeing the awards presented was very cool. Think "Oscars for geeks," and you'll have a pretty good picture of what went on. That darling legend Gene Wolfe won Best Novel; he'd celebrated his 51st wedding anniversary the day before, so he was a pretty happy guy. Love it.

After that, we hopped in the car and drove home. As conventions go, Readercon remains my favorite by far, but we won't soon forget our time at this year's WFC.


The Whole Nine Yards

Anjmae of Makaimama, who happens to be my superwoman of a younger sister, asked me to find out where the expression 'the whole nine yards' came from. Annette Lyon was kind enough to open up that vast warehouse of information that is her brain and give us the answer in a comment (which is, as I have confirmed independently, that there IS NO credibly documented answer).

So my job here is basically done.

But here's a funny (at least, to me) Daniel story, just so you don't feel totally ripped off today. We pass over the Croton Reservoir on our way to and from church every Sunday. For a while now, Daniel and I have had a friendly argument as we drive across the bridge. It goes like this:

Daniel: There's the river!

Me: It's the reservoir.

Daniel: No, it's the river!

Me: Actually, it's the reservoir.

So a couple of Sundays ago, Daniel got a little frustrated after our normal exchange. Here's how it went:

Daniel: There's the river!

Me: It's the reservoir.

Daniel: No, it's the river!

Me: Actually, it's the reservoir.

Daniel: Mom, do you see all that blue water down there?

Me: Yes.

Daniel (with more disdain than a three-year-old should be able to muster): It's called 'a river.'


Guilt: What is it good for?

Well, I won't say 'absolutely nothing,' as I would if I were correctly paraphrasing the song, but it's not good for much, in my opinion.

Kimberly at Temporary?Insanity (brilliant, funny, and gorgeous: she's a regular trifecta) suggested that I write about guilt in relation to being a wife, mother, and woman. It's late; I've had a vey full Sunday, and Patrick is dying for us to turn out the light, so I'll be quick. And I won't feel bad about it, either. Why? Because I can only do what I can do.

If feelings of remorse cause you to make amends for something bad you did, great. But if you're feeling guilty about something you're not willing to change, why? 'Remove the layer of self-criticism,' a wise friend once counseled me.

So you're not the best laundress, or you don't bake from scratch, or you're not willing to give up MnMs. You don't change your own oil, or you pay someone else to mow your lawn, or you don't know HTML. Get fine with it and save the energy you are spending on guilt and use it in a positive way for something you really care about. Beating yourself up gets you nowhere but down.

I'm not saying we shouldn't constantly be striving for self-improvement. I am saying that guilt is a poor motivator. So if it doesn't work, ditch it and walk away smiling.

I know: easier written than done. But all we can do is try every day, right?


Is it an horrific dream?

Kathleen, that ever-cheerful blogger from Anchorage, Alaska, came up with today's NaBloPoMo stumper. "Why do people hurt other people?"

As I tried to digest this question, child of the 80s that I am, I immediately thought of the Tears for Fears song quoted in this post title. Then I ruminated upon how much better Michael Andrews's cover of "Mad World" is than the original (as much as I love it). Next I pondered how very creepy yet cool the movie Donnie Darko is.

Which led me, of course, to wonder in pharisaical manner whether watching an R-rated movie that I've already seen violates my 'no R-rated movies' rule (I imposed this on myself a couple of years ago). Because I love The Matrix so much, and why was it rated R anyway? Dumb: I've seen PG-13 movies that were way more violent. Oh, and Blade Runner is rated R, too; that's one of my all-time favorites, dang it. And....

Oh, wait. Kathleen asked a really hard, very serious question. Focus, girl; focus.

And all I have to answer is this. When someone hurts me or someone I love, I try to remember that all ugliness is born of pain and fear. I don't think people would hurt each other if they weren't hurting or grieving in some way, a fact of which they might not even be conscious.

I could try and expand on this in poetic or allegorical manner, but that's the truth as I know it, plain and simple. Thanks for asking, Kathleen! I can check one more day off as 'done' on my mental NaBloPoMo calendar.