Sunday, May 27, 2007



(Written while at Oasis 20, the science fiction and fantasy convention hosted by the Orlando Area Science Fiction Society.)

11:24 PM, Thursday 5/24. Classical music plays on WMFE, Orlando's public radio station. I've set up my laptop on the round table in my room, while the radio sits on the bed. The table holds my second brewed pot of coffee on a face cloth, while another, folded face cloth serves as a coaster for my mug (my prior entry, "Simple," has the photo). I've just gotten off the phone with Mary, who told me which panels she's interested in hearing if I'm able to record them. I'm not sure if that's permitted yet, but if it is I've got my digital recorder and extra batteries at the ready. Mary, who was registered to be here, has opted to stay home to care for Red, who is stuck in Kitty Purgatory with his Elizabethan collar.

Ten days before I left he'd had minor surgery to remove a growth from his paw. But as I've been telling people, when it comes to animals there is no such thing as "minor surgery." I'd offered to stay home as well, but Mary insisted I go. I owe her one....

I have traveled with my duffel bag, my computer case with this laptop, two tote bags, camera, and fanny pack. One dresser drawer now holds four cans of tuna (I've had the fifth for dinner) containers of peanuts and raisins, and a box of chocolate Power Bars. The room has a fridge, which holds two water bottles and four cans of chocolate Nutrament. On the table here are leftover chocolate-covered peanuts (do you detect a trend?). I stopped and had one can of Nutrament on the way down, during my second stop, at which time I rewrote my final driving directions in big red Sharpie letters on the sheet I'd duct-taped to the dashboard and made sure I had a flashlight within easy reach.

I made only two wrong turns coming down here, one at the beginning and one at the end. Mapquest had me going in what seemed a counterintuitive direction, traveling north rather than south and making an upper loop to get to I-75 before the jog onto Florida's Turnpike. A wrong turn meant I ended up taking the route I was curious about, and nowI know why Mapquest did what it did. The way I went, I had half a mile to get from the rightmost lane to the leftmost lane on a busy interstate in order to make my connection.

Fortunately, the busy interstate wasn't so busy. Worse came to worse, I'd have overshot the exit and then found a dinky little road to get to Florida's Turnpike, so I wasn't worried.

The second wrong turn was a bit hairier. It was dark by the time I reached Orlando, and then it was wet. And the International Resort and Spa (nee Sheraton) doesn't have big address numbers or even a name facing the road. It's set back from the road, next door to Sea World. So of course I missed it, driving what I knew was way too much distance before I decided to turn around. Then I had to make a quick jog to the left before I ended up back on I-4 ("Help me, Shamu!"). I figured I'd park at what looked like one in a series of motels, then wander around on foot until I found this place and plot out the short route to get there.

I didn't realize I'd parked practically in front of my room. Which is located in Building 16, out of a total of 19 buildings.

This isn't a hotel, it's a campus. With bellhops dressed like Mr. Livingston I Presume and jungle decor in the main building. This is my first trip to Orlando, which is Florida's Showbiz Central. Or, as Mary said, "The busboys aren't just busboys, they're actors."


Let's call it a campus in a movie set that falls somewhere between Casablanca and The African Queen.


But at least here I can schlep my own gear up to the room. And on the walkway leading to my room I made the acquaintance of a lovely little toad.


I got everything up to the room and called Mary to let her know I'd arrived safely, then called her again after we each had dinner. I was going to get a post-drive drink at the bar, but decided instead to just settle in, find some classical music, order this room the way I wanted it, and brew some coffee. The first panel isn't until 2 PM tomorrow, so I'm planning to be up fairly early to explore the place.

Hibiscus flower

5/26 8:44 PM So far I've recorded 3 panels for Mary, written 3 poems based on art show pieces, reconnected with people I met at Necronomicon, and for some strange reason haven't had a drop of liquor yet. (Okay, I tasted some blackberry Merlot spritzer, but that doesn't count. I was just trying to wrap my brain around "blackberry" and "Merlot" in the same sentence.) The TV in my room has stayed off. I've picked up Oasis tote bags plus a commemorative T-shirt, and would have picked one up for Mary except that she doesn't like shirts with a lot of plastic in them. I'll see if there's an all- or mostly-cotton shirt from an older con.


Friday morning I got my first taste of working registration, pulled in off the street as it were. At 10 AM registration was still in the process of setting up -- so, rather than twiddle, I offered to help. I did some schlepping, gave a wish list (trash can, more chairs, another table) to the hotel staff, and then got a quick course in checking in folks who had pre-registered. That gave me a chance to meet a fair number of people whom I later recognized at panels here and there.


The panels here have been excellent. Attended so far: "Genetics 101" (so I can try to understand Mary when she explains things to me), "Cover Art by Committee," "What was the Best Era of SF?", "Alien Artifacts," "What Makes A Human," "NASA Panel" (space exploration controversies), and half of "Is There a Future for God?", breaking from that panel early for a lunch get-together.


Normally I should have free wireless access here, but the node serving my room is on the fritz. After talking with tech support I literally stood outside someone else's room to see if I could connect to their node (yes), then saw if I could maintain that connection back in my room (no). At a cost of 50 cents a minute at the business center and a cost for local calls (I brought my dial-up phone wire with me), I figured I'll play catch-up when I get home. The manager offered to move me to another room, but I decided I'd rather not schlep all my stuff again.


We had a small but spirited Masquerade. Afterwards, I gave Mary a call at our pre-arranged check-in time and she took a few minutes to explain why one should not try to take the label off a can of chicken soup after having opened the can. The unrelated but good news is that Red did not remove one of his stitches as we'd previously feared.

The first-place winner.

Before I left home I received an e-mail from Covenant's editor over at Koboca. I'll spend some time going over the edits before I go to bed. I've brought promotional flyers with me for the book but am being fairly low-key at this point. Covenant doesn't go to print until the summer and won't be released until November. Necronomicon in October will be a different story -- I can pull out all the stops then.

5/27 2:15 PM Waiting for the final panel and closing ceremonies. I'm typing this in the convention area, where I can plug into a wall socket but where I have no wireless access -- unlike the main lobby, where I have wireless access but no working wall socket to plug into.

I'll be traveling home with a beautiful piece of artwork, which marks the first time I've bid on an art piece (silent auction). I stapled my card to the bid sheet because I wish I knew who had bought one of my photos at a live auction back in February. In addition, I've bought 4 books and 3 T-shirts (at 3 for $10; I think I found a couple done in ink that Mary can wear), plus received 3 more books as a door prize.

And I've signed two autographs (one on a book in which my poems appeared back in '84 (Burning With a Vision: Poetry of Science and the Fantastic, edited by Robert Frazier), and one on a poster), the first time I've done that sort of thing in more than 20 years. Very cool!

Last night, before going to bed, I went through the edits in the first half of Covenant. Very small changes. Many of the formatting changes actually undo alterations I'd made based on William Shunn's formatting guide, where I'd switched my italics to underlines. Turns out those needed to be changed back, and two spaces after each period changed to one. Good to know for future volumes.

7:52 PM Attended: "Science Fiction Poetry Readings and Discussion," "State of the Solar System: Is Pluto Just Mickey's Dog Now?", and the Closing Ceremonies. I call Mary in a bit over an hour. I've downloaded the four panels I've recorded for her, plus put them on a CD that I gave to the conference organizers at the "Dead Dog Party." I also played (and won) my first game of Wizard, sitting at a table of six, which was sheer beginner's luck. Years ago Mary and I learned to play contract bridge, of which Wizard is a distant cousin, but we never got past the novice stage there.

I'll see if I can upload this from the lobby after my call. Then I'll partially load the car, duct-tape the directions home to my dashboard, and try to get a good night's sleep before the drive home.


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