The pun wars raged behind me. The war was horrific; the puns stank to high heaven. That’s what happens when one of the Guests of Honor at your convention is Spider Robinson and as part of the tribute, Worldcon had set up a working Callahan’s Bar, including hosting some of the events in the books. That’s why there was a pun war. Why did I care? Because the Fanzine Lounge was technically located at the back of Callahan’s Bar.
To be honest, most of the puns were difficult to hear because the sound was rather muddy and muted in our corner, but that was okay. I saw Murray Moore, and there was a moment where we had to remind each other what cons we’d seen each other at before — the San Jose Corflu and the Reno Worldcon to be specific. Murray’s a great guy — he’s always so calm and thoughtful. I always like seeing him.
Shortly thereafter, it also gave me a chance to catch up with John Coxon, who I hadn’t seen since he was the TAFF delegate running around the Worldcon in Reno. We talked about the fact that he’d spent some time in Berkeley and now understood what the script Cal on my ball cap stood for and a bit about the fact that he was going to be in the masquerade that evening. Then there was some laughing remembrance of the day Chris Garcia, James Bacon, and John Coxon dropped by Sacramento on their way to Reno. I left work to meet them for lunch and we all went to an all-you-can-eat pizza place tucked into an obscure corner of Old Sacramento. It’s fun to talk about good memories. A friend of John’s asked him if the pizza was any good, and John basically said, “How should I know? I was hanging out with friends! And it was all-you-can-eat pizza!”
Ah, but the hour approached, and if I was going to catch Kirsten the way I caught Doug, I needed to hoof my way over to panel-land and wait. While I was waiting, I noticed the folks handing out copies of Amazing!, and I noticed that one of them was Steve Davidson. I’ve only known Steve online, but when I was a little more active with my fan writing, he has been supportive of my efforts. It was good to finally meet him in person.
Then I took up my position in front of the door, waiting for the panel to let out, and trying not to lose my place as the hallway became alive with particles bouncing in all sorts of random directions. Most of them stayed in general paths down the center of the room, but it seemed as if many of these particles were getting trapped in accumulations around doors, almost as if the doors themselves were clogged drains. Then, suddenly, there was a burst, and the drain unclogged, and two different flows tried to push against each other! Then, there was me, a still particle in a wild chaos of motion, a spot of calm in the dance…and then my quarry appeared.
After that, I joined the flow as well, with another friend who was happy to see me. Kirsten and I spent some time catching up, and then she said, “I could use a donut.” I paused, and then I said, “That sounds like an excellent plan.”
Folks, these were not ordinary donuts. There’s a few places around the country that make, for lack of a better term, gourmet donuts. The most famous of these places is probably Voodoo Donuts in Portland, OR, but San Jose has Psycho Donuts, and they had set up a table at Worldcon. I never passed by this table without seeing at least a bit of a line. The line was oh so worth it, though, as suddenly, you were confronted by all these amazing donuts — donuts with cereal as a topping, donuts of banana and caramel, donuts with actual strawberries as a topping — all sorts of amazing things.
After a quick perusal, I picked one with a spaceship on the top and a fruit filling for the science fiction part of Worldcon (a Nebula something, I don’t remember), and an amazingly crazy blue frosted donut covered with sparkles and stars and sprinkles and balls of sugar, and another crazy squirt of bright blue line frosting. This wonderful creation was called “Unicorn Farts”, and it stood up to its name in every fashion.
Kirsten has to head off to a convention office — this is the trouble with catching up with Bay Area friends at a Bay Area Worldcon, a lot of them are on staff — so I wandered back to the fanzine lounge to see who I could find there. There’s always somebody interesting there, and if there isn’t, there’s always somebody shortly. I pulled out my donuts to enjoy them and to watch the convention pass by. I’m fond of people-watching and eventually, people will gravitate towards a table where somebody is sitting. That’s sometimes how I’ve gotten into my best conversations at conventions.
This time was no exception. Ranger Craig got some time to sit down and enjoy the fanzine lounge and tell us some great tales. I won’t repeat them here, because they’re his stories to tell, but he’s a great storyteller. I spoke with James Bacon for a moment as he came to drop off a book for the fan fund auction, and I wished him well for his convention next year but told him it’s doubtful I’ll make it. I’ve been inactive in fandom and I don’t feel like I’m in a stable enough place in my life to mount a TAFF bid for next year. That’s about the only way I’m going to make it, bar winning the lottery.
Shortly, Schirm brought something interesting to the table — a portable crank phonograph from the 1920s. Along with it, he had several records, one dating to the time where, in order to record, the singers had to sing into a horn as there were no microphones. He also had several early jazz records, and some other novelty records. It was amazing that this machine, nearly a hundred years old, produced such amazing quality sound with no speaker, no batteries, and no power cord. It had just a crank, a needle, and a case that provided the resonance for us to hear it.
Things like Schirm’s wonderful phonograph are things one wouldn’t necessarily think of as belonging to science fiction and fantasy fandom, but in many ways it is. Not only is it a device that was futuristic for its time, it was retro-futuristic for the fans sitting around that table. Besides that, sometimes fandom is simply fans sharing their passions with one another — just like fanzines could talk about jazz and sports cars and still be fannish.
A friend of mine that I know through local writing circles, Richard Crawford, came up to the table while Schirm was playing the records. It was nice to say hi to him at Worldcon, and I’m glad he was able to enjoy his beer with some music. We didn’t get to talk much, but that was okay. Richard’s a local friend and we’ll get together at some point.
Halfway through the music, I realized that I had one other errand that I needed to run. Another local friend of mine, Michael Gallowglas — who writes under the name M. Todd, and you should buy all his books — just became a wizard, err, a master of fine arts in the field of creative writing, and this was my first chance to congratulate him instead of waiting until November. (I know a lot of my local friends because of NaNoWriMo…) I wandered back over to the dealer’s room to Michael’s table and gave him the congratulations he so heartily deserved. I would have stayed there and talked to him a bit longer, but he was doing paying work, so I just told him I’d see him in November.
I have so many amazing and wonderful friends. Sometimes it takes a convention to see all of them and remind myself of that fact.
Not done yet! I think I can finish it up in a fifth part. See you there!