(Catching up on the last few weeks here, gotta make an effort to post in a more timely manner.)
After the ceremony at City Hall we headed as a group to my local diner (alsoJohn’s favorite purveyor of American-style breakfast) the good ol’ Tennessee Grill. Once done with breakfast John and I took a couple of hours to relax and chill out before heading over to the evening’s festivities over at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero where Leigh Ann was generously hosting a celebration/reception/minicon for us.
At the Hyatt we found Leigh Ann and she gave us our room key to go settle in. I changed into something more retrofuturistic (or at least silver) and John happily had his hair coiffed by Mette. Done with that and fortified by a glass of champagne each, we headed down to the Eclipse Lounge to party once again in the shadow of the Wicker Death Star.
The event was perfect; from the convention style badges and enthusiastic ribbon trading by all involved to the amazing cake made by Linda and accompanying space-suited cake toppers crafted by Bryan and Mette. Almost everyone I wanted to see there made it and it was a little surreal to see people from the different parts of my life meeting.
Richard Man generously gifted us with some professional portraits, which came out beautifully. The camera he used was pretty awesome all on its own. John’s parents have met some fans before but I think this was their first time in the thick of it so to speak, they seemed to enjoy themselves all the same. Likewise my roommate Palle’s parents came along and I greatly enjoyed seeing them mingle and meet Mette in particular. My best friend from my teens even made it, having recently moved up to the Bay Area. All in all it was a great group and everyone seemed to have a good time.
John flew out on May 2nd with his parents and brother and then on May 7th we got married at San Francisco City Hall.
It all went exactly as planned, pretty much. In the days before the wedding we got to spend some time hanging out together as well as with his family with whom we kicked around the East Bay for a bit and then attended a Hubba Hubba Revue show with. The next couple of days we caught up with friends in the South Bay. Then on the eve of the ceremony John headed over to Oakland to spend the night with his family. I went back and forth on whether that idea was sweet or a bit silly under the circumstances, but it was perfect really. It meant we could each fuss our way through the morning and preserve the surprise.
John and his friend Andrew arrived at City Hall a little before I did and so I was waiting to go through security when I heard him say my name and looked up to see him looking handsome and happy in his snazzy new suit. It was a wonderful moment and a highlight of the day.
From there things moved speedily along. We met up with his parents and brother, then with Mette and Joe Price, who served as our witnesses. Five minutes before our appointment time we met the judge, who was wonderful. She was warm and friendly, and exactly what I would have wanted if I had known what to ask for. Part of the building was roped off for some photo shoot including the rotunda stairs, making me worried we’d end up in a court room, but in the end it worked out and the ceremony took place exactly where I had hoped. The judge encouraged us to take the opportunity to get more photos in the beautiful building and we did just that.
Finally we headed out to get some classic American diner breakfast at the Tennessee Grill after which John and I took some time to catch our breath before the evening’s festivities. On which more later.
This Saturday was my birthday, which I didn’t have to plan anything for specifically because it also happened to be the weekend of FogCon, a small literary convention in Walnut Creek.
Although I was a bit sad when the convention moved out of San Francisco after its first year, I really like the Walnut Creek Marriott and it seems to suit the size and shape of the convention quite nicely, the excellent bar staff also helps. As much as I like more rollicking conventions with night-time events and party floors it is also nice to attend something a bit more intimate now and then. FogCon is similar to Potlatch in this way and has solid programming plus a fair bit of socializing in the consuite and bar.
The theme this year was The Traveler and the GOHs where Cat Valente and Kim Stanley Robinson, both of whom give excellent panels. JP was kind enough to offer me a ride there and back, meaning that despite not getting a room there was no need to rush off to catch the last BART train, so Friday we stayed till about eleven or so and Saturday till around two thirty not counting the DST shift. I saw old friends and met some new folks, attended a half dozen panels, got some nice baubles from Fly By Night Books & Gifts, and ended up with a ton of books, so I definitely count it as a successful weekend even though I skipped the Sunday to prepare for the work-heavy coming week.
The past month has been busy. Luckily I landed a temp assignment and then a part time job at a nearby cafe, which meant being able to relax a bit and even attend my current favorite convention; Gallifrey One.
But before Gally there was a big event for Bay Area fandom; GarciaGate, the wedding of Chris Garcia and Vanessa Applegate. I worked early that morning at the Moscone Center, but JP was kind enough to offer me a ride. This meant we had a couple of hours to kill so we got breakfast at Heidi’s Pies in San Mateo and pick up some pies for the potluck. As often happens at these sorts of events it felt a bit like a small convention, with lots of my favorite folks in attendance. It was also pretty cool that it took place at the Computer History Museum.
As for Gally, the convention had sold out quickly but my roommate Palle had kindly picked me up a membership in hopes I’d be in the area and able to attend. If all goes well next year I plan to join the Brit crowd and fly out with John.
I missed the last couple of years so it was really nice to be back and as usual it was a great convention, despite some annoyances before the start. Both the Barrowman and the Gorman/Myles panels were hilarious, there was a very amusing improv troupe called Doctor Who Live who did a Friday night show, and of course there was the always great themed party which was Orient Express themed this year. The costumes and conversations were all wonderful and I even got a chance to record a little with Jade for the podcast. I can’t wait until next year.
Now that I’m recovered from that it’s time to look forward to FogCon, which also happens to fall on my birthday weekend. It’s a smaller literary convention in the tradition of WisCon and I’ve enjoyed it the years I have been. I probably won’t stay over but it’s easily BARTable so that’s not a huge deal. Kim Stanley Robinson and Cat Valente are the GOHs.
The rest of the Christmas holiday in Peterborough was lovely, with plenty of home cooked food and actual singing of Christmas carols in the village green. And even though I come from the proper civilized tradition of exchanging gifts on Xmas Eve, I managed to rise at 7AM on Christmas morning in the English manner and enjoy it quite well. On Boxing Day we went to an honest-to-goodness pantomime (Jack and the Beanstalk) which was very silly but also a lot of fun.
We came back to Leicester and on New Year’s Eve John’s parents took us to Casa Romana, a little Italian restaurant a few doors down from us that is easily the friendliest place in the city. The food was as good as ever and the desserts amazing. We ended up chatting away an hour longer than we had intended to, but eventually made it over to 33 Cank Street, a cocktail bar which was having a Bugsy Malone themed evening. Everyone was dressed up, most of them in period costumes, and the atmosphere was lively. There were tasty little canapes and as always the cocktails were delicious; I had a Mexican Pick Me Up which lived up to its name but I think I made the right decision in avoiding the Gangsters Tea Party, which came in an actual teapot.
There was live music by a duo called The Verzions, an acoustic duo that did a lot of retro sounding versions of songs including a bewildering number of reggae classics. They sounded great and also covered some great blues, jazz, and pop songs and even (in our favorite moment of the evening) I Wanna Be Like You from The Jungle Book . John’s parents left at a sensible hour after ringing in the New Year but John and I stayed and danced until they kicked everyone out.
Today was devoted entirely to hanging out and playing board games. A good way to start the year off.
Well, I was going to update for Christmas anyway, posting from Peterborough where John and I are spending the holiday with his parents and family. And it is a lovely Christmas so far, with mince pies and mulled wine and in about a half hour some caroling in the town Green.
But more critically than that is that tonight John suggested we go for a walk, and as is sometimes our habit we went to dark spot away from the light pollution to see the stars. And after we spotted the ISS whirling past and the crescent moon with its very clear penumbra he got down on one knee and put a lovely ring (with a rocket ship engraved on it) on my finger.
It’s good and cold here now, though not quite literally freezing yet.
John got back and we had a nice day in Peterborough as he recovered from the trip. Then last week we went to Southampton on an exploratory mission of his soon-to-be new hometown.
We didn’t see all of it but got a basic idea of the layout, which seems a bit more spread out than Leicester. We had very good burgers at a place called Chalk Valley and explored the town of Fareham, where John’s friend Michael lives. It was fun and I liked the look of the southern part of the country.
The day we came home was also John’s birthday which meant food at Las Iguanas and drinks at the Orange Tree, both delicious. The main festivities were reserved for the weekend so in effect he got an extended birthday experience and I got him all to myself on the day proper, win-win.
So they don’t have Thanksgiving here, obviously. Which means that I really can’t complain that the holiday lights were turned on this past Sunday. A month or so out doesn’t seem too bad, though.
They had a day of events across the city leading up to turning the lights on at dusk, including a winter market and some musical performances. It was very festive indeed. It would have been more fun with John here, but the lucky bastard was off in Florida enjoying the sunshine.
October came and went and now it is starting to get really cold in Leicester.
Since I last posted I got to visit Yorkshire, which was just as beautiful as advertised. John and I traveled up there with his parents and spent some time seeing the sights before visiting his grandfather. It was a very pleasant trip and left me wanting to return to explore further at some point.
More recently we went up to spend a weekend with Sheffield fandom. Some I already knew and others I was meeting for the first time, but everyone was very friendly. Our hosts in particular kept the food, drink, and conversation going late into the night. Since conventions are a little sparser on the ground here it was a nice little fannish interlude that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Back in Leicester I got to see the Golden Mile lit up for Diwali when we went up to see the fireworks. I haven’t visited that neighborhood nearly enough and should really see about that before my time in Leicester comes to a close.
Halloween was spent with friends and relatively low key, though it is celebrated more than I expected here with children trick or treating and everything. No pumpkin pie that I’ve seen though, alas.
After Worldcon in London was over John and I had a mere few hours back in Leicester to regroup before it was time to take the train to Peterborough to visit his parents.
Coincidentally this was also the week of the Peterborough Beer Festival, so we popped over there for one night of drinking draught ales and eating delicious English pork products. This is my second year attending and it’s a really fun event, not to mention the perfect little adventure in the middle of two big conventions. We also had a little bit of time to relax with John’s family before heading off again, this time to Dublin for the 2014 Eurocon, Shamrokon.
We had missed our chance to book in the convention hotel but found a place a short walk away called the Hampton Inn. Since our place came in ridiculously early in the morning we dropped our bags at the Inn and headed out to spend a few hours wandering the city. The city center was less than a half hour walk from our Ballsbridge/Donnybrook base so we wandered over and saw the National Gallery, which has a decent permanent collection and an excellent section for Irish painters.
Afterwards we walked through Merrion Square Park and visited the statue of Oscar Wilde. This was one of several interesting sculptures in the city, Dublin has done itself proud in that regard. Wilde is made of several different varieties of stone to create the colors of his clothing and is depicted reclining on a rock, looking quite pleased with himself. Also in the same park is an equally interesting tribute to another beloved Dubliner. The Joker’s Chair is a memorial to comedic actor Dermot Morgan (from Father Ted).
By the time we had seen these it was early afternoon and my feet were getting a little tired so it was back to the hotel. We checked into our room, which was pretty swank but also hilariously debauched looking. Decorated in deep pink, black, and chrome with dimly lit halls and boldly patterned wallpaper the hotel was nice but would have felt less out of place on the Vegas strip than along a pleasant Dublin street.
John headed up the street to the convention hotel while I took a bath and a nap to recover from our travels. I suspected Shamrokon would be a convention for staying up late and drinking, which I was looking forward to after not having managed to do as much of that as I would have liked at Loncon 3.
The area around the hotels was pretty, with quite a few embassies dotted around. It had a few sights of its own including a wonderfully dynamic statue of Queen Medb. While walking back from lunch I also spotted this lovely one in one of the gardens.
The con hotel was a Doubletree, and those of you who have stayed there will know they have the wonderful tradition of handing out warm cookies to guests at check in. We discovered that at this one they were also apparently happy to hand them out on request. Needless to say we ate our weight in cookies.
The Doubletree featured two bars, one of them was directly beside the lobby and had your classic sports bar layout, though large enough to include little corners to converse in. The other was a long counter style bar near registration and the lower programming rooms. This allowed for multiple socializing areas, including the lobby itself which had many comfortable couches laid out in nice circles. Overall it was a very good convention hotel, pretty well suited to the size of the membership and with friendly staff.
On the Saturday night the various Eurocon and Worldcon bids in attendance hosted the International Party. They lined a ballroom with long tables along the walls from which Helsinki, Dublin, St. Petersburg, China, San Jose, plus a few others I’ve forgotten each served their chosen liquors, there were tables in the center of the room, but most folks remained circulating or wandered out to the reg/bar area directly outside to chat. It was interesting to compare and contrast the effect with the Fan Village the previous week. Certainly the smaller space worked better for me, as did the variety of regional liquors being served. It was still very different from a room party model, but I enjoyed it a lot.
The dealers room and art show were in the same room, a model I find tends to work very well. I was too broke to peruse the dealers but the selection seemed to be pretty decent and there were several book vendors. The art show was small but interesting, one nice thing of traveling for conventions is getting to see artists you wouldn’t normally. Artist GOH, Jim Fitzpatrick (whose art I recognized but whose name I was previously unfamiliar, leading to a minor embarrassment later) was one of the standouts but the whole show was good. Unfortunately one of the few places the convention failed a bit was on the art show web page which failed to provide a list of who displayed.
Programming was very good, and I especially enjoyed the Le Fanu track. Prior to the convention I had never heard of Sheridan Le Fanu, who was an Irish writer and one of the original gothic writers. There was a series of panels ranging from lectures to conversations about his work and I came away with a nice list for my library card. Also of interest to me were a panel on European fairy tale traditions, one on the history of German science fiction and fandom, and another on Polish science fiction recommendations. Altogether the programme was a great companion to the international bent of Loncon 3.
Another thing the two conventions had in common was a solid app, both used the Guide app which was accessible from the app store or through a web app. I would love to see more conventions use it, since it loaded quickly and made choosing what to see nice and easy by allowing the user to select program items and then toggle between a personal or complete guide. It also came in handy as a way to track what I had seen when once I got around to composing this report.
Being a smaller convention the socializing was easier, but it was still possible to miss people with everything that was going on. I had what I consider the proper convention balance between hanging out with friends, namely Bay Area folks I didn’t get to see nearly enough of at Worldcon, and meeting new and interesting people.
The weekend flew by and soon it was Sunday night and time for the Dead Dog, which started directly after closing ceremonies at 7pm. John and I had an early morning flight and needed to catch the coach to the airport at 3AM so we simply decided to stay up all night. It turned out to be quite easy, since everyone else was equally reluctant to see the convention end.