Category Archives: Fandom

Ferry to Helsinki

The Silja Serenade is apparently a cruiseferry, which is a term I wasn’t familiar with but which perfectly describes her. Sort of a plush ferry or downsized cruise ship whose interior has that casino feel and rows of cabins looking inwards. There was shopping and restaurants, a couple of bars and night spots, and even a casino with a live band, the casino was tiny but the band was exactly as cheesy as you would hope for. Most importantly there was a duty free, so we bought some gin to buffer us against the even higher Finnish liquor prices.

The best part by far was the deck; we all spent the first few hours drinking beer and enjoying the view. Sweden is basically a series of archipelagos and we watched them go by, first lots of them covered in houses with small boats all around, then still lots of islands but more trees and only the occasional home or small dock peeking out between the foliage. We watched a police boat go past and a couple of guys on jet skis play in our wake for a good half hour, but finally we were in the Baltic proper and there was almost nothing but trees and water as far as the eye could see.

We had a burger for dinner and then went out on the lower deck to see the sunset and watch the wake of the boat for a while, the white noise of the motors plus the fractal nature of the churning foam was mesmerizing and soothing. After a certain amount of running around and missing each other we ended up in the British pub with the gang. It had terrible service but was otherwise pretty alright, and there was even a group of Swedish fans in a corner booth who spotted John’s Helskini bid hoodie. We took over the booth beside them for a while, bar hopped a little, and eventually ended up back on the top deck, this time to watch the moon. I managed to spot a fallings star at one point, and it was all just generally pretty great.

Eastercon 2017: Innominate

On Good Friday we started our day with a solid Novotel breakfast buffet, which is a good way to get into convention headspace. We had plenty of time before our train so we packed up and then popped into town for an hour or so, visiting the local Forbidden Planet and then to the station to catch our train to Birmingham for Innominate, the 2017 Eastercon.

The train to Birmingham was uneventful, though the second one was so packed we had to hop on different cars just to squeeze in. Still, we made it in one piece and the shuttle to the Hilton made up for the indignities of public transit. Once settled into out room we picked up our badges, hung our art, and headed to the bar for our first beer of the weekend, in that order.

The art show was a good first impression of the convention; busy, well attended, and full of cool stuff. John had brought art donations to raise money for Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund, some of them rather nice and a couple of questionable quality but high entertainment value. I had brought a couple of old pieces, a handful of new ones, and four of the fans originally created for The Dark Market. I am happy to report that my sales were the best I’ve had and I went home with only two of the ten pieces I hung. TAFF did pretty well itself, selling three pieces of art but raising nearly a thousand pounds in the Fan Fun auction to be shared with The Get Up-and-over Fan Fund and the Lazlar Lyricon effort to bring over some Brazilian Douglas Adams fans.

Attendance this year was just over 900 people and the layout of the facilities was good, with everything radiating out from the central hotel lobby/reception, making the the con feel full and vibrant.

Across from reception was the fan bar, British conventions famously center on the bar and encourage this by bringing in a local brewery to run a real ale bar. This year it was from a place called Purity Brewing, and although the selection was good the pints did run £5 each which was a bit rich to rely on for the whole weekend. Instead we picked up some beer and some vodka in a trip into town and alternated with the ale.

Behind the real ale bar was the actual hotel bar and lounge area, which was in use more as a quieter place to have a coffee or food and relax in comfy seating. Directly in front of the entrance to the hotel, between the reception and bar was registration, with the fan lounge behind it and programming down the hall to the right. All right there and easy to triangulate, with the added advantage that finding anyone mostly meant heading to the lobby and looking around a bit.

The fan lounge was in the con suite model in the sense that it was a large room with large tables for people to shit and chat. The hotel had set up a row of “street food” stalls along one wall, with baked potatoes, Indian, Caribbean, and British food on sale for relatively reasonable prices, and drinks at the end. It was a very convenient arrangement and relaxed enough that people could bring in other things from elsewhere without fuss. On a couple of occasions there was even delicious surprise birthday cake.

Being a holiday weekend there were several other events going on nearby, the Insomnia 60 gaming convention at the NEC convention center and a Boyzlife concert in our wing of the hotel. This last was new to me but I am told that it is in fact a frankenband composed of members of Boyzone and Westlife. The former meant that there were a fair amount of people about in nerdy shirts that were not in fact part of our convention while the later was just a bit confusing. We only really noticed the outside world on our brief trips to dinner and one excursion into Birmingham, where we kept it nerdy by visiting the really cool Nostalgia Comics and the world’s most labyrinthine game store location.

I had intended to volunteer a bit over the course of the weekend, but the couple of times I popped by to check in there didn’t seem to be much need so I ended up pretty free and clear aside from needing to take my art down at the end of the weekend. I didn’t attend a ton of programming, but opening ceremonies were good with Pat Cadigan’s energy kicking things off nicely and Dr. Emma J. King‘s explosive presentation following on its heels.

Also a blast was the Pyjama Disco by Jo Playford and fan GOH Colin Harris, it was well attended and the room had surrounding tables for people to chill when not dancing. I spent several hours on the dance floor with intermittent excursions to the fan lounge for cake and conversation. The setlist was nicely varied, with a fair amount of fan favourites but a good range from old school to current.

After the success we had with pre-arranging dinners with friends during Gally, we made a point of deploying the same method again in order to make sure we got time with some of our busier friends. This involved two excursions to the NEC adjacent food mall, which is basically just full of chain restaurants but in a weirdly impressive setting. We had Nando’s with some of Third Row and the next evening Pizza Express with Claire and Mark, the latter in particular I feel we never get to spend as much time as we think we will during the convention. We did get to hang out a fair bit with the inimitable Tobes, and I got some American time with Dave McCarty when he wasn’t busy smoffing – we primarily talked about our mutual love for Mexican food IIRC.

Meg Frank was there but I felt her presence more as a passing breeze of glam and glitter, sensed and then gone in the night. Anna and Hogg we got some quality time with on and off, never as much as one would wish for but luckily just enough to plot some plots for Helsinki.  We squeezed in a too brief chat with Fran Dowd at breakfast and saw Doug and Julie mostly in passing as their busy schedules permitted.

Oh, and I got roped into running the Fanzine Lounge at Helsinki, so that’s bound to keep me out of trouble for a minute.

Gally

The culmination of our February trip was of course Gallifrey One.

There were multiple reasons I was excited to go; I missed last year, I hadn’t been to a proper convention in a while, and of course it would be my first trip back to California in a year. But I was also excited to have John attend his first Gally.

The morning  in Santa Monica started with a bad omen, a broken statue of Mercury, god of travellers. But perhaps because a replacement was procured speedily her was a forgiving god and our trip to the hotel went smoothly, as did our eventual plane ride home, although we did get lost between the bus and the LAX Marriott… so take that as you will.

At the hotel we found we only had one bed and had to get a rollaway, which was a bit annoying-I wish they would guarantee that somehow. Beds sorted we went and  stocked up on supplies for the weekend; snacks, beer, and a couple bottles of wine. By the end of this I was pretty pooped and needed a shower and change of clothes to get into convention mode so John went off to participate in the traditional In & Out burger run that kicks Gally off while I puttered about getting ready.

As it turned out I had misunderstood the description and the burger run was an actual outing where the entire group walks to In & Out and orders individually, which frankly seems like a terrible idea. But John had In & Out, which is a rite of passage, and got a ribbon out of it to boot so all’s well that ends well. He also came back with several new Pokemon, as the new expansion had just launched. Luckily the hotel had five pokestops of its own so they were pretty thick on the ground all weekend.

Fed and cleaned it was time for the ice cream social, which is a con event but technically takes place before the convention officially starts. There were good ice cream flavours and by this time Palle had arrived and Bryan and Mette where running around as well. They introduced us to some of their friends, and I ran into a few people I knew pretty quickly. We finished off the night mixing questionable drinks in their room, including a pint glass of a surprisingly good irridescent green drink.

Friday was the first official day of the convention and we started it with a Denny’s breakfast. Previous years I have occasionally ventured out of the hotel for food but didn’t realize there even was a Denny’s nearby. Probably I would have been less excited about it when I lived walking distance to a diner, but breakfast food is one of the great American traditins so that was nice.

Back at the con it was time for the Opening Ceremony, which may or may not have been replaced by Radio Free Skaro interviews. I thought it had but someone later said that there is still a more traditional guest intro kind of thing later. In any case the interviews were good but not the right energy level for a con kick-off so we left after a while and spent the rest of the day in a variety of panels. I enjoy behind the scenes stuff so always get a kick out of the classic actors telling war stories and/or current folks discussing the industry-and I got plenty of both during this Gally, as well as a top notch interview with first time guest Lalla Ward and a hilarious Naoko Mori and Gareth David-Lloyd joint interview.

The Friday evening event this year was The Idiot’s Lantern. Basically a series of comedy sketches centered around Doctor Who, ranging from really clever and funny to pretty silly. Annoyingly there were some people sitting behind us who did not like the show but also seemed to forget they were free to leave, thank goodness they eventually remembered. The best bits were probably Tony Lee as Captain Kirk and a silly but amusing Kylo Ren sketch with a surprise Rick & Morty twist. After the show I assume there was drinking, it’s all a bit hazy tbh.

Saturday is the big day on any convention, and we kicked it off with a visit from Andres who swung by and took us to have breakfast at The Coffee Company which was jam-packed but worth the wait.

After that the usual blur of panels took, chatting, and costume gawking took us to the afternoon where we managed to squeeze in a quick recording for the Geek Girl Crafts Podcast up in the room before heading down to Latitude 33 for our first hotel dinner of the weekend. We joined Jade, Erik, Jean, and Chris and there was a lot of Star Wars geekery, primarily between John and Jade. Like, a LOT. We were seated near the entrance so got to say hi to various folks as they came in, reminding me a bit of the good old days at the Coffee Garden.

Saturday’s centerpiece is of course the Masquerade. This was the first year no one I knew was participating, but it was still an enjoyable show with Tony Lee as MC. I may be mistaken but it seemed like there were also fewer Master division entries than usual. But there was definitely some good stuff up there all the same. And like at most conventions there was a halftime show while the judges, including Jude Hudson herself, went off to deliberate.

Normally the halftime is some sort of gameshow, but this time was a bit of a surprise as we got a band instead, called Awesome City Limits. Its no secret that I love it when conventions expand their usual repertoire, especially in regards to live geeky music which has experienced such an explosion of variety and talent in the last decade. And this band was pretty great so I was quite a happy camper.

The judges came back with their decisions, most of which I agreed with entirely, and then it was off to get some alcohol in my system in order to be ready for the Night of the Living Dead Discotheque. I had been excited to experience the DJ skills of Paul Condon, who was in charge two years ago and had been listed initially in the schedule, but Shawn Crosby did a fine job in his stead and I got a lot of dancing in. Once that wrapped (sadly early) there was a certain amount of running around culminating in the lobby, of course, where some people where running this all-night ribbon contest that was strange and confusing to my poor drunk and tired brain but all the same very entertaining.

There were no interesting early panels on Sunday thank goodness so we staggered off to Denny’s and generally had a chill day of watching one panel after another in the main room, partly because they were the most interesting ones and partly because of inertia. Then it was time for closing ceremonies, sad but always a bit of a love-fest. We left before next year’s preview in order to have dinner with Leigh Ann and Leo at a joint Italian and Persian place nearby. It isn’t fusion, but rather has the two cuisines separately. We chose the Persian and had some really amazing dishes including a pomegranate based one, fesenjan I think.

Sunday evening at Gally means drinking the last of the booze, trying to talk to everyone you have missed, and generally sucking the marrow out of the convention. We spent time in the smoking area watching the cool kids compare ribbon trains, and in the lobby getting increasingly maudlin, and we made facebook friends with a Gally fellow-traveller who happens to be local to us in Southampton. And then, sadly it was bedtime. But Gally always saves that last bit of magic for you, and we had a brief but lovely encounter with the luminous Lalla Ward on our way up to our room, and a final late night chat with the charming Simon Fisher-Becker.

And that was it, Gallifrey One was over for another year. Monday morning we ran some errands nearby, got back in time to say goodbye to friends, and then boarded our plane back home.

Con-volution: Legion of Fandom

Convolution was excellent, everything you could want from your regional convention. I was not the only one to remark that it felt a lot like Baycon did once upon a time. Convolution is still relatively new and not yet as large as Baycon at its height but it certainly had that high energy,  the evening scene in particular, and that feeling that everyone you know is there.

Comparisons aside here are some of my thoughts on the convention, in no particular order;

The theme. This is a place Convolution excels. They come up with a theme and then use it as a guide to build their guest list, programming, and so on. Legion of Fandom was a “big tent” appeal and meant good representation of various fandoms and fun stuff like the Ambassador’s Ball. Part of that is the effort the con puts into decorating the space thematically, I’ve said it before and will say it again; more conventions should really do this.

The Art Gallery was very well run. It looked great, the staff was on the ball, and a concerted effort had clearly been made to make things run smoothly but also to bring folks in and encourage participation. There was a lot of good art ,including some really fun new pieces by my friend Bryan Little, who needs a damned website or something already.

The dealer’s room had a nice variety of vendors including at least one who mentioned that they normally sell at Anime Conventions. Fitting given the theme, but also just a good idea generally; cross-pollination!

PARTIES. This was a highlight for me, obviously. The hotel is a good one for parties, with wide hallways, large rooms, and none of that depressing plastic-wrap nonsense. There were four or five parties each night, which is not a huge amount but seemed to be the right number for a convention of this size. San Jose in 2018 (and its Barbarella-themed Saturday incarnation) was of course at the top of the list and packed from beginning to end, but the Red Room Twin Peaks party was a nice surprise, BASFA was the last to close on Saturday I think, and the always reliable Klingon Black Hole plied it’s trade nicely. The Firefly LARP had a nerf-war room that I didn’t go into but sounded amazing as well.

There were a lot of great hall costumes,including some excellent Fury Road cosplay.  There were some Convolution 2015 masquerade entries but I didn’t see any of the skits performed since Jade Falcon and Bill Howard roped me into being a warm body for their Hawkeye entry. It won Best in Show: Presentation though, so it was totally worth it.

One thing that bears mentioning even though it happened “offstage” so to speak from my personal convention experience is that the convention handled a Code of Conduct issue expertly, without hesitation or undue fuss. This was not for something that happened during the con but rather for a persona non grata who showed up despite being banned. So often we only hear when conventions drop the ball, not the least because a well-handled situation of this sort is practically invisible. So well done Convolution!

As with any convention there were one or two areas that could use improvement, these were pretty small in my experience.

First one was the lack of a printed pocket program. Yes, the guidebook app is cool but not everyone has the best phone (or any, kids for instance?) and keeping your phone charged in a con/hotel environment  isn’t the easiest. I missed having a newsletter as well, I still feel they add to the sense of community and are useful for party info.

Second was the television in the consuite. The spread and volunteers were great, but where at most conventions the consuite serves as a social space to chat with folks, this one had a TV tuned to science fiction programming on television (commercials and all). So of course there were always people watching and no chance of talking with them, the staff, or your friends except maybe about the movie. Perhaps a TV with subtitles (which worked nicely in the Twin Peaks party) would have served better?

But these were the only things that I could point to offhand from my weekend. I got to see friends I hadn’t seen in ages, I had conversations with people I’ve seen around over the years but never really spoken to at length, and I met entirely new people. Which is to say it was a damned fine con.

Hugos, Helsinki Part II

Sasquan has passed and the Hugo vote went about as well as could be expected, which is to say that the slates got no awarded and there were some solid winners outside of that. I watched the ceremony on Ustream from the comfort of my bed and was impressed, it was top notch, the best Hugo ceremony I’ve seen in fact. Its a credit to everyone involved that (most of) the audience seems to have come away invigorated and optimistic.

All that said it bears remembering that the slaters did achieve one of their aims all the same. Every year after the ceremony, the convention always releases the full nomination and voting statistics. This means we can have a look at what the ballot would have looked like without the slate, and it would have been a strong year with a diverse and wonderful list of works and nominees. A few I have read already, the rest I will seek out now.

Beyond that, Helsinki won their bid for 2017 so I’m looking forward to that. My next convention will be Convolution in Burlingame over the first weekend in October. I’ll be doing some panels and maybe some Geek Girl Crafts stuff with Sandy and Jade, and with any luck it’ll be my last shindig before taking off fold colder climes.

July at last

The last couple of weeks have been relatively uneventful, mainly involving extra work shifts covering co-workers on vacation and various social plans falling through for one reason or another. Which is fine since the former means more cash for my eventual departure and the latter means I had more time to recover from the lingering cold and cough that I had just caught when I last posted.

And now it is finally July! The month in which I gather all the paperwork to send off to the UKBA in hopes of getting my visa to join John in Southampton. It’s good to feel like I am at the beginning of the end of this process, assuming all goes well.

Being July it also means that I just missed Westercon, which was down in San Diego this year. I’ve never actually been to San Diego so it was a bit of a shame to have missed it, but as usual it’s been fun seeing people’s posts from the con.

I’m  a bit more sad to realize I’m going to miss Worldcon. I’d gone back and forth on whether to try and make it but logistically it just makes no sense to try and squeeze it in. Still, I will be getting my votes in for the awards and site selection and sending in some art for the Fanzine Lounge, so I’ll be there in spirit.

Hugo Novels Shirt

My clever husband has put up this sweet design on Teespring, available until June 30th;

hugoshirt

The famous Hugo Award rocket, filled with the name of each Best Novel winner since the first awards were given. An elegant window into the history of our genre, in T-shirt form!

Shirts available in men and women’s cuts: be sure to click the drop down menu if you want the latter.
“Worldcon”, “Hugo Award”, the Hugo Award Logo, and the distinctive design of the Hugo Award Trophy Rocket are service marks of the World Science Fiction Society, an unincorporated literary society. They are used by permission of Loncon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention.

Clockwork Alchemy 2015

Over Memorial Day weekend I attended Clockwork Alchemy, a steampunk convention put on by the good folks at Fanime. It is held at the venerable San Jose Doubletree, which has been the home base for many conventions over the years.

It’s smallish convention compared to its parent con but still a bustling, busy event, full of costumes and creativity. A lot of effort is put into the decor and atmosphere, with props like faux gaslamps serving as signage and panel rooms with furniture and other decor to lend a Victorian drawing room or library effect. I’ve seen other conventions, like Convolution, give this sort of thing a shot and would love to see it spread, although obviously cost is a factor for most cons.

Like a lot of steampunk cons the music track was extensive; Professor Elemental, Frenchy and the Punk, Unwoman, Lee Presson and the Nails, Good Company, Marquis of Vaudeville, Jody Ellen, and others. Each evening had its own musical event: Friday it was several bands and a musical play, Saturday had swing dancing to Good Company, Lee Presson and the Nails plus two DJs, and Sunday’s main act was Professor Elemental, though I unfortunately had to miss that because of working early on Monday morning. A nice touch was the use of the hotel nightclub space for dance classes and things like a really great Saturday afternoon jam session which featured a wide range of the attending musicians.

There was a movie room with a combo of classics like Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines and more modern fare like an anime version of War of the Worlds and a truly terrible Sherlock Holmes film starring Gareth David-Lloyd. There were panels as well, though the focus seems to be on single person talks. On impulse I went to a trivia panel on Sunday and managed to take first place, winning copies of The Adventures of Drake and McTrowell: London, Where It All Began and Machina Mortis: Steampunk’d Tales of Terror as well as a bag of chocolate, which was a nice egoboo.

The Artist’s Bazaar had many wonderful vendor but while I do like the emphasis on showcasing artisans who primarily make their own goods I feel it would benefit from a few exceptions like at least one proper bookseller. There were authors selling their books down near the panel rooms, but for obvious reasons that meant very limited books on sale and of course zero DVDs or games, and only the music of the performers in attendance. The Artist Gallery is set up like a museum rather than an art show/gallery in the sense that no sales are permitted, not entirely sure what I think of that. There were some paintings by one artist that I rather liked but their card had the wrong URL and the convention doesn’t seem to publish a list of exhibiting artists, which is something I really wish all conventions would do as a matter of course.

Something that I hadn’t seen before at CA or at any other convention was volunteers making an effort to spread the word about what was going on in a panel room. The jam session had a volunteer at the door who knew who all the musicians inside were and told me what was going on when I walked up to read the schedule posted by the door. Likewise I ended up at the trivia panel mainly because one of the panelists/judges stepped out into the hall before it started and asked people walking past if they were interested in coming in for the trivia game. While I don’t think every panel at every convention necessarily needs barkers pulling in the crowds, I found it intriguing.

As in previous years I enjoyed myself, aided partly by the fact that my badge allowed me to hop on the free shuttle over to Fanime and check that out for a few hours for free. I went over on Friday and wandered the massive Artist Alley, admired the crazy variety of amazing costumes, and was impressed by the Fanime volunteers roaming the halls with tall signs offering Information and Answers. When I reached sensory overload I left the convention center and hit up Safeway for snacks to keep my food budget under control. On the way there I found a thrift store and spent ten bucks some costume bits for the evening that came together quite nicely and helped me feel more like a proper participant instead of a spectator.

But really I felt the lack of real social spaces. Worldcon style fandom puts a pretty big emphasis on the social aspect; party rooms, fanzine lounges, the consuite, and so on are all aimed at creating places for strangers to meet and interact. Without getting into how well or not that works for everybody, it is noticeable to me when I’m at a convention that lacks these. Clockwork had a tea room, but there was always a line and it closed at 5pm. The ballroom would be the obvious place in the evenings but the focus there was definitely the performances and dancing, there was no real mingling room or bar area for chatting. The actual hotel bar was the closest thing, and the small huddle of comfy chairs nearby, but space was limited and often packed with hotel guests. I wished that Convolution had managed to throw another party like last year, but see no sign on a party scene developing.

All in all it was a nice weekend spent enjoying wonderful costumes, seeing friends, and enjoying the invigorating energy of being inside of a thriving convention scene.

 

SLO and Santa Monica

The morning after the wedding we slept in and then had a nice buffet breakfast at the Hyatt before packing our bags to head south. John’s parents picked us up and after dropping his brother George at SFO we hit the road towards San Luis Obispo and our ultimate destination; the famous (infamous?) Madonna Inn.

Now I remember hearing about this place back in 1996 when I attended LACon III with my friend Laurie. I have a memory of driving through the central valley in the pitch black middle of the night and her waving vaguely at the darkness to the side of the road as she described this unlikely sounding hotel. Obviously I’ve heard a bit more about it since then but it always has had mythical proportions in my mind, associated as it was with my early memories of fandom and being in the States. In any case I was pretty excited about finally seeing it for real, but also a little worried it’d be a letdown. Happily it was anything but! The place is ridiculously over the top in all the right ways, no irony or hipness here, just glorious pink everything and a very mid-century California sensibility. But all of it well made and with a lot of thought and care put into the construction and design. The pool area in particular is a wonderful throwback that makes you feel like you’re on your way to a party at Jayne Mansfield’s pad.

John’s parents were kind enough to book us into the Yahoo room, which was cattle ranch themed and decorated with pictures of the Madonna family. The bed was made from a wagon and the ceiling painted blue with sparkles to look like the night sky, there were dozens of other great little details as well but the standout was the waterfall shower. We ate in town at a really good BBQ place called Firestone on the first night and on the second me tried the Madonna Inn Steakhouse, whose menu was thematically old-school; meat and vegetables and big fluffy cake for dessert, but equally well done. The restaurant decor was if anything more insane than the rest of the place, like dining in Liberace’s bedroom.

It was a relaxing couple of days, spent mainly in the pool or hot tub with a morning off exploring Morro Bay, home of a big rock, a small skateboard museum, and a deep sea rescue vehicle. On the third day we set off south again to spend the rest of the week in LA. John’s parents got an AirBnB in Hollywood while he and I stayed at my sister’s place in Santa Monica.

On the Monday we had to head to downtown LA to get my purse from John’s parent’s (I left it in the car as we carted our luggage up, oops) but Ashley took the opportunity to show us some landmarks. First we visited the old Hollywood grandeur of the Biltmore, and then we headed over to The Standard which is a modern place done up in an amazing seventies style. Unfortunately the famous rooftop pool at the latter was closed for repairs, but it was still pretty cool. After parting ways with his parents the rest of us stopped for some amazing tacos at a place called B.S. Taqueria. So damned good.

Tuesday we went to Disneyland with my sister’s boyfriend Andres. Neither John nor I had never been before so it was all new to us. I intensely disliked Space Mountain (well, I enjoyed the lead up) because the ride takes place mainly in the dark and was just stressful, but enjoyed the rest of the rides. My love of crazy old weird stuff meant I was fascinated by the weird time-capsule that is the Tiki Room, wished there was more original Tomorrowland stuff to see, and enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion quite a lot. Star Tours and the Indiana Jones rides were both good as too, and as a Tarzan fan I liked the tree house even though I know it’s just the retrofitted Swiss Family Robinson attraction. I was surprised that the park felt smaller than I expected, though maybe that was partly because we didn’t really want to dine there or do much shopping aside from t-shirts.

Wednesday we explored Venice Beach with John’s parents, starting in Santa Monica. We stumbled across the carousel, which I never knew was there and has a great retro soda fountain and ice cream counter called Soda Jerk USA. We got drinks and then stopped at the original Hot Dog on a Stick for a corndog before walking along the beachfront to Venice. I insisted on making everyone gawk at the Bordello Alexandra and then we got pupusas and chips for lunch and watched the skateboarders do their thing for a little before heading back to meet Ashley for a cocktail at The Bungalow. That evening was the central event of the visit; a dinner with John’s parent’s and all my local siblings. We ate at an upscale Mexican restaurant which was nice but unfortunately sat us far too near to the live music despite there being plenty of other available tables. Still, the drinks were plentiful, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and the desserts were tasty, so the evening accomplished its goal nicely.

Finally Thursday rolled up, John’s last full day here. John’s parents picked up up and we heading up to the Getty. Now I love the building and grounds of the Getty, but unfortunately our visit coincided with the only day of rain in the year so far, so of course most of the beauty of the place was lost to us and the flaws in the signage and layout of the museum were more evident than I remember from my first visit when I was distracted by the scenic views and splendid gardens. Still, we saw a decent photography exhibit that included Chris McCaw (who it turns out is the brother of Fanboy Planet’s Derek McCaw) and a wonderful Turner one that included unfinished works and watercolors. When we had our fill, John’s parents dropped us off at Ashley’s and we cuddled, moped, and watched Community until we got hungry. Dinner was at a slightly pricey but delicious burger place called Pono. We forgot an umbrella and got rained going and coming back but it was worth it for the milkshakes alone. Back at Ashley’s we polished off a bottle of champagne to cap the evening off.

Then Friday dawned and it was time to say goodbye. We had breakfast with Andres before he went off to work, John wrote some postcards on the balcony, and we idled away out last couple of hours together before his parents whisked him off to the airport. I moped about till Ashley got home and cheered me up with some wine, ice cream, and Netflix.

Saturday was my  own last day in Santa Monica and after an abortive attempt to go see Mad Max: Fury Road (it was sold out) I spent the morning reading and relaxing until Ashley got home. We had planned to go out for drinks but found ourselves entirely unmotivated so we repeated the previous evening’s formula to great success. Pistachio ice cream is the best y’all.

Then Sunday morning rolled around and it was time for me to go home, or back to San Francisco anyway.

And that’s the honeymoon (or the proto-honeymoon, I think we’ll do something more coupl-y and romantic later on). Now we wait until its time to file paperwork and get me to the UK!