November 18th, 2009


Conservatives In West Michigan

Book Stores -- The New Conservative Meeting Place

Tuesday Mike Huckabee was in Grand Rapids, having a book signing at Schuler's Books & Music for his non-political A Simple Christmas. Twelve short stories about Christmas. Of course if you were really cheap and didn't care about whether it was signed or not, this is one of Amazon's $10.00 deep discount titles.

Tonight, Wednesday, the Barnes & Noble at Woodland Mall was drawing huge lines -- maybe 1200 1500 people, with the line starting over twelve hours ago at 7am EST -- for Sarah Palin's first book signing for Going Rogue. Though this second book signing has much larger crowds, there is some known overlap, with several of the people interviewed from Tuesday saying that they were going to go early for Palin's line. In the Grand Rapids Press there was someone saying that Palin is "young and beautiful and she shoots moose -- what's not to like?"

MSNBC was just saying that it isn't just a book signing, but there's a stage set up outside and she'll be making an address... a speech? I don't do Barnes & Noble*** and I don't do malls, so I'm definitely not there. (grin)

Not Sure I Want To Analyze This But...

Looking at the Amazon listing for Huckabee's Christmas stories, they had one of their mulitple-books-with-one-click deals, tripling up A Simple Christmas and Going Rogue with Glenn Beck's Arguing With Idiots. So much for the spirit of Christmas, I guess.

Dr. Phil

*** It is interesting that this shoot-out of two big book signings on two days is between Schuler's Books and Barnes & Noble. We found Schuler's soon after we got to West Michigan and have been going to their two Grand Rapids stores, and I've been to their Lansing stores, ever since. They expanded to a new location in part because the old two-level store was crowded, but also because Barnes & Noble was moving into West Michigan with a giant stand alone store. Well, that B&N, which I was never in, is now closed, because B&N decided to build a bigger store attached to Woodland Mall, next to the discount Celebration Woodland movieplex. I'm sure Schuler's is happy to let B&N have the circus at the mall.

It's not that I've never been to or bought things at a Barnes & Noble -- Chicago IL, Holland MI and Greensboro NC are ones I've been in -- but to me they are something of the Walmart of booksellers. Crossing the line between mall/big box bookstores and the locally owned quality bookstore.

Just sayin'.

WindyCon 36 Part II

Friday The Thirteenth

Continuing on with my coverage of WindyCon 36, I had planned on leaving West Michigan around noon EST, with 2004 Clarion and WOTF XXIV classmate albogdan Al Bogdan driving over from East Michigan. But that would suppose his car was working. He told him me to go on without him. So I actually got out of town by about 12:30. (grin)

Last year I ran smack into a massive construction rebuild project on Chicago's I-88 Reagan expressway (East-West Tollway) -- in the rain and at rush hour. Crawled the last four miles or so. This year I was running early. Now WindyCon's planners decided to route all the directions away from I-88 and Highland Avenue. But given we're across Lake Michigan from Chicago, I've got WBBM-AM News Radio 78 (and WGN Radio 720) on presets. So I was able to get traffic info every ten minutes and they kept saying no delays on the Reagan. I-290 near Austin was, as usual, more of a bottleneck. No further problems and I arrived at the Westin Lombard around 4pm CST. Also heard from Al, he'd gotten ahold of a vehicle and was driving all the way in from metro Detroit.

Checked in and hit my first panel at 5pm, "So What Is Steampunk?" (see picture of panelist James Ballard Smoot here), then 6pm, "I Could Kill You With My Mind", started with River Tam from Firefly and talked about morality and moral codes about killing -- and insanity.

Meat Up With Mattw

7pm, Opening Ceremonies. Some people like them, some people don't. If I'm there, it's fun to see the various con invited guests. Afterward, the 8pm presentation was the "Gaslamp Fantasy" Girl Genius and "Revenge of the Weasel Queen", projected artwork by the Guest Artists Phil and Kaja Foglio and voices by the same bunch of crazies who did the little play at last year's Opening Ceremonies. Then at 9pm, former Hubble Space Telescope worker Christian Ready did a lovely presentation on the Electromagnetic spectrum and the various space telescopes searching the various bands. (Really hard to do a Google search on "Christian Ready".)

Amongst all this, I heard someone behind me say, "Dr. Phil" and fellow UCF member Matt came up. He was even wearing a UCF logo T-shirt. (grin) Naturally, I thought I'd commemorate this meat-up, but holding my little Sony out in front, there was no flash. No picture?

Camera was firing, but no flash -- because of the very bright indirect lighting of the ceiling.

Dr. Phil: "Uh, is this thing working?" (FLASH!)

Matt and I talked, and then I went up to the room to see if Al had made it. Actually, he was coming out of the room just as I turned the corner from the elevator. So we went in the room and talked a bit, then we headed down to see if I could still grab a hamburger or something, having not had dinner. Alas, as 10:20pm the kitchen had closed. So we went by the ConSuite, where I had a traditional con peanut butter & jelly sandwich (with Ruffles potato chips) and a Coke. (extra special grin) Such is con life.

Saturday 14 November 2009

The Westin's hotel restaurant is superb -- Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse / Holy Mackerel -- and they do a more than complete breakfast service. Pancakes it is. (triple-stack-grin) On to panels!

10am, "Baen is for Men, DAW is for Women". Eric Flint (Baen Books) started out by reading the title as a question, then saying, "Yes." But of course he wasn't serious and it was all more complicated than that. Jim C. Hines was supposed to be on the panel, but was double-booked with the writers' workshop and only showed up at the end. The panel seemed to feel that the perception of the title was more on the reader than the publisher, though Baen covers were thought be recognizable from across the room. 11am, "Doing the Science in Steampunk", was similar to the panel I was on for Sunday on Alternative Tech in Steampunk, and it has a lot to do with a consistent vision by the author. Because armored zeppelins ain't never gonna fly. (steel-plated-grin)

Quiet lunch by myself in the restaurant with a turkey club sandwich and a coke (Pepsi). This year the restaurant also was offering a lunch and dinner buffet by the con itself -- buffet lunch was $13, dinner $15. My lunch in the restaurant? Exactly $13.00. (smile) 1pm, the Christian Ready show continues with a presentation and half-hour video of May's fifth and last Hubble Space Telescope's repair and upgrade mission. Interestingly, today NPR was reporting that the Wide Field Camera 2 pulled from HST is now on display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.

Take A Break

SF cons, Physics and Chemistry conferences -- I can usually fill up the whole day with sessions. But sometimes you need to take a nap and definitely take some time to regroup before you're up. With say a reading, perhaps. So I wandered back to the room and caught the last 30 seconds of the Northwestern game (NU beat Illinois, they're 7-4 and bowl eligible!), the last 3 minutes of the Michigan State game (MSU beat Purdue right at the end), saw that Michigan got beat up by Wisconsin (snort), and turned off the Ohio State-Iowa game after it started. Took a nap for a while. When I woke up, it was 10-10 in the 3rd quarter, and I told Al, who'd also come in for a nap, that we hadn't missed anything. OSU won in OT, completing a brief survey of Big Ten football on the room's decent LG HDTV.

Read through my story one more time, then headed downstairs...

Next up: Dr. Phil's reading and Steakpunk!

Dr. Phil