Using only the Brat Pack

Sep. 20th, 2017 01:07 am
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Cast a 1980s New Teen Titans film....
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
It occurs to me I haven't looked at the Heavy Gear rules in a long time....

A Blast From the Past

Sep. 19th, 2017 06:05 pm
kevin_standlee: (Hugo Logo)
[personal profile] kevin_standlee
Yesterday, I had called to my attention the list of what we would today call the finalists for the 1956 Hugo Awards. The historical listing on The Hugo Awards web site did not include finalists because we did not have a list of them, nor did any of the other historical archives on which we based our initial load of finalists/winners. So I spent some time between the end of work and heading off to BASFA entering the data. (And for the most part it appears faithfully reproducing typos in the original, some of which I've now corrected.) So we now have the 1956 Hugo Awards page updated with finalist information.

It's important to realize that 1956 was only the third time the Hugo Awards had been presented. The 1954 Worldcon didn't present them after 1953 ran them. The Awards could easily have been a "one-off" thing had 1955 not decided to present them again, and 1956 continued them. However, in those far-off days, there wasn't a long document listing the rules for the Awards. The members didn't make the rules through the Business Meeting. It was all made up on the fly by the individual Worldcon committees, who as far as I can see could do as they pleased subject only to their own scruples and how they thought they'd be treated by their fellow fans. Thus you end up with variable-length finalist lists (and no indication of how many nominations it took to make the short list), write-in votes, first-past-the-post voting, and (if rumors I recall reading can be trusted), cases where "close enough" was enough to generate a "tie." I don't know if that tie in Best Fanzine is "real" or not, and it's quite possible that we'll never know for sure.

As time has gone on, Worldcon's model for running the Hugo Awards has evolved considerable, to the model today where the rules are specified by the members through the WSFS Business Meeting, and the Administrators are expected to release just about every piece of information other than the raw ballots themselves. This is pretty consistent with an assumption that runs throughout the structure of WSFS, which is "I trust nobody but thee and me — and I'm none too sure of thee." We cede the bare minimum necessary to keep the organization running, and deeply distrust all central authority. This structure seems crazy to many people, and yet it has lasted for more than 75 years.

Bees

Sep. 18th, 2017 06:54 pm
sartorias: (Default)
[personal profile] sartorias
I was working away when the next door neighbor called, and said there were a zillion bees swarming around my pine tree on the patio. By the time I finished what I was typing, and went down to look out the kitchen window, I only saw four or five bees, and thought nothing of it.

Then, a few minutes ago, I took the dog out for a walk, and the neighbor came out, and said, look at the trunk of your pine. Whoa!

Here's from the side. click and embiggen, to see how far around the trunk they go.


Bees

And this below is from the sidewalk. Look in the upper portion of the trunk--that is a zillion bees tightly packed together.

Bees 2

That looks so . . . weird.

If they're still there in a couple of days, I'll have to find beekeepers to move them. My son's biological family on the female side has a deadly bee allergy running through them--his bio uncle has to carry an epipen everywhere, and my patio is about the size of two bedsheets put together. In fact, when I dry my laundry outside, I can only get one set of bedding out there at a time.

EDITED TO ADD: Between one check and the next ten minutes later, they suddenly vanished. I would have loved to see them swarm! But they are gone, and I hope they find a good, safe home.
kevin_standlee: (Business Meeting)
[personal profile] kevin_standlee
Having finally reached a high enough bandwidth connection to do so, I have now posted the four official 2017 WSFS Business Meeting videos to the Worldcon Events channel. These are the recordings taken by the WSFS videographer (Lisa Hayes), supplemented in a couple of places by cuts from the live-streaming video that Worldcon 75 shot when there were gaps in the official recording. These official recordings also omit everything outside of the meeting, skipping over recesses and other non-meeting time.

I would have pushed this out sooner, but since the Worldcon 75 live stream video was available, I elected to take my time getting the official recording edited together and making sure everything was in place. WSFS.org is also now similarly updated.

I will follow this advice

Sep. 18th, 2017 12:19 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
According to my brother, one should not bounce a chainsaw off one's knee as it is very hard on denim.

Rusty Roller

Sep. 17th, 2017 06:49 pm
kevin_standlee: (Rolling Stone)
[personal profile] kevin_standlee
It having been roughly three months since the last time I spent a week in the Bay Area on board the Rolling Stone, my travel-packing skills are a bit rusty. I didn't forget my razor this time, but as I was coming down the mountain, I remembered that I'd left my after-shave ointment (Cosmetic Lad by Lush) behind. That I could fix by stopping at the Lush store in Roseville, although I got away from Fernley so early that I had to kill a little time waiting for the mall to open.

After Roseville, it was on to Sacramento to spend and hour visiting with my sister at the nursing home. It appears that all of the postcards I sent from Germany, Finland, and Iceland have now arrived. I sure hope the poster tube I sent from Helsinki with the small WSFS banner makes its way to me in Fernley before next year's Worldcon!

Something I'd been unable to locate while packing was my washcloth. My towel is on board the RV, but I couldn't find the washcloth. So in Fremont (where I also had dinner), I stopped at Bed Bath and Beyond and bought a new one. So of course when I was unpacking for the evening, I found the old cloth. I apparently had put it away in a cupboard in the RV where I usually don't store such things. Like the Cosmetic Lad, it's not a big deal, and there's nothing wrong with having a spare. Indeed, I wish that I'd packed a washcloth for our European trip. By now I should remember that most of the hotels in which we've stayed in Europe don't include a small washcloth among the standard bathroom linens, which is particularly strange when they only include bath gel instead of bars of soap. It's as though they assume their guests will be bringing their own washcloth. Travel shows you where there are different assumptions about things, I guess.

It was also a day of travel contrasts. It was chilly leaving Fernley, and quite literally freezing (as in 0°C) at Truckee. I had to run the heater for a while going over the top. But by the time I was at Roseville, it was warm, and by Sacramento, I had the air conditioning running. Definitely autumnal weather. That's fine with me, though; much better than the heat of summer.

concert review: Pacific Symphony

Sep. 16th, 2017 11:25 pm
calimac: (Default)
[personal profile] calimac
I'd known that Orange County had its own professional orchestra, but up until now almost nothing about it. But opportunity arose, so I found my way to the office park between Santa Ana and Costa Mesa where lies the Segerstrom Concert Hall. It's right next door to another venue also called Segerstrom Hall, which had on a stage play. It would be futile to suggest that this is confusing.

The hall is small, shaped more like a hatbox than a shoebox, and has bright beefy acoustics. This was ideal for displaying the orchestra, led by longtime music director Carl St. Clair, in the Farewell and Magic Fire Music chunk from Wagner's Die Walk├╝re, completely riding over even the immensely powerful and profoundly deep voice of experienced Wotan Greer Grimsley. (Grimsley looks rather like Patrick Stewart with a full head of long hair, and sounds not unlike him too.)

This acoustic quality would be highly exposing of performing flaws, but there really weren't any. St. Clair gave an urgent searching quality to Wagner, Strauss's Don Juan, and the anchor of the program, Beethoven's Fifth. An abrupt way with the fermatas on the opening theme reinforced that. The orchestra was tightly marshaled without being strained, and had a smooth sound with only the piccolo poking out on top.

There's a huge video display above the orchestra, though the hall is not so large as to need one. But this is LA, where nothing is real unless it appears on screen.

Pre-concert lecturer Alan Chapman noted the simple construction of Beethoven's famous opening motif, and said that "the genius of Beethoven (or Mozart) is to take something that simple and make something that complex from it." That's exactly right, and sums up what awed me about this work on my first encounter with it, an encounter which made me a permanent fan of the heavy classics.

In other good news, availed myself of proximity to have a long palaver with [personal profile] sartorias in her lair.

In sad news, heard of the recent death of DavE Romm. Alas. I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.

Tea and Talk

Sep. 16th, 2017 07:26 pm
sartorias: (Default)
[personal profile] sartorias
Though I deeply appreciate net connections (which constitute the majority of my social life, such as it is) it is good to have actual conversations with human beings in the same space time continuum.

Today, [personal profile] calimac is in Southern California, and so had a chance to come by for tea and scones. (Well, I had tea, and [personal profile] calimac had water.) We blabbed non-stop about reading, Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, classical music, the evolution of TV, the differences in short story and novel writing, and how to conduct an interview/ run a panel ([personal profile] calimac suggested this interview with Robin Williams and Stephen Fry), and the Mythopoeic Society, and then reminisced about stuff the younger generation has no concept of, except in movies: things you never think of, such as leaded gas, and the total lack of recycling of the sixties, party lines, how horribly expensive it was to make long-distance calls (especially in the days when families had a single phone), etc.

We didn't just blab about old people stuff. We also talked about how awesome YouTube is, especially for musical discoveries. I have so many saved links, tabs, and tags that I can't find what i'm looking for half the time, but I did manage to find this one, and am always looking for more, of course.

Ah, that was fun--then, of course, back to work.

Packing for a Week Away

Sep. 16th, 2017 06:20 pm
kevin_standlee: (Rolling Stone)
[personal profile] kevin_standlee
I haven't been in the Bay Area since June, and the Rolling Stone has mostly sat parked in front of the house since then, so it was a bit dusty. (Not as much as if it had been out to Burning Man, but still....) So this morning, Lisa and I first took it over to Flying J and filled the tanks, then took it to Hanneman's Car Wash and gave it a quick rinse. This afternoon, I loaded it up with my clothing for this coming week when I'll be working at the Bay Area office. Aside from my computers and toiletries (they go out tomorrow morning before I leave), I'm ready to go. I'm a little rusty at RV living now that I don't have to do it every other week or three, but it should be okay. I'm glad to see that the weather will be good, with likely comfortable evenings. Because I have to be up so early to stick to my 6-to-3 work schedule, getting to bed early each evening is very important to me.

Lisa and I worked on a household project that had been put off for lots of reasons, but today's weather was perfect for working around the property. I also cut a bunch of bushes back along the fence line, so I don't have to put up with them snatching at my hat every time I walk down our sidewalk.

Lisa is sorry I have to go away for a week, but she did say it's easier to do some of the cleaning she wants to do when I'm not underfoot.

Work understands me :D

Sep. 16th, 2017 12:53 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Came in for a morning shift, found this:

Read more... )

going out

Sep. 16th, 2017 06:39 am
calimac: (Default)
[personal profile] calimac
As for why I'm in LA, that will come later. But as long as I'm here, I decided to try out two iconic entertainment venues that I'd never been to before.

My reaction to the Hollywood Bowl was, "And now I don't ever have to come here again." Hearing that parking was dicey, I took a park-and-ride bus that delivered us to the front entrance. But words are insufficient to describe the battery of elevators, escalators, tunnels, and other passages, plus a metal detector, that it was still necessary to pass through, past an assortment of stands selling hot dogs and banh mi sandwiches, and picnic tables packed with people eating them, to head further uphill to the arena itself. It was an even longer and more arduous walk afterwards to where they parked the buses to leave, though at least that was downhill.

The arena itself is huge. I splurged on a plastic sports-stadium seat, instead of the wooden benches. I think I was a quarter mile from the stage, and yet still less than halfway up the seating area. There are large video screens by the side, and a tinny amplification system. This did not enhance an otherwise creditable all-Mozart program by the LA Phil. And the Bowl's clout does not extent to prohibiting aircraft from flying overhead during the concert. I would far rather have gone back to Disney Hall, if only the regular LA Phil season there had started yet.

The Comedy Store was a new experience for me. In my extreme youth (and I mean extreme) I saw live both Bill Cosby (in a theater) and Allan Sherman (in a hotel lounge). But I don't think I'd seen live comedy since then. I didn't know quite what it'd be like. The main room is a nightclub setup, with upright chairs and small cocktail tables. The doorwardens ask you how many are in your party, and escort you to seats they choose. I wound up sharing a table with two young women who conversed during the entire show. The performers' microphone was loud enough that I didn't have trouble hearing, but the distraction was still annoying. Fortunately we are long past the days when smoking was allowed in such places.

The show consisted of a series of 15 or 20 minute stand-up comedy sets, each ending by the performer abruptly announcing, "I gotta leave now" (did a red light go on at the back of the room?) but then having to stick around for the degrading job of introducing their successor, after asking the PA guy who it'd be. It started at 9 pm, and how long it lasted I don't know, because after about 2 hours people started to leave, enabling the performers to start making whining jokes about how few people were still there to hear them. I stayed for 3 hours and heard 10 or 12; I lost count. One black man, one white woman, the rest all white men. Lots of jokes about male-female relations, mostly rueful about the foibles of men. Most of the performers were in their 40s or older; the audience looked mostly under 40. This enabled a couple of the Gen-X types to make jokes about Millennials, rather hostile ones. One of the oldest performers made jokes about AA meetings, an underexplored and impressively productive topic for humor. The only performer I'd ever heard of was Yakov Smirnoff, though I gathered from the introductions that some are known for their podcasts or tweets; it's a new world. Most of the performers were pretty good, a couple decidedly not.

Tickets were actually a $20 cover charge; you're required to buy at least two drinks, but considering that this is a profit-making function, it wasn't too much a ripoff at $8 for a glass of wine or $4 for a Coke, which were my choices. Fortunately the servers were on the ball, because they take your credit card when you order your first drink and don't bring it back until you finish your last, which is alarming. They claim to offer vouchers for parking at a garage 3 blocks away (a long walk), but there was nobody at the exit to give me one when I left.
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