October 11th, 2010

Oh, a bunch of stuff ... BCS, Millionaire, etc.

I've been very bad and not posted here much lately. So what's up -- lots, lots I'll forget, doubtless.

First I should mention that the outstanding fantasy fiction website Beneath Ceaseless Skies has just published its second anniversary issue. BCS publishes "literary adventure fantasy", quite exactly -- fantasy stories (with the occasional marginally SFnal one) with good attention to literary values and good attention to neat plots and adventure. The current issue is a good introduction if you haven't seen it yet -- a very fine Lord Yamada story by Richard Parks, "Lady of the Ghost Willow"; a good Tony Pi story, "The Curse of Chimere", one of a few he's done recently in a fantastical alternate history concerning Ys and Lyonesse and the cinema -- here we have a movie that apparently can kill you if you watch it; a nice brief Sarah Edwards story, "The Girl Who Tasted the Sea", which hints of a quite intriguing setting in telling of a girl somewhat accidentally setting a birdlike messenger creature free; and finally a fine story of a changeling's role in a war between Faery and Humans, a war seemingly analagous in some ways to WWI: Rosamund Hodges'  "More Full of Weeping That You Can Understand".

Second I'll mention why I played hookey from work today -- I went to auditions for WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE at Lumiere Place, a casino on the St. Louis Riverfront. Some may recall that I appeared on that show in its prime time days, back in 2000 or 2001, though I never got to the "hot seat". The daytime show, hosted by Meredith Vieira, has not previously had non-local auditions -- you had to go to New York to try out. But this year they went to a few cities (at least Cincinnati and Seattle besides St. Louis, I think) for auditions. We began by taking a couple of tests -- one movie-oriented, for a planned special series of Movie Trivia shows, and one general trivia. Predictably, I passed the general test, but not the movie test. There followed an interview, and they'll notify us in a few weeks if we are selected or not. I'm not terribly optimistic -- I think they are look for more interesting stories than I have to offer -- I'm too boring, let's face it.

My wife and I have started watching MAD MEN. We're just into season two now, catching up via Netflix. Excellent show. We're also of course keeping up with our regular shows from last year -- GLEE (disappointing so far this year -- the Britney Spears episode was awful -- but the last episode showed promise), THE OFFICE (not bad this year so far), and MODERN FAMILY (mixed so far this year).

Of course I went to Archon last weekend. I had two panels, neither exactly in my wheelhouse -- one was nominally on how history (and by implication, Alt Hist stories) might have changed if events around the time of the Revolutionary War had gone differently; the other was about the messed up science in SF TV shows. The first panel in particular went very well, based on audience response, even if we drifted rather widely from the original topic. (Panelists besides me were Jim Bakke and Timothy Hays.) The second went pretty well -- lots of talk about medical shows, probably because one panel member was Analog writer and cardiologist H. G. Stratmann. (Other panelists: Jim Bakke and (eventually) Nancy Nutt.)) Other than that I attended a panel on "The Best Book I read This Year", from which I remember in particular Carolyn Ives Gilman recommending David Mitchell's The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which was already of course on my radar screen, after how much I loved Cloud Atlas -- but Carolyn's discussion pushed me to finally buy it. Also a panel on, essentially, pulp era SF, with much interesting discussion by the likes of Lloyd Kropp, Mark Tiedemann, Mike McFadden, and Jim Buck. That was one of those panels where I really wanted to be on the panel itself -- I think I could have contributed a lot. And of course I played in Byron Kerman's annual trivia contest, winning my first round match but then losing. Much fun, as ever. And a lot of contestants!

This was the first year the con was at Westport Plaza, split between the two Sheraton hotels there. This is in Missouri, thus, after some 15 years in Collinsville, IL. I confess it was nice that it was a bit closer to home -- I quite liked the new location.

Recent movies? DATE NIGHT, with Tina Fey and Steve Carell. Good for about half the movie, then it fell apart into absurdity, not redeemed by sufficient jokes. Also A SERIOUS MAN, the most recent Coen Brothers movie, about a Jewish man in about 1970 dealing with his wife's desire for a divorce, his brother's problems with the law, and his son's upcoming Bar Mitzvah, plus goofy neighbors. It's fitifully interesting, but it never quite cohered for me, never became truly absorbing. I'd rank it close to the bottom of their oeuvre, which to be fair still places it well above the average movie.