Balticon, HFStival, and Blues Traveler – oh my

I started the weekend with a fine show at Jammin’ Java. Paul & Storm usually put a good show and draw a decent crowd, but the place was nearly sold out. I hadn’t know what Jonathan Coulton‘s draw would be, but it was pretty good. And they knew it, as Paul came out to introduce him, he said “Are my geeks in the house?” The cheers answered his question, and Jonathan put on a short but well received set. Paul & Storm came out during his set several times to lend backing vocals (on “Code Monkey” too, a slower version than the recorded one but good), and during his encore, but after the encore he left and they stayed, since it was the early show and they were pressed for time. They had a nice show, I was pleased that they’ve brought back DVN’s “The Captain’s Wife’s Lament”.

After the show, I went home. Talked to Jill for a little while, found out that not only was she still going to meet me in Baltimore the next day, but her mom was home from the hospital, and pretty happy about that. After I got off the phone, I finished watching Season One of Dr. Who (what a well done series) and made a salad and cooked some pizza for dinner. Still had to pack and find some random costumes for us, didn’t make it to bed until after 2.

Saturday I got up at 8, was hoping to be on the road by 9. Ha! It was almost 10 before I took Illa to Club Pet, and I got on the Greenway after that, only to turn around in Ashburn after I realized I hadn’t packed the HFStival tix. So it was actually almost 11 before I started. I got to the Marriott Hunt Valley Inn, in time to see the second panel I wanted to see, Lisa Snellings-Clark’s talk. I checked in and went to a comics talk after that, leaving early to see a conversation between Neil Gaiman and Peter Beagle. I thought about going to some other panels, but decided to get in the Neil signing line. He was signing with Peter, so I went to buy a book of his. Funny thing was, Peter was at his publisher’s table, so he signed my book right there. It was a good thing I got in the Neil signing line next, as it closed about 5 minutes after I got there. I called Jill to see what was going on and she told me she was stuck in traffic in Jersey, it might be three hours. I read newspapers and magazine, and chatted with my line mates.

Well, it was three hours, and she managed to arrive two minutes before I got to the front of the line. It was nice that even though she suffered through a long slog of traffic from her mom’s, she didn’t have to wait once she got there. After we chatted briefly to Neil and I talked to Peter Beagle again, we headed to our room, then got our stuff from the cars and changed into swimsuits. We went down to the pool and jacuzzi for a while, then changed to go out for dinner. We got some Dogfish Head beer at a liquor store (90 minute IPA), then went to Andy Nelson’s Southern Pit Barbecue. We each had a half rack of ribs, I liked the place, Jill thought it was so-so. After dinner, we stopped at a frozen custard place where Jill had a chocolate and vanilla swirl custard in a cone, and I had a gelati – custard on the top and bottom, shaved ice in the middle (mine was all chocolate). On the way back, we stopped at Wal-Mart, so I could abandon my boycott to pick up the exclusive Def Leppard EP with a Queen cover.

We went back to the room to get changed for the Masquerade. We weren’t going to compete (a good idea given the quality of the costumes that did), but did our own little thing, since there were a lot of people in costumes. I did what I’d done for the Sandman con – went as Arthur Dent (nothing easier than putting on a dressing gown, and my PDA still had the Hitchhiker’s Guide stuff I’d put on then). Jill decided of all the options I’d brought her, she liked going as Door from Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere (in the book, she had red hair). Here’s Jill near and far; I thought she did a great job. We went down and found that the ballroom was full, so we watched the feed in one of the satellite rooms. As I said, great costumes, and some quite funny (especially the crew of Serenity and the Prince Of Egypt). We made it the ballroom after that for the RIF charity auction – I’d seen a collectible Neil book I didn’t have. Got too rich too quick for me (though Jill bid again on my behalf). We didn’t really know anyone there, so didn’t go to any of the parties, eventually calling it a night after wandering around.

Sunday I got up around 9 to make it to a Lost panel run by Ann C. Crispin (never got any of her own stuff, but I liked her Star Trek, Star Wars and V novels). Some interesting theories about this season and the finale. Most interesting theory (not really a spoiler): Claire is Jack’s half sister (based on Jack’s father arguing with an older blonde woman in Oz about the whereabouts of his daughter, and Claire said her father’s name is Christian. Jill joined me midway through, then we went to see Neil talk with Gene Wolfe. Very funny, as they’ve known each other for some time (Neil had met Peter Beagle only right before their panel). After that, we checked out of our room, then went to the brunch buffet in the hotel. I had the buffet (which was pretty decent), Jill had to wait forever for crab soup and a reuben. I darted off for 5 minutes near the end to get some books signed by Ann C. Crispin as she waited for a panel to start (she got there too late for her signing session), then we went back to the main ballroom for Neil’s talk, where he read “Orange” which he’d just written (interestingly told in the style of responses to questions), “The Day the Saucers Came”, and “How To Talk To Girls At Parties”, then followed up with a q&a where he mostly discussed movies being made from his work.

Jill snuck out to go down the street to Caribou Coffee after the readings; I stuck around to the end, then got in the Gene Wolfe signing line. After that, I met her at the coffee place, then she followed me to the HFStival. We parked at the Mall Of Columbia, then walked over. As we got there at 5, H.I.M. was playing, which was cool because they were one of the three bands I wanted to see. But we were disappointed to see from the other two, that Coheed and Cambria had already played and Counting Crows wouldn’t go on until 10. We wandered over to the side stage and saw Plunge, went back to the main stage and saw AFI was playing, then went back to the side stage to wait for Kill Hannah, who’d I’d heard good things about. That was wrong, as they sounded like a junior version of Blur, and we’ve already go one. As we were walking away, Jill said “They sound better from here”, and I said “Let’s keep going, and see how they sound from the mall”.

We’d already discussed leaving after them, and to my surprise, while Jill wanted to leave (neither of us wanted to wait 3+ hours just for Counting Crows), she was up for going to see Blues Traveler in Rockville. Although the fact that I’d made directions over back roads so we could skip the 95 -> 495 -> 270 route may have had something to do with it. We got there and eventually found parking in the Metro lots, then walked over. It was there big festival, Hometown Holidays, and we got dinner at the booths – empanadas for me, tiki marsala for her. We got to the concert area with about 5 minutes to spare. We got a spot on a curb to put our blanket on – I asked her if she wanted to get closer, she said “I’ve seen their faces before”. I had to laugh at that one. Good show, always love it when they break out “Hook” (though I was hoping for “Just For Me” or “Conquer Me”). We headed out before the end, as Jill was starting to fade. I was low on gas, and didn’t see any stations on the way out of Rockville, so we exited 270 on Democracy Boulevard because I knew there was one at its end. We got back on 270, and got home pretty quickly. I started watching Dr. Who documentaries on the DVD set as Jill read her mail.

Big sleep in Monday, then we got going around noon. I made schmorgles for breakfast while watching the rest of the Dr. Who documentaries, and Jill went out to buy sandals. I started on the Sunday and Monday papers, outside before it got too hot. We went and picked Illa up, then came home and read and gave him the ultimate twin belly rub, much to his satisfaction. I had marinated some chicken in a soy sauce based marinade I’d made a couple weeks back, and grilled it while I made a salad and started watching whatI’d left off when the TV season started last fall – the Firefly DVD. I’d meant to watch it before Serenity came out, but hadn’t, and I still haven’t seen Serenity. So now I’ll finish the DVD (I watched the series when it was on TV, but haven’t seen the unaired episodes and want to watch them all in order). We had dinner, then Jill went off to work.

I cleaned up, watched the end of an episode, then finished the papers. I went to take Illa on a walk in the woods, and we went across the creek to an area where we hadn’t been before, and I tripped on a piece of barbed wire from an old fence and managed to gash my ankle a bit. Jill says if I haven’t gotten a tetanus shot in 5 years I need to go to the doctor, but no way am I going to the ER tonight – I’m feeling ok and will go to the doctor tomorrow.

3 thoughts on “Balticon, HFStival, and Blues Traveler – oh my”

  1. What did Neil say about the upcoming films? It looks to me like Stardust is in better shape than Death at this point.

    Also, what’s a schmorgle?

  2. We caught Saving Private Ryan on cable last week, and were surprised to see Mal as Private Ryan (the first one with the wrong middle name and the brothers in grammer school.)

  3. Re Neil:
    Stardust, Coraline, and Beowulf are all in various stages of production/filming and he’s quite happy with them. Death has no progress, but I predict if any of the three is a hit, Neil will get his chance to direct.

    Re schmorgle:
    A schmorgle is a German breakfast food, by way of my dad’s mom:
    1/4 cup flour
    1 egg (can subsitute egg beater)
    1 tbsp sour cream
    1/8 tsp baking powder
    (per serving)

    Mix together, then dump into oiled pan, cook like scrambled eggs. Traditionally served with butter and corn syrup (the only time I have it deliberately). I prefer them to pancakes.

    Re Firefly:
    Not as surprised as I was to see President Logan from 24 as the magistrate in “Jaynestown”.

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