Friday was pretty laid back. I got some groceries on the way home, walked and played with the dog as we waited for Jill. I watched Daily Show as I made pizza and salad for dinner, then we watched Threshold and Battlestar Galactica (I predicted that the second Battlestar was named Pegasus – bummer that we have to wait ’til January for part 2). She went to bed and I read the paper before sleeping.
I thought I’d get up earlier Saturday to get to the National Book Festival, but didn’t get up until almost 10:30. Kinda of a problem since I’d targeted leaving around 11. I moved quickly, walking Illa and grabbing cereal for breakfast. I was on the road shortly before 11:30. I made one mistake – tried to park at East Falls Church Metro first. It’s usually a good choice – fastest to get to from the toll road, but if there’s a big event in DC, it fills up quickly. I saw it was full, so whipped out of there and over to West Falls Church. I don’t know about weekdays, but with the new parking garage, it’s never full on weekends. I started Neil Gaiman’s new novel, Anansi Boys, and was on a train in 10 minutes, with no seats, so I stood and read. By the time we got to the Smithsonian stop, the train was pretty packed, and it wasn’t much better on the platform, as people from earlier trains were still waiting to get off. I went south towards the Independence Avenue exit and got around the crowds. It was 12:30 by the time I got to the Mall, and Neil started his talk at 12:40. I got a program with a map of the grounds, found the right tent, then raced off to a portajohn, since I was planning on getting in the signing line quickly after his talk. I was right on time, because I noticed as I walked back to the tent I was pacing Neil as he walked in – so I guess the round of applause as I got there wasn’t for me.
He did a short reading from Anansi Boys, doing the long Anansi story about Anansi tricking his wife and sons. He mentioned he would have liked to read the same section he did last year, about Fat Charlie’s hangover recovery, just because it was so fun to watch the sign language interpreter handle it. He had to stop several times as helicopters flew overhead. Once someone walked by screaming something about “join us for peace”, and Neil wondered aloud if he was having any success. Then he did a q&a session (best bit was when a girl asked him what “hair mayonnaise” and he told her that her quest was to find out and email him to he could put the answer up on his blog). Afterwards I quickly got over to the signing area where I got to the end of the line that had already wrapped around once (and would do so 3 more times while I was there). I continued reading Anansi Boys, switching to the Post for about 20 minutes while there was a light drizzle, then back to Anansi Boys, finishing about 10 minutes before I got to the front of the line, after I’d waited about an hour and a half. Great book, reminiscent of some of Douglas Adams’ finest stuff, and convenient as I was able to ask him a question about a character at the end which had confused me. Funniest thing was as I was about three people from the front, a young boy about 15 with curly bleached hair came up to one of the volunteers working the festival, and offered her money to get his paperback of Stardust signed. She turned him down, and he petulantly stalked off. The volunteers started talking about it, and when Neil heard, he asked how much the bribe was for. When he learned it was $5, he said “Five dollars? I’m worth more than five dollars!”, to which the rest of us agreed (like we wouldn’t have tarred and feathered the guy). This picture’s from right before I got to the front.
After I got my books signed, I decided to head down to the peace rally. Lots of interesting signs and tshirts, but I wanted to see some of the music. As I arrived, Joan Baez was singing. I hadn’t seen her before, and she was good, very moving. Unfortunately most of the speakers that followed her weren’t, just reading scripts they’d brought and sticking to the applause lines. The two that weren’t were Jello Biafra (former Dead Kennedys singer) and Al Sharpton. Both were knowledgable and passionate – too bad the Democratic Party’s leaders aren’t more like them. There was a little too much preaching to the converted on Saturday. I understand the hostility and anger, but it keeps them separated from the other half of the country, and I’m not sure pulling our troops out entirely is the right move. I stayed for most of the Bellrays’ set before I left – was getting tired of standing. As I was walking back, I saw peace marchers, followed by a couple of Segway riders. I found out later in the Post that in addition to the peace rally and book festival, there was a national Segway convention in town (and two Nationals games). Of course there were no seats available on the Metro, but it wasn’t quite as crowded.
When I got back to Falls Church, I called my mom, as my sister and her boyfriend were in town and showing up there sometime. They weren’t there, so I went shopping in my favorite music store, CD Cellar, to pass the time. $40 lighter and 14 CDs heavier (love that clearance and scratched CDs sections), I checked back, and they were going out to dinner at a Chinese place near downtown Fairfax City. The food was ok, but we enjoyed catching up. I called Jill and asked if she wanted me to bring her some takeout, but she decided she’d get her own on the way home from work. We had stayed out a while, and I thought Jill would beat me home, but she had to wait for her food, and I was just returning from walking Illa when she got back with Indian food. I fed Illa, then neither of us felt like doing much, so we watched two episodes of Firefly.
Jill was stuffy and feeling like she was coming down with something, so she took two Nyquil Saturday night. Combined with her usual catch up on sleep, meant she was out until around 3:30 on Sunday. I got up and showered, walked Illa, made bacon and scrambled eggs while I watched Bill Maher. I went out on the deck to read the paper with a bone for Illa to join me, but we’d only been out about 5 minutes, when Fern (our neighbor from the down the block who’ve we’d known since she’d busted up my car by not leaving hers in park) went out back to play catch with her lab, Bear. Illa was curious and Fern had mentioned we could join her, so I got the long lead and attached the hands free buckle to my belt. Illa had a lot of fun and got the hang of catch pretty quickly, and ran around like a maniac. Only problem was right at the end he was running at full speed and when he reached the end of the lead, ripped my belt off (it was an old belt, worn at that spot). He also managed to tear down the metal trellis we had in the back. I tried to replace it but two of the legs were rusted and snapped off – not sure if we’ll replace it or not. I trimmed the hedges and swept the deck while I was working with it.
Illa was pooped after that, so he was happy to sit on the deck and chew his bone while I read the paper. I finished around 3:30, as Jill was just coming downstairs. I made us some BLTs since we had fresh bacon and tomatoes, then we both read some (EW for me, Martha Grimes for her). We left around 6 to see Neil Gaiman do another reading and signing at the Borders in Baileys Crossroads. We got there around 7 and the parking lot was packed. I figured it was going to be busy (especially since the day before at the festival the volunteers were telling people he had to leave at 5, but he was doing this signing the next day), but it was a sizeable turnout. Good thing I didn’t want anything signed, as I saw someone who arrived just after we did got number 259 in line. The reading this time was about Fat Charlie summoning his brother, and the q&a was decent (although there were a couple repeats). Afterwards, we went over to my mom’s. She needed a new mouse, so I brought her one of my unused ones (I only use glidepads), and I had made some more Daily Show DVDs for my sister. Found out I needed a serial adapter for the mouse (forgot her computer was old enough not to have a PS/2 port), and I had to install a powered FM antenna on her stereo as well. We chatted for a while, then left around 9:30 as we hadn’t had dinner. At close to 10 on a Sunday evening, most restaurants were closed. We cruised through Fairfax City and the new town center at Fairfax Corner without luck. I thought maybe Logan’s Roadhouse at Fair Lakes might have something (we were trying to avoid fast food or TGI Friday’s), but they were closed, but I remembered I’d been to the Blue Iguana cafe around the corner, and they were open with a late night menu. Not bad, we both had soup (lobster bisque for me, french onion for Jill, then the southwestern spring rolls, then the Mediterranean salad with grilled steak (ok, I’m hungry again thinking of it). We got home a little after 11, vegged a little, then walked the dog and headed to bed.