Friday, June 15, 2012

Back Again

Whoa. That was a week.

I took Jake, and we hit the mainland. Melbourne, in fact. Did the NatCon thing.

I always enjoy the SF Convention thing. The panels and discussions vary from the very damned silly ("God Vs Godzilla: Who Would Win If The 500ft Jesus Of Rio Came To Life And Fought Daikaiju?" - thank you, Cat Sparks, you amiable lunatic) to the valuable and interesting. The fans are pleasant enough. But what I really enjoy is catching up with a peer group of fascinating, intelligent, creative people who share many of my interests, and understand a large chunk of my sense of humour. In that sense, three or four days is never long enough.

This year, I met David McDonald and Steve Cameron. I've shared a TOC with them both recently, and met them in passing before, but this time they both had the opportunity to leave their mark. David is as thoughtful and decent an individual as ever you're likely to meet, while Steve has a raft of fascinating stories from his time doing a range of other jobs. (Not sure how much he's ready to reveal to the public at large, so I'm not sayin' what he did that was so interesting. But it was indeed interesting. Yep.)

Of course, on top of all that, Melbourne is always the goods for food. Mr Barnes was kind enough to collect Jake and I from the airport, and we celebrated with an evening of serious Szechuan goodness. I wasn't sure we were going to be able to do it, at first... I got scheduled to a late-afternoon thing, and then a mid-evening thing, so I didn't know whether I'd be able to fit in a dinner, but with just Barnes, me, and a couple of youngsters, we managed to stuff our faces and be off again with a wee bit of time to spare.

I'm not going to run through the whole weekend of dinners, panels, discussions, drinks, awards, and people. I'm just going to say a big fat 'thank you' to everybody involved. You all know who you were, and what you did... or didn't do. I had a great time, and I'm home again, and I'm writing, and that's good.

Anyhow, we made it home again more or less in one piece. Oh, well.. okay, there was that incident at security, where the prawn waving the stupid 'explosive check' wand decided to 'randomly select' me...

...fuck it. Does that phrase piss anybody else off? They pull you out of the stream of travellers, and they hide behind this bullshit "random selection" routine. I like to fuck with their heads, when I have time, by asking what kind of algorithm they're using to ensure truly randomised selection. Naturally, they get that rabbit-in-the-headlights look, and start stammering, because they have no fucking idea what I'm talking about. But of course, I'm talking about true randomness, and the fact that no human-driven decision-making process can actually be considered 'random'.

The truth is that when they pick you, they do so for a range of non-random reasons. Boredom. The fact that they have to meet a quota. That their subconscious prejudices lead them to regard you as suspicious. And all of these factors can be manipulated, and used to beat the system. (It also doesn't help that the little explosive-detector thingies are less than reliable, according to information I've been given by someone who ought to know.) In other words, if you take the time to observe, and act appropriately, you can maximise your chances of slipping past the idiot with the explosive wand precisely because the selection process isn't random.

If the stupid game was actually about safety, I'd probably take it up with the people who run the theatre. But of course, it's not. It's about show. They're not trying to make anyone safe. They're trying to convince us that they're in charge, and they're Doing Something Useful.

Fucking idiots...

...anyway. In all the confusion, what with Jake having his hat and his new leather jacket to look after (we went to the Vic Markets on Sunday morning) and with me being blindsided by Mr Not-So-Fucking-Random and his dysfunctional phallic device, nobody remembered to pick up Jake's backpack. So at the time of writing, the presents for Genghis and the Mau-Mau are still somewhere in transit. Many thanks to Tehani, who put me onto the Tullamarine lost-and-found site... and thanks to the Qantas lost-and-found bunch to whom I eventually managed to get through, after the Tullamarine lot proved they couldn't find their arse with both hands and an anatomy text. I'd even thank Pack 'n' Send, who are moving the backpack through to us... except I don't think I have to thank anybody who charges nearly $100 to ship a 4kg backpack from Melbourne to Tasmania.

Eh. It's all good. Hopefully sometime early next week, the Mau-Mau will get her bamboo dragonflies that balance on their noses, and her Haigh's dark chocolate valentine heart, and Genghis will get his engraved military-style dogtags with chain.

Of course, Genghis already got his book. Three hundred pages of Diana Wynne Jones; The Enchanted Glass. Three hundred and twenty nine pages, actually. (It was in my bag, not Jake's.)

I think he must have enjoyed that book. But I'm reluctant to bother buying more from DWJ to give him. The little bastard read the entire thing through in about six or seven hours. All of it. Cover to cover. What the fuck am I supposed to do about that?

I can tell you one thing I've done. I've given the little sod a copy of Frank Herbert's Dune. He's enjoying it, but it's definitely slowing him up. He's been reading it for over a week now, and he's no more than halfway through. Ha!

But we're back on Tas soil now. And today was a gaming day. I set up and ran a game of Paranoia -- 2nd Edition. I don't think I've done that in... fifteen years? Maybe more?

Eight players, ranging in age from nine through to eighteen. And brutally, joyously, I butchered them all, repeatedly. Except for Jake, who was cunning enough to escape with nothing worse than a frozen lung, and an exceptionally large and bulky prosthetic replacement. (I duct taped a laundry basket to his chest to simulate the discomfort and clumsiness of his new Experimental Oxygenation System.)

I believe the best death of the day was one of the Baggins sisters - young April, who was swallowed whole by a Godzilla-sized aardvark. Damn, I love Paranoia!

Okay. That's it for now. Writing time. Good night!