Monday, March 24, 2008

Home again, home again....

....jiggedy-jig. Traci and I are back home after an unreal and amazing week in Seattle. A few highlights:

1. Our 1st anniversary -- March 17th: we arrived in Seattle. Pike Place Market was even more fabulous than we expected. Il Bistro was as romantic as it gets. However, our highlight was the Six-Seven at the Edgewater Hotel. Yes, it's the place where the Beatles famously fished out of their hotel room window. However, Traci and I will instead remember it for its picture-perfect views of Elliott Bay, great happy hour drinks (homemade gin and tonic!), elegant modernism, and the super-cool Edward Scissortree decor.

2. Three days of food, sun (yes, sun in Seattle in March), and sights -- A few Seattle faves on our 1st journey there: Serious Pie (fabulous wood-fired gourmet pizza); the Dahlia Lounge (decadent triple coconut cream pie); Seattle Mystery Bookshop; Seattle Paperworks in Pike Place Market; Piroshky Piroshky (smoked salmon pate piroshky -- we lust for these pastries even now); the amazing Zanadu Comics flagship store; and the mind-blowing Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum (thanks, Therese!!). :) Monorail and EMPSFM pictured above.

3. University Bookstore: the great and powerful Duane Wilkins calls the shots for sf/fantasy at this super-mecca. One of the most diverse and thoughtful selections you'll see anywhere, as well as one of the most badass graphic design shelves I've ever seen in any bookstore. I signed there Wednesday night along with Patrick Rothfuss, Naomi Novik (in town for her first-ever GOH appearance -- go, Naomi), and some very cool new friends (mad shoutouts to them below).

4. Norwescon 31 Highlight #1: Jeremy Lassen (or as he prefers -- Jeremy Fuckin Lassen)...Jeremy and I have known each other a lot of years but Friday night at Norwescon was downright surreal. I still doubt it actually happened...probably a waking dream. It went something like this: I dreamed that I was in a sprawling labyrinthine hotel and there was a huge con going on, full of costumed freakery floating through the halls. Jer was pimping large in one of his signature zoots and he and I were trolling the halls together looking for friends and parties. We encountered the following sights along our journey: an auction for slaves and chocolate (WTF?); a hotel room where nurses in tight-fitting uniforms offered handmade sushi; across from the nurses, a blacklight room with pounding techno music and lots of black leather in the shadows; a party with a sign on the door that required a $50 cover charge for entry and when we opened the door, a guy sat on his bed staring at his TV (we promptly pivoted and scurried; a generous and festive Radcon room party; and a visit to Maxi's atop the hotel where we were completely alien to the R&B clubbers, yet Jer was ogled approvingly by the ladies in the house for his pimp threads. However, none of this could prepare us for The Party At The End of the Universe at the La Quinta Across The Street. One word -- bacchanalia. Sheer. Unadulterated. Bacchanalia. Heaven help the poor souls in this hotel that WEREN'T attending Norwescon. This wasn't a party; this was an Animal House techno-rave in Wonderland, and Alice lost her mind five drinks ago. Imagine dark, pounding goth/techno dance floors packed with costumed flesh, connected to a gigantic outdoor party tent where a lone barman serves all manner of libations to more costumed masses unleashing their inner freak. Lots and lots of costumes, and lots and lots of inner freak. Like I said, it probably didn't really happen and in fact, was all just a dream....

5. Norwescon 31 Highlight #2: New friends....The-Force-of-Nature-That-Is-Cherie Priest; her super-cool husband Aric; Mario Acevedo (homeboy! See you down the road for sure); Kat Richardson and husband Jim; Richelle Mead; Caitlin Kittredge; and Mark folks are a pleasure to be around. You know you're with pros when you hear the following...."I've gotta get back to my room and work on my workshop material" (Caitlin Kittredge transitioning seamlessly from partyhopping-to-business at 12:30am...damn, that's pro....); ", yeah, after I finished my second masters degree...." (super-cool Richelle Mead gracefully and graciously lets me know that one of us is probably a member of Mensa, and it's not me); and "the titles of my books so far are X-RATED BLOOD SUCKERS, THE NYMPHOS OF ROCKY FLATS, and THE UNDEAD KAMA SUTRA" (none other than Mad Mario Acevedo). You people rock. Holler anytime....

6. Norwescon 31 Highlight #3: Jon Armstrong....pictured left in a psychic staredown match with editor/publisher Lassen at the PKDs....his book GREY (Night Shade Books) was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Awards on Friday night, along with six others including Adam Roberts' GRADISIL (Pyr) and Sean Williams' SATURN RETURNS. Jon didn't win on this night, but I suspect he'll have awards victories aplenty in future. A hilarious guy, and a pleasure to hang out with all weekend.

7. Norwescon 31 Highlight #4: Jay Lake and Ken Scholes....Jay was awesome as always. That was a fun dinner at Roasters!! (Special shoutout to the guy that covered the tab for the whole freaking table of 12....his name was Scott, right? Scott (if I have his name correct) also managed to sport one of the coolest utilty belts ever, with flasks of prime whisky at the ready....I salute you, sir.) Congrats to Ken on his forthcoming first book from Tor....go, man, go.

8. Norwescon 31 Highlight #5: Adrienne Loska....who raised over $3400 at Norwescon, for Alzheimer's research with her Match-It-For-Pratchett efforts. Wow.....way to go, Adrienne!

9. Norwescon 31 Highlight #6: Dan and Karen Simmons....Traci loved Dan's book THE TERROR and we very much enjoyed our quality time with these good folks. Great meal at Dave's Diner on Sunday night and Traci and Karen even managed to escape the con and hit the Seattle Art Museum on Saturday (for which I was very jealous).

10. Norwescon 31 Highlight #7: WEIRD TALES' 85th Anniversary Party....congrats, WEIRD TALES!!! Good times.

Whew....Norwescon 31 was a blast, and the con's smofs and conrunners know how to do a show the right way. 3000-plus attendees this year and going very strong. Doug and Pat Booze -- you put on a terrific art show. William Sadorus, Sunny Jim, and Tracy Knoedler -- you made everything look easy, and Traci and I can't thank you enough for your hospitality. Jordan Orr and Walt Thomas -- thanks for making the slideshow work smoothly! Don Glover -- that's one of the classiest con booklets I've ever seen. Top to bottom -- this con was a joy and worth the effort to travel all the way from Texas. Maybe we can do it all over again another year soon!


Blogger Dianora said...

Oh, how I wish I had accompanied you and Jeremy on your surreal adventure. My kind of night!

1:26 PM  
Blogger John Picacio said...

D --

Seriously, it was your kind of night. You would've loved it. Like I said, I'm still not sure it really happened....

1:43 PM  
Blogger Lou Anders said...

Man, that makes me wish I'd been there.

1:49 PM  
Blogger ces said...

So that's who I was talking to! Karen Simmons, while she was waiting for Traci so they could go to SAM! What a nice lady! And now I know who the guy in the pin-striped suit and red shirt was! And it was a pleasure meeting Jon Armstrong also. And Ciruelo (the dragon Guest Artist of Honour - or something like that) down in the art show. And all the other wonderful folks I met, some of whom were attendees and some of whom had artist/author/panelist name tags that I was too embarassed to stare at to learn who I was talking with.

And, of course, John, who graciously signed 2 books for me and had a wonderful slide show.

Yeah, the costumes at the con were really something. I've never seen so much explosed flesh in one place in a long time.

And, yes, we do see the sun in Seattle. Occassionally. I'm so happy it put in an appearance for John and Traci's trip and First Anniversary! Congratulations guys!

7:33 PM  
Blogger John Picacio said...

Lou -- Wish you were there was good times.

Hi, Christine -- I felt bad pulling Karen Simmons away when you two were talking, but she had alerted me that she was looking for my wife because she wanted to head out see some sights. So when I found Traci, that's when I came and grabbed Karen. She's a very nice woman, isn't she? We spent time with her and Dan Simmons on Sunday night, and they were terrific people. Even though you had limited time at the con, you sure managed to find some of the best folks -- Karen Simmons, Jon Armstrong, Jeremy Lassen, and Ciruelo -- all fabulous. I'm glad! Please holler anytime over here, and let me know if you need anything down the road.

Very best,

9:44 PM  
Blogger Corwyn said...

Much as I would love to claim the credit for the Con Book, all I did was wave my hands and expound broad generalities of Vision. It was my crew of Dqniel Kaufman, Katrina Marier, and Paul Carpentier who actually had the talent to make it happen and look good. I wold have been toast without them.

Don Glover

9:50 PM  
Blogger John Picacio said...

Hi, Don --

Hat's off to them then. I took home an extra one because I thought it was so elegantly done.

Thanks very much,

10:06 PM  
Blogger Dqniel said...

Thanks for the compliment, John. I enjoyed your Elric painting, too, having been a Moorcock fan since the early 80s.

11:31 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

That sounds like an awesome event!

Congrats - first on that first anniversary and for doing it in style. Second on your Hugo nomination.

I thought The Terror was great also. Have to arrange to meet Mr. Simmons some day...

5:34 PM  
Blogger John Picacio said...

Thanks, Dqniel!!

Hey, Big D -- Norwescon was cool. You'd dig it, I think. Costumes ahoy, and a really diverse range of programming.

Hugely thrilled to see you in the running for the Campbell!! Yeah, it's hard to believe that it's already been almost a year since Elf Fantasy Fair.

And yeah, Dan Simmons and his wife Karen are solid folks. I was hoping he'd be at Worldcon since he lives in Colorado, but I think he's gonna be a guest at a festival in Germany during that time. So no Simmons at Worldcon this time. Hopefully down the road though...

9:01 PM  
Anonymous Aric said...

Good to meet you as well, John. I dig your work; I discovered Canticle for Liebowitz for the first time when your cover for it caught my eye in a B&N. Keep on keepin' on. :)


7:54 PM  
Blogger John Picacio said...

Hey there, Aric --

Very cool of you to say re: CANTICLE. That really makes me feel good. What a book, huh? A real honor to work on that one....

Just now realized you also have a coffee, you really know your stuff....I don't even drink coffee, but I thought that was pretty cool....look forward to the next time we cross paths....


10:25 PM  

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