Saturday, May 27, 2006

Pomp and Circumstance

Last night was graduation night at most of the local high schools, so I was out there taking notes and photos for the paper. Our local high school had 91 graduates - not a real big class, but there are schools in rural Texas that graduate only one or two kids a year.
When you work as a small town newspaper editor, you go to a lot of graduations as the years roll by. However, until last night, I hadn't been to a graduation in two years. Last year I missed them because I was between jobs. My last day on my old job was May 20, and I started my new job June 1, so I missed the commencement season.
Last night's graduation reminded me of the commencement I attended in 2004. Gardner Dozois had accepted my story "A Rocket for the Republic" for Asimov's Science Fiction in March 2004. Up to that time, I had attended a total of two science fiction conventions in my life. Right after the acceptance, I realized I probably needed to get out more. The convention in Columbus, Ohio (Marcon) was coming up over the Memorial Day weekend, and I emailed and told them what had happened and said I wanted to attend. Ellen Datlow would be there; I had never met her.
In April they accepted me and put me on a panel on Submitting Short Stories with Ellen and Julie Czernada. I was very happy and I accepted. Then a few days later I realized the panel was at 2 p.m. Saturday the day after the local high school graduation. My wife and I went to the graduation at 8 p.m. Friday and then drove overnight 14 hours to Columbus. I made it with an hour to spare (I would have been exactly on time but we picked up an hour driving into the Eastern Time Zone).
I was glad to make the panel; it was a great experience, and I was very happy to meet with Ellen and Julie. I also attended a panel on Venus exploration by Geoffrey Landis Sunday morning that was worth the price of admission.
I'll never forget Saturday night when my wife and I were eating in the hotel's food court and people began sauntering by heading to that evening's costume ball. We're both SBC church embers, but wife's a native Texan and fifth generation SBC. I'm used to seeing leather corsets and fur loin cloths at cons, but the look on her face was priceless.
We drove back and made it to Texas by Monday morning; I got a short three hours of sleep and was back at work 8 a.m. Monday.
The rush and driving nearly killed my butt, though, and when I lucked out and didn't have to cover a graduation in 2005, and in fact had the whole Memorial Day weekend off, I felt it was cosmic payback.
I've told the folks in Marcon to keep me on their list; it's a great convention and I hope to make it again.
There seems to be a lot of cons over Memorial Day weekend. Howard Waldrop is off as Toastmaster at ConQuest in Kansas City. When I talked to him last weekend, and mentioned that I had to stay put because of graduation, he mentioned that he graduated from Arlington High School back in the 1960s, and it was a pretty big school by Texas standards even back then (Arlington, in case you're reading this from somewhere else in the big bad world, is smack dab between Dallas and Fort Worth and only seems suburban by comparison. It currently has a population of a quarter million people).
Howard said his graduating class had over 500 kids, and he recalls (and this seems to me a very Waldropian observation) at one point in the ceremony a pattering sound broke out that sounded very much like it had started to rain.
But it hadn't; what HAD happened it that as the list of graduates was read, everyone - students, teachers and relatives - had turned the page of the program at the same time. That's what made the sound.
Interesting, huh? He still remembers it after over 40 years.
Hope you have a very pleasant Memorial Day weekend.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Nice comment

While ego-surfing a couple of days ago I found a reference that led me to the Yahoo Group Website Steampunk2 ("Victorian Adventures in a Past That Wasn't"). Back on April 23, a member - Ron Dwyer - posted the following comment:
"Some time ago I read in Asimov's science fiction magazine a steam punk short story called "A Rocket for the Republic." I think it is a pretty good story and anyone interested in steampunk might be interested in it. One can learn more about the story and its author here:"
Well, thanks Ron!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Not a whole lotta shaking going on

At least on the s-f front. I had to work hard to meet a May 15th anthology deadline, and then right around to meet some deadlines on my real job. Haven't done a heck of a lot of writing.

Part of my time has been tied up dealing with a bizarre health problem, also. A couple of months ago I twisted my knee is a very strange manner. I was wearing flannel jammies and somehow the left pant leg bunched up and collected up around my knee so tightly that my knee was injured. I couldn't believe it, but I remember when I went to AggieCon (around March 18, I believe) my knee "popped" every time I took a step.

The injury slowly subsided, but then was re-aggravated the first weekend in May when I flew in a cramped airliner to the East Coast for a family gathering. The combination of the two flights on two consecutive day plus the three hour drive each way to the airport (it took us longer to drive to the airport than to fly to our destination) left my leg in bad shape and I was on the verge of not being able to walk. The week following the trip I had to sleep on the coach so I could let my foot dangle; my leg was so stiff I couldn't bend my foot to lay it flat in bed.

A steady regimen of creams, bandages and hot baths slowly brought things around, but I will be careful about the leg for some time. Ultimately, the leg was gimped up decades ago in a childhood injury, but the strange accident with the pajamas brought everything back.

Needless to say, I don't sleep in those pajamas any more.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

"A Djinn for General Houston"

John Thiel emailed yesterday to say the May issue of Surprising Stories is on line. It includes my story "A Djinn for General Houston' - one of my Texas weirder steampunk tales. The web site is

Go over and have a read

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A fan letter

As Jayme Blaschke mentioned in his comment on my post of April 23, the membership directory is one of the most useful things you get in a SFWA membership packet.
It does come in handy; it's a great reference work.
When I flipped through my copy, I noticed Ray Bradbury was in there. So I did something I should have done 40 years ago - I wrote him a fan letter.
He was nice enough to drop me a short reply, too, and wish me luck in my career.

Whatever happened to that old Sunbelt?

By LOU ANTONELLI Managing Editor It’s rained almost daily for the past four months. The ground is saturated; walking across grass is lik...