Dream of the Dolphin
a.k.a.
Confessions of a Post-Graduate Pity Whore

Free Story!

Monday, November 28, 2005
 

Bits and Pieces

Little bits and pieces of things have been going on, leaving me a bit too rushed to take it all in. I'm very excited about my first big jewellery commission for a bracelet along the lines of "The Dreaming Tide" (I will have a picture up on the Stellar Magpie journal as soon as I can borrow someone's digital camera).

But my wish list is now complete. For those who haven't heard of this particular meme, here are the rules:

Step One
- Make a post (public, friendslocked, filtered...whatever you're comfortable with) to your journal. The post should contain your list of 10 holiday wishes. The wishes can be anything at all, from simple and fun ("I'd love a Snape/Hermione icon that's just for me") to medium ("I wish for _____ on DVD") to really big ("All I want for Christmas is a new car/computer/house/TV.") The important thing is, make sure these wishes are things you really, truly want.

- If you wish for real possible things, make sure you include some sort of contact info in your post, whether it's your address or just your email address where Santa (or one of his elves) could get in touch with you.

- Also, make sure you post some version of these guidelines in your LJ, or link to this post (it'll be public) so that the holiday joy will spread.

Step Two
- Surf around your friendslist (or friendsfriends, or just random journals) to see who has posted their list. And now here's the important part:

- If you see a wish you can grant, and it's in your heart to do so, make someone's wish come true. Sometimes someone's trash is another's treasure, and if you have a leather jacket you don't want or a gift certificate you won't use--or even know where you could get someone's dream purebred Basset Hound for free--do it.

You needn't spend money on these wishes unless you want to. The point isn't to put people out, it's to provide everyone a chance to be someone else's holiday elf--to spread the joy. Gifts can be made anonymously or not--it's your call.

There are no rules with this project, no guarantees, and no strings attached. Just...wish, and it might come true. Give, and you might receive. And you'll have the joy of knowing you made someone's holiday special.

Wish List 2005
  1. Beading supplies -- nice sparkly beads, artistic wire in assorted colours and gauges (26 gauge is a good one right now, and I don't have pink, green, gold, or copper), pearls or swarovksi crystals in various colours, sterling silver wire, etc.
  2. A really detailed close up picture of Sarah's ballroom jewelry in Labyrinth -- particularly the earrings.
  3. A new anime series recommendation to fill my Inuyasha void.
  4. A new Palm. One that will actually support word processing software.
  5. A digital camera.
  6. An icon based on Doctor Who or Farscape that expresses extreme frustration of the "nnnngrrrrahgh!" variety. My favourite Farscape character is Pilot.
  7. A "Zim laughing manaically" icon, preferably with manaical laugh text.
  8. Gift Certificates to Reitmans or Smart Set, or somewhere with similar clothing tastes (meaning NOT places like Le Chateau, Garage Clothing, or other "large is a size 9" stores). I know, I know, impersonal, but all my clothes are for someone 30 pounds heavier than I am. The t-shirts were bad enough, but last year's "flattering" sweater now looks like I'm wearing a tent.
  9. Serenity on DVD
  10. seaQuest on DVD
In health news, things continue to trundle on apace -- long story short, there are now two cysts, and I was referred to a clinic that doesn't exist for physiotherapy on my arm, but in general I am well.

Night Life goes well for the most part, though I'm a little frustrated. Two of the boys' mothers have told me their sons adore the course, but my youngest girl hates it and cries whenever her parents drop her off, which she's never done in her life, apparently. Part of it, I think, is that there are seven rowdy boys to three girls, and the week before last she was the only girl in the group, which is hard when you've barely turned six and the boys are mostly a rowdy seven. But I've assigned our strongest girl in the group to watch out for her, and we're all keeping an eye on her, and there's not much else I can do. ::sigh::

Ah well. Time marches on and all that. My last day off was November 7, and my next is December 7 (which doesn't really count because it's our choir concert -- everybody come support us!), and its December 13 after that. I really can't wait. If my grandfather's inheritance ever comes through, the first thing I'm doing is scheduling two weeks off so I can write.

But at least my life isn't boring.

( 3:10 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Friday, November 25, 2005
 

Let it Snow

The first snowfall of the season -- the first real snowfall anyway, where the snow actually stays on the ground -- is always a magical thing. Oh, it's damp and cold as hell and brings on sniffles, but those are the realities that set in afterward. Those first moments, when you wake up in the morning to find all the trees have been painted in white, are stunning.

It's also a time of year that reminds me how short-term memories are. I've heard people wondering if this is going to be a "bad" winter like last year, that had a few storms depositing knee-deep snow.

But it's mid-November and this is the first time it's actually been really, truly cold. I remember going trick-or-treating in snowpants when I was a kid. I remember when snowdrifts above your head were the norm and not the exception. I remember being able to go out on Christmas Day with the cousins to build a snow fort taller than all of us. Every year. I remember having to dress in five layers to go watch the Santa Claus parade, instead of watching without hat or gloves and with coat unbuttoned because the press of people makes it too warm. I remember winters when nearly every other day was a snow day, even though we only lived a ten-minute walk from the school and could easily get there by sled (that's Mom-powered, not dog-powered).

The "bad" winters people have been complaining about are the ones I remember as "normal", as opposed to the unseasonably warm winters we've been having in recent years. The climate is unquestionably changing, but memory is altering right along with it.

And then there are evenings like last night, where I watch the flakes tumbling like stars through the light of the streetlamp, and I remember what it was to be a child and dance in the snow.

( 10:33 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Wednesday, November 23, 2005
 

geekTunes

Anyone who loves Doctor Who and irreverant punk bands go listen to this: Doctor Who on Holiday. It's bringing me joy disproportionate to what it actually is.

Thank you Karina!

( 8:15 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Monday, November 21, 2005
 

Goblet of Fire: A Ramble

So. Harry Potter. Strap yourselves in, we're going to be here a while.

A casual glance over the blogosphere will tell you that there is a divide (often strongly vocal) between fans of the Colombus films and the darker Curaron/Newell stuff. I'm in the latter camp. Oh, I loved the first two well enough. But I LOOOOOOOOVED PoA. And GoF was pretty darned good, though Curaron still has the top spot in my estimation.

That said, I don't envy Newell the task he had adapting the monster book. I've learned that Curaron was offered GoF (just as Newell was offered OotP) but declined because the next movie goes into production before post on the last is finished, and you can't work on two movies of this scale at once. This initially made me worried, because I loved Curaron's take so much, but when I read that Newell had said "ha-HA, no more of this shiny Christmas-y Columbus stuff, I'm going DARK with this puppy and what's that Curaron guy doing oh HEY, HE DID WHAT I WAS GONNA DO!", I was somewhat reassured.

I think they have the right of it. Books are books. Movies are movies. They are very different things, and sometimes painfully faithful adaptations do a disservice to the source material because it just doesn't translate to film well. Both Curaron and Newell did a fabulous job of capturing the spirit of the books while adding a great deal of depth and subtext through film composition (I've geeked already on Curaron's things like passing through the clock, but I still love the way that man puts film together). They understand that by cutting subplots, they can put together a movie that still works as an adaptation of the book, but also works on its own as a movie, which is a very important thing. Columbus's movies are very shiny and glittery and pretty to look at. Curaron's and Newell's are immersive.

Highlight for spoilery stuff: I like that Newell kept Curaron's changes -- the darker messier uniforms, the extremely different Hogwart's grounds, etc. And I like that he kept the darker tone, which GoF really needs in order to work. He did a good movie. But he ran into the problem of the sheer size of the source material. I agree that not splitting it up into two movies was a good call, because there's really nowhere for a logical split to happen. And he cut out a lot of the really superfluous subplots -- I haven't read GoF in a while, so I'm fairly confident that it all made sense without things like Hermione's crusade for the house elves. Curaron cut a lot of subplot in PoA too, which made it a very tight, smooth movie (I admit that despite my Curaron love I was still a little "why didn't they explain the Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs" thing in PoA, but on watching it again last week, I realized that it's not terribly integral to the plot, little kids won't care, and adults with a brain can figure it out if they're paying attention to things like body language and subtext).

But the problem with GoF is that it's so big, even when cutting out subplots, that you still have to cram a crapload of material into a movie that needs to stay under three hours. They covered about 250 pages in fifteen minutes, which was really jarring. It got to the point of ridiculousness when my brain starting thinking things like "thirty seconds aaaand switch! whee! jump cut to another scene where are we now pass the exposition stick!" I mean, they spend all that time setting up the Quidditch World Cup… and never show any Quidditch? WTF? The scene changes were coming so fast and furious that you almost needed Gravol. But that said, I also can't think of how else he could have done it.

Unfortunately, having to pare down the movie so much means that a lot of the supporting characters suffer. Ginny was practically reduced to window dressing, there hasn't really been a Percy for two movies now, and for a while I forgot that Hogwart's actually has ghosts until Shirley-Henderson-pretending-to-be-twenty-years-younger-than-she-actually-is showed up. You can make it up if you're really charismatic (I mean, all Fred and George really have to do is breathe), but others not so much (was that Nigel kid supposed to be Colin Creevey's brother?), and Miranda Richardson seemed to have absolutely no purpose at all (though I love her dearly, even though I'm beginning to get a little creeped out by the fact that she hasn't actually aged in the last twenty years). And oh, Malfoy, are you in this movie? Nice of you to drop by (I am, however, tickled at how they have to rake the actors' blocking because Tom Felton, who's supposed to be this little guy who brings big muscle for backup, towers over the rest of them now).

And I do have to ask -- where the frell was John Williams? I admit that a lot of his stuff can be overwritten (and in the case of the first two movies especially, there were several moments of "la la la, we're wizards at school and doing magic and I'M JOHN WILLIAMS LISTEN TO THE POWER OF MY AWESOME SCORE!!!1!") But he also has moments of incredible beauty (Buckbeak's flight, anyone?) that add so much to the movie, and the new guy was just… meh. There weren't any moments that really stood out, and while you can argue that a score shouldn't stand out in a movie, I don't think aural pablum is the way to go either. If you leave a movie and can't hum at least part of the soundtrack, the composer hasn't really made much of an impact at all. With some movies this doesn't matter so much (like does anyone really care about the score to, say, Miss Congeniality 2?), but with big movies like this one or Lord of the Rings, it matters.

It makes me very curious to know if Williams's absence was his choice or the director's, or if he was just too busy to do it. And why the heck didn't you get one of the other powerhouses to replace him?

Some of the characterization was a little odd, too. Moody was awesome, and it may be the Doctor thing, but I definitely have a bit of the crush happening with David Tennant. But Dumbledor was just… weird. Half of Book!Dumbledor's appeal is the overwhelming calm and control with which he handles everything, so having him screaming and practically assaulting Harry was… odd. Maybe it's just that they're trying to show him cracking under the strain, or trying to establish less of a marked shift to the relationship of not-quite-equals that evolves during the later books, or if they just figured they had to have at least one good nutbar in each film and Gary Oldman wasn't in it enough to be Crazy!Sirius for them.

Some changes were good -- the kids are becoming better actors as they grow, and Dan was pretty good this time -- there wasn't one line delivery in this movie that made me giggle inappropriately. Well, okay, maybe the oddly homoerotic bath exchange between Cedric and Harry. But that wasn't Daniel's fault. Though I am faintly disturbed by my initial and entirely inappropriate reaction to both Harry and Ron when the shirts were (mostly or entirely) off (wrong!wrong!wrong! I am a dirty old lady!). I expect a flood of Shirtless!Harry and Shirtless!Ron stories to be hitting the fanfiction boards soon. And Emma's just so pretty. Though the whole Yule Ball Hermione reveal would have been much stronger had Curaron and Newell kept her canonical frumpiness up until then. I personally didn't mind Hermione's PoA makeover so much, but it would have helped here. And the post-Yule Ball exchange between Hermione and Ron actually had me crying (and I adored the little touch of the random sobbing girl being comforted on the stairs behind them).

Plus, holy Harry/Hermione chemistry, Batman! I'm not a Harmione shipper, and though I've read postings to the contrary, I don't think that the chemistry these two have hurts the Ron/Hermione pairing. What I see between them is friends who love each other very much, and I think the reason they're so close, and that it works so well, is because there isn't any of the romantic baggage that's mucking with Ron and Hermione. The Harry/Hermione relationship is very straightforward and uncomplicated, and I adore it.

Yay for putting some of the weight back on Neville! He was scarily skinny in PoA. And he rocked in this movie, so large. He wasn’t in it much, but he totally stole what he was in. Ditto for Snape. The sight of Alan Rickman smacking students around with a book just fills me with glee. Maggie Smith also had some great McGonagall moments, and the dance lesson was priceless. And Lily and James Potter were, for their grand five seconds, stunning. I cried more.

And is Weird Greasy Moustache Warwick Davis supposed to be what Professor Flitwick looks like now? Because if it is, then dude, bad call. And if not, then who the frell is that guy?

But these weird character nitpicks aside, Newell did a hell of a job with the material he had to work with. I do think that part of the reason I prefer PoA is that Curaron is not only a little more artistic, he was able to cover a lot more range of emotion. GoF has one of the most emotionally cutting moments to date, but it would have been so much stronger had the emotional tone had farther to swing. As it is, he stayed a little to close to the grey axis.

Though Movie!Cedric's death hit me a billion times harder than Book!Cedric. Which is due in large part to Dan's improving acting skills (how can you not get choked up when he's literally fighting Dumbledore for Cedric's body?), and to Amos Diggory. That's what I mean by getting more emotional impact if you swing farther. Amos was so freaking happy and cute and proud of his son, and to go from that to the devastating keening over his son's body was incredibly powerful (oh, and while we're on the subject of fatherly emoting I loved Arthur Weasley's "THAT'S MY SON!!!" when the aurors were attacking Ron). I was sobbing.

And speaking of emotional resonance, good call on the maze. As I said, I haven't read the book in a while and don't really remember what happened in there, but by shifting the focus to an emotional danger rather than a danger from things actually living in the maze, Newell created a much tenser situation that was much more emotionally engaging. I was getting so freaked out during that scene that I almost shrieked out loud at that one part when the hedges shifted, and I haven't done that since The Others.


And that's basically it. Not quite as good as Prizoner of Azkaban, but definitely a great movie, and absolutely the right call on the direction and tone. The books get progressively darker from hereon in, and the happy shiny Columbus Hogwarts, nice as it was, is not the Hogwarts of OotP or HBP. Whoever has the unenviable task of adapting Order of the Phoenix has a tough job ahead of him, because not only do you have the problem of dealing with another monster book, but it's the weakest of the lot to boot, both in terms of structure and characterization (though if they cut out most of the Harry whining, they're off to a good start). But if they continue to follow the framework laid by Curaron and Newell, they'll have a much easier time of it. I wish them well.

( 2:39 PM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

Oooo-EEEE-ooooo!!!

When you wait for new Doctor Who as long as we have, you end up being lulled into a sense of complacency. There's an ache, because you still miss your show, but it becomes a dull ache, one you can live with.

Which is why when you get new Doctor Who, available online for all to download, all it does is whet your appetite and make you obsessed all over again.

(If you can, find the torrent download online. The BBC is extremely generous to have posted it at all, but it's tiny and the sound is crap. Full screen good sound is a whooooole different experience!)

This one tiny clip from the new season fills me with such joy. When I saw those familiar credits with the new name, I was so happy I almost cried. And yes, I realize that it's a bit extreme to be so emotionally involved in a TV series. But hey, there are worse vices I could have.

And can I just say, I LOOOOVE the new Doctor! So much about this filmic snippet filled me with glee fit to burst. I love that he's still as manic and crazy as Doctor Nine, but manic and crazy in a very different way.

I'm so very, very relieved, too, that he's still recognizably the Doctor. After the whole Colin Baker thing, Karina and I harboured this deep fear that Doctor Ten would come back a jerk. But though he is a different Doctor, he's still funny, flippant, and very obviously still cares for Rose.

Which is extremely reassuring. We can quit worrying and look forward to the Christmas Invasion with nothing but unmitigated glee. Hurrah!

Also, after seeing Harry Potter last night (thoughts on that to come), I've come to the realization that I'm developing just a bit of a crush on David Tennant. Whee!

( 9:31 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Friday, November 18, 2005
 

Yes, I Really Am This Talented

So apparently the thing that's been wrong with my arm since I was in the hospital is Intersection Syndrome. That's where you have two kinds of tendonitis that rub together, causing pain, and the "snapping" or "pinging" I get (which feels like there's an elastic in my arm that breaks, causing lots of pain) if I extend the wrong way happens when they snag on each other.

However, he has never heard of a patient having it in both arms before. Go me!

( 2:56 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Thursday, November 17, 2005
 

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

There's snow on the ground (okay, not here, but in some parts of the country it is), the weather is getting nippy, and the sidewalks in front of the ROM have been blocked off by Santa Claus Parade bleachers. You know what that means.

Christmas Shopping Season. :o)

Yes, I still firmly hold to the belief that it's morally and ethically wrong to play Christmas music before the first of December. But Christmas shopping is a little different. That you should start early to avoid being completely broke at Christmas (ideally in July, which I never do, or if I do remember, I forget by December and end up getting multiple gifts for the same person).

And in the spirit of the season, I just did the Bakka Christmas window. Oh, it's not completely finished yet (if you're stopping in to buy a book, for the love of all that's good and pure PLEASE make us another paper snowflake), but it's shaping up to be something I'm actually proud of.

It took some doing, too. LED lights are the in thing right now, and though my design was rather dependent on having icicle lights, they are nowhere to be found. My search eventually led me to Shopper's Drug Mart at Bathurst and Queen, where upon hearing my sob story, the manager went into the basement, rummaged around, found me three boxes of icicle lights from last year, and gave them to me for $5 each because the boxes were slightly water damaged.

I love it when the spirit of the season strikes early.

So the window is taking shape nicely (there is snow. And sparklies.), and I find I really, really love doing window displays. It's letting my creativity flourish, or something, but it fills me with an almost indescribable glee.

If you're in the neighbourhood, stop by and take a look.

( 10:22 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Monday, November 14, 2005
 

Learning Experiences

Aside from the fact that I'm now being referred to a rheumatoligist, GI specialist, and OB/GYN for my "weird" test results, and a sports therapist because the IV they put in when I was at the hospital has now completely buggered up my left arm, my health is much improved. Enough so that I made it back to teach Saturday Morning Club last Saturday.

It's amazing how much of a learning experience ROM teaching is. Constantly, and in all aspects of the job. My 6 and 7 year olds were much keener on dissecting owl pellets themselves than my 8-10-year-olds were, and they had a blast with it. So much so that there almost wasn't enough pellet to go around. Even my assistants seemed to be enjoying the experience.

The craft, on the other hand, got a little out of hand. Not much, and they had fun with it, but it involved painting owls that were about 3'x3' square, and the only place to do it was on the floor. So they did a lot of spilling paint and then crawling through it. Messy, but as we were using tempra paints, which are washable, I wasn't overly concerned and the kids were loving it.

Not so much the parents. One of them came back inside after taking her child out to the car to ream me out. My first actual reaming by a parent. Oh, I stayed "Calm-yet-Perky Sarah", but my inner monologue was going something like "oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shitohshitohpleasedon'tgetmefired". Which was a complete overreaction, but at the time all I knew was panic. Arts-and-crafts are half of what ROM Programs are about, and it never occured to me to worry overmuch about the kids getting painty. As I said, learning experience.

It blew down into something of a non-event -- the parent calmed considerably when I told her that tempra was a washable paint and that I'll be sending out additional warnings to those in my parent outlines when we're using the acrylics (which do NOT wash out). And I was assured by other SMC instructors past and present that parental reaming is a rite-of-passage and I am a woman now. But it really sucked.

Because until that point, I'd been just so frelling happy to be back.

Ah well. We live and learn, I suppose. I just hate it when my lesson involves someone yelling at me. At least I got some good chocolate after.

( 3:15 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Friday, November 11, 2005
 

Lest We Forget

Remembrance Day is a difficult one to come to terms with for someone who has never had to endure a war. I can know academically how bad it was. I can see the lists and lists of names on the monuments, in towns as small as my hometown, of the men who died in service to Canada. But I've never had to live through it, and the concept is often too large for my brain to truly wrap around.

Both of my grandfathers, and my grandmother, are war veterans. My grandfather Elliott never really saw service (he fractured a bone falling off an ox cart after showing off his boots while posing for a photo), and my grandmother drove a bomb truck (which, for anyone who ever drove with my grandmother, is a terrifying thought).

We lost my grandfather Johnson this year. Grandpa Johnson never really heard all that well. That's because he was in the navy during the war, and was listening to sonar when a torpedo exploded next to the boat. We're actually really lucky that all he lost was some of his hearing. Had that torpedo been a few metres farther, I might not actually exist.

There's another concept my brain isn't up to handling.

So on days like today, I do my best to reflect and remember why all those lists and monuments lie in the hearts of big cities and small towns across our country, and why I'm here today.

Lest we forget.


( 10:34 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Thursday, November 10, 2005
 

World Fantasy 2005

Thursday

The day began early for me and Karina, and sure enough, I had forgotten some things on my "absolutely positively must do before leaving for Madison" list, which included calling Mum from the limo on the way to the airport to reassure her that I was no longer doubled over in pain and was in fact feeling well enough to leave the country. Off to a great start so far.

We made it through airport security okay, except for the fact that I forgot that I keep the Swiss Army knife my dad gave me in the backpack I pulled out at 2 a.m. the night before so I'd have something to carry my toiletries in. Wups. But we made it onto the plane with only a few more hiccups (the scary alarm that seems to go off every time a Northwest plane takes off is less than reassuring).

Upon arriving in Detroit, we found ourselves facing a 3.5-hour layover (which would, unbeknownst to us, be only the beginning of "Karina and Sarah's Adventures in the Detroit Airport"). But for that leg, we amused ourselves by riding the tram and goggling at some of the American cover art in the bookstores. Consider the following:

Canadian Terry Pratchett
American Terry Pratchett

Canadian Jasper Fforde
American Jasper Fforde

But upon reaching our departure gate, we were reassured that we were in the right place by the fact that Ellen Datlow was sitting in the waiting area behind us (we spent the rest of the flight and the shuttle to the hotel chickening out of talking to her).

Once we reached the hotel, we spent a few hours wandering around trying to find Bryn, our roommate, and in doing so ran into friends in the lobby. Julie! Ruth! Roger! ....Jana??? Though oddly enough, I had suspected that Jana might eventually end up at WFC, even if Jana didn't (no, I can't say why, I just did).

We abandoned the search for Bryn when hunger caught up with us, and wandered around State Street (the heart of Madison) looking for food. We like State Street immensely and would like to transplant parts of it to Toronto, particularly the Noodle House, which served many kinds of noodle and all of them (that we tried, anyway) delicious.

Finally, upon returning to the hotel, we made our way upstairs and quite literally stumbled across Bryn. There was some chat with Bryn, and we met Diana and Simran and had lovely conversation before wandering off to Leah 's reading.

Leah makes words pretty. Also, she has chocolate.

We attempted the parties, but as neither Karina nor I are particularly good at not going comatose when shoved into a room full of people an alcohol without a gateway friend to initiate conversation (something we're both working on, but progress is slow), we abandoned the parties and went to bed.


Friday

After a really weird and cool haunted house dream that I need to turn into a story, we attended "Curse Words and Other Ways to Tell it Isn't a Children's Fantasy", in which we learned that a panel on Children's Fantasy can discuss sex almost as much as the panel on "The Bedroom, or What's This Sex Scene Doing in My Fantasy?", that Patricia McKillip does not consider herself a YA writer though many other people do, that Sharyn November seems like she'd be a really interesting person to know, and that she and Michelle West appear to be two independently operating facets of the same entity, making me desperately wish I could see the two of them in a conversation together.

Then I stopped actually writing down what we did.

We went to the Dealer's room at some point and over the course of the weekend repeatedly harassed the fabulous Elise Matheson, who was absolutely fantastic. Not only does her jewellery kick ass (soooo sparkly), but she was perfectly happy to show us how to make it, operating under the theory that everyone is different, so our jewellery will turn out differently as well. And we worked out a system whereby I can pay for My Favourite Necklace in the World in instalments. She even gave me some sterling wire to practice with (which I seemed to have turned into something that may or may not be a pendant). Over the next few days she would also give us fabulous advice about the nature and vagaries of owning and operating your own jewellery business, and I cannot sing her praises highly enough.

I got to meet John O'Neill face-to-face for the first time, though our interactions for the weekend were limited to frantic waving as we passed, which was unfortunate, because we had a lot to talk about. But he demanded more stories from me, which let me tell you is great writing incentive.

I also need to sing the praises of the WFC consuite, which is run like a Toronto-con Green Room. There were breakfast foods, lunch sandwiches, dinners, and an unlimited supply of tea that kept me and Karina well fed when we couldn't get away to the Noodle house.

After being torn between the "Adapting Fairy tales" panel and the "Beyond Folk Music" panel, I ended up opting for "Folk Music" and was quite happy I did so, especially after hearing reports from the other panel.

Dinner that night was odd, as a very large party we were drawn into largely because of Jana and Carol Berg ended up being broken up into tables of four at a very expensive Italian restaurant (which fortunately served tasty and relatively inexpensive soup) and three tablemates I've never met before. But Alea, Karen and Charlie were lovely people and once they'd drawn me out of my "Aah new people and no gateway person" shell (I'm trying to fix it, honestly I am!), dinner was great.

After dinner was the big ginormous Autographing session, and it really served as an example of the kind of con World Fantasy is -- every one is treated as an equal. Every single person who had preregistered had a name card printed and waiting for them if they chose to participate. Ruth badgered me into it, Karina had talked me out of it by the time the signing began, and Ruth, Jana, Bryn and Dan managed to talk me back into it afterward. But not before I'd succeeded in having a conversation with Sharon Shinn without being reduced to a drooling puddle of fangirl (and there aren't many authors who can do that to me -- I think Robin McKinley is the only other one, and I haven't met her yet). And I got to show off my book. Which wasn't entirely newbie of me, because she did ask. :o) I also got to meet John Helfers and Kerrie Hughes before the signing ended and we hit the parties.


Saturday

Bryn started Saturday out with a zombie panel, but I was already zombie enough on my own (really not used to a 4-day con) so I went to talk to Elise again before Bryn's "Mining other Cultures" panel, which I kept missing because my contacts had decided to start acting up. Then came Sharon Shinn's reading, which was lovely, various puttering around to the consuite and art show before Mindy Klasky's reading, which was fantastic (and not just because of the candy). I can't wait for her new book to come out.

Karina departed to spend time with Marissa, who was struck down early by illness and remained that way for most of the con, which made me sad. First for her, because really, nobody deserves to be that sick (quoth the hospital escapee), and second because she was someone I was really looking forward to meeting (in more depth than "oh hi, sorry to hear you're not feeling well, wups, being pulled in this direction, bye!"). I had dinner with Bryn, Simran, Diana, Jason and Rina in the hotel restaurant (as it was pouring outside and nobody had an umbrella), which was overpriced as all get out, but the onion soup was pretty tasty.

Afterward were readings by Kristen Britan and Julie Czerneda, which were both immensely enjoyable and ended on nasty cliffhangers. I got to do my first schmoozing of someone else and introduce Diana to Julie (Bryn has established it as a transitive verb, hence you can schmooze someone), and really liked being able to pay forward for all the introducing everyone has been doing for me since I started attending cons.


Sunday

One of the big differences between WFC and the Toronto-cons is it's much more about the writing and not as much about the fandom, so though we're immensely fond of each other and love spending time with each other, the newsgroup members had other priorities this time around. Thus it was really nice to start Sunday off with the newsgroup family (plus a few new and cool additions such as Louise Marley). Yay Mindy for starting it off! And we like Michaelangelo's coffee house. Especially for being open on a Sunday.

Some of us left breakfast to hear Patricia McKillip do pretty things with words (others remained behind for cool conversation on being a professional author. And tea.). Which made me conclude that last time I tried, I was still a bit too young to really appreciate McKillip, and it's time I tried again.

I spent more time talking to Elise, which made me miss half of the "Dark Fantasy for Kids" panel, which is a shame as it's a subject near and dear to my heart (and apparently what RAVEN SHADOW is turning into).

Then it was shopping time. Ruth, Jana, Karina and I went back to the Noodle House (and their to-die-for macaroni and cheese) before hitting the stores. We spent way too much time in one particular store that sold things of the cool new-agey variety, and got myself a great writing notebook which would come in most handy. But more on that later. I also discovered how cool Coldstone Creamery is (you must get Things in your ice cream if you go with Karina -- she can't eat it, so you're obliged to entertain her instead). Hanging out with good people is fun.

Then it was back to the hotel to bid a sad farewell until next year.


Sunday....continued

Oh, it went okay for a while. We got the shuttle to the airport and grabbed the flight to Detroit with Mindy. Then we discovered that our connection to Toronto was delayed until 11:45.

Then until 7:03 a.m.

What followed came much mad rushing around trying to find somewhere to stay for the night. We had attempted to be good, polite flyers and not stamp around screaming like the two hundred people mobbing our departure gate, so we went to rebooking to find out what to do. We were told that our flight had been delayed until 7:03 the next morning, we needed to hang on to our boarding passes and we could get back on track the next day. We were also emphatically told that Northwest would not put us up in a hotel, "Not even if you were from the Netherlands", but if we called a number they'd find us a room at a reduced rate.

While Karina called the hotel to confirm our reservation, I called the airline and discovered that no, our flight had been cancelled, and got us rebooked on the 7:03 flight the next day.

Then we waited a very long time for the shuttle to the hotel. My new notebook came in handy as Karina and I plotted my Elise Necklace story. When the shuttle finally arrived and we crammed on with twenty other people, we began to get a sinking feeling.

Every one of them save two had green vouchers.

So we get to the hotel to discover that yeah, those screaming people mobbing the departure gate? Got hotel and meal vouchers. Which let them jump the line. And the hotel, which we had confirmed, gave away our room. We spend the night, two asthmatics, crammed into an uninsulated smoking room (we attempted to lessen the stink by doing creative things with shampoo, water, the ashtray, and the radiator, but it didn't really work and the sheets reeked regardless). Three hours of sleep later, we counted our blessings that we hadn't depended on the hotel's wake-up call, stumbled down to the free "continental breakfast" (unfortunately crumbly mini-muffins that disintegrated in my pocket and caused an embarrassing incident on the plane) and finally, FINALLY got on the flight to Toronto.

Incidentially, the "trail-mix type snack" offered by Northwest consists of almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, and honey roasted sesame sticks, and is quite tasty. Though we didn't get drink service on this flight because of turbulence.

By this point, as amazing as the weekend was, I desperately wanted to be home. I have never been so glad to see the CN tower in my life. I can't describe how beautiful it was as we flew over it. And I nearly wept at the first bilingual sign.


Final Thoughts

World Fantasy is now my favourite con. It's hard to put into words here, because it really just amounts to "talked to people", but something about the atmosphere (more laid back than a fandom-con), the people, the generosity and openness of everyone, amounted to a con weekend that actually also felt like a vacation. A vacation during which I learned TONS, met some really interested people, got asked for my stories by editors, and laughed so hard it hurt. It's not a con you go to if you're not involved in literature in some aspect or another, be it as a writer, reader, editor, or academic. It's very, very different in tone from TTrek. It falls somewhere between the ICFA and Ad Astra. And that, I've found, is my favourite place to be.

I enjoy Trek and I love Ad Astra (which was my first con ever). But I'm going to do what it takes to get back to WFC next year.

( 3:51 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Tuesday, November 08, 2005
 

Feliz Navidad

Yes, that is the name of Toronto Choral Society's Christmas Concert this year, though unless Geoff springs it on us, that song will not actually be appearing.

It does promise to be a really amazing concert -- the music is incredibly beautiful, and the band accompanying us is fantastic. This is one good thing about our high membership fees -- they're almost exclusively used to hire the best to support our sound.

I'd love anyone and everyone to come and see us, though I do request that you either buy your tickets from me, or make sure when you buy them at the door to make sure they record you as my guests. It's shaping up to be a great concert, and I hope to see you there!

( 1:43 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Sarah Jane Elliott
The often frustrating progress of my life and writing...

(Once known as "The Mystic's Dream", now known as "Dream of the Dolphin", but inclined to change title depending on what's stuck in my head)

Okay, I liked "Confessions of a Post Graduate Pity Whore" a lot more than I thought I would. That line is still hilarious. But I've started writing again, so it's time to go back to before. :o)





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