I just got back from running some errands, starting with depositing the advance check I just received for my current Star Trek novel — which I’m still not cleared to reveal any specifics about, as far as I know. It’s the second book advance I’ve gotten in as many weeks, which is a nice state of affairs.
After that, I went to the local Joseph-Beth Booksellers store so I could see my book on the shelf:
And hey, I’m almost right next to a book by my NYCC co-panelist Amber Benson!
I also introduced myself to a store manager there and tried to get a sense of how the book was doing, but that was inconclusive. They had 10 copies in stock at that store, which I’m hoping is a good sign, since at Books by the Banks (which Joseph-Beth supplied the books for), there were dozens of copies on hand. But it’s hard to be sure.
On the way out of my parking space at Joseph-Beth, my car was almost bumped into by a minivan with a Romney-Ryan bumper sticker, because its driver wasn’t paying attention. Which seems very fitting to me.
Anyway, after that came the roughest part of my trip, which was trying to take my nonfunctioning vacuum cleaner in to the local warranty service center. I wasn’t sure whether the vacuum had broken or both batteries had simultaneously died, so I hoped to get some help figuring that out and maybe getting replacement batteries if that was the issue, as well as getting the old ones recycled. But first off, I found it hard to find a parking place near the store, and had to do some extra driving and turning around and stuff to find a place I could legally park, which was a bit of a walk from the store. Then the store clerk told me he basically couldn’t do anything for me where that particular model was concerned except sell me a new one, which was only about 10 bucks more than a replacement battery would’ve cost anyway, so he said. (I checked online, and if you take tax and shipping into account, I’d say he was just about right.) My floor wasn’t getting any cleaner, so I gave in and bought the new one (which, to my disappointment, came with only one battery instead of the two my previous one came with, so I hope there’s still some life left in the old batteries after all). I’m upset that I wasn’t able to recycle the old vacuum, but at least I have some spare pieces in case I need them.
So that wasn’t too satisfying, but at least I have a functional vacuum again (hopefully). And on the way home, I noticed I was approaching a Big Boy restaurant. I’d just been thinking, not long ago, that it had been too long since I’d been to Big Boy and had one of their Buddie Boy ham sandwiches, which I quite liked. So I went in and did that, and it was very good, as were the baked apples I had on the side. Plus I saw they were advertising their pumpkin pie, and I remembered that they had a wonderful pumpkin pie, so I had a piece of that for dessert, and it was wonderful. So that was a lovely bit of serendipity and I feel very satisfied now — though it didn’t help with my efforts to lose some weight and get back into shape.
UPDATE: I just tried the new vacuum’s battery in the old vacuum, and it worked. So I only needed a new battery after all, not a new vacuum. I wonder if it’s worth it to return the vacuum and just order a replacement battery. Or maybe it’s a good idea to keep the new vacuum on hand just in case the old one does break down.
My last day of Comic-Con was… largely unnecessary. I went in so I could give that Chronic Rift interview I promised, but other than that I didn’t need to be there at all; I was just waiting for David Mack to finish because we had plans to go to dinner and a movie with a group that was celebrating fellow author Aaron Rosenberg’s birthday. In retrospect, I wish I’d managed to give the interview Friday, then just stayed in Saturday, maybe gotten some writing done, until the time came to go out to dinner. NYCC on Saturday is insanely crowded and noisy, and with no reason to be there I was just wandering, inundated with noise and, err, crowdiness for hours, until I could barely take it anymore. I eventually retreated to the Rift booth and Keith DeCandido was kind enough to let me collapse in his chair. Then we walked through the equally noisy and crowded streets of Midtown Manhattan on a Saturday night, had dinner at an equally noisy restaurant in a group of over a dozen people, then watched Looper (a movie that has its share of noisy bits), then more crowded streets… I finally gave up and made my apologies to the group when they went to get dessert at a tavern where we were seated right next to the band, which for some reason had its performance amplified even though it was a small space. I was just too overwhelmed from over 10 hours of sensory overload, and it was past my bedtime anyway. The dinner and the movie were good, but cumulatively the whole day was too much for me and I would’ve been a drag on the group if I’d stayed any longer. If I’d skipped the con, I would’ve had a better day all around.
Anyway, one upside of being so exhausted was that I finally got a good night’s sleep. And my flight was in the early afternoon, so I had plenty of time to get ready and even pick up a sandwich at a neighborhood deli. I had a bit of a problem at the airport, though, since I foolishly packed my sunblock in my backpack instead of my suitcase. The TSA person had talked me into checking my backpack, but the bag clerk reminded me that would cost me another 25 bucks and it’d be cheaper just to let her toss out the sunblock and buy another bottle. I wish the TSA person had thought to suggest that, because it would’ve saved me a second trip through security. Also, because I made my flight reservations through the NYCC’s affiliated service rather than the one I’ve used before, I didn’t get to reserve my seats ahead of time, so I got stuck with a middle seat in a row of three and didn’t get a decent view.
Otherwise, my flight went smoothly, but there was a delay in baggage delivery, and then I had to wait nearly an hour for the shuttle bus to Cincinnati. And then, once I’d taken the local bus back to my neighborhood, climb the steep street between there and my building. Not easy when you’re totally exhausted. But I’m finally home now, and I’ve had a decent dinner, and my DVR actually recorded everything I told it to (not counting the DC Nation block that Cartoon Network inexplicably cancelled at the last minute).
Oh, and on the plane I read a trade paperback collection I bought of a Stargate miniseries focusing on Claudia Black’s character Vala Mal Doran, who’s one of my favorite cast members. But I found it very disappointing. Vala was handled pretty well, in character and looking reasonably like Black, but its portrayal of the Stargate universe as a whole was astonishingly inaccurate. It has flashbacks set a number of years before Vala joined SG-1, which would be during the Goa’uld’s reign, yet the Lucian Alliance already exists in them, and there’s no evidence of Goa’uld presence anywhere in the galaxy. There are too few human “aliens” depicted, and those that are shown include a man with a modern Western name and wardrobe, something which shouldn’t have existed on another world in that timeframe. Also, the creators confuse Goa’uld transport rings for Asgard technology and misunderstand how they work. When we get to the present, General O’Neill is still going on missions with SG-1, and looks not only nothing like Richard Dean Anderson, but about 20 years and 50 pounds short of how he looked by the time he made general. Oh, and Teal’c is still bald, uses contractions, and doesn’t address people by their full names. And the story as a whole just doesn’t feel like it belongs in the Stargate universe. It has too many discrepancies and too few connections to the mythology and continuity of the series. It’s like some random sci-fi story that got hastily rewritten for SG-1. I’m very disappointed, but unfortunately I can’t very well go back to the store in Manhattan for a refund. At least the other comics I got were worthwhile: a couple of IDW’s Star Trek miniseries and the long-awaited conclusion to the Avatar: The Last Airbender comics miniseries The Promise, which I’ve held off reading until I can reread parts 1 & 2, but which is bound to be good if it’s anywhere near on a par with the others.
So, a mixed trip overall. Some wonderful memories and some very frustrating ones. The balance comes out on the positive side, since some of the positives were among the best experiences of my life, but all in all it’s been the most intense few days I’ve experienced in a long time. I’m glad I can rest now.
I’ve just been updated on what’s hopefully my finalized schedule for New York Comic-Con this week. It’s pretty light, actually:
Thursday Oct. 11, 5:00-6:00 PM: “Justice is Served” panel, Room 1A14
Cops, P.I.’s, government agents and regular Joe’s fight for all that is good and just in these Science-Fiction and Fantasy tales, even if the villains are vampires, telepaths and the magically gifted. These protagonists solve crimes, kick-ass and don’t let anyone–supernatural or otherwise–stand in the way of justice. Featuring Myke Cole (CONTROL POINT), Thomas E. Sniegoski (Remy Chandler Novels), Jacqueline Carey (Dark Currents), Christopher Bennet (Only Superhuman), G.T. Almasi (Blades of Winter), Amber Benson (Calliope-Reaper Jones Novels) and Kim Harrison (Into the Woods). Moderated by Michael P. Spradlin (Blood Riders).
Friday Oct. 12, 1:15-2:15 PM: “Justice is Served” signing event, Autographing tables 2, 3, 4
Friday Oct. 12, 5:00-6:00 PM: Only Superhuman signing, Tor booth (#920)
Holy cow, I’m going to be on a panel and a signing with Amber Benson! I didn’t even know that.
Other than that, my schedule’s open, though I’ll probably be hanging around the Tor booth a fair amount. And though there aren’t any specific Star Trek-related events that I’m involved with, I’ll probably spend some time around the Simon & Schuster booth as well. That’s booth #829, and it’s just one aisle back and one aisle over from the Tor booth.
General info is here: http://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/
As I planned, I went in for one last day of New York Comic-Con, mainly with the hope of seeing a panel on Jim Henson. But I underestimated how crowded the NYCC has gotten. It’s become virtually impossible to get into the panels unless you camp out for hours. Still, I got to spend a little more time hanging around with folks like Kevin Dilmore and Keith DeCandido, so it wasn’t a wasted trip.
This visit played havoc with my usual sleep and meal schedule, since Dave and Kara tend to do things later than I do and since their guest bed took some adjusting to, but I was starting to adapt after a few days. I stayed up pretty late on Saturday night watching movies on their HDTV. I’d caught the last hour or so of Avatar (the Cameron movie) the night before, so Dave found the movie on HBO HD On Demand and I watched the rest. I actually prefer seeing it in that order, since the early world-building stuff is more entertaining than all the fighty-shooty-blowy-uppy stuff later on. After that, we watched Megamind, which was a far more enjoyable movie than I ever would’ve expected.
After the con on Sunday, I made my annual visit to Midtown Comics to use the coupon I picked up at the con. I got two cool things, a collection of Avatar: The Last Airbender comics (many by creators from the show, and even the ones that weren’t were often quite good) and the complete collection of the original comics version of The Middleman, which became one of my favorite short-lived TV series.
My trip home Monday was pretty smooth, except for it being my first time flying out from LaGuardia, so I had some confusion about what line to get into — plus the lunch I bought there was insanely expensive. There was a mother and baby next to me on the plane, but the baby didn’t cry too much. And there was actually a view this time; the weather was mostly clear, and it was quite interesting watching the landscape shrink so tiny and move by so (relatively) fast. The coolest part was the approach to Cincinnati. The jet flew over the central part of the city from the south before looping around to approach the airport from the north, and as it passed downtown and moved toward the university region, there was a point where I could literally see my apartment building.
Unfortunately, I guess it was somewhat inevitable that after being among all those gajillions of people at the convention and in the streets of Manhattan, not to mention breathing recirculated, germ-filled plane air, that I’ve now come down with a cold and a sore throat. Ugh. Luckily, I have no demands on my time so I can just lie on the couch and watch my DVRed shows. (Plus a couple that the DVR failed to record but that were available On Demand.)
Well, except that I’m out of certain perishable items I didn’t want to buy before my trip, like bread and fruit. So I’ll have to go shopping soon. Hopefully I can hold out a day or two longer. I’m pretty useless today.
Well, I’ve been in New York over two days now, but didn’t have the opportunity to get online until now. On Thursday I was too occupied with getting settled in, going to Comic-Con, etc., and the thunderstorm Thursday night blew out my hosts’ wireless router, which has just now been replaced.
I was afraid of missing my 4:45 AM wakeup time, but I was wide awake by 3:30. But it was necessary. Even giving myself plenty of time to get to the airport, I still got to the plane with only minutes to spare. Which meant I didn’t need to wait long. The flight was uneventful and there were lots of pretty clouds to look at, though I’m sure they weren’t so pretty from below. Took a while for my bag to be unloaded, though, and the bus from LaGuardia was late.
Staying with David Mack and his wife Kara has been nice. I had a great time brainstorming with Dave about ideas for the new Star Trek project he’s working on. It’s the first time I’ve done that kind of brainstorming with a fellow author in person rather than over e-mail, and it’s fun.
Comic-Con was hectic, but satisfying. I got to hang out with a lot of my friends/fellow writers. The book signing wasn’t well-attended, though, perhaps because it was during work hours on Friday.
Before that, I went down to visit my former Star Trek editor Marco Palmieri at Tor, where he now works, and where he’s helping out with editorial work on Only Superhuman. Their Flatiron Building offices are pretty, err, cozy, but it’s a neat building to visit (the elevators, recreations from the original plans, are gorgeous). Plus I got to pick up one of the advance bound manuscripts for Only Superhuman!
Sorry, that’s a lousy photo. But it’s a terrific feeling, getting to hold it in my hands in book form, even if it’s just the most preliminary form, before it’s even been properly copyedited. It feels kind of like seeing a sonogram of one’s unborn child. And it’s great seeing “Copyright 2012 by Christopher L. Bennett” instead of by Paramount or CBS or Marvel.
I didn’t go in to NYCC today; I needed time to recover. But I’ll probably stop in once more tomorrow. Then Monday I’ll be flying home.
I’ve spent much of the day packing and making final preparations for my trip tomorrow, since I’ll have to be up very early and won’t have time to get stuff ready then. In fact, I’ve just been checking bus routes to the airport, and to get there early enough to be safe, it turns out I’ll have to leave the apartment by 5:35 at the latest. So I’ll need to be out of bed by 5 AM tomorrow. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!!!!!
So that means early bedtime tonight; I’ve set the DVR to record Mythbusters. And that means this will probably be my last post before I get to New York.
But I’m all set up for breakfast tomorrow. I bought one of those single-serve cereal cups and a bottle of iced tea, plus a plastic spoon, so I won’t have any dishes to wash in the morning (or to leave dirty in the sink for 5 days). And I’ll finish packing things up (including my laptop) tonight and lay my clothes out and so on, all in the hopes of getting ready as quickly as possible.
I’m starting to think it might’ve been less of a hassle to take a later, longer flight. But it’s too late to change now. (Well, unless I oversleep and have to take a later flight.)
The last pair of sneakers I bought, just five months ago, didn’t work out very well. Turns out they were kind of cheap and flimsy. It didn’t take long for my big toes to wear holes through the thin layer of fabric on the inside, and there’s just a loose mesh above that. I was thinking I wanted something with ventilation, like my last pair before that, but these had too much ventilation even before the holes, and weren’t good for chilly or wet weather. Plus they were kind of ugly, too garish for me.
So I decided I needed to buy a new pair of shoes, something better for the upcoming winter, and hopefully something less ugly. The latter proved difficult; gym shoes these days tend to sport bizarre designs with weird zigzags or open construction in the soles and all sorts of odd decorations otherwise. But this time I took more care with my selection than last time, and the pair I ended up with, although pricier than I would’ve liked, so far seems to be working out pretty well. They’re maybe a bit too sedate-looking, solid black and almost dressy, but they have “bubbles” under the heels, apparently air pockets that serve to absorb shock and/or add spring to the step. So far they’re actually quite comfortable for brand-new shoes — they’ve got a nice soft interior lining — and it does feel pretty good to walk in them. My arches got a bit sore after a few minutes of walking, but I guess they and the shoes will need time to adjust to each other’s shape.
They’re leather shoes, and don’t have much ventilation, but I guess I can use them for cool weather and still get some use out of my other, cheaper shoes for warm weather (since they are only 5 months old and it’d be a waste to stop using them entirely even if they are flimsy and already have holes in the toes, which maybe I could patch somehow). Anyway, I assume I’ll be using these shoes when I go to New York this week for Comic-Con. When one is in Manhattan, it’s important to have good walking shoes.
The park down the street where I went for my walk has gotten something new as well — a new concrete walkway around the outside, which is a great improvement over the worn-out asphalt-and-dirt path that’s been there since I first moved here almost eight years ago. I think that’s the first major change I’ve seen to that park since they upgraded the play equipment several years back — unless you count the tree that fell down last year and the sapling that’s replaced it.
Well, it turns out I will be having a Star Trek book-signing event at the New York Comic-Con this year. I’ve just been informed that David Mack, James Swallow, and I will have a joint signing at 4 PM next Friday, October 14. Apparently it will be at the Premiere Collectibles booth (#2617), which is just across the aisle from the Simon & Schuster booth (#2612), which, according to the map, is in the “3A” area of the convention center’s third floor (which I think is the north end, if I’ve got my bearings right). I’ll be signing copies of DTI: Watching the Clock.
Luckily I’m arranging to come in a day early, and by plane rather than bus, so there shouldn’t be a risk of missing the signing.
The problem with those last few weeks of rushing to deadline on a novel is that once I’m done and have turned the manuscript in, it takes me a few days to train myself to stop thinking as though I’ve got a looming time limit on my activities or a responsibility I have to see to. I’m at a point right now where I’m blissfully free of responsibilities (beyond finishing the dishes that have been piling up) for the next week and a half (until NY Comic-Con) and can just relax. But parts of me haven’t figured that out yet.
(The thread title is a paraphrase of a line from the classic Doctor Who episode “Robot,” Tom Baker’s debut as the Fourth Doctor. In case anyone was wondering.)
I’ve just made my flight reservations — I’ll be going to the Big Apple for the New York Comic-Con in a bit over three weeks, October 13-16. I’m not sure yet if there will be a “booth presence” for Star Trek novels; Simon & Schuster will apparently be an exhibitor this year, but I haven’t heard anything about author signings. However, I expect I’ll be spending a fair amount of my time hanging around the booth for Tor Books, who’ll be publishing Only Superhuman in about a year’s time.
It was at last year’s NYCC that I learned freelance editor Greg Cox was acquiring for Tor and got his okay to send him the manuscript for Only Superhuman, and look how far we’ve come since then. I’ve sold the book, it’s a year from hitting the shelves, and my friend and former Star Trek editor Marco Palmieri has gotten a job at Tor and done some assistant editorial work on OS. And while I’m in town, I’m planning to visit the Tor offices in the historic Flatiron Building, one of those Manhattan landmarks I’ve never gotten around to visiting before.
And yeah, I’m flying again. Second round-trip airline flight this year — probably second of three, since the family Thanksgiving is in Maryland again and there’s no way I’m repeating the mistake of driving through the Appalachians in November. I kind of enjoyed the interstate drive to and from New York for last year’s Comic-Con, but it was a little bit longer than I was comfortable with, and I didn’t like the parking situation in NYC. Flying’s more expensive than driving would’ve been, but at least on this trip I can count it as a business expense, and I’m staying with a friend so I don’t have hotel bills to worry about. Unfortunately I have to get up really early in the morning for my flight from home to NYC. The later available flights cost more and require going to places like Atlanta or Detroit and changing planes, which seems silly.
I just heard from my editor that the publication date for Only Superhuman has been decided on. The novel will be released in October 2012. That’s a few months later than I was hoping for, but it’s good to know the date anyway. It’ll be too late to be available for next year’s Shore Leave convention, alas, but it should be out just in time for the 2012 New York Comic-Con.
UPDATE: Turns out this publication date is not yet set in stone. It could change.
Like I said before, I set out early on Monday morning. The first thing I did was to get lost, because I wasn’t familiar with the street layout in Queens. I almost ended up back on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which was not the way I decided to go. But I turned off just in time, and after one more false start and loop around the blocks, I ended up in the right direction. At Dave’s recommendation, I crossed the Triborough Bridge, went along 125th Street in Harlem (I glimpsed the Apollo Theater!), then took the Henry Hudson Parkway to the George Washington Bridge. The reason I hadn’t come in by the GWB is that I was kind of afraid of suspension bridges, finding them rather precarious-looking. But you know what? Once I was actually on the bridge, it didn’t seem precarious at all. Yes, it’s dangling from cables, but those cables (by which I mean the big ones that form the catenary arches, from which the smaller vertical cables are hung) are huge. Up close, they don’t seem flimsy at all, but look like very thick, solid, reliable supports. So the anxiety I felt approaching the bridge evaporated once I was crossing it.
After that, I spent the rest of the day on I-80. I meant to stop for gas in New Jersey, since an online gas-price map I found showed prices were lower there, but NJ turns out to be a much narrower state than I’m used to being in, so I almost ran out of Jersey before I stopped for gas (and I got lost before I finally found the station — lousy directions at that exit), and the price where I did stop was about the same as it was in Pennsylvania, which was significantly higher than it was on my trip out just a few days earlier. On the other hand, it was the first full-service gas station I’ve ever been to. It was surprising to have someone pump my gas for me.
I-80 through Pennsylvania was pretty uneventful, though the scenery was gorgeous — lots of low, rolling mountains covered in trees in a mix of green and autumnal oranges, yellows, and browns. I stopped for lunch at a Denny’s, a place I’ve heard used as the butt of jokes, but my meal was actually quite delicious — a cranberry-apple chicken salad (meaning a green salad with chicken in it, not the sandwich kind of chicken salad) with walnuts (or pecans?) and served with balsamic vinaigrette and garlic toast, followed by an excellent slice of pumpkin pie. I drove through a small rainstorm, which got heavy and made me nervous, but it was rather brief and didn’t cause me any trouble.
My early start let me drive for a good ten hours or more and get clear across Pennsylvania before I stopped for the night. I had been determined to get across the Ohio border and spend the night in my home state, but then at the last rest stop in PA, I discovered something I wish I’d noticed on my trip out: rest stops have booklets containing motel coupons. I found a coupon for a place just four miles from the Ohio border, and it was a very good price. So I decided to stay there for the night, since I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find anything as good across the border. A little while later, it started to rain, making me even more convinced I needed to stop for the night. In fact, it began really pouring, so I was tempted to stop about 9 miles early when I saw a motel sign at that exit. I decided to barrel on, though, and the rain had diminished by the time I reached the motel with the coupon (from the same chain as the one I stayed at on the way out, but a very different facility and about half the cost, at least with the coupon). Ironically, it stopped altogether while I was checking in. There was a restaurant in the motel, but it was new and wasn’t open for business yet. I had to drive up the road a ways to get some dinner (just fast-food takeout), and got a little lost again — well, not lost, since I knew where I wanted to go, but I couldn’t find a way to get into its parking lot until I’d gone some distance, found a way to turn around, and come back. They gave me fries (and charged me for them) even though I didn’t order them, but once I saw the fries in the bag, I decided not to object. But I forgot to get ketchup packets. Oh, well.
So I got to watch my Monday night shows (both named for people named for architecture, House and Castle), but I got another show as well; outside the window of my room, I saw at least five cats, apparently strays that came out of the adjacent woods or maybe just haunted the motel grounds.
I got a decent night’s sleep, considering, maybe six hours, which is almost a full night for me. I was still pretty sleepy, though. I hoped some breakfast and exercise would suffice to wake me up, but I ended up deciding to have a cup of tea after all.
Again, I got lost at the start of my trip, another case of bad signage. I came upon a sign saying I-80 was back the way I’d come, so I turned around, and in this direction the signs were very clear. Weird. Anyway, four miles later, at exactly 8:00 AM, I crossed the Ohio border. As usual, it took me longer than expected to get home, over seven hours. I stopped for lunch at a Bob Evans not far from Columbus, having a chicken and pasta dish from their light menu (bland, needed lots of pepper) along with steamed broccoli. The waitress was so nice and motherly, though, that I let her talk me into having a piece of French silk pie, cancelling out the “light” side of the meal. Well, I certainly needed the energy. I was quite fatigued by the last leg of the trip.
Oh, I have Dave Mack to thank for my entertainment during the trip. I noticed he had a CD soundtrack set of Stu Phillips’ score to the original Battlestar Galactica. It was a silly show, but it had excellent music, and Dave was kind enough to burn copies of all four discs for me. I listened to two per day. I also snacked on one of the apple-carrot muffins Kara set aside for me, but I saved the other three for when I got home.
Before going home, I stopped at the post office to pick up the mail from my vacation hold. Turned out they didn’t have any held mail for me. But when I got home, I had plenty of mail in my box and a package by my door. From the way some of the mail was squished in the box, it appeared that there had been at least two deliveries; apparently the vacation hold never took. Just as well yesterday was a postal holiday, otherwise my package would’ve been sitting out in the hallway overnight. I got lucky, but it’s disturbing that the hold didn’t go through. I should probably complain to the post office.
One of the first things I did at home was to check my VCR, and this time it worked. It taped all the shows I programmed, and in fact I was able to skip some of them since I already caught them at Dave’s house. As for the shows I was planning to watch online once I got home, I caught them all at motels, so I don’t have to.
So I’m back now. Time to rest.
Saturday was my big day for visiting NYCC, but I didn’t really have much to do there, with no official presence. I hung out with David Mack and Keith R. A. DeCandido at the BOOM! Comics booth, where they were selling their Farscape comics. I talked to other friends and colleagues who showed up, like Marco Palmieri, Michael Jan Friedman, and Greg Cox, along with Alan Kistler, who writes the “Agents of STYLE” columns I enjoy over at Newsarama, and whom I’d forgotten that I’d met before. And I handed out a couple of my new business cards, though not as many as I’d hoped.
I also managed to get into the panel about the new Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon from Marvel just in time to see the premiere episode, though I had to stand the whole time and peek around the edge of a column. It was pretty good. Some of the action was way over-the-top with too little payoff; they kind of wasted a really monumental event on a minor action beat rather than really doing anything with it. But the animation was quite well-done (though I’m not crazy about the design style) and the characterizations weren’t bad. Most interesting is their approach to the Hulk, who’s more intelligent than he’s been portrayed in film or TV before, much like in the earliest Hulk comics.
Eventually I had to get out of there — the con was really jampacked on Saturday, as much as I’ve ever seen it — so I walked over to Midtown Comics to get some stuff with the coupon they hand out at the con, then walked back. I wish I’d found a shuttle bus or something instead, since my shoes are old and worn out, and by the end of the day I had blisters on my feet. Kara was working late, so Dave and I just had some leftover pasta Kara had made, without even reheating it, but it was very good.
On Sunday, Dave pointed out that I didn’t really need to go in with him, so I stayed in for a while, thinking maybe I’d go later. After a good breakfast of Kashi cereal with banana and pumpkin bread with cream cheese, I tagged along with Dave’s wife Kara as she did her shopping for the week, and by the time we got back, there was so little time left before the con floor closed that there was really no point in my going in at all. So I stayed there and spent an entertaining afternoon watching Kara cook, something she loves and is very good at. They have good food there. I skipped lunch, so after shopping, I got to snack on havarti cheese and kalamata olives on garlic crackers. I’ve never had havarti and kalamata olives before, and they were excellent. Dinner was chicken breasts stuffed with arugula and goat cheese, rosemary potatoes (a specialty of Kara’s), and pan-roasted broccoli, and dessert was apple-carrot muffins (I helped by licking the spatula!). It was a wonderful meal, especially the potatoes. And it was fascinating to watch the whole process of baking/cooking all these things. It was a nice change of pace from the con. Though after talking all day with Kara about food and the science and art of cooking, it was nice when Dave got home and we could talk shop for a while. He gave me some things to think about which hopefully will help me refine the spec novel I’m working on revising (and hopefully finishing before too much longer).
Now it’s Monday morning and I’ll be leaving for home soon. Luckily, I’ll be taking four of the apple-carrot muffins home with me. It’s been a good visit, and a fruitful one, even though the con itself was not that major a part of my weekend. If nothing else, I’ve been very well-fed, and I’ve hopefully made a couple of promising business connections.
At Keith’s recommendation, I’m going home by I-80 to avoid tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It’s a less direct route, but since I’ve spent more than I intended, the savings are appreciated.
Yes, I finally made it to New York after another drive of nearly 8 hours’ duration. It would probably have taken less time if I’d gone with my alternate route via the George Washington Bridge rather than the Google Maps-recommended route through Manhattan. I decided to avoid the GWB because I’m kind of acrophobic and not comfortable with bridges. I thought the other route would let me avoid them. But it wasn’t until too late that I wondered why a particular segment of the route I chose was called the Pulaski Skyway. Eegh, not fun. And then there was a similarly forbidding elevated section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway — which I missed at first because Google’s directions were ambiguous for getting onto the Manhattan Bridge from Canal Street (it said “slight right,” but both options, to the upper and lower decks of the bridge, are slight rights), so I went several blocks down Flatbush Avenue before I was fortunate enough to pull up next to a police car at a red light and asked for directions. I guess there’s no way to avoid bridges in New York City.
Nobody was home at David Mack’s place when I arrived, since I came a day later than planned and Dave was at Comic-Con all day. So I just parked (eventually), walked to the subway (or the elevated train, here in Queens — more high-up structures, eegh), rode it to Times Square, and walked to the Javits Center to meet Dave. I was there for like ten minutes before Keith R. A. DeCandido took Dave and me to a meeting with someone who might have work for us. It was in a nightclub with dim lighting and blaring music, very much not my kind of scene, but the business part of it was promising and I hope something comes of it. It would be very well-paying for the amount of work involved, and theoretically has the potential to be a recurring thing. Plus I got to hand out the first of the business cards I had printed up a few days ago for just such an occasion.
After the drive and the nightclub, I was too worn out to keep going, but Dave’s wife Kara was home by then, so I took the subway back and she let me in. I spent some time getting to know her and the Macks’ two cats, especially their new kitten Freddie (Winifred), who’s adorable and very, very friendly, and spent most of the time on my lap — a nice sensation that I’ve missed getting to experience. Even their older cat, Mr. Puck, came out to investigate and even let me pet him slightly, which apparently is remarkable because he usually hides from strangers. Maybe it’s just that I was there at the time of night when he gets frisky. I had fun watching him chase his tail, something he did entirely within the confines of a cat tree’s “nest.”
After that, I turned in, so I don’t have much to tell yet. Today will be the first significant amount of time I spend at the con. I’m not sure what I’ll do all day; Pocket has no booth this year, so I have no “home base.” Hopefully I’ll talk to various industry people and hand out some more business cards.
And maybe I’ll buy some stuff. The trip here was more expensive than I’d reckoned on, but by not staying in a hotel I’m still saving hundreds of dollars, so I guess I can justify buying some swag. While driving to NYC was maybe not the greatest idea, at least it gives me more leeway for accumulating stuff to take home with me.
I’m posting this from a motel in central Pennsylvania, the first chance I’ve had to go online since I left home this morning. Yes, I decided I was well enough to make the trip after all, but I forgot to update the blog before I left. I should arrive in New York tomorrow afternoon, and hopefully will be able to get to the convention for a few hours at least. If not, I’ll be there Saturday and Sunday.
It took me longer to get going than I’d hoped, so I only got about 8 hours of travel in before I had to stop for the night (I’m not comfortable driving in the dark). However, I seem to have made it nearly 2/3 of the way, which means, allowing for NYC traffic, it might take me another 6 hours or so tomorrow.
And the trip is costing me more than I’d hoped. Gas prices seem to have gone up in the past few days since I last checked, and this motel, the only convenient one I could find, is a lot more pricey than I’d hoped for. I decided to undertake this trip because I figured it’d be only slightly more expensive than a Greyhound ticket, but it’s looking as if the overage is substantially more than I’d thought. Well, at least I don’t have to pay for a hotel, since I’m staying with a friend (although he’ll be at the con all day tomorrow, so that’s a bit trickier to work out than if I’d arrived today as I’d planned). That would’ve been really expensive.
Well, at least I’m getting a new experience, even if it’s mostly an experience of the freeway. But the interstate isn’t quite as homogeneous as people say. At least there’s a lot of variety in the landscape. Lotsa pretty mountains in Pennsylvania, though I’m not crazy about the windy roads around them, especially when trucks are barrelling downhill toward me.
And I’m developing a serious resentment for tailgaters. It’s rather alarming when I’m driving along at a reasonable speed and some speed freak just comes up closer and closer behind me as if they intend to drive right through me without slowing down. It’s damned rude, as well as dangerous. Generally I pull into another lane to let the jerks go by, but once I was so spooked by this big car crowding me from behind that I neglected to check my side mirror and almost veered into another car before I noticed them there.
In general, I’m amazed how many freeway drivers seem to be dangerously irresponsible. Every time I come across a construction zone or a bridge festooned with signs warning of a reduced speed limit, I slow down appropriately but everyone else just keeps tearing along at 65 MPH or faster, even when the signs say 45. Doesn’t anyone read the signs? They’re there for a reason.
Even when I was stuck behind and between a couple of “Oversize Load” trucks towing prefab house segments, their drivers were tearing along at 65 or better even when the signs emphatically said they needed to slow down. You’d think they of all people would be aware of the need to limit their forward momentum. I tell you, I was very relieved when they finally veered off onto another route.
Sorry I haven’t posted in a few days, but I’ve been feeling under the weather, while at the same time hoping it wouldn’t get in the way of my plans and preparations for the New York Comic-Con. Unfortunately, it has gotten in the way. I was planning to set off this morning on a 2-day drive, but I decided yesterday that I just wasn’t feeling well enough and would have to postpone it a day at least. I’m still hoping I’ll be up to setting out tomorrow morning.
This means that, at best, I’ll only be at the con for part of Friday afternoon, and may miss the whole day. Hopefully I’ll be there Saturday and Sunday, though. Right now, as I’m having lunch (chicken soup and citrus fruit, to help my immune system along, hopefully), I’m feeling pretty good. But I can’t promise anything yet. I won’t know for certain until tomorrow.
Even so, though, I’m going to have to put a vacation hold on my mail today, just in case. I’m expecting a package sometime soon and I don’t want it sitting in the hallway over the weekend (though hopefully it’ll come today). So I might end up putting a hold on my mail today and then staying home tomorrow and not needing it. But it has to be done.
Well, there is a plus side. Tonight (October 6), PBS is showing Sir Patrick Stewart’s Macbeth, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to record that or catch it at a motel if I’d left today (I don’t yet have a DVR and my VCR isn’t entirely reliable). At least this way, I’ll be able to watch it for sure.
I’m going to be doing (by my standards) a lot of travelling over the next few weeks. This week I’ll be going up to Detroit to visit my aunt and her family, sort of repaying them for their trip down here for my father’s memorial service. And this time I’ll be driving, since that should be less expensive than a Greyhound ticket, and since it’s a distance that should be manageable for me. I’ve never gone on a drive that long — nearly five hours not counting rest breaks — but I got a fair amount of experience with long drives once my father moved into his retirement home, and even longer drives in those final few weeks when he was in the hospice way out in Blue Ash, and again to get out to the funeral home for the memorial. So I figure I should be up to it, if I break it down into segments. I’ll be leaving as early as feasible on Tuesday morning, so I have plenty of time to take as many rest breaks as I need. I’ve read that ideally, for a long freeway drive, you should take at least a 15-minute rest break after every 80 minutes of driving. That would mean about three rest breaks in my trip, which would correspond roughly to Dayton, Lima, and Toledo, I reckon. But I’ll probably take more and longer breaks than that.
My aunt’s family are avid bicyclists, so I’m going to be bringing my bike up with me, assuming I can fit it in the trunk. The front wheel is removable, so I should be able to fit it in. It’s been too long since I was up there for a visit, but I recall that Detroit is a lot flatter and more bicycle-friendly than Cincinnati.
The second trip I’ll be making is to the New York Comic-Con on October 8-10. This year I’m actually going in a day early, since my friend and colleague David Mack is putting me up, so I don’t have to worry about hotel bills (which get steeper and steeper every year) and can stay a bit longer. This time I’ll be putting up with the long overnight Greyhound ride again, since going by car would cost nearly three times as much (for fuel and motels), and I wouldn’t want to tackle a drive of that duration even if I did split it over two days. So coming in a day early gives me a chance to get a good night’s sleep before the con (hopefully — I’m not sure how good my sleep will be in an unfamiliar bed, but at least I’ll be lying down).
Unfortunately, this year, Pocket Books won’t have an official presence at Comic-Con, so there won’t be a booth for me to use as a “home base” and there won’t be any formal signings. I’ll just be wandering around, I guess.
So I don’t have as much professional reason to be at the con this year as usual, although it’s a good place to make industry contacts (and I’m going to get some business cards made up soon). Mainly I’m just going since it’s a chance to visit with some of my writer friends and get a change of scenery. I’ve been too much on my own the past few weeks, and I’ve been getting kind of depressed and irritable. I need to get out and spend time with people.