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On December 24, 2020, several of us decorated our ageing, ailing neighbours' back porch. He died at the end of March. His wife was in the hospital undergoing treatment for an unrelated ailment at the time. COVID-19 considerations meant we could not attend the funeral.

The house was empty for the next two weeks. Later, their family gathered there. Their age and health meant they would not be with us much longer, and the street will be poorer without them.

He made us a wine rack once as a gift. He was that kind of guy.

It's an interesting street.

Yesterday, I posted a not especially popular daylog that played a game. Six listed items were actual, recent weird dreams. One actually happened. It occurred, in fact, on the pavement, just before midnight.

I wonder if the widow next door would have enjoyed the cheerleaders. I think he would have.


A weekend from now, I will participate as a panelist at virtual Penguicon, kept online for the second year running by this pandemic that's really taking its time about ending. Last year was last-minute, ad hoc, and free. This year they're charging a fee and trying to provide something akin to a convention experience.

I have a reading and four panels, three of which I pitched and will chair. Let me know if this sort of thing interests you.

Friday April 23:

Sub/Urban Folklore and Online Mythology

I've given variations of this one many times before, as a solo presenter or part of a duo. Audience involvement, slides, and video play key roles. It's a skeptically-leaning discussion that examines the role of contemporary folklore in life, literature, and media. Depending on audience inclinations, we might cover anything from misrepresented news stories (see: Kitty Genovese, James Dallas Egbert III, or the Columbine Shootings) to Bigfoot and Michigan Dogman and Slender Man to online conspiracy theists. In recent years and months, that last topic and the pervasive influence of folklore have displayed their more sinister aspects

Saturday April 24:

Building Better Aliens

Kathryn Sullivan runs this one. I've created an extra-terrestrial or two, and I'm sure we can have an interesting discussion. One of my co-panelists is Stephen B. Pearl, with whom I share a publisher.

Reading

I have to decide what to read, and I am looking at the two new stories that will bracket my forthcoming collection. The opening of "Flying Whistle Stop" reads well, it would give an opportunity for my wife to sing during the reading, and the aliens and alt-history clearly place in the science fiction genre. It would only be a portion however, and, as my editor notes, it will be nine months before anyone can read the rest. "Live Nude Aliens" would just fit in the reading slot, giving the audience a full story, and it connects directly to my novel The Con. However, it has that same SF/not SF ambiguity that may not be what these con-goers seek, and reading it will leave no time for questions.

To Boldly Seek Discovery in the Expanse: The Voyage Continues

I've run this one at a Toronto con and at last year's ad hoc online Penguicon. I'll be joined again by aerospace engineer/author Eric Choi and GoH Larry Nemecek, and by author/polymath Derwin Mak, who attended last year but was not a panelist. This very strong panel will discuss the various space-related series that (more or less) carry the legacy of the original Star Trek, and what each of us might include if we were running such a series.


Sunday April 25:

Fandom as an Opera

Three panelists will examine the depiction of fandom in books and other media. Novels such as Among Others and Bimbos of the Death Sun, (among others), have attracted readers inside and outside of fandom. We've seen the savaging-from-within of the subculture's worst aspects in The Eltingville Club and Comic Book Villains. Free Enterprise gave us a fannish comedy flick ("Love Long and Party!") while One Con Glory, a nerd romance novel. We've also had documentary efforts, such as Trekkies, and memoirs, including Trina Robbins's Last Girl Standing.

Was the popularity of The Big Bang Theory a positive or negative thing? Does media and literary exposure create understanding for fandom or turn it into a public spectacle?

Some behind-the-scenes issues affected the Media Track, so that I was the only one initially on "To boldly..." despite having had earlier confirmation from the others. Fortunately, we settled that the same day. It cannot be easy to organize a convention when no one can occupy the same space, and at a pandemic can quickly remove people from the equation.