April 11th, 2004

OddCon, 04 -03-04

last weekend, we made our annual visit to OddCon (Oddysey Con) in Madison. It usually ends up being a fast, short con for us as we both work Friday and Georgie frequently, as this year, has to cover Sunday at the library as well, but we enjoy it and have a good time while it lasts. I signed up for a good number of panels, so that's what I did a lot of. Nevertheless, Georgie started out Con activities off by appearing on the panel "Where is the metric system in SF, and other missing concepts?" Richard Russell, Madison's own Metric Man, suggested the panel which started with a good discussion of the missing metric system, paritularly in US SF. Georgie's contribution was to suggest that "Culture" was missing item, particularly in TV SF: where are references to current music or art, the character's hobbies, or anything they do when out of uniform? This drew some lively discussion also.

I was next up, on "Waht's So Bad About Living in the Matrix?" wherin we discussed that, given the starting premise of a devastated Earth, virtual reality might not be so bad, provided the Humans and Machines could make common cause and Humans could have some determination of "life" in the Matrix/. The hard part is determining what's in it for the Machines--.

We of course found time to make a pass through the dealer's room and left some money at verious tables (including Uncle Hugo's) in return for good stuff.

I sent Georgie out to dinner with Tracey Benton and Bill Bodden to arrange skulduggery for WisCon, while I paneled into the night on "Older Gamers" and "Out of Print Authors that Need to Be Reprinted."

My tips on how to get in a good evening of gaming boiled down to 1) Know your gamers, and 2) Know your game. An oldeer gamer should have enough experience to control or exclude disruptive elements, and should know the game system well enough that big rules debates don't erupt. These suggestions were well received.

As for reprints, I had a long list consisting of entire publshing lines. I wanted to see back novels from the old Avalon Science Fiction line of the 50's and 60's, that put a lot of the work of DeCamp & Pratt and Alan E.Nourse into hard covers; Ace Doubles novelletes, including the E.C. Tubb "Dumarest of Terrs" series; and gems from the early DAW list, including the works of the late Thomas Burnett Swann. Lots of people wrote these down, for whatever good it did.

My last panel ended at 7:30PM, at which time we bugged out for home. Georgie had to work Sunday, but I would be back for more panel action--.

OddCon, 04-04-04, Saving "Trek"

I was back at Odd Con for the 10:30AM panel on "Midwest Fandom,: to which i contributed some hitorical info on Madison and Milwaukee fandom, and soaked up a lot of info on the current state of fandom in othe cities.

MY major effort for the day was the discussion on whnther or not the "Star Trek" franchise can be "saved." given that lately even TV Guide has begun to question its direction. I was surprised and pleased by how much weight my suggetions were given. The panelist pretty much agreed that the revision of Trek history done in the "Star Trek: Generations" film was an error, and that the entire "Enterprise" series has been a gross error that should be tossed out. Just one major flaw points out the dramatic problem the series has: WE KNOW THE FUTURE. Earth is NOT going to be destroyed, the Federation WILL continue, so who cares what happens?

My proposals were as follows: Set the next incarnation a hundred or so years after the end of "Voyager." Have some of the best and most creative writes get together and brainstorm what has happened in the intervening time with the Borg, Dominion, Cardassians, Romulans, etc. What is the status of androids and other A,I.s? Design new starcraft fully utilizing some of the under-used technology--with force fields, matter transporters/replicators and Holodeck technology, it shold be possible to have a spacecraft that is fully reconfigurable on the fly. Then work out an overall story arc for the series that would set some guidelines, such as "No Q," and "No time travel." One of the better things about past trek series is that relative outsiders could contribute scripts, and I would continue that, as long as they were writeable into the continuity.

Hellboy: 04-09-04

We "celebrated" Good Friday evening by going out to see "Hellboy," the movie adapted by Mexican horror director Guillermo Del Toro from the independent comic by Mike Mignola. Although I've seen the comic around, I've never gotten on to it until now, and I must say I'm quite enjoying it. Ron Perlman, who is the Lon Chaney of our time when it comes to expressing character from under loads of makeup, does a great job bringing the plain-spoken devil-man to life, and he is ably supported by John Hurt as Professor Bruttenholm, Selma Blair as the tormented Liz Sherman, and Rupert Evans as agent Myers, the bewildered but willing new guy. The villains were less satisfying, largely due to the fact that most of the screen time is given to the CGI Sammael monster and its Cthuluian follow-on, with much of the remaining dirty work given to Kronen, the literally "faceless" Nazi assassin, who does not speak. Buy contrast, in the Hellboy comic story "Wake the Devil" which was the basis for the film plot, Kronen, Ilsa, and Rasputin were all more sympathetic characters who had friendship to one another and understandble, though twisted, motivations. Even Abe Sapien, who is a streamlined and civilized version of the "Creature from the Black Lagoon" expresses more character than the filimic versions.

Still, with this shortcoming taken into account, it was still good fun and a reccommended "light fare" for fans of comics or comic-inspired film.

Monsieur Ibrahim, 04-11-04

This afternoon, we went to see "Monsieur Ibrahim." We were interested in the film from its reviews and my respect for Omar Sharif, and we were not disappointed. The film begins in Paris. It is the early 1960's about, and the boy Moses (aka Momo) is becoming a man, which for him, includes scrimping on the grocery money in order to buy services from the streetwalkers that frequent his neighborhood. He lives with his neurotic father, a very unobservant Jew. (When Ibrahim asks Momo what it means to him to be a Jew, he replies that, to his father, ti means being depressed all day.) He stikes up an easy friendship with Ibrahim, known as "the Arab", who runs the local convenience store. Among other things, he learns that Ibrahim is actually a Turkish Sufi. Ibrahim's metamorphosis from a stereotype into a person also causes him to become first a surrogate father to Momo, and then a literal father whem Momo's dies. Sharing his life with his new son comprises the remainder of this quite, touching picture. Reccommended.