6:30pm - 7:00pm: Immortals Reception. Lifetime members meet and mingle with this year’s convention guests
7:00pm - 8:00pm: VIP Reception. More mixing and mingling at a special event for convention attendees and event ticketholders.
8:00pm - 9:00pm: Opening Ceremonies. Official kick-off of the weekend.
noon - 1:00pm: Remembering The Classics with Bill Ritch, Lee Martindale, Sue Phillips, and Kim McGibony. The write-up: “Everyone has their own ideas of what a classic work is. We try to touch on some of those who came before, perhaps introducing them to a new audience. Heinlein, Clarke, Bradbury, Silverberg, Niven…and more.” This sort of panel always tends to range widely, and that’s a *good* thing.
1:00pm - 2:00pm: Art and Science Fiction with Mark Maddox and Lee Martindale. The write-up: “Art plays a large part in SF. Art as influence, art as cover art, giving a concrete face to characters and places that were formerly only in the imagination. How does an artist approach a cover assignment? Do writers have a lot of input into how their work is illustrated? How much does artwork influence whether we buy a book or not?” This should be a great deal of fun.
6:00pm - 7:00pm: Spoiling the Books: Game of Thrones, Season 6 with Lee Martindale, Chip Johnson, Mark Heffernan, and Hannah Hudson. The write-up: “Is Jon Snow dead? That was the question many were asking at the end of the fifth season of Game of Thrones. Join in for a discussion of the current season of Game of Thrones, as the show moves beyond the time covered by the book series.” And ohboyhowdy, is this one going to be lively.
7:00pm - 8:00pm: Why Fandom? With Lee Martindale, Sue Phillips, and Bill Ritch The write-up: “We are members of fandom. Some use the term as fandoms; Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, books. Is it all different? What makes us come together in such diverse groups to celebrate our interest? Or are we all just fans?” I’m really looking forward to this one.
10:00pm - 11:00pm: From Hans Gruber to Severus Snape: A Memorial To Alan Rickman with Lee Martindale, Jason De La Torre, Rita De La Torre, and Allison Lane. The write-up: “We remember Alan Rickman, from his star-making turn as Hans Gruber in Die Hard, to his appearances in Robin Hood, Galaxy Quest, as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series and his great voice roles in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and as the Caterpillar in the Alice film series.” What a body of work we have to talk about.
noon - 1:00pm: "Hello, Sweetie": A Love Story Through All Space and Time with Lee Martindale, Rachel Stewart, and Jennifer Hartshorn. One of the most popular of The Doctor’s companions, River Song held a unique place and role in the ongoing story. We’ll be discussing that, and we might even take a swing at the Big Question: “Did The Doctor love River back?”
4:00pm - 5:00pm: The Writer’s Process with A. R. Cook, Lee Martindale, Bill Ritch, and Darin Bush. The write-up: “Our writer panelists discuss how they do what they do. How do they go from idea to book. What do they want us to know about it.” Four writers, so we can count on at least nine separate and distinct ways of going about it. This is going to be another fun one to do.
There’s one more panel, “Literary Comfort Food”, with Lee Martindale, Debbue Viguie, and Bill Ritch, that is either going to be at 8:00pm on Saturday or 1:00pm on Sunday...or both! The write-up: “We all have books that we go back to, time and time again. Something that makes us feel better or recalls to us a pleasant memory. Or even a strong memory of an unpleasant type. Discuss with our panelists the literary chicken soup that we stock our literary cupboards with.” Whenever it is, it should be a fine one.
I’m anticipating having quite a fine time.
Friday, May 13th
6:00pm - 7:15pm: Opening Ceremonies. The Con Committee officially kicks off the 7th year.
9:00pm - 10:15pm: Writer's Story-Telling Improv with Brent Seth, Michael Bode, Lee Martindale, Ally Blue, & Kiernan Kelly. Described as “like Who's Line Is It but for authors. Our host will pose the games and authors will make up the story line based on audience suggestions.” If you think I’m going into this one without at least one bourbon on board, you should rethink.
Saturday, May 14th
1:30pm - 2:45pm: OutlantaCon Roast with MC Candace Weslosky-Miller. The write-up: “Java Green is as much a part of OutlantaCon as the events and game shows. Join us as our favorite guests and panelists pay tribute to Mr. Green in a hilarious roast to remember. Speakers time slots will be raffled to benefit charity. Everyone wants to take a crack at roasting Java so be sure to get yours.” Poor Java. Poor dear Java.
3:00pm - 4:15pm: Creating Believable LGBT Characters with Lee Martindale & Eden Winters. We’ll be discussing what it takes to create believable LGBT characters that work.
4:30pm - 5:45pm: Science Fiction & Fantasy As Activism. From the write-up: “Even before the Bending the Landscape anthology series and Such a Pretty Face brought genre stories featuring positive portrayals of their respective thematic focus, SF&F has given readers characters outside the usual norm. We look at how genre fiction works to change stereotypes.” So far, I’m the only one listed on this, and if that’s the case, we’ll turn it into a roundtable discussion and a little bit of workshopping.
9:00pm - 10:15pm: Match Game with MC Michael Stork and panelists Lee Martindale, Candace Weslosky-Miller, Moxie Magnus, Java Green, Barbara Goodson, & Chris Miller. Yes, *that* Match Game, with a decidedly LGBT slant. And I know, from experience, that this one definitely calls for at least *two* double bourbons on board.
Sunday, May 15th
noon - 1:15pm: Writing to Your Natural Length. The write-up: “Some writers think in 5000 words or less. Others can't say "hello" in less than 10K words. Learn how to identify which you are, how to make it work, and how to stretch your comfort zone.” So far, it looks like I’m soloing again and, if so, it’s another opportunity for a roundtable/workshop session.
3:00pm - 4:15pm: Hollywood Squares with MC Candace Weslosky- Miller and panelists Lee Martindale, Moxie Magnus, Kiernan Kelly, Kage Alan, Ellie Collins, Gypsey Teague, Brent Seth, Eden Winters, & Crow Hellum. We give the OutlantaCon treatment to the venerable (and hilarious) Hollywood Squares of old. Is it too early for a bourbon?
4:30 - 6:00pm: Closing Ceremonies. Wherein we take it home in style.
An autographing will be added as soon as we can figure out where to put it.
I couldn’t ask for a better programming schedule, or one that I’m going to enjoy more. You can check out the full schedule at http://www.outlantacon.org
With our permission, he contacted a friend of his who keeps bees as a hobby. Said friend confirmed that we had previously-unknown tenants, identified them as reasonably-peaceful Italian honey bees, and confirmed that they probably had a hive behind the brick facade. Getting them out was, unfortunately, beyond the hobbyist’s capabilities. I mentioned that, given a choice, I’d rather see the hive rescued and relocated than exterminated. (Yeah, I’m an old hippy. I also grew up on a farm and know the importance of honey bees in the Grand Scheme of Things.) Which is how we ended up with Paul Giesecke from Honey Bee Relocation Services working to do just that on April 6.
Paul and his fellow bee rescuer were amazing. They suited up and, at 10:00am, began dismantling the section of the front facade, brick by gently tapped-out brick, below where the bees had been observed going in and out. They reported that the hive was “huge”, so it would probably take longer than originally thought. Gentle tapping and gentle scraping continued as more brick was removed. Comb, honey, larva and a large number of bees, including the queen, were moved to a hive box resting in the front yard. At around 1:15pm, Paul called on the phone (I’d mentioned that I was allergic to bee stings) to tell us that progress had been made, but they weren’t finished. The plan was to leave things alone while they guys went off to grab lunch, and give the bees that were eluding capture by going to the bottom of the wall the opportunity to come back up and follow the scent of the queen to the hive box. This sounded like an excellent plan to me.
In about an hour, they were back. Many of the remaining bees had followed the queen, but not all. We still had what seemed like an awful lot of confused bees flying around, and there were still bees hiding out in the lower recesses of the wall. Paul *could* dismantle the rest of that section of wall, but recommended against it. They’d gotten, he estimated, 80%-90% of the hive (close to 100,000 bees), all of the comb, all of the honey, all the larva, and the queen. With no support system and no queen, the remaining bees will not be able to reestablish the hive, and will die out within two to four weeks. Paul covered the large V-shaped hole in the brick with a tarp, protection from both weather and the return of those bees not currently in the wall, while Himself and Paul’s partner went around the rest of the house looking for other possible hives or breaches in the brick. No hives, one breach, and Himself has taken care of that.
Somewhere in Somervell County, a bunch of probably disoriented bees have crawled out of a hive box to find they’ve relocated, en masse and en famille, to Honey Bee Heaven. Acres and acres of farmland and quality food sources. I’m sorry we couldn’t save them all, but we saved most, and that’s something. And the fact that the cost of all of this was less than one-quarter of what an extermination would have cost is a nice bonus.
Thanks and a resounding recommendation for Paul Giesecke and Honey Bee Relocation Services (honeybeerelocationservices.com). They do exceedingly good work.
It’s been five months since DragonCon. Household circumstances prompted me to cancel the remainder of my 2015 schedule, unpack the suitcases, put the traveling boots by the fire, and be a homebody. Intellectually, I knew it was the right thing to do. But that didn’t stop me from resenting the hell out of the necessity and feeling walled in.
But, at long last and with much rejoicing, it’s time to hit the con trail again. And it couldn’t start with a better convention, the always-fun AnachroCon, Feb. 26 - 28 at the Atlanta Marriot Century Center. I’m a Featured Guest for this annual celebration of Steampunk, History, Alternate History, Science, Music, Time Travel, and Classic Sci-Fi Literature, not to mention a high concentration of some of the finest costuming I’ve ever encountered. This year’s theme is “The Weird Wild West”, and the programming alone looks amazing.
And speaking of programming, I’m going to be delightfully busy. Here’s what’s in store for me so far:
5pm: Panel: Hello Sweetie! A Love Story in Time and Space, with Lee Martindale and Mark Heffernan. I’m a big fan of both the character River Song and the actor who plays her, the wonderful Alex Kingston. And with an arc than spanned three incarnations of The Doctor, three very different actors playing The Doctor, and some of the best scenes in genre, we’ll have a lot to talk about.
6pm: Panel: Who Wants to Live Forever - The Issue of Immortality in Doctor Who, with Lee Martindale, Jevocas Green, Mark Heffernan. Working a panel with Jevocas “Java” Green is always fun, and the subject has potential for some good, solid discussion.
1pm: Panel: Doctor Who Series Nine Review, with Lee Martindale, Kim Holec, Tom Faber, Mike Gordon, and Jennifer Hartshorn. A good group of panelist is halfway home to a good panel, and this one fits my definition. The discussion promises to be lively, given the topic. And I may manage to get out of the room alive. Controversial opinions? Moi?
4pm: Panel: The TV Movie 20th Anniversary, with Lee Martindale, Jevocas Green, and Mark Heffernan. I remember seeing Paul McGann’s turn as The Doctor when it originally ran, long before I got seduced into the Whoniverse by Atlanta fandom. There’s a lot to be discussed about its place in the scheme of things, and I suspect this panel will cover a good bit of it.
5pm: Panel: Spinning Off Doctor Who, with Lee Martindale and Mark Heffernan. There have been spin-offs in the past, notably Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Chronicles, and a new spin-off, “Class” has been announced for later this year. I’ve a hunch this is going to be another lively discussion.
7pm: Panel: Beyond Schoolmarms and Saloon Girls: Women of Steampunk and the Weird West, with Lee Martindale (M), Charlotte Henley Babb, Beth Dolgner, Laura Anne Gilman, Misty Massey, Margaret McGraw, Nicole Givens Kurtz, and Catherine Scully. The Literary Track brings me on board for a panel with a top-shelf line-up of panelists and a topic that is going to be a blast.
8pm: The AnachroCon Salon: In Which Many of Our Author Guests Will Be Reading From, Selling, and Signing Their Works, with Lev Butts, Charlotte Henley Babb, Laura Anne Gilman, Leanna Renee Hieber, Lee Martindale, and More to Be Announced! Something tells me this is going to be a fun way to spend Saturday evening.
10:00am: Panel: A Decade of Modern Doctor Who 2005 - 2016, with Lee Martindale, Kim Holec, Winfield Strock, Jevocas Green, and Jennifer Hartshorn. Depending on how late Saturday night went, I may be going into this on too-little sleep and definite traces of hemoglobin in my caffeine stream. But it’s another fine gathering of panelists and the potential of spirited discussion and varying opinions.
11:00am: Panel: Fantasy as Alternate History, with Kathryn Hinds (M), Darin Bush, Laura Anne Gilman, Lee Martindale, and Misty Massey. Back to the Literary Track for the last panel on my schedule and a good one to finish out with.
Check it out at http://www.anachrocon.org
Now to go pack. Where *did* I put those goggles...?
We are not, repeat NOT, in snow eyelashes deep,
There’s sunshine, and temps do toward 80F reach,
All that’s missing are pina coladas and beach.
We’re not out on the highways or in airports delayed,
Simple plans for the Day, some might call them staid,
For as much as I travel and enjoy The Road,
It’s a treat to spend Christmas in mine own abode.
The Tree is assembled and merrily twinkling,
Why it’s still unmolested I haven’t an inkling,
No garland unraveled, no balls missing yet,
I’m starting to think that I should call the vet.
It seems that our furballs have called Christmas truce
To their usual turf wars and sibling abuse.
Beneath the lit branches, in unnatural peace,
Eggnog and Mistletoe snug together to sleep.
So before I head off to my own peaceful bed,
There is one think left hanging, a wish to be said.
To you, friends and fans, who these line should see,
Merry Christmas and the Best of The Season from me.
I'm back from DragonCon, after having an even better time than anticipated. I'll be putting together a report, after I finish working through the pile o' stuff that accumulated during the week I was away, but in the meantime...
The Daily Dragon is DragonCon's "newspaper", distributed in hardcopy throughout the hotels and function spaces and electronically on the website and through the DragonCon app. In addition to invaluable info like programming changes, cancellations, changes of location and/or time, reminders, and the like, there are features such as reviews of panels and interviews.
It was my honor to be one of the featured interviews this year, and it was great fun fielding questions from Amanda Faith. Here's the piece that resulted:
Lee Martindale: “Poet, songsmith, teller of tales, lover, student, teacher, warrior… Bard”