Con report by Joseph T Major
When the Futurians went to the first ChiCon it was easy. All they had to do was to load a couple of changes of clothing into the back of Elsie Wollheim's father's car and set off. The bit about having to buy a new car body during the trip was only a bagatelle.
Sixty years later there is more to do. From getting a TripTik from AAA to buying Can$50 from Grant, from arranging for Lisa's co-worker Kim to look after the cats to giving my cell phone number to my supervisor at work, technology and affluence have meant a great many more things to do in the way of preparation.
Tuesday, August 29, 2000
Louisville -- Lansing, Illinois
I went in to work in the morning and got almost nothing done, on the grounds that there was almost nothing to do. So I left for the day at lunch. Lisa had done her errands and so we ate at more or less the same time, then I checked my email for the last time, and then began loading the car.
About 1:30, after loading, we said goodbye to the cats and left. Our first stop was the local drugstore, where I bought some film and then realized that we needed to pick up the change bucket. Back home, then to the gas station to fill up ($19.30! Ouch) and then to the bank to withdraw cash from the ATM.
I crossed the street, drew out the cash, came back and observed to myself that, You know, I could have picked up my birth certificate then instead of last Friday. And then, "Oops." Back in the car I asked Lisa, "Did you get your birth certificate?"
She said something like "Oops."
So we went back home, again, and picked up the birth certificates.
Now, finally, we were off to Chicago. Traffic wasn't bad -- it was still early afternoon -- and we got to Indianapolis and places north about on the loose schedule I had in mind. About five our time, we broke for dinner, in Lafayette (location of Purdue, alma mater of Timothy Lane!) at a Cracker Barrel, which was relatively unoccupied since it was about four their time. Lisa needed to get some socks, so after we ate we went across the road to a Meijer's (a discount house with grocery) and got socks, toothpaste, and so on.
From there it was about three hours to Chicago. Well, Greater Chicago. Lansing, Illinois, in fact, where we checked in at a friendly and convenient Red Roof Inn, mostly because a week and a half ago, on the way to Henderson, I had picked up some coupons at an Indiana rest stop.
I had commented "Think Watterson" [the Louisville inner ring superhighway, notorious for heart-pounding traffic conditions] to Lisa while we skirted Indianapolis, but it wasn't so bad. Conditions near Chicago were bad. Also, speaking as an air pollution professional, Gary is definitely non-compliance. You name it: ozone, particulates, nitrogen oxides, they have too much and it is bad for people.
My fellow family researcher Rusty Major had some suggestions, including dinner together before the con. We too had plans, but for now it was merely a matter of typing up our reports (in fact, Lisa and I shared the little table in the room, facing each other as we wrote) for the day.
And so to bed.
Miles driven: 290
Wednesday, August 30, 2000
There was a Bob Evans restaurant next to the motel, so we ate breakfast there. I had three newspapers to read -- the Gary, Indiana Times; the Chicago Sun-Times, a tabloid; and the "World's Greatest Newspaper", the Chicago Tribune -- and USA Today as well. One of the newspapers had a piece about a pregnant woman who was a member of a cult who had smothered a child, and I'd just read the passage in Doon: House Agamemnides -- er, that is, Dune: House Atreides -- where Reverend Mother Gaius smothers her deformed child so the unborn Lady Jessica will have no competition. It was a very odd coincidence. I was also amazed that the Tribune had "Doonesbury" -- and didn't have "Mallard Fillmore".
It wasn't surprising that I-94 into Chicago was at times a four-lane parking lot. Big cities are like that. This was why we left at 8:30 to get to a place that opened at 9:30, and we made it, just barely. However, it was still pretty hazy.
The Museum of Science and Industry
Perhaps we should have gone on bargain day, Thursday. With all that in mind we paid extra and went to the special exhibit:
Titanic: The Exhibition
I did not hug Lisa from behind while she bellowed, "I'm flying, Jack!" I have not seen that movie, and she didn't think much of it.
R.M.S. Titanic, Inc. has exclusive salvage rights on the wreck, they say, to help maintain the integrity of the salvaged artifacts. So if you and your friend Nemo decide to pick up a few plates from the Titanic to decorate your fireplace, there will be legal questions.
This integrity has resulted in a fascinating collection. The exhibit has a reconstructed third-class stateroom as well as the reconstructed main staircase. All sorts of salvaged items ranging from a recovered letter to a thirteen-ton chunk of the hull provide an archaelogical cross-section of the past, frozen in time by being sunk.
At the time, what struck me was the recovered suitcase; some emigrant had packed up his goods in preparation for a new life of opportunity. (It was not a fancy suitcase.) But when I got a look at the exhibition catalogue, I saw something that really got to me.
The salvors had recovered a watch and identified its owner. They gave it to his daughter, who was still alive (she had been a survivor).
The ordinary exhibits in the museum are worth viewing. The Museum of Science and Industry is very much an educational place. In fact, I recommended to Lisa that she get her sister the doctor to bring the two children up there, they being scientifically minded. (Every year, Lisa and I give her nephews fossils.)
There is a substantial exhibit explaining the human circulatory system, a reminder we probably do not need. There is a big section on AIDS that considerately omits discussing buggery. There is a nice little antiquaries' sector, showing businesses on "Yesterday's Main Street", including an old-fashioned ice cream parlor with, however, very modern prices. There are significant exhibits of transportation methods; automobiles and the Pioneer Zephyr train.
And there is an exhibit concerned with impeding transportation:
U-505 was built by the Deutsche Werft yards in Hamburg and was launched 24 May 1941. He (German ships are "he") is a Type IXC boat, displacing 1120 tons surfaced and 1232 tons submerged. He has a length of 76.8 meters [252 feet], a beam of 6.8 meters [22½ feet], and a surfaced draft of 4.7 meters [15½ feet]. He is armed with one 37 mm AA gun, and two twin 20 mm AA guns [2x2], along with four forward and two after torpedo tubes with a capacity of twenty-two torpedoes. He is powered by eight two-shaft nine-cylinder Diesel motors with a total of 5000 BHP and electric motors with a total of 1000 SHP for a maximum speed of 18¼ knots surfaced and 7½ knots submerged. He is fitted with a Schnorchel, so can operate submerged for significantly longer periods.
Das Boot has been a war prize since her capture on June 4, 1944, and is in Chicago due to the unflagging efforts of his captor, author Daniel V. Gallery. (Also a Rear-Admiral in the U.S. Navy, admired by Lieutenant (junior grade) (retired) Robert A. Heinlein for being able to combine careers, but that is another story). This is one of four surviving U-Boote in the world; two are in Germany and one in England, being restored, so this is about your best chance.
The tour guide warned us about claustrophobia, but fortunately no one on our tour was affected. It is nevertheless (and not surprisingly) a place where short people are wanted. (The guide said the average height of sailors in the Ubootwaffe was 5 feet 6 inches.) While he did make some booboos (like the producers of U-571, he managed to forget about HMS/M Graph, formerly U-570, captured August 27, 1941), the guide instilled us with a picture of the intimate bonds that grew up among sixty men who lived in each others' socks for three months at a time.
I got a look in the radio room and sure enough, there was the Geheimschreiber in its closed box. What Gallery got was the month's settings and the additives for position signals. The Battle of the Atlantic was swinging to the Allies anyhow, but this did add to cleaning up the mess. There is an exhibit explaining about Enigma in the museum proper. We got a look at the forward torpedo room and the guide commented that the Kursk had been sunk by a torpedo explosion, so none of the crew had had a chance.
Now I can justify myself to the former submariners at work as well as the German-history fan who hangs on the least word of any former Ubootwaffemann at the militaria conventions he attends. But I read Twenty Million Tons Under the Sea more than twenty years ago.
It was time for lunch, so we lunched, and then went on to the last significant regular exhibit:
Henry Crown Space Center
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and for my fourteenth birthday, Jim Lovell read the lesson from Lunar orbit. The Henry Crown Space Center at the Museum of Science and Industry has the Apollo 8 capsule on exhibit. As well, there is a Lunar Module mockup, Scott Carpenter's Mercury capsule, and various other bits of space memorabilia. All the Mercury flights except Cooper's took place before Lisa was born. I'm getting old!
This done, we visited the gift shop, or properly The Big Idea (R) Museum Store. I bought two books, one of them being a biography of Admiral Dan Gallery by C. Herbert Gilliland and Robert Shenk (Naval Institute Press; 1999; ISBN 1-55750-337-0; $29.95). Then we decided to go see some more of scenic Chicago, and left. At least we could see it, as the haze had lifted and it was a nice clear, not too hot, day. I had managed to lose our parking ticket, so had to pay again.
University of Chicago: Joseph Regenstein Library
This is a very nice facility, welcoming outsiders (admittedly you have to be from out of town, and can only visit once per term); unlike Vanderbilt University's library, these visits are free. We wandered around this huge facility for hours, finding all sorts of distractions . . . that is, information!
We went back to the motel after that, passing up I-94 at first since it was (again) a long parking lot. After driving through the south side of Chicago, not encountering any 6' 4" dudes in custom Continentals, or even El Dorados too, we managed to get south of the jam while only getting misdirected twice (I always knew where we were, but that didn't mean we could get to where we wanted to be).
Actually, when we got in the vicinity of the motel, discovering to our surprise that there was a Sam's Club south of the expressway, we went on and ate at an International House of Pancakes, next shopping at the grocery across the street from the Red Roof Inn, and only then going back to our room to write these reports.
(Joe has turned me loose on his laptop and is reading a book about U-boats so I am free to wreak all kinds of mischief. I'm supposed to be reading his trip report but I've finished. An interesting idea for a story would be if someone stole U-505 and sailed her out the St. Lawrence River to the sea. Of course you would have to come up with a reason why someone would want to go to all the trouble of stealing a 50-year-old submarine when it would probably be cheaper and easier to buy a much newer Russian one. -- Lisa)
And so to bed.
Books read: Dune: House Atreides and Admiral Dan Gallery.
Thursday, August 31, 2000
Lansing -- Chicago
From yesterday's experiences it was clear that Chicago would be hard to get into. However, today was a clear day, and there were only one or two tie-ups on the interstate. Downtown, as usual, was rather a different matter. I had thought that I could park in the hotel garage and pay a regular rate before checking in, but going into the valet parking garage by mistake disabused me. So, after a drive over rather a lot of downtown Chicago I nerved myself to ask the bellhops -- where I learned we could check in! So we did.
The room access was funny. The floor was sealed off from the stairs. You had to punch in your door key card to get there in the elevator; the button didn't work. "What did we do to deserve this?" I thought.
It turns out the Regency Club floor has free breakfast, free snacks, free bottled waters, and is an upgrade usually costing about $40 more, unless the hotel overbooked and is putting people whereever they can. I still thought "What did we do to deserve this?" but the context was different.
So we went to register for the con. Which was rather hard to do, as Registration was hidden in a low sub-basement. Fortunately Steve Francis directed us thither. We had already seen Taras Wolansky and Marty Helgesen while going to register; now Martin Morse Wooster made his usual registration encounter.
On recommendation of Roger Sims we had lunch at the Knuckles Sports Bar; the chips were soggy. It must be a Chi thing. From there Lisa and I went to different panels.
Recipe for a Focal Point Fanzine (Steven Davies, Moshe Feder (M), Guy H. Lillian III, Andrew I. Porter).
The co-editor of Harry Plokta and the Blue Screen of Death joshed with the editor of Science Fiction Chronicle while waiting for their fellow editor, of Challenger, to turn up.
Guy made a tremendous entrance and proceeded to dominate the panel, describing the philosophy of zines and the problems of running one. Moshe weighed in with observations of the Good Old Days, Andy discussed how a little two-page mimeoed Algol can grow into a huge fancy printed zine, and Steve discussed how to edit a fanzine under the governance of a cat. He passed out copies of the latest issue of Plokta to the known recipients.
After the panel, I meant to go find Lisa, but got caught in a discussion with Steve and a thin bearded man who had been in the back of the room. "E. B. Frohvet" mentioned his get-together, and I said I lacked white jeans but would come anyhow. We agreed that something was wrong with the voting process when Dave *grr* *grr* *grr* Langford can keep on winning and winning.
Steve and the bunch have fun doing Plokta, which is as it should be. He revealed to me a deep dark secret about George the cat.
Afterwards I spent most of the afternoon hunting for Lisa, who spent most of the afternoon hunting for me. We finally found each other in the Dealers' Room, fifteen minutes before closing time. I settled up our account with Larry Smith, which was $110 after discount. We went to our room to drop off our plunder and determine where to eat.
The Dining Guide recommended a nearby place called Houlihan's, which was accessible from the Hyatt without going outside. It turned out to be nice and we had a good meal. The Chicago Moon-Times, the convention newsletter, mentioned a nearby store, the Urban Market, which turned out to have a quite decent selection of foodstuffs. We did a little stocking up before returning to our room so I could finish the book du jour, the new Tom Clancy. It being late enough by then, we decided to hit the parties.
All of which were in the other tower. We went up to the Minneapolis in '73/raseff party, where I got to meet Patrick Nielsen Hayden and thank him for so soundly trouncing John Ordover's praise of wonderful upbeat media fiction against depressing downbeat non-media SF. Down the hall was Boston in 2004, where I had a nice chat with Alexander Vassilkovsky, or maybe Olyxander Vassilkivsky. They too (Alex, or Olyx, and his wife) are a two-computer family and are getting wired appropriately. Mike Glyer was waiting outside the Boston party and had some interesting opinions.
We didn't fit well at the other parties. Bucconeer was too much the pirate's den, complete with dim light and tobacco smoke. Frefen had to wait for a snack delivery. So we went down to the Con Suite, where we had a chat with a fellow cat servant, and then back to the room for a little writeup.
And so to bed.
Book read: The Bear and the Dragon by Tom Clancy.
Friday, September 1, 2000
We slipped down to the Regency Club Lounge for breakfast, then wandered around. Khen Moore could be easily heard holding forth about how the "Classics of Science Fiction Art" exhibit was the real art show, and after seeing the art show I am inclined to agree. I had the misfortune (for my wallet) to run into Darrell Schweitzer; he sold me a Byzantine Stooges t-shirt and tried to sell me books.
Lunch was at the Urban Cafe and then there came the panels (I had three consecutive panels on Friday afternoon):
Reviewing SF Books (Lisa Dumond, Joseph T Major (M), Rob Gates, Timothy Lane, Cheryl Morgan)
Lisa reviews SF for a net publisher. Rob reviews SF for various gay publications and webzines. Cheryl is producer of the well-known fanzine (mostly web now but still available in print for downtime reading) Emerald City. The other two guys have some sleazy connection not worth mentioning.
We discussed various theories of reviewing. The detail in which one analyzes a book can depend, frankly, on how much it seems to be worth discussing. We all did disdain the common practice of assiging numeric ratings. Rob had had them demanded from one publisher and when he found himself doing decimals gave up. I pointed out that the reviewer has to consider the audience as well as the book.
We ended up agreeing that the practice did have a purpose, which was to inform people about good books and why they were good. It was a very agreeable panel (the fight was obviously staged) and we hope people learned something.
It was relieving to learn that the Fairmont was next door to the Hyatt. Some of the material had
implied it was a block away, and I had been
dreading looking forward to walks like at Baltimore.
So we went back to take up our next demand, in the Grand Ballroom. (I brought a ringer with me; Lisa went to all my panels so I could count on at least one friendly face.)
But Heinlein Said . . . (James Killus (M), Karen Purcell, Eric S. Raymond, Joseph T Major, James Gifford (joined by Bill Patterson))
Karen is a veterinarian, James K. a writer, James G. a writer and publisher (of stuff on Heinlein), Eric is a scientist, Bill is publisher of The Heinlein Journal which has run articles by the other guy.
Fortunately Karen had brought a copy of Expanded Universe, so we had the predictions from "Where To (and Why We Didn't Get There)" (Just in case, I had both that and The Worlds of Robert A. Heinlein.) She read them off and we commented on their applicability and fulfillment or nonfulfillment.
We commented somewhat derisorily on the prediction about all airplanes being controlled by a giant electronic brain, because James Gifford was held up by a late plane. There's been a lot of that going on this year. Bill Patterson sat on the panel in his place, adding his perspectives, and James showed up about fifteen minutes late.
Everyone on the panel accepted the concept of the Heinlein Individual. (But Heinlein was a Heinlein Individual!) Which is odd since I had understood that in Authentic Heinlein Fandom one disdained all of Alexei Panshin's concepts. Perhaps smarter heads than Spider Robinson's can comprehend the concept of an archetype.
It was a very big panel with lots of interesting questions and we probably could have run another hour. But Lisa and I had to go to our final panel of the day.
GoH Programming: Military Issues (John Laprise (M), Elizabeth Moon, Jim Groat, Charles Walther, John T. Major)
Neither Cousin John was at the con (Sr. lives in Virginia, Jr. in Kentucky), so I filled in. (I also know a Jack T. Major, but he is a Fundamentalist and probably would have run screaming from the many ungodly people on sight; e.g. Karen Purcell, who is also a belly dancer [see last panel] and dressed to show it.) Elizabeth Moon is the author of several military fictions, so I brought along The Kinder, Gentler Military, but the issue never came up.
John Laprise had prepared an agenda, which we properly took as a starting point; instead, he asked for questions from the audience and we took to answering those. We discussed some of the banes of military fiction, such as how the army never seems to need to be fed or resupplied and doesn't need sleep, either.
War stems from certain human traits and doesn't seem to be dispensible without some divine dispensation. As I said in my closing statement, quoting an in-law (Lisa's distant cousin Ned of the Forest), "War means fightin', and fightin' means killin'."
Afterwards we looked around the concourse some and then ate dinner at a place called Christie's. Rod Smith was at the next table over and he lamented that he didn't have his camera ready when the woman in the Xena hall costume came by.
After dinner we went to our first party of the night: E. B. Frohvet in the bar. Tom and Anita Feller were there first and we joined them. After a few minutes, where Tom was down to the bottom of his bheer, E. B. himself joined us, and I gave him the copy of Sir Ludovic Kennedy's Pursuit I had promised him.
A number of interesting people turned up, including Knarley Welch (who gave me the knew Knarley Knews) and Franz Miklis from Austria, who discussed the fragmented state of EuroFandom.
The get-together broke up in a couple of hours and we went to the regular parties. Charlotte in 2004 was nice. I got to talking with Guy Lillian and Alex Vasilkovsky at the UK in 2005 party and we blocked the door, discussing such things as Mammoth Cave, Floyd Collins, and the Angola Prison in 2006 (every suite a con suite!) bid.
Then we went down a floor to Toronto in 2003 party, where Lisa won a new book by Guy Gavriel Kay while I was chatting with Taras. (His badge number was 571.) On that wave of enthusiasm we went to the Mystery God Confusion party where I was able to confess to its author that I hadn't been able to guess who "Roast-Beef William" was, but that I did groan out loud when I realized that General Bart had made the Northrons eat his shorts at Camphorville. The Japan in 2007 party was honored by the presence of sensei Pohl-dono and Kyle-dono, sitting ignored by the degenerate moderns all lusting for anime and hentai.
We were getting pretty tired by this point, so went to our room. I finally noticed last night's message and called my fellow researcher Rusty Major. We made an appointment to do lunch Sunday.
And so to bed.
Books read: Sentry Peak by Harry Turtledove, It Seemed Like a Good Idea . . . edited by William R. Forstchen and Bill Fawcett, Government Racket: Washington Waste from A to Z by Martin L. Gross.
I didn't get who Roast-Beef William was probably because I much prefer Arby's. John Arbuthnot Fisher was "Jacky", not "Bobbie".
Saturday, September 2, 2000
We slept a bit late and then I wrote yesterday's report. Fortunately the Regency Club ran the breakfast half an hour longer, so we still could have some. Guy Lillian had invited us to his panel, but we had another (a higher?) committment, so went over to the Fairmont again: Christian Fandom Meeting
This was run by Marty Helgesen, Randy Smith, and a woman whose name I didn't catch. When we came in David Herrington had a place reserved for us and we sat and listened. The people there expressed a desire for fiction where people converted after an internal struggle; miraculous "seeing-the-light" scenes just didn't fly on a literary basis and were little better in a spiritual one.
On the way out we passed Darrell Schweitzer, and we pointed out that Lisa was wearing the Byzantine Stooges t-shirt I had bought from him yesterday. He opined that the people at the Christian Fandom meeting surely didn't understand it, since they were all Fundamentalists. Since I had just been going over his "Byzantine Fast-Food Joint" cartoon there, to much pleasure among the attendees, I can only conclude that he must have been having a bad day.
After that, we looked around in the Dealers' Room. Lisa went off to the Art Show to put down some bids. I encountered Elizabeth, who concurred with the idea of the bad day.
We then went over to vote for Toronto in the Site Selection, having there pre-supported for the anticipated economy in conversion fees. This was not far from the Fanzine Lounge, which was inhabited by Leah Zeldes Smith, co-creator of that single finest issue of a fanzine this year, STET 9 -- and I told her so, adding my praise to that of many. Only, Dick said I couldn't protest about my birthday not being in the calendar because I hadn't protested in my loc. So I'll send another loc . . .
But then on to the panel:
Cryptography Panel (Bruce Schneier, Johnny Carruthers, Joseph Major (M), William Priester, Mark Fewell)
There were a variety of sub-interests represented there. Bruce had done the appendix to Cryptonomicon. Mark had actually used the stuff in the military. Bill had managed to independently invent the Jefferson cypher device. Johnny is an avid amateur cryptanalyst. And so on.
We had to answer a variety of personal cryptology questions. There were one or two people who seemed to have ambitions to be panelists; at least they asked long and involved questions. Personal encryption is easy to get but tangled in a mindfield of legal questions. I managed to point out that there were always historical parallels to the current problems of cryptology, and corrected some of the errors of U-571.
We went upstairs and I took a nap while Lisa did some writing. The next item on the agenda was food and so we went to:
I had been told that we would meet in the lobby of the Fairmont at six, but then found out that we would meet in the lobby of the Hyatt at five-thirty. So I had to run around telling people different. Fortunately everyone who wanted to come knew.
Though we thought different, since Martin didn't show up (he joined us later). But we formed up and traipsed off to Christie's. They did not have a a single big table, so we took over a couple of big round tables and some booths. We were sitting with George W. Price, Dainis Biseneks, Frank Bynum, and Marty Helgesen.
Some of the people were going off to the Hugo Ceremony, but I could dress comfortably and drink Diet Coke while writing this in our own room. The voters showed their usual lemminglike qualities in the minor rounds -- as if Charlie "A category all for me?" Brown and David "Wake me up at 4 am" Langford really needed any more additions to their silo fields. In the major categories they were more inventive, though, rejecting Neo and Harry for other folks.
The screenwriter and assistant director of the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo-winning Galaxy Quest said they came to Chicago not even knowing whether they had won. You can believe that as you please. After their having to confirm that this was not an award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films, this behavior is sure to earn them among their fellow Hollywoodites the title of "Loser".
It was rather sad watching Forrest J. Ackermann admit that he was no longer up to administering the Big Heart Award full-time. Perhaps his legal tussels have been too much of a strain. It was interesting watching the group announcing the Seiun Awards, led by Takumi Shibano himself.
The viewers adjourned and the watchers left their rooms for parties. We returned to Charlotte in 2004 and UK in 2005, then went down a couple of floors to Mystery God Confusion, then on down to Norwegian Forest Cats, where we cat-chatted for a while.
In our home tower we went to Babylon 4 in 1260 (don't ask me to explain; it involved time travel and had some really neat costumes). There were a couple of parties that didn't seem to have been announced right and we ended up at Rome in '04 where I won a CD thanks to knowing what Valeria Messalina's hobby was. From there we wandered into PolyChat which wasn't quite our intention.
And so to bed.
Sunday, September 3, 2000
Lisa went to Mass in the Fairmont, during which I managed to step off the second step three different times. In spite of this I survived to start loading the car, and then we went to breakfast.
Unfortunately the one morning program item I wanted to attend was opposite Mass, so instead we went down to the Dealers' Room and shopped around. I bought a copy of Fox on the Rhine, an alternate history which has some interesting results stemming from Oberst Brandt being too embarrassed to move a briefcase.
My fellow family researcher William Charles Russell "Rusty" Major came down from his home on North Sheridan for lunch, and we compared our Major families. His is the family described in James Branch Cabell's The Majors and Their Marriages, so he has some close genre connections. (And we have Edgar Cayce . . .)
After Rusty left Lisa decided to go to the "SFWA Muskeeters" fencing demonstration while I went to the Fanzine Lounge and fanzined. Knarley Welch is disturbed at the growing nastiness of faaanish faaandom, as when T*d Wh*t* took several pages to respond to a loc Knarley had sent him (based on an issue he got second-hand) and still didn't send the issue to Knarley. I got a picture of Sue Mason, TAFF delegate and Ploktaratchik, for Rodney Leighton's SF Babes Wall. (Both Sue and Steve Davies asked what the devil it was with all this stuff about drinking.)
I finally encountered Jessica Bestler, being guarded by Johnny. I had already met her brother Ian and their father earlier that day. (She lives in Chicago and the kids come to see her in the summer.)
Lisa had left the demo early and I finally found her in the room. We went wandering around
looking for a place to eat and finally found one. (I seem to recall it was Evelyn Leeper who
complained observed that while the Dining Guide was great if you wanted to wine and dine six
possible clients on the expense account, for Joe or Jane Phan who wanted to eat at someplace
within walking distance, on a budget, it was barely useful.) Afterwards we checked our e-mail at
the Internet Room, discovering to our interest that we could do so (it involved linking to the
Iglou web page, then using telnet to open Shellaccess, and . . . oh never mind).
We saw the Masquerade at the Christian Fandom Party. There were thirty-seven entries in it, which, if you will consult my RiverCon review, was a mere two more than were at RiverCon, and the M.C. wasn't even in costume, the way B. J. had been. Someone wondered if fandom were dying and I must admit I wonder myself all too often (e.g. Knarley Welch discovering he had produced 8.7% of US fanzines for 1999).
And so to bed.
Book read: Fox on the Rhine by Douglas Niles and Michael Dobson.
Monday, September 4, 2000
Chicago -- Adrian, Michigan
Up for our final day at the con. After lounging around for breakfast, we went downstairs: Lisa went to get her prints and I hung around the Fanzine Lounge and converted our Torcon 3 memberships to attending.
Evidently the Torcon bidders knew early on that ConCanCún had been whupped big time. This may explain why Murray Moore was walking around with that knowing smile on his face.
We spent a while saying final goodbyes to various people. Mike Resnick felt relieved that he had at least won a Seiun, and I told him I had bought a second copy of Alternate Skiffy and hoped not to have to buy a third -- talk about mixed feelings. Bill Patterson was profoundly peeved that while he was in Chicago, all his copies of The Heinlein Journal were in Atlanta. "You are here, your luggage is here."
Since we were supposed to be out by noon I called for a cart about 10:30 and it got there only about 11:30. What was I expecting . . . ? But by way of contrast we could check out without even going downstairs, and did so.
Rusty Major had really recommended this and Lisa wanted to go. So we went. After, of course, missing the turnoff and driving it seemed like halfway to Lansing. Nevertheless, we did get to see the lake on the way back, from ground level this time, and it is a lot stormier from that perspective.
We parked at the south end of Soldier Field, which itself is next to the Museum, and took the shuttle bus there. It went past the planetarium and aquarium (this planted the germ of an idea) and then we debused at the Museum. It was a pleasant surprise that our AAA embership got us a small discount -- so far this year it has paid for itself (I shan't bore you with the story of how our alternator died on I-64 thirty miles out of town).
The main hall has Tyrannosaurus Sue, named after its principal discoveror, not in consideration of its/her/his sex (words have gender, people and animals have sex, which was why Lisa and I spent some time that evening telling strange jokes). As Rusty said, it is posed as if it is ready to pounce and eat you, which (to me at least) indicates that the museum is not promoting the theory that Tyrannosaurs were carrion eaters.
After seeing our fill of the bones, we went and saw some flesh. The Indian exhibit has not been renamed "Native American", so I guess there is some hope for them. One display covered marital patterns. Eastern Woodland Indians encouraged marriages between cross-cousins (children of siblings of different sexes) and considered marriages between ortho-cousins (children of siblings of the same sex) incestuous. That is, I was supposed to marry my cousin Cheryl, daughter of my mother's brother, or my cousin Ellie, daughter of my father's sister; Lisa was supposed to marry perhaps David, Steve, Gary, or John, the sons of her father's sisters, or Guy, the son of her mother's brother. I'm happy it didn't work out that way.
The centerpiece of the exhibit is a Paiute earth lodge, sort of a duplex house for the extended family. Every ten years, some of the Paiutes come out and rededicate the place. They are getting soft, corrupted by the white-eyes' ways, like women, sleeping in white men's hotels. The old ones, that is; while the young ones sleep in the lodge, getting that authentic feeling, their grandparents retire to more comfortable beds off-site. The guide had come from Louisville herself and spent more time questioning me (she was really impressed by my con badge) than I did her.
By now I was feeling pretty hungry, so we ate, and then went to see "Star Wars: The Power of Myth". Never mind the Joseph Campbell stuff, it was the John Campbell stuff that drew us. One of the other attendees had also just left the con and we talked about things like that first exhibit, that little room at MidAmeriCon set aside for pictures and stuff from that forthcoming piece of Hollywood tripe "The Star Wars". All the same, if it turns up in your neighborhood, go and see it, as they have the original models and costumes.
While Jack Chalker used a motorized wheelchair all through the con, when we passed him while we were leaving the museum (it was 3:30 and I doubt he could see much before it closed) he was walking with a cane, albeit slowly. I think he was saving his strength for when he would be needing it.
And then it was off on the road to Adrian. Kentucky has paid off its toll road bonds and removed the tolls. Apparently Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio feel less confident. Many years ago, while traveling to Maine to see my aunt, I observed that the toll roads in New York gave the traveler a ticket when he entered and made him pay when he left. Kentucky, on the other hand, had toll booths set up at various places along the road. I innocently opined that Kentucky's way was better, but an older and wiser paternal head said otherwise. The Chicago Skyway was like in Kentucky and so were the first few miles of the Indiana Toll Road (I-80/I-90) but the rest of the way it was like New York. Not surprisingly, there were also more rest stops; after all, they didn't want you getting off the road to buy gas and/or food.
The Field Museum had two exhibits coming that fall and winter -- one on the Endurance expedition and one on the Russian Crown Jewels. At the same time. We spent some time on the road figuring when and how to go, and when I remembered the usual consideration for program participants suddenly things seemed a lot easier.
We got to Adrian somewhat late. I had a small inconvenience here -- I'd managed to lose Tom Sadler's phone number! Fortunately the Motel 8 where we stayed (another AAA discount in action) had a rough map of town and we drove through in the night.
You know, things would be a lot better if they had better lighting. Blundering around, we nevertheless found 422 West Maple Street without being shot at or having dogs set upon us, and Tom offered to go out to the Motel. We spent almost two hours talking about the con and genealogy. Tom was quite pleased to hear about both, as I passed along the various information from the various fellow faneds I had met. He was gratified to learn of the victory of Toronto and hopes to make that WorldCon. Finally talked out, he left about midnight, having to go to work in the morning.
And so to bed.
Miles driven: 245 (including missing the turnoff for the Field Museum and going halfway to Lansing, and wandering around beautiful downtown Adrian looking for 422 West Maple Street)
Tuesday, September 5, 2000
Adrian -- Dearborn -- West Bloomfield, Michigan
We got out a little too late, and after eating breakfast in a restaurant called Maple Leaf (something leaking over the border there) set off for Dearborn. It seems that Michigan is about a month ahead of Kentucky in the weather department; it was September but it felt like October at home. Aside from that the view was very reminiscent of rural Kentucky. We got on the interstate outside of Ypsilanti and came into town for:
Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village [Edison Institute]
Your oddball grandfather had an attic full of all the curiosities he brought home from his trips. Henry Ford was like that, but he had much more money with which to buy things and put them on display.
The Museum is a huge single room, basically. You come in from the ticket sales and the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile is right in front of you, next to the little restaurant selling Oscar Mayer weiners. Oh I wish I were a corporate sponsor . . .
Aldous Huxley was wrong and Isaac Asimov was right: "History is bunk" refers not to the entire concept of history but to the dominant paradigm when Our Ford was on this earth. Henry Ford complained that history focused on rulers and events and not on the technology they used, not on the lives of the little people. When you have money to burn it's easy to take that tack.
To our left was a line of Presidential Cars, led by the car that Reagan was shoved into after John Hinckley shot him, followed immediately by the car that John Kennedy started his ride through Dallas in. Less tragically, there are the presidential cars of Eisenhower and FDR, followed by a brougham used by Teddy Roosevelt.
From there we looked at the silver and pewter goods, then wandered through the manufacturing displays. They show off real manufacturing machines, and not surprisingly you will find I, Robot (Asimov, not Binder!) among the displays, though the label seems a little imprecise. After that we looked over some of the automobiles, then the bicycles (Lisa's new interest). From there we went to the railroad display, which includes an enormous steam locomotive, "No. 1601" from the C&O. After that we looked over the horse carriages and the fire equipment, and then went to the main reason.
After reading Shackleton's Valiant Voyage and Endurance, I went on to read the books on the same shelf at the library. One, Little America, by Admiral Richard E. Byrd (and, though I didn't know it then, by Charles J. V. Murphy, who was also involved in The Cruise of the Raider Atlantis (by Captain Bernhard Rogge), another book I was reading at the time), told the story of the First Byrd Antarctic Expedition, which had flown a Ford Trimotor to the South Pole. You must understand that I was barely ten then, and I had a little boy's enthusiasm about the depot trip to the Barrier, the grueling flight south, the desperate moment when it looked like they wouldn't clear the Axel Heiberg Glacier and it was a choice of dropping either food or fuel, and the final moving scene when they circled the Pole and Byrd dropped a stone from Floyd Bennett's grave.
Ford Trimotor Floyd Bennett
And now I saw it.
Byrd had had to scramble out of Little America in 1930 and so had abandoned the planes. He recovered it in his next expedition and brought it back to the U.S., where it went, not to the Smithsonian, but to its maker, who put it in his attic with the rest of his collection.
It's just a plane. Why did I get so choked up?
Not too far away was Byrd's airplane from his Arctic expedition, the Fokker Josephine Ford. I touched it.
Then we ate lunch and looked over the rest of the museum. It was interesting to see the big steam engines and dynamos, not to mention the hall of the generations. I was saying, "This is our generation and this is Elizabeth's and this one is your father's, and this is Mae's and Bennett's and Edgar Evans's and so on, and this one is Virginia's."
After which we went outside:
Ford: The Men and the Machines explained some of Old Henry's obsessions. For example, this town has a city hall, a courthouse, a church, a bicycle shop, a research center, and a railroad station, but no bank! Old Henry's attic was big enough to contain houses.
We went to the Henry Ford Birthplace, which reminds me a lot of J.W.'s and Marie's house down the road from our old house; not very big, but very homey. Not far from there was the Wright Bicycle Company and for some reason Lisa talked about bicycles. The guide there knew a lot about them.
Next door is the Wright House. There was a mostly good movie about the Wright Brothers a few years ago which had a problem. They showed Wilbur and Orville popping next door to work when in real life they had to go several blocks. You see, it was filmed here, so it had genuine backgrounds, except for that little point.
The Menlo Park Complex was the source of the famous byplay.
Tom: "It's 99.5% right."
Henry: "What's wrong?"
Tom: "We never kept it so clean."
In the lab building there is the chair where Edison sat after pushing the button to light the bulb to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of his invention. After he left, Ford had workmen nail the chair to the floor so it would never be moved. In fact, when they restored the building recently they left that section of floor untouched.
They have a very nice Carousel and we took a ride. After looking around at various displaced historic homes, we decided to wind up with a Train Ride. The ticket taker was reading Freedom's Landing by Anne McCaffrey. He complained that they weren't writing good stuff any more. Terry Jeeves, you might want to visit Dearborn.
We, however, had to leave since they were shutting down the museum and the villiage. This meant a trip north and west, into the wilds of untamed Michigan, to the house of my cousin Kathy Levi. Who had invited her sisters to come and see the strange relative who knows all about the family. I told her son and daughter that on Ethnic Awareness Day they can dress up in horned helmets and run around robbing, pillaging, raping (well, Josh), and burning (and make sure it's in that order!). If you trace the Major family back far enough it seems you get to a guy called Ivar, Jarl of the Uplands, who was a Norseman when being Norse was cool. Kathy, her husband Paul, and their children Josh and Sarah have added a new faith to our current blend of various Protestant sects, Catholics (one Major was a priest), Mormons, Ba'hai, and whatever you count Edgar Cayce's family as (they say they are regular Christians, some disagree) -- Judaism! (Don't forget I may be adding Orthodox Christianity to the list -- Lisa.)
And so to bed.
Miles driven: 90
Wednesday, September 6, 2000
West Bloomfield -- Windsor -- Wapakoneta -- Covington, Ohio
Being teachers, Kathy and Paul go to work early, and their children go to school early, so their guests left early, amid much friendly and sad goodbyes. We only went as far as a local eatery called Einstein's Bagels, where we ate before hitting the road to Canada.
H.M. Customs of Canada is courteous and quick, but then (see back last Tuesday) we had brought along our birth certificates. We passed through the tunnel between Detroit and Windsor, the first time I had ever left the country. It is interesting that once you leave the Customs plaza, if you turn right there is a church and if you turn left there is a strip club. Passing the church, we came upon a tourist center and inquired within. They had detailed and less-detailed maps of Windsor, which informed us that there were two used bookstores nearby. However, they probably wouldn't have appreciated us using their parking space, so we found a regular parking lot, which cost a doubloon and two loonies (Can$2 + 2 x Can$1 = Can$4).
The only thing open at that time was a Dollar General Store (yes, they have those south of the border, too) and we looked around for a bit, stopping in at the church. Then the first used bookstore opened and we went there. I found Part 2 of the Sara Douglass series I was currently reading.
After we exhausted my Canadian bills we went down the street to the second bookstore, which took Visa. I was concerned at the net result bill until I remembered the exchange rate. By the time we were through there it was after eleven, so we decided to tour the city on our way out. We stopped at a convenience store on our way and I bought une-litre et deux-litre bottles of Coke Diète.
On the whole Windsor struck me as being very much like a more quiet U.S. city. This observation may not please some people. But it's so much the same. We expect to have a very nice time in 2003.
Back in the USA (via the Ambassador Bridge this time) and off to the south. After lunch south of Detroit, we plugged along and eventually got to Wapakoneta.
Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum
The hometown boy done good. The impression one gets from reading, say, Wolfe, is that Armstrong was something of a dull boy, so it is surprising and gratifying to see his membership certificate in the American Rocket Society -- yes, he was a genuine Rocket Boy -- and the proof that he flew for the first time at the age of six, as a passenger in a Ford Trimotor (like the Floyd Bennett), and got his pilot's license before he got his driver's licence.
Also present is the Gemini Eight spacecraft, where Neil and Dave Scott survived what was (until Apollo 13) our biggest catastrophe in space, the time the capsule attitude thrusters went on and wouldn't go off. (We have seen the Columbia, in Washington.)
There are other multimedia exhibits, including the above-mentioned Borman, Lovell, and Anders reading the lesson for my fourteenth birthday, Uncle Cornpone (Lyndon Johnson) tellin' the boys of Apollo that now we got the commies' p-- -- well, now we have the edge over them, and Anders forgetting to mention seeing the big black monolith, drat him. Also, the copy of Stranger In a Strange Land that a shuttle astronaut read for relaxation. And speaking of Admiral Byrd, one donor decided that the perfect gift for the great explorer and flyer was his First Day of Issue covers for Operation Highjump, signed by Richard E. Byrd, and for the First Flight, signed by Orville Wright. These are among the gifts and tributes to Neil placed in the exhibition hall.
They were closing and so we had to go (sound familiar somehow?), and we went off to see my cousin Jack -- George Madison "Jack" Major, that is. For a man of eighty-one he gets along well, walking two miles a day each morning at five AM in order to prevent his fourth heart attack from being fatal.
Jack and his wife Dorothe were eager to hear news of the rest of the family and recall memories of my father and other late relatives. Jack was my father's roommate at college, and remembered some things about his personal habits that I am sure my older brother will find interesting. Dorothe was interested to hear about this family she had married into. Towards the end of dinner, Kim, our cat watcher, called with the news of how our high-jumping cat had managed to add to his net bill.
And so to bed.
Miles driven: 248
Thursday, September 7, 2000
Covington -- Urbana -- Dayton -- Louisville
Jack's son Mike called about nine and said he definitely wanted to see us for lunch.
At ten we bade our hosts farewell and were off to Urbana, Ohio. (Do you have the feeling that the map was picked up and shaken?) It is a combination of small farm town and college town -- aromatherapy places on small-town Main Street seem out of place somehow. Cousin Mike has various enterprises all over town. He started a printers' to publish his art, then needed an Internet connection to publicize the books he printed . . . Oh, and did I mention the motel?
We had a good time at lunch and he told us about the bomb scare that aborted his signing at the Smithsonian. It was very sad we had to leave but we had to get home that day.
United States Air Force Museum
This is Hap Arnold's attic. Terry Jeeves fans might like the examples here, as it has a Mossie and a Liberator (a Mosquito and a B-24) among the other planes.
The museum was being multiple-purpose that day, as it had both an exhibit on escaping from East Germany (it involved an actual use for a Trabant) and a Holocaust Memorial exhibit. Also, there was some kind of award dinner going on there that evening.
I told Lisa what the airplanes were as we went from exhibit to exhibit. She saw the Bockscar and said "What a big airplane." So I took her around to see the B-36 they have on exhibit there; it dwarfs a B-29 like the Bockscar. (I had heard the plane that bombed Nagasaki called "Bock's Car", but on the plane itself and in the plaques it says "Bockscar".) In little matters we also saw the Apollo 15 capsule, the X-15, and the lifting bodies. Also, as part of the exhibit on the origins of flight, they had an actual Wright bicycle. Not to mention slivers of the 1903 Flyer that were transported to the Moon by Neil Armstrong.
They threw us out at five (is this getting boring?), so we spent some time looking at the planes being exhibited outside. This is quite a variety, ranging from a MiG-23 fighter-bomber to a Ju-52 transport. The "Tante Ju" is courtesy of Spain, the Flogger courtesy of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. No, they haven't acquired an air force with which to assault compounds of firearms violators. A Russian general sold the airplane to a Finnish company to get the money to pay the contractors to feed the troops; oh, how the mighty have fallen. Then some American collector bought the plane for his collection, but BATF took a dim view of that. There is also a B-1A Lancer and several transports.
We went to the Half-Price Books where we usually go in March. I got a copy of The Icebreaker by "Viktor Suvorov" and Lisa got a few books; then we went to the neighboring Borders and I got a copy of Singh's book on codes that Bill Priester had recommended. Then we ate dinner at a nearby Perkins Cafe, then drove on home, getting there about midnight.
And so to bed.
Miles driven: 226
Friday, September 8, 2000
Today I did laundry.
I could understand Ben Yalow having the same confident expression throughout the con, from when we saw him at our check-in on Thursday to when I saw him while reserving the luggage cart Monday morning. What amazed me was that to all appearances he wore the same clothes every day of the con. It makes one wonder.
The proportion of book dealers in the Dealers' Room was high. I admit there was a jeweler and someone selling models. (Not to mention the poor saps manning the B*ttl*f**ld **rth table.) Most of them were book dealers, though -- and I got Book Four of the Paul Kearney The Heretic Kings saga, which means an Internet order to BloodyHugeSouthAmericanRiver.co.uk for the third book.
The Chicago Moon-Times contained many laments for the death of one Robert Sacks, a much-missed valuable contributor to the working of a con. This was, so I have heard, the same Robert Sacks who while alive was condemned as being vile slime lower than a mundane's belly, a contemptible boil on the behind of fandom. I'm glad I won't have to read my obituaries.
On the Fanzine table, not for sale, was what was advertised as the page proofs for the forthcoming issue of Niekas, really and no fooling going to be out before the end of the year. Not surprisingly, there was no column from Michael Bastraw in it. According to reports, Bastraw had split, with all the manuscripts for the issue, some four years ago. When I had told Garth Spencer about it he commented with considerable astonishment that that was behavio[u]r one would expect from the publisher of some punkzine, not of a well-established, high-reputation SF fanzine.
If the books read list seems rather low, for most of the post-con trip I was either driving, sleeping, talking to people, seeing museums, or writing this report.
Trip Report by Lisa Major
Our trip began with the drive to Chicago after two abortive attempts to leave Louisville. Earlier in the day I had gone by the store and picked up the last paycheck I would have for a while, cashed it at the neighboring bank, dropped off some library books, bought cat supplies. Surprisingly, this time C'Mell was not too disturbed by our leaving. Of course, she knows now that we come back and we won't take her back to the shelter just because we drag out and fill suitcases. Gemellus, though, has never been through being left in the house. I only hope he has not binged out on the food intended to last until tomorrow afternoon and that if he does Kim will be there tonight. We have as yet been unable to convince Gemellus that he does not need to eat all the food immediately.
We finally escaped from Louisviille and headed down the road to Chicago. We stopped in Lafayette, Indiana and ate at a Cracker Barrel then went to a nearby Meijer's where I bought two packages of socks, a watch, toothpaste, toothbrush and floss. I had packed up all my socks but the house seems to have eaten a fair share of my footwear. Joe seemed to think that I needed a watch for the convention and anyway the watch I bought was only six dollars. We got back in the car and I typed out the first page of a new messterpiece, a prequel to the last long writing project I did. I managed also to finish my obituary for Bold Forbes, the 1976 Derby champion and write down a few ideas for other FOSFAX pieces. We saw a moving truck with an S&M logo. Joe guessed they beat all the competition. I suppose it is good for them to be whipped into shape.
We stopped to spend the night in Lansing at a Red Roof Inn where we also will spend tomorrow night. Tomorrow we will do research at the University of Chicago Library. Perhaps I will manage there to do more work on the prequel and perhaps even some work on the sequel to the long messterpiece. The sequel, I think, will be even longer than the middle piece.
We ate a filling breakfast at a nearby Bob Evans, even though Joe didn't take seriously my complaint about having to walk a whole half block to the restaurant, probably because I've been riding about ten miles a day on my old bicycle. We then set off for the Museum of Science and Industry some twenty miles away, I wearing the new watch which was supposedly able to resist 3 atmospheres, not that I have any real intention of testing that claim. There we went first to the Titanic exhibit. It was decidedly eerie but without the grim darkness of the Holocaust exhibit we visited two years ago in Washington. The exhibit contained a touchable model of the iceberg but even I, hot-natured creature that I am, could stand the cold only about half a minute. What it must have been like that cold night of April 1912 I would rather not imagine. We also saw an actual part of the Titanic which had been raised from the depths and were able to actually touch another small part of the Titanic, which I never thought I would be able to do.
Next we went through an old car exhibit, chief of which was a magnificent Duesenberg.
The other big exhibit was the U-505, the German submarine captured in World War II. While we waited for the tour to begin, we sat between two torpedoes. I found it somewhat unsettling to sit between the formerly deadly things that under different circumstances might have been aimed at my own father. They were bigger than I had thought they would be. Somehow I'd had the idea that torpedoes were small things. Inside, the submarine was a lot smaller than I had imagined her to be. She had thirty bunks and sixty crewmembers, hard though it was to try to think of sixty men fitting in the small spaces. However, I could understand the idea of rotating bunks since my father had lived in just such a system aboard the Bush, the destroyer he served on during World War II.
When the tour of U-505 was over we went through a small circus exhibit and then on to the space exhibit, which featured the Apollo 8 capsule and Scott Carpenter's Mercury capsule. I bought two Chicago key rings for cat-sitter Kim as I had promised and two books on the Titanic.
When we had seen everything the museum had to offer we left and headed for the University of Chicago library. There I did about 16 lines of my new writing project and read some of the second Harry Potter book in my continuing attempt to read through them. I managed to finish book two, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and started on book three, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. At least I am no longer one of the few who have not read a Harry Potter book.
We returned to the hotel and I managed to crank out the rest of the page for the daily writing quota I have set for myself.
We checked out of the Red Roof Inn and went back to the International House of Pancakes for breakfast. I tried Swedish pancakes and found them even better than the onion rings I'd had there the night before. I read more Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire while waiting on our food. Breakfast over, we headed for the convention hotel, the Hyatt. As always with Worldcons, parking was somewhat troublesome, but we finally got into the correct parking slot and got our luggage out of the car and got receipts for it. Then we got in the long line to check in and had a nice conversation with other fans while in the line. We were assigned rooms on the thirty-fifth floor and arranged to have our luggage sent up to us. Our room proved to be nice, except that there was only one plug where laptops could be plugged in the room proper. There was another in the bathroom, which I may get desperate enough to use. Our luggage arrived and we set out in search of registration. As luck would have it, we happened upon Steve Francis and he very kindly took us there. Badges safely on, we went in search of the dealer's room which as always contained much marvelous merchandise and even a recognizable amount of Xena stuff, a fair amount of which will be going home in my bags, a CD, a magazine, a comic book, a book.
I went to my first panel, which was about heroes and villains. Joe had another panel he wanted to go to, so after my panel I visited the dealer's room and then went to the room to lighten myself of some of my newly acquired things. Along the way I learned Joe was looking for me. I figured he was most likely to be in the huckster room, so I made my way there and saw him in one of the first tables. The dealers' room was about to close, so I made a hurried trip to buy a Xena calendar which had earlier attracted my attention. We decided to eat outside the hotel, and so to the room for our diner's guide. Fortunately there was a nice place called Houlihan's just outside the hotel. We went there and I read more Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. My chicken fingers looked pretty good until shrimp scampi arrived at the neighboring table. I guess the food on the other guy's plate is always better. After we ate we went to this marvelous little grocery in a little mall connected with the hotel. We left the grocery and went back to the room to wait for party time. I finished Goblet of Fire and read a book titled To the King a Daughter and worked on the review I'd halfway promised the people who gave it to me. We finally found a second place outside the bathroom to plug in a second laptop.
We got up and went to the free continental breakfast the hotel provided. We then wandered around until lunchtime and then ate at the Urban Café. Lunch over, we headed to the first of Joe's three consecutive panels, Reviewing Books. Second came the Heinlein panel and then the third on military and the future of war. The panelists finally came to the conclusion that whether we liked it or not, war was here to stay. I finished reading the Xena book, How the Quest Was Won, and started a book on Eskimos. I also read Emerald City, a very entertaining zine put out by Cheryl Morgan. She was on the reviewing panel with Joe. Robert Kennedy flattered me by commenting favorably on the Exterminator piece in the last FOSFAX.
We toured the underground concourse and then ate at Christie's, then rested up until time for E. B. Frohvet's bar party. He wasn't there when we arrived, but Tom and Anita Feller were, so we talked with them until Frohvet showed up. Eventually we left the bar party and went to some of the room parties. At the Toronto party I won a copy of the sequel to Sailing to Sarantium. The Glasgow party contingent saw to it that I got a cute little haggis. The Japanese party had some interesting children's favorite snacks. The one I tried was sort of a combination of a Twinkie and a spicy but not too spicy Dorito. After the Japanese party we went back to the room and did some work on these ongoing trip reports. I've never before written a trip report day by day, but I am beginning to see why Joe does it. I think the events will stay in my mind better if I write them down while they are still fresh in my mind.
Joe and I had our daily dose of breakfast pastries and then hit the tag end of the Christian Fandom meeting. I put more books in a stack at Larry Smith Booksellers and put bids on pieces in the art show. I will be in deep trouble if all my bids are successful. The Byzantine Stooges t-shirt Joe bought for me drew laughs from those who understood what Darrell Schweitzer had put on the shirt. I went to Joe's cryptography panel.
After the panel we took naps and rested until time for the FOSFAX dinner, which we ate at Christie's. We went up to our room to watch the Hugo awards and listen to Harry Turtledove pun-ish the whole of fandom.
Dressed and went to Catholic Mass. It was the first time I'd had communion in several months, because the Orthodox church I've been going to only allows communion for Orthodox, not visitors. Got my books out of hock from Larry Smith booksellers. Lunch with Joe's cousin Rusty at Houlihan's, after which we took the obligatory pictures of each other. We parted about three and I went off on my own for a brief look at the fencing exhibition by SFWA and a quick walk around the block.
Joe and I ate at Bennigan's just down the street from the hotel. It had a picture of a horse, which if not Man o' War, bore a strong resemblance to Big Red. Just above that picture was a picture of a race matching the description of the 1919 Sanford Stakes, the only race Man o' War ever lost. He was the victim of a poor start and during the course of the race got trapped in a pocket behind Upset and Golden Broom. Knapp, Upset's jockey, could have sent his colt away from Golden Broom but deliberately held his colt back to keep Man o' War trapped. Finally Golden Broom tired and faded back, his racing career over when he pulled up lame. Man o' War's jockey let go his hold on the reins and the big red colt accelerated forward, his 28-feet strides narrowing the gap between himself and Upset, but the finish wire flashed overhead with Upset's nose just barely ahead of Man o' War's.
After leaving Bennigan's we went to the Christian Fandom party and watched the masquerade on television. We were tired and returned to the room when we left the party.
Finished Eskimo book and started on Burning Road.
We checked out of the hotel and headed for the Field Museum after I picked up my three pieces of art, chief among them a black rearing unicorn framed by a lightning bolt, which other bidders let go for only a dollar. At the museum we rode a trolley with a very entertaining driver. His sense of humor was almost as perverted as mine. We saw Sue, the biggest tyrannosaurus in the world at forty-two feet long. After Sue, we went through a fascinating Native American exhibit with some Cherokee things. There was also a big Pawnee lodge.
After the Native American exhibit we went to the Star Wars exhibit and saw the original costumes and model ships. After the Star Wars exhibit we left the museum and drove to Adrian, Michigan.
I finished Burning Road and also bought Chalk Giants by Kenneth Roberts.
We left Chicago and drove to Adrian, Michigan, where we spent some time with Tom Sadler, who edits The Reluctant Famulus.
We left Adrian and called Kim on the cell phone. Sulla is eating the canned food, so we do not need to worry about his getting dehydrated. He is, however, refusing the Petlax for hairballs. Well, that's not a life-threatening problem.
The weather has turned chilly and I was glad of the jacket and long-sleeeved shirts I'd carelessly shoved into a suitcase.
We reached Dearborn and the Ford museum. I have ambivalent feeling toward Ford, who was responsible both for serializing The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and for a great deal of America's technological advancement. There was a great deal to see, so I will try to just hit the highlights.
The first notable exhibit were two Presidential limousines used by Reagan and Kennedy. The Reagan limousine is the last that will go to any museum because the Secret Service is now destroying them in safety experiments. The Kennedy limousine is the one Kennedy rode that fateful day in November 1963. We saw many other very nice antique cars, and then came to one of the most powerful locomotives ever built, the Allegheny. One glance will tell you this is a machine of enormous power. It is huge, roughly twice as long as Sue the great tyrannosaurus. Other interesting exhibits followed and then we saw a 1929 Ford Trimotor flown in the Antarctic and a DC-3 flown by Jimmy Doolittle, Billy Mitchell, Lindbergh, and Earhart. Also with the planes was the Josephine Ford trimotor which carried Byrd over the North Pole. I got to sit in an actual Model T and learned that there are at least 300,000 tin lizzies still runining. There was an 1823 copy of the Declaration of Independence, Washington's camp chest and bed, and the ill-fated chair Lincoln sat in at Ford's Theatre the night Our American Cousin was playing.
We left the museum section and went to Greenfield Village, which is a very relaxing walk-through tour like Williamsburg. The recreations of Edison's laboratory was very interesting. We even got to hear Edison's actual voice. Also in Greenfield Village was a recreation of the bicycle shop run by Orville and Wilbur Wright.
We rode the carousel and the train. Unfortunately the steam engine had had to go to the shop for a boiler wash, so we drew the backup diesel.
Despite my reservations and ambivalent feelings toward Ford, the museum he created is informative and fun, a unique blend of history, science, and technology. I was sorry when closing time left and we had to move along. We spent the night with Joe's cousin Kathy, her husband Paul and her children Sarah and Josh.
We left Joe's cousin and drove through the tunnel into Canada after showing our birth certificates. Windsor is much cleaner than the average U.S. city and Canadian drivers seem much more willing to yield right of way to pedestrians. Bicycles and backpacks abound. I only heard one man, a fellow customer, use the stereotypical "eh" I'd been told all Canadians used. I bought two Canada key rings for Kim and then we hit two bookstores. I bought some paperbacks at the first store. The second bookstore had a copy of The Magnificent Barb, a horse book I'd been hunting for several years and which they made me pay a whole dollar for. I also bought the official guide to Xena, a small book on cats, two travel books, two religious books by Kay Arthur, an introduction to Christianity, and a piece of Jewish fiction.
It was easier to get back into the U.S. than it had been to leave. We'd had to show our birth certificates to leave but to get back we only had to answer a question about nationality and tell the customs man what we'd bought. I guess Canada was eager to get rid of us. Fortunately books were duty-free and they didn't seem to care much about the Coke Classique and Trois Mousquetaires I had bought. No documentation of our claim to be U.S. citizens was required of us. It was strange to see Cuban cigars advertised openly. It would be interesting to know if there's anything legal on this side but not in Canada.
Back on our side of the border, we headed for the Neil Armstrong Space Museum. The building itself is shaped something like the famous Earthrise picture taken from the Moon. Admission was a very reasonable $5 and parking was free. Outside, trees had been planted to form a seven in honor of the Challenger seven. Notable exhibits were a plane flown by Armstrong, a Gemini spacecraft, a replica of Sputnik I, original broadcasts from the astronauts and President Johnson, and a photograph of the first human footprint on the moon. There was also a shuttle simulator. I did a very effective job of crashing the shuttle. The obligatory gift shop had two interesting games, Space Monopoly and Moon Shot, but unfortunately I am far past broke and there is still Borders and Half Price books to come tomorrow. Joe bought a model of Apollo 11. We left the Armstrong museum and on the way out saw a van belonging to John Carter World Wide Moving Company. We drove to Covington, where another of Joe's cousins opened his home to us.
We got some minor bad news when Kim called to tell us that apparently Gemellus had jumped onto the freezer and gotten its door open, with the result that eighty dollars of foodstuff was ruined. We are going to have to have a talk with the uncelebrated jumping cat about his habits.
I began reading Fox on the Rhine, an alternate history of World War II. We talked a bit with Joe's cousin Jack and his wife Dorothe, took pictures of them and their beautiful golden retriever and then went to have lunch with Jack's son Mike. He showed us a small bakery museum. It featured Santa Claus driving a steam locomotive named Krash Kringle's Cannonball Express. There was also a nickel Coke machine. He treated us to an excellent lunch at a place called Millner's and then we went to see the grave of Simon Kenton, Ohio's Daniel Boone and Mike's statue of Simon Kenton. Afterwards we went to his studio and admired his beautiful horse statues intended for an Ohio horse park. Mike gave us a signed book of his drawings and we left.
We next made a very hurried tour of the Air Force museum. There was a small Holocaust museum with a letter from a Theresienstadt survivor. To leave the exhibit we had to walk under a replica of a camp gate with the words Arbeit Macht Frei. My stomach quivered no little bit as I walked under the infamous words.
Next there was one of the Flying Tiger planes from China. We saw several of the Wright Flyers and an original Wright bicycle minus its seat. I wonder if it's possible to buy a replica of a Wright bicycle and what it would be like to ride one. I was surprised to learn that Orville survived Wilbur by thirty years. Somehow I always thought they had died together.
There were Apollo, Gemini, Mercury and Agena spacecrafts.
I paused briefly in front of a V2 rocket engine and the world's largest aerial camera.
It was interesting to note that the Mark 7 nuclear bomb is smaller than one of the U-505's torpedoes.
We also got to see part of the Berlin Wall. Of all the things I thought possible, seeing part of the Berlin Wall in an American Museum was not one of them.
We walked around a huge B36's incredible 230-foot wingspan, longer than the plane itself and talked with a woman whose husband had flown one over Tinian. We admired the Stealth plane and the X-15, which actually pushed into the lower edges of space. Then we came to the SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest plane in the world and capable of traveling three times faster than sound. Joe thought that if it were painted silver it could be Queen Amidala's spaceship. Unfortunately the museum closed at this time so we didn't get to see the presidential planes. I did, however, buy a Rosie the Riveter t-shirt in the gift shop and then we moved to visit the outside planes. We saw a C-130 Hercules, but there was no C-131 Xena. There was a German Junkers complete with swastika. We talked to a man who had served with movie star Tim Holt and I gave him my e-mail address in case he wanted to share some of his stories.
Finally we saw a MiG-23. A Soviet general had sold it to a Finnish company in order to get money to feed his soldiers with. The Finnish company sold it to an American but when he tried to bring it into the country the BATF confiscated it. Now the relic of the Cold War sits in the parking lot of an American museum. It seems wrong, somehow, but then there are many American planes in the same parking lot.
We left the museum. I suggested to Joe that we drive over to Wright-Patterson AFB and ask to see the little gray people in Hangar 18, but he firmly vetoed that idea on the grounds that a night in the brig wouldn't be all that much fun.
We went next to Half-Price bookstore and Borders in order to make sure the car was fannishly loaded with books. I bought several dollar books, including a novelization of Prince of Egypt and Sutcliff's The Sword and The Circle at Half-Price. At Borders I bought a book on Orthodox prayer and then finally we turned the Ciera for Louisville and home. We reached home at midnight, unloaded the car, and collapsed into our own beds.