Theatrical Thursday

Theatre poster of the week, The Jungle Book.

junglebookthin

No Shame Theatre post of the week.

SHAME

(lights up full)

How many of you here on this idyllic Sunday morning are victims of your memories?

How many of you here today can’t remember your first girlfriend’s eye color, but remember every embarrassing incident and every shameful moment you’ve ever experienced? You can’t remember things you’d like to, but can’t forget things you desperately want to? And you remember these events at the most inconvenient times. I think you know what I mean…

Joy can be fleeting. Happiness, ephemeral. Shame though – shame is eternal. Or so it might seem… Unless you fight it friends – fight it with every breath and every glance down your neighbor’s blouse. And fight it you should, because contrary to those figures that our scientific kinsmen ballyhoo, it’s Shame that is the number one killer in this country – the Demon Shame.

Shame seems a necessary fact of life my brothers and sisters. But it is not. Shame is merely the memory of hubris or bad timing or ill luck. The fault is not in you, not in your stars, but in your too-active memory for transgressions observed. A transgression not observed is surely no transgression at all.

Who told you “You should be ashamed of yourself!”? Was it your mama?

Do you think that Bill Clinton’s mama told him he should be ashamed of himself?

And if she did, do you think he listened? Should he have listened?

What separates great men from merely average men? What lifts a dyslexic coke-head and a drunk oilman to the highest position in our land? Is it shame? No friends – it is assuredly not. To be great requires that you understand shame, that you know it, that you have wrassled with it, and that you have defeated it. Again and again.

If you or I experienced a “Lost Weekend”, or wake up in jail, or accidentally went AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard, we would be prone to letting that change us. To becoming ashamed and letting life take us by the short hairs. But not the great men, no sir! When our esteemed Vice President got pulled over for his second DWI, do you know what passed through his mind? It wasn’t “Oh my god, I could’ve killed those children!”. It wasn’t “This time they’ll have my license for sure”. And it surely wasn’t “I’ll lose my job, my wife will leave me and I’ll go to jail”. No no no! What would be the sense of that?

You can be sure the big Dick pursued a much different line of reasoning. “Well, I guess that makes me about 186 and 2. I drive right well when I’m tanked up”. And that, friends, was that. Not for him the paralysis of the conscience-stricken. Not for him the wishy-washy feel-good hand-waving of atonement. No indeed! He had a job to do, and he’s doing it. Shouldn’t we all be doing our jobs?

Too too many here among us today start at a deficit, as the victims of a Liberal Arts education. Too many have sworn to learn from the mistakes of the past and promised never to become like Alexander the Great, like Stalin, like Hitler. And that’s all well and good. But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water friends.

It’s all very well to say you’ll never be like old Shicklegruber, for there are many facets to the man’s personality that were odious and undesirable – His fashion sense, his absurd vegetarianism. But look also at what made him an effective leader. His total lack of shame was little short of a miracle. He was a tiny little dumpling of a man – an ugly, surly drunk with a bad mustache. He had nothing to live for, but he did it all. And why? Because he had no shame.

But how can Mr. Hitler’s better qualities help us today? How can we benefit from his example? Not with your petty provincial code of silence for one thing. Shame must not be fought in silence friends. Not in silence, nor quiet contemplation in a hidden monastery. Not in isolation or at a remove from the world. You must fight this fire with fire my friends! Every time you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar, you just take some more cookies. After all, you deserve them!

(blackout)

Current Work and Con-Volution Schedule 2016

Today’s current work is the cover I did for Con-Volution‘s program book.

I’m Artist Guest of Honor this year! My convention schedule is below.

c

Con-Volution 2016 - The Age of Monsters! September 30-October 2

Publishing Art: A Whole Different Game

Friday 15:00 – 16:30, Parlor 2021 (Hyatt Regency SFO)

Our panelists will share the ways in which publishing art, and publicizing yourself as an artist, can be so very different from what most people think when they say “publishing”.

Lee Moyer, Yarewe, Maia B W Sanders, Daniel Cortopassi, JC Arkham (M)

 

Guests’ Professional Social Hour

Friday 18:00 – 19:00, Sequoia B (Hyatt Regency SFO)

For our Convention Guests and Presenters- come join other Guests and Pros in the related genre fields for some introductions, networking, and connecting for another great convention weekend.

Warlock aka ChairMonster (M), Anne Bishop, Lee Moyer, Lord Blood Rah, Zoë Moss, Kelly Swails, Lex Rudd, August Ragone

 

On & Off the Page

Saturday 10:00 – 11:30, Parlor 2104 (Hyatt Regency SFO)

What you place in a scene on your canvas around your main focal point can sometimes be just as important, if not moreso. Talk layout and what to show, and sometimes NOT show, with professional artists.

Lee Moyer, Daniel Cortopassi, JC Arkham (M), Zoë Moss, Maurine Starkey

 

Guest of Honor Interview: Lee Moyer

Saturday 12:00 – 13:30, SandPebble B (Hyatt Regency SFO)

Join our Toastmaster Lord Blood Rah as he asks artist Lee Moyer all the questions you always wanted to hear, and enjoy a visual presentation from Lee of some of his favorite works!

Lord Blood Rah (M), Lee Moyer

 

How Cthulu Became Cuddly?

Saturday 17:00 – 18:30, SandPebble B (Hyatt Regency SFO)

How did the most terrifying beings of our imagination become cuddly plushies, love interests, and punchlines? We’ll look at the intersection of horror and humor, and whether they enhance or deface the genre.

Deborah J. Ross, Ms. Jennifer Carson, Laurel Anne Hill, Lee Moyer (M)

 

GOH Patron Brunch

Sunday 10:00 – 11:30, Parlor 2104 (Hyatt Regency SFO)

Brunch with the Guests of Honor and Featured Guests, for the Patron attendees.

Warlock aka ChairMonster (M), Anne Bishop, Lee Moyer, Zoë Moss, Kelly Swails, August Ragone, Lex Rudd, Lord Blood Rah

 

The Ever-Evolving Field of Self-Publishing as an Author

Sunday 12:00 – 13:30, SandPebble C (Hyatt Regency SFO)

As more and more authors find that self-publishing is their preferred method, learn from those who are walking that road where to avoid the pitfalls, and what you’ll need to do to really be prepared!

Steven Savage, R.L. King, Mark Gelineau, Melissa Snark (M), Lee Moyer

 

Closing Ceremonies

Sunday 15:30 – 16:00, SandPebble B (Hyatt Regency SFO)

Now’s the time we say goodbye to all our monster friends!  It’s the end of the weekend, so we’re going to gather one more time to say thank you to our fabulous guests, and to all our attending monsters and monster admirers- for making it an awesome convention!

Warlock aka ChairMonster (M), Lord Blood Rah, Lee Moyer, Anne Bishop, Zoë Moss, Lex Rudd, Kelly Swails, August Ragone

Theatrical Thursday

Theatre poster of the week, Gypsy. Book by Arthur Laurents. Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
Music by Jule Styne.

gypsy9

No Shame Theatre post of the week.

Host and Hostess

Cast

Hostess – An effectively beautiful but stern Human Resources Director

Frieda – A scared minimum wage employee.

Bob – The Alpha and the Omega of religious retailing.

Dwayne – Server of delicious snack treats. Not the sharpest pencil in the box…

(A gathering of nametag-wearing employees in a large auditorium. Dwayne is serving cut-up chocolate cookies from a large tray throughout. The Hostess stands in the middle of the room. The ceiling lights are at 50%, and there is no spotlight on the “TV window”)

Hostess: Welcome coworkers! Please sit down and make yourselves comfortable. I realize that this big Easter meeting is unprecedented and so – to make you feel more at home – I will take a question from the audience. (looks all around the room, before seeing a woman in the back of the auditorium) Yes? (squints to read name tag) Frieda. What can I help you with dear?

Frieda: (knits her brow and speaks tentatively) Um…

Hostess: No need to be shy here, Frieda. You’re among friends. (big corporate smile. Sweeping gesture indicates everyone in the room.)

Frieda: Well, what I’d like to ask is this. (nervous pause) Are we in some kind of trouble?

Hostess: Heavens no, Frieda. I’d say quite the reverse in fact. I think you’ll find this gathering quite rewarding. Here, I’ll show you. Let’s begin, shall we? (Hostess holds out the remote control, and presses a button).

(lights down in Room, Up on the “TV Window”)

Bob: (appears in the “TV window”) Friends. (smiles beatifically)

If you are seeing this video tape, it will mean that I have died and gone to join ol’ Walt in Heaven’s rosy embrace. But don’t despair. My life was blessed. I got to meet a great many of you, the Bobsmart and Bob’s Club faithful, before I died. And I’m here now to tell you, you few, you precious few hundred who are viewing this tape today, that you are more important to me and to the world than you’ve ever dared imagine.

Despite my past words to the contrary, and your managers glowing reports, you too often think of yourselves as mere employees, as wait staff who stand for long hours on cold concrete floors serving sample hors d’oeuvres to a public who doesn’t appreciate your service.

Dear friends, I am here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. You are special! You have what others today can only dream of. No, I’m not talking about a job…I’m talking about a vocation. A calling. I’ve called you here as my representatives- not merely to represent me in a passive or servile way. Oh, no dear friends. You are here in the very heart of my sacred ministry.

You have passed every test – great and small – that I have set before you. You have been patient in the face of the blind and callous mass of pagan humanity. You have signed the vow of secrecy. You have not missed one single day of work in a four month period preceding this talk. You do not speak in a derogatory or salacious manner. You are model citizens and excellent servers, but more than that- You are my Apostles friends.

Yes, you heard me right- Apostles. And I want to thank you for that.

Every day you have walked the holy aisles of my meeting houses, every time you have served my flock – whether you served them Tex Orton’s Mild Picante Sauce or Bobby Jo Jittmeyers’s Deep Fried Pork Cracklins – you have delivered! And now, now it’s time for you to know the tru—

(Bob freezes in the middle of the “oo” sound” as Hostess pauses the tape.)

Hostess: (interrupting, moving in front of the TV. Speaks soothingly) Now see there… Bob has placed his faith in you. Is there anyone here who feels unworthy of Bob’s love? Is there anyone here who would like to leave now to go back to their duties? (pause) No? Very well then, let’s continue…

(Hostess presses the play button, and backs away from the TV reverently.)

Bob: (continuing from before) …uth.

Friends, I’m talking about the Eucharist- the sacred ritual through which the Blood and Body of Christ are given to the members of the church. In ancient times this was only a metaphor- a beautiful metaphor. But today… Today things are different. In today’s world, a mere metaphor will no longer suffice. The world needs an honest-to-God Eucharist!

And through the miracle of Genetically Modified Foods, that’s what you have been bestowing upon the masses- the membership of My Holy Bob’s Clubs throughout the world. You and all those members I welcome through my doors are now of the body, of my body.

Yes, you heard me right. I’ve had my own genetic material put in everything we sell exclusively here at Bob’s Club: from Cousin Kate’s Home-Baked Ham to the very Heavenly Chocolate Whammies you have been eating here today.

Welcome to my body, you precious Apostles! Amen!

(lights out in the “TV Window”, lights up full in room.)

Hostess: (turns off TV, chews and swallows audibly) Amen! You are truly the blessed my brothers and sisters. Go with Bob, for he is the Light and the Way!

Dwayne: (milling around) Anybody want more o’ the Body? (pause) He’s delicious…

(lights fade out)

Theatrical Thursday

Theatre poster of the week, Berlioz Romeo & JulietFrom Michael Bartlett’s House of Last Things.

berliozbigtall

 

No Shame Theatre post of the week.

SIN

(lights up full)

Friends, what’s so deadly about the Seven Deadly Sins?

Let’s break that problem down, by addressing the sins by name.

Who can tell me what those sins are? Don’t be shy now. I won’t bite.

Lust! Yes, sir!

Well, Lust is the first thing on the minds of some of us here today. And why not?

Lust is a simple desire for pleasure, for gratification of our senses, especially of a sexual nature. So it is written, and so indeed I believe it is. So, I ask you congregation, what’s wrong with that? Did not the good lord above grant to us five senses? How many among you really know the last time you smelled something of the divine? When you last tasted something sublime? When you touched the thigh of a… ahem. Well, it is perfectly human to feel such yearnings, and to have them fulfilled, is it not? We are but creatures of flesh and blood as the Lord himself made us, and yet the desire for sensual attainment is listed here as first among seven “deadly” sins. Now who can name me another one?

Pride, yes indeed – A sense of one’s own dignity and worth I believe it is. Is that wrong somehow? Should we be meek and mild and easily brought to heel by any old tin-plated, un-elected despot? A tsar? A pope? An Imam?

Anger, yes. Mighty Anger – A righteous and important emotion. Without anger, nothing ever changes. This great country would not exist but for righteous anger. There would have been no historical Tea party in Boston, no Declaration of Independence. No Little Big Horn.

Covetousness. Without coveting things, well… We’d never buy anything we didn’t need. Imagine! Never again an impulse buy in the express lane at the Piggly Wiggly, or at the day-after-Thanksgiving everything-must-go bonanza! Wouldn’t this be just another impoverished third world country without covetousness? I think it would.

Are you getting the same impression I am from this list of so-called “Deadly Sins”? That perhaps – just perhaps – we in the church have been… How shall I put this? Wrong?

Perhaps the emphasis should never have been on these so-called Sins, but instead on the word Deadly. There’s nothing in this world that leads to Death… like Life. Are you with me here people? And if these so-called Sins are the hallmarks of living rich and free and sexually satisfied, well, I’ve got to say I’m all for them. Aren’t you?

The only thing that’s wrong with these “sins” lies in their constancy. Sloth and Gluttony are fine, even desirable. You’ve just got to get into the correct rhythm. Too much of a good sin, now that’s a problem. Too little of a sin, well – that’s not desirable either, is it?

If more of our workaholic parishioners could be bothered with a little bit of Sunday Sloth, wouldn’t they be better off? If the anorexics among us – those little engines of willpower gone wrong – would just eat a sandwich or a saltine occasionally. It’s neither Vanity nor Gluttony you need to beware of; it’s too much of one at the expense of the other.

Seize the Day people! There’s only so much eating and drinking and vanity and righteous pride and fornicating that this holy day can hold. I say – Get down with your bad selves, and to those selves be true!

(blackout)

 

T-shirts and Apparel

banner-palatino-944-pixelsWhen people ask if my designs are available on t-shirts or apparel, I have historically felt somewhat overwhelmed – where does one even begin? What images? How many? What in my vasty archive do people want to wear, not merely look at?

Venetia, having run an online store for many years, suggested NOT filling our house with all the stock of merchandise that she lived with when she was running The Tinker’s Packs and Worldbuilder’s in Wisconsin. Which means fulfillment through an online source and print-on-demand rather than handling it all ourselves. After looking through numerous sites we decided to go with Redbubble.

The shirts originally designed for Ambercon NW seemed the most obvious first step. And while on the topic of games, the illustrations for 13th Age done with the marvelous Aaron McConnell seemed an excellent Phase 2. Are there things you would like to see as Phase 3? If so, please let me know! It is an age of miracles and wonders and with proper information, who knows what we may achieve!

To view and purchase t-shirts please visit Redbubble through my website: http://www.leemoyer.com/store

greatgoldwyrm

Theatrical Thursday

Theatre poster of the week, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile.

MurderOnTheNile

No Shame Theatre post of the week.

A Feeling of Death

(lights up slowly)

 I get a strong feeling of death here.

This is your roommate on drugs – In the middle of a cemetery.

But like what if this isn’t the end? What if there’s more? But there’s no David Bowie there? What if he stayed behind? What then? What if he… you know what I’m saying…

This is your roommate still on drugs.

The Egyptians. Ah. They knew all about the afterlife. People put too much emphasis on the whole pulling-the-brains-out-through-the-nose thing… I mean look at the quality of those Mummies! That was craftsmanship!

This is your roommate talking about his great passion- Ancient Egypt. Sitting on a fraying caned chair painted that hideous avocado that had been so popular in the 70’s. Is he on drugs? Maybe, but when it comes to ancient Egypt, you can never tell.

Your roommate Jerry is high of voice and nervous of manner– excitable. You’re not sure the drugs are a good thing. The dirty brown bong water mildewing his shag carpet surely isn’t a good thing. His new boyfriend is definitely not a good thing – and “thing” is really the only word that seems to fit. And his family – they’re worst of all. They hide their epic ignorance behind a thin Southern veneer of hatred and bigotry. When he lived at home his family – especially his Mother – were mean to him all the time. And you don’t want to be mean, not to Jerry. He is mean enough to himself. He’s is a fine, caring, sensitive person and he takes abuse personally – not that his friends care. He’s so much fun to hang out with that they make him their own sort of whipping boy. And he takes it all in with a bittersweet smile, happy of their attention. He’s as sweet a person as ever there was…

And if he uses illicit substances from time to time, so what? If he lets himself be mistreated by others, well that’s just his way. If he wishes for a better relationship with his parents, well who doesn’t? He’s going to inherit the earth after all. You know he is.

And if he’s taking risks with sex and drugs, well… what are you going to do about it? Are you going to sit him down and have a talk? Are you going to talk some sense into the man? Tell him how much you care? Tell him that he’s going to inherit the Earth?

Is that what you’ll do?

That’s what I did. And then, in a way, I inherited the Earth.

It wasn’t supposed to be like that. I’d convinced Jerry that he needed to be treated better and that a change of scene could only help. Jerry and I both left, but we went to separate places. He eventually returned to the house where we’d lived, and to the same destructive friends and behavior. I never did.

I saw him seldom in the year that followed.

I saw him once in the hospital. He was his usual jolly pixilated self, the only difference was his hair. I told him he looked good bald, and he did. Like an adult for the first time- shorn of golden ringlets of his youth. He spoke of his friends, the ones who’d been so helpful. The ones who didn’t sit him down and tell him he’d fucked up and that things would have to change. That he deserved better, that we both did.

He spoke of the nurses. So great, so loving, so unlike his own family. So supportive of the dying – and that was him – the dying. They understood him and made his days better. At last, the perfect roommates… But the best roommates never last.

I went back to see him once more, while I still could. It was evening and I went alone. The nurse checked on him and told me that he was asleep. Then she whispered that he was really awake. Did I want to see him?

Did I want to see him? Yes.

Did he want to see me? That was the real question. Did he want to see me?

The one who knew it didn’t have to be this way. The one who told him so. The one he’d disappoint by dying. No. He didn’t want to see me.

I handed the Nurse a small golden box I’d brought and waited quietly while she passed it to him. I waited to hear him open it. I waited to see if he’d call for me then. He didn’t. I walked quietly away and never saw him again.

(long pause)

I get a strong feeling of death here.

This is your roommate’s urn.

The Egyptians. Ah. They knew all about the afterlife.

These are your roommate’s ashes.

I didn’t know what it was. But he had it with him in the bed. He was holdin’ onto it tight at the end. I wanted to meet you and thank you for that. You did make it?

This is your roommate’s mother. The woman you’ve never met. The woman who never got it, who never understood, who never loved her son.

You tell her that it’s called an ankh. It’s a symbol that the ancient Egyptians used to represent life. You made it out of clay and painted it in gold. You tied a purple ribbon through it and put it in a golden box. You were so sorry for her loss. You felt sure it was her loss.

Well, when we put Jerry’s body in the fire, we put your gift in with him. Is that alright?

Is that alright?

(blackout)

New Mexico Adventures

We had a wonderful experience of New Mexico in the summer. Cool breezes, rolling thunderstorms, sudden downpours, and glorious sunsets.

Our journey was delayed at the car rental by a rather awful woman who tried to convince us that the car Venetia had booked for $142 was actually going to cost $333. Venetia countered this by canceling the whole reservation and booking a new one at the rental place at the next counter.  For $46. Mad Internet skills and Costco travel for the win!

We set off into the beautiful clear morning to my friend Dawn Wilson‘s home north of Albuquerque. I hadn’t seen her or her son Max (now a towering EMT and photographer) since they’d lived in Livermore, California during the big quake, decades back. Her large adobe house, surrounded by cacti and low brush, was impeccably stylish and beautiful. Venetia spent much of the time while we talked examining every single piece in Dawn’s mineral and stone bookshelf. Afterwards, Dawn showed us some of her wonderful jewelry, drawing and painting. We’ll do an entire separate blog about Dawn’s work sometime soon, but suffice to say it was more sublime than ever, and that we’re coming home with one of her very best pictures.

DawnThe lunch that followed was fantastic, exactly what each of us needed. Afterward we drove north through New Mexico talking and admiring the clouds. Meow Wolf and the House of Eternal Return was our first goal and we reached it just about at 1pm.

Meow2Neither Venetia nor I knew much about it other that it was an interactive art installation and that it came highly recommended. While I had thoughts as to what we might see, and how I would approach the creation of such a place, the actual experience (with so many other people from so many different backgrounds) was always surprising and delightful.

MeowWolfWe recommend it highly, but would hate to say too much more lest we spoil it. That said, major trigger warnings for anyone who grew up in an apocalyptic cult with a paranoid conspiracist father!

We took a break around 3pm when Venetia had a panic attack and checked in to our B&B. We arrived just before the heaviest downpour of rain and thunder, and Venetia curled up in the window seat with the local therapy cat.

Meow1After the requisite time for recovery, we headed back into the fray!

Meow3We finished up at Meow Wolf just before closing and headed to Santa Fe Plaza to get the lay of the land and do a little window-shopping (this proved a funny idea after-hours as so much expensive jewelry had been removed from the shop windows). We walked the labyrinth in front of the mission and were treated to an unbelievable sunset, replete with bright pinks and crisp glowing rim light. At twilight we headed up into the mountain east of town to Ten Thousands Waves for a splendid dinner – miso soup (Venetia’s ideal comfort food), steak and… amazing pickles. We well understood why the chef had been a James Beard ward nominee.  A perfect meal in a beautiful setting. Then back to the beautiful B&B to soak in the giant bathtub. What a day!

NeighborTuesday started gently (am I finally learning how to relax on vacation, or is the altitude simply too much?) Between binge-watching that season of Game of Thrones and not visiting every single museum in the city, this trip is the most mellow we’ve enjoyed in years. We googled a list of thrift stores in town and set out after breakfast. The first was out-of-business, the second – a Goodwill – was the same as any Goodwill in the US (save perhaps for the number of bright yellow shoes and full sets of ‘Left Behind’ books), the third featured a beautiful lounge jacket for Venetia amid its titanic furniture, but it was with the fourth, ‘Double Take’, that took the biscuit in its enormity and ridiculousness. When we admired the lovely dress just inside the door, we were instantly informed as to its important luxury designer provenance. Turns out that that corner of the building that was all brand names, but the store went on forever – a veritable TARDIS of questionable commerce. As we travelled clockwise through the madness, we passed through the jewelry zone, the cowboy boots, the leather jackets, and the unbranded clothing, before heading upstairs for the overpriced art and furniture. Amid this melange, I was astonished to see something familiar on the stairs – the work of fantasy artist Alicia Austin – a beautiful watercolor showing a Native American man painting birds to give them their colors. The upstairs was large enough to host Johnny Cash in one area and a collection of flaming Disco hits revolving on an ancient record-player in another.

While we were in the neighborhood, we lunched at Tomisina’s – Venetia concluded hers with the  spoonfuls of honey necessary to counteract their flavorful (but very-hot) chilis. As we walked around the block to check out the John Cocteau Theatre, we encountered a gorgeous mural of two dragons putting the Tromp in Tromp L’oiel as they broke out of the building. Afterwards, we went back downtown to the Plaza. Much (if not most) of the jewelry was…. well, let’s call it “ostentatious”. But here and there amid the appalling displays of wealth and excess there shone a piece where the artist’s own sensibilities showed through. Our favorite shop was Jett Jewelry – very modern but so simple and elegant.

We were repeatedly bemused by how many people loved and commented on Venetia’s shiny acrylic laser-cut unicorn earrings (by Geek Star Costuming! Check them out!) – especially when we were perusing the most expensive and ostentatious jewelry stores in Santa Fe.

We encountered not just “Buffalo Turquoise” (white stones, set in traditional Turquoise settings) but also “Boulder Turquoise“, whose traditional blue colors exist in cracks and fissures of larger lighter-colored rocks. These reminded us strongly of the “Matrix Opals” we’d seen in Australia – a wise (and to me, genuinely beautiful) use of stones otherwise not deemed jewelry-grade.

Our return to the Plaza also allowed us to peruse the work that independent artisans sell along the Plaza’s northern edge. Amid the small and comparatively-simple jewelry, the beautiful black-on-black pottery work that I so love was well-represented, as were enormous lapis belts, bracelets, and bolos. Having already overspent my budget on Dawn’s art, buying anything else seemed out of the question, until I saw this piece – simple and stylish in a way none of the other work we’d seen had been. The artist himself, Harvey Chavez, was charming and hard-working – the bracelet in question representing a couple long day’s work.

BraceletHow lucky to have such beauty available for such a reasonable price, transacted instantly by credit card over the Internet.  And how lucky I am to get commissions through email, and to sit comfortably at home and do my work in private, never needing to interact with the public in such a way. While I suspect that the licensure and bureaucracy must be appalling, I am curious as to the scheduling issues involved. Is there seniority at play? Are there fees paid beyond taxes? Is it allocated by means of lottery? Are some seasons vastly preferable? How many artists are allowed to display at a time? How many shift are there per day? Per week? Per year? In a world where exposure matters so much, such arrangements are the crucial.

From the Plaza, we retreated to the B&B where we wrote and napped. As evening fell, we walked out to a local Thrift Shop that benefits animal charities and on to dinner at a restaurant called Paper Dosa that Dawn had recommended. Dosas are wide flat crepes, crunchy on one side and soft on the other. Uttapams are a thicker pancake, embedded with other ingredients. They are made with a mix of rice and lentil flour. They are both delicious and gluten free. We had a lamb dosa, a mushroom uttipam, and a cashew calamari dish that just defies proper description. We had never enjoyed Southern Indian cuisine before, but now that we know how good it is we will seek it out.

PaperDosaDinnerAfter dinner we stopped at a stale and horrible CVS to pick up needed supplies (poster board to protect Dawn’s painting, and tape for the box of books). That night we packed it all up and fell fast asleep. The following morning we arose, ate leftovers for breakfast and hit the highway. Instead of the high-speed route we’d driven north on, we took a windier route through Madrid. The drive was smooth and we arrived back at the airport in plenty of time (a good thing since its signage is as bad as the rest of the airport is good).

For all that we managed, there were many things we missed out on. We especially hope to visit Chaco Canyon and other amazing locations with Dawn when the time comes.

That Right Turn at Albuquerque

It was my great honor to be invited to Bubonicon as their Art Guest of Honor, along with Author Guests of Honor Rachel Caine and David Gerrold, and Joe Lansdale as Toastmaster. If I could travel back in time and tell my sixth-grade-self that I would someday see my name next to Gerrold’s (author of childhood favorite Star Trek episode, The Trouble with Tribbles) I wouldn’t have believed it. And to see our names on a shirt I’d drawn? Truly unbelievable.

Shirt1The flight to Albuquerque was swift – and we admired their tiny (but open and spacious) airport. After checking in to the hotel, we set out on foot seeking a new black shirt (my last was sacrificed to Garnet of the Crystal Gems). We chose among the adjacent 3 malls, and found ourselves in a windowless maze of merchandise – astonished by the incursions nerd culture has made into stores like Hot Topic (Venetia only wished it had happened when she was a teen). We helped a color-blind man pick out a new business shirt in Macy’s and the whole dressing room joined in advising us about the neighborhood and making us feel welcome.

On our way back through the concrete desert (where no one else walks), Venetia dropped her phone. The screen shattered, but all was not lost – for there, across the street, was an Apple Store. We took advantage of our AppleCare+, dropped off her phone and headed to dinner.  Garduño’s made for a delicious welcome, and the sweet corn treat that came with Venetia’s dinner was especially toothsome. After dinner we retrieved her phone – good as new.

Everyone we encountered in Albuquerque was so sweet and friendly – from the workers in the mall to the employees at Trader Joe’s (who gave us the beautiful New Mexico bag we’ve used throughout our trip). After our adventures in retail, we decided the most sensible thing we could do was to binge watch the entire last season of ‘Game of Thrones’. After all, Bubonicon is Santa Fe author George R. R. Martin‘s “home” convention, and we feared accidental spoilers.

We spent most of the next day luxuriating in our hotel room, devouring episode after episode. It was glorious. After a brief break to meet with Caci (one of the convention chairs), and tour of the facility, we returned to find that our room had a new occupant! Venetia’s scream was thankfully less than ear-piercing.

RatThat evening we drove north with Caci and her husband to Patricia Roger’s house for a chili dinner. There we met my longtime Facebook pal Serge Broom and many of the other convention committee members and volunteers. Pat gave us the tour of her wonderfully eccentric houseful of delicious objects (toy robots, faience hippos, and signed photos of so many favorites). Tales were told, and much delicious food eaten. Before we left she presented us with a small podium for displaying books. It would be the first of many delightful acquisitions (the giant skeletal rat not withstanding).

Friday was the first proper day of Bubonicon. But before the show began it was time to take the lay of the land. Geneva Schult drove us north and we took the aerial tram up to Sandia Peak.

Sandia 2SandiaWith no memory card in the camera, we settled for the iPhone. It lasted for most of the morning before becoming impossibly clogged with photos. The trip up was smooth sailing all the way, and beauty abounded – the clouds changed every few minutes, with fog and rain one moment, and bright sun and white clouds the next. Many fat ground squirrels sat languorously on rocks eating. We also saw (and heard) the silhouettes of crows feeding their babies in a tall conifer.

Then, from inside the visitor’s center on the tip-top peak, we looked down and saw the clear highlight of the day – a ringtail (also known as a ringtail cat or miner’s cat, though of course not a member of the cat family at all). I was unable to get a picture but here are some examples we found online:

RingtailsRingtails are nocturnal, so what on earth was this one doing? He or she was on the flat roof of  a small cinderblock building at the head of the ski-lift (the eastern slope of Sandia being a gradual slope that features skiing, not the violent cliff faces of the Rio Grande Rift Valley we’d travelled up), and it appeared to be licking the building. Was there something salty on the roof? We’ll never know.

IMG_4596Back to Bubonicon via Lyft, we moved straight to setting up the art show. It was a breeze – the staff was wonderfully efficient and helpful, and the paperwork templates were so good that Venetia couldn’t stop raving about them.

Later, Joe Lansdale was especially delightful at the opening ceremonies – there’s something profoundly dangerous about East Texas accent when wielded by a life-long pro. Later that night, I moderated a delightfully fractious panel about the ways and means by which the works of HP Lovecraft have become adorable and comedic. The highlight was an incensed panelist railing that the rest of us were “just not doing it right!”.

This segued nicely into the first of the convention’s two charity auctions. We won a first edition of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s ‘The Firebrand’, Sheri Tepper’s ‘Raising the Stones’ for our pal Tracy, and two books by fellow guest Rachel Caine – a fantastic woman who is co-writing with our friend Ann Aguirre. Venetia especially loves Ann’s writing and looks most forward to diving into Rachel’s vasty catalogue. Rachel instantly became a favorite, and her grace under pressure was amazing. Earlier, she’d fallen on the street, bled profusely and sported two black eyes throughout the convention. And to commemorate the occasion her husband Cat had taken photos of her collapse that looked like something from a CSI episode.

By Saturday we had a refrigerator in the room and had done enough shopping at Trader Joe’s that we could dart back to the room between events to eat a healthy lunch and watch the final two episodes of Game of Thrones. Goodness but they were intense! It’s clear they spent a year of production time and much of the season’s budget on that finale.

But our day wasn’t just dudgeon and dragons on the iPad. First, I led a well-attended docent tour of the Art Show – the whole show was full of amazing work in a variety of media and styles – from fractals to oil paint and featured many artists I don’t see nearly enough – from Elizabeth Leggett and Eric Velhagen to David Martin and Nene Thomas. The celadon pottery of Peri Charlifu was especially fine, and later took home a well-earned Best in Show.

My first panel of the day was about the intersection of Mythology and Comics (a.k.a. my happy place). I got to speak about ‘Watchmen’ and Alan Moore’s cunning use of Indian religion to add archetypal heft to otherwise unmoored and largely unappealing Charleston Comics characters, Walt Simonson’s literally epic run on ‘Thor’ and his Norse inspirations, G. Willow Wilson’s creation of a fantastically nuanced Islamic heroine in ‘Ms Marvel’, M. Night Shyamalan’s use of Aztec religion to personify the idea that superheroes are America’s true native religion in  ‘Unbreakable’, the Golem as symbol of the people’s will in ‘The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay’, and why Superman is not really a convincing stand-in for Jesus.

The mass autographing was next, and I sat at my table with the Guests of Honor (as well as George RR Martin, Connie Willis, S.M. Stirling, Stephen R. Donaldson, and Victor Milan, among many others). Watching the lines of people waiting for Joe Lansdale or George RR Martin is a curious feeling – sympathy mixed with happiness for the attendees, and a clear acknowledgement that while fame can be a very mixed blessing, this convention is one of the very best for pros and fans alike.

I signed some books, answered questions about my calendars (yes, I hope for a 2017), and talked a little bit more about myths old and new. I met up with Facebook friend Bethany Sankot who bought my portrait of Bunnicula in the art show and brought me delicious gluten-free cookies (Thanks Bethany!), and best of all hung out with dear friends Jon and Agnes who had come down from Durango just to visit! I hadn’t seen them in more than 2 decades and it was surreal how much and how little had changed. We dined with them before they headed back north. Hopefully we’ll see a lot more of them in the future!

IMG_4256 1Sunday was the truly busy day. First there was a spot of technical trouble as the adapters between iPad and projector failed to work properly (thank heavens for the Cloud!). I squeezed two slide-presentations into an hour (a huge retrospective of my work and the Infamous Bad Book Cover Show). I also served as intermittent auctioneer in the Sunday Auction when I wasn’t moderating a panel on SF tropes through the ages. While I was auctioneering, Venetia scored a signed, numbered, limited Subterranean Press edition of Six-Gun Snow White by Cat Valente and Charles Vess. By the end of the day the only thing we were capable of doing was collapsing into deep sleep for two hours before dinner. We dined with the convention committee in a private room at El Patron and Venetia had her first (and last, sad to say) sopapilla. Gluten really is a problem, but everyone should experience a sopapilla!

Bubonicon was fantastic.
I met so many lovely people, my small gallery of art (and especially my Small Gods) was greatly appreciated. Time simply flew by and the whole show was wonderful. I hope to get back soon!

Swag