(urth) chicago event

James Wynn crushtv at gmail.com
Tue Mar 20 09:50:44 PDT 2012

Some pictures from the event:






Some things I forgot to mention:

* Neil Gaiman's speech included a full reading of "A Solar Labyrinth".

* During Gene's speech he made a point of calling out a few specific 
people who had come to the event. One of those was Marc Aramini. "Where 
is Marc? Where is he sitting?" We were all in the balcony and Mantis and 
I were waving our hands like maniacs to attract his attention to us.

On 3/19/2012 11:45 AM, James Wynn wrote:
> Okay. Let's see what I can add to what Marc posted:
> This initial ceremonies were instituted in a house that --as Wolfe 
> remarked-- appeared to be the sort of place that you have to use a 
> password just to enter. The performance hall was built around a giant 
> Wurlitzer that could be automatically sunk entirely into the stage 
> floor. The pipes and brass horns surrounded us on all sides. Also it 
> was filled with amazing giant mechanical player organs for the turn of 
> the century (the last one). There was a player bango I saw there too. 
> The house architecture was of the sort that you would expect someone 
> from each event held there would disappear and forced to eternally 
> serve as staff.
> This house was filled with surely every early model of gramophone and 
> other recorded player ever produced prior to 1920. Also lots of art 
> deco furniture, figurines, and stained glass. Also
> Gary K. Wolfe gave the first speech. Gene Wolfe later noted that Gary 
> usually points out that he and Gene are not brothers or even related 
> to which Gene always responds "I'm telling Ma!" Michael Swanwick gave 
> a speech. The Gaiman gave the award, offering a speech that drew a lot 
> from him Guardian article from Wolfe's birthday last year.
> Marc's summary of Wolfe's speech is accurate but I'll give more detail 
> to something he mentioned. He took questions after his speech. Someone 
> shouted out (humorously) was "Where do you get your ideas!" This led 
> Wolfe to answer another common question he gets" "Why do you write?" 
> The answer to this was "So I don't have to explain why I'm not 
> working." And then he told a story about the sale of "Car Sinister" 
> (collected in "Book of Days"/"Castle of Days"). He would do all his 
> writing in the early morning before the distractions of work and kids. 
> In 1969?, they needed money to buy school clothes for their four 
> children, but they didn't really have it. Then he sold the story for 
> $80 (which went a lot further then than it does now). He cashed the 
> check and gave Rosemary four 20s explaining that it was all the money 
> he got from the sale of the story and she now had $20 for each kid. So 
> not long afterwards he's doing so manual repair work around the house 
> and Rosemary came up to him and said "Shouldn't you be writing?"
> Then there was the terrific adaptation of "A Toy Theater" (adapted by 
> /Larry Santoro/). And I think, having seen it, everyone should now 
> agree with me that not only is Stromboli a puppet, but so is the 
> narrator and everyone else. Wolfe is the sole puppeteer. They worked 
> in "Coin Operated Boy" by Amanda Palmer (Neil Gaiman's wife) of "The 
> Dresden Dolls". The actors were tremendous singers as well. The play 
> was accompanied by the Wurlitzer.
> After the play, we had the Wurlitzer performance, in which he also did 
> another rendition of "Coin Operated Boy" which leads me to believe 
> that Wolfe has an especial affection for this song right now, since I 
> know that the organist had asked his family for a favorite song of 
> Gene's that he could perform. It was the only song that appeared to be 
> not part of his usual repertoire.
> Then we proceeded to the building where we ate. This was essentially a 
> barn containing more giant music players. Also, a huge turn of the 
> century circus carrousel. The walls were festooned with vintage movie 
> posters and side show posters. In another room, they had aisle upon 
> aisle of early steam engines. The whole thing was a steam punk dream.
> I sat with Marc and Patrick O'Leary and also Jill Thompson the 
> illustrator. I wish I had googled her at the table because I 
> discovered afterwards that I was a huge fan of hers. I have the entire 
> 80s Elementals series, and the Dead Boy Detective series, and Black 
> Orchid.  And of course of have the "Fables and Reflections" Sandman 
> volume (Wolfe wrote the introduction). Instead, of a friendly 
> conversation with her, I could have had an amazing conversation with her.
> Peter Sagal of NPR's "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" was the master of 
> ceremonies. When I heard this was the case, I thought "Eh...big name 
> and local to Chicago but...." However, it turns out he's a huge SF 
> literature fan. He's one of us. It was totally appropriate. He boosted 
> the "John Carter" movie which made Mantis quite happy because he would 
> ask everyone he met if they saw it and what they thought of it. Mantis 
> is huge Burroughs fan and he was not looking forward to this adaption. 
> He was quite happily surprised. However, he had not noted all the 
> Burroughs references in "The Long Sun/Short Sun" so I was glad to be 
> the first to point them out to him.
> Incidentally, Mantis is about to release a Lexicon Urthus-style book 
> on "The Long Sun" and "The Short Sun."
> David Hartwell gave a speech in which he described why Wolfe is so 
> difficult to edit. He would try to do due diligence as an editor and 
> would say things like "I don't think it's clear why such-and-such." To 
> which Wolfe responds, "Well, you must have only skimmed the book." So 
> Hartwell always reads every manuscript twice before making editing 
> suggestions.
> This lead Patrick O'Leary to recount how Hartwell has once noted that 
> Wolfe had used the exact same word to describe the color of separate 
> women's aureolas. Wolfe's initial response was "But they ARE the same 
> color." But he then conceded that it was a mistake. And, of course, if 
> that had got through, I WOULD be convinced that despite all reason, 
> that WAS the same woman or at least the same breast.
> By, the way, Hartwell's anthologies are absolutely the best IMO. Not 
> just "The Years Best" series. I mean the ones where he gets to pick 
> from all eras to compile stories based on a them. I strongly recommend 
> the two "Masterpieces" books. But he has others that you can almost 
> fill a shelf with and that's exactly what you should do.
> After we ate, we all had to ride the huge vintage carrousel. I was a 
> little worried that I would get off as child or an (even) old(er) man. 
> Aside for horses, it also spinner seats (like the tea cups at 
> Disneyland). And it also had carriages which we assumed was for 
> grandmothers to be able to ride with their kids---until the ride 
> started and we discovered that the carriages teeter wildly left and 
> right through the entire ride. It was probably the most harrowing 
> choice of all.
> It was a disappointment that Rosemary couldn't be there this time due 
> to health reasons. I *think* this is the first event I've been to with 
> Wolfe in which she wasn't there. She is a really sweet person who is 
> obviously crazy about Gene.
> It was great to meet Marc face-to-face after all these years. And Nick 
> and Jensen. It was great to see Mantis and Gene's daughter Teri again. 
> I missed all the the people who couldn't make it. By the way, Teri is 
> now working with Cheeky Frawg books 
> (http://www.cheekyfrawg.com/about.html) which seems devoted to 
> bringing under-recognized literature to e-book format. Check it out.
> J.
> On 3/18/2012 7:13 AM, Marc Aramini wrote:
>> I am at the hotel in Chicago now getting everything ready for my 
>> flight back to Vegas, and I noticed a little computer in the lobby 
>> (my phone is low tech - for calling) so I figured I would give a 
>> brief summary of events.  I will expand more later after I arrive home.
>> AWESOME event.  Valya and the coordinators did a wonderful job 
>> getting together a very interesting and entertaining evening.  The 
>> atmosphere and weather were wonderful, and the estate was amazing, 
>> with the highlight (of the facility) being an 8000 pipe organ that 
>> was masterfully played by their organist, from coin operated boy to 
>> Star Wars.  The Toy Theater story adaptation was perfect for the 
>> setting, and as James Wynn commented, the estate was a steampunk's 
>> dream come true, probably the best way to describe it.
>> I got to meet James Wynn, Michael Andre-Druissi, Nick Lee and his 
>> date, and Jensen and his wife from the list (if they don't all post 
>> actively, they have at least frequented it).  I have probably 
>> mispelled the even names.  I have to admit that a priori in my mind I 
>> harbored the idea that we must be somewhat nerdy, but we are actually 
>> a pretty sharp bunch even when it comes to appearance.  I had never 
>> gone to a con or anything before, and this was well worth it. It was 
>> a much more handsome and dignified group than I expected from the 
>> Urth list, both women and men.  I enjoyed speaking with all of them.
>> Craig, I didn't see your email before I drove up to Vegas and have 
>> not had access to a computer until now, I apologize.  The personal 
>> stories related by Neil Gaiman and Lawrence (was it Sarrantonio?) the 
>> guy who adapted the Toy Theater were profound and touching.  Michael 
>> Swanwick had some great things to say as well, as did David 
>> Hartwell.  Patrick O'Leary and his wife were sitting at my dinner 
>> table with James Wynn, and they were also great.
>> I will try to get some photos online Monday; I still have to fly back.
>> Gene's acceptance speech was hilarious and touching.  It went into 
>> the reason for his style (four kids and a wife hollering if he wanted 
>> bacon while he was trying to write in a small place), his reasons for 
>> writing (easier than repairing stuff around the house), and said he 
>> wanted to make sure to personally insult every friend who came.  He 
>> is a wonderful speaker, and there is a sharpness and energy to him 
>> that makes the years fade when he starts to talk.
>> I will post more later, but it was a truly great evening and one of 
>> the highlights of my life.  Gene has always been a kind and brilliant 
>> man, and he still is.  I really enjoyed getting the chance to meet 
>> everyone there.  I will post more later.  Some pics to come!
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