Friday, November 21, 2014

My Philcon Schedule (and Apology)


I have just set a record for this blog by missing two posts in a row.  Mea culpa!  (For those unfortunate enough to not have had a Roman Catholic upbringing, that's Latin for my bad.)  The reason for this was a combination of exhaustion and having lots of work to do.  But there is no excuse.

Kind people, I beg your pardon.

Clearly, I should keep a backload of entertaining posts on hand to prevent this sort of thing from ever happening again.  And I promise to create exactly such a backload.  Just as soon as Philcon and Thanksgiving are over.

And speaking of Philcon . . .

The distinguished thing begins in only a few hours.  Here's my schedule:

Fri 7:00 PM in Executive Suite 623 (1 hour)

Fri 10:00 PM in Plaza II (Two) (1 hour)

    [Panelists: Anastasia Klimchynskaya (mod), Bernie Mojzes, Amy Fass,
    Meredith Schwartz, Michael Swanwick]

    Much fantasy fiction seems to concern kings, princes, princesses and
    an occasional guttersnipe on his way up.  What about the rest of
    society?  Where are the fantasies about regular folks

Sat 11:00 AM in Crystal Ballroom Three (1 hour)

    [Panelists: Michael Swanwick (mod), Michael F. Flynn, Tom Purdom,
    Bernie Mojzes, Anna Kashina]

    Is there a fundamental conflict between literary writing and getting
    the science right?  Is it too much to ask that language be used well
    and the realism of hard SF be extended to the characters

Sat 2:00 PM in Autograph Table (1 hour)

Sat 5:00 PM in Plaza IV (Four) (1 hour)

    [Panelists: Michael Swanwick (mod), Jack Hillman, Tom Purdom, Steve Wilson]

    William Patterson's two-volume authorized bio of Robert A. Heinlein
    is surely one of the most important works of SF scholarship in
    recent years. Our panelists will discuss it's strengths and
    limitations and what it tells us about one of the 20th century's
    great figures

Which is a good lineup of panels.  If you're at the con and see me, be sure to say hello.  Unless I killed your cat in a previous life.  Then you should snub me like the cur I was.

Above:  The beautiful Crowne Plaza Cherry Hill Hotel, where Philcon will be held.  Either that or Wawel Cathedral in Krakow.  I always get those two confused.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

My Monday Post

Okay, guys, here's the drill:

I'm tapping out this post from my phone in the Chopin Airport Marriott bar shortly before going to bed.  Five a.m. in the morning, I make my way to Lufthansa, fly to Frankfurt, fly to Philadelphia, am driven home, and then collapse.

Shortly after which, God willing, I will share with you:

1)  A free download of a song Janis Ian and I wrote.

2)  My Philcon schedule, which I received today.


3)  My opinion of the Polish version of Buffalo wings.

Any one of these would be worth tuning in for. Combined with the suspenseful question of whether I'll be able to rise up from the floor to post?



Saturday, November 15, 2014

Back to the Old Salt mines


It's been quite a month for racking up World Heritage Sites.  A few weeks ago, I visited the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, and the Aztec Ruins -- which is actually a Pueblo ruin, but never mind that.  Here in Poland, we've seen Krakow Historic Center, Warsaw Historic Center, and -- just now --the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

Wieliczka Salt Mine gets over a million visitors a year.  Its first shaft was sunk in the 13th century, and it was in continuous operation until mining ceased in 2007. (They still pump out brine and produce salt by evaporation, in part because the water must be removed to make tourism viable anyway.). The hours-long tour takes the curious down two levels, out of nine, takes in several remarkable caverns that are artifacts of mining, along with a few pretty cheesy attractions, culminating in the astonishing chapel which miners dug out the salt and decorated largely with their own carvings.

Copernicus visited the mine, as did Goethe.  And now so have (among, as I said, over a million others a year) I.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Lady With an Ermine


Out of infinity she looms, more alive than the living.  She will not meet our eyes, this silent daughter of time, but gazes away, toward something worthy of her regard.  Nor will she share her thoughts.  Come Judgment Day we will know no more of them than we do now.

In the lady's arms is an ermine, which she touches affectionately, but does not seek to control.  She and it have freely chosen each other's company.

Her face holds the faintest of smiles.

Not for us.

And this morning . . . 

I saw Leonardo da Vinci's Lady with an Ermine.  I hope your day was happy too.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Krakow After Dark


The world is turning on its hinges, all the leaves have fallen, and darkness falls in the afternoon.  If you're in Poland, anyway.  Your autumn may well differ.

A day mainly occupied with crossing the nation by train, deposited me at the heart of this lovely city, only a couple of blocks from the oldest part of town.   I've only spent a few hours wandering about, but already I can safely say that:

1. Hotel Maltanski is a lovely place to stay.  I'd recommend it to anyone physically capable of climbing one flight of stairs. (There is no elevator.)

2.  The city is full of great restaurants.  Well... I've only looked at the menus of a dozen or two and eaten at one, but they all looked good and the one tasted great, so statistically, it seems a good bet.  Foodie Tip:  When in Poland, order Polish food.  What are the odds you're going to find better elsewhere?

3.  The pierogies here are terrific.  (See item 2)

4.  There's a lot of amber for sale here.  I mean, cubic vulgarwordloads of it.  Shop after shop and, in the Cloth Hall, stand after stand, of amber in every plausible shade from deepest burgundy to palest yellow.  Some of it small, most of it pretty damn big, and a significant percentage simply ridiculous.  If you have too much money and like your jewelry LARGE, you're a fool to be living anywhere but here.

5.  I'm really, really tired, and even more looking forward to tomorrow.

'Night, all.

Above:  no image tonight becauseI'm having troubles uploading images.  I'll try again here tomorrow.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

On To Krakow!

"Oh, Krakow is so beautiful."

"You have to see Krakow!"

"Yes!  Krakow!  I'm so glad you'll see it."

These are the kind of things people say about Krakow in Warsaw!  So I expect we'll have a great time there.  Right now, though, we have to finish breakfast, pack, check out, take the train, check into a new hotel, and wander about, looking at things.  So it will be a while before today's update.

Eight hours, maybe?  See you then!