Thursday, August 24, 2006

Last weekend, we headed up to my parent's cabin in northwestern Minnesota for Friday night. The next day, while my parent's took care of the dog, we headed up to Duluth to the Northern Lights bookstore for Alan's book signing. The drive is beautiful with lakes and mixed pine and deciduous forest. We found the bookstore right on Canal Street in the peak downtown tourist area near the lift bridge and the lake walk. For a small store, it packed a lot books in and had a great selection of Great Lakes related and regional materials. I decided to treat myself to a book, although we'd recently hauled two books full from Diversicon, and went around browsing and trading through books. I found the winner, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Rufiz Zafon translated from Spanish by Lucia Graves, on their Booksense Picks shelves. It was a pick back in February when it came out. Despite its satisfying thickness, I blew through it this week. I'm still gathering my thoughts about it and will write more but I highly recommend it. It was kind of a literary mystery set in Barcelona during the 40s and 50s with a great gothic feel and compelling characters.

It was Alan's first visit to Duluth and long overdue. We poked around Duluth a bit before doing part of the North Shore Scenic Drive up to Gooseberry Falls State Park. On the recommendation of one of Alan's co-workers, we stopped for pie at the New Scenic Cafe and, tempted by the menu, ended up eating an early dinner and taking the pie with us. At Gooseberry, we toured the falls and then took the Gooseberry River trail to the lake and Agate Beach. Alan grew up next to Lake Erie, so it was nice to finally be able to show him Lake Superior, which has a quite different feel to it. We headed back in the dark to the cabin and cool sleeping temperatures. The next day we swam, read, ate good food and played with the dog until it was time to go home. After chasing squirrels and chipmunks all weekend, as well as swimming and playing fetch, he was a very tired dog on the drive home.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Very busy, very social couple of weeks passed.

We had a last minute weekend with the families of Haddayr and Karen. Wonderful people. Great discussions. Nice relaxation. Some birthday, ice cream cake goodness for Alan. What more can I say?

Alan got Netflicks from my parents for his birthday. Yay!! Now instead of checking the mail for rejection letters we look for movies. So far we've seen:

Irma Vep which was a strange but compelling movie by the director of the very twisted Demonlover. While both movies had unsatisfying endings, they were worth the trip.
Dog Soldiers which was an interesting twist on the traditional werewolf movie by the writer/director of The Descent. The werewolves were cheesy but the acting was strong (including Kevin McKidd from Rome) and the characters sympathetic.

Up next are Dave Chappelle's Block Party and Walk the Line. Suggestions for movies to add to the queue would be very welcome.

Diversicon was last weekend. We've only been once before two years ago when SP Somtow was guest of honor and Mark Rich was special guest. We missed it last year because we were out of town. This year we had the magnificent Kelly Link as guest of honor and very cool Bryan Thao Worra as special guest. I missed most of the panels due to absent mindedness but also because I was helping out or gabbing with Gavin at the Small Beer Press table. It's a small convention but packs a punch with programming, lots of time to meet and visit with the highlighted guests, and lots of other interesting attendees. Highlights included seeing Lyda glammed up as Tate; stocking up to feed my reading habit with two bags of used books from the dealers room; an affordable live auction with booty including more books and original Mark Rich artwork; a long chat with Eleanor Arnason (check out her new blog here); Bryan Thao Worra's awesome presentation on Laotian mysterious places (see Dark Wisdom #9 for his article on the Plain of Jars) and mythic creatures (toe sucking forest spirits!), music from Mark and Martha as Keg Salad, and a great film discussion with Andrea Hairston that included one of my favorite films, Lonestar, and a new, eye-opening take (to me) on Rush Hour. Andrea will be guest of honor next year, so you'll have to come and ask her about it.

Once again, the past two weeks reminded me how blessed we have been with such a great group of friends and writing/SF community around us. As one of my new co-workers said on the way out the door today, "Peace out, y'all!"