blogworld and more reviews

I have to agree with Philip: I hate Las Vegas.

The BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas was tons of fun. My liver is fine, but my heart is a little sad for having to say goodbye to my fellow Blogcritics editors until next time. It was wonderful to meet everyone and to get a chance to just be with each other. It’s amazing how well such a diverse group of people can get along.

We definitely had one of the best booths there, thanks in part to the great swag, but also because of who was staffing it. Several people commented that we were more warm and friendly than the folks at other booths, and Pete from the Planetary Group kept coming back just to hang out because he enjoyed being with us. I think we will have quite a few new writers joining soon, particularly now that they know we do critical reviews of all sorts of stuff, not just blogs.

The panel I was on was fun and informative, and I think in the end, beneficial to us because it helped us define what makes for a good review for a variety of styles and formats. I wish we could have had a larger audience, but all things considered, we did pretty well. I understand we had good representation on several other panels, and there were several folks who stopped by the booth after hearing one of our Politics section editors speak on a political panel.

The only down side to the whole event was the location. I’d never been to Las Vegas before (besides the 30min or so I spent in the airport on a layover one time), so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Now that I know, I’m fairly certain that the only thing that would get me to go back would be my Blogcritics pals or some other conference.

Anyway. Here are some reviews I’ve written recently for BC Magazine:

Wishing ChairFolk and Roll: Live in Austin [full review]

[This album] has a little bit of something for everyone. From newer arrangements of old favorites to brand new songs, the album straddles the line between being a best-of compilation and something fresh and different.

The Best of the Colbert Report [full review]

This collection is sure to please fans, although some will be disappointed that even with nearly three hours of content, a few of their favorite segments will have been left out of the collection. For viewers who have not yet caught on to the show, this collection is a good introduction; however, I recommend watching it only a little at a time in order to build up a tolerance.

Jim Bianco / Jenny Owen Youngs / Sean Hayes – High Dive – Seattle, WA – 11/12/2007 [full review]

Prior to the concert, I had not listened to any of the acts, and had only a passing familiarity with their names. Probably not the best example of research, but I went with an open mind and low expectations. In some cases, those expectations were exceeded far beyond my imagination, and in others, not so much.

hangin’ with the hipsters

Indie rock concert pleases the large crowd in Seattle.

My review of the Rilo Kiley show in Seattle last Saturday has been published on Blogcritics.org. I had an extra ticket from the publicist, but I could not find anyone to go with me. I even tried trading it for a place to crash afterwards via CouchSurfing.com, but no dice. So, I ended up having to do the two hour drive home alone, since I didn’t have the cash for a motel room (even the Motel 6 are $50+ per night). This meant leaving the concert at midnight when I was starting to worry I’d fall asleep on the road.

My seat afforded me a relatively head-free sightline to the stage, as well as a good vantage point for people-watching. Most of the audience members were in their 20s, with a small minority of older folks. I suspect that the start time had an effect on the demographic more so than the music genre.

By the time I got to Seattle, I had decided to give my extra ticket to someone who wasn’t able to get one before the show sold out. Unfortunately, I later discovered that the nice young man hanging out in front of the venue who needed “just one ticket” was actually a scalper. D’oh.

#18

A fun romp through alternate history.

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

I hadn’t planned on reading another book on my trip, so I had nothing for the return flight. In fact, I have a pile of podcast episodes to catch up on, so I figured I’d listen to them on the way home. However, after my time warp experience with reading on the flight out, I decided to find a book while in the Atlanta airport. Anything that will make the four hour flight to Seattle more tolerable is worth seeking out.

I had almost given up in my search when I spotted a Penguin paperback edition of The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. I have a copy of this in hardcover, but I haven’t read it yet. I decided that buying a second copy was better than the torture of sitting bored out of my mind in a cramped space for four hours. After reading it, my only complaint is that it was too short. By the time I finished, I still had an hour and a half to go before we landed. Maybe next time I won’t start reading a half an hour before the boarding process begins.

As for the book itself, I felt a bit ignorant at times. I’ve read Jane Eyre and a handful of the other classics referenced in the story, but often I felt as though something would have more significance if I knew the other works better than I do. Still, quite a fun romp through alternate history!

northwest airlines is going down

Or, why I think Northwest Airlines is going to fold in the next year if they don’t get their act together.

Or, why I think Northwest Airlines is going to fold in the next year if they don’t get their act together.

My parents were told late last week that their original flight from Dayton (Ohio) to Seattle through Minneapolis was canceled and they were re-booked on a flight through Detroit instead. This flight was scheduled to leave earlier than the original one, so they booked a hotel room in Dayton the night before with a 4am wake-up to get to the airport in time.

Their day began with a 2am fire alarm in the hotel that didn’t get shut off for an hour. This is the only screw-up of the day that is not Northwest Airlines’ fault. After the alarm was turned off, they decided to go ahead and stay up, rather than trying to sleep for another hour or so.

They arrived at the airport in plenty of time for their flight, and everything seems to be okay until they are on the plane, which sat for an hour waiting for mechanics to fix a problem. Finally, everyone was told to get off the plane and go stand in line at the other end of the airport where they would be re-booked on different flights.

Except that the flight they were supposed to be on was never officially canceled in the computer system, so no one could get re-booked. On top of that, even when the customers could get re-booked, both printers at that station were broken. Neither of the airline employees at the counter knew what was going on with the flight. In fact, they told the people in line to call some numbers to see if they could find out what was happening. At no point did any management person come down and explain anything or try to fix the problems.

After several hours of standing in line, my parents were told that the best they could get was a United flight that would arrive in Seattle tomorrow night, and they would still be returning on Northwest Tuesday afternoon. They declined and went home.

Here’s the rub: Their original flight through Minneapolis was not canceled at all. It left on time while they were standing in line. And, they weren’t the only ones on the Dayton-Detroit-Seattle flight who had been told the Dayton-Minneapolis-Seattle flight was canceled and had been re-booked through Detroit.

Along with the “mechanical problems” that delayed my Northwest Airlines flights in December, this is the reason why I think the airline is going down and will likely fold in the next year if they don’t get their act together.

jonathan coulton – seattle, wa – 2/24/07

Geek rock superstar gets a warm reception in Seattle.

Cursing the parking situation in downtown Ballard, my friend and I arrived at the Tractor Tavern a few minutes before Jonathan Coulton's set was supposed to begin. Thankfully he did not hit the stage until ten minutes after the start time, which gave us time to visit the facilities and secure seating.

The small venue was packed, and all of the seats were claimed, but we located to stools and re-positioned them on the other side of a post, thus allowing us to actually see the stage. Other latecomers were not so fortunate, and by the time the show began, the standing-room only overflow area was filled with concertgoers straining to see the stage over the heads of those in front of them.

Continue reading “jonathan coulton – seattle, wa – 2/24/07”

ala midwinter seattle day one

How much swag is too much swag?

I arrived in Seattle yesterday around noon, thankfully without incident. I opted for taking the shuttle rather than taking my chances that the pass would be okay both going and returning. Plus there’s the whole finding and affording parking in downtown Seattle.

After getting checked into my hotel room, I went up to the convention center and picket up my badge holder and packet. ALA has got this conference thing down to a science, it seems. I haven’t been to an ALA conference since 2002, and I had forgotten how organized it is. The signage is very helpful and well placed.

My first official event was the Innovative Users Group meeting. The first part was all about the upcoming IUG meeting in Chicago, which I’m not attending, so it wasn’t of much interest. I took that time to make use of the free wifi and catch up on email. After that, Dinah Sanders did a presentation about III’s upcoming “discovery services platform” called Encore. It looks really good – lots of Library/Web 2.0 widgets done in a helpful and tasteful way. It’s not meant to be a replacement for the OPAC, just a different layer for delivering resources for basic information needs. Seems like something public and undergraduate libraries would find very useful, if they can afford to purchase the product. Knowing the pricing that tends to come with these things, it may take a while for it to catch on, no matter how cool (and useful) it may be.

After that, I attended the author’s forum. It featured three science fiction and fantasy authors talking about the rise of sf/f since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. They all agreed that the premise of the talk is a bit off, since sf/f was already on the rise when that happened, but that world events leading to the attacks and the rise in popularity of sf/f are linked. Two good reasons are that sf/f presents a relatively non-threatening way of discussing current problems and possible solutions, and that readers are able to escape (in a good way) for a little while to a world where at some point there will be a resolution of something. Of course, depending on the series and author (*cough*Robert Jordan*cough*) that resolution may not come at the end of the book.

The grand opening of the vendor hall followed the author’s forum. This was yet another ALA conference — specifically ALA midwinter conference — event that I was not prepared for. Apparently this is a free-for-all get as much swag as you can while chowing down on the finger food event. I now know to leave the laptop in my room along with my heavy winter coat before embarking on that quest. By the time my group was ready to go to dinner, I was dragging from the weight in my bag, and I really didn’t take much of the swag.

ALA gets something right

There will be free wireless access in the conference center for ALA Midwinter attendees. Of course, being in Seattle, it would be simple to find a café with free wireless if one needed it.

There will be free wireless access in the conference center for ALA Midwinter attendees. Of course, being in Seattle, it would be simple to find a café with free wireless if one needed it.

ALA Midwinter wiki

Coolness. ALA Midwinter has a wiki! I’ve already added one item about Seattle. For some reason, this wiki is the tipping point that has allowed me to become excited and looking forward to Midwinter. I haven’t looked forward to an ALA conference since my first and only one in 2002. I guess I finally drank … Continue reading “ALA Midwinter wiki”

Coolness. ALA Midwinter has a wiki! I’ve already added one item about Seattle. For some reason, this wiki is the tipping point that has allowed me to become excited and looking forward to Midwinter. I haven’t looked forward to an ALA conference since my first and only one in 2002. I guess I finally drank the koolaid.

frazzled

Some days I wish I only had to work a half-day. Usually when I do work a half-day, I remember why I don’t do it very often. I find myself feeling very rushed and flustered trying to cram in everything I need to cram in before leaving work. Then there is the reason why I … Continue reading “frazzled”

Some days I wish I only had to work a half-day. Usually when I do work a half-day, I remember why I don’t do it very often. I find myself feeling very rushed and flustered trying to cram in everything I need to cram in before leaving work.

Then there is the reason why I am working a half-day. Almost always it’s because I’m going out of town for something, and inevitably I’ve left the packing or the one last errand to be done as soon as I leave work. I end up harried and annoyed with myself because it takes me longer to get it all done than I planned for.

Eventually, I’m in my car and cruising down the interstate just a bit over the speed limit in order to make up for the extra time spent getting ready to go. This time I was heading towards Seattle with forty-eight hours of a local science fiction convention ahead of me.

Foolscap is in its eighth year of existence. The con focuses on flat media, which is mainly books and artwork, as opposed to the more general conventions one usually hears about (ie WorldCon, Dragon*Con, Norwescon, etc.). Each year the con features one author and one artist, and this year it was C. J. Cherryh and Mark Ferrari, respectively. I was not familiar with either of them before attending the con, and they weren’t the reason why I went. I just wanted geek out all weekend with a bunch of people who enjoy reading similar stuff and talking about it.

By the time I found the hotel in Bellevue, got checked in, and parked my car, my brain was nearly fried. I get that way when I travel, and the events listed above didn’t help that much. Dragging my suitcase along behind me, I headed towards the elevators where I saw two older women getting on. Quickening my pace, I was able to get in before the doors shut.

I notice they were both wearing name tags, and in my befuddled state, I asked the one standing directly across from me if she knew where the registration desk was located. She told me where it was on the first floor, and somehow I managed to retain that information, despite my embarrassment at realizing that I had just asked the Guest of Honor, C. J. Cherryh, for directions.

D’oh.

The next time I go to a con, I’m going to do my homework and make sure I can recognize the GoH’s on sight.