August 9th, 2009

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

Worldcon Saturday August 8

[Saturday night and most of Sunday my Internets was AWOL, so this is a day late...)

Woke early, looked outside and saw that there was some lovely early morning light. So before 8 AM I was on my feet and up past Place d'Armes and back up to the Place Jacques Cartier, which looked a little like a movie set for an artsy European movie, bright and very empty and waiting for its actors to walk onto the stage. Walked down this narrow streetlet called Rue Des Artistes, and then back up to Rue Notre Dame - and this time the cathedral was open for visitors, so I wandered inside. And it's one of those old quiet dignified churches with lots of stained glass and votive lights flickering below statues and icons and paintings, lots of colour, lots of silence, lots of sanctity. I liked it a lot.

Then it was back down to the Palais, grabbed a coffee and an indeterminate muffin (they had a bunch of clearly different types there but no indication as to what any of them were so it was a Muffin Pot Luck) for breakfast, and then met kylecassidy up in the foyer of the Palais and had my mugshot taken (literally, at first - holding the slip of paper with the model release on it so that he'd know who it was later and then the proper shot. He takes good pictures.

Had the pre-arranged lunch with the SFNovelists gang (the people who were there included catvalente, mindyklasky, Tobias Buckell, Melinda Snodgrass, and I'm pretty sure other people came in and out but the names escape me (sorry, folks...) We discussed films and TV programs and life and writing in general - had a nice veal-and-cranberry pasta meal, followed by a heavenly crème brulee, and then wandered off upstairs and did a bit of writing while waiting for my 3:30 Kaffeeklatsch which was a little bit of a bridge across time as it involved a couple of friends from my different Usenet eras coming together in the same time and the same place and the effect was oddly... relativistic. This was followed by the panel "Would it really help to get rid of those nasty rough men?" - it ran for 90 minutes instead of the usual 60, which kind of threw me, so dinner plans with Brenda Cooper and her friend Gisele kind of ran a little late - but we went back to the Place Jacques Cartier and had a lovely (if a little pricy) dinner which included a great soup, a magnificent entrée (they had venison I had veal) and a cake which none of us thought we could finish but we all did, plus a bottle of red wine – eating on the terrace, watching mimes perform and street musicians play and a man painted silver who appeared to be there to have pictures taken with him (he had great abs so I did...Brenda has the evidence which she will no doubt put to good use...)

After, my two dinner companions went back to the Palais for what remained of the Masquerade and I sauntered down the square and one of those curbside portrait artists of which there are several in the square suddenly said to me as I was passing, “Vous etes une inspiration, vous etes tres jolie!”

So I got talking to him, initially in French. (I had an entire conversation in French! Hey!) and then we discovered something interesting. His mother was from Backa Palanka, his father a Bosnian Serb. We continued the conversation in three languages, braiding and weaving Serbian, French and English, discussing singers and writers from the Old Country and his eight years working at Montmartre in Paris before he came to Montreal, and all sorts of other things. He sketched my portrait, and he usually charges for this, after all, which is why he is set up there – but he gave it to me for free, as a present ("pour etre ma Mona Lisa. Souvenez-vous de Montreal!"). So I left him a little money, probably not nearly enough, because it seemed churlish to take the portrait and run. Then we wished one another godspeed in three different languages and I meandered off again, having three other conversations in French along the way with various artists and vendors (I finally realised why the Rue des Artistes was called that), ducking into fascinating courtyards filled with craftspeople and artists selling their wares, meandering back to the Palais and the seventh floor terrace where they had opened up an area on the roof of the Palais so that the Worldcon people could watch the fireworks display that night. Made it just in time for the fireworks, which were spectacular. Took some photos, and hobbled back into the hotel on aching feet… whereupon the internet connection promptly quit on me.

So I went to bed.

I’ve got a kaffeeklatsch (Someone Else’s) and three panels on Sunday, and then I’m taking off to see a bit of Montreal with a friend. When we come back it’s time to check in to my flight, arrange for my shuttle for the morning, and pack; home on Monday.

Sunday report to follow assuming I can get the internet working again.

PS YES, there are pictures. But I haven't uploaded them yet. Patience.)
Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

Worldcon Sunday 9 August

First the official stuff. It was a busy morning.

Tried fruitlessly to get Internet back from the time I woke up (at eightish) to the time I went into casacorona's Kaffeeklatsch at 10 AM. No cigar. So I gave up on that, had a great time at the Kaffeeklatsch, and then went straight from that to a panel I had added myself to ("Writing in a culture not your own") - it was a topic which interested me and in which I seem to have some small experience (cue "The Secrets of Jin Shei" amongst other things) and it was a good panel, pretty full, good audience participation. Straight from that to the first of two First Contact panels - this was supposed to be the teen track but teens were scarce and the average age seemed rather upstream of ME - but nonetheless it was an interesting set of panels. The first one was a sort of speed-dating discussion where the "panelists" (some dozen of us) kind of circulated in the room discussing the subject of history, media, bias, preservation and presentation of matters contemporary and archival, and all like that. We seemed to reach the conclusion that the only way to preserve something absolutely without running the risk of having the media it was stored in become obsolescent or the risk of bias and possible "chinese telephone" corruption which one might assume would be inherent in oral history would be to paint in on rock wall in dark caves. There goes our future...

The next panel was a little diffuse, and its program description consisted of several broad and sometimes difficult to connect questions. But we handled it manfully - the real question of first contact, what would happen if the aliens ever really did come to Earth (and if they did so during a convention, would we ever know that they had been there at all). It was a fun panel, and it also boasted an audience which was, shall we say, rather less teenage than desired - but the audience was interested and enthusiastic and, it has to be said, picked up over a Neil Gaiman event elsewhere at the same time - so we at the panel table were duly grateful for the vote of confidence.

It was also my last panel. Afterwards, I picked up Donna McMahon and we went wandering around the streets of Old TOwn - we went into the chapel of Notre Dame de Bon Secours, a lovely little church built in 1771 - and one which, since 2005, has the distinction og being the final resting place of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, one of only two Canadians ever to be sanctifed.

There is a museum, and it's a great little slice of life in early Montreal - there are exposed stone walls and ancient staircases leading up to a belvedere in the tower from which some great views are to be had, flanked by two stern-faced angels with the green patina of age heavy upon them. So we did the chapel and the museum, and then walked the cobbles back down Rue St Paul towards the place called Chez Suzette where I was going to go and have my dark chocolate crepe before I left this city, if it KILLED me. So I did, and it was every bit as "magnifique" as I thought it would be. (Once again, there ARE pictures - but they ain't gonna get downloaded tonight...)

Then we meandered back into the Palais, and I kept on seeing people dolled up to go to the Hugos but I just didn't seem to have the requisite energy to get dressed up and go partying. So I came back to the hotel, checked into my flight tomorrow, and I'll pack my bags tonight so all I have to do is pick up sticks and leave tomorrow.

But I will miss you, Montreal, your European style and charm and your uneven cobbles in the back streets and the quality of the light in your early mornings.

Je suis desole de te quitter. Je reviens. Je reviens un jour, avec plus de temps. Je suis vraiment enchantee de faire ta conaissance.