Wordstock: last post! (this year)

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Sunday, May 08, 2005

Wordstock: A&E
Originally uploaded by jensect.
conclusion of Wordstock 2005 meanderings that I thought I posted two days ago, but didn't.

Now that the events of Wordstock are almost two weeks past, I find myself wishing that I had just pushed through and written everything at once. On the other hand, Sunday was the least frenzied day that I attended, so maybe it will work out.

I left the house a little later than I would have liked, and had to park further away than I REALLY would have liked. Special thanks to the asshole who jumped two lanes of traffic from the opposite direction to jam into the parking space I was headed for. I think that this is actually karmic retribution from the one time I stole a spot in a downtown parking lot from a monster truck. To be fair, I didn't know that he was trying to park there, but he was such a jerk when he was yelling at me about it I was disinclined to move. However, I felt bad and really should have moved anyway. Two wrongs don't make a right. Universe - I now consider us square on the parking-space thing.

12:00 - Sarah Vowell - it was packed. Standing room only. Since I wasn't there an hour ahead, I was standing pretty far back. I saw SV as she was ushered from the back up to the stage (side note: the crowd minder tried to tell them they couldn't block the fire lane, but then she let them pass. Close call!). She is tiny. I mean, teeny tiny. Short and slight with a great big head. I guess it has to be big to hold all of her massive brains. I didn't mind standing in the back so much because I am used to just hearing her on the radio anyway. It's not like she has a really fantastic stage presence. She was barely visible behind the lectern (well, from outer Uzbekistan where I was standing, anyway), and she had a microphone. Her presence is in her voice. She and Ursula LeGuin were duking it out, vocally speaking, at one point due to the crappy acoustics of the venue. Anyway, she read from her latest book Assassination Vacation, everybody clapped and laughed, even when she wasn't trying to be funny. That's the thing with SV - I think a lot of people have her down as being some kind of super-ironic comedian. She certainly employs irony like a master, but she is so serious in her love of American history, and what being an American means. She writes with humor, obviously, but I think a lot of people miss her absolute sincerity waiting for the next zinger. Of course, it could be that I just enjoy fancying myself as being so much more perceptive than the 30000 million people standing in front of me. I enjoyed her reading a lot, and understand the audio-book version of her book is great with special guest voices like Jon Stewart and Conan O'Brien (among others).

1:00 - I can say with absolute certainty, that people waiting to get a book signed by Sarah Vowell are a lot more polite than the people waiting to get a book signed by Phil Lesh. I basically stayed at the Powell's stage for the rest of the day, with little sorties out to the rest of the book fair. I bought Chelsea Cain's book while waiting for Glen David Gold to come on stage. He is the author of Carter Beats The Devil, which I have not read, but looks fascinating. Apparently it has something to do with Warren G. Harding, which ties it in with the previous reading. It was also about magicians and an alternate timeline. It looks really juicy, and I plan on reading it this year. But, of course he didn't read from that book since it is a couple of years old. He read from a new work in progress, which has no title. He read the first 20 pages or so, and it definitely sounds intriguing. He seems to be working in the vernacular of another age. Everything that would maybe sound a little larded up to my ears was probably just my modern ear saying "why are there all these extra words." If I disconnected that little part of my brain and just listened - it was fantastic. So, based on the first 20 pages I would say that his next book should be quite interesting as well. He read well and was very friendly with the crowd (which was not huge, but was appreciative).

2:00 - after GDG, I wandered out to where the information booths were to see if I could score some more temporary tattoos. Not only could I do that - but they had stacks of books from the Title Wave with little signs saying "FREE BOOKS - if these aren't taken, they will be SHREDDED!" Which was of course the perfect threat at this venue. Book addicts will drag home just about anything to save it from the shredder. I found an indoor gardening guide, and an Amy Vanderbilt etiquette guide from the early 90's. I limited myself to that - it seemed like there were plenty of other people swarming around the FREE BOOKS, that most of them were probably saved from the shredder. I went back in and found a seat to prepare for Nancy Pearl. She is a Seattle Librarian who is featured on Morning Edition. Her superpower is recommending the perfect book. I could have listened to her for 4 hours! She was great. Her enthusiasm for books and reading just came bursting out of her and washed all over the audience. It wasn't as gross as it sounds. She was here promoting her two books of recommendations, Book Lust, and More Book Lust. I guess the second was to make up for the fact that she forgot Anthony Trollope in the first volume. I've not read Trollope, but I want to. He wrote so much I never know where to start. I should check out her book and see what she recommends. Anyway - Nancy Pearl is great and everyone should buy or check out her book, and be sure to listen for her on Morning Edition.

3:00 Chelsea Cain - CC writes the Calendar Girl column for The Oregonian. I've always liked the voice of the column - it is sassy and a little snarky but never mean. When I read that she was writing a book based on "what if Nancy Drew were a real character?" I knew I would have to read it. Confessions of a Teen Sleuth is the resulting volume - it is pink with a great 40's style semi-cheesecake painting on the front of a strawberry blonde on the phone. Nancy Drew, but not Nancy Drew. I was a HUGE Trixie Belden fiend back in the day (for the record, "the day" was the late 70's- mid 80's). What I didn't know is that they were actually being republished with new covers, and that the originals had been written back starting in the 40's! I just thought kids in upstate New York were big with the "jeepers!", and that the regionalism never trickled down to Florida where I was living at the time. I was addicted to these books - I wanted them for Christmas, I wanted them for birthdays, I wanted them for weekends! I didn't always get them, but I often did. It is thanks to these books that I am sure I have all sorts of really dated mis-information about cities and countries all around the world! What do you mean, they don't still have Automats in NYC? (I believe that was covered in The Mystery of the Blinking Eye - I could be mistaken, though.) One of my all-time favorites was The Mystery of the Ghostly Galleon, because it combined detecting with PIRATES. Good Lord. Obviously, Trixie should get her own post at some date in the future. To get back to Chelsea Cain, let's just say that I didn't read Nancy Drew, but that was just a fluke of which long series book I picked up first. The girl detective was no stranger to my reading habits. (See also: Beverly Grey, Connie Blair, Judy Bolton, and of course Cherry Ames, Student Nurse (and Dude Ranch Nurse, and Department Store Nurse - Cherry had a hard time holding a job). So, I knew I had to hear CC read. I also wanted to support her because she is local, about my age, and she seems like a good egg.

She read the Haight Ashbury chapter of her book. It was hilarious, with the titian-haired detective (now in her 40's) going out to SF to visit Ned Jr, who has joined the counter culture. Imagine my delight when none other than Foxie Belden-Frayne (daughter of Trixie Belden and Jim Frayne) shows up! Anyway, I haven't read it yet, but it looks fun. And I stood in line to have her autograph it, and even managed to tell her that I enjoyed her column and loved Trixie. I always *want* to tell people whose work I admire that, hey, I admire their work - but it is always hard for me. I get tongue tied and idiotic. She seemed to think I was no more stupid than anyone else, and was very gracious.

After that I walked the 3000 miles back to my car, and went home. Wordstock Is Dead, Long Live Wordstock!
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