Busy weekend. It was our annual dojo Spring Camp (even though it’s pretty much summer now), which involves spending the weekend in a parkland upstate with a cabin and fun outdoorsy things. It’s always fun to do karate outdoors, and we also get to hang out with each other and go hiking and swimming and stuff. It’s fun, and I always try to go.
This year, I had to skip out partway through, as we had to go to the “I do over” for our dear friends Amanda and Sue. They were all set to get married on Hallowe’en Day 2020, but then 2020 happened. They went ahead and got married officially with a couple of masked witnesses, but they still wanted to have the party.
We had a wonderful time at an Irish pub in East Islip, where the food was yummy, the dancing was delightful, and the MC was trying a little too hard to force everyone to have fun, but it was still very nifty. And we got to meet Amanda’s father and stepmother and also the person who officiated at their actual wedding (and her wife). So that was groovy.
Today it’s the Enterprise Rewatch, some Patreon stuff (a TV review just went up of Signora Volpe), watching the Yankees try to extend their winning streak, and going out to dinner with Wrenn.
Last night was a very busy night for me and Wrenn. First we got to go to the New York red-carpet premiere of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, which also had all the opening-credits actors and three of the executive producers in attendance, among many many others. There was also an after-party, which we got to attend as well. (Ah, the benefits of writing reviews for Tor.com….)
They showed us the first two episodes, and my reviews of same will go up on Tor each of the next two Thursdays, but the short version is: HOLY CRAP, THIS SHOW IS EXCELLENT. It’s the perfect blend of old-school Trek with everything that has been good about the latest batch of Trek shows as well.
We didn’t stay long at the afterparty, though I did have the privilege of renewing my acquaintance with Anson Mount (we met at Shore Leave in 2019; he remembered the convention, though not meeting me specifically, which is fine, he meets billions of people), and we chatted for a bit (in particular, he raved about Alistair Reynolds, which was cool), and I also got to briefly meet both Jess Bush (Chapel) and Celia Rose Gooding (Uhura), as well as the show’s art director (whose praises I sang when we spoke, as the show looks amazing).
The reason why we didn’t stay long is because we had another party to go to. John Ordover — who, when he was an editor at Simon & Schuster, first hired me to write Star Trek fiction professionally back in 1999; yes, it’s a small world — was throwing a party at a space in Chelsea to celebrate his 60th birthday (which is actually today, but he was celebrating his last night in his 50s — once the clock struck midnight, we wished him a happy birthday and all went home…).
It was a great night of seeing old friends and making a few new ones — in addition to Mount, Bush, Gooding, and the art director (I wish I could remember his name, augh!), I talked to a bunch of wonderful fans, several of whom are also fans of my Trek writing. Both at the premier and the two parties, we got to see tons of wonderful people, too many to list, but I want to single out Sue Kisenwhether, whom I usually only see at conventions and almost never in the city we both live in, Carol Pinchefsky, who was also at both events, and Liz Braswell, whom I hadn’t seen in years before this year, and now have seen twice in two months.
Today is the 24th anniversary of my going freelance. The first of May 1998 was when I stopped working full-time for Byron Preiss, though I continued to freelance for him through October of that year, and since then, the only time I’ve had income recorded on a W2 was when I worked for the U.S. Census Bureau in 2009-2010 and for my old high school library, where I worked two days a week from late 2010 to early 2012.
I’m celebrating this milestone by, well, freelance writing. I have to write up Monday’s Enterprise Rewatch of “Desert Crossing,” I have to work on the latest of my SF novellas series, and I may do a Patreon thingie or two.
Tomorrow is Wrenn’s birthday, and we plan to at the very least do a celebratory dinner, and possibly some other fun things as well.
Today is the third day of HELIOsphere 2022, which has been a low-key but generally quite good convention. I’ve done some programming, sold a few books, seen lots of people, some of whom I haven’t seen in ages, and generally am pleased.
Which is good, as the 18 hours from Thursday night to Friday afternoon were incredibly fraught. Wrenn has been doing the job-hunting thing, and a job possibility that had been going very very well suddenly took a major left turn Thursday night, and things were — not good. They’re a little better now, but we’re, at the very least, back to Square One when as recently as Thursday afternoon we thought we were at the penultimate square before the finish line. Sigh.
The convention has been a great balm, however.
Which is especially nice, given that today has the double whammy of being my late grandmother’s birthday — she would’ve been 99 this year, had she lived — and the anniversary of David Honigsberg’s death.
It was fifteen years ago today that I got the horrible news that David had collapsed in the apartment he shared with his wife Alexandra and died. I spent most of the day at the hospital with Alexandra and Glenn Hauman, with Glenn and I having been deputized to make the phone calls to people to deliver the horrible news.
I’m now four years older than David was when he died, and it still freaks me out that he’s not around. I hate that he didn’t live to see me and Wrenn get together, as he would’ve loved to have seen us become a couple. I still miss making music with him — being on stage with David and the rest of the Don’t Quit Your Day Job Players throughout the 1990s are among my fondest musical memories.
Tonight, Wrenn has a bunch of job applications to send out, and we may also go see The Batman. I have to spend this week doing some editing and writing up some Patreon stuff — I still owe my patrons a TV review or two and a vignette for March — and get a short story written.
Today is also the 60th birthday of my friend and colleague Kevin J. Anderson. I’ve known Kevin for so many years, and in fact the very first novel I ever edited professionally was a collaboration between Kevin and John Gregory Betancourt called Born of Elven Blood, a YA novel published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers back in 1995. Kevin is now one of my publishers — the Bram Gold Adventures are published by his WordFire Press, as was my collaborative thriller Animal — and also a dear friend. I particularly love doing panels with Kevin — on several occasions, he and I have been on panels about writing and media tie-ins and any number of other subjects, and it’s always a blast — and he and I are among the regulars at Bard’s Tower.
Happy birthday, Kevin. Happy birthday, Gramma, wherever you are. And rest in peace, David.
It’s been quite a week. My yondan promotion starts on Wednesday the 10th, and has something every day through to Sunday the 14th. This past Monday, the 1st, I flew home from Knoxville and went to class, Tuesday was my last fighting class before the promotion, Wednesday was teaching my afterschool kids, Thursday was the black belt class, Friday was Charles and my last practice hike through the Appalachian Trail, Saturday was our last run and another class.
The practice hike was for Thursday’s part of the promotion. Charles and I (both going for our fourth-degree) will be hiking a big chunk of the Appalachian Trail, over Bear Mountain, West Mountain, and Black Mountain, among other bits. We’ve done two practice runs, which is good, as I feel much more ready to tackle that now than I was a few weeks ago……
In the midst of all that, I had to keep writing and stuff. Plus it was Election Day on Tuesday (I held my nose and voted for Eric Adams for mayor because the notion of Mayor Curtis Sliwa is revolting) and my father’s 75th birthday on Thursday!
The latter was celebrated via a lovely lunch at Harvest on Hudson, a lovely Italian restaurant with a magnificent view of the Hudson river in Hastings-on-Hudson (right near that town’s Metro North stop) and a lovely garden in the back. Just a beautiful place to eat….
Today is a bit slower — watching a movie this morning, going to see The Eternals tonight, and in between is a private lesson at the dojo, plus writing and doing some desperately needed tidying up of the living room. And yes, that counts as slower……..
Between that, and the fact that I’m back to training and teaching in the dojo, I needed a better mask. Conveniently, Wrenn and I were given as birthday presents RZ Masks by the generous and awesome ToniAnn and Kyle. These masks are heavy duty, can be used either for germ protection or simple dust protection, have fancy-shmancy carbon filters that last for about two days of continuous use, are adjustable, sit comfortably without moving on your face, AND DON’T FOG UP MY GLASSES!!!!!!!
That last part is the biggie for me, with the penultimate part particularly important, too. Both in the dojo and at conventions, I’m going to be indoors with lots of other people at various (and unknown) stages of vaccination, from not at all to fully and every stage in between, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll all be masked and that those who are masked will wear them properly. All being vaccinated does is keep me from getting a bad case of COVID-19, it’s not full immunization, so I’m going to need a good mask for a good while, and I’m so grateful to have this one.
Especially since it’s red, which is my favorite color. And yes, it makes me look vaguely Deadpool-ish, but I’m okay with that…..
Anyhow, I’ve spent the last few days doing more work for the tie-in project I can’t talk about yet, and I will be spending the next few days getting a bit ahead on the Voyager Rewatch so I can do Pensacon with a clear conscience, and also getting a new Kickstarter going that I’ve been meaning to get going for the better part of a year. (Sigh.)
The collage above is of my mother, GraceAnne Andreassi DeCandido, with me in 1972, 2009, 2016, and 2018.
This Mothers Day was delightful, despite the drag effect of Wrenn’s busted wing. We went over to my parents’ place for dinner, where my father and I collaborated on preparing a meal of fried chicken. We make excellent fried chicken, if I do say so myself — we use flour and cornmeal and spices for the breading, which goes on the chicken parts after they’re soaked in buttermilk, and it’s very very yummy. Helga, my second mommy, made biscuits, and also ginger bread for dessert. (One mother wanted other people to make the meal; the other wanted to contribute to it.)
Today brought one of the joys of 2021 into sharp relief. Between March 2020 and April 2021, I didn’t set foot in my parents’ house for more than a few seconds. Being able to actually go in and walk around and hang out and have a meal — which we’ve done three times now, for Easter, Wrenn’s birthday, and today — feels like it’s the first time I’ve been in the house in a thousand years. Walking through the living room felt like I was reliving a childhood memory, it’s been so long since I’ve been able to go into my parents’ place regularly. It was disturbing, but also pleasant in its own way.
Anyhow, happy Mothers Day to my two Mommies, to the Godmommy, to Fur Mommies Wrenn, Meredith (and her cohort in Fur Mommy-dom, Anneliese), and ToniAnn, and to all the mothers out there (you know who you are)!
That was but one of several Zoom sessions this weekend. Among the others were Saturday afternoon’s karate class, Saturday evening’s poker game, and then this evening, me and several of the black belts in our dojo had a nice gathering. Normally, this weekend would be the annual dojo holiday party, which we obviously couldn’t do. But we had twelve black belts gathered over Zoom — including one person from our Italian branch! — which was lovely.
In addition, Wrenn and I put up our tree! (That’s the picture above.) We went back and forth about doing the tree this year, and then decided we wanted to be as festive as possible, if for no other reason than to celebrate that this shitshow of a year is coming to an end.
Also, I’ve been plugging away at Feat of Clay, the sequel to A Furnace Sealed. I started the book on the 1st of December and twenty days later, I’m 10,000 words in. Not the best pace ever, but not the worst, either.
Christmas is this week, and we’ll be doing it the same way we’ve done everything that involved gathering in groups prior to mid-March 2020: over Zoom. Not perfect, but it’s better than nothing. Honestly, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, and Streamyard have saved my sanity this year.
Tonight’s task is to write up “Living Witness,” which will be the final Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch entry for the year, as Tor dot com is taking the last couple weeks of the year off (though I will still be providing reviews of each episode of Star Trek: Discovery when they drop on the 24th and 31st).
Last night, Debra Doyle died rather unexpectedly, apparently from a heart attack. She and her husband James Macdonald were writing partners, editors, teachers, and commenters on life, the universe, and everything. They also were a major part of both the Science Fiction Roundtable on GEnie and were part of the founding staff of SFF.net for its entire existence. I can’t imagine what Jim and their kids must be going through right now, and my heart goes out to them all. Deb and Jim were fixtures at northeast conventions for many years, and we spent many long hours hanging out at them throughout the 1990s and 2000s.
In addition, Dave Galanter has publicly announced that he has cancer, and his doctor recently told him that his life expectancy is half a year or less. Dave is a fellow Trek author, the founder of ComicBoards.com (which was a valuable and nifty geeky space in the first decade of the millennium), and a dear friend and wonderful human being.
It’s not all bad news, though — a very dear friend of mine and Wrenn’s got married today to her fiancee. They’ll do the big party some time next year, but at least they were able to get married. I’m incredibly happy for both of them.
What pisses me off most, of course, is that even if there is a funeral for Deb, I won’t be able to go to it, I will probably never see Dave in person again, and I couldn’t celebrate with the happy couple yesterday like we were planning.
2020 continues to defecate in our trousers daily.
Take care of each other. Tell the people you love that you love them. And for the love of fuck, vote if you haven’t already.
On this day eleven years ago, after a whole bunch of fighting, the event in the above picture happened: Shuseki Shihan Paul (he was Shihan Paul then) tied a black belt on me for the first time.
It still doesn’t feel entirely real over a decade later. Being physically fit was never really a big part of my self-image, even though I’ve been a martial artist for almost a third of my life now.
My Facebook memories over the past week or so has been full of black belt stuff, as not only was my shodan promotion eleven years ago, but my sandan promotion was three years ago. (My nidan promotion happened in March, seven years ago.)
I’m still training during the apocalypse. Our dojo did classes over Zoom over the spring, and then in mid-summer switched to hybrid classes — people can train in the dojo wearing masks and keeping their distance from the other students, or they can continue to train over Zoom. I’ve been sticking with the latter option, as I’m perfectly fine training from home over the laptop, and I’d rather leave the few spaces in the dojo to people who can’t train online for whatever reason.
And I’m teaching again! Two people have requested private lessons, and I’ve been teaching them — one an advanced brown belt kid who needs to learn a ton of stuff at this level, the other a white belt who moved far away but still wants to train, and I can work with her over Zoom quite nicely.
Meantime, the writing continues apace. I’m finishing up a campaign for the Star Trek Adventures role-playing game, I have a new project that I need to write up some pitches for, I have to outline the next Bram Gold book, finally, and I need to do a bunch of things for Patreon before the month ends (I’m massively backlogged on TV reviews, I have to write this month’s movie review — of Vampires vs. the Bronx — and I have to write this month’s vignette).
Also had socially distant dinners with my parents two of the last three nights, which is getting more challenging as we go into fall and it gets too cold to eat outside. We may go back to what we did in the spring and do dinners over Zoom.
This week will also see me and Wrenn voting. Early voting started in NYC this weekend, and the lines have been incredibly long. We’re hoping that three days in and on a weekday, the lines will be shorter. Certainly our early-voting place had a line that went on for several blocks.
I can’t emphasize this enough: VOTE. It’s always important, but it’s particularly important this year. People died so every citizen could have the right to have a voice in their government. You should exercise that right.
Yesterday was a truly frabjous day (calloo callay). First I ran an errand for a very grateful friend, then picked up Matthew at a friend’s house where he’d spent the night, then picked up The Mom and The Infomancer and the five of us all drove down to SoHo for a magical afternoon.
I put on one of my nice sweaters for the occasion…
Our first stop was Lombardi’s Pizza, which is generally considered the first pizza place in the United States, having opened in 1905. It takes up all of the corner of Mott and Prince Streets, and has expanded out to several other spots in the area, depending on how crowded it gets. They only take cash, they only take reservations for six or more people, and they have some of the best pizza you will ever eat in your life. Added bonus: you can get an genuine Italian raspberry soda, complete with whipped cream, which is to die for.
After that, we went across the street to Rice to Riches, which only does rice pudding. Now, mind you, I dislike rice pudding intensely, but everyone else with me loves it, and I love going there just because they have the most entertaining signage. The place is worth going to just to read the silly signs….
We had time before the concert we were going downtown to see to start — we left a lot of time to be seated at Lombardi’s, which we figured would take forever, but we got seated right away, amazingly enough — so we traipsed over to Harney & Sons for tea. H&S has some great teas, and Wrenn is particularly addicted to their cherry blossom green tea, so we got to refill that.
Finally, we went to the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral for a lovely concert by Amor Artis, a magnificent choral group. They did a beautiful Christmas concert filled with beautiful renditions of many songs of the season, from classical to baroque to modern and back again, opening with a gorgeous medley of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and continued through to a bunch of lovely songs.
The main reason why we wanted to see this concert in particular is that the daughter of one of The Mom and The Infomancer’s fellow library students at Columbia University back in the early 1970s, Sarah Nelson Craft, is one of Amor Artis’s featured singers, and she did a powerful rendition of “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” an early-20th-century song in the style of Negro spirituals (and which Mahalia Jackson did a particularly stunning version of).
The show ended with “Auld Lang Syne,” plus an encore of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” It was beautiful, with great music, and excellent use of the spectacular church acoustics.
And then we went home, filled with pizza, tea, rice pudding, and music.