LIBERTY CON AAR Part Two, in which our hero learns that his best laid plans are no match for …. -David Pascoe
The next day, we arrived at the Choo Choo just prior to nine, when the gathering for the range trip … had already left. Those of us “late-comers,” several of whom were barely upright, apportioned ourselves into vehicles and left in mad pursuit. It was upon this trip that the Separate But Awesome plan was revealed. Essentially, after the- but I’m getting ahead of myself. You see, in the scramble to Not Arrive At Friends After Midnight (six hour drive, and we didn’t. Quite. /sigh) I’d misplaced a couple of things. Notably, the keys to the bang-bang cases. Well, all but the one. And I didn’t discover this until I went digging through my range bag to find said keys. Sitting – as I found out later, once we’d arrived home – exactly where I’d left them: on the bedside table. Another lesson learned.
Fortunately, Eeps (aka Eudyptes Diabolicus aka Evil Penguin aka Rex Mason’s Favorite Unwilling Test Pilot) was another one of my fellow
late not-ontime-enough comers, and suggested that the Choo Choo maintenance folk would have access to bolt-cutters. And indeed they did, so with only a slight delay (to wait for the maintenance dude, and then a couple of security dudes (“We just need to make sure this stuff is actually yours, sir. Can you tell us what the first thing we’ll see is when we open this- oh, that’s a nice Ruger, I sure wish I could go shooting today, too. Maybe after my shift’s over.”)) we all ponied up and got on the road. After another short stop, as the ATM in the lobby was out of order. Arriving at the range nearly an hour fashionable (there was a mid-freeway, 70mph soppresatta waving incident, but the less said about that, the better) meant we were fortunate enough to sit through the safety brief for the beginners. We were not beginners, but there were several who were first-timers, and James kept it interesting. Also, the AC was pleasant, as the day was another humid scorcher.
The time spent at the range was possibly some of the most relaxing all weekend. This isn’t to say that I didn’t find the convention an excellent opportunity to recharge and recreate, just that shooting is a zen experience for me, and one in which I do not get to indulge nearly often enough. My new (year old and completely unshot; I am a terrible gun nut. At this rate, I’ll have to turn in my official Right Wing Conspiracist Membership Card) almost-GI 1911 was quite pleasantly boomy, the repairs to the wheelgun have taken nicely, and the addition of a red-dot and the railed dust cover on the carbine work quite well. I may some day even have a chance to zero it (double-sigh. I sure hope Mrs. Dave’s next PCS is to somewhere more shooter friendly than the PRMaryland.). I was also fortunate enough to have the opportunity to fire a few of the offerings brought by others. James’ wife, Ginger, had a little Colt Plus II in .380 ACP that was just far too fun. I could burn through a mess of brass with something like that. Eeps brought a shotgun I’ve been eyeing, and it was great to get the chance to try it out before dropping more money I don’t really have on same. One of the range safety officers brought a M1A in 7.62 NATO which was great fun. And a stealthy shoulder bruiser. BANG! BANGBANGBANGBANG! “That’s fun. And doesn’t kick nearly as much as I- why is my should sore?”
Riding with one of the other RSOs, I didn’t head back to the Choo Choo until we were all decidedly baked (by the sun) and more than slightly dehydrated (despite consuming much water). Early on, we stopped for protein and fluids (burgers and gatorade, for those who are curious) and so nearly enjoyed the probably-not-pleasant experience of pancaking into the back of vehicles stopped in the left lane, at the tail end of what turned out to be a symptom of a traffic jam with no apparent cause. Docfather’s quick reflexes – along with what I presumed to be communication between truckers – saved our bacon as he swerved into the right hand lane, just ahead of the aforementioned tractor trailer. Seriously, that could have been truly awful. The car ahead of us disappeared in a puff of dirty gray smoke as it applied brakes and slid into the median to avoid the one ahead of it. Highly adrenalized, we took the next exit and rocked the surface streets back to the Choo Choo.
Just in time for Opening Ceremonies! As one of the few things on my schedule (I was horribly late getting in on the action, another lesson learned, and I’ll bug the programming director about much earlier. My cunning plan is to ensure Herself has fewer panels to mind, so she can take Wee Dave for more of the con. Plotplotplot) I quickly found my lovely wife and darling son lurking in the back of the theater, and enjoyed Howard Tayler’s excellent opening speech. Several folk wandered through to find others, and I got trade nods with Jason “Stealing All the White Women Since 1978” Cordova, and several other like-minded (read: “slightly mad” and “writers,” but I repeat myself) individuals. I was heartening to hear my name read off among the truly impressive list of guests.
Immediately following Opening Ceremonies, I took part in the What’s New in Dark Fantasy panel, as I have new stuff in (arguably) dark fantasy. The rest of the Unquiet Gods shorts (short story to (barely) novella length) are up on Amazon. These could easily be considered urban fantasy, as well. Some parts draw heavily on horror writing, too. I’m not sure they really are dark fantasy or not. I don’t have enough readers to tell me (hey, I just record the darn things). My thoughts on dark fantasy are as follows: a subset of fantasy that uses horror tropes. Other than that, each writer is going to leave an individual mark. My soundbite comment from the panel was along the lines of, “horror is when find the Things That Go Bump In the Night; dark fantasy is when you then punch them in the face.” While this wasn’t shared by my co-panelists, we had a pretty decent conversation with the almost-empty theater. One gentleman, Louis Puster, suggested that dark fantasy stories take place in a world where the Big Bad won. I’m not certain that’s always going to fit. Brandon Sanderson played with that idea in the Mistborn books, but I’d argue those are more epic fantasy with dark fantasy trappings. It’s an interesting, but ultimately academic discussion, unless it turns to how to market specific kinds of stories.
All of this while I was out of uniform, too. One of the things about being a professional writer in genre fiction is branding. Subgenres, writing style, voice, and similar things are a major part of it, but personal appearance is another major part. Sir Pterry wore black, to include his signature oversized fedora (high crown, broad brim). Kevin J. Anderson typically wears a black suit and black shirt. John Ringo is John Ringo (seriously, at a certain level, it doesn’t matter what you wear. Much, at least). I’ve got my kilts, and wear those with a natty hat, a nice shirt, a vest, and usually a tie. Being one of the best dressed at a convention is a good way of standing out, not that my sales exactly reflect it. Weeeeellllll, the thing is, I didn’t wear that to the range trip. I did wear a kilt (and the hat, fortunately for my head), but just wore a t-shirt. Getting back as late as we did, and then going immediately to Opening Ceremonies, and then right into the panel, I hadn’t had time to clean up, let alone change. So I looked a bit … scruffy. It was a little bit embarrassing, I will tell no lie. Still, the panel went well, and then I had a chance to get back to our room and clean up, before getting back to the Choo Choo.
The BbESP and her Consort, and the Redhead of Doom and her Evil Muse had their reception Friday evening. Much baklava was consumed, Johnny LaForce’s ribs were devoured (Aloha Snackbar!) and a good time was had by all, at least until the Pint-sized Tyrant insisted it was time for bed. Ah, well. More shenaniganning was to occur the next day.