Challenge Completed!

As you may- or may not know, recently the professors were dragooned into this whole ALS Ice Bucket Thing. Here we are making fools of ourselves for a good cause. It was surprisingly refreshing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k3PJb4Cc7I).

(I must point out, for the sake of clarification, that it was the being doused with ice water that was refreshing. The making a fool of ourselves is a rather regular occurrence, sadly).

If you wish to contribute, you don’t even have to get wet. Here is the ALS’ own page outlining a superfluity of ways that you can give them money (https://secure2.convio.net/alsa/site/Donation2;jsessionid=DDA26DD0B54D3BB1238A07F70D482996.app296b?df_id=27420&27420.donation=form1). Be a sport (by which I mean be someone unusual), and send ‘em a few bucks.

Today We Looked At Old Stuff

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Easy enough to do here, I’ll grant you, since you can walk past a modern Starbucks which is slap up against a 1200 year old block of flats covered in crenellations and plaques letting you know that the ‘In Order to Sayve Ye City of London, Ye Right Honorable Lord Mayor Ate A Cat Upon Thys Very Spot in 1307′.

We wandered about a bit. Saw The Clink (http://www.clink.co.uk/), which is a medieval prison which was so horrible that it gave its name to future horrible prisons. It was run by the local Bishop, who invented several now commonplace forms of graft, corruption and bribery. The most entertaining part of this exhibit were the numerous signs scattered through-out, which were for The Kids, upon which a friendly looking plague rat made such cogent remarks as; “Remember kids, hot irons are for laundry! Don’t try this at home!” This is one of the (admittedly) few instances when I don’t have to make stuff up.

We also found The Golden Hind 2, a life size reproduction of Sir Francis Drake’s famous ship. We didn’t go aboard, because we are cheap. Apparently sturdy British children can have overnight sleep-overs aboard. They are issued Tudor sailor uniforms, taught how to run lines and perform emergency amputations with a multiplex knife and hot tar. They are then fed a Tudor dinner and sleep on deck. We are assured tat the chances that the pernicious Spanish will attack in the night are “very low.” The next morning the survivors are fed a continental breakfast and thrown over the side. Very educational.

The rest of the day we spent wandering around The Tower of London. This took a lot longer than I thought it would, but we were mighty entertained. We did NOT get into see The Royal Jewels, because every yoik in the Empire is determined to see them, and the line regularly stretches all the way back to the river.

The Tower was fascinating not just for its antiquity, but because it is still a living institution. People live there, and some of the business of the Empire is still done there. Plus any place that has been around for a thousand years is bound to accumulate a few interesting anecdotes.

Experiment # 2 and I are rather jazzed about the fact that we’ll actually be here when the new Dr. Who premiers. The new guy looks interesting.

And now, loyal Girl Genius readers, our idiocy can be to your benefit; We wanted to take the Experiments to see some Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre. We actually managed to get tickets for Julius Caesar on August 27! Yay us. Then I was reminded that we were actually leaving England on August 25. God dammit. Now apparently this is not uncommon, and I expect that the theatre makes a great deal of money from people who make incorrect bookings, since they say; No refunds. No exchanges. Fuck them. However I will not let them play to empty seats. So. If you are in London on Wednesday, August 27, and want to see Julius Caesar at the Globe Theatre at 7:30 PM, then be the first person to send me a message via the Facebook, and I will send you the info you need to claim them from Will Call at the box office. Just promise me you’ll slap them when you pick them up.

We Are Still In London

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Yesterday we spent all day at the venerable British Museum. One of the many warehouses where Briton keeps the stuff it found while poking about the globe. I well aware that there are controversies surrounding a fair amount of this stuff (like, why is it sitting in Briton instead of museums located in the countries where it originated), and I am aware that many people have very strong, conflicting, and no doubt valid opinions about it. I also have opinions, but as I’m just visiting these here parts, the only one I’ll record is; Thank goodness I can show all this amazing stuff to The Experiments in one nicely organized place without having to go to several dozen different countries. Even more amazing, it was free (though not being total swine, we donated the requested £5 a head).

Being children, the Experiments were of course thrilled to be dragged through endless corridors filled with broken pottery, dry old dead guys and statues of assorted deities who seemed unconcerned that their John Thomas’ (still in England) had been chiseled off.

However there were a few things that connected. The Temple of the Naiads (Possibly the most striking display). The Hall of Clock & Watches (which are all running!). The Temple of Sargon, with it’s imposing gate statues and ranks upon ranks of carved warrior friezes. The fact that you could buy chocolate copies of the Rosetta Stone in the gift shop. (That last was a bit of a “gimmee” to be honest. By my estimate, you could completely outfit yourself from head to foot in various iterations of the Rosetta Stone, and construct yourself a decent shelter from the rest of the products available.) In fact I could make the argument that a museum’s gift shop is a handy little catalog of ‘what’s cool’ in that particular museum. A fact that the Experiments noted. Kaja had been keen to see ‘The Dying Gaul’, but we were unsure as to whether Briton’s copy thereof was in the British Museum (It’s not. It’s in London’s Courtauld Gallery), but Experiment # 1 offhandedly remarked that he was pretty sure it wasn’t here, “Or else it would be all over the Gift Shop.” Well spotted, that boy.

We also spotted (and were spotted by) a surprisingly large number of LonCon members who were sucking up culture and intellectual stimulation after a long weekend of drinking and listening to Girl Genius Radio Plays. We plan on attending an authentic ‘Bear Baiting and Cat Inna Bag’ event tomorrow. I shall be curious to see if I recognize anyone there as well.

What’s Up In Blighty

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So our books arrived after all. Yay! Now we didn’t sell out in an hour and a half, like we did in Australia, but then we brought significantly more books. we might even last until Monday.

We went over to Titan Books to do a stock signing. Unfortunately, our cab driver was not one who possessed “The Knowledge”. After awhile, we began to question if he possessed “The Common Sense”, as he drove us to The Tate loading dock and declared that we had arrived. We parted company shortly thereafter and relied on Google Maps. Thank you Google Maps.

We did a reading from the third novel (due out in October from Skyhorse and Titan) to a standing room only crowd, which was very gratifying. Afterwards someone said that if there’s ever a movie series, we should get Brian Blessed (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4_Mk-MzYNQ) to do the voice of the castle. We are all over that. Give us a call, Mr. Blessed, we’ll do lunch.

Attended the Titan Books party, which was uncontestedly the most popular party Friday night.

It’s official; this is the largest WorldCon ever. Topping 10,000 attendees. I remember when people were panicking because Kansas City in 1976 was going to top 4000. The uncontrollable chaos!!!!

It’s also one of the best WorldCons. Everybody seems to be having a marvelous time. Now, to be fair, there is a constant muttering that somewhere in the heart of the ComCon, things are constantly going wrong. Supposedly there is screaming and catastrophic failures and knife fights taking place in every department…but nobody has seen any of that alleged turmoil resulting in (major) problems for the attendees, which means that it is a successful convention.

A Day of Pleasant Reversals

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So here we are in London. A fine old town with a great deal of scenery that appears on television a lot. Possibly because the architectural copyright has expired. The Experiments seem to like it here, and apparently they have learned the first and foremost thing, which is to look Right as you attempt to cross the street.

Last night we did a signing at Forbidden Planet (https://forbiddenplanet.com/) which is a comic book store that does not feel that it is necessary to carry Girl Genius. This made us sad. However at the signing, we had a lot of people who declared that they had come to the store to see us, and we moved a fair number of the novels, so we put it into the ‘win’ column, and will never speak of them again.

Today we arrived at the Convention Center, which is in the middle of this charming industrial wasteland, where everything is cheap, including human life. The convention staff seems to have a good grasp of things, Registration and the Dealer’s Room staff all spun in greased grooves. The problem was that none of the cases of Girl Genius that I had arranged to have shipped here had shown up. Argh. A frantic flurry of e-mails revealed that apparently the warehouse manager had neglected to process that laaaast little bit of paperwork. However I am assured that everything will be here tomorrow. We shall see, but I will willingly embrace the fantasy.

This is not to say that I am sitting at an empty table. 20 or so years ago, Greg Ketter, of Dreamhaven Books (http://dreamhavenbooks.com/) who also served as my partner in our publishing house, Palliard Press, have brought a couple of cases of comics to England for a comics con. The show tanked, and some friends, the Moyers, agreed to store them “temporarily” in their attic. When Greg mentioned to them that he was coming, they gently told him that if he did not remove them, they were prepared to burn down their own house in order to be rid of them.

This explains why I have stacks of Buck Godot comics, What’s New #1 , and XXXenophiles that I’m selling for a few pounds apiece. It’s like I’m running a table from 20 years ago.

We Are In Cambridge Again

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Cambridge is a charming little town that’s been around for over a thousand years and every other building is  a college that can claim that it educated some famous alchemist or heretic (I said it’s been around for awhile) that discovered phlegm or gravity or paper towels or some such. Every building that isn’t a college is a bakery or a pie shop, which explains why everyone here looks pretty happy.

So, as my pie–besotted brain understands it; there is the town of Cambridge. It is home to the University of Cambridge. This is an aggregate entity made up of the 7000 or so colleges that you see lying about. A “college” is sort of what what we in America would think of as a “department”, with it’s own dormitories, laboratories, museums, greensward and jolly traditions that all trace back to sometime between the 1300s and the 1800s when some rich person wanted to make sure that their particular obsession was being studied, and became significantly less rich ensuring that this happened.

We are visiting friends, Diana & John Cox, who have graciously allowed us to reset our trans–Atlantic biological clocks at their fabulous, has a real estate listing in the actual Domesday Booke house. We can attest that eating pies and punting on the Cam have a very salubrious effect on us.

In a few days we will head down to London for LonCon 3 (http://www.loncon3.org/), the latest world science-fiction convention, where we will have a dealer’s table, expound on panels, and gnaw on our fingers waiting for the Hugo Award ceremony. While we will no longer be a–punting (unless there’s a really great bathtub in our hotel room), we will continue to seek solace in pies.

Lovely things from Bat Conservation International

I send money to Bat Conservation International, and they very kindly take time away from their research and rescue efforts to send me a little magazine full of lovely pictures of bats. <3 Today, they also sent me a renewal confirmation, along with a sticker and this little charm. I’ve stuck it on my phone. It made a grumpy day nicer. Thank you, bat people!batcon

Bats!