Shopping for Zombies

Earlier this evening I received information about a new horror con called the “Zombie Fest.” Horror’s not my personal genre of choice (though I certainly won’t dispute its popularity), but this one caught my attention a bit more than usual.

The Zombie Fest is taking place in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, about 20 minutes from where I grew up. Most shows in Monroeville take place at the Expo Mart, but this one’s taking place in Monroeville Mall.

That’s an unusual location for a convention, though it’s certainly appropriate in this case. Back in the winter of 1976, George Romero filmed Dawn of the Dead there. (The plot summary on IMDB refers to the mall as “secluded.” It didn’t seem that way to me growing up, and much so less now the area has been even more built up.)

Off the top of my head, I’m not aware of any other conventions taking place in shopping malls. I just wish the ice rink was still there.

Summer’s Dark Ending

Although I disagree with his conclusion that it’s all meaningless, I thought Dave did a nice summary of some of what’s been going on. My experience over that time frame is a little different; not better, not worse, just different. I’ve been trying for the past couple weeks to find the right way to express it, but what I’ve concluded is that either the right words don’t exist, or else I’m not clever enough to find them.

The past 18 months have been a bit of a roller coaster. There were definitely some high points, but when you’re heading into a valley, it can be difficult to remember the peaks.

Last March, an aunt passed away. It was somewhat expected, and in many ways, I’ve no doubt it was also a blessing. But when the end came, it was astonishing how quick it was.

We’d no sooner laid my aunt to rest then another relative passed away. This time an uncle on the other side of the family. His health had been declining in recent years, but this time it took me completely by surprise.
Right about the same time, a close friend was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Cancer. Thankfully, AJ beat the cancer and recently celebrated her first full year in remission. (This peak I remember. I’m looking forward to AJ celebrating many, many more such anniversaries.)

August of 2007 ended with news that another aunt had been hospitalized as a result of a stroke and for a brief time it appeared that I’d be ending the summer with another funeral. Happily, this was not the case and the rest of 2007 went by on a relatively high note. Along with news of AJ’s remission, friends Sue & Steve announced that they were expecting their first child, I threw my first-ever party for Talk Like a Pirate Day, took a creative writing class, and in November, took my first-ever swing dance lesson.

For me personally, the first half of 2008 was fantastic. I dove into swing dance, eventually taking three months of lessons and although I can no longer be a regular member of the Jaycees, I’ve managed to at least stay involved to the extent the organization is willing to make use of the skills and knowledge I’ve acquired.

The first crack in the patina of joy came in early July when Hodo’s brother passed away after a lengthy battle with colon cancer. I’d never met Chris, but I’ve known Hodo for four or five years, so AJ and I attended the viewing together to pay our respects and make sure Hodo knew that her friends were there for her.

Another shadow crept across the summer sky in mid-August. I’d like to think I could point out Robbie in a crowd, but the truth is that he was only 20 and the generational gap between us was such that I only really knew him as one of the kids who’d been growing up attending the local science fiction conventions. I know his father, Bob, well enough that we’ve occasionally chatted at the same conventions. I can’t claim to be a friend of the family, but I’m definitely part of their community.

In January, Robbie was diagnosed with Leukemia. I’ve known other people with Leukemia and they beat it. Between that and AJ’s successful treatment, I was certain Robbie would beat his cancer too. I was proud to be one of the people who contributed to the more than $2,000 that was raised at Shore Leave to help cancer patients and I was horrified when a month later, Robbie lost his battle.

It’s been raining off and on for the past day and a half. Not a downpour, but enough of a soaking to make the ground soggy and the skies gloomy. It fits my mood.

Last summer my aunt suffered a stroke. She made a partial recovery, but it’s not been going well lately. This past weekend she was accepted into hospice. There are a few potential wild cards that could change everything, but the prognosis at this point is somewhere between two weeks and two months.

I like Dave’s summary of the stages of life, but I disagree with his ending.

The sun rises in the East and sets in the West, and as the day ends, all slips into darkness. This too is meaningless.

When AJ was diagnosed with Cancer last year, her friends immediately closed ranks around her and Mike to make sure they had everything they needed. When Hodo’s brother passed away, her friends closed ranks to take care of her too. And when news came of Robbie’s illness, that community came together as well.

And that’s what I think it all means: Hold on tight to the people you care about. Let them know you care.

So if I seem a bit “out of sorts” or a bit “clingy” in days to come, it’s because that’s what I’m struggling with. I’m trying to figure out how to let my friends to know I care.

And perhaps those are the right words after all.

Clean-up Efforts Continue

After a bit of procrastination, my efforts to Disenclutter™ the place are getting back into gear. I’ve been using Freecycle for a year or two, but that’s sometimes a little hit or miss, so it’s time to get creative.
Some of the stuff I’m getting rid of is a bit fannish, so for those items I’m trying a more focused effort. I’ve had one reply already from that effort, which is pretty good when you consider that particular section of the site generally gets just one or two visits per week.
The newest effort is an attempt to thin out some of the books I no longer read. Borrowing an idea from Marauder, I’ve signed up with the Paperback Swap site on the theory that I’ll be able to trade books I no longer read for books that someone else no longer reads. The first book goes out tomorrow, but I think I’ll wait until the clutter level has been reduced a bit more before adding anything new.

Free Stuff!

Offer ended for now.

This could probably be interpreted as a cheap tactic to draw your attention to the blog portion of the site and that’s not an interpretation I’ll fight all that strenuously. But the main reason for the banner ad and this post is that I’m working on getting rid of some clutter and some of the stuff I no longer want/need might be something other fen would enjoy having.

Just to be clear, what I’m talking about here is mainly some movie posters and some fannish bumper stickers, maybe a few books. The Dax action figured that was autographed by Terry Farrell is staying with me. (I didn’t get to keep Terry Farrell herself, but I’ll at least hold on to the action figure.)

So how does this work?

Essentially, it’s going to be something of a grab bag. Drop me a line with your name and mailing address (sorry, it has to be either US or an APO/FPO) and I’ll send you a bumper sticker, poster, or whatnot. (Sorry, I can’t be more specific or handle special requests.)

Privacy stuff

I’ll send you an item and that’s it! Unless you write back and strike up a conversation, that’ll be the end of it. I won’t be adding you to any mailing lists and certainly won’t be giving/selling your information to any third parties. (Obviously if I’m required to divulge your information to law enforcement, I’ll have to. So please don’t be that sort of person, OK?)

Other stuff

Please, just one request per household, the offer ends when I decide it’s costing me too much in postage, when I run out of stuff I want to get rid of, or when I otherwise decide to end it. You understand.

Fine Print

Offer void where prohibited. Professional driver on a closed course, do not attempt these maneuvers. Dramatization. Professional assembly recommended. Some cars not for use with all sets.

Going non-Postal

Ever since I started this convention list (would you believe it’s been nearly 10 years?) I’ve been reluctant to include events which didn’t have postal contact information.

A good deal of it was pragmatic, when I first started the list, it was for publication in a club’s newsletter. The organization claimed to have around 4,000 members, and at the time (10 years ago) it seemed pretty likely that a number of them wouldn’t have internet access and therefore wouldn’t have much use for convention information that didn’t include a postal address.

Things have changed since then. Internet access is common and an increasing number of conventions (particularly anime and gaming events) have chosen to forgo postal points of contact in favor of online registration and email for questions.

So as of today, the convention listings now include events which don’t have a postal point of contact. Those events won’t be included in the syndicated copies of the list, but in general this will make more information more easily accessible and it’s hard to see that as a bad idea.

What do you think? Is this an overdue adaptation to the way cons are run? Or does it open the door for problems?

Comment is invited. In the comment section below, on the Conventio.ning site, or if you’d prefer to talk privately, through the feedback page.

Who’s in charge?

Thanks to my NetFlix subscription, I’m finally caught up with Battlestar Galatactica though the end of Season Four. Starbuck has seemingly returned from the dead, Baltar’s trial has ended and four of the “Final Five” cylon models have been revealed. That last is particularly interesting since it seems as though they’ve all decided to stand with their human friends.

I’ve already had the misfortune of overhearing someone talking about the identity of model 12 and seeing as how this is the show’s final season anyhow, it’s going to be difficult to avoid hearing any more details, so I think I’ll be following this final season via SciFi’s episode streams.

One thing I find interesting though (and if you haven’t watched Season Four yet, this would be a good time to visit another part of the site) is the identity of the fleet’s president.

At the time of the Exodus from New Caprica, Baltar was the legal President, but was presumed dead or captured. Tom Zarek assumed the presidency, named Laura Roslin as his Vice President, and then stepped down in order that she could be President in return for being named as her Vice President.

When Baltar was captured along with the model 6 known as Caprica, he was charged with treason and put on trial. But (and here’s the part where if you haven’t seen the end of Season Four, you really might want to consider visiting another part of the site) thanks to Apollo’s moving speech, Baltar was acquitted. He’s now a free man.

So here’s the thing, Baltar was acquitted. The tribunal found him not guilty. Tom Zarek was only made President because of Baltar’s assumed death/capture. So Baltar’s not dead, he’s “escaped” from captivity, and he’s been cleared of all charges.

So shouldn’t Baltar be returned to the Presidency? (Acting President Roslin would then be returned to the Vice Presidental role she took over from Tom Zarek.)

Did Zarek’s accession to the presidency mean he was replacing Baltar? Or was he only an acting President? Sounds like an opening for more intrigue. 🙂