Tim Pratt's Journal
2802643 Curiosities served
2003-10-19 11:39 PM
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What a fine weekend. I got home Friday evening, did some dishes, packed some things, cleaned the house a bit, and then Heather and I set out for Santa Cruz, the jewel of the central California coast, the true home of my heart, the place we'll move if we ever get rich.
We arrived at the original House on Maple Street around 9 p.m. to find a party well in progress. It was Scott's 26th birthday, and he'd gone out to dinner with many of his friends, most of them fellow astronomers, and they'd returned for further merriment. Scott was also celebrating a paper he wrote (first-authored, anyway), which is getting some very positive popular attention, in which he put forth a technique by which amateur astronomers can work to discover planets in distant solar systems via a collaborative technique not unlike the distributed-computing approach that SETI@home uses. It's been a long time since backyard enthusiasts have been able to contribute substantively to astronomy, and this is a way for them to once again give something back to the field they love.
Drinking and conversation and so forth ensued. Mmm, gin and tonic. Mmm, beer. Mmm, Jack Daniels. (Though I don't recommend drinking Jack Daniels and Hansen's Black Cherry Soda, even if there isn't any Coke and it seems like the best compromise.) I finally saw a copy of the hardcover of my collection, because Scott had one (it looks awesome). Eventually the party broke up, and Heather and I retired to the loft for a few brief hours of sleep. Why brief? Because of the band review, one of the few things about Santa Cruz that I don't miss. Once a year there's a high-school marching band competition. It starts at 7 a.m. It begins in Scott & Lynne's neighborhood. So we woke to bass drums and shouting drum majors and horns and loudness. But earplugs and heads-under-pillows prevailed, and so we managed to sleep in a bit.
We ambled around Santa Cruz that afternoon, having lunch at the Walnut Ave. Café, browsing a bit in Logos, and going to see Bubba Ho-Tep, which is without a doubt the best "Elvis and JFK Team Up to Fight a Mummy" movie in the history of cinema. (Actually, I thought it was a great film all around, and very true to the original Lansdale story.) We saw the movie in the Del Mar, which I'd never been inside before (except when it was decked-out as a haunted house on Hallowe'en) -- it wasn't renovated until after I moved away. It's beautiful, a grand old theater with cool bas-reliefs, but a very modern sound system and good seating. After that we went to Pergolesi, my favorite café in all the world, and drank mocha chai and played Oh Hell. Mmm. Perfection. We did some shopping at New Leaf (which always reminds me of my story "Little Gods", since that story begins in the juice aisle of New Leaf, though the store isn't named in the text), then retired back to the house for an evening of wine, fine Indian food prepared by master chef Scott, and many hours of Trivial Pursuit. (I did not win either game, but I held my own admirably -- they were both quite close games all around.) We finally went to bed around 4 a.m. Lynne was the only one of us still fully conscious by that time, because she's still on astronomer-time, having just come off a week of observing (during which she had the opportunity to shoot a giant laser at a certain orbiting taikonaut, though of course she didn't).
This morning -- well, we were still asleep this morning. This afternoon, though, we got out of bed, and went out for brunch. Cafe Brasil was closed when we got there -- curses! So we went down the street to Lola, which was quite satisfactory. Then back downtown for a nice long bookstore-browse at Logos.
You know what I bought? I bought volumes 2,3,4, and 6 of The Complete Works of Theodore Sturgeon. (They didn't have volume 1, and I already own volume 5.) I've been meaning to buy these forever. North Atlantic Press of Berkeley is doing them, with the help of Noel Sturgeon, and they're really first-rate, with lots of ancillary material, great introductions by major authors (the intro by Samuel Delany in volume 2 is amazing, and covers a lot of the philosophy of SF while using Sturgeon and his work as a touchstone), and, well, all the stories! Sturgeon is my favorite writer -- I don't mean favorite SF writer, even. He's my favorite writer in the world, bar none, and in many ways the model that I always have in the back of my mind when I'm working on my own fiction. Not in terms of the practice of writing -- he had lots of long dry spells and struggled with writer's block throughout his career -- but in terms of intent, and effect. I dream of writing a story or book that moves someone the way that "Slow Sculpture" or "Need" or "...and my fear is great" or "From Here to the Easel" or "Baby Is Three" moved me. Of course I've read all his collections, but having these nice uniform editions, with so many previously-unpublished and uncollected stories, is a dream come true. And you know what? They were cheap. I don't know why, but Logos had them marked down to $7 for hardcovers and $5 for trade paperbacks. I bought all four today for just a hair over $25, and that includes tax. I'm going on a serious Sturgeon binge, now, reading the new ones, re-reading the old favorites. Even his minor stories always have something -- some phrase, some observation, some description, some characterization, some perfectly right action -- that makes my heart flutter and my mind open. And his greatest stories floor me in a way that no other writer's work ever has. (All of which reminds me to point you toward this article about Sturgeon (written by the man who's editing the collected works) which Jed pointed to a few days ago.)
After bookstoring, we came back to the house, said our farewells, and loaded up our things. Heather sweetly drove home (I drove down), and now we're back in our house, with our kittens who missed us, and if you'll excuse me, I have some reading to do.
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