Wiscon, Day 2: The Salsa Incident

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There are two things about darinbradley‘s Early Wiscon report that need to be clarified:

(1) I wasn’t as hopped out on caffeine as he implies. Actually, I was down from my regular dosage.

(2) The superhero team of “Pancake” and “Butter” is a fabrication of his alcohol-soaked brain. You’ll have to ask him why he cast himself as the sidekick.

His memory of the later part of Friday is spot-on as well as are his notes about the scotch tasting at the Flatiron. We’re going to have to go back and do flights next time, damnit.

Okay, Saturday. My room was on the sixth floor, sandwiched between one of the party rooms and the kids programming, which meant that as long as I stayed up past the party to the right, it would be dead quiet until about 9.30 in the morning when the kids would start gathering for their Take Things Apart! panel. Sure enough, I was woken up by running feet and cries of “Don’t touch me! He touched me.”

First up was a reading at 1.00 with barthanderson, Darin, Liz Henry and Charlie Anders. Charlie read an excerpt from a hilariously damaged piece about Social Security Implants; Liz entertained us with snippets from her history of Feminist Utopias; Barth read the chapter from The Patron Saint of Plagues that followed the virus through its lifespan in a human host; and Darin read “Two,” his contribution to the Scribe chapbook that was to be given away that night at the Book Launch party. Afterward, we milled around a bit, caught bits and pieces of other panels, and then headed off to pick up supplies for the party.

The Scribe Posse Smackdown and Book Launch Party was to be the second time the lads were to demonstrate their prowess at homebrew. They had done so at World Fantasy back in November, and it was such a successful venture, they opted to do so again to celebrate the release of Patron Saint of Plagues. They brewed up six styles, had each of their clients name them as well as write a viral-themed story, working in the named beer. The collection became the give-away party favor of the evening. The flavors were: Paul’s Big Hard Cider (Paul Bens), Cold War Cream Ale (Darin Bradley), a root beer named Aguirre’s Ephemeral Elixer (Forrest Aguirre aka experimeditor), Daddio’s the Decider (Barth Anderson), Dirty Belgium Ale (Timothy Miller aka timothymiller) and dunkelweissen named Ye Old Saturnine Toade (Mark Teppo). The two ciders were the same recipes, though with “regional differences.”

[“What sort of regional differences?” I was asked. “The difference between Kris’ bathtub and Jesse’s bathtub,” was the reply.]

Like an idiot, I started with the cider (both of them so as to be able to talk..er..”intelligently” about the differences). Harder than last year, this stuff really demanded your respect and I was already having trouble with hand-eye coordination by the time I got to the Toad. (My story, “Upon Drinking a Half Glass of the Olde Saturnine Toade,” features the Metaphysical Detective character from last year’s “Flower” flash piece. If you missed the chapbook, let me know. I have a few I can send out.) The Toad was very rich and wheaty, like a stout without the metallic aftertaste or the heaviness that pulls at the tongue. The Belgian Double was the sharpest of the bunch, while the Cream Ale was deliciously golden with a silky creamy flavor to it.

They brewed ten cases all together and it was all gone in about three hours. Seeing as how the lads brewed very strong stuff (the cider, especially), I think the evening made a quick left turn for a number of people. I had a very good time tending the bar, chatting everyone up and generally saying nice things about books I had recently read to their authors as they dropped by. (Hal Duncan, when asked if he was going to leave me hanging at the end of Vellum — which I’ve been savoring and haven’t quite finished yet — laughed and replied, “It depends on whether you like resolution or closure.”) After we had run out of beer and nice things to say about books (my reading list failed before my enthusiasm), we switched to tequila and scotch (both graciously donated by Mr. Anderson), received several serenades from our favorite South America-traveling chanteuse, and finally drove everyone off about 2am so that we could clean up.

The best bit of business done that evening was the conversation with a well-known small press editor and myself over a bit of scotch where he loudly upbraided me for not having sent him any short fiction. Those are the moments where you politely say, “Yes, sir” and immediately start working on the cover letter when you get home.

During the wind-down in Darin’s room after the party, we had the Salsa Incident, which is entirely Darin’s fault. He didn’t know that hotel comforters are the nastiest pieces of polyester fabric in the known universe. Dude, they are never washed. Never. The salsa stain will still be there next year. Anything he tells you about what happened must be taken with a grain of salt. He was, after all, wrapped up in the damn blanket for a good part of it.