The Point at Which I Stop Being the Perfect Consumer

You know, I’m as gaa-gaa over tech as the next geeky, overfed American nerd, but at a certain point fiscal restraint kicks in and temps down my need for the next new hot thing. Thus is my ardor for the iPhone suddenly cooled when it’s revealed that the low-end phone plan for the thing is $60 a month. Add that to the $500 minimum cost of the phone, resulting in a minimum $1,200 cost for the gadget in the first year, and I’m all, eh, I can wait. My current cell phone cost me $40, and I piggyback on my mother-in-law’s service plan for $10 a month. That’s about right for me.

I know, I know. Since when should I let practical issues get in my way? Anyone who’s getting a first-gen iPhone is signing up to be a guinea pig anyway; practicality shouldn’t enter into it. Fair enough, and I wasn’t exactly camping out to get one anyway. But I feel the same way I did when the first iPod came out, actually. When it happened I watched all the cool kids stab each other in the eye to get to it, and meanwhile I, who had had a CD-player-sized Creative 5GB Jukebox for over a year at that point and had paid substantially less to get it than what the first-gen iPod went for, thought it would probably be best just to sit out the fracas for a while with my perfectly serviceable, pre-existing alternative.

I guess what it comes down to is that at then end of the day, I don’t care to be one of the cool kids if it just costs too much to do it. I’d chalk it up to rapidly-approaching middle age, but I’ve always been like this. Of course, there’s a simpler way to put it: I’m cheap.


ALA Recap

I spent my weekend in the Washington DC area at the ALA conference, which was actually a whole lot of fun. The first reason was that I’m a tremendous fan of librarians in a general sense, and the specific librarians I met over the weekend were fairly excellent as individuals, and basically a whole lot of fun to meet and spend time with. Honestly, the day I can’t enjoy myself among people who spend their life dealing with books is the day I’ve probably fallen head first into a grave.

The second reason was that it allowed me to get to know a few of my fellow authors a bit better, specifically Jeff and Ann VanderMeer and Steve Erikson. Jeff and I have had that “we know each other online” thing going on for a couple of years now and have always been fairly friendly, so it was nice to seal the deal in the real world, and Ann (who incidentally is the new editor over at Weird Tales) was a delight to meet as well. Steve Erikson I had not met nor corresponded with before, but he’s kick, especially when he’s sharing stories about his past life as an archaeologist, which have to be heard to be believed. It was excellent to meet him.

Jeff, Steve and I were all on a panel titled “The Literature of Ideas,” along with Charlotte Jones, who is the granddaughter of Madeleine L’Engle and an absolutely wonderful person in her own right. The panel was put together with the help of Tor’s Kathleen Doherty, and I think she chose the participants well, because each of us came at the topic from entirely different angles, which is what you want to keep the audience from keeling over from boredom. Each of us talked individually about science fiction and fantasy for about fifteen minutes and then did a Q&A. Jeff gives some of the highlights of the talks on his new blog Ecstatic Days, which I recommend, both for the talk tidbits and in a general sense.

Aside from Jeff, Ann and Steve I managed to sneak in a little time with Sarah Beth Durst, who was down at ALA promoting her debut novel Into the Wild, and made the acquaintance of graphic novelist and Whatever reader Jane Irwin, who was nice enough to give me copies of her Vogelein comic series. I also saw YA author David Lubar, who used to write humor articles for me back when I was an editor at AOL; we’ve known each other for a decade but it was the first time we met in person.

But wait, there’s more! I also very briefly saw Delia Sherman, Kelly Link and Gavin Grant, each appearing literally as we were heading out of the conference to catch a cab to the airport. I think they planned it that way. At the airport Jeff also very briefly introduced me to Peter Straub, who happened to be wandering about. It was one of those small world things. In short, lots of interesting people who do that writing thing were at the conference. Funny how that might be.

And of course one of the nice things about going to a library conference is that the publishers there give out all sorts of free free free books, and I’m a flat-out sucker for that. Really, that’s why I love lit conferences and trade shows and will pretty much show up for any of them: Because afterwards I get to wander the aisles and graze. I ended up picking up a couple dozen books, even split between books for me and books for Athena, and then heaved myself down to the temporary post office at the conference to mail them all home. They’ll be here in a couple of days. I’ll have to figure out what to do with myself until then.

So there you have it: Librarians + Authors + Book swag = happy Scalzi. That said, it’s good to be home and to have nowhere pressing to be for a while. I’ve got work and family to catch up on.


Basement Apartment

Oooh, neat. I found the video for Sarah Harmer’s song “Basement Apartment”:

I love this song, because I think it pretty much nails that place in time when you’re in your early 20s, and you have that college degree but no money because you’re killing time as a barista or comic book store staff member or a musician before you go to grad school or that entry-level gig (or, let’s be honest, even after those), so you pile together with your friends in really lousy apartments and live an existence that’s about two grades too shitty to be called “bohemian,” and eventually you begin to wonder if life actually gets any better than this. Not exactly a great space to be in, mentally, but once you’re out of it it’s nice to look back on it, just like it’s nice to think back on that car accident you just barely missed having.

Anyway, excellent song. And it’s off an equally excellent album, You Were Here, which I recommend to everyone. And just for the hell of it, here’s Sarah Harmer’s Web site, because the rest of the stuff she does is pretty damn good too.


Some Very Specific Advice

A really ripe and juicy nectarine is a true taste treat, but you probably shouldn’t eat it directly over your computer’s keyboard.

You’re welcome.

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