Zeus is Dubious About the Return of the Coke Zero

“I… I thought we were rid of this stuff,” he seems to be saying. Guess again, cat! It’s back! In carbonated form!

People asked me how difficult it was to give up Coke Zero for the Lenten season, and the answer is: Not as hard as I expected. The first couple of days I did have caffeine withdrawal headaches, but they weren’t the complete throbbing bastards I was expecting, and a single pill of Excedrin banished them pretty well. After that it was pretty simple to keep the caffeinated soda out of the picture. Occasionally I would get a sort of formless want which I figure was my body having its Coke Zero twitch, but in those cases I would hit myself in the head with a ball peen hammer and it all worked itself out. Alternately, I just dealt with it. You decide which story is better.

Coke Zero is back on the menu, but it doesn’t mean I’m in a rush to get back to the same level of consumption of it that I was at before my lenten break from the stuff. I had been downing five or six cans of the stuff per day; I’d be happy to keep it down to two a day moving forward. I suspect it’ll be ever-so-slightly healthier for me in the long run. And it’ll be better not to be so damn caffeinated all the time.


Hugo Entitlement

Question in e-mail:

Are you upset that you’re not on this year’s Hugo ballot? You’ve been on it a lot recently.

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: No, and also, really? Are you serious? It’s a fine ballot, in terms of the work, and as a special added bonus it’s filled up with a bunch of my friends, all of whom I wish could win, even when they’re up against other friends of mine. There’s not much on the ballot I would change. I like it when I show up on the ballot — it’s nice, you know? — and if I show up on the ballot again some other year I will be delighted. Feel free to nominate me at a later time if you feel the work merits it. But I think being upset that one is not on the ballot would be indicative of the twin diseases of Insufficient Graciousness and Excessive Hubris, and both have at their root a wholly unearned feeling of entitlement. I try really hard not to be that guy.

Beyond that airy, philosophical point, on a practical level, last year my published fiction output was three short stories, and the Short Story category is as I understand it the most competitive fiction category (think about how many short stories are published each year and you’ll see why). While I think the three short stories I wrote last year are pretty good, the number of short stories published last year of equal or greater quality is, shall we say, reasonably large. I also suggested my humor video for the Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form Category, and again, I thought it was pretty good. But if I had to choose between it and “Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury,” well. I’m not voting for me in that scenario. I’ve got me an ego, but come on. All of which is to say that this year I wasn’t exactly waiting up for the nomination e-mail.

So: no. Not upset in the least and in fact quite happy for my friends who get their turn in the Happy Fun Anxiety Barrel that is the time between now and the Hugo awards ceremony. I hope they enjoy it as much as I did when it was my turn.


Minicon Wrapup

First, the daughter models the Minicon 46 convention shirt, whilst staring dramatically into the distance. She’s going places, that kid. With my head in a jar to boot! And yes, it was a little… odd to see folks wondering around the convention with my pickled head on their chests. Nice, mind you. But… odd.

Minicon itself, however, was a lovely experience. As I’ve mentioned here a number of times, I was Minicon’s substitute Guest of Honor, filling in for Charlie Stross, who unfortunately had to bow out (and entirely reasonably so) for some personal reasons. I was happy to be the Substitute Charlie for the weekend. It also gave me an excuse to visit Minnesota again, which is a state which has some of my favorite people in it (or has them lurking nearby). And both Krissy and Athena came along, lured by (among other things) the siren call of the Mall of America.

I may have been the Substitute Charlie, but the folks at Minicon — con staff and attendees both — made me feel welcome. The con folks couldn’t have been nicer or more attentive, in particular my liaison Anton Petersen, who procured a sparkly unicorn for my daughter when, upon hearing that the role liaison was to get things a guest requests, whimsically asked for one. That’s dedication for you. The convention goers also seemed happy to have me there, judging by the attendance at the panels.

My panels were also a lot of fun, as was my reading: As I was the Substitute Charlie, during my reading session I read from his upcoming novel Rule 34 (with his permission, of course) and then read from my own upcoming novel — not Fuzzy Nation but the one after that, which presumably will be out in 2012, and then also read the first chunk of “The Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” in a Shatneresque voice, because if ever there was a story that was demanding to be read in a Shatneresque fashion, it’s that one. A particular highlight for me, however, was the live presentation of my Creation Museum photo slideshow. I wasn’t entirely sure it would work, but as it turns out it did, and people seemed suitably entertained. I’ll be likely repeating it at the SFContario this November, so now you have another reason to head to that convention.

I liked the vibe of Minicon; it’s a small con (I understand it used to be much larger, but then a schism occurred and the larger portion reconstituted itself into another convention) and many of the folks who attend it have been going for years and years, so it’s got a relaxed feel of a gathering of friends, which I suppose is best exemplified by its music circles, in which people bring their guitars (and drums and violins and etc) and then just play along together in a spontaneous and improvised fashion. My fellow guest of honor was Chas Somdahl, who was being honored for his music, both at previous Minicons and elsewhere; it was fabulous to watch him in the music circles and to listen to him and other play.

The only annoying thing to happen wasn’t the fault of the convention: Our rental car’s battery died, just as we were heading to the airport. But even then the invaluable Anton took my family to the airport while I waited for the service folks to give me a jump, showing that Minicon goes the extra mile (or in this case, the extra six and a half miles, that being the distance from the hotel to the airport) for its guests. As I mentioned at the closing ceremonies, I was the Substitute Guest of Honor, but the folks at Minicon made me feel like I was their first choice, and that was a lovely thing to feel. I do hope that Charlie does eventually get a chance to come out to Minicon; if it’s as good to him as it was to me, he’ll have a fine time.

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