Monthly Archives: October 2013

It’s our job but we’re not mean

And so another All Hallow’s Eve ends. While we’re here, let’s not forget the real monsters in the world, and let’s not forget that they don’t go away after midnight:

It’s our job but we’re not mean

Meanwhile, back in reality:

It’s our job but we’re not mean

Meanwhile, back in reality:

It’s our job but we’re not mean

Meanwhile, back in reality:

It’s our job but we’re not mean

Meanwhile, back in reality:

It’s our job but we’re not mean

Meanwhile, back in reality:

It’s our job but we’re not mean

And the mist starts to fall:

Meanwhile, back in reality:

It’s our job but we’re not mean

Meanwhile, back in reality:

It’s our job but we’re not mean

My maternal grandmother’s birthday was on Halloween, and there are times where I’d do anything to take her out to one last movie.

Meanwhile, back in reality:

It’s our job but we’re not mean

Meanwhile, back in reality:

It’s our job but we’re not mean

Meanwhile, back in reality:

Things to do in Dallas when you don’t want to watch “Ender’s Game”

Two interludes, one slightly related to the Triffid Ranch, and one directly related to it. Much as with the classic Harlan Ellison short story “‘Repent, Harlequin!’, Said The Ticktockman,” first the middle, and then the beginning. The end will take care of itself.

Interlude the first. I had a lot of reasons to leave writing for science fiction publications in the early Aughts, and only a few were related to lousy pay. One of the big ones was the fannish constant of hearing criticism (valid or otherwise, it doesn’t matter) of a fan’s current if fickle loves, and responding with a whine of “Well, I liked it,” as if that whimper traveled from the Cat Piss Man’s mouth to God’s ear and automatically neutralized the validity of the criticism. Strangely, the worse the subject of the criticism, the louder and more strenuous the whining, and the keening cries to defend the undefendable started to sound more like a guinea pig suffering a rectal prolapse than a noise from anything human. If you don’t believe me, just join a group of longtime science fiction fans and idly comment “Boy, didn’t Firefly suck eggs?”

Criticism of Orson Scott Card, the author of the 1985 novel Ender’s Game, tends to reach guinea pig levels, particularly among people who hadn’t read it since it came out but remember that they loooooooved it…when they were 14. Point out that his stories are perfect bait for the self-proclaimed persecuted high school genius, and the shrieking starts. The best shrieking comes from Card himself, when he’s called on anything from bad storytelling to his highly publicized bouts of rabid homophobia and xenophobia, where somehow he’s being persecuted for his beliefs by getting anything less than fervent acclaim. Equally intolerable are his vowel movements about how his faith is the reason why he’s receiving such slings and arrows: to paraphrase what I told a local weekly newspaper critic who loudly proclaimed that he was hated by the Dallas music community because of his own religious affiliation, “we don’t hate you because of your religion. We hate you because you’re an asshole. Now go play in traffic.”

Interlude the second. If I can credit any one group and event for my current state of affairs with carnivorous plants, it’s the famed CAPE Day events that used to be hosted by Zeus Comics here in Dallas. Until a few years ago, these used to be gigantic events held under a monstrous tent during Free Comic Book Day, with lots of comics publishers and creators showing off their best work for gigantic throngs of readers and general comics enthusiasts. CAPE Day also made a point of being a LGBT-friendly fannish event, in a genre and a town where there’s still a long way to go. I started coming to CAPE Day to assist famed comics artist Lea Hernandez, after we both regularly mocked the obsession at other comics shows with the so-called “booth bunnies” used to sell mediocre or unreadable comics. The first trip in 2005, I merely showed up as her own booth babe (and let’s just say that I spared everyone there the Lovecraftian horror of wandering around behind Lea’s booth in a Speedo), but then I ran into people I knew from my old science fiction writing days who asked “So…what are you up to these days?” At the next one, and the one after that, I brought out plants in order to show off a bit, and by the 2007 CAPE, I had people asking about buying them. The next year, the Zeus crew actually asked “Would you like a booth to show off carnivores?” Not only did I take them up on it, but the positive response was incredible. Much as with the late and much-missed ExotiCon in New Orleans, if the Zeus crew needs vendors for upcoming events, I’m there, because I owe them, their customers, and the CAPE attendees a debt I cannot and will never be able to repay.

In a roundabout way, this leads to my taking a stand that may offend some regular customers, drive off others, and guarantee that still others will never buy plants from me. So be it. You have to take care of your friends, which is why I’m proud to announce the Texas Triffid Ranch sponsorship of November 1’s Skip Ender’s Game event, hosted by Geeks Out.

Skip Ender's Game event in Dallas

Now, the biggest reason why I sponsored this, with as much as could be managed but with nowhere near what I’d have liked, wasn’t just with the idea of putting one’s money where one’s mouth is by not contributing to the box office returns of the movie adaptation of Ender’s Game. It was that the Dallas Geeks Out crew was proactive, and decided that complaining about Ender’s Game wasn’t enough. Why not, they thought, organize a positive event that got everyone together for something different? To this end, the idea was to offer an alternative, with a screening of the 1997 Luc Besson film The Fifth Element. As a shameless Moebius Giraud fan, how could I not get involved?

And so the end tends to itself. November 1, at the Texas Theater in Oak Cliff. Considering how much I wished that something like Geeks Out existed for gay friends when I was first in science fiction fandom (and back then, they had to be very closeted, at least through high school), this, again, is a matter of standing up for your friends. (Those familiar with Joe Haldeman’s novel The Forever War might understand why I get a big grin when those friends jokingly refer to me by one of William Mandella’s nicknames.) And since the idea is not to be exclusive, everyone who wants to attend is more than welcome to show up. See you there.

It’s our job but we’re not mean

And what’s the difference between Halloween and the day after Thanksgiving? In Dallas, not much:

Meanwhile, back in reality:

It’s our job but we’re not mean

18 hours to go…

Meanwhile, back in reality:

Have a Great Halloween

It’s our job but we’re not mean

24 hours left…

Meanwhile, back in reality:

It’s our job but we’re not mean

Meanwhile, back in reality:

Putting the Sarracenia to bed – 1

I’m not even going to think about suggesting that the drought may be over. I won’t even suggest that it may be easing. That said, our gullywasher storm on Saturday was followed by mist all Sunday and thick fog on Monday, the humidity is more evocative of New Orleans than Dallas, and we’re getting warnings that October 30 might end with severe thunderstorms. In other words, what we used to call “a typical Halloween season”. Compared to last year’s dust-dry autumn, nobody’s complaining.

Since this exceptional weather, in classic Texas fashion, usually precedes unnaturally cold or stormy weather, the last couple of weekends went into cleaning out and modifying the new greenhouse. That included putting in just short of two tons of rainwater as thermal mass, resealing gaps and potential weak spots in the greenhouse film, and putting down new flooring. Friends scream, not unreasonably, about how much they hate weed cloth in garden beds, but this stuff is wonderful for allowing excess condensation seep into the soil under the greenhouse while preventing popweed clover from taking over the whole place.

With the improved weather, it’s time to say goodnight to the Sarracenia. Although the pitcher plants still attract and capture insects, they won’t be doing so for long, as the insects are either dying off or going dormant for the winter. Because of this, the Sarracenia follow the lead, gradually dying back over the next month until they’re dormant about the time we start getting killing frosts in December. They’ll stay that way all winter, only coming out of dormancy around St. Patrick’s Day when it’s time to bloom. Until then, all I’ll have are pictures, but it was a good season for Sarracenia, and we can only hope for a better one next year.

Sarracenia

Sarracenia leucophylla

Sarracenia purpurea

Sarracenia

It’s our job but we’re not mean

Meanwhile, back in reality:

It’s our job but we’re not mean

Some treats by way of a distant cousin