Tag Archives: science party

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.

Things to do in Dallas when you’re dead

As far as exotic nightlife is concerned, Dallas will never be mistaken for New York or London. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Although we’re still best-known, generally speaking, for nightclubs and restaurants making it exceedingly easy for the local fratboys to get violently drunk, we have enough little surprises that the rest of us don’t vacate the area for more esoteric climes. We save those for ourselves, and tell the fratboys and hipsters that Neenah, Wisconsin is the new big thing. If we don’t, they’re overrun in cargo pants and Cory Doctorow birth control glasses before you know it.

Another way to avoid the horseface-and-fedora set is to add a good dollop of science to the mix. Dallas has a surprisingly strong set of museums, considering how much neglect they received through the Eighties and Nineties, and the Museum of Nature & Science in Fair Park is one of those little surprises. The main exhibition areas in Fair Park will be replaced with a brand new museum in Victory Park in 2013, but the existing facilities will be used and loved until then.

Hence, the new Beer & Bones nights, the most recent of which was last Thursday. Originally done as an experiment, based on the continued success of Late Nights at the Dallas Museum of Art, Beer & Bones opens up the museum to a new crowd that usually has to work during normal museum hours. This last Thursday, the theme involved tie-ins to the Museum’s Chinasaurs exhibition, including demonstrations on the chemistry behind fireworks and Michael Cook’s always-fascinating discussions on silkworm raising and silk production. This includes a cash bar and complimentary snacks (including some of the best peanut butter cookies I’ve had in years), and a very enthusiastic and friendly crew of provosts to assist with questions about the exhibits.

Just to give advance word, the next Beer & Bones night is September 16. Please do not ask if this will include a Triffid Ranch demonstration and rodeo, because that’s up to them. What I will say is that no matter what, I’m grabbing as many friends as I can for the September 16 show. I didn’t realize how badly I needed an event like this until it was over, and I suspect a lot of people within the Metroplex are going to feel the same way. Now cue the Consortium of Genius soundtrack.