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September 18, 2006

Three days in Montreal
Posted by Patrick at 09:56 PM *

We’re back from the little convention Jo Walton threw to celebrate the publication of her latest novel Farthing, which is scarily good and disquietingly pertinent and you should all buy and read it right away.

The convention itself was as much fun as any small con I’ve ever been to, with a full program of panel discussions deftly engineered to keep conversation flowing at all hours. Jo is a woman with a talent for having interesting friends and getting them talking with one another. For me and Teresa, as for many of the several dozen attendees, the other star attraction was the city of Montreal. I’d been there once before, for a World Fantasy Con in a hotel on a boring downtown block, but on this visit I quickly realized I’d barely had an inkling of what an interesting place it is.

The weekend’s one aggravation is that we barely had any internet connectivity, whether due to hotel wireless flakiness or equipment failure at our end, I’m not sure. So if you’ve sent us email any time in the last few days, you probably haven’t got a response and you may not get one for a day or three to come.

Oh, and may I just say: Au Pied de Cochon. Omigod.

UPDATE: Flickr photoset.

Comments on Three days in Montreal:
#1 ::: lohengrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2006, 11:09 PM:

I *heart* my city, I do. You need to come in July, though, at the height of festival season. ^__^

#2 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 12:53 AM:

Patrick, you may say that four times before needing another pig.

But don't worry, they'll make more. (Time to buy pork belly futures.)

#3 ::: cmikk ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 01:10 AM:

The thought of a good smoked meat sandwich alone is enough to keep Montreal on my "cities I must visit again" list. I'm still kicking myself for missing the bagels....

#4 ::: Glenn Grant ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 02:02 AM:

Or, en englais.

Omigod, indeed.

Was great to see you guys!

#5 ::: Hunter McEvoy ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 05:04 AM:

I spent a week in Montreal a couple of years back, and I can honestly say I've never eaten better in my life. Every single meal I had in the city was absolutely top notch; an Etheopean restaurant that I forget the name of was particularly good. As a visiting European, it was fascinating to see how familar the architecture looked like there, certainly compared to other Canadian and American cities that I've seen.

#6 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 06:07 AM:

Sorry I missed out on the con. Sounds like it was a lot of fun.

The Ethiopian restaurant was probably The Blue Nile on St-Denis. Great place.

Gourmet magazine recently devoted an entire issue to our fair city and its fantastic cuisine. I think I remember reading somewhere that Montreal has more restaurants per capita than New York City.

#7 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 06:46 AM:

Oh, and may I just say: Au Pied de Cochon. Omigod.

Mon Dieu! Une page Web complètement horizontale!

#8 ::: Scott Martens ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 07:32 AM:

There used to be a cheesy restaurant called the Deux Pierrots down by Metro Place d'Armes that was my favourite spot to bring visiting friends.

Twelve years away from Montreal, and I still miss it. Mon pays, ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver. A few weeks ago, someone told me I had a Belgian accent in French. Without my joual, my last link to Montreal is, I suppose, definitively gone.

When I lived there, they said that it had the largest number of restaurants per capita of any city in the world. And it wasn't just fine food either - Chez Lafleur on Square St-Louis has the perfect greasy poutine as a nightcap after hitting the bars on St-Denis. Peel Pub used to serve a pitcher of beer for two bucks (I suppose it's more now) and chicken wings for 13 cents a piece. There was a fast food place on the corner of Jean-Talon and St-Denis - a block from home - with a kebab-fries-salad plate for five bucks that was to die for.

Belgians make the best fries and beer in the world, but I miss living somewhere with Montreal's diversity and quality of food.

#9 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 07:54 AM:

You too, Glenn.

Scott, there is still a place called the Deux Pierrots down by the Place d'Armes. I noticed it as I was walking past on my way to the basilica. I have no idea whether it's still as you remember.

The fast food is still holding up. We ate quite a few takeaway meals from a Tintin-themed place called Frites Alors! that does a darned good burger and fries.

#10 ::: Hunter McEvoy ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 08:37 AM:

The Blue Nile, that's right! One of the dishes was a huge pancake-like flatbread that you tore apart from the edges in, and then used the strips to scoop up the food placed in the centre.

#11 ::: Zvi ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 08:44 AM:

Hunter, that's injera (the sourdough pancake) and is the starchy staple of the Ethiopian diet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Injera

Yum.

#12 ::: Steven Gould ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 10:24 AM:

JUMPER the movie was going to be shot at the Montreal studios, dammit, but the Quebec film union and the North American film union couldn't come to terms so they went to Toronto instead.

In the article announcing the shift, Au Pied de Cochon was specifically mentioned as a loss.

#13 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 10:30 AM:

Oh excellent! Recommendations for the Blue Nile! I've often walked by it and wondered if it's any good. Now I have to go.

I like Fonduementale, myself -- it's a really great place for a romantic dinner. It's a fondue restaurant. You probably guessed that from the name.

Hey Jeff -- weren't we starting a "Restaurant of the Month" group a few years back? Maybe it's time to revisit the idea...

#14 ::: Sarah M ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 10:42 AM:

Yeah for Farthing finally coming out! The quote from LeGuin on the cover is just priceless.

#15 ::: Annie G. ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 10:52 AM:

I hope it doesn't sound to brown-nosey to say, but I bought Farthing last Thursday and read it in one great gulp on the plane on Friday. It was both compelling and terrifying, and I pressed it on the next reader I saw (my mother). So, Jo, thank you for writing such an amazing book, and thank you Patrick and Teresa for publishing it.

#16 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 11:58 AM:

Montreal is one of the best tourist cities in the country. Great food, great ambiance, lovely weather in the summer. It would be a great site for a Worldcon... ;->

#17 ::: Mark Wise ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 12:12 PM:

We spent a week in Montréal in July of 2004.

My favorite foodie experience was the Jean-Talon Market and a nearby cheese market. A clerk's enthusiasm knew no bounds after we asked to sample some Quebec cheeses: "Of course the Mimolette is tasty, but what do you have that's made locally?"

#18 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 12:57 PM:

Laurie Mann (#16): indeed. This short visit was enough to get me to buy a pre-supporting membership right then and there. (Even better, I could pay cash and save them the credit card fees.)

#19 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 02:06 PM:

I've only been to Montréal in late November (celebrating American Thanksgiving...long story).

I LOVED it. Yes, I loved it in winter, yea though I must to lean into the driving gale, filled as it was with bits of ice.

OK, I like that sort of thing. Being an ex-Michigander and current New Yorker (sorta), I miss winter. REAL winter, not the season of cold rain and slush that passes for winter in NYC.

But I said "Wow, this city must be fabulous in summer! I'll really have to come back then." Didn't work out this summer, alas, but maybe next, I keep thinking.

Then I find out, whoohoo, they're in the running for a WorldCon!?!?!?!?! Yeah, put me down for a presupporting! Um...who are they running against? And for what year? Forgive a poor gafiate's ignorance of these things!

#20 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 02:14 PM:

Montreal is running for the 2009 Worldcon, against Kansas City, I b'lieve.

Here's the webpage

#21 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 02:38 PM:

re: flicker photoset

whee! alter is wearing my star map shirt!

#22 ::: Pantechnician ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 02:48 PM:

Is airport security in Montreal particularly bothersome? I've only flown twice, and once was to/from Toronto in the middle of the SARS scare, so I don't have a very good basis of comparison for this stuff. I'm probably going to be in Montreal near the end of November, so I'm curious.

How easy is it to get along in English? My knowledge of French is abysmal. I can generally figure out the jist of what's being said in writing, but I tend to get lost easily when someone's talking.

#23 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 03:46 PM:

Pantechnician, I had no problem getting by with English only (I really don't speak French at all). Montréal is a bilingual city. In fact, I've heard that French people have trouble there because the francophone Montréalers hear a foreign accent and automatically switch to English!

#24 ::: Michael Walsh ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 03:51 PM:

The 2001 World Fantasy Convention was in Montreal. Beautiful city.

As for a Worldcon... well, there are these pesky border/tax issues for US vendors and artists to deal with. And as we saw with the 2008 site selection every vote can count towards a win... or a loss.

#25 ::: Pantechnician ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 04:06 PM:

Xopher: Thanks! I was sort of worried about language being an issue. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to brush up on my skills a bit anyway, though. Looking back, I regret not taking any French classes in high school.

#26 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 04:56 PM:

Pantchnician, the Farthing Party was in a predominantly Francophone neighborhood, and this non-Francophone had no problem at all.

#27 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 05:00 PM:

Pantechnician: the transborder (US preclearance) stuff was somewhat annoying; make sure you allow enough time for it.

I had to stand in line to get bag tags, stand in line to get my boarding pass and ID checked, pass the Last Chance Duty Free which was extremely empty because most of their stock is liquids (I bought some not-Hershey-made Cadbury chocolate), stand in line to clear US immigration and customs, get my boarding pass looked at again, actually check the bag, then stand in line for the security checkpoint.

(I left the hotel at 1115, got to the airport at 1200, and entered the gate area at 1300. It took longer to get from the curb to the concourse than it did to get from the hotel to the airport curb....)

#28 ::: rockycoloradan ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 05:07 PM:

I was in Montreal about ten years ago in June and it was wonderful. They were having an International Fireworks competition down at the old Expo site. You can get up on the bridge there and watch the fireworks going off right before your eyes.

On the street, I took a sample drink from a young lady and said 'Merci' and she immediately began to speak to me in English.

I would love to go back.

#29 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 05:08 PM:

je parle en peu francais, mais je parle tres mal. Je sors.

(self proving sentence right there, if I ever saw one)

About the only other sentence I can remember is the first thing we learned in french class, which was "Ou est la picine?" (spelling?) for "where is the pool?"

The only thing good I've gotten out of French class so far was it made one particular standup routine by Eddie Izzard just that much more hilarious. He started out learning three sentences in French class.

The cat is on the chair. The mouse is under the table. And the monkey is in the tree.

And he'd walk around France with a cat, a mouse, a monkey, a table, and a chair, just to be able to say anything in French that applied.

Then he went into a riff describing the movie "Speed" starring Keanu Reeves all in french. And interestingly enough, I didn't understand a word, but you knew exactly what he was saying, making it that much more funny.

#30 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 05:30 PM:

"Ou est la piscine?" was the first thing you learned in French, Greg? Not "Ou sont les toilettes?" ? How strange. I'd have thought that knowing where one can answer Nature's Call would come in handy more frequently than finding out where to swim.

#31 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 05:32 PM:

Maybe the teacher figured we'd pee in the pool if necessary...

#32 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 05:45 PM:

I knew somebody was going to make that joke, Greg. And you stepped into... Nevermind.

If ever Montreal wins the bid, I'll probably go, if only because my mom isn't getting any younger and she'd like to see her favorite son (*) more frequently than every nine years.

-----

(*) Quite easy a position to attain, considering what my brother is like. But I digress.

#33 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 06:13 PM:

Pantechnician (#22): the only annoyance I had with airport security leaving Montreal yesterday was that the latest wrinkle of stupid security theatre was that the newsstand past security on the to-the-US gates wasn't allowed to sell us a bottle of water, because they didn't have a cup to decant it into. The cashier said I should complain to my government.

It's possible to get by as a visitor to Montreal with little or no French. (I have spotty French, indifferently pronounced, long on nouns and very short on verbs: I can read and understand menus and some signs, but don't do that well in conversation.)

#34 ::: Pantechnician ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 06:16 PM:

Christopher Davis: I'm Canadian (and living in Canada), so hopefully I won't have to deal with that. I don't know what happens if my flight has a stopover in the U.S. or something, though.

PNH: Good to know, thanks.

#35 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 07:07 PM:

Ceri (#13): Yes! I'd forgotten about the restaurant of the month idea. Let's try and start it for October.

#36 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 07:45 PM:

Beautiful photography! And what a beautiful church. I've never had any success taking photographs inside a cathedral--they always come out too dark. What's your secret?

#37 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2006, 09:31 PM:

Incidentally, since the subject has come up, I am emphatically not necessarily supporting Montreal's bid for the 2009 Worldcon.

I'm not opposing it, either. But I don't vote for Worldcon bids based on whether I want to go someplace as a tourist; indeed, I think it's somewhat irresponsible to do so.

#38 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 02:35 AM:

My memory of French Level I from the ALM division of (I think) HBJ is ou est la salle de bain? I think by lesson 3 we'd progressed to la bibliotheque, which seemed pretty civilized.

#39 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 11:03 AM:

For some reason, the lines that stick in my head from some junior high or early high school French class are: "Pauvre petite. Vous* n'avais pas de chance, vraiment." So gloriously doleful, but why the hell were they teaching us that?

*(If it was meant to be truly sympathetic, the "vous" should probably be "tu," but I don't think it went that way.)

#40 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 11:21 AM:

I have, "Allons à la patessrie ensemble!" and, "Calme-toi, Anne!" leftover from high school French...

Going to a pastry shop together is hardly a bad thing....

#41 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 11:27 AM:

As French was my native language, there are no special phrases that stick in my head. But I (and my knuckles) do remember the nuns and their dreaded stick.

#42 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 11:39 AM:

I think I had the same course as Linkmeister. What stuck was "Garcon, du veau aux epinards, s'il vous plait", which seemed somewhat unnecessary, since I absolutely loathed spinach at the time.

#43 ::: lalouve ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 12:24 PM:

I dimly recall "moi, j'aime des moules" which is fine as long as you do love seafood...

#44 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 12:25 PM:

I don't vote for Worldcon bids based on whether I want to go someplace as a tourist; indeed, I think it's somewhat irresponsible to do so.

I haven't heard this argument before. Why irresponsible? I mean, if a WorldCon is held in a city I don't want to visit, I don't go, but I haven't really voted that much, so I'm not sure what basis I'd use. I certainly would have considered the attractions of the city itself a factor, though. I stand ready to be convinced, unless this is a can of worms, or something that's been discussed to death elsewhere.

#45 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 12:32 PM:

I never took French, but I remember random things like plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, and ou sont les nieges d'antan? and of course je ne parle pas Français.

There are others, but I can't spell them (not that I'm sure of the spelling of these either, but c'est la vie), except for my father's favorite, which was je boire, donc je suis.

#46 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 12:35 PM:

The turn this thread has taken reminds me I should brush up on my Charles Boyer impersonation. At least I think it's a Boyer impersonation. Others might say it sounds more like Pepe le Pew.

#47 ::: Eimear Ní Mhéalóid ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 12:45 PM:

I went to a convent school, so the first thing I learned in French and German classes was the Hail Mary in each language. I can still remember the German completely and the French mostly, although it's an alarming number of years ago.

#48 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 12:47 PM:

#44: It's irresponsible because the World SF Convention is an ongoing volunteer effort--indeed, one of the largest conventions anywhere run entirely by unsalaried volunteers.

Therefore, when choosing which bid to support, I think there are a whole bunch of things to consider that are more important than whether I'm interested in visiting any particular city as a tourist. Does the committee know what they're doing? Are they going to burn out their volunteers and leave a trail of bad feeling? Are they capable of responsibly handling several hundred thousand dollars of SF fandom's money? Have they secured facilities (hotels, convention center, etc) which are capable of hosting a Worldcon? Or will they crash and burn, hurting subsequent Worldcons as a result?

The Worldcon is a remarkable and in some ways fragile institution that's important to me. It's made it since 1939 with only three skipped years (in World War II) and one major financial disaster (1983), and it's managed to do this with, in essence, no sponsoring organization, just a succession of popularly-elected, separately-incorporated committees linked by the tissue-thin legal entity of the unincorporated "World Science Fiction Society," a group composed of everyone who happens to have bought a membership in any upcoming Worldcon. This is anarchist voluntarism in practice and I'm in favor of its continued health.

#49 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 01:01 PM:

That makes lots of sense. I guess a person like me who's largely gafiated and goes to a convention only occasionally should probably not vote...or vote No Preference (because there's a discount on memberships if you vote).

Alternatively, of course, I could research all those things, or talk to less gafiated friends and get their opinions, but on the rare occasions I attend a convention these days, I'm all about a) seeing friends I haven't seen in several years, and b) hanging out with new interesting people. I see that it would be right for me to find out that information about the competing bids, I just don't think it's likely that I will.

OTOH, I go to bid parties all the time (on those rare occasions etc.). That being the case, it's probably not too much trouble to ask a few close questions of the committee reps in each one, and form an opinion that way.

Huh. An action plan. Next time I go to a WorldCon, I'll do that. Thanks, Patrick!

#50 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 01:44 PM:

Anybody else reminded of that scene in "Pyrates!" where poor Vanity is trying to remember how to say "peaches" and "pears" in French because the French pirate is really an Englishman who has been knocked on the head by his French I textbook and is trying to live it out?

No? All-righty then.

[slinks off into the ehter]

#51 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 01:53 PM:

Photographs in Cathedrals:

The usual problem is the wide brightness range between the windows and the rest of the interior. And the automatic exposure on a camera takes an average which can miss the extremes at both ends.

How you answer the problem depends on what tools you have. If your camera has a control to deliberately over-expose (shows the dark bits) or under-expose (which will show the windows), try that. With digital photography, it's easy to try things out. Some cameras let you point it at one thing, and then re-aim without changing the exposure setting. Finally, fill the frame with the window, and you'll get a better picture of the window.

#52 ::: Doug Faunt ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 02:44 PM:

I had zero problems with security or immigration at the airport, in either direction.
And Air Canada was very helpful when I found I'd messed up my return ticket.
See my comment here (I hope):
http://dhole.livejournal.com/103043.html

And I ate veggie the entire time, and found very good food, too. "CRU- rich healthy food prepared without the use of heat" was particularly good.

#53 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 03:16 PM:

Normally, for Worldcon bidding, I care more about the committee than the city. Certainly the Montreal committee has more negatives than the "Kansas City" committee. I've heard some of the stories about the Montreal World Fantasy, which involved some members of the Montreal in '09 bid and they aren't complimentary.

However...

The "Kansas City" bit really isn't for Kansas City, it's for Overland Park. That's a suburban area, with a big convention center and plenty of hotel rooms, but the restaurant situation would be pretty ugly for a Worldcon.

There's a chance that the Overland Park bid might wind up back in Kansas City. I would reconsider supporting Montreal if it does.

#54 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 03:22 PM:

I'm reminded that that ALM course (I think it stood for Audio-Lingual Materials) was interchangeable among languages. I took Russian I and II a couple of years later, and the phrases being taught were exactly the same as those I'd learnt in French a few years earlier.

#55 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 03:29 PM:

PNH #48:
Therefore, when choosing which bid to support, I think there are a whole bunch of things to consider that are more important than whether I'm interested in visiting any particular city as a tourist. Does the committee know what they're doing? Are they going to burn out their volunteers and leave a trail of bad feeling? Are they capable of responsibly handling several hundred thousand dollars of SF fandom's money? Have they secured facilities (hotels, convention center, etc) which are capable of hosting a Worldcon? Or will they crash and burn, hurting subsequent Worldcons as a result?

One wishes that 1988 had cured more people of the desire to consider tourism over all else.

Another factor I've seen a lot of and which may come into play again is the "put the world in worldcon" principle, which gives just about any credible non-U.S. bid a boost. I think there's less of this for a Canadian bid (esp. after Torcon) but perhaps more of it for a demi-francophone bid like Montreal.

#56 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 03:35 PM:

What happened in 1988, Susan?

#57 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 03:49 PM:

What happened in 1988, Susan?

Okay, I feel old now.

1988, Nolacon, New Orleans worldcon. I'm sure someone here - our hosts, for starters - can do this better justice, but I would summarize it as a large number of fans having a great time in the French Quarter despite a worldcon which was thrown together on about four weeks' notice by a crew of out-of-towners who realized that a lot of people were expecting a worldcon and that the actual committee didn't seem able and/or inclined to put one on.

It was a great tourist destination running, iirc, against Cleveland, which wasn't.

#58 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 04:15 PM:

I was in Montreal about 8 years ago for the jazz festival. I remember seeing a t-shirt that read, "J'aime mon femmes chaud et mon biere froid," which sounds awful classy to monolingual midwestern Americans.

How do you say "mullet" in French?

[Hmm... according to Babel Fish, the French word for "mullet" is "Affaires dans l'avant, fête dans le dos." Sure is a strange language.]

#59 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 04:22 PM:

Linkmeister:
ALM Spanish I has
'Ola, Isabel, como esta?'
'Muy bien, gracias. Y tu?'
'Asi asi. Quien es ese chico?'

I can't remember more than that, but it was really a long time ago....

#60 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 04:30 PM:

I went to a convent school, so the first thing I learned in French and German classes was the Hail Mary in each language. I can still remember the German completely and the French mostly, although it's an alarming number of years ago.

I was so pleased to come across a 1705 German dance book recently which featured the usual muddle of French (for the technical terms) and German for the rest of the verbiage, switching fonts every time it switched languages. I was particularly entertained to see that occasionally there would be a word in French with a German ending tacked on and a mid-word font change. It's nice to know that my tendency to stick endings from one language onto words from another is so well-pedigreed.

#61 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 05:35 PM:

Susan, somewhere in one of my boxes I may still have a German-language reader wherein the prose is set in fraktur (using multiple versions) and the poetry is in a Roman face. (Fortunately my first-year German text was in fraktur!)

#62 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 05:52 PM:

#50--Juli, I do recall that bit, which was pretty much an ongoing gag, along with Happy Dan's boots, which were great-looking but much too tight. However, as I recall it, Felicity was saying "Petite pomme" and "Petite poire"--that is, "little apple" and "little pear"; the French exercise was IIRC, about a girl who'd been told to say "Petite pomme" to make her mouth look smaller (the 'm' sound purses the mouth up a bit) but got confused and said "Petite poire" instead, which made her mouth look bigger. This sounds like I've memorized the book, but I think that bit, the female pirate who kept referring to herself in the third person (e.g. "one would...") in an effort to seem posh, and the fighting over the Elizabeth Arden products among the female characters are the only parts that really stayed with me. There were pirates in it, I know that, and a combined land-sea assault on every cliche from every pirate movie ever made.

#63 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 07:25 PM:

[59] PJ, that was indeed the same sequence in Russian. I'm not gonna try to transliterate or find the Cyrillic, as I'm too lazy, but yeah.

I can see it in Hawaiian pidgin:

"Howzit, Kimo?
'Kay. How you?
'Kay-den."

#64 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 09:52 PM:

Xopher: what PNH said, in spades. (I've been on the steering committees of three worldcons and held positions on several others, but I started skipping likely disasters some time ago.) Speaking strictly about economics, I'm not sure voting pays unless you're reasonably likely to go; the discount for voting tends to net to not very much. (Yes, the chart says less for a voter than for a non-voter -- but you'll already have paid ~$40 to vote, so the net win can be small or nonexistent.) I will want to know more about both bids before deciding; I don't feel I know about many of the KC people, but as PNH says the Montreal group has a mixed record. (OTOH, the M WFC was weak from the top down; the Worldcon bid nay be better.)

Susan, re 1988: NoLa was running against The Boat, St. Louis (I think), and a 4th party I'm blanking on but don't \think/ was Cleveland. I went to the changeringer's annual gathering, since it was in Quebec [City]; I don't deal with wet heat if I can possibly avoid it, and figured I'd used up a lifetime's worth of luck when Atlanta turned out to be tolerable.

#65 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 10:09 PM:

CHip, re. 1988 - it appears to have been New Orleans vs. St. Louis, the boat, and Cincinnati, judging from the 1985 business meeting minutes. No Cleveland, but still an Ohio city beginning with C that is not exactly a prime tourist destination. (I have a passionate desire to travel to Cincy for other reasons lately, but not for any sort of conventional tourism.)

#66 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2006, 02:50 AM:

The 1988 Worldcon, and a couple of other cons around that time, put me off supporting memberships. They ballsed up the Hugo voting and the publications, and there were other cons with publication problems, and I decided supporting memberships were a waste of money. I wasn't getting anything for my money.

#67 ::: Rohanna ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2006, 11:23 PM:

#53: "The "Kansas City" bit really isn't for Kansas City, it's for Overland Park. That's a suburban area, with a big convention center and plenty of hotel rooms, but the restaurant situation would be pretty ugly for a Worldcon.

There's a chance that the Overland Park bid might wind up back in Kansas City. I would reconsider supporting Montreal if it does."

Laurie - And LAcon, who was bidding with us for 2006, was in Anaheim. I believe that would negate the suburb/downtown issue.

The restaurants in Overland Park are no further away from the convention center than the restaurants in Anaheim were from their convention center. The biggest difference is that it cost $3 on the Anaheim shuttle for a day pass to get to the restaurants and our shuttles will be free. There are over 100 restaurants within 1 mile of the Overland Park Convention Center, ranging from fast food to fine dining (and of course Kansas City BBQ).

Additionally, contrary to rumor, the Kansas City in 2009 Bid is not contemplating any change of venue. I should know. I am the Bid Chairman.

#68 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2006, 12:05 AM:

Laurie - And LAcon, who was bidding with us for 2006, was in Anaheim. I believe that would negate the suburb/downtown issue.

There are other reasons to think of Anaheim as an exciting place to visit that do not necessarily apply to Overland Park, but that might possible negate the "suburb/downtown issue".

I'm less worried about distance to restaurants than distance to supermarket. How 'bout it, KC bid chair?

#69 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2006, 07:56 AM:

Susan, I'm not the bid chair (I am married to her), but I can tell you there are two large grocery stores within five minutes of the convention center complex. The best full-line liquor store in the metro area is across the street from one of the grocery stores, for those seeking party supplies.

Hope that helps.

#70 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2006, 08:22 AM:

What wonderful pictures. I even don't hate the ones of me!

#71 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2006, 08:46 AM:

#64: "as PNH says the Montreal group has a mixed record"

Ahem, CHip. PNH didn't say a single solitary thing about the Montreal group, or any other actual bid.

#72 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 08:16 AM:

PNH: My apologies; I'd spent too long in moldy old code (which can produce infections much worse than random fungi) and followed a mental pointer to you instead of Laurie.

I'm glad you got to look around this time; we showed up a day early for the WFC so we could, and were particularly surprised by the Victorian excesses of decorated stonework on business buildings in the old town. Boston's core was built up before then (and rebuilt much later), and other cities in the U.S. (as far as I can recall) either weren't as florid or had far fewer examples.

#73 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 08:54 AM:

Rohanna, I haven't been to Anaheim since 1984, when I attended the horribly boring and corporate LA Con II (people were wearing buttons that said "At least we had FUN at Connie" (referring to the enjoyable but financially disastrous Constellation)).

It's been 22 years, but back then there was nothing at all worth doing in Anaheim (and yes, I include Disneyland as "not worth doing"). Since the convention itself was also done on the cheap, it seemed to me, with more of an eye to profit than putting on a good con, it was an extremely unpleasant time.

I recall asking if there was any way to get into the actual CITY, and the person I asked began with "Oh, it's easy. Take [some highway]..." I said "I don't drive." She looked at me as if I'd said "I have no bones," and after that acted as if I shouldn't have come to her town if I wasn't willing to do the most BASIC thing one has to do to be there.

After consideration, I agreed. As a consequence of this experience, I did not attend the two subsequent LA Cons. Were they any better? Is Anaheim?

And I won't vote for any Con bid for a place with no significant public transportation, unless a) it's in such a concentrated urban area that transportation is basically irrelevant, or b) they specifically address the issue and agree to provide some sort of shuttle service. I'm disgusted by "car culture," and will vote against bids that assume it.

#74 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2006, 11:34 AM:

Xopher, as far as public transportation is concerned, Montreal is probably the bid to beat.

#75 ::: Rohanna ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2006, 10:35 PM:

"Were they any better? Is Anaheim?"

I didn't get to see most of the convention because I was either working Exhibits or working for the Kansas City Bid so I can't really answer the first question honestly.

If you don't have a car in Anaheim, you are pretty much lost. They have shuttles that go from point to point but public transportation is pretty much nil. We were lucky. We had a car.

"And I won't vote for any Con bid for a place with no significant public transportation, unless a) it's in such a concentrated urban area that transportation is basically irrelevant, or b) they specifically address the issue and agree to provide some sort of shuttle service. I'm disgusted by "car culture," and will vote against bids that assume it."

I have to be honest here, There is not much in the way of public transportation in the Overland Park area. However, they have offered to run free shuttles to all the shopping and restaurants during all hours of operation. It will run like a city bus route every 20 minutes.

We will also be running a series of "Field Trips" to places of interest. Plans now include such things as a BBQ Crawl, the Nelson-Atkins Museum, The Negro Leagues Museum (Baseball), etc. If you have specific places in Kansas City you would like to visit, let us know and we will attempt to accomodate.

We want to attempt to make things as easy as possible for our attendees.

Thanks for asking:-)

#76 ::: Daniel M. Laenker ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 07:23 PM:

I second the "car culture" comment. On the off chance I end up in KC, I won't be coming with a car - neither will my fiance - and we're hoping for effective transportation alternatives.

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