Adventures in Storytelling

The adventures of The Patchwork Players, Patti Christensen and James Nelson-Lucas, as they travel the dimensions of time and space, telling their tales

Friday, August 14, 2009

James' Adventure at Anticipation and Montreal

While Patti is still on her Alaska Adventure (see her blog here ), I have returned form my adventure to Montreal. As you may remember, I was there for the 67th annual World Science Fiction Convention, this year called Anticipation. Although I have been going to science-fiction conventions for over 30 years, I did more than play attendee. I taught a Storytelling workshop, and sat on several panels. What follows is my travelogue.

Things started a bit bumpy. When Wes, my traveling friend for many years, discovered he had forgotten his passport. So, he caught a later flight, and I went alone. That's OK, it gave me time to review for the convention. After four hours in the air, a few hours at O'Hare, and another two hour flight, I was in Montreal. I found it interesting, that flying into Montreal, I noticed that nearly every home, and apartment building, had pools! I never thought of Montreal as a hot place. I suppose I should be more aware of our neighbors to the north.

Montreal is beautiful, unlike any other city that I have been to in the Americas. Of course, we were smack, dab, in the middle of some of the most interesting places in the city. Our hotel abutted Old Montreal, with is narrow streets. Very old (by new world standards) buildings. Quaint shops, and restaurants, magnificent churches, and museums. China Town was just on the other side of the convention center, maintaining her charm. Then there was St. Catherine's Street just a few blocks away. St. Catherine's is where you will find all the happenin' shops, restaurants, street performers, and such like.

Since Wes was following four hours behind me, I settled in, and set to do what conventioneers of all stripes love to do: Party. There are many parties to choose from, hosted by cities, countries, publishers, fan organizations, etc. Each with it's own theme, and food, and drink combinations. I thing this year it goes to the Texas party. They had both beef, and chicken fajitas. and margaritas.

The next day, it was time for the programs to start. It's hard to describe what kind of programming an SF convention has to offer. I'll tell you about a few that I attended: The Politics of Science, Mad Social Scientists, George Lucas; Film Savior or Destroyer?, Food -Ancient-Modern-Future- Near and Far, and, Cultural Geography in Science Fiction, Re-Boot; Old Shows and Movies That Have Been Remade. As well as all that there was gaming, films, Filking (folk music for SF fans), and more.

Now, as for what I participated in; I did a concert for the kids in the kids play area. Those kids told almost as many stories as I did. There are some great budding tellers out there. I was on a panel called “What Makes A Good Story?” Other panelists included; Robert Silverberg, Scott Edelman, Nancy Kress, and Bill Willingham. It was fun to discuss the basics of Story with those luminaries. There was the panel called “First Contact: Creating History. Myself, and too many panelists to mention, took teens thorough a thought experiment; How would they create the story of our first alien contact. Then I was part of a panel called Playlists, Side Two, where the panelists played their top ten Science Fiction-y songs. And gave a little history behind them. Panelists; Alaya Dawn Johnson, John Kenny, Richard Chwedyk, and myself, brought tunes ranging from 1920's Blues, to 21st Century Alternative. Great fun was had by all, and we all went away having heard something new. I also taught a Beginning Storytelling workshop. I was scheduled against the Masquerade Show, and a fireworks show. Even still, a few stalwarts showed up. Evidently I was doing a good job, as they stayed over a half an hour after the workshop was to end. One of the attendees was author Walter Hunt. He was looking for some tips to improve his book readings. Walter later told me that he had learned a lot. So much so, I was worthy to grace his blog. Thanks Walter, next time I hope to make it to your reading.

Let's not forget the food! Since we were right on top of Old Montreal, Wes and I stopped at one of their watering holes, The Victoria Pub. Where we sampled some of Canada's beers, had a bit, and started the afternoon. We ate in Chinatown twice. Once at The Hong Kong. It was not the best Chinese I have ever eaten. But there were some wonderful flavors that I can't remember tasting before, with interesting names for the dishes. Like the War Bar, which, it turns out, is a combination of shrimp, scallops, squid, bass, Chinese cabbage, and tomato. All in a rich sauce that tasted like a cross between BBQ and Sweet and Sour. Our second trip to Chinatown was a specific hunt for those 'happy little packages', Dim Sum. We were told that the Maison de Hong Kong was the best in town. We got there the last day of the convention, Monday morning. So the place was pretty quite. But after we tasted those tiny morsels, we could imagine the place packed on the weekends. Wes and I are both shrimp lovers, so we must have had shrimp dim sum at least eight different ways. Everything was delicious. A definite must-return-to, next visit to Montreal.

Even the restaurants at the convention center, and the hotel, Delta Centre-ville, had something memorable to offer. At then convention center we tried Fourquet Fourchette, it bills itself as Bière et cuisine. There was a definite flavor of the native peoples there, canoe over the bar, carvings here and there. They even had a dish that, in English, was the Amerind Mixed Grill. However, on the reverse of the menu in French, it was called the Pow Wow Platter! This place specializes in micro-brews, and game meat. So we ordered the six beir taster. Everything form very dark, to very light. I found the most interesting to be the Cassis bier, just sweet enough. The salad bar was nothing to write home about. And we both had the Cream of Lettuce Soup. Good, but not something I'd cross town for. But the main dishes were very good. I had the mixed game sausages. I tiny bit dry, but better with the mustard. Wes had the Venison Ravioli. I think he got the best end of the deal.

At the hotel we ate on the ground floor restaurant, the name of which I cannot remember. There we had steaks. They were quite good, but nothing we can't get back home. The appetizer, however, was excellent! Bison Carpaccio, with shaved aged Parmesan, and a hazelnut-truffel oil. That was the best bison I've ever tasted.

Most of the time, however, I ate at the parties. And what food and drink there was to be had. There were cheeses, candies, cookies, treats, and all manner of adult beverages, from all around the globe. There was the Nippon party, hosted by the producers of the 2007 Worldcon, in Japan. They served Japanese Pancakes, and all kind of Japanese snacks that are hard to describe. And of course Sake. The Montreal party features something called 'Smoked Meat', which is evidently a local specialty. It is smoked brisket, on a bagel. And ther was the Friendly Scandinavians party, regulars at every Worldcon I have been to. They are a contingent of Fins , Swedes, and Norwegians. The, of course, featured Aquavite. Now if you haven't tried Aquavite yet, be careful. It has a very strong anise flavor, and it packs a punch. There were at least a dozen more parties, to many to review here. But it's not just the food and drink that make the parties. It's the mingling. There are always lots of old friends to meet up with, and new friends to be made. Friendships forged at Worldcons can last for decades. I got to meet David Kyle, likely the oldest SF fan yet living. He is a spry 90 years old, he attended the first Worldcon in 1936, and seems to have never left. And I met some other new friends, whom I will likely be connected with for years to come.

So that is my mini-travelogue. A brief introduction to Montreal, and Science-Fiction fandom. Maybe you will be moved to join our ranks. Either way, hope to see you at a storytelling venue soon.

Speaking of storytelling again...don't forget the concert I am producing on 8/22/09:

Lessons Learned Storytelling Concert

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Followed by reception and snacks

Do something fun before school starts!
James Nelson-Lucas brings some of his storytelling
friends from Orange and San Diego Counties to share stories for the whole family. Some true, some not so true, and others just plain fantastic. Laura Beasley, Dave Chittenden, Doris Hand,
Marilyn McPhie, Sara Saulter, and James will be telling. Be prepared for a a fun evening.

Admission at the door: $5.00

First Lutheran Church of Vista
1410 Foothill Dr
Vista, CA 92084
(760) 583-9578 for info

I hope to see you there