RavenCon Report

Dan and I went to Ravencon this weekend, which was a little strange, since normally we take the boys with us.  The trip started out badly.  I mean, our flight was diverted to DC, which I expect was an attempt against my life.  Fortunately I had with me sister Agnes’ ruler, which glows in the presence of evil, and therefore managed to finish a book while waiting for the plane to refuel and head back to Ravencon.

Seriously, being stuck on the plane for a long time gave me my first chance in a couple of years to just sit and read.  I remember I used to like this, and as soon as the present crunch is over we must arrange life so I have a day a week to do this in.

So we got to our hotel at 9 and had to send Kate Paulk to be me on a panel on muses, which is okay, since I think we share one (And she’s a right bitch) while we went off with Tedd Roberts and Doc W. and James Cochrane for dinner.

Afterwards, we got to hang out with Kate and I think I had a panel, though d*mned if I remember.  Anyway, we went to the room to find in the confusion with our reservations, they hadn’t actually got the feathers out of my room.  My allergy is of a slow kind (I don’t flop down and die on contact) but if I spend a night in a room with feathers, I’ll be congested for two weeks.  Getting the feathers out took till two in the morning, which would have been okay, except I had an early morning panel.  Anyway — so, that was that.  And then on Saturday we got a bunch of fans-who-are-now-friends and who came to visit with/meet, including frequent commenters on my blor, like RES and CACS and the wonderful Laura M. who comments here.

The con immediately partook the feel of a family reunion only slightly interrupted by the Baen roadshow (we were escorted to our positions by members of the manticorean navy.) Anyway, much fun, and I got to talk way too much.

Then followed the Baen dinner and then the Matrons and crones panel, about whom more shall be said at ATH tomorrow morning, because I’m not up to it tonight.

Most of the panels were fun, though.

Highlights: they put me in a humor panel at 9 am on Sunday, which for non-con goers, is the night after party-night.  Whoever did that is not NEARLY as funny as he/she thinks he/she is.  That’s all I have to say.  Also, I was in a linguistics panel with Lawrence Schoen who told me among other things that people aren’t named in the language-of-use.  I refuse to explain to a man surnamed Schoen that there are exceptions to that rule.  Overall, though, he’s far more serious about his linguistics, and the panel was very interesting.

Also, on a panel (can’t remember which) I got to hear our very own Kate answer a “Australia?  I thought you were from New Zealand” with a laugh out loud piece of Aussie prejudice.  “Hell, no.  I’m not a sheep shagger.”  You have to hear it in Kate’s accent to get the full effect.

Other cool things — I got to see many of my Baen barfly friends, which is good, and I got to hang out with David Pascoe and his wife Sarah (aka #3 adopted son and #1 adopted daughter in law.)

I actually had a line for my signing, which was a first at a small con.  (Okay, yes, one of you was at least five people in line, but all the same.)  And all the sellers in the huckster room had my books.

Anyway — much fun, and if money permits next year I’ll be back.  For one, I’d like to see Kate more often than once every eight years.

Oh, one thing — no, two:

1st, the hotel was struck by lightening before we arrived.  If this doesn’t appear in a con book, I’ll be heartbroken.

2nd Kate was wearing a “sheddy” glittery outfit, and shed glitter all over our car seat, the hotel seat, the paths she walked, and David Pascoe.  Needless to say we made countless jokes about glittery hoo-has, because that’s the kind of caring, sensitive friends we are.

Pardon the confused report — my husband got con crud and of course is sharing it, so I’m very tired.  Reports on Matrons and crones tomorrow.



  1. Diverted to DC on a flight to Richmond? Been there, done that… and our luggage went to Richmond without us! Glad you enjoyed the con, I will get John’s after-action report after he has had time to recover .

  2. Tell me someone got pictures of the trail of a glittery hoo-haw! We should put them up on a cryptozoology site somewhere as empirical evidence that those fabulous creatures truly do walk among us, and probably some of them chew gum with the rest of us! I mean, if the vagina dentata invades the dreams of teen boys, we should also offer them the tales of the glittery hoo-haw.

  3. Just curious – what do you mean by people “not being named in the language of use”?
    (I am asking because I – and many others Jews – definitely _are_ named in our own language… I mean, my name has a _meaning_ in Hebrew…)

    1. Yes, and Lawrence being Jewish he should know that too, though Hebrew might be a special case. He meant that people aren’t named “jar” and “pitcher” and “desk” — and this is true for given names. True and irrelevant. What I was arguing for was coherent naming. For instance, if you are in a parallel world where there’s never been a Torah or a Bible, your kid should not be named Joshua or a variant. I mean, yeah, the syllables could have just joined accidentally, but the chances against that are minimal. (I don’t advocate that sort of parallel world, because it’s so hard to extricate Judeo-Christianity from our culture, though. But that’s neither here nor there. It’s just the challenge mode, and most people fail.) Anyway, it amused me, since his last name means “pretty” in German… 😛

      1. On the other hand, English-speaking people are named ‘rose’ and ‘carl’ and ‘wolf’, and in extreme cases, even ‘dirk’ and ‘amber’. And most of the surviving Anglo-Saxon names (Edward, Edith, Alfred, and so on) were in the language of use when originally coined. So it is by no means a hard and fast rule.

        1. And in Portugal many names have meanings in the language. I’m still worried about anyone naming a child Maldonado, unless they mean it to go by opposites….

          1. I don’t quite understand the Maldonado reference. I have a friend from Guatemala where that is his last name — or at least part of it — those multiple-hyphenate names are too confusing for a northern Celtic WASP type like myself. You’ll have to translate for me to understand.

            1. “Badly given” is the literal translation. If you go archaic it’s “Badly fated” if you go more modern it’s “badly endowed”. One of dad’s friends was Maldonado as a given name.

      2. Actually Joshua also has a meaning in Hebrew :)… (For those who don’t know: it is a contraction of “Yeh Yoshia”, or “God will save”)
        This is true for most biblical names – many of them are just derived from other ancient languages in the region, so are more obscure.

        1. That was understood, what I didn’t understand (and yes, it’s a real life example, though not Joshua) was why someone felt compelled to drag the name into ‘totally other world, with different history and religions.”

          1. There are tons of same-language names with ordinary meanings. Flower names, jewel names, tree names (hi, Cedar!), brand names, placenames, month and day names, names involved with the conception of the child.

            That said, names are usually sacred, aspirational, family-used, or pleasing/pretty.

          2. Yep, I’ve seen that. Even funnier, I’ve seen it in pagan-written pagan fantasy worlds. I believe the name was Krista or Christopher or something like that, and the author honestly didn’t realize that it was an extremely, intrinsically Christian name.

            Which reminds me. For that campus doing the “I don’t say that” thing. Somebody needs to find the first and/or last names of the perps, Photoshop their ads, and write taglines complaining about the gender norming and other PC crimes of these people’s own names. I realize this is petty and proves nothing, but it might possibly be an example they couldn’t ignore.

            1. The worst example I can think of was from David Eddings’s execrable Malloreon. The hero had a stallion named Chretienne.

              A French name, meaning a female Christian, for a stallion, in a world that had neither the French language nor Christianity. I threw up in my mouth a little every time I read that stupid name.

            2. I really like David Dalglish’s fantasy novels, but there are some annoying ordinary names in there that bug me. I know GRRM does it a bit, but the way he does it, it feels natural somehow. Oh well.

      3. I know of one sort-of exception to the “not named in the language of use” rule, and that’s Thai. “Sort-of” exception because it’s nicknames, not names. Thai names are generally long, multisyllable constructions like Somsonge Burusphat or Benjawan Poomsan (the names of two Thai authors whose excellent language-learning books are on my bookshelf). But when a Thai person introduces himself to you, he’s not going to give you his official name — that’s reserved for formal occasions like graduation ceremonies. He’s going to introduce himself to you by his nickname, which is usually a short, one-syllable or two-syllable Thai word. Like “Nok” (bird), or “Nam” (water), or “Plaa” (fish). Sometimes they’re even English words that sound cool to Thai ears, like “bank” or “ice”.

        So how would you tell names apart from real words? Well, there’s always context, but Thai also has titles, like “Khun” (the generic title, equivalent to “Mr.”), or “Ajaan” (“doctor” or “professor”). So the secretary at the doctor’s office might be “Khun Nam” (“Ms. Water”) and the doctor himself might be “Ajaan Nok” (“Dr. Bird”). So it’s generally easy to tell names apart from words… but the names Thai people use in their day-to-day life are indeed Thai words, making this an exception to the general rule.

        1. I was not the best Thai speaker in my family, and what I had has dwindled away mostly. I had a friend name Boong, as a kid, but she changed it to Geseren when she got older. By any chance, do you know what Geseren means?

          1. I don’t, but I know some people I can ask. Give me a couple of days and I may have an answer for you. Or I might not, if what my acquaintances say is “No idea, that’s not a Thai word”. I know some Thai nicknames are English words like “bank” or “ice”, and “Geseren” sounds vaguely German to my ears rather than Thai. But I’ll ask around and see what I find out, if anything.

            1. You are very kind, but I don’t want to put you to any trouble. Only if it’s easy.

      1. I will second Kate being fun and not suffering fools gladly. She is worth traveling some distance to meet.

    1. I got to meet Kate. I kind of hate to say this, but her eyes glittered more than her ensemble. They’re a very bright blue. One look at those eyes, and it was quite obvious that she was the woman who wrote those wicked Con books.

      Getting to meet Sarah was a thrill. She’s adorable, and an inspiration in so many ways.

      (Ok, fine, I’m in fan-girl mode. There you go.)

      1. Thank you! It was a blast meeting you and everyone else – as Sarah says, family and friends you haven’t met yet.

  4. Also, I was in a linguistics panel with Lawrence Schoen who told me among other things that people aren’t named in the language-of-use. I refuse to explain to a man surnamed Schoen that there are exceptions to that rule. Overall, though, he’s far more serious about his linguistics, and the panel was very interesting.

    Sweet Mary, Young Mary, Fat (as an infant, he was huge), John The Kid and Hicks the Elder all beg to disagree. (Folks I actually know, first hand– being related and all!)

  5. The sheep-shagger comment happened in the Xeno-Linguistics panel. And damn, what else was I supposed to say? I mean, really, you don’t mix up Aussies and Kiwis, you just don’t. It’s like calling a Canadian American…

    Oh, I should add, the Kiwi version is “roo-rooter”. Aussies and Kiwis are friendly like that.

Comments are closed.