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Another First Discworld Con... - petermorwood [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Another First Discworld Con... [Nov. 13th, 2009|01:33 am]
[Tags|, , , , ]
[Current Location |At the desk]
[mood |contentcontent]
[music |Benny Goodman - Goodbye]

...The Irish one this time, and just as good in its own way as the USDWCon at the beginning of September. One was big, the other was small; one was far away, the other was relatively speaking in our own back yard, one was hot and dry, the other was intermittently but impressively - Hollywood special effects impressively - wet.

And then the sun would come out :-)

D and I had a great time - including one especial benefit, being able to sit and speak to Terry for the first time in too long. We didn't have any opportunity to chat with him at all during the Tempe convention, so really enjoyed being able to just talk: about knightly things like spurs (we gave him a pair, since HM didn't) and swords (he's making one, since HM overlooked that, too) and the leverage being a Sir can give against the more annoyingly petty bureaucracies; about writery things like DragonDictate, which can now be trained to recognise the vocabulary of a complete backlist; and about stuff we weren't allowed to mention till the banquet - the Scottish BAFTA award for Living With Alzheimer's. I'm happy the documentary won, but at the same time I wish it had never needed made.

We had the chance for a natter with Jack Cohen and Bernard Pearson as well. Jack is as wise as ever, and added some interesting comments to our impromptu, five-minutes-warning Folklore panel (the original panellist didn't show) that gave people second thoughts about having furry slippers in their bedrooms, never mind on their feet. Bernard is his usual ebullient self - has anyone ever thought of bottling that man's laugh as an anti-depressant? If an audible dictionary needs to define guffaw, that's what to use.

Much beer was consumed over the weekend (of course) and I'm not the only one to think that Sir T. Pratchett, all in black with a white beard, looked very well matched by the pint of Guinness in his hand. He also seemed very at ease, so much so that he decided to extend his stay at the hotel. And There Was Much Rejoicing.

We weren't the only ones who got plenty of Terry-time beyond the programme items (where there were a few moved or cancelled events, but nothing earthshaking that a glance at the Voodoo Board couldn't fix.) The Falls Hotel and the convention numbers were both cosy enough that he was able to sit in one place and let the con come to him - which it did, with great enthusiasm. As he said at the closing ceremony, IDWCon gave him fond recollections of other early conventions, and he even used the word "relaxacon."

Though fortunately not the word "custard." :-D

[User Picture]From: dewline
2009-11-13 02:06 am (UTC)
This is indeed good news for any number of reasons. Glad to read it, Peter.
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[User Picture]From: miss_next
2009-11-13 07:38 am (UTC)
Sounds wonderful. :-)

I will not own a pair of furry slippers again ever since the Dreaded Flea Epidemic of a year or two ago. Normally I start prophylactically squirting my cats for fleas around April and do it once a month until September or October, and this works. Unfortunately Heidi took such an aversion to my lodger that I could not get close enough to her to squirt her (because she is a nervous cat, and if there is one thing bothering her it rattles her entire little world), and the results were predictably awful.

And they got into my furry slippers. You don't want a description of the state of my feet at the time.

Finally, I lost it. I put the slippers in the microwave, turned it on full, and waited. I'm not a violent person, but I have to say there was a certain satisfaction in incinerating the little vampire bugs.

I do not know what was in those slippers, but when I started to smell the smoke I moved like lightning. I threw the slippers out onto the patio and opened all the windows. It still took most of the rest of the day to clear the smell, and it's a big kitchen. The slippers, needless to say, were ruined; it was, however, some small consolation that the fleas were dead.

I was later told I should have wrapped them up and put them in the freezer for a couple of days. Nonetheless, that's the last pair of furry slippers I ever own!
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[User Picture]From: dewline
2010-01-01 04:21 am (UTC)
A rotten fate for the slippers, to be sure.
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[User Picture]From: la_marquise_de_
2009-11-13 11:46 am (UTC)
Sounds good.
When are you and D coming over this way, then?
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[User Picture]From: petermorwood
2009-11-13 05:59 pm (UTC)
Sometime in 2010, if everything works out (and quite apart from the UKDWCon in Birmingham.)

It's been too long since we made a trip to the UK for reason except a convention, and the last one of those was in 2006.

Time to do something about that.

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[User Picture]From: la_marquise_de_
2009-11-16 04:43 pm (UTC)
That's splendid. Let us know when you're coming over and hopefully we can go and look at swords or some such (Phil has a number of new ones since you last saw them.)
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[User Picture]From: xipuloxx
2009-11-13 01:35 pm (UTC)
Hi Peter! Sounds great, I wish I'd been able to go. Issues of time, awkwardness of getting there and, most of all, money prevented it, sadly.

Glad it was good, though, and hopefully I'll be able to make it to the next one.

But I have to ask:

"gave people second thoughts about having furry slippers in their bedrooms, never mind on their feet"

-- what?! You can't leave us hanging like that! Explain! I have all sorts of disturbed ideas crawling around in my brain now...

(Fortunately I have no furry slippers, but my wife does!)
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[User Picture]From: occams_pyramid
2009-11-13 02:37 pm (UTC)
Presumably this would be the mistranslation of "Fur slipper" to "Glass slipper", and the extremely Freudian explanation of what "Fur slipper" implies.
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[User Picture]From: petermorwood
2009-11-13 05:33 pm (UTC)
Give that man a prize! :-)

Vair means "fur." (The word's still used in modern heraldry to describe a specific blue-and-white pattern representing back-and-belly squirrel-pelts.) Verre means "glass."

Jack's a Professor of Reproductive Biology, so I can see where he's coming from - like his interpretation of "Rumpelstiltskin," where a "stilt with a rumpled skin" has a meaning I never thought of! - but as in the case of the fur-to-glass slipper, the theory stumbles over translation. The original German word Rumpelstiltzchen had nothing to do with stilts or skin, rumpled or otherwise, and the villain of one original English version (hilariously reproduced in dialect in Katherine Briggs's Dictionary of Fairies) is called Tom Tit Tot.

I suspect the change from verre to vair in Perrault's story was no accident, and wasn't an attempt to cover up anything Freudian (after all, a cigar is often just a cigar, especially when you set light to the end of it.)

Glass is more fairytale-romantic than even the finest fur, certainly more appropriate to stories by a fashionable gentleman familiar with the powder and crinoline court of Louis XIV. I think the pun only(?) works in French, with the English version a translation from Perrault so the slippers are already glass. The German version Aschputtel has golden slippers, and in a couple of other versions the material is so unimportant it isn't mentioned - but in all of them it's the fit that counts.

We mentioned the Aarne-Thompson Folktale Motif Index during our sudden panel at IDWCon, and Cinderella is Type 510-A (heroine persecuted by mother/stepmother + hero/heroine receives supernatural aid) - meaning that the persecution, its source, and the means to put things right, are all more important than what the slipper/shoe/coat/girdle represents: that's only a means of identifying the real heroine even when the villains try to hide her.

The "Ugly" - read "Wicked" as in stepmother - stepsisters are willing to cut bits off their own feet to fit the shoes, or lace themselves so tight they almost die to fit the gown: but it doesn't have a sexual connotation, just shows what they're willing to do even to themselves to satisfy their greed and keep Cinderella in her place.

Briggs, by the way, also refers to Assipattel or Cinderlad, the male equivalent, and points out an important difference beyond that of gender: Cinderella starts high-born and is cast down, but Cinderlad starts low-born and ascends, through strength, cunning - or sometimes a very Pratchett-like ability to look at an obstacle in just the right wrong way. Carrot is a combination of the two: he's high, cast down and can ascend through strength, cunning etc. - but he likes where he is just fine. For now, anyway.

I like folklore. Can you tell?

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[User Picture]From: xipuloxx
2009-11-13 06:37 pm (UTC)
Ah, right, thanks!

I knew about the "vair/verre" thing, but I'd never heard about a supposed Freudian interpretation...
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[User Picture]From: petermorwood
2009-11-13 07:07 pm (UTC)
Since the prince, plainly unclear on the concept, was trying to find which girl was his proper wife-to-be by putting her foot in her fur slipper (as opposed to his, ahem, foot - a big lad, or boastful...) Freud would have had a field day.

Something long, thick and cylindrical in the mouth may suggest one thing (as we saw at a Star Trek convention when the smoker was Denise Crosby in a Little Black Dress and a Big Black Cigar, oh dear oh dear oh dear) but following up by setting fire to one end and slowly charring it to ashes suggests something else entirely and works better than a cold shower.

That's why all the details and implications have to be considered - details, as mentioned, that include what the original word was in its own language, and whether the Freudian theory is based more on "it looks like this in my language, so that's what it must mean all along."

Die Wurst ist noch zu kommen - "The wurst is yet to come." Threat, or promise of sausage?

And yes, you can put a sexual spin on both. :-)

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[User Picture]From: siliconshaman
2009-11-13 04:29 pm (UTC)
I recollect a friend of ours mentioning that unless he was in the privacy of his own home, Sir PTerry has a sort of portable Con field around him...i.e where-ever he is, seems like it's a con.

Actually, there was some speculation on what part/time of the con it was, and we all agreed that it had to be around 10pm on the last day, when everyone is relaxed and mellow and just sitting around chatting after the events are over.

I'm sad to learn that HM doesn't provide spurs or swords to knights..how very remiss. [I suppose in days of yore they bought their own as well.]
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[User Picture]From: petermorwood
2009-11-13 05:54 pm (UTC)
The Nonrestrictive Mobile Convention Field Theory... I like that. :-D

I'd say the effective time is a bit earlier than last day 10pm, when people are still mentally "at the con" rather than starting to think of packing, checkout, travel, resuming work and not seeing that particular group of friends again for X months/years/till the next one. That feeling's the opposite of NMC Field; I call it post-con tristesse and in all these years I've never learned to like it.

Spurs and swords used to be provided for newly-made knights, but by their immediate superior - the one to whom they'd be giving their fealty and service; basically the feudal overlord was providing his new employee with tools for his work. Getting something like that directly from the King was most unusual, except on the battlefield, and had all sort of connotations including a field commission.

If the knight was naughty later on, the spurs were cut off (and put in the soup, for some sound reason I can't remember right now) and the sword was broken (which is a completely different thing to the Lost or Broken Sword folklore motif, but let's not start that one again...)
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