Saturday, I met for coffee with fellow Philadelphia area poet, Peter Krok, who is the poetry director of the Manayunk Art Center (MAC) and editor of the Schuylkill Valley Journal. He's also got a new poetry book out, Looking for an Eye.
He had agreed to judge the 2007 Wild Violet Poetry Contest, so I met with him to deliver the entries and talk to him about the contest.
Of course, we got talking about other subjects, as well, mostly writing related. He pointed me to a number of area resources, such as a writer's conference coming up in June.
He also promised to introduce me to some people who might be able to help me find a publisher for my poetry manuscript. In return, I agreed to help him put together the online version of SVJ. They've been been looking to do an abbreviated online version of the semiannual.
We also talked about such varying topics as religion and politics, as well as about our day jobs, and I ended up staying a lot later than I'd expected to.
Afterwards, I had a number of errands to run, which of course, all took about three times as long as I'd expected. I had to pick up an IKEA gift card for a birthday party that evening for a friend I'll nickname, The Browncoat, as that is a term applied to fans of the Joss Whedon Firefly, one of her favorite series.
It took me longer than expected because I was looking for a DVD rack they no longer sell to get for some Alton Brown DVDs that Batman gave us as a wedding present. Drat. We'll have to figure out something else.
Then I stopped at Macy's to get more foundation from Clinique and for a card at the Hallmark store, both tasks taking far longer than I'd anticipated. So I didn't get back until about 3:30.
By that point, The Gryphon was starting to make our contribution to the party, an Asparagus Pasta Salad, from the Rachael Ray recipe book he got me for Christmas. I helped him, serving as his sous chef and chopping up items at his specifications. Once I finished that, I realized we had a limited amount of time to make it to the party, since we had to arrive before the guest of honor. So while The Gryphon took a shower, I whipped up dinner from some chicken from the freezer, along with some steamed vegetables and, of course, some pasta salad.
Now, that evening we were attending a party at the invitation of the Horror Film Buff, who is given to planning fun parties. This was a surprise black and white affair. They had tricked The Browncoat into believing she was going to be tending bar for an event. Since she would be dressed in black and white, he wanted us to be, as well.
Me and The Gryphon in our black and white
We arrived, as he'd requested, at about 7:15. The Browncoat was due to arrive at 8, so until it got close to the time, we socialized with the other guests. Anticipating every occasion, they'd even taped a piece of black cloth over the top half of the doorway so you couldn't see who was in the room until you walked in.
Then, when we got the word that she was arriving, we ducked down behind the bar so we could surprise her.
It was difficult for us 30- and 40-somethings to stay crouched down for so long, and we ended up grousing and giggling about it. When we found out she was finally coming, though, we got quiet.
My Canon PowerShot S400 has been repaired (for free!) and returned, so I could take much better pictures at this party than at the Red Dwarf marathon the previous weekend. I even managed to get a shot of her the moment we yelled surprise.
We were all amazed at her ability to keep hold of the container she was carrying while about 20-some people jumped out from behind the counter, yelling, "Surprise!"
Of course, then we all filed out from behind the bar and gave her hugs, and The Horror Film Buff got the music rolling again, from iTunes on his laptop, hooked into a sound system. He also had a disco ball, suspended from the ceiling and adding to the atmosphere. The table cloths, of course, were black with white silk poinsettias in glass vases.
We got to see people we don't get to see that often, including some fellow former Otakon staffers who said they might return to Otakon this year. I had worked with the wife in the Art Room years ago, helping to run what was then called Artists' Alley, now called simply The Alley. The two of them for many years also ran the Con Suite at Philcon. It was good to see them again.
We also got to see another friend, a writer and editor whom I'll nickname The Bad-Ass Faerie, because of her role in editing the collection Bad-Ass Faeries. Volume two, incidentally, is due out soon, and she showed me the cover art for it at the party. It is truly kick-ass.
There were the usual assortment of interesting people, such as The Social Butterfly, who danced to the Tom Lehrer song, "The Masochism Tango" with a friend I'll call The Actor, as he does a lot of regional theater.
A group of us danced wildly for a while, and I got really silly to "I Want to Be Sedated," collapsing on the floor at the end of it, much to everyone's amusement.
There were hot dogs, cookies, pretzels dip, and of course, our pasta salad, which was very popular with the few vegetarians at the party. I tried to use some tips I've learned through the Brian Wansink book, Mindless Eating, to curb my consumption. The tips included only eating from a plate, not taking more than two items at a time, staying more than an arm's length away from the table, and putting your plate down while talking to people.
Unfortunately, I didn't realize that Smirnoff Ice has a lot more calories than a typical bottle of beer, so I didn't do nearly as well as I'd thought I had.
The Browncoatwas feted with two cakes: one a regular chocolate cake with an image from Firefly on it, and the other a vanilla cup cake ice cream cake with Snoopy on it as the Flying Ace.
The Horror Film Buff had a lot of fun teasing her, joking about how we'd needed two cakes because there were so many candles. He also insisted that, since there were two cakes, we sing both "Happy Birthday" and a birthday dirge that's been all the rage at birthday parties with this group of people.
The Browncoat was good-natured about it and smiled broadly until they finally let her blow out her candles.
Later on, she opened her gifts. A lot of people had similar ideas, giving her gift cards to various places. She just moved into a new apartment, so this way she could buy whatever she wants or needs to get herself started in it. Others gave her DVDs of some of her favorite stories, as well as a collection of Peanuts books.
People kept making silly remarks, such as demanding to touch a present which was wrapped in a velvety black and white paper. The Horror Film Buff, who was in high spirits, kept saying, "And now, the birthday spankings." So when his wife joined us later, whom I'll nickname The Seamstress because of her near legendary skill, I told him that I thought that since he kept suggesting birthday spankings, he ought to be the one spanked. She nodded and agreed: "OK." Everyone within earshot laughed.
I had some interesting conversations with many people, including one woman who looks a lot like Rachael Ray and who is a fellow dog lover. In fact, she used to be a professional dog lover. We seemed to have a lot in common, but I neglected to find out her e-mail addy or whether she has a Live Journal. Ah, well. I'm sure we'll run into each other again.
I also had a good time talking with a guy I'll nickname The Showboater for his tendency to do splits and fancy acrobatic stunts while dancing at parties. He also liked to act out "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" with The Social Butterfly, if the song plays while they're both present.
The Showboater kept saying aloud the very things I was thinking, such as making snarky remarks during a conversation, or literally filling in the last word of a sentence I'd been saying. I joked that maybe we're twins separated at birth (but of course, with different parents and looking nothing alike, as he's dark-haired with olive skin).
I also talked to a women wearing a black corset who told me she's in the new Voltaire video which should be coming out soon. I'll have to look for it. And I got into a great conversation with The Social Butterfly's roommate about British comedy, and he told me about a series to check out, called I believe The Catherine Tate Show, where the newest Dr. Who, David Tennant, apparently had a very funny guest appearance.
In general, we had a great time, and what's best, I think The Browncoat did, too.
If you have two cakes, you have to sing twice.