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Well, I'm glad I went. Although it did get a little expensive.

I spent the weekend in London, residing at his majesty's pleasure: Watching warez, watching films, meeting folk and buying books. And I decided that it doesn't seem entirely fair that it takes as long to get into the centre of London from his gaffe as it does from mine, yet he can buy weekend travelcards and I can't.

The reason for the meet was a rare chance to see the elusive deccasanta, along with the meet-virgins tizzle_b and veggiesu. And it all went a little something like this:

Friday evening saw Tom and I descend on Andrew's palace 'o beige. We watched new Angel (three episodes! I was a happy fanboy, even though one of them was rubbish), then moved on first (at the textual behest of brassyn) to Ms Polly Jean Harvey's appearance on Jools Holland, and subsequently to an unholy mix of IRC, Zelda, and phone calls to the ever-lovely hawleygriffen and despotliz. Certain parties found it hard to understand why they insisted on describing the three of us as dorks, thus sparking a debate that rumbles on to this day.

Saturday, and the three of us set off for a lunch meet with Christy and Su in the very core of London. Tuk-Tuk was once again the quick-and-easy-yet-tasty food venue of choice - the 'quick' being important, since Christy had to dash off in the direction of university friends earlier than any of us would have liked, shortly followed by Tom exiting stage left to catch a train home. I was so traumatised by the experience that I had to spend the afternoon buying books. Fopp should not be allowed to market SF Masterworks at three pounds a go whilst I am in such a vulnerable state.

(On the upside, I do now have copies of Viriconium, The Centauri Device, Emphyrio and The Dying Earth...as well as short story collections by James Blish and Lucius Shepard. Like I said: Traumatised and vulnerable. Not responsible for my actions.)

Su and Andrew put up with my indulgence with admirable fortitude (well, Su, at least; Andrew was busier joining in, with admirable stamina). As evening arrived, we met up with greengolux and twic for a dorky delight of a meal, infested by philosophical zombies, the confirmation that certain Matrix quotes are readily applicable to almost any situation, and dim-sum that looked suspiciously like strange alien body parts. Speaking of which, I noticed the director's cut of Alien is getting a cinematic release: Don't let me forget to go and see it.

It requires something very special to persuade me to roll out of bed early on a Sunday, but a chance (courtesy of free tickets won by Geneva) to see Castle in the Sky was sufficiently tempting. It didn't disappoint. The cynic in me might sometimes whisper that Ghibli is feted primarily for being just sufficiently different to Disney to be accepted as cool, but every time I see one of their films my inner child ends up beating my inner cynic into submission. Castle in the Sky is majestic, simple, beautiful, and above all full of wonder: Great retro-futuristic flying machines sailing the skies, robots who can obliterate armies or carefully tend gardens as required, evil spies and resourceful child-heroes whose characters are so strong they can even overcome the handicap of being given voice by Dawson. As Geneva so accurately put it, it's a distillation of every myth you've never heard, and a few that you're sure you have but can't quite place.

Later, Andrew and I once again met up with Christy and Su, this time around for another film: The Coen Brother's latest, Intolerable Cruelty. The charms of Clooney in a kilt were not enough to win me over. The last half-hour (from the moment when Clooney takes the stage at NOMAN) is perfect, there's no doubt - ricocheting perfectly from comedy to surrealism to genuine sentiment and back again - but the first hour is bad in a comparably comprehensive manner. It isn't sufficiently Coen to be a good Coen Brothers film, and it isn't sufficiently sentimental to be a good rom-com. If you're in the mood for subversive romance, see the far more cohesive Punch-Drunk Love instead.

After the film, Christy lead us on a roundabout - we went via Rohan - pilgrimage to a place of cocktails, food and waiters that I was informed were very pretty indeed. Nowhere's perfect, after all.

All in all, it was a good meet. tizzle_b is at least as cool as he seems online (although has anyone actually heard from him since the meet?), veggiesu is extremely generous, and it's probably true to say that deccasanta wouldn't make Channel Four's top 100 list of scary things. In short, they are all fine people, and it would be a pleasure to see any of them again.

And that, as they say, was that. But see also Andrew's take on events. Or Su's. Or Christy's. Or Tom's.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chasing links from your zombie philosophy link, we find one paper (http://www.well.com/user/jaron/zombie.html) which claims "zombies can only be detected if they happen to be philosophers", which i think is unlikely to be true, given their propensity for shambling, decomposing and eating peoples brains, and another (http://www.u.arizona.edu/~chalmers/papers/qualia.html) which, in a section called 'Dancing Qualia', turns into a Greg Egan 'jewel' story (although i think the argument's bogus - you can't go around replacing parts of people's brains and still claim that it's the exact same mind doing the perceiving; however, if you accept that you can replace parts of people's brains, then you basically can't have some discrete thing called a 'mind' anyway, at least not in the common-or-garden sense, and the moral of this story is that philosophy of mind is really just a load of dicking[1] about before the neuropsychologists eventually work it all out).

-- Tom

[1] Dicking, geddit? I makea ze joke!

I spent the weekend in London, residing at his majesty's pleasure:

Heehehe.

and subsequently to an unholy mix of IRC, Zelda, and phone calls to the ever-lovely hawleygriffen and despotliz.

Damn right we are.

Certain parties found it hard to understand why they insisted on describing the three of us as dorks, thus sparking a debate that rumbles on to this day.

It was a monumental day, indeed.

I was so traumatised by the experience that I had to spend the afternoon buying books. Fopp should not be allowed to market SF Masterworks at three pounds a go whilst I am in such a vulnerable state.

Yeahright.

Like I said: Traumatised and vulnerable. Not responsible for my actions.)

See above.



Later, Andrew and I once again met up with Christy and Su, this time around for another film: The Coen Brother's latest, Intolerable Cruelty. The charms of Clooney in a kilt were not enough to win me over.

No, really? Ah well, nobody's perfect.

What about those hilarious facial expressions of his?

The last half-hour (from the moment when Clooney takes the stage at NOMAN) is perfect, there's no doubt - ricocheting perfectly from comedy to surrealism to genuine sentiment and back again - but the first hour is bad in a comparably comprehensive manner. It isn't sufficiently Coen to be a good Coen Brothers film, and it isn't sufficiently sentimental to be a good rom-com. </i>

I've never been bothered about the coen style either way, and less sentimentalism in films, even romcoms, is okay with me. It was a funny, funny film, but a bit strange and mannered in places. Still fun, though. George was excellent.

All in all, it was a good meet. tomburnell is at least as cool as he seems online (although has anyone actually heard from him since the meet?),

It's a sekrit conspiratey to stop ny1 else metting him!!
George was excellent.

He was, actually. It's very annoying that he appears to have talent as well as looks. :-p

It's a sekrit conspiratey to stop ny1 else metting him!!

Well, he's voted in the dork poll. Twice.
Twice

Hee.
OMG! Dying earth is an actual book! Who by?
Jack Vance. I take it it exists in some other format as well, then?
It's the book that Martin Silenus wrote about the last years of Earth in the Hyperion Cantos. I seem to remember it started out as a great work and was edited into a hack soap-opera. He wrote a whole series of them - did Jack Vance?
Ah, I've never read any Dan Simmons, you see. But from what I've heard, it doesn't massively surprise me that he may have thrown in a reference to Vance. The impression I get is from looking at this edition is that it's like, say, the Cities in Flight edition - a collection of linked shorter works. I'm not sure whether any of them are novels in their own right, or whether they're short stories and novellas. But the whole thing is about 800 pages long... :)
The impression I get is from looking at this edition is that it's like, say, the Cities in Flight edition - a collection of linked shorter works. I'm not sure whether any of them are novels in their own right, or whether they're short stories and novellas

I believe there are four novels which make up the larger series of The Dying Earth. They are The Dying Earth, The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel's Saga and Rhialto the Marvellous. I thought I had at least the first two but I appear to only have The Eyes of the Overworld. Oops. I do have all four novels that make up Cities in Flight, at least. :)

As to whether Simmons was making reference to Vance in Hyperion, your guess is as good as mine. The plethora of references to things past - things related to Keats, Norse myth, and Greek myth - does make me wonder if there's something further back that he might be referring to instead. Or maybe it's just a coincidence.
And I decided that it doesn't seem entirely fair that it takes as long to get into the centre of London from his gaffe as it does from mine, yet he can buy weekend travelcards and I can't.

It doesn't! :P

And dude, this morning I found out my Kubricks Alien's jaw opens. And it has the inner set of jaws too!
dude [...] And it has the inner set of jaws too!

Hmm. Upgrades.
And dude, this morning I found out my Kubricks Alien's jaw opens. And it has the inner set of jaws too!

Good golly! Them damn Kubricks just keep getting cooler. If it wasn't for the fact that I have nowhere to keep them, and the fact that I spend my money on comics anyway, I'd be buying more of the little things.