A Whistle-Stop Tour of Worldcon75, Helsinki Day Three

Day Three – Aug 10: Immerse

Penny and I developed our morning routine: I’d get up, Penny would roll around on the air mattress making terrible sounds of woe, like a mortally wounded porpoise, while I made tea and coffee. Despite horrendous amounts of faffing about, we breakfasted, cleansed, made sandwiches and escaped the flat just after 9. God, I both love and hate those bicycles – three gears is not enough to ever feel like you’re cycling quickly, and for some reason that made it exhausting. My lungs were even unhappier in Helsinki than they are at home, but at least they kept pumping (unlike that horrible period on the flight over when I found I couldn’t breathe at all).
We made it! And that meant we could get into panels – specifically one with two of our authors, In Defense of the Unlikeable Heroine with Alex Wells and Kameron Hurley. The panel was in the enormous 101a&b rooms. The panellists were suitably badass, and unrepentant about challenging the evident double standards for male and female heroes. It gave me plenty to think about, and to remember to think about when I’m evaluating characters in the books I read. Thanks!
I stayed put, through laziness, and a desire to see Robert Silverberg talking about stuff, for Appeal of the Bland Protagonist. It was a rather odd panel, with people one more seeming to take it all very literally. No one wants a bland protagonist, but the ‘normal everyman’ tossed into extraordinary situations is pretty much a staple of all fiction, but they only reluctantly reached that conclusion at the end. I did like that Silverberg said that he rarely thought of the readers once he was writing – his only concern was the story itself. In rare form, I then managed to get into a third panel in a row: Kalevala – Finland’s Own Superheroes! A fascinating dive into the Finnish folk epic, moderated by our very own Craig Cormick. I know very little about Finnish folklore, so I was both lost and delighted.

Since we’d finally acquired Craig, we could return to the resting state of BarCon, where we also met Anne Lyle, yet another of our lovely and interesting authors. Much of the usual babble, plus I finally found Adrian and Annie Tchaikovsky, who are always an absolute delight.
After that, my usual inability to get into panels resumed so I returned to the Dealers Hall. The fantastic Lego I’d noticed on day one was still there, so I had an opportunity to chat with the builder, Eero Okkonen, who had built a tonne of fantastic Discworld and Star Wars characters. He’s got a great writeup of the event and his various models over at his blog cyclopicbricks. He also tipped me off about Helsinki’s Lego shop (more on that later in the week). I had a rather lovely time wandering around, poking at various pretty things and books people had written.
Time for food – Penny and I headed off for dinner with Anne Lyle. Pen had the genius idea of just hopping on a tram and getting off when we saw somewhere to eat. We ended up in a very stabby looking area, but did find what seemed to be the Finnish equivalent of a Harvester, Weeruska. They do an exquisite risotto. I was getting a bit jittery about time, since I needed to be back at the con for 9 to do the improv show.
Incredibly, we made it back just in time (allowing for a spot of running on my part). Of the 30 peeps from the workshop the day before, 7 of us had come back for more inWhose Con Is It Anyway? I was very happy to see Carrie and Hiren there, along with a couple of the guys we’d played with on Wednesday. The show was a suitable amount of carnage for a very amateur gang, and the audience were generous and fun. We played some games I would never have considered – like a weird Star Trek setup where you have two redshirts describing the environment, and the one where someone else provides your arms. We did manage to get some story into them though, otherwise I think it would have just hurt. About halfway through, Lizzit (our organiser) confessed that she’d left her notes, plan and laptop on a bus earlier! I offered to help and guided the mob through Story-Story-Die, and what became a really good Trigger Words scene for all of us, based in a restaurant.
Our attempts to have team post-show drinks were thwarted by insane queues, so I bounced off with Penny, the Patels, and Eric and his other half, Tara (the magnificent craftmistress of the mountains). We headed into darkest Helsinki, in search of beer. Our first stop was a bar whose name I cannot, for the life of me recall, but it was nice… Then back to the Rock Church and Storyville. We were too late for music, but not too late to sit outside and late drink into the night. I found myself drinking Brewdog’s Punk IPA, which was pretty good. It was lovely intimate night out, and a lot of fun.
I don’t know how we got home.

Talk Like A Pirate Day on Notts TV

We have a fantastic local digital TV channel called Notts TV, they do a great range of news and features, which you can watch on TV as well as on catchup and on the web. Fancy innit, this future world. For this year’s Talk Like A Pirate Day (September 19, in case you’ve forgotten this most hallowed of dates) I was invited onto Notts TV’s topical talk show, Notts Tonight by the splendid Merryn Rae Peachey. I was there mostly to teach them how to talk like pirates, so… I did.
The clip below is just the bit I’m in, but you should go and watch the whole programme too – they’ve got some rather inspiring athletes and this kickass beatboxer Alex MotorMouf. Check it out right here. What a lovely bunch, I’d love to return and talk some more.

Gig Alert: Smash Night at The Angel Wed 27 September

One of my most favourite shows of the month: Smash Night. Haven’t been yet? You should come. It’s a fucktonne of fun, and provides an essential mid-week brain boost (though it trashes my Thursday every damn time). I’ll be marshalling the Smash Night Social Club again, along with my lovely other half, Marilyn and a mob of splendids. Be there!

From MissImp.co.uk:

We’re Back! Let’s Smash It.

Never-seen-before… Never-to-be-seen-again! Watch in amazement as some of the finest improv teams around live life on the edge, experiment and push the boundaries of what they do with hilarious results! Witness them take to the stage with nothing but their wits and transform YOUR suggestions spontaneously into scenes and stories bound to be breath-taking and bloody hilarious.
What more could you want from a Wednesday?
The Angel
7 Stoney Street
7.30pm – tickets on the door £5/£3
Join the Facebook event
Find it!
Tonight’s line-up:
Witness the incredible as The Clones take to the stage. With no script, no staging, and only a pair of chairs for a set, Liam and Lloydie spin a simple audience suggestion into hilarious, spontaneous entertainment. Plots and sub-plots galore, and a whole cast of characters effortlessly juggled by the two improvisers. You will laugh, you may cry… Who knows what’ll happen? They sure don’t.

The Voxpops are a Missimp House team who turn true stories into great comedy. You’ll never guess the twists a story can take with the Vox Pops and the truth has never been funnier.
Our in-house team is a revolving cast of the brightest and boldest of the improv scene. This ragtag collection of comedy cowboys play fast ’n’ loose with the rules (and their metaphors), throw off the hand brake, and whisk you away to a place you never dreamed of.
Spinning your suggestions into scenes and stories, characters and creatures, myths and monsters! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you may even find yourself questioning everything you ever knew… Only one thing’s for certain when these guys hit the stage: you ain’t in Kansas any more, punk!
Last month’s madness:

Under the Crossbones podcast ep 110 Nick Tyler aka Captain Pigheart

A couple of weeks ago I received a lovely email, quite out of the blue, from one Phil Johnson, comedian and pirate-lover (no, not like that, well – not with me. Maybe next time.) inviting me to be interviewed for his podcast, Under the Crossbones.
It’s a very cool podcast, covering an astonishing range of people interested in pirates, from historians and underwater archaeologists to, well, me. It was an especially nice invitation given that I’ve been a touch quiet on the pirate front of late. It is my piratical renaissance!
After a brief implosion of anxiety, I agreed, and I’m glad we did because we had a delightful chat, about Captain Pigheart, writing in general, MissImp: Improv Comedy Theatre Nottingham, Flash Pulp, Transformers and Lego (so piratey). Hopefully Phil’s listeners will approve. I had a lot of fun…
Anyhoo – listen below, on the embedded track player, or the YouTube version, and then go and subscribe to the podcast , follow the show on Twitter – enjoy, it’s a good un.