Comicpalooza Day 2: Moppets & More

Official business completed, we spent several hours wandering through the Comicpalooza exhibit hall.

Passing by a panel in discussion mode, I heard a young woman say that when she first became involved in cosplay,  she was shocked that strangers came up and touched her. She wasn’t prepared for that. I wasn’t prepared to hear they touched her. Ick.

Nearby a poster read in part, “Cosplay is not consent.” If you want to touch a costume or pose with the player for a picture, ask first.

That cleared up something for me: You don’t have to ask to take a picture; you have to ask to pose with them for a picture. It’s smart to ask before taking any picture, because if you do, the subject will stop and strike a pose and smile, or, in the case of the mean, scary ones, snarl. But for just taking pictures of costumes in the crowd, no.

Concerning the use of photos of Comicpalooza attendees, the program states that attendees acknowledge and consent to being photographed, filmed, recorded, etc., and relinquish any reasonable expectation of privacy, and grant to Comicpalooza LLC an “irrevocable, royalty and attribution-free right to use, publish and otherwise exploit (and allow others to use and otherwise exploit) any photograph, motion picture, image, recording, or any other record of attendance during Comicpalooza, in whole or in part, in perpetuity throughout the universe, in all media and means, now known or hereafter developed or discovered, for any promotional or other commercial purpose.”

I’d say that covers about everything. An Oxford comma is absent, however, so the meaning might not be as clear as one would think.

We saw many glamorous characters in many glamorous costumes. But the stars were the little people. I wish I’d gotten more shots of them.

The Houston Public Library bookmobile was excellent.

The big people, beasts, and thingies weren’t bad either. The Siberian husky was exquisite.


The spell check button is still missing from the WordPress toolbar. I’m beginning to think it was a figment of my imagination. I hope it comes back.


Headline: Guess Who Sold a [Copy of a] Book

Our first full day at All-Con Dallas 2018 was a rousing success. I sold a book.

A man picked up a copy of DAY OF THE DARK and asked if I had change. I was gobsmacked. Of course I didn’t have change. I hadn’t thought about needing change. I didn’t even have my purse.

David, standing behind me, pulled out his wallet and handed me two fives. I handed them to the customer in exchange for a twenty.

It was fun. I forgot to say, “Would you like me to autograph that for you?” But I’m new at this.

David, as usual, was more prepared than I. He came armed with Tootsie Pops and a bowl he’d bought at Walmart. Two Pops were taken, the first by a monster, and the second by me.

I’d forgotten how much trouble lollipops are. When you have one in your mouth, you can’t talk, and when you take it out of your mouth, you lose the use of one hand. David suggested I set it on a sticky note. Later, when I picked it up, I discovered something interesting: the stickum on the back of the sticky note was stickier than the stickum under the Tootsie Pop.

Most of the attendees were in costume, and we took a lot of pictures. David’s are good; he didn’t mind asking people to stop so he could get a shot. I was reluctant to ask anyone to do anything, so I snapped many of my subjects as they walked toward, by, and away from me. Moving targets, as it were. Fortunately, David shares.

Selling the book was the first Big Deal of the day.

The second also occurred while I was parked at the Aliens and Mysteries table. A man stopped to look at books and stayed to talk about crime fiction, and then about crime, and that led to his saying his grandfather was a Texas Ranger from 1928 into the 1950s. For over a year, I had looked without success for a certain piece of information about the Rangers in the ’50s. So I asked; he told me. I just love serendipity.

The second experience was also serendipitous, but it goes well beyond Big Deal. Tonight I had a sudden inspiration–an epiphany–that could change the course of my life as a writer.

And the credit goes to Lady Lola Lestrange of La Divina Burlesque.

I didn’t get a picture of her. But you can look her up.


Elevators, Mysteries, Aliens, Swords, and One Bunny Rabbit

Reporting from All-Con 2018 in Dallas, Texas. Tomorrow we’ll sit at a table outside the Lalique Ballroom and sell our wares–David has Alien Resort patches; I have copies of Lone Star Lawless, Day of the Dark, and Murder on Wheels.

I say we’ll sell, but that’s to be seen. I asked David if he plans to stand in front of the table and call to passersby, “Do you like aliens? I have some alien stuff here. And my wife has books for sale. She’s a writer.”

He said, “No.”

That’s not good. I expected him to hawk my merchandise. Like Jane Austen’s Lizzie, I don’t initiate conversations with people to whom I haven’t been introduced. Especially when I want them to buy something.

Years ago, a friend encouraged me to sell Mary Kay makeup. It could have been a lucrative career. I might have ended up with a pink Cadillac and a bulging bank account.

Water tower, Holland, TX

But my pitch would have gone like this: “Mary Kay makes excellent makeup, and reasonably priced, and you don’t have to go to Dillard’s and stand around waiting for the saleslady to notice you’re there; just call and I’ll deliver it to your door. But women don’t need really need makeup, they put all that goop on their faces and for what?, vanity, just vanity, and you know what the Bible says about that, and you can’t afford it anyway, save your money to buy something of lasting value.”

I liked the makeup, but I kept on teaching.

Our drive to Dallas was uneventful and as pleasant as a drive from Austin to Dallas can be. If you’ve ever taken that route, you know what I mean. I rode the train to Fort Worth several years ago. Boarding, I so looked forward to the scenery: trees and grass and farmhouses and cattle and horses and possibly a chicken or two.

Oh, silly me.

Building with Macaroni on side

It was flat, barren plowed land, and scrubby fields lying fallow, pretending to be pasture, and the warehouse districts of a string of small towns. The most interesting sights were the water tower in Holland and a building with Macaroni painted on the side. A few cows grazed in the distance. No chickens.

No wi-fi, either, for writers who have to keep an online thesaurus running behind their digitized manuscripts.

Unlike IH-35 scenery, the hotel is attractive. The convention holds promise, too. On the way to our room, we met a bunny rabbit. She wore a G-rated costume of electric blue and black and had black ears, black fishnet stockings, and a reasonable amount of visible skin. She was cute. I didn’t want to be obvious, so I didn’t turn around to check for a powder puff tail. 

Fortunately, David registered early enough to get a room on a lower floor. It’s near the elevators, so we don’t have to walk down a long hall to reach them. Also, our rides down will be brief.

At a hotel where we stayed last year, only one of the two elevators was in service, and therefore was always crowded. During each ride, I was sorely tempted to break into a chorus of “Getting to Know You.” We got to know one another quite well.

Elevator rides could be critical this weekend. David reported that on one of his recon missions, he saw people with swords. I don’t want to be in close quarters with a bunch of Game of Thrones wannabes, especially when they might have spent happy hour swilling mead.

Now I backtrack: As I wrote the preceding paragraph, I realized All-Con elevators pose no particular threat. Since last September, it’s been legal in Texas to carry blades over 5.5 inches.

Said Time Magazine shortly after Gov. Greg Abbot signed the bill into law,

People could already carry knives with blades under the 5.5-inch limit, but they generally could not purchase or carry longer weapons. Now they will be able to take many more weapons with them when they run errands, for example, or when acting out their favorite scenes from Game of Thrones in the local park.”*

Not long after, CBS News reported,

“Carrying a sword down the street, carrying a Bowie knife down the street… completely legal. Machetes if you want to,” said general manager at the House of Blades in Fort Worth, Ahnna Escobedo.

“I think it was more to give people more rights and to make sure they felt like they were free to carry what they wanted,” Escobedo said. “Texas move right there, sure.”

Time points out the law wasn’t pushed through without thought.  “… [A]fter a man was accused of killing a University of Texas at Austin student and wounding three others with a hunting knife, debate on the legislation was delayed. And the bill’s author, State Rep. John Frullo, stated, “House Bill 1935 provides a common sense solution by prohibiting any knife with a blade over five-and-a-half inches in certain location restricted areas,…”


Not a bunny rabbit

Frullo also said, he just wanted to simplify current laws: “‘What we wanted to do was make a law where citizens could understand it, law enforcement could understand it and the judicial system could understand it … It adds clarity. All we have to do is use a tape measure and we can tell whether or not a knife is legal to carry.'”

The law also prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from carrying swords, machetes, and other long, pointy weapons.

[I think law enforcement understood the original law–heck, I understood it. If a tape measure said a knife was longer than 5.5 inches, police should then haul the carrier to straight to the pokey. But that’s just me.]

Anyway. Forgive my whining about elevators and swords. We’re probably as safe here in the hotel with people dressed up as pirates and ogres and princesses as we are on the streets of Austin. Safer. Who can say? Not I.

Tomorrow I shall rise, breakfast, help David attach our banner to our table outside the Lalique Ballroom, and prepare to do battle with whoever and whatever comes at me.

I hope it’s nothing scarier than the bunny rabbit.


*Am I the only reader to detect a hint of laughter in this sentence? I’ll wager I’m not.


Did I say David also witnessed this scene:

A woman walked in carrying a long gun.

A man said, “Is that a deer rifle?”

“Yes,” said the woman. “I got it for twenty dollars. They were having a going-out-of-business sale.”

Just one more thing to think about in the elevator.


Night of the Violent Mirdango

Oh, Lord Azoth.” Miss Brulzies laid the palm of her soft little hand on his cytanic dargest. “That is just the most impressive, the most cytanic dargest I’ve ever come across.”

Adjusting his eyewire, Lord Azoth said with a flaudant gipple, “You little hoyden. You knew wearing that white ignibrate would jackonet my kreits. And the rose sticking out of your ligara… Ye gads! I cannot restrain myself. Will you glide across the floor with me in a violent mirdango?”

Yes, yes, yes!” And then, “But do you think we should? Neymald stands by the punch bowl, and his oxene eyes hint he’s already pecanada, and we should not qualt him. You know–you must know–that our mirdango, especially if we perform it violently, will ryot him into committing a skewdad.”

Phooey on Neymald and his skewdads,” said Lord Azoth. “You are my trompot, you little hoyden, not Neymald’s, and I will mirdango with you as violently as I please. Neymald will just have to uject it.”

And with that, he readjusted his eyewire, shifted his dargest, the one she had called cytanic, and, taking her hand, escorted her to the vucuder.

There, to a melancholy tune played by a wandering wandolin, they executed their violent mirdango.

Neymald, stymied, could do nothing but hang over the punchbowl, very pecanada and now very, very qualted indeed. But his pecanada was so advanced, he couldn’t think of even one decent skewdad.

Able only to stand there and xystoi, “Yirth!” he cried, and sighed. “Now I shall have to challenge Azoth to a zabak. But without a cytanic dargest, I’ll surely lose.” Then, of a sudden, he ideated: There’s more than one way to win a zabak.

He filled a cup and proffered it to the hoyden, her face aglow with the innocence of youth, wending her way toward the punch bowl.

My dear, what a lovely red ignibrate you are decked out in,” he said. “And is that a dargest you carry, its handle toward my hand?” He bowed. “May I have this mirdango? I promise you—we will be violent. And afterward, perhaps you will allow me to hold your dargest. It is the most cytanic dargest I have ever come across.”

To see what it’s all about, read A Zusky, Cytanic Adventure. Then write your own.