I admit it.
This Context report is unbelievably late. But duty called and no, you won't know why, but that doesn't matter. Because... like my little Ka-Tet of friends... I'm nothing if not loyal, and with loyalty comes responsibility to be there when called.
But let's take a breath for a moment and talk about Context.
The morning I left started off with me grabbing several hours of sleep the night before as I had some work deadlines I had to meet. These required me ingesting enough coffee to make a rhino dance an Irish line dance.
Throwing assortments in my bag, I headed off to meet Brian Keene
and JF Gonzalez
I promptly got behind an entire convoy of school buses that apparently had engines only allowing them to go five miles below the speed limits. This prompted a call from Brian.
"Where the hell are you?"
"In Dante's hell. I'm minutes away. Is Gonzalez there?"
"Of course he's here... he's already in the car kicking the back of the seat screaming "Let's Go! Let's Go!"
I arrived and tried unsuccessfully to coax Sam-dog to come to me, though he was wagging his tail, so that was a good day.
And we were off.
There's a certain feeling of relaxation being around other like-minded individuals, and the ride up was great talking about things going on in the genre... plans for JF and I to accomplish world domination... and the political arena/circus that we're all witnessing right now.
After witnessing an incredibly lovely welcome committee to Ohio, we pushed onward and arrived at Context.
And promptly got into an argument in the parking lot with an idiot in a black Audi.
I rifled through my cash supply to see if I had bail money. Check.
And then the argument fizzled out... we moved on. The fur on the backs of our necks went down and we walked into the con, revenge tactics whirling through our minds.
And promptly found Kelli Dunlap
sitting in front of the door with her laptop cracked open.. deep in the throes of editing. This was a better welcoming committee than Ohio.
After settling into our rooms, Gonzalez and I stared, confused, at the shower in our room. It was something out of HBO's Oz. It was a murder or prison rape scene waiting to happen. I kept locking the door throughout the weekend. Something was off and I'd seen this movie before... there's a drain hole in the middle of the floor for a reason... so the blood washes down easily.
The weekend was a blur of meeting new faces. The incredibly lovely and ridiculously talented ball of sunshine herself, Alethea Kontis,
one of the most amazing women I've ever met. I picked up both AlphaOops and her incredible collection of personal, insightful essays called Beauty and Dynamite
Should you not have a copy... you should go remedy that situation now.
Also met Mark Sylvan, aka Dezm... a huge genre fan and all-around, one hell of a guy, that I proceeded to have a who-can-buy-the-next-round-first contest with.
The first bartender we met was Tina... a likable, odd-ball personality who has written the most extensive occult book I've ever seen, and who entertained us with magic tricks (how the hell did she bend that fork?) and who we befriended throughout the entire weekend.
The first night of a con, everyone is drifting in... it's a chance to unwind a bit.. play catch up with loved ones you hadn't seen in a while. It's a chance to vent and wail and unload and find that unity and camaraderie that only exists in that environment. It's a chance to purge and reveal and is so needed. It's synchronicity at its finest.
The con organizers wanted to take us to dinner... and chose a new Russian restaurant for the experience. And by "new" I mean... "maybe you should've considered staying closed for a few more... years.
They had seven menus.
I'd go into detail, but it's not necessary. The thought behind it was nice... though I think all of us would've preferred going across the way to Whiskey Dick's biker bar. They had a band and a lot of beautiful bikes and I'm sure my bail money would've come in handy.
Friday was a signing upstairs, and I met some new faces, signed some copies of my chapbook and wandered around the dealer room.
Friday evening, Dezm brought Kealan Patrick Burke.
I'd read Kealan before, but had never had the opportunity to meet him in person. This was one of the highlights of the weekend. The man has a liver the size of Texas and a constitution for alcohol like none I'd ever seen.
Then I introduced him to Cuervo Black and the world tilted on its axis and remained unhinged for a while. I took great pleasure in this... especially when Maurice Broaddus
attempted to leave a half cup of the Mexican elixir behind in Keene's room. He got busted for alcohol abuse and, in true Black Camelot form, downed it in a gulp.
This made me giggle. And I think it made Maurice time travel.
Ever see this Jamiroquai video? The one where he walks like this?
That's how Kealan was walking that night.
I'm convinced that Kealan has my liver and is using it as a paperweight. I have asked him to Fed-Ex it back to me, and he has confided that he's traded it for a mason jar of Grade-A moonshine, but also offered words of consolation that he thinks livers grow back.
Saturday was a great day... I got my traditional wake-up call from Kelli... we had a truck-driver's breakfast downstairs, and the day kicked into full gear.
I helped Jason Sizemore
from Apex set up for his party and assisted in mixing some incredible Rum concoctions that looked like anti-freeze, but tasted like ambrosia with an uppercut.
We had an incredible dinner at a local Mexican restaurant where I witnessed the sheer enormity of Keene's appetite. During his order, the waitress listened patiently, responding at the end of his dialogue "This is all for you?."
It was. And he finished it all with a burp and a smile.
The Shroud Publications
also had an incredible party. JF Gonzalez and Michael Laimo signed and sold some books and I saw Gonzalez levitating a bit after being force fed some shots of Basil Hayden. Well.. force-fed may be a bit strong of a description... there wasn't much arm-twisting involved, but all had a great time.
Kealan returned... batteries recharged and ready to wash, rinse, and repeat Friday's experience. He proved he's a stand-up guy by intervening with some drama in the bar, and I'm casting my vote for him to be the next Agent 007.
And then, as it always does, the last day of the con comes way too fast. There were moments left over for one last pass through the dealer's room... catching some panels and saying goodbyes.
We hit the road, bound for home and both Brian's and my head started to melt like the Nazi at the end of Raiders. It was not a pleasant experience.
Got home.. exhausted... and stayed awake long enough to edit a story and submit it... then fell into a coma.
Back to the grind... looking forward to seeing you all again.
Alethea's Beauty & Dynamite - Amazing collection.. you need it.
Triage.. Ketchum, Laymon and Edward Lee. Heh heh... this fills me with evil giggles.
Not much.. but reading a shitload of lyrics.
errm.. Honey Crisp Apples... mhuhahahahah