I managed to arrive just around five, and I took the obligatory OMG RELEASE PARTY picture.
Instead I got a ghostly floating book.
One of the attractions of Borderlands, besides the fact that it specializes in science fiction and fantasy, is Ripley the hairless cat. Ash the hairless cat was in hiding for most of the night and only appeared at the end. Ripley, however, examined Seanan's book for a while.
I hugged Seanan from behind. She declared, "I am being hugged from behind!" From the color of the arm, she deduced it was either me or...something ridiculous I can't remember. Kate had waved to me as I walked up, but Seanan hadn't noticed, deeply absorbed in her conversation.
A girl next to Kate recognized me, as we had seen Evil Dead: The Musical together. She did look familiar, but I couldn't remember her name, and I didn't get it. And once inside, a guy recognized me—"Sunil, right?"—from a celebratory dinner last year or earlier this year or something, and he did look familiar, but I couldn't remember his name, but thankfully, he reintroduced himself as Joey. And then later on, another girl gave me a hug, as she clearly knew me, and she looked familiar, but I couldn't remember her name and couldn't ask her because I knew we had met on several occasions, and she looked like tibicina but it couldn't be her because she lived in Pasadena but it was her, I confirmed by listening at appropriate moments. (Seeing her out of context disoriented me and I didn't want to assume it was her if she were someone else...somehow.) And then yet another girl hugged me and she looked familiar but I couldn't remember her name but I continued to play Dexter and I finally had to embarrassingly ask Seanan who she was and then it all made sense. I felt like a total jerk for not remembering all these people's names when they all remembered mine. Maybe they have it easier since I am Seanan's Token Indian Friend. She knows a lot of white girls! I can't remember them all!
I'm getting old. I know too many people.
As promised, there were baked goods.
And fabulous raffle prizes!
The first forty minutes were reserved for general milling about and pestering the author to sign things. Like so:
But then the festivities began! And the festivities involved a lot of music and singing courtesy of Kitten Sundae and friends.
That would be one Seanan McGuire, author of the book and talented songstress. To her right are Michelle "Vixy" Dockrey—and until then, I don't think I realized that Vixy/vixyish and Michelle Dockrey were the same person...although we had met a couple years ago, so, again, I'm getting old—and Tony "Surrounded by Women" Fabris, who care collectively Vixy and Tony (an imaginative name, I know). And rocking the banjo at the end is Brooke Lunderville, who does not have a very intuitive website address, which led to many jokes later on.
On the left is SJ "Sooj" Tucker, who is a Skinny White Chick.
On the fiddle we have Amy McNally, and on the cello is Betsy Tinney.
The group of musicians did one of Seanan's new songs, "Wicked Girls," and it sounded absolutely fantastic with all the harmonies.
But, wait, let's take a closer look at Sooj's boobies.
OBEY THE BOOBIES.
The show attracted quite a crowd.
The lineup kept shifting as the musicians did different songs by different people.
Sooj was the most rockstaresque of the filkers.
I liked her tinted sunglasses and the feathers in her hair. Also, she had a good voice.
Brooke did a song about how she felt after reading a good book. This is filk! You sing about geeky things like books and fairies and stuff! They tried to be thematic with the event (which, alas, meant they did not do "Sycamore Tree," since Toby does not care that Sarah Tapper loves Harry Marshall [That's a lie, and that's a fact]).
But speaking of "Sycamore Tree," it was cool and strange to see and hear Tony in the flesh after hearing his voice on so many of his Seanan's songs. Although he did not sing much during the night. Vixy did sing a lot, though, and hers was also a voice that featured in Seanan's songs.
Cellist in the bookstore!
Banjo in the bookstore!
Sooj had a tail.
She crouched and played the shaker. It was neat to see everyone work together to create these unique arrangements.
And the music was fun!
It made Seanan want to get down!
Now, if you have been paying attention, you may have noticed that in some of these pictures, the left edge is noticeably and inexplicably darker. You may also notice that this picture looks like it was taken without flash, but the flash was on. Seanan was simply to my left.
Another piece of information you may need to know is that my left pinky was getting strangely warm every time I took a picture.
It was at this point that I realized that I HAD BEEN COVERING THE FLASH WITH MY FINGER. Jesus Christ.
Now you can see Seanan getting down!
I may have the chronology wrong here, but whatevs, let's talk about Trivia for Truffles now. Polidori Chocolates had designed four truffles inspired by Rosemary and Rue, and Seanan was going to give some away. The first trivia question was, "The title Rosemary and Rue is taken from a line from a Shakespeare play. What play?" I knew the answer, having been told by Seanan before and then having forgotten and then being reminded as she mentioned it in several recent interviews. So I did not raise my hand.
A hand shot up in the back. "Hamlet!" Bzzzt, wrong. Everyone guesses Hamlet. Ophelia mentions rosemary and rue, but not that specific phrase. Next guess: "Midsummer Night's Dream!" Nope. Maybe I let someone else give a wrong guess before I finally raised my hand and answered correctly, "A Winter's Tale." I won the Toby truffle! It has coffee inside!
Then she asked where the title of A Local Habitation came from. I couldn't remember, but someone guessed it correctly: A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Then—or not then, since I have the chronology wrong, but in some sort of then—there was the first raffle drawing! You got one raffle ticket for arriving. You could get another one if you had brought baked goods. And you could get a third by purchasing something from the nice bookstore.
Seanan pulled tickets out of Sooj's cunning hat. The first winners were a couple of small children who claimed the chocolates and a stuffed owl.
Then there was a long union break. Kate and Ryan manned the raffle table. The ARCs were already gone, sadly! And one, amusingly enough, had gone to someone who didn't even know Seanan! She had to ask Kate who the author was so she could get it signed. I wasn't sure whether she'd just accidentally wandered into the book release party or whether she had come on purpose but just didn't know what Seanan looked like.
As I stood around, the little girl who had won the owl handed me a raffle ticket that someone had handed her. I guessed since she had won a few times already, she didn't need another ticket. How sweet!
The little girl was an adorable six-year-old, and we had many adorable conversations. First, I commented on her Dragonology book. She liked dragons. Then we talked about what to name her owl. I suggested Archimedes. Her dad liked the suggestion and also recommended Theophilus. But she decided to go with Jackie. The owl was a she.
Then we talked about cancer! She knew that smoking caused cancer, so she was glad no one in her family smoked. I told her that lots of things can cause cancer, not just smoking. One of her relatives had died of cancer, and she really hoped she hadn't smoked. And then we talked about brain surgery! She thought it was really gross, and she didn't want to think about the "brain juice." I told her that they put you to sleep so you didn't feel anything, and she was glad because she wouldn't want to be awake while her brain was out. And what about your thoughts? If they took your brain out, would you lose all your thoughts?? I reassured her that you wouldn't lose your thoughts.
She was worried that she would get Jackie sick by coughing on her, but I told her that she couldn't get human germs, so it was safe. Unless she was part-owl? I asked her if she could turn her head all the way around. Nope. She had no wings. Her ears looked like human ears. No claws on her hands. Her feet looked like human feet. So, no, she wasn't part-owl, it was okay. She hooted like an owl.
"Are you sure you're not part-owl?" I asked. "That was really good!" I hooted as well.
"Are you sure you're not part-owl?" she asked. "You're good too." Aw.
But then during another break, we had another hooting match, and she said that I was definitely worse than she was. Girls are better at sounding like an owl, she said.
Seanan asked for timechecks every now and then, and I showed her the time. Kate's time differed by a minute, but I declared mine the right time. She said that she had a real watch with...some sort of animal on it. I said that my phone had a dragon on it.
"My time comes from space!" I said.
Finally, it was time for more music!
They did a couple instrumentals.
But this wasn't one of them! This was "This Is My Town," another of Seanan's songs. Or maybe that was later. I'm old.
Sooj, again with rockstarness.
Vixy in awe of said rockstarness.
Plucking the fiddle!
Rocking the banjo!
Banging on a trashcan! Drumming on a streetlight!
Vixy asked Maya to come up from the audience and join since she was already singing along. They were doing "Mal's Song" in honor of the Browncoats—see, Seanan had seen some guy wearing a "Remember Serenity Valley" shirt on the bus on Friday and invited him to her book release party, handing him a bookmark and dropping Vixy's name to convince him...and he came! I did not know "Mal's Song," but I knew the chorus, which was just "Ballad of Serenity."
After the set, there was another raffle drawing...and I won! With the ticket the little girl had given me! I had a tough time choosing my prize. I already owned all three of Seanan's CDs, and I couldn't think of someone to give them to, even though they were the best value for Free. I examined the art cards and finally settled on the one that I was drawn to the most:
Ebola: just here to make you die. And, yes, that is apparently what ebola looks like. Basically.
And then Seanan did her VERY FIRST READING! She'd had a book release party the night before but hadn't read! And she hated reading.
But whether or not she hated reading, she was really good at it! She read very clearly, and she set the right tone with her voice and was emotional when it mattered.
When it was over, Seanan commented to her mom in the back, "Don't make that face!" I looked back and her mom was near tears, so proud of her daughter. I wondered if my mom would ever be that proud of me.
There was another break, during which Lisa and Rick and Cortney and Ethan arrived! Way to just miss the reading, guys! Oh, and Lisa's sister was there as well! Hugs all around!
But they got to experience the last set of music.
During which another audience member was pulled up and asked to join the band.
Vixy did not know this song at all, but she still wanted to join. Amy played someone else's complicated fiddle tune that she had just learned that day. There were several times when someone asked, "Can I join this song?" The whole night was just one big lovefest. Not just for Seanan, but for each other. All these people loved and respected each other as musicians and friends and just wanted to have fun and be a part of something special.
Once the music was over, there was bowing, and then the final sales, the final chance to get one more raffle ticket to get more fabulous prizes. And there were more prizes now! Some of the musicians had just dropped CDs on the table.
During the final raffle drawing, Seanan commented that she liked that we all cheered when someone won. Like I said, it was a big happy lovefest all up in Borderlands.
I hung around for store strike, folding chairs and setting them against bookshelves. I checked to see if they had sold out of the book. They had two copies left. They had started with nearly fifty. Huzzah!
I sort of felt intimidated and awkward talking to the musicians, even though Seanan talked about them a lot, because they had no idea who I was—except for Vixy, who had met me before long ago but I wasn't sure whether that had happened or not, and I think Amy met me once too—and they were, like, Filk Community Celebrities. With websites! And CDs! Who was I, really. So I couldn't bring myself to introduce myself to anyone or say, "Great job!" or whatever. I just stood around being a freak, although I was comfortable talking to Vixy once she confirmed that she remembered me and it was nice to see me again and stuff.
I joined the caravan heading to BART. I had hung around in hopes that there would be some sort of afterparty food-getting, but everyone was going back to the Concord area but me, and I hadn't eaten real food in over nine hours. I considered my options as I walked and the party sang. Because that's what they do.
"You know what's great?" said Seanan. "Not getting arrested for drunkenness as we walk by the police station."
Taking that as a challenge, I slurred, "Freaking police people! Always stopping crimes! What's up with that?"
"Sunil," said Seanan, "that's the police station, and if they come out, I don't know you."
"If you outlaw crime," I cried, "only criminals will commit crime!"
There was a taqueria up ahead, and I could go and eat a burrito by my lonesome, or I could grab a burrito to take home so I could ride on the same BART train as Seanan and her entourage. I asked Seanan if she minded a quick stop, and she did not if the caravan did not. Tony did not mind either. I asked the caravan if they minded if we made a quick stop for me to get some food since I had not eaten, and the caravan was more than happy to oblige, hurrah.
As we waited on the BART platform, Sooj pulled out her magic socks and played with them.
We took over a mostly empty train. I stood so I could talk to people. Vixy quoted a Deep Thought by Jack Handey, so I proceeded to recite several of my favorites. Seanan declared me to be strange, which is like the pot calling the kettle a kitchen appliance.
When we reached my station, I turned to everyone and said, "It was nice to meet you all! Or re-meet you if I met you before!"