Thursday, September 28, 2006

We'll do the Madison Blues....

Well, we made it.

My tavelling companion, the Unsinkable D.L. Browne (AKA Diana Killian, AKA Mrs. Thrilling Detective, AKA "She") and I have finally made it to another BOUCHERCON. Together.

I've done a Bloody Words or two solo, and she's done Malice, footloose and fancy free, but this is the first crime convention thing we've done together since, um, that ungodly mess in Vegas afew years ago.

It's Thursday morning now, some unlikely early hour, and I'm ready to rumble. Her Highness, meanwhile, is softly sleeping, looking about as beautiful as a new day. I'd disturb her at my peril.

Not that the trip was some huge ordeal, really. A shuttle at four AM to the Burbank airport, a flight to Denver. The much-vaunted security precautions were more amusing than bothersome (I think yesterday's security alert color was fuschia).

In Denver, we ran into an old pal, Art Scott of DAPA-Em fame and the author of PAPERBACK COVERS OF ROBERT McGUINESS, one of my all-time favourite coffee table books. Art, of course, was on his way to Madison.

We landed in Madison, and it did this po boy good to see green again after the never-ending brown on brown of SoCal. Even better, there was that late afternoon autumn glow about the place, a combination of cool air and bright sunshine (and leaves getting ready to turn) that just made me feel all human again and made me remember once again that, despite the Hawaiian shirts and eternal sunshine that I'm still a Canadian boy at heart, locked into the turn, turn, turn of seasons.

I like Madison. I took a wander last night, before going to register at Bouchercon, and I was impressed. The downtown core has more of a real city feel than LA has -- there are people and bars and cafes and restaurants and little bookstores and they're all jumbled together and says "people live here." A lot of pedestrians and, befitting a town with so many students, a lot of folks on bikes. It's all downright civilized.

I registered for both of us -- D.L.had work to do back in the hotel room -- and stopped by the bar in the convention hotel (we're staying a few blocks away, at one of the alternative hotels). The convention hotel bar is conveniently called "The Bar."

Ran into another old buddy (Pay attention! This is going to be a recurring motif.): Jim Winter is the author of the blue collar P.I. workout, NORTHCOAST SHAKEDOWN, that wowwed me a few years ago (Somebody sign this guy up!).

Anyway, we shared a few drinks and a few war stories and then, loaded down with two bulging bags of books, I waddled back to the hotel where we were staying (the one uncivilized thing I've discovered so far about Madison is the scarcity of cabs).

I dumped out the bags on the bed and we checked out the goodies, pored over the schedules, thought the umbrellas included were a good touch (rain's forecast) and then ordered room service and a popcorn flick. We ate, watched X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (lots of action, touches of plot and even an idea or two) and toddled off to Dreamland.

And now I'm wide awake, staring at the slow dawn through a hotel window, waiting for the day to start. In a few hours, this year's BOUCHERCON will begin in earnest. We'll see some old friends, possibly meet some new ones, buy too many books and drink too many beers, attended so many panels they'll start to blur into each other and generally have a great time. We're both on panels this year and we both have a few meetings and assorted business/social functions scheduled, but mostly we'll be in and around the convention hotel.

Like Joni Mitchell once sang (and there's a hard-boiled Canadian chick if there ever was one):

"If you want me, I'll be in the bar..."


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