Saturday, August 1, 2020

alternative universe VI

In the alternative universe, we'd be in Albuquerque right now, joyfully attending Mythcon, and I'd be just off two weeks of attending concerts and writing reviews at the Menlo Festival, with a little more of it awaiting when we got home.

Over on this one, at least there are other things going on. I finally got to see, on instant rerun as it were, the Hugo ceremony. There have been complaints about toastmaster GRRM chattering away. I don't think there's anything wrong per se with historical glances at the Hugos: knowing where we come from is useful in figuring out where we're going. But there are limits on time and on self-indulgence ("I like this category because I won it twice"). George's stories were of interest to me because I know and share that history, but most of them should have been saved for a fanzine article called "The Hugos and Me."

Less excusable were his (in particular) stumblings over the pronunciation of nominees' names. Inexcusable in disrespect for those nominees and in pre-recorded announcements. Astounding Award winner R.F. Kuang actually said in her acceptance that having her name mispronounced by her own publisher's publicity people was one of the indignities that, if she'd known they would happen, would have made her think twice about getting started as an SF writer.

But you don't even have to be a new writer of non-Anglo origin to get your name mispronounced by this year's Worldcon. I haven't seen the Retro ceremony (it's supposed to be archived eventually, but right now it seems to be securely hidden), so I don't know if they fixed it then, but in the original nominees announcement that's still up, the announcer twice confidently mispronounces the name of one of the most honored dead white males in the field, Fritz Leiber.

Gor blimey. When I was in charge of giving out rockets, I checked the pronunciation of every questionable name and made sure the presenters knew it. As I asked one presenter if he knew how to render one nominee's name, he smiled and said, "Don't worry: he's one of my closest friends."

Also today and not something that would have happened at this time in the alternative universe, the second meeting of the Socially Distanced String Quartet. Last time 6 performers, this time 13 once they all arrived. At one point it was suggested that someone should count off bars. My voice is more carrying than B's so I tried it. It worked OK so long as everyone was all together, but I'm no conductor so when they came apart I couldn't put them together or know where they should go, and I have the same problem many of the amateur performers do: inability to consistently convert what one knows intellectually into kinetic expression. Which is why I'm not normally a performer at all.

Lastly, let me say a word for this new music project which I was alerted to by one of the composers in it, who's a friend. A large collection of short pieces, mostly for solo instruments, largely attractive and interesting, many of them evocative.

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