Sunday, December 19, 2021

toasty weekend

It's been cold out - when we headed home at 10 pm last evening the outside temperature was 37F, which is about as cold as it ever gets at that time of night around here - and occasionally rainy, but we had a toasty outing in the form of the first live concert since pre-pandemic by Brocelïande, the Celtic/folk/medieval/Renaissance musical trio. It was a typical Brocelïande Yuletide concert, full of wassails and cantigas. The venue was a church out in the secluded Portola Valley woods, an acoustically ideal venue - I've been there before for classical concerts - with a huge glass window behind the pulpit displaying the thicket of redwood trees outside, lighted up at night.

This was the last concert on my schedule until January 20th, and we'll see if it's safe by then to go out at all. The pre-concert was our first opportunity for masked conversation with a few equally masked friends.

Where none of us were at was at the Worldcon in D.C. We'd given passing thought, quite a while back, to attending, but reading accounts by those there of the pandemic effect I'm glad we didn't. Having all one's meals as take-out from Chipotle doesn't appeal to me, let alone having omicron spread among the populace.

Then we have the victory of the Chinese bid for the 2023 Worldcon, driven by a large number of pre-con e-mailed votes from China. Rumors of these being ghost voters have been floating around, which puzzles me: the Hugo Awards have what seemed to me, back when I was administrator, to be adequate safeguards against ballot-stuffing; but the vote administration rules for site selection are different in some respects, and I don't know if this is such a respect.

Of the three Author Guests of Honor, all male, one - whom I hadn't heard of - turns out to be, if comments on File 770 are to be believed, an alarmingly belligerent Russian nationalist. Now I read that another, generally acclaimed for his Hugo-winning novel a few years back, turns out to be, in that same novel, a corrosive sexist, a flaw systematically removed by his translator.

So it's just as well that I wouldn't be going anyway - China is much too far away for my travel tolerance - even assuming that the country is letting foreign tourists in by then, which right now they aren't.

Meanwhile at home, the cats seem to have gotten over the neediness driven by the trauma of their visit to the vet, though Tybalt is still keeping up his already-acquired habit of following me around the house whenever he and I are both awake, getting in the way of things by forcing me to read my computer screen through a cat, for instance. I minister to his adorableness as much as I can, but there are limits. If I put him out of the room and shut the door he gets most distressed.

B. is reading a library book called Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol by Mallory O'Meara. I opened this at random and found an account of Ada Coleman, the renowned (it says here) bartender at the Savoy Hotel in London in the early 20C. I'd never heard of her, but I'd certainly heard of the Savoy owner who originally hired her circa 1899. His name is given as Rupert D'Oyly.

Well. The only thing I know about this story, and it's wrong. The name isn't D'Oyly, it's D'Oyly Carte, and it's unlikely to have been Rupert, who was still only an assistant at the time, but his father, the builder of the Savoy and better-known still as the original producer of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, who was then still alive and active. His name was Richard D'Oyly Carte, but he usually dropped the Richard and used D'Oyly as his forename of preference, not part of a surname.

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