Two to go, With Charmed's # 1
Pretend it's Friday,
Yesterday went by too fast. Judy and I were on the phone Thursday evening and we're both getting pretty psyched here in the midwest. The Convention feels real. Abstract moving into let's get going and do this. Today I'll be updating twice, beginning with Mr. Ted Hertel who was the first person to sign on for Charmed to Death way back when. Member number 1 is part of the home team in my heart and with the rest of the 99 Bouchercon Committee, entirely responsible for my commitment to this con.
My Bouchercon memories stretch back to the first Milwaukee con in 1981 when I knew Gary Warren Niebuhr only as some guy who occasionally sold me books out of his house and who thought I might be trying to rip him off when I gave him a check instead of cash. I hadn’t even known there was such a thing as mystery fandom – thought I was the only one crazy enough to collect books and want to meet authors. So picking just one memory out of nearly three decades of fandom might be impossible. But I’ll try.
Should I talk about that ’81 Bouchercon where Mickey Spillane sat in the audience doing the Mystery Science Theater 3000 thing with his movie The Girl Hunters, yelling hilarious comments at the screen the whole time? Or the 1990 London convention where nothing seemed to go right, where we struggled with the worst venue ever, where tours were cancelled without notice or refund, where P.D. James inscribed a book to my wife Maggie as “Neggie”? No, probably that’s not it. Or the ’93 Omaha con where the hotel was under construction and there was so much noise and confusion no one could figure out what was going on. Yes, I think I’ll start there – or at least right after that, since on the way back in the car with Gary, Beth Fedyn, and Bev DeWeese, Gary spent literally hours outlining plans for a convention honoring the Private Eye Writers of America, the convention that would become the first Eyecon, held in Milwaukee in 1995. Gary asked each of us to take a job (I was Local Arrangements Chair). And it was after that very successful effort that Gary and I took the plunge and agreed to put on the second Milwaukee Bouchercon as co-chairs.
We worked for 3 ½ years to coordinate that convention and had a great time doing it. We weren’t sure at first if our friendship would survive the process (I mean, come on, the man wouldn’t even take my checks without running six credit checks on me, along with requiring two forms of identification!), but it did and it’s still going strong (not to mention many other friendships that grew out of the experience). So that’s a great memory.
But beyond that, probably my other favorite memory of the whole experience was working (though Doug Greene, of Crippen & Landru) with Richard Dannay, son of Fred Dannay, one-half of the Ellery Queen writing team, to obtain permission from the Queen trusts to put on a performance of a Queen radio play entitled “The Adventure of the Murdered Moths.” And what a cast we assembled. My wife Maggie played the part of Nikki Porter, Michael Z. Lewin was Inspector Queen, Gary Phillips was Sgt. Velie. Other cast members included S. J. Rozan, Parnell Hall, Ed Goldberg, Les Roberts, Keith Snyder, Sandy Balzo (as The Anacin Girl) and Jerry Healy (as The Announcer). Gary did the sound effects. Max Allan Collins and his wife Barbara were the guest detectives who had to solve the crime (Al did a respectable job with a plausible solution). And I had the opportunity to play the role of my favorite fictional detective, Ellery Queen himself. The event was the best attended of the entire convention. It drew over 450 people – standing room only in one of the very large convention hall rooms. It was a great time with a tremendous cast of characters – and I do mean “characters.”
Looking forward to seeing everyone in Baltimore!