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Lectures

One of the things I like about living in the Boston area is the opportunity to attend so many cultural events and lectures. Now, while it's true that I grew up in New York City and there's no shortage of such things there either, somehow these events are more exciting when they're in Boston. Perhaps it's because Boston and its environs are such a college town, that when people come to talk here they're much more excited about it. Or maybe its because when I first came to Boston, I was finally old enough to appreciate such things.

I still recall that in the first month of my freshman year at Harvard, I got to hear a talk from Nobel-laureate Emilio Segre shortly before he died. Since then, I've managed to meet astronauts, authors, politicians, musicians, actors, and others, and I've found my life enriched enormously by the experience.

All of the above, of course, is prelude to mention the most recent events we're attended.


Last week, gnomi and I went to a talk at MIT given by Scott McCloud. McCloud and his family are going on a tour of all fifty states to promote his new book, Making Comics, and they're blogging about it on LiveJournal at mccloudtour. Now, I had been planning to write a long blog entry all about the talk, but I see that Stephen Frug has already done it for me. He posted about Seeing Scott McCloud at Syracuse University; and from reading it I see that McCloud pretty much gave the same talk there that he gave at MIT. So if you want to know what we heard, go read Stephen's summary. I'll just add a few personal notes:


  • We got to hear Sky McCloud's full presentation, even if Stephen didn't.
  • Scott McCloud made a very funny joke about a flying squirrel. I wanted to quote it, but he did ask me not to steal his thunder. So if you don't manage to make it to one of his talks, ask him to relate it on the web in a year. And if you do go to one of his talks, pay attention for the line about the squirrel.
  • I notice that Stephen didn't know what CMYK stood for. Being in publishing myself, I was already familiar with the term. But he's right that others might need it explained to them. Mr. McCloud, take note!
  • Knowing that both Joe Haldeman and Henry Jenkins would be present, we brought copies of their most recent books to get them signed as well. I think I'm the only person in the world who goes to a talk given by one author and brings books by two other authors for signing. It was good to see both of them.
  • One of the nicest things about going to the talk was meeting McCloud's wife Ivy (LJ: ivy_rat). We'd met before at McCloud's 2002 signing, but only briefly. This time, I got to introduce myself as the guy who recommended the Circle Line to her when she asked about taking a boat ride around Manhattan. I told her that it felt odd, me being a stranger reading her post and making that recommendation, but Ivy bubbled over with joy as to how this is the power of the Internet. (This is true. I told Henry Jenkins my story about emailing the head of the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory to congratulate her when liquid water was discovered on Enceladus, and how she had actually emailed me back. This never would have been possible before the Internet.)




So that was last week. Last night, Nomi and I headed over to Brookline Booksmith for a reading and signing by Brad Meltzer. Meltzer is a writer of thrillers and comic books. Before the talk, we were able to convey greetings from Bob Greenberger, who worked on the collected edition of Identity Crisis. Meltzer was warm, personable, and funny. Although his latest novel is hitting #1 on the New York Times bestseller list this week, he seems to have the attitude that he can't believe that his life is taking these turns. He talked about consulting with former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton about his latest novel, and you could hear the awe in his voice. Very likeable guy.


Brad Meltzer 2006-09-21




After the talk, he remembered us when we reached him on the autograph line. He signed The Book of Fate with the words "So nice to meet you!" I also had my copy of the collection of Identity Crisis, and I had told him before that we had actually been visiting Bob in his office when he was editing the book, so any errors were probably our fault for distracting him. Meltzer wrote in the book, "Hope you didn't add any errors!"


And tonight, we're going to hear Owen Gingerich, the astronomer who headed the IAU Planetary Definition Committee and did his best to keep Pluto as a planet. I'm hoping to get a book autographed, and I'm planning to present him with an SP3 mug in appreciation of his efforts.

Copyright © Michael Burstein; photo copyright © Nomi Burstein

Comments

Meltzer's online demeanor has always impressed me, so I am not surprised to hear he's like that in person. I wrote two somewhat critical (if polite) e-mails to him about Identity Crisis, and he replied to both intelligently and maturely.
Aside from the friends living in the area, going into D.C. is what I miss terribly about living in that area. With so many museums of different varieties there, I could always find something good lecture- or program-wise if I wanted. (And did I ever mention that I missed seeing Stephen Hawking once by a couple of hours? Sigh.)
I once attended a graduation ceremony at which Hawking received an honorary degree. But he was so far away I honestly didn't see him.
Scott will be back, at Northeastern, on the 26th. I'd love to bring him (back) to a local con, if I could.

It seems so odd to me that the two guys in high school I privately labeled as having a snowball's chance of acheiving their dreams did so--Scott, and Kurt Busiek. (Scott was always the slightly better artist, and Kurt the slightly better writer.)
If you can get Scott to Arisia or Boskone, that would be really keen.
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