from here to fabletown & back

last week we set out for minnesota and the FABLETOWN convention. i took a train instead of flying. long train rides are equally relaxing and a test of endurance. i was able to hole up in the cafe car once it closed and stretch out and read. Image pulling through the country and approaching minnesota i was struck by the emptiness and isolation of the countryside. vast open spaces dotted with a small house here and there. it seemed silent and lonely, and reminded me of an abandoned civilization. i arrived in FABLETOWN thursday night, after an amusing shuttle ride from the train station into rochester, host city of the convention, in which i learned that another word for a skunk is ‘wood’s pussy’.  i met up with andrew and josh, who had flown in earlier in the day, and we set off to explore downtown rochester after dark. you don’t see many people out on the streets, owing to the cold and the fact that all of the big buildings are connected by skywalks as well as an underground walkway. this was new to us, and added to the surreal, alien feeling of the place. we walked around and found NEWT’S, a bar&burger joint heartily recommended by andrew’s cab driver. apparently they had a burger named THE JUICY LUCY, and if you poked her with your finger she squirts. a somewhat odd endorsement for a burger, but we bit. none of us tried out the old girl, but josh had a mammoth burger that had to be 2000 calories: Image that’s a bacon cheeseburger with fried onions wrapped in two grilled cheeses. with some kind of mayo sauce slathered on it. the peanut butter bacon burger i tried seemed genteel & dainty by comparison. back at the hotel, andrew and i planned how to maximize the handsomeness at josh’s command.Image friday was the start of the con, and we were up early and ready to set up. a bellman from our hotel, caleb, helped us bring our boxes over to the civic center. little did we know that caleb would help turn us into a hot commodity when we gave him a copy of ONCE UPON A TIME MACHINE. Image Image Image this was the before. there’s no after. i got caught up and never got the pics. the con got rolling, and we had a good response to the book right off the bat. and it wasn’t long before we met our biggest fan, jacob. jacob, we adore you.jacobby the time the opening ceremonies kicked off at 5 we already knew this was going to be a great trip. bill willingham, creator of FABLES, was the host of FABLETOWN, and he took to the stage during the opening ceremonies to set the tone for the weekend and introduce some of the folks most responsible for putting this show together. Image stephanie cooke, seen here behind bill apparently updating her OK CUPID profile, is bill’s assistant and a delightful, thoughtful wonder. the empty chair belongs to brad thomte, bill’s partner in crime. brad’s a high-energy fount of enthusiasm. next to him is stacy sinner. it turns out stacy runs the prisons in rochester and the surrounding area. she also is a warm, accommodating, charming woman who made me smile when she told me i was one of her favorite characters from the whole weekend. she likes red wine. if you see her, buy her a glass. speaking of wine…

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