5 May 2001
Last night, Mark and I went to Spike and Mike's Animated Short Film Festival at the Oaks Theatre up in Berkeley. (This is where we went to see Princess Mononoke last year.) It was like reading a book of vignettes or dealing with Nebraska weather systems: if you didn't like one, it would be over soon enough, in favor of something else. Although there were some that dragged. When you have under ten minutes and you manage to make the film drag, that's not so good. Over all, it was worth it, though.
One of the valuable lessons for the night: cities in the flyover are not even worth making fun of. Birmingham and Santa Fe are more worthy of attention and mockery than Chicago or Denver, say nothing of Minneapolis. Wooo. Gotta love this country, or at least the coastal regions of it.
Before that, we went to Au Coquelet for supper (a veggie sandwich that didn't have sprouts!) and explored a few bookstores we'd been in before. I got Suzy McKee Charnas' The Silver Glove, one of the sequels to The Bronze King. It's hard to find. They had so much other good stuff that it was very hard for me to leave The Other Change of Hobbit with just that. Then I got Mary Anne's book. I also got a probabilistic expression of birthday presents for Mark. If he opens the bag, there may be zero, one, or two presents for him in it. But he's not allowed to open the bag, because it's not his birthday.
When my folks were in town, we spent one afternoon in Berkeley. It was quite clear that Mom didn't like it. She wasn't snippy or anything, and we all had a good time, it was just obvious to me that she did not like Berkeley. And I didn't really expect her to. I just want her to know why I do like it there.
Part of my mom's problem with Berkeley, I think, is that the very bad behavior of someone she knows is tied closely to that person's time in Berkeley, and was behavior that would have been unlikely elsewhere. But part of it is just that it's not the type of place she usually enjoys. The houses and buildings are pretty close together, for one thing. (I don't like that part of it, either.) And the stereotypical Berkeley politics are pretty much diametrically opposite my mom's.
But here's why I like Berkeley: not everyone has "the stereotypically Berkeley" politics. It seems to me that you can find someone in Berkeley who will argue with you on every single point of the "typical" Berkeley beliefs, and on the underlying assumptions of those beliefs. There are very few points of unity. The biggest draw of the atmosphere I've experienced in Berkeley is that it's a place where it is okay to care passionately about stuff. It's even okay to care passionately about stuff that isn't going to make you several million dollars soon. (I would like it if my books made me several million dollars eventually. I think I could handle wealth. I think I could even handle fabulous wealth. But I'm not counting on it; that's not why I write.) People will not give you funny looks if you're really into something, because chances are they've run into a dozen people who are into something weirder, before they had their coffee that morning. That's important to me.
Also, they have pretty good bookstores, restaurants, and coffee places. Coffee....
Anyway. It's going to be a relaxing weekend around here. I've already finished one of the books I have for research on the Not The Moose book (The Finns and The Lapps -- biased but containing some pretty useful information), and I'm going to try to get through another, while still getting a reasonable amount of fiction done and cleaning some of the apartment and...oh, yeah, relaxing. Having fun.
Now if only I hadn't agreed to sing tomorrow, all would be well.
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