One of the best parts of being a writer has very little to do with the actual writing: it's meeting other writers! Yesterday, since Jim and I were going to be up in Washington for the Radiohead concert (which was Jim's anniversary present this year), we decided to make a day of it and have lunch with some of our favorite writers & illustrators: the Western Washington SCBWI gang. Here we all are in the atrium of the Grand Central Baking Company. Hi gang!
We first met these folks when we attended their amazing conference two years ago in Seattle, and have since seen them from conference to conference, in New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle. They are all such kindred spirits I wish they lived right here in Portland so we could get together all the time! Well, this was a good excuse, and it was just the beginning of an awesome day.
After lunch, Jim and I drove over to Renton to visit Nina Hess at the Wizards of the Coast office. Wizards of the Coast, if you don't know, is where Dungeons & Dragons comes from, among many other books and games and properties. Nina is an editor there, and she too is someone we've been lucky to meet through book conferences. Well, she gave us a tour of the office, and we are now convinced she has the funnest office job in the world. Today, for example, the company sponsored a cupcake-decorating competition among its employees. Winning cupcakes were to be professionally photographed and put together into a cupcake calendar. Seriously! (I need one of those!) They have also decorated My Pretty Ponies for fun, and in the designers' nook -- alongside their running game of Project Runway bingo -- they have a full Fashion Plates set from the 70s, and they play with it! The meeting spaces are all named things like "Bat Cave" and "Rivendell," and across the three floors of office space, there are life-size models of stormtroopers and goblins and creepy harlequin clowns and even a giant dragon in the entry way, its wings fanned out. And people are playing D&D at gleaming conference tables. There are books and toys everywhere, and art, art, as far as the eye can see. Art + dragons + creative people. Awesome!
(How cool is it that in the past few weeks we've gotten tours of both Laika and Wizards? It seems like we know a lot of creative people!)
And after that. . . Radiohead!
Now, I like Radiohead, I do. But Jim loves Radiohead, and Jim loves concerts. Don't judge me too harshly, but I'm not really a concert-lover. I, umm, I tend to get a little bored and want to whip out a book and a flashlight (no, Steph, I didn't!). So, getting Jim pit tickets for Radiohead was an act of wifely love. And it was really fun. I haven't been in a "mosh pit" for a long time, but it was certainly nothing like some pits I'd been in in my youth when I did go to concerts a little more regularly (no crazy metal or anything like that, but I did get trod upon by proto-emo's in the Depeche Mode mosh pit as a 14-year-old). This was a very civilized, grown-up concert. Radiohead went on at nine o'clock and ended before midnight. It wasn't insanely loud, my head wasn't ringing afterward, and there was no shoving! How much of an old lady am I that I am talking about volume and etiquette instead of the performance? I know. I am an old lady when it comes to concerts. But I really did enjoy the show -- I've told Jim in the past I don't understand music well enough to get quite what it is everybody raves about when they talk about Radiohead's creativity, etc, not that I didn't like them, I just don't understand music. I am a musical ignoramus. But I feel like I made more of a connection seeing them live. Being so close was cool. They sounded amazing, and they had really cool lights and an arty video backdrop, and their roadies were kept super busy with constant guitar changes and wheeling pianos and stuff out on stage. Thom Yorke wore tight tiny red pants and danced with abandon, and Jonny Greenwood had the greatest floppiest hair in his face, kind of like this (not taken last night):
I don't know how he could see! At one point he played his guitar with a violin bow, at another, he and the other guitarist (not his brother, the other one) drummed along with the drummer and kind of reminded me of taiko drummers, really getting their bodies into it, all synchronized.
So, it was a spectacle. And then came the attempted exodus from White River Amphitheater. Take my advice if you ever go to a show there: go out to your car and cuddle up and fall asleep for two hours. Because you're not getting out of the parking lot before then. Oh my god. This place is out in the country, and only a few sleepy country roads lead to it, so when a concert of 20,000 people lets out. . . there is nowhere for them to go but slowly single-file down the country road. We didn't get out of the parking lot until after 2 am, and Jim wanted to drive home to Portland instead of go to a hotel, so we did. I slept, as I am so good at doing in cars at any hour of the day or night, and Jim drove. But a half-hour shy of Portland he had to sleep, so we pulled over into a rest stop and snoozed for an hour and a half, and finally made it home at 6 am. Oy. That was a long, full day! Today, my energy level was sufficient to watch a movie for research for the new book, which felt deeply decadent!