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Warren Ellis sums up voting. It does kind of feel like that sometimes, doesn't it? Even so. Go do it. And keep an eye out. If the electronic polling thingy laughs maniacally after you exit the booth, tell someone.

This weekend was WFC, and I am not yet recovered. A few years back I spent a couple of summer weeks in Bergen, Norway, when the sun only went down for a few hours a night. I was chock full of solar energy and I didn't see much need to sleep. Cons are like that, down to the coming home and falling into an OMG-I-can't-believe-I-haven't-SLEPT coma. What that means, see, is that y'all are the sun.

I met new people, got to know others better, and got some quality time with "old" friends. (It's bizarre to me that I've known most of these people for three years or less.) If you were there, I miss you already; if you weren't, I miss you still.

There are many names I could mention, and if I were a better person I would, but one individual had, without any doubt, the largest impact on my weekend. I'm speaking, of course, of the angry goose who chased me around the pond behind the hotel on Thursday morning. Well played, Sir. Until we meet again!

I have pictures, but I haven't uploaded them yet. I got my hands on a whole mess o' books (I brought the big suitcase this time), including Polyphony 6 (which contains my slacker-who-talks-to-dead-presidents story "Manifest Destiny") and Flytrap 6 (which contains my rock-star-terrified-of-success-gets-some-homemade-rehab story "Grandma Charlie and the Wolves"). Check them out.

Now I am back at the office. Lame!
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Today is our official Internet launch party for Twenty Epics! In celebration of this beautiful book, with all the kick-ass epic tales (in 10,000 words or less) by lovely and talented writers, we're tossing links around like shuriken and telling the stories of our stories. This is my first piece of fiction writing to show up in an actual bound book, and as you may be able to tell I'm pretty damned excited.

The story behind my contribution, "Five Hundred and Forty Doors," is this:

My mom was born in Evansville, Minnesota, a small town just north of Alexandria. Be warned, if you have any plans to visit the area, that it is overrun with Scandinavians. Evansville was a Norwegian enclave, and the Burros clan, at least down to my mom's generation, are full-blooded Norwegians. (The Swedes lived in the next town over, in Brandon. If you get my mom talking she'll tell you how "those Swedes burned down our church." Long story.) What do you get when you get a lot of Norwegian farming families? You get a lot of Norwegian bachelors. Not, in this case, bachelor farmers--I'm not necessarily clear on what most of my great uncles did for a living. A fair amount of their time seems to have been spent chasing each other around with shotguns. (I exaggerate. Some.) Do you remember Fargo? Some people (not Minnesotans) tried to tell me that the dialect in that movie was exaggerated. Ha. Come and meet the Burroses that still live up in Evansville, and you'll see. Hell, after an hour with them I'll be talking like Jerry Lundegaard.

My great uncles on the Burros side included Uncle George, Uncle Martin, Uncle Sidney, and Uncle Burt. After Grandpa died and Grandma moved into town, she lived up the street from Uncle Burt. He lived in a tiny house that had an old man smell, but we always walked over to visit him when we were in town, because our parents made us and because he was nice and because he always served us blueberries with cream and sugar. Good stuff. Try it sometime.

What does all of this have to do with my story? Well, after many visits and many bowls of blueberries, Uncle Burt died and I grew up. I went to college and majored, eventually, in Scandinavian Studies. I read sagas full of laconic warriors and old, head-trippy poems about the end of the world. I learned that Uncle Burt had been in World War II. And by the time I read that David Moles and Susan Marie Groppi were putting together an oxymoronic anthology of short epics, I was ready to write a story about the Battle of the Bulge, Ragnarok, and brothers with guns, all in a thick Minnesota dialect. I don't know that Burt or his brothers would approve--in my experience the Norwegian Lutheran sensibility sees fantasy as anathema--but I wrote it for them, nonetheless.

To buy Twenty Epics, visit either Amazon or Lulu. If you've already read it, post a rave review! To read more Author's Notes, visit Mr. Moles; he's collecting all the links.
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Browsing Flickr for photos of syttende mai celebrations, I came upon this reveler:

This may be the greatest photo ever. Makes me feel all patriotic for the ancestral homeland.
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Today is syttende mai. Literally translated, that means "the seventeenth of May," so you may be forgiven for thinking, "So what?" Ah, but you see, syttende mai is a Norwegian holiday. It celebrates the signing of the Norwegian constitution back in 1814; previous to that Norway was the weaker cousin in a union with Denmark. Denmark-Norway had gotten itself onto the wrong side of the Napoleonic wars (to be fair, England attacked them first), and as part of the peace settlement Denmark ceded Norway to Sweden, with whom Norway was linked until 1905. It had its own constitution, however, and most of its own governmental institutions.

In 1945, the Germans (who were occupying Norway) surrendered there on May 8. Rather than establishing a separate holiday for the liberation, a greater significance was accrued to syttende mai. Nowadays it's a day of parades, most particularly children's parades, but also the rampaging russ (a term for graduating high schoolers, who spend the first weeks of May in a traditional period of hedonism that's pretty out of hand by American standards--kind of like Spring Break, but it takes place everywhere, and is typified by groups of teens driving around in fancied-up vans that barely run and, well, just go read the Wiki article I linked to there).

Some Norwegian-American communities make a big deal out of the holiday, though I confess I've never been a part of any such celebrations. I do wish I could be in Bergen today, though. Hell, I wish I could be in Bergen pretty much any day.


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