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26 May 2010 @ 12:08 pm
Preparing Lies for Balticon  
I am on a "Liars Panel," which is a panel for charity where interesting people tell stories from their life and the audience and other panelists (Tanya Huff, Jonathan Maberry, and
Mark Van Name) call you out on any they think you are lying about (you are allowed three lies). While inquiring about answer length allowed, I wrote this gem of a lie based on no truth whatsoever. I only wrote it as a "rambling example" but the people on the moderator's mail list were impressed:

As I prepare for Balticon, I have a question on how we answer these questions: Are we expected to give one-line or short answers, or elaborate story-wise? For instance, if the question were, "What's the oddest thing you've done while drunk or stoned?" do you want:

A1: I woke up in a hotel room with an inflatable shark duct taped to me


or

A2: I was working for a guy who was hosting a Worldcon bid party that we had it in our mind to hold in Key West. I think it was called "Hemmingway Con" or something. Yes, I know. We had trouble with the name. The whole thing was a disorganized mess, and we had almost no funding. In fact, at Worldcon in Toronto... when was that? [wait for audience response]. Oh, gees. That long ago? Drinking does that to you.

Anyway, so the bid party was ruin by a game named Morty Goldfinger. That wasn't his real name, of course; it's a con name. I think it's really Tom Goldfinger. It was hard to tell because he never introduced himself aloud; when you asked who he was, he'd just hand you a card, and no two people got the same card. So I know him as Morty. Morty was, by trade, a guy who sold phone software for phone farms. You know, like those call centers that tell you your fortune, say dirty things for $3.99/minute? He was also a ham radio operator, oddly enough, and we met him at a ham fest when he was selling blue boxes and some suspicious antenna wire from the back of his Chevy Tahoe. He recognized my girlfriend at the time, but by a name she told me "she had not used since the 90s" when she was a woman who made questionable decisions about sharing couch space after she dropped out of college. "Morty!" she said. "Cookie Puss!" he said. "Still let people take pictures of you sit on ice cream cakes for money?" I am like, "what the HELL?" But Morty was hard to be pissed at for long. He was wearing a fun stovepipe hat with a huge Mogun David on it. The guy's like in his 50s, and really into the Hasidic Lollapalooza scene, although a little late to the game. Morty hands me his card, which described he can get be discounted long distance cards if I am willing to ask strangers to hit "pound 9," but tells me that's not really true anymore. We start talking about conventions, and he's been trying to get Wolrdcon to be in Key West. He calls it "Hemingway Con," which has the pentameter of a drunken author who stopped caring when his cat threw up a hairball on his new huaraches.

My girlfriend at the time... who shall remain nameless since she might be in the audience... so I'll call her "Cookie Puss," because like Carvel Ice Cream Cakes, she's a cold whore. Not that I am bitter. At the time, I was completely smitten with her because she went barefoot everywhere. I have a thing barefoot girls in bootcut jeans and deely bobbers. You know, those hairbands that make you look like a 1950s Martian? She could wear those deely bobbers... she could wear the HELL out of them... Oh, God, I miss those summer nights in Altoona. We'd sit in our one-up, one down balcony duplex and listen to the sweet night summer sounds of rednecks fighting over who lost the spare tire or if the welfare check came in, and it was YOUR turn to buy the packs of Marlboro Lights with your share of the rent. But back then, I had no idea about her past. Her cake-farting-for-money past. She said it was for going back to college, but I saw her transcirpt. Acheology major. You know the type, sees Indiana Jones movies and thinks she'll meet Harrison Ford but instead meets Zahi Hawass who is way more interest in pottery shards than sex, so she just gives up two semesters in.

But I digress.

Morty says he needs a ride to Worldcon, and before I can realize what a *bad* idea this must be, Cookie says, "SHORE!" because when she shouts, she has a southern accent. No idea why. The next week, we're packed into my Chevy Impala, driving across the border. Morty, get this, brings a trailer hitch. As in one of those U-Haul two-wheeled things. His "traveling side show of fun," he calls it. And, despite how I felt about his yellow-toothed smarmy attitude at the time, Morty did not disappoint. He had an entire mini bar in there. It didn't look like much, but if you pulled on just a few levers, it all unfolded like a Hasbro Transformer that would comfortably seat 20 people. It was cooled by a solar panel that ran a small thermal dampener and the stock was incredible. Not only did he have the largest bottles of all the major brands, he also had a collection of more obscure draughts and potions from all corners of the globe. He had everything from siniture Jack Daniels to a Venezuelan vodka with a label made from velum and a dead spider on the bottom. He also had the contents of an entire LA Pool party from a David Lee Roth music video which he said came with the trailer, and he believed it was sent by god to distribute the fun to the masses. I didn't get his meaning, but he just winked. Told us to cancel our room reservation, we'd be guests of his. I hesitated, because Cookie and I had gotten a very nice room at the Fairmont Royal York overlooking the river, but Morty said he had something bigger and better.

When we got to the hotel, I expected that it would be a crappy venue. He didn't even have a room at the main hotel, but one of the off-brand "Super 8 wanna bes" that Canada is famous for. It was about 50 miles from the convention, and you had to drive up a dirt road for part of it. But as bad as this dump looked from the outside, Morty knew people. People in high places who could get low prices. The room was a suite. With its own mini pool on an expansive balcony. There was a giant garage door that opened up to a pool-slash-hot-tub and you could lounge, swim, or muff-dive in warm bubbly water and look over a drop off at the edge of a cliff where you could see the tops of pine trees and part of Rice Lake. It was amazing, and made up for the fact the entire fascade was painted bright purple and shaped like a castle made out of plywood.

I thought, being so far from the con and all, Morty would have a lackluster party. But, again, he knew people. "Hemmingway Con" said the banner. Well, it really said, "Opening Soon: Your New Jiffy Lube," but he flipped it over and drew on the back with colored Shapies. Before I know it, Cookie Puss is topless in the pool, but still wearing the deely bobbers. Oh... those deely bobbers. Jesus, what a tease. The booze was flowing. Famous people and freaks from all corners of Toronto were there. Spider Robinson was serving some kind of dark blue liquor from a fish tank where dice were floating on the surface. The suite could easily fit 100 people, and there were maybe 200 people in total. And to prevent anyone from strangling anyone else over the heated "Hugo Award Cow Plop" grid we had going, a drink was always shoved in your hand. I mean, I couldn't even cover my face with both hands to sneeze, because BOOP, you hgad a whiskey sour handed to you. Put your Vancouver Purple Moose and Goose down? Suddenly you had a canuk version of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster called the Pounding Chest with the Fist of God. I think it had four different flavors of Pixie sticks and chunks of pomegranate seeds floating in it like the eyes of the monster from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It was an angry drink that stared you down until you gave an animator a heart attack. It was impossible to tell how alcoholic anything was because they had a maple syrup plant downwind of us, and the sweet smells masked pretty much everything but the stench of con funk that slunk around the shag carpeting like an evil mist from a Steven King novel. But if you were taller than an Oompa Loompa, you were okay.

Anyway, I lost count of how many drinks I had. I remember a moment I was wearing the deely bobbers and quoting "A Farewell to Arms" in Klingon because I got confused about the subject matter. There was also a fuzzy memory where I accidentally drank a Lava lamp, and exclaimed, "Waxy!" The evening became a blur, and the last memory I have was throwing up over the railing, watching my technicolor yawn sail into the trees below up like the whispy nature of the famous Victoria Falls. I was later told I was pointing this out to people, screaming I was making butterflies with lasers I shot from my dental fillings.

When I woke up, the sunlight was streaming through the garage door like God's flashlight. The sun was low on the horizon, and slapped my senses like Zha Zha Gabor having a tantrum. I couldn't move at first, and I felt like I had grown a huge tumor that was preventing me from moving. "OH GOD," I shouted. "I HAVE A POLYP THE SIZE OF JOHN MADDEN!" Like John, it was gray and ugly, and made in Taiwan for the Discovery Store according to the veins on it that looked a lot like silk screened letters. One painted eye looked coldly at me when I realized it wasn't a tumor; I was duct taped to a giant inflatable shark. Not just taped to the damn thing, I was MUMMIFIED with it. I looked like an HR Gieger interpretation of Boris Karloff's famous debut as a 2000 year old Zahi Hawass. And as I stumbled around, I sort of half rolled around the unconscious bodies around me before the shark popped when it rolled over a pile of broken AOL CDs.

That's when I fell into the pool. The combination of the heat from the water, the alcohol from a dozen appletinis, and the gasous con funk that settled on the surface and formed a boron-colored crust dissolved the tape glue until I was able to extricate myself and assess the remnants of the Apocalypse before me. Like the End of Days, it made the Battle at Ragnarök looks like a child's birthday party in comparison. Cookie was lying on the couch, wearing what looked like a ball gown made from hotel towels. There was glitter everywhere. All the low spots on the floor were containing shimmering puddles that would have made Tasha Yar think twice. There was no panel of drywall that was left undamaged. One wall was barricaded off by chair legs that has been sharpened and made into large anti-tank caltrops with electrical cord like some Warhol tribute to the beaches of Normandy. There were a lot of cakes with butt prints in them... which kind of makes sense now that I think about it. Someone's cell phone rang, and played a riff from Yes' "Owner of a Lonely Heart." No one answered it, and I had to listen to that strange orchestral riff over and over again. You know, the one that goes "BWANK!" Finally, someone turned it off, and the moving of bodies began.

I was later to find out I was judging a "piss for distance" contest that was very heavily favoring the men, when I exclaimed that I was the Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, and demanded to be on top of a "saltie." But all they had was a shark, and since I kept rolling off it, I was duct taped to it.

Oh dear... we have run out of time.


[Note: I totally made this up. I will not use it in the contest.]

But which do you prefer?
 
 
 
alluraallura on May 26th, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC)
Personally I love the longer story
Aurienne: Bjork-on-phone-long-animaurienne on May 26th, 2010 04:45 pm (UTC)
honestly, something in the middle maybe a few paragraphs' worth..more than that and the audience may tune out.
bouncygryphonbouncygryphon on May 26th, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC)
The second one!!
The Crashing Down of Hollow Years: mupwartsblackpaladin on May 26th, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC)
General rule for storytelling competitions: it's a judgment call based on your audience, the judges, your fellow competition, and the average time allotment. Know the longer story, and work down, prioritizing what you can cut out to save time. If there are 10 participants and the contest is slated to go an hour, you've got between 4.5 and 5 minutes (to allow time for judging and awards) -- so know what version of the story to tell that will take up that much time. A little under is better than a little over, but as long as you're not rambling on for 10 minutes, you should be OK.

As far as which version of the story I like better, obviously the longer one. It's a storyteller's story, rather than just an answer to a question. Tell it like a storyteller -- which I know you can -- and I don't think you'll have any problem keeping the audience's attention through the whole thing.
maugornmaugorn on May 26th, 2010 07:55 pm (UTC)
I prefer the second. But I can tell that you made it up- because
you've just proved to me that Hunter S Thompson faked his death and is staying at your house ghost writing your material.

Tell him that the fat hippie he screamed at in Old Town Alexandria when I wouldn't play "Ride of The Valkyries" on the banjo says "Hi!"
Bureinatobureinato on May 27th, 2010 04:00 am (UTC)
I like the short answer. If you are giving 3 or more stories (since up to 3 lies are allowed) then the longer stories will take up too much time. Plus I like the zinger w/ deadpan delivery.