For much of today, I’ll be en route to Colorado Springs for this year’s Left Coast Crime (where eventually I’ll be joined by fellow current or past Murderatis JT Ellison, Simon Wood, and Alexandra Sokoloff, who posted here about the conference yesterday).
I’ve made myself scarce the last few years on the conference circuit, being preoccupied with other, well, preoccupations, but co-chairs Christine Goff and Suzanne Proulx very graciously (if unwisely) asked if I’d serve as toastmaster, and how could I refuse?
Just one question, I said timidly. What exactly does a toastmaster do?
The answer: Nobody knows…
I even asked last year’s toastmaster, Harley Jane Kozak, and she replied: “You just get up and make people happy to be alive, restore sight to the blind and the will to live in those who are depressed. It helps if everyone's drunk to begin with.”
Piece of cake.
Eventually, Christine and Suzanne decided to indulge my pleas for guidance, and gave me a rough list of duties I’d be expected to perform. Basically, I introduce people who are about to introduce other people. (It’s almost a twisted variant of Russell’s Paradox: If the toastmaster interviews all those and only those who don’t introduce themselves, who introduces the toastmaster?)
Actually, the people I get to introduce are quite impressive, from Guests of Honor Laura Lippman and Craig Johnson to “Last Resort” Troubadour Parnell Hall, from Fan Guest of Honor Tom Schantz (with his late wife, Enid, also honored) to Special Guest Lou Diamond Phillips. I also get to extend kind words on behalf of Christine and Suzanne and all the other LCC Committee Co-Chairs, name the various LCC Award Nominees and present the Dilys Award (for the crime/mystery/thriller novel the Independent Mystery Booksellers of America most enjoyed selling in 2012).
As if all that weren’t enough, I also get to warm up the crowd at the awards dinner on Saturday night, and double up with charity auctioneer (and fellow math geek) Robert Spiller to make sure the auction stays lively — though not as lively, I suspect, as what follows:
"Does this shoulder holster make me look fat?" A Concealed Weapon Fashion Show: Emcee: Ellen Byerrum. Gun consultant: Curt Wendelboe. Fashionista: Bonnie Ramthun. Models: Donna Andrews, Rhys Bowen, Parnell Hall, Heather and C.M. Wendelboe, Twist Phelan, Jack Chapple, Brad Parks, and Ann Charles.
But wait, there’s more.
I’ll also be teaching a three-hour (9:00 AM—noon) workshop on character Thursday morning (we’ve already got nearly forty sign-ups).
Oh, and there are the panels:
Friday, 4:00–4:45 p.m.—Truth or Dare (M) Rhys Bowen, David Corbett, Parnell Hall, Laura Lippman, Brad Parks
Saturday, 3:15–4:00 p.m.—Suspense/Thrillers Lisa Brackmann, Jan Burke, David Corbett, (M) J.T. Ellison, Mark Sullivan
If you’re coming, make sure to say hello. If you can’t make it, you’ll be missed.
So, Murderateros: If you were attending the Truth or Dare panel, and could ask an embarrassing question of one of the panelists—forcing them to either tell the truth or chip in to a charity fund—what would you ask, and of whom?
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Jukebox Hero of the Week: I was in Los Angeles recently and got to visit with my good buddy Mark Haskell Smith, his wife Diana Faust, and fellow Murderatero Gar Anthony Haywood. Gar gave me one of the nicest compliments I’ve received lately: He praised my taste in these little music clips. Almost immediately, I thought: Oh Christ, now the pressure’s on.
So with that burden squarely in mind, the burden of living up to Gar’s appreciation, here goes: a forgotten classic from one-hit wonder and tragic heroin casualty James Ramey, aka Baby Huey of Baby Huey & the Babysitters, from 1970: