Geek It Happened to Me

Scenes from a sci-fi convention 1: I discover ESR’s weakness

I decided to bike over to the Royal York last night (only non-locals refer to it as the Fairmont Royal York), and see what was going on at the various parties being held by attendees of the TorCon, 61st World Science Fiction Convention. I knew I was at the right place because the Royal York is a landmark with its name in illuminated latters near its top and because I saw a guy dressed up as a demon talking to another guy dressed up as Boba Fett hanging out outside the hotel.

The Royal York was once considered to be the hotel to go to (that crown now belongs to the King Eddie), and while it still maintains some of its prestige, so it’s very unusual to see its lobby bar packed with people in T-shirts with things like Red Dwarf or the character of Death from The Sandman silk-screened on them. The Fans have arrived!

It didn’t take long to find the party floors; a number of announcements and posters were posted on a board near the elevators. I went one flight up and arrived at a floor full of guys in glasses with Hawaiian shirts. I joked to myself that everyone looked like Larry Wall, creator of the Perl programming language.

Except for that guy, I thought, looking at a rather animated man in a black shirt, talking a handful of people in the hallway. He looks like Eric Raymond.

(For those of you who aren’t in computers, Eric S. Raymond, often referred to by his initials ESR, is one of the most outspoken spokespersons for open source software and current president of the Open Source Initiative.)

“…if McBride thinks he’s going to get a single penny from Linux, he’s terribly mistaken…”

Holy shit, it IS Eric Raymond.

Later that night, while nibbling on some cheese at the Kansas City “bid party” — a party where fans canvass people for votes to have a future WorldCon held in their city — Eric made inhumanly rapid epicycles around the snack table like a vulture on crystal meth. He was moving in Internet Time.

Since it is in my nature and also my job to be a goodwill ambassador and friend to programmers, especially open source ones, and most certainly the president of the Open Source Initiative, I decided to help.

“Hey, Eric,” I said, tapping on his shoulder. “What’cha lookin’ for?”

Peanut Butter Cookies!” he said with manic glee, touching his fingertips together, mad-scientist style.

I understand and sympathize. “I saw some cookies over there,” I said, pointing to a coffee table on the other end of the room that had two plates of cookies. I’d seen it earlier and thought of having one, but cookies make the Baby Atkins cry.

“All right,” said Eric, and with a burst of speed that even The Flash would envy, he made a beeline for the cookies. Woe betide anyone who was in his direct path.

Hear that, SCO and Microsoft? You devils want your Linux headaches solved? Here are four words that will allow you to plunge the world into the darkness you crave so very much with slobbering lips (and perhaps engage in some hot Sauron-on-Saruman kink afterwards):

Explosive. Peanut. Butter. Cookies.

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