On the road again

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Published: Aug 18 2015, 01:01:am

    Tuesday, August 18, 2015.

     Although it officially counts as the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention, the Sasquan event will be my first Worldcon. (Fortunately, our house-sitting friends are a couple who prefer mysteries to SF.)

    Worldcon. In Spokane. There is something dreamlike about seeing my name — Michael J. Walsh — listed in the program book as the moderator of a panel called The Future of the Small Press, scheduled for 5:00 p.m. on Friday.

    Actually, it's quite a specific dream: the one in which it's the day of the final exam for a course you forgot you took and have not studied for. I know next to nothing about small-press publishing, and absolutely nothing about the other three members of the panel.

    As it turns out, I'm not the only Michael J. Walsh attending the convention. The eminently qualified Michael Jarret Walsh, founder of the Baltimore-based Old Earth Books, will be chairing that discussion. His experience with World Science Fiction conventions is more extensive than mine, having organized the 41st edition, called ConStellation, in Baltimore in 1983.

    We met once, at the 2008 World Fantasy Convention in Calgary, Alberta (which was the last time I ventured outside of the Greater Vancouver area for a fan event). At the time, he told me that there was yet another Michael Walsh, a Californian, who was active in fandom. He joked that we should all get together some day and convene a Michael Walsh panel.

    Since then, I've noticed the emergence of a talented young comic-book artist named Michael Walsh. A Canadian based in Hamilton, Ontario, he works for Marvel and would make a fine addition to our growing MW conversation. Ah, but that's just a dream.

    And, given the length of today's drive, I need to stay awake.

    Sasquan begins tomorrow (August 19), and there will be a Reeling Back posting of 1994's Star Trek: Generations to mark the occasion. The next posting is scheduled for Thursday, August 27. In the meantime, there are now more than 500 items in the archive, the 10 most recent being:

MAD DOG AND GLORY — Both tough guy actor Robert De Niro and intense drama director John McNaughton were trying to lighten up when they collaborated on this inner-city romantic comedy about a cop who receives a girl (Uma Thurman) as a thank-you gift from a mobster (Bill Murray). (Posted August 17)

ROXANNE — Shot on location in Nelson, B.C., Steve Martin's 1987 reconsideration of the stage classic Cyrano de Bergerac showed the comic actor to be a writer of generosity and insight. Daryl Hannah co-starred as the seemingly unobtainable object of his affections. (Posted August 14)

BABAR: THE MOVIE — Canadian acting icon Gordon Pinsent provided the voice for the Elephant King in this 1989 cartoon feature, the first big-screen feature adapted from the long-running series of children's books, orginally written and illustrated by Jean de Brunhoff. (Posted August 12)

OUR FEATURE FILM FEST: 14 — In Part 14 of a 20-part series, Reeling Back continues The Greater Vancouver Book Feature Film Festival with restored notes on 15 movies about madness that could be described as Cabin Fever Dreams. (Posted August 8)

PORKY'S II: THE NEXT DAY — Remembered as one of Canada's most successful directors, American-born Bob Clark made eight features during his decade in Toronto. The last was this 1982 teen comedy, the sequel to his epic money-maker, Porky's. (Posted August 5)

SCI-FI'S BRITISH EMPIRE QUIZ — To mark the B.C. Day statutory holiday, Reeling Back recalled that ours is the only Canadian province with the word "British" in its name, and offered this test of readers' knowledge of the influence of Britain and Britons on science-fiction and fantasy cinema. (Posted August 3)

DON'T LOOK NOW — For many fans of psychics in the cinema, director Nicholas Roeg's atmospheric 1974 thriller remains a classic of the genre. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie starred as an English couple dealing with a loss during a visit to Venice. (Posted August 2)

THE MAD ADVENTURES OF 'RABBI' JACOB — Louis De Funès, the biggest international star Americans never heard of, had the title role in this 1973 farce from French director Gérard Oury, a picture that contained an eloquent plea for tolerance at a time of increasing tensions between Arabs and Jews. (Posted July 31)

BOB PORTER (interview) — In a little-known tale of feature film entrepreneurship, Burnaby businessman Bob Porter, a self-described "Sound of Music type," made an investment that made the release of the 1974 softcore sex comedy Flesh Gordon possible. (Posted July 30)

OUR FEATURE FILM FEST: 13 — In Part 13 of a 20-part series, Reeling Back continues The Greater Vancouver Book Feature Film Festival with restored notes on the 10 B.C.-made movies about Things that Go Bump in the Night. (Posted July 28)