No. 118 (essentialsaltes) wrote,
No. 118

Gird yourself

This weekend is the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the founding of Enigma. An almost ridiculous milestone. I've been a member of Enigma for so long that it wasn't even Enigma when I joined. 19.5 years ago, I joined what was then known as Attempted Escape in the fall of my freshman year at UCLA. One of the first orders of business was to choose a new name for the club. It's funny that both Robert and I distinctly remember S. Michael Price (as he was known then) supporting Enigma because then the journal would be called Enigmata (pronounced in affected English schoolboy Latin cadences).
In any case, Rebecca and I battled the rain Friday evening to get to Nova Express for the kickoff of the Enigmaversary. Clearly the perfect venue. It was awesome. We owned the place for four hours. I personally acted as bouncer and turned someone away. We had music, slideshow, continuous food, drink and people.

Home by midnight-ish or so, but I was up early and then off to the California Antiquarian Book Fair. As usual, I had to look at it as more of a book museum than a place to actually buy things. I tried to haggle on a copy of Clark Ashton Smith's Out of Space and Time, but the bookseller was having none of it. It, and virtually everything else I saw, was way out of my league. Mostly I go to record the insanest things I spotted. So, of the several Principia Mathematicas I saw, the most expensive was priced at $320,000. Galileo's presentation copy of Il Saggiatore to the 'nephew' of the pope (POR). An offprint of Röntgen's Eine neue Art von Strahlen, detailing his discovery of X-rays. A magnificent Euclid printed in 14-freaking-82 valued at a bargain basement $220,000. It was unbelievably crisp and clean. The dedicatory copy of the complete set of the Voyage of the Beagle to the Earl of Minto ($78,750). Okay, it wasn't all science. The Thin Man ($30K), Dracula ($45K), Zap comics #1 ($12K), Fleur du mal ($50K). And then there were the really original things. JFK's copy of Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom. What could that possibly be worth? Less than $10,000 as it happens. A 15 volume handwritten alchemical manuscript from 17th century Italy... ($76.5K). A copy of the self-published Observations of Mars and Its Canals. I was sorely tempted by it, especially since the author had bound in his membership in the Crypt of Civilization, which microfilmed the book and placed it in a time-capsule vault for the edification of the people of the year 8113. Moving further away from books, there was the c. 1920's ostrich feather fan from the Cawston Ostrich Farm in Pasadena.

Later that day was the main Enigmaversary party at Jay and Becca's. I eschewed the Enigma-dots and just played it like it was a party, so I had a good time. Hard to recount all of the conversations and remeetings, but the main entertainment was plenty of fun. Robert borrowed liberally from Bilbo's speech, but sadly did not vanish when he announced that this was the end. The Enigmaplayers and Lux did their thing and then PatIanMatt offered awards to just about all and sundry. I think I was probably the most surprised recipient. I felt like Hannay in the 39 Steps: "Ladies and gentlemen, I apologize for my hesitation in rising just now, but I'd entirely failed while listening to the chairman's flattering description of the next speaker to realize he was talking about me." In short, I was awarded the (now eponymous) Mike Tice Hipness Through Erudition Award.
I didn't bring any of my own 'memorabilia', but there was still so much bizarre crud on display that it was really amazing. Ancient RPG stuff, ancient LARP stuff, ancient party photos, ancient everything. Oh, but I'm losing the thread of chronology. There was also the Aaron-edited highlights of Enigma on film. The main lesson I learned from it was that I did all sorts of shit that I don't even remember anymore. I was saddened that there was no Mike-Snape from the Hogwarts game, but there was plenty of me and my self-detested voice to satiate everyone.

Today was an ultimate frisbee reunion. Perhaps the rain was factor, but it was not as mondo as the first Enigmaversary or the Judy/Phil wedding ultimate-cubed game. But we still managed to have 8-on-8 at the height of it. The first game was a blow-out, I helped the team to an easy 10-0 victory. The second game was slightly more even. It went 3-3 before it got blown out 10-3 (against me). The third game, I think I was captain, and it went all the way down the wire. Tied 9-9. As the enemy prepared to tee off to us, we formed the mighty Kali. Her powers were definitely in effect and we triumphed 10-9. Hard fucking game for most of us, who haven't been out on the frisbee field for 2 years. I drove home and my body was locked up by the time I had to try to lever myself out of it. Now I can feel the sunburn on my mooncalves and other exposed anatomical pieces.

And now I bid a fond farewell to the Enigmaversary. I'm skipping the LARP that is happening at this very moment, and I'm 99% sure I'm skipping out on the gaming tomorrow. But it was lots of fun and I'm grateful to the organizers.

In absolutely other news, Rebecca and I have watched Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia recently. To me, it entirely lives up to its expectations, despite the scratchy DVD print (I understand Criterion issued a very nice laserdisc, but they haven't released it on DVD). Just amazing cinematography of sport.

I also finished reading a couple books. #1 Francis Wheen's Idiot Proof (aka How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World) was rather disappointing. One can be too curmudgeonly and Wheen reaches that point with little effort. #2 Eric Myers' Uncle Mame, a biography of Ed Tanner aka Patrick Dennis, the author Auntie Mame and other works. Not well-written, but fascinating in its look at someone who was a real individual, perhaps far stranger than his own most-famous creation. From WWII in front-line ambulances in the American Field Service to the wife-and-kids, to millionaire author, to coming out, to expatriating to Mexico City, to butling for Ray Kroc. An insane life.

And I'm spent.
Tags: bio, book, enigma, film, friends, party

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