BOB DEVNEY — EVELYN & MARK LEEPER TRIBUTE, WINDYCON — MON 10/7/02
What to Do
with the Leepers
by Bob Devney
Not that the title here should convey a "John Norman: Threat or Menace?" sense. It's more of a practical thing. After all you fans blow into WindyCon, what actually can you do with your Fan Guests of Honor?
Of course, you could simply clone your usual behavior around other species of GOH. Let's see. Writer Guest of Honor: tongue-tied hovering. Editor Guest of Honor: manuscript-laden stalking. Artist Guest of Honor: unusual-sex requesting. No, none of these seem quite the right approach to Evelyn and Mark Leeper.
Allow me to suggest some alternatives, based on my own interactions at a few Worldcons and myriad Boskones with The Hardest-Working Couple in Fandom — plus long reading of the Leeperian oeuvre. I'm an avid fan of Evelyn's famous, nanoscopically detailed con reports. I dote on Mark's knowledgeable and wide-ranging movie reviews — a Net necessity since 1984, when the term World Wide Web would have suggested one of his beloved tacky sci-fi flicks (say, Mission to the Giant Spider Planet?). I'm in awe of their wonderfully weekly fanzine, MT Void. (See where that Hardest-Working cognomen comes in?) And I adore their equally obsessive yet blessedly wry travelogues.
Now, besides reading their stuff (on Evelyn’s Web site at www.geocities.com/Athens/4824/, and Mark’s at www.geocities.com/Hollywood/6960/), how can you best make their acquaintance at the con?
Know Where They’re Coming From
Get a feeling for who you'll be talking to. Mark Leeper and Evelyn Chimelis met cute as Western Mass math champs in high school; joined souls and the SF club at UMass; lived in the Bay Area and Detroit before picking the Garden State as their garden spot; answered silly computer questions for years at Bell Labs/Lucent, retiring just before the stock tanked (they can't help it if they're irreplaceable), etc., etc. Check out further details in the fine bioblurbs your committee has furnished at www.windycon.org/text/guests.asp.
For fast field recognition, say in the Con Suite, Evelyn's the one who still looks good in jeans. Mark's the one draped in a peta-pocketed photographer's vest that rumor suggests he wears even while showering.
Ask for Origami
Mark loves to show off his prowess at the fine art of Eastern paper-creasing. Also his mathematical mettle, which is considerable (he's got a Master's from Stanford in the subject). Why not combine these two favorite preoccupations?
Challenge him a little. Ask for an origami omnitruncated polytetrahedron. An origami sphere. An origami rendering of M. C. Escher's House of Stairs.
No, wait, I've got it — an origami tesseract!
Talk About Your Trip
Oh, so you’ve recently been to East Schaumburg? How interesting.
Get real. The Leepers not long ago tossed off a month-long, 7500-mile hejira from New Jersey to Montana and back, following in a few of the feetsteps of Lewis and Clark. If you think the Woodfield Mall was neat, wait until you hear about the Bily Clock Museum and Antonin Dvorak Exhibit in Spillville, Iowa! Or even better, ask them about The Potato Capital of the World and that 1940s snapshot of the pretty girls posing with the extra-large Freudian spuds …
Mark and Evelyn have also learned a little of the language, eaten the food, toured the museums, studied the sights, bought the books, and met the people of places such as Vietnam and Turkey and Tanzania and Peru. Unless your last holiday included a layover in Luna City, these are the wrong people with whom you should play "Top My Vacation" for money.
Lightly Mention Susan Lucci
To date, Evelyn has compiled a record twelve Fan Writer Hugo nominations. Of course, she's also been squished each time by the Infernal Champion, David, Dark Lord of Langford. I say this in a spirit of purely unholy relish, since she's still managed to beat me in the vote totals four of those times.
Ah! Revenge is a dish best served in a Program Book sandwich.
Pal Around at a Panel
Though it's actually not that whoopworthy to perch with Mark or Evelyn in the audience at a program item. They usually spend the whole panel typing the whole panel into their con report notes.
Request a Movie Review
These people take in a movie like other folks take deep breaths. Mark taps out most of the reviews. At this writing, recently he's loved Spirited Away, Signs, Road to Perdition, and Minority Report. But he also thought Simone was pretty decent, so basically he's a big softie. Tell him so for me.
Start your own arguments about whether he should have rated Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones and Spider Man higher than Eight-Legged Freaks, or how the Niflheim he could have thought Ice Age was no better than The Time Machine.
Take Away a Trip Report
If fan writing were an Olympic sport, the Leepers would perennially medal in both the dash, for that incredible weekly fanzine, and the marathon, for their trip reports.
They each compose their own travelogues of each trip: thoughtful, supremely level-headed, exhaustively researched, and above all insanely detailed. Pick a country, practically any country; then read both their contributions. You'll get a practical illustration of that increasingly famous quote from Saint-Exupery: "Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction." The fun for us comes when Mark and Evelyn gaze together at the world's most uneventful changing of the guard (Helsinki) or a hotel room's part-time toilet (Ankara) …
If you ask for a trip report, though, be prepared for heavy lifting. Lately, they're nearing what I shall call Leeper’s Equilibrium. This is the state in which the time required to take a vacation trip and the time required to read about taking a vacation trip achieve identity. But hey, dude, it's all good.
And by the way, Evelyn’s famous SF convention reports? Think of them as equally knowledgeable travel guides to that beloved, bizarre, but rarely lonely planet we call Conworld. (Though if you compare hour-by-hour coverage, they’re probably even longer.)
Meet Them for a Meal
The Leepers are among fandom’s most adventurous eaters. So by all means, try to wangle a place on their dinner dance card. But please, be polite while they snurfle up flambéed flamingo phlegm with small snorts of glad appreciation. Also, best keep your hands, sleeves, and pets well clear of the intake apparatus …
Follow a few of the above suggestions and the Leepers should hold up their end of the WindyCon Guest of Honor bargain very well. They may not possess the dark Ottawan allure of a Charles de Lint, the acquiring mind of a Shawna McCarthy, the Godzilla-sized talent (and trichologically tempting tresses) of a Bob Eggleton, or the owl-impaling artistry of a Lisa Snellings.
But they’re sophisticated without slickness, smart without conceit; and (despite my exaggerations above), Mark and Evelyn Leeper will probably listen to what you have to say at least as much as they talk.
That's kind of the point of having Fan Guests of Honor.
Really, aren't those the very best guests of all?
— Bob Devney
[More of Bob Devney's writings may be found at http://www.devniad.com.]
© 2002 Robert E. Devney