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Peg Kerr's Journal
The Holy Tree grows within the heart
John M. Ford's Memorial service 
28th-Oct-2006 03:46 pm
Both the sweet and the bitter
Yesterday was John M. Ford (Mike Ford's) memorial service. I must say, it was one of the best I've ever had the privilege to attend. Many of Mike's friends spoke and provided music, and excerpts of his writing were read. As the pastor says, it really helps when most of the best things said were written by the departed himself.

Eulogies were offered by Jim Rigney (who writes books under the name Robert Jordon), who considered Mike a brother of the heart, Victor Raymond (badger2305), Lynn Litterer (lynnal), Teresa Nielsen Hayden (tnh), Neil Gaiman, and his aunt, Jane Starner. Many, many of Mike's friends were there, including quite a few from out of town, dozens of whom are on LJ.
Some things said and read: Mike's sonnet, "Against entropy. Jo Walton (papersky) read the Janus sonnet. Steve Brust (skzbrust) read the villanelle "I am the king and I want a sandwich." jonsinger read the list of new items from Acme Food Enhancement, "Dining for the Posthuman Era," which you will find among the samples of his writing here. tnh read his recipe for cooking Hot Gingered Pygmy Mammoth & Jumbo Shrimp Salad:
Hot Gingered Pygmy Mammoth & Jumbo Shrimp Salad

Feeds your whole tribe.

1 pygmy mammoth, boned and cubed (about ½ ton)
½ ton jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (many many ordinary shrimps, or one Ebirah claw)
10 buckets sesame seeds
60 pounds bean thread noodles if you are an Eastern tribe, whatever your tribe uses for noodles otherwise. If you have not yet invented the noodle, this might be a good time to do so.
1 bucket vegetable oil
1 bucket sesame oil
Salt
10 buckets minced fresh ginger
6 buckets minced garlic
15 buckets dry Sherry
15 buckets rice wine vinegar
60 pounds sugar
60 buckets diced fresh mangoes
15 buckets chopped green onions
Big Snorgul’s helmet full of red pepper flakes
10 buckets chopped fresh cilantro, plus 5 Big Snorgul’s helmets fresh cilantro, garnish
1000 large heads lettuce, cored and leaves separated (a raid on the People Who Grow Stuff may be necessary)
30 buckets thinly sliced, peeled, seeded, drained cucumbers, or just chop up the damn cucumbers and say “Fie to thee!” a lot
All the chives you got

Preheat a giant turtle shell over a fumarole. A big giant turtle. Put some oil in there. Make sure no other giant turtles are around to see you do this.

On a flat rock, stirring with your Stick of the Dining God, dry cook the sesame seeds over medium heat until they are brown and smell good. Remove from the heat. Add the noodles to the turtle shell and fry fast until puffy and the color of sunrise. Remove from the oil and drain on non-itchy leaves. Throw salt. Set aside.

Sear the mammoth meat on the flat rock. Salt but don’t overdo it, you remember what happened to the Chest-Clutching Tribe of the Plains. Drain.

Get a less giant turtle shell. Okay, think of this as a celebration dish for a good turtle hunt and shrimp catch. Make the vegetable oil and most of the sesame oil dance. Add the shrimp, mammoth, ginger, and garlic, and cook fast, stirring, until the shrimp are just pink and firm. Doom of Ten Thousand Wretched Canape’s awaits those who overcook shrimp. Remove from the shell with pole weapons. Add the sherry and vinegar, and sing the Song of Deglazing over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until it is one with the sauce. Cook until half the fluid is gone. Feed anybody who thinks this is waste to the giant turtles. Add the rest of the sesame oil, mangoes, green onions, and pepper flakes, and stir to warm through and wilt. No, this wilt is good. Tell the people it is the wilt of the Wilt God. You need all the mojo you can get. Remove from the heat and add the shrimp and ginger, and the cilantro. Stir to warm through and do the Highly Dramatic Ritual of Adjusting the Seasoning to Taste.

Now your tribal status is on the thin edge of the cleaver. Have everybody bring what they eat off of. You know your tribe. Put lettuce on whatever they hold out and spread the hot stuff on it. Those who have no eating platters should be used to the drill by now. Arrange cucumber slices on top in whatever symbolic pattern seems propitious to you and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds. If you have a really tough tribe, yell ‘Bam!’ until they get a groove going. Add fried noodles, cilantro sprigs, and chives, and watch for any signs of people keeling over that can’t be blamed on strong drink.
casacorona read from his unfinished novel Aspects and Emma Bull coffeeem read from "Shared World." She and Adam Stemple played a song that he had written, "Madonna of the Midway."

Some of the things said during the eulogies:

Neil Gaiman: "He was my best critic because he was the smartest. You'd give him something to read, and he'd say, 'That's brilliant. It just needs this one line.' And you'd say, 'You're right,' and put it in. And then it would win awards. And just you and he would know." He told a story of once sending out an invitation to a party which included a typographical error. Mike build an entire musical play around that typographical error. And then he would perform it.

Another time, Neil sent an invitation out with just a flat listing of directions to his address, and he added at the end, "I'd like to see Mike Ford make literature out of this." And Mike did. He made a sonnet cycle out of the directions to Neil's home.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden (tnh) said, "He wasn't the sort of smart person who made you feel stupid. He made you feel smarter just knowing him. He told me once, 'I have a horror of being obvious.' I told him, 'Mike, you have no clue what other people consider obvious."

Since Mike loved cheese, there were exquisite cheeses from the Wedge Co-op served in the fellowship hall afterwards. The wake was held that night at the Sheraton, the hotel where innumerable Minicons have been held, and really, with all the old familiar faces, many of them gone from Minneapolis for years, it felt like a night in the green room at Minicon ten or fifteen years ago. A music circle formed, of course. I came in when Emma Bull was singing "Signal to Noise" and stayed, happy listening, for hours. jbru reminds me of one memorable moment of music and laughter being the singing of "Puking in the Heather," an Irish folk song inspired by an off-hand comment of Mike's at a convention a long time ago--proof, as skzbrust put it, that not all of Mike's legacies were positive ones. fredcritter sang "Ripple," which made the tears flow again. People brought wonderful food, potluck: cheese (again) chocolate, ham and other meats, cake and pies and sweets and nuts and several different kids of scotch. . . pameladean brought her gingerbread, which brought tears to my eyes, because it reminded me of the Shakespeare reading group meetings where Mike would dazzle us all with his readings.

I stayed late. We thought of Mike with love and toasted his memory. May it remain ever green.

Edited to add: Other write ups of the memorial: The Pioneer Press and paperskyJo Walton's report.

Edited to add again: The UK's Guardian article. pameladean's report here. She mentioned, which I didn't know, that gerisullivan did the programs. And if you haven't seen it yet, here is Mike's Wikipedia entry.

My personal tribute to Mike is here.
Comments 
29th-Oct-2006 12:16 am (UTC)
I'm not at all familiar with Mike Ford's works, but that is a fabulous recipe. I laughed so much! If that's representative of his style, he's left a wonderful legacy, indeed.
29th-Oct-2006 02:45 am (UTC)
He was one of the funniest and definitely one of the most intelligent and the absolute wittiest person I have ever met. As for "representative of his style," that's the funny think about Mike: he never repeated himself. He didn't do sequels. He would write something absolutely brilliant, and then go off and do something completely different. He designed games, he wrote amazing poetry (he won the Reisling Award for best Science Fiction poetry), he won the World Fantasy Award for a book about Richard III, he wrote two of the best Star Trek novels ever written: How Much for Just the Planet, which is Star Trek done as a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta (complete with libretto), ending with a pie fight, and The Final Reflection, the story of a small group of Klingons who prevent a war between the Klingon Empire and the Federation while the regular series characters are relegated to cameo appearances. He wrote Web of Angels one of the first cyberpunk novels ever written. He wrote lyrics. He wrote one of the best things written about 9/11, a poem called "110 Stories." He was a wonderful game master. He knew everything possible about railroads. He wrote incredible epic poem chatbooks that he sent out to his friends every Christmas. He was a fabulous actor in my Shakespeare group. He had a comedy routine that he did at conventions called "Ask Dr. Mike" that ran for years that made people roar, where he pretended to be a scientist and had people ask him questions, and he would make up the most incredibly witty, hilarious answers right there on the spot--fabulous comic impromptu speaker. He had the backbone of a rigorous classical education--totally self-taught, mind you, since he dropped out of college probably because he was just ahead of everybody--and yet he also delighted in dreadful television and trashy movies. He loved to watch the weather station--with the sound turned off--all the time. "I like the plot." Intellectually, I would agree with Gaiman: he was probably the most intelligent of all of my friends.

He deserved to be rich and famous, because he was brilliant, but he wasn't because he just didn't really market himself. He was so humble and kind. He struggled with ill health for so long--he was diagnosed as diabetic at age 11.

He was amazing. I will never ever meet his like again.
29th-Oct-2006 05:24 pm (UTC)
And here is his Wikipedia entry.
29th-Oct-2006 05:49 am (UTC)
Yep, all that.

But it's the "Rhysling" award; named after the character in Heinlein's "The Green Hills of Earth".
29th-Oct-2006 01:14 pm (UTC)
*Sigh* Too little sleep. Sorry.
30th-Oct-2006 12:11 am (UTC)
...[A]nd yet he also delighted in dreadful television and trashy movies.

My experience of his late-night phone calls and convention conversation says that this is not quite true; it was more that he delighted in finding the diamonds in that trash and sharing them. He had high standards, and made it quite clear that low art was worthy of having them applied.
30th-Oct-2006 12:41 am (UTC)
Oh, you maybe never heard him describe, with relish and horror, the true awfulness of certain truly awful movies and shows. Trust me, he did. Delight is a word that would only cover it if spread very thinly.
29th-Oct-2006 01:06 am (UTC)
Small correction: coffeeem read "Shared World," casacorona read from Aspects.
29th-Oct-2006 02:30 am (UTC)
Thanks for the correction; I have fixed.
29th-Oct-2006 03:12 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for this post. It is wonderful that Mike had such a good turnout. I want to check out all the links in yhour post, too. He sounds like he was an amazing person, and so creative!


There was a book sale at the Woodbury Library (continues tomorrow) and I bought The World of Swans. It looks like it got lots of reading in the library so I am mighty proud to own it. Can't wait to read it. There were so many sciffy authors that I have enough reading for months...sigh of happiness.

29th-Oct-2006 02:20 pm (UTC)
Since you were mentioning the LJ's of others (and you should know if you didn't previously), Victor Raymond's is badger2305.

I want to say more, but there are no words.
29th-Oct-2006 05:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I wasn't aware of Victor's LJ, and I'm glad to make the amendation.
31st-Oct-2006 09:06 pm (UTC)
Also, Lynn Litterer is on LJ at lynnal.
31st-Oct-2006 10:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I have added.
29th-Oct-2006 03:41 pm (UTC)
Jon Singer read the Acme Food Enhancement bit.

P.
29th-Oct-2006 05:19 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, thank you. I have fixed the entry to credit jonsinger. (An appropriate choice for reading that piece, too!)
29th-Oct-2006 11:59 pm (UTC)
tnh read the hot gingered pygmy mammoth recipe.
30th-Oct-2006 12:49 am (UTC)
Thank you. I have made the correction.
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