The excellent British writer Conrad Williams was in town this week and I managed to snag him for dinner and drinks last night. Figuring him as a man of taste who'd appreciate a flavor of old-school Hollywood, I drove us to Musso & Frank's (open since 1919, same old red leather, same old dark wood panelling, same old apparently-deathless waiters) so that we could stare at the booth where Charlie Chaplin used to hold court and drink at the bar where Raymond Chandler used to prop himself up. It's less hip than it used to be, thank God, so it wasn't full of trendy dickheads. Instead, as Conrad so accurately put it, "It's full of ghosts." It's beautiful living history, and you should check it out if you're ever in LA. The creamed spinach -- essentially a bowl of butter and cream filled with strands of what may once have been a healthy vegetable -- will probably kill you, but you'll die happy. Tell Paul, the maitre'd, that the fat lad sent you.
Conrad has recently edited a wonderful anthology of 'weird western' tales called Gutshot, which will be launched on the Friday night of the British Fantasy Convention (see previous posts), and his novel, Loss of Separation, will be part of Solaris Books' signing event on the Saturday afternoon. Both are highly recommended. (I'm in Gutshot, but don't let that put you off)