He taught me that a good party has a theme -- any theme -- and you carry that through with the decorations, the food, and the people working the party. He told me that it's important to have an abundance of food -- and to have the appearance of an abundance. (So don't use too big a serving bowl, use a smaller one and refill it.)
He would fly into town, buy a crockpot and all of the party supplies, and leave them behind. He was seeding L.A. party people with crockpots. He taught me the trick of good macaroni & cheese: buy two of the frozen catering packs of Stouffer's Mac & Cheese, break them into chunks and put them in a crockpot, and turn it on high four or five hours before your party.
He loved having sight gags in his parties. He once bought a #10 can of Crisco, and a box of plastic gloves, just to have them as props in the party to see if anyone would speculate as to what they were for.
He taught me to think about serving soda with caffeine, soda without, and diet soda with and without caffeine; bottled water; possibly something else uncarbonated; for food, something sweet, something else sweet that wasn't chocolate; fruit, vegetables; something salty; some "real food' and some protein, and some hot food. (These categories can overlap.) I say "think about" -- you might not choose to have all these types of food and drink, but that should be because you decided that, not because you forgot about them.
You don't have to serve all possible kinds of soda. You should try to have something the other parties don't have. I would always buy Cactus Cooler (an orange-pineapple soda available in some regions) as that was Eric's favorite.
While in recent years he hasn't been hosting his own parties, his legacy is visible every Black Friday/Saturday nights at Loscon. The room party scene at Loscon these days is a vibrant floor full of different room parties, all trying their best to be noticed by putting on as good a party as they can. His parties helped foster that, and we owe him a debt.
I'll miss him.
Photo shown here of Eric with Dick Pilz. A lot of what Eric passed onto me, he'd learned from Dick Pilz of Portland.
Ron Hipschman wrote to me tonight:
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but It is my sad duty to inform you that Eric passed away sometime in the last week or so. After a period of not hearing from Eric by phone or by email, Karil Daniels (another friend) and I became concerned that something might be more serious than a lost phone or a trip to a convention, so I called his property manager and we met at Eric's place Friday night. Unfortunately, the worst possible reason for his lack of communication was what we found. According to the medical examiner, he apparently died in his sleep peacefully (he was in bed). Eric had been battling a heart condition. We may learn more next week when they do an examination.
As I was doing a web search for photos of Eric, your website has the vast majority of the known photos of Eric. I hope that you won’t mind my using them for memorial purposes. A bunch of friends and acquaintances will get together, maybe in February, for a pizza dinner (I thought that would be the most appropriate food!) to honor Eric. I’d like to show slides of him in happier times and I know that he was probably at his happiest at the cons. If you’d like to inform others, please feel free. If anyone would like to send condolence cards to his parents, their address is below. I thought that his friends would like to hear it from another friend.
Marvin and Joyce Scott
85 East End Ave., Apt. 2C
New York, NY 10028-8026