Back to previous post: A Lindskold good day

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Awwwwwwwww

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

March 29, 2004

Open thread 20.
Posted by Patrick at 12:22 AM *

Nora’s freezing on the trolley.

Comments on Open thread 20.:
#1 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 12:30 AM:

31. July 8, 1999. Florida. Allen Lee Davis. "Before he was pronounced dead ... the blood from his mouth had poured onto the collar of his white shirt, and the blood on his chest had spread to about the size of a dinner plate, even oozing through the buckle holes on the leather chest strap holding him to the chair."45 His execution was the first in Florida's new electric chair, built especially so it could accommodate a man Davis's size (approximately 350 pounds). Later, when another Florida death row inmate challenged the constitutionality of the electric chair, Florida Supreme Court Justice Leander Shaw commented that "the color photos of Davis depict a man who--for all appearances--was brutally tortured to death by the citizens of Florida."46 Justice Shaw also described the botched executions of Jesse Tafero and Pedro Medina (q.v.), calling the three executions "barbaric spectacles" and "acts more befitting a violent murderer than a civilized state."47 Justice Shaw included pictures of Davis's dead body in his opinion.48 The execution was witnessed by a Florida State Senator, Ginny Brown-Waite, who at first was "shocked" to see the blood, until she realized that the blood was forming the shape of a cross and that it was a message from God saying he supported the execution.49

Increasingly, the rest of the world thinks America is run by insane barbarians. They're right, too.

#2 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 12:37 AM:

More fun than it has any right to be:

#3 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 12:41 AM:

Ugh. Blog Lag leads to a startling shift in tone. Sorry about that.

* * *

Patrick, I think you have some bad references there.

#4 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 12:46 AM:

Sorry, it was just copied from this link in Teresa's Particles. the one marked "The US execution blooper reel."

#5 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 01:18 AM:

47 days till graduation.

Holy crap.

#6 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 01:26 AM:

Hmmm. When I go to give talks about the death penalty in schools for Amnesty International, the kids do tend to bring up the US, true. And the US makes a nice example of exactly why the death penalty is a bad idea even in the best circumstances (relatively, of course). But part of the reason they bring it up - apart from general anti-americanism, which is ingenerated by other kinds of behaviour, and other complex factors - is that the US is not a barbaric country. And most of them are correctly amazed at the incongruity of it still having the death penalty.
This is why the US makes such a good debating point: you can point out why it's such an expensive (relatively), unfair penalty. In other countries, it's cheap and so indiscriminate that it ends up being horribly fair...

#7 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 01:32 AM:

Don't we know archaic barrel?

#8 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 01:44 AM:

Someone over on (a 3d artists site) has done a nice rendering of _Perdido St. Station_.

Nice to see someone using a literary reference - especially as the site, while technically excellent, often carries some very cliched material.

#9 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 01:54 AM:

I'm assuming you mean raph, not nielsenhayden....

#10 ::: Cassandra Phillips-Sears ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 01:54 AM:

Ghost Town

This is one of the most haunting and weirdly beautiful websites I've ever seen. Elena, a Russian motorcyclist, has documented her travels through the hot zone of the town of Chernobyl with photos and commentary.

#11 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 02:04 AM:

Tom Whitmore wrote:

> I'm assuming you mean raph, not nielsenhayden....

Indeed! Making Light is rarely predictable.

#12 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 02:10 AM:

The Ghost Town website is impressive - I ran into a link on another blog earlier today. Amazing how stuff like this spreads...

One of the things that struck me was what she said about people being afraid of something because it was indetectable - I'd heard the same thing, in almost the same words, on the NPR piece this morning for the anniversary of Three Mile Island.

#13 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 02:24 AM:

I'm shocked, shocked to discover that you've looked at those Trojan ads, Teresa.

After all, you're not supposed to click through unless you're a resident of the UK.

#14 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 02:34 AM:

The Ghost Town pictures are quite eerie. Puts me in mind of low budget New Zealand film called Quiet Earth, in which for reasons, almost everyone dissapears one day.

#15 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 03:23 AM:

Holly and her parasite pals were disturbing in the right way.

They couldn't quite shake the impression the execution link left on me, though.

#16 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 05:31 AM:

Nora’s freezing on the trolley.

Serves her bloody-well right for leaving Torvald!

#17 ::: plover ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 05:33 AM:

I was pointed to the Ghost Town link by some blog or other a couple of weeks ago, so it's been diffusing through the blogosphere for at least that long.

Given the time period compared to the usual diffusion rate in the 'sphere, I suppose that either Ghost Town comprises particularly large blog particles (blogons? blogomers?) or that the topology between Making Light and some of the other blogs I read has some especially viscous patches.

Hmm, I wonder what would constitute blog electrophoresis?

#18 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 05:35 AM:

Don't we know archaic barrel?

#19 ::: Carlos ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 07:45 AM:

I always seem to be the guy here who brings up a J-link, but Japan has the death penalty as well. There, it's a Kafkaesque procedure, done in secret, the prisoner usually only notified a few hours before the execution. The false conviction rate has been admitted to be absurdly high, appeals are rarely successful, and there hasn't been a pardon since the 1970s. On the other hand, usually the prisoner is older than in the US, even elderly, having stayed on Death Row for some decades.

Hanging is used, no information available on botches.


#20 ::: Jaquandor ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 07:49 AM:

It scares me that there exists an industry such that a government warning on how to not die when working in a manure pit is actually necessary!

(Although, combining that with the "botched executions" list yields some pretty dark thoughts....)

#21 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 07:53 AM:

Swaller dollar cauliflower alley ga-roo.

#22 ::: Elric ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 08:13 AM:

As it's an open thread, I'll toss in my appreciation of the new HBO series, Deadwood. Ignore the hype about the bad language. Yep--there's salt in them words, but not over the top and not wrong for the context. Our good friend Yog can tell you that the modern navy is at least as bad.

The show proper has an unexpectedly fine nineteenth-century quality to its language and sense of humor. There are some excellent performances, and the show is doing some really interesting character interpretation of the familiar historical figures. Keith Carradine makes an astonishingly good Hickock, and the woman playing Jane is doing an amazing job.

Somewhat related, on a board having to do with the show I just found this link to Digital Deadwood, which takes the history of the town and makes it into an interactive game of sorts. I just need to find time to really explore it....

#23 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 08:40 AM:

I watched part of the first Deadwood. I might dip into it again--parts were very good--but what bothered me about the "bad language" wasn't its vigor but its anachronism. I question whether 19th-century roustabouts said "cocksucker" quite so often.

In other news, Lullaby Lilly Boy, Louiville Lou!

#24 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 08:57 AM:

Open thread, so here's something apropos of nothing...

I just achieved a personal best for Strange Things My Family Thinks About Me. One of my cousins heard "from someone else in the family" that I was a Scientologist, and has been spreading the tale.

#25 ::: Mad AZ Monk ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 09:07 AM:

Walla Walla Wash. and Kalamazoo!

OMG, I can't believe I found a blogful of folks hip to Pogo! My family sings that damn song every Xmas and my aunt even dated Walt Kelly for a while in college.

I have a niece born on Groundhog Day and I call her what? Li'l Grundoon, of course.

Wow. Ya'll made my day.

#26 ::: Tamara Siler Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 09:18 AM:

I have a pretty strong stomach when faced with gruesome things, but some of the pics on that body modification risks link were quite disturbing.

Why in the world would anyone want to split the head of their penis in half??


#27 ::: Derek Lowe ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 09:47 AM:

Tizzy seas on melon collie.

#28 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 09:47 AM:

Sadly, Tamara, it can be worse. I've seen pictures of 4 way splits...

I can only assume it would be done out of some bizarre desire to properly fill a Cthuloid codpiece.

#29 ::: Christy Zimmerman ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 09:52 AM:

Pogo for President!
I'm sure you all could easily Google the site, but here's a link to lots of Pogosive goodness.

#30 ::: Mad AZ Monk ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 10:31 AM:

Oom, oom, I'm deranged! Where the beer and the cantaloupe play!

Hey--can anyone tell me the name of the vulture in Pogo? Something Sarcophagus.

#31 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 10:38 AM:

... surprisingly, I'd never heard of pogo until now.

But then again, I've missed out on a lot of things the past few years because of work and school... finally bought a few new CDs the other day.

#32 ::: Mad AZ Monk ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 10:46 AM:

Ah. Got it. "Sarcophagus Macabre".

#33 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 10:52 AM:

My mother, a college freshman in '52, was involved with the Pogo presidential campaign on campus. She still has her I Go Pogo button and everything. I was raised knowing that catterpiggles turn into butterflies and that it's particularly unlucky when Friday the Thirteenth falls on a Thursday.

Anyone up for a round of "Good King Sourkraut"?


#34 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 11:22 AM:

I'm probably showing my age when I remark that it doesn't seem to me unusual to be "hip to Pogo."

Scratch that; I'm definitely showing my age.

#35 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 11:24 AM:

Julia wrote:
Don't we know archaic barrel?

Perhaps she's a midlist author?

#36 ::: chance ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 11:47 AM:

Angry! Angry!

I just finished reading this article over at Salon -

How can they do this to great classic books? _Wind in the Willows_ is still my all time favorite book, and one of the ones that made me want to be a writer.

Why oh why would someone want to make it into crap?

(excuse me while I grrr and huff and sigh and make angry faces at the folk around me)

#37 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 12:06 PM:

Bark us all bow-wows of folly?


New pictures of Sarah are up. Saturday I was at the playground with her, and I traced the letter S that was engraved on a board with a couple dozen other letters (one of them was a baker's dozen). "S is the first letter in Sarah," I announced. "Da-da," she replied, so I traced the D. "D is the first letter in Da-da." She put her finger on the M and said, "Mama." I was speechless after that, and neglected follow-up questions.

Wednesday was the anniversary date of Sarah being our daughter. I handed out Tootsie Pops at work as cigars, and we had carry-out from Plaza Azteca that night. (I'm also contributing a thread to RASFF called "One Year Ago" where I look at my journal and photos and try and think what else I should have said, and post on the result each day.

"Here is the Prince on manly guard
Patroling his post and breathing hard...

Then here is the victory and here is the feast.
Sing songs for the mighty, the foes of the beast."
--same guy

#38 ::: Eloise Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 12:20 PM:

I was most amused, when reading Orson Scott Card's Rebekah, to find Isaac offhandedly mentioning in passing that the 'holy writings' in the posession of his father Abraham talk about a creature called a curelom, though nobody alive had any idea what such a creature was. :->

It's true: education greatly increases the number of in-jokes one gets and giggles at.

#39 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 12:27 PM:

trolley molly don't love harold

#40 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 12:32 PM:

I purchased and ate my first Quiznos sub last night.

I'm not sure what ingredients were involved, but I strongly suspect a high percentage of spongemonkey.

#41 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 12:39 PM:

"I question whether 19th-century roustabouts said 'cocksucker' quite so often."--PNH

Ah, here it is--according to Webster's Tenth Collegiate, first appearance of "cocksucker" in print is 1891. Given the rarity of hardcore obscenity in print before the 1950s or so, I think we can assume that it was widely used prior to that.

My sense is that real, hardcore obscenity is a pretty stubborn element of the English language. Listening, say, to Jelly Roll Morton's LoC recordings, the sexual slang is all turn-of-the-century (e.g. "stavin' chain"), but the hardcore obscenity is identical in tone and vocabulary to obscenity used today. I'd provide examples, but I don't want to get disemvowelled (Morton gets pretty rough).

#42 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 12:48 PM:

Ah. Got it. "Sarcophagus Macabre".

Wow. That Walt Kelly knew his Greek, didn't he?

chance, your anger strikes me as entirely righteous. I note they left out the most Pagan chapter...I've used Piper at the Gates of Dawn as an invocatory title for the god ever since reading that book.

But there's worse. They made The Wind in the Willows into a Broadway show a decade or so ago. They changed Mole into a woman in a blue dress. This was to have a romance subplot.

Fortunately, this travesty ran for only a couple of days (or so) before closing.

#43 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 12:59 PM:

Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

Sarcophagus MacAbre was a sidekick of Simple J. Malarkey...

#44 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 12:59 PM:

Good King Sauerkraut looked out
on his feets uneven.

#45 ::: Elisabeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 01:04 PM:

I read my parents' Pogo books when I was too young to understand them, but loved them anyhow--will have to dig them out next time I go home. Remember the character who spoke in black letter? Rather ominous to a child, really.

So, one of the letters responding to that article on Salon (J. A. Doe is known as SIA (for self-important author) on another list) commented that it's really hard to get a low-paying job in publishing. I'm a newbie around here, so please pardon if I overstep my bounds, but anyone have any hints for getting one of those low-paying publishing jobs?

#46 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 01:04 PM:

Heck, when I first read "Little Women" it was a version which was abridged so Beth didn't die and Jo didn't go to New York.

Years later I was talking books with a friend of mine who read the same version, but also wrote a book report on it. She had to produce the Bowdlerized POS for the teacher to prove she wasn't trying to pull one over on him!

#47 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 01:21 PM:

note: Neither of us "Little Women" readers knew we were reading an abridged work. I remember looking for some notation on the copy I had been given after I found out there was much more to the book than what I had read. I never could find any such notation, but I was about 12 and probably looking in the wrong places.

#48 ::: Mad AZ Monk ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 01:40 PM:

Sarcophagus MacAbre was a sidekick of Simple J. Malarkey

Yeah, I remember that. Very dark and creepy. SJM was Senator Joe McCarthy. Didn't they terrorize Deacon Mushrat? Was Wiley Cat also involved? And what was the mole's name who constantly sprayed pesticide at everyone?

#49 ::: Holly M. ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 01:43 PM:

I'm looking for an article. A few months ago there was a minor online stink about an article written by Anne Rice, in which she stated that she wouldn't let editors change any of her prose, because she wrote it so perfectly the first time. Does anyone have a link to said article?

#50 ::: Samuel Kleiner ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 01:49 PM:

Abridging a book- and without making it obvious so that you can avoid it- there's your death penalty offense right there!

#51 ::: chance ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 01:53 PM:

here ya go -

#52 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 02:15 PM:

Re: the Anne Rice article - oof. Yow. I must admit I've never been a fan of hers. IMO, her work is overwrought. Now I know why. ("I go back and back over that last paragraph countless times, getting up out of bed in the middle of the night to go in and redo that last paragraph, but all the rest is polished and edited right down to the last.")

I'm left with an image of Anne Rice as an auctorial Martha Stewart, obsessively, relentlessly polishing...

#53 ::: Joy Rothke ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 02:42 PM:

I am now living for the day when I can tell an editor who makes a change:

I asked this due to my highly critical relationship with my work and my intense evolutionary work on every sentence in the work, my feeling for the rhythm of the phrase and the unfolding of the plot and the character development. I felt that I could not bring to perfection what I saw unless I did it alone. In othe words, what I had to offer had to be offered in isolation.

#54 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 02:49 PM:

Abridgment of _Wind in the Willows_ was new to me, though after reading the article I think the worst part was that they're hiding it: the abridgment itself seems more inept than criminal.

A true history of the abridgment and bowdlerization of children's books would include the racial sensitivity wreaked upon Dr. Doolittle and Mary Poppins. Not saying whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, just saying.

#55 ::: Karen Junker ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 03:02 PM:

Xopher - wow. I just remembered for the first time in over 30 years that I was cast in an original stage version of WWTW many, many years ago. I had a bad knock on the noggin in '74 that made a lot of things leave my brain and this is a pleasant recovery of one of them. We were all young and so thrilled that as original players our names would be published in all future copies of the script. A blue dress doesn't ring any bells, though.

PS does anyone know for sure if that whole deal with Jay and Silent Bob is true, I mean the part about owning the rights to your true-life persona? The reason I ask is this: We're thinking of putting together a comic book and including stories a la American Splendor of the people we get to meet. But our budget doesn't include funds for attorneys...

#56 ::: Mad AZ Monk ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 03:27 PM:

OK, again, nevermind. It's Mole MacCarony, which I never knew. My favorites always, tho, were the three card-cheating bats, Bewitched, Bothered, and Bemildred.

#57 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 03:57 PM:

For our birthdays, my parents and all my siblings call the birthday child/adult and sing "Once you were two dear birthday friend". It can make quite an impression when there are 7 renditions of the song on the machine. My parents have the record and also the songbook. For christmas I bought us all Pogo cds.

#58 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 03:57 PM:

I can't be the only one here whose only association with a character named Pogo is Pogo The Monkey(requires popups), can I?

I'm not that young, really!

#59 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 04:02 PM:
So, one of the letters responding to that article on Salon (J. A. Doe is known as SIA (for self-important author) on another list) commented that it's really hard to get a low-paying job in publishing.

Based on what little I know of the industry I'd have said it's really hard to get a HIGH-paying job in publishing.

#60 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 04:03 PM:

Joy said:

I am now living for the day when I can tell an editor who makes a change:
I asked this due to my highly critical relationship with my work and my intense evolutionary work on every sentence in the work, my feeling for the rhythm of the phrase and the unfolding of the plot and the character development. I felt that I could not bring to perfection what I saw unless I did it alone. In other words, what I had to offer had to be offered in isolation.
Are you living for that day because you want to make your editor laugh that hard, or because you want the kind of sales clout it takes to win that particular fight? Never think it was because the editor saw the logic of her arguments.

#61 ::: Mad AZ Monk ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 04:32 PM:

Sara--Was it a family requirement to call chocolate "chonklit"?

Skwid--Yes, I'm sorry, you're the only one.

#62 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 04:42 PM:

Can't sell that book? Can't even get your jerewankad into an online journal? Is that what's troubling you, bunkie?

Well, whine no more! VERMIS IN VITRO LTD (a division of Cryptozoologica Associates) offers you the way to fifteen minutes of fame and one week in the front window at Waterstones!

With one of our unique Creepy Things Under Glass, booksellers everywhere will be so charmed by your grasp of what's really important about literature that they'll stock your book just so you won't show up in the middle of the night and do something -really- gross!

All Creepy Things are custom-made from you don't want to know what. Choose from a variety of phyla and colorations. Choose low-odor preservative solution for society openings or our high-potency Formaldemer(tm) when you really need to knock 'em silly.

Remember, this week's hot business idea is next week's DIY table lamp, so order now!

#63 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 04:49 PM:

re: Anne Rice - Well, that explains it.

I confess I was once an avid reader of Ms. Rice's. I came to my senses, fortunately.

I don't care HOW many copies of each book she sells. She is NOT going to make me swallow a word of that.

The most offensive part being that she thinks it's all right to write in a vacuum, with no feedback except from the copyeditor.

Doesn't the fact that she missed spelling, grammar, and 'minor' details like a character's height mean that the draft she submits to the editor is far from perfect?

She's obviously not looking hard enough. It is no longer my job, as a reader, to look for her.

#64 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 04:50 PM:

Mad AZ Monk--Why yes, it was! LOL! We also sang the Pogo lyrics in sotto voce at public gatherings where the more popular versions were being sung.

#65 ::: Elisabeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 05:34 PM:

Dan: Strangely enough, that gives me hope.

#66 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 05:39 PM:


It has been pointed out to me that Pogo The Monkey is Somewhat obscure.

Personally, I must have heard that commercial 8000 times...but I have no idea what the rest of you are talking about.

#67 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 05:42 PM:

Dan, Elizabeth --

I believe it's one of those cases where it's really hard to get a low paying job and impossible to get a high paying job.

#68 ::: Holly M. ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 05:45 PM:

Thanks, chance. Last time I looked at Rice's website, that page was unavailable; maybe the site was overwhelmed with traffic.

Having read it, now... well, there are probably a lot of writers who think that their finished drafts are perfect and inviolate. In fact, I know a lot of them--they're unteachable. I tend to think that *my* latest oeuvres are perfect, at least for the first couple of months after I finish them.

It may be possible to get a piece "perfect," if beautiful writing is what you strive for. But even if you're a compulsive, obsessive, anal-retentive outliner (which I am not, and I don't know many writers who are) I can't imagine forcing a storyline into a completely smooth arc, with no lumps or bumps, the first time around.

I know I hate breaking the smooth transitions between paragraphs in order to straighten out a character who went off on a sudden bender, or to extract a subplot that didn't play out. But it's like ripping out stitches--if you don't do it, you're going to have a lump over your hip and the dress won't fit.

Ah well. It's not in my nature to get angry about such things. But thanks for finding it for me.

#69 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 05:54 PM:

Alice, Jill-- I like Anne Rice, but I agree that her prose is overwrought verging on overwrotten. Her last two books were superior to what she has been writing recently. If she has ejected her editor (picture flying editor with bootprint on rear) it explains a lot, except for the last two books.

#70 ::: Elisabeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 06:04 PM:

"I believe it's one of those cases where it's really hard to get a low paying job and impossible to get a high paying job."

Shucks. I will refrain from plugging myself and and hope my restraint when surrounded by so many publishing types apparently in-the-know is admired. [returning to lurkdom]

#71 ::: Hannah Wolf Bowen ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 06:19 PM:

Haven't seen Deadwood (no HBO), but if we're open-threading, USA's Touching Evil (Friday nights and repeated ad nauseam) is all kinds of marvelous. I haven't seen its British predecessor, so I can't compare, but this version is dark and funny and understated, and Creegan is mad charismatic.

Watch it.

#72 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 06:20 PM:

Ah, Skwid, what a sad life you have had, if nobody ever let you look at their Pogo comics by Walt Kelly.
Funny, satirical, political, punnical, topical, anthropomorphical animal comic strip from the 40s to the mid-70s. And nonsensical new words to old songs, bits of which have been confusing you in entries above. A quick look at my online library union catalog was quite fruitful, and I now have ILL requests for some cool memories.
"We have met the enemy and he is us."

#73 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 06:27 PM:

Sniff, Elisabeth, don't go away! Your question about how to get a job in publishing has the same answer as how to get a book published, really: Write (in this case a resume). Finish what you've written, to the best of your ability. Send it out. Keep sending it out. Don't revise unless someone's willing to pay... oops, that one doesn't apply.

You know who the players are who publish what you like to read. You can find the other folks. If you really want to get into publishing, it's possible. Just don't expect it to be exactly what you hoped.

Kinda like bookselling.

#74 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 06:38 PM:

Elisabeth --

Regarding me as a publishing insider is a lot like counting the garden shed in the square footage total of the house, only sillier.

#75 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 06:46 PM:

I've read enough books that desperately needed editing (or better editing) to understand why editors are necessary. But I can certainly understand Rice's point of view. Composers and visual artists don't have editors. Should they, or is there something genuinely different about writing?

#76 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 07:06 PM:

Composers have the equivalent of editors in conductors. Visual artists, in order to sell other than at craft fairs, have to please the gallery owners.

I repeat my recommendation that everyone interested in the way art is done read Howard S. Becker's fascinating book ART WORLDS. Highly readable sociology of art.

#77 ::: Seth Ellis ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 07:15 PM:

Gallery owners are too often the audience, but they're not editors. And conductors don't come into play with electronic music, for instance.

I don't know about composers, but visual artists often have friends who drop by the studio and make fun of their work in progress every once in a while. This valuable experience is more difficult to reproduce with writing. There is one genuine difference between visual art and writing: it's generally easier to see visual artwork in overview, all at once, and thus check on its progress. It's much easier to overlook some detail in writing by just not rereading it, or skimming under the impression that you're actually reading. I don't know how musical composition fits into this comparison, but I would suppose that it, like visual art, has a more immediate visceral impact than writing, which in my experience makes it the author easier to maintain perspective. YMMV, of course.

By the way, Tim, I like your Shalmanezer stuff. Dynaflex is part of my iTunes random-stuff-from-around library now.

#78 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 07:43 PM:

Composers have the equivalent of editors in conductors.

They don't seem very equivalent to me. Readers don't usually have to decide which of several well-known editors' versions of their favorite novel to buy, and conductors don't usually say, "Hey, Ludwig, could you tighten up the second movement?"

Gallery owners mimic the thumbs-up/down function of editors, but AFAIK they don't get involved with the details of the art. Maybe I'm wrong there.

I don't know about composers, but visual artists often have friends who drop by the studio and make fun of their work in progress every once in a while.

The difference here is that no one would consider an artist uppity if he didn't listen to them.

I don't mean to imply that non-writing artists don't get or shouldn't get input from others, just that they don't seem to have professional minders.

Come to think of it, though, pop musicians have producers, and magazine photographers and illustrators have art directors. So maybe it's a function of the commercial nature of the work rather than the medium.

By the way, Tim, I like your Shalmanezer stuff.

Thanks! The album is coming out Any Day Now.

#79 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 08:22 PM:

I think we writers are lucky to have the editing process. I mean, Olympic gymnasts get to do their vault twice for points, and if they don't nail it then, too darn bad. We can make as many running starts as we need at our "best vault." We can even have a herd of nice people saying, "Oh, cool idea for a vault. You've almost made it, but you're about to fall on your head. Here, let me magically yank your butt into the air another foot or so." "Yeah, and let me pull that arm out straight for you -- you've bent your elbow." The only one the audience ever sees is the best that we can make it, and having a crit group and an editor or team of editors is not seen as a weakness at all. And rightly not.

I don't think it's so much of a matter of whether other fields should have editor-equivalents as whether it's practically possible to do so within the form they're working with.

And frankly, Tim, I have known visual artists and musicians who totally refused all critique/input and then wondered why their work wasn't going anywhere new or reaching anyone else. I didn't consider them uppity, true; I considered them foolish. That's about what I consider Anne Rice.

People love to make adversarial relationships out of things that don't have to be adversarial at all. My non-writer friends delight in asking me how much I would compromise my artistic vision to get published. But my experience with editors is that they're more interested in refining someone's "artistic vision" (or, more to the point, their prose) than in mangling it.

Abridgement editors aside, I guess. I can see why you're angry, Chance, but not really why you're surprised. Classics have been bowdlerized, dumbed-down, and pruned to death since the Lambs at the very latest. The Salon writer's fear that the only thing left would be the abridged version sounded pretty short-sighted to me, as if these sorts of things were new. My mom was given Reader's Digest Condensed Children's Classics when she was a kid. The world didn't come to an end. The availability of classics didn't come to an end. And her interest in the real stuff didn't get killed. Suboptimal, sure, but not new or dire.

#80 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 08:25 PM:

Perhaps she's a midlist author?

There's a list?

I believe that I have been unfairly excluded.

Probably the perfidy of the editing class.

Do I have to write something?

#81 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 08:26 PM:

Conductors usually don't say "hey can you tighten up" but in practice they have a lot of control over the tempo: similar, no?

"The commercial nature of the work" is indeed important. Part of Becker's thesis is that the vast majority of the art any one of us comes into contact with has a commercial nature. And all art involves a group of people who are necessary to making the work happen who do not happen to be seen by the public as artists. It's a really interesting analysis.

#83 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 08:59 PM:

I think we writers are lucky to have the editing process.

I don't disagree. There are times when I would love to have an editor--provided he or she was good at it--and I have musician friends whose opinions I value that I run things by for exactly that reason. But while I often take their advice, sometimes I don't, and I feel that in the end it has to be my call.

Clearly one can be too closed to suggestions, but I also think one can be too open. Like the song says, you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself. If not, you run the risk of doing art by committee.

Conductors usually don't say "hey can you tighten up" but in practice they have a lot of control over the tempo: similar, no?

Similar enough that I can see your point, certainly. Is interpretation a good word for what editors do? Maybe so.

#84 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 09:12 PM:

It occurred to me after posting the last message that collaboration could also be seen as art by committee, and it often works very well. So I guess I'm lacking a coherent thesis.

Is there an editor in the house?

#85 ::: Leslie ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 09:18 PM:

well speaking as a visual artist most artists I know show their work to other artists in critique groups and some non-artists - feedback is always useful. Tim is correct that gallery owners give a yes/no response more often than anything more detailed.

Obviously editing artwork is a different process - for one thing unless one is doing posters, cards, book covers or some other piece that someone else prints the artist is handling the production issues themselves. When I've done graphics of any sort for a client I've always gotten lots of feedback. Fine art is a different world - ultimately one is edited by success in the market.

#86 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 09:22 PM:

I quote liberally from

There are many versions of this revered, classic carol and fist fights have been known to erupt when one person defends the sanctity and accuracy of the one he or she learned at Mommy's knee. People have been hospitalized as a result of such disputes, which is a heckuva thing to happen at any time of year, and especially around the holidays. That said, we can at least direct you to what scholars tell us is the most popular. Here it is...but we assume no responsibility if a rival Boston Charlie caroller takes issue with you and comes out swinging.

Deck us all with Boston Charlie, Walla Walla, Wash, and Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley, Swaller dollar cauliflower Alleygaroo!
Don't we know archaic barrel, Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou.
Trolley Molly don't love Harold, Boola Boola Pensacoola Hullabaloo!

There are more. Go look. Golly, Solly's cold and so's ol' Lou...

#87 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 09:31 PM:

"Fine art" as we know it is definitely a relatively recent construct. Think about the Renaissance studios. Think about folks like Currien and Ives. Think about the engravers who get their work printed by someone they trust (if you think all the prints in an edition of engravings look exactly the same, you really haven't compared a large bunch of them -- I have).

And, in fact, what most (professional) editors do is _suggest_ changes. The author then comes back with a new version. Sometimes the changes are in an _entirely different_ part of the manuscript, but the changes there make the original version work much better. At the novel level, any author can reject any individual change an editor asks for. That may mean that the novel doesn't get published by that editor. There have been cases, IIRC, where authors (mostly in nonfiction) sued and won because the editor changed their meaning without checking with them.

To reject _a priori_ any editorial influence is as silly as accepting as gospel everything an editor says.

At OCH, I often can't find a book, and I'll ask one of the other people working there to help me look. We call this "a second pair of eyes." This, to me, is the real function of the editor in fiction: a little parallax so I can see the problems in a sentence like "He picked up the hunks of meat in his fingers and gnawed hungrily at the steaming joints."

#88 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 09:35 PM:

If a good editor had looked at my last post before it went out, he or she might have suggested that "input" rather than "influence" in the third paragraph would be a more felicitous choice of word.

#89 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 10:21 PM:

Has anyone posted this one yet?

#90 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 10:36 PM:

Glenn Hauman having scotched the line-I-was-going-to-post-because-nobody-else-had, I'll proceed directly past Anne Rice. The last author I heard of doing that was John Norman, who walked when Ballantine wouldn't take that nonsense and (as I've been told) ended up helping DAW stay afloat while it acquired a reputation less ripe than Norman should have brought it.

To me the reason why text is always edited and music rarely is comes down to some obvious differences:
- The number of authors is huge compared to the number of ]serious[ composers; I would expect many novels-as-submitted to admit of editorial improvement simply because the authors are not 10th-dan masters of their tools. (I'm reading the discussion as looking at ]classical[ composers; I understand ]popular[ composers not named McCartney, Lloyd Webber, or Sondheim tend to be subject to "editing" to the same extent that requires dairy product to be sold as "pasteurized process cheese food").
- Words have established forms and structures; an editor can say a point is grammatically questionable (or unquestionably dreadful). Music has known tools, but the ]grammatical[ constraints have been largely overthrown; a would-be editor stands on much shakier ground.
- A composer who wishes to observe constraints can hear violations directly, where someone reviewing his own text has to put the words together to make chords or discords -- and can put them together as imagined rather than as put down in black and white. (See Tom's comment about parallax.) Note that composers who work with their own vocabularies can have glitches; I've sung a few premiers by modern composers and recall at least one typo (or at least a notation that wasn't as clear as we'd like).
- Words convey much of their information by an established code; an editor can say that this point contradicts that one, and even if he's wrong because he missed the correcting twist, that miss can suggest to the author that the twist needs to be clearer. Music is a direct connection to the parts of the brain that don't reason, so discordant "facts" are less clear where they can be argued at all. (I'm sure exceptions can be argued, but I hold that this is true in the main.)

And as noted above, art until quite recently \was/ subject to ]editing[; see the legends about premier singers complaining that Beethoven's part writing was too brutal, or the way singers could replace an aria with a personal favorite when opera was written in blocks instead of through-sung.

#91 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 01:33 AM:

Of course, my favorite phrase in the Anne Rice article was:
the spelling corrrections, which I often need, [sic]
As I read between her lines, I think that she is probably trying to have her cake and eat it too. On the one hand, she says she doesn't use drafts. But she saves old versions of certain passages, and sometimes goes back to them. What are those if not drafts? And she listens to the editor's and copy editor's comments, at the same time doing further rewriting after the copy edit. If she feels as if she isn't being edited, and that makes her feel better, fine. But it sounds as if she's just found a way to reassure herself.

As far as editors go, i think there are various sorts of relationships between editors and authors, many of them good, and some of them not so good. Read, for example, of Heinlein's editor at Scribner, in Grumbles from the Grave. They don't seem to have had a good relationship. She bought his books, but she apparently didn't like or get them or him very much, and he didn't like her either. There are also--often the bane of my existence--"enabler"-type editors, who allow dumb things when they shouldn't. I agree that the author is the ultimate judge of how his/her book should be, but a good editor will be able to talk an author out of bad ideas--and they do have them on occasion.

The Chernobyl photos are great, and the Russified English commentary is even better.

#92 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 01:39 AM:

Patrick--Ginny Brown-Waite is not a Florida State Senator. She is a Congresswoman (Rep. [of course]--5th District)

#93 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 02:03 AM:

And let's not forget another piece of recent foolishness from Rep. Brown-Waite:

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, plans to introduce a bill today proposing that the families of the thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen buried in France and Belgium be allowed to dig up their remains and have them shipped home.

"The remains of our brave servicemen should be buried in patriotic soil, not in a country that has turned its back on the United States and on the memory of Americans who fought and died there," Brown-Waite said.

"It's almost as if the French have forgotten what those thousands of white crosses at Normandy represent," she said.

Which occasioned, among other things, these responses:

Just call 'em Freedom Femurs. Workers sorting mail in U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite's Brooksville office were startled by a strange odor coming from a box. Police examined the box, mailed from Germany, and found it contained bones. They concluded it was sent in response to Brown-Waite's sponsorship of a bill to have the remains of U.S. soldiers who fell in France or Germany returned in reaction to those countries' decision not to support the war in Iraq.

She couldn't do it, she's too busy fawning. E-mails skewering President Bush as a "terrorist" for invading Iraq flooded computers around the state. The name of the purported sender: Ginny Brown-Waite. --both from

#94 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 09:41 AM:

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, plans to introduce a bill today proposing that the families of the thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen buried in France and Belgium be allowed to dig up their remains and have them shipped home.

Before anybody gets too alarmed, that happened over a year ago and didn't go anywhere.

#95 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 10:14 AM:

Re: abridging/altering books

Last year my daughter, then in first grade, brought home a _very_ abridged version of Little Women intended for elementary school children. Since I abhor abridgements, I told her she could not read it, which made her very unhappy. However, more than the abridgement, I was concerned about how my rather emotionally sensitive child would react to Beth's death (books can make my kid cry) . . . only to discover, flipping idly through the abomination, that indeed Beth did not die. I went around making incoherent angry noises for several minutes.

Re: editing

"Second pair of eyes" is a really good description. On one book, I vividly remember saying to the author, but if you take these four really minor characters and combine them into two rather-less-minor characters, and take the subplot from one couple, which runs halfway through the novel, and the subplot from the other couple, which runs through the other half of the novel, and put them together, you'll have a novel with a strong pair of protagonists, a solid pair of supporting characters, and a main plot that is supported and contrasted by a subplot that paces it through the entire book. And she said, my god, you're right, I would never have seen that! And the result was a much better book. She was too close to see her own book's structure . . . and this was her most oft-repeated failing as an writer, and one she never overcame.

Re: getting into publishing

Sending out a resume isn't really enough anymore. It's like sending a manuscript to the slush pile--there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people competing for each entry-level position at the "here's my resume" level. Don't just send a resume to HR for them to keep on file. Send it again whenever you see a job you're interested in. Be willing to come to NY for a period of time to job hunt--it's easier to get interviews if you aren't coming from out of town.

Don't assume that having an English degree makes you employable--everyone who wants to work in editorial, it seems, has an English degree these days (though it wasn't a requirement when I started, and I in fact don't have one, nor do we require them at Tor/Forge). I've seen plenty of people with degrees in English who cannot write their way out of a brown paper bag.

Do things that will make you more attractive: work at a regional/small/college press, even as a freelancer; write articles/mock cover copy (I make applicants write cover copy as part of my interview process); read read read (when an interviewer asks you what the last book you read was, have an answer that is something not required reading for school); make sure you know something about the company you are trying to get hired by (in other words, coming to Tor and talking about your love of mainstream literary fiction is not likely to get you hired); try to get to know publishing people/editors in a non-job environment, for instance at a writer's conference or a convention.

There's probably more . . . but I can't recall anything else specific right now and I've got cover copy to write . . . .

#96 ::: chance ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 11:18 AM:

Abridgement editors aside, I guess. I can see why you're angry, Chance, but not really why you're surprised. Classics have been bowdlerized, dumbed-down, and pruned to death since the Lambs at the very latest.

Well, I'm not really suprised, except in that way where I am surprised that people take good things and turn them into crap. (Because that continually surprises me.)

I am particualrly angry because these books masquerade as the real deal. They aren't clearly labeled on the cover that they are modified text.

#97 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 11:51 AM:

Hear, hear, Chance!

If food has to be labeled down to the last carbohydrate, if poison has to be labeled, "not for consumption," if a moisturizer bottle must read, "for external use only," an abridged work should be clearly labeled as such on the front cover.

We should be able to know as much about what we put in our minds as what we put in our bodies, and with the same ease.

#98 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 12:08 PM:

an abridged work should be clearly labeled as such on the front cover.

AOL, and also this reminds me--

How is it possible to get away with publishing books with dead authors' names on the cover, that the authors never wrote? V.C. Andrews, for instance.

#99 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 12:30 PM:

I was first alerted to the existence of abridged classics for children by, of all things, a bit of dialogue in Edward Eager's children's fantasy novel Half Magic, where the kids in the book are indignantly discussing the offerings of same available in their local library:

"The Three Musketeers with Lady de Winter left right out!"
"Excavated versions, I think they're called."

Thanks to that bit of public service, by the time I was out of elementary school I already knew enough to look for the real thing whenever possible.

#100 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 01:12 PM:

I have one of those copies of Little Women mentioned--mine stops exactly halfway into the book, as near as I can tell. Meg is just about to get married, Beth is still pretty chipper, Jo has yet to go to New York, and Amy...well, Amy is Amy. Mr. March just got back, I think, from his stint in the Army, and the girls are clustering round his feet.

The other weird thing is that the book does its damnedest to seem as though that is not only the definitive copy of Little Women, but that neither Little Men nor Jo's Boys exists at all. I found out about them in sixth or seventh grade. And I felt rather betrayed when I read the full version of Little Women, as the copy I first read also perpetuates the Laurie-Jo love story, leaving you in no doubt that once you shut the book that Laurie and Jo will live happily ever after and produce tonnes of children. When Professor Baehr showed up, I hated him with the passion of a thousand angry ferrets. (Which I then proceeded to get over. But it's a real blow for a twelve year old girl to have her favourite character marry a guy with one perceived foot in the grave, let me tell you. I mean, what about Laurie, who was young and infinitely hotter? Okay, yes, I was shallow like that but I was also TWELVE.)

The first copy of The Three Muskateers that I read mentioned Lady de Winter, but not the full extent of her extra-curricular activities with D'Artagnan nor the fate that awaited Constance.

#101 ::: Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 02:34 PM:

Truly, we do know archaic barrel. And eat it, too. On walking for the first time into Marc and Patty Wells' annual Portland SF Society New Year's Day Brunch (alone, nervous, and apparently singing to myself), I knew I had found My People when half the room chimed in on ol' Boston Charlie. Had I ever!! Brunch that year lasted until 11:00 at night.... I left having exchanged phone numbers with a certain short dark guy who hovered around all day and made me laugh. He's still at it. That was 1985.

Karen Junker said "wow. I just remembered for the first time in over 30 years that I was cast in an original stage version of WWTW many, many years ago." Does rewriting our own version in 5th grade count? Heavily abridged, needless to say, as is any translation from novel to stage. I was Rat. I had A Line. The next year, we did Romeo and Juliet. It was a bit longer.

#102 ::: Elisabeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 03:00 PM:

"Do things that will make you more attractive"

I should have that covered, what with internships, class projects, and good recommendations.

As for the English degree, I certainly hope it's not a requirement, since I don't have one. I'm hoping a master's in publishing will trump any measly English degree.

#103 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 03:44 PM:

Hi there, this is a newbie post and all that. OK.

Speaking of abridgements and the like, here's something that's been bothering me.

The renumbering of the seven books of Narnia, such that _The Magician's Nephew_ is presented first instead of sixth in these new boxes.

I had to replace my old copies that Mom bought me in the very early '80s; they sustained extensive water damage from the careless placement of a drippy houseplant. Picked up the colorful new boxes with the original artwork on the covers, and was astounded to see the tales presented in Strict Chronological Order According To The History Of Narnia rather than in the narrative order I was used to. Astounded further to read the claim on the copyright page that this is according to the author's original wishes.

Is this true? Have I just been duped by an *earlier* abridgement, and am now disgruntled that they are returning to the original order?

Or is it *not* just my imagination that the narration in _The Magician's Nephew_ actually makes reference to _The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe_, such that it wouldn't make sense to read _Magician_ first?

I think they changed some names on us, too - I could swear the captain of the secret police in _Lion_ used to be named after a prominent figure in Norse mythology, and now he's not.

So, at the risk of being horribly wrong about what's right, does anyone know the actual scoop on this? Y'all being literary types, I'd trust you.

#104 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 03:57 PM:

Arrrgh. I was under the impression I had posted 2 comments to Making Light yesterday. But neither of them show up. Have I trespassed unknowingly on someone's good nature or have I just been forgetting to hit the button the 2nd time? I'm not having this problem on Electorlite.

Not that it was anything important or anything but it happened in 2 different threads and so I'm beginning to wonder if I'm becoming feebleminded or what. You may all now reassure me that I am, in fact, feebleminded.


#105 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 04:02 PM:

All a google search turned up was that Maugrim was a made-up name by C. S. Lewis, and used in other sources, as well. I found no solid evidence that he's from Norse mythology, but apparently, he's turned up in Tolkien, too. Sorry I can't be of any help there.

I read the series in the original order, with Magician's Nephew towards the middle, and I liked it there. As a child, I found it dry, compared to the first book, and I may never have continued reading if that was my first introduction to it. Yes, it occurs chronologically first, but I prefer that information after I've established why I care about Narnia. Knowing all that up front destroys the mystery, somehow, like spoiling the end of a good movie. My husband won't discuss the subject, and is in denial that the box sets with Magician's Nephew first exist.

#106 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 04:04 PM:

Mary Kay, I didn't zap them.

#107 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 04:08 PM:

Sad to hear of Alistair Cooke's passing - the beeb's got a good tribute up on their website here, with links to highlights of some of his letters in the sidebar.


#108 ::: Jean OG ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 04:18 PM:

Tamara, Skwid,

It supposedly has its origins in an Aboriginal rite-of-passage imitating bifurcation in kangaroos. As sympathetic magic, I suppose I understand it; the kangaroo is associated with prowess. But as a fashion statement?

#109 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 05:24 PM:

'I could swear the captain of the secret police in _Lion_ used to be named after a prominent figure in Norse mythology, and now he's not.
Well I seem to remember he was called fenris Ulf, are you saying he is not called this anymore?

#110 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 05:54 PM:

My only known encounter with bowdlerisation was in, I guess, 8th or 9th grade, when we were given a copy of Gerald Durrel's 'My Family and Other Animals" that had been clumsily rewritten. I found this terribly confusing, having read the regular version of the book at around age eleven. To this day, I don't understand why they conflated several of Durrel's teachers together, or why they felt they needed to censor the name of the boat 'Bootle-Bumtrinket'. I know it sounds like something to do with body modification, but even allowing for Laurence Durrel naming the boat, I'm more inclined to believe it's just a nonsense word....

#111 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 05:56 PM:

Nicole and Bryan--

I don't have my Narnia in the office here, but yes, a character named Fenris Ulf in the British version has a different name in the American version.

I am firmly convinced that the order of publication (LWW first) is the correct order to read Narnia. There's a really good chapter in Peter Schakel's book "Imagination and the Arts in C.S.Lewis" about the proper order. There are people who disagree. Schakel does discuss a letter Lewis wrote which is the basis for claims Narnia should be read chronologically. But I think you need to encounter the lamppost as a mystery first, and find out its origin later.

#112 ::: Karen Junker ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 06:53 PM:

I could never get through the Narnia books (forgive my heresy). Probably because reading them as an adult, I caught on early to the whole dying and reborn god thing - a religious friend assured me that Lewis intended it to be as Christian as it sounded, but later I read that he was agnostic (Lewis, that is).

#113 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 06:54 PM:

Nicole - What is Fenris Ulf called in the edition you just bought? (It does appear that Fenris/Fenrir is a member of the Norse pantheon).

This sort of thing is as irritating as having whole subplots get stripped out of the movie version of your favorite book, only to make way for the screenwriter's added irrelevant/ego-gratifying/inane bits that s/he wrote him/herself.

#114 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 06:55 PM:

One of my high-school textbooks had a bowdlerized _Romeo and Juliet_ and no mention at all that it had been abridged. Oh, I was outraged.

The Nurse sounded punchdrunk, they'd taken out so many of her lines.

#115 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 07:09 PM:

Leslie writes (way above):

well speaking as a visual artist most artists I know show their work to other artists in critique groups and some non-artists - feedback is always useful. Tim is correct that gallery owners give a yes/no response more often than anything more detailed.

At last year's Worldcon in Toronto, I witnessed our hostess giving a "docent tour" of the art show, exhibiting critical skills rarely displayed in her on-line persona. In partnership with photo-artist Ctein, she orally red-penciled paintings, prints, and sculpture up one aisle and down the other. The experience was breathtaking and a little scary, and it left me feeling very glad I wasn't a mediocre artist with paintings on display there.

#116 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 07:17 PM:

Karen, I'm pretty certain C.S. Lewis was a renowned writer on Christian theology. Perhaps your friend was using some more technical theologic meaning of "agnostic"?

A quick search yields which describes various changes of religious viewpoints undergone by Lewis, but no mention of agnosticism.

#117 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 07:23 PM:

If Lewis wanted them in that order, how come they weren't published in internal chronological order until long after he was dead? Those books went through several editions while he was alive (and many while his closest friends were alive), and he had therefore plenty of chances to make his wishes known.

Stylistically it makes no sense: as commented above, MAGICIAN'S NEPHEW is written very differently (much more adult, actually). I was given it first by some well-meaning relative, and when I tried to read LION -- I bounced. The style was so cutesy and young. Lewis got much more sophisticated. I decided that MAGICIAN'S NEPHEW was an anomaly, and didn't go back to the books for many years.

#118 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 07:31 PM:

Re: C.S. Lewis and the order of the Chronicles - I think the point (made by Janet) about encountering the lamppost first as a magical mystery is a good one. I myself have yet another similar reason for preferring the non-chronological order--The Magician's Nephew directly precedes The Last Battle that way, and I think it gives you more emotional impact to experience the death (and subsequent rebirth of Narnia) so closely after you've just learned its origins. Secondly, it brings the series full circle, as the death and rebirth of Narnia mirror the events of Aslan's death and rebirth in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I think it's thematically stronger.

#119 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 07:37 PM:

You could have a lot of fun with a Hunter Dan doll and one of the Pope action figures sold by Archie MacPhee.

#120 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 07:47 PM:

PicusFiche -

Thank you. I had always felt an intrinsic conflict between the order in which the books were written (also the numerical order of the box set my mom gave me - inscribed on the spine, in case anyone cared to dispute) and the "chronological" order (which seemed right to my orderly, young self). I too was drawn in by LWW at the outset and enjoyed the unfolding mystery, but was troubled about chronology.

But your more literary, less literal approach to the problem is soothing in its emotional logic. Both impulses are satisfied.

Aaaahhh. I should go re-read the series now (as I've been meaning to for some time).

#121 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 08:25 PM:

Just because I'm slightly compulsive about this, Fenrir/Fenris Ulfr isn't "a member of the Norse Pantheon", being of the tribe neither of the Ás nor the Vans.

Loki and the Giantess Angrboda, the Hag of Ironwood, had three children; Fenrir, the Midgard Serpent, and half-faced Hel [1].

Alarmed at the rate at which the wolf was growing, and the degree of appetite it was showing, the gods tried to bind it [3]; they only succeeded when the dwarves made a chain out of unlikely substances [2] and the god Tyr put his right hand in the wolf's mouth as pledge of the Gods' good faith.

Tyr lost his hand, but the chain held, and "the grey wolf gapes ever at the abode of the gods".

At Ragnarok, Fenrir will get free, and (along with the rest of us), kill and consume Odhin. It is said that Odhin's son Vidhar, got for the purpose, will put on the Thickmost Shoe and tear the wolf in half, releasing Odhin into a new, resurected life, but everyone knows that the things the One-Eyed's minions come up with to say about him are not reliable.

[1] Hel is in charge of the place Hel, the cold abode of the dead; despite her parentage and siblings, she's a sweetie, and no one ever has anything to say against her, perhaps because most realize that they will, soon or late, be coming to visit.

[2] the sound of cat's footfall, a woman's beard, the roots of a rock, a bear's sinews, a fish's breath, and a bird's spittle.

The chain is called Gleipnir, and resembles a silk ribbon, smooth and small.

[3] Tyr and the Wolf October, 1992

Six dwarves, slow in a sweat of death
carry the strand toward black horror
Bristling like a furred and forest thing;
fanged gape like a hole in the world
wearing a wolf-cloak; slow in pride
for the broken ropes chains that held
but brief and broke against his strength
sees six dwarves in slow strife
with a thread, balks, growls like the sea.

The wolf not witless no more a game
this strength-play will light look on
demands a faith-pledge; wordless then
far seeing Tyr with pale set eyes
His right hand lays within the jaws.
Half disbelieving Fenrir halts
stands stone still as round his neck
three dwarves cast the thread thin chain.
Round the rock the bight end reeves,
bone of Ymir bond of the Earth.
Glepnir's got him; the dwarves dart back.
Rage-mad Fenrir leaps away
the chain rings but rock remains
bent-necked bides the wolf.

Gaunt he grows with the world uneaten
froths and howls, rolls red eyes
orders all about in rank of eating
for when - the mad eyes know -
the rock will rip, the chain come free.

Tyr's lone hand his forearm clamps
better to bind bright blood inside;
sees from a set face shut with pain
thin strands and stronger Urthr's weaving
the bright bridge bloodied, broke, and smoking
the unbound wolf glutted with Odin.

Modhi toddles, teethes on rocks
spits new sand, laughs infant glee
sees a serpent's broken writhing
watching the wolf twist and howl.

#122 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 08:45 PM:

Oh wow.....

Graydon, I bow before your Nordic theological erudition.

#123 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 09:13 PM:
I don't have my Narnia in the office here, but yes, a character named Fenris Ulf in the British version has a different name in the American version.

I just checked my British copy of LWW (a 1975 Puffin edition) and the captain of the secret police is named Maugrim.

Hmm... according to the C. S. Lewis FAQ, "Fenris Ulf" was only in the American editions:

Some very minor changes were made to The Lion ... and The Voyage ... for their American publication. For example, the name of the witch's agent is changed from "Maugrim" to "Fenris Ulf" and Peter's title from "Sir Peter Wolfs-Bane" to "Sir Peter Fenris-Bane." In the English edition, Aslan says that the Emperor's magic is written "in letters as deep as a spear is long on the fire-stones of the Secret Hill." In the American he says "in letters as deep as a spear is long on the trunk of the world ash-tree." The current (1994) Harper Collins American editions have been standardised with the English versions.

#124 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 09:15 PM:

Graydon--you beat me to it and did it better than I would have. Thanks.

I agree that the original order of the Narnia books is better. I have new boxed hardcovers that have the wrong numbers on the spines. I have reordered the books within the box so that they go the right way. One of my friends said that he knew we would be friends when he walked into the apartment and spotted that not only were the walls covered with books, not only did we have the Narnia books, but I had rearranged them properly.

I know of a family wherein the older brother (now about 13) read the books with their original order numbers printed on the cover, and the younger (now 10ish) read them with the new numbers on them. They fight bitterly about it whenever they can't think of anything else to fight about. I suggested that which is the best of them was a better fight to have. They were willing to concede that it was an additional fight to have. Their mother did not thank me.

#125 ::: Darice ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 09:51 PM:

Delurking. At long last.

PiscusFische and others, IIRC Little Women was originally published as two books, -- Little Women and Good Wives. So you may not have got your hands on an abridgement, but on a version that maintained that separation.

Chance, my brother has your name. But that's not why I'm posting -- I'm posting because I actually own one of these Malvina Vogel-edited atrocities. I once owned a lot of them -- my parents bought them for me when I was a kid, lo these many years ago. When I read the Salon article, I thought "that sounds familiar" -- yep, it was the same small paperback "Illustrated Classic Editions" I'd read in the 1970s. The one I still have is The Last of the Mohicans, adapted by Eliza Gatewood Warren, edited by Malvina Vogel, copyright 1979. It's smaller than a normal paperback, the type is bigger, and every page spread has a terrible cartoony drawing.

When I read them initially, I didn't even know what "abridging" was, but I learned when I found the "real" books in the library. However, to this day there are still some classics I've only experienced Vogelized.

(To my parents' credit, they didn't know -- and they also provided me with lots of non-Vogelized classic literature.)

#126 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 10:13 PM:

This has nothing to do with anything posted so far; it's just so adorably bizarre I thought I'd point to it.

"The Exorcist in 30 seconds, re-enacted by bunnies."

#127 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 11:09 PM:

It's worth noting that Tyr is the God of Justice. I got from Judy Harrow the idea that he symbolizes how Justice may sometimes be partially crippled in the process of binding the Wolf -- as in the tradeoff the Founding Fathers made between guilty-go-free and innocents-punished. That is, they chose to have some guilty go unpunished (Tyr's lost hand) in order to prevent the innocent from suffering in an unjust system (the Fenris Wolf, if it hadn't been bound).

#128 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 11:44 PM:

Debra--You've reminded me once again how much I've always liked Edward Eager, since I first searched out all his books when I was a boy. I've reread some of them as an adult, but missed that particular gem.

The oddest bit of bowdlerization I've come across is in newer editions of one of Erle Stanley Gardner's Donald Lam/Bertha Cool books (written under the pseudonym A.A. Fair, during World War II). In the original, Donald is absent, but we learn in a short chapter that he's been serving in the Navy, that his ship was sunk, but that he survived. There are a couple offhand remarks by Bertha about "the Japs." In newer editions, the entire chapter has been cut, and we're simply told that Donald is away. I don't know what, if anything, Gardner had to do with this change.

On a different tangent: I'm interested in anyone's reaction to the current film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. While the critics have generally been favorable, they've often sneered at the basic concept. To me the film, for all its whimsy, is a genuine work of mature sf, in that it takes a basic sfnal concept and explores its implications on a group of well-drawn characters...

#129 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 02:45 AM:

re: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

I apologize in advance for not having anything deep to say about this film.

I enjoyed it, very much. I liked watching actors play against type (Jim Carrey and Elijah Wood most notably). I liked the way the film depicted, as well as it could, the nature of memory as not a line, but clusters that relate to one another in ways we cannot comprehend. And I very much liked the message of the film, which I will not share for the sake of those who haven't seen it and don't want the ending ruined.

It was certainly very quirky in a way we'd expect from Mr. Kaufman. I've warned friends not to see it if they don't like their brain shaken around a bit. But I very much enjoyed the bizarreness, the odd perspective. It was . . . well, it was nice.

#130 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 02:46 AM:

T: okay, thanks. I guess I forgot the 2nd button push not once but twice. I *am* getting feebleminded.


#131 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 02:48 AM:

oh, and as scifi? It's allegory expressed through technological advances we don't currently have. While it's not a great leap into the future, there is certainly a scifi aspect to it.

Again, my apologies for only skimming the surface.

#132 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 04:43 AM:

Composers, when their music is published, certainly *are* edited, and have been since there was a music copying industry. Read Berlioz's memoirs for some great rants on copyists wrongly 'correcting' Beethoven on the basis that 'the Master could not have made such an elementary mistake.' I was forced to study 'Careers in Music' two years ago as part of my course, and life in a music publishing house was one of the topics we whizzed by in an hour.

About Little Women: uh, I've read quite a few unabridged editions where in the end Meg was about to get married, Jo hadn't gone to New York yet, and Beth was still alive. All of those events happened in the next volume, Good Wives. I don't think it's a terrible shame (like, say, making a *good* film of the book, but taking out anything that could outrage C.20th sensibilities, including, for goodness sake, A Pilgrim's Progress.)

#133 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 06:17 AM:

Bee Man Meets B-Girl

That's sort of touching - it takes us back to an age of gentler, wholesome, almost naive bee-porn.

#134 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 09:13 AM:

Re the Busy World of Hunter Dan: I wonder if that black bear has a pull-ring on his side that makes him say "You aren't just here for the hunting, are you?"

#135 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 09:27 AM:

Dan, you're right -- I knew there were some changes between the British and US editions, and I guess I got that one backwards. As I recall, Lewis actually made the changes himself, and that's why later British editions match the American ones?

Karen, Lewis was agnostic or even athiest in his youth, then a "theist" as a young man (some of his theistic poetry is available from this period, and it can be interpreted as agnostic in the sense of "not knowing" the nature of God as specified by any certian religion). During a late-night conversation with J.R.R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson he converted to Christianity, and joined the Anglican church.

So, echoing the discussion on Electrolite, publication or chronological?

#136 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 10:11 AM:
Dan, you're right -- I knew there were some changes between the British and US editions, and I guess I got that one backwards. As I recall, Lewis actually made the changes himself, and that's why later British editions match the American ones?

Beats me. The FAQ didn't say who made the changes, but if I followed it correctly both the American and British editions should now say "Maugrim" (and "Secret Hill" instead of "world ash-tree"). Of course, I haven't checked this, but I hope it's the case - the Norse references seem as if they would be rather odd in that context.

This discussion is making me feel as if I Really Should undertake my long-procrastinated project of codifying all the textual differences between the different versions of the different volumes of The Once and Future King... has anyone actually done that, and saved me the trouble?

#137 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 10:19 AM:

Elizabeth: A master's in publishing certainly trumps a bachelor's in English. You just have to watch out then that people don't think you're overqualified for entry level (alas, some editors are insecure about hiring people who they fear may replace them or do their jobs better than they do). I was going to add, this morning, that you should have or get some familiarity with business-related math, not to mention business practice, but it sounds like you've got that covered. Some publishing types recommend stints in a bookstore, for editors as well as sales and marketing folks.

As for the re-ordering of Narnia: I have it on good authority that this was done at the behest of Lewis's stepson, who controls the estate. He claims it was Lewis's wish that the books be issued/read in chronological rather than publication order, but my source is extremely skeptical about this.

#138 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 01:12 PM:

Dan Blum: there's some very useful context information on the question of revisions of T. H. White in _The White-Garnett Letters_; I don't know if it had an edition beyond the original British hb, but it's not that expensive if you search for it on ABE or Bookfinder. It'll at least tell you a few places to look (as well as being a good read if you like letters -- both White and David Garnett can write very well).

#139 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 01:17 PM:

Excellent, thanks. I know the revisions to at least the first volume were extensive between the original release and the final omnibus version, but I'm less clear on the second volume, and for the third I understand there may be US/UK differences as well. I have all of these, I just have never gotten around to going over them carefully.

#140 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 01:19 PM:

To go along with the Body Modification Risks link: Why did he cut off that man's leg?

#141 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 01:34 PM:

Apparently some kid wrote to Lewis suggesting that you could read them in the chronological order, and Lewis replied saying yes, you know, you certainly could. This has been taken as evidence that it is his intention one should.

When I was oh, six, I figured this out myself, read them once that way, shrugged, and went back to reading them in the proper order.

It's one of those things like whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone or from the Father and the Son together, you can argue about it until your city falls down, but it makes more sense to let people think as they like about such things.

As for _Little Women_, it's taken me literally decades but I have come to terms with Jo and Laurie not marrying, though not with Laurie marrying that idiotic simpering spiteful Amy with her frills and furbelows and her totally undeserved trip to Europe.

When I was a child I took not only Alcott but such other books of that period as _Elsie Dinsmore_, _Pollyanna_, _Tom Sawyer_ and _What Katy Did_ to be portraying the life of contemporary, or near contemporary, America, a strange country full of opportunity and freedom and an openness about things. One of my earliest compositions was a letter that began "Dear Jo March, Europe is not as exciting as you may think."

#142 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 01:46 PM:

Am I the only reader of Little Women ever to think Laurie was totally overrated and deserved Amy if she'd have him?

#143 ::: colleen @ del rey ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 02:14 PM:

Who's Nora and why is she on a trolley anyway?

#144 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 03:31 PM:

Colleen, I think she's trying to get to Fort Mudge.

#145 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 04:45 PM:

>Apparently some kid wrote to Lewis suggesting
>that you could read them in the chronological
>order, and Lewis replied saying yes, you know,
> you certainly could. This has been taken as
> evidence that it is his intention one should.

*Sigh.* I wrote a letter to Lewis, myself, back in 1958 and got a reply from him suggesting that he wanted the books to be capable of being read in any order you liked, although the events in Nephew precede the events in LWW. I wish I still had that letter, along with the one wherein he encouraged me to write my own Narnia stories if I didn't like "The Last Battle." But they're gone -- lost when I went to college, along with the letters I got from Edward Eager, the early Marvel comic books, etc.

I still have my story outline for the post-train crash Narnia story, where Susan returns to Professor Kirk's house to dig up the rings ....

#146 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 04:58 PM:

Wow. Thanks for all the enlightening chatter about the Narnia books - I recall doing a bit of Googling, but not finding anything helpful.

It was really interesting to hear about all the Norse mythology inserted in the American versions. I didn't remember the other references at all; all I knew was that at the time it made sense to me that the wolf's name was Fenris, and I resented having it changed on me. (And, yes, I ought to have said "figure from Norse mythology" rather than "from the Norse pantheon", but at least I didn't say, "one of the Aesir" and REALLY put my foot in my mouth, right?).

I think it helped that I read the books as a child incapable of taking anything less than literally. So I had no idea that it was all a Christian allegory, not even when I got to the clue-by-four-to-the-head scene at the end of _Voyage of the Dawn Treader_ where Aslan briefly turns into a lamb. I was just that clueless. So coming back to it later, the allegory never got in the way; every later reading had the all the exciting colors of the first one superimposed over it.

Some of the Christian references I came to find interesting for what they seemed to imply about Lewis's own beliefs - the conversation between Aslan and the Calormene soldier, for instance, where deeds done in the name of Tash are discussed. One of these days I really need to do some extensive reading of Lewis's religious writings and what his contemporaries wrote about him.

#148 ::: redfox ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 06:50 PM:

Apparently some kid wrote to Lewis suggesting that you could read them in the chronological order, and Lewis replied saying yes, you know, you certainly could. This has been taken as evidence that it is his intention one should.

I've read that exchange, and that's not quite how it went -- Lewis said, Yes, you could, and I've thought for a while that people should order them that way, but because I didn't write them in that order, no one does. But they should!

So his preference did seem stronger than you have it, but I still think it's a crummy idea.

#149 ::: Madeline ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 09:45 PM:

Hey, so I have an unrelated question that seemed to fit here, being as it's on the theme of publishing woes, and this is an open thread...

I've got a friend who wrote a sourcebook for a RPG company. Now that they've got the book in hand, they're like, "You know our contract, giving you 15% of the gross? Make that 5% of the net--or we don't publish the book, and you've wasted 6 months for no money at all." I thought to have this sort of fun, you had to be signed with a record label...

I've never worked in a situation involving contracted work, so I don't really know what's up with this, but I figured some of you might have comments. I mean, is it common? How much has haggling helped anyone who's been confronted with this kind of thing? Do most contracts have some obligation to publish the book built in, so people don't run into this sort of trouble?

#150 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 02:28 AM:

I dunno. I think Amy's all right. Considering where she started from, what she wanted, how much that differed from what she got, and her willingness in the end to face that head-on and make peace with it, in some ways she's more interesting than Jo.

#151 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 05:42 AM:

I myself read Lion first, then Caspian, then the Dawn Treader, and then I sort of didn't realize there were any more. About three or four years later I got the boxed set, and read them in chronological order. This let me confront the lamppost as a mystery and to read the whole thing as a history... thus my weird order is my favorite.

I didn't realize the Christian allegory until it was actively pointed out to me later. This seems quite odd to me now, as I was the sunday school kid. I went to sunday school every week and had read my Picture Bible (an excellent comic book version of the bible) to pieces. When the parallel was pointed out to me I found it immensely comforting and helpful. At that point I was becoming quite fed up with the idea of God as a big old man in the sky, which made him seem unpleasant and distant. Aslan was much better. I have to say that there have been many points when I have argued against the image and assumed policy of the Christian God, but I have never argued against Aslan.

I was always quite awed by this quote about Aslan.

"Safe? ... Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good."

though sometime in my youth I mentally edited it to this

Safe? ... Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe, He's a GIANT BLOODY LION."

One interesting thing is that, while I wasn't ever overwhelmed by Lewis's allegory, I found Tolkien's black and white definitions of good and evil preachy and tiresome at a young age -- a reaction that is rather similar to the one that led me away from straight Christianity and into a sort of odd pantheism.

As a last note I'd like to say that I found Lewis's "heaven" to be incredibly vital and tangible. While I was dead set against spending eternity surrounded by clouds, likely bored out of my skull, he provided something that still makes me cry.

Being able to run as far and as fast as you wanted and never getting tired, in a world with all the wonderful things you liked only more, and brighter, and it goes on forever.

#152 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 09:56 AM:

Being Jewish, I had no idea the Narnia books were Christian allegory until I was practically an adult and had already read them several times each. And while I now understand that from an intellectual point of view, I understand that remotely, separate from my enjoyment of the books.

My daughter and I recently read "Lion," and she, at her school's used book sale, bought copies of a couple of the others, and when I said, "but we already have all those," she said, "but I need my _own_!" with that mix of eagerness and desperation that marks the true booklover.

She doesn't know they're Christian allegory either, and probably won't for a while, because she doesn't know that much about Christianity.

(and I know there's a British set on its way to her for her birthday, which should please her now end)

#153 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 10:01 AM:

Am I the only reader of Little Women ever to think Laurie was totally overrated and deserved Amy if she'd have him?


#154 ::: Jed Hartman ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 11:39 AM:

I wanted to belatedly mention that the abovementioned Pogo CD can also be acquired at the iTunes Music Store -- I was astonished to see it there, and almost bought it, but now I can't decide whether I want the booklet that comes with the CD or whether I'm willing to settle for just the music (and instant gratification). At any rate, if nothing else it means you can listen to 30-second clips of all the songs if you want to see what they're like. (If you have iTunes, of course.) Even includes Walt Kelly singing.

...Hrm -- sorry if the above sounds like an ad. I'm not associated in any way with the Pogo CD or the iTunes Music Store; just thought other Pogophiles might be interested.

#155 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 01:24 PM:

Locus online is fun today.

#156 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 03:27 PM:

Apropos of nothing previous discussed . . . .

I know it's spring now.

The forsythia turning yellow seemingly overnight wasn't enough.

The school calendar with the "on these days your child will have recess" listings wasn't enough.


Today, the Mitzvah Tanks rolled down Fifth Avenue.

As sure a sign of spring as the swallows returning to Capistrano.

#157 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 05:32 PM:

Elisabeth asks So, one of the letters responding to that article on Salon (J. A. Doe is known as SIA (for self-important author) on another list) commented that it's really hard to get a low-paying job in publishing. I'm a newbie around here, so please pardon if I overstep my bounds, but anyone have any hints for getting one of those low-paying publishing jobs?

Well, I've certainly never met anyone in publishin g who claimed to have a high-paying job. At least not without utmost sarcasm (as in, "Yep, I get to say "no" to your open-heart cover art because I'm the Publisher. It's why they pay me the big bucks.")

Most of the jobs in publishing seem to qualify as "low-paying". Do you (or the commenter) mean entry-level?

If you go to gatherings of book publishing professionals (at least in my neck of the woods) you'll hear a lot of comments like "There's no real "typical way" to get a job in publishing."

I managed to find a job in (educational) publishing that paid a pittance sufficient to support me in my frugal lifestyle (no benefits, though). It should be noted that I have no debt, no car, no cat, no child, no spouse, no medical conditions preventing me from cycling to work; I live in Toronto in an apartment that can charitably be described as "cozy"; and I have no expensive hobbies.

I found this job by 1) getting involved in my local editors' association and volunteering all my free hours away; 2) enrolling in a publishing certificate at a local post-secondary institution. Said publishing certificate has a job-board for students and recent alumni. I found a much more interesting (but sadly no more lucrative) job on the fringes of publishing by exercising my newly discovered skills at networking in the aforementioned professional organization, and impressing the right person. A lot of finding jobs in publishing seems to come down to that. Very few publishers put out job postings, because a lot of talented people knock on their doors looking for work, and they have friends' sisters' nieces and proteges to consider, too, as well as former interns and friends' former interns (it's all very collegial). If they do place ads, said ads frequently wind up in book trade publications, job boards at publishing programs, and such targeted spots rather than in the papers or on job sites.

There are more jobs in educational than in trade publishing. There are certainly more jobs in professional, trade, and reference publishing than in straight trade publishing. Educational publishing pays a slightly more generous pittance than trade publishing, but the moniker "salary ghetto" does seem to fit the entire industry, as far as I've been able to discern.

I feel like I haven't been much more useful than all the pros who used to tell me "Well, there's really no one way to get into just get to know people and keep trying," for which I'm really sorry. If you want to e-mail me, I can give you the rest of the Standard Spiel for New Editors, with Additional Material Taken from My Own Life. Even if you're not trying to become an editor, per se, and you really want to work in book design, or production, or sales, marketing, or publicity, I might be able to give you some more useful thoughts.

#158 ::: plover ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 08:09 PM:

wherein he encouraged me to write my own Narnia stories if I didn't like "The Last Battle."

Just a few posts before I saw this I had decided to ask if there was anyone else here that disliked _The Last Battle_. As for me, I loathed it. Of everything I read while growing up, there is no other book which I remember as even coming close to striking me as so violently wrong. (The end parts of it anyway, which are, of course, the only parts I remember - I suspect I only read it once... Hmm? Why, yes, I was raised by decidedly non-theistic parents, why do you ask?)

However, it would never have occurred to me to feel betrayed by Lewis, as authors were such abstractions to me - stories and characters were the meaningful reality. Not that I felt that _The Last Battle_ was a betrayal by the characters either, as they were barely recognizable as the people I cared about from the other volumes. So, fortunately, my experience reading _The Last Battle_ did not sour the rest of the series for me, and I happily reread the other books lots of times (although I often skipped _Prince Caspian_ since I found it a bit dull).

Going back to authors-as-abstractions: there were two authors who actually did have a non-abstract presence for me. One was Edward Eager, as one of his books (_Seven Day Magic_ I think) seemed to be set, if perhaps not in the same Connecticut town where I lived, then at least in a neighboring one. ("Whaddaya say we walk to Wilton? Whaddaya say?") The other was Tolkien, which was due to the picture on the back of each volume of the Ballantine edition with its accompanying mysterious exhortation regarding "courtesy to living authors". (An epigram that imprinted itself on me so strongly that even as an adult I expect I would be unhappy reading any other edition.)

And to skip around again: it's cool that Lewis would give that advice about coming up with your own ending...

I think it helped that I read the books as a child incapable of taking anything less than literally. So I had no idea that it was all a Christian allegory,

I was this way too. I do remember being told as a kid that they were supposed to be Christian stories and thinking that really strange. I mean, ok, Aslan did a death-and-resurrection-y thing that sort of corresponded to my (rather sketchy) knowledge of the Christ story (the lamb bit in _Dawn Treader_ wouldn't have meant anything to me...), and _The Magician's Nephew_ did a creation story thing, but so what? These were stories not myths or whatever the Bible was, and stories were other places to exist in. Treating them as coded references to irrelevant things like religion would be completely batty.

So it was striking when, a few months ago, the daughter of some friends was watching the BBC version of _The Silver Chair_, and the witch went off on this glaringly obvious metaphor about how the Overland and the sun were just a dream, etc...

Given that this was the first time I had noticed the subtext to this scene, I was also made aware of just how long it had been since I'd looked at the series. (So, thanks to the folks in this discussion for reminding me that I was going to dig these out and read them again. :) )

I found Lewis's "heaven" to be incredibly vital and tangible.

It's interesting to read the interpretation of someone who found the end of _The Last Battle_ to be a compelling vision. I've been trying to think how to provide some particulars as to the reason for my reaction, but I can find few memories of any concrete details from the book. I think it seemed as if dead characters were being reanimated in some grotesque fashion, and everyone was being ejected from the universe that felt real into one that felt false and threatening. I felt coerced in some way.

Anyway, sorry for going on so long...

#159 ::: Erin Denton ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 06:06 PM:

Me too! I only read The Last Battle once as a child, when I'd read every other Narnia book a jillion times. I still haven't read it again since then. I'm not sure if i didn't like the topic, or if i couldn't deal with my imaginary childhood world ending. I know I should go back and reread them all (tho i think i could still recent the course of events in the Dawn Treader), but part of me wants to leave my memories dusty and undisturbed.

#160 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 02:04 AM:

It's been years since I've read any Narnia, but I was relieved to note some weeks ago that I was apparently not the only one who, in spite of sledgehammer textual clues to the contrary, persisted in envisioning the Dawn Treader as sailing west.

That it also took some six readings of LoTR for me to mentally latch on to Hobbiton's location as west of Rivendell is not anything I expect others to share. (They walked all the way to Rivendell, then all the way back before heading south, somehow avoiding the entire Shire on the way. For my next trick, the Sun will revolve around the Moon.)

And yes, every edition I read sported a map of Middle-Earth, the first being that cool fold-out one glued to the back cover. I looked it over carefully, even obsessively. There's the Shire. There's Rivendell. There's a whacking long north-south mountain range. East, then south. I'd close the map up and it'd all flip back again. Rivendell on the coast, Hobbiton in the foothills and the Grey Havens somewhere in the middle, off north and out of sight.

#161 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 02:52 AM:

But but but -- sailing to the Uttermost East doesn't involve going West! I can't make that happen in my head (and I've lived on the West Coast of the US since I was 6). I know that's what you mean by a sledgehammer clue, mind you....

#162 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 12:31 PM:

I got lost a lot as a child. I do a bit better now. Now the sequence is:

Start walking.

A miracle happens.

I'm there. Well, okay, I'm somewhere.

#163 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 06:11 PM:

pericat - perhaps you should try reading "The Road to Rome" by Hilaire Belloc?

A few years back I contemplated trying to retrace his journey. Probably not feasible in the current European situation.

#164 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 06:20 PM:

From way back at the beginning: 48 "The execution was witnessed by a Florida State Senator, Ginny Brown-Waite, who at first was "shocked" to see the blood, until she realized that the blood was forming the shape of a cross and that it was a message from God saying he supported the execution."
Whereas others might take completely the other message from that 'sign'.

Or, since God can be said to have 'supported' His own Son's crucifixion*, could it also be seen as signifying "this is my son, with whom I am well pleased"? Funny how people seem to always take various signs, portents & omens as backing whatever they believed before.

(* originally typed cruxifiction - another typo that gives one to think)

#165 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2004, 01:28 AM:

The proof that I have been too busy this week (we had training all week, in addition to the usual tasks and crises) is that it took me several days to notice that this had become (in part) a Narnia thread.

A couple of months ago I had the good fortune to attend a workshop by Paul Ford, a professor at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, CA and the author of the Companion to Narnia. (Ironically, I attended his presentation on another topic, but bought the audiotape of his presentation on Narnia, which was a keepet.) On his web site he has a page on Narnia with several of his papers including this (.pdf) of a 50th anniversary appreciation of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. A major concern of that essay is the proper order for reading the books. Lewis always cared the most for the book he was working on at the time; he once wrote about coming upon some work which he read with pleasure, only at the end realizing it was something he had written himself but forgotten about. He did agree to re-edit the series so that they would work in the "chronological" order that the British editions use -- two days before he died.

From C. S. Lewis: A Biography (Roger Lancelyn Green and Walter Hooper):

His last visitor was Kaye Webb, editor of Puffin Books in which The Chronicles of Narnia were appearing. ‘We had a nice talk on Wednesday,’ she wrote to [Roger Lancelyn] Green, who had arranged the meeting. ‘What a very great and dear man. How I wish I’d had a chance to know him well, but how grateful I am that you “introduced” us to each other. He promised to re-edit the books (connect the things that didn’t tie up) and he asked me to come again . . . '

His stepson, Douglas Gresham (a lovely man who once graciously answered an email), prefers the British order, but many Lewis scholars, Ford in particular, strongly prefer the original publication order. I think it is telling that the first film to be shot in the new seriew will be LWW.

#166 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2004, 10:03 AM:

Lenny: that would be an ... interesting ... story. The other children thought Susan was turning into a ]mundane[, which means she wouldn't have bothered to dig up the rings; it would be interesting to see her as an adolescent/adult ]fan[. I feel Susan gets a little slighted; Peter was High King, Edmund and Lucy keep coming back (and have their own epiphanies), but Susan is more just there for balance. And what would she have felt like or been like after her three siblings died in a train wreck?

It's possible that LWW is being filmed first not because it makes sense in reading order but because it's the strongest story; much of the time there are two opposed threads, which gives it more urgency. I can't really analyze it, though; I end up right back at the eight-year-old who first read it (and didn't see any of the symbolism, despite being raised Episcopalian). It's possible this is one of the best illustrations of Teresa's axiom about plot and story.

Melissa: OK, I'll bite. "Mitzvah Tanks"? Is the Sally Army doing well enough that it needs Wells Fargo to empty the buckets? (Does they actually do buckets at this time of year?) Or is this the first street cleaning? (When I was living there, Cambridge MA had two seasons: the one in which I had to move my car for random snow emergencies and the one in which I had to move it for random street cleaning. (To be fair, they later put up permanent signs saying when cleaning would happen, instead of paper signs 24 hours ahead.)

#167 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2004, 10:41 AM:

The worst of it was that she'd quarrelled with them
And now they were dead, all dead, her parents too,
Nobody left but her awful aunt and uncle,
Whose faces collapsed like their future.
Still she stood at the graveside, calm, composed,
Pale-faced, with folded hands, her shoulders back,
She'd been a queen once-in-a-dream,
She was left alone but she knew how to behave.
If only they'd not quarrelled in these last few years..
They'd called her shallow and she'd called them babes,
They had not wanted to grow up, they never would.
She, more than ever, knew she had no choice.
The service droned, but something -- she looked up
Saw cassock, surplice, and a lion's eyes.

#168 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2004, 11:24 AM:

Lovely, Jo!

#169 ::: novalis ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2004, 08:35 PM:

I can't believe nobody's posted yet about this book title mashup thread (also continued on CT)

#170 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2004, 09:13 PM:

I saw that off an entry on scribblingwoman just last night. My contribution to the effort:

Tipping the Velveteen Rabbit: Maidens swoon as well-loved toys come to life.

#171 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 01:16 AM:

A really, thoroughly honest eBay merchant:

Warning: Swallow beverages before reading.

#172 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 08:59 PM:

Which reminds me, T -- is disemvowelling a reference to Robert Bloch's short story "The World-Timer" from the early Goldsmith days at either AMAZING or FANTASTIC (FANTASTIC August 1960, thank you Mr. Contento!)? It would be marvelously fannish if so. The last line of the instruction booklet our hero has to re-emvowel for himself is "Dn't gt yr vwls n n prr." (working from 30 year old memory here, haven't re-read it in at least that long)

#173 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 09:04 PM:

I don't want to put this frivolous comment on the very serious "Cancelled Contract" thread, so instead it's here:

Note to Xopher: you know you're a folkie when you read "J of N" and think "Julian of Norwich."

#174 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 09:20 PM:

Stefan, you are so right -- that is a classic. And you have to read all the way down as the additions made by the seller are as good as the original ad. I do wonder what "Bulletproof" wanted it for. Pictures might be interesting.

#175 ::: Varia ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 09:37 PM:



You are evil. Evil, I tell you!

Have you seen the BBC version of Tipping? They did a decent job of the adaptation.

#176 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 09:43 PM:

Well, Title Collision is an old game (having begun when Jethro wrote the music for THE ILIAD) but here goes anyway:

MY GUN IS QUICKSILVER: The hardboiled adventures of two 17th-century private eyes, Robert "Left" Hooke and Sam "Marshmallow" Pepys. The movie will make "Round up the usual errors" a national catchphrase.

GREEN MARS MANSIONS: Conclusion to the trilogy about the ethereal natives of another planet, and their big lichen forest.

DADA VINCI CODE: Pinkwater Does Conspiracy. 'Nuff said.

#177 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 09:55 PM:

Jo -- words fail me.

#178 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2004, 02:11 AM:

Switching subjects, I have a political rant, and nowhere but here to put it.

How are people not outraged that unemployment, which declined throughout both of Clinton's terms, has steadily climbed since Bush took office? Why does this not worry people?

And how are people swallowing that 308,000 jobs were created last month, when 250,000 of those were grocery store workers on strike who went back to work? How is THAT considered an improvement?

And why is no one noticing that, when unemployment numbers DO decline, it's the people whose benefits ran out?

Why are people putting up with this?

My source: my husband and this site:

I might note that the previous highest spike in unemployment in the last 10 years was while Bush Sr. was in office.

#179 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2004, 08:31 AM:

Jo, that was amazing.

#180 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2004, 09:48 AM:

I see that the US government has eased up on the intepretation of the trade embargo law that copyediting certain foreigners is illegal.

See, it is still possible to get the government to be sensible. With good luck and a following wind.

#181 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2004, 10:22 AM:

Thought by now, you'd realize... there ain't no way to hide those lion's eyes.

I labored two summers in a map library at Georgia Southern, and sorted many quad maps. They showed every building in a non-urban area. I was looking at the Okeefenokee quad and got to wondering... looked and looked, and sure enough, there was Fort Mudge. Just two words on a map. Not a house or a shed; no buildings at all. I imagine it was probably a sign by the railroad tracks. Until some fan stole that.

Thanks to folks for explaining plot points of Little Women. Those story surprises could kill a middle-aged guy like me.

#182 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2004, 11:11 AM:

Abridged books, or rather, non-abridged books. People seem to have noticed that kids don't like reading long books. So, hey, sell them short books for the same price, with big print. Then you can write more of them, and publish more of them, and make more money. I think that's the idea.

So books that are aimed at, oh, 9 year olds, (I'm thinking of Jacqueline Wilson here, who is an absolutely megabucks superstar author, and writes good books, don't get me wrong), are incredibly short. If you strung half a dozen Jacqueline Wilson books together, you'd get something about the length, reading level, and content of, say, a Noel Streatfield. They sort of mash the old ones together into three-in-one volumes, but they still have huge print, so they end up as very big books.

This at the same time that best-selling books for grownups have become much more challenging, on average, than they were 20 years ago. (I'm talking actually best-selling books here, in paperback, not the hardback 'best-sellers' list).

Lots of children's books are 'updated' without any mention of this on the covers or title pages. I explained to Marianne that the names of the children in Enid Blyton's books had been changed because the publisher thought that Dick and Fanny were too old-fashioned and that children today would think they were funny names.

#183 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2004, 11:32 AM:

OK, so, I have an extremely modest proposal to make to members of the mainstream press.

I'm sure by now many of us have seen, heard, or read about this little exchange between the President and a correspondent for the A.P.:

BUSH: Let me ask you a couple of questions. Who is the AP person?
Q I am.
Q Sir, in regard to --
THE PRESIDENT: Who are you talking to?
Q Mr. President, in regard to the June 30th deadline, is there a chance that that would be moved back?

Now, on its face, that reads to me like Bush is being pompous, bullying jerk, but I suppose it actually comes from the reporter failing to use the proper form of address for a U.S. President.

I'm reading the John W. Dean book at the moment, and on page 71 I find: "... But Bush let him and other American journalists know: Don't ask him tough questions and don't -- even in subtle ways -- exhibit the slightest bit of initiative... "

We know that our fourth estate has generally obliged the Bush Administration in this regard, tucking, for the most part, its inquisitive noses into its collective armpits. But perhaps here we have an opportunity to encourage the press to grow a little bit of spine.

For no other purpose except to annoy Bush, and perhaps to encourage themselves to begin to stand up to the White House, I propose to the members of the press that they from now on begin all their questions not with the proper "Mr. President", but with (the apparently insulting to Bush) "Sir".

It is the tiniest of all rebellions. It's embarrassing to think how pathetic it would be as A Statement. Still, the longest journeys must always begin with that first step. If every member of the press did it (except for the worst of the toadying outfits like Faux News which, naturally, would never do it), what could Bush do about it except (a) refuse all questions from the press (which is essentially the case now), or (b) do a slow burn?

I should think the way the press has been shut out of this White House, they would be grateful for even the tiniest modicum of payback. Disrespect breeds disrespect. The way they have been treated, it's about time they turned the tables.

And anyway, this is America; we don't have to be nice to our Presidents.

"Be rude or die!"

#184 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2004, 12:51 PM:

CHip, Melissa not having replied: Mitzvah Tanks are what the Lubovitscher Hasidim call the RVs that trundle up and down in Manhattan, occasionally disgorging flocks of people who try to get Jews to be more observant. They aren't at all interested in Gentiles, though they get in our way time when one of them (a venerable old rabbi) asked me if I was Jewish, I replied "No, but I'm a righteous Gentile." He was delighted to hear it, I'm happy to say.

Tim Walters: That's OK. All is OK. All manner of things will be OK.

Kip W: that's wonderful. In fact, you should be lionized for it. (I actually thought those were the words when I first heard that song...and I'd never read Narnia.)

#185 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2004, 03:59 PM:

Lifting any trade embargo prohibitions on editing? NYT link to expire soon - apologies as require for possible duplicate notices the original thread is now obsolete and I haven't time to check for duplications of news of the lifting.

#186 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2004, 08:00 PM:

Thought I had posted this here already a few minutes ago, but it's not showing up so I try again --

I'll be mostly offline for several days because I managed to get badly bruised in my left calf by trying to prevent a car from rolling away (I got caught between the back of one car and the side of another through my own lack of intelligence and foresight). Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation (and ROM exercise). Gravity is not always my friend, and momentum's a mother. Nothing broken, big bruise.

#187 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2004, 08:15 PM:

Alice: After reading your mini-rant, I tried to find a link to a cartoon I saw in last week's local independent paper, but failing to do so, I'll be forced to describe it. It shows Bush proudly proclaiming over 300,000 new jobs and duly brandishing his new ant farm with his busy and newly employed little ants.

#188 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2004, 11:39 PM:

I would very much liked to have seen that.

But I do thank you for the description. It made me chuckle.

#189 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 02:57 AM:

People seem to have noticed that kids don't like reading long books.

J. K. Rowling appears not to have noticed this fact herself.

Nor, come to think of it, have her readers.

#190 ::: Betsey Langan ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 08:02 AM:

People seem to have noticed that kids don't like reading long books.

J. K. Rowling appears not to have noticed this fact herself.

Nor, come to think of it, have her readers.

As a matter of fact, in the afterword to Squire, Tamora Pierce mentioned that due to the success of the Harry Potter books, demonstrating that children would indeed read long books, she had been permitted to turn in a manuscript that was significantly longer than previous books, and was not compelled to cut it down to "children's book length".

#191 ::: Eloise Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 03:16 PM:

Illinois is finally getting around to apologizing to the Mormons for kicking them out of Nauvoo and lynching many members of their church.

#192 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 03:34 PM:

The Ducks one reminds me of Anya's riff about bunnies on Once More With Feeling.

#193 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 05:18 PM:

Re Brotron Labs: I took one look at their death ray and immediately thought "Hey, that's my Mom's vacuum cleaner!" (Electrolux canister model from probably the early 1960s). Well, it's what my Mom's vacuum would look like after suffering a matter-transporter accident involving a chrome swivel chair. Even the argyle-patterned hose is there.

#194 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 05:50 PM:

Xopher - *giggle*

Who knew ducks were fascist, alcoholic car thieves?

If Joss Whedon had only thought of it, Anya might have had a whole list of "cute animal" phobias. Bunnies, ducks, puppies, kittens... the entire Beatrix Potter oeuvre would have been akin to the works of Clive Barker for our dear ex-demon.

#195 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 06:46 PM:

They got them hoppy legs an' twitchy little noses.

#196 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2004, 12:14 AM:

Hello makinglight colleagues,

I've been gafiating via my Mathematics writing. Have written in 1st quarter of 2004 twenty "scholarly" mathematics articles, submitted most, started to receive rejection letters and engage in resubmission tango.

Have been scrutinizing Submission Guidelines on prestigious Math jornals. Have found amusing typographical errors in same.

Perhaps more on this as I start to resubmerge in maklinglight of Feb/March 2004, catching up, blinking in the Spring sunlight (it turned into Spring while I was off in abstractland?).

Hope to engage in useful dialogue with those I've met in this sacred isle of blogosphere.

As with most protagonists of "There and Back Again" I return changes, to a changed world, unable to describe all the wonders I have met, and dragons slain along the way.

What? My son has turned fifteen, started his final quarter of Sophmore Year in college, and is taking Discrete Math, which is the very subject most of my papers are in. And next month, May, we are to travel to Boston for the 5th International Conference on Complexity Science (now cosponsored by NSF), to present 3 papers. Well, I'm sole author of 1, coauthor of other 2.

The garbage disposal died, flooded kitchen, was replaced. My own PC got flakey, fell off the network, and now won't let me backup to diskette. Think I'll remove hard drive and install it a new PC after downloading all files (after virus filtering) to CD-R, on a friend's equipment. Maybe get a linux or freebsd box.

Spring Cleaning included trimming the orange trees, olive trees, brazillian floss silk trees, and my foot-long beard cleanshaven.

Caught up on reading some wonderful books -- "The Street Lawyer", "King Rat" for instance.

Went to Con-Dor and gave good panel.

Will reenter this blogo-pool a little at a time.

Am over 2/3 through teaching another semester of Algebra at Woodbury University, and just had my internal proposal rejected for contuining my development and testing of curriculum for Math for Visually Sophisticated Students. My students are mostly majoring in Fashion, Design, Animation, and Architecture. And a student at Art Center College of Design (where I've taught before) wants me to help her write a short story about people with chlorophyll under their skin. Any good references for her to read?

Thank you again for making me feel welcome.

#197 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2004, 02:56 AM:

Here's a bit of news: The Times of London is reporting that Antoine de Saint-Exupery's P-38 has been found, in 70m of water off the coast of Marseilles.

No body was found with the P-38, leading to the inescapable conclusion that the sky refused to let go of him when it carelessly dropped the plane.

#198 ::: Virge ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2004, 12:22 PM:

Back in January I spent a little too much of my time in a versified battle triggered by that piece of anti-anatidae propaganda.
Vilification of birds

On a completely unrelated topic, I just stumbled over Threat Alert Jesus.

#199 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2004, 01:15 PM:

USA Today is polling on the Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment.

Please go and vote No.

#200 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2004, 08:14 PM:


Yes is winning by about 9%.

I'm tired of ranting about stupid, narrow-minded people for now, so I'll just leave it at that.

#201 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2004, 08:28 PM:

Ray Radlein writes:
No body was found with the P-38, leading to the inescapable conclusion that the sky refused to let go of him when it carelessly dropped the plane.

That quote just made my day.

#202 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2004, 12:18 PM:

I have not the words to describe the levels of coolness and bizarreness this simultaneously achieves.

And I have no idea how it works.

#203 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2004, 12:28 PM:

Wow, Skwid. That's amazing. I typed "dance macarena" and it did. I suppose it could be live (it did some things I didn't command while I was watching), but how long can they keep THAT up?

#204 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2004, 12:33 PM:

If you tell it to "dance" it will also do macarena - I think it's just a bunch of video recordings of various behaviors tied to command lines.

More on boingboing.

#205 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2004, 12:44 PM:

But...MY commands are weird and unique, and could not possibly be guessed by anyone else.

Only not. <sigh>

#206 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2004, 12:45 PM:

In other news, the Other Side wants me to acknowledge Pete, or Peter...some name with P.

#207 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2004, 12:47 PM:

Awww... poor bunny! We love you anyway!

#208 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2004, 06:33 PM:

Just wanted to share, in case any of you love owls half as much as I do:

It's a webcam, updated every 60 seconds, inside a nest box which a family of owls has chosen. There are 3 owlets, the most recent of which hatched Wednesday. Mostly what you'll see if you stop by is the mother owl sitting on the nest and looking cute. Every once in a while, she gets up, and you can see fuzzy little blurs in the nest. And the father stops by to drop off food, but is mostly out hunting. There's an excellent picture of him here:

#209 ::: Virge ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2004, 10:25 PM:

"In other news, the Other Side wants me to acknowledge Pete, or Peter...some name with P."

That must be my soon-to-be-deceased friend, Pedro. He was always mucking about with temporal anomalies--no reason to expect he would stop on the Other Side.

#210 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2004, 11:22 PM:

He says you should have given him some money back in April of 2004...that you'll know why.

#211 ::: Madeline ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2004, 11:23 PM:

Oh, wow! Great link, thanks, Alice!

#212 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2004, 12:32 AM:

Glad to share. It's one of the sites I visit daily, now.

And now a site that isn't as pleasant to visit. Made me pretty mad, actually:

#213 ::: Virge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2004, 02:13 AM:

"He says you should have given him some money back in April of 2004...that you'll know why."

@#$% Now I remember. I was going to lend him $10,000 to pay off a gambling debt. He said something about The Family paying him a visit on the 10th. I hope he's alright.

#214 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2004, 01:52 PM:

Albert Einstein: "dance macarena"

Woooah! Look at him go, while playing the fiddle!

Another enjoyable book I'm reading (about 3 years late) quotes from the late Science Fiction genius Robert Forward, tells the inside story of a Big Science project in a way reminiscent of Greg Benford's "Timescape", and extracts wonderful coloful anecdotes from scientists along the way. Since I knew many of the people interviewed, I can vouch for the depth and insight of the author:

Einstein's Unfinished Symphony: Listening to the Sounds of Space-Time

by Marcia Bartusiak

Joseph Henry Press, 2000

Winner of 2001 American Institute of Physics SCIENCE WRITING AWARD – Journalist category

Library Journal, BEST SCI-TECH BOOKS OF 2000

New York Times NOTABLE BOOK for 2000

Washington Post Book World RAVE SELECTION FOR 2000

U.S. News & World Report TOP PICK OF THE WEEK 2000

Named to Astronomy Magazine's ASTRONOMY BOOKSHELF 2002

"I found it harder to put down than some mystery novels."
-- Sky & Telescope, September 2001

#215 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 11:15 AM:

CHip, Xopher:

(I've been sick, and it's Spring Break in NYC, which means I have the kid around more than usual, and between the two, haven't been here much.)

Well, it's not _just_ the Lubavitch who call them Mitzvah Tanks, as I'm not Lubavitch by any stretch of the imagination . . . I think many NYers call the RVs Mitzvah Tanks, especially since that's what they are often prominently labeled, lol.

Anyway, yes, these are RVs that are used for outreach by Jews to Jews. They are not limited to Manhattan, actually, and can be found in many parts of NYC (and other cities with high Lubavitch populations), especially Jewish neighborhoods or areas where large numbers of Jewish people are known to work (like the Diamond District in Manhattan).

There are several hundred vehicles in the fleet now. Every spring, close to Passover, there is a parade of Mitzvah Tanks--all white RVs, many flying Israeli and American flags and/or decorated with pictures of Rabbi Menachem Schneerson--down Fifth Avenue, music blaring. Then they fan out throughout the city to do outreach.

Which is not to say they aren't out there at other times, too--I've seen Mitzvah Tanks out at Purim (passing out hamentashen, little triangular pastries/cookies filled with fruit preserves or poppy seeds), at Passover, at Sukkot, at Chanukah, etc. Basically, whenever there's a holiday.

My favorites are the tiny little sukkas they set up for Sukkot--little blue fabric-walled structures about the size of an old-fashioned phone booth, with one open side. If you're a man (in Hasidic traditions, women aren't allowed to do this), you get to stand in the booth and wave symbolic greenery in the cardinal directions while saying a prayer. It just makes me smile, reminding me of Judaism's pagan . . . well . . . roots.

Of course, last week I made a mini-seder (my first ever) for me and my kid, and that's just filled with symbolic greenery (and other things).

Anyway . . . there's a lot I don't like about the Lubavitch--their Messianism being a really major sticking point--but they do serve a variety of good purposes. And they always have the welcome mat out for all Jews, at whatever level of observance. Anywhere there is a Chabad house, a Jew has a place to go for Sabbath or seder or the High Holy Days.

#216 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 05:41 PM:

Melissa, I didn't mean to imply they were bad. Though I must say the younger ones are often distinctly rude: "Are you Jewish?" one asked me; I replied in the negative, and he snorted and turned away with a disgusted look, as if I had suddenly become a rotting corpse. Most of my experiences with them have been more positive.

Vaguely related to the "common chemicals" link: anybody know where (NYC area or online) I can get some food-grade citric acid? I've been playing with some low-carb recipes, but I keep having the problem that I want them to be really tart, and they aren't. Can't put in a ton of lemon juice, of course, since that adds sugar. And there used to be a thing called FruitFresh, which was basically citric acid, but which I have been unable to find anywhere. The produce guy at the good grocery in town said they used to carry it, but...

Any leads appreciated.

Virge, he says never mind about that. You'll find out soon enough. He asks if you could leave your door unlocked tonight, though.

#217 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 08:25 PM:

Citric acid is used in canning (that's what FruitFresh is for), and a quick you-know-what search turns up several places (canning supplliers, health-food merchants) that sell it in dry form.

I know I've seen FruitFresh on grocery shelves around here, but in the north country folks do a lot of canning -- fruit, vegetables, lutefisk, sports of nature, you know.

#218 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2004, 01:18 PM:

Because I have nowhere else to put this...

Remember a few dozen threads back, someone mentioned something about a space opera police procedural sestina? And I threatened to write one?

Well, what came out wasn't quite that, but it was reasonably close to the spirit. Since McSweeney's turned it down, I've posted it publically, along with an explanation which is probably now redundant...

#219 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2004, 01:23 PM:


I've had the same reaction, actually, and I am Jewish, when I don't have time for them. They can indeed be rude.

I've also noticed that an apparently growing percentage of younger Lubavitch don't speak much English, which can contribute to the rudeness. They have a script to follow, and when they don't get the response they're looking for, they sometimes literally do not know what to say. (There are a lot of Lubavitch who speak primarily Hebrew or Russian.)

And what should they say, anyway? "Sorry to have bothered you" is probably the best response, but a lot of the time that comes out as just "sorry," which can imply "sorry you're not Jewish," which I think most people would not like.

#220 ::: Seth Ellis ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2004, 01:33 PM:

Re the Virtuellen Museum der Wissenschaft: I see they link to the Museum of Microscopy, which also has some lovely pictures of antique instruments. I thought I'd link to it straight from here for the non-German-speaking microscope-lovers out there.

#221 ::: Naomi Libicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2004, 03:55 PM:

Have you guys seen this?

Randy Milholland (creator of Something Positive) linked to it on his livejournal under the heading "Kirk Cameron loves the Jesus," and that's a fairly accurate description.

#222 ::: Naomi Libicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2004, 04:03 PM:

Um, yeah, so the links were improperly formatted.


Kirk Cameron loves the Jesus


Randy Milholland


Something Positive.

#223 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2004, 06:57 PM:

Wow, Naomi. I mean, I knew Kirk Cameron was a whack job, but I didn't know how much of a whack job he was until now.

He asks if you're a Christian, and if you click No, begins with the assumption that you think the 10 Commandments are important. I wonder if he's actually talked to a religious non-Christian in the past 15 years? Or ever?

My first question to him would be "Why should I care about the 10 C's at all?" then "You start right out telling me what Jesus said, but you haven't explained why on Earth I ought to care what Jesus said; with all respect to the man, I'm not a Christian, and that means I don't think he was as important as you do."

#224 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2004, 07:03 PM:

I always knew those crooning tree weasels couldn't be trusted:

#225 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2004, 09:32 PM:


I love your space opera police procedural sestina!

You are in a grand tradition of:

Science Fiction Poetry

and also of:

The Mystery/Detective genre

There must be a paying market, which doesn't mind the on-line preprint, for such a clever work of art!

#226 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2004, 09:35 PM:

Something nonfunctional on 2nd link above.

Let's try again:

Mystery/Detective Genre

#227 ::: Virge ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2004, 10:57 PM:

I tainted my journal with politics again today. After reading George Bush's news conference I couldn't resist.

"My biggest mistakes?" you ask. How
can I answer unprep'd? I'll allow
that historians will say
"Gosh! Why not this way?"
But I'd make all those same mistakes now.

Had your question been earlier declared
I might have seemed less thought-impaired.
When you probe my mistakes
my false confidence breaks
'cause I don't have my bullshit prepared.

#228 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2004, 11:13 PM:

I'm on the virge of falling in love.

#230 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 01:09 PM:


In a huge, fascinating, earlier thread on Rejection Letters, the professional writers/editors on Makinglight explained how helpful a letter from an editor can be.

Here's a very useful rejection letter which I received this week. It's in the genre of Mathematics, but the rejection is literary/stylistic:

This rejection letter from American Mathematical Monthly actually leaves the door open to resubmission upon rewrite because "... the subject matter of this paper might lend itself to a Monthly note..." [see full letter, below]:

April 1, 2004 [received by JVP 12 Apr 04]

Dear Dr.Post,

I am writing about your paper "When Hyperoctahedron Numbers are Octagonal Numbers," (manuscript #04-174) which you submitted to the American Mathematical Monthly. I have read your paper and discussed it with members of the editorial board.

Assessment of the Editorial Board: While the subject matter of this paper might lend itself to a Monthly note, the mode of presentation is unacceptable. The author makes little attempt to confine the flow of short sentences in any coherent expositional framework. This should be rejected.

Although we are unable to accept your paper for publication, please accept our thanks for thinking of the Monthly.


Br*c* P. P*lk*


(1) My impression is: they liked the equations, but not the English. Good!

(2) "...the flow of short sentences in any coherent expositional framework... " suggests that the disenvoweled Br*c* P. P*lk* probably doesn't like Hemingway. No problem. I can always write longer sentences and, most of the time, more expositionally coherent.

(3) I'll admit that I misread their style. A "Monthly note" is akin to a short-short story, or a poem. Short as a paragraph, no longer than a page or two. I ruthlessly pruned a short-story length article to the short-short... and they want it longer, or at least reject as a short-short. Good! Longer lets me develop the characters. Well, you know, the historical figures who founded this subsubgenre, including Hypsicles (ca. 170 BC) as cited by Diophantus (fl. ca. 250 AD) and successors through Hyun Kwang Kim (2003 AD paper cited.

With at least 20 Math papers that I've written and submitted so far in 2004, I am delighted by such a thoughtful, clear, rejection letter.

Such a letter is akin to the MLS (Microwave Landing System) at an airport runway. "Here I am. Land here!" This allows a pilot to steer his/her way to the right destination, and even a computer. Yes, for many years a Boeing 747 could land with no human touching the controls. But the pilots' unions hate that, and the passengers might worry...

Some time soon, if anyone cares, I can give other examples, as well as typos in the submission guidelines of some journals.

#231 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 12:18 AM:

Well, here's some crappy news for those of us here in Atlanta--we just got a postcard from the Science Fiction and Mystery Bookshop, saying:

GOING OUT OF BUSINESS SALE Everything must go! We really mean it this time!

Sigh. And they'd moved so much closer to our house, too.

#232 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 01:22 AM:

LNHammer - I clicked out of curiosity, but I must say, I stayed in fascination.

Though the focus of many of the original pictures was the hair, getting rid of it did very interesting things to the picture. Only one or 2 women without hair looked ridiculous or pathetic. For the most part, it enhanced their features. It was startling, just how vibrant and noticeable the eyes were, without the hair to draw the eye. And the facial shap was also further enhanced, bringing out soft, feminine features.

Very interesting. A lot of fetishes and preferences puzzle me; this one does not.

#233 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 02:39 PM:

The "publishing Paris Hilton" link gets a "you are not authorized" page. I guess the author friend-locked it.

#234 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 04:41 PM:

The Paris Hilton link, which I came looking for from comments on the "Bad Review" thread in Electrolite, now links to a closed account. :(


#235 ::: marrije ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 08:32 AM:

Teresa, it seems your link to the Paris Hilton book article is not working. I'd love to read it, though! Has the site disappeared or is there merely something wrong with the link?

#236 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 11:22 AM:

Is "How Grammatically Sound Are You" grammatically sound?

I thought I'd let go the terminal-s apostrophe question, which ventures out of the territory of Grammar and into Style. Then I ran into the split-infinitive question. Dammit, if W. H. Fowler is content to be grammatically unsound, then I stand with him!

#237 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 12:11 PM:

I got to be a Grammar God, and I answered the split-infinitive question with Fowler.

#238 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 01:29 PM:

As covered in that-thread-over-there, the quiz is deeply flawed. It essentially drove my English Teacher wife to conniptions, to the point where I could no longer converse with her on the topic without her rage distracting her from whatever I would say.

#239 ::: Virge ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 11:23 PM:

Moving away from the grammar gripes, I find it difficult to imagine anyone with the patience to do Pencil Carving.

#240 ::: David Goldfarb finds more comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 03:45 AM:

gay googlebombing?

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.