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October 4, 2005

Open Thread 50
Posted by John M. Ford at 09:07 AM *

Because the previous Open Thread was crowding 400 posts, and the rest of the Bridge Crew are on Martha’s Vineyard, a new Open Thread is declared open.

Comments on Open Thread 50:
#1 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 09:34 AM:

Does anybody know the REAL origin of Frank Herbert's "Dune"?

Some time ago, I read a review of Herbert's bio in Locus, where his son was apparently rather vague about the story's genesis. Same thing in a recent interview in Chronicle.

Funny thing is that I distinctly remember a Locus interview with Jack Vance early in 1981. In it, Vance said that both he and Frank Herbert had come up with the basic plot then had a lottery to decide who'd write the book.

Maybe my memory is played tricks on me...

#2 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 09:45 AM:

Am I the last person in the world to realize that Orson Scott Card's The Memory of Earth is a retelling of The Book of Ether?

I happened to be reading it around the time that I first read Teresa's essay God and I, and when I got to the discussion of the Book of Ether, said "Waitaminnit, that's the plot of this....novel...right."

#3 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 09:48 AM:

Caroline, do you mean the Book of Esther? i've never heard of the book of ether.

#4 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 09:52 AM:

hrc,

I believe The Book of Ether was a collaboration between HST and RAH. As I recall, it began like this:

We were somewhere outside of Barstow when the unicycle went into the ditch. There is nothing more irresponsible than a Mormon on an ether binge.

Hope this helps!

#5 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 09:54 AM:

The Book of Ether starts with a doctor asking you to count backwards from 10. Nobody gets past 6 without falling asleep, so of course no-one remembers the book, or even really knows what it is about.

#6 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 10:23 AM:

Does anybody know where one could buy a print of Norman Rockwell's "The Right to Know"? Or at least a JPG of it... This is Rockwell in anything but his idealized-America mode. On the other hand, one could say it's Rockwell with America at its most idealized. Or at least what it should be.

#7 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 10:26 AM:

Except for those poor rare individuals who are ether resistant and were still awake, but unable to move for the duration. They're so traumatized they can't describe what the book was about.

#8 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 10:32 AM:

Here's a Google hit on the Rockwell. Contact the gallery to buy.

At the risk of being obvious, Xenocide and Children of the Mind at least are also LDS-tinged. But my memory may be deceiving me.

#9 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 10:42 AM:

No, I mean the Book of Ether, in the Book of Mormon. (Which makes sense, since I believe Orson Scott Card is Mormon.)

#10 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 10:43 AM:

Re: the origins of Dune, Wikipedia quotes an Omni interview with Herbert from 1980:


"I had this theory that superheroes were disastrous for humans, that even if you postulated an infallible hero, the things this hero set in motion fell eventually into the hands of fallible mortals. What better way to destroy a civilization, society or a race than to set people into the wild oscillations which follow their turning over their critical judgment and decision-making faculties to a superhero?"

#11 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 10:46 AM:

Thanks, Dan. I had done a google search for that Rockwell painting before, but never came across this site.

#12 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 10:53 AM:

The Nelson Rocks Preserve disclaimer is good, but wordy. I rather like the one at Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia:

WARNING
INJURY AND DEATH
HAVE REWARDED CARELESS
SIGHT-SEERS HERE
THE OCEAN AND ROCKS ARE TREACHEROUS
SAVOUR THE SEA FROM A DISTANCE

#13 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 10:53 AM:

So, Keith, no reference in that Herbert interview to what I remembered from that Vance interview in Locus? Interesting.

As for the sentiment expressed in that quote, I've come across it in some comics too. Alan Moore's "Miracle Man" took the premise to its logical conclusion, with the 'hero' dismantling Earth's governements and creating a lifeless Utopia.

#14 ::: Cass Marshall ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 11:01 AM:

Have you read Space Viking by H Beam Piper?
There may be a clue as to where Herberts names in Dune came from at least.

#15 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 11:04 AM:

Serge writes:
Does anybody know the REAL origin of Frank Herbert's "Dune"?

Some time ago, I read a review of Herbert's bio in Locus, where his son was apparently rather vague about the story's genesis. Same thing in a recent interview in Chronicle.

I understand there's a new book, The Road to Dune, that might answer this question for you. I haven't read it. It contains some of Frank Herbert's notes, correspondence with John W. Campbell, and a novella written by Brian Herbert and the ever-bounteous Kevin J. Anderson from FH's original outline for the story.

#16 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 11:12 AM:

Thanks, Bill... By the way, I wasn't trying to belittle what Herbert had done with "Dune". Simple curiosity... And wondering what this or that writer would have done with the same plot.

#17 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 11:18 AM:

I'm trying to find a good home for my ANALOG collection, which spans from October 1999 thru January/February 2005. All I'd ask is for the shipping costs, or however much you could give me.

Anybody interested?

#18 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 11:19 AM:

If The Road to Dune doesn't have Hope & Crosby in it --

"Ride a worm? That's it? And I get to be part of the sietch tau word-the-Hays-Office-won't-allow? Yippee-ti-yi-oh."

"Thought you'd say that, Junior. Here's your suit, here's your hook, there's your worm."

"Uh . . . that's a . . . big one, isn't it."

"Modest, by the local standard, I understand."

"There better be a Dorothy Lamour at the other end of this rope."

-- then I don't think I'm buying.

#19 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 11:28 AM:

"Dune" as a Hope & Crosby vehicle, John? Have mercy. I almost choked on my coffee.

Any way to one-up you? Jimmy Stewart as Paul, and June Allyson as Chani? Nah... I bow down before the Master.

#20 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 11:35 AM:

Once you get to God Emperor of Dune and later, I think the origin of Dune stories went something like "Let's give Frank this cocktail of psychedelics, put him in front of the typewriter, and see what comes out!"

And, personally, I'm about a billion times less likely to be interested in anything SF that's Broadway (and especially Musical) themed. TTDV.

#21 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 11:37 AM:

Oh, wait...Hope and Crosby. That Hope and Crosby. Teach me to not pay attention. Sorry for any confusion.

#22 ::: KristianB ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 11:39 AM:

Can anyone tell me what's the big problem with mixing metaphors? Seems like whenever I see someone do it, it's immediately followed by an admonition of some kind, but I've never seen the problem.

(That is what these open threads are for, right?)

#23 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 11:52 AM:

John M. Ford writes:

If The Road to Dune doesn't have Hope & Crosby in it --

It doesn't, but this does.

Next up: Valentina Tereshkova, in a sarong.

#24 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 12:01 PM:

Alan Sheppard, Bill? I remember seeing him in 1983 on a Bob Hope Special. There's the link to "Dune".

Next thing you know, someone will ask David Lynch to direct "Dune".

#25 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 12:48 PM:

Can any of you knowledgeable persons identify either of these two caterpillars recently found in our yard? Both were found in Pleasantville, New York.

Todays catch, and one from September 18th.

Enquiring minds want to know.

#26 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 12:59 PM:

Caroline: Not so much with the Book of Ether, but the first couple books in the Book of Mormon, the Book of Nephi I and II and the Book of Jacob. The last book in the Homecoming series is the story of Alma the Younger from the Book of Alma. However, I believe that Teresa points out that the Book of Ether has many of the same plot points as the rest of the BoM, if you can't bear to read the whole thing. (Mark Twain called it "chloroform in print". (So, John Houghton's remark isn't far off either.)

OSC actually made the BoM more interesting, in my opinion, plus women got a bigger role all around. (There are only two women mentioned by name in the entire Book of Mormon.)

The Book of Ether itself is the second-to-last book of the BoM, and serves as a sort of prequel to most of the action going on in the BoM.

As for Dune, I always group it in my mind with Lawrence of Arabia. Dune came first in my chronological history--I read it first when I was four, finding it much more interesting than this stupid Hobbit story Dad kept trying to pawn off on me, what with its silly tea party and all. And Dune was probably the number one reason I went all insane after watching LoA (age 11ish, I think) and went and checked out the Seven Pillars of Wisdom. But then several of my favourite stories fall into the Imperialist regime-desert adventurers foment uprising category. (See also: The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley, and The Far Pavillions, by M. M. Kaye.)

#27 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 01:01 PM:

"What better way to destroy a civilization, society or a race than to set people into the wild oscillations which follow their turning over their critical judgment and decision-making faculties to a superhero?"

Seems like a description of a lot of religions to me. (Or to be fair, certain fanatics within those religions.)

#28 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 01:04 PM:

John, thanks for stepping up and saving us from the boredom of checking making light and finding the same post at the top until they got home. *grins* Such self-sacrifice.

#29 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 01:14 PM:

SFX magazine suggested I might like to review The Road to Dune, but I'd already peeped into a copy and guesstimated that 70% of the material is new fiction (OK, one piece written from an old outline) by the Amazing Brian and Kevin. For the rest, you get a few cut scenes and discarded alternatives from Dune, plus random barrel-scrapings which Frank Herbert himself never chose to publish. Like an exciting correspondence with his agent in which he fails to sell a nonfiction article about, gosh wow, deserts.

Dave

#30 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 01:22 PM:

KristianB,
The difficulty with mixing metaphors is that you have a conflict between a sentence that is syntactically correct and imagery that is logically inconsistent.

There's some wiggle room, e.g.: "He shut the door on further arguements." is mostly correct.

On the other hand, "He shut the door on their protests" is less correct, since it could mix imagery. Here, 'protests' has a double meaning, one of which involkes the image of protesters bearing signs, houting chants, etc. Only context gives you the right clues for resolving the conflict, and if intended as imagery, is kind of lame.
(Set theory: all mixed metatphors are lame*, but not all lame writing is composed of mixed metaphors.) Obviously vague writing like the second example isn't a good idea for, say, an opening paragraph.

I have trouble constructing mixed metaphors on the fly, so I cribbed one from The UVic Writer's Guide , as follows:
"The topic of pain relievers seems clouded in a sea of medical terminology."
The fault here is that 'clouded' goes better with the image of medical terminology being 'hazy', OR
the "sea" of medical terminology could go with the image of "drowning".

Anyway, the real answer to your question is that mixed metaphors are a sign that someone's an idiot. The probelm is that people who haven't thought through what they want to say will try to cram their thought into whatever sterotyped metaphor occurs to them first. This wouldn't be so bad, (it only leads to boring writing) but they compound their sin** by failing to retreive the whole metaphor from memory. Once they hit that stage, then they frantically try to recall the other half of the metaphor and merely dredge up something similar, and spit out the misbegotten sentence.*** To achieve this comedy of errors, you need to be too lazy (or just poorly read) to skip sterotypical metaphors, AND unfocused enough to remember the wrong half, AND plan poorly enough (or be lazy enough) to leave no time for editing.

Metaphorically speaking, they failed to plan, so they planned to fail, but they had to go to words with the army they wish they had, instead of the army they actually have.****

-R
*unless it's really, really, funny.
**compounded, like interest!! Hah! I do it too!
***quadruple metaphor score!
****I'm going to get punished for this, aren't I?

#31 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 01:22 PM:

Serge,
I'm having a bit of trouble parsing Rockwell's Right to Know. Could you give me a few hints about the context?
All these people, lined up in front of a desk...a professor's desk? a president's?

#32 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 01:31 PM:

As I understand it, it's a reference to the Pentagon Papers, or some other case of the Government trying to hide something big from the People. Sounds familiar?

#33 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 01:36 PM:

I meant to write...

As I understand it, "The Right to Know" is a reference to the Pentagon Papers, or some other case of the Government trying to hide something big from the People. Sounds familiar?

...Sorry

#34 ::: bob mcmanus ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 01:42 PM:

Caterpillars of Eastern Forests

I am working on it. From memory, they look fairly ordinary.

#35 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 01:50 PM:

Metaphorically speaking, they failed to plan, so they planned to fail, but they had to go to words with the army they wish they had, instead of the army they actually have.

Oooh -- shiny!

#36 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 01:52 PM:

The painting is from 1968, and was commissioned by Look magazine (now defunct) to accompany an editorial critical of government policy in Vietnam -- particularly the official Defense Department reports, which it had become apparent were a form of swords 'n' sorcery fantasy (with Invincible American Warfighting Technology as the sorcery). The desk is most likely not a specific person's, but represents the government as a whole, being called to answer by the population.

It's by no means the only socially conscious painting Rockwell did, despite the reputation assigned to him as a cheerleader for Whitebread America. His paintings on the civil rights movement are still extremely potent.

#37 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 02:04 PM:

Thanks for the clarification about Rockwell, John... I've seen the painting of a young black girl in a white dress, on her way to school, and someone has thrown tomatoes on the white background.

#38 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 02:14 PM:

Serge, the title of that painting is The Problem We All Live With, and it also contains a National Guardsman who's there to protect the extremely dangerous little girl.

#39 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 02:15 PM:

It seems that the stars are right. Dune comes up in this thread, and Questionable Content comes up in another, and lo! The result.

#40 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 02:15 PM:

Favorite caterpillar: Hickory Horned Devil (http://www.sel.barc.usda.gov/selhome/gbu/citheronia.html) Actual size: 5 1/2 inches. My daughter once lay down in our hammock and looked up to find one of these right in front of her face. I believe she broke a land speed record, and I'm SURE the hammock went "Thwappp!!!!" as it spun rapidly on its axis upon her exit.

Favorite Rockwell painting: "The Problem We All Live With" (http://www.progressiveart.com/rockwel/rock_problem.htm)

#41 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 02:16 PM:

I first came across "The Right to Know" in a book about Alex Ross's art. He had used that Rockwell painting as the inspiration for the cover to his "Kingdom Come" comic-book, down to using the trick of not making the people in the background row smaller than those in front.

#42 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 02:21 PM:

Serge, now I'd really like to see some vaguely Dune-like novel written by Jack Vance. Damn.

Seriously, Vance's and Herbert's approaches are so different that I'd be surprised if they'd need to decide who got to write about the desert planet and the spice worms. On the other hand, they might have wanted to be careful.

In other news, The Garden of the Plynck is online. Sturgeon reviewed it enthusiastically in 1962, but it wasn't an easy book to find at a moderate price. If you like _One for the Morning Glory_, _The Throme of the Erol of Sherol_ and/or hitherby, there's a reasonable chance you'll like it.

#43 ::: KristianB ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 02:28 PM:

Thanks for the information, rhandir.

#44 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 02:39 PM:

Nancy:

I wonder if Vance's "Dune" would have been as successful as Herbert's. I'm not questioning the skills of either writer. It's just that one of the book's main elements was its detailed ecology, and I'm no familiar enough with the Vance opus to know if that was a concern of his. Ecology was coming more and more into people's awareness and, without that aspect, would the book have drawn the attention of that many people?

#45 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 02:39 PM:

"What better way to destroy a civilization, society or a race than to set people into the wild oscillations which follow their turning over their critical judgment and decision-making faculties to a superhero?"

I wonder how things work out if they turn their faculties over to a cabal of idiot criminals.

#46 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 02:41 PM:

yes, in case anyone is wondering, I am talking about a rewrite of Dune with George Bush as Paul Atreides.

#47 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 02:57 PM:

Bush as Paul Atreides? That's sick, Bryan.

As for what happens when idiot criminals are given superpowers, look at what's going on in the real world. At least, in comic-books, they are limited to becoming two-bit thugs who repeatedly get the crap beaten out of them by the good guys.

#48 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 03:00 PM:

I don't think Vance's _Dune_ would have been as successful as Herbert's, or at least I don't think Vance ever had a novel nearly as successful as _Dune_.

I've always wondered why people were so impressed with the Dune ecology--it seemed implausibly skimpy to me.

I can't remember whether Vance ever worked out his ecologies, but there were strange plants and animals, and I think at least some hint that they interacted.

#49 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 03:06 PM:

I don't know if it was Dune's ecology that impressed readers, but how people living in it dealt with the situation.

One thing that bugged me about the whole thing is, if water is poisonous to sandworms, why do the latetr keep swallowing humans, who are mostly made of water? Of course, they ARE worms.

#50 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 03:08 PM:

The problem with mixed metaphors is that if the reader is visualizing the metaphors, the images get confused or inadvertently amusing.

Part of what makes this difficult is that what is, to one person, merely a conventional turn of phrase, is to another still a live metaphor that will produce an image.

And sometimes it works anyway: "take arms against a sea of troubles" is a mixed metaphor, nobody would actually take arms against the sea.

#51 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 03:10 PM:

"if water is poisonous to sandworms, why do the latetr keep swallowing humans, who are mostly made of water?"

Maybe they got a buzz from small amounts of water? Or maybe water is like capacin . . . ooooh, the burn!

#52 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 03:14 PM:

Looking at "The Right to Know" . . .

I can't help thinking . . .

. . . if these people marched to the seat of power to demand answers today, they'd see on that chair a sign reading:

OUT TO CLEAR BRUSH

or:

OUT FUNDRAISING

or:

HE DID IT --->

#53 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 03:18 PM:

So, no taker for my ANALOG issues?

#54 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 03:20 PM:

"What better way to destroy a civilization, society or a race than to set people into the wild oscillations which follow their turning over their critical judgment and decision-making faculties to a superhero?"

Seems like a description of a lot of religions to me. (Or to be fair, certain fanatics within those religions.)

Religion is the Spiderman of the masses. "In the beginning, Spiderman patrolled the downtown and the slum. Now the city was quiet and empty, darkness was over the paved surface of the road, and the Spidey-sense was tingling. I wish I could see better, he thought, narrowly avoiding an enormous granite dragon as he webslung from skyscraper to skyscraper."

#55 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 03:40 PM:

Serge:

http://booksforsoldiers.com/

They pay the postage.

#56 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 03:52 PM:

Entertaining diversion: an alleged secret scoiety exposé! (via the ForteanTimes)

#57 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 03:58 PM:

Thanks, Stefan. We've got all these books too we could send to booksforsoldiers.com.

#58 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 04:03 PM:

yes, in case anyone is wondering, I am talking about a rewrite of Dune with George Bush as Paul Atreides.

"The sleeper must awaken," indeed.

#59 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 04:21 PM:

Mixed metaphors are often uttered verbally by people who aren't paying careful attention to what they're saying. For those who actually do listen, the imagery created can be quite incongruous.

For example, in a recent business meeting, the following phrases were spoken, by two different people, within the space of a few minutes:

"It'll be smooth sailing until we hit a bump in the road."

"The next few weeks will be a roller-coaster ride, but that's par for the course."

Fortunately I am trained in the Art of the Meeting, and instead of bursting into laughter, I was able to smirk for a few seconds while covering my mouth with my hand. A useful trick which, if done properly, makes you look thoughtful, when the uppermost thought in your head is actually "what idiots these professionals be".

#60 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 04:35 PM:

My favorite mixed metaphor was in the Business Section of the San Francisco Chronicle. It went something like this:

"They have their feet firmly planted on the ground without going overboard about it."

#61 ::: Laurel ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 04:35 PM:

And sometimes it works anyway: "take arms against a sea of troubles" is a mixed metaphor, nobody would actually take arms against the sea.

Cuchulain fought the ungovernable sea.

#62 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 05:06 PM:

fyi

When I load comments pages in making light, about half the time I get a blank white page with some text ads from the bottom of the page. Any thoughts on what's going on? It's been doing this for quite a while. Sometimes it is frequent, sometimes it's not. (I'm using firefox on XP and 98.) Here's the text:

Hail Eris?
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#63 ::: Nick Brooke ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 05:07 PM:

There's a recent article about Jack Vance and Frank Herbert in Cosmopolis (the online zine of the glorious Vance Integral Edition project): http://www.vie-tracking.com/cosmo/Cosmopolis-60.pdf (534 kb PDF).

Vance recalls that one day Herbert enthusiastically
described his idea for a big novel about a desert
planet, giant sand worms, Spacing Guilds, and more, and
asked Vance what he thought. Vance wasn’t particularly
impressed but nodded and made polite noises (he never
really cared for Frank Herbert’s stories because so many
of them contained an element of mysticism). Later, after
Dune became a huge success, Vance was surprised and
amused when Herbert told interviewers that it was all
thanks to Jack Vance’s encouragement!

Cheers, Nick

#64 ::: Nick Brooke ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 05:10 PM:
"Take arms against a sea of troubles" is a mixed metaphor,
nobody would actually take arms against the sea.

Cuchulain fought the ungovernable sea.

So did Caligula. (Although, to be fair, he may only have done so because some Celtic ur-Cuchulain figure had done it already, and the Gauls expected it of him).

Cheers again, Nick

#65 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 05:11 PM:

Sounds like my memory played tricks on me, Nick. Either that or Vance's did when he gave that Locus interview.

#66 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 05:16 PM:

I have a brand new tattoo of a coelacanth, and I'm very pleased with it:
http://www.livejournal.com/users/redbird/691901.html

[I figure it's an open thread, I can do this.]

#67 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 05:16 PM:

Can you tell who was responsible for the rebirth of Space Opera? Should you say George Lucas, you would be wrong according to an editor who shall remain nameless but who was on a panel at Cascadia. The one to praise for it is... David Weber. I thought 'huh?', but then reminded myself that, at last year's worldcon, that person refered to Liberals as evil.

#68 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 05:32 PM:

On "right to know," I thought the phrase was "need to know", as in "The information will be released on a need-to-know basis."

My impression of Herbert's Dune series is that for the later books, he contrived to build a Dune Novel Generator that was programmed with the stock elements (anything new probably came out of the aforementioned psychedelics). Word processing was just getting going.

A sad fate for a SF / F writer to have to produce an infinite series, like L. Frank Baum and his continuators (just as well Herbert died). Though now Herbert has continuators, or rather prequelizers. I haven't read them.

#69 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 05:40 PM:

Sara: it's "need-to-know" from the government's viewpoint (as in they think you don't need to know). "Right to know" is what we're supposed to want (not everyone does).

#70 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 05:49 PM:

rhandir, that happens to me too. It seems like sometimes when you load the page, something hiccups and the browser jumps forward to an advertising link on the page. If it happens, hit the Back button and you should get the comment page you wanted.

#71 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 05:50 PM:

King Canute is the name that came to my mind in connection with taking arms against the sea. I don't think Caligula's campaign ended in quite the same way.

#72 ::: eyelessgame ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 06:16 PM:

"Take arms against a sea of troubles" is a mixed metaphor, nobody would actually take arms against the sea.

I call Asimov shout-out...

#73 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 06:21 PM:

Serge,

Was there laughter?

#74 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 06:52 PM:

About David Weber, adamsj? No, actually. Maybe there were too many of us polite people in the room. Either that or the others wanted to approach that editor later on and had no wish to antagonize that person. (Me? I'm married to a published author.)

Actually, I'm not sure that even George Lucas is to thank (or to curse) or the rebirth of Space Opera. I think it was up in the air in the Seventies and it was bound to happen. I remember the absolute pleasure I got from reading Leigh Brackett's bringing back Eric John Stark, much as I also appreciated 'serious' SF. People wanted some 'fun' back in SF.

#75 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 07:30 PM:

If people are talking about alternate casts for Dune, it may be time to resurrect a 22-year-old Usenet posting:

The Associated Press yesterday released information concerning the near completion of the movie version of Frank Herbert's "Dune". They neglected to announce any casting information, so we at Mellon Institute thought that we would fill this gap with our own suggestions:

Baron Harkonnen: Jackie Gleason. ("One of these days, Leto, a one way trip to 'da doon. To 'da doon, Leto!")

Emperor Shaddam: Ricardo Montalban. ("Ah, Reverend Mother, are you aware of the old Ixian proverb that says, 'Melange is a dish best served cold'? You know, it is very cold in spice.")

Duke Leto: Marlon Brando. (pretentious, overbearing, has the respect of his men, and you only see him for the first 15 minutes of the film. "Paul, my son, you are going to another planet. No wait, I did this line before...")

Reverend Mother: Joan Rivers. ("Can we tawk? You wanna tawk? Here, stick your hand in this box...")

Liet Kynes: Ben Haggerty. (man of the wild, knows everything about exobiology, but has a very common sense way of looking at things. "Well, see, this sandtrout is, like, kind of like a vector, you see. He, uh, has this, um...")

Gurney Hallek: Alec Karras. ("Gurney just pawn in game of life.")

Sandworm: Frank Oz

Stilgar: Harrison Ford. ("Shields may be one thing kid, but the sandworms will turn you into lunchmeat in a minute. Give me chrysknife in a tight spot anyday.")

Doctor Yueh: Hunter S. Thompson. (See also his treatise "Fear and Loathing on Arrakis")

Count Fenring: Marty Feldman. ("I was the Sisterhoods closest attempt at the Kwisatz Haderach. They got everything right except my future sight is a bit cockeyed. They call me the Ersatz Haderach.")

Paul Muad'Dib: Muhhamed Ali. ("I float like an ornithopter, and I sting like a hunter-seeker./I'm the prettiest duke-apparent, and the protector of the weaker./And if you mess with my Fremen, you better call on your Guard,/ C'oz I'll make you a target on my righteous Jihad.")

Princess Irulan: Loni Anderson. (We don't care if she can act, we just want to see her in an Imperial Bikini.)

Chani: Susan St. James. (Ditto.)

Feyd Rautha: Tom Selleck. (We have to be fair.)

Lady Jessica: Nancy Walker. ("So. You killed him. You proud of yourself? My son, the killer. Oy, what would your father (may he rest in peace) say?")

Thufir Hawat: Hymie. ("My first line approximation is for goodness and niceness.")

Beast Rabban: Bruce Weitz. ("Okay, hairbag. It's into the arena with you!")

Jamis: David Carradine. ("So grasshopper, you know about slipstyle boots. Big deal. Let's see how you hold up in a tahaddi-challenge.")

Shadout Mapes: Eddie Murphy. ("'Dis here's mah' castle, see, an' I don' wan' no dumbass honkeys fum Caladan messin' wif it, you hear?")

The theme song will be sung by Chrystal Gayle. ("Don't it make my brown eyes blue?")

=================================================
Disrespectfully submitted by Dan Klein and Robert Zimmermann. Casting for Dune Messiah (a.k.a "Jesus Christ Duneperstar") will commence soon.


That last bit did come half-true, courtesy of Tom Smith (in a song he subtitled "Crystal Gayle Killed Frank Herbert").

#76 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 07:44 PM:

A well-mixed metaphor is a dish that speaks for itself.

#77 ::: Carolyn Davies ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 07:45 PM:

Also, Rhandir, currently the pages have an anchor link when they load (like, this page comes out as /006897.html#006897). In mozilla, if I chop the anchor link off (and just go to /006897.html) then it loads okay without needing the back button.

#78 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 08:00 PM:

That IS a good one, CHip, about Dune's alternate casting. Kind of reminds me of the 2002 worldcon where they did the original "Star Wars" as a radio show. With Jack Benny and Mae West as Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. I think Jimmy Stewart was Obi Wan Kenobi, and Bogart was, who else, Han Solo.

#79 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 08:05 PM:

I first came across "The Right to Know" in a book about Alex Ross's art. He had used that Rockwell painting as the inspiration for the cover to his "Kingdom Come" comic-book, down to using the trick of not making the people in the background row smaller than those in front.

Ah! I knew there was something familiar about the Kingdom Come style.

And _The Right to Know_ is very striking. Rockwell could be stunning when he wanted to be.

#80 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 08:39 PM:

Just a note on "Right to Know" - 1968 was just after the (US) Freedom of Information Act first started coming into force. It seems appropriate, from that angle...

(As an aside, does anyone know why a lot of US states call their FOI laws "sunshine laws"? I keep running across the term, and have encountered a variety of explanations, some of which are less plausible than others)

#81 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 09:17 PM:

Andrew Gray:
They're called "Sunshine Laws" because they bring "back-room wheeling and dealing" into the bright light of day.

#82 ::: Michael Falcon-Gates ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 09:34 PM:

"Sunshine laws" are called that because "you shouldn't be running the business of government in the dark." That was the rhetoric going around when Washington state passed theirs, at least. Lots of similes involving opened doors and curtains, and the exposure of buried this and that to air and... yeah, sunshine. I know enough about composting that the speeches made me very nervous.

#83 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 09:43 PM:

Tavella: if you think that Alex Ross's "Kingdom Come" is very reminiscent of Rockwell, you should check his "Peace on Earth", a Christmas story about Superman. Or check his "U.S.", which is about a man who may actually be Uncle Sam.

#84 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 09:46 PM:

Since it's an open thread, am I allowed some idle boasting? Please?

I've just got email telling me that the first game I've written since the late 80's, a conversion of the puzzle game CastleMouse for mobile phones, has sold it's first copy. If it sells another copy, that will be double the money!

From previous experiences with writng shareware, it's no way to make money, but it's great for the ego.

I will now spend the rest of the day enveloped in a warm glow.

#85 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 10:20 PM:

jhlipton, Michael: Thanks. I suspected something like that, though I ran across one or two claiming that it was because Florida was an early adopter.

(In the US there's the problem that all sorts of laws and acts have no formal title, so different sources will quite happily call them different things, and "sunshine law" is popular... am writing a comparative study just now, and it gets confusing as heck having to make sure that when I write "a public records law" I'm letting it be confused with the Public Records Law mentioned three paragraphs back. But it's all fun enough.)

#86 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2005, 10:46 PM:

"It'll be smooth sailing until we hit a bump in the road."

[irritating pedant]
Isn't there an extreme sport where people ride sail-powered skateboards or some-such?
[/irritating pedant]

#87 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 12:35 AM:
"Take arms against a sea of troubles" is a mixed metaphor, nobody would actually take arms against the sea.

Cuchulain fought the ungovernable sea.

So did Caligula.

Then there's always Bush's Katrina-inspired War on Weather...

#88 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 03:01 AM:

"It'll be smooth sailing until we hit a bump in the road."

You really have to be careful boating around flooded cities.

#89 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 03:53 AM:

"Jack, I have often noticed how landsman use terms which seem taken from the professional vocabulary of the seaman, which is rich in the potential for metaphor. After so many years, even I recognise how little they understand of what they speak."

"Indeed, Stephen. Pray, pass the rosin. It is gratifying to know the high regard in which they hold the Navy, but high regard pays no pursers. And it gladdens me to know you have learnt something of the sea."

"How could I not, but, despite our voyages, I know I can never call myself a seaman. I believe I must be the most lubberly sea-voyager known to mankind. Do I have that right, Jack?"

"Oh, you are not so bad as all that. Few with your skills could practise them on board a ship at sea, but would want to be on solid ground before they even dreamt of opening a man's skull. Stephen, you are the veritable Nelson of nautical physic."

"Come, Jack, you flatter me beyond all my desserts, yet I thank for the compliment with all my heart. Still, I think Lord Nelson will be remembered long after we are dead and gone. There will be other Doctors and other gallant Captains, but I venture that Nelson will be revered even if an Englishman could walk to France."

"An Enlishman walk to France? Now that's unlikely. What else may we expect? A man walking on the Moon? But Nelson, I think he will be remembered in such a remote time. Did I ever tell you..."

"...how he asked you to pass the salt?"

#90 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 04:08 AM:

Come, Jack, you flatter me beyond all my desserts . . ."

Is that a misspelling or a culinary metaphor? Something about, "It's the Captain's Mess, let him clean it up"?

#91 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 05:20 AM:
"It'll be smooth sailing until we hit a bump in the road."
Stefan, above is what I thought of when I read that sentence, though it's not quite what you have described.
#92 ::: Ross Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 05:21 AM:

[Stefan Jones] Isn't there an extreme sport where people ride sail-powered skateboards or some-such?

I believe you will find that there is an extreme sport where people ride X-powered Y, for pretty much every value of X and Y.

#93 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 06:08 AM:

'"Take arms against a sea of troubles" is a mixed metaphor'

no it isn't.

Take arms against the pitter-patter of little feet isn't either.


#94 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 06:37 AM:

Find a photo of this chap. Put it in your ticket-holder, passport folder or the like. If you are travelling anywhere, keep a weather eye out and, if you recognise him, cancel your trip and head in the other direction immediately.

Survivor's tale takes another twist as he fights for life
via Dan Proudman, Sydney Morning Herald, October 5, 2005
He survived the disastrous 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht race with a serious head wound and a broken leg, battled through a plane crash, and beat a heart attack.
Now, for the fourth time in seven years, Tony Purkiss, a Newcastle [NSW] father of two, is facing a fight for life after being critically injured in the October 2005 Bali bomb blasts.

Ross Smith: I've been meaning to ask. Do you have a brother called Keith?

#95 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 07:07 AM:

Toasted cheese, mostly.

#96 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 07:14 AM:

I believe you will find that there is an extreme sport where people ride X-powered Y, for pretty much every value of X and Y.

Though hedgehog-powered windmill racing has yet to hit the big time.

In a sudden fit of caution I decided to Google for hedgehogs and windmill racing before posting this. Thus I discovered Men's Miniature Downhill Windmill Racing, and that "Windmill" is a class of dinghy, though the tips for improving your Windmill racing make no mention of using hedgehogs for auxiliary power.

#97 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 08:09 AM:

I got an e-mail in my box this morning notifying me taht all employees, even those for whom it is ridiculously external to their job description, are required to complete (before Hallowe'en) a training course in "Anti-Money Laundering". So first off I wonder, what is anti-money? And what happens if it collides with money? Then it occurs to me to wonder, whether antimony could be used as a detergent. Probably not I guess, oh well.

#98 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 09:46 AM:

I believe "sunshine" laws also often refer to laws requiring that public bodies' meetings be open to the public; New York State has one. http://www.dos.state.ny.us/coog/openmeetinglawfaq.htm

#99 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 10:25 AM:

Kate: Mmm, the US seems to have a fondness for open-meeting laws as well as open-records ones. It's interesting; not many other countries do this.

#100 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 10:26 AM:

Smooth sailing until we hit a bump in the road: that's the landships in Terry Dowling's SF.

#101 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 10:59 AM:

What I get for not checking in for a day.

Never heard of the Book of Ether, but if it is in the Book of Mormon, I wouldn't be surprised b/c yes Card is a Mormon and is very strongly influenced by his religion. In fact he's one of the few SF writers I know of who has come out publicly in support of Geo W. Bush.

#102 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 11:02 AM:

If Locus did run that Vance interview (which I kinda sorta think it did), the interview dates from before 1987 -- their official index only goes back that far. My memory is too lousy, and my oldest Loci too numerous in their boxes in my closet, for me to check on this (and anyway I have a *new* Locus interview to type today, so I can't spend a lot of time googling for info), but somebody out there should be able to pin the thing down in their copious spare time.

#103 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 11:21 AM:

"Take arms against a sea of troubles" . . .

I call Asimov shout-out

Shakespeare, sorry.

Perhaps he borrowed the image from these legends of people fighting the sea.

#104 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 11:29 AM:

Thanks, Faren... I'm fairly certain that the Vance interview was in early 1981 and had meant to dig it up yesterday, but things got in the way. I just wrote a note to myself to look tonight. Of course by the time I post my findings, nobody will care that much. But at least I'll know if my memory is starting to act up.

#105 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 11:31 AM:

Snake charms again? 'T's a three of bubbles!

#106 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 11:39 AM:

Jeremy - is that Asimov?

#107 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 12:10 PM:

There is a filker (Tom Smith) who has written a song about Dune...

...and the tune IS "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue."

#108 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 12:56 PM:

Mmm, the US seems to have a fondness for open-meeting laws as well as open-records ones. It's interesting; not many other countries do this.

Not many other countries had their foundation documents written by people like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

That was, of course, a long time ago; the US was founded on the principles of the Enlightenment, and has spent the time since in a gibbering flight from them.

#109 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 01:10 PM:

Jeremy - is that Asimov?

No silly, it's Gillian Krakester.

#110 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 01:14 PM:

"So first off I wonder, what is anti-money? And what happens if it collides with money?"

I'd like to know how to create stable anti-money, and whether I can use it in a weapon system.

#111 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 01:16 PM:

and whether I can use it in a weapon system.

Yeah that's really the ultimate question in nearly every avenue of human discourse.

#112 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 01:17 PM:

I'd like to know how to create stable anti-money, and whether I can use it in a weapon system.

Don't forget powering spaceships! With anti-money, you can build a warped drive!

#113 ::: andrew ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 01:39 PM:

Here's a question. Are all of PNH's Sidelights going to take the form of box scores from now on? Because that would be great.

#114 ::: Charley Suggs ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 01:40 PM:

We have anti-money and it is used as a weapon...

credit cards.

#115 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 01:47 PM:

Isn't anti-money what powers the Enterprise?

#116 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 01:50 PM:

Jeremy Osner said:

No silly, it's Gillian Krakester.

I thought it might be one of Asimov's puns. Once read a story of his which ended with a parody of "Give my Regards to Broadway."

Points to anyone who can remind me of the title.

#117 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 01:54 PM:

About the re-birth of space opera: I've always thought that the original TV series of "Buck Rogers" might have something to do with it. Or maybe the Chuck Jones, "Duck Dodgers in the 24 and a half century" cartoons.

#118 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 02:18 PM:

Duck Dodgers, Magenta? He's more likely to be responsible for a rebirth of Space Opera than anything ever spawned by Gary Larson.... I mean Glen Larson. Come to think of it, Gary Larson would have been an improvement, even though his Buck would have had to be rather corpulent, and Wilma Deering would be sporting a beehive hairdo.

#119 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 02:19 PM:

Re mixed metaphors and how not to do them: I recently re-read "Naming of Parts" by Henry Reed. Very nice use of extended metaphor. (Of course there's always the joke: "What's a metaphor?" "To keep cows in.")


Worst use of metaphor was the NO mayor complaining about lack of funds, and how hard it would be to keep the city afloat.

No I must ascend to my harp seal-powered dirigible and leave you.

#120 ::: tortoise ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 02:24 PM:

Laura: it's "Death of a Foy", I believe.

#121 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 03:03 PM:

I never metaphor I didn't like.

#122 ::: Dee Lacey ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 03:24 PM:

I suspect a copyright violation but someone's geocities site has "Death of a Foy" -

the whole story

#123 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 03:27 PM:

Anti-money is a chem-ical ele-ment (symbol S-b). It's one of the semi-metallics. Laundering it just makes it clean anti-mony, but it's still poi-sonous. If I'm not hyphen' it too much.

And my favourite mixed metaphor is stil from Clive James: "Their sacred cows were coming home to roost with a vengeance."

#124 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 03:57 PM:

Here's a question. Do you think that an author's religious or political beliefs have ever interfered with their writing abilities? Because Card was mentioned, I was thinking in the sci-fi/fantasy vein and of course L.Ron Hubbard pops out immediately. But I think Heinlein's views interefered in his later work as well.

#125 ::: trollop23 ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 04:39 PM:

I don't think interfered would be the term I would use.
Shape, perhaps?
Hubbard used his writing as one of the foundations of his very own religion, didn't he? Did it interfere with his ability or did it encourage?
Rushdie was an author whose writing (and very nearly breathing) abilities were interfered with because of others' religious and political beliefs.
I would think that (on occasion) the readers' religious and political beliefs might have more of an influence on certain authors. Depending on how important they feel their readers and/or success at their craft is, of course.

#126 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 04:51 PM:

Both S Clemmons and J Swift's writings were influenced by their (negative) religious experiences later in life. Compare the tone of Gulliver among the Lilliptutians (although it is not a children's tale, really) to his time with the Yahoos and the H... horse-critters. Much of Clemmon's later writings has more acidity and bitterness than the earlier works.

Not sure if these count, but thought I would throw them out.

#127 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 05:00 PM:

Hubbard used his writing as one of the foundations of his very own religion, didn't he?

Not noticeably. He was a rather conventional, and, well, let's say average writer; the stories that the field remembers fondly -- the novellas "Fear" and "Typewriter in the Sky" -- don't have anything visible to do with Dianetics (though one can find signs of anything in anything with enough effort). The yarns with supposedly Dianetical material, Mission Earth and so on, come from late in his life. Indeed, after Dianetics started to bring in the bucks, he mostly quit writing fiction until that burst at the end.

Also note that "Scientology" didn't begin as a "religion;" it started out as a New Science-Like View of the World, and later became a Church for purposes of tax exemption.

#128 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 05:15 PM:

tortoise - you get 10 points!

#129 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 05:16 PM:

I know that, for example, Orson Scott Card's writing seems to me to be negatively affected by his beliefs. But I'm not sure that's what's going on. It could be that the creepiness that wrecks a lot of his work for me is his very own and original to him, and it is only colored by his religion. -- that it would be there whether he had his religion or not. And then, also, creepiness doesn't always make make writing that makes me want to purge myself. And then, too, sometimes writing that is that creepy and does make me feel violated when I read it is also compelling and beautiful. And a few of Card's things strike me that way.

And you can have the same religious beliefs affect different writers different ways. So I guess the question is one of those imponderables that can lead you off into interesting lines of thought but can't be decided.

#130 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 05:24 PM:

Indeed, after Dianetics started to bring in the bucks, he mostly quit writing fiction until that burst at the end.

What end?

#131 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 05:33 PM:

hrc: RAH interfered with? I don't think so; he was riffing on an assortment of beliefs which he (and I) consider bizarre. His writing became self-indulgent (or unedited -- see discussion of the relative qualities of as-originally-published and author's-cut versions of Stranger in a Strange Land), but IMO that had little to do with his (lack of) belief. I don't think this is just a matter of matching prejudices; Card's "Earth" books are badly-done stories even if you don't know that the reason for the mangled plotting is to make them fit parts of the Book of Mormon.

#132 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 05:38 PM:

Is it true, O ye who remember the finer points of sfnal history, that Dianetics was written because of a drunken bet made at a Worldcon?

#133 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 05:46 PM:

Is it true, O ye who remember the finer points of sfnal history, that Dianetics was written because of a drunken bet made at a Worldcon?

Don't know about the Worldcon part, but I've heard it was a drunken bet about creating a religion as a hoax. And the later members don't like to remember that part: they'd really like that all memory and mention of its origins disappear.

#134 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 05:56 PM:

There are some sci-fi fantasy stories that contain within them religious Qs that I think make those works even more interesting than just as a straight adventure story. I am thinking of Simmons Hyperion where the question was Abraham's choice and Grass by Tepper where the issue was original sin. The Sparrow and Children of God also. So religion or at least religious questions/issues can deepen a story.

#135 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 06:00 PM:

Anne, the gurus say not exactly. But I've heard from several people who ought to know that L. Ron Hubbard said several times that he was tired of penny-a-word and he was going to found a religion and make big bucks. Some of them may even comment on the matter.

#136 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 06:23 PM:

Indeed, after Dianetics started to bring in the bucks, he mostly quit writing fiction until that burst at the end.

What end?

My guess would be rear.

#137 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 06:26 PM:

The quote as I found it is:
Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man wanted to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion. --L. Ron Hubbard

I found different sources for it. Whether they're true sources or not is for others to say.

#138 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 07:45 PM:

"We have anti-money and it is used as a weapon... credit cards."

Actually, no— that's not right. Credit cards are one of the many ways that banks create money. They really can't be considered as examples of anti-money. I would imagine that anti-money would have to be some kind of transferable token that served as the opposite of money. It would have to be a store of worthlessness, a barrier to exchange and a unit of exemption.

Hmmmm. I'm going to have to give this thought more consideration. It's possible I might be able to write a horrible parody of Neal Stephenson with it. I suspect it will have a twist ending that will make the reader want to kill me.

#139 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 07:48 PM:

Random thought while working on intra-process synchronization: "Hey! The plural of mutex is mutices!"

#140 ::: Leslie ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 07:50 PM:

If not for the background given here, I would have thought that "The Right to Know" referred to education. The two men center front look like students, from their dress to their books and notebook, and the pitcher of water and glass on the desk suggest a lecturing professor with a dry throat. Perhaps Rockwell had in mind multiple types of knowledge?

#141 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 08:19 PM:

Both S Clemmons [sic] and J Swift's writings were influenced by their (negative) religious experiences later in life.

No doubt, but Sam Clemens was cynical for just about all of his life about things he considered humbugs, and it would be rather surprising had he not seen (for instance) Mrs. Eddy that way. And the tone of his work was definitely affected after the death of one of his daughters (while he was on tour), and even more so by the loss of his wife and another daughter.

Xopher: I forgot -- Hubbard's not dead, he's in the Frigidaire with Walt. There were rumors at the time the dreckalogy* was appearing that he was already gone and someone else was ghosting them; it was noted that Hubbard was a sufficiently indifferent prosaist that it was tough to tell the original from an imitator.

*A series of ten Crummy books.

#142 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 08:37 PM:
"Take arms against a sea of troubles" . . .

I call Asimov shout-out

Shakespeare, sorry.

The quote is, of course, Shakespeare. The Asimov shout-out was calling it a mixed metaphor. From a story about a monkey (Rollo) who, given a small amount of text, can continue it:

"Well, little Rollo doesn't know his Shakespeare. It's 'to take arms against a sea of troubles.'" Torgesson nodded. "You are quite correct, Mr. Hoskins. Shakespeare did write 'sea'. But you see that's a mixed metaphor. You don't fight a sea with arms. You fight a host or army with arms. Rollo chose the monosyllable and typed 'host'. It's one of Shakespeare's rare mistakes."

-- Asimov, "The Monkey's FInger" (in BUY JUPITER)

... this, believe it or not, turns out to be the plot point on which the rest of the story turns.

Am I the only one with a sufficiently misspent youth to think of this immediately when someone brought up this bit of Hamlet as an example of a mixed metaphor? Besides eyelessgame, I mean?

SF

#143 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 08:52 PM:

Jeremy Osner writes:

>Random thought while working on intra-process synchronization: "Hey! The plural of mutex is mutices!"

Tempting. Very tempting.

I've always believed in clarity before cleverness, where code is concerned, but sometimes I look at "new" and think "reify" would look better.

#144 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 09:03 PM:

I've always believed in clarity before cleverness, where code is concerned, but sometimes I look at "new" and think "reify" would look better.

You must be working in Java, no? -- I don't think that would look very pleasant or clever in C++ but if I'm remembering my Java correctly it would work well there. Because new is a member of the class I think?

#145 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 09:05 PM:

Because new is a member of the class I think?

like specifically, "new" is the name of the constructor?

#146 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 09:14 PM:

Since the subject of Religion has come up... It has long been my contention that it'd be suicide for a politician to admit being an atheist. That politician could be the most moral person, never cheats on his/her tax returns, never cheats on his/her significant other, is kind to animals, and all that, but that person would lose in a race against a Christian who cheats left and right and who kicks little dogs.

And I thought the public also would hate a fictional character who's an atheist.

And so you can imagine my surprise when, during the finale of House's first season, the doc outright says that this is the only life there is, this is not a test or a stage to something else.

Of course, Gregory House isn't shown as being a particularly happy person.

#147 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 09:21 PM:

Anybody has been watching the new version of Night Stalker? It's been years since I saw the original show and, if I did again, I'd probably find it extremely cheesy. Then again I can't think of many F/SF shows of the Seventies that weren't cheesy. But I miss the humor of Darren McGavin and the gruffness of Simon Oakland.

#148 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 09:53 PM:

Uh, guys, have you seen this?
Indiana legislators are working on a bill to regulate "Unauthorized Reproduction".

I'm not kidding.
"...including specific criminal penalties for unmarried women who do become pregnant "by means other than sexual intercourse."

And:
"...every woman in Indiana seeking to become a mother through assisted reproduction therapy such as in vitro fertilization, sperm donation,
and egg donation, must first file for a "petition for parentage" in their local county probate court.

via Kos:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/10/3/213554/300

Wth? I thought Republicans were anti-communist!?!

#149 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 10:00 PM:

I thought I was the only person in the world who remembers "Night Stalker" with genuine pleasure. McGavin's seedy little reporter with the continuing misfortune of encountering the paranormal (which couldn't be reported, because who'd believe it?) was a great idea.

#150 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 10:00 PM:

rhandir, the bill has been withdrawn.

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051005/NEWS01/51005006

#151 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 10:24 PM:

Oh, yes, I dug The Night Stalker in the original--it was creepy good.

Creepy bad would be Orson Scott Card's Treasure Box. I'm not saying it's bad writing, necessarily--I was too disturbed by it to judge it--but it's a bad sort of creepy, with nothing to do (I think) with his religion. Creepy good would be A Planet Named Treason and "A Planet Named Shayol". I'm still not sure about "Mother Hitton's Littul Kittens".

Heinlein? Don't get me started.

#152 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 10:31 PM:

I also liked the original Kolchak.

The DVD for the first season just went on sale yesterday.

#153 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2005, 10:37 PM:

I once put some critters in my GURPS campaign who were invisible, and instinctively avoided humans; in fact they also had a spell enchantment to make humans avoid them AND not notice their presence. They WERE predators, however; they were the reason the city was relatively free of rats. I called them kolcha'ak.

Only one person got it.

#154 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 01:07 AM:

McGavin's seedy little reporter with the continuing misfortune of encountering the paranormal (which couldn't be reported, because who'd believe it?) was a great idea.

In Danse Macabre, Stephen King commented that McGavin was recycling an earlier TV role (using the same wardrobe) as a reporter. One rainy afternoon I was sick in bed and scanning the cable channels for something to distract me and found one of those "movies" lashed together from several episodes of a failed TV series. Son-of-a-gun, it was the series that King mentioned, and he was right--McGavin was in it as a reporter and was even better than he was as Kolchak.

Now if I could just find the lash-up movie made from Mr. Terrific--all episodes of the series are supposed to have been lost in a warehouse file, so it's unlikely to ever show up on cable or DVD.

#156 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 01:47 AM:

...all episodes of the series are supposed to have been lost in a warehouse file

Eight to five it was under Windows ME.

#157 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 02:16 AM:

Re caterpillars and other unknown insects; has anyone seen things like these? (They are apparently from the North Amerian continent.) Spectacular! Does anyone know what they are, and do they usually look like that?
Would there be an online keyed-search guide, or even just a quick "field guide" sort of site for this kind of query apart from the above-mentioned Caterpillars of Eastern Forests and its relatives?

#158 ::: novalis ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 02:24 AM:

Jeremy, no, in Java, the name of the constructor is the same as the name of the class. class Foo { Foo(int x) { ... } }

So, it would work as well (or badly) in C++ as in Java. Still, new is better because it's *shorter*. Or you could go the Python route, and call the class to instantiate an object.
class foo:
...
x = foo()

#159 ::: Epacris suspects comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 03:16 AM:

This, although pretty in my browser (Kanji?) seems rather dodgy - Ghu shower blessings upon us

素人ライブチャット、無料ライブチャットが萌えて凄いライブチャット倶楽部で炎のライブチャット、そして素人で萌え。ライブチャット最前線だからライブチャット糾弾風呂具。萌え萌えライブチャットでぷるるんライブチャット。God bless."

#160 ::: David Goldfarb sees comment spam in Japanese ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 03:22 AM:

My Japanese is pretty minimal, but it looks like it's advertising some sort of free live chat line.

#161 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 04:14 AM:

It appears entirely as little squares in mine. I was wondering if this is what disemvowelling looks like when our hosts are out of town.

#162 ::: Peter Austin ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 04:15 AM:

Epacris:

It's been a while since I've done anything with insects, but those look like plant-hoppers, most of which, if I recall correctly are not as colorful. (Though one North American species camoflages itself as a thorn.)

They're members of the order homoptera, which also includes cicadas, aphids and scale insects.

#163 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 04:27 AM:

The address on the Message From Beyond is for a live chat -- I'm deliberately not citing; you should be able to see it easily if you wish.

And no, we all disemvowel in the same general fashion, though there have been differences of combat stance and stroke, particularly over Y, The Letter that Questions the Nature of Its Own Vowelhood.

#164 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 05:24 AM:
Ah, spring!
Sorry, I haven't yet found a Canberra Floriade webcam, but this might find some interested onlookers hence.
#165 ::: Leah Miller tries to roughly translate comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 06:00 AM:

Ok, my japanese is a little rusty, but it seems to be something about free live chat, with hot, amateur sorority house action... there's also something about baths, but I figured it really didn't warrant any further effort on my part.

For some reason they seem to be really proud of the fact that it's amateur...

#166 ::: Julie L. babelfishes comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 06:48 AM:

Well, via Google, anyway.

"The amateur live kyat and the free live kyat sprouting, with enormous live kyat club with the live kyat, and the amateur of flame sprouting. Therefore the live kyat forefront live kyat impeachment bath tool. The ぷ る る it is at the sprouting sprouting live kyat the live kyat."

"Kyat" = "chat"; the inexplicably untouched hiragana are "pu ru ru", which I suspect of being either onamatopoeia or an abbreviation for something and/or other.

#167 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 08:22 AM:

Anti-money would be a better name for what's called negative money (redbacks) in "The Man Who Hated Cadillacs" by E.K. Grant.

The story doesn't seem to be online, but it's in this book.

#168 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 08:26 AM:

John M. Ford -- if a comment spam included the word "crwth", would the w be removed? Or is being Welsh a get-out-of-disemvoweling-free card for Spammers?

#169 ::: Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 08:45 AM:

"Live kyat impeachment bath tool" I should like to see one of those used on Mr Bush.

#170 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 10:05 AM:

Last episode I saw of the old Night Stalker was on the SciFi Channel, way back when they used to show something other than movies about giant crocs/snakes/sharks or about man/insect hybrids. That episode was about an old Jewish neighborhood being terrorized by what seemed to be Nazis, because on swastikas found on the crime scenes. You can guess what it was really about.

As for the show's new incarnation, it's OK, but nobody can measure to the duo of McGavin and Oakland. By the way, anybody recognized the actor playing Kolchak? Probably not. He's known mostly for a SF/fantasy movie that was trounced by everybody. Not, not The Core... He was Dorian Gray in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

#171 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 10:18 AM:

Stephen--

Thanks. I knew I'd gotten the "sea of troubles" thing from somewhere, but was thinking it was one of Asimov's nonfiction columns in F & SF.

Serge--It is assumed that the American public wouldn't vote for an atheist; this is not the case everywhere, and in fact several of my British friends and acquaintances find Tony Blair's public religiosity disconcerting as well as unusual. And a television character, unlike a politician, doesn't have a rival spending money to say "don't watch him, he doesn't believe in god."

#172 ::: trollop23 ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 10:27 AM:

By the way, anybody recognized the actor playing Kolchak? Probably not. He's known mostly for a SF/fantasy movie that was trounced by everybody. Not, not The Core... He was Dorian Gray in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

He's Stuart Townshend, he was also Lestat in Queen of the Damned - another trouncable flick.
Back to the subject of religion, what about C.S. Lewis? The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe are amazing books, but he's well known for books like The Screwtape Letters also. It's an interesting Christian perspective presented in the form of correspondence from a "demon" who is tutoring his nephew in the fine art of collecting souls. How to encourage pride, lose faith, etc. Lewis was hardcore Christian but I never really picked up on that when reading his Wardrobe series.

#173 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 10:33 AM:

McGavin's seedy little reporter with the continuing misfortune of encountering the paranormal (which couldn't be reported, because who'd believe it?) was a great idea.

This reveals to me the origin of the Canadian TV series Seeing Things.

#174 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 10:37 AM:

Never seen Queen of the Darned, trollop23, but I'll take your word for it. As for League, it's one of those frustrating movies that could have been great with some tweaking. OK, with a LOT of tweaking. It's not like the graphic novel it's based on isn't a big mess, but it had a neat premise. One thing I wish the movie had kept was the Beauty & the Beast relationship between Mina Harker and Mister Hyde. Oh well...

#175 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 10:40 AM:

Seeing Things? Boy, Laura, that takes me back a few years. I don't know if the show ever made it to the US, but American audiences mostly know the main actor, Louis del Grande, as the telepath who gets his head blown up by Michael Ironside in Cronenberg's Scanners.

#176 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 10:51 AM:

There's a marvelous audiobook version of The Screwtape Letters read by John Cleese.

Wasn't Stuart Townsend also the actor whom Peter Jackson initially cast as Aragorn, before ditching him after a day or two of filming and snagging Viggo Mortenson at the last minute? And to finish off the name/topic roundup, when Cronenberg was interviewed on Fresh Air recently, he said of his latest film, A History of Violence, that after several takes of one of the love scenes between Mortenson and Maria Bello, there was some inquiry whether they could get "crash pads" from the stunt crew, who burst out laughing because they'd never been asked to provide those for this context.

#177 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 10:54 AM:

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen did some things well, but there seemed to be no sense of appropriate scale. It's not that Nautilua was too big; it was too big for where they used it.

#178 ::: trollop23 ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 11:11 AM:

ACK!
LOEG was a travesty! Of all the comic/graphic novel movies made, there only a handful I would call really good.
Sin City for one. Ummmm....maybe Hulk. Constantine kicked buttock.
Seeing Things takes me back, too!

#179 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 11:20 AM:

Going back to anti-money: there was once a story, which I seem to recall being called "A Ticket to Esidarap", that featured a couple of people from our reality visitng an alternate universe where the economic system was bizarro. When you purchased something, you were handed a number of "rallods" to represent the item's value. When you went to work, you gave rallods to your employer (or to your customers if you were selling something directly).

I can't find the author with a quick Google search, but the readers of this site are a far better search resource than Google.

#180 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 11:23 AM:

Yeah, Dave... Having the Nautilus navigating the canals of Venice in League was rather ludicrous. If they were going to make so many changes from the original material, they should have replaced the Nautilus with Robur's Albatross.

Speaking of those scenes in Venice, it was rather disturbing to see all those buildings getting blown up and yet one never got the sense that anybody was getting hurt in the process. (Hell, even the despicable second Superman movie showed the collateral damage from having this kind of stuff going on.)

#181 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 11:24 AM:

I have no idea whether I would be calling down a hail of insults and derision upon my addled pate by asserting that I thought "Ghost World" was a great movie; regardless I intend to make that assertion. Okay there were problems with the ending; the same can be said of many good or great movies.

#182 ::: Saucyworchester ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 11:30 AM:

He keeps saying it's politically motivated, he never says he is innocent.

#183 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 11:45 AM:

Jeremy, I don't think anybody on this site would make fun of others for liking something that everybody else trounced. (I confess to enjoying Conan the Destroyer and not just because it has Grace Jones in it.) Anyway, I've never seen Ghost World. That's the one with Kim Basinger as a cartoon character who wanders into the real world, right? Wasn't Gabriel Byrne in it? (Now, there's someone who came a long way since playing Uther Pendragon in Boorman's Excalibur although nowhere near as far as Liam Neeson's Gawain.)

#184 ::: trollop23 ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 11:47 AM:

I have no idea whether I would be calling down a hail of insults and derision upon my addled pate by asserting that I thought "Ghost World" was a great movie; regardless I intend to make that assertion

I fully concur! Did you notice that when the girls were looking through his records during the yard sale, they look at Robert Crumb's bluegrass album?
I also love how Buscemi(sp?) was such a "Crumb-esque" character.

#185 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 11:58 AM:

Serge -- yeah I just get overly sensitive and defensive about stuff I like. No, you are thinking of a different movie; this one was about two teenage girls played by Thora Birch and Scarlett Johanssen who graduate from high school and are not sure what to do with themselves. It is based on a graphic novel by Daniel Clowes which I have never read though whenever I think about it, I wonder why not.

Trollop23 -- Yeah, Buscemi's character was one of the things which made the movie great. He was a caricature and not-a-caricature in the way that I identify with good comix.

Speaking of good comix, anyone know "Concrete" by Paul Chadwick? I discovered it recently and have been digging it.

#186 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 12:01 PM:

I thought Eyes Wide Shut was a masterpiece. The only really stupid thing about it was the attempts to censor the orgy scene, apparently with the same cardboard cutouts each time.

#187 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 12:04 PM:

Serge: You're thinking of *Cool World,* with Brad Pitt. Its tagline was "Holly Would if She Could." I think I remember watching it, though not whether I liked it.

I've thought there've been several bad movies adapted from comics, but a good bunch ("Spider-Man," "Superman" right up to the end, "The Crow" [I've also heard good things about "Road to Perdition"] spring to mind. I'd really love to see Gaiman's "Stardust" finally get the treatment, and look forward to "Death: The High Cost of Living," too.

#188 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 12:18 PM:

Serge said:

I don't know if the show ever made it to the US, but American audiences mostly know the main actor, Louis del Grande, as the telepath who gets his head blown up by Michael Ironside in Cronenberg's Scanners.

I didn't know that. Don't believe I watched Scanners all the way through. I remember seeing that actor in an American commercial for coffee or something.

I grew up a stone's throw away from the Canadian border, on the US side, which is how I got to watch Canadian TV.

Other classic shows: The Littlest Hobo . . . various shows which came to America later, like Degrassi and Fraggle Rock . . . and I'm not even going to mention Beachcombers.

#189 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 12:20 PM:

You mean, Will, up to when Superman turns back the clock to save Lois Lane? To tell the truth, I wish THAT Lois Lane had stayed dead. Maybe she was the Seventies's idea of a career woman, but she sure annoyed me. Interestingly, the actress playing the character in the upcoming movie went to an old-time actress for how to play Lois: Katharine Hepburn. Now, that's one Lois Lane I want to see.

#190 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 12:25 PM:

Me, Laura, I grew up in Quebec City. As for del Grande, he was in Scanners's opening scene when his character wants to give Important People a demo of his power. He chooses Michael Ironside. To quote the Knight in the last Indiana Jones movie, he chose... poorly.

So, it's Cool World I was thinking of. Apologies. It did have Gabriel Byrne in it, right?

#191 ::: RuTemple ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 12:27 PM:

The amateur live kyat and the free live kyat sprouting, with enormous live kyat club with the live kyat, and the amateur of flame sprouting. Therefore the live kyat forefront live kyat impeachment bath tool. The ぷ る る it is at the sprouting sprouting live kyat the live kyat.

kyat as chat makes more sense than as a monetary unit, another possible (googled but not personally known) meaning for that syllable. Anti-money indeed...

But Kanji being syllabic, how would one disemvowel it?

#192 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 12:40 PM:

Nancy,
Thank you for clearing that up. (And, I'm sorry I freaked on an open thread.)

You know, I used to be republican. I'm a little out of touch--have they really lost their way that much? The original bill seemed so...well...
*loss for words*
...I mean, isn't that kind of government control of private lives the kind of thing those filthy commies/liberals would have done? How hard can it be to stay "on message"?

-R.

#193 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 12:56 PM:

Just to speak briefly to an issue raised very early in this thread: Seems to me Vance would never have come up with a work similar to Herbert's "Dune." Although his stories sometimes serve as societal critiques, my recollection is that they mostly revolve around an otherwise ordinary individual solving a mystery or having to come to grips with an extraordinary circumstance that must be resolved through grit and ingenuity. In other words, they're enjoyable, page-turning reads (aka "rippin' good yarns") whose themes remain wholly earthbound, despite their usually fantastical settings. As for Vance's understanding of ecological concepts, it seems pretty clear that he at least has a fondness for nature, which often expresses itself in references to trees--which, I suppose, makes him an unlikely writer for a book set on a desert world.

Hard to image "Dune" ending with Paul Atreides retiring to his veranda to enjoy the sunset, a plate of grilled sausage and boiled ramps, and a bottle of tipple....

#194 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 01:09 PM:

Richard, your proposed ending to Dune might have been an improvement to the movie version. (Rain on Arrakis? Well, there go the worms, there goes interstellar travel.)

Anyway, I'm the one who started this whole Vance/Herbert thread and it turns out that, no, there is no Vance interview in one of Locus's early 1981 issues. What there was is the first photo I had ever seen of Vance. I remembered that so vividly because, when I showed it to a friend, his reaction was "Oh my God! He looks like the super of an appartment building."

There was an interview with Vance.I just haven't found it yet.

#195 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 01:27 PM:

there was once a story, which I seem to recall being called "A Ticket to Esidarap"

Possibly A Round Trip to Esidarap? I think I've read this - did it have a travel agency called "Gloob" (and it's equivalent "Boolg" in the city of Kroywen)?


#196 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 01:29 PM:

Serge, back in the '70s, one of my college roommates saw Vance at an SF convention and told me afterward that he "looks like a plumber."

It's kind of fascinating how one's mental image of a writer can differ dramatically from reality.

#197 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 01:30 PM:

Here is a Sci-Fi Weekly interview with Jack Vance:

http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue266/interview.html

I'm reminded, kind a sort a, of an episode of Seinfeld where Elain Benes' father, a famed writer, meets the gang and is rather unimpressed.

#198 ::: Avery ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 01:37 PM:

The original bill seemed so...well...

Double Plus Bad?

Just trying to be helpful.

#199 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 01:39 PM:

Yes, Richard, especially if, like my friend you expected someone physically closer to Leigh Brackett's Eric John Stark.

#200 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 01:40 PM:

Thanks for the URL, Stefan. Dunno if "unimpressed" is the right way to put it. Maybe "surprised"--as in "Hey, I'm surprised he looks like a completely normal person." When I was young and more impressionable, writers often seemed bigger than life. Now I know better....

#201 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 01:44 PM:

To clarify: Elaine's father was unimpressed with the gang.

Vance does not seem all that fond of fandom.

#202 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 01:49 PM:

In scarier news:

'President George W. Bush told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq - and create a Palestinian State, a new BBC series reveals.

In Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, a major three-part series on BBC TWO (at 9.00pm on Monday 10, Monday 17 and Monday 24 October), Abu Mazen, Palestinian Prime Minister, and Nabil Shaath, his Foreign Minister, describe their first meeting with President Bush in June 2003.

Nabil Shaath says: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …" And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'" '

http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2005/10_october/06/bush.shtml

Cue theramin music.

#203 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 01:51 PM:

Got to love an interview where the first answer starts out, "Well I don't want to insult you so early in the interview, but..."

Yeah, I could see the connection to that Seinfeld episode without straining very hard.

#204 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 02:01 PM:

'President George W. Bush told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq - and create a Palestinian State, a new BBC series reveals.

Wonder what else he thnks he was told. I also wouldn't want to bet on who the message was really from.

#205 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 02:06 PM:

And just to add to the thought:

President Ties Iraq War to Wider Ideological Conflict
Likening struggle to the Cold War, Bush calls terrorist leaders "evil men obsessed by ambition and unburdened by conscience."

It takes one to know one....

#206 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 02:07 PM:

Paul Clarke wrote:

Possibly A Round Trip to Esidarap? I think I've read this - did it have a travel agency called "Gloob" (and it's equivalent "Boolg" in the city of Kroywen)?

Yep, that would be the one. Thanks for the refresher.

#207 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 02:30 PM:

Wonder what else he thnks he was told. I also wouldn't want to bet on who the message was really from.

Now we know what that lump was on his back during the debates.

#208 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 02:43 PM:

My wife and I have a disagreement about Dubya.

I maintain that he is evil, but she says that one can't be a moron AND be evil.

At least we agree on the 'moron' part.

#209 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 02:50 PM:

one can't be a moron AND be evil

I would say he's evil by results, rather than by intent. It may make it worse, since the proposals tend to sound good and look good on paper. (Remarks about good intentions and routes to other locations are left out, and also various references to evil and intentions as seen in various SF novels.)

#210 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 03:08 PM:

Change of topic:

OG, you stated:

Me, I'm adopted. I don't get to have ancestors.

Can you elaborate on this? I'm interested because I am an adoptive mother. As far as I'm concerned, my daughter has two sets of ancestors: the ones she knows about (through me and her father) and the ones she'll never know about (her genetic family).

On various adoption message boards, people bewail "the dreaded family tree assignment." I have many times read posts like, "I thought her teacher was great and supportive, then she went and gave out the family tree assignment! I'm so upset! I've scheduled a meeting with the principal to complain." I always think, "Why is this such a big deal? She puts me, her father, her doting grandparents, her adoring aunts, uncles and cousins, and there's the family tree. Why is this so bad?" I have asked a couple of times and gotten no answer.

So, since I think your comment reflects the same thought process, I'm asking you. Why don't you get to have ancestors? Did your parents really tell you that you weren't really part of the family? Were you excluded from "real family" things, like the handing down of heirlooms? Was your adoption a secret? Are you truamatized by having been adopted? Does having been adopted mean that you are without a "real family?"

Please don't answer anything you find too personal. I'm asking in an attempt to understand this, so I can do right by my daughter. I would hate for her to grow up to say such a forlorn thing.

#211 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 03:16 PM:

Yes, P J, but do we think that Dubya's intentions are good? Depends on one's definition of good, I guess, and it's always about definitions, isn't it? Dubya is a greedy bastard whose good intentions are only for his buddies and buddettes, and he doesn't CARE about the effect of his actions on anybody else.

#212 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 03:22 PM:

I maintain that he is evil, but she says that one can't be a moron AND be evil.

Of course you can. But, because of the old wisdom that one should never attribute to malice what can be sufficiently explained by incompetence, it is impossible to tell whether someone is both or not.

But then: if nobody notices that you're evil, are you still evil? Even if there's nobody around?

#213 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 03:25 PM:

Juli Thompson - I'm adopted, and searched for and met my birth parents as an adult. Like you, I don't see it as having to choose between one or the other; I have two families. These days, when the majority of kids seem to have step-parents, step-siblings, and half-siblings, I don't see how having two sets of parents is all that remarkable. And don't be so sure that your daughter will never know about her birth parents; one day she may.

#214 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 03:28 PM:

Jules: my brain now hurts.

#215 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 03:32 PM:

If Lucifer chops down a tree in a forest where no human is present to witness, does it make a sound? And what if it's the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

#216 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 03:35 PM:

My brain hurts too, Jules.

#217 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 03:36 PM:

I caught bits of the Shrub's speech this morning, and I was so very unimpressed. I wondered when he gave examples of how they had stopped terrorist attacks whether or not that information should have been given out. When he tried to link to Communism, I said to the radio, "That's right! You go boy! Get that fake connection to the Cold War in there to try to redirect all the energy that went into fighting the eeeeevilllll Communists, to Preserve The American Way Of Life, into fighting terrorism. And by the way, idiot, Chechnya has very little to do with Iraq."

As for stupid or evil, I decided it doesn't matter. Either way, he and his cronies must be opposed.

Maybe we can make a word that encompasses both:
stevil?
evpid?

#218 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 03:55 PM:

'stevil' gets my vote.

#219 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 03:58 PM:

Juli, I'm an adoptee so I'm jumping in here:

Did your parents really tell you that you weren't really part of the family? Were you excluded from "real family" things, like the handing down of heirlooms? Was your adoption a secret? Are you truamatized by having been adopted? Does having been adopted mean that you are without a "real family?"

My answer to all of these questions is a resounding "No." But ancestors and, by extension, family trees are about ties of blood, which are not the same as ties of family. I don't have blood ties to my parents, even though I do share family ties with them. You'll also find people who don't feel they have family ties to people they are tied to by blood and despise.

I've never met my birth parents, because I can't afford it. I'd like to, if only to get a decent medical history for myself. But my adoptive family is my only family, and I have no idea who my ancestors were.

#220 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 04:15 PM:

Serge: Your memory served you, Gabriel Byrne was in *Cool World*. And you were right on the money, "Superman" was great right up until Supes turned back time, just like "Superman II" was great right up until the memory-stealing kiss (I think I'm right that those moments were in those two. I was born the year "Superman" came out, and I'm not sure I've seen either, in entirety, since I was very small). But "Superman III" was only great when Clark fought Superman (and then, when Clark won, and opened his shirt to become Superman again). I've heard "Superman IV" mostly blew, but haven't ever seen it.

On the evil note, and especially the "Even if no one's around?," is that possible? Can one be evil if no one's around? One can definitely be evil if no one notices (example: a cruel dictator is evil to his subjects. They don't realize it, but he does. I'm being simplistic), but... I mean, say there was only one person left on Earth. If no one else exist, can that person commit an evil act? What *is* an evil act?

#221 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 04:38 PM:

You didn't miss anything with the 4th Superman movie, Will... If you thought that keeping California from falling into the ocean was a little bit hard to swallow, how about weakening a solar-powered villain by moving the Moon to between the Sun and the Earth?

As for the memory-stealing kiss in the 2nd Superman movie... I always wondered how that resolved anything. I mean, Lois Lane would have wondered what had happened to her during that missing time and her character is anything but stupid.

Still, even in the first movie, the big weakness was Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor, for me. Luthor should be very dangerous. Think of Telly Savalas. Well, I'd expect that Kevin Spacey will do a good job although I'd have prefered Terry O'Quinn.

And let's hope that the new movie will be as good as the first movie was in the Smallville segment.


#222 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 04:54 PM:

Am I the only one who's noticed that "George Walker Bush" is an anagram of "Greek hurl bag woes?"

I'm just saying.

#223 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 05:00 PM:

Eric Sadoyama - I think you're right about the prevalence of families who don't fit the "nuclear family" paradigm has made having multiple families and identities no big deal.

I assume that my daughter will not know her genetic family because she is Chinese. Giving her up for adoption was illegal, so we have nothing to go on. If it were, by some miracle, to become possible to trace her genetic family, I would be supportive, if she wanted to do it.

Harry Connolly - Good distinction between ties of blood and ties of family. I'm not sure I agree that geneology is about ties of blood, or only about ties of blood. I studied a lot of family systems theory. What I find fascinating about family history is the way the patterns reappear and keep coming back. I recently found out something about my grandfather that explained a lot about my sister. That's not entirely a genetic thing; being part of the same family explained a lot of it. I can see my daughter having the same kinds of discoveries. (But then again, I have both a genetic and a behavioral interest, so it's hard for me to see which is stronger.)

Thanks to both of you for commenting.

#224 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 05:05 PM:

I'm with you, Harry. My waaaay older brother (also adopted at 5 rather than as an infant) sought out his birthparents and was greatly disappointed. He since HAS developed a good relationship with his siblings from that family, though.

I WOULD really really like a medical history. But it isn't that important.

#225 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 05:12 PM:

My sister has a favorite saying that's relevant to the discussion of adoption:

"Blood is thicker than water. And love is thicker than blood."

My sister-in-law was adopted as an infant and reconnected with her birth mother just a few years ago--shortly before her adoptive father died. Having discovered her half-sibs and gotten to know her birth mom really cushioned the blow for her.

#226 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 05:17 PM:

Juli,

I don't remember ever not knowing I was adopted, and it's only occasionally been a bother, specifically when I have to explain that I have no family medical history.

God knows kids are a crapshoot--you wouldn't look at our sweet little daughter and identify either of her parents by personality--but if you tell your kid she was adopted and don't make a big negative deal out of it, I'd expect she'll be okay, or better, according to this local Arkansas writer gossip which is probably meaningless to anyone else reading it:

When I told Jim Whitehead I was adopted, he said the same was true of Bill Harrison and Frank Stanford, and he thought it made us feel special and mysterious, and I think he was right.

(Possibly I could've done with a little less thinking of myself as special.)

#227 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 05:25 PM:

on Vance looking like a plumber - I'd always expected he would look like a somewhat nondescript and boring old bureacrat. not because his writing was anything like that, but because it never struck me as being written by the kind of person that would have any relation between their appearance and their writing. now anne rice when I first read her struck me as someone that would be like her writing (and that is not totally a compliment). Unfortunately as we all know that she is somewhat like it this cannot be used as an example.

Actually I think most fantasy people would not resemble their writing much as to do so would be prohibitively expensive in many cases. Roger Zelazny strikes me as someone that might resemble their writing, I know nothing about him. Does he?

#228 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 05:30 PM:

Juli - Oh, OK. Yes, international adoptions are a lot harder to trace, due to all the legal and language barriers. In my case it was much easier. All parties were and are still living in the same state, and Hawai'i law allows for the unsealing of adoption records upon mutual consent.

Having met and gotten to know my birth parents, I have become a firm believer in the power of heredity. I now can see that I got most of my looks from my birth mother and most of my temperament from my birth father. I learned all my morals and some of my attitudes and mannerisms from my adoptive parents, but my emotional responses to stressful situations seem to be almost entirely genetic. I now realize that as a teenager, some of the biggest problems I had dealing with my folks were because we have utterly different personalities and had a very hard time understanding each other's points of view.

#229 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 05:42 PM:

Jules: But then: if nobody notices that you're evil, are you still evil? Even if there's nobody around?

I didn't spend six frickin' years in evil medical school for people to not know that I'm evil!

#230 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 05:51 PM:

Not meaning to make any point at all, but my all-time favourite opening line is from the little-read Australian comic novel Here's Luck by Lenny Lower: "Blood's thicker than water. But then, so's soup."

#231 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 06:30 PM:

Juli, I don't mind talking about it. Believe me, you're hardly the first to ask, for much the same reasons. Feel free to email me.

The uppermost thing in my mind when I said that is that it has been illegal for much of my life for me to access to any of my records. I very much resent that legal barrier. (Because I was lucky enough to have been adopted in Tennessee, my records are now open, should I ever come up with enough money to pay for the search. The Memphis baby-selling scandal, y'know.) I have known adoptees who have died because of that legal barrier and the associated ignorance of family medical histories.

It has sometimes been a hard-fought battle to find (and keep) doctors who will work with me in assuming that I have a family history of everything. Better to overtest than to find something too late.

As for the rest, well, yes, adoption was a fairly negative influence. The problems came more from the extended family (my parents' siblings and cousins more than their parents) and certain members of the church we attended than from my parents themselves. Adoptee == bastardy == born in sin == Lilith Reborn or some such nonsense. And there was a definite difference in the quality of the relationship between my adoptive mother and her blood family and her relationship with me. For that family, blood is definitely thicker than adoption papers.

I entirely understand the adoptive parents freaking out over the family tree. For my mother, certainly, there was always a sense that adoption meant she somehow wasn't a "real mother" and especially a "real woman". Her inability to carry to term was, to her, a personal and shameful failing. She's never been comfortable with my interest in genealogy, and I believe that it springs from that ridiculous guilt. There certainly haven't been any town drunks or horse thieves in her family tree to embarrass her. :P

#232 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 06:35 PM:

'Stevil' gets my vote as well. But, I suggest 'Evilbecile' as an alternative.

According to my boxed set of Fraggle Rock I saw it during it's first run on HBO...did it run on other channels in other markets sooner? I never understood why it ran on a cable channel until I discovered that HBO essentially produced it. I had just assumed it was a syndicated product like everything else.

Superman II (with Zod) remains my high-water mark for comic book to movie efforts (Spider-Man, et. all included). I was like four when I saw it at the Drive-In, it informed my youth. Supergirl and the Spider-Man movies are tied for second. Is that scary to anyone else?

I thought that "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" was great if you turned off that part of the brain that does fact checking. I find that 95% of Hollywood exists in that category.

#233 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 07:16 PM:

A spoof of our currently favorite movie.

#234 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 07:17 PM:

As to large inter-related families, I went to a funeral yesterday for the 18-year-old who lived next door (she had an A-V Malformation dissect) and between full sibling, step-siblings, and half-siblings, there were 16 kids. The "immediate" family took up about 60 seats.

#235 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 07:22 PM:

Roger Zelazny strikes me as someone that might resemble their writing . . . Does he?

damon knight once described Roger as "...a courtly Pole with a face like the business end of a hatchet." (He was explaining How to Distinguish Roger Zelazny from Samuel R. Delany From Quite a Long Way Away, but his descripton of Chip has not persisted in memory.) I suppose one would not have been surprised to see him around the courts of Amber, as, say, an Associate Minister of Saturnine Affairs -- and do understand that I'm speaking only of appearance, not personality -- and I guess that if he were in a lineup with Chip and Poul Anderson and Gene Wolfe, you would probably pick him out as the guy who wrote "A Night in the Lonesome October," but one would also suspect the cops' motives in choosing that set.

I can't get into the Who Looks Like Their Writing game -- I'm acquainted with too many writers. I guess Neil looks like he could have written Sandman, but I dunno about Stardust, and I suppose Judi Dench might play Kate Wilhelm in Clarion, the Motion Picture, but that leads to the question of how many civilians would live through a game of Milford Mafia.

Me, well, I probably look like a minor Batman villain written by Paul Dini, drawn by Chuck Jones, and played by Richard O'Brien. Only uglier.

#236 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 07:26 PM:

What facts were there to check, Karl, in League?

To tell the truth, I liked the movie enough to buy the DVD in spite of everything. Of course, I've always been partial to steampunk movies - even before they were called that. I'm still waiting for the DVD release of Master of the World, with Charles Bronson AND Vincent Price.

#237 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 07:48 PM:

Paula, I would have pretty low expectations for my biological parents, but I'm a bit of a pessimist by nature. All my story submission logs begin with the header "This story has been rejected by:"

If I had the cash to burn, I'd pay Catholic Adoption Services for the full info today. Last I heard, it cost $400 to get my entire file from them. I have no idea why it would cost so much to copy a file and mail it, but there you go.

Also, the last time I checked, PA is one of the states that sides with the privacy rights of biological parents over the rights of adoptees to know their history. /shrug.

OG, I'm sorry you had to deal with all that crap. I'm reminded once again how lucky I am to have had the parents, family and community I had.

#238 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 07:49 PM:

rhandir -- I don't think the Republicans have ever been particularly libertarian; I admit that Prohibition was passed under a Democratic administration (but it was also canceled under Democrats), but Republicanism seems to have been about freedom for the powerful ("The business of American is business.") rather than for everyone. That's the historic viewpoint; in the past several decades they've made a deliberate alliance with the religious right, pandering to that narrowminded constituency. Note that the story about the withdrawal of the bill made clear that it was particularly aimed against gays, lesbians, and single mothers -- all of them despicable people in the current Republican cosmology. It wasn't explicit that married couples who insist on resorting to artificial measures are going against God's will, but that's an obvious inference given the RR's insistence that God is involved in everything.

a lighter note wrt thickness:
They say blood is thicker than water
But the swamps of home are thicker than blood!
(Princess Winifred the Woebegone, in the princess-and-the-pea takeoff Once Upon a Mattress.)

#239 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 08:58 PM:

Harry: Well... no-one else is in a position to copy that record and mail it, and they want money, so...

#240 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 09:09 PM:

Harry - regarding Catholic Adoption Services charging an arm and a leg for document copies, it's not just them. The Hawai'i Family Court charged me $1 a sheet for a copy of my file. Good thing it was only about 30 pages long.

#241 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 09:13 PM:

(He was explaining How to Distinguish Roger Zelazny from Samuel R. Delany From Quite a Long Way Away...)

Isn't Samuel R. Delany, uh...black?

#242 ::: Karen ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 09:24 PM:

Someone should tell our hosts about the 2005 Ig Nobel prize for literature:

LITERATURE: The Ig Nobel for literature went to the Nigerians who introduced millions of e-mail users to a "cast of rich characters ... each of whom requires just a small amount of expense money so as to obtain access to the great wealth to which they are entitled."

It's not yet on the Ig site itself www.improb.com/ig/ig-top.html , but CNN has a report here (literature is at the bottom): http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/10/06/dog.invention.ap/index.html

#243 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 09:32 PM:

I have five half-siblings, two step-siblings, and a number of siblings-in-law (but apart from that I am an only child) - and my mother was a foundling abandoned on a priest's doorstep in Ireland. (Have I mentioned this before?)

It means the day of the family tree assignment - we had them in the UK too - is burned into my memory, although not necessarily as a bad experience. I did rapidly spot that no-one had explained how I was supposed to mark multiple marriages to the same person, for instance, and that my ancestry on my mother's side had only one entry. On the plus side, it made my family tree more interesting to draw. (And I suspect sparked my interest in Roman history: you try drawing the family tree of the Julio-Claudians.)

But most of this springs from the specific nature of my mother's adoption: she was fostered by an unpleasant family until she was a teenager and had the courage to run away, and then came to be formally adopted by her schoolteacher - but at an age when new parents and family perhaps make less of a profound impact. She certainly still feels as though she has no ancestry, and indeed no blood relatives at all. (And records, in this case, are pretty much non-existent.)

So even though I have adoptive aunts and uncles and cousins, they don't feel remotely related to me, and I think of myself as having no ancestry on my mother's side apart from her. For different reasons (ie. the Blitz) my family on my father's side can't be traced back before the start of the century. But I always felt this to open up more possibilities than it closed down. And perhaps I'm too young, but I really don't care about the medical history. What I get, I get.

I suppose I do have a strong sense, though, that I'm starting in the world from scratch, and that the looks and tendencies I get from my parents are only important insofar as they add up to independent me. So, I'm a solipsist. But at least I don't have to go worrying about what great-great-grandfather candle would think...

I would hope adopted children would think of themselves as having two families, or at least lots of possible family. I suppose there must be times, though, when blood-ties simply trump all else. I doubt there is much can be done about this, but it needn't be a tragedy. It certainly isn't a failing on anyone's part.


#244 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 10:13 PM:

Serge,

I was referring specifically to the Submarine in the canals of Venice. BUT let the record show that I too own TLEG on DVD and have watched it more than once so clearly I don't have any real problem with it or its style of delivery.

Steampunk and all of its related styles also appeal to me, so perhaps we have enough in common that further explanation is unnecessary.

On that note, if you enjoy anime and steampunk then the new to DVD movie Steamboy would seem to be right up your ally. Alas, if you are like me, you will have been mistaken. Watch "Castle in the Sky" again instead.

Best recent DVD Purchase: Fraggle Rock Season One Boxed Set. Muppet Nirvana. I have often wished that "Pipe Banger" could be a legitimate profession. I probably just like the hats and banging sticks.

New question: Do you think Dozer Constructions were made out of Spun Sugar, crystallized manna or some other substance entirely?

#245 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 10:26 PM:

Karl, some other substance entirely. Doozer sticks (of which Doozer constructions are made) are manufactured from the Gorg garden's radishes. I thought that was one of the nicer touches of interdependency they came up with in that world.

#246 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 10:50 PM:

Isn't Samuel R. Delany, uh...black?

Indeed yes, and Damon did mention that. His point was that, at the time -- the middle 60s -- a perceived similarity of styles and the semi-assonance of their surnames led some readers to either get them confused or guess, in that deep human desire to invent secret knowledge, that they were the same person.

Damon actually prefaced the comparison by saying "There can be few people in the field who have not met both men," but it's worth noting that, when Jim Gunn's Alternate Worlds came out thirty years ago, one of its points of interest was the large number of photographs of writers whose readers neither went to conventions nor subscribed to Locus. This despite that most of the photos were the size of domestic postage and had been selected by some occult criteria -- there being, for instance, three different Asimov portraits, with three quite different arrangements of hair and sideburns.

#247 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 11:19 PM:

Harry:

Roll of the dice, really.

Several years ago, I was in a therapy group with a bunch of women who envied me my adoptee status. I at least had the small comfort of knowing I wasn't really related to the crazier members of my family. And it is surprisingly comforting.

I never really wished for a replacement family. I did spend a lot of time fantasizing about moving far away from my extended family, though. I think we would have been a much healthier family had there been as much distance between my mother and her family as we had between us and my father's family.

Last time I checked, TN wanted $250 for the records search and $250 for a search and first contact by an intermediary. I keep thinking about it, and about the letter I would give the intermediary, asking for medical history and permission to contact them to collect family stories.

Juli, to answer a question I see I missed earlier. I don't recall being told I was adopted; I've just always known. I have two baby books, the standard one everyone of my generation seems to have and one designed for adoptees.

Two kids I grew up with were also adopted, but they weren't told. When it finally came out, the break between them and their parents was deep and, for one at least, permanent. I recall being confused as to why it mattered so much to them. It was, of course, the breach of trust and not the adoption itself that caused the problem.

#248 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 11:24 PM:

re: Adoption
Mom and dad always emphasized that while we were adopted, it was a special thing, not a bad thing. And as far as I care my parents are my real parents. How unreal is it when they are the ones that change your diaper and guide you through life daily? Can't get better than that.

#249 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 11:29 PM:

Moved to the next rock to avoid topic whiplash.

I loved Townsend's Dorian Gray in TLEG. Such aplomb. I'm also a fan of Conan the Destroyer, Superman II, and Batman Forever, and I'm one of the few people I know who liked Ang Lee's Hulk.

#250 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 11:39 PM:

Kathy Li,

You have enlightened me. I somehow missed that detail. It makes sense, and it just perfectly fits. I can now forego my meditation for the night as I have reached fraggle-ish nirvana.

I haven't seen Ang Lee's Hulk, but I'll certainly check it out based on a ML recommendation.

Conan the Destroyer was AWESOME. Again, I was like eight so the bar was low. But I watch it still, and it introduced me to Robert Howard, and for that alone I am grateful. On that note Del Rey has given His Conan, Solomon Kane and Bran Mac Mark stories some wonderful treatments. I highly recommend them for some pulpish perfection.

#251 ::: Laurel ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:07 AM:

Family tree assignments are not a good idea for more reasons than adoption, in my opinion. In my case, for instance, I went through high school living with my mother and her partner, neither of whom were out, hence in public she was called my aunt. If I had gotten a family tree assignment, although I know they usually come up in elementary school, I would have had the choice of leaving my "aunt", a woman who was very dear to me, out of my represented family, outing my family and possibly making them lose their jobs (as they were involved in the local school system), or not completing the assignment. Children of LGBT parents in Florida, where I live, who are going through the adoption process, also have an additional sword of Damocles, since gay people are forbidden by law from adoption, and if they completed a truthful family tree, they could be taken away from their parents. I don't believe that deciding whether to lie, get a bad grade, or out your parents is a burden suitable for schoolchildren.

In an ideal world, where all gay families are out and proud and laws like the one in Florida are nonexistent, and teachers don't imply that the proper family tree model has a mommy and a daddy, but encourage representations of divorce and adoption and gay parents without stigma, a family tree would be a wonderful assignment. I just don't think that we're there yet.

#252 ::: Michael Falcon-Gates ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 03:38 AM:
three different Asimov portraits, with three quite different arrangements of hair and sideburns.

The child's toy sitting here on the desk combined evilly with that phrase to produce "Mr. Science Fiction Writer Head."

#253 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 03:40 AM:

Adoption is at least something on formal record, and if a doctor wants to know family medical history and can't cope with that, he's not firing on all cylinders.

But there's good evidence that a lot of people don't have the biological parents they think they do. You can be pretty sure of who somebody's mother is, unless there's been an outbreak of midwives with warming pans, but the father? Enough kids have blood groups which don't match either of their parents.

It's possible that Queen Victoria's father was not who everyone thought. An only child, with a father-of-record who, in the preceding twenty-five years of Royal rakishness, never fathered a child? How would you bet?

#254 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 04:37 AM:

OG, a friend of mine found out he was adopted when he was an adult. His girlfriend told him. She was a family friend and had no idea he didn't know.

Quite a shock. He didn't make a big deal out of it, as far as I know, and is still close to his family.

For any adoptees who care, the The International Soundex Reunion Registry is a free service reuniting adoptees and birth parents. If both have signed on to the system, they'll try to match you up. It's free, and I'm going to register (unless someone tells me it's being run by Mrs. Sunny Abacha).

#255 ::: deadmuse ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 04:41 AM:

Some anagrams for "George Dubya Bush"

Bayou Begged Rush
Bayou Be Shrugged
Ebb Gauged Hydrous
Ado Buys Huge Berg
Bush Bury Aged Ego

#256 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 05:24 AM:

For my own part, I was adopted at the ripe old age of 9 days, and have always felt part of my family. (Being the first child of my parents and the first grandchild of my grandparents probably helped there.) My mom encouraged me to search for my birth parents, but I never felt it worth the trouble. There was some intellectual curiosity, but no more.

...and then a few years ago, out of the blue, a letter arrived. My mom encouraged me to search for my birth parents: I don't think either of us thought that my birth mom might find me.

It's been interesting, and almost entirely positive. Like Eric, I've become impressed with the power of heredity -- I had previously been skeptical that complex tastes like classical music, board gaming, science fiction, and puns might have a strong genetic component, but now I have to admit that the evidence is overwhelming.

There've been some curious coincidences. My dad is Jewish, named Goldfarb; my birth father is Jewish, named Goldberg. My mom is of Scottish descent; my birth mother, Irish.

#257 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:16 AM:

Laurel, most people think family trees are about sperm and egg donors and not family of choice. It's usually a take-home assignment; the child isn't typically in the position of having to make that choice alone.

I'm not sure what the point of the assignment is, though.

Dave, it's simple laziness. Most doctors want to assume that "unknown" is the same as "no" on the family history form. I'd prefer that they assume "yes". There are some subtle, chronic diseases that aren't routinely tested for unless you check the "yes" box. I have had enough idiosyncratic drug reactions and symptoms that I have to have a doctor who doesn't come into the room with an "I know everything" attitude. (An example being the emergency room doctor who refused to give me a nebulizer treatment because I don't present with wheezing. Instead, I was subjected to three hours of EKGs and chest x-rays. At least he cost my insurance company enough that I could justify getting a personal nebulizer.)

Harry, I think it would be less of a shock in adulthood. Most people are more settled in their relationships with their parents than when these kids learned about it, in their late teens. Assumed blood relationships get mixed in with identity in ways I don't understand, and identity is equally unsettled at that age. The thing is, you can't control when the truth comes out.

I finally was able to explain my vague urge to learn more about my blood kin to my mother a few years ago. She had inherited a number of family photos and was going through them, talking about how you could see the resemblences across the generations. I pointed out that's a connection I can't make. She was very thoughtful for a while, and she hasn't complained about it since.

It's hardly the driving force for me that it is for some adoptees. It's bound up with all the other things people keep trying to decide for me. That I can get the information when I choose seems to be enough at present; the important thing is having that choice available.

#258 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:27 AM:

Hey, Karl, did you know there is a direct link between Conan the Destroyer and TV show Criminal Intent? Remember the former's young princess? In the latter, she's been playing a recurring character who's about as deranged as d'Onofrio's.

#259 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:28 AM:

Anybody else has seen Joss Wheadon's Serenity? If not, you should. Don't believe me? Go to Locus's online version where they have a good review of it.

#260 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:38 AM:

OK, I have gone thru 5 years of Locus's early-Eighties issues and I never could find that interview with Jack Vance, and where he talked about the origins of Dune. No, my memory isn't that bad nor am I into delusions. Maybe it was in some other mag. Or it was in Locus, but as comments made by Vance within the report on some con where he was a guest.

It was strange to look at all those old issues. Hey! There's me in that masquerade report from 1983's worldcon in Baltimore. Hey! There's Barry Malzberg playing the violin. Hey! There's the earliest photo I've ever seen of Faren Miller.

But there were also photos of then-living Heinlein, Dick, Zelazny, C.L.Moore, Sturgeon, Simak...

#261 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:55 AM:

OG, the family resemblance bit was one of the things that resolved me to search. This is one of those things that children raised by their birth parents take for granted, but that adoptees never do. Growing up, I had a mild curiosity about my birth parents but no real desire to learn more. But when my first son was born, I found myself overwhelmed that here was someone who looked like me, something that I had never before experienced, and never before felt the lack of. But after that, I couldn't stop thinking to myself that somewhere out there were other people who looked like me, and I wanted to know who they were.

David, discovering one's genetically-derived personality quirks can be eerie. One evening when my birth father was over for dinner, my wife was listening to the two of us talking and was unnerved to realize that although there were differences in our voices, my birth father and I had exactly the same vocal mannerisms, the same hesitations, the same rhythms of speech. And we both conducted our conversations in the same loopy, non-sequitur-filled way, too. She said that it sounded as if I were talking to another version of myself.

And it's interesting that your birth and adoptive parents were so close ethnically. Do you think that the match was intentional? In my case, once my file was opened I (and my birth parents) learned that the social worker handling my adoption case had lied to my adoptive parents and told them that I was a Japanese-Caucasian baby, when I was really Korean-Caucasian. (That was something of a shock. I joked to my friends that I suddenly had developed a craving for kim chee.) I guess even in the 1960s there was still enough anti-Korean prejudice among Japanese that they figured it best to just try to have me pass rather than deal with the messy truth.

#262 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 07:02 AM:

Hello all -

Long time no visit. New job, long story, but - hey! I have a job! (I'll also be at Capclave next weekend, so hope to see a few familar faces).

I have a query that is possibly worthy of Making Light. Does anyone here speak Polish? It seems that a Polish Star Trek discussion board has linked to a brief* essay I did on my blog about gender and science fiction.


*Looking at it again, it is almost certainly too brief for the subject.

#263 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 08:53 AM:

About steampunk... I haven't seen the anime you recommended, Karl. They never made it to the local theaters. Maybe I should check Blockbuster. One recommendation I can make is Phil & Kaja Foglio's Girl Genius. It used to be published as a comic-book, but it's now solely online, with pages coming out on Monday, Wednesday & Friday. (Back issues have been released as trade paperbacks and are also available on their web site.)

#264 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 09:03 AM:

Asimov's muttonchops... That reminds me of my first worldcon, held in Boston in 1980.

There I am, waiting in line to have Asimov autograph a book. And it is a very looooong line. I look around and who is in that line, right behind me? Patricia McKillip. I had never read her books by then, but had seen reviews. Anyway, we strike a conversation later joined by Helen Kushner. I showed them the book I wanted autographed, a French edition of the first Robot stories, with, on the back cover, a pre-muttonchops photo of Asimov, circa 1950. Short black hair, no facial pilosity, thick-rimmed glasses. To which Kushner exclaimed:

"He looks like Clark Kent!"

#265 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 09:07 AM:

Jonathan Carroll, columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle who recently told his readers about this site, had a column a few weeks ago where he revealed the big secret about his daughter's daughter, aka The World's Most Perfect Grandchild.

It was a beautiful column about how this young girl whom he adores was adopted, and how she flew over an ocean to come from China to her loving home.

Beautiful.

#266 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 09:19 AM:

. . . later joined by Helen Kushner . . .

I have one of those murky fannish suspicions that you mean Ellen Kushner.

#267 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 09:22 AM:

Hmm. When this thread started, the previous one was nearing 400 messages.

72 hours in and we're two-thirds of the way to the same point. Admittedly, traffic on the other threads seems to have come to a stop. (I really should have started a couple more, but things have been busy.)

#268 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 09:26 AM:

On Muppet Nirvana:

I've experienced my own in recent weeks. I'm still not done.
I picked up the Muppets: Season One DVD a few weeks ago (you were all aware it'd been released, I hope?). If you haven't already bought it, I suggest you do so. It will be the best $30-$40 you'll ever spend. I know of no other title that will give you so much entertainment for your value.
I've always loved the Muppets. Still do, in a way that I no longer love *Star Wars*, the only other comparison I have for it. I had joys when I was a child (Muppets, *Star Wars*, dinosaurs, transformers), and joys as an adult (Shakespeare in Love, music, Muppets), and I think the Muppets are the only thing that make both lists.

I bought the DVD the Thursday after it came out. I probably should've preordered it to get the special-edition, Muppet-felt box, but I didn't care; no gimmicks necessary. The BestBuy sales girl noted my exuberance as I pulled the case from the shelves.
I went home and watched them with my father. We only planned to watch the pilot, "Sex and Violence."
You can't watch just one, though. We sat and watched the Muppets for three hours that night. Rita Morena. The guy from Cabaret. These are people I'd never know if not for the Muppets.

The set is phenomenal. The picture is *amazing*. The songs are as funny as you remember. It really is that good.


On a different note, I always get Jonathan Carroll mixed up with Jonathan Carroll. I'm silly like that.

#269 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 09:26 AM:

Oops, yes, John, I did mean Ellen Kushner.

Anyway, she may have been on to something with her comment about Asimov. Did anybody ever see him near kryptonite?

#270 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 09:34 AM:

I have to do the obligatory chiming-in-about-being-an-adoptee thing here.

I was part of the wave of Korean adoptions, and of course always knew I was adopted. I have absolutely no interest in finding ancestors--have never once felt that ignorance as a lack. I don't have any interest in Korean food or culture either; my parents tried, I had Korean-looking dolls and books of Korean fairy tales and they cooked Korean food. It just didn't take. (I don't even like _soy sauce_.)

OTOH, my brother always felt a lack and was incredibly happy when out of the blue he was contacted by some biological half-sibs.

I do believe in the power of both nature and nuture, and I don't really know why I'm completely uninterested. Nature, possibly. =>

Which reminds me of my major pet peeve, the tendency of newspapers and certain types of legal proceedings to use "natural" to mean "biological" or "birth," as in "the natural mother." My mother is not unnatural, thankyouverymuch, and "biological" or "birth" is much more precise.

#271 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 09:44 AM:

We had a friend years ago who'd been adopted, and decided to try and find out who her birth parents had been.

She didn't find out their names. But she did get far enough along in the investigation to find out that her parents had been, uhh, brother and sister.

Oh dear. At that point, she decided that perhaps it was a better idea to let the matter drop.

(This is the flip side of the idea of finding your birth parents. Sometimes those children put up for adoption were conceived traumatically, through rape or incest, and revisiting that history isn't a happifying thing.)

#272 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 09:48 AM:

Jonathan Carroll, columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle who recently told his readers about this site, had a column a few weeks ago where he revealed the big secret about his daughter's daughter, aka The World's Most Perfect Grandchild.

Any chance you have a link? I'd love to read it. (Parent of Sylvia from China here.)

#273 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 10:08 AM:

I just have to share the joy of my urban elephant sighting.

Also: Alice Cooper on the Muppet Show. Blew my mind.

#274 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 10:19 AM:

Jeremy:

Here's the link to that Jonathan Carroll column. If that doesn't work, go to www.sfgate.com's archives. The column was published on April 13.

#275 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 10:23 AM:

Thanks, Serge

#276 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 10:29 AM:

Maybe I should ask my wife to give me the Muppet Show's DVD set for Christmas. Problem is that she'd run out of the living room every time I'd want to watch it. Even for the episode where Gilda Radner did Gilbert & Sullivan with a 7-foot-tall carrot.

#277 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 10:47 AM:

Re: Muppets - The guy from Cabaret just happens to be Joel Grey. His daughter (Jennifer?) was Patrick Swayze's co-star in _Dirty Dancing_.

Love the Muppets...guess I'll have to put the DVDs on my wish list.

Lori

#278 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 10:59 AM:

Blood is thicker than water, and much nastier.

Blood is thicker than water, and much nastier.

Blood is thicker than water. Adjust your recipes accordingly.

rhandir, that proposed law was certainly worth getting upset about. If people hadn't gotten upset about it, it might have passed.

Richard, I don't think Vance always writes about ordinary people. Frex, the hero of the Demon Princes novels (Gerson) certainly isn't ordinary. I think his heros are non-flashy and usually of ordinary status, but that's a different matter.

I believe Bush is evil as well as stupid. He likes hurting people, and he actually hurts them. (For an easy case, consider his approach to capital punishment when he was governor of Texas.)

#279 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 11:01 AM:

Re: the family tree project

Even when restricted to egg and sperm donors, things can get complicated. We've managed to get to 4th grade _without_ having encountered the dreaded family tree project (weird, huh? It's not because NYC has done away with them--other people I know with kids in other public schools in the city have had the assignment, but neither of the schools my daughter has been in have done it). There have been a few projects of the "draw the people in your family" type, which have, at various times, included pets, my parents, and my brother in addition to me and my daughter.

But if my daughter had to do the family tree thing, she'd have her own version of the interesting choice to make:

Do mom's side only

Or

Put in the donor.

We don't know the identity of the donor, but we know a bit about his family structure. My daughter has in fact drawn, for her own entertainment, a family tree which included members of the donor's family in addition to the family she actually knows; we hung this over the couch for a while until one of the cats tore it down. It looked a bit odd because we only know about parts of a few generations, so the tree was very unbalanced-looking, but the kid liked it, and that was what mattered.

When she was younger, if we had had the family tree project, I would have encouraged her to not put anything on "that side" of the tree, not because we were in any way ashamed or embarrassed about her origins but because explaining would have been . . . well, I'm sure most parents of young children don't want their kids learning about sperm donation from another child at school. Now, she could put whatever she wants, as far as I'm concerned.

In her world, sperm donation and adoption and diverse family structures are simply no big deal. Family is who loves you and takes care of you, and vice-versa.

#280 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 11:06 AM:

Does anyone else feel that Bush's sudden interest in the possible avian flu pandemic is weird?

All I can figure is that he's afraid of catching it...

(Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.)

#281 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 11:27 AM:

I'm still trying to understand what the military are supposed to do about a still-theoretical flu pandemic. Since the Shrub seems to confuse the military with the police, maybe he thinks they're going to arrest the viruses? Shoot down the birds carrying the viruses (good luck: it isn't like you can tell by looking)? And as the H5N1 strain seems to be becoming resistant to Tamoxiflu, stockpiling that isn't necessarily going to be a Good Idea either.

On adoption: my nephew is sort-of-half adopted: my S-i-L is his biological mother, but by her first husband. My brother has been his father in all the other ways since he was a small child, although the legal status wasn't taken care of for several years: they wanted to wait until my nephew was old enough to speak for himself in court (about 12 years old), just in case.

#282 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 11:36 AM:

This thread certainly has grown -- "It's alive!!!" -- but I can see why, with so many juicy topics available.

My total-shock first experience of Jack Vance was at a writer's workshop in Port Townsend WA, back in the '70s, where both he and Herbert were teaching. I was a fan of both back then, but Vance in particular -- I wanted to write my doctoral dissertation on his imagery, but had to settle for landscapes in the works of Percy Shelley. At that point Vance was still heartily outgoing, and we had some good conversations. It may have helped that he was an Oaklander and I'd spent a decade there as a kid. He also gave me a hand-written manuscript in various colored inks that I must still have somewhere (since I rarely throw anything away).

Serge: "The earliest photo I've ever seen of Faren Miller." Gee, I didn't think anybody cared! (The latest they ran is the "cowboy wedding" photo from 2001 -- actually taken months before at a touristy place downtown.)

I'm not adopted, and have enough genealogy fanatics in the family to know a fair bit about various ancestors, but oddly enough it was a comment on some old "Making Light" thread that gave me a whole new window into the past. I mentioned two exotic-sounding last names from three generations back, and somebody must have Googled them to find me. Turns out he has a website devoted to one line and lacked (or had erroneous) info on my grandmother's part of it, but still had traced the line all the way back to an illiterate teenager who came from France to Quebec in the 17th century (his father born near Poitiers circa 1599). All this stuff got Mom excited, and she's digging into the family archives again, finding elaborate French-Canadian ancestral names and bizarre old photos from the late 1800s. Genealogy still seems like more of a hobby than anything "thicker than water" (or soup, or swamps), and adoptees aren't missing all that much if they can't engage in it, but it's a kinda interesting way to waste time online.

Finally, for anyone who skimmed the above but perks up at a mention of Republicans, there's a beautiful skewering in today's animated cartoon by Mark Fiore (www.sfgate.com/comics/fiore/). Turn off your pop-up blockers and enjoy!

#283 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 11:45 AM:

Lori, P J, I think his interest isn't so much in the flu as the ability to call out the military on one premise or another. Which makes me very, very nervous.

#284 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 11:50 AM:

On muppet nirvana (and the intense joy I have of seeing someone else write that phrase):

I have not bought the Muppet Show DVD yet. I have been warned that to do so jeopardizes my chance at a Christmas Gift. I have also been told that should I buy the complete Calvin and Hobbes that just came out I will simply be a spectator and have no gifts at all under the tree.

She's a good woman, but Christmas isn't exactly a wonderland of surprises. Perhaps if she didn't do her shopping in October she wouldn't need to worry about three months of purchasing habits.

On the other hand complaining about gifts bought and given with love would be a defining behavior of a Jackass...so I will just say, "nope, don't have the Muppet Show set yet".

As far as the princess from CtD, I didn't realize it until you pointed it it. Apparently she plays crazy/needy as a professional calling.

#285 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 11:58 AM:

Actually, Faren, it's quite interesting to go back thru old issues of Locus, once one stops worrying about the dust mites being awakened after all those years in a box. You see people changing. And I'm not just talking about the loss of hair or the acquisition of glasses. My favorite was Jim Frenkel, circa 1981, with lots of black hair and a thick mustache, then not much later his hair is short, the mustache is gone, and he's wearing a business suit. What happened? He founded BlueJay Books.

As for your putting a comment about elaborate French-Canadian ancestral names and one about bizarre old photos in the same sentence, I love it.

#286 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 11:58 AM:

The opposite of "sensawunda" is "we're doooooomed!"

#287 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 12:05 PM:

Aconite,

I agree, and it just scares me silly. The current trend in presidential behavior makes me so depressed I usually can't bring myself to finish a comment about it. I inevitably start one, but can't make the words form out of the despair and I just click the back button in disgust.

My wife and I frequently spend an hour talking about emigrating to the United Kingdom after listening to NPR, but we keep deciding that is just "the grass is always greener" syndrome.

#288 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 12:07 PM:

Back to Roger Zelazny:

I suppose one would not have been surprised to see him around the courts of Amber

He's there. He's the night shift Pattern guard. Can't remember which book, though: "Sign of the Unicorn", maybe?

#289 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 12:14 PM:

PJ, I thought the idea was that the military would enforce zones of quarantine. Want a plot for a dystopian novel? -- there is is nice and wrapped up for you with a bow.

#290 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 12:33 PM:

Random replies inspired by stuff up-thread:

I at least had the small comfort of knowing I wasn't really related to the crazier members of my family. And it is surprisingly comforting.

I once spoke to a woman who, as a child, had frevently wanted to find out that she was adopted, so much so that she ransacked her parents' hiding places in the hopes of finding adoption papers. No such luck in her case.

In my own family, the joke has always been that if I wasn't a natural child, then I must have been cloned.

But there's good evidence that a lot of people don't have the biological parents they think they do.

But when you look in the mirror and see the face that you remember your father having in your childhood, or you hear his speech patterns coming from your mouth, it's pretty darned convincing.

Anybody else has seen Joss Wheadon's Serenity? If not, you should.

This, if nothing else, will probably motivate me to see the movie prior to Philcon. I've never been much of a Joss Whedon fan, but I'll hate feeling left out when everyone else is discussing the film.

Oh well, at least I was able to revel in three years of Tolkien-mania.

Alice Cooper on the Muppet Show. Blew my mind.

As a big fan of the Muppets, I have to say that this was one of the more disappointing shows. Other than the novelty of Alice Cooper performing his songs with Muppets, there wasn't very much of the originality and inventiveness that we saw on most episodes. (Of course, standards are relative. "Disappointing" for the Muppet Show still translates to "much better than most of what was on television in the 70's".)

Some of my favorite Muppet Show episodes:

Roger Moore ("There are spies everywhere!" "You mean pies. I trod in one earlier.")

Brooke Shields (My first celebrity crush, and she was perfect for the Alice in Wonderland skits.)

Marty Feldman. When was Marty Feldman not hilarious?

Tony Randall (A tribute to vaudeville, which seemed fresh and original to a kid who was born long after vaudeville had passed away.)

And my all-time, never-to-be-exceeded favorite: Harry Belafonte, with the irresistible performance of "Turn the World Around" for possibly the best show finale ever.

#291 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 12:36 PM:

Jeremy: It's a scary idea, since they don't seem to be able to enforce anything much unless they can shoot everyone.

Now for the good news:
Shark followed on 12,000-mile trip

From South Africa to Australia and back, 99 days one way.

SpaceShipOne donated to Smithsonian

I especially liked the photo with 'Glamorous Glennis' in the background.

#292 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 12:47 PM:

Here's a story I found via Lawyers, Guns and Money that people here may find intriguing. In the Everglades, a (non-native) python tried to eat a (native) alligator; managed to swallow it and then exploded. Shades of St.-Exupery?

Also -- who else is planning to see "Were-Rabbits" this weekend? I'm very, very excited at the prospect.

#293 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 12:50 PM:

I asked about Serenity, Jimcat, but not because of presumably being a Wheadon fan. I enjoy what he's doing with his own X-men comic-book. I enjoyed Firefly, but I just couldn't get into the whole Buffy adventure. I tried. Just couldn't. It didn't push my buttons while the crew of the Serenity definitely did.

#294 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 12:55 PM:

I understand it's not uncommon for kids to fantasize that they were changelings, that their family really wasn't their family. I never went thru that because I have enough character traits in common with them that I doubt are from growing in that environment.

On the other hand, I'm the only person in my family who has any curiosity about the way the universe works. And nobody else ever read a damned book.

#295 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 12:55 PM:

I really loved Belafonte's _Turn the World Around_.

So did some of the folks in the Church of All Worlds -- it's been filked into a "call the quarters" part of casting the circle.

Great fun...

Re: Bush/flu/military (scary I agree) -- I really can't see calling out the military to enforce quarantine. Shouldn't individual states use either their State Police and/or National Guard for this task?

Even scarier: I don't think they'll be able to set up a quarantine fast enough.

One of the suggestions in USA Today was work from home. Federal employees are 'supposed' to be able to do this, but I can tell you our managers are fighting it tooth and nail.

If your manager won't let you work from home, and therefore you don't have the equipment at home you need to perform your tasks, how in hell do they think they can set it up fast enough when avian flu is finally on the doorstep?

Do you think *any* of these people are acquainted with the words, "Be Prepared?"

#296 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 12:58 PM:

I watched Firefly before I ever gave Buffy a chance. There was something deeply unappealing about the concept of revisiting high school.

I have since come to appreciate Buffy and Angel, but Firefly is still my favorite, if for no other reason than none of the butt-kicking women ever wears high heels or a push-up bra. Plus, I like my men sarcastic, dark and broody. Loved Serenity, of course, but I don't want to spoil anything for anyone. Maybe I'll put some comments in ROT-13 a little later.

#297 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:03 PM:

I shall see Were-Rabbits this weekend as well. And Serenity. And a couple of others I am compelled to see as the day (and movie posters) compel me.

My greatest frustration is that I seem to have missed my chance to see Mirrormask. Was it a severely limited release?

And while asking questions, can you, oh fractured oracle of this blog, answer this query:

"Was Red Sonja originally going to be the third Conan movie, or is that just an old myth?"

Old usenet postings said you could clearly see actors say Conan and hear Kalidor dubbed over because of a licensing dispute. But the production company had the rights to Howard's work (Red Sonja is after all a Howard character), so that doesn't make any sense. Conversely, not capitalizing on the Conan brand doesn't make any sense either...

Tell me oh Oracle, what is the truth?

#298 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:06 PM:

Lori: You might want to read this editorial:
A $3.9-billion first strike
The Senate has earmarked funds in response to fears of a killer-flu pandemic. Now Washington just has to get its spending priorities straight.

The doctors don't think a quarantine will work: flu spreads too quickly and easily. They want more flu vaccines instead. The military has no plans for this situation: they don't have any plans at all for a flu pandemic.

#299 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:08 PM:

I have for some time been curious about the uncanny similarity between Norstrilia and Dune. Aside from the giant sheep, of course. A desert-like planet where conditions are purposively harsh and which is the only known source of a life-extension drug . . . .

I don't know whether Herbert would have been familiar with Cordwainer Smith. A book form of part of what became Norstrilia bears a 1964 copyright; Smith also published earlier short stories treating the theme. Herbert spent years working on Dune, however. Is anyone more familiar with the relevant timelines?

#300 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:10 PM:

If you (generic) are not sure if you want to see _Serenity_, check out the pre-credit sequences, about 9.5 minutes, streamed by the studio here:

http://video.vividas.com/CDN1/3929_Serenity/web/index.html

As I said on LJ, when I saw the movie for the second time on opening night (I'd caught a preview), I kept bouncing up and down in my seat and whispering to Chad, "Did I mention that the opening is really really cool?" This doesn't introduce the crew, but it sets up the plot and does so just brilliantly. Check it out.

(Another link from yesterday: Dylan Thomas readings for download, after watching an ad:

http://www.salon.com/premium/downloads/dylan_thomas/index.html )

#301 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:13 PM:

Part of Dune appeared in serial form about 1963. (I'd have to pull those issues of Astounding out of whichever box they're in to check, but I do remember reading it about then). It was actually two serials, one of five and one of three parts; the second set appeared in 1965. It was pretty startling fiction at that time.

#302 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:16 PM:

I don't know how well known Cordwainer Smith was within the field in the early Sixties, but I can think of at least one probable origin for Dune. After all, Lawrence of Arabia came out about less than one year before, didn't it?

#303 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:17 PM:

I suspect one of the reasons the family tree project gets assigned is that it means the kids have to do original research--or at least they do if they don't have an older sibling who had the same assignment or a handy relative with an interest in geneology.

#304 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:19 PM:

As a big fan of the Muppets, I have to say that this was one of the more disappointing shows. Other than the novelty of Alice Cooper performing his songs with Muppets, there wasn't very much of the originality and inventiveness that we saw on most episodes. (Of course, standards are relative. "Disappointing" for the Muppet Show still translates to "much better than most of what was on television in the 70's".)

Ah, but you see, I was ~10 years old and had never heard of Alice Cooper. I was expecting to see a woman with long blonde ringlets, wearing a flowered cotton dress. So for me there was plenty of originality and inventiveness going on.

#305 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:23 PM:

"I understand it's not uncommon for kids to fantasize that they were changelings, that their family really wasn't their family..."

Hmmm.

A parent with a perverse sense of humor could have a lot of fun with that trope:

* Baby-sized space-pod (made of fiberglass) hidden under tarp in basement.

* Illuminated scrolls with alien calligraphy left just out of reach on top of bookshelf, with Post-It(tm) notes stuck containing translations ("In commemoration of the birth of the Royal Heir of the Lesser Magellanic Cloud") here and there.

* Albums with photoshopped baby pictures of Junior or Sis showing antenna or third eye.

#306 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:26 PM:

Stefan,

As the parent of a four-year-old with an overactive imagination...you have NO IDEA how tempting that is. But inevitably the cost of therapy would outweigh the sheer fun of pulling it off.

#307 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:37 PM:

Speaking of Muppets, had you heard that writer Jerry Juhl had passed away? He worked on the first few seasons of Sesame Street and was Head Writer on The Muppet Show and a writer/producer for Fraggle Rock. Such a gentle and absurd sense of humor - I wish there were more of him waiting to fill in his shoes.

And speaking of ladies in sci-fi and Serenity, I just "won" a season set of "Cleopatra 2525", which looks to have all the elements of action chicks I have just been deriding - namely, revealing dominatrix wear and impractical shoes. It stars Gina Torres (woohoo, Zoe!) as a "...cryogenically frozen exotic dancer…" (presumably thawed, hence her conscious appearance on the embossed slipcase) who joins forces with two other similarly garbed honeys to, I don't know, I'm guessing fight people and jiggle a lot? I think I may visit Trader Joes and stock up on Dry Blackthorne and enjoy this Sam Raimi offereing in the way god intended - goofy drunk.

But should I watch this before or after "Mirrormask" and "Good Night and Good Luck"?

#308 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:40 PM:

PJ, thanks for the editorial. Very interesting...

So some of the Asian nations are banding together to eradicate the virus? They aren't going to be able to -- one article I read this summer says the migratory bird population in Asia already has it.

I've got this feeling that it may be way to late to stop it...


#309 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:44 PM:

The movie Curse of the Were-Rabbit had to have its name changed to play in one location.

#310 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:48 PM:

In a recent interview, Joss Whedon confirmed that he is working on a sequel to Serenity.

When asked what the title would be, he shrugged and said "Depends."

#311 ::: Ian Myles Slater ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:49 PM:

It may be worth pointing out that Norman Rockwell spent most of his career as a commercial artist, not an icon in his own right, and worked within the restrictions imposed by magazine editors terrified of "giving offense" by portraying minorities on the cover. Hence the "whitebread" image. It was certainly reinforced in the 1940s and 1950s by his use of Arlington, Vermont , where he lived from 1939, as a main source of images, instead of New York City, where he was born.

Perhaps it was just as well, given Rockwell's frequent practice of putting into his idealized physical settings some rather comical, even a little bit grotesque, human figures. He eventually gave this up, and reportedly rather regretted having done it. Fortunately for his reputation, they all look like Northern Europeans, and are not taken as racist caricatures.

The shift in Rockwell's production seems to have corresponded in part to a change in his market, as well as change in his own view of the world. He switched from "The Saturday Evening Post" to "Look" in 1963. And his 1961 marriage to Molly Punderson (his third wife) may also have been a factor. (Thanks to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Rockwell for names and dates.)

#312 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:55 PM:

nerdycellist,

Wednesday from Websnark just wrote a wonderful piece on Jerry Juhl the other day. If you haven't seen it you should wonder over and take a look.

I highly recommend "goofy drunk" if you watch anything Raimi has put out in the last few years (and that is not necessarily a criticism).

But please be sober for "Good Night and Good Luck", it deserves your full attention. But that much screen time for the real McCarthy might well drive you to drink afterwards.

Where is Mirrormask playing? I can't find a showing within a thousand miles of here. Here being Boise, Idaho that probably shouldn't be a surprise.

#313 ::: Vardibidian ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:56 PM:

My own experience with the grade school family tree project was extremely frustrating. There was me, and my siblings, and my parents, and the four grandparents, and, um, everybody else was slaughtered by nazis and no records remained.

It turned out that wasn't quite true (my grandparents had some surviving siblings, who had children in the US), but at the time, that's all I had. I was stunned that other people had cousins, which I had only read about in books.

Thanks,
-V.

#314 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:58 PM:

I don't know anything specifically about the Red Sonja movie, but the rights to Howard's characters were divided among different heirs, and I believe the movies came at a pretty contentious time. There has been some consolidation and/or peace-making more recently, but even now the Conan and Red Sonja comic books are published by different companies.

#315 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 02:04 PM:

Stefan said: "A parent with a perverse sense of humor could have a lot of fun with that trope:

* Baby-sized space-pod (made of fiberglass) hidden under tarp in basement."

My parents told me I was found in a glowing green basket on the front step. This is clearly a lie, because I am just like them.

Including the perverse sense of humor.

#316 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 02:09 PM:

Karl--

According to the Sony website, Mirrormask will open in Boise on November 18, at Flicks.

Of course, according to the same website, it was supposed to open at the Charles here in Baltimore this wekend, but it didn't.

I rarely go the movies, but I was planning to go to this one. On well. I did go see Serenity last weekend -- it was probably my first theater-visit of 2005. (I was expecting to see another episode of the tv show, and was pleasantly surprised to see a very good sf movie.)

#317 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 02:10 PM:

Popping waaay back to an unrelated sub-thread, China Mieville looks very much like China Mieville, or rather like the male model who was hired to stand in for China Mieville's photo since no one could possibly look THAT MUCH like him.

And Daniel Pinkwater looks EXACTLY like Daniel Pinkwater ought to.

#318 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 02:20 PM:

I don't know whether Herbert would have been familiar with Cordwainer Smith.

Oh, surely he had to have been. Smith was published in the sf magazines regularly from the mid-fifties on. He didn't make the Hugo ballot much if at all, but he was regularly anthologized. (The first thing I read by him was "Drunkboat" in a Judith Merril Year's Best.)

#319 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 02:25 PM:

And Daniel Pinkwater looks EXACTLY like Daniel Pinkwater ought to.

I thought Daniel Pinkwater was skinnier... er, smaller, than I expected.

#320 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 02:31 PM:

Popping waaay back to an unrelated sub-thread, China Mieville looks very much like China Mieville, or rather like the male model who was hired to stand in for China Mieville's photo since no one could possibly look THAT MUCH like him.

Wow, then I should do OK as an SF writer, because I look more like myself than I possibly could.

I only wish I looked like China Miéville.

#321 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 02:40 PM:

"And Daniel Pinkwater looks EXACTLY like Daniel Pinkwater ought to."

Yes, he certainly does.

#322 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 02:41 PM:

I am SURE that Gina Torres will want to be remembered for Cleopatra 2525 instead of Serenity.

One of the reasons Firefly worked for me kind of overlaps with the ongoing adoption thread: it's about Family. Not the family one is born into whether we want to or not, but the family we make.

#323 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 02:45 PM:

Serge:

I understand it's not uncommon for kids to fantasize that they were changelings, that their family really wasn't their family.

What's uncommon is the desperation for it to be true and for the fantasy to continue into adulthood. Jimcat could have been describing one of the women I was talking about, a woman who as an adult cut off all contact with her birth family and found another woman of her mother's generation willing to informally adopt her.

#324 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 02:46 PM:

I want Terrence Stamp (aka General Zod) to be my standin at cons.

#325 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 03:39 PM:

I was ~10 years old and had never heard of Alice Cooper. I was expecting to see a woman with long blonde ringlets, wearing a flowered cotton dress.

I was about the same age, but had heard Alice Cooper on the radio, courtesy of the older kids in the neighborhood. I did wonder why he called himself "Alice", and in fact one of the Muppets asked him this question on the show. He answered, "I was named after a maiden uncle."

According to one of the deejays at the local classic rock station, Vincent "Alice Cooper" Furnier now lives in Arizona and spends a lot of his time playing golf. He says that rock and roll is just how he supports his golf habit.

#326 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 04:37 PM:

Serenity. . .
Going to see it for the second time on Sunday. Will go to theater as many times as necessary until everyone I know has seen it.

Side question: what's the expiration date on "It's a spoiler"? One week after DVD release? No longer playing in theaters? Three months? Nine?

#327 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 04:59 PM:

Laura Roberts, I share your joy. I once drove into Fresno on the way toward or away from Yosemite, and there walking up the other side of the street was a smallish chain of largish elephants, also trunk to tail. I even have a photo.

#328 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 05:33 PM:

Karl Kindred wrote (way back when) about Doozer sticks and radishes:
You have enlightened me. I somehow missed that detail.

This is because you only have Season One. :)

I haven't seen Ang Lee's Hulk, but I'll certainly check it out based on a ML recommendation.

Well, I, like OG, enjoyed the hell out of the Ang Lee Hulk film. My personal mileage probably came from a combination of Lee's moviemaking and how Schamus's rewrite of the screenplay conflated the Kirby/Lee comic with the tv show. (I wonder if Schamus is a comics geek, given the use of The Fantastic Four in The Ice Storm.) I used to watch Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno every week as a kid, and I loved the tips of the hat to the show (e.g., David Banner). For the Kirby-Lee purists, however, it apparently registered as travesty, so ymmv.

#329 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:33 PM:

Nerdy, Gina Torres didn't play the thawed "exotic dancer." He played the leader of a resistance cell.

Cleo 2525 was a fun show, but I don't know how much I'd like it if I saw episode after episode instead of one a week.

#330 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 08:26 PM:

My kids' school doesn't do the family tree thing...they ask the kids to talk to a parent/grandparent/great-grandparent, and find out when the "family" came to MI, where they came from, and why. It gets the kids thinking about where they came from, without traumatizing the adoptees.

I did a family tree in grade school. No cousins, two aunts, no living grandparents. Two years later, when my sis was in 4th grade, they'd changed that assignment.

#331 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 08:50 PM:

My personal mileage probably came from a combination of Lee's moviemaking and how Schamus's rewrite of the screenplay conflated the Kirby/Lee comic with the tv show.

And a heaping dose of Peter David's Hulk.

I like that it's not over-the-top. Well, except for Nick Nolte, but he does over-the-top so well.

#332 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 10:33 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz: I don't think Vance always writes about ordinary people. Frex, the hero of the Demon Princes novels (Gerson) certainly isn't ordinary. I think his heros are non-flashy and usually of ordinary status, but that's a different matter.

I think Vance characters are usually ordinary people who rise to extraordinary levels. Not always -- I've heard the lead in his latest trilogy is an upper-crust type who winds up slumming (The Prince and the Pauper without the pauper?) -- but commonly.

Karl Kindred: Gaiman's blog points to http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/mirrormask/theaters, which shows info on additional openings, e.g. the one mentioned upthread in Boise; check this if you're traveling. (I'm sure Denver is

#333 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 11:38 PM:

Each of Vance's Alastor books has, as a minor character, the mighty leader of the entire cluster.

He spots a problem at the very beginning of the book, rubs his chin, goes hmmmm . . . , and then shuffles off stage. An ordinary bloke has an adventure, gets in serious trouble, and is saved by the leader, who is operating undercover.

A fun conciet which I didn't spot the first time through.

* * *

I'm terribly afraid of re-reading Vance. I fear I'll find him a disappointment. I would really, really hate that.

#334 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 01:15 AM:

Jack Vance's heroes are Competent Men, without the tendency to blowhardiness in Heinlein's Competent Men. Vance's men don't tell others How Things Ought To Be Done, they just do them the way they ought to be done; they get the job done.

#335 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 04:43 PM:

I only stepped away for a bit!

Thanks to everyone who replied to my questions about adoption and The Dreaded Family Tree Assignment. I have lots more to think about.

Also, a desire to read Jack Vance.

#336 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2005, 02:37 AM:

I recently reread the last of the Demon Prince books and it was reasonably pleasant.

On the people looking like their books, in the Fantasy Bedtime hour thread it was asked if Stephen Donaldson was as unpleasant as his characters. To which John Ford replied with an emphatic no.

Well...
the idea that people look like their writing is somewhat less likely to be true I would imagine than that people are like their writing, or perhaps that people are the exact opposite of their writing - especially where Mary Sueism rears its terribly cute head.
So who is like their writing or not?
Does Terry Brooks look like J.R.R Tolkien, smoke a pipe and wear sweaters, while working as a philologist specializing in the study of midwestern American accents? Not that I suppose this to be a common area of study for philologists, but it would certainly explain a thing or two.

As someone who takes writing very seriously I often cannot seperate my opinion of bad writing from the person. I often feel prompted to tell them just what I think of their awful character contrivances and idiotic plot holes, there are a few authors out there that if I met them I would give them a good piece of my mind on a level with what I might tell the average Bush administration lackey.

#337 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2005, 10:00 AM:

Cleo 2525 maybe depended a little too much on the viewer's gonads.

Xena (and Gabrielle) are good to look at, but it didn't feel to be the primary purpose of the casting. If anyone remembers the episode where Xena and Callisto swapped bodies, it shows something about the quality of the characterisation and acting. There's shows where I can't quite see that working.

#338 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 02:20 AM:

Re: Serenity--

I'd just like to extend a big THANK YOU to the Firefly fans on Making Light. I'd seen a few episodes of the show when it was on here in Australia, very late at night, and was deeply underwhelmed by it.

More recently, folks here began enthusing at length about the forthcoming Serenity movie, the preview screenings, etc. Even the trailer was getting folks excited. I wondered if I'd misjudged the whole thing, so I downloaded the trailer and went, "Oh, now that does kind of look interesting."

Flash-forward to this past week, while on holiday, when my wife and I saw the movie--and loved it! Michelle, my wife, came out afterwards, going all, "Phwoar!" (being Australian for "bloody excellent!") I was equally agog at this absorbing, affecting, kick-arse, thoughtful, fabulous movie. As we chatted excitedly about it for hours afterwards, I was reminded a lot of how I felt after seeing the first Star Wars movie, and the way it made prior sf movies (other than 2001 and Forbidden Planet) seem so lame. (Bear in mind: I was 15 at the time.)

Now we're trying to hunt down the Firefly DVDs.

Again, thank you to Making Light folks for getting me all interested in something I had been too quick in dismissing.

#339 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 08:48 PM:

On behalf of all of us, you're welcome.

#340 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 11:33 PM:

Adrian: It may help your quest to know that Firefly is available for hire on DVD in at least some Australian video shops. Videomanner (that's what they're still called in the Phone Book, anyway) in Annandale, Sydney, has it, though I gather there's a huge demand. I was in there last night borrowing the new Dylan/Scorsese doco when a guy ostentatiously sporting a Firefly T-shirt came in and made a genial fuss about being a fan. (By the way, I loved the movie too, and hadn't head of the series until the good people of ML started up on the subject.)

#341 ::: trollop23 ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 04:12 PM:

Firefly is brilliant!
Cowboys in Space, how can you go wrong??

#342 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 05:55 PM:

Cowboys in Space, how can you go wrong??

Moon Zero Two, Outland, and Oblivion provide examples of various sorts and wrongnesses.

#343 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 06:11 PM:

Outland's tagline was "In space no one can hear you yawn" right?

#344 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 06:19 PM:

Actually, I think it was, "Do not forsake me oh my plotline."

#345 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 06:54 PM:

The director's cut of Outland includes a cameo from Lloyd Bridges reprising his "High Noon" character, with just one line: "I guess I picked the wrong day to quit polydichloric euthynol."

#346 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 07:07 PM:

It rather inspires another recut trailer, with High Noon as a science-fiction film. "Bugs, Mr. Rico, zillions of 'em! They're on the noon train!"

Or, adapting a different book, "Today we're going to show you eight really noisy ways to kill a man."

#347 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 07:13 PM:

Thank Ghu I read this after I got home. And thank ghu (well, I have a rubberized keyboard, so t doesn't mind getting wet, and the monitor and Cube are out of the fire zone...) i didn't have a mouthful of liquid.

bugs.... eeeuw! (tee hee)

#348 ::: D S Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2005, 11:32 PM:

I'm coming remarkably late to the discussion, but I'll throw in my two cents anyway.

I'm P J's aforementioned nephew, and I have my own take on the whole adoptee/family tree issue. As a quasi-adoptee, I don't quite have the same perspective as some of you who were adopted as babies, but I certainly have the same sense of "two families" that you do, since my mother and my biological father divorced when I was a baby, and my adoptive father was in the picture so early that I have extremely few memories (if any) of times before he was around.

I think some of the points made earlier are quite valid; that when you do have information on both sets of families, that's great. If you don't, that's fine also. I think too many people use the word "real" in relation to their parents, rather than "biological" or "birth." What is "real"? The "sperm donor" and "egg donor", whether originally legally related to you, or someone who was in the picture momentarily, or perhaps through a lab? Or the person that raised you from infancy through to adulthood? For me, my "real" father is the one I've had all my life; my biological father is the one that's been out of the picture most of my life.

I also would like to add that I used to teach, and I have had a class (albeit at the college level!) where I gave the family tree assignment. The reason why a lot of teachers give this assignment is because it not only is a good way to see where you came from (and yes, that can be uncomfortable!), but it helps the students to connect their lives to the larger historical and social changes of the past.

I also had the family tree assignment myself as a sixth-grader, but rather than dither over things, I submitted a genealogy done by my father's mother-- to me, that was my family-- they were the people who had cared for me, loved me, taken an interest in me, as opposed to my birth family/ancestors. For your children, you may want to do the same-- or not. After all, they are your children-- why not take pride in that, and instill the same sense of pride? They're a part of your family for all intents and purposes.

I can see where a child of a different race might bring up a different set of issues, but again, I think rather than dread the family tree assignment, use it as a time to use it to broaden everyone's understanding. For example, a lot of adoptions of foreign children in the past came about due to war or instability. That's an opening to discuss history, what happened in the past, and connecting the child/ren to the fact that the world is much larger and more interconnected than they think.

I must admit I do agree that perhaps for children at the elementary level, a chat with a family elder is a better assignment than a family tree, and would instigate the same type of investigations/exploration into the past and the history of countries, societies, and cultures that a family tree does. But I think for older students (definitely in college!), it's a great idea. But that's solely my opinion, of course...

#349 ::: Jen ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 01:24 PM:

This is not related to any of the usual topics, you guys here seem to collectively know just about everything there is to know and I have a question.

I heard today from a friend that Bush is talking about calling back retired military to active duty status as a way to make up for the troop short-falls.

Has anyone heard anything about this? I can't find anything online.

#350 ::: Harry Buerkett ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 12:49 PM:

In Reply to Jason's question about Norstrilia and Dune:

I've written a paper on the simultaneity of these books, which is to appear soon in Bruce Gillespie's SF Commentary.

I would be glad to share any information with you on the other near-identities of the novels.

#351 ::: Aconite finds spam on multiple threads ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 08:47 AM:

Where I come from, a muskie is a fish you catch by mistake while after something more edible.

#352 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 10:49 AM:
To: gruntlures@earthlink.com
From: Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Date: Dec 22, 2006 10:34 AM
Subject: You have spammed my weblog

Dear gruntlures@earthlink.com:

I am trying to control my temper. I'm going to assume that you were given bad advice, and that someone told you it would be a clever, inexpensive marketing device to automatically post messages about your fishing lures into comment threads on my weblog, Making Light.

It was not a good idea. It was a very bad one.

My weblog is my own. My comment threads, and the discussions in them, are places where my readers and I have conversations about different subjects. Posting your ads in them is like walking uninvited into a party in someone's living room and handing out flyers for a car wash.

Please don't do it again. (That's the kind of "please" one says to make it sound polite.)

For your own good, I earnestly hope you will give up this kind of spamming. If you have a legitimate business and a good product, using spam to advertise it is one of the worst things you can do. It puts you in very bad company, and is guaranteed to generate a lot of ill-will. That's why you almost never see legitimate companies doing it. Spamming puts you in the same category as online Viagra sellers, porn websites, fake loan arrangers, and Nigerian con artists. If this muskie lure of yours is as good as you say, it deserves better than that.

Sincerely,

T. Nielsen Hayden

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im a beautiful girl..
i got them SUiCIDAL

#371 ::: Me ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 11:22 AM:

im a beautiful girl..
i got them SUiCIDAL

#372 ::: Me ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 11:22 AM:

im a beautiful girl..
i got them SUiCIDAL

#373 ::: abi suspects bored teenager ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 11:30 AM:

Extra points for the wee heart, and for the consistency in never capitalising the ninth letter of the alphabet.

#374 ::: abi suspects bored teenager ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 11:34 AM:

Extra points for the wee heart, and for the consistency in never capitalising the ninth letter of the alphabet.

#375 ::: abi suspects bored teenager ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 11:34 AM:

Extra points for the wee heart, and for the consistency in never capitalising the ninth letter of the alphabet.

#376 ::: Zeynep sees repeated spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 11:37 AM:

Ironic after the last message on here by Teresa, really.

#377 ::: abi suspects bored teenager ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 11:42 AM:

Extra points for the wee heart, and for the consistency in never capitalising the ninth letter of the alphabet.

#378 ::: Clifton Royston sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 01:10 AM:

Spam must be deleted. Spammers must die.

#379 ::: David Harmon sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 10:04 PM:

Refers to a numbered comment, but with the wrong name and irrelevant text. Dubious-looking link behind the name.

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