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October 31, 2005

“The answer, reader, is yes.”
Posted by Teresa at 10:56 PM * 190 comments

In this week’s New Yorker, Lauren Collins has a lovely Talk of the Town column about the right-wing dirty-novel-writing tradition in general, and the works of Scooter Libby in particular:

…For even more difficult prose, however, one must revisit an earlier work. The Apprentice—Libby’s 1996 entry in the long and distinguished annals of the right-wing dirty novel—tells the tale of Setsuo, a courageous virgin innkeeper who finds himself on the brink of love and war.

Libby has a lot to live up to as a conservative author of erotic fiction. As an article in SPY magazine pointed out in 1988, from Safire (“[She] finally came to him in the bed and shouted ‘Arragghrrorwr!’ in his ear, bit his neck, plunged her head between his legs and devoured him”) to Buckley (“I’d rather do this with you than play cards”) to Liddy (“T’sa Li froze, her lips still enclosing Rand’s glans …”) to Ehrlichman (“‘It felt like a little tongue’”) to O’Reilly (“Okay, Shannon Michaels, off with those pants”), extracurricular creative writing has long been an outlet for ideas that might not fly at, say, the National Prayer Breakfast. In one of Lynne Cheney’s books, a Republican vice-president dies of a heart attack while having sex with his mistress. …

[Many specific examples Collins quotes from Libby’s book are being skipped here.]

So, how does Libby stack up against the competition? This question was put to Nancy Sladek, the editor of Britain’s Literary Review, which, each year, holds a contest for bad sex writing in fiction. (In 1998, someone nominated the Starr Report.) Sladek agreed to review a few passages from Libby. “That’s a bit depraved, isn’t it, this [bit I skipped]? That’s particularly nasty, and the other ones are just boring,” she said. “God, they’re an odd bunch, these Republicans.” Unlike their American counterparts, she said, Tories haven’t taken much to sex writing. “They usually just get caught,” she said.

Collins is right about the conservative dirty-book tradition. Off hand, I can think of a lot more right-wing political figures who’ve written trashy commercial fiction than left-wingers. And is it unfair to observe that their characters seem to have a lot of really bad sex?

I’ve been thinking about the fact that Bill Clinton handily won two elections in spite of everything the Republicans could throw at him. It makes me wonder whether the Left ought to be writing more naughty books—only with better sex scenes.

Addendum: An exchange from the comments thread:

Lizzy Lynn: Arragghrrorwr?

Chad Orzel: What sort of noise do you think dinosaurs make during sodomy?

Comments on "The answer, reader, is yes.":
#1 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 12:10 AM:

How can Sladek forget Edwina Currie's 'novels', Alan Clark's diaries and Geoffrey Archer?

#2 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 12:12 AM:
"I don't think there is going to be a war either, but you seem so sure. What is your big secret? You were so excited about it when you came in here, and now you won't tell me." Suddenly the pouting sex kitten gave way to Diana the Huntress. She rolled onto him and somehow was sitting athwart his chest, her knees pinning his shoulders. "Tell me, or I will make you do terrible things," she hissed.

-- Newt Gingrich, 1945

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 12:29 AM:

Gingrich and Forstchen.

#4 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 12:31 AM:

Wait, I thought the pouting sex kitten scene was interpolated by Jim Baen?

And just for the record, Alan Clark's diaries RAWK.

#5 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 12:47 AM:

Arragghrrorwr?

#6 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 12:54 AM:

When your literary models for erotic text are the Rands (Ayn* and the Corporation), you have to fall back on your imagination, and for some of these guys that's a long drop.

On the other warm and supple appendage, as has been so often noted, Tom Clancy writes outstanding man-weapons system eroticism. But sometimes a submarine is just a diving boat.

And shouldn't that damn Diana line -- whoever wrote it -- have been about, like, Brünhilde, or someone with a soprano profundo and horns on her hat?** I mean, while there's a whole lotta Fricka goin' on there, there's not much, like, Roman. Never mind Greek.

*"What a remarkable . . . service station you have, Howard."

**cf. "Herr Meets Hare," Friz Freleng 1945, the other Wagnerian Bugs Bunny cartoon.

#7 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 12:55 AM:

"Arragghrrorwr?"

Was this a werewolf novel?

#8 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 12:57 AM:

Absolutely! Alan Clark was a reprobate, but at least he wrote about sex as though had some command of the subject. You could cheerfully disapprove of him. He wasn't sordid and depressing like televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, whose defense when he was caught patronizing a cheap hooker in a cheap hotel rooms was that (a.) he didn't actually touch her, and (b.) the whole thing took less than twenty minutes from start to finish. I'd have thought better of Swaggart if he'd taken longer and done more.

#9 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 01:00 AM:

Perhaps "ARRAGGHRRORWR" was a cleverly embedded acronym, spelling out some secret message.

#10 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 01:19 AM:

And perhaps not. (Though "embedded" is good.) I had never heard Jimmy Swaggart's defense before, or if I had it mercifully slipped my mind. Sordid and depressing is kind. I wonder what the hooker said.

#11 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 01:49 AM:

Literary critique, brief:
Ptui

#12 ::: Manon ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 01:56 AM:

If you hear a pathetic little bubbling noise? That'd be my brain.

And is it unfair to observe that their characters seem to have a lot of really bad sex?

I can't imagine why that would be.

#13 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 03:21 AM:

Well, all three got caught, one way or another, but they did write about it first.

#14 ::: Azalais Malfoy ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 04:15 AM:

Don't forget all the (bad) lesbian sex in Lynne Cheney's Sisters!

#15 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 04:54 AM:

It's not just that they don't appear to know enough to write about sex (and Currie, Archer, and Clark certainly had some experience), it's that they apply the same apparent ignorance to legislation about sex.

#16 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 05:20 AM:

Well, Archer is a writer so appalling that it really isn't worth discussing. But I think the difference between Alan Clark, Edwina Currie and this lot is that Clark/Currie actually liked women/men, instead of either frantically repressing homosexuality or struggling to cover up a neurotic horror of sex.

That and class.

#17 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 07:06 AM:

If you beat children for being confused -- which is the default one-step mutation of the kind of thing talked about as a "conservative upbringing" -- they develop a terror of confusion.

Sex is absolutely, one-hundred-percent certain to lead to severe confusion.

So, poof, instant horror of sex combined with an inability to admit its causes. (Or do anything about it -- can't ever admit uncertainty.)

Plus, of course, the sneaking, burning, angry suspicion that the folks who are having sexual fun are cheating somehow, and deserve to be punished.

#18 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 07:35 AM:

Arragghrrorwr?

What sort of noise do you think dinosaurs make during sodomy?

#19 ::: zhwj ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 07:37 AM:

I had the pleasure of reading Libby's The Apprentice in a pre-release version apparently printed for a literary competition - someone made a used bookstore run for me and since I had nothing else to read at the time, I read the thing.

I really only remember two things about the book - (1) lots of snow, and (2) odd ways of referring to characters. Always "the tanners of leather," "the keepers of horses," "the singers of songs," and so forth.

The sex scenes I think I pretty much skipped over, though I think there was the steamy bath house scene you'd expect in this sort of novel. Reading that review, I remember now the pubic-hair pencil scene, though I wish that I didn't.

#20 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 09:12 AM:

Isn't it time for John (Multi-dimensional Man) Ford to serve us an off-the-cuff pastiche of bad Republican sex scenes?

#21 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 10:09 AM:

Regarding eroticism in Tom Clancy's writing:

I think it was _Clear & Present Danger_ that featured a prominent subplot in which a Deviant Lesbian Woman of Unnatural Desires betrayed the U.S.A. in hopes of winning the heart of her crush. When confronted, the crush naturally reacted with horror and, if I recall correctly, promptly informed the FBI.

The point, I believe, was to instruct the reading public that unnatural lust may serve as a sort of "gateway drug" to anti-Americanism. He didn't specify whether the deviant in question, if identified, would be best served by curing them with the love of a good man or just being put down humanely.

#22 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 10:24 AM:

Scott H:

That's a little unfair to Clancy. There is a seduction-related betrayal of the USA in Clancy's CAPD. But it's a widow working for the FBI seduced by an ex-Cuban male spy working for the cartels, and not portrayed as deviant at all, or even as much of a warning (IIRC, it's stated that she was completely outclassed by the spy's skill in hypocrisy). For that matter, she doesn't even realize that she's leaked anything important until the FBI identifies her as a potential leak.

#23 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 10:39 AM:

Oh, the fun thirty years from now, googling up the president's college slash fic.

#24 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 10:48 AM:

James,

Mmm, I might have the wrong book. The unrequited love in question was definitely woman-to-woman. Possibly the Sum of All Fears? I read it in the early 90's--my memory may be a little spotty.

Yeah, I think it was Sum of All Fears, the nuclear terrorism one.

#25 ::: Barry@yahoo.com ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 10:51 AM:

James, Scott - there is such a scene, but it's not in 'Clear and Present Danger', it's in the SDI novel ('Cardinal of the Kremlin'?).

#26 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 11:03 AM:

If I work on making my sex scenes worse, then get myself a suit (and a green card), does this mean I could land a cushy six-figure-income job on K Street, with plenty of non-executive directorships on the side?

Or would I have to memorize the complete works of St Ayn of Rand first? (Shudders ...)

#27 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 11:21 AM:

I've never dared read Ayn Rand, Charlie. Is she that bad? If the movie version of The Fountainhead is any indication, the answer is probably a resounding yes.

#28 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 11:25 AM:

Having the right props are enough, Mr. Stross; a dogeared copy of Atlas Shrugged and a slick handhshake will do wonders in the Beltway. Whether you have the Randroid stare or lousy sex scenes to back it up is just icing.

#29 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 11:58 AM:

Mr Stross would probably have to shave.

#30 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 12:52 PM:

Phew! Saved by the Beard.

#31 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 12:57 PM:

Tex Dadbetterer, master of all he surveiled, pulled his jeans up on his boots and surveiled his luscious brush covered ranch. His steely eyes. They narrowed. "There's a lot of bad people", then he stuck his sidearms on his machismic hips and swagged out to meet the dawn.

Already out there was his bosom padre, Jugg Cannon, the muscillar bald headed erect guy. He was moving brush like a hero. Tex started to move the brush too. They was both moving the brush, together, their muscillar arms sweaty and sheeny in motion. Move the brush Tex, move the brush Juggy. See Tex move brush. See Text place his arm around Juggy. They stood there a long long long time, looking into each other. They were sweaty and manly, illiberal.
Tex Dadbetterer moved behind Juggy like he was a particolor heavy piece of brush, and whispered throatily "You're doing a heck of a job, Juggy"

Then...

#32 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 01:12 PM:

The lesbian-who-betrayed-the-country-to-get-her-straight-female-crush-object-to-fall-in-love-with-her was in the Tom Clancy that had Mikhail (I know I spelled that wrong), the Russian general/WWII vet who was a CIA spy. There was also a husband and wife team at the Moscow embassy, and the wife ran some kind of little league hockey team and adopted the general as a mascot to cover their clandestine meetings. (That actally made sense in the book.) The crush-object and her male lover were computer people who, once they decided to have sex, bought copies of the Kama Sutra and other such books, which they referred to as "technical user manuals" and followed rigorously, as befits computer people.

It was a fun read, and I enjoyed it, except for the lesbian-etc.-etc. I remember thinking, "You couldn't have come up with a more realistic motive than this?" And yes, because it was so clearly anti-Soviet propaganda, the lesbian-etc.-etc. part was also clearly anti-lesbian/gay propaganda. "See what these people are like?"

I honestly don't think I've given away any major spoilers for the book. Most of what I've written comes out in the first couple of chapters, as I recall. But I have no idea what the title is.

#33 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 01:17 PM:

"Phew. Saved by the beard."
Dick Dumpty squashed a puppy into his blender while ponderosa about the illikelihood of his wife's pregnancy having kept his number from the drafting. Tex Dadbetterer downed another vodka, and another, and another, then he downed another vodka. This was fun. And said "Yep. War should be fought,"
and then he downed another vodka. Another vodka, another vodka, another vodka.
You know what I think would be nice.
Juggy, and a vodka.
The puppy sqalled like a puppy in a blender. This stuff tastes like vodka said Dick Dumpty as he drunk it down. I had another vodka said Tex Dadbutterer. "I'm gonna kick the old man's keister!!" said Texxas, and not at all drunk swagged out to the street and got in my BMW that had turned out to be a Ford truck and I drove it to the dad's house. That Bastard.

#34 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 01:19 PM:

vod

#35 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 01:20 PM:

ka

#36 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 01:26 PM:

"ARRAGGHRRORW, ARRAGGHRRORWR" rored the horn of the car horn as Tex Dadbusterer rored down the freeway like a bird in flight like a plain. No man would stand behind him and the coming battle that would finally get some things straightened out around here. Another vodka.
What is best in life mosied Tex to hisself.
To beat your dad before you, and hear the laminating of his woman. ARRAGGHRRORWR, ARRAGGHRRORWR rored the car into a curvey of the road. Dumb curvey.

another vokda.

#37 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 01:31 PM:

What kind of facial pilosity are we talking about here, re Charlie? General Zod? Fidel Castro? Blackbeard the Pirate?

#38 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 01:44 PM:

Serge: you know the guy who says "IT'S---!" right at the beginning of the credits for Monty Python's Flying Circus? Like that, only black.

#39 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 01:46 PM:

Serge: currently I'm auditioning as an extra in "Osama: the Musical", but they told me the Goth Palor has to go.

I've now obtained a new passport, valid until 2016, so I'm about to revert [slowly] to my long-time hirsute look.

#40 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 01:55 PM:

Oh, THAT kind of beard... Now, Charlie, why would you have thought it necessary to chop off the Monty Python beard for your passport? (I did no such thing last year when I got my new passport, but then again mine is the General Zod kind. Besides that, my dogs would have barked at me, had I decided to go beardless.)

#41 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 02:05 PM:

okay, that was enough of the George Bush novel.
now I need to write the Wolfowitz/Rumsfeld team-up.

#42 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 02:09 PM:

then again I can't remember if stories containing pedophilia are legal or not.

Well, pedophilia seems a harsh term.

mass rape and murder of arab boys in satanic rituals conducted at various locations across a world-wide network in order to hasten the coming of the apocalypse. Is there a technical term for this sort of perversion?

Because that is definitely what the Wolfowitz/Rumsfeld book is all about.

#43 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 02:21 PM:

I had a friend in law school who helped pay his way through undergrad at Harvard by writing lesbian love novels. He said it paid really well for very little work and even though he admitted he had no idea what went on between lesbians, he said that those who read the novels didn't either....

Wonder if Libby helped pay for his Ivy education in the same way.

#44 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 02:28 PM:

I want to know what Alito wrote to pay for textbooks and pizza.

[TEXT REDACTED BY DINOSAUR SODOMY FICTION FILTER]

#45 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 03:57 PM:

Bow Down Bow Down Avert Your Eyes In Amazement, if we're handing out awards one has to go to Bryan.

#46 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 04:34 PM:

mass rape and murder of arab boys in satanic rituals conducted at various locations across a world-wide network in order to hasten the coming of the apocalypse.

Been done already. Robert Anton Wilson and Bob Shea, Illuminatus! The hippies fight back by using sex magic and lots of drugs. It's actually a fun read, with some Joycean langauge games, intricate plotting and circa 1971 psychadelic philosophy.

#47 ::: Fiendish Writer ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 04:54 PM:

ARRAGGHRRORW

worships bryan.

#48 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 07:14 PM:

I think we ought to organize the writing of a novel of steamy Republican sleaze, for publication by PublishAmerica, by one Libby Scooter -- call it "Texas Nights". Any takers?

#49 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 07:15 PM:

The point, I believe, was to instruct the reading public that unnatural lust may serve as a sort of "gateway drug" to anti-Americanism. He didn't specify whether the deviant in question, if identified, would be best served by curing them with the love of a good man or just being put down humanely.

I think that's a specific case of a more general trend in bad writing: giving the bad guys "hot" perverse sex scenes as a way of titillating the reader while confirming writer's and reader's ]normality[. Examples range from my-mind-has-mercifully-forgotten-even-the-title (an archaeological thriller in which the chief villain and villainess have it off in a sarcophagus) to the sado-masochism in Stirling's Nantucket-tossed-into-the-Bronze-Age books.

#50 ::: Eileen Gunn ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 01:02 AM:

Great fodder, Teresa, for the panel on Writing Bad Republican Sex Scenes, this Friday at WFC.

Or am I misremembering the title?

#51 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 01:54 AM:

I have the WFC schedule right here, and the panel title is Conan the Sublimator. Though it probably should have been Yes yes she said but I gotta call a press secretary first.

And while it is not my panel, I would suggest that at some point, someone ought to say "I is entirely satisfied with that line now." That's probably why it's not my panel.

#52 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 03:53 AM:

I wonder if I finish that book if I can publish it.
Title - George Bush: In his own Gibberish.

#53 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 04:30 AM:

More Republican novels:

Out of Control and The Monkey Handlers by G. Gordon Liddy.

East of Farewell, Limit of Darkness, Stranger in Town, Bimini Run, and The Violent Ones by E. Howard Hunt.

#54 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 05:58 AM:

Conan the Sublimator... That reminds me of the 1982 worldcon masquerade in Chicago where some scrawny guy with a cowhorn helmet came onstage and introduced himself as Conan the Barbarian, followed by Conan the Liberterian, then Conan the Rotarian, then Conan the Librarian, then probably a few more, but this happened 23 years ago so I don't remember it all. Anyway, considering the earlier comments about Ayn Rand, maybe among the above Conan the Liberterian has potential for a Republican steamy novel.

#55 ::: Jennifer Stevenson ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 02:08 PM:

Eileen writes, >>Great fodder, Teresa, for the panel on Writing Bad Republican Sex Scenes, this Friday at WFC.
Or am I misremembering the title?

You are. We're doing -good- sex. In fantasy.

Delia Sherman said once when we were judging the Crawford Award, "That's not a fantasy, that's just a fantasy."

PS, dear god, Bryan.

#56 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 02:10 PM:

There's sex in fantasy novels?

#57 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 02:22 PM:

There's sex in fantasy novels?

There's a lot of fantasy in romance novels, mostly having to do with the sex which is also in them. Or so it seems to me.

#58 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 02:37 PM:

"There's sex in fantasy novels?"

I once wrote a story, then called "Sage of Angels," that won honorable mention in the 2002 Once Upon a World fantasy/romance novella contest. There was definitely a lot of sex in my own entry, and, from what I gather, mine was not so outside the norm from their other submissions (well. In terms of content. In terms of story, apparently, it was markedly different. They wanted world-building [I didn't realize that]. I don't build worlds [well. Not in the Tolkien sense of things, anyway]). So, yeah, it definitely exists, and possibly as its own subgenre, even beyond the realm of "slash" fiction.

Also, if you've not seen it, you might be interested in:
http://www.livejournal.com/users/cassieclaire

I'd tell you about it, but it's better to be surprised. Safe for work, too. Well. Except when you laugh.

#59 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 02:39 PM:

You're right, PJ. There are romance novels with elements of fantasy in them. And, by 'fantasy', I don't mean 'sexual fantasy'. I was wondering about sex in the doorstop fantasy novels that some have decried as the death of our literature. My wife, Susan Krinard, has some sex in her own fantasy novels, but she keeps it to a minimum, not out of being a prude but because of years of HAVING to have sex in her romance novels.

#60 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 02:46 PM:

It's fine by me as long as it isn't the whole point of the novel (which seems to be the case in at least some of the 'romance' novels: if all the characters are there for is to have wonderful sex, maybe they should be relabeled?). Fortunately I'm not into Republican novels, although I did read that particular Clancy; I gave up on him after that. (He needs editing. Or something.)

#61 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 03:10 PM:

I'm not sure how many romance novels there are where sex was the whole point. I can mostly go by my wife's example, where sex was something she had to put in. Very often, when she came to the moment in the plot where the characters had to do 'it', she'd just write insert sex scene here, go on with the actual story then, when she was done, she'd go back and add the sex scene. Thanks goodness she doesn't have to have any of it in her fantasy novels, where it happens off-screen. I originally asked about the presence of sex in fantasy because I don't remember seeing any on- or off-screen.

That being said, the love life of Republicans is something I care little about. Bleh.

#62 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 03:56 PM:

(He needs editing. Or something.)

Throwing away?

#63 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 04:21 PM:

Serge:
Jayne Krentz, under various names (some are actually not bad). And she made an attempt at SF which -- well, say that it didn't go anywhere.

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

Krentz's attempt at SF didn't go anywhere, PJ? Do you mean that the attempt failed as SF, or that it succeeded all too well and thus her readers stayed away? If the latter... Susan had a space opera out about 2 years ago. She approached it as SF and it tanked. Probably because of that. It also didn't help that the heroine was a starship captain from a patriarchal society who got the job because she had telepathically absorbed the original captain's knowledge and persona. As a result, she thought of herself as an abomination neither female nor male.

#65 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 04:58 PM:

Jayne Krentz wrote some SF romances, under the name of Jayne Castle. I found her assumptions about what makes a story SF to be kind of interesting. Namely, her storyline involved humans living on an alien planet and encountering ancient alien artifacts.

#66 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 05:05 PM:

Sen. Barbara Boxer was on The Daily Show last night. She was plugging her first novel. So possibly the left has started putting out their own books? I don't know how bad it is, or whether it has any sex, but it's a start.

#67 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 05:14 PM:

"No, Scooter-Doo, I said this place was full of ghost writers."

#68 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 05:18 PM:

I don't think my wife read that Krentz/Castle SF novel, Laura. Susan's background has been and remains SF/fantasy since she was a mere slip of a child so she could have told me if that story worked as SF.

#69 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 05:26 PM:

By the way, what is the question?

#70 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 05:27 PM:

Scooter-do? Not Scooby-do? That reminds me of a late-night panel at 2002's worldcon in San Jose. It was about comparing the success rates of two psychic-investigating groups: Mulder & Scully vs the Scooby gang. It then went on to dawing a chart of the sexual-attraction structure within the Scooby gang...

#71 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 05:35 PM:

Serge - the Jayne Castle book that I read was made up of a short story and a novella. Don't know if she ever made it to a whole novel.

#72 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 05:44 PM:

Shield's Lady, which is listed on Amazon with the author as "yne Anne" (there is at least one more in that series).

#73 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 05:56 PM:

Huh. Looks like she originally published it under the name of Amanda Glass. And it is fantasy, whereas the stuff I read was SF.

#74 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 05:58 PM:

Serge, do you mean specifically is there sex in big doorstop fantasy? Because that's a subgenre I barely read, but the answer for the rest of the whle fantasy genre is a resounding, "of course there is". Some of it's even well written.

#75 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 06:12 PM:

Actually, not just in doorstop fantasy, Lenora. When I read reviews, I never get the sense that there's any intercourse going on.

#76 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 08:27 PM:

On the Presence, if Any, of Sex, if Any, in Fantasy, if Any.

The actual, real, and true title of Friday morning's (morning's?) panel is "The Bedroom,* or, What's This Sex Scene Doing** in My Fantasy?" The panelists are Greg Frost, Eileen Gunn, TNH, Maria V. Snyder, and Jennifer Stevenson.

As for whether anybody actually does put sexual content -- I mean, deliberately -- into our writing . . . no swiving comment.

*There are several "room" panels, as part of an architectural theme also involving the work of Frank Lloyd Roark. Uh, Wright.

**Said the waiter/Don't shout/Or wave it about/Or the rest will be wanting one, too.

#77 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 09:48 PM:

By the way, what is the question?

if you click through to the article, you'll see the question.

or, possibly, the question is whether the Left ought to be writing more naughty books—only with better sex scenes.

#78 ::: Jennifer Stevenson ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 11:06 PM:

Hey, TNH, have you been getting posts from the rest of us panelists on that WFC sex-in-fantasy panel? They've been going to the gmail address.

Sign me, don't want you to feel left out,

was JKS@genie.com

#79 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 11:48 PM:

I asked : By the way, what is the question?

Miriam answered: if you click through to the article, you'll see the question.

or, possibly, the question is whether the Left ought to be writing more naughty books—only with better sex scenes.

Thanks! I did click through, and I find the first question appalling. ("Odd bunch" is putting it mildly.) I leave the second one to the individual reader.

#80 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2005, 07:48 AM:

"...The actual, real, and true title of Friday morning's (morning's?) panel is "The Bedroom,* or, What's This Sex Scene Doing** in My Fantasy?" The panelists are Greg Frost, Eileen Gunn, TNH, Maria V. Snyder, and Jennifer Stevenson..."

Let us know what they say on that panel, Mike.

#81 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2005, 08:54 AM:

Does or should the Left write better sex scenes than the Right?

The thing is that above examples are like comparing oranges to lemons. For one thing, Barbara Boxer is a woman, and Newt is a man (and a sour-looking one, based on the time I came across him on the streets of San Francisco). The sex scenes written by women seem to tend toward a more elliptical language while those by men sound more like a plumber at work.

On the other hand, one of the sexiest love/sex scenes I've ever come across was filmed by a male Democrat: at the end of An American in Paris, there's a dream sequence where Gene Kelly is slowly dancing with Leslie Caron in front of a stylized fountain.

#82 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2005, 10:00 AM:

G.R.R. Martin's vast ongoing series is multitudinous to contain everything, even sex. Notably the incestuous lovers, and in the new book a steamy southern princess -- though [cribbing from my review in the Dec. Locus] she seems a bit sketchy and cliched compared to some of Martin's Ambitious Women). None of this is sex for its own merry sake, of course.

Tanith Lee has long flirted with the romance genre, and in Metallic Love, this year's very belated sequel to The Silver Metal Lover, she both parodies it and looks deeper -- minds keep ticking away while bodies writhe ecstatically.

And that's not even to mention all the gay sex, S&M, etc. that's cropping up in no-it's-not-exploitative-trash fantasies these days.

Can you tell that I'm already getting into "Year in Review" mode here? Well geez, they're forcing me to....

#83 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2005, 10:24 AM:

Of course, Tanith Lee... She would have plenty of sex in her novels. I certainly remember the goings-on in the Demon Lords series circa 1980.

C'mon, Faren, they're not really forcing you to do the Year in Review. You known you want to...

About romance, as opposed to sex, what in your opinion is the most romantic declaration of Love you've ever come across? For me it's in Robin and Marian. It's the night before Sean Connery's Robin, back from the Crusades, is about to have one final fight with Robert Shaw's Sherriff. Audrey Hepburn's Marian is by herself with Nicol Williamson's Little John. Neither of them is very happy. Marian suddenly says to Little John he's always resented her. He simply reponds:

"If you had been mine, I would never have left."

#84 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2005, 12:42 PM:

Serge:

Swordspoint (A fantasy novel with sex but no magic. Yes. really.) and its semi-sequel, The Fall of the Kings (Which does have some magic.)
A Game of Thrones (First of the George R.R. Martin Books mentioned above)
Kushiel's Dart (And Sequels)
Tam Lin (Pamela Dean's, in case there's any doubt/confusion, but virtually every retelling of this story will.)
The Inkeeper's Song


I'm sure there are a load of others I'm not thinking of, including more heterosexual non-kinky, but simply put, it's everywhere. (All the above were chosen as cases where sex is integral to the plot and/or revealing of character, not gratuitous or pointless.)

#85 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2005, 12:59 PM:

Thanks, Lenora. Duly noted. And glad to hear I erred about sex in fantasy.

#86 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2005, 03:39 AM:

Years ago there was a short-lived magazine entitled Venus (it had elegance to it, as opposed to Playgirl) which had an article mentioning such things as "the hair-eating watch" as hazards in real life Romantic Interludes with Problems.

C. J. Cherryh in Merchanter's Luck had the male lead suffer a bout of impotence, temporary, but nonetheless, that is something that is extremely rare in fiction, that the lead male fails to rise to the occasion despite wanting to, or that the female lead is anything other than an instantaneous orgasmatron. And only very rarely is there something of the ilk of a hair-eating watch!

The scene was germane to the book in the Cherry novel--in that society it's not exactly casual sex--the society is something of an outgrowth of the ship society in Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy, where Family is everything thing, crossed with the social changes of the second half of the 20th century. Cherryh went beyond Heinlein to posit an even more matrilinear society, one in which one's citizenship was not only determined by the birth mother, but one in which the genetic father was from some other ship, or a stationer generally, and only rarely would the biological father be a physically present direct in-person continuing presence in the upbringing of the child. The conception would generally be from a sleepover in some port on a station the ship docked at, the biological father may or may not be a one night stand, or someone with a sort-of continuing relationship, whenever the ships' station dockings coincided.

The children being citizens of the ship by being conceived and born of a female resident/citizen of the ship, who the father was generally wasn't a factor, except for genetic health issues, and if there were situations such as the father having a bad reputation (as in Finity's End.

In the case of Merchanter's Luck Alison (Allison? can't remember the spelling) was slumming it with "Ted Stevens"--she was from a large, modern, wealth ship/ship family, he was operating a jump ship solo, theoretically wealthy as the sole heir to and owner of such a ship, but without the resources financial and personnel-wise, to do more than scrape "marginally" by (hence the term "Marginer"). The dynamics between the two were drivers and key themes, "Stevens" making Allie an offer to crew on his impoverished ship, and Allie and her three cousins who were close friends/rivals/followers of her taking him up on it--rather, Allie pitched and promoted the idea, and they literally came on-board with her. But, that psychologically in ways spooked "Stevens," who had only ever had biological family, all them gone and left only as his ghosts, as shipmates... the sleeping over between "Ted" and Allie was a channel through which the offer of a command berth for Allie was made, she wanted command of Dublin Again which was home to her and a thousand or so of her relatives, but of that thousand relatives, were dozens who were her senior in the command ranks. Ted Stevens had an empty ship, and command seats that were empty, even if it was a ship in dire need of repairs, a small ship, one that had been running on the edge for a long time--it was still a ship, and one with vacancies for someone to sit a live pilot in command seat.

Without the initial sleepover setting the scene, Allie probably wouldn't rejected "Ted"'s offer to crew for him out of hand, he made it in the bar he saw her in initially and nothing would likely have come of that if the sleepover hadn't occurred--she wasn't so moved/world-changed directly by the chance meeting and sleepover, but he was, and it drove his actions to desperation to try to force a second meeting, at a station he hadn't planned to visit, on a trip he hadn't planned to make.

There was a romantic desperation involved there, of someone dicing with their last resources, taking the big risk and going into the unknown, for something of an ideal and a person chance-met to whom he meant so very little...

#87 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2005, 09:25 AM:

"...in Merchanter's Luck... the female lead is anything other than an instantaneous orgasmatron..."

CJ being a woman, there was no way in Hell that Allison would have been depicted as an orgasmatron. That being said... It's been a couple of decades since I read the book, Paula, but it's always been my favorite and now you just made me want to re-read it again. I don't re-read books anymore. See what you've done?

Anyway, this sub-thread has made me realize that there is a lot more SF where sexuality exists than I thought... Sharon Lee & Steve Miller would be another example. John Hemry's JAG-in-space novels. As for fantasy... In spite of the examples mentionned by others earlier on, I still have the feeling that sex isn't that common over there. Otherwise, why would the World Fantasy Con have a panel titled "The Bedroom, or, What's This Sex Scene Doing in My Fantasy?"?

#88 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2005, 09:47 AM:

"Hair-eating watch"? As in getting long hair caught in the wristband? It's not an expression with which I'm familiar.

#89 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2005, 10:25 AM:

concerning sex in fantasy novels, Mageheart by Jane Routley had some very stirring scenes, some of which were not even consummated. I didn't think her two sequels to that novel held up as well, though.

#90 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2005, 10:41 AM:

Just remembered... Back in the early Eighties, Philip Jose Farmer wrote two novels set in Burroughs's Opar, but a long time ago, when the Sahara was an inland sea. In the first book, Hadon, the main character, is on his way to some games where the winners will have the right to mate with the leaders of the matriarchal society. The bad guys are priests who want to change the order of things, with men as rulers, and Hadon is much opposed to that. I think there was plenty of sex. Then again, this is Farmer.

#91 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2005, 11:55 AM:

--"Hair-eating watch"? As in getting long hair caught in the wristband? It's not an expression with which I'm familiar.--

The problem, of course, is that, in science fiction and fantasy, it's entirely possible that the watch in question is powered by a hungry imp (perhaps Terry Pratchett was writing about it). Or maybe it's a biological-based watch with nanotechnology included that recharges its bacterial battery with strands of human hair. Or something else entirely.

That said, I believe hair-getting-caught-in-the-wristband is precisely what was meant. I don't wear a watch any more, but if I did, I have a really nice Kenneth Cole watch with a metal wristband, which I would not wear during sex, because of the likelihood that a girl's hair would get caught, and pulled. And who wants their hair pulled during sex?
Well. I mean. Unless it's intentional.

#92 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2005, 12:02 PM:

Watch-eating hair would be worse. As though there weren't already enough problems in maintaining a loving relationship with Medusa...

"Ow! Goddammit! Sorry, honey, my watch has got caught - no, DON'T TURN ROUND - urk"

#93 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2005, 02:36 PM:

I'm under the impression that Romance novels have forcibly invaded the Fantasy genre*, in the wake of Laurell K. Hamilton's Mary Sues . There do seem to be an AWFUL lot of "Supernatural White Female" serieses in the last few years.

I don't know if I've got the rank to call in airstrikes, but would anyone here like to comment on these?

* Should those be capitalized? I can't decide if that clarifies or merely adds pretention.

#94 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2005, 02:51 PM:

Huh, Sandy, if you're planning to call in airstrikes, please refrain to have one against my wife. Each and every one of Susan's romance novels have had an element of SF or fantasy, although none involved an SWF.

Another thing... She did not invade the fantasy genre. She is one of us, even though some con-goers, upon learning what she had written, looked at her as if she were some bug who crawled out from under a rock. F/SF has been her true love from an early age. And there are quite a few in her position, who started as romance writers but who have gone on to write what they truly want to write.

#95 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2005, 04:58 PM:

The thing (okay, just one of the things) about the Anita Blake books is that they use the cliches of the romance genre in all sex scenes.

That is what finally turned me off, that she would describe a disembowelling in graphic, anatomically correct detail, and then use phrases like "his throbbing manhood" to describe sex.

Maybe her copy of Gray's Anatomy was just missing a couple pages.

#96 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2005, 06:39 PM:

Ah yes, the throbbing manhood...

#97 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2005, 06:42 PM:

Sandy, no capitalizing when used in sentences. Only when used as head/subjects.

#98 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2005, 06:59 PM:

I have little scholarly-journal-article-reprint booklet by an Olaf Stapledon scholar. The paper traces the evolution of Stapledon's novel Sirius.

One early draft refers to breast licking and the lead character's "rosy member."

Which a) suggests that SF authors who grew up in the waning days of the Elizabethian era have something in common with conservative fiction writers of our era, and

b) is way squicky considering who the lead character is.

#99 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2005, 04:05 AM:

'and then use phrases like "his throbbing manhood" to describe sex.'

Circumcise early, and often.

#100 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2005, 05:40 AM:

'I think we ought to organize the writing of a novel of steamy Republican sleaze, for publication by PublishAmerica, by one Libby Scooter -- call it "Texas Nights". Any takers?'

uh sure, but can we call it Tex's Nights. Cause I already done started on it up above. :)

#101 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2005, 07:42 PM:

As a non-American male with no religuous requirements, may I merely observe that the necessity for circumcision seems to have been greatly exaggerated.

I've heard it suggested that the standard-imagery of the modern romance genre is over-influenced by the gay male market, whether photographs or "anatomically correct" toys.

#102 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2005, 01:46 AM:

Serge wrote,

CJ being a woman, there was no way in Hell that Allison would have been depicted as an orgasmatron.

Laurell K. Hamilton seems to be enough of a woman to have had a child, but various of her female characters are ogasmatrons, and most of the fantasy/SF written by women, not just men, that has sex scenes, nobody ever seems to have much in the way of performance and repeat performance issues.

Other authors with sex scenes, some have lots, some not that many: Angela Knight [I think that is the name I saw on various books], Charlene Harris, Patricia Briggs (few of them and mostly not that explicit), Mary Jane Davison, Christine Feelahan [spelling], Catherine Asaro, Judith Tarr, Tanith Lee, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (relatively few), Sherrilyn Kenyon, Ann Maxwell back when she was an SF writer as opposed her writing as Elizabeth Lowell (usually limited to one key scene in books such as A Dead God Dancing, Timeshadow Rider, Name of a Shadow, the Jaws of Menx...), Linnea Sinclair, there have been various series of novels published by Ace and I can't remember book names and authors at the moment--some of them featured pairs of women who were partners but weren't -necessarily- sex partners with each other, Anne McCaffrey to a degree, Marion Zimmer Bradley (consider The Forbidden Tower, for example)....

The trope is something like Here We Have the Lead Female, and She and the Lead Male Get it on -- there are variant some of which she finds herself having sex with him in advance of them spending non-sex time together and fall in love and into partnership -after- being sexually intimate, there are variants where they are Old Friends who eventually realize they are sexual souls mates too but they had never considered one another as such (a forerunner to a degree of that might be The Foundling by Georgette Heyer, where the male lead is told it is time for him to go propose to someone he's known all his life. The idea that the two of them are going to now be engaged and are going to then be married rather discombobulates him, he has something of the attitude that love and passion and such ought to be involved, as opposed to a contractual familial arrangement set up long before without his input and without Grand Passion and Love, whatever those are supposed to be. The book however proceeds along and the male lead gets into various adventure and scapes, and secretly contacts his fiancee [he did propose as directed by his uncle and former guardian] for aid and assistance, as his adventuring has had him go off secretly adventuring. Gradually he comes to realize that there is love and passion involved, he just didn't recognize that it isn't always obvious, they had known one another for so long, and been so accustomed to one another, that they weren't conscious of the full dimensionalities of their long-time association).

Another variant is the two people who take an instant dislike to one another, or get into a quarrel--another Heyer novel comes to my mind on that, Regency Buck, wherein the first meeting of lead female and lead male, is very much inauspicious.

The differences between Heyer novels and contemporarily written romances ( or contemporary books with a lot of romance content (and a lot of SF over the years going way back has had varying degrees of romantic content... seek Kimball Kinnison and Clarissa MacDougal get married, for example)), include that Heyer's work didn't have explicit sex scenes and not the anatomical goings on. Scenes of kissing and groping were about as explicit as Heyer got. Contempory Regency and other romances go a lot further than that, and so does a lot of F&SF--but then, sex scenes in F&SF were around before the 1960s, even.

There were sex scenes in The Broken Sword, an early Poul Anderson novel (1954 or so), though the level of explicitness wasn't drawn out as it can be with contemporary novels [there was the making a changeling scene in The Broken Sword, for example, the line was something like "...quickly, because he misliked the cold troll flesh..." (Part of the horror of the captivity of the female troll was that she had gone mad, and what limited happiness there was for her, was making changelings).

Fritz Leiber had explicit scenes in e.g. his Fafrd and Grey Mouser stories if I remember correctly. And there was Heinlein...

There was a publisher in the early 1970s that was publishing SF and fantasy more or less porn, with house names, the title of one of the novels was The Pearl of Patmos or something like that.

That being said... It's been a couple of decades since I read the book, Paula, but it's always been my favorite and now you just made me want to re-read it again. I don't re-read books anymore. See what you've done?

Why don't you reread books? It can be more rewarding that trying to read something new by someone whose writing is not to one's taste, or something new by someone whose style and themes have moved away from the themes and style and content one liked, off into different areas. (Sometimes the opposite can happen, too, that someone whose work one found not congenial, has changed what they're writing so material and style one finds more congenial. )

#103 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2005, 02:05 AM:

A recent study indicated that circumcision greatly lessens the likelihood of HIV infection from/to sex partners. It also cuts the rate of transmission of HPV.

#104 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2005, 03:01 AM:

Paula, that sounds like an excuse for cutting corners on safe sex, and the cost of failure is just too high for me to want to follow that route.

(And a lot of fiction completely ignores the problem. On the other hand, the BBC is doing a modern "Inspired by Shakespeare" version of Much Ado About Nothing, and in Radio Times the scritwriter is saying how the loss-of-virginity plot would never work, and I'm now wondering if an accusation of having an HIV-positive boyfriend could fill that hole.)

#105 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2005, 04:55 AM:

actually I think the cut comes straight on, not at a corner angle at all.

#106 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2005, 06:22 AM:

IIRC, much of Marion Zimmer Bradley's early work was lesbian smut under various pen names (they're listed separately within the bibliography in her Wikipedia entry).

#107 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2005, 08:59 AM:

Thanks for the comments, Paula. I knew the moment I said that thing about CJ being a woman that it was an incomplete one. Of course there are plenty of women who would write their gender as a orgamastron. It's just that I myself have never read them, not among the modern ones anyway.

As for your analysis of the various tropes, yes, it's pretty much on the button, based on what my wife has told me of the genre, and based on what she herself has written. No wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am ever has nor ever will come out out her own writing. As a romance writer or as a fantasy writer.

Earlier I mentioned Robin and Marian having one of my favorite declarations of love. Another one would be in The Big Country. Near the end, the no-good-son of a rancher abducts Jean Simmons's character who's a friend of Gregory Peck's character. When Peck goes facing the rancher, the latter asks him why he came in despite all the guns guarding the place. Peck says nothing and simply looks at Simmons, who just as silently and quietly looks back at him.

#108 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2005, 09:51 AM:

--On the other hand, the BBC is doing a modern "Inspired by Shakespeare" version of Much Ado About Nothing, and in Radio Times the scritwriter is saying how the loss-of-virginity plot would never work,--

Dave, your language is not unclear, so I don't know why I still had trouble following this, but I did. Perhaps it's that I *did* follow it, but it's counterintuitive; you're saying that the scriptwriter in question said a loss-of-virginity plot would never work in modernizing Shakespeare? Because I think that's a ridiculous statement. There is a whole genre of mainstream comedies in which this is the *entire* plot, beginning with, what, *Porky's,* maybe (I'll admit, I'm too young to remember the first member-- er, entrant-- er. The first *movie*, dammit-- in said genre), but surely the most recent movie in the genre was "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." Which is a movie I don't think anyone who knows the movie industry would call unsuccessful, and which I'll go so far as to actually say was good (if not for "Good Night, and Good Luck.", "40YoV" would be the last good movie I saw in the cinema).

One thing that bothers me about the modernization of Shakespeare is the way people modernize the plays. I personally think that too many people view Shakespeare as damn near beatific, and would trademark the phrase "Greatest Writer Ever" and use it as a prefix for him. I'm not saying Shakespeare was *not* a great writer, but rather that, *in addition* to writing well, he was also a consummate entertainer and a master storyteller (I for one think the latter two contribute more than a little to the first). The plays that work (and most do [and even the ones that don't are still good]) are essential. Not in the sense that they are necessary, but rather in the sense that they seem stripped down to the very core of what is necessary for the story. Brannagh's *Hamlet* is still one of my two favorite adaptations of Shakespeare, and partly because it's unabridged ("Shakespeare in Love" is the other. I know, it's probably not completely historically accurate, but, then, neither were a lot of Shakespeare's plays. If he didn't mind bending the truth a bit to tell good stories, I don't see why we should).

My pet idea lately, the movie I lust after and the one that can only be found in Lucien's library, is a new "Macbeth", directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Christian Bale, Kate Winslet, Ewan McGregor, Dougray Scott, Sean Connery, and Billy Connolly. Given that Bale was just Batman and Ewan was just Obi Wan, the swordfights between Macbeth (Bale) and Macduff (Ewan) would be *awesome*. Yuen Wo Ping could choreograph them. Angelina Jolie, Monica Belluci, and Asia Argento could be the witches. And because this is my perfect world, I'd get to adapt it. Which would probably be the easiest job about, because, seriously, have you read it?

#109 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2005, 10:41 AM:

My favorite update of Shakespeare probably is Atomic Shakespeare, which was Moonlighting's take on The Taming of the Shrew. It had everything but the kitchen sink. You want ninja? We've got ninja. You want Petruchio trying to get into Catherine's bedroom? Just have him pretend he's here to 'tune' her piano, which leads to comments about Pianist Envy.

#110 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2005, 11:31 PM:

Today's WashPost gossip column has a listing of political authors on both sides who write bad sex. The paper version had pictures.

#111 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 09:21 AM:

--The paper version had pictures.--

Pictures of bad sex?

#112 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 09:32 AM:

I try not to associate the likes of Newt with sex...

#113 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 09:35 AM:

Will Entrekin,
You suggested
...a new "Macbeth"... the swordfights between Macbeth (Bale) and Macduff (Ewan) would be *awesome*. Yuen Wo Ping could choreograph them.

Has anyone done Shakespeare with Hong-Kong wire-fu?

I must know!*

-R.
_____
*Romeo Must Die doesn't count. It was aweful beyond all possible definitions of awefulness, Jet Li notwithstanding.

Also, you mentioned that:
Angelina Jolie, Monica Belluci, and Asia Argento could be the witches.
As I skimmed that, an alternative casting of Alyssa Milano, Holly Marie Combs, and Rose McGowan occured to me. But that would be a different movie. (Still better than Romeo Must Die, though.)

#114 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 09:39 AM:

I just noticed that the site is carrying an ad for the latest adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, which may or may not go well with the overall subject of this thread. Most fortuitously, today, Jonathan Carroll's column talks to us about the England that probably exists within England for all those BBC adaptations of classics. He suggests that, not too far from Bronteville, "...There's a Jane Austen stable too, a place where (a) lovers can secretly plight their troth (lots of plight-trothing in Austen) and (b) cruel squires can plot their revenge. I suspect there's also a cruel-squire costume somewhere, with a Velcro waistband to fit cruel squires of any size. They have to be portly, though, just as hypocritical vicars have to be thin..."

#115 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 10:01 AM:

One of the things that's really nifty about this place is that people intelligent references to the ads displayed on it. It's one of the reasons why I don't adblock things on this site. I don't suppose we could have fake ads here someday, for things like the "patented velcro-waistbanded cruel-squire jacket and matching waistcoat"?
-R.

#116 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 10:26 AM:

Good idea, randhir... As far as I'm concerned, due to my physique I'd have to go for the hypocritical-vicar outfit.

#117 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 10:37 AM:

I can't think of any cruel squires in Jane Austen, although we don't know, say, what Sir William Lucas' treatment of his tenants was like. Since all of Jane Austen's central figures are gentry, their relation to the squire would be purely social. There are plenty of stupid squires and assorted gentry, but that's another matter.

And, of course, there's troth-plighting (plight-trothing is an impossible form) in Jane Austen insofar as there are weddings in Jane Austen and its part of the C of E service. But none in stables, as far as I can recall.

#118 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 10:40 AM:

I was wondering about Austen's troth-plighting happening in stables. Isn't that more of a Tom Jones thing?

#119 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 10:46 AM:

Vicars can be thin, sure, and are also - ideally - tall, grey-haired, and slightly stooping. But bishops have to be fat - or at least portly - as do butlers. (Butlers, however, are shorter than bishops, even without the mitres). Curates are even thinner than vicars. Cabinet ministers are intermediate in fatness between curates and butlers.

Fatness in members of the aristocracy is in inverse relation to their order of precedence. Thus minor aristos (such as squires and baronets) can be fat. They can also, of course, be Bad. Earls should be aged, slightly censorious, and of medium build. Earls cannot be Bad, although they can be intolerant and hidebound. Dukes should be very tall and lean (see Wellington for an example) and even more censorious than the earls. Countesses and duchesses, should of course, be the most hidebound and censorious of the lot; an exception is made for marchionesses, who can be quite nice if a bit ancien regime.
Anyone writing about a viscount shall be fined for being too clever by half.

[That was a public information announcement from the Department of Wodehouse Affairs.]

Macbeth would really do well as a martial arts film; not just wirefu sword fights, but all the weird business about the witches. Plus I want to see Michelle Yeoh as Lady Macbeth, Chow Yun Fat as Macduff and Takeshi Kitano as Macbeth.

#120 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 10:46 AM:

Plight-trothing would be where you made someone swear that they really were in trouble, wouldn't it?

#121 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 12:53 PM:

Kurosawa did an adaptation of Macbeth of which the English-dubbed/subbed versions are variously called Throne of Blood or Castle of the Spider's Web; he also placed a character very similar to Lady Macbeth into Ran, his adaptation of King Lear. I'm not sure how much either of those could really be considered martial-arts-centric, though.

And then there's always Harry of Five Points, of course....

#122 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 01:01 PM:

From Newt's pouty kitten to Shakespeare...

#123 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 01:10 PM:

How about non-Asian films inspired by Shakespeare? I can think of a few westerns. On the F/SF front, there is...

Macbeth was the starting point for the Outer Limits episode The Bellero Shield. There is of course Star trek's The Conscience of the King. As for The Tempest... It became the 1998 TV movie with Peter Fonda as wizard Gideon Prosper, with a Civil War background. And, of course, Forbidden Planet.

#124 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 01:51 PM:

Sorry, my reference to "loss of virginity as a plot element in Much Ado About Nothing is a bit misleading, since we tend to interpret that label in another way, perhaps more appropriate to what Sir John Falstaff is encouraging the riotious Prince Hal to do.

A major part of the plot of Much Ado About Nothing is the impending marriage of Hero, daughter of Leonato, to Claudio, which Don John, bastard brother of Don Pedro, wants to mess with. This he does by convincing Claudio and Don Pedro that Hero is "disloyal". (Act III, Sc. 2, and the trick described in the second half of Sc. 3) Hero, is seems, is not just not a virgin, but blatantly shagging somebody else the night before the wedding.

The modern scriptwriter is, I think, a little bit naive if he thinks that particular plot wouldn't play.

Oh, and Claudio is one of Don Pedro's current favourites, as a consequence of his valour in the recent battle. Which likely is a motive for Don John.

#125 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 01:59 PM:

he also placed a character very similar to Lady Macbeth into Ran, his adaptation of King Lear
Watched this not too long ago. I forget her name but what a great villain she makes! I love her last line: "I have done all that I have set out to do."

#126 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 02:16 PM:

West Side Story

Shakespeare, done competently, seems to be a good bet in the cinema business, especially if you keep the language. You can be "educational". At school I had particular exposure to Twelfth Night, As You Like It, The Tempest and Macbeth. I don't think we had a detailed look at Julius Caesar but we saw the 1953 Hollywood version with Marlon Brando and a modern-dress TV-for-schools version.

Oh, and I've tried writing sonnets to a young lady.

Anyway, maybe I'm just from a time and place where writing new dialogue; doing to Shakespeare what he did to Holinshed, just isn't needed. Kurosawa had a good reason to chnge the words, but he kept the shape of the story. West Side Story moves the setting enough that the language could be changed. It's not stuffing the Duke of Gloucester into a combat uniform, and replacing the swastika with a boar's head.


What worries me about this latest effort is that the changes will just be too much.

#127 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 02:21 PM:

Say, Dave, what did you think of 2002's TV movie King of Texas? I can't remember how close it stuck to King Lear's plot, but it remained a good movie. Good cast too, with Patrick Stewart, Roy Scheider, Marcia Gay Harden, Liv Tyler, Patrick Bergin and others.

#128 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 03:07 PM:

I never thought I'd err on the side of ommission in my incoherence.

I personally expected the napalm to come in from the locals here, merely by my asking the question. . .

My original point was intended to be: "It seems to me that a lot of fantasy novels these days are romance novels dressed up for Halloween and taking up space in the SF/F part of the bookstores. "

On returning to the thread after a few days, I've decided it probably just falls under Sturgeon's Law and I was being a big snob.

#129 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 03:16 PM:

No, Sandy, you weren't being a snob. It was me being very sensitive.

#130 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 03:28 PM:

That being said, Sandy, you are right in your assessment that some F/SF really is romance in disguise. The thing is that they're not particularly well done as true F/SF or as romance. No, I won't name names.

#131 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 04:33 PM:

As I said, Serge: Sturgeon's Law. Or, as it turns out upon research, Sturgeon's Revelation.

#132 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 04:52 PM:

Of course, Sandy, the problem with the 90% of everything being crap (or worse words worthy of truckers or computer programmers) is what defines something as crap.

I seem to remember someone almost 30 years ago who trashed Pournelle's first Janissaries novel. I've never read the book, but I tend to agree (here if nowhere else) with Pournelle's response: the reviewer was basically criticizing the book on grounds other than what it was, which was an unabashed adventure tale. Thus, if something fails as what it attempts to do, then it IS crap.

#133 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 05:38 PM:

I remember a review of Starhawk's Truth or Dare that complained that the rituals contained therein "seem[ed] deliberately concocted for political purposes."

This is like complaining that TLOTR "doesn't appear to be set in any geographically-identifiable place on Earth."

Some reviewers Just Don't Get It.

#134 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 05:59 PM:

The novel/movie A Thousand Acres was apparently another modern American adaptation of King Lear; on the musical front, aside from West Side Story and Kiss Me, Kate, there's the lesser-known The Boys From Syracuse.

Come to think of it, I'm surprised that Julius Caesar hasn't been repopulated with modern mobsters, unless it already has; since I haven't seen a lot of mob flix, I probably wouldn't know. I do recall hearing about The Sopranos' nod to I, Claudius via Livia, though that's slightly differentish.

But after the success of Clueless, wasn't there a boomlet in modern teen movies loosely based on various classics? Ten Things I Hate About You, Cruel Intentions, O....

#135 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 07:16 PM:

Another Shakespeare-inspired western is 1956's Jubal. VERY freely adapted from Othello, it stars Glen Ford as one of the new hands on a ranch owned by Ernest Borgnine, whose wife takes quite a liking to Ford. Borgnine's feelings of jealousy aren't exactly helped by Rod Steiger's take on Iago.

#136 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 07:29 PM:

We recently got Scotland, PA from Netflix -- it's a loosely-adapted version of Macbeth, set in a Pennsylvania burger joint in the mid 1970s.

#137 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 09:00 PM:

Firstly, I most note that "Scotland, PA" had Christopher Walken as Macduff. That was the sole reason I rented it. I ended up not being able to finish because I disliked it so much, which says something, considering Walken was in it.

I forgot my other favorite Shakespeare adaptation: "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead". The movie stars Tim Roth and Gary Oldman. I enjoyed it a great deal, and anyone who likes Shakespeare should check it out.

I did a Julius-Caesar-as-mob-movie when I was in high school. It was about as good as you'd imagine. But that's just to say, yeah, it's a great idea, and I'm surprised it hasn't happened yet, either.

#138 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 10:45 PM:

Ever seen Stoppard's The 15-minute Hamlet?

#139 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 03:51 AM:

There's a movie, variously called Prince of Jutland and Royal Deceit, which stars a young Christian Bale as "Amled", and is presented as the real story behind Hamlet.

It's a OK sort of Dark Ages B-movie, and the story certainly goes a different way. Nothing brilliant about it, a bit heavy on plot cliches (quite apart from the Hamlet elements), and apparently going to the same root sources as Shaekspeare did.

As for other Shakespeare-derived movies, does Cleopatra count? Quite indirect, I think, as there were other plays feeding into the soup-pot of that tale.

On the other hand, Carry On Cleo does have definite references to Shakespeare's version of Roman history,

#140 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 04:45 AM:

Stoppard's 15-minute Hamlet? Yes, at the Fringe this summer - very funny. Shakespeare, like History, is not what you are taught, but what you can remember.

But the place to set Macbeth nowadays, although it would be difficult to sell, would be modern Sierra Leone. Violence, witchcraft, betrayal, palace coups...

Oh, and I've tried writing sonnets to a young lady.
Hell, who hasn't? Did it work? In my case, in a moment of superb irony, I found better results through stealing (without attribution) couplets from 'Cyrano de Bergerac'...

#141 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 06:17 AM:

The "Amled" movie sounds excellent; I'll have to look around for it. Wonder how it compares to John Updike's novel Gertrude and Claudius, or for that matter, Hamlet's Mill? (The latter, for those unfamiliar with it, is based on the thesis that world mythology exists to encode astronomical observations, especially the precession of the equinox. No, it is not written by John Updike. Exactly how Hamlet fits into precession, I cannot recall at this time.)

WRT Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern, it's been said that the Disney equivalent is The Lion King 1 1/2[sic], though in that case the original Lion King is missing several duels, mad scenes, and self-hoisting petards.

#142 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 09:00 AM:

--and I've tried writing sonnets to a young lady--
Maybe you should try writing them to a young man. According to most of what I've read/seen (besides "Shakespeare in Love"), that's what worked for the young bard.

I haven't seen "The 15-minute Hamlet". I'll have to look for it. But, then, it took me years to find "R&GaD" on DVD, and even then it's a Korean bootleg. I don't like to buy bootlegs and support piracy, but if that's the only way it's available, that's the way I'll buy it.
(sidenote: this whole argument over pirating/downloading bugs me no end. I've downloaded several movies, including the latest "Star Wars" movie. I certainly wasn't going to pay to see it in the theater. But ultimately, it's just not worth it; the quality is invariably poor, the sound crap, etc.
The part that gets to me, however, is not the poor quality of it, because that's to be expected. What gets me is what is available in no other way. "Mystery Science Theater".
They (I don't know the publisher, so I'm going vague there) just released a Beavis & Butthead collection on DVD. It's the "Mike Judge Collection", and it's 40 episodes.
And 8 music videos. That's ridiculous. The music video segments were the only reason I enjoyed Beavis & Butthead. But because of licensing issues, etc., I can't get those.
/end sidenote. Sorry)

I don't know what a self-hoisting petard is, but something tells me it would make me want to watch a Disney movie.

#143 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 11:08 AM:

Well, a petard is a sort of small bomb or mine, used in mediaeval siege warfare. (And yes, it is of French origin, and yes, it does share a root word with 'petomane'. Military humour hasn't changed much in the last half millennium.)

So a self-hoisting petard is presumably a sort of sixteenth-century Bouncing Betty. Leonardo probably designed one.
Hell, one of the commenters on this site has probably built one. Try the 'Try This at Home' thread.

#144 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 11:20 AM:

A 'petard' is a firecracker. Either way, self-hoisting is something the MythBusters would warn you not to try at home. Comme to think of it, have they every tried the self-hoisting petard?

#145 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 12:15 PM:

I believe there's a Shakespeare line saying that someone was "hoist with his own petard," which many people have taken in various ways, especially highschool students! But it means "blown up with his own bomb." As a metaphor it means that your machinations intended to destroy someone else have destroyed you instead.

That is all.

#146 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 12:48 PM:

The explanation I remember, and have not recently verified, was that you take your petard, basically a bucket of gunpowder, up to the castle door, you hammer a nail into the castle door, and then you hoist the petard onto the nail,light the fuse, and wander off. Unless you catch yourself on the nail, of course, in which case you are hoist along with the petard.

Yes, you are supposed to do all this while people inside are trying to kill you. It was a particularly bad idea in a field of bad ideas.

( I wrote a high school paper on "Siege techniques of the middle ages, and why none of them worked." It was inspired by one short paragraph in the history books. I don't remember the precise details, but it was something like "Richard III was locked up in [whatever castle] with 300 men. Henry Tudor came up to the castle with 25,000 men and immediately started trying to figure out how to lure him out." )

#147 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 01:11 PM:

Sounds like a backformation to me. Hoist just means blown up. And the Shakespeare line is from Hamlet: "for 'tis the sport to have the engineer/Hoist with his own petard" says Hamlet, before sending Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their deaths.

#149 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 01:23 PM:

A few years ago, I saw a TV comedy special with Rowan Atkinson. In one skit, Hugh Laurie played Skakespeare who had just turned in the script for "Hamlet" to his producer, played by Atkinson. The latter was going thru the whole thing, cutting scenes and lines out mercilessly. Until he got to the famous line that, under his quill, got reduced to "To be or not to be." Shakespeare kept on objecting until the producer said, that if Shakespeare accepted that cut, he could keep in the two Cockney gravediggers.

#150 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 01:24 PM:

A sonnet, slick in words, will wow the broads,
It make a guy seem smart, a cut above
The common sort of player, one of the lords;
A master of seduction and of love.
Yet in this age of liberty and vice,
Where to play the bawd is little sin,
There is no gain in rhyme and rhythm nice,
No gentle joy in such an easy win.
And yet I would not tell the lady's name,
For what we did was, in that moment, sweet.
The poem was not right for that which came,
For nothing lasted, passing swift and fleet.
The letter, when it came, was quickly read:
"Dear John, on Saturday, come see me wed."

#151 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 01:48 PM:

"She said I was the best man
That ever knocked on her door.
She said I was the best man
The fellow she had waited for.
As things turned out
There was no doubt
That I was best man in the end:
Yes, I was the Best Man
When she married my best friend!"

#152 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 06:14 PM:

Yet sonnets, by their nature, are more play
for he who writes them than for she who reads;
The artist loves his art, the interplay
of words- and not his subject, nor her deeds.
Myself, I wrote a sonnet for my wife
When we were far apart, before we wed;
She loved it not, 'twere it for others' life
But only 'cause I cared, and so she read.
Perhaps it is my unimpressive prose
That caus'ed this reaction in specific
I'm sometimes witty, yes, but not of those
whose words burn long- 'tis good I'm scientific.
When the broad Atlantic did us sever
I was but lonely, bored, and slightly clever.

#153 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 06:15 PM:

Huh. Eleven minutes.

#154 ::: ndrw Wlltt ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 06:39 PM:

Is anybody else having trouble posting to comment threads?

#155 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 06:43 PM:

[Is it my domain, which I will ROT-13 as fgenatrenqvngvba.pbz, that has become blacklist fodder? Most peculiar. Gentle hosts, can somebody investigate?]

I don't know Stoppard's 15-Minute Hamlet, but the Reduced Shakespeare Company's Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) is a stitch. The whole canon, including the sonnets, is presented by three men in an hour. For added fun, Hamlet gets the whole of Act II to itself. If you can see it live, do; but if you can find the script, buy it. I made an ass of myself reading it on the subway and making all sorts of snorty-snuffly noises as I tried to suppress the LOL.

#156 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 10:12 PM:

In the realm of Compressed Shakes, there's also Barry Purves's "Next," which gets all the plays into . . . five minutes.

It's a stop-action animated film from Aardman, who the same year did "Creature Comforts" and the first Wallace & Gromit, "A Grand Day Out."

A producer named "Peter" (an animated Sir Peter Hall, voiced by Roger Rees) is taking auditions, though not paying much attention to them. "Will, a Poor Player" is on stage, and with a series of bits and pieces from the prop room, illustrates at least a bit of every play in the Canon. The main prop is a soft white dummy -- like the one Donald O'Connor dances with in "Singin' In the Rain" -- who fills in for numerous characters. Will makes some noises, but doesn't speak, and there's a bit of music, but it's otherwise all sight references, such as Will dashing on stage with a rope around his middle, towing a stuffed bear.

It is a bit of a "guess the reference" game, and it helps a lot if there's a reasonable amount of Stratfordian trivia knowledge in the room (it is by far best seen with a crowd).

There usedta be an Aardman tape (in US format) that had this, "Creature Comforts," and other animations on it, but it seems to have disappeared (there's a compilation titled "Creature Comforts," but it's four Nick Park shorts -- all good, but no "Next").

#157 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 11:31 PM:

Years ago, A Prairie Home Companion presented a "One Minute Hamlet" song that began:

There was a kind noddding in a garden all alone when his brother in his ear poured a little bit of henbane

and ends:

And Fortinbras knee-deep in Danes lived happily ever after.


Wish I could remember the rest . . .

#158 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 11:35 PM:

Topically drifting from someone else's excursion:

Modern advertising seems to have lost track of the concept that there are actually people who want product information and go looking for it, and even have been known to actually by magazines for the ads (AmigaWorld was one example of exactly that.)

Ads are not inherently bad, and don't have to be stupid, offensive, inane, lacking in information about the product, etc. My favorite commercials over the years include a Bandini ad--the start of the commercial began with a skier at the top of what looked like a ski jump, except instead of snow the surface was very brown, and a strong authoritative sounding male voiceover saying "Man dares go where only cows have gone before! as the skier heads down the slope yelling Bandini-i-i-i-i-...!" and instead of going off on a jump falls backwards into the brown stuff, with a very feminine voiceover saying authoritatively, "Bandini is the word for fertilizer!"

#159 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 12:41 AM:

wrt shortened Shakespeare: Wikipedia claims the 15-Minute Hamlet is an extract of Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth. I saw the original tour, so memory is now time-fogged, but I remember truncations of both plays; Hamlet was performed in ~11 minutes and repeated in ~3. (Macbeth was ended or interrupted with the secret police's applause at the thane's self-coronation.)

#160 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 01:19 AM:

Fifteen minute Hamlet? Hah! Here's the Three Minute Hamlet.

#161 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 04:52 AM:

There's an enjoyable aside in 'The System of the World' where Roger Comstock explains that it is better, or certainly more polite, to write bad poetry to one's beloved, because at least it is sure to be sincere; if it were good poetry, there would always be the suspicion that one had written it to show off one's ability, and used the beloved simply as an excuse.

This is not meant as a comment on either sonnet above - except that it seems to be more or less what Sandy is trying to say.

Sonnets are passe. Someone should write a romantic limerick. Reclaim the limerick, I say!

#162 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 05:59 AM:

I think I originally saw The 15-minute Hamlet on the Independent Film Channel. It does last 15 minutes, which, for those of you who remember the play's actual length, is quite a feat. At the end, the lights come on in the theatre room and we see Shakespeare behind the movie projector. Then the Duke, his one-person audience, says that further cuts should be made. Yes, we are then treated to the 5-minute version...

On things shaksperean... A couple of years ago, Ian McKellen was on Bravo TV's The Actors Studio. At some point, he recounted being with his friend Judi Densch at some big party given by the Crown. At some point, one of them whispered to the other if he/she knew where they were. They went off to the sides of the room, looked behind the curtains and, yes, there was the Throne. They snuck in and sat on it, thus allowing Macbeth and his Lady to finally get to be England's rulers.

#163 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 08:52 AM:

Shall I compare thee to mid-June?
Thy beauty's more perfect, as shewn
By my modest praise
Which sunburnless raise
A mirror to thy silver moon.

(Actually, I wish I could remember the source of the limerick version of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", since I don't think I correctly remember its second line.)

#164 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 10:07 AM:

The use of a word more or less
Could not get us out of this mess.
We knew that we cared
More than we dared
Or ever would want to express.

Or,

Our silences are
More important than our words
And will outlast them.

#165 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 10:33 AM:

That's what I love about this site - you ask and you get. I feel like Giblets. "Write romantic limericks in Shakespearean style! Write romantic limericks NOOOOW!!"

The marriage of minds I'll not bar -
For love's an unvarying star;
By voyaging proved,
By tempests unmoved,
No clouds can its radiance mar.

Or Marvell?

If we had the time, I'd not fuss
On your coyness; but, lady, for us,
There's a cold narrow bed
Where we'd meet, ere we wed,
And there privacy's scarcely a plus.

Or Donne?

The Sun's an importunate fool -
Let him shine on the boys going to school!
He has no need to fuss
Through the curtains at us
With the rest of the heavens to rule!

OK, stopping now...

#166 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 10:46 AM:

Mike Ford: there's a DVD titled Aardman Classics, which has Next on it (as well as Creature Comforts, all the Heat Electric spin-off ads, Pib and Pog, Wat's Pig, and a bunch of others). My copy doesn't have the booklet that's mentioned on the amazon.co.uk page, but not the quality problems either.

#167 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 10:47 AM:

Might add that the DVD is Region 2, which can be a problem if your player's crippled.

#168 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 10:52 AM:

Paula: Ski Bandini Mountain!
(actually, it isn't there any more, but the memory lingers. EPA regs....)

#169 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 11:34 AM:

On another board, I once challenged people to rewrite good poems as a limerick- lemme see if the link's still good. . .

The Man from P.O.R.L.O.C.K

Quality varies, and injokes are prevalent, but some of them are REALLY good.

It occurs to me that someone else here might know Toon- Batya the Toon, filker from Queens. Then and now, far cleverer than I.

#170 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 11:38 AM:

I posted too fast, and left out the relevance again. That link has a version of "The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock" on it, done by Toon. Is that the one you were thinking of, Julie L.?

#171 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 01:48 PM:

1. My poems were supposed to be bad. Before anyone has to say it.

2. The inevitable:

I have eaten the plums that were in
The freezer, which you might have been
Reserving to to eat,
But ah, were they sweet
And cold and delicious within.

#172 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 02:08 PM:

Anybody else remember the Flying Karamazov Brothers' version of A Comedy of Errors?

#173 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 02:40 PM:

Oooh! I remember that one! Jugglers and unicycles and all kinds of mayhem! What fun. In the PBS broadcast, there's also that great moment where one of the leads accidentally drenches someone in the front row with a seltzer bottle: "Ohmygosh, I'm so sorry... Is that silk?"

#174 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 02:43 PM:

Oops. My comment on Shrink Lits should have been on this thread instead of the Open Thread.

Shrink Lits is a book of Great Books summarized in Lite Verse.

#175 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 02:53 PM:

Sandy: no, but now my mind must boggle at a world in which there are *multiple* Prufrock limericks. The one I'm vaguely remembering goes something like this--

An angst-ridden amorist, Fred,
Saw pants alterations ahead.
His mind kept on ringing
With fishy girls singing;
Soft fruits also filled him with dread.

And meanwhile,

Though I may appear grim and grey
As late autumn trees, still I say
Let's both hit the sack
Until heart attack
Puts an end to my roll in the hay.

#176 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 03:47 PM:

Andrew, I saw that show live, then watched the live broadcast of another evening on PBS. The squirt into the audience with "Oh, did I get you?" was there both times.

The "Is that silk?" was only there for the broadcast.

#177 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 04:45 PM:

Let us go then, you and I
Under evening-etherized sky
Days a coffee-spoon each
Do I dare eat a peach?
Mermaids sing each to each, not to I.

#178 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 10:12 PM:

Xopher -- I also remember that show; saw it twice, before and after the tall blonde trapeziste recovered from a broken (? enslinged, anyway) arm. (During the recovery, she juggled one-handed; don't remember the sequence of sideshow acts well enough to recall what they did in place of her number.) The former performance was the day the props man under the stage was late with Adriana's cane; he got such an earful I thought it had been intentional.

#179 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2005, 02:25 PM:

get the hell out of here, you two
while the sky is like a screw
driven by what hand
and by what hand, and by what foot
did the bushious banderbutch
sign in law and decree
a pie piled higher, but not on me.

alas.

#180 ::: SW ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 09:24 PM:

Study after study has conclued that circumcision significantly desensitizes the penis. But then again, you don't know what you've had if you've never had it, hence the debate. Silliness.

#181 ::: fidelio ponders the issue of spam ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2006, 08:44 AM:

I have no idea if the previous remark is spam or not--but it's an older thread and the remark is at such a tangent that I have to wonder. (wonder, wonder, wonder WHO! Who wrote the Book of Spam!?)

#182 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2006, 09:03 AM:

Several previous comments in this thread deal with circumcision (a barbarous practice, in my opinion). This latest comment contains no links to any sites. Therefore I let it pass.

#183 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2006, 12:24 PM:

I agree that it's barbarous. In fact I think it's an attempt to keep boys from masturbating. (HAH!) That is the most barbarous of all.

#184 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2006, 04:36 PM:

Xopher:

If that's the case, I can personally guarantee it doesn't work. I'm not the only one.

#185 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2006, 05:37 PM:

Yep. It might have been more effective before the invention of hand cream and such like, but it sure is obsolete for that purpose now!

I never thought of myself as desensitized until I saw the level of sensual pleasure achieved by uncut men, and how easily they achieve it.

If I had boy children they would be circumcised over my charred and smoking corpse.

#186 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2006, 08:10 PM:

Stefan, I think you're remembering Oor Hamlet, by Adam McNaughton. The "And Fortinbras, knee-deep in Danes, lived happily ever after" line is in fact the last line in the penultimate stanza. In the version I learned, the song ends:

Hamlet, Hamlet, oh the glory
Hamlet, Hamlet, end of story
Hamlet, Hamlet, I'm away
If you think that was boring,
You should read the bloody play

#187 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2006, 11:23 PM:

I never thought of myself as desensitized until I saw the level of sensual pleasure achieved by uncut men, and how easily they achieve it.

This is fascinating, to someone who's only had a chance to observe the cut variety.

Clearly my slashfic required much more extensive research... I glossed over the detailed descriptions, knowing that my characters would most likely be uncut and not trusting mere pictorial evidence to give me the 3-D, five-sense vocabulary I would have wanted, but when I wrote reactions, they were all based on observations of cut men.

Guess I got it wrong ANYWAY.

#188 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2006, 01:21 AM:

Stephan:

Yes, that sounds very familiar, except the line goes "very gory" not "oh the glory."

At least as I'd heard it.

Someday I'll digitize all my old PHC tapes and find that piece . . .

#189 ::: Van Dahl ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2006, 02:23 AM:

Circumcision Synchronicity. A friend (yes, it sounds lame, but it's true, true! I tell you) just last week had an adult circumcision at the age of 40+ years, partly because of oversensitivity, sometimes to the point of pain, and a slight phimosis.
It gives me* the shudders thinking about it, but there's been long-term consultation & thought leading to it, so all his close friends are keeping our fingers** crossed, hoping it turns out well.

*Pseudonomyously posting, so my friend won't be identifiable.
**OK, not always the fingers :)

#190 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2006, 05:04 PM:

"If I had boy children they would be circumcised over my charred and smoking corpse."

wow, that sounds a little old testament on acid to me.

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