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November 15, 2006

The uselessness of Airleaf Publishing
Posted by Teresa at 06:24 PM *

A spam from Airleaf Publishing recently turned up in the mail queue of a senior editor. She forwarded it to me:

From: brien@airleaf.com [mailto:brien@airleaf.com]
Sent: Saturday, November 11, 2006 3:23 AM
To: [name of recipient]
Subject: Reach 400 Decision Makers at Traditional Royalty-Paying Publishers!
Airleaf Publishing is the most recent name of Bookman Marketing. They aren’t the good guys. One of Making Light’s old comment threads discussed them in some detail: one, two, three, four, five. Other venues have done so as well: A comprehensive denunciation at Lone Prairie. The Absolute Write thread on Bookman/Airleaf, which also has information on their marketing scams aimed at filmmakers, and their short-lived Bowker Book Club division (which falsely claimed connection with the real Bowker). A denunciation at Lulu.com’s weblog. A thread at WritersWeekly.

The scene these days is full of POD, subsidy, and vanity publishers who try to sell writers on the idea that they can deliver the same results as a conventional publishing house, if only the writers will work hard enough at promoting their own books. This is false. It’s like selling them on a gold rush in an area where little or no gold exists to be found, and telling them they can get rich if only they’ll dig hard enough. A phenomenal number of authors fall for this. And when they do, Bookman/Airleaf is standing there, ready to sell them their picks and shovels.

B/A’s specialty is doing useless promotion in huge quantities—for example, sending 4,000 email copies of a press release about your book to bookstores across the country, where they’re guaranteed to go unread. They also have a vanity radio operation that charges $499 for a ten-minute interview, and a vanity TV branch that charges $499 for a 15-second spot. You won’t have heard or seen any of them, which should tell you something.

This latest program of theirs is very much in Bookman/Airleaf’s usual style:

Subject: Reach 400 Decision Makers at Traditional Royalty-Paying Publishers!
Royalty-Paying Publishers means they’re aiming this at hapless writers whose chief experience has been with the non-royalty-paying sort: POD, subsidy, and vanity publishers. Traditional means they’re hoping to pick up business from PA’s thousands of dissatisfied authors. The villains at PublishAmerica have always referred to their operation as a “traditional publisher.” This couldn’t be further from the truth, but they get away with it because there are no standards for what can and can’t be called a traditional publisher. Their authors tend to pick up that language, not understanding that the standard term for a traditional, royalty-paying publisher is “publisher.”
Selling a book to a royalty paying, traditional publisher is always a long shot for unknown authors.
The impossibility of a newbie getting published is a standard trope among scammers. They want you to despair of your own chances of legitimate publication and go with them instead, or buy their overpriced and underskilled “professional editing,” or accept the necessity of paying for a major promotional campaign out of your own pocket.
However, Airleaf Publishing & Book Selling Services has developed a unique list of Senior Editors at the biggest publishing houses, and we also know how each publisher accepts new submissions. This puts you at least two steps ahead of the thousands of authors submitting books every week.
The names of editors, and the submission guidelines of publishing houses, are not hard-to-get proprietary information. Just ask the reference librarian at your local library.
What we do is compose a special full-page release about your book. While we write the promotion, you approve it and have final authority.
First, I’ve seen numerous complaints about the quality of their copywriting. Second, a press release is going to do exactly nothing to sell a book to an editor. It’s not a query letter. It’s not a submission, either. It’s just a mediocre advertisement, sent as spam.
Once you are satisfied with the promotion we send it directly 400 Senior Editors at Traditional Publishers.
It’s a good thing they’re just scammers, because otherwise I’d have to think they’re insane. Imagine you’ve written a science fiction novel. If you only send it to one editor per house (as is proper), how many recipients are we talking about? Let’s say twenty-five in the English-speaking world, if we don’t count small presses. That means fifteen out of sixteen releases are going to inappropriate editors. They may pay attention to the first five or ten of those that arrive, but after that they’re going to be flagged as spam about books, and automatically discarded. The sixteenth editor, the appropriate one, will ignore it too, because he or she is constantly getting spam about books, and deletes it all unread.
Then we follow up whatever way we can to try to secure a contract and an advance. If we are successful, we will not charge any commission.
Does that look like the La Brea Tar Pits to you? Because it does to me.

If they’re offering your book for sale to third parties, they’re acting as your agent. If they aren’t your agent, they can’t sell your book. I have no idea why they aren’t saying “agent” here.

When they talk about charging commissions, things get even more complicated. When an agent sells a book to a publisher, the publisher pays the advance and other monies to the agent, and the agent passes them on to the author less the agency commission. If Bookman/Airleaf is proposing to handle the money, it would be a very good idea to first have a signed agenting agreement. It would also be a very good idea to check out Bookman/Airleaf’s qualifications to act as an agent and negotiate your contracts.

Also: if they’re successful, they won’t charge a commission? You charge a commission when you’ve succeeded in making money for the author, not otherwise. It’s hard to collect a set percentage of zero.

As always, you will reserve all the rights to your book.
Of course you will. That’s the default. These days, you have to actively sign away your copyright in order to lose it.
The regular price for this unique service is $499

RIGHT NOW, THE PRICE IS JUST $270

They’ve put together a mailing list of 400 people who work in publishing and have “senior editor” in their titles. If you purchase their services, they’ll send you a questionnaire asking for information about your book. Some talentless hack will munge the information together in an untransformative fashion, and Bookman/Airleaf will send it as spam to their editor list.

If you have what it takes to be an author, you can do that for yourself, and make a better job of it. You may even be able to figure out that it’s a useless maneuver, and do something else. Cobbling together a release and spamming a list of editors with it is cheap and easy to do, which is why Bookman/Airleaf offers the service; but that doesn’t mean it’s an effective way to sell a book.

As always, we will sell your book even if you publshed with another company—and, more importantly, we can have your book for sale on our websites NOW! Don’t miss the best time of the year to sell books. Just give me a quick call at 1-800-342-6068!
I’ll stop now. Suffice it to say that Bookman/Airleaf have a lot of useless package deals on offer.
Brien Jones
Author Consultant
Scott Janssens’ dog could call himself an Author Consultant if he wanted to, and I’d be likelier to hire him.
PS. Check out our ads this month in Oracle Magazine and Veterans Reporter, and our new websites http://www.airleafeuro.com/ and

http://www.airleaf.com/
http://www.airleafclub.com/
http://www.authorsspeakout.com/
http://www.doctorauthor.com/
http://www.airleafeliteclub.com/
http://www.airleafselect.com/
http://www.thebigbooks.com/
http://www.marquisbooks.com/
http://www.bookatron.com/
http://www.signedbytheauthor.net/
http://www.airleafeuro.com/
http://www.brienjones.com/

A convenient list of URLs to avoid: finally, they give us something useful!
Comments on The uselessness of Airleaf Publishing:
#1 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2006, 07:22 PM:

Traditional Royalty-Paying Publishers

Ah, those traditional royalty-paying publishers... Thanks to my wife's TRPB, we finally were able to replace our 18-year-old leaky fridge with a modern one. And it makes ice cubes too.

#2 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2006, 08:04 PM:

Mazeltov. May your word-of-mouth sales ever prosper.

#3 ::: Carrie V. ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2006, 09:02 PM:

Just last night I was talking to someone whose friend was getting published...with Publish America.

*slaps forehead*

Then I get asked, "How did you get a traditional royalty-paying publisher (tm)?"

Answer: Six years, three trunked "practice" novels, a lotta rejections and a lotta waiting.

Then they say, "But that sounds like...work..."

*slaps forehead again*

#4 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2006, 09:07 PM:

Carrie V: Your friend should try getting work placed with an academic publisher. My first book got $0 in royalties, I was, however, content with the reward of having it in print (since that's a step up the academic ladder). Now I'm shopping a second book around, and suffering conniptions.

#5 ::: Chris Lawson ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2006, 09:07 PM:

Teresa,

It seems to me that if Airleaf waives their commission on a sale, that must be because they don't expect to sell. Who in their right mind is going to sign up with a group that only gets paid if it fails?

#6 ::: Chris Lawson ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2006, 09:09 PM:

And now that I think about it, how can you call it a commission if it isn't on a sale?

#7 ::: Pantechnician ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2006, 09:10 PM:

The name Airleaf seems about right for the company, given that their services seem to be about as helpful as randomly scattering manuscript pages in the wind and then hoping they land on a buyer.

#8 ::: Writerious ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2006, 10:31 PM:

They're preying on the uninformed, unpublished authors who crave to hear those six magic words: "We want to publish your book!"

New authors believe it will be hard to get published, and indeed it is, because you have to be willing to put the time and sweat equity in to learning to write well and learning to market your manuscripts to agents or editors. None of that is easy. The first rejections are frustrating, and they leave newcomers with the uneasy feeling that there's a secret handshake out there that they haven't learned yet, and if they could just learn it, they'd pass beyond that magic door and become a Published Author.

Airleaf is selling then an ersatz secret handshake.

Months later when they've discovered they've been duped, they'll either throw their manuscripts away and give up in frustration, convinced that the whole publishing industry is a scam, or they'll find their way to a writer's discussion board or writing group or other source and perhaps get the truth.

Unless they wander into PA's discussion board, of course.

#9 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 01:16 AM:

Oh dear god.

The Google ads in the sidebar right this minute:

Fiction publishers
We want your book, not your money Publish with Ease for Free.
www.publishamerica.com

Free Publishing Guide
Get your book published & available worldwide in as little as 6 weeks!
www.trafford.com

Publish Your Own Book:
Through BookSurge, Amazon Offers Self-Publishing Options. Learn How.
www.BookSurge.com

Christian Book store
Official site of Christianbook.com Books, Bibles, music, gifts & more.
www.christianbook.com

Looking for a Publisher?
Stay in charge. Keep all the rights Your belief in print at AuthorHouse
www.AuthorHouse.com

#10 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 01:18 AM:

And on refreshing the page, Airleaf has come in at number two...

#11 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 06:50 AM:

I stopped seeing ads like that a long time ago. They're ubiquitous on the Bewares Board at Absolute Write.

#12 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 06:59 AM:

Teresa to the rescue again! I just got a spam from these guys. Thanks for the post

:)

#13 ::: Gag Halfrunt ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 07:03 AM:

And here's what I get reading Making Light in the UK:

Quality Self Publishing
Top quality self publishing and marketing with Matador
www.troubador.co.uk/matador

Print Your Book
Professional book printing for self publishing authors
www.think-ink.co.uk

Why pay to publish?
Get Published & get paid Send us your Manuscript today!
www.pneumasprings.co.uk

New York Literary Agency
Literary Agency seeks new authors. No fees, fast, submit online.
www.newyorkliteraryagency.com

Writers Nexus
Your work targeted sensitively to the right Agents and Publishers
www.WritersNexus.com

#14 ::: Gag Halfrunt ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 07:04 AM:

And now I've reloaded, AuthorHouse has popped up.

USA Publishing Company
Get published in just 30 days. Keep your rights. Earn 50% royalties.
www.AuthorHouse.com

#15 ::: lalouve ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 07:19 AM:

An acquaintance whose blog I read is looking for a vanity publisher - fortunately, she looked on the web and found that this is not the way to get published by a publisher... She also has all these ideas of why she isn't published; I'm going with the fact that she can't write, myself.

It seems, in a way, easier to be an academic writer: you find a publisher, you find a grant that will pay for publishing your book, you often sign away your copyright and you never expect to make anything on that book - it's just there to help you to a better-paying job anyway. But (whistfully) it would be nice to write books that anyone reads...

#16 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 07:20 AM:

And now the Google ads show PublishAmerica at #1, with Airleaf at #3! "It's either going to be a photo finish or an oil painting."

#17 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 07:43 AM:

I spy a Google ad for the New York Literary Agency.

That printing company should be regarded with suspicion, in this context, but I suppose they could be honest. (Checks website.) Sells quite a few different sorts of printing, at least.

#18 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 07:59 AM:

I expect that Google and other keyword ad systems are a long way from being able to filter based on the context of the keyword. I chortled mightily the first time I noticed an article being supported by the very thing it was attacking (a WaPo piece on credit counseling services).
I've been heeding our hosts' request from sometime back to help support Making Light by clicking on the ads.
Step right up! See bottom-feeding scum in their native environment! For just one thin <click>!

<Kerching!>

#19 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 10:27 AM:
Then I get asked, "How did you get a traditional royalty-paying publisher (tm)?"

Answer: Six years, three trunked "practice" novels, a lotta rejections and a lotta waiting.

Then they say, "But that sounds like...work..."

. . . . . . . .

New authors believe it will be hard to get published, and indeed it is, because you have to be willing to put the time and sweat equity in to learning to write well and learning to market your manuscripts to agents or editors. None of that is easy.

It's true that getting published is usually a long slog of hard work. And it's true that a lot of people getting suckered don't want to do the work.

It's also true, though, that the large majority of aspiring writers don't have the talent to succeed no matter how much work they put in. Many of them work as hard as the folks who succeed. Some of these people persevere for decades. The evillest thing the fake publishers do, in my opinion, is sell these people false hope. It isn't (ever) just the weak in virtue who get scammed.

#20 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 10:30 AM:

#11 They're ubiquitous on the Bewares Board at Absolute Write.

No, they aren't. Because the board's owner can block ads from given URLs.

You should look at the Google ads on various of the ML posts dealing with agents -- it's wall-to-wall Robert Fletcher.

#21 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 10:56 AM:

They've put together a mailing list of 400 people who work in publishing and have "senior editor" in their titles.

Oh joy.

You know, every so often I get a letter and sometimes a partial from someone who clearly saw the title "Senior Editor," or "Managing Editor," and thought "This person will make me famous!!!!one!"

Unfortunately, they missed the important adjective in my company's name--"Educational."

Either that, or they think that their memoirs-thinly-disguised-as-fiction are educational.

And Scraps @19: It's true that getting published is usually a long slog of hard work. And it's true that a lot of people getting suckered don't want to do the work.

It's also true, though, that the large majority of aspiring writers don't have the talent to succeed no matter how much work they put in. Many of them work as hard as the folks who succeed. Some of these people persevere for decades. The evillest thing the fake publishers do, in my opinion, is sell these people false hope. It isn't (ever) just the weak in virtue who get scammed.

My seniorest-editor and I were just talking about this--she calls it the American Idol phenomenon: apparently the early episodes of the show feature numerous people who think they can be pop stars, but can't sing or dance. There's this myth, however, that if you want something badly enough and you're willing to work hard for it, that thing will happen. I think it's a very sad thing.

#22 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 11:57 AM:

#21: Jennie:There's this myth, however, that if you want something badly enough and you're willing to work hard for it, that thing will happen. I think it's a very sad thing.

The terrible and tricky thing is that for certain values of "you", "thing," and "work hard," it's absolutely true. e.g., I don't think Tiger Woods got to where he is by reclining on his couch and merely thinking about becoming a professional golfer. Golf is something he worked extremely hard at (from practically birth).

Of course, this is coming from someone who got The Speech from his voice professor in college. That is, she could train me to have a perfectly respectable voice. She thought I certainly wouldn't be embarassed when I sing in public. But she also thought I should consider making my living in another field. I trained in voice anyways, of course, and spent hours and hours in the practice room. As a result, I do have a perfectly respectable voice, and perfectly competent musicianship. However, I make my living in microprocessor design. I still sing, but it's as a part of a perfectly decent amateur choir and I envy the (professional) soloists, whose voice and musicianship I'm simply not able to reach.

The point is I don't know how you can know whether or not hard work will get you where you want to be besides putting in that hard work. So whether it's a myth or not, for me anyways, turns out to be irrelevant so long as I enjoy the work.

#23 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 11:58 AM:

As the Editor-in-Chief of various periodical science-fiction publications, which have had a small and carefully selected readership, it goes without saying that my work has been influential in the field. I am, therefore, surprised, that these people have not seen fit to inform me of the remarkable works which they wish to sell.

(I suppose I ought to see if I can get the Enchanted Laserjet working again.)

#24 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 12:29 PM:

I weep with you, Dave. On the other hand, my Editor-in-Chief's pseudonym doesn't use her email address in public, so it's still spam-free after nine years.

And in the GoogleAds bingo, I've just got Tate Publishing. It's so nice of them to advertise the fact that they're scammers. [clicks] Yes, it's selling "being published" to authors, not books to readers. This one's a Christian-orientated scam.

#25 ::: Chris Gerrib ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 12:51 PM:

Full disclosure - I committed self-publishing. (It was more interesting then re-organizing my sock drawer).

But these guys are Exhibit# 12,452 in the case of "you'll never go broke underestimating the stupidity of the American public."

Exhibit# 12,453? I was on a Lulu forum and somebody posted "yeah! I got a real publisher!" Her publisher - Publish America.

#26 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 12:58 PM:

#22 ::: JC wrote:
The terrible and tricky thing is that for certain values of "you", "thing," and "work hard," it's absolutely true. e.g., I don't think Tiger Woods got to where he is by reclining on his couch and merely thinking about becoming a professional golfer. Golf is something he worked extremely hard at (from practically birth).

"The year was 2081, and everyone was finally equal."

The point is I don't know how you can know whether or not hard work will get you where you want to be besides putting in that hard work. So whether it's a myth or not, for me anyways, turns out to be irrelevant so long as I enjoy the work.

I'm finding myself presuming that "where you want to be" means "damn'd good at " - and that's just not possible without talent and aptitude, along with plenty of hard work.

#27 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 01:03 PM:

JC @ 22:

Sure thing, hard work, correctly applied will almost always lead to improvement in one's chosen area. And there's no denying that talent without hard work will only take one so far.

The ballet dancers I saw on stage last night had to combine years of training and trying and working with natural aptitude and a certain body type. I'm certain that they all attended classes with dancers who were equally hardworking who will never tread a professional stage. I'm equally certain that there are other people out there who might have been dancers if they'd had the opportunity to study ballet or been willing to practise.

The problem comes not when people continue practising in order to get as good at something as they can be, and enjoy it. The problem comes when people believe that hard work is all they need in order to reach an arbitrarily selected goal, because sometimes, it doesn't matter how hard you work, you're not going to get there.

This doesn't mean you should stop singing, or dancing, or writing, or playing golf, or whatever. It doesn't even mean you should be content with your current abilities in singing, dancing, writing, playing golf, or whatever. It does mean that you can't blame other people, or decide that the industry's broken, when you don't get to be a professional singer, dancer, or golfer, or when your book doesn't get published. (Which you didn't, it sounds like. And I too envy those of my former choral colleagues who have gone on to careers as professional singers, even while I'm happy to make my living as an editor.)

#28 ::: badducky ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 02:33 PM:

I can only wonder if PublishAmerica's "senior editors", and others of their ilk, appear on Airleaf's mailing list...

#29 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 02:48 PM:

#26, #27: xeger, jennie:
Wow, did everyone read Harrison Bergeron in high school?

I thought that the second half of what I wrote made it clear that I do not think everyone has or should have equal opportunity at success. (i.e., I didn't mean to come off like I was complaining about my lack of opera career.) I certainly don't think the talented ought to be hobbled. So I'm not sure what a reference to Harrison Bergeron is supposed to rebut. My apologies if I wasn't clear.

I'm finding myself presuming that "where you want to be" means "damn'd good at " - and that's just not possible without talent and aptitude, along with plenty of hard work.

All I'm saying is that I don't know how you find out if you have the talent and aptitude without putting in the hard work first. It's totally possible to put in lots of hard work to find out that you won't make the cut. (cf. my illustrious career in opera) But until I devoted a chunk of my life to finding out, there was no way for me to know one way or the other. I found out, and I continue to sing because I enjoy singing. I'm certainly a better singer than if I hadn't found out.

So if you enjoy doing something, I don't see any reason not to do the hard work. The worst case scenario is that you've gotten better at something you love doing. That's not bad. If you need to know that you're going to be a big success before you even start, then you're probably better off doing something else instead.

I'm not disagreeing with either of you. I just want to rule out the notions "oh, you shouldn't bother doing something unless you're talented at it" and "hard work won't get you anywhere." I'm sure no one has expressed that point of view, but no one had ruled it out either. Hard work will get you somewhere. Perhaps it's not where you wanted to be, but you will have gotten somewhere.

(To borrow a line from Richard Bach, I don't see the point in arguing my limitations. If it's something I enjoy doing, I'd rather assume that I'm sufficiently talented, put in the hard work, then find out I'm wrong than not put in the work at all. Of course, I'd rather put in the hard work then find out that I'm right.)

I completely agree with what Jennie says in #27. The problem is not in putting the hard work. The problem is in how you deal with finding out you don't have what it takes. I misread Jennie, at first, in that I thought she meant that the trying was a sad thing. Until someone comes up with a meter that can quantify whether you have sufficient talent before you've even started to explore your abilities, you always have to try first.

(Or to put it another way, I didn't want some unknown talent to be discouraged by the notion that hard work by itself isn't enough. For that talented person, it actually is. And I wanted to get across that things are worth doing in and of themselves.)

#30 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 02:58 PM:

The fact that Air Leaf uses the term "traditional" is enough to demonstrate that they don't really understand the market and are just looking to make money off authors.

#31 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 02:58 PM:

#26, #27: D'oh, I figured out what happened right after I hit Post.

I said that hard work==success for certain specific values of "you," "thing," and "work hard." (e.g., all Tiger Woods had to do was work incredibly hard. He didn't have to worry about talent in golf. But obviously, this does not hold for everyone or everything that Tiger Woods tries to do.) I interpreted both of your responses as rebutting the argument that I had said that this was true for every value of "you," "thing," and "work hard."

This is not an argument that I had intended to make. I apologize for the misunderstanding.

#32 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 03:03 PM:

Part of the hard work of being a writer is not just the hard work that it takes to learn the craft, not just the hard work that it takes to produce the stuff that's at a truly professional level and that can be seriously considered by a publisher. It's the hard work of sending the damn MS out again. And again. And again.

Persisting.

The problem (one of the many problems) with the PublishAmerica types is that they've convinced a subset of writers that you can get to the desired endpoint without ever having to learn the skill of persisting. I always think of the moment in the Muppet Movie when Kermit and Co. get offered the standard "rich and famous contract" by Orson Welles.

It's like the places that offer online advanced degrees. Yes, they're giving you a degree, and the diplomas you hang on your wall will look a lot like the ones I hang on mine. But anyone who knows the difference will....know the difference.

Persistence.

Sitzfleisch.

#33 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 03:37 PM:

In Coupland's Shampoo Planet, there's a nice riff on the American tendency to teach their kids that they can do anything they set their hearts on, if they only try hard enough. A European character points out that really, it'd be much more sensible to raise kids with the expectation that they can become mid-level government functionaries. That way, there wouldn't be that sense of betrayal and guilt when the kids discover that they can't do anything they set their hearts on.

I'm not sure how I feel about it. Believing you can accomplish something makes it more likely that you'll put in the work, of course -- but on the other side there's all the people who audition in the first round of American Idol, who don't seem to know they're truly horrifying singers. (The fact that the same skills needed to judge your own ability at something are the skills needed to make you good at it gets wrapped up in this as well, of course.)

And the belief that you can do whatever you dream of also creates this sense of entitlement. Not for everyone, of course -- but in some people. The PHB types who believe they deserve to have a novel published, for example.

#34 ::: Scott Janssens ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 03:45 PM:

If anyone is interested, Boo! is available for author consultations. Payment to made in liver treats.

#35 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 04:07 PM:

JC #29: Wow, did everyone read Harrison Bergeron in high school?

I certainly did. In an old issue of If that I bought at the sleazy secondhand bookstore downtown.

BTW, there's something very poetic about the title of this post; it's like a mashup of The Unbearable Lightness of Being and that great psychedelic classic, the Driving Stupid's "The Reality of (Air) Fried Borsk" (anthologized on one of the Pebbles LPs.

#36 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 05:15 PM:

I must admit, I find myself extremely wary of people who are quick to claim a heavy innate component (often labeled "talent") to various endeavors. It is my personal impression that much of what we call talent is really unaccounted for practice.

If a little kid by age ten is playing concert-level piano, many are likely to ascribe some strong innate talent to the child, even if that same child was plucking at keys for hours each day when he was three. The early "practice" is very likely to be written off as "oh, he was just playing", even though it could easily amount to over seven thousand hours of practice before his first concert.

I've been told for most of my life that I'm academically talented, or "gifted", or various variations on the theme. I don't buy it. I know that I spend my spare time reading about or researching things that most people don't care about. I know where my supposed "talent" comes from - it comes from lots and lots of activity that gets written off because it's not formally dedicated time: it's reading SICP on my long train commute, spending the boring time waiting for dinner in a restaurant by factoring the numbers on license plates outside, or playing the 24 game in odd moments. I don't doubt that the "natural" artists I met in high school were the same kids who actually doodled pictures in the corner of their notebooks in grade school. (I was busy doodling something else)

I think that the issue with the American Myth is that we somehow believe that there is a way to try hard enough at something to succeed without trying long enough at it. To become a writer, you write. Yes, it goes faster if you get good feedback on your writing and study the theory of how stories are constructed, but mostly, you need to write. And write, and write, and write. Write like it's what you do, almost as much as breathing. As someone said earlier, it's the skill of persisting - but that applies not just to becoming published, but also to becoming worth publishing in the first place.

I have no desire to write that much; as a consequence, I'm never going to be a published novelist. I'm really OK with that.

#37 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 05:21 PM:

(I suppose I ought to see if I can get the Enchanted Laserjet working again.)

This does, very much, sound like something Wonder Woman flew for about six issues in 1973.

I sit in rapt attention, waiting to hear how the repairs come out and if you will ever get off the Island of Oddly-Walking Dinosaurs. [comic code, yanno.]

#38 ::: Cynthia Wood ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 05:47 PM:

Hmm - an interesting theory, Daniel. I find myself inclined to agree in many instances. I get thought of as really quick on the uptake when given verbal puzzles to work out. My deep dark secret is that I'm actually not very quick, I just love word games and logic puzzles so I've seen hundreds and thousands of the things.

Contrariwise, at least for some physical endeavors, some people do seem to have an innate coordination and kinesthetic sense that others just can't achieve no matter what they do. I pick up new kata in karate so quickly that I can get away with about half the practice of most of my fellow students with the same results. If I practice equally, I do much better.

In writing and story-telling, I think an awful lot of what I see in people who seem to be untalented writers no matter how hard they try is not a lack of effort at writing, but rather a lack of reading. Whereas other people who write very little but read inveterately, seem to have a much better sense of pacing, plotting, and the general structure of a good story.

#39 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 06:46 PM:

I believe that innate talent makes a difference. I'm never going to be a dancer, for example. I started taking dance lessons when I was three; in high school, I took dance as my winter athletic credit, and we danced at least two hours a day, six days a week. And while I did get better at it -- I can now do a passable waltz, at least -- there was no question of my ever getting good at it, much less going professional. My body just doesn't work like that. Similarly, while my voice isn't bad, it isn't strong enough to make me an operatic soprano or get me on American Idol. And I'm okay with that.

Of course, I also believe that talent is useless without practice, but that's another tangent and I've tangented enough for today.

#40 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 09:13 PM:

A high school friend of my sister went on to become a professional opera singer. I understand part of her training had been to unlearn what she had been taught in high school. Hard work and practise in the wrong method could be harmful. However, the habit of practise was probably helpful.

#41 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 09:55 PM:

Talent (wiring?), Skill (practice?), Perseverance (drive?), are, I believe, intrinsically linked. We can overcome some of our deficiencies in any of these by being stronger in the others. We probably can't overcome to big of a lack, no matter how much we want to. How much of each is needed varies depending on what field you're in. The burning desire, the drive, is probably the best at making up the lack in the others. Sometimes other things are thrown in the mix -- physical things require the right physiology, ballet being an extreme example of this, but it applies to singing as well. The really motivated one-legged man probably won't get the Superman gig, no matter how good, no matter how driven he is.
Daniel and Sandy B., I expect that talent comes into play for both of you, but because it isn't a blatantly obvious talent, and you both needed to develop a lot of skill, I think you overlook that talent. I once met a guy in his mid-to-late thirties who rollerblades professionally. Think X-games. Because it was so natural for him to do it he thought that all that separated him from everyone else was his drive and motivation. He didn't realize that most peoples never had the body sense, balance, or knee joints that would let them be like him (not to mention the pain tolerance). Since drive was the obvious-to-him part that made the rest of it work, he was oblivious to that which came easier.

More on topic for the thread, I think there is something else that comes into play for being a writer, an actor, a rock star, or a pro athlete -- Luck. All of these fields are well supplied. We can stock bookstores, film movies, and fill concert halls and stadiums for some time to come with the people we have now. And while attrition will free up places, supply still far exceeds demand, and so luck will play a part. And the outsider sees the luck thing as being the only REAL obstacle to their becoming richandfamous™ and all they think they need to do is get a foot in the door, any door, and they have it made. Airleaf Publishing, our piñata del dio, is quite willing to let them in the door long enough to empty their pockets. But finding Airleaf, or others of there ilk, is the wrong kind of luck, and the tragedy is that some of these folks may actually have the rest of what it takes, and loose their dreams out of the same pocket their money was in.

#42 ::: Anaea ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 11:39 PM:

But sending my manuscript to a real publisher is scary, they might reject me. If I got with one of these nice friendly people who are willing to spam a lot of editors on my behalf I won't have to know how many people aren't interested in my project, or how badly they think it is written, and I can continue to have visions of bumping elbows with Dan Brown and J.K. Rowling.

Seriously, though, I'm working on rewriting a biography that a woman got so desperate to publish that she fell for a scam agent. I can't quite wrap my head around how a grown woman with an MFA in creative writing can fall for that when I'd learned how to spot publishing scams (and recite a good chunk of copywrite law) by the time I was twelve. She never read through the lines of "It's just not for us," in the rejection slips until somebody finally told her that the writing quality just wasn't good enough. I actually referred her here for an education about scams and such, so thanks for doing this.

#43 ::: Leslie in CA ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2006, 11:47 PM:

Julia, #9, and Gag, #14:

I know a guy who is being published through AuthorHouse. In addition to whatever up-front fee he's (I assume) paid them, they are also charging him for making changes to the manuscript. He fills out a "changes needed" form, and they charge him $2 per correction. That comma should be a period? $2, please. And there were, at least, several dozen errors that needed correcting.

#44 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2006, 02:36 AM:

Strongly seconding John Houghton in #41. A bit of further riffing on the topic:

IMO, it's true that most people can get to the level of "decent" in just about any endeavor by dint of hard work and practice, with obvious exceptions for physical impossibilities. The tone-deaf man will never succeed in any musical field, nor the one-legged woman become a hurdler.

To reach the level of "professional", one must have a threshold amount of innate ability as well as the willingness to work hard. The folks who have talked about being able to sing well enough for a community choir, but not well enough to have solo careers, illustrate this. (I also fall into this bracket -- I do fine in the filkroom, but would be a dismal failure as a professional singer.) It's the difference between doing it as a hobby and doing it for a living. Harry Chapin's song "Mr. Tanner" is an outstanding example of the heartbreak that can happen when well-meaning friends push someone with hobby-level talent into trying to go pro.

And yes, luck is definitely a factor, as is timing. No matter how good you are, if the breaks consistently go against you, you're screwed. You can improve your chances of getting a break by networking, by pounding the pavement, by doing all the things lumped herein under "perseverance," and by continuing to hone your craft while you do these things (opportunity does favor the prepared) -- but there's still an inescapable luck factor.

The myth of "you can do or be anything you want if you just work hard enough" doesn't take ability and aptitude into account. Because of that, people who buy into it tend to put inordinate amounts of importance on the luck factor. After all, if they're WORKING at it and it's still not happening, then the fault can't be with THEM. And that's sad, because it sets them up to be the perfect victims for this kind of scam artist.

#45 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2006, 03:51 AM:

Talent can be an hindrance, too. For all of my career in school up to college I almost did not study. I literally didn't know how to do it - I just had to read the assigned pages once and understand them, which was easy because I found them interesting. The one area where practice would have helped, maths, I didn't excel at because I quickly became bored with doing the exercises.

As a result, I failed spectacularly in college, in two separate fields.

I suspect I have the same problem with my writing.

#46 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2006, 03:51 AM:

Talent can be an hindrance, too. For all of my career in school up to college I almost did not study. I literally didn't know how to do it - I just had to read the assigned pages once and understand them, which was easy because I found them interesting. The one area where practice would have helped, maths, I didn't excel at because I quickly became bored with doing the exercises.

As a result, I failed spectacularly in college, in two separate fields.

I suspect I have the same problem with my writing.

#47 ::: marrije ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2006, 06:12 AM:

Anna at #45, I recognize the problem. It's why I'm very glad that my 9-year old son who has a tendency to get bored with math exercises does taekwondo, where you have to practice practice repeat repeat and then practice some more on the same old exercises for years and years. He knows he gets better that way, and I hope the realization will carry over into his school work. Because I myself feel still mostly lacking in this department: if I'm not super-good at something at the first try, I despair of ever becoming any good.

#48 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2006, 02:27 PM:

An odd note on the American Idol comparison. What you don't know about are the auditions to even get into the first few shows of American Idol, where those terrible singers and dancers are. Thing is, it's not as good a comparison as you think:

I had a coworker audition for the Canadian version. As she put it, she nailed her song, but there were others on stage better than her. She could easily pick out the best singer there; not necessarily pop pro level, but noticeable in the crowd of mostly-decents.

They didn't pick the best singer. They picked the girl who interrupted her song three or four times to say how nervous she was, and who giggled.

Oif they really wanted, they could ahve a show of all good-but-not-great singers, great singers, and fantastic singers.

The reason they don't is because it's more interesting to have only the bad singers, great singers and excellent singers. Good but not great is boring after the first few. Bad is morbid fascination.

If it weren't, I wouldn't have made it through Atlanta Nights.
___________________________
John Houghton's middle paragraph in #41 says all it needs to about my view on talent vs. persistence for the things we're good at; we tend to have a combination of innate talent *and keen interest* in the thing we do best, therefore we put in the hours of practice without ever realising it *is* practice.

It's a more visible curve in things where you're not as good. When I started doing SCA dance, I had almsot no sense of rhythm. I have zero innate talent at dance, and I danced around enough as a child and teen to know it, usually hidden in a basement once I figured it out, but still.

SCA dance is hardly ballet, or even jazz. While there are points of technique and precision that can mark a superior dancer from an ordinary one, it doesn't require flexibility or stamina beyond what an oridnary person can accomplish. it took me years to be more than a raw enthusiast. I still count beats under my breath in trickier pieces.

After over ten years, I'm not the best person out there (Practice has slacked off), but i'm competent, the limbs know the drills, and it's helped in dance ventures that look nothing alike, and in aerobics classes, and, for the two years or so I was really dedicated to it, in fencing. I fall over less in general.

More talented dancers with fewer practices can look like worse dancers than me in this field.

Of course, there's the Uncle Jim caveat; it has to be the right *kind* of practice, the kind that involved trying to improve. We have some dancers (usually male) who've done this for years, and while they step on beat, they look slumpy and uncontrolled. And I know I've been letting myself slip for just that reason.

#49 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2006, 02:58 PM:

On the question of how people become good at a field, definitely read the Freakonomics column on the subject. The short answer is that it definitely requires dedication and constant practice, but also immediate feedback and goal-setting. Inborn talent seems to be a minor constituent for most cognitive tasks.

#50 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2006, 06:35 PM:

Daniel Martin #36: "I must admit, I find myself extremely wary of people who are quick to claim a heavy innate component (often labeled "talent") to various endeavors. It is my personal impression that much of what we call talent is really unaccounted for practice."

Back when I was a gradual student in the Old Stone Age (a.k.a., the late 80s and early 90s) I made some of my living abstracting journal articles for Sociological Abstracts. I recall one article I read that argued, on the basis of studies of olympic swimmers, that success was the basis of 'repetitions of practice'. That is to say, more or less what you contend.

I mentioned this to some of the faculty (as an example of research which ends up proving a popular adage -- practice makes perfect). One pointed out to me that it was false; no matter how hard he practiced he could not become an olympic swimmer even though he was in good shape and swam daily. Successful athletes have innate advantages over those who aren't successful, and these include talent.

I'd say the same applies in other fields of endeavour.

#51 ::: Michael Bloom ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2006, 02:50 PM:

Just to stitch up a little around the edges of this discussion, which is mostly quite correct.

The term "talent" begs a few questions IMHO. To be an Olympic swimmer requires long-tail amounts of motor coordination, muscle strength, and other unusual genetic endowments-- plus, arguably, a Zen-like quality of acclimatization to the water. That last, if you had it, would make every swimming experience a positive one, and drive you to spend as many of your waking hours in the pool as possible. Thus we arrive at Daniel Martin's observation at #36, of unacknowledged years of practice-- engaged in because there's positive reinforcement built in.

I'm a rock musician (if that's not oxymoronic). I do it because it's fun, because it certainly isn't remunerative at the level I'm at. My ear is good, if I may say so, and I like playing things that stretch it, resolving harmonies in unexpected ways, etc. So I've practiced for 40-some-odd years, even if what I've done has never really measured up to my old childhod piano teacher's definition of "practice."

#52 ::: Epacris suspects comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 02:59 AM:

Masquerading as a polite letter about exchanging links at #52 from 'Webmaster' on March 08, 2007, 02:20 AM

#53 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 05:05 AM:

A spammer writes: We will appreciate if you will use the following information to link us back from your web site

I hope no-one on ML minds, but I've been running a Zombies simulation on a 2 Mqbit SQUID using the comment threads here as modelling data. This is not a Vingefied AI system with trapped, sentient copies of the contributors here: the agents modelled are guaranteed soulless empty software shells.

I'd just like to note that when I fed comment #52 above into the system, the Zombie Jim Macdonald said "No".

#54 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 12:03 PM:

Niall, could you go into more detail?

#55 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 03:56 PM:

Niall @53,

I'd just received a pseudonymous letter from 'Zkathryn zfrom Zsunnyvale' that traceroutes back from a domain I haven't yet but was planning to register, datamined out from a stenographic analysis of flickr flower photos, and containing information that only I know.*

The letter asks me to ask to to "shut the fr@cking SQUID down OR download a complete BL and LoC without DRM, better comfy chair and hot chocolate modules, and a *working* cornucopia machine."

Please take care of this now. Thanks.

* "...if you had a substandard chocolate module, you'd use bad language too. Oh, wait, you still believe you're substantiated in the meatverse. Fine. Imagine it all tasted like Hershey's milk chocolate..."

#56 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 04:01 PM:

I do not at all understand what's going on here. How could Niall's zombies get information only Kathryn knows?

#57 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 04:17 PM:

The only logical way that Niall's zombies could have information that only Kathryn knows is from eating her brains.

I for one welcome our artifically intelligent/undead overlords.

#58 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 04:20 PM:

What a coincidence. I am currently reading Lucius Shepard's novella Dead Money, which is about... what else?... a zombie card player in post-Katrina New Orleans.

He doesn't appear to need eating brains.

#59 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 04:40 PM:

Xopher @56,

All you need to know about the different flavors of zombies.

Zkathryn is claiming to not be a philosophical zombie. And if someone claiming to be me says she has and needs the qualia of (or for?) chocolate, I'll err on the side of more chocolate.

#60 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 04:49 PM:

Niall,

Why did I just get an email from myself, containing a sonnet that scans and rhymes perfectly, but has no artistic interest whatsoever?

Just asking.

#61 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 04:55 PM:

Looking back, it's obvious that no one has eaten Kathryn's brains. Other possible explanations include:

-Zombies have eaten Kathryn's chocloate
-Zombies have eaten the plot
-Zombies have eaten my brains

(I managed to type Xombie for whoever has eaten the plot, which is either an indication that theory 3 is the most likely, or some as-yet unidentified cross between Xopher and a zombie*)

* presumably because name Zxopher looks too much like an alien, rather than an undead

#62 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 05:05 PM:

Tonight on Doctor Who, "Zxopher the Xombie"...

#63 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 05:33 PM:

If I understand this correctly, Zkathryn necessarily knows everything Kathryn knows, but has no awareness of that knowledge. Zkathryn claims not to be a p-zombie, but that's exactly what a p-zombie would claim, isn't it? I mean, a p-zombie would need consciousness in order to make truth claims about its nature, and if it had consciousness, it would not be a p-zombie. "I am a p-zombie" is always a false statement.

And what, exactly, is the difference between a lich and revenant? Which one is The Thing on the Doorstep? I'm pretty sure that Halpin Fraser's mother is a lich, and Dracula is a revenant, but there's a lot of grey area in between.

#64 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 01:53 AM:

People, can we not stereotype about zombies based on misrepresentations in really atrocious, campy movies? Zombies do not eat the brains of the living and stumble around going "Braiiiinsss...". They eat the flesh of the living and stumble around going "Uggggggghhhh..."

God, I thought everyone knew that. If they were after you, I bet you wouldn't even know to destroy the brain or remove the head.

#65 ::: ZNiall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 04:47 AM:

Rëgulårs at Måking Lîght:

þere îs no need for alårm. The SQÜID ìs sêcure. I have spðken with my øwn Zðmbie counterpårt, and he has înstructed me to "Be cool."

#66 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 04:59 AM:

Ethan,

In California, the workplace guide set (employement law, minimum wage, existential threats) includes the standard zombie warning chart. It specifies incineration or beheading / dismemberment as the preferred destruction method.

So can we not assume we're not having ironic fun here? I think everyone knows how to kill zombies. Certainly everyone here is going to, what with Jim MacDonald's "how to be safe from dehydration and zombies in the summer" and "how to protect against hyperzombia in winter" and all the others in his 75 part "Only if you memorize everything I say will you have a chance to live until the morning" series.

#67 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 05:09 AM:

Kathryn #66: Is this an appropriate time to mention that any time I enter a space I've never been in before I will secretly judge it based on how potentially useful it would be as a zombie-proof hideout? You know, in the event that the unburied dead ever do rise, possessing only vague memories of their former lives and driven by a never-ending instinctual need to devour the flesh of the living, or whatever.

Dehydration seems pretty far-fetched in comparison, though if it ever threatened I'd be completely unprepared. I've heard rumors that it has something to do with fluids. Mr. Macdonald?

#68 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 05:51 AM:

Ethan,

I totally understand. I'm a Californian, and as a Californian I can't walk into a room without noting the strong desk under which I may need to leap the instant the P waves swell. Nor can I travel anywhere without thinking about earthquake safety codes. Harvard Square was a nightmare: far too much unreinforced brick. Evil, evil brick, no shear strength whatsoever.

And I've only gone through a few minor 5's and a low 6. (I was 90 miles away from Loma Prieta's 6.9/7.1)

But when I'm staying at friends' houses, at least I don't sneak around in the middle of the night to weld steel framing alongside the main frame beams, the way Californians who've been through the big quakes have.

Live in zombie country, get zombie country habits. Nothing wrong with that- it would only be weird if you didn't.

Do you do the 'plywood supplies in the car' thing? We always get the oddest looks from car rental agencies- what, can everyone afford titanium sheeting in Japan? But my biggest travel complaint is flying- only one sheet of plywood per (coach) passenger?

(btw, with the liquids restriction I just mix my holy water with a colloid and put it into mini shampoo bottles, each under 100ml.)

#69 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 10:34 AM:

The preferred weapon for personal anti-zombie defense is the chainsaw. For a horrifying example of what happens when you don't have a fully-fueled chainsaw handy, see The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander.

Let us not forget the training film, Resident Princess, in which Princess Mia (played by Anne Hathaway) wakes up in the palace in Pyrus to discover that most of the citizens of Genovia have been turned into flesh-eating zombies by the T-virus. Mia (dressed only in a nightie and combat boots) must rescue Queen Clarisse (played by Julie Andrews) and get out of the country before the USA nukes them to prevent the spread of the virus. The film demonstrates that full-automatic weapons and motorcycles can adequately substitute for a chainsaw if a chainsaw isn't readily available.

#70 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 10:48 AM:

Kathryn #68: If you think flying with plywood is hard, try flying with a shotgun, matches, gasoline, and, as Jim mentions in #69, a chainsaw. Usually they make me check everything except the gasoline, and I'm like, come on, people, if there were a zombie breakout on an airplane, that would be seriously bad news for all of us.

Also as Jim mentions in #69: Oh my GOD I want to see a Julie Andrews zombie movie.

#71 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 10:54 AM:

Zombies on a Plane!

I have had it with these motherfucking Zombies on this motherfucking plane!

#72 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 10:54 AM:

I was in San Francisco last week instead of telecommuting. I needed a new security badge so I went to the 23rd floor where I met a young man with purple hair and a t-shirt advertising the zombie defense system. I'm not sure if it meant a defense system for zombies or from them.

#73 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 10:57 AM:

ethan @ 70... I want to see a Julie Andrews zombie movie

"THe hills (have eyes and) are alive (?) with the sound of music..."

#74 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 12:14 PM:

Serge #72: Or a defence system that uses zombies?

#75 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 12:17 PM:

The preferred weapon for personal anti-zombie defense is the chainsaw.

I see you have not read The Zombie Survival Guide, which mentions the chainsaw's many and manifold shortcomings as a weapon against zombies, to wit:
It's loud, which will draw other zombies.
It's unwieldy and liable to stick in bone.
It's nearly as dangerous to the wielder as to its target.
It's heavy--when you're running for your life, heavy is bad.
It requires fuel/power and therefore has a limited span of usefulness in the absence of services such as one usually finds in the wake of a zombie epidemic.

#76 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 12:18 PM:

Shotguns and axes and chainsaws from Husky
Searchlights that start up when night's growing dusky
Claymores that fire when I pull on their strings
These are a few of my favorite things.

Plywood-clad doorways that last until morning
Kick-started motorbikes, engines a-roaring
Flamethrowers spewing the napalm that clings
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the zombie
Shuffles t'ward me
And the world looks bad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel too sad.

#77 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 12:19 PM:

ObSF Kelly Link "Some Zombie Contingency Plans" in Magic For Beginners.

These are the zombies than non-genre readers famously have problems understanding are sometimes just zombies.

#78 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 01:00 PM:

The author of The Zombie Survival Guide is less of an expert than he'd like you to think.

It's loud, which will draw other zombies.
That produces a target-rich environment. You don't have to chase down zombies -- they're right there!
It's unwieldy and liable to stick in bone.
It won't stick in bone if you've picked a big-enough chainsaw.
It's nearly as dangerous to the wielder as to its target.
That's a feature, not a bug.
It's heavy--when you're running for your life, heavy is bad.
Who's running? Up to the point it runs out of gas, you're in control. After that, you just ditch the chainsaw.
It requires fuel/power and therefore has a limited span of usefulness in the absence of services such as one usually finds in the wake of a zombie epidemic.
That's not an objection to the chainsaw, but to the general conditions in the wake of a zombie epidemic. You'll find the same is true of everything you might choose.
#79 ::: Sheriff McClelland ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 01:30 PM:

If you have a gun, shoot 'em in the head. That's a sure way to kill 'em. If you don't, get yourself a club or a torch. Beat 'em or burn 'em. They go up pretty easy.

#80 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 01:38 PM:

Somebody should contact Bruce Campbell.

#81 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 01:49 PM:

Yeah, I don't know if the Zombie Survival Guide is worth the paper it's printed on.

For one thing, I don't think chainsaw noise would necessarily draw zombie attention--not any more than just being nearby would, anyway. The only sounds they tend to be interested in are human voices.

As for the bit about how the chainsaw's weight is a problem when running for one's life: in the midst of a zombie epidemic, one does a lot of things for one's life, but running isn't one of the more important ones. Most living people can outwalk a zombie. Their real threat lies in their ever-increasing numbers, and a chainsaw is very very good at quickly reducing any population (See also: Texas teenagers).

("Napalm that clings / favorite things" is my new favorite rhyme, by the way.)

#82 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 01:57 PM:

Jim Macdonald:

The preferred weapon for personal anti-zombie defense is the chainsaw. For a horrifying example of what happens when you don't have a fully-fueled chainsaw handy, see The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander.

Many years ago Bill Stout did production design on a proposed TV revival of Buck Rodgers. The sidearms included a chainsaw short sword. I suspect from the handle design it was for the Hawkmen, but I'm not sure and haven't seen much on it since then...

#83 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 01:58 PM:

Well, the Zombie Survival Guide might be useful for starting fires with which to burn zombies.

OTOH - horrible thought - could it be a guide for the survival of zombies?

#84 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 02:01 PM:

Serge:

Somebody should contact Bruce Campbell.

Allegedly New Line has been trying to arrange a Freddy and Jason vs. Ash film, but the sticking point is that Campbell doesn't want "That dumb idiot Ash" killed off by anything as inept as Freddy or Jason. I don't blame him.

#85 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 02:03 PM:

Well, clearly I need to wake up more. The revival was to be Flash Gordon, not Buck. Insert Stimpy imitation here...

#86 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 02:38 PM:

HA! Has anyone seen this? Bush has even pissed off the Mayan spirit guides.

#87 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 02:39 PM:

Oops. Wrong thread. Sorry.

#88 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 02:41 PM:

PJ Evans @83,

It's a cookbook, a cookbook!

They're not even hiding:
The Living and Raw Foods FAQ.

They understand that zombies can't walk well, so they get help: they only have to shuffle
12 Steps To Raw Food

On chainsaws-

I'm thinking about the new nailgun with pure-sodium-tipped nails. Experiences?

#89 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 02:53 PM:

Kathryn, it's twelve steps for the walking dead, but only maybe three for the living.

Re: nailguns, they work very well, especially if you tape down the safety and make them rapid-fire. I don't know nothin' about this sodium-tipped nails business; what's that about?

Xopher, it wasn't necessarily the wrong thread. We don't know for sure what causes zombie epidemics--there's been a little talk about radiation from satellites, some speculation about the dead walking the earth when there's no more room in hell, but no definitive explanation. Could politically-aware, angry Mayan spirit guides be involved? We don't know.

#90 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 02:54 PM:

By the way, can I mention now that people on this site have made me laugh out loud at least ten times in the past two days?

#91 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 03:09 PM:

We don't know for sure what causes zombie epidemics--there's been a little talk about radiation from satellites, some speculation about the dead walking the earth when there's no more room in hell, but no definitive explanation. Could politically-aware, angry Mayan spirit guides be involved? We don't know.
I Am Not A Politically-aware, Angry Mayan Spirit Guide (Abbreviated, for your convenience, as IANAPAAMSG from here on out) but if I was, the only thing holding me back in these circumstances would be the fear that my Zombie plague would end up in the wrong place--like close to home, causing difficulties and inconvenience for the locals I was there to protect, instead of shambling through the halls of a foreign presidential mansion, or across the closely-chainsawed brush patches of a place in West Texas.
Of course, IANAPAAMSG, so they might not have to worry about such things. Did Kolchak ever have to deal with this problem?

#92 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 03:15 PM:

fidelio

I understand the ranch is near Waco, in central/east Texas, not west Texas, where brush is scarce. (Making sure the spell is aimed at the right place.)

#93 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 03:23 PM:

Why am I suddenly picturing a typical grade-Z (ha!) zombie movie, where everyone keeps talking about Angry Mayan Spirits, but all the "Mayans" speak Nahuatl and the Evol Priest wears an elaborate Aztec headdress (or plastic simulation therof)?

I'm looking for a deity who will protect me from bad movies. Ready to add Hir to my personal worship-set.

#94 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 03:31 PM:

#92 Thanks, PJ. As I mentioned above, IANAPAAMSG. However, should I happen to be in a position where I encounter any who need to have their geography checked, I'll point this out.

#93. Xopher, when you find out, please pass this information on. Wasn't there a Particle at some point that linked to a compendium of divinities?

#95 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 03:46 PM:

Xopher #93: If Yma Sumac's in it, I'll still watch it. Or Julie Andrews.

Julie Andrews as a zombie-summoning Mayan Spirit, and Yma Sumac as the singing, chainsaw-weilding heroine who saves the day! Or should it be the other way around? Either way, I want a duet.

#96 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 04:01 PM:

fidelio - I believe it was Godchecker.com from a particle back in July 2005.

#97 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 04:12 PM:

ethan @ 95... Either way, I want a duet.

"Victor/Victoria vs the Mayan Zombies of Death", starring Julie Andrews and Robert Preston, and some Mexican wrestlers.

#98 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 05:16 PM:

If the Aztec Mummy were pitted against a Mayan Zombie, who would win?

#99 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 05:34 PM:

I think we all would.

#100 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 05:43 PM:

Rezume

you have no gun
they're already dead
you can't run
they don't need their head

chainsaws take gas
you can't fly
they break the glass
you might as well die

#101 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 07:20 AM:

Odd that this thread would arise the same week that "Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness" #1 comes out.

Rebecca Borgstrom once imagined zombies becoming angels and ascending to heaven. This takes God somewhat by surprise:

"And there’d be these razor-mawed zombie angels shuffling towards him, muttering BRAAAINS

And he’d be all like, “Dudes, I don’t possess brains in the conventional sense.”

And there’d be these razor-mawed zombie angels shuffling towards him, muttering THAT GRACE UPON WHICH BRAINS HAVE BEEN MODELLLLED"

...reading which, my friends, is the only time that I have ever laughed so hard that tears came to my eyes.

#102 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 07:51 AM:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
This guy is dead,
Still wants t'eat you.

#103 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 09:16 AM:

Howard Pierce: "And what, exactly, is the difference between a lich and revenant? Which one is The Thing on the Doorstep? I'm pretty sure that Halpin Fraser's mother is a lich, and Dracula is a revenant, but there's a lot of grey area in between."

I think that we need to stop trying to define liches and revenants, and start trying to describe them.

#104 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 10:13 AM:

I don't know if anyone but the Phoenix news carried the story about the carpenter who tripped and fired a nailgun through his own heart. He lived -- with some spectacular scars -- to tell the tale, by being sensible enough not to pull the nail out afterward (maybe he remembered the death-by-stingray item from last year). And no, he didn't come back as a shambling zombie!

#105 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 10:32 AM:

I can feel a post coming on titled Trauma And You, where you'll be solemnly warned about removing impaled objects (aside from certain closely-described situations), as well as what to do about broken bones, arterial bleeding, and your leg falling off.

Sucking chest wounds: They aren't just for breakfast anymore.

#106 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 10:34 AM:

Go, Jim, go!

#107 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 10:39 AM:

Agreed, abi... It'll be like our very own version of the Discovery Health Channel's evening fare, where people do really stupid things, and then have to be put back together.

#108 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 11:01 AM:

Godchecker is good at giving superficial, tongue-in-cheek, borderline blasphemous information about gods whose names you know, but not so much use for looking up "a god who does X" where X is something you need a god for.

The nice thing about gods being metaphors, anthropomorphizations of aspects of the Divine to serve human needs to communicate with It, is that if you don't have a god for a particular purpose, you can make one up. I didn't invent Squat (sometimes spelled Skwadt, but I don't think this is righteous) the Goddess of Parking Spaces ("Squat, Squat, give us a spot!"), but I do make obeisance to her when I'm in a car trolling for parking.

I think Protection from Bad Movies will come in the form of a god, not a goddess. He will have aspects of Thor (the real one, not the blond himbo of the comics..."I say thee, nope" indeed), perhaps Vishnu, and other protective gods, but He must also be a psychopomp like Hermes and Anubis...guiding the artistic souls past the Devourers of Time and Artistic Sensibility, to the Elysium of Excellent Film Art, or just Good Movies.

I'll get back to you when I know Him more fully.

#109 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 11:18 AM:

Dudes, I don’t possess brains in the conventional sense.

This line deserves a T-shirt.

#110 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 02:10 PM:

Lich -- a reanimated dead body, controlled by an external will.

Revenant -- the dead returned, controlled by their own will.

#111 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 02:33 PM:

Xopher @ 108: I didn't invent Squat (sometimes spelled Skwadt, but I don't think this is righteous) the Goddess of Parking Spaces ("Squat, Squat, give us a spot!"), but I do make obeisance to her when I'm in a car trolling for parking.

Blasphemy! The One True Goddess of Parking is Asphaltia, to whom especially convenient spaces must be requited by the sacrifice of Making An Impulsive Purchase!

...or at least she is around here. I'm tempted to draw the line at an invocation I saw recently (on eBay, in the listing for a devotionary necklace) to "Caffina, the Goddess of Nervous Energy".

#112 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 02:47 PM:

Julie 111: Where is "around here"? I wouldn't be surprised at all if parking goddesses are cthonic.

As for Caffeina...I was once at a Pagan gathering where there was a massive (albeit tongue-in-cheek) ritual honoring Her. I was told it was an annual tradition at that gathering. I did not attend; I left Her worship many years ago, and She's quite cruel to shol'va, giving them headaches for at least a week.

In contrast to both Caffeina and Asphaltia, Squat requires naught of sacrifice, but bestows parking out of pure divine lovingkindness.

#113 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 03:04 PM:

Julie L. and Xopher - don't discount the influence of parking karma. Every time you're polite to someone in traffic (especially when they don't deserve it) or aid a fellow traveler, your parking karma grows.

Well, it works for me. I get parking spaces when I'm in Seattle or San Diego that are awesome. Parking in Fairbanks isn't that big a deal.

#114 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 03:06 PM:

Alas, I can accumulate no parking karma. I don't drive.

#115 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 08:22 PM:

fidelio@91: Did Kolchak ever have to deal with this problem?

Of course. Can you doubt it?

You must learn to ask the right questions, Grasshopper. It would have been more useful to ask if we ever saw how Kolchak dealt with the problem.

(In honor of the Buffy open thread, I would like to mention, for anyone who hasn't already heard this, that there's speculation that Buffy's mother's birth name was Joyce Kolchak.)

#117 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 10:51 PM:

I didn't invent Squat (sometimes spelled Skwadt, but I don't think this is righteous) the Goddess of Parking Spaces ("Squat, Squat, give us a spot!"), but I do make obeisance to her when I'm in a car trolling for parking.

Blasphemy! The One True Goddess of Parking is Asphaltia, to whom especially convenient spaces must be requited by the sacrifice of Making An Impulsive Purchase!

hmf. i always thought it was the parking fairy, who is thanksgiven when you overpay your meter.

#118 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 10:51 PM:

(i always forget to re-italicize the second paragraph.)

#119 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 11:06 PM:

IANAPAAMSG either, but I'm pretty sure it should be Yma Sumac as the zombie-summoning Mayan Spirit Guide, and Julie Andrews as the singing, chainsaw-wielding heroine who saves the day, because I just can't imagine Yma Sumac doing the patter songs.

In honor of this day, the Zombie God will be played by a 600-pound Chirago demon.

Heresiarch, don't think I didn't spot that. Patrick laughed nearly as hard as I did.

#120 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 11:44 PM:

I serve at milady's pleasure.

(and also, *squee*)

#121 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 11:47 PM:

Stuff and nonsense, with all this talk of Gods and Goddesses of Parking Spaces! Everybody knows the One True Way to find a parking space in need is to Visualize Giant Squid.

Really, you should try it. You drive slowly, calmly, and carefully along, visualizing a giant squid, and Whoa! There's a parking space right there!

#122 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 03:19 AM:

TNH: In honor of this day, the Zombie God will be played by a 600-pound Chirago demon.

Oh! I lied before when I said my favorite Buffy line was the one about marzipan. That's my favorite Buffy line!

And I agree with you that I can't picture Yma Sumac doing the patter songs, but I can imagine her wielding a chainsaw more than I can Julie Andrews. But then again, anyone whose name is the magical incantation the Devil uses to grant wishes probably has a few surprises in her.

#123 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 03:56 AM:

Xopher @112: Julie 111: Where is "around here"? I wouldn't be surprised at all if parking goddesses are cthonic.

The SF Bay Area, though Asphaltia has also been successfully invoked elsewhere. Then again, I wonder if parking goddesses allow for a certain amount of reciprocity/overlap, like the collision between Greek and Egyptian cultures resulting in Bast being addressed as Artemis and vice-versa. There's some sort of cell-phone "roaming network" metaphor in there somewhere, but it eludes me.

#124 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 07:38 AM:

Fragano@110: That's utterly contrary to the way D&D uses the terms, which means you're not going to make much headway with it.

#125 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:50 AM:

David Goldfarb #124: Oh dear.

#126 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 01:30 PM:

A lich is either a) a person who has made a deal with demons or evil gods, for an extended unlife in return for doing a requisite amount of evil (in this sense, also called "cheap lich" or "pay-as-you-go lich"), or b) a person who is so driven, so obsessive, and so forceful that s/he barely notices dying and continues right on with whatever obsession or vendetta drove hir in life; since this is contrary to nature, such beings inevitably turn to evil (in this sense, also called "big lich").

A revenant is a person who has come back bodily from death. Jesus of Nazareth, for example, was a revenant according to Christian mythology, as was Osiris in Egyptian, though neither stayed long, and both were somewhat more...presentable...than average for revenants.

Note key point: liches have never died in the usual sense. Revenants have died and returned.

#127 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 11:50 AM:

That produces a target-rich environment. You don't have to chase down zombies -- they're right there!

I dunno about you, but my goal in a zombie epidemic is generally to see as few zombies as I can arrange for.

It won't stick in bone if you've picked a big-enough chainsaw.

How big is "big enough"? Because 15 pounds is about the limit I can usefully wield.

Who's running?

Me--see "as few zombies as possible" above.

You'll find the same is true of everything you might choose.

Sword? There are few types of maintenance needed by a sword that the absence of electricity or gas delivery is going to affect.

Xopher, about parking-space goddesses: She's Asphaltia around here (Pittsburgh) too. But I've never noticed her needing a sacrifice.

Note key point: liches have never died in the usual sense. Revenants have died and returned.

Hence, the hero of The Crow is a revenant.

#128 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:02 PM:

Universal, all-purpose, planetary surface nasty monster procedure:
1) if axes and swords don't work, try setting it on fire.
2) if it doesn't burn, odds are it doesn't float.
3) when all else fails, pile rocks on it.

In the case of the zombies, the axes and swords do work, it's just tiring.

Me, I'd wonder about the utility of inducing zombies to follow me through any sort of heavy manufacturing environment; I can read the safety signs and they can't, after all. A rolling mill would be nearly ideal.

#129 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:20 PM:

A lich is anyone who uses a lich-gate. Or lives in a lic-hama.

#130 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 03:01 PM:

Carrie S.: The problem with a sword is it takes a lot more strength to remove a head with a sword than it would to remove a head with a chainsaw. It's vastly more work, you tire easily, and then you're too slow to get away.

Of course, everyone knows that in the event of a zombie emergency, you must always keep a spare can of gas for the chainsaw in your car, as well as a spare can of gas for the car itself, well labelled, next to the jump bag, the shovel, the emergency water supply, the inflatable raft large enough to carry all the above (in case of flooding), the complete first aid kit, the chainsaw itself (important not to forget), secondary copies of all your favourite books, and food for the pet.

(Nobody's sure how you're supposed to *fit* the pet too, mind...)

#131 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 08:25 PM:

You know what I love about this place? Someone spots comment spam on an old thread, and a whole new discussion breaks out.

#132 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 08:42 PM:

Well, philosophical zombies like to start conversations about themselves any chance we get. Such conversations are often diverted into discussions about chainsaw sharpening, but this is clearly just a diversionary tactic: those with present qualia conspiring to confuse those of us whose qualia are MIA.

Not that I'm a p-zombie software agent myself, you understand, I mean if I was, boy would my face not be red right now! Since I wouldn't have a face, being pure software, OK?

#133 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 09:46 PM:

I don't know, Niall, someone could program the software agent to think its face was red. How would you know if that was true?

#134 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:18 AM:

If they programmed it to think, it wouldn't really be a p-zombie, now would it?

Now if I were programming a p-zombie, I'd program it to show disinterest in the idea of p-zombies. Why make people suspicous?

I also think I'd program them not to make simple pronoun errors. By which I assert Niall's not-p-zombie-ness. J'accuse!

#135 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:56 AM:

Coming soon to the SciFi Channel...
William Shakespeare's Zombies

"Something IS rotten in the state of Denmark."

#136 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 12:26 PM:
For by death is wrought greater change than hath been shown. Whereas in general the spirit that removed cometh back upon occasion, and is sometimes seen of those in flesh (appearing in the form of the body it bore) yet it hath happened that the veritable body without the spirit hath walked. And it is attested of those encountering who have lived to speak thereon that a lich so raised up hath no natural affection, nor remembrance thereof, but only hate. Also, it is known that some spirits which in life were benign become by death evil altogether. - Hali.

That's the definition of lich as it appears in The Book of Hali, which is widely acknowledged as one of Abdul al-Hazred's* sources when he was compiling the Necronomicon. FYI.

* I always want to emend that name to Abd al-Hazred or Abdul Hazred.

#137 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 11:04 PM:

I also think I'd program them not to make simple pronoun errors. By which I assert Niall's not-p-zombie-ness. J'accuse!

Okay. Did anyone else just flash onto that episode of the animated Tick where the Tick could only speak in high-school French? Or is that my dandy allergy medication at work? I'd like to know how to classify that.

#138 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 05:19 AM:

Howard Peirce@136: Chaosium in their Call of Cthulhu role-playing game settled on Abd al-Azrad. (At least that's where I think I read it. There was some discussion on just what it meant and how the author settled on that, in which it was clear that they knew some Arabic.)

#139 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 05:57 AM:

#135:
MARCELLUS
Peace, break thee off; look, where it comes again!
BERNARDO
In the same figure, like the king that's dead.
GHOST
Stand, friends, and liegemen all; I mean no harm.
BERNARDO
His voice! He has the very Denmark's voice!
GHOST
I am King Hamlet's spirit, doomed to walk
In this his cast-off robe of human clay
Upon the walls of this my ancient home,
Fair Elsinore.
MARCELLUS
O most unhappy plight!
My Lord, unfold to us your loyal friends
What we may do to ease you to your rest.
GHOST
Marcellus, I shall ask you but one boon.
Your prayers shall do me now no benison
For I am dead, and dead men have been judged.
All I want to do is eat your brains.
BERNARDO
O horror! O most frightful hour! O Jove!
GHOST
I count this burden but of little weight.
My needs are slight; I do not crave your eyes.
But stand you there a while, and do not fear
And I will come inside and eat your brains.

#140 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 07:51 AM:

As for the Wizard of Oz, ajay, doesn't the Scarecrow's obsession with getting a brain make you suspicious about his true nature?

#141 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 08:19 AM:

Heresiarch @ 103
I think that we need to stop trying to define liches and revenants, and start trying to describe them.

I thought this thread was all about how to kill them

#142 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 08:22 AM:

At this point I have got to stop laughing long to say that you guys are a sovereign anodyne for all melancholy. Thank you, thank you.

-- bursts into laughter again, tears streaming down his face --

#143 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 08:23 AM:

Surely the two halves of this thread are related. Could it be that Publish America is a front for a zombie conspiracy to eat the brains of the world's writers?

#144 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 08:54 AM:

I suppose this is the point where someone goes

This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the brains
that were in
your cranium

and which
you were probably
saving
for grad school

Forgive me
they were delicious
so gray
and so warm

——but I'm not going to be the one.

#145 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 09:02 AM:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
My brain is dead,
I'll give it t'you.

#146 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 10:02 AM:

Xopher: LOL!

(and I only use that literally)

#147 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 10:24 AM:

A few years ago, for April 1st, I did a quick-'n'-dirty ad for Hamlet 2: The Revenge.

#148 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 10:54 AM:

Joel @ 147... Or maybe Romeo and Juliet Rise Again ?

#149 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 11:06 AM:

From the Undead Poets' Society Journal:

How will I eat thee? Let me count the ways.
I will eat thee to the liver and lights and brains
My mouth can reach, when leaving only stains
Behind where once was face.
I'll eat thee to the point of spacing
Uncouth grunts between each bite.
I'll eat thee freely, never feeling spite.
I eat thee purely, not with mayonnaise.
I eat thee with the zeal of the undead
that being all I have to face my fate.
I eat thee, in order to be fed,
My appetites appeased. I must sate;
You have no hope, unless you take my head.
Then I will stop, undeath will then abate.

#150 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 12:40 PM:

I want to apologize if I have offended any Elizabeth Barret Browning lovers (wait, that came out wrong) with my previous post. Originally, I was going to parody Willy the Shake, but he made it quite clear, by way of his solicitor, of course, that any such action would constitute "disturbing his bones" within the meaning of his final curse. I didn't want to be responsible for the returned Bard of Avon stomping around his old home town in a foul mood, so I backed off.

#151 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 05:49 PM:

It's all undead, all the time here these days.

Excellent stuff, ajay, Serge, Xopher*, and Bruce.

-----
* Yes, I blame you.

#152 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 07:59 PM:

Thanks, abi.

Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for someone to tie Jane Austen into the current tenor of the thread.

#153 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 08:02 PM:

Jane Austen's Brain and Petrufaction, maybe?

#154 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 08:11 PM:

Serge - I the only Jane Austen work I can think of that would apply is Monroeville Abbey.

#155 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 08:26 PM:

Isn't "Deathanger Abbey" applicable?

#156 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 08:30 PM:

"Oh, Mr Anvers," replied Mrs Anvers, "and we were so very much depending on our expectations from your aunt!"
"Alas, my dear," Mr Anvers said, sighing, "but my late aunt is adamant. She refuses to let a guinea come to us while she is still, well, ah, if not alive then mobile; no, not a penny piece of it."
"So very selfish of her!" cried Mrs Anvers, her mouth agape. "And our girls -- what is to become of them with their great-aunt still lurching and moaning about the house at Netheravon? Shall we send them to live in Town?"
"Out of the question, my dear," said Mr Anvers firmly. "You know very well that we have no one we can call on in London, save my cousin Mr Eldridge; and he never leaves his house in daylight. He would be quite unsuitable."

#157 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 08:33 PM:

Bruce - I was feeling so clever. Monroeville is a George Romero reference, and Northanger Abbey is not only Jane Austen, it's the one with gothic novels.

I'll do better next time.

#158 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 10:44 PM:

Tania,

I'm sorry; I'm not a Romero fan, and I missed the reference. No criticism was implied, I was just adding another suggestion to yours.

#159 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 10:51 PM:

ajay,

Dammee if that's not our Miss Jane to a T!

#160 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 11:54 PM:

SpeakerToManagers*-I'm not the biggest Romero fan myself, and I liked your example. I didn't think of it as criticism.

*Every time I see you post with Speaker To Managers I chuckle. I've been known to feel that the Kzin way would be an expedient manner to deal with some managers.

#161 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 12:56 AM:

Tania,
I'm glad you like the joke. So far it's worked perfectly for at least 20 years: it amuses my peers and goes right past my managers

The original meaning wasn't about screaming and leaping, though. When I took the name, I was a project leader for a group working within a larger project; the managers were all non-technical types who didn't understand what the engineers did on a daily basis. So it was my job to translate between the two, to make sure the managers understood what they'd be getting. It's seemed apropriate on most of my jobs since, so I printed up some business cards.

#162 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 01:44 AM:

I doubt I could get through saying "I'm not a Romero fan" without cracking up and saying, "No, that's a lie. I totally am."

Unless, of course, conversation strayed towards Land of the Dead, in which case I'd say, "Romero? What an idiot!" Though I prefer to think that Romero himself was a zombie at that point, making a zombie movie because his addled, dead mind vaguely remembered that this is what I do, the same way the zombies in Dawn were drawn to the mall. They don't really understand why, or what their reasons are, they just know that's what they do.

#163 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 01:45 AM:

Heaving and crumbling is the widening earth
The graveyard cannot hold the departed;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

[...]

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards the mall, to eat brains?

#164 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 02:00 AM:

Axes don't faze them,
Torches gutter;
Ice won't glaze them,
Chainsaws stutter.
Bullets just pock them,
Anvils cause stains;
Nothing can stop them.
Might as well eat brains.

#165 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 02:04 AM:

Julie L: You remind me of the shirt that has the Subway logo, only it says Zombie instead of Subway, and under it says "Eat flesh."

When I say "you remind me," of course what I mean is what you wrote reminds me. Not you, yourself. In case that wasn't clear.

#166 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 02:26 AM:

Owlmirror @ 163

OMG. I read your poem and instantly flashed on a recording I once heard of Yeats reading The Second Coming on a BBC radio show. He had a really bad voice, breathy and scratchy, and he was a terrible poetry reader: kept his voice in a monotone, treated all iambs as spondees, and paused at line breaks instead of keeping phrases together. In fact, he sounded a lot like a zombie.

#167 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 05:51 AM:

Heheheh, ajay...

Tania I'll do better next time. You did fine. As for my initial title suggestion, I wasn't happy with it so I cooked up a few more.

Brains and Banquets ? Nah.

Livers and Lividity ? Thought of that one watching a DVD of X-files's 2nd Tooms episode last night.

Rot and Rigidity ?

#168 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 06:42 AM:

There is a connection, of course:

In the BBC "Pride and Prejudice", Jane Bennet is played by Susannah Harker, who turned up a couple of years later playing the vampire-hunting Dr Angie Marsh in the excellent but obscure "Ultraviolet".

Basically, "Ultraviolet" was Buffy, involving the general aesthetic and approach of "Spooks" (or "MI-5" as it is called in the US). It only ran for six episodes, but it's definitely worth hunting out.

And let's face it, "Regency Vampire Slayers" would be a fascinating one to try.
(Why is the King behaving so oddly these days? Is it illness, or... something else...)

#169 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 08:53 AM:

I am reminded of the cartoon I saw, which featured a zombie in a fur parka exclaiming, "I have a hundred words for braaaains!"

*

When, running from the zombies' prying eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deal heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Like him with well-stocked hideaway posess'd,
Desiring this man's gun and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet roar requires only gas,
So with thee, chainsaw, I shall kick some ass.

#170 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 11:13 AM:

the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity. -- I'd think zombies were more passionless, and what they're full of is other mens' intestines....

#171 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 11:25 AM:

Regency vampire slayers, ajay? Sure. Next, "Wuthering Bites"...

#172 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 01:19 PM:

Regency Vampire Slayers? I sense an Aubrey and Maturin tie in.

Damn. I have to go to meeting in about 5 minutes. I'll probably be thinking of lines like "Jack! You've zombified my sloth!" instead of actually paying attention to what is happening in real time.

#173 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 01:25 PM:

"...and you never asked, Sir Percy, why it was so important that the Comte should be smuggled out of Paris in a coffin full of his native soil?"

"Ah, well, no. Thought it was a demned clever idea, meself. Fooled Citizen Chauvelin, anyhow."

#174 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 03:01 PM:

@166:

Cushlamachree, you see
William B Yeats (of fame)
Mumbled and muttered
Like a corpse denied rest

And when reading poems
Polysyllabical
He'd chew up the phonemes
And hope for the best

@#170:

I'd think zombies were more passionless, and what they're full of is other mens' intestines...

They've got guts, in other words?

But they do have a passion — for BRAINS! Or other flesh of the living! Grr! Argh!

#175 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 03:37 PM:

Owlmirror: Grr! Argh!≤/em>

Aaand the circle's complete.

#176 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 03:37 PM:

Bwah! to my html mistake. I hope this isn't one of those things that screws up some people's browsers...

#177 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 04:43 PM:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of brains.

(This amuses me on a number of levels...)

#178 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 04:44 PM:

Ok, now I'm officially creeped-out. Look: a zombie teddy bear

#179 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 04:55 PM:

OH MY GOD THAT'S THE CUTEST AND I WANT IT.

#180 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 04:55 PM:

Aw! His intestines are removable! I love him!

#181 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 05:49 PM:

Regency vampires from Susan Squires. There's another series too, but I can't remember the author.

#182 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 06:25 PM:

John Polidori's The Vampyre was actually written during the Regency, if that counts. However, the last time I checked, it was unreadable dreck.

#183 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 06:34 PM:

And Frankenstein also dates back from the Regency Era, right?

#184 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 06:41 PM:

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro has an entire series of novels in which her main vamp Saint-Germain attempts to improve the status of women in various periods of history throughout Eurasia (mostly; iirc there was one set in early New Spain), but I don't recall offhand whether she has one in Regency England.

...okay, she has a chronology on her website; coincidentally, her next book begins in 1817 and is set for release by Tor later this year, though it sounds like its setting is mainly east of the English Channel.

#185 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 06:47 PM:

183: Serge, Frankenstein was written during the Regency era, but the story's setting is an unspecified time during the late 18th century. Shelley gives dates as "17—". Also, the University of Ingolstadt was closed in 1800, and Napoleon annexed Geneva in [checks Wikipedia] 1798, so the story definitely takes place before then.

#186 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 06:49 PM:

You're right, Howard. It's been almost 40 years since I read Frankenstein.

#187 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 07:15 PM:

re: Regency Vampires - The nice ladies over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books reviewed a book that has the tagline What if Buffy the Vampire Slayer was born into Regency England?

Oh my. Something just occurred to me. Naomi Novik. Regency Zombie Dragons. Oh yeah. That would be something.

#188 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 07:17 PM:

Serge, I hope I didn't come across like a know-it-all. I just re-read Frankenstein a few months ago for the first time in years, and this time I had the Internet for hopping onto and picking up all kinds of historical background and critical tidbits, so all of this is fresh in my mind. There are so many layers of cultural accretion on the story that going back to the original is a revelation. It's like stripping all the paint off the front door of an old house, and finding marvelously grained and joined hardwood.

I'm still in the process of rejiggering all my memories so that Frankenstein and his creature are native French speakers, not German. (Actually, the creature has a Parisian accent, which he picked up from the DeLaceys, and at one point he apologizes to Victor for his odd dialect.)

Here's a fantastic site I found when I was reading it. You can get lost here for weeks.

#189 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 10:06 PM:

I love this place. (I promise not to eat anyone, okay?)

#190 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 11:35 PM:

Howard @ 188... No offense was taken at all. I'd rather know I'm wrong than falsely think I'm right. Besides, when I read the novel, some of the people who post here weren't even born or were in their terrible twos. Another thing that the many decades made me forget was Victor was French, probably because I had read Frankenstein in a French translation.

#191 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 11:40 PM:

If you want to read The Vampyre, here it is.


It's short.

#192 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 12:33 AM:

Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

#193 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 12:44 AM:

190: Another thing that the many decades made me forget was Victor was French

French? I thought Victor was Swiss.

#194 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 12:53 AM:

Hmm. Victor is from Geneva, so his primary language is probably French. One could see the confusion.

The creature/monster is probably Bavarian.

#195 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 05:45 AM:

#185: An interesting point, that; why should a novel written in 1816 be set in 17-- rather than 18--? Why deliberately set it in the past?

My only thought: the Napoleonic Wars finished in 1815. It would be impossible to write a book set in Europe in 1816 and not make some reference to the wars; and Shelley wanted to avoid this because she didn't want to get into the political satire business.

#196 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 07:14 AM:

I can't find it to link to anymore, but the fanfic that amused me the most at the Derbyshire Writer's Guild several years ago was "Lizzie the Vampire Slayer". Mr Darcy was of course her Watcher.

#197 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 12:13 PM:

#194: The Creature was part human, part livestock, and part chemistry set. I suppose he was Bavarian in the sense that BMWs are Bavarian, but he learned to speak Parisian French from the DeLacey family, who had fled persecution from the king of France.

#195: Ajay, I suspect that the novel was set in the past because it's in the tradition of the Gothic novel. Aren't Gothic novels usually period pieces? Besides, the Creature is way more cool if you picture him in knee breeches and a tricorn hat.

#198 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 02:31 AM:

Just nodding in here late to say that Squat, the Parking Goddess, has the following invocation, at least in these parts:

"Squat, find for us a parking place and I will send you two nuns."

Once parking place is procured, then say:

"Thanks, Squat; your nuns are in the mail!"

Carry on.

#199 ::: Zarquon ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 02:46 AM:

The Necronomicon has been updated for the 21st Century by Abdul Al Hazmat

#200 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 03:40 AM:

I don't know about parking deities in these parts, as I don't have a car. And when I need a bus, I prefer to cultivate patience; but I have known people in similar circumstances to invoke Hathaway.

#201 ::: Steve Zillwood ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 06:07 AM:

#195 Ajay &
#197 Howard

I suspect that the setting of the story in the past originates somewhat from the nature of the contest held at Diodori - after all, they were to write ghost stories, and placing them in the past (beyond the audience's immediate ken) adds a certain degree of verisimilitude.

Interesting side note: while it is widely assumed that the majority of the story came to Shelley during her waking dream in 1816, the 1818 (First) edition makes no mention of this scenario whatsoever; in fact, the prologue to that edition was written by PBS (and only published after several rejections - he wasn't being pushy in writing the prologue; it was the only way the publisher would accept the book). In the 1831 (Third) edition, we get Shelley's wonderful preface that recounts her waking dream and the night at Diodori, but nowhere - in letters, journals, occasional pieces - is there any mention of this dream/nightmare prior to 1831. Combined with the substantial changes to the text (which serve, in my opinion, to align Shelley more closely with the Romantic ideals as she understood them, with several years of hindsight available to her), it appears that the story behind the story might itself be nothing more than another layer of mystique. But it's beautiful mystique. (Yes, I wrote an essay on Frankenstein once upon a time, and am a font of useless trivia thereupon.)

That said, I think that the monster would have benefitted from fresh, live brains, his being all criminal and rancid-like.

#202 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 07:42 AM:

I think I'm going to try and convince my wife that we should watch my DVD of Frankenstein - The True Story tonight (*). I expect she'll say no because it is a sad story. We'll probably wind up watching Logan's Run instead.

(*) Yes, I remember its being trashed recently in another thread.

#203 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 11:10 AM:

Paul A #200: as in, "Hathaway, send a bus [or parking space]"?

#204 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 04:38 PM:

In any discussion of zombies, I am required to refer to Francis Crawford of Lymond, the (Zombie) Master of Culter (spoilers for Dorothy Dunnett's _Game of Kings_):

The news spread quickly in taverns and inns and castles. Sometimes the name was said with disgust, sometimes with curiosity, sometimes with contempt. "Lymond is back," each man would say, and then lower his voice. "Though what I mean by that is, his reanimated corpse."

And for the Patrick O'Brian fans: The Reverse of the Hammock.

#205 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 06:32 PM:

elise @ 198: good grief. *hysterical giggles* (The one I learned is "Lady Asphalta, full of grace / find for me a parking place" - and the appropriate offering is a libation of the leftover coffee from whatever container is in the cupholder. Works, most of the time, though it can be problematic in certain parts of Belltown (Seattle).)

Paul A. @ 200: The one true invocation for a bus to show up is for someone waiting for that bus to light a cigarette. As a non-smoker, I'm not about to try it, but (admittedly unscientific) observation shows it working at least 90% of the time.

#206 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 07:01 PM:

191: If you want to read The Vampyre, here it is.


It's short.

This sort of thing makes me very grateful indeed that nothing I write is likely to be reviewed by Mr Macdonald.

#207 ::: harthad ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 07:28 PM:

I'm really disappointed that no one has yet brought up the zombie-dinosaurs-committing-sodomy angle. Oh, the flesh-eating possibilities as yet unexplored!

Er, maybe "brought up" isn't a happy choice of words in this context...

#208 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 08:01 PM:

Kate @204

Thank you, thank you for the Aubrey-Maturin zombie link. I laughed so hard I started coughing.

But you must realize that there will be consequences for this in Jack's career. There always are. In this case they may not be obvious at first; no one is likely to be taken aback by some senescent Admiral muttering "brainssss ..." to himself.

#209 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 08:33 PM:

Kate @ 204

Surely it's his father who's the zombie? (In a sense, of course, in the original series.)

#210 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 08:40 PM:

Madeline @ #203:

Yes, exactly.

#211 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 10:12 PM:

Zombie dinosaurs committing sodomy? Bad idea. Not enough tensile strength.

#212 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 10:26 PM:

Kate, those are perfect. The Reverse of the Hammock nearly did me in.

#213 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 02:36 AM:

Teresa @ 211

Excuse me? I'm sure they taught us in "Strength of Living Materials" that dinosaurs acted in compression, especially when committing sodomy.

#214 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 10:10 AM:

Glad you all liked the Lymond Chronicles & Aubrey-Maturin with zombies in.

Question: is there any fandom that wouldn't be improved, or at least couldn't be pastiched, with zombies?

#215 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 11:39 AM:

OK, Kate, but what about this one. And as the Cthulhu mythos is as I understand it in the public domain, this could have been published!

#216 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 11:50 AM:

Jo, I don't think I'd read that one at the time because the fandom was unspecified, or perhaps I'd started and then stopped because the Cthulhu mythos isn't my cuppa. No slight was intended.

#217 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 02:14 PM:

Something about the pacing in the Lymond felt a hair off; too many events rushed together too fast, and not enough of the famous cold-blooded wit, and that threw the tone off a little for me.

The O'Brian was absolutely perfect in every respect, however. Right down to the final transformation of one of the best lines in the whole series.

#218 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:19 AM:

Xopher @ 108 - I'm reminded of some of the gods of the Discworld, such as Aniger, goddess of Squashed Animals (aka roadkill) and Anoia, goddess of Things That Get Stuck In Drawers. There's also the Oh God of Hangovers. I'm quite willing to admit to the existence of all of these, purely because they'll fit nicely into my highly pantheistic system (basic rule: all gods are equally likely to exist).

Bringing this back to the thread topic (more or less), I'm beginning to wonder what a God of Zombies would look like, and what one might be called. I have a feeling the name would be something along the lines of "Urrrrgh", but that may be pandering to stereotypes.

#219 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:32 AM:

No pandering!

#220 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 10:29 AM:

Teresa #211 : The engineering part of my brain is now pondering the dynamics of dinosaur sodomy and wondering whether the tensile, compressive, or buckling strengths would be the limiting case. It also makes me wonder whether dinosaurs had penile bones. Now I need to think of a way to find this out without tripping the content filters here.

Curses.

#221 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:34 PM:

#220: in answer to your second question: no, they didn't. That's a mammalian feature. In fact, it's an open question whether they had, er, thingies at all, given that thingies don't fossilise.

My guess would be yes. Flightless birds such as ostriches have them, so presumably, as they've evolved more than once, there is a selective advantage in having a thingy. (Flying birds lack thingies.) Crocodiles - which are, along with birds, the closest living dinosaur relatives - do not, I believe, have thingies.

#222 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 02:17 PM:

[..] I'm beginning to wonder what a God of Zombies would look like [..]

I'm pretty sure it was someone on one of these threads, who mentioned a Haitian voodoo priest describing Jesus as a zombie god. When his American acquaintance looked startled at this, the priest elaborated: "You killed him; three days later he came back from the dead...".

#223 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 09:36 PM:

Bringing this back to the thread topic (more or less), I'm beginning to wonder what a God of Zombies would look like, and what one might be called.

Ask, and ye shall receive.

Granted, he is technically the "Demon Lord" of all undead. And given that the religiously observant in the D&D setting seem to fracture like Southern Baptist churches, there's probably a specific God of Zombies--Eastern Presbyterian Rite as well.

#224 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 10:19 PM:

I suspect Baron Samedi is the real God of Zombies, or as close as you are going to get to one.

#225 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 10:30 PM:

(Flying birds lack thingies.)

as far as i understand, flying birds have thingies, but they are virtually invisible. am i wrong?

#226 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 10:32 PM:

miriam 225: I think so. I think they just have cloaca. Or cloacae, or whatever.

#227 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 10:37 PM:

um, turtles have cloacae (in the females) and hemipenes (in the males). What exactly half a thingie is, I'm not sure I want to know. (We had pet box turtles, and they actually did manage to reproduce. The infant mortality rate is about 95%, or we'd be up to our thingies in turtles.)

#228 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 10:53 PM:

miriam beetle --

Flying birds generally lack thingies quite entirely.

The phylogenetic bracket and other indications would suggests that terrestrial dinosaurs possessed thingies, possibly two per dinosaur. (Interestingly, in dinosaurs, it's the males that have homozygous sex chromosomes.)

Then there is the consideration of how certain species of dinosaur managed at all; between the thagomizer, the spiky spine plates, and hip anatomy that put a tall, thick tail with a strong downflex in the way, it's a wonder that there were ever little stegosaurs. (One must postulate either complex acrobatics, thingies like a prehensile fencepost, or both.)

Sauropods present a similar conceptual challenge; there's an awful lot of massive hip and tail anatomy in the way.

One possibility is that the majority of sauropods could rear upright, and had to stagger towards one another on their tippy-toes.

It is remarkably easy to imagine a creature scarcely capable of cognition at the best of times suffering from anoxia -- from holding its noggin that far about its heart for that long -- and a vast hormonal stew missing entirely, staggering past its intended, and something really quite dreadful happening to an unsuspecting stand of trees.

Then there's Dr. Robert Bakker's helpful reply to a request for a pithy quote about tyrannosaurs -- "Testicles the size of pumpkins" -- to breed caution in the inquisitive.

#229 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 11:43 PM:

huh. that's funny. i have parrots, & i know that the only way to determine gender (outside of, say, your bird laying an egg) in most species is by dna testing.

but i am also given to understand that male birds, um, mount female birds. i guess it's just a positon that i associate with the presence of a thingie. if both partners have innies, i wouldn't think it would matter who came at whom (er, so to speak) & how.

man, i gotta stop typing before i start blushing. or my parrots find out what a perv i am.

#230 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 12:32 AM:

Graydon #228: Bwah! You said thagomizer!

Did dinosaurs really have two thingies?

#231 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 09:46 AM:

For Shaun of the Dead fans, here's a link (YouTube) for Nick Frost and Simon Pegg's Danger: 50,000 Zombies documentary. Lots of useful information there on the relative merits of baseball bats over screwdrivers, typical top speeds of zombies, and the three basic rules of survival during zombie outbreaks. The first few minutes are not hugely funny -- but after that (when Simon Pegg appears) it really takes off.

#232 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 11:14 AM:

I don't know how bees do it, but birds are certainly mounters -- when mourning doves are in the mood (which seems to be most of the time), she'll waggle her tail feathers, and he'll come at her for a quick "wham, bam".

Considering such natural positioning, wouldn't it be tricky to figure out whether dinosaurs *were* engaged in sodomy? (Or would sexual dimorphism give it away?)

#233 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 11:20 AM:

I suspect that in saurians with massive tails, the thingies were, like those of modern turtles, out a bit on the tail to allow for access (the tails curl around well enough for the necessary contact). (Yeah, I've seen turtles in the act. Grace does not enter into it. Determination, however, has a major role.)

#234 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 02:49 PM:

Just bemused by the thingyness of it all, as content filtering makes fifth-graders of us all ...

#235 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 03:46 PM:

Faren --

Dinosaurs don't have a differentiated orifice system, as is used by mammals. Which causes me to believe that a wretched pedant could plausibly assert that dinosaur sodomy is impossible, due to lack of specific anatomy.

Ethan --

"thagomizer" has reportedly gained some currency as the proper scientific term for that mess of spikes at the end of a stegosaur's tail.

#236 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 05:30 PM:

Graydon @ 235
a wretched pedant could plausibly assert that dinosaur sodomy is impossible, due to lack of specific anatomy.

Or, depending on your point of view, and general level of perviness, inevitable, since you can't tell the difference without live MRI movies.

#237 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 07:21 PM:

a wretched pedant could plausibly assert that dinosaur sodomy is impossible

Well, if it involves two dinosaurs, sure. One dinosaur and one mammal? Game on.

#238 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 07:46 PM:

#220: The engineering part of my brain is now pondering the dynamics of dinosaur sodomy and wondering whether the tensile, compressive, or buckling strengths would be the limiting case. It also makes me wonder whether dinosaurs had penile bones. Now I need to think of a way to find this out without tripping the content filters here.

Let me have your brains, and I'll come up with a way.

#239 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 07:52 PM:

Graydon @235:
a wretched pedant could plausibly assert that dinosaur sodomy is impossible, due to lack of specific anatomy.

Maybe they were better ...erm... tool users than the paleontological record shows.

I can't believe I just said that.

#240 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 08:28 PM:

ajay @ 237, on the impossibility of dinosod sauromy: Well, if it involves two dinosaurs, sure. One dinosaur and one mammal? Game on.

...wasn't there some human/saurian (albeit het) rishathra in Harry Harrison's West of Eden?

#241 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 09:47 PM:

abi --

The dinosaurian paleontological record shows no tool use at all.

While soft-tissue preserving fossils do sometimes occur, the sheer magnitude of improbability attached to rapid sequestration of copulating dinosaurs in an anaerobic mud pit required to adequately preserve even relatively small dinosaurs at that level of three dimensional detail boggles the mind.

#242 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 10:15 PM:

Graydon @ 241

Well, no mineral-based tools, anyway. Animal and vegetable-based are still, um, ah ... the evidence isn't there, but that doesn't constitute proof they didn't have tools. Of some kind. (The odds on finding a fossilized week's-growth zucchini are not good, even if it was a meter long.)

#243 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 12:53 AM:

#242: Let us please not speculate what the zucchini is for.

#244 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 04:55 PM:

Graydon @ 241

There's always the outside chance of an accident occurring to a pair of amber fetishists, in which they get embedded whole. And me an embedded software engineer! I'd better stop.

#245 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 05:00 PM:

Stefan @ 243

I'd say that the thought hadn't occurred to me, except that it did. With snickering.

#246 ::: Alison Larsen ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 10:51 AM:

I AM ONE OF MILLIONS OF AUTHORS THAT HAVE BEEN PROMISED OVER AND OVER AGAIN , ALL THE SERVICES I PAID FOR!!! I WAS NOT SMART ENOUGH TO LISTEN TO EVERY SINGLE COMPLAINT TOWARDS BOOKMAN/AIRLEAF. I 110% REGRET NOT LISTENING TO OTHERS COMPLAINTS!! I PUBLISHED 5 BOOKS WITH AIRLEAF OVER 2 YEARS AGO. 4 MONTHS AGO I REQUESTED A FULL REIMBURSMENT OF $5421.25 AND HAD MY ATTORNEY GET INVOLVED AFTER I WAS IGNORED. I MUST OF EMAILED CARL LAU, DIANE COSTELLO, AND KRYSTAL HATFIELD 4678,000 TIMES. THEY REFUSE TO ANSWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IF ANYONE THAT IS THINKING OF GIVING AIRLEAF THEIR MONEY, I BEG YOU NOT TO DO SO!! EMAIL ME IF YOU WANT TO TALK AND I WILL SHOW YOU MY PROOF!! I HAD PROBLEMS FROM THE BEGINING WITH THIS COMPANY. THEY STROKE YOU AND STROKE YOU AND STROKE YOU. IN THE END YOU ARE BROKE AND THEY HAVE YOUR MONEY. WHILE YOU SUFFER, THEY MOVE ON TO THE NEXT VICTIM... AND AS FOR BRIEN JONES, HE NO LONGER WORKS AT AIRLEAF. I WAS TOLD WHEN BRIEN WORKED THERE THAT HE ONLY FOLLOWED CARL LAU'S ORDERS. HE WAS AN OUTSTANDING SALESMAN. BUT REMEMBER HE WAS TRAINED BY CARL LAU, OWNER OF AIRLEAF. ALTHOUGH AIRLEAF WASN'T HONEST TO THE PUBLIC ABOUT WHY BRIEN JONES HAD LEFT, I FOUND OUT BRIEN JONES LEFT WITH 4 OTHER PEOPLE BECAUSE THEY TOO WERE VICTIMS OF AIRLEAF PUBLISHING... AIRLEAF IS N-O-T A PUBLISHER. THEY HAVE A FAKE STORE AND A FAKE COMPANY AND TRY TO SCAM YOU AS BEST AS THEY CAN. THEY ARE IN BUSINESS BECAUSE AUTHORS LIKE ME HAND THEM MONEY WITH HOPES AND DREAMS. FOR THE LAST TIME, I BEG YOU NOT TO GIVE THEM A DIME. UNFORTUNETLY I CAN'T TELL YOU WHERE TO GO TO GET SELF PUBLISHED. I AM UNABLE TO FIND THIS OUT PERSONALLY, UNTILL I GET MY REFUND. WHICH I KNOW I WILL NEVER SEE BECAUSE THEY ARE IN BUSINESS ONLY BECAUSE THEY TAKE AUTHORS MONEY AND MOVE ONTO THE NEXT!!! PLEASE DON'T GIVE THEM YOUR MONEY. I DON'T WANT ANOTHER AUTHOR TO BE A VICTIM. GOD I BEG YOU TO LISTEN TO ME. AIRLEAF PUBLISHING IS A SCAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

#247 ::: Herman Gold ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2007, 03:05 PM:

Alison Larsen,

Well, did they publish the books or not? What is the refund for? I searched all of your books online and they all appear to be available.

You're not really an author, are you? Your grammar is atrocious. It turns my stomach to think that you write children's literature.

Herman

#248 ::: Dwayne ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2007, 03:23 PM:

Damn woman! Capitals are screams. You sound like a crazy person. There are a lot of accusations in your post, but no proof. How are we to believe you, then? You could have made all that up. If you have had your lawyer on the refund for 4 months, shouldn't you have received your money in that time, if it was in fact owed to you? This is a very fishy post.

#249 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2007, 10:27 PM:

Hmm. The responses to Alison Larsen's post of May 17 are from two names who do not show any other posts here, who are both insulting and dismissive, and who post within minutes of each other some weeks after the original post.

Interesting.

#250 ::: Dwayne ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2007, 09:03 AM:

Excuse me, it was not my intention to insult anyone. The lady sounds nuts in her post, that's all. I've read through some of your posts and it seems to me that you are the dismissive and insulting person. Seriously, in four months wouldn't her "problem" have been resolved had she been entitled to it? But, that's just my two cents.

#251 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2007, 09:27 AM:

Dwayne @ 250: Excuse me, it was not my intention to insult anyone.

Right. "You sound like a crazy person." "You could have made all that up." "This is a very fishy post." I'm sure you didn't mean those to be insulting.


The lady sounds nuts in her post, that's all.

Yep. Not insulting at all.

So, out of the goodness of your heart, and with no other interest in this matter, you just drop by, some weeks after the initial post, to tell this person they're nuts, as your very first post on this blog. Perhaps you thought of it as your good deed for the day?


I've read through some of your posts and it seems to me that you are the dismissive and insulting person.

Oh, good! The "I know you are, but what am I?" response. Now all I need is a Nazi reference and I have a bingo.


Seriously, in four months wouldn't her "problem" have been resolved had she been entitled to it? But, that's just my two cents.

That's a fascinatingly naif perception of how quickly the justice system and/or conflict resolution of any type works.

#252 ::: Dwayne ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2007, 04:02 PM:

Aconite, I am not impressed with your banter. Stop trying to engage me into your silly conspiracy theory. I made a comment. Perhaps I should go back through yours and make a comment on top of all of them. Ever trip over that huge ego of yours? Get a job. You're not that cool.

#253 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2007, 04:19 PM:

Oh, my goodness, Aconite!

A complete stranger with three postings on Making Light has told you to entirely reform your life. I suggest you do so, or he might make comments on the blog.

#254 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2007, 06:17 PM:

abi, I am making plans even now to enter an ashram.

#255 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2007, 06:19 PM:

As an employee, one hopes.

#256 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2007, 06:40 PM:

Dwayne #252: Apparently your parents fell down on the job and you were brought up by hyaenas. You can get help for this problem.

#257 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2007, 07:06 PM:

Repent, Aconite, repent, repent...

#258 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 10:27 PM:

Just checking with people regarding Airleaf- they promised two reviews for my upcoming book by july- but nothing has happened and they barely return phone calls- have i been ripped off and should I go legal with this? i paid them already-kate

#259 ::: Bonnie Kaye ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2007, 04:09 AM:

Please see our campaign to stop the Airleaf Fraudulence at www.AirleafVictims.com.
If you are a victim of this predatory publishing company, join our group to stop them once and for all.

#260 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2007, 08:22 AM:

To what should be no one's surprise, "Dwayne" and "Herman Gold" above were both posting from the same ISP: 69.219.68.182

#261 ::: Robert Melos ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 03:48 AM:

I only just learned of the Airleaf fraud today. When I researched my options of self publishing none of the warnings I now find in abundance on the internet came up in my search. Instead I found Airleaf being praised. On top of that, Airleaf offered me what I was looking for in the form of a promise to be placed bookstores. Actual bookstores, not just on a website. It isn't going to happen. I'm coming to terms with that. Given everything else that's happening in my life I simply can't face more disappointment.

I've published two novels through another selfpublisher, AuthorHouse, which seems to be reputable. I don't know. Given everything that I'm dealing with, personal issues revolving around mortgage fraud and the emotional issues of placing my mother into a nursing home, I have lost all sense of trust. Let me be your example. I consider myself intelligent, and yet I was duped. My anger is immense. My sense of self is now fueled by distrust and anger. Thanks Airleaf. I will be repeating this kind of venting on every website I can find that permits it.

#262 ::: keith buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 12:06 AM:

Brian Jones sold those bogus publishing packages for Airleaf. he now has his own BOGus operation called something like golden harvest.
he is the one that developed the scam with airleaf.
BEWARE

#263 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 11:53 PM:

According to airleafvictims.com Airleaf Publishing (aka Bookman Marketing) is out of business.

#264 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2009, 02:01 PM:

#153 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 08:02 PM:
Jane Austen's Brain and Petrufaction, maybe?

http://www.amazon.com/Pride-Prejudice-Zombies-Classic-Ultraviolent

I blame you all.

#266 ::: Leroy F. Berven sees apparent spammishness ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 08:01 PM:

. . . or perhaps an incompletely socialized AI whose first language is definitely not English. (Especially upon looking at the other posts under this identity today.)

#267 ::: Julia Jones sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2011, 05:50 PM:

Spam @269

#268 ::: Singing Wren sees SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 01:42 PM:

Processed weasel at 271. Did it come from Belorussia?

(And on further investigation, an older one at 269.)

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