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January 22, 2007

The Pitch Bitch: I’m not buying it
Posted by Teresa at 07:45 PM *

There’s a new publishing-oriented weblog called The Pitch Bitch, which aims for the style of Miss Snark and Pub Rant but doesn’t hit the target. Supposedly it’s being written by An Editor on the Inside. That’s how the author styles herself, at any rate, when she spams sites like Absolute Write with advertisements for the blog. Two specimens of this activity:

Sledding Down The Slush

Oh yeah, the slush exists—just like dive bars and VFW wedding receptions exist.

You want to know why we’re the Untouchables in the increasing boutique world of publishing? Same reason you didn’t go up to Nick the Jock at the cafeteria in 9th grade where he was holding court among his cheerleading courtiers. Listen kittens, there are ways to bypass the slush pile.

Take it from an Editor on the Inside
http://pitchbitch.wordpress.com/

(The above piece of spam moved ace scamhunter Victoria Strauss to heights of language one seldom sees from her.)
Simultaneous Subs: “Should You Be Exclusive?”

Hey Fun People,

Re: publishers and agents

“To be monogomous or not to be”—that is the question. How many publishers and agents have asked you to be exclusive to THEM, yet have not returned your call in months!

You want some advice on how to approach this sticky dilemma? Take it from An Editor on the Inside: http://pitchbitch.wordpress.com/

It’s a bad combination. This supposed Editor on the Inside is an expert on the fine points of magazine submissions, and on trade book publishers’ slushpiles? Name me an editor in the commercial end of the industry who handles both those things in any quantity

Reading through the blog entries convinced me that TPB is not a commercial editor. Look at this post. (Its subtitle, A No-Excuses Truth to Understanding The Publishing Industry, is almost enough on its own.) The piece links approvingly to a worthless article by Nina Diamond that’s a variation on the “an elite cabal runs publishing, and that’s why no one wants to buy or promote your book, even though it’s, like, a whole lot better than all those trashy bestsellers” theory so popular with unsuccessful authors. An editor ought not be agreeing with an article like that; and if for some reason they do, they ought to have more to say about the subject than “Me too.”

After poking around on the site for a while, I noticed the obvious, and clicked on the About link at the top of the main page. The About page says:

Listen. There are many Lit Blogs Out There written by authors, editors and agents.
And then there’s TPB, whose author is none of those things.
Think of The Pitch Bitch (who has an M.A. in Writing and Publishing from Emerson College
More and more schools are offering courses in publishing. They’re popular, they don’t require expensive equipment, and nobody can tell whether the lecturers know what they’re talking about.
& has been an arts and entertainment writer and guerrilla marketer since 1998
“Guerrilla marketer” = “spammer”. In this context, “arts and entertainment writer” = “no publication credits worth mentioning.”
& is the Associate Editor for Del Sol Review
The Del Sol Review is an online literary magazine—what would have been called a little magazine, back in the offset days, though I prefer Mythago’s description of them as “literary fanzines.” Nowhere in DSR’s changeable masthead can I find a listing for an “Associate Editor”, but if you assume it’s one of the people with “Associate” in their title, it’s either Diane Adams, Aylin An, Jane Sandor, or Allyson Shaw. [Update: All wrong. It’s Kaley Noonan. See below.] The pertinent point is that this is a non-paying market for lit’rary short work and poetry. It’s got bugger-all to do with commercial publishing.
& teaches short fiction workshops online)
None of the Associates are on Web Del Sol’s list of teachers for their online workshops.
as your Cyrano de Bergerac–and the Agent as your Roxanne. The Pitch Bitch is here to help you with your magic words to get into Roxanne’s pants.
“Write a really good book” is the usual strategy. I find myself wondering whether TPB has an agent.

I don’t understand this person. If you’re going to fib about being a publishing expert, why put up a set of credentials that undercuts your claims? Perhaps, like Todd James Pierce, she thinks that getting a degree in writing and publishing guarantees that you know what you’re talking about. If I were they, I’d ask for my money back.

The moral, not for the first time, is that any random doofus can claim to be an authority on writing and publishing—and some days, I’m ready to believe that three-quarters of the random doofuses in the world are doing exactly that. Before you take anyone’s advice, check out their credentials—and if possible, get third-party confirmation of same.

Addendum:

The ears and the tail are hereby awarded to Mary Dell: see these three comments. Mary has identified TPB as Kaley Noonan, who does teach online workshops associated with Web Del Sol. Here’s her bio from their list of instructors:

Kaley Noonan is a professional arts and entertainment writer who holds an M.A. in Writing and Publishing from Emerson College. Several of her short stories have appeared in 3AM MAGAZINE and DUCTS MAGAZINE and her first novel, THE GHOST TRAP, is currently being reviewed by literary agents.* A veteran of several Algonkian workshops, she works closely with Michael Neff as an online editor for the e-workshops. She resides in Maine where she hosts “Fiction Nuggets,” zine-inspired mini-fiction slams.
Have a look at Mary Dell’s comments. They’re interesting.

A further addendum:

Begad. It’s coming back to me. I’m remembering where I first heard of Web Del Sol and their Algonkian Workshops. It was when I was researching Todd James Pierce. Look at the first two links in this paragraph, and lo! There he is in the midst of them.

Here’s the instructor bio for Michael Neff, the God-Emperor of Del Sol:

Michael Neff is Editor-in-Chief of DEL SOL REVIEW, the founder and director of WEBDELSOL.COM (#10 in the Writer’s Digest Fiction Top 50 and the largest publisher of periodical contemporary literature in the U.S.) and the founder and chief editor of ALGONKIAN WORKSHOPS. He is publisher of several national literary magazines at WEBDELSOL including IN POSSE REVIEW, DIAGRAM, LA PETITE ZINE, 5_TROPE, and DEL SOL REVIEW. His own work has appeared in THE LITERARY REVIEW, NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, MUDLARK, QUARTERLY WEST, PITTSBURGH QUARTERLY, CONJUNCTIONS, AND AMERICAN WAY MAGAZINE. In 2001, he served as the Writer’s Digest Finalist Fiction Judge.
That is, he’s only been published in venues where material is accepted for publication, rather than bought (as is the vulgar custom in our own circles). He’s also not the only Algonkian instructor of whom that can be said.

Finally, The Ghost Trap isn’t Kaley Noonan’s first novel. As explained in the author bio that accompanied this story (which was published in 3:AM in 2001):

Kaley Noonan lives in Maine and ekes out a miserable living as a waitress and a writer. Her last novel, Backwoods East Jesus—a story of twisted Christian values in a cornbelt town—was published online by Mighty Words last year. She is currently working on a new novel about a lobsterman and his retarded girlfriend. Kaley Noonan’s “Happy Corn Belt” and “The Someday Cafe” are in our fiction archive.
MightyWords! That takes me back. I haven’t thought about them in years.
Comments on The Pitch Bitch: I'm not buying it:
#1 ::: TruthProbe ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 08:42 PM:

She reminds me of open mike night at the local comedy club. Failure and silence.

#2 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 08:49 PM:

an elite cabal runs publishing

I was wondering about LAcon's Tor party and about the weird signs painted on the walls of the suite. It all comes clear.

#3 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 08:53 PM:

an elite cabal runs publishing

Yep. Comprised of dead presidents in green.

#4 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 08:59 PM:
More and more schools are offering courses in publishing. They’re popular, they don’t require expensive equipment, and nobody can tell whether the lecturers know what they’re talking about.
To be fair, Emerson's MA program appears to focus a lot more on the writing than the publishing side of things. The department faculty appear to mostly be writers and studiers of literature, and they teach classes in writing and literature. Whether the few non-writing classes are taught by people who ought to have expertise, I mostly can't tell (the book design classes are taught by someone with experience in the field).
#5 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 09:11 PM:

Not that it changes anything, but back issues of the Del Sol Review do list Associate Editor positions.

As for the greater issue:

I don’t understand this person. If you’re going to fib about being a publishing expert, why put up a set of credentials that undercuts your claims?

I think that the targets of this scam (and, although I don't see a direct moneymaking setup here -- not even Adwords or Amazon links -- there's clearly something fishy going on, if only setting up a false front to funnel folks to places like Del Sol, maybe) aren't people who can actually see through these credentials. Given the outlandishness of some of the stuff online that does work (Nigerian moneymaking scams, etc), I could easily see this fooling plenty of casual readers.

#6 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 09:25 PM:

How many publishers and agents have asked you to be exclusive to THEM, yet have not returned your call in months!

...how many professional editors punctuate a question with an exclamation point?

#7 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 09:41 PM:

ooo, EVIL!

In addition to more atrocious punctuation, her blog features a big pimpin' shout-out to a "pitch conference." Follow the link and...

"the registration fee for the conference is $495 until April 9. After April 9, it is $595.00"

*sputter*

#8 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 09:42 PM:

oh. my. gawd.
Train. Wreck.

#9 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 09:46 PM:

We'll see how long she leaves up my comment on her "first novelists" thread:

All writers should begin their careers by learning Yog's Law:
http://www.sff.net/people/yog/

#10 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 09:55 PM:

The site for the pitch conference that she promotes has a small group of links - to the two writing conferences that are run by the same people who run the pitch conference, and to "Kaley Noonan's 'Pitch Bitch Blog'" (listed under a heading saying "A Relevant and Interesting Blog," snarf)

Race y'all to Google!

#11 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 10:01 PM:

Ding! I Win!

Kaley Noonan is associated with the Algonkian [sic] Writers Workshop, which handles the registration (FEES, that is) for the NY Pitch & Shop conference, which she pimps on her blog.

SCAM!

#12 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 10:08 PM:

Questions of honesty and knowledge aside, she's no Dorothy Parker.

And she wants to be - oh how she wants to be.

#13 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 10:13 PM:

...maybe TPB is actually Lori Prokop (of Book Millionaire Reality TV Show) who is also psychically linked to Martha Ivery and ALSO a board member of Airleaf Publishing and Bookselling. Oh there's a story in this and it should be sold to Publish America!

But seriously, a quote from TPBs most recent post: "I seriously don’t know why I keep making adolescent sex a metaphor of the publishing industry (and we all know that “people who speak in metaphors can shampoo my crotch”)–whoop–there I go again."

You know, I'll admit that I've approached the publishing industry with a (little more than a) tad of irreverence at times --- but even on my snarkiest day I would never send any of my material to this editor regardless of who she might really be. I hope in the hungry self-absorbed world of the unpublished writer wannabe there is at least a modicum of something left that maybe/kinda/sort of looks like standards (just a little bit like standards please?)---and I hope those standards are never lowered down far enough to allow this kind of tripe to be taken seriously.

*edit* ePubs are now hardprinting their crap with the same wonky DAZ/Poser3d covers. Nevermind. No standards. Let tripe reign.*

an elite cabal runs publishing
Well, okay --- sure. But at least they like to drink and party at cons ;)

-=Jeff=-

#14 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 10:14 PM:

"I will personally work with authors who have promising ms and even represent them in 2007 to additional agents not attending the conference."

Whoa. You'll personally work with me? And, if my manuscript is "promising," then you'll even query agents on my behalf for me? And, how much are you expecting me to pay you for this marvelous service?

Do I get a free set of steak knives with that?

#15 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 10:17 PM:

"...how many professional editors punctuate a question with an exclamation point?"

To be fair:

(1) "Professional editor" =/= "proofreader." Lots of excellent book editors can't spot typos.

(2) Editors and, for that matter, proofreaders are as entitled as anyone else to make little mistakes in informal prose. I personally have very little patience for the "I'm shocked that YOU as an EDITOR would make this AWFUL ERROR" routine. Yeah, me as an editor also sometimes leaves the butter dish out. Disappointed? Deal.

It's certainly true, though, that if my online presence entailed promising implausible shortcuts to publishing success, people would probably be justified in amusing themselves by nitpicking my basic language skills.

#16 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 10:33 PM:

I hear you, Patrick. Early in my career, I subbed my resume to Brittanica Corp. without noticing that it contained the word "poofreading." Yes. This despite being a decent writer, by academic standards anyway. So I get that poofreading is not necessarily relevant, but I don't think the exclamation point in that sentence is a typo. I think it's a gaacky stylistic choice. It's like she's cracking her gum.

#17 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 10:36 PM:

Any one of her mistakes is a mistake anyone could make. Taken all together, they're something else again.

(Someday, in the far future, a student who's set the translation of the preceding two sentences as an exercise in their Ancient Terrestrial English class is going to curse my name.)

#18 ::: Writerious ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 10:38 PM:

Wow. I served three years as managing editor for an educational research journal, an actual paying job (even if it was grad student starvation wages). That's more experience than the Pitch Witch-with-a-B has. I could start my own "editor who knows it all" blog.

Or then again, not. All I learned from that and from writing professionally is that I know -->this muchthis muchthis much

#19 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 10:40 PM:

Writerious, your text has perversely gone astray for reasons I doubt are your fault.

#21 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 10:44 PM:

All I can think of is naïve folk, with unsold and unsellable bad novels they've written in their spare time, who are going to be hurt by this. A modern-day Dante would have to include a circle in Hell for people like this 'pitch bitch'. A circle of burning pitch sounds about right.

#22 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 12:26 AM:

A "personal" scam blog. Is that a perscablog? Mmm, that has sort of a ring to it... like an ottoman falling downstairs.

And Mary Dell @ 16: "poofreading." I'm going to be saying that to myself all night. "Poofreading." Hee hee. (That my slightly lisping 5YO son would pronounce the word "poof-weeding" makes it all the more entertaining.) Thanks for lightening what has been otherwise an unmitigatedly horrible day.

#23 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 12:35 AM:

From Kaley Noonan's Credentials--Websites page:

What do you get when you cross a beautiful girl with a mime?

Ah, the eternal question...

#24 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 12:58 AM:

I don't know, but she asks him afterward what he was trying to represent.

#25 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 01:31 AM:

Poofreading... isn't that when while you're reading something, the mistakes all disappear but reappear (*poof!*) when you show it to someone else?

#26 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 04:10 AM:

JkRichard, #13, I can do my own wonky DAZ/Poser 3D covers.

(Background info: Poser is a 3D graphics program currently owned by e-frontier. Started out, way back, as a computer version of those jointed wooden figures used by artists. DAZ 3D are a company based in Utah which produces some of the most widely used figures for Poser, and it's own free posing and rendering program, Studio.

Note the word "free". But you have to spend money to get figures which can actually be adjusted to have different faces and bodies.}

Not a cheap Poser book cover, honest.

#27 ::: Eve ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 05:13 AM:

I like poofreading in the British sense even more.

I once saw an ad on a local site where a gentleman was offering his professional services as an "experienced coypueditor".

http://images.google.co.uk/images?hl=en&q=coypu&btnG=Search+Images

#28 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 07:33 AM:

"Poofreading" is exactly how Feorag used to describe the job she did for Scotsgay magazine. (That, and "tripesetting".)

#29 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 08:33 AM:

JKRichard@13: But seriously, a quote from TPBs most recent post: "I seriously don’t know why I keep making adolescent sex a metaphor of the publishing industry (and we all know that “people who speak in metaphors can shampoo my crotch”)–whoop–there I go again."

Sounds like one of those people who wants to believe the reason she's not getting the mainstream attention she so clearly deserves is because she's such a rebel.

#30 ::: The Pitch Bitch ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 08:47 AM:

Hey Teresa,

You might want to up your meds a hair. I never said I was a commercial editor--not one place on the blog does it even imply that. I'm a fiction editor of online Algonkian workshops (stated clearly in the "About") as well as the Associate Editor of Del Sol Review (again, read "About"--stated clearly).

And you are angry that I started a blog stating my opinions on the publishing industry? Holy Crapoly--there's about half a million of blogs out there--happy hunting!

BTW--I've got nothing to hide. I'll keep posting--you people can flame all you want. Have a fab day, kittens!

#32 ::: Xopher notes TPB's lack of reading comprehension skills ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 09:05 AM:

"[A]ngry that [she] started a blog stating [her] opinions on the publishing industry" indeed.

You're entitled to your own opinions. You're not entitled to your own facts. And you don't appear to know the difference.

#33 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 09:06 AM:

A self-proclaimed editing maven
Blamed Teresa for all of our ravin'.
But her wisdom and wit,
Are of male bovine shit,
And her vowels are hardly worth savin'.

#34 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 09:12 AM:

Xopher @ 32 You're entitled to your own opinions. You're not entitled to your own facts. And you don't appear to know the difference.

Brilliantly stated Xopher. I might have to steal that.
-=Jeff=-

#35 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 09:14 AM:

"That is, he’s only been published in venues where material is accepted for publication, rather than bought (as is the vulgar custom in our own circles)."

I'm remembering the "artists" at art school (where I learned graphic design) pontificating about not being sullied by crass commercialism and payment.

Oh Lord, I would think (and still do), let me be so sullied. Let me appear to have wallowed in mud.

TPB, "you people can flame all you want." Oh darling, that wasn't a flame. Heck, I don't even see a lighter up there. You must be new to these interweebie tubular thingies. I see nothing but a critique and exposure.

#36 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 09:16 AM:

I dunno, Eve, we've got coypu (better known as nutria) all over my home state of Oregon. I daresay they could have used some heavy editing, particularly when they ate all the ducks in the city parks.

#37 ::: Nathan ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 09:20 AM:

Hey,

I went to Emerson.....and I resemble that! !!

#38 ::: dichroic ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 09:23 AM:

Xopher @ 32 You're entitled to your own opinions. You're not entitled to your own facts. And you don't appear to know the difference.

Brilliant line, but it's kind of wasted on this small delusion. The line has so much more potential - politicians, for instance. After all, there is a State of the Union speech tonight.

#39 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 09:33 AM:

Dave at 33, I wondered when we'd start poetry.

Is there such a thing as an insider in this case? Would anyone classify herself as an insider? Or is it something like 'adult' or 'professional' where no one thinks they're there, but they'll pretend because all the people around are clearly so? I wonder if I would count as inside for writing and publishing. I write, I know a lot of writers casually and more than so, I hear about PublishAmerica stings, I am not wholly unaware of how some aspects of the industry work.
I suppose the secret-cabal theory would match with the insider bit. But if there's a cabal, they're very unchoosy about who they let in.

#40 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 09:36 AM:

"Up your meds"! That's good! I'll have to pass that on to my nephew.

#41 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 09:44 AM:

On Poofreading and editing. I have a straight male friend who works in the gay pornography business (long story). Some time ago he wrote about it on his site.

Bah, apparently the "carrot S" for "strike" to show a word with a strike through it doesn't work here. I'll just put the crossed out word in italics.

Thedoubles wrote:
As you know, I work in gay pornography. One of my many duties for this company is to proofread their sites for typographical errors and bad links. Well today I was editing a movie's description that had been submitted for revision, and made this correction:

"Eduardo is packing a table leg that is 9.5 inches long and six inches in diameter circumference."

I can't wait to tell my old math teacher.

#42 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 09:47 AM:

More and more schools are offering courses in publishing. They’re popular, they don’t require expensive equipment, and nobody can tell whether the lecturers know what they’re talking about.

I currently go to Pace for my MS in Publishing...and this is the first thing I checked out when I was even considering the degree. "Tell me about your professors' experience. Don't leave anything out."

I am trying to craft some joke about the "PitchBitch"'s painfully unfunny schtick and how it's related to her living in Maine, but I find I'm too recent of a refugee from the Pine Tree State and I'm still too bitter. Alas.

I'd also like to point out that Gawker often has funny, snarky gossip about publishing folks...thanks to them and Miss Snark, I have ruined quite a few keyboards.

#43 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 09:52 AM:

Pb, love, sorry, but it's all over the web now. You're not an editor on the inside. You're not even an actual, you know, pro, as in someone who makes most of their living at it. It's just smoke and mirrors, paint and prevarication, and everybody knows it now.

You have a customer born every minute, but a few might look you up, and now there's a better chance that some of them might see you here. I hope they have the mother-wit to realise that if you knew anything like what you claim to know, you'd be making a living editing, not peddling workshops by spam. We can hope. 'Bye, now.

#44 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 09:56 AM:

Kaley -- May I call you Kaley? I feel like we already know each other! -- I do appreciate you clearing up the little matter of not being a commercial editor and all. People should read more closely, shouldn't they!

I am still a little confused, though. I thought you were offering to help me with a pitch, and the slush pile, and agents and all that confusing stuff. I thought that was commercial publishing. Since you're an Insider and all -- I went back and read it again, just to make sure! -- well, don't take this the wrong way, but what sort of Insider are you? I know you must really have experience with this stuff -- I mean, you don't say you do, but you wouldn't imply it if it weren't true, and then say Well I Never Actually Said That!

Would you?

#45 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 10:07 AM:

"I'm not an editor, but I've played one on TV."

#46 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 10:09 AM:

You know, if someone wants to start up a blog and write about their experiences scraping at the windows of the publishing industry, hey, cool--could be a good read, and as the blogger learns things their readers could too.

There's an entire world of difference between "Hey, I'm a wannabe (or very junior) editor and novelist, doing my volunteer time, and shopping my ms around to agents, hoping for that big break, and, let me tell you, it ain't as easy as it sounds!" and "I Have No Industry Experience, and Paper Credentials, but I Will Share My Sekkrits, Because However Sad I Am At Not Being Published, You Lot Are Sadder, I Can Still Fool You into Believing I Know Stuff."

Even without the scammy workshops the latter is dishonest and self-aggrandizing. It's sad when people who don't know any better get sucked in by this sort of sham.

#47 ::: Vince ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 11:02 AM:

Longtime Making Light lurker here. How dispiriting to see Web del Sol linked to this sort of verbiform pollution.

Web del Sol was one of the first on-line venues for literary publishing; I worked for them as a volunteer years ago. Since then, on-line resources for writers in the literary market have leapfrogged past Web del Sol, which, like most portal sites, hasn't seemed to accomplish much to justify its independent existence. (The Algonkian Workshops were presumably such an attempt.)

Small correction: while the gulf between the micro-world of literary journal publishing and the much larger world of commercial publishing is huge, some of the journals listed by Michael Neff in his bio are in fact paying markets. (Whether they could be classed as commercial markets is another question, since most literary journals derive significant proportions of their income from grants, institutional subvention, etc., rather than from sales.)

#48 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 11:05 AM:

There once was a self-proclaimed Bitch
Whose career was nine-tenths bait-and-switch.
Till some Persons of Letters
Thought she'd do well with feathers--
And a seminar, gratis, in Pitch.

#49 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 11:07 AM:

Dan... "Wizard of Oz", right?

#50 ::: Fiendish Writer ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 11:08 AM:

#30: Oh no, there is no anger here, just mockery.

And you make a lovely pinata.

#51 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 11:19 AM:

I swear, Dogbert Consulting Company has manifested itself in the world.

#52 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 11:57 AM:

#50 Fiendish Writer, I too don't understand why she thinks we're flaming her (her comment #30), except that it's easier to dismiss the criticism that way and play the martyr. Although that doesn't fit into her "tough as her spiked heels" persona she's trying to project.

Hint to TPB, your slip is showing, darling. Might want to see to that.

If we were going to flame her, we'd just start by transposing the words in her screen name. Only "Bitch The Pitch" doesn't work. In the world of flames, that's just a freebie.

#53 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 12:00 PM:

I don't think Adams invented Dogbert Consulting Company any more than Eco invented the scam publisher in Foucault's Pendulum. They're both fictionalized caricatures of real-life scams.

#54 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 12:00 PM:

Oh yeah, the slush exists—just like dive bars and VFW wedding receptions exist.

As someone whose (entirely satisfactory)wedding reception was held at an American Legion hall, I am very glad we didn't invite Miss Noonan.

#55 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 12:03 PM:

#54 Bill Higgins--Yeah, and what does she have against dive bars? I love dive bars!

#56 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 12:08 PM:

Um...thanks, but I didn't make up that thing about not being entitled to your own facts. I was just quoting it. I think I got it here, maybe from Patrick?

Or were you teasing me for saying it just as if I were just thinking it up? I didn't attribute it. Wikipedia attributes it to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, which seems likely.

Btw it seems it's quoted without attribution all over the web.

#57 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 12:10 PM:

Yeah, and what does she have against dive bars? I love dive bars!

Those are those icecream things, right?

Oh wait.

#58 ::: Anonymous ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 12:11 PM:
#59 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 01:01 PM:

Ethan @ 55: if it ain't a dive, it ain't a bar.

I'd also bet your average VFW wedding reception is a lot fuller of warmth and genuine celebration than the monstrous Bridezilla-style affairs that crop up in overpriced venues every weekend.

(My event photographer-husband's favorite TV show is "Bridezillas." Nothing says "future marital bliss" like a coked-out PR-type screaming over the late arrival of her $15,000-a-gig troupe of former Cirque de Soleil acrobats.)

#60 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 01:22 PM:

Pitch Bitch (30), is that the best invective you can manage? I'd have hoped for better from someone who has "Bitch" in the title of her weblog.

#61 ::: Kellie Hazell ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 01:26 PM:

RE: The Todd James Pierce Connection

There I was, merrily following the links, when I got to the Algonkian Workshop's interview with TJP and found this gem:

Versatile enough to publish short stories while simultaneously setting his sights on novels

I can't wait to apply this new concept of versatility to my own life. I strive for the day when I can be versatile enough to pat my head while simultaneously endeavoring to rub my tummy.

#62 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 01:27 PM:

Listen kittens, there are ways to bypass the slush pile.

Hiya, Kaley!

Tell me -- how's that working out for you? Bypassed the slush pile yourself yet?

#63 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 01:31 PM:

Oh, Teresa, I don't know..."Have a fab day, kittens" has me quaking in my stylish, yet affordable, boots.

#64 ::: C.E. Petit ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 01:41 PM:

Starving artists don't produce deathless prose.
They don't paint timeless landscapes beloved of arts students for generations to come.
They push up daisies... which doesn't have much to do with "art."

Or does "Pitch Bitch" mean that anyone who calls him/her/itself an artiste is entitled to a middle-class salary just for being an artiste, even one who produces three or four short poems a year?

P.S. For even more fun, run down the actual publication credentials of the writing and publishing faculty at Emerson. Hint: There are several vanity presses in there... and not just for poetry, where that's more "normal" (even if still a rip-off).

#65 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 02:25 PM:

I'll make some money "publishing" bad art,
capitalise on all that vanity and pride,
take simple folks and their cash for a ride,
and make believe I really give a fart
for all they say, pretend I have a heart
that's not as dead and wizened as my hide.
If I can do this and simultaneous deride
the carping critics I'll have done my part
to make the world a danker, nastier place
where vultures like myself can find weak prey
and curse the ones who try to make us go.
I'm a real expert, for if you seek to trace
my achievements all disappears into the grey
of winter, my job, indeed's, to snow.

#66 ::: Joy ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 02:54 PM:

More evidence that "snark" in the hands of the inexperienced can be a dangerous thing.

#67 ::: murgatroyd ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 03:39 PM:

Well, hell's bells. If she's an editor, so am I.

I have not finished a college degree, I make $12.75 an hour, but I can cut, size, and restitch academic articles better than a lot of people who have PhDs.

I can also tell pretty closely who will and won't fare well in peer review. And, even more impressive, I've had articles published, and I live in Maine and eke out a miserable living too. In publishing, no less.

Maybe I'm in the wrong racket.

#68 ::: Steff Z ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 03:42 PM:

Please stop snarking at the poor defenseless target, everyone; all this sarcastic chuckling is giving me a severe pain in my Unique Artistic Vision.

#69 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 04:04 PM:

Hmm.

Nyrond's Addendum to Yog's Law;

"but seldom very fast."

#70 ::: Lawrence Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 04:08 PM:

#59: If it ain't a dive, it ain't a bar.

Thus the need for the term "cocktail lounge."

Incidentally, our wedding reception was at the American Legion hall, too, and we were quite satisfied with it.

#71 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 04:17 PM:

#30: Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzt! I'm sorry, you have failed the reading comprehension part of the contest, and so win neither respect nor Googlejuice. You do, however, get a copy of our home game, and some packages of Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat.

#72 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 04:38 PM:

From original post:

Look at this post (Its subtitle, A No-Excuses Truth to Understanding The Publishing Industry, is almost enough on its own.)

That link doesn't work anymore. Is that cockroaches I hear scurrying?

#73 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 05:13 PM:

jennie @46
Your point, in slightly allusive verse:

The road beside the river tends to flood
When autumn storms bring rainfall to the hills.
Your wagons and your horses, mired in mud
Are trapped until the water rises, and it kills.
The mountain passes close with winter snows,
The desert's parched in summer's white-hot days.
The road that looks the safest often goes
To nothing but a hovel, thick with strays.
A canny guide is worth her weight in gold
When maps are not enough, and no one knows
When caution suits and when you must be bold,
And when to give up on the route you chose.
You wouldn't trust a guide who'd never been
Along the road, and learned from what she's seen.

(OK, now I really have to do some work.)

#74 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 05:23 PM:

I don't think these guys are villains. Kaley Noonan may not know squat about trade publishing, and Michael Neff may have built an entire writing and workshopping career around non-paying literary fanzines, but no way are they in the same class as American Book Publishing, Linda Dockery, Barbara Bauer, Robert Fletcher, or PublishAmerica.

#75 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 05:47 PM:

And yes, Greg London (72), that post has disappeared. You can still get the flavor of it from the first of the two spams I quoted.

#76 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 05:47 PM:

PublishAmerica is so tempting a target that if I had a bit more time I think Betty Swallocks would be frantically working to get her DETECTIVE NWAR masterpiece ready to submit to them.

#77 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 05:49 PM:

For $595, they could make me what they are?

Hmm. I fail to see the selling point.

#78 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 06:03 PM:

elise @77:
You don't want to develop a narrative voice straight out of Heathers? Are you sure? Kitten?

Teresa @74:
I don't know if they're villains. But a blog that claims to have the Inside Dirt on the Publishing Industry, and serves only to divert authors' energy strikes me as, to a lesser degree, the equivalent of the witch doctors who "treat" patients until the cancer is incurable or the cataracts have made them blind.

It wastes time, wastes hearts, wastes courage and wastes joy. It's possible that this one does this in good faith, which would be a mitigation.

#79 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 06:23 PM:

What I'm waiting for is the response.

Kaley Noonan now does have a reputation, as a shameless charlatan. From here on when anyone looks up her name; an agent, a publishing house, a reviewer, what they'll find is her history of misrepresentation.

That's gotta hurt. That's gonna hurt more.

I wonder if the folks involved in this debacle will somehow try and come clean and redeem what they can of their professional reputations? Or will they lay low hoping it all just goes`away (but Google doesn't forget.)

#80 ::: Julie Field ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 06:31 PM:

To dismiss and demean such esteemed and high-quality literary journals as Conjuctions, The Literary Review, Black Warrior, and many others as simply "non-paying literary fanzines" nt nly shws th dpth f yr gnrnc, Trs, bt scry cptlst prsn. r y Rpblcn f sm srt? Wrtng s nly t b jdgd by hw wll t pys? Thn y'r wr tht D VNC CD mst b bttr thn ny SF vr pblshd by TR bcs t sld nfntly mr cpy? nd ny bt f mrnc, clch swll pblshd ths dys n n SF rg mst b bttr thn ny pm vr pblshd tht md lss mny r n mny?

Gt ff yr BS hgh hrs. Mthnks hr lttl cmmrcl dgs brkng t p stn by bggr dg.

JF

#81 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 06:35 PM:

Teresa has a scary capitalist persona, and might even secretly be a Republican... Say it ain't so.

#82 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 06:44 PM:

Of course, as we all well know, Democrats hate making money. Thus, if one likes making money, one can't be anything but a Republican. (I remember how shocked my Republican father-in-law was upon discovering that the hubbies of his daughters all like the accumulation of pecuniary resources.)

#83 ::: P.N. Elrod ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 06:49 PM:

She certainly lacks Miss Snark's wit, charm, and nice manners, which is reason enough for such bitterness of 'tude.

Those in the industry who might have helped K.N.'s career are now all too aware of her name in a negative sense.

Ms. Noonan has shot herself in the foot enough for one planetary rotation. Time to limp home and consider wiser options than writing more blog rants that beg for mockage.

#84 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 07:02 PM:

Julie Field #80: If there's a dog here, her name is Julie, and she is barking up the wrong tree.

#85 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 07:18 PM:

Hey! (Or perhaps "Arf!".)

#86 ::: bentley ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 07:23 PM:

"The authors have deleted this blog. The content is no longer available."

#87 ::: Fiendish Writer ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 07:44 PM:

Oh dear. Pinata all gone.

#88 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 07:55 PM:

You want to hear someone dismiss and demean such high-toned literary fanzines as Conjuctions, The Literary Review, and Black Warrior? Sure. They specialize in boring stories about dull people whose trivial problems have obvious solutions.

And the writing isn't all that good, either. Sure, I know about Sturgeon's Law. But in literary prose it's closer to 99% than 90.

At least Dan Brown convinced thousands of non-lit'ry people to donate their money and their time for his words. The folks who write for Conjunctions, et al.? They're hard-pressed to get the other MFAs to read their stuff. What really burns Kaley's bush is that Dan Brown made it out of the slush pile and she didn't.

You want the secret to avoiding the slush pile? Send your material to p/a/y/s/-/i/n/-/c/o/p/i/e/s/ free literary e-zines. They'll take anything. As long as it's unreadable.

#89 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 07:58 PM:

Julie L #85: Not you!! Sorry.

#90 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 08:06 PM:

Julie L #85: Not you!! Sorry.

#91 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 08:08 PM:

Julie Field@80: To dismiss and demean such esteemed and high-quality literary journals as Conjuctions, The Literary Review, Black Warrior, and many others as simply "non-paying literary fanzines" not only shows the depth of your ignorance, Teresa, but a scary capitalist persona.

Wow, these folks really have problems with reading comprehension. Would you like to point out where Teresa "dismisses and dismeans" those journals, Julia? Was it where she noted that they don't pay? This may come as a surprise to you, but being published in markets that don't pay don't make you an expert on the industry.

That says nothing about the quality of the market or the works in it. Several SF markets that pay pennies consistently publish work that wins awards and critical acclaim. But if you're claiming to be an expert on the industry, that means you deal with the commercial side of it, and that means getting paid.

As for the supposed depth of her ignorance--child, someday you may know enough about the woman you're talking about to be embarrassed by that remark.

Get off your BS high horse. Methinks I hear little commercial dogs barking at a pee stain by a bigger dog.

Bit of a logic problem here. Who're the little dogs? I thought you all were supposed to be the little ferocious outsiders, barking at the monolithic publishing industry. Now you're the big dogs? And yet...you have no publishing success, no insider experience...how does that work, again?

#92 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 08:29 PM:

From Conjunctions (from December '06, so it's recent):
"Flood" by David Shields.

This is written by someone who's never in his life slept in a wet sleeping bag, or tried to walk in the woods on a starless, moonless night. Where's the light coming from, David, for your first-person narrator to see the things he sees?

"The underside of the porch drips rain like a child peeing." Let's assume there's enough light for you to see that. Do childen drip when they pee? What are you trying to say?

"She likes the smell of bathrooms, mirrors, warm toilet seats." Does your perfect Carla really spend a lot of time smelling warm toilet seats? Or was that just clumsily phrased?

What happens in this story? Plot summary: The narrator isn't smart enough to come in out of the rain, but Carla, apparently, is.

At least I didn't have to pay anything to read this. At least it was short.

Would someone -- anyone -- care to defend this waste of pixels?

#93 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 08:47 PM:

#80: I don't think the term "fanzine" is pejorative, certainly not in this context. It's also completely fair to point out that expertise in non-paying markets doesn't necessarily imply expertise in commercial publishing.

Oh well. At least Kaley Noonan has apparently reconsidered her venture.

#94 ::: Mlly ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 09:35 PM:

T Th Drns f Tr,

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Cllng gd ltrry jrnls "fnzns" s bth nccrt nd nsltng. t ws mnt t b.

#95 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 09:43 PM:

I haven't seen a comment thread get this nasty in a while (though I don't read all comment threads). How did a situation where a self-proclaimed Insider turned out not to be turn into snarling?

Sometimes the world just doesn't listen when I want everyone to be friends. Alas for reality.

#96 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 09:50 PM:

Kittens? WTF is that about?

#97 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 09:56 PM:

When that I was and a little bitty Bitch,
(With hey, ho, the Merry Drones of Tor)
A foolish blog did scratch my itch,
(For the drones they drone on ever more)

But when I came to make my Pitch,
(With hey, ho, the Merry Drones of Tor)
'Gainst knaves and thieves they pulled the switch.
(For the drones they drone on ever more)

But when alas I came to write
By swaggering could I never thrive,
And then my "friends" did raise their heads
With sockpuppets still I earn my bread

Not long ago my blog began
(With hey, ho, the Merry Drones of Tor)
But that's all done, Teresa's won
And abi'll write a sonnet every day

#98 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 09:57 PM:

You would all prefer alien butt antenna jammed up your noses to real literature.

Yes, so what's your point?

#99 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 10:02 PM:

Fanzines. Insulting? Perhaps. Accurate? Definitely.


Have you seen that lukewarm pap that Teresa Hayden calls fiction? I mean, the stuff she wrote?

No, and neither have you. Teresa doesn't write fiction. That Bitter Rejected Author fantasy of yours is just a square on the Bingo Card.

I do write fiction. Back when I started trying to publish commercially I listed "little and literary" credits in my first couple of cover letters. The Lit'ry Magazines didn't reject me. I dropped them when I figured out exactly how meaningless they were.

(And those were in the days of paper Lit'ry magazines. At least they paid in copies. What do the on-line 'zines pay in? Electrons?)

I also read literature. Real literature. I love it. It isn't in the literary e-zines. The literary e-zines are a refuge for the poseurs, the artistes, and the wannabees.

Don't try to sling words here, Molly. You're in the presence of people who actually can.

#100 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 10:06 PM:

Calling good literary journals "fanzines" is both inaccurate and insulting. It was meant to be.

molly, if you spent much time here, you'd know that "fanzine" isn't a pejorative term at all. we are, you see, fans.

it is a comment however, on how "inside the publishing industry" a person whose work has only appeared in fanzines could be. fanzines can be repositories of great art, but they are, by definition, on the fringes....

nevermind. i'll stop feeding the troll now.

#101 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 10:21 PM:

Julie Field@#80, Molly@#94: You do realize that you're making fools of yourselves in public, don't you?

#102 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 10:24 PM:

How did a situation where a self-proclaimed Insider turned out not to be turn into snarling?

The MFAs, sensitive souls that they are, perceive that they're getting laughed at.

#103 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 10:39 PM:

#92 James D. Macdonald, "Would someone -- anyone -- care to defend this waste of pixels?"

Oh, Jeeze. I'm going to get another scar from banging my head against the wall to get the stupid out that story/poem/whatever it was tried to get in. All I can say is that, way, too, many, damn, commas. I don't think it's a comma splice issue, I think it's death by a thousand commas. At least there's whale puke in there (really, there is). I doubt the author knows that's what the word means, only that it relates to "Pair-foom-airy."

So, have I crossed into the insulting side of this argument? Silly me.

#104 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 10:48 PM:

Mr Macdonald, you have no idea how satisfying it is to me to have someone of your stature say what I have been having underground thoughts about for years.

At one stage, I had to attend a sort of literary salon where I was asked, perfectly po-faced, whether I found the act of commercial publication perhaps a little, well, um...

I answered cheerfully that it didn't require half so much pimping myself out as getting the Masters (Creative Writing) which was the reason I had to attend the sort-of literary salon. The conversation went south after that, alas.

At the government-funded "writers' house" where they paid me to present a "workshop" (which wasn't a workshop, but that's another story) I got asked whether it wasn't galling to have to put work in front of people who simply didn't understand, you know, its real artistic merits. I said something like, "Yes, indeed, not only don't they pay you, but you're out the postage as well."

Funny looks you get at government-funded "writers' houses".

The same place is talking about getting an actual anthology of their work out, but very few stories have been submitted, because the proposal is to get a grant and employ a, you know, professional editor with actual selection powers. Two of the leading lights remarked that they didn't feel quite right about being submitted to scrutiny in this way. A committee of members would be better.

Heigh-ho. Well, back to pimping myself out for commercial scrutiny.

#105 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 10:54 PM:

Re: me@91: ARGH! "doesn't make you." Time for new glasses. Or to switch to the "Larger type" option, up-page, so I can see what the hell I'm typing.

So, we have a devotion of Snarklings. What's the collective noun for drones of Tor?* And do I get to be a drone? As I recall, drones get to make new queens by choosing who to feed royal jelly to. That would be kewl. Can I, can I, huh, oh great Tor-people? Pleeeeeease?

*"Hive" is obvious, but it sounds itchy.

#106 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 10:54 PM:

I meant more #92, which is public bashing of stories from people who aren't involved in this. It seemed unnecessarily nasty, which may have been part of what you were trying to do-- show that Teresa was not particularly insulting by demonstrating what insulting really looks like-- but I like my conflicts simpler, with at least one side behaving well. Making Light comments show up on Google occasionally (the top hit for my name leads here) and the authors aren't really involved.

Like I said, I prefer simple conflicts. "That's not a knife. *This* is a knife!" might have motivated the post, but it comes out looking worse. It's easier to show that we are not the enemy if we don't rip bystanders to shreds.

#107 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 10:57 PM:

Professor Doyle - I hear the 'woosh' sound when I read their posts.

If you'll excuse me, I'll go back to the other threads that include:
abi and Fragano's poetry
discussions of all things linguistic
handcrafts and fiber materials
commentary on literature in translation and language shift
amusing pet stories
debates of current events and politics
a remarkably small amount of SFF colloquy

#108 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 10:59 PM:

#94 I don't mean this to be insulting or an attack. I'm hoping that you'll please play nice.

Now--stating the obvious here, but 'literary' is a genre like any other, albeit one that focuses on a theme, generally 'exploration of the self', rather than more easily-waved-about features of setting or style.

Like all genres, literary fiction has its freebee, publish-on-acceptance zines. Some of these will be reasonably good, some not so good.

The reality is, however, that on average any writer who feels that his/her work is of a standard to warrant payment will send it off to the bigger and more lucrative markets first. Writers, after all, like to eat too.

The result is that (again, generally speaking) paying markets will showcase a better quality of fiction than non-paying markets, simply because they have the first pick of the subs.

So, to be blunt, if you want 'quality' literary magazines you'd be better off investing time and effort in reading 'The New Yorker', 'The London Review of Books' or 'Meanjin'. All are paying markets, well respected, and at least reasonably well know.

I suppose, in a round-about way I'm saying that no-one here is attacking literary magazines or the genre in general. What has been pointed out (rightly) is that freebee online zines are nothing more or less than freebee online zines--and it's not sensible to claim vast publishing experience on the basis working for such a magazine.

#109 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 11:00 PM:

A pattern is beginning to emerge here. I've long noted that people with MBAs are damn touchy about their work. They tend to think that their opinions are more valuable simply by virtue of their having that degree. Sometimes they actually think their facts are automatically better. This isn't SO bad when the topic is their area of expertise...but I've had MBAs try to tell me about linguistics.

Now it appears that MFAs may, in some cases, have the same effect. So the M[B | F]A degree is a marker of assholism?

Further study is needed.

#110 ::: roach ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 11:08 PM:

So, we have a devotion of Snarklings. What's the collective noun for drones of Tor?*

Perhaps swarm?

#111 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 11:12 PM:

I... Uh...

Oh, hell.

Mabel, git my shotgun. We've been overrun by varmints.

#112 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 11:24 PM:

As I recall, drones get to make new queens by choosing who to feed royal jelly to.

Actually I think the Workers control the means of production.

#113 ::: Anonymous ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 11:27 PM:
#114 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 11:30 PM:

Xopher@112: Oh, hell, that's right. The drones are the males. (Time to review apiculture, or get some sleep.) Well, that's not nearly as much fun. Dang.

Still, we could get "Tor Drone" T-shirts. "Two pens enter, one pen leaves"?

Definitely sleep.

#115 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 11:39 PM:

Re: 113: Okay, so you folks like to pick on ezine people? MFA's are a detriment I suppose?

Wow. These people really do not get reading comprehension at all.


When's the last time TOR book was made into a film?

When was one of yours?

Side note: If you're trying to pretend you're not the same person, or in the same group, you might want to watch out for miswriting the same proper name in the same way in different posts with different names attached. Just sayin'.


Or when has one of your select group written a nonfiction book about something real, and not related to "How to Get Published."

Well, you could use Google to find out, but since that was just a shot and not an actual inquiry, I'm sure you won't bother. But I'm confused--now "How to Get Published" is bad and lame? Because when you were doing it, you made it sound so hip and cool.

#116 ::: Anonymous ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 11:41 PM:
#117 ::: Greg London sees possible Mark York spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 11:43 PM:

Call me paranoid, but I think "Benedict Arnold" up at #113 is actually Mrk Yrk. View All By (thank the tech gods it's working again) show that "Benedict" has two posts, one of which is at #113. Both of which try to link to "Aga inst a Rap id Stre am" by guess fricken who.

#118 ::: Julie ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 11:54 PM:

Well, let's examine what the brilliant writer, Chris Johnstone has to say!

Here we go from post #108:

Chris Johnstone says: "The result is that (again, generally speaking) paying markets will showcase a better quality of fiction than non-paying markets, simply because they have the first pick of the subs."

Assuming, of course, that in your scenario all America's good fiction writers are following the Chris Johnstone formula and ONLY sending their work to paying mags. Also, it assumes no self-respecting fiction writer would want to be published in a mag that doesn't pay enough. Yes?

"So, to be blunt... "

Yes, be blunt Chris Johstone.

"if you want 'quality' literary magazines you'd be better off investing time and effort in reading 'The New Yorker', 'The London Review of Books' or 'Meanjin'. All are paying markets, well respected, and at least reasonably well know."

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Lt's lk t sm f Chrs Jhnstns rcnt plcs t snd hs "wrk" ...:

Th Hntng f Mrs Hggns - Fntsy nd Scnc Fctn, S
Th Pstmn's Nw Cstmrs - Wrd Tls, S
Rd f Lng Brdn - Shmmr, rlnd
Chtng th Ms - ntrglctc Mdcn Shw, S

Dn't th ttls snd hrrbly rgnl? Nw, lt's ssm th fctn f Chrs Jhnstn gts pblshd n n f ths ptrd rckt rgs tht rk f crtn chrctrs nd prdctbl plts, thn t gs wtht syng tht HS fctn MST b bttr thn nythng tht hs vr pprd n, lt's sy, Qrtrly Wst r Prr Schnr. Why? Bcs ntrgltc Mdcn Shw pys bttr!

It's all so logical.

Thank you Chris Johnstone. Y wldn't knw gd fctn f t kckd y n th blls.

#119 ::: Lawrence Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 11:57 PM:

While Jim's perfectly capable of defending himself, "Who the hell are you besides a hermit in Colebrook NH?" is probably not a good question to ask.

He's an EMT. He saves lives.

He has a wife and a bunch of kids, which is not exactly typical of hermits.

He's an instructor at Viable Paradise, teaching other people how to write.

He's a veteran of the U.S. Navy.

Who are you to belittle him?

#120 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:02 AM:

Hey, Julie: Just so you know what kind of pissing match you're about to get into, you might want to read the message threads here:
Todd James Pierce Part I
Todd James Pierce Part II

Also, consider that you just ripped into one of the few people here who was treating you like a person capable of rational discussion. Good move.

#121 ::: Anonymous ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:02 AM:
#122 ::: Aconite notes that Greg London called it first ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:05 AM:

Good call, Greg.

#123 ::: Anonymous ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:06 AM:
#124 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:07 AM:

mrk,

a novel with fictional scenarios? horrors!

#125 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:12 AM:

I'd like to apologize to Julie and her crowd for mistaking Mrk.Yrk for one of them. Y'all are obnoxious and not too well researched, but you're not on Mrk.Yrk's level. All I can say in my defense is that sometimes he starts out sounding almost coherent.

#126 ::: Anonymous ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:13 AM:
#127 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:14 AM:

Hm, I can see how this story is going to end:

one by one, without any fuss, the vowels were going out.

#128 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:14 AM:

Wow, I wish I had fictional scenarious like Jim's. I could tell some author about them and offer to split the money if he writes the novel.

And yes, Benedict Arnold, you are clearly Mrk Yrk. Go Yrk off somewhere else.

#129 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:17 AM:

My work here is done.

Would that that were true. Will no one rid us of this tiresome wanker?

#130 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:19 AM:

Will no one rid us of this tiresome wanker?

Gee, thanks for that mental image, Xopher. I'm sure I'll be able to sleep now.

#131 ::: Julie Field ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:20 AM:

And to Debra Doyle of #101

http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/

Ths hvng ld f bd SF nt nly mks fl f y, n pblc, bt dmnshs th dgnty f th hmn rc, rthr lk Rnld McDnld.

My rcmmndtn s t t yrslf t rck n th dsrt nd swt t yr nnr trll. Nxt, tk ll yr bks, sl thm n brrl wth trch, nd thn dpth-chrg thm nt th cn, t lst 50 mls ffshr.

Nxt, plgz t th hmn rc v th ntrnt nd swr y'll stp wrtng frvr.

#132 ::: Anonymous ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:20 AM:
#133 ::: Anonymous ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:21 AM:
#134 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:23 AM:

Xopher, "tiresome wanker" is precisely the problem. Posting aimless abuse here is part of his kink.

#135 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:24 AM:

Julie Field@131: This heaving load of bad SF not only makes a fool of you, in public

Man, doesn't it just kill you that more people have paid money for her books than will ever know your name?

#136 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:25 AM:

Mrk Yrk, you're still incoherent. I'm sure you think you're being "subtle," but actually it's that your word-salad is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

#137 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:27 AM:

Seriously, Xopher, don't give him what he wants. He's probably sitting there right now with one hand on the mouse and the other hand not on the mouse.

#138 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:27 AM:

Awww, Teresa, there was more candy in him! Oh well.

Seriously, good riddance. Thanks.

#139 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:30 AM:

Yes, I know. I'm sure the brief intervals between his appearances here...well, calling them 'refractory periods' seems appropriate.

#140 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:31 AM:

Xopher, that isn't candy.

In the meantime, anybody here want to see what they can make of the IP address 4.249.15.21 ?

#142 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:33 AM:

Well, sleep is out of the question now.

Ew.

#143 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:40 AM:

Julie Field, I'm getting the impression that you think that life has no penalties for being rude.

I'm going to assume you're Kayley Noonan unless and until I'm presented with compelling evidence to the contrary. What we know from innumerable online dust-ups is that when a writer is spoken of unkindly, and an online persona with no prior history of posting pops up to defend them, turn after turn after turn, that persona is almost always the writer in question.

#144 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:41 AM:

Neither of my non-fiction books were about How To Get Published (though I will note that Pants-on-Fire Pierce has a book on How To Write). None of my newspaper feature articles were about how to get published either.

Perhaps dragging bystanders into this is wrong (though my comments on "Flood" and that thing in Black Warrior (another part of the Web Del Sol nexus) were mild). My comments were intended not to dismay the individual authors, who were no doubt doing the best they could, but to comment on the e-zines that "Julie Field" holds up as "high quality" models, not to be dismissed or demeaned.

Unfortunately, "Julie Field" is a common name -- too common to be sure if some story out there is hers. "Molly" is even worse. Lots and lots of Mollys in the world. If either cares to link to something they've published...? Or shall I just imagine that Molly's fiction is as bad as she imagines Teresa's would be, if Teresa wrote fiction? Shall I imagine that Julie Field was rejected by Tor?

No, just as I use my real name, I link to real examples that anyone can look at to see for themselves.

To spell this out for the MFAs (who really do seem to have reading comprehension difficulties -- is that why they like their literary 'zines so much?) the problem isn't that Pitch Bitch is a literary author. The problem is that she's selling snake oil for six hundred bucks a bottle.

She's pretending she can teach others something that she personally doesn't know.

#145 ::: Julie Field ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:45 AM:

To JAMES MACDONALD of ALL OVER:

http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/

As for writers, ace, you can't even write decent SF. Who would be fool enough to buy a book with a horrible cliche title like LAND OF MIST AND SNOW? It's sooooo bad it makes me ill. How pathetic of you to pretend to be a writer and hang out here like some kind of redneck curmudgeon attacking literary magazines. Conjunctions and those other journals are so far beyond your capability it's like comparing pearls to swine and guess who is the swine? You will never be able to write as well as the writers in those journals and that makes you furious and bitter.

It's so evident in everything you say!

And Terese DOES write fiction. It's even better than yours, which isn't saying much.

And btw, your lack of taste even shows in that putrid web page you use to showcase your garbage.

#146 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:48 AM:

according to "tracert", the last stop of that IP address is:

dialup-4.249.15.21.Dial1.Washington2.Level3.net

Another site places it in Washington DC, specifically.

I assume "dialup" means its a modem that subscribers can dial into to access the internet, which means someone is trying to cover their tracks.

Maybe some web head can figure out more.

#147 ::: C.E. Petit ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:48 AM:

Well, let's see, #113. Do books designed to teach high school students with low reading skills about American law and history count as being about "something real"? I have had two of those published commercially. With advances and royalties.

So I guess that's at least one of us.

Oh, has anyone mentioned the kinds of books TNH used to edit? Hint: She's got academic chops, too.

#148 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:50 AM:

"Or when has one of your select group written a nonfiction book about something real, and not related to "How to Get Published."(?)

As in also gotten it published, by a regular paying publisher, sold in actual bookstores, got critical attention, got paid an advance for it, am getting royalties? That stuff?

Is there any point in answering "I have, three times now, and what's your point?"

#149 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:53 AM:

"Julie Field" is posting from a dialup in Washington, DC. "The Pitch Bitch" posted from Maine. So no match there.

#150 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:58 AM:

I just want to make it clear that "Molly" (94), a.k.a. MollyJones@aol.com, is no relation at all to Red Molly.

And who is MollyJones@aol.com? Danged if I know. See what you can do with 01.23.07 .

#151 ::: C.E. Petit ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:59 AM:

Re 146:
It may not be a dialup at all.

The Dial1 designation indicates only that it can handle dialup traffic — not that all of the traffic it handles is dialup. Many AOL-, UUNet-, and backbone-controlled servers have maintained old-style names to avoid having to rename machines and rebuild indices and traffic-management cascades. (As an aside, the machine's actual location is Ashburn, Virginia, where UUNet used to have a major server farm.)

#152 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:01 AM:

Okay, "Julie Field," I take that as a challenge.

I'll let you know when my stories appear in Conjunction and Black Warrior. I think I have some unreadable tripe in the bottom of my desk drawer that I can send them.

Who would be fool enough to buy a book with a horrible cliche title like LAND OF MIST AND SNOW?

Well, Avon/Eos. And several thousand people who could have walked right by it, but didn't.

Ever get published, anywhere, by anyone, "Julie"?

I'll take a credit from an on-line literary fanzine. Heck, for you, I'll even take PublishAmerica as a credit.

#153 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:01 AM:

Aconite at #105 - How about "Torks" for a collective noun choice? Using the Warhammer 40K spelling of Ork, rather than the more traditional 'c'. (I also offer the John Normanity of "Slaves of Tor" as a runner-up.)

For what it's worth, the view from someone outside the publishing industry is that the "big dogs" of literary fanzines posting on this blog are coming across as Internet kooks who really don't have anything better to do than make fools of themselves on the Internet. (No, I don't expect this to change anyone's behavior, but I believe in the ritual value of rescue-making gestures.)

#154 ::: Julie Field ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:07 AM:

Not a good idea to threaten me, Terese. You're a coward. You turn your minions loose to act as judge and jury then you deus-ex-machina in to dispense justice? Just what are you going to do? Get me fired from my job?

You'll hear from an attorney, dear, if you try anything beyond the petty. And I can drive to Brooklyn in 40 minutes or less and stop by the Tor office for a chat with your husband and his boss. Would that suit you? And that's just for starters.

And I'm not KN. Believe whatever you want. I'm just irritated beyond belief by the arrogance and ignorance of your acolytes.

I've had enough though. It's like baiting alien space monkeys from the land of snow and mist. LOL.

Aloha

JF

#155 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:12 AM:

Greg(@146) I've typically seen 'dialup' on any kind of non-nailed-up 'net access, including (in the past, at least) dynamic IP high-speed access.

Level 3's a large-scale backbone provider that amongst other things does colocation and managed dialup service, which could in theory mean that it's someone's dialup to a small business or organization's machine. It's vaguely possible it might be a small local ISP, assuming those still exist. (I wouldn't expect something larger, simply because I'd expect there to be someone else's namespace involved if so.)

#156 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:13 AM:

Charlie (147), I'm just wondering about this supposed fiction of mine that Mlly so disdains. Unless I'm suffering a serious lapse of memory, it doesn't exist. I edit fiction. I write essays. Mlly is thick as two short planks.

#157 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:13 AM:

Teresa, if you have a MS-Windows machine, bring up a DOS prompt and type "tracert nn.nn.nn.nn", where "n" is the IP address you want to look at.

It will give a list of all the stop over points between you and the final destination. The last entry will be the interesting one.


#158 ::: FungiHateAssholes ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:27 AM:

Looks at them squirming around to find the culprits to they can do harm. FungiHA will break out FungiHA stick to beat these little Avon sucky sucky writers. Yes, sucky sucky sucky no good SF poopie woopie stoopids all squirmy woormy around big old mama Terese at least 50. Mama Terese stomp her little feetums in anger at FungiHA HA HA stick. Slap slap them all I say, yessssssssssssssssssssssssssss.

#159 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:28 AM:

I'm seeing some arrogance and ignorance here, and it isn't mine.

I take it, then, "Julie," that you've never published anything? Not terribly surprising, I must say.

No, Teresa won't try to get you fired from your job, you silly git. Nor is she threatening you. Your own efforts have already gotten you laughed at all across cyberspace. No fair trying to give her credit for your words.

#160 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:33 AM:

I can't believe it. These doinkbrains think I use "fanzine" as a pejorative term. What is this, National Forget How to Google Month?

#161 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:37 AM:

Fungi, could you clarify that just a bit?

#162 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:39 AM:

I think MrkYrk is wearing a Fungi suit.

#163 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:40 AM:

Teresa, I'm pretty sure these doinkbrains are using their own patented Wiki-of-the-contrary or possibly just pulling things from any handy orifice.

#164 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:42 AM:

Julie Field might be this Julie Field

link

It's a student comment for a NYC Pitch and Shop conference for first novels.

Whether she is also Pitch Bitch, I have no clue. But if this is her comment, she's never been published.

#165 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:56 AM:

Wow, Greg. I think you may be on to something. That's the NYC Pitch and Shop, eh? And our "Julie" claims she lives within 40 minutes of Brooklyn.

Let's see... let's see... if that's our Julie, when she visits Tor she can say "Hi" to one of the Pitch and Shop faculty members, Anna Genoese, whose office is right down the hall from Teresa's. And maybe she can say "Hi" for me to another faculty member, Diana Gill, who was the person who was fool enough to buy a book with a horrible cliche title like LAND OF MIST AND SNOW.

(The title, BTW, is an allusion to Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner. And to think, this whole time I thought lit'ry types liked literary allusions. Must all my gods have feet of clay? Curse you, Julie Field!)

#166 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:04 AM:

If Julie Field shows up at the Tor offices, please, please, please have a videocamera handy. I want to see that encounter on YouTube.

#167 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:08 AM:

Drags up chair.
Drags up table.
Pulls out blender. Makes and pours drinks. Puts fruit on toothpick-umbrellas. Offers drinks all around.

Wow. Shades of a tacky awkward 'roid rage. Can't look away.

Hey, Julie,
I'm curious. Did you do any research before you started posting here? Have you read any other threads on ML, to get a sense of the local community? Do you know what it takes to build a blog which can get hundreds of comments per post?

And, by the way, did you write the story "A Talk of the Rockies"?

#168 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:11 AM:

There is a Julie Field account on Lulu. No published material. She appears to only post 3 times on the community forum. At least two fo them are spamming for the pitch conference.

A comment in the Lulu forums by Julie Fields talking about Pitch conferences.

Another comment here.

A comment by Julie Field over at Evil Editor defending Pitch events.

#169 ::: MWT ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:27 AM:

Hmmmm. The Wikipedia entry mentions chapter 15 of Atlanta Nights. Does that count as fiction that TNH has written? ;)

#170 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:29 AM:

OK, this is creeping me out.

THere is a Lulu thread in their community forum talking about the NYC Pitch conference over here

People who posted a positive experience of the conference on Lulu's thread include:

William Holland
Julie Field
Guy Forcucci
Alice B
Susan Breen
Amy Hanson
Lisa Buie-Collard
Barbara Keegan
Kristine Tate
Greg Bascom
Richard Romfh

Every single person in this list only made maybe only 1 or only a few posts total to Lulu's forum. All posts occur from August 4 through August 7. Every single one fo these poeple created an accoutn, made a post, and then dropped out of sight. None of them have any published content on Lulu.

More weirdly, every single person in the above list was also compelled to make a comment on the Pitch Conference Student comment section here:

here

If I didn't fricken know better, I'd say every single one of these names are nothing but sock puppets.

The last post on the Lulu thread is by Kaley Noonan , spamming the URL for

h t t p : / / w w w . w e b d e l s o l . c o m / A l g o n k i a n / C l a s s e s /

#171 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:30 AM:

I'm just amused to realise that (a) Julie hasn't twigged that insulting SF on a SF interested blog is not a clever debating tactic, and (b) neither is misspelling the moderator's name.

I went through a conversation with some poster here once, misspelling their name every post for several days. I was rather mortified after I realised, and I was only having a spirited discussion, not a handbag at dawn affair. (At least on Julie's side.)

#172 ::: Comesleep ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:37 AM:

(Fungi)#158

Bwuh?
Gollum? Is that you?

#173 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:43 AM:

It gets even freakier.

a number of student comments (I haven't checked them all) to the NYC pitch conference here appear to have been cut and pasted into the lulu forum over here

This is crying out "sock puppet" more and more.

#174 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:51 AM:

Julie hasn't twigged that insulting SF on a SF interested blog is not a clever debating tactic

I thought it was just flat-out hilarious that when someone tried to be polite to her, she was openly scornful that they'd pitched to F&SF.

Because, you know, getting your short fiction into F&SF... well, it's only one of the most prestigious markets in the English-speaking world: Chris should obviously have had the good sense to be like Julie, and aim lower.

#175 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:57 AM:

For the love of sweet glazed ham, Julie Field, look at the fucking letterhead! Before you start flaming someone, make sure you have their name right. If you're trying to claim that someone is ignorant and moreover bad at writing, you yourself have to take minimal precautions to not be an ignoramus who is bad at writing: which is to say, read their post at least enough to get their name right! Shee-it.

Other things that lose you huge points in a flamewar:
--Threatening someone with your physical presence, since 99% of the time you're lying to make yourself sound grand in your head, and the other 1% of the time you're a certifiable nutcase.
--Threatening a female that you'll tell her husband might fly on some places, but the blog of a New York editor is unlikely to be one of them, as New York editors are famously liberal, and liberals are generally feminists.
--Threats in general mean that you've lost the battle for the mind of the readers, which is all that's worth winning in a flame war.

I'm glad you're though; the history of UUNet backbones is pretty darn interesting, and the flamewar distracts from it.

#176 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:36 AM:

Well, yes, Atlanta Nights. I suppose Teresa does have a fiction credit.

Do you know what would be hilarious? Getting a chapter of Atlanta Nights accepted by one of those demanding and prestigious lit'ry e-zines. I think I even know which one to use.

============

You'll hear from an attorney, dear ...

And a cartooney! Wow, the Bingo card is filling up fast.

============

There is a Lulu thread in their community forum talking about the NYC Pitch conference over here.

Want to see something else freaky? That entire thread was started by a "Dan Smith," and that post was his first and only post in the Lulu forum.

You don't suppose we're looking at "guerilla marketing," do you?

#177 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:49 AM:

Greg (162), if that's true, I'll just let him float there until the keymaster shows up.

Onward. Let's have a word or two with Julie.

145: "To JAMES MACDONALD of ALL OVER:"

http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/

Did you not think to check out the masthead? People here already know who Jim is.
"As for writers, ace, you can't even write decent SF."
Tactical error, Julie. No one's going to believe you're familiar with his work. You haven't even noticed that he's half of a writing team. He and Doyle are good and accomplished writers with a substantial following. (You probably aren't familiar with that last term. It signifies people who've bought, read, and enjoyed their previous works, and are on the lookout for more of it.)

Now, if you want really bad SF, you need look no further than Kayley Noonan. All of her stories that I've been able to track down have been wanna-be SF, and they're risibly bad. Mary Sue Whipple herself would bow down in awe before the stories where the girl's going around with a big old workboot pulled down over her head (only her mouth shows -- and yet she navigates!) as a way of trying to "force those around her to acknowledge her pain."

"Who would be fool enough to buy a book with a horrible cliche title like LAND OF MIST AND SNOW? It's sooooo bad it makes me ill."
No, it doesn't. You're just pretending. And while we're on the subject? That's a junior high school trope. If that's the best you can come up with in the way of gratuitous insults, I can't imagine that you're a very good writer.

As for the question of who would buy Land of Mist and Snow, the answer is "at least two NYC trade book publishers --" (the other house got it), "-- plus the buyers for all the major bookstore chains, and a steadily increasing number of readers."

Turnabout is fair play: how many people have ever wanted to buy your work?

"How pathetic of you to pretend to be a writer"
What a spiteful little bitch you are, and how graceless and unimaginative you are about expressing it.

Jim and his wife have been full-time professional authors for many years now, and are respected members of their community. You, on the other hand, are still paying to attend weekend conferences in order to get a few minutes of face time with some industry pro, and you're grateful for the opportunity.

When Doyle pointed out that you and Molly were making fools of yourselves in public, she was being kinder than you realized.

"and hang out here like some kind of redneck curmudgeon attacking literary magazines."
SERENITY MOONFLOWER: Wh-why wasn't he dumbstruck by my scathing remark?

OTHER SPARKLYPOO STUDENT: I don't know. Everyone's been acting weird lately.*

"Conjunctions and those other journals are so far beyond your capability it's like comparing pearls to swine"
Now, that is just plain embarrassing. The line you're actually thinking of is Matthew 7:6, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you." (It's right after the bit that goes "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.") The idea that pearls are being compared to swine is a novel interpretation, and I don't mean that in a good way.
"and guess who is the swine?"
Again, that's junior-high-level bitchiness. Being impressively nasty requires that you have control of your rhetorical stance and your tone.
"You will never be able to write as well as the writers in those journals"
Then you have no hope at all, for he's a far better writer than you.

Tell me, Julie: why is it that all the instructors for the Algonkian Workshops who've made real paid professional sales are at such pains to feature them prominently in their bios? And why were you out trolling a pitch conference for editors, if you weren't hoping to have your work published in some more commercial venue?

"and that makes you furious and bitter."
A note on achieving an adult style of rhetoric: In the real world, it's not usually an effective tactic to respond to criticisms with "Oh, you're just jealous."

I've known Jim for a long time. Believe me when I say that he's never spent a moment's time wishing his writing appeared in such places. He'd consider it a shocking waste of his time and effort.

By the way: are you defending those publications because they publish you, or because they turned you down?

"It's so evident in everything you say!"
To be a good writer, you first need to be a good reader. You need to work on that one.
"And Terese DOES write fiction. It's even better than yours, which isn't saying much."
You really have no idea how stupid you're being here. Would you care to point out some of this fiction, so we'll all know what you're talking about?
"And btw, your lack of taste even shows in that putrid web page you use to showcase your garbage."
And you have stupid hair.

#178 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:53 AM:

I suppose that it is worth mentioning that the word "fanzine", which we see as coming out of SF fandom over 70 years ago, has been adopted in other areas, and used in ways which are related, but different enough to be awkward.

But the general core of this remains: the magazine produced by enthusiasts for a topic, with little or no commercial gain. And there is a class of SF fanzine which does match the literary magazine in scaope and approach.

Nevertheless, if you want to get published, and paid for it, while such zines might teach you something, not all the experience transfers. And I'm not sure the experience of SF fandom, and SF zines, is applicable to writers choosing other genres. SF is small enough a community that, if you're in it, there are editors who will have heard of you. Which, if your writing is competent, will help get past that first rough filtering of the slushpile.

And some stranger throwing insults at an editor is, strange as it may seem, a stranger throwing insults at a friend.

I'm not sure that somebody who doesn't get that is ever going to get to the point of making friends and influencing people.

#179 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:00 AM:

I'm now looking at the comments that went up while I was writing. The idea that "Julie" thinks our chapters in Atlanta Nights are representative samples of our writing is so bizarre that I still haven't fully assimilated it.

I'm going to bed. Please, someone else explain to Chicken Little how Atlanta Nights is not like other books.

And Greg? That's good work. I'm impressed.

#180 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:06 AM:

I'm going to bed. Please, someone else explain to Chicken Little how Atlanta Nights is not like other books.

Waste of time. She wouldn't understand even if you drew pictures.

#181 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 05:44 AM:

Teresa wrote at #179:

> The idea that "Julie" thinks our chapters in Atlanta Nights are representative samples of our writing is so bizarre that I still haven't fully assimilated it.

Did she come right out and say that - or was it a deduction on someone elses part?

I think I prefer the idea that you have a significant body of work that you've never noticed writing, and are living a Jeckyll and Hyde life. Or even a Jonathan Hoag life.

#182 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 06:27 AM:

Wow....what a thread to come in on. I feel almost, but not quite sorry for Julie. If Atlanta Nights is the fiction she's basing her evaluation of everyone's mad writing skillz on, no wonder she's wibbling over the edge of sanity.

(Also, the PitchBitch blog seems to have disappeared in the twinkling of an eye, only without the resultant resurrection that usually follows.)

#183 ::: Sus ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 06:40 AM:

*sits back*

*wipes brow*

Phew. What a battlefield. Teresa, I bow to your patience. I don't know how you do it.

Steve @181: I think it was MWT @ 169 who first thought it might be an Atlanta Nights reference...

#184 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 06:52 AM:

Well, it goes like this. "Julie" at #80 said of Teresa's fiction that, well, she didn't like it, essentially. Since the only fiction that Teresa's ever published was her chapter of that great sago of lust, passion and goo "Atlanta Nights", it would follow that "Julie" is referring to that. This, in turn, means "Julie" is either the most incompetent reader under God's heaven, or that she's ignorantly and hysterically screaming anything that comes to mind. I go for the latter, myself.

#185 ::: Eve ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:17 AM:

But Atlanta Nights is a wonderful novel! I mean, a Traditional Publisher accepted it, so it must be good!

Also, how about the "Tories" for the Merry Drones of Tor?

#186 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:44 AM:

The Romanian for Drone is Trântor.

#187 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:54 AM:

Julie Field@154: And I can drive to Brooklyn in 40 minutes or less and stop by the Tor office for a chat with your husband and his boss.

Teresa's husband. And his boss. Oh, my, my. The dmbss assumptions packed into that sentence are legion. Julie, you do not have the intellectual capabilities or maturity God gave a turnip. You're an enormous amount of fun to bat around, though.

Had you bothered to read the Todd James Pierce threads, you might have noticed--then again, maybe not, as your reading comprehension skills are positively abysmal--that many people here are very good at research, and quite comfortable with technology. Consider that, sooner or later, your real name is going to be linked with your onscreen handle, and that Google is forever. That's a warning, by the way, not a threat, though I doubt you understand the difference even when it's explicitly pointed out to you.

#188 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 08:09 AM:

Eve, #185: please don't pin the word "Tory" on me. Ever. If you want to live. Please?

I'm just boggling that this has lasted so long. Julie, lesson #1 of life: when you discover you're in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.

#189 ::: Jocob Wisler ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 08:09 AM:

ATTENTION: THE GOD EMPEROR OF WEB DEL SOL WILL ARRIVE SHORTLY TO MAKE A PRONOUNCEMENT!

#190 ::: Fiendish Writer ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 08:24 AM:

Oh my. The pinata lives. And now it wears socks!

#191 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 08:33 AM:

Speaking of livinge pinatas with socks... How was the State of the Union speech last night? I'm sure it wasn't as much fun as this, but one must ask.

#192 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 08:35 AM:

Julie, I'm not sure what your damage is, but you're not doing yourself any favours.

This is a blog run by SF professionals: editors and writers. So the folks who read here tend to be people who like SF. Some of us also like literary fiction, but hey, if we wanted to discuss only literary fiction, we'd be off reading some other blog. Some of us don't like literary fiction.

Let me, however, make a distinction for you:

Author who has been paid money by a publisher (whether a magazine publisher or a book publisher) for their books = professional. Margaret Atwood is a professional author. Carol Sheilds is a professional author. James D. Macdonald is a professional author.

Person who works for a publisher that pays authors = publishing professional. Literary agent who sells to paying markets also = publishing professional. Teresa is a publishing professional. Patrick is a publishing professional. Miss Snark is also a publishing professional. I, gods help us all, am also a publishing professional, albeit not in trade, so I'm kind of in a different league.

I'm sorry if you don't like that cold fact. I'm sorry if you don't like it that some people here don't have a lot of time for the kind of literary fiction that appears in non-paying online publications. Me, I don't read much SF from non-paying markets, either, because life is too short to read amateur work for free (I get paid to read bad writing. It stops being fun when you do it all day.) I'm sorry if you haven't even read the mags to which the targets of your ire have sent their work, but feel that you must assert the superiority of your favoured publishing venues.

But, when we're talking about professional publishing—you know, the kind that pays—then we must concede that a paying publication, whether it be the New Yorker or Subterranean, is superior, from the point of view (you do know about point of view, right? Being a connoisseur of fiction and all) of a professional author. Sure, some fanzines (literary or genre-based) find the formula for consistently pubishing great work. But you know, if you're earning your living by your pen (or word processor, as the case may be) and you consistently give away your work, you're not going to last long.

Now, mayhap you prefer to read the stories in Prairie Schooner. Bully for you. Great. Toddle off and do so. Do come back when you've calmed down and can argue coherently. Or not.

Tantrums and insults such as "you wouldn't know good fiction if it kicked you in the balls" do nothing to demonstrate the validity of your arguments, if I may be so generous as to call them that, and they really won't do much to advance your cause here.

And when you've sold your first story to a paying publication, then you can style yourself a paid author, and mayhap you won't feel you've so much to prove. You'll forgive me, though, if I don't attend your first reading. Your prose here does nothing to entice me.

#193 ::: Eve ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 08:35 AM:

You do have a point there, Charlie. Never mind, bad idea there.

#194 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 08:52 AM:

This is really great theater. I laughed, I cried, I snarked in my beer.

Oh, she's going to see Mr. Doherty (hey, lookie, I even know the name) about Patrick? Oh, that might be scary (makes "jazz hands" and says "ooooo"). So I have to ask, has anybody spoken for the popcorn concession license for the Tor Office? 'Cause that is going to be a great moneymaker. Although it's all going to be in presales as I don't expect the actual event to take too long.

Teresa (and I bet "I spelt that right 'cause I can copy 'n paste," unlike Julie), I think you're being way to generous in your usage of the term "bitch" to label her. I think she has a long road to walk before she can rise to that level. Mostly I see "whiner," One that isn't even as good at my 16 year-old niece. That may just be me.

#195 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 09:15 AM:

Who would be fool enough to buy a book with a horrible cliche title like LAND OF MIST AND SNOW?

Me. And since I have never to my knowledge set eyes upon Mr. Macdonald nor exchanged any direct conversation with him, it's not because he's a buddy of mine, either. Next question?

Nt gd d t thrtn m, Trs. Y'r cwrd. Y trn yr mnns

Oh! Oh! Can I be a minion? I've never been a minion!

Jst wht r y gng t d? Gt m frd frm m jb?

No, the penalty for rudeness (the thing with consequences that Teresa was mentioning) here is to be disemvowelled, as several of your posts have been. It makes it harder to read them accidentally (or really at all, for me, but that's not generally a big loss). I have disemvowelled your quoted comments as an example.

nd cn drv t Brkln n 40 mnts r lss nd stp b th Tr ffc fr cht wth yr hsbnd nd hs bss. Wld tht st y? nd tht's jst fr strtrs.

Wow. Just...wow. The comments that come to mind are 1)If you have a problem with Teresa, why are you going to talk to Patrick? Is he supposed to keep his lil' woman in line or something? 2)What's Patrick's boss got to do with it? Is s/he supposed to tell Patrick to keep the lil' woman in line? 3)Perhaps you aren't aware that you can't delete comments you make to ML. That means that 4)If for some odd reason it actually comes to lawyers at 20 paces, there's going to be evidence that Teresa mentioned that being rude on ML has a consequence (disemvowelling) and you escalated it. Perhaps not the brightest move you've made this week.

#196 ::: Rivka ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 09:22 AM:

And I can drive to Brooklyn in 40 minutes or less and stop by the Tor office for a chat with your husband and his boss. Would that suit you?

It would suit ME. Ohhh, how it would suit me. Especially if Patrick could maneuver her in front of a webcam.

Seriously, Julie: this is a great idea. You should absolutely follow through on this impulse. Do you need me to Mapquest some directions for you?

#197 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 09:38 AM:

Nver been a minion, Carrie S? Not even a henchperson?

#198 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 09:39 AM:

Nver been a minion, Carrie S? Not even a henchperson?

Alas, no. Somehow I always seem to miss the job fairs.

#199 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 09:42 AM:

That entire thread was started by a "Dan Smith," and that post was his first and only post in the Lulu forum. You don't suppose we're looking at "guerilla marketing," do you?

Aw, shoot, I didn't even notice "Dan Smith" being a sock puppet. You'd think "Smith" anything should have set off a red flag for me. Point goes to you, Jim.

The entire thread was contrived spam from beginning to end. And they would have gotten away with it to if it hadn't been for you pesky kids. And their stupid dog.

woooby Woooby WOO!

#200 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 09:44 AM:

I know I'm not going to say anything that others haven't already said better than I will, but, still, here goes.

I used to work as an Editorial Assistant for the Antioch Review, which is a fairly respected literary magazine.

Want to get out of the slush pile? Simple: WRITE WELL. AND COMPELLINGLY.

The Review regularly plucked first time contributors out of the slush pile--hell, even first time authors. One memorable essay came from a gentleman in prison, writing about being the projectionist for the prison's weekly movie night. It was fascinating, compelling, and well received.

It ain't rocket science. But writing well and compellingly is something that can't be solved by a $600 workshop.

#201 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 09:44 AM:

The webcam hadn't occurred to me, Rivka. I was too busy thinking it would be a good plan for anyone planning on visiting Tor in order to demand that Tom Doherty tell Patrick Nielsen Hayden to rein in his wife to find out if the windows in the Flatiron Building opened or not, and making sure not to stand in front of any open stairwell doors. Because, you know, the force of the laughter from those present would be, um, well, I wouldn't want to be hit by the shockwave.

#202 ::: Paula Helm ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 09:48 AM:

Holy fckn sht. Go to bed and it all hits the fan....

Is that JF girl smoking crack or what?

Thanks for the jump start to my day!

#203 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 09:56 AM:

I'm amazed, and I was there for it last night.

The word we use for people at Tor is "Toroids".

#204 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:06 AM:

Teresa @203: Yes, but the poor dear can't spell "Fluorospheroids." I knew when I posted my pastiche last night that she thought ML was an official Tor publication, but mocking her for it? Fish in a barrel. Besides, "the Merry Drones of Tor" scans so nicely.

#205 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:10 AM:

I knew when I posted my pastiche last night that she thought ML was an official Tor publication

Oh, is that why the threats to talk to Patrick's boss? That actually makes a vague amount of sense. Not as much as talking to Teresa's boss would, granted.

#206 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:14 AM:

"Toroids"?

As in "Attack of the Toroids II: The Coming of the Protractors"?

#207 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:19 AM:

she thought ML was an official Tor publication

Does thta mean that, if ML has a gathering at Denver's worldcon next year, we won't get to wear toroids? I was kind of looking forward to that. Drat.

#208 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:22 AM:

Julie Field ranted (#154): ...You turn your minions loose to act as judge and jury then you deus-ex-machina in to dispense justice?

So who's the executioner in all this? I'm no literary expert, but that seems like a rather loose metaphor to me (not to mention mixed).

I think Julie overestimates her importance in this matter, suggesting that we need divine intervention (I do not think it means what you think it means) to keep her down. I think Teresa and the rest of the gang here have managed to rebut Julie's (let's call them) arguments here quite nicely without needing to muzzle her. The disemvowelling was for gratuitious incivility.

#209 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:32 AM:

So would that make us Toroid Henchmen or Toroid Minions? I was thinking of getting t-shirts made and I just wanted to be sure.

We are Toroid elves
Filling Toroid shelves
With books in hands
We attack in bands
Oh, we are Toroid elves

We sling invectives all day
But our work is play.
Trolls we pry out,
See if they cry out.
Oh, we are Toroid elves

#210 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:40 AM:

Who would be fool enough to buy a book with a horrible cliche title like LAND OF MIST AND SNOW?

The Yale bookstore stocks it, and, as I observed in comment #183 on this thread, they shelve it under Literature rather than SF&F.

#211 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:51 AM:

Serge @ 191:

I don't know; I can't stand watching or listening to the guy. I was reading the thread about it at firedoglake - the comments are probably much better than the speech was (it was around 500 comments when I was in there, and a new thread had started). Verbal tomato-throwing would be a good description.

#212 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:55 AM:

I can't stand even a glimpse of him, P J... Everything was pretty much pre-empted last night so there I was, doing the manly thing of surfing quickly thru channels, and I kept coming across his this-is-supposed-to-make-me-look-resolute-but-comes-off-as-petulant expression.

#213 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:55 AM:
"Molly" is even worse. Lots and lots of Mollys in the world.

Just pointing out that *this* Molly isn't *that* Molly. Or I'm not she, or she's not me, or something.

And as for this:

Who would be fool enough to buy a book with a horrible cliche title like LAND OF MIST AND SNOW?

...it reminds me: I went to my local corporate book emporium yesterday specifically looking for Land of Mist and Snow. The inventory computer said it was on hand, but alas, it was not to be found on the shelves. Still looking.

Also, who would be fool enough to buy (or publish, even unpaid) a story containing the deathless line "She said, 'Turn.' She meant, 'Around.'"? Still giggling over that one.

#214 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:56 AM:

Teresa @150: just saw your comment. Thanks.

#215 ::: C.E. Petit ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 11:01 AM:

JF:

Go ahead. Contact an attorney. Although I'm not admitted in New York, and I'm not Teresa's counsel of record, I feel sort of like Br'er Lawyer:

"Don' t'row me in dat dere courtroom, Sis'r Julie!"

Any attorney who takes action on the basis of what's in this thread — even writing a nasty letter to Teresa, let alone her husband or boss — would run smack into the ethics rules that prohibit harassment on the basis of a claim without factual or legal foundation. Now, admittedly, there are some intellectually and ethically challenged members of my profession, but (unlike litrachur) we can at least discipline them or kick them out and make it stick.

Teresa:
By "academic chops" (147) I meant the editorial work you've done for the Evil Empire (you know, the one from which I'm a refugee, back in my own academic-litrachur days).

Generally:
Rather than dropping to a DOS window, there's a much better way to get a relatively anonymized tracert from inside your browser:
http://www.dnsstuff.com/
(at the moment, you'll have to page down once). This has the bonus that you can use your browser's print function to make a time-stamped record. <sarcasm class="impersonal"> Of course, I wouldn't know anything at all about doing this sort of thing after being the successful lead counsel in Ellison v. AOL and working where I did before I became a lawyer. Or having been on the Internet and its predecessors since early in the Reagan Administration. </sarcasm>

DNSStuff.com also has other handy tools, like a much-better-than-average whois, a couple of good reverse-directory tools, and so on.

#216 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 11:03 AM:

what a long, strange thread its been.

sock puppets, spam, "guerrilla marketing", "how to bypass the slush pile", threats to call a lawyer, threats to call a boss, threats to call a husband, and even an appearance by MrkYrk under a pseudonym. I feel like years from now I might recall this thread and say "I was there on Saint Crispin's day."

#217 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 11:03 AM:

Susan... They shelve Land of Mist and Snow under Literature rather than SF&F? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? My wife probably would say not-so-good, based on the experience of her fantasy novel being put in the Romance section because of who the publisher was.

#218 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 11:23 AM:

#165, query for Jim or others: Doesn't charging $600 for the opportunity to pitch to a bunch of editors constitute a violation of Yog's law? Or is this considered a "how to pitch" teaching venue?

Confused about whether the whole thing is evil, or if it's just being marketed evilly.

#219 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 11:28 AM:

1. The link to the pitchbitch blog vanished from the NYC Pitch & Shop page at the same time that the blog itself vanished. Coincidence, no doubt.

2. And I can drive to Brooklyn in 40 minutes or less and stop by the Tor office for a chat with your husband and his boss.

Please remember to viddy that for YouTube.

#220 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 11:45 AM:

Google cached the site here for your viewing pleasure. Unfortunately it was cached on 1/15, so the most recent posts weren't preserved for posterity.

#221 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 11:46 AM:

Laughter is good for the soul. My soul has now got the equivalent of toned abs and a sixpack. Good lord.

#222 ::: Anonymous ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:09 PM:
#223 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:10 PM:

Ah, thanks, Susan@#220! Shame about that blog deletion, but Google remembers Who am I? Do I know?, (9 Jan 2007):

I’d rather have people feel sorry for me than think I was stupid.

Can't we do both?

#224 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:17 PM:

Ah, mrk yrk rides again at #222.

I thought comprehension was a necessary part of learning to read.

#225 ::: Wristle ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 12:28 PM:

And I can drive to Brooklyn in 40 minutes or less and stop by the Tor office for a chat with your husband and his boss.

I'm puzzled that JF thinks the Tor offices are in Brooklyn. Have they moved recently?

#226 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:01 PM:

Greg, Mary, Jim -- could you please take full copies of the pages you find?

Thanks.

#227 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:20 PM:

Wristle: Wrats! You gave it away! I was looking forward to Julie driving all around Brooklyn looking for the Flatiron Building. 23rd Ave skiddoo, Julie!

#228 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:24 PM:

Xopher #112: That's absolutely correct. Now, I'll just go and spread some of that lovely Marxist-Leninist honey on my pancakes.

#229 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:28 PM:

Fragano, sometimes I wonder if anyone notices. Thank you.

I'm a Marxist-Lennonist, myself. And the Marx is more Groucho than Karl.

#230 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:31 PM:

Julie Field #145: I am one of those fool enough to buya book with the title Land of Mist and Snow. I also thoroughly enjoyed it and am waiting for the next production of Dr Doyle and Mr Macdonald, which I will also buy.

#231 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:32 PM:

"Closer!"
"If I get any closer, I'll be in the back of you."

#232 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:34 PM:

Fragano @ 230

Also. And the Mageworlds books (which, as I recall, began in fanzines, and stood out quite nicely there as being well-written and attention-grabbing).

#233 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:40 PM:

(note: s p a c e d words are done to prevent google from giving this stuff any more hit counts than it deserves.)

So, the NYC Pitch Conference website says at the top of its page: "A l g o n k i a n and New York Writers Workshops present: NYC '07 Pitch and Shop"

A l g o n k i a n is related to w e b d e l s o l and K a l e y N o o n a n. At the end of the Lulu forum thread about the NYC Pitch conference, N o o n a n posts:

If anybody is interested in taking any of the live or online workshops that precede the NY Pitch N Shop (the same organizers) I recommend the Algonkian workshops. I'm one of their short fiction editors.

http://www.web del sol. com/Al gon kian/Clas ses/


Not only do they help you to vastly improve your own work (I'm a vet of four of them), but if your work is good, the editors will maintain relationships with you to see you get published.


I couldn't figure out why n o o n a n was posting at the end of the Lulu thread about the NYC Pitch, but it appears she is somehow related to "presenting" the Pi tch and SH OP.

Alg on kian and New York Writers Workshops present
NYC '07 Pi tch and S hop


#234 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:45 PM:

Xopher #229: One of the central Asian countries, I forget which, did issue a stamp honouring Groucho and John Lennon.

#235 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:48 PM:

Fragano #234: That's almost enough to drive me to philately.

#236 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:50 PM:

Xopher #235 Philately will get you nowhere.

#237 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:51 PM:

P J Evans #232: I haven't read those yet, but I will.

#238 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:00 PM:

So, this is the narrative thus far as best as I can understand it:

noonan is part of the organization (Algon kian?) that "presents" the pitch shop. Not sure what 'presents' means exactly, but she appears to have some kind of vested interest in it. Lulu has a thread that appears to be nothing other than spam for the pitch shop, with a number of apparent sock puppets (including a "Julie Field") to try and camoflage the real source. The thread ends with a post by noonan spamming her (Algon kian) thing.

This ML thread is created regarding The Pitch Bitch, and identifies noonan as TPB. Then an apparent sock puppet of noonan, "Julie Field", appears to attack this thread. Julie appears to have no other web presence other than posts and comments spamming the pitch shop.

I think that about sums it up.

#239 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:01 PM:

Fragano #236: I appreciate your remarx, but please stop now before I go postal. We're both men of letters (not that we'd have to be mail of course); we've already put our stamp on this thread. To do more would be pushing the envelope.

#240 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:03 PM:

Re: Lennon/Marx

The Firesign Theater album cover for How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All.

#241 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:04 PM:

Hey, kittens, Kaley's a busy girl!

On the warm and wholesome side, here, Kaley's byline reveals that she helps girls get over their fear of the tech sort of "mouse". Maybe that's where the kittens thing comes in? There's a picture, too! Check out that hair, kittens, for an object lesson in the need for regular dye jobs to cover dark roots.

Okay, that was catty. Keep calling me a kitten and look what happens! I shouldn't make personal remarks. I should stick to criticism of her work. Repeat one hundred times. Right. Here we go:

The real prize is here, where we have an excerpt from her novel Backwoods East Jesus, with the immortal opening line:

"Mark cupped a protective arm around his cereal, watching the nutty nuggets bob in the milk like rabbit turds."

Along with the reference to eggs as "white gelatinous bulbs", it's enough to put you right off breakfast, isn't it?

Just a few lines further on we hear about Mark's father's retinas "jerking with every word". Is it just me, or does "Jerking Retinas" sound look a good name for a band or something? I'm more partial to "retinae" as the plural, myself. It's a Scrabble thing.

And then there are Mark's mother's breasts, "like five-pound sacks of flour". Can we all pause for a moment to visualize a five-pound sack of flour relative to the average human chest? Holy mammoth mammaries, Batman!

I'd go on, but I think the sheer artistry of the prose of the literary crowd may just be too much for my tender sensibilities.

I'll just go read the decomp section of the forensics manual now.

#242 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:05 PM:

Xopher, Fragano... Stamp it out. At the least, change the timbre of the conversation.

#243 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:05 PM:

Ya know, I'm just a little dissapointed that MrkYrk wasn't actually the pitch bitch, and noonan was just another pseudonym of his.

#244 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:09 PM:

re: Marx & Lennon stamp

Abkhazia were wondering - it was issued in 1989. It was part of Abkhazia's efforts to show they were free of the Soviet envelope.

#245 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:10 PM:

I'll just go read the decomp section of the forensics manual now.

Is it true that flesh decomposes 20 times faster in sewage than in clean water?

Does that mean that leather bookmarks in Kaley's books are Right Out?

(Don't mind me...I'm still trying to visualize how you cup your arm.)

#246 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:15 PM:

Xopher @ 245

I'm wondering how a person's retinae can be visibly jerking, since they're at the back of the eye and inside it.

(I have to say, that writing would have gotten bad grades even in my elementary school classes.)

#247 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:16 PM:

Xopher @ #245:

I dunno, but I can tell you that when it comes to putrefaction, one week in air = two weeks in water = eight weeks in ground. If you're really curious, I can ask tonight.

Also, for scrotal swelling/bloating/crepitence in a non-decomposed body: think tension pneumothorax/resuscitation. Or, um, don't.

I would tell someone that this manual badly needs an index, but I suspect that would result in my being put in charge of making one.

#248 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:21 PM:

If it's convenient, I'm curious. Something they needed to know on CSI, and I don't trust that show for accurate science at all. Or any show, really.

Do you have the manual in Word? Or just hardcopy? If it's in Word, making an index isn't a horrific task, not if you mostly want to index the headings and subheadings.

#249 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:27 PM:

Xopher: I'll try to remember to ask the medical examiner and report back.

I only have the manual in hardcopy, but presumably the author has it in some electronic format - he gave me a printout to make copies from. It's basically a collection of lecture notes on various forensics topics (tonight is "Asphyxia"). If I had any ambitions of writing a murder mystery or forensic thriller, it would be a great reference. As it is, I just read it for occasional amusement and to get things like the nutty-nugget-rabbit-turd imagery out of my head.

#250 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:33 PM:

Xopher #239: Post-marx should seal the deal.

#251 ::: Jane Smith ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:34 PM:

Oh, my. This has been just the BEST fun!

I particularly enjoyed Aconite's turnip comment at #187, and Terese's (like the new spelling, by the way, but it'll be hell to change throughout the blog: perhaps better stick with Teresa?) one about the hair at #177. Thank you all for providing me with a whole load of entertainment, taken at little sips throughout the day. Wonderful. Flowers to you all.

#252 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:37 PM:

I'm wondering how a person's retinae can be visibly jerking, since they're at the back of the eye and inside it.

Well, see, if his eyes are in the back of his head, but still facing the same direction, then if you just lift up his hair in back, the retinae are visible...oh, wait, that would be that trashy science fiction stuff, wouldn't it? Never mind.

#253 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:45 PM:

I'd bet that Jane Smith is another sock puppet for either Julie Field or Mrk.Yrk, but no one would fade me.

#254 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:48 PM:

Xopher, I know this Jane Smith, actually, as I found out when I checked the e-mail addy. Perfectly legit, and witty to boot. You'll enjoy having her around.

#255 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:56 PM:

Terese's (like the new spelling, by the way, but it'll be hell to change throughout the blog: perhaps better stick with Teresa?)

I hate to break it to you, but her name is spelled Teresa. You're the one who spelled it wrong, as "Terese", first at #145 and then at #154. You are also the only one who's done so, as far as a grep of this page can determine.

By the way, I thought you were leaving? At least, it certainly seemed as if your comment at #154 (that being "I've had enough though. It's like baiting alien space monkeys from the land of snow and mist. LOL. Aloha") meant that you were retreating^^^^^^^^^^ leaving us to ponder your club-sharp wit.

Or perhaps you just meant "for now", or that the particular "Julie Field" sockpuppet was leaving, to be replaced by "Jane Smith"? You'll have to make that a little clearer.

#256 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 02:58 PM:

Oh dear--Aconite at #254 vouches for Jane Smith, which means I have misread Jane's comment entirely. I do apologize, Jane.

#257 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:00 PM:

Serge #242: I would, but the message was misdelivered owing to a lack of zip.

#258 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:00 PM:

There isn't really an objection to workshops, conferences, or even paid pitch sessions (though one editor described a weekend of doing 'em by saying "Now I know how it feels to be a crib-house whore").

The objection is to the "guerilla marketing," the comment spam, the sock puppets, the astroturfers, the dishonest and deceitful who promote one or another thing. We've commented on this sort of thing before.

#259 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:02 PM:

Fragano @ 257... So, post-mortem?

#260 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:19 PM:

#258 - Thanks, Jim. I guess I'm surprised that paid pitch sessions are considered ok. To me it sounds like paying an editor to read a submission, or a director to view an audition--but I know nothing about pitching (except that I should never try it, because I summarize like Proust) so I expect that I'm wrong about this.

Does someone want to lay out the anatomy of a pitch session from the editor's perspective, since we're on the subject?

#261 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:22 PM:

The objection, to be crystal clear, is to people who represent themselves as having "inside information" about commercial publishing when in fact their actual knowledge and experience of commercial publishing couldn't be detected with a microscope and a Geiger counter.

There's nothing about commercial publishing that's necessarily morally or aesthetically superior to a "little magazine," a fanzine, a LiveJournal, or a self-published book. I can easily think of little magazines, fanzines, LiveJournals, and self-published books I'd much rather read than most commercial novels. Some of the best writers I've ever known have contributed the great majority of their work to such venues.

What's true about commercial publishing is that it's different from self-publishing your own fanzine, weblog, or garage full of books you paid Braun-Brumfield to print for you. People who represent themselves as having inside knowledge should, you know, have some inside knowledge. Otherwise they've got that "bearing false witness" problem going on.

#262 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:22 PM:

Greg London@216: I feel like years from now I might recall this thread and say "I was there on Saint Crispin's day."

Oh, great. Now I have to fit a leek on the T-shirt too?
muttermuttermutter

#263 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:25 PM:

Serge #259: Given the way I feel today, no. However, post-haste will do. Please send cash by postillion.

#264 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:26 PM:

Mary, I personally hate the whole idea of writers'-conference "pitch sessions", i.e., time set aside during which each attendee gets a few minutes to verbally "pitch" their book to the visiting editor. Indeed, having been that editor once or twice, I'd really rather not do it again.

Books aren't movies. I don't want to be "pitched." I want to read the book, or at least part of the book. That's what the actual reader is ultimately going to do, after all.

I know some aspiring writers are big on these "pitch sessions," and I know editors who have positive things to say about the procedure, but I find it hard to escape the sense that the aspiring writers are getting a raw deal.

#265 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:32 PM:
We are Toroid elves Filling Toroid shelves....

Steve, I want so very much to make that scan to the tune of Tori Amos's "Happy Workers". It doesn't quite work, but if I apply a shoehorn, we might get something plausible out of it.

#266 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:34 PM:

I thought pitch sessions were the equivilant of a query and synopsis, but delivered in person--that you'd still decide any decisions, only after reading the book.

#267 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:34 PM:

Aconite #262: Not to mention strip your sleeves and show your scars.

#268 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:39 PM:

I guess I'm surprised that paid pitch sessions are considered ok.

I see them as part of the cost of the entire weekend with whatever other panels and presentations and whatnot go on. As long as you know going in the door what you're paying for, and what you're getting, I don't object. Not that I'd ever pay for one myself, or recommend that anyone else do so. If you've already paid for a conference for whatever reason, and they're offering pitch sessions, I don't see the harm.

Presenting pitch sessions as a kind of Golden Secret Key that will result in a sale is something else ... like Noonan in propria persona (for the MFAs among you, that means in her own person, that is, not a sockpuppet) saying "By the way, three editors have asked to see my manuscript."

#269 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:40 PM:

Fragano #267: She doesn't have to. A right is not an obligation.

What right? Why, the right to bare arms, of course.

#270 ::: Lawrence Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:40 PM:

I had the impression that pitch sessions were mostly found in the romance field; I know RWA is very big on them. Is my impression wrong?

#271 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:40 PM:

Susan @ 241: And then there are Mark's mother's breasts, "like five-pound sacks of flour".

Flourospheres!

Tee-hee.

#272 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:45 PM:

Patrick at 264: I know some aspiring writers are big on these "pitch sessions," and I know editors who have positive things to say about the procedure, but I find it hard to escape the sense that the aspiring writers are getting a raw dea

I suspect (but I have no experience of the phenomenon, myself, so I'll defer to those who have either pitched or been pitched at), that writers like them because they actually get to sit face-to-face with the editor, and tell that person to their face why their book is so awesome. They know that the editor has actually been there! with them! in the room, and they've had their chance.

This is by contrast with the uncertainty of sending a ms or partial or proposal off to the murky submissions desk, where heaven knows what will happen to it, if it will ever be read, or if some publishing minion (that word again!) will simply open the envelope, extract the SASE, put the international reply coupon in a drawer, take a pre-printed rejection slip from a stack, stick the slip in the SASE, toss the MS, and crush the author's hopes and dreams, without even being told how wonderful the book is, or what a nice person the author is.

Just a guess.

#273 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:48 PM:

Susan @ 242 -- I'll mention "Jerking Retinas" to my son. He and his mates are looking for a new band name, having decided that their current name, "The Jolly Naked Fishermen," while amusing, isn't really suited to a punk-metal band. (He decided that my favorite, "Gunmen of the Apocalypse," was too obscure.)

As far as the rest of this thread... it's always amusing to watch "Teresa's minions" dismantle sock puppets into small piles of disemvowelled electronic fuzz.

#274 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:48 PM:

#265 Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little, sorry, it's "We Are Santa's Elves" by Johnny Marks from "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." It's a song that has stuck with me and I sing to myself if there's some completely mind-numbing task I need to accomplish at work.

The classics, they never go out of style.

#275 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:49 PM:

Nicole @ #271: I am ignoring you.

ML is now the fifth result that comes up when googling Kaley Noonan. There are more excerpts from Backwoods East Jesus too!

#276 ::: Lawrence Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:50 PM:

"Gunmen of the Apocalypse" isn't obscure, it's brilliant!

Jeez, kids today don't know good stuff when they hear it. Uphill both ways in the snow.

#277 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:50 PM:

pat greene @ 273

'Rudolf Diesel and his Rational Engine'?

Mys sister's ex (while they were married) had a band named 'Bonnie Solder and the Hostages' (spelling not guaranteed).

#278 ::: Jane Smith ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:52 PM:

Well. I go and eat my dinner and in the meantime am revealed as a not-very-convincing sock puppet (which I just typed with a rather startling Freudian c at the beginning, instead of the s--good job I read this back), I am vouched for and referred to as rather witty by the rather-witty-herself Aconite, someone suggests said Aconite should strip and then my husband, reading this over my shoulder, notes that five pounds seems rather light for Proper Woman-Breasts, and should we try weighing mine just in the interests of research?

How my life is enriched by Making Light.

#279 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:52 PM:

Pat @ #273: Jerking Retinae. Or maybe Jerkin' Retinae. "Retinae" just sounds better than "retinas", doesn't it?

#280 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:55 PM:

Jane @ #278:

It's not the weight, it's the volume. Proper Woman-Breasts are a whole lot denser than flour.

There's got to be someone here other than me who buys 5lb bags of flour regularly for baking.

#281 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:55 PM:

Nicold @265,

When I read Steve's rhymes, I found it matching the earworm I've been fighting recently: "Oneovr Tvey." The first 4 lines scan perfectly, and at least now I've replaced the earworm lyrics. (a top 40 from 1997. more I won't say. rfcrpvnyyl nobhg gur cnebql ynjfhvg Znggry ybfg.)

#282 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:56 PM:

Jane Smith: and then my husband, reading this over my shoulder, notes that five pounds seems rather light for Proper Woman-Breasts, and should we try weighing mine just in the interests of research?

Now I know why you never return my e-mails.

#283 ::: Jane Smith ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:57 PM:

A friend of mine once had a band called "Go f**k a nun". Not surprisingly they didn't do too well, as they could never get anywhere to display posters with their band name on them.

#284 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:57 PM:

Steve @ #274:

All I can think of are the Siamese cat lyrics from "Lady and the Tramp":

We are Toroid ELVES filling SHEH-ELVES.
We are Toroid ELVES filling BOOKshelves.

#285 ::: Scott Saylors ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:58 PM:

"#154 ::: Julie Field ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:07 AM:

"Not a good idea to threaten me, Terese. You're a coward. You turn your minions loose to act as judge and jury then you deus-ex-machina in to dispense justice? Just what are you going to do? Get me fired from my job?

You'll hear from an attorney, dear, if you try anything beyond the petty. And I can drive to Brooklyn in 40 minutes or less and stop by the Tor office for a chat with your husband and his boss. Would that suit you? And that's just for starters.

And I'm not KN. Believe whatever you want. I'm just irritated beyond belief by the arrogance and ignorance of your acolytes.

I've had enough though. It's like baiting alien space monkeys from the land of snow and mist. LOL.

Aloha

JF"

I think that is a flounce worthy of being considered a Platonic Paragon.

Well flounced, Julie.

Regards,
Scott

#286 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:58 PM:

The impression I've gotten, as an aspiring writer on the ground, is that certain of my fellow aspiring writers are hoping that the pitch session might be the secret key they've been so desperately searching for. A way around the slush pile! A way to write "Requested Material" on that envelope! Glory can't be far behind.

The pitch-happy aspiring writers often seem to overlook the fact that a first-class stamp and a decent query letter can also get material requested. Maybe it's the fact that with a pitch conference, the feedback is immediate, and you don't have to wait. Maybe it's the idea of being face to face with a real live publishing professional. (Zoinks!)

Whatever it is they're getting out of it, I'm happy that they're happy; but I wish they'd stop talking about pitch sessions as if they were a required writer skill, because as far as I can tell they aren't. I've sent out queries that got agents and editors to ask for more material, and I'm a nobody. If I can do it, they should be able to, too. But they don't see that -- they just think pitch sessions are a really great opportunity to get their books in front of Real! Live! Editors! And then some of them try to go sell that theory to other aspiring writers as the One True Way, which just irks the hell out of me.

#287 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:03 PM:

G. Jules@286: That class of writer also seems to think that spending money on writing-related activities is proof that you're serious about writing.

Strangely, they are often the same people who want to submit everything via e-mail because it costs so much to send a manuscript thorough the post.

#288 ::: Jane Smith ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:04 PM:

There. See. That's how you ignore Aconite. Just talk about something else.

Sorry, darling, we were too busy with the scales for me to make a sensible reply. And I will reply to emails, I will, I'm just... hopeless. Sorry.

#289 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:08 PM:

Xopher #269: And all this time I've been calling for the right to arm bears.

#290 ::: Pedantic Peasant ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:17 PM:

Aconite @ 287

That class of writer also seems to think that spending money on writing-related activities is proof that you're serious about writing.

Yes, thank you Aconite. Excellent point. The lovely modern American: How can you know I am serious unless I spent money? The inverse argument of "You get what you pay for." Maybe we should call them "designer writers" no, "designer authors" instead, that way we can't get them mixed up?

Strangely, they are often the same people who want to submit everything via e-mail because it costs so much to send a manuscript thorough the post.

Not so strange, they're lying. The other modern American fault: trained to instant gratification. e-mail is the next best thing to face time ... it's faster! Like kids who are willing to pay the College Board an extra $20 ($50?) bucks to get their SAT scores e-mailed before they show up in the mail a week later. They'll say it's the cost, but it's actually the speed, or at least the illusion of speeed: you know the editor got it faster, so you will get a response quicker.

#291 ::: MWT ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:21 PM:

Would pitch sessions make more sense for nonfiction?

Regarding my comment at 169 - that was meant kiddingly. ;) I have no special "inside knowledge" to the workings of "Julie Field's" mind. I just saw someone link to the Wikipedia entry, followed it, read it, and saw what I saw...

Of course, now I'm curious whether an Atlanta Nights chapter is really going to get submitted, and if so which one. ;)

#292 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:24 PM:

Careful, Fragano (@#289)...that kind of behavior can get you in trouble with the Colbert Nation!

#293 ::: C.E. Petit ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:24 PM:

261: Patrick said:
"garage full of books you paid Braun-Brumfield to print for you"

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, and finished shuddering at the memory of the [printrun price deleted]-worth of defective Braun-Brumfield-printed college textbooks I had a hand in rejecting some time back, I have just one question:

Just how big is your garage, Patrick? Braun-Brumfeld's minimum order would keep you from using a typical one-car attached garage for anything else...

#294 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:25 PM:

Lawrence -- I think it's brilliant, but he thinks nobody will get the reference. He also wanted to name the band "Galloping Foxley" after the Roald Dahl story, but that got rejected on the grounds of obscurity as well.

"Rudolf Diesel and his Rational Engine"? That might work.

Susan -- "Jerkin' Retinae." Got it.

#295 ::: Leslie B ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:28 PM:

For band names, I was always fond of "Boots Randolph and the Carroll County Car Strippers."

#296 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:28 PM:

Skwid #292: That doesn't bear thinking of. However, if the Colbert Nation has me in its sights, then I shall grin and bear it. I shall follow ur sine.

#297 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:31 PM:

Just as long as you don't panda to their anti-bear prejudice, Fragano.

#298 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:33 PM:

#284 Susan, because, as I've stated at John Scalzi's blog, I am but your web monkey, a lyrical treatment that bears only some slight resemblance to some other song, and is offered as satire and parody (mess Not with The Mouse).

We are Toroid Minions if you please,
we are Toroid Henchmen if you don't please.
Here we hanging out at our domicile,
We likey and post a good long while.

Do you see the scammers swimming 'round and 'round? (Yes!)
Maybe we could expose them and make them drown!
If we share publishing information openly
Maybe they no grab money so gropingly

Do you read what she post? (A baby cry!)
Where we finding whining, there are snark nearby.
If we look in business model there could be,
Plenty of snark for you, and maybe some for me.

#299 ::: Pedantic Peasant ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:38 PM:

Oh, fur goodness's sake! It's starting to get downtight grizzly in here. Could you guys just skin out, I'm bealy able to concentrate on the real hairy issues being in this thread.

#300 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:38 PM:

Jane Smith @ 278:

and then my husband, reading this over my shoulder, notes that five pounds seems rather light for Proper Woman-Breasts, and should we try weighing mine just in the interests of research? ... How my life is enriched by Making Light.
Because Susan is ignoring me, I can rest assured she won't smack me for going all Beavis-and-Butthead on your bakery double entendres (huh-huh, she said "enriched").

Right, Susan? Right?

[reads #284]

OK, that's it, now I'm ignoring you.

(Didn't even have the decency to protect us from the earworm with ROT-13 a la Kathryn @ 281! Lordy, Lordy!)

#301 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:39 PM:

Aauuugh! Steve! Nooooo!

#302 ::: Pedantic Peasant ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:39 PM:

Ummm that's "bearly" able, sorry.

I'm so ashamed! I want my teddy!

#303 ::: P.N. Elrod ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:42 PM:

#220 -- Thank you for the cached link.

The P.B. stated in regard to something not related to this thread: "I’d rather have people feel sorry for me than think I was stupid."

Be careful what you wish for; now you've got both.

#304 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:46 PM:

#301 Sorry, Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little. If I knew Tori Amos I would do my dance for you as well. Alas, I'm buggered to admit I don't know her well enough.

#305 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:58 PM:

Regarding Braun-Brumfield's minimum quantities, I know they affordably printed and relatively low-run small press books in the 1980s. I haven't looked at them since, to be honest.

*CHA/Braun-Brumfield/Lulu.com

#306 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:59 PM:

To get this all in one sitting is amazing. Hats off to the witty, pants off to the snarky. Disenvowelments rule.

Poor, poor dears. If you wanted to count up pro editors laughing at you, you will have to list me, too. I have edited for Harcourt and Knopf. If you want to list pro writers laughing at you, I have shelfloads full of books, stories in little magazines and big, and poems as well.

If you want to count admirers of the N-H and Macdonald crew, count me there. I have been edited by the first and edited the second. Ah yes, we are a cabal.

I will, however, for free (I am feeling generous) tell you the secret word to getting published. No there is no secret handshake. We tell you that to keep you off-balance. The secret word is BIC.

Butt in Chair.

Feel free to pass it on to the poor saps who sign up with your scams. It's all right,. They won't believe it either. But, alas, it's true.

Jane Yolen (to make it easy for you, try www.janeyolen.com)

#307 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:59 PM:

My main problem with pitch sessions is that they can raise false hope in the writer. It is damnably difficult for many editors to say No in person, face to face, to an aspiring author. It's easiest when the thing being pitched is far outside your wants and needs (and then the whole pitch has just been a waste of everyone's time and someone's money). Or when the person simply cannot make the book sound coherent despite questioning by the editor.

But a lot of the time, editors say yes because we want to be kind. And then the writer goes off thinking, "I'm in!" when often (usually?) all it means is that the writer gets a personalized rejection rather than a photocopied one.

At a house like Tor, where we have an open submissions policy, I'm not sure that taking a pitch from a brand-new writer makes one bit of difference. Interestingly, many-published authors also sign up for pitch sessions. That can make a difference by making a brief connection that may be followed up on later.

And sometimes this happens: I was at a conference last year where I overheard one of the people who pitched to me saying to a companion, in essence, "I pitched to three people and they all gave me the same advice, to stop trying to sell Project A and finish and try to sell Project B but I don't want to do it because I really love Project A."

I wonder if Project A will ever be finished?

#308 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 05:32 PM:

Steve:
Susan...I am but your web monkey

*startled blink*

That's a generic sort of "you", right?

On your song, while it certainly doesn't resemble the lyrics belonging to any humor-impaired company, I do note that it loses the internal rhymes that one might expect if it did resemble any such lyrics. It nonetheless beats my modest effort all to flinders in its completion and general evilness.

#309 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 05:33 PM:

#284: All I can think of are the Siamese cat lyrics from "Lady and the Tramp":
We are Toroid ELVES filling BOOKshelves.

ba boom, boom boom

Gak! earworm! earworm! make it stop! I've had that friggen bass drum riff stuck in my head since I read this.

#310 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 05:35 PM:

Xopher:

The Deputy Chief Medical Examiner of New York says that being in sewage might slightly hasten decomposition, since it is a bacterial process, and being in a bacteria-rich environment might have some minor effect, but overall it doesn't make much difference since it's the internal bacteria that count, not the external bacteria. Twenty times faster is definitely a made-for-TV statistic.

(After giving this answer he got a certain gleam in his eye and started to expound on the possibilities if there were rats in the sewage, but I cut him off, since I don't share the local capacity to eat dinner while hearing about these things.)

#311 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 05:50 PM:

I don't suppose this is the time or place for funny subcutaneous emphysema stories.

#312 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 06:10 PM:

Susan, yes, it's a generic me. Didn't mean to imply anything else except, "Oh goodie, a challenge. Oh yes, my Precious, I know L&T, I can do this, he he he." I didn't mean to imply any relationship proposal.

While we are disclaiming, my "We are Toroid" lyrical musing should in no way be taken as my working for Tor or any business relationship with such as I do not and have not. My only contact, beyond reading what they have published, is meeting some editors at conventions. And they are all most wonderful people, really.

Also, GREG, DON'T READ POST #298! I tried to warn you.

#313 ::: John Scalzi ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 06:11 PM:

I hate it when I come in after the disemvowelments.

#314 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 06:21 PM:

Should I be a minion or an acolyte? My boyfriend has a henchman already...

#315 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 06:23 PM:

Thanks Susan (310). I thought that was at least exaggerated, if not outright fabricated.

#316 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 06:24 PM:

Steve:
Oh, good. I was frantically trying to figure out if I knew you. Or maybe if I could pretend I did long enough for you to work amazing html-fu on my websites.

Oddly enough, I only know "Lady and the Tramp" from one of those misbegotten school chorus things where we had to sing songs from various Disney films. I've never actually seen the movie.

I have no business connection with Tor unless you count one of my ex-boyfriend's other ex-girlfriends having sold a few books to Tor long after we had become friends, compared notes, and both ditched the jerk. I have about the social connections with Tor one would expect from a nonpro who socializes in New York-area fandom, which sometimes seems to be populated entirely by former Tor interns.

#317 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 06:37 PM:

I'm uncomfortable with the concept of pitch sessions, but I have to go home now, so I'll explain why after I get there.

#318 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 06:39 PM:

Hmm, let me see, I speak certain author's name on John Scalzi's blog and he shows up. I speak John's name on this blog and he shows up. (Screws eyes tight and holds hands out front) "I want a million dollars!" (peeks with one eye, nothing). Relaxes. (email ding) "Damn, 50 emails on how to make a million selling on ebay."

Susan, no worries. And, ah, (looking nervously around) me no speakaty HTML. No, no. Nobody home.

#319 ::: Katie W. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 06:57 PM:

Longtime lurker and newbie poster.

This was a fun (and enlightening) way to spend my working day (don't tell my boss).

#215 (C.E.): Thanks for the DNSStuff link. I have a feeling that is going to come in handy for many of us (me, I'm just nosy but some of you will put that to great use researching the disemvowelled, I hope that I never fall into that category).

Also don't know if this link has been posted yet (I combed the page a few times and didn't find it) but here's another lovely excerpt from Ms. Noonan's "Backwoods East Jesus."

Deep In The Reverend's Closet--K. Noonan

Can anyone help me figure out what she means by saying someone was "pooter-faced?" And just for fun, I did a find to see how many times the word "like" popped up in the fiction excerpt because it's all over her poorly written blog.

Seven times. Seems like a lot of like for a small excerpt.

Also--Does anyone have any idea why she yanked the blog so quickly? She posted here yesterday (#30) telling you all that no amount of flaming would make her shut down the blog and yet the blog was shut down 24 hours later.

Seems odd.

#320 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:05 PM:

For some reason I'm reminded of a pub quiz team named "Captain Pedant and his gender-non-specific-henchbeings". That would also make a good band name.

Gunmen of the Apocalypse : even if people didn't get the reference, it's still a good name (Guns, Men, Apocolypse - what's not to like?)

#321 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:09 PM:

Pat Greene #297: I wouldn't give them such a kodiak moment.

#322 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:10 PM:

Greg London's remark in #216:

I feel like years from now I might recall this thread and say "I was there on Saint Crispin's day."

reminds me of something else which makes the same allusion: this peculiar encomium, which James Nicoll characterized as "How Jim Baen saved SF, Earth and the universe from commie leftist nihilistic postmodern anti-Western New Wave Literati."

(He's only kidding about the universe.)

It gets kicked around like a battered soccer ball here.

#323 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:10 PM:

Katie W., that's absolutely horrible. The excerpt, I mean, not your post!

Did you notice that because Josephine has to go to work, Mark has to take care of the baby, but said baby apparently vanishes into the ether when Josephine calls him over? No sign of it at any point, Mark clearly doing two-handed tasks.

Of course, to notice that I had to actually read all her painfully broken sentences. Yuck.

#324 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:17 PM:

Katie W #319: All you ever wanted to know about pooter.

#325 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:23 PM:

Xopher @ 323: I don't blame you for skimming quickly, esp. since that sentence was, like, dangling participles like a squamous rugose participle-dangling like, thing, but in "Mark watched her leave the house, pooter-faced over it, not wanting to take care of the six-month-old baby", I believe both dependent clauses refer to Josephine, not Mark. When Mark responds to her phone call, Josephine is dandling a grubby baby on her hip and then stuffs it into a crib in the kitchen (why the kitchen?) on the way upstairs to the smut.

My best guess at "pooter-faced" is that it's derived from a childish mispronunciation of "pouter" or "pouty".

#326 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:28 PM:

Steve@318: According to Hogfather, the wishing-for-a-million-dollars won't work because it's not filling a hole for an unexplained phenomenon that exists in the universe. I wish I had my copy handy because Pratchett explains it much better.

#327 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:30 PM:

There was a brief flurry of MFA slagging upthread, and since I have had some small experience of the breed while at Irvine, I thought I'd pipe up in their defense. In my experience, an MFA degree is no better marker for assholism than any other advanced degree. Probably less of one, say, than seeking an advanced degree in Philosophy, f'rinstance. (Even an MBA isn't a very good indicator, in the aggregate. You do start getting a pretty good hit rate with MDs who additionally feel compelled to seek an MBA, but that's a whole 'nother story.)

I should also point out that the MFAs of my acquaintance have been people of remarkable discernment and taste, being as they were often effusive in their praise of MY writing and wit. Not that this will have influenced my opinion in any way. But seriously, if the various sock puppetry that's popped up here recently actually had MBAs, I'd have to say, it can't have been from a very rigorous or selective program. They ain't none of them Alice Sebold or Michael Chabon, that's for damn' sure.

#328 ::: Scott Saylors ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:37 PM:

Yesterday was the anniversary of the Zulu victory at Isandhlawana (1879). I am seeing a metaphorical tie in here.
Do you think I should have been an MFA in literature?

Regards,
Scott

#329 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:41 PM:

Ulrika@327: Indeed. It's as much the institution as the degree. An MFA from the University of Iowa and an MFA from Diploma Mill U are not functionally equivalent.

(Which is why real scholars don't say "where did you study?" as much as they say, "who did you study with?")

#330 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:49 PM:

There's also the (apparent) fact that people with a given degree who are not assholes are generally less inclined to pull it out and wave it around. Lots of decent, reasonable, intelligent people have MBAs, but in my experience none are likely to bring that up in casual conversation.

#331 ::: Zarquon ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:59 PM:

If you're Toroids does that mean you are isomorphically the Bangles?

#332 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 08:14 PM:

I know, I know. Fish, barrel, bang. But this nugget:

"When Mark turned back to the floaters in his sad bowl of cereal, he found his father's black eyes directly on him. It jolted him slightly; those eyes were scary dead like a tarantula's."

Raised a nostalgic smile.

"Ahhhh - he has his grandfather's eyes."
"Gomez, take those out of his cereal."

OK, slight word slippage, but still.


NB: This post is not intended to advocate putting your father's black eyes in your sad cereal bowl. The nutritional value of your father's eyes has not yet been established. But if they are that scary dead, imagine how terrifying they would be if they had been alive, bobbing about like things which are slightly bigger than rabbit turds.

#333 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 08:18 PM:

I'm so glad that Serge quoted Julie's comment about alien antennae, because, seriously, do you know how hard that is to read when it's disemvowelled? I never would've figured that out, being the boy of little brain that I am.

I also just want to comment, briefly, about... well, I've noticed some disparagement of MFAs. I'm a graduate student right now. I'm at USC. It's technically an MPW, or "Master's in Professional Writing," rather than an MFA, but a lot of my fellow classmates put "MFA in Professional Writing" on their resumes.

We're not all assholes. I've been a struggling, unpublished writer for a lot of years (and I probably will be for several more), but I needed this, and I've been lucky... well. I don't know if USC's program is remarkably different from others (it may well be. It was the only one I applied to. I didn't want to go to Iowa, or NYU, or Columbia), but it's been a godsend for me. I've learned a lot from Patrick and Teresa and Jim and Will over the years (Will, especially, and for that I thank him), but the progress I've made at USC in a few months has staggered me.

I registered my first screenplay with the Writers' Guild today, in fact. I hand it to an uber-producer tomorrow. And I'm only writing this right now because my class with Syd Field was cancelled. I have class with Sid Stebel on Mondays (who may not have written a whole lot, no, but check out what Bradbury said about him. And he's cool).

So far, I've studied fiction with Rachel Resnick, who doesn't write in the genre I prefer but managed to give me excellent feedback, anyway; Ted Post, who goes way back with Jim Harris (who produced Kubrick's "Lolita," and, yes, helped Kubrick write it [though it's credited to Nabokov]) and Richard Mattheson (and I probably don't need to tell you what he wrote); Coleman Hough, who worked with Soderbergh on "Full Frontal" and "Bubble"; and Irvin Kershner, who directed "The Empire Strikes Back."

It's been the sort of experience I never dreamed of because I simply didn't know it was possible.

I don't mean to act as wounded-feelings writer guy, here, or anything, but I've learned, over the years, how smart everyone here really is, and I just had to mention all that.

Owen King, son of Stephen and a friend of mine, has an MFA from Columbia.

He's not a douchebag. He's one of the funniest, wittiest, and genuine people I know.

#334 ::: Christopher Turkel ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 08:44 PM:

I like Steven Brust's tip for bypassing the slush pile:

"Send it out. Keep sending it out. Ignore all the bullshit tricks for getting past the slushpile. If it's good, someone will buy it."

Worked for me. Tooks years but it worked.

#335 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 08:52 PM:

I'm well behind on the comments, but somewhere around comment #98 or #99: Does it really surprise anyone that applying fandom terms to literary folks is like throwing Mentos in Diet Coke?

#336 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 09:01 PM:

Julie L #325. Oh, waaaaaaaoooooowwww. That's even worse than I thought. She can't even make it clear who's being pooter-faced!

All who spoke up in defense of MFA's: thanks. I knew it couldn't be as bad as it looked.

#337 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 09:38 PM:

"Ahhhh - he has his grandfather's eyes."
"Gomez, take those out of his cereal."

point. ;)

#338 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:04 PM:

Xopher, I'm an MFA - well, MA (Creative Writing) - and there's some aspects of it I'm proud of. I'm proud of who supervised me and I'm proud of who marked it - and the assessment was pretty severe, I can tell you. I'm not proud of my motives or, as it happens, of the actual product itself, because I haven't been able to sell it, which means that it fails the only test I really think matters. I realise that this attitude makes me a philistine.

#339 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:16 PM:

Julie L @ 325 squamous rugose participle-dangling

...sometimes I come here just to find new vocabulary words.

#340 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:42 PM:

OH MY GAWD!

I know Kaley Noonan.

Well, not personally, but visiting kaleynoonan-com was deja vu. A former beau of mine was looking to get some webwork/promo writing done and somehow she was on the list of locals he had. I was asked to take a look at their respective websites to see if the html code was sound on the inside (one of my particular sorts of geekery).

I don’t recall the evaluation, nor am I inspired to do so now, though he did go with someone else.

The fun part is that apparently he & Noonan overlap in some ways, and I’ve now an excuse to call him (and not incoincidentally twit him about forgetting my birthday.)

Wow–small world. Guess I know what’ll be cocktail gossip in it soon enough :)

#341 ::: Joyce Reynolds-Ward ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:51 PM:

Somewhere up in the 250-280 comment range, there was some discussion of pitch sessions. BT. DT.

Never again.

(Of course, I was trying to sell horror and then SF at a mainstream writer's conference. Shudder).

At one point, I was somewhat involved in the planning part of this conference for a year or two(which shall remain Anonymous to protect the innocent, save that I will identify it as being in Portland, Oregon and that its claim to fame was getting Jean Auel started). IIRC, the editors got some $ cut from the pitch sessions. The pitch sessions were viewed as money-makers for the conference organization.

After a couple of years, I started going to SF conventions (Orycon and Westercon, in particular). The writing advice was much, much better, the writing networking was better, and the cost of the con was *extremely* cheaper than any conference I've seen out there advertised as a "writer's" conference.

And...the editors at a SF con are much more interesting and entertaining. Especially at room parties....

#342 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 11:01 PM:

Home where I can laugh out loud at what I read.

Pity JF and their lot are so thin skinned that they have to stand up and provide us something to whack at... great sport for us, tho.

I have to said I read Land of Mist and Snow and I loved it. In fact I started it on their web site and said, 'this won't do, gotta BUY it so I can carry and read it until I finish it..."

I aspire some day to write that well.

#343 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 11:14 PM:

I'm sure there are some fine MFAs out there, but I'm not convinced that the degree helps anyone become a writer more than, say, rounding the Horn in a schooner with the complete Everyman's Library on board would. A better idea for folks who want to be writers would be going through a certificate program in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, so they won't have to do the Starving Artiste thing.

Something struck me today, while thinking about this affair: "Julie Field" likely got more personal attention from professional writers and commercial editors in the course of this thread than she likely got at the Pitch and Shop she's pimping, and she didn't have to pay $600 to get it.

#344 ::: dan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 11:23 PM:

...but perhaps not the type or level of attention she'd have preferred, -no?

By the way, James, leading with those opening chapters of The Land of Mist and Snow was a bit nasty, but only in that it cost me the extra fuel to drive across town since I couldn't wait until morning for the strip mall store to open...

#345 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 11:34 PM:

in my world, mfa's are in visual arts. & i'm a bfa who emphatically does not want to go for her mfa, even though that's what all the "most promising" students at my school were supposed to do.

i'm very glad i went to art school; i learned leagues more than i would have staying home & drawing. both my technique & my direction would be nothing like they are, had i not done four years of art school (well, three ana half).

& i loved school, but i had no doubt that once i was done with it, i was done with it. the mfa programs i have heard of seem kind of like the writing mfa programs you have described: too much snobbery, theory, & patting each other on the back, fervently believing that an extra degree is better than extra talent/skill/something to say.

when i graduated, a perpetual-art-student friend of mine told me that bfa secretly stands for "bachelor's of f**k-all." that pleased me very much. & i guess that means that our sensitive literary trolls are masters of f**k-all.

#346 ::: Nina Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 11:52 PM:

is anyone else seeing Toroid Minions and reading song-attempts and thinking of a WorldCon masquerade..?
(runs away,hides)

#347 ::: Nina Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 11:52 PM:

is anyone else seeing Toroid Minions and reading song-attempts and thinking of a WorldCon masquerade..?
(runs away,hides)

#348 ::: Nina Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 11:58 PM:

sorry about the double post-honestly not sure what happened.

#349 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 12:11 AM:

#331: Every story's got an ending.

#333: Nothing against MFAs here. All you people with degrees look alike to me.

#337: "Does it really surprise anyone that applying fandom terms to literary folks is like throwing Mentos in Diet Coke?" Don't know why, unless you think "fandom" and "literature" are exclusive sets. A lifelong lumper, I say fie. It's all literature. It's all fandom.

#350 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 12:31 AM:

Debra @ #329

I don't know about other disciplines, but in medieval studies, "where and when" is a signifier of who in the larger sense. While my advisor has had a significant influence, those who taught my classes have also put their stamp on my research methods, my understanding of my subject in the broader context of place and time, and certainly in my writing/editing process. And someone who knows the faculty of this particular institution can trace certain bits and pieces back to specific people. When I've gone to conferences, I have been asked first for my affiliation, and then for with whom I'm studying (sometimes, it's unfortunate to obviously be a student. Sometimes, it's useful). Now, if who my advisor is had an obvious bearing on my specialty, it would give colleagues a lot more clues to what I do..."Oh, you must do French lit then!" "Not really, no. My French is atrocious." "But....."

#351 ::: paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 12:51 AM:

I interviewed once at our local Art Institute for a staff position. (they offier BFAs and MFAs). While touring I spotted some things posted on a hallway bulletin board and made the comment that someone's mama must be proud of their small child's progress in school (they looked like preschool pasta conglomerations).

The interviewer told me "Staff must never criticise a student's work, even if they ask for criticism. That is grounds for firing."

I think I had a brief tourettes moment, as in, "What the fuck are they teaching them then?" I had been jurying ConQuesT's art show for several years at that point and was just dumbfounded. I also went, "I am sorry I wasted your time, you don't need someone like me on staff, I am a consumer of art as well as a professional writer, and if they can't take criticism, that is a problem because the rest of the world, including the world they'll sell their artwork to, is critical."

And as a published writer, I know that if you fold at the first criticism, you just don't need to be there. Got taught that in college, where I was a journalism major and had Jehovah for my first editing professor (John Bremner, 6 foot +, curling white hair and beard, God-like voice, etc.). I write what I write, and if I feel it is good enough to submit to publish, I take what an editor says to heart, that it will make the piece beter. or that it's crap. or whatever.

(though I admit to having a really craptacular day when i worked for the ad agency, stopped at my PO box and got a really nasty rejection from MZB and melted down....I was just so worn down that that was a Last Straw. I revised and actually sold the story elsewhere.

#352 ::: Erin Kissane ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:04 AM:

This was *precisely* what I needed after a long day in the brain mines. Teresa's "stupid hair" comment, coming as it did after such a beautiful takedown, and "We are Toroid ELVES filling BOOKshelves" completely restored my good cheer.

#353 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:04 AM:

Having had my B in C but spent the entire time reading this instead of writing... sigh.

1) Way up near the top, two limericks. I hate people who can write limericks, except when I ask: Dave Bell and Dan Layman-Kennedy, can I infuse some of your stem cells so my brain will write limericks, too?

2) I thought I was having browser trouble, but this was probably intentional. For me, some posts (including nos. 113, 116, 121, 123, and 126) come up blank. Please do not repeat the text, but tell me what deleted them. The moderators? My ISP? A department of the Federal Government that I don't even want to think about?

#354 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:16 AM:

The moderators. It was troll-spam.

#355 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:24 AM:

Rejections from MZB, like acceptances from MZB, like guidelines for submitting to MZB, were so eccentric as to be meaningless except as far as you wanted to deal with MZB.

#356 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:24 AM:

Noting the misspelling 'Terese' and the use of 'Hayden' by itself, I wondered if the puppetry (like the infantry, but without boots) had perhaps mistaken Teresa Nielsen Hayden for a Terese Hayden who wrote fiction of some sort.
No google-luck with that, but there does appear to be a theatrical director of that name.

#357 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:05 AM:

I'm wondering what the correlation is between TPB's being pulled off the shelf and the first hit for the search "The Pitch Bitch" now being a link to this very thread.

I also note that while the search "Kaley Noonan" doesn't (yet) result in ML, the first result for "Kaley Noonan writing" also is this thread.

And Kaley Noonan, this result isn't specific to you. It's just that ML has lots of Googlejuice*. Whatever they write about will get linked to Making Light. For example, look up "oathbreakers" or "freelance gig".

The sad part is, you (KN) could learn a lot, here. Our Good Hosts routinely hand out great advice on many diverse subjects, often related to writing and its Industries**.

* ML doesn't just have 20,000 readers, it has thousands of links from other sites to it. Google's algorithms consider this a good thing. Powerful stuff, googlejuice.

** by 'hand out' I mean write extended essays filled with insiders knowledge. I, for instance, learned how to throw a parties for hundreds of people. It went very well, thanks to TNH's essay on same: she's an expert on throwing even larger parties.

#358 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:18 AM:

(Which is why real scholars don't say "where did you study?" as much as they say, "who did you study with?")

I've spent the last few years giving myself an unofficial PhD in a discipline which has few places that actually grant degrees, none of them particularly local to me. Its all about who I studied with. (Power twin: the past tense is only because I've been shoved out of the intellectual nest to fly on my own now.) His influence is all over both my dancing and my teaching and always will be.

That said, once I finish my unofficial thesis, I'd still like to shop around for somewhere that will then admit me to a PhD program, since that would give me an excuse to spend a few more years studying full-time and filling in background material.

(I live my life backwards: quit job, then buy house. Write book translating several hundred pages of Italian, then learn Italian.)

#359 ::: Diana ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:26 AM:

I'm one of those people who usually "misses half the fun" by skipping the comments here, but I'm glad I dropped by, if only to see Jane. Yolen. show up so I could go to her webpage and get all fangirly. (Jane: Hi. Huge fan. Read all your books growing up.)

And the rest of it was very entertaining as well. Is it always so... invigorating? There goes another hour of my day.

#360 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 03:02 AM:

Okay, look— I really tried to give Ms. Noonan the benefit of my contrarian nature, so I went and read all the excerpts from her novel Backwoods East Jesus that I could find with cursory applications of Google-fu.

I tried. I really did.

According to one of the pieces of metadata I could dig up, the novel is supposed to be about "incest, anarchy and the twisted Christian values of a small Ohio town," i.e. three nouns that don't seem to add up to a story. After reading two chapters, I'm still not seeing a story. But that's okay. I'm not the sharpest tool in the drawer— I could be completely missing the ineluctable transcendant beauty of the thing, for all my wanking over the game of guess the plot.

Alas, my head exploded when I read the following excerpt.

"I'll make time." She began a dance, one hand holding onto the boot. "Gonna go to the store for a Hostess Treat. Skipping out of class to eat. Don't care what the nuns do to me." She smacked the honey filter with her lips. "Hostess Treat. I'll give you a Hostess Treat." Josephine grabbed the front of his gray slacks. "Come here, boy, let me feel your Twinkies."

"Jesus!" Mark shoved her hand away. "My Twinkies are not yours to touch," he said primly.

"Oh really? What about your Ring Ding?" Josephine laughed and paused, serious for a second. "Think about all the Hostess Treats you can turn into bad words. Twinkies. Ring Dings. Sno Balls." She shoved him, then. " ‘Excuse me sir, may I lick your Sno Balls?' "

Mark stopped walking. "You are foul," he said.

"Oh come on," she said and grabbed his arm.

After they'd walked about ten feet, Mark said solemnly, "Jo."

"What."

"I know you want it up the Ho-Ho."

I'm going to print this out and tape it to the wall over my workstation, to help me get through the next time I'm staring at my horrible manuscript, wondering whatever possessed me to think writing would be a worthwhile expenditure of my time.

Of course, I'm probably just revealing my prejudice against "literary fiction" again. Who am I to judge the merits of this sparkling and provocative dialogue, eh? It could be fookinbrilliant, and I wouldn't know. Watch: Backwoods East Jesus will be sitting on the front table at West Portal Books next month, and I'll be like, totally, embarrassed.

Or, maybe not.

#361 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 03:14 AM:

Patrick @349: Don't know why, unless you think "fandom" and "literature" are exclusive sets.

Maybe my experience with folks aiming for literature is not as typical as I thought. (There is hope yet.) But disemvowelment in a person's first post fits in with what I've seen when people from outside the Geek Hierarchy feel that people from inside it are assuming too much common ground.

#362 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:18 AM:

Susan @241

My gods. I've read bad fanfiction, but that is *really* pushing for prizes in purple prose. I haven't seen anything so awful since the time I decided to work my way through the "Lord of the Rings" section of fanfiction.net alphabetically by author. I quit *that* at the e's, because I decided no matter what the karmic crime I'd committed, I'd surely atoned for it well and truly.

[Oh, and purely for statistical purposes: I wouldn't describe myself as a writer, since the only stuff I've written is fanfiction, and the only place it's been published is on the 'net. However, I would count myself as an experienced *reader*, and as such, capable of judging good and bad writing.]

#363 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:06 AM:

Re: The excerpts at #360:

My god! Travis Tea is real! Ms Noonan must be a pseudonym. No wonder she is pissed at Teresa, what with her pretending to have written a chapter of Atlanta Nights. It's like The Dark Half, only lamer and with Twinkies.

#364 ::: Sus ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 06:04 AM:

jh woodyatt @360

Arrrrrrgh! It burns! It burns! I must wash out my eyes with...tar! No, soy sauce!

Gawd is that terrible. I go away for a day and come back to find KN excerpts that explode the soul. What a world! What a crazy, crazy world.

#365 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 07:01 AM:

Teresa said in post #17:

Any one of her mistakes is a mistake anyone could make. Taken all together, they're something else again.

(Someday, in the far future, a student who's set the translation of the preceding two sentences as an exercise in their Ancient Terrestrial English class is going to curse my name.)

I really like that idea, but I suggest an improvement to your second sentence:

Taken all together, they're something different altogether.

Because why stop at slightly sadistic if you can go for truly horrible. :D

#366 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 07:11 AM:

I don't want to be tiresome here, but my inner Columbo* has been hanging around, being mildly apologetic about wanting to point something out.

We have been gently shallow-frying Ms Noonan's coterie about her inability to spell Teresa, but Teresa herself has been prone to inserting an extra "y" in Kaley, thus rendering it Kayley.

This does not invalidate any of the substantive points that have been made about misrepresentations of expertise, writing both good and bad, the tension between Art and Money, et cetera, in verse and prose.

----
* You all do have one, don't you? Hanging about in your brain in a rumpled mac and a deceptively baffled expression, bringing up inconsistencies? No?

Oh, well.

#367 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 07:44 AM:

It seems to me that what we are witnessing here is the inevitable collision between those who believe that if you live the professional writer's lifestyle you will get to sell the book, and those who believe that you have to sell the book before you get to live the professional writer's lifestyle.

(And the latter group seem to have a better handle on what the PW's L entails, i.e. financial insecurity, hard work, and lots of folks having very weird ideas about how you live.)

#368 ::: janeyolen ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 07:44 AM:

T, who is a consummate editor, may very well have inserted the exta Y in Kayley to twit her. Ms. N-H is quite capable of such subtleties.

As I read all these comments, I keep thinking: where is Mike Ford now that we really need him?

JaneY

#369 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 08:01 AM:

abi@366: True. But then, Kaley's name wasn't right in front of Teresa's eyes on the masthead or the author line of the posts she was responding to.

#370 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 08:04 AM:

#351 Paula Helm Murray
"The interviewer told me 'Staff must never criticise a student's work, even if they ask for criticism. That is grounds for firing.'"

Sweet Madre Dios. Everday, in every class, we had critique.

Although this explains many experiences I've had working with other professionals in the design field.

#371 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 08:27 AM:

I do have an inner Columbo, abi. Unfortunately, when I take him out, I get arrested by other cops. Something about older men walking around in dirty trenchcoats...

#372 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 08:52 AM:

Steve Buchheit said (#370):
Sweet Madre Dios. Everday, in every class, we had critique.

Not quite the same thing, but I know from my friend's progress through Harvard's Graduate School of Design that they had regular critiques, which were apparently intense, detailed, and sometimes quite savage.

(Ultra-nit-picky-ness: "Madre de Dios")

#373 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 08:57 AM:

#372: not if he meant "Mother God."

#374 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 09:26 AM:

not if he meant "Mother God."

Wouldn't that be "Madre Diosa"? Or is that a word Starhawk made up for that, uh, novel of hers?

#375 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 09:33 AM:

#370 -- Yeah, I was thinking the same thing! I only took a couple of college art classes in my mad pursuit of Making Art For A Living, but even then, I have vivid memories of my drawing prof, a tiny Russian woman who came up to my collarbone, staring out across a classroom worth of work and saying "Zees....Zees are some real turkeys."

I wonder if people in those programs develop their own code? I knew one instructor who, when she had nothing positive to say at all, would say, with painful enthusiasm, "I wonder how this would look outside? In natural light?" Eventually we all learned that this meant "I can find nothing redeeming about this piece at all, oh god, it burns, make it go away."

I rather suspect that anybody in a job where they were supposed to give critique but could not criticize student art at all might find themselves doing something similiar, and then the students have to learn to translate if they want to get any better.

Seems complicated.

#376 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 09:37 AM:

360:

(sobbing)

I'll never be able to eat another Ho-Ho again!

(points finger accusingly)

you ruined them for me!

#377 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 09:43 AM:

No criticism allowed? Sheesh. I went to college for creative writing, and regret it now, but the criticism was the good part. God.

#378 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 09:54 AM:

#362 I haven't seen anything so awful since the time I decided to work my way through the "Lord of the Rings" section of fanfiction.net alphabetically by author.

You want awful? Try the Professional Wrestler Real People Fic.

(BTW, when you Google on Kaley Noonan this thread is now the fifth hit.)

But, as Teresa said back at #74, Kaley isn't a villain. She just tried to guerilla-market these pitch sessions (which may or may not have some value for some people) and got caught, giving us a little glimpse into the demimonde of 4theluv lit'ry fanzines.

For villainy, you have to look (again as Teresa said) to folks like:

American Book Publishing (a vanity press run by C. (for Cheryl) Lee Nunn (a former financial planner who lost her license for churning clients' accounts in order to generate fees).

Linda Dockery (AKA "The Book Doctor") a lady who took Todd Pierce's advice to "Lie a little. Yes, lie" about publications and awards and ran it into the ground, who used those credentials to appear at various writers' conferences and workshops as an expert on writing and publishing. (Todd Pierce is part of the reason MFAs are held in low repute around here.)

Barbara Bauer, a particularly obnoxious scam agent.

Robert Fletcher, convicted conman, another very enterprising scam agent.

PublishAmerica, a vanity press that relies on false and misleading advertising to reel in the unwary newbie writers.

D'ye know something? All of those folks, (Fletcher, PublishAmerica, all the rest of them) rely on one thing for their pitches: a desire among the newbies to "bypass the slush pile."

#379 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 09:58 AM:

I'm having a little trouble sorting out the anatomical comparisons here. My experience suggests that most, um, Ring Dings are shaped more like, um, Twinkies, in the loose sense of being longer than they are wide. But Kaley does say "Twinkies" (plural) and "Ring Ding" (singular).

Also, am I misremembering or were Ring Dings once called Ding Dongs?

Lately I've been more into the cupcakes with little squiggles of icing on top of them, so this, um, memorable imagery isn't going to spoil my junk food habit.

#380 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:02 AM:

#372 Peter Erwin, "Not quite the same thing,"

Only from the standpoint that "there mother must be proud" would not be an acceptable critique of the piece (critique the work, not the person). Mine was undergraduate, and to give an example of the detail and intensity of our critiques, as a class we pooled our money and bought our Package Design professor a new box of red markers, because he must have gone through a whole box in critique. And you haven't lived until a prof calls your work, "Crap" and pulls it off the wall to throw on the floor. One prof also had a hand-held sign that read, "Do NOT use the 'L' word" (as in "I like this...").

And, yes, it was Mother God. Also, most speakers of the phrase omit the "de/of" or swallow that part. There is also a musical group by that name.

#381 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:05 AM:

Wow. So I tuned in to this along about post 40 and thought, "oh look a kitten" (Ms. Pitch Bitch) "is about to find out about cats—that should be educational." It always is with the genuine furcoated variety. Then I wandered off to do other things, returning about 150, and thought, "Ouch!" and realized it's actually a jingle ball learning about cats. At this point I'm just following along in fascinated delight to see what the cats break next. Actually that describes much off my non-writing day anyway. Maybe it's a sickness.


email thingie that will generate a response: http://www.kellymccullough.com/mail.html

#382 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:06 AM:

From the dept of writing that might need some rewriting... A few years ago, I bought a calendar where each page was the reprint of film noir posters. There was one, the title of which eludes me, but it was about your typical deadly dame, and warned that "her mouth was filled with broken promises".

#383 ::: C.E. Petit ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:07 AM:

<sarcasm>
Well, it's obvious that there's one course at Emerson in which KN was an honors student — and it's in the Secret Catalog Available Only to Actually Enrolled Students.

WP 691 MFA Lifestyle Orientation
3.00
Lecture/workshop with the aim of helping students learn how to act like they have an MFA. Lectures cover proper kvetching technique concerning non-artiste Establishment; rejecting crass commercialism, including especially the mythical "steady living" and "student loan repayments"; balancing presentation of the student's artistic and technical shortcomings with arrogance; writing with authority after neglecting basic subject-matter research, knowledge, and/or analysis; misapprehending others' comments as criticisms of the Artistismus or self-invented technical language concerning the Artistismus (especially relying upon inept translations); and condescendingly criticizing all who disagree with the student's work, approach to Art, and/or personal hygiene and appearance. Optional laboratory sessions on advanced techniques of substance abuse and child support collection and avoidance (lab fee: $37).
</sarcasm>

If you think I'm somehow antiacademic, you should ponder why I found it necessary to add the HTML tags missing from the language definition to the above.

#384 ::: C.E. Petit ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:11 AM:

Ursula (375) said:

"I rather suspect that anybody in a job where they were supposed to give critique but could not criticize student art at all might find themselves doing something similiar, and then the students have to learn to translate if they want to get any better."

Try law professors — there's never a "translation problem" there. Of course, since that's not an entirely human subset...

#385 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:12 AM:
not if he meant "Mother God."

Wouldn't that be "Madre Diosa"? Or is that a word Starhawk made up for that, uh, novel of hers?

Hmm... the standard Spanish (Catholic) phrase, I which assumed Steve was referring to, is "Madre de Dios" = "Mother of God" = "God's Mother." (Actually, I just noticed that Steve said that many speakers swallow the "de", so that it sounds like "Madre Dios", which wouldn't surprise me.)

But "madre" is also an adjective, so you could say "madre dios" = "mother god"[*]; "madre diosa" would then be "mother goddess".

[*] With a sense similar, I think, to the English translation (either male mother god or mother god of unspecified gender).

#386 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:15 AM:

Sisuile@350: True. But the where and the when still come back to the who.

(UPenn. '81. Springer, Rosier, Irving, Wentzel, Lloyd. The sf/fantasy field is full of defrocked medievalists.)

#387 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:17 AM:

"Madre diosa" means "mother goddess". "Madre dios" sounds really, really odd in Spanish ¡Válgame dios!

#388 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:22 AM:

Greg @ #376
I'm looking at 'Results 1 - 20 of about 49,900 for "Ho-Ho" ' of my search, and none of the images look at all edible.

This reminds me of something that really irritated me about Stephen King's writing in several of his books: the brand-name dropping. It would keep pulling me up and out of the story, while my mental imagery went racing off on the equivalent of a Google search (but in a paleo-Google epoch) trying to figure out from assorted clues in the story what it was he was trying to summon up. I never worked out until they started advertising here whether 'Chinos' were trousers or shoes, for instance. At least with Donaldson's sprinkling in of eccentric & obscure vocabulary, a simple check in a good dictionary was enough.

In its culture, King's habit was probably quite effective & evocative. Outside the culture, it was like using in-jokes, slang, or jargon to subtly exclude Not Us, or at least indicate that we aren't interested in communicating to anyone else. Ian Fleming would use brands in a slightly different way; I've heard there's a strand of modern writing that follows & overextends him in the snobbish line.

#389 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:41 AM:

To those Spanish speakers whom I may have offended by my ill use of your language, I apologize. My excuse is having only 3 years HS Spanish, and 1 year College Spanish (that my most vivid memory is having to stand when we said "Bolivia"), all of which is more than two decades old, I am still only barely able to ask where the bathroom is in your language.

Mea cupola.

What? What did I say now? Oh, bother.

#390 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:00 AM:

Poor observation of the real world, coupled with an over-reliance on simile and metaphor, is characteristic of lit'ry writing.

#391 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:07 AM:


Mez, google "hostess ho ho", or look here. They were one of my favorites growing up.

#392 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:08 AM:

Serge (382):

I kind of like "Her mouth was filled with broken promises."

For much more -- and much worse -- of this kind of thing, I would like to recommend some books by Bill Pronzini. (And I would think that most Making Light readers will enjoy these thoroughly.) They are out of print, but used copies are readily available:

Gun in Cheek
Son of Gun in Cheek
Six-Gun in Cheek

They are compilations of great (in an alternative sense of "great") lines and plot points from mysteries (the first two) and Westerns (the third). Like:

"She...unearthed one of her fantastic breasts from the folds of her sheath skirt." --Michael Avallone

"Tolefree heard the car door bang, a deep voice exploring the soles of its owner's boots, and footsteps in the hall." --R.A.J. Walling

"I felt as gay and feverish and as desperate and inadequate as a lover in a t.b. ward." --Milton K. Ozaki

"Camping in a deep barranca, daylight burst over the mountains to find the Legionnaires in saddle." --Walker A. Tompkins

"'Got you spotted,' he apostrophized the hidden rifleman." --Leslie Scott

See, it's not so hard to get out of the slush pile and get published after all!

#393 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:16 AM:

Jeffrey @ 392... Actually, I like the line too, although it kind of undermines the dame's threatening aspect that it sounds like she needs serious dental work done.

As for "She...unearthed one of her fantastic breasts from the folds of her sheath skirt." --Michael Avallone... I had to drop by the grocery store yesterday, so I took advantage of that to verify how voluminous 5-pound bags of flour. Susan was right.

#394 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:21 AM:

Hide that in the folds of your sheath skirt!

#395 ::: Sus ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:24 AM:

*splutters*

he apostrophized???

Good Lord.

#396 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:26 AM:

If I could do that, Jeffrey, it'd mean I have a serious hormonal problem. Which reminds me... Didn't an animated theatrical feature come out recently about farm animals? One of the characters was a cow, but why it had a man's voice, I don't know.

#397 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:55 AM:

May I at this point put in a plug for the great and good David Langford's "Ansible"? Under the heading "Thog's Masterclass", he quotes random gems of fictive excellence like the ones given above; but he also devotes an entire section, ("As Others See Us") to the real thoughts of the literatists of the world about science fiction and fantasy.

We may occasionally put the boots into them, but brethren and sistern, let me tell you, anything we say is as nothing - nothing! - compared with the constant assault they mount on us.

#398 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 12:35 PM:

Serge @#396 - The movie is Barnyard and they were bulls with udders, not cows with men's voices. Apparently anthropomorphized male animals can't have smooth lower regions. Why not? It worked for Bugs Bunny.

#399 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 12:47 PM:

Bulls with udders... We are sowing nothing but confusion in the minds of our young ones, Tania. As for Bugs Bunny, during Xmas, I watched with my 5-year-old nephew the cartoon where Bugs wound up in a bull-fighting arena (*) and at no point did my nephew question the anatomical correctitude of the bull. He was too busy having a good time.

(*) Because, and I quote, he had taken a wrong turn at 'Albuquoique'.

#400 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 12:52 PM:

Xopher @ 109: A friend of mine (with an MFA in film) used to insist that MFA actually stands for M****r F*****g A**hole. I figure he's had more exposure to them than I do.

#401 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 12:52 PM:

And look where it got Bugs Bunny!

Jane

#402 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 12:59 PM:

#379:

"Also, am I misremembering or were Ring Dings once called Ding Dongs?"

Ring Dings are by Drake's Cakes, a NE regional brand. (When I was really little, there were Ring Dings and Ring Ding Jrs. The former were huge; at least 4" across. Juniors were for lunch boxes. Now they're the default.)

Ding Dongs, AKA King Don's, are by Hostess.

While Hostess snacks were around when I was a kid, for some reason Ding Dongs weren't distributed in my area, and I thought the name was made up for the purposes of a parody song. It was a weird experience seeing them (and "Ho-Hos", the Hostess version of Drake's Yodels) for real.

#403 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:01 PM:

Defrocked medievalists? Nah. I see some interesting names at k'zoo, ones that I recognize from my fiction bookshelves.

SF/F is full of medievalists who have found a paying (*gasp*) outlet other than academia. Or in addition to sitting in the ivory tower. We've got some of the richest/most "accurate" source material for the most common setting of Fantasy, and had it pounded into our heads for 4, 6, or 10 years. *grins* And then we add the hobbyists and the numbers get staggering.

And while I'm here...what book of Ms. Doyle's would you start a new reader on? I ask the accumulated wisdom, because I can't decide!

#404 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:04 PM:

I'm suffering from staircase afterthoughts. Back around #118, when Julie was shrieking at us about how we couldn't possibly appreciate the quality of the work that appears in non-commercial literary publications, it completely slipped my mind that I've been published in the Mississippi Review. It's so wasteful to have a piece of specialized ammo like that and not remember to use it in the appropriate circumstances.

I'm still thinking about the overall subject of pitch sessions. I have a couple more bits of fact-checking to do before I say anything at length.

This is a wonderful thread. It's made me laugh out loud too many times to count. I keep slowing down appreciatively as I read it. How often do you get to see Jane Yolen pull rank, with all the ruffles and flourishes? Then Charles Petit did it too, only he used a different (if equally daunting) set of them. And I have to pass on Paula Helm Murray's story about the art school policy to my father-in-law, who taught art for many years.

Busy, busy, busy. Must get back to work.

#405 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:05 PM:

Apparently anthropomorphized male animals can't have smooth lower regions. Why not? It worked for Bugs Bunny.

They almost put a loin cloth on the Wookie.

#406 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:09 PM:

Sisuile, try The Price of the Stars. It's Doyle-and-Macdonald rather than just Doyle, but that's true of all but one of their books.

Land of Mist and Snow is also a swell book and a good place to start, and at the moment it's also easier to find. Keep an eye out for the allegorical personifications.

#407 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:11 PM:

Jane (401), it's just as well they left it unspecified. Bugs Bunny is the biggest cross-dresser in the Warner cartoon universe.

#408 ::: Erin Kissane ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:27 PM:

C.E. Petit@383: Me, I'm plumping for:

<p lang="EN-SARC"></p>

...with "SARK" as the alternate version for languages that use a variation on the Greek spelling instead of the Latin:

<p lang="FI-SARK"></p>

But the real question about this much-needed addition to the XHTML spec is how the companies that make web browsers and other user agents should handle the default presentation for information marked up in this way. Screen readers would definitely need a separate "sarcastic voice" in each supported languages.

It's my official recommendation that graphical browsers refrain from visually differentiating text marked up as sarcasm unless the user presses a special key combination to indicate that he or she didn't get the joke. A unique key combination is essential; ctrl+W+T+F is recommended as the default combination.

Once this special combination is activated, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and most other browsers should cause the text marked up as sarcasm to flash in a sequence of eye-catching colors, perhaps accompanied by an embedded sound effect.

Internet Explorer should not recognize the designated key combination. Instead, a special-edition extended Microsoft keyboard should be made available, and should include a large, easily located special key marked with the interrobang (‽ or ?!, for those with less gifted browsers). When the user presses this special key, all text marked up as sarcasm should flash twice in neon green, and then Internet Explorer should close itself and the user should be logged out of his or her computer.

Lynx and other text-only browsers should ignore the markup entirely, as it's assumed that users of such browsing agents possess sufficient cognitive sophistication (and experience with the archaic customs of the pre-Netscape 2 interweb) to recognize sarcasm without the provision of additional interface cues.

#409 ::: Tucker ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:28 PM:

Greg London @405: as long as they don't put a brassiere on the camel.

#410 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:35 PM:

Teresa @ 407... Remember the cartoon where Bugs is chased by Elmer Fudd while going thru 'the Marriage of Figaro'? Or was it 'the barber of Seville'? Either way, by the end, Elmer is in full cross-dressing regalia and gets married to Bugs.

#411 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:36 PM:

I believe I read in an interview with one of the creators of Barnyard that the rationale for giving the bulls udders was that "udders are funny". I suppose that had they done a live-action film, there'd be a lot of boob jokes (5 lb four sacks anyone?) because "boobies are funny". Why it's so high-larious I can't help myself. Of course I'm sure it never occured to them to make the owners of the udders the gender-correct Cows, because how could you write a comedy script with women and keep it from being about nekkid-sexy-lady-cows?

I swear,sometimes nothing makes me feel like a humorless old fart more than reading about The Industry that employs me.

#412 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:45 PM:

#410

"Wetuwn, my wuv, I want you awways beside me..."

"Oh Bwunhilde, you'we so wuvwy"

"Yes, I know it, I can't help it..."

Oh hell. There goes *my* productivity for the rest of the week.

#413 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:50 PM:

Sarah S... One wonders how any of that managed to get by the censors.

#414 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:52 PM:

#413

Serge--I'm constantly wondering that sort of thing.

Oh, btw, here you go.

#415 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:57 PM:

"Awise stworms
North winds bwow
Swowth winds bwow
Typhwoons, hurrwicaynes, earthquakes. . . SMOG!"

#416 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:58 PM:

#413 Serge, it was standard vaudville schtick. Today it has very different meanings. Same thing for Bugs kissing other male characters (meant as an insult at the time).

#417 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:02 PM:

Thanks for the link, Sarah S... I also ask myself that question about the movie Some Like It Hot. Besides the obvious crossdressing, you get masturbation jokes, and Jack Lemon telling the rich guy who fell in love with 'her' that they can't get married because he really is a man, a revelation that the other brushes off with "Well, nobody is perfect."

#418 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:06 PM:

True, Steve, there was vaudeville. (And did you know that vaudeville is where James Cagney started and that his speciality was female characters?) Still, even by the late Fifties and early Sixties...

#419 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:21 PM:

When I saw the trailer for Barnyard, I figured the male cattle were wearing falsies over their bullhoods so they could mingle with the herd and, well, not get clipped or sent to Bovine University.

#420 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:30 PM:

Stefan - you have now given me images of what happens to bulls with falsies using automated milking machines. Images I did not need. Thanks.

#421 ::: Pedantic Peasant ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:31 PM:

Sisuile @ 403

And while I'm here...what book of Ms. Doyle's would you start a new reader on? I ask the accumulated wisdom, because I can't decide!

I assume you mean starting on SF/F? While I like TNH's choices, my favorite is actually Knight's Wyrd published and (I believe) still available through Scholastic.

#422 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:37 PM:

#420:

You're welcome!

In an episode of "Rocko's Modern Life," Rocko and his pal Heifer (who's actually a young bull) go to a dude ranch, where the latter is accidentally hooked up to a milking machine. In one of the last scenes, Heifer and the machine and having a tearful farewell by a campfire.

#423 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:41 PM:

Paula - #351

Is that the Art Institute that's a chain of Art Schools around the country? Because if so - my first bit of advice to anyone looking at art school is to not go there. I have yet to see someone come out of there better than they went in. I will also say that your story does not surprise me - not one little bit.

#424 ::: Sus ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:42 PM:

@414: Thank you SO much for that link, Sarah S!!! And please send new keyboard to replace wine-soaked one.

"Wwabbit twacks" Bwahahaha.

#425 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:42 PM:

Pedantic Peasant@421: Actually, KW was from Harcourt (in hardcover) and later from Harcourt's Magic Carpet Books paperback line; alas, it recently went out of print, a casualty, so far as we can tell, of Harcourt's increasing de-emphasis on fantasy in their YA lines. We're working on rectifying the situation, but These Things Take Time.

#426 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:46 PM:

Regarding udders: I love it when cartoonists who've lived in cities all their lives draw cows with six teats.

#427 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:51 PM:

ala #414: It's the "Rubenesque" horse that just SLAYS me for some reason. The ballet oriented hippos from Fantasia have nothing over on that horse when it comes to proportion, style and a clear and delicate grace. And it made me snort out loud, so maybe I'm just biased.

ala #360: I've now had a detailed discussion with a half-dozen people of varying levels of dirty-minded proclivity; and NONE of us think that using the plural twinkies instead of the more obvious (and singular) twinkie makes any sense.

A twinkie is a spongy tube with a creamy white filling. Having a twinkie is a rather obvious phallic allusion. Having more than one seems to imply vestigial genitalia.

While there's certainly a spot on someone's bookshelves somewhere for a "highbrow lit" exploration of the intersection of romantic attraction and abnormal sexual organs, based on the excerpt at hand I have to think that wasn't really the allusion she was going for.

I am tempted to illustrate all of this with a blog post and pictures (ala the "Helm's Deep in Candy" Particle) using actual Hostess baked goods...but I'm quite sure that once we get to the Twinkie vs. Ho-Ho visual I'd be breaking decency laws somewhere.

That somewhere might well be my own mind.

#428 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:51 PM:

#398 -- One of the fun things about being in the audience of Into the Woods on Broadway was tracking the reactions of audience members as they realized the Wolf was emphatically male. That's the only anthropomorphized creature in mass media that I can (or am willing to) think of (I've seen some furry suits that I'd like to block out of my memory, thank you) who gets to keep his genitals.

#429 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:53 PM:

She unearthed one of her fantastic teats from the folds of her sheath skirt.

#430 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 03:11 PM:

Karl #427: It's the "Rubenesque" horse that just SLAYS me for some reason.

Ditto. I just swoon and giggle every time it shows up.

Don't let's all forget that we're talking two separate Bugs episodes here, the Rabbit of Seville and What's Opera Doc.

#431 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 03:22 PM:

#423, unfortunately, no. Granted my interview was about 10 years ago, but still it sounded like an instutional policy and you know how glacial that can get. I'm not naming them but they're named after the city, and are highly regarded. And I know a bunch of graduates (it used to be a benefactor to some extent from our Renaissance Festival..) but they are mostly three-d artists (glass, metal sculpture, potters).

#432 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 03:26 PM:

#429 She unearthed one of her fantastic teats from the folds of her sheath skirt.

Hey now, nothing wrong with pendulous breasts...

#433 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 03:38 PM:

More inappropriate udders: Cows with Guns.

#434 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 03:39 PM:

Aconite @ 426: Regarding udders: I love it when cartoonists who've lived in cities all their lives draw cows with six teats.

...um, maybe they're turbocharged V6 cows? As a born-and-bred suburbanite, your remarks caused me to Google "cow udders" to find out how many teats are accurate, and was promptly rewarded with cow udder eclairs. Thankfully, there are no pictures, but they're not just called that for visual resemblance though I think (or at least desperately hope) that the recipe is bogus anyway.

#435 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 03:40 PM:

from the folds of her sheath skirt

Must be an Issey Miyake skirt. I can't think of any other designer offhand who could manage something like that...

Or am I even less fashion-savvy than I think I am?

#436 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 03:48 PM:

Lexica - I agree with your Miyake surmise. I can imagine Gaultier making an attempt, but it would end up looking like high-end fetish wear.

#437 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 03:54 PM:

Jim, #433: I've seen that before, and I still can't believe they left out the rhyme "No cow thumbs." Burns me, it does. Other than that, serious earworm potential!

#438 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 03:54 PM:

Mr. Owl, how many teats are there on a proper cow udder?

Let's find out... One, two, three.... four.

Four.

#439 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:00 PM:

Carrie S. #374: Or is that a word Starhawk made up for that, uh, novel of hers?

I assume you mean The Fifth Sacred Thing, which wasn't very good.

Mez #388: At least with Donaldson's sprinkling in of eccentric & obscure vocabulary, a simple check in a good dictionary was enough.

Only if he actually uses the word correctly, which with Donaldson is NOT a given. I'm convinced that for Lord Foul's Bane Donaldson just ran his writing through some kind of Thesaurificator or something, without paying much attention. I can't stand Donaldson. "The horses were almost prostrate upon their feet" is one of his laughably clumsy sentences. If you don't have command of the vocabulary, you shouldn't try to use it.

Also, I find a protagonist who's a rapist—even though he thinks it's all a dream—impossible to identify with or enjoy reading about.

As for King, in its own culture the brand-name dropping (why does that phrase make me think of highly-advertised shit? Or maybe it's the phrase 'Stephen King' that does that) seems like what it is: product placement. His horror fiction is all schlock in my opinion.

Karl Kindred #427: A twinkie is a spongy tube with a creamy white filling. Having a twinkie is a rather obvious phallic allusion.

A twinkie (or twink, these days) is also a young gay man, usually 18-22 or so, and generally not terribly muscular.

Shall I admit that one of my nicknames for my aa-of-ten-days-ago ex was "my cream-filled twinkie"? No, perhaps I'd better not admit that.

#440 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:02 PM:

Rats! I meant to mention that Starhawk's novel Walking to Mercury, which is set in the present day, with a main character much like Starhawk herself, IS good.

#441 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:07 PM:

Margaret at 423:

I'm at an Art Institute (Seattle) right now for culinary, and it's pretty good. It's not the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) or Cordon Bleu, but then, if I'd wanted one of those, I'd've gone there instead. (The CIA scares me.) I won't speak for any of the other departments, though. I never see anything with which I am impressed up on the walls, and the general education classes are abysmal. (I'm currently in a Public Speaking class, taught by a man who averages 2.4 "um"s per sentence, who cannot coherently present a story or lecture, and who speaks in a monotone.)

#442 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:10 PM:

Xopher @ 439... I take it that your ex didn't quite look like Hugh Jackman did in The Boy from Oz...

#443 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:14 PM:

I think Walking to Mercury is actually the prequel to The Fifth Sacred Thing. The main character of WtM is Maya, no? who is of a grandmotherly age in tFST?

I'll admit I enjoyed both books. I'm sure I'm not the only one, but I'm not about to argue ad sales figures because that way lies madness (cf. The Da Vinci Code, Left Behind, Eragon).

#444 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:15 PM:

Serge 442, I didn't see HJ (ooo, bad initials!) in TBFO, but I don't think HJ could ever have passed for a twinkie. My ex is skinny even for his age (undiagnosed lymphoma will do that to you), and one of the things I always promised to do for him was fatten him up (and put meat on his bones, yeah, yeah, I made all the puns about that too).

But it was not to be. :'-(

#445 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:19 PM:

Nicole 443: I also enjoyed both books, but my enjoyment of TFST was for reasons independent of it's actually being good. Whereas those reasons don't really apply to WtM, and I enjoyed it because it's a good story and pretty well written, with much more believable and sympathetic characters than TFST (even though one or more of them are technically the same people...compare Anakin Skywalker across the Star Wars movies to see what I mean), and a story with real breath in its body.

#446 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:20 PM:

Debra Doyle at #386, is there a name for the listing of one's physical or spiritual progenitors?
I remember being impressed by the concept when we read The Iliad in highschool, with the heroes describing themselves and listing their families before they battled each other. Later I ran into the practice of combatants listing their sifus and their sifu's sifus in martial arts films (and in wing-chung class). Much later I read Cennini's Artist's Handbook and saw how he traces his artistic lineage back to Giotto. Now I see it in the academic context, so it's certainly widespread. I feel as if I should have its name by now, or is it not recognised unless part of a formal challenge?
-Barbara

#447 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:27 PM:

Xopher--My sympathies on your recent breakup (though it sounds as though you're not taking it too hard, which is a blessing).

#448 ::: dan ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:35 PM:

Susuile 403, I second Teresa's The Price of the Stars as an excellent introduction to the duo's work. It stands alone quite well, but will allow you to enter that universe very easily.

That said, I take it as more 'straight SF' with The Land of Mist and Snow as SF&F and requiring a bit more of a cognitive jump to get in tune with.

"YMMV", "Objects in the mirror..."

#449 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:43 PM:

I'd like to note for the record that, for all I know, that excerpt from Backwoods East Jesus I posted above (#360) is a crucial turning point in whatever Ms. Noonan's book is actually about. I only know that the book is supposed to be about "incest, anarchy and [mumble something about Ohio and Christians]" and that Mark and Jo are its main characters. (No, I don't know whether they're siblings. Blech, just thinking about that...)

Maybe somebody has seen a synopsis or a hook or something for Backwoods East Jesus and can comment. Who knows? It could be the narrator knows full well that the sexualization of Hostess food-like products is a good way to twist the knife while she goes about squicking the reader with incest between Christian anarchists in Ohio. (For my part, I'm a lot more interested in the anarchy than the incest, but Ms. Noonan hasn't delivered any anarchy in the excerpts she's gotten published on the web. Why, Ms. Noonan, why did you make me carry this VW Microbus all the way up this hill?)

Oh, and Greg (#376)? Sorry about that, but you know they're bad for your diet, right? You'll thank me later.

#450 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:44 PM:

Barbara at 446, I've heard people refer to themselves as 'grandchildren'. One of my professors is McCarty's grandchild (he's a microbiologist, big in the field) because his adviser worked with the man. Beyond that, I don't know.

#451 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:45 PM:

Vicki 447: Thanks. I have control of my tone in writing, that's all. I'm actually heartbroken but soldiering on. It gets a little easier every day.

#452 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:47 PM:

I remember being impressed by the concept when we read The Iliad in highschool, with the heroes describing themselves and listing their families before they battled each other. Later I ran into the practice of combatants listing their sifus and their sifu's sifus in martial arts films (and in wing-chung class). Much later I read Cennini's Artist's Handbook and saw how he traces his artistic lineage back to Giotto. Now I see it in the academic context, so it's certainly widespread.

I was just doing this in email.

"Your riprese?"

"Sparti, definitely Sparti. My saltarello too."

"Yeah, me too. Via Bourrassa. As opposed to -----, who's definitely a Brainard."

The comparison to lineages is perfect.

(Despite my best efforts to NOT fall back into the 15thc, I am about to venture forth into battle on behalf of the Sparti lineage against both the Brainard descendants and the Other One. Like I have time for this detour.)

#453 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:49 PM:

Xopher #439, gross. Gross gross.

#454 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:53 PM:

Susan @452:

Sorry, you're making me think of:

"HaHA! You're using Bonetti's defense against me!"

"I thought it appropriate, given the rocky terrain."

"You must have expected that I would counter with Capo Ferra."

"I find that Tybalt cancels out Capo Ferra. Don't you?"

"Unless your opponent has studied his Agrippa. Which I have."

#455 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:54 PM:

Xopher #439: Even using your definition (which actually correlates to a common pejorative noun used in MMORPG games and makes me wonder which begat which), I STILL don't think that was the allusion she was looking for.

Even if he did have two "Twinkies" of his very own AND they were BOTH stuffed inside his grey slacks (still not entirely out of the realm of possibility) the rest of the conversation still plays out awkwardly. It does add a bit of subtext to the whole "take it up the Ho-Ho" line though...actually, maybe you're on to something...

Either way, the resulting visual aids using real Hostess baked goods violate many expressed and implied rules of decency and good taste.

Damn funny, but a violation none the less.

#456 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:55 PM:

Xopher #439: Even using your definition (which actually correlates to a common pejorative noun used in MMORPG games and makes me wonder which begat which), I STILL don't think that was the allusion she was looking for.

Even if he did have two "Twinkies" of his very own AND they were BOTH stuffed inside his grey slacks (still not entirely out of the realm of possibility) the rest of the conversation still plays out awkwardly. It does add a bit of subtext to the whole "take it up the Ho-Ho" line though...actually, maybe you're on to something...

Either way, the resulting visual aids using real Hostess baked goods violate many expressed and implied rules of decency and good taste.

Damn funny, but a violation none the less.

#457 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:55 PM:

Fragano (#387):
"Madre diosa" means "mother goddess". "Madre dios" sounds really, really odd in Spanish ¡Válgame dios!

Now that I've had a chance to think a bit more about it -- shouldn't it be "diosa madre" (or "dios madre")? Or is "madre" being used in a more figurative sense (e.g., "pobre hombre" vs "hombre pobre")? Or is "madre" just atypical as Spanish adjectives go?

Of course, "mother god" sounds somewhat odd in English; does "madre dios"/"dios madre" sound more odd, if you can make such a comparison?

#458 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:57 PM:

More seriously, bookbinding also moves in dynasties. X studied with Y, who studied with Z, all the way back to Thomas J Cobden-Sanderson and before. There are genetic linkages - the Van Daals in the Netherlands, the Brockmans in the UK, but the student/teacher links are more powerful. It's a remnant of the guild system.

It's an interesting world, one which I see from the outside, being almost entirely self-taught. And that messes with some heads.

#459 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:04 PM:

Pedantic Peasant 421--Ah yes, Knight's Wyrd--that would be one of theirs I edited! But Groogleman is still a great favorite around here.

JaneY

#460 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:11 PM:

Peter, Fragano (387, 457): is there some reason we're avoiding Madre de Dios?

Barbara Gordon (446) "...is there a name for the listing of one's physical or spiritual progenitors?"

Yes. It's called "being Mormon".

#461 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:11 PM:

Oh--and I meant to write this before when we were talking about overwriting and how to revise it--if possible. A story told to me by one of my PA's a while back. She had taken pottery classes and was sitting at her wheel trying for the umpteenth time to get the vase or bowl to squeeze up between her fingers properly. Her teacher came by, took one look, slammed his hand down on the clay, and said, "Don't overwork shit."

I took it as a life (art) lesson to remember and think more people should as well.

JaneY

#462 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:12 PM:

Lexica, Tania, I'm still trying to figure where the folds are on a sheath-cut shirt, let alone you youd fit breasts into them. Unless they are detachable breasts, and it's not a fold but a pocket.

I mean, by definition, a sheath skirt isn't cut to have folds, unless there's some confusion present between "fold" and "kick pleat" going on, and since those are usually in the back, at the bottom edge of the skirt, I'm really having trouble imagining breasts there. Same with folds = pockets, really.

#463 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:13 PM:

Karl 445-6: No, I didn't mean to imply she was trying for anything resembling current slang in any community. I think she was trying for originality, and achieving boredom. And incongruity, but not the amusing kind. Distracting from your joke with a bad shape analogy makes no sense.

What MMORPG term? I'm curious.

#464 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:15 PM:

Fannish lineages: Tim Kyger got me into fandom, and has some responsibility for getting Patrick into fandom. Patrick and I got Scraps into fandom, and he did the same for Victor Gonzalez. This makes Tim Kyger Victor's fannish great-grandfather.

#465 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:16 PM:

Ulrika O'Brien : I find your name intriguing and wish to nick it for various RPG purposes, none of which will end up on the web or otherwise published. May I?

... most of my other points have been covered, thoroughly and delightfully, and the conversation has moved on.

(I still get author-squee on here. )

#466 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:19 PM:

There's a website out there that does mathematical genealogies. You could trace ideas from advisor to student through it.

#467 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:27 PM:

Peter Erwin #457 & TNH #460:

The use of "madre diosa" and "diosa madre" depends on context.

Pero ¡Madre de dios! ¿Qué debo hacer con esa confusión entre la santa madre del salvador del mundo (por llamarle asi y por antonomásia) y las diosas madre de las viejas religiones de la zona mediterranea?

#468 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:31 PM:

Xopher at #463

In MMORPGs a "twink" is a lower level character who has been set up with the best gear or items by a more powerful and experienced character.

Think: someone who benefits from a virtual sugar-daddy.

#469 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:32 PM:

Xopher: "Twink." I ran across it in a different type of online RPing, where it generally meant "person who really pisses off the GM, for reasons including (but not limited to!) power-gaming, rules-lawyering, and bringing OOC into IC."

That's probably not the exact same definition as the MMPORG one, but I'm guessing it's similar.

#470 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:37 PM:

Leah Miller #468, on a different definition of the word "twink" than I'm used to: Think: someone who benefits from a virtual sugar-daddy.

And severely tweezes his eyebrows? And keeps his hair products in his hair rather than in his bathroom? And is excessively clean?

#471 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:41 PM:

There are some traditions (more or less denominations) of Wicca that do initiatory lineages. The hard-core Gardnerians, or Hard-Gards as some of us call them, are like that. The difference is that for them, you don't count as Gardnerian (or even Wiccan, for the most extreme ones) unless your lineage is legitimate. And they check.

As a neo-eclectic upstart with no lineage before the night three of us initiated each other (unless you count my years-later almost-accidental initiation that came directly from the Goddess, in which case my lineage is...still short, but very ancient!), I think this is profoundly silly. But then I would, wouldn't I?

Since Hard-Gard stuffiness has no real power over me, this only annoys me when some Gardnerian brat with half my experience snoots me as "not really Wiccan," because only people "descended" from Gerald himself are "really" Wiccan. Generally I just laugh at them and they go away.

I wish to stress that only a tiny minority of Gardnerians actually snoot other Witches in this way—but all of them know their lineage at least a few steps back, and the High Priestess of any Gardnerian coven has papers to prove she can trace back to Old Gerald.

#472 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:44 PM:

Leah 468: I'm almost certain the MMORPG usage derives from the gay one. The semantic progress is fairly obvious, as you point out, even though in gay terms not every twink is a kept boy, or even a trust-fund baby.

#473 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:45 PM:

Hehe.

G. Jules @ 469

In our text-based or table-top RPing that's generally known as a Munchkin. A Munchkin is anyone who uses rules lawyering, ooc knowledge, and strategic character design with one goal: to be the strongest, mightiest, most overpowered person on the block. They often tend to be Mary Sue types as well - wanting to be incredibly handsome and strong and have a never-ending series of girlfriends...

Yet another story of folks who think they should get it all without paying their dues, taking their lumps, or grinding their experience.

There, I knew I'd tie this into the thread somehow!

#474 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:48 PM:

Nice thing about GURPS, at least as I GM'd it for 18 years: if you can get the magic gem, but only by using knowledge your character wouldn't have, you get more points for NOT getting the magic gem than for getting it.

Also, if I set that kind of trap...I'd find a way to take the gem away, since after all you cheated to get it.

#475 ::: Carrie V. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:50 PM:

I learned to fence about 12 years ago, in Los Angeles, in a college PE class. Didn't think at the time to ask who my instructor's teachers were.

About six years ago, in a different part of the country, I started fencing with a group of people who, as it turned out, had almost exactly the same style and learning/teaching philosophies that I did. Their instructor had learned to fence at a school in L.A. We theorized that their teacher and my teacher learned from the same instructor, back in the day.

Unfortunately I have no way of checking, but it's a neat theory.

#476 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:52 PM:

I used to GM Amber. It's diceless, which makes finding ways to administer justice to PC's very, very easy. We never had a name for that type, because they didn't last long.

The trick was ensuring, like Roger Rabbit, that you only did the smackdown when it was funny.

#477 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:54 PM:

fidelio @ #462 - I've been imagining the folds as purely decorative, if that's any help.

I'm also trying to figure out why the breasts are fantastic, and I've had this Bette Midler anecdote/quote/attributed quip going through my head since the breast and scales discussion:

Got myself a little mail scale, the kind they weigh postage and cocaine on. Unhooked my bra, flopped one of those suckers down... I won't tell ya how much they weigh but it costs $87.50 to send 'em to Brazil... third class!

#478 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 06:01 PM:

In tabletop RPG's, twink == munchkin; I don't know whether twink came from tabletop to MMORPG or vice versa.

I tend to . . . hmm. . . play to win. My defense is that so do actual martial artists and other people who spend ten years training for a ten second fight.

( farther off topic: http://www.gamegrene.com/node/131 )

#479 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 06:10 PM:

In Calvin and Hobbes wasn't there a character who kept calling Calvin "Twinkie"?

#480 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 06:22 PM:

#479: Ugh, creepy! That was Moe. Yuck.

#481 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 06:46 PM:

Barbara, #446: Now I see it in the academic context, so it's certainly widespread. I feel as if I should have its name by now, or is it not recognised unless part of a formal challenge?

"What makes you think an academic discussion isn't a formal challenge?" says a jaded survivor of the MLA convention.

#482 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 07:04 PM:

Barbara@446: There's always "apostolic succession."

Teresa@460:
Yes. It's called "being Mormon".

The grew-up-Southern version is what I call "playing 'who ya kin to'" -- it's a two-person game, and once begun, usually continues until some variety of personal connection is established. Blood relationship (however remote) is best, but in a pinch it can work with something as far-fetched as either you (or one of your close friends or distant relatives) having once lived in the same town as the other person (or one of the other person's close friends or distant relatives.)

#483 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 07:20 PM:

On the number of teats per bovine udder... I couldn't find a good photo of Holly, but she has six. All of them work.

This is not the least of her imperfections.

The naming of family connections seems to take up a great deal of my time in 3D social life. That's often because I'll say something and be asked, sharply, "How do you know that?" which leads to explication of who said what at Uncle Mervie's on Christmas Eve.

#484 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 07:46 PM:

Patrick, *way* back at #349, you said, in response, to my #333, "333: Nothing against MFAs here. All you people with degrees look alike to me."

Okay. I'm glad to see you have nothing against MFAs. And can I just tell you that you were actually the person who inspired the beginning of my decision to return to school and seek a graduate program? Way back, many, many moons ago, on the Well. Because I said talent couldn't be taught in a classroom, and you said probably not, but craft might be (or something to that degree).

And years later, I remembered that. So, first, this is really thank you, because you Nielsen Haydens have really taught me as much about publishing and editing and blogging as USC has taught me about things I haven't yet put my finger on yet (forgive me. I have only just begun, and am yet green around the ink).

But the second part: "All you people with degrees look alike to me"... The only times I've ever heard people say "all you" anything "look alike to me" have been negative (they're all associated with racism, in fact. "A nigger's a nigger." [which I'm using as an example of racism, and not as a statement, mind you] "All you Asians look alike to me."

I can't imagine you meant it that way, and, in fact, I'm pretty sure I know better. But I hoped you might elaborate...?

#485 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 07:46 PM:

Fragano (467): Ah, lo comprendo. Gracias.

Doyle (482): I know that game. When Lydy Nickerson was visiting recently, we determined that we're at minimum related through the Hopkinses.

#486 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 07:52 PM:

Will (484), Patrick will be along shortly, but trust me: he was joking about his own lack of a degree.

#487 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 08:02 PM:

Xopher @ 471 -- I've heard this kind of lineage recital referred to as "showing your puppy papers".

I used to be a member of a group that was very big on "our lineage goes all the way back to Gardner!" (I didn't much care), so that made me laugh a lot.

#488 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 08:07 PM:

Ceri... Gardner Dozois?

#489 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 08:12 PM:

Serge: I only wish. I was referring to Gerald Gardner, founder of Wicca.

#490 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 08:20 PM:

@351: 'The interviewer told me "Staff must never criticise a student's work, even if they ask for criticism. That is grounds for firing."'

With modest gleefulness at my own perspicacity, and with deep apologies to Kate Salter and all the others who keep the wheels turning at Viable Paradise writer's workshop, I note that staff are not allowed to criticize students' work. Faculty, on the other hand... If the staffer doesn't understand the difference between him/herself and Faculty, the Faculty will be pleased to rub the staffer's nose in it.

(Apologies to non-demigod faculty.)

#491 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 08:26 PM:

Ceri... Oh well... My wife's genetic lineage goes back to George Washington. Yes, she could become a Daughter of the Revolution, if she felt so inclined, which she doesn't. As for the direct science-fictional 'lineage' that led her to being a writer, you can blame C.J.Cherryh, and Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, with a pinch of eluki bes shahar.

#492 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 08:33 PM:

Well, not entirely, Brenda. If a student asked a staffer for comment (or asked another student for same) well, I don't recall ever asking about it, and can't imagine caring.

The reason folks are there is to get critiques from the instructors, and they do get them.

And staff definitely reads and comments on student submissions during the acceptance phase.

#493 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 08:57 PM:

Teresa #485: No hay para tanto.

#494 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 08:59 PM:

Xopher, I read it too long ago to argue with you over whether it was objectively good. All I know is I enjoyed it, and nothing stuck out at me as "not good" about it. I tend to be a little reluctant to pass judgment as to a book's objective quality, as opposed to more subject things, such as whether I liked it and why. It has to have really transgressed something I can recognize as a universal standard before I'll feel comfortable stating that the book simply isn't any good.

Until I reread WtM, and possibly even after, I'll just have to remain humbly agnostic about its objective quality. That's all.

#495 ::: BuffySquirrel ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 08:59 PM:

That Bugs Bunny with the bull is the best. One of the moments when the bull pauses in mid-air with that "WTF is happening?" look at the audience is priceless. I was lucky to see it on the big screen in Cardiff many years ago, and it's ten times better on a cinema screen than on tv.

I miss made-for-cinema animation like the original T&Js. So much imagination went into them. The set-up with that poor bull--iirc, there's at least three elements to it, something with glue? then he has to strike a match at the end? Been too many years since I saw it.

I lurk here a lot, but rarely post. The competition's way too fierce!

#496 ::: Jose Marquez ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 09:11 PM:

Very amusing thread. My own meager addition: pimping a Firefox extension. In tracking various IP addresses, some folks referred to dnsstuff.com, a recommendation I wholeheartedly second (or third; I may have lost count).

Anyway, I know of a useful extension that leverages dnsstuff.com: ErrorZilla. It makes Firefox error pages more useful by letting you ping or traceroute or whois a URL that maybe failed to load, with dnsstuff doing all the hard work. It also lets you check the Google cache or Coral cache or even the Wayback Machine, tools I believe were also used in this thread (well, at least the Google cache).

#497 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 09:33 PM:

On the subject of tracing intellectual 'genealogies', just this morning a friend sent me this:

Genealogy of Influences

#498 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:12 PM:

Jim #492: AAAiiieeeeeeeeeeeeee, no! The bit about VP was parenthetical!!!!!!!!! Yikes!!! But I was attempting to say that the concept of staff not being allowed to give critiques, which people found so puzzling, is explainable by the tour guide's choice of words. The faculty/instructors are Real People, and those who make the coffee, put out the name cards, and know where the spare toilet paper is, are not. (BT, DT)

And Viable Paradise was wonderful and everyone should go.

#499 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:14 PM:

Serge @410::: (view all by) : Remember the cartoon where Bugs is chased by Elmer Fudd while going thru 'the Marriage of Figaro'? Or was it 'the barber of Seville'? Either way, by the end, Elmer is in full cross-dressing regalia and gets married to Bugs.

Bugs dressed up as Brunhilde and briefly married Elmer in 'What's Opera, Doc?' (if I'm remembering this correctly).

#500 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:59 PM:

On #486 (Teresa/Patrick): ah, see, I hadn't known that. Which makes Patrick's joke make so much more sense. And is precisely the sort of self-effacement/deprecation I've come to expect from everyone.

So thanks for clearing that up, Teresa. And also, to Patrick: just want to point out, I'd figured it would turn out, upon elaboration, to be as inocuous as it seems to've been.

#501 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:09 PM:

Serge @ #491: How does one list science fictional lineage leading to being a writer? It certainly sounds interesting.

#502 ::: Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:09 PM:

Jim at 343: I'm sure there are some fine MFAs out there, but I'm not convinced that the degree helps anyone become a writer more than, say, rounding the Horn in a schooner with the complete Everyman's Library on board would.

Well, it's not the *degree* that's supposed to help, is it? It's the *program*. And the program, at least as I observed it at UCI, is essentially a two-year workshop series. Workshopping seems to help some folks more than others, but then, what tool or technique doesn't? At the very least, it provides a period of time when there is not only the time and money to focus on writing, but also an extensive and supportive peer network to hand who are all engaged in the same process to get feedback from, and practiced teachers to get extensive critique and help from.

And my sense from the folks who were in the Irvine program when I worked there was that they felt it helped make them better writers in their chosen genre. It's hard for me to argue with that view from the ones whose first novel sales came during or after the program, including Charmaine Craig and Alice Sebold and David Benioff and Aimee Bender and Andrew Winer and Glen David Gold. I know Alice credits the Irvine program with a lot of her progress as a writer, and she, as you may remember, made kind of a big splash with her first novel, The Lovely Bones

I wasn't in the program myself -- not my genre of choice, for one -- so all of my observations are second-hand, but at the time I was there, Irvine certainly seemed to be taking in a lot of not-published writers and turning them out to become published ones.

#503 ::: Anonymous ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:18 PM:
#504 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:22 PM:

I'm having a weekend jewelry construction teaching session at my house for a dear friend who I think was a graduate of the KC Art Institute, I'll ask her if those standards were there when she was a student.....

#505 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:25 PM:

Rob & Serge - Yup, it is What's Opera Doc? and the other one with the great opera interpretations is Rabbit of Seville.

#506 ::: Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:28 PM:

Sandy B. - Er, sure, I guess. Nick away -- just, you know, no intramural porpoises or whatever. (I am reminded of the friend who on first being introduced asked, "Is that your SCA name?" I was not quick enough to ask him if that was his war surplus brain.)

#507 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:50 PM:

abi @ #454:

Arrgh, what is that from? It sounds familiar, but I can't place it.

The lineage that happens to be in my mind at the moment is actually a meaningful shorthand for how one performs certain sequences of steps. Hop in the vuodo at the end (shudder!) or at the beginning (rah!) or, horrors, in the MIDDLE, due to what I think is a sad misreading of Cornazano?

(Some people in the Brainard lineage do the middle thing, apparently not having noticed that Brainard herself (later?) wrote that she preferred the hop at the beginning. Such is the danger of teaching while still processing. The processing is neverending, or course, so all your early work will be coming back to haunt you forever....)

#508 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 12:15 AM:

Having just caught up on this thread, I would like to say several things.

I don't have anything against MFAs, or holders of any other university degree. I'm stunned and flattered to have been such an influence on Will Entrekin's life.

I like quite a lot of writing that some people would describe as "literary."

I really, really hate the slighting epithet "lit'ry." What are we saying when we deploy this little joke? What we're saying is that proponents of the "literary" lisp. Now, what are we suggesting when we associate a class of people with lisping? (Programming language geeks: shut up.) What we're saying is one of the following: (1) they've got something physically wrong with them, (2) they're members of the decadent British upper crust, or (3) they're gay. Not to put too fine a point on it, but: ick.

Can we please come up with a way of talking about dingbat pretentiousness that doesn't rely on appealing to the nastiest prejudices imaginable? Thank you very much.

#509 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 12:24 AM:

#461: "I meant to write this before when we were talking about overwriting and how to revise it--if possible. A story told to me by one of my PA's a while back. She had taken pottery classes and was sitting at her wheel trying for the umpteenth time to get the vase or bowl to squeeze up between her fingers properly. Her teacher came by, took one look, slammed his hand down on the clay, and said, 'Don't overwork shit.'"

At which point, if I'd been the student, I might well have walked out. Maybe I knew perfectly well it wasn't a good piece, and maybe I was nonetheless still trying to figure out how to get that one particular technique right.

Any teacher who destroys a piece of my work because they think they have superior knowledge of what I was trying to learn is probably going to be an ex-teacher in a big hurry.

I really, really hate narcissistic, authoritarian "teachers" like that.

#510 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 12:34 AM:

If Jim picked up "lit'ry" from anyone, he picked it up from me. I think I picked it up from Dave Langford, though I may be conflating it with "triffically", which I know I picked up from him.

I don't know about the other two, but if someone needs to be shot now, I'll go quietly.

#511 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 12:37 AM:

And furthermore, that wasn't what was going on with the pottery teacher. He was right. He was teaching the same lesson we teach when we tell VP students that if they've been laboring over the same novel for the last eleven years, it might be a good idea to lay it aside and work on something else.

#512 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 12:37 AM:

I don't care where it came from, I don't like it.

It feels to me like an exercise in making fun of the geeky lame kid. That kid was me.

#513 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 12:40 AM:

And when we tell our VP students that, we don't accompany the lesson by destroying the only copy of their manuscript.

I don't admire bullying. The whole Zen-master thunderclap sudden-realization thing? Zen was a system designed to produce an elite warrior class. Fuck elite warrior classes. Fuck Zen. And fuck teachers who think it's okay to destroy students' work merely in order to dramatize their point.

#514 ::: janeyolen ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 12:40 AM:

Ah, Patrick, we have each taken a different meaning from that teaching instant. I see it as freeing, you as controlling. Possibly we are both right.

One of the questions I am often asked (as a writer, as a teacher of writers) is: how do you know when you are done? And I know that I myself have this problem. I can literally rework a piece to death. So I have had to learn when to slam my own hand down on whatever shit I am working on--and only then am I free to move on. A zen koan if you wish, or Cohen, the Jewish version. (Spelling has never been my forte.)

As an aside,am currently having that trouble with life, too!

Jane

#515 ::: janeyolen ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 12:43 AM:

Hmmmm bit of overlap there, Grasshopper.

Jane

#516 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 12:49 AM:

I have no problem with the intended lesson. I'm frequently the editor--or teacher--urging someone to let go, to not "overwork shit."

But as a student, I despise the kind of arrogant teacher who thinks their position entitles them to interrupt my own learning process in order to enact their own little drama. I was working on a very specific piece of technique, and you came along and used it as an occasion to grandstand to the whole class. Fuck you. You get no more chances from me.

This is probably why I never finished high school, to say nothing of ever going to college. Because I know what I want to learn, I know how to do it, and I have exactly zero patience people who use the "teacher" role as an occasion for this kind of abuse. It's an emotional betrayal as bad as any other.

#517 ::: Ericka ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 12:49 AM:

Teresa@460:
Yes. It's called "being Mormon".

Only Mormons? (Not being snarky) I would have thought that since it's so prevalent in the Bible, most religions would have some form of it. That being said, it gets tricky in the Mormon lineages back around the 1840's when you have to start asking, "Which wife were you decended from"? Would you call it "Trading Begots"?

BTW, the Stupid Hair comment was priceless. Thanks!

#518 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 12:51 AM:

Which rather leaves me at a loss for what to call those stories, since calling them "literary" means that I agree that this, and no other, is "literature."

Give me a name for that material that isn't "literary," that doesn't prejudice that genre with the seal of approval, that doesn't come right out and say that it's the good stuff.

Because whatever it is, it isn't.

#519 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:12 AM:

i read "lit'ry" as not an upper-class lisp, but sort of a faux mark twain aw-shucks-i-cain't-ever-measure-up-to-you-folks-&-your-big-city-larnin'.

which, i guess if you get right down to it, is either about the hickishness of the lower class or anti-intellectual know-nothing snobbery.

so i suppose you can't ever win.

#520 ::: Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:15 AM:

I'm with Patrick on the pottery instructor. It goes beyond the teacher not being able to know what you're trying to learn from what you're doing, it's also that the teacher can't possibly tell what you're *feeling* from what you're doing. Centering and throwing on the wheel is an incredibly kinesthetic skill -- something the teacher damn' well ought to know. As with any kinesthetic skill, you often have to futz around in the approximate vicinity of doing the thing right before you do it the right way once and --click-- you know how it *feels* when you're doing it right. And even once you know how it feels to get it right, it may take yet more repetition before you learn how the approach to getting to the clicky place feels. And all of that repetition and feeling your way, you gotta do for yourself, 'cause no one else can feel it for you.

Now, maybe the pot in question was already beyond salvaging as a pot -- maybe it had never been centered right in the first place for instance -- but the rest of the experience of wrestling with it, and feeling what it's like when it goes totally off course and collapses, that was still available. And the student needs to feel that for herself so she will be able to anticipate it the next time.

#521 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:36 AM:

abi: I've been told by those in the know that Bonetti, Capo Ferro, etc, are real schools of swordplay from the Renaissance, whose manuals have survived to today. I was told this by someone who was bemused that they would use those schools, as they're all heavy swordwork styles, not fencing styles, which is what the movie is mimicking -- and that there are vastly *more* fencing school manuals still extant.

_______

As for the lineage games, it's my understanding that human beigns have been trying to trace connections (or potential enmities) in that kind of genealogical way for as long as we have recorded history. Is there really no pithy one-word description for it?

#522 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:56 AM:

Illlustrators have a joke re overworking a piece -

"How do I know when the painting is done? When the Fed Ex guy pries it out of my fingers!"

Upstream someone (Rachel? This thread is too long - I'm losing things) said that the culinary program at the Art Institute is working for her - that's good. I didn't even know they had one; I thought they were mostly commercial art/advertising. I do know that I have not been impressed with what the people who went there learned, at least as far as illustration goes.

#523 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:59 AM:

Greg London @405:
They almost put a loin cloth on the Wookie.

I've been watching the FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST anime series lately, and keep asking myself, "Why does Al's armor* wear a loincloth. Why would a set of battle armor need a loincloth?"

It makes me think of the old chant from my Army days: "This is my weapon, and this is my gun; one is for killing, the other's for fun."


*The plot of FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST makes this a clumsy sentence. Al doesn't wear his armor; he's a human spirit that's been infused into, and animates, a set of battle armor. So Al actually is the armor. (Very interesting anime series, by the way; Bruce-Bob says check it out!)

#524 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:02 AM:

Rather than "literary" or "lit'ry", how about the reliable old...

..."artsy-fartsy"?

#525 ::: Bart Patton ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:18 AM:

510: TNH said, "...if someone needs to be shot now, I'll go quietly."

Patrick, before you shoot Teresa, please discuss it with her husband.

#526 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:36 AM:

Alternative names for `literary' fiction:

Li-Fi? (By analogy with Sci-Fi)

#527 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:42 AM:

Lenora Rose@521: Am I imagining things or has nobody actually mentioned what movie abi was quoting @454? I'm not actually sure myself, but I'm going to guess The Princess Bride.

#528 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:57 AM:

#503 Well, they sure broke the bank on this one eh Watson? Everyone loves a pile-up it seems.

Not a pile-up now; a party. All the cool people came!

#518 Which rather leaves me at a loss for what to call those stories, since calling them "literary" means that I agree that this, and no other, is "literature."

Good question. I say "highfalutin" or "pretentiary." But I may have a leetle chip on my shoulder about that particular genre. I'm an escapee from an MFA program. Guess how much they respect SF/F? Nope, less...less...a little less...you got it.

#529 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:09 AM:

I think of it as "mundane fiction", myself. (In fact, in my book log, I tag entries by genre, using "SF" for science fiction and fantasy, and "MF" for non-SF of most sorts -- including things like King Lear and The Praise Singer in the rubric. Although I suspect I'm going to put The Bacchae and The Odyssey under SF.)

#530 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:31 AM:

Brenda Kait, #498:

That reminds me of a story at the Customers Suck LiveJournal. IIRC, the poster was on staff at a convention center that was hosting some sort of academic thingumabob at which the leading lights of some discipline or other were to lecture, complete with transparencies. (I think they were mathematicians.) The lecturers were to handle their own projection. Except they couldn't, because the poster couldn't get to them to explain how the thing worked, because somebody in a suit kept getting in his way and telling him that Doctor So-and-so did not talk to persons of his type.

#531 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 04:16 AM:

Patrick @516:
I know what I want to learn, I know how to do it, and I have exactly zero patience people who use the "teacher" role as an occasion for this kind of abuse.

This is why I am a self-taught bookbinder with no lineage in the hereditary dynasty of the craft. That and the fact that the only person who was a candidate for a teacher at my current level wanted me to study under him, in many senses of the phrase. Some of that would have stayed as an emotional subtext rather than a physical reality, but still...ugh.

Having said that, I too have learned that sometimes I have to toss a partly completed binding in the trash. There is only so far one can save a disaster. Or sometimes I have to set it aside for a month, or a year, to untangle my own feelings from it and see it clearly for what it is. I had to do that with the Dream Hunters binding that's now en route to Boston.

David @527:
The Princess Bride it is. The swordfighting scene between the man in black and Inigo Montoya.

#532 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 04:59 AM:

Bruce @ 523

Possible answers regarding Al's loincloth:

a) It's a visual reminder to us-the-viewers that Al is the armour, not someone wearing armour.

b) Despite being a living suit of armour, Al still feels naked without clothes.

c) Since when has anime had anything to do with sensible clothing choices, anyway?

#533 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 05:33 AM:

#446: Debra Doyle at #386, is there a name for the listing of one's physical or spiritual progenitors?

Not sure, but it has a long tradition:

"From my grandfather Verus I learned good morals and the government of my temper.
From the reputation and remembrance of my father, modesty and a manly character.
From my mother, piety and beneficence, and abstinence, not only from evil deeds, but even from evil thoughts; and further, simplicity in my way of living, far removed from the habits of the rich..."

--Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

#534 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 05:37 AM:

#514: A zen koan if you wish, or Cohen, the Jewish version.

"Hurry up, snatch the pebble already."

#535 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 06:08 AM:

Lenora Rose said (#521):
abi: I've been told by those in the know that Bonetti, Capo Ferro, etc, are real schools of swordplay from the Renaissance, whose manuals have survived to today. I was told this by someone who was bemused that they would use those schools, as they're all heavy swordwork styles, not fencing styles, which is what the movie is mimicking -- and that there are vastly *more* fencing school manuals still extant.

All the fencing/swordplay school references are there in the original novel by William Goldman (who of course also adapted his novel into the screenplay for the movie). It wouldn't surprise me if Goldman knew that these weren't really "fencing" styles and used them as a sort of inside joke; proper historical fidelity isn't quite the point of The Princess Bride (and the book has references to a made-up "McBone" style).

The novel tells the scene from Inigo's viewpoint, and doesn't have quite as much dialog; it's kind of fun to compare it to the movie's version:

They touched swords, and the man in black immediately began the Agrippa defense, which Inigo felt sound, considering the rocky terrain ... Naturally, he countered with Capo Ferro which surprised the man in black, but he defended well, quickly shifting out of Agrippa and taking the attack himself, using the principles of Thibault...

If you compare that with the dialog abi quoted, it makes for a nice little demonstration of how to successfully translate a scene from a book to a scene onscreen.

There's a brief rundown of the different swordmasters mentioned in the movie here (mild spoiler warning if you haven't seen the movie or read the book).

#536 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 06:34 AM:

Ceri @ 501... Serge @ #491: How does one list science fictional lineage leading to being a writer? It certainly sounds interesting.

Well, in the early 80s, Cherryh was Sue's favorite writer. Meanwhile, 3000 miles away, there was this guy (that'd be me) who felt the same way. Both separately joined the same Cherryh fan group. That's how we came together. Later, in the pre-internet days, Sue was involved in a group of fans of Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. In that group, was another writer called eluki bes shahar, who'd read some of Sue's Beauty and the Beast fanfic and said she should write a novel.

#537 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 06:45 AM:

abi @ 531... I guess I could say I taught myself to learn speaking English. Sure, I had the mandatory classes in high-school, but most of it I did on my own. I had a great teacher one year, who introduced me to Mad Magazine's glory days, and to comic-books in their original language. The point is that I practiced and practiced and practiced. In the Beginning though, there were the cartoons of Bugs Bunny, and does that explain a few things about me?

#538 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 07:05 AM:

Erin Kissane @ #408:
It's my official recommendation that graphical browsers refrain from visually differentiating text marked up as sarcasm unless the user presses a special key combination

But what good is that? The people who most need the visual differentiation are the ones who can't be counted on to recognise that it's time to press the special key combination.

#539 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 07:26 AM:

Bruce Arthurs @ #523: The armor has a loin cloth before Al's soul is bound into it; check out the very very first image of the series.

Which doesn't answer the question, but at least it isn't something that anyone did after Al was bound into the armor.

I also highly, highly recommend Fullmetal Alchemist; it ate my brain like nothing else on screen, and very few things on page, have before or since. I wrote a recommendation post about halfway through the series, which I don't think I would materially change now.

#540 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 07:28 AM:

Thread... went... explodey!

I'm feeling a touch of that old academic shame. Before anyone mistakes me for anything I'm not, since I've publicly mentioned doing skiffy school via Stonecoast, I'd like to state for the record why I decided to get an MFA:

1) Jim Kelly teaches the genre program. (Anyone who's ever workshopped with him should know that this is, in some ways, enough to justify anything.)

2) Financial aid is the magic license to spend two years doing something that is not working myself into the ground.

Does this make me a better writer? Only in the sense that two years of profuse reading and writing, and exposing my backside to criticism and advice* is going to make me a better writer, which is to say, sure. To be candid, I wouldn't have gone this route initially if not for the financial aid. In fact, I got the idea when someone referred to the MFA process as "taking out two years on loan to write a book." But after a year and a half, if I had to do it over again, if there were a way to take the two years without going through the program -- I'd still go through the program. Good teaching has done more for my writing than a year and a half in a cabin with a well-stocked bar would have done.

But it's still worthless if after all the workshops and teas and ices, I've not the strength to force the moment to its crisis -- 'scuse me, random spasm of Eliot -- I mean, if I sit there and write or don't write and either way don't sell a thing.

Or if I sell pittances and puff myself up like an angry housecat. Er, kitten.

* From people with actual publishing records. I would advise anyone who's going to go this route to check up on the list of faculty names and their publishing houses. I'm pretty satisfied with mine.

#541 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 08:14 AM:

A.J. Luxton @ 540,

I don't think you need to defend your choice from anyone here. Sounds like you've had a really good year and a half, and I'm really pleased for you.

I think what a lot of people are saying is just what you've said: it doesn't matter what credentials you have if your writing sucks, if you don't write, or if you don't do the work to become a better writer. Like anything.

In fiction, it's the writing that counts not the credential.

#542 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 08:19 AM:

Bruce Arthurs@523: I've been watching the FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST anime series lately, and keep asking myself, "Why does Al's armor* wear a loincloth.

"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

#543 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 08:21 AM:

To jennie above, and as addendum: I somehow missed the latter third of the MFA-related subthread. I did a search on this page to try and follow the discussion, but apparently Mozilla's find-in-page function has a limit on how far it'll go. So I missed a number of comments on the skim, and hit them on the full readthrough, and saw that, in fact, My Existence Has Been Justified.

Whoops.

Regardless, I'm glad I got to throw in a bit of praise for Stonecoast and Jim Kelly.

And, really, Doyle @ 329 bears some loud repeating:

real scholars don't say "where did you study?" as much as they say, "who did you study with?"

#544 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 08:48 AM:

I assume you mean "The Fifth Sacred Thing", which wasn't very good.

I did indeed.

It's also one of those books that I don't like very much, but I keep being compelled to read anyway. I don't know why that happens, and it rather annoys me.

I meant to mention that Starhawk's novel "Walking to Mercury", which is set in the present day, with a main character much like Starhawk herself, IS good.

I think I read that, and was disappointed because I thought Maya was about the least interesting character of the first book. Also, Mary Sue.

#545 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 08:48 AM:

PNH @ 516:

This being your blog, your existence may need no justification, but I've got to say I really appreciate it when someone comes out and says they didn't finish high school. Thank you. Hearing someone actually talk about these things is refreshing.

I was only in high school for a year. I got my GED and muddled around in lots of maladaptive environments until I found a couple of self-directed ones, and I'm well aware this was equal parts luck, unwillingness after the first several tries to accept a teaching system that did nothing for my learning style, and having a family well-off enough that this meant slow progress rather than homelessness.

I find it spooky when people say high school is how you learn life -- I have to bite back remarks like oh, is that how you learned that working yourself sick was normal and okay, or yeah, if the people some authority figure says are your peers don't like you, you might as well shoot yourself.

It's where a person learns some things about life in an authoritarian society. Not having those concepts drilled so deeply in makes living different. Choices and sacrifices that people make in order to live are more visible as choices and sacrifices, not automatically assumed. I could write at length on that subject, but on the West Coast it is bedtime for one anti-authoritarian blog-bat.

#546 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:01 AM:

Jenny Islander: (530)

The lecturers were to handle their own projection. Except they couldn't, because the poster couldn't get to them to explain how the thing worked, because somebody in a suit kept getting in his way and telling him that Doctor So-and-so did not talk to persons of his type.
I've had that attitude from self-appointed guardians (a grad student who assured me that the Professor (Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy) I had come to help with a tech problem would never be in on a Saturday and disbelieved me when I said that he had made the appointment with me. Thankfully the Professor showed up slightly later.
Sometimes I've had it from the presenter themselves who didn't believe it was necessary to make sure that things actually worked before the start of the presentation (this was mostly, I think, because they wanted either more time at the buffet, or were revising their presentation shortly before the presentation itself (not necessarily a good idea).

#547 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:04 AM:

Oops.
-fsme.$me).$0t$$
I've had that attitude from self-appointed guardians (a grad student who assured me that the Professor (Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy) I had come to help with a tech problem would never be in on a Saturday and disbelieved me when I said that he had made the appointment with me).

#548 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:06 AM:

#503 Skink: Spam anyone ?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden@513:
Zen was a system designed to produce an elite warrior class. Fuck elite warrior classes. Fuck Zen.

I admire, and partly share, the sentiment, but let's be just: Zen wasn't a system designed to produce an elite warrior class. At least not from start. It was a system that flourished because the existing warrior class had cultural affinities with it... And hoped to find in it a good tool to produce an elite warrior class.

"Useless nitpickers of the world unite."

#549 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:12 AM:

RE: the pottery instructor.

Pity. I've learned quite a lot of things by going down a path only to find it a dead end. If I never get there on my own, I'd never know it ends. Back in college I seem to recall unintentionally blowing up, smoking, frying, burning out, and destroying various bits of electronic components as I tried stuff that turned out to not work. But the process can give you the lay of the "land", a sense of the hills and valleys of knowledge. Alright, so that circuit didn't work, but I learned something else.

Student/Teacher relationships are interesting too. The most important thing, in my opinion, is that the student is engaged in learning. Engaged being the key point. Actions and words that have a high probability of disengaging the student should be avoided.

Lastly, I recall something an EMT said to me long ago. EMT's don't deliver babies. The mother delivers the baby. All the EMT does is assist in the delivery. Teachers don't deliver knowledge. The student acquires knowledge and the teacher assists.

I do recall one professor I had who seemed to think we acquired knowledge by lapping up from the trough of his infinite wisdom. I dropped the class after the second week.

As for Zen, I find it was useful for me. However people can misuse Zen like any other set of language rules.

#550 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:13 AM:

I've been told by those in the know that Bonetti, Capo Ferro, etc, are real schools of swordplay from the Renaissance, whose manuals have survived to today. I was told this by someone who was bemused that they would use those schools, as they're all heavy swordwork styles, not fencing styles, which is what the movie is mimicking -- and that there are vastly *more* fencing school manuals still extant.

Well, yes. I've been taught moves from DiGrassi (1594) which (sadly) promptly exited both body and brain through lack of opportunity to practice. They were "fencing" moves but the fencing was done with something rather heavier than the modern rapier - an epee, perhaps? Saber? It was Really Really Heavy.

I suppose I could ask tonight, since I'll be sleeping right underneath a rather large collection of microfilms of these manuals, if anyone wants to get a copy of any of them. Capo Ferro is on the list.

#551 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:15 AM:

Just pondering the implications of having stupid hair. As opposed to the more usual zero-intelligence hair, or snakes, or whatever. Would that be something like The Tick's encounter with The Mustache?

#552 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:17 AM:

OK, Susan, you're a costumer, work in politics and know some swordplay too. And how is your takeover of the Lieberman party going? All of the above skills should come in handy.

#553 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:19 AM:

Margaret @ #522:
"How do I know when the painting is done? When the Fed Ex guy pries it out of my fingers!"

Costumes are never finished, you just run out of time.

I've sort-of managed to break myself of the habit of refusing to release any dance reconstruction until I'm abso-positively sure it's perfect. I've realized that (1) I'm never going to be sure of that, but (2) I'm now knowledgeable enough to detect when it reaches the "good enough for now" stage.

#554 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:23 AM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden said (#513):

I don't admire bullying. The whole Zen-master thunderclap sudden-realization thing? Zen was a system designed to produce an elite warrior class. Fuck elite warrior classes. Fuck Zen. And fuck teachers who think it's okay to destroy students' work merely in order to dramatize their point.

I'm not going to comment on the teaching issue, just on the mischaracterization of Zen.

It's understandable that someone might get the idea that Zen is "a system designed to produce an elite warrior class," since what most people in the US (and the West in general) know about Zen comes from Japan, where it was certainly adapted to the needs and practices of the samurai class, who dominated Japan up until just over a century ago.[*] Western martial-arts enthusiasts sometimes perpetuate this association.

But Zen Buddhism originated in China, and developed there and in Vietnam and Korea for centuries, with no special connections to any warrior class, before it was introduced to Japan. There are still Zen traditions in China, Korea, and Vietnam; the famous peace activist and writer Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen monk from the Vietnamese tradition.

The whole "thunderclap sudden-realization thing" is an argument that "enlightenment" should be understood as a sudden intuitive flash of understanding ("I get it!"), rather than some plodding, logical/analytic intellectual process. You can argue about whether that's psychologically realistic, or whether that's how "enlightenment" ought to work -- but it's got nothing to do with "bullying."


Saying that Zen was designed to produce a warrior class is about as accurate as saying that Catholicism was designed for that purpose. (Were there strong ties between medieval Catholicism and the warrior aristocracy of Europe, so that the former sometimes took on characteristics of the latter and produced practices that benefited them? Absolutely. Was that the underlying origin and purpose of Catholicism? Of course not.)


[*] This is primarily true of the Rinzai school of Japanese zen. There's a Japanese saying which contrasts the historical appeal of the two main Japanese Zen traditions: "Rinzai for the Shogun, Soto for the peasants."

#555 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:24 AM:

Obscure rhythmic thumping about:

vuodo 1 (pause) 3 4 (close) 6 1 2 (close) 4 (pause) 6 1 (close) 3 4 5

Evidence: minimal for the rhythm pattern, but it does get four sequences on the same foot into three tempi nicely.

(Not that anyone here cares except possibly Power Twin, but it makes me warm and satisfied.)

#556 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:26 AM:

Patrick @ 516 I was working on a very specific piece of technique, and you came along and used it as an occasion to grandstand to the whole class. Fuck you. You get no more chances from me.

Thank you. On so many levels, thank you.
I was one of those kids in high school and later in military schools that managed to attract undue attention from teachers and superiors.

"How is it that you have to audacity to present this project in my class? Why do you think you're God and can solve everything on your own? Your equations aren't even correct."

But the math worked. It was ugly, but the math worked. After completing nuclear power school in the Navy I went back to that phys/astronomy teacher and apologized for my behaviors as a student--- I never received an apology in return. I still to this day haven't figured out what I did wrong. I think perhaps that my questioning attitude was always seen as a challenge to her authority. Heaven forbid that another human being is seen as fallable.

I think this is a big part of why I can't completely commit to returning to a traditional classroom setting to complete college...

There's a lot of potential in a young mind. Imagine the possibilities if you just foster creativity and passion for something, anything.

#557 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:30 AM:

Before the Renaissance, was there such a thing as a swordfighting technique, beyond hacking at each other as hard and as fast as one can?

#559 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:40 AM:

Serge:
Before the Renaissance, was there such a thing as a swordfighting technique, beyond hacking at each other as hard and
as fast as one can?

Yes, though it's not documentable much before 1300, I don't think. Google around a bit. The Higgins Sword Guild does a lot of this stuff. They do demos at Arisia every year.

(It's not that I know anything about the history of combat, it's that dancing and fencing were intertwined in the Renaissance and my research mentor is an expert in both, so the information crosses my radar now and then.)

#560 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:59 AM:

Responses to various:

329-depends on the field. My wife's a PhD and a physics professor. In her subfield nobody asks who you studied with because as soon as they know where you studied the who is obvious. It's a small but highly employable area of physics. The year Laura graduated there were 26 PhDs and 27 tenure track openings nationally.

518-How about "Lit-Fic?" It's a term I've often heard used by academics who are also F&SF people and who most definitely don't want to advance one genre over the other. My wife's university has a very F&SF friendly English department. Sure, the subtext is still literary fiction, but that becomes a bit more like background noise and less like the one true way.

Potholders and ovenmitts are the same thing. Hotpads are floppy trivets

http://www.kellymccullough.com/mail.html

#561 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 10:00 AM:

Thanks, Susan. I know somebody who had a big problem with the Falco mysteries, which are set in Rome while Vespasian was emperor. Falco often went to the gymnasium for a workout, and for some sword training with the retired gladiator running the place. She said there was no such thing as the concept of a school for swordfighting. Anachronisms abound those stories, but they're too much fun to let that stop me. Still, I do wonder if that specific bit inded was an anachronism. After all, gladiators had to be trained in various techniques and why wouldn't it occur to one of them to make some money off the schmucky Patricians by having them believe they could stand their own in a fight?

#562 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 10:11 AM:

swordfighting: in aikido, we spent some time working with bokens*, wooden swords, and practiced certain techniques that worked really well with a sword with a single edge (katana). I remember that having gotten the hang of the boken techniques, all the hand-to-hand aikido techniques suddenly got a whole lot easier. Turned out there were some weird similarities between the two.

* (It's been a long time, so some of those vocabulary may be mangled)

#563 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 10:28 AM:

(Susan, #559): dancing and fencing were intertwined in the Renaissance... Sounds like a description of what Roger Federer just did while demolishing poor Andy in the Australian Open semi. Talk about godlike powers! After a while, I just had to laugh at the latest perfect riposte.

#564 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 10:32 AM:

Greg at 562: with regard to Aikido techniques being similar to swordwork -- not weird at all. Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, originally developed Aikido out of two already existing strands of Japanese martial arts: sword work and jujitsu. One can find both in the art.

#565 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 10:32 AM:

We have no idea how the Romans taught swordfighting. No manuals of fencing technique have survived. Literary references are all but non-existent. Nevertheless (and I'm sticking my neck out here) I think they must have developed techniques that were formally inculcated and developed and passed on, with nomenclature, standardised practice, drill and philosophy. Fencing, in other words, if we may include under that heading all developed practice with any kind of sword.

Why didn't these techniques survive? After all, we have Roman plays, "novels", cooking manuals, treatises on agriculture, many other things. Yes, but what has survived is very hit-and-miss. Consider that nothing in writing has survived of Roman shipwrighting, or even architecture. And the military methods and equipment of Rome were overtaken and lost.

It seems reasonable to assume that Roman fencing technique grew out of military practice, because using a sword was a necessary skill for a Roman soldier, once the pilum became standard issue for all legionaries. The soldier who throws his spear at the enemy as he closes with him must know how to use his sidearm. It seems reasonable to believe, therefore, that effective use of the gladius was taught and drilled. And it must be remembered that service in the Army was a prerequisite for nearly all civil offices. This service might have been largely nominal, but nevertheless any Roman patrician would have been familiar with Army equipment.

There are a few examples of beautifully made and decorated Roman swords, too, which would argue that at least some Romans regarded them as more than efficient butchering tools, and this would argue in turn that there was some mystique, some idea that it was worth devoting thought and art to the sword itself.

I hope that this is all true. If it isn't, it ought to be. I have a book out shortly with the above as an assumption, anyway. If I get landed on from a great height, I'll let you know.

#566 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 10:37 AM:

No weird similarities Greg! When you follow through on a release or a hold and bring your hands back to hara (center) the position, you'll find that you're at the "ready stance" for a sword strike (it does vary depending on Aikido style).
O'Sensei (Morihei Ueshiba) mastered several martial arts styles; kenjitsu---sword fighting, being one of them.
Grab your boken and practice releases. You should find that every time you take your ukei off balance you have a perfect opportunity to deliver a fatal strike.
Aikido may be inherently pacifist, it is certainly not a soft style IMNSHO.
-=Jeff=-

#567 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 10:41 AM:

Dave @565
I find your thesis convincing, but my tiny nit:

Consider that nothing in writing has survived of Roman shipwrighting, or even architecture.

Vitruvius?

#568 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 10:43 AM:

Yesssss!!! Roman scholar wrestling!

#569 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 10:54 AM:

One of my friends said that the hardest thing for an engineer to learn is when to say 'That's good enough; ship it.'

Perfectionism isn't necessarily good.

#570 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 10:59 AM:

Serge, abi: No wrestling. I've been put down, shoulders to canvas, count of three. I'd forgotten Vitruvius. Can I cut the reference, in fire-faced embarrassment?

#571 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 11:38 AM:

Not good enough, Dave. It's the lions for you, mister.

#572 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 11:39 AM:

560-(me) Yo, McCullough, wrong thread on the potholder stuff. Sigh. That's what I get for flipping back and forth between multiple browser tabs.

http://www.kellymccullough.com/mail.html

#573 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 11:56 AM:

Dave @570
Don't abandon the rest of the thesis, which I find entirely persuasive.

It just happens that one of my favourite courses at university was the Topography and Monuments of Ancient Rome, which started with the Palatine Hut and traced the development of the city until the time of Constantine*.

We discussed architectural styles, specific buildings, districts and monuments. We touched on damnatio memoriae and apotheosis (that's where I heard about the apokolokintosis of Claudius). The professor's favourite emperor was Hadrian, and by the time he was done, I was persuaded to his view**.

Naturally, we spent some time on Vitruvius.

----------
* Whenever I go to Rome, I find myself struggling against a strong feeling of annoyance at the Renaissance, which cluttered up some of my favourite bits of the ancient city.

** One word. Pantheon. Did you know that, because of the lower street levels and the proximity of the surrounding buildings, no one approaching it could see that it was anything out of the ordinary until they got inside? How cool is that?

#574 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 11:57 AM:

Macdonald @518 asks:
Give me a name for that material that isn't "literary," that doesn't prejudice that genre with the seal of approval, that doesn't come right out and say that it's the good stuff.

Crap? I'm not being facetious, not really. I've read an awful lot of that for various university and other literary/academic journals, and, well, it often is crap, or textual masturbation, or, most likely, both.

I started labeling some slush as PGN, or Please God No. There are a lot of writers who strike me as the textual equivalent of tone deaf, who describe themselves as literary writers. I wish they'd get out and read more literature . . . 'cause that's not what they're writing. It really isn't.

Defrocked and other sorts of medievalists; I am going to put together a paper session and probably a panel for the 2008 Kalamazoo International Congress on Medieval Studies that I hope will be made up of Making Light folk. Mark your calendars . . .

#575 ::: Scott W ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 12:14 PM:

Faren @ 563

I missed that match, and was surprised by the score; Roddick had been playing so well up to that point and the set and a half I watched of Federer's quarterfinal looked a little shakey.

Hopefully Gonzalez continues playing well and the final will be great.

#576 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 12:16 PM:

abi, where does one receive instruction on the Topography and Monuments of Ancient Rome? I would be most interested to know.

Because, as you imply, it is extremely cool.

#577 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 12:18 PM:

Lisa @ #574:

What's your paper session/panel topic? I'm presenting at Kalamazoo this May, though I'm actually a completely fake medievalist - a Renaissance person taking advantage of a certain looseness of definition at Kalamazoo.

#578 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 12:18 PM:

abi @ 573... Did Romans use stirrups or not? Historical movies usually show people using them, but it's my understanding that it's because modern riders might otherwise find it difficult to stay on horse. Stirrups seem like such a practical thing to have and the Romans, I think, were nothing if not practical. But what do I know? Nothing, nothing!

#579 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 12:38 PM:

Serge, you have just opened a can of carnivorous predatory anthropophagous worms of terrible aspect, vast and rugose, fell and batrachian. Worms and frogs! Breck-eck-eck-ex! Ko-ax! Ko-ax!

I am of the school that says that stirrups were first developed in Scythia, circa first century BCE, and then spread slowly, being first noticed - as no more than leather loops attached to the saddle - in northern India, by the fourth century CE, and were then seen in Europe no earlier than the seventh century CE. The slowness of the spread indicates that they were not actually as mightily useful as some think they were.

This construction is given the academic equivalent of the Bronx cheer by many others who have as much right on their side as anyone. And why not?

However, it appears that everyone agrees that Romans did not use stirrups. Why not? I dunno. Why didn't Romans use the wheelbarrow, or the horsecollar, perfectly simple ideas that somehow didn't get taken up then? Beats me. They showed a quite amazing technological sophistication in some ways and not in others. I wish I knew.

#580 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 12:54 PM:

Dave @576
UC Berkeley, at least in the late 80's and early 90's. It was taught by the fantastic Stephen Miller, whose enthusiasm for ancient buildings was a delight.

The linked article is an interview with him on his retirement, and gives a very good flavour of his character. I can hear his voice when I read this:

it is a surprise every time a crummy potsherd comes out of the ground. Do you know what it means to be the first person in 2,000 years to touch something your ancestors have made, to touch that coin or that stone and know that some ancient mason worked on it, smoothed it down, carved the relief that’s seen there? That thrill never leaves.

He also ran the annual Easter barbecue, with lambs on the spit. We used to get his grad students drunk and try to get them to eat sheep eyeballs.

The man really made the course what it was. I don't know if anyone else could make the stone tell such a lot about the people who shaped it.

Serge @578
Our best guess is that the Romans did not use stirrups, nor indeed did anyone in Europe before the Middle Ages. It appears to have come from the Huns, early enough that some Romans may have seen them.

But the Romans were, as a culture, indifferent horsemen. As with boats, they could use horses. But they were primarily, culturally, walkers.

--------
* There is a famous story around the time of the Punic Wars. The Romans cerated a navy from virtually nothing, teaching legionaries to row with benches on beaches while the ships were being built. On the one hand, it shows a lot of adaptability. On the other hand, they didn't already have a navy.

#581 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 12:56 PM:

Dave @579
I bow to your better information about when, after the Romans, the stirrup came to Europe.

Did you lose a bottle of oil somewhere?

#582 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:03 PM:

Thanks, Dave and abi... I guess those movies didn't want Charlton Heston falling off his horse and wrecking his Patrician profile. As for the Romans being indifferent horsemen and sailors... I learned some Latin in high-school (before abi was born), and some of the culture, but I forgot most of it. The one thing is remember is our teacher saying that Roman ships usually stuck pretty close to the shores.

#583 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:04 PM:

Serge @552: OK, Susan, you're a costumer, work in politics and know some swordplay too. And how is your takeover of the Lieberman party going? All of the above skills should come in handy.

Serge, are you imagining a scenario something like Heinlein's Double Star? Unlike the story, we would not like to mimic the sitting Senator; no point to the exercise if we cannot have an improvement.

#584 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:05 PM:

In case you're looking for the cartoons mentioned above, many are linked here.

#585 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:13 PM:

In re #518, I think it's all about the genre conventions.

The wikipedia article on literary fiction looks weak, but from it (and the little I know about self-styled literary fiction) it looks like the label 'literary fiction' covers at least two genres: characterization-focused and style-focused. (I am skeptical of Wikipedia's assertion that literary fiction doesn't have genre conventions. I think this is a sign of lumping multiple genres together, and also not realizing that genre works can deliberately violate genre conventions.)

How about "psychological fiction" for characterization-focused fiction? For style-focused fiction, I'd be tempted to just say "experimental fiction" (and most experiments fail). "Stylistic fiction" seems too close to 'literary fiction' in asserting the quality of the work rather than its genre conventions.

#586 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:21 PM:

Rob @ 583... I was thinking more along the lines that Susan knows a few things about politics, and the costuming skills would be for glamorous attires that'd also allow her to advertise traditional 'feminine' skills of sewing. As for the sword... Well, she could always turn a debate with Joe into a duel.

#587 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:24 PM:

... in a pit ... with broadswords...

#588 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:25 PM:

However, it appears that everyone agrees that Romans did not use stirrups. Why not? I dunno.

Small horses? Googling 'roman cavaly' and 'stirrups' gives me the impression that their saddles were designed to allow a firm seat already, and that stirrups would not have been needed.

#589 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:45 PM:

The slowness of the spread indicates that they were not actually as mightily useful as some think they were.

Um. I'm not sure that the slowness of spread indicates any such thing. Various useful technological innovations seem to move more slowly than their utility would suggest.

Tile stoves, for instance, are damn' useful, if your object is to get the most usable heat out of any unit of fuel, and yet while they spread into common use up and down the Germanic countries in Europe and Scandinavia from their inception in the 14th century, they never did make any significant inroads in Britain, or subsequently, the US where the Franklin stove was essentially reinventing the wheel of the established technology of tile stoves.

I don't know if it was a matter of various animosities -- Britain has a long history of being mostly on the opposite side of conflicts with the masters of tile technology, the Dutch -- or the fact that British potteries never did seem to take much of a bent for tile-making until much later, or what, but it seems pretty clear to me that utility is not the only factor that plays into the spread of any given technology.

#590 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:52 PM:

Greg London @ 587... Or maybe like something organized by the Gamesters of Triskelion.

#591 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:53 PM:

Having a lot of horsemen requires having a lot of horses, and horses are, in general, easier to raise in areas which are not mountainous. The Greek states with sizeable cavalry forces were Thessaly and Macedonia, which are among the few part of Greece to have the flat land (relatively speaking) to spare.
Like the Greeks, the Romans specialized in infantry warfare (and unlike the Persians/Parthians, who had mountains but could also come up with flat land to spare--and much of this flat land, due to lower levels of rainfall, was better suited for pasture lands than raising grain) and had a limited amount of cavalry. In both Greece and Rome, cavalry tended to be an aristocratic service, as oposed to the infantry, mostly because of the expense involved in horse ownership and maintenance. (The cost of increasingly more complex armor escalated this trend from the Late Roman period on.)

Stirrups are not essential to a secure seat on horseback, In fact, they have their very own special risks--ask anyone who's ever fallen off a horse but had a foot stuck in a stirrup! What stirrups do is increase your leverage, making it possible to use weapons somewhat differently than can be done without them. A lot of the medieval cavalry maneuvers and techniques require stirrups--charging with a couched lance is the best example I know of.
People who are horsier than I am (and that wouldn't take much) can probably add a lot more to that, and will probably also find errors in there to correct.

#592 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:55 PM:

One thing to remember is that people have "reconstructed" Roman saddles, and found they didn't need stirrups.

Now, there's varying amounts of guesswork in such efforts, and some of the plausible chainst of reasoning from the evidence might depend on later knowledge.

For instance, I've seen a British chariot that interpreted the wickerwork side screens (as the coins seemed to show) as a suspension system of leather straps. Recent archaeology makes it a pretty good guess, and it certainly works.

But we'll never be quite sure of what a British chariot, or a Roman saddle, was really like.

#593 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:55 PM:

In #518 James D. Macdonald writes:

Which rather leaves me at a loss for what to call those stories, since calling them "literary" means that I agree that this, and no other, is "literature."

Give me a name for that material that isn't "literary," that doesn't prejudice that genre with the seal of approval, that doesn't come right out and say that it's the good stuff.

Because whatever it is, it isn't.

The term "literary fiction" is so lame in describing what it names that it make the rather lame "science fiction" seem not-so-lame by comparison. Jim McDonald and I cannot have been the first people to notice this.

I wonder whether any attempts to give "literary fiction" a different name (there must have been some) have gotten any traction.

Apropos of snobbery, for years the Chicago Tribune's Sunday Arts section ran headers over various feature stories: THEATER or MOVIES or OPERA. It always irritated me that stories about rock were headed ROCK, and stories about jazz were headed JAZZ, and stories about folk were headed FOLK, but stories about classical music were always headed MUSIC.

Sometime in the past decade or so, this changed quietly. Today a story about classical music is headed CLASSICAL. Hooray.

#594 ::: leahwrenn ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:01 PM:

A little late for this discussion, but...

Adventures among the toroids

#595 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:13 PM:

#518 Which rather leaves me at a loss for what to call those stories, since calling them "literary" means that I agree that this, and no other, is "literature."

Hey, I've got it: vanilla. Vanilla fiction.

#585: How about "psychological fiction" for characterization-focused fiction? For style-focused fiction, I'd be tempted to just say "experimental fiction" (and most experiments fail). "Stylistic fiction" seems too close to 'literary fiction' in asserting the quality of the work rather than its genre conventions.

The problem is that both of these concepts relate to different types of work within a genre. Gene Wolfe writes style-focused SF/F; P.D. James writes characterization-focused mysteries. Neither of these is a distinguishing trait of vanilla fiction.

#596 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:16 PM:

in a pit, with broadswords was a particle some time ago. though I googled for this link.

#597 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:18 PM:

Carrie S. 544: While you're under no obligation to read or like anything, I have to say that I don't think Maya (who is, clearly, based on Starhawk) is a Mary Sue. I think that to qualify as a Mary Sue a character needs to exhibit a kind of blythe self-assuredness and lack of self-examination; she has to always Do the Right Thing, which no one else can see, not because they're stupid, but because MS is Gifted; and other characters have to react to MS as if she were a goddess come to save them, instead of the tragically debilitating neurological disorder she is.

If you want to say that Maya (or any of a number of other characters, for that matter) is a Mary Sue in TFST, I might even agree with you. But I don't see it in WtM. (Please note that I am not saying you are Just Plain Wrong; I'm just disagreeing, with the usual IMHO, YMMV, IAOAE etc.)

Dave Luckett 565: This reminds me of the fact that the only reason we know the work of Gaius Valerius Catullus is that one copy, printed on fireproof parchment, survived. ONE COPY. That's why "Catullus 5" means always and only the poem that begins "Vivamus mea Lesbia atque amemus..."—it's on page 5 of the original book.

The most tragic case, of course, is Sappho, but I've ranted about that elsewhere.

As for the name for the kind of "literary" fiction that is the only kind credited with the name by academicians—how about calling it academic literature?

Something similar happened when the formal ("classical") music world was in the grip of the whole 12-tone psychosis (which wouldn't have happened if it hadn't fallen into the whole equal-temperament psychosis 50 years earlier, don't get me started). If your music wasn't well-formed by strict 12-tone standards (and yes, in some places and times that meant the number of notes in your piece had to be a whole-number multiple of 12, with exactly the same number of each "tone"), it wasn't considered "serious music," and you were considered a "popular" (anathema to academics) composer.

This led to abominations like the "music" of Milton Babbit, which really is a mathematical exercise. He completely forgot that Duke Ellington's famous principle has a converse (or is it an obverse...hmmm): if it doesn't sound good, it isn't good.

Oddly enough, Babbit was Stephen Sondheim's composition teacher. Flowers do grow from shitheaps.

And FWIW I'm with Patrick on the pottery teacher. Grandstanding asshole. There is a class of student for whom this sort of thing is good, but it's hard to know whether you are one until something like that happens, and even harder for the instructor to predict...so much so that for an instructor to assume that that behavior is appropriate in any individual case is deeply irresponsible and negligent.

Oh, wait. I forgot I'm living in the age of mass-produced education, where the individual needs of students always take a back seat to the average student, the most common pattern, and of course the standardized test. Silly me.

But I'm not bitter.

#598 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:24 PM:

Abi #580: "The Romans cerated a navy"

However did they get those baked clay ships to float? {Running like hell...}

#599 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:30 PM:

#591 -- Agreed -- stirrups do make *some* weapon use easier.

However -- most of the Hollywood actors brought up in the studio system (1930s-1950s) had good seats and should have been able to ride without stirrups.

Nowadays, with Westerns and Costume Dramas being scarce, few actors ride well. When you do see an actor that can ride (Kevin Costner, Viggo Mortesen, Morgan Freeman) most filmgoers who are riders will comment on it (search rec.equestrian by film title or actor's name).

Classical riding, also known as dressage, begins with teaching the proper seat. The student has no reins, a saddle pad, and no stirrups. The instructor holds the lines that control the horse. Only when the student is balanced at all gaits is he allowed to handle reins and use a saddle with stirrups.

An expert rider trained this way can control the horse by use of seat alone.

You will find most instructors who teach English riding will require that you ride part of each lesson without stirrups to build leg strength and to acquire a balanced seat.

#600 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:35 PM:

Leah #594: Adventures among the toroids

After seeing the full title, I *really* regret that there is no cover image available.

#601 ::: Katie W. ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:38 PM:

Teresa @ #460:

"Yes. It's called 'being Mormon'."

But do you all know WHY geneaology is so important to them? So they can baptize the dead.

My husband was raised Mormon and his family has traced (a portion) of their ancestors back to Brigham Young's time. In fact, they learned that one of their ancestors, a General Higbee, helped Brigham engineer the Mountain Meadows Massacre on September 11th, 1857.

They've also recently learned that their ancestors came over on the Mayflower, and when I gently pointed out that they must have been Pilgrims, I got yelled at by my grandfather-in-law. Even though good ol' Joe Smith hadn't been born yet, they were still Mormons, gosh darn it.

Anyways. Part of being an active Mormon is performing Baptisms For the Dead. Without going into the Mormon idea of afterlife ('cause it's whacked), by baptizing their dead relatives, those relatives can then travel to whatever planet the baptizers are on and they all be together in the afterlife.

My husband has done hundreds of these (according to him) baptisms and it basically involves being in the Temple, having a church member say the dead person's name aloud while the baptizer (my husband, in this case) thinks about that name while water is dumped on his head. He said it takes a few seconds per baptism and they'll baptize as many dead people as they can until their live volunteers get tired of kneeling and having water dumped on their head.

Since I know my mother-in-law is hoping to out-live me JUST so she can baptize me after I'm dead, I've already petitioned the LDS church to leave my dead soul alone.

Also thanks Xopher @ #471 for the information about Gardnerian Wiccans. I've been a practicing solitary witch since I was sixteen (and no, my Mormon in-laws have no idea that I'm a practicing witch because I'm sure we can all imagine how well THAT would go over with them) and I didn't realize that I might not be considered a "real Wiccan" by some Gardnerian Wiccans. Although I'm with you on the matter--I don't care what people think about the fact that I practice witchcraft (I have gotten prejudice from some covens who try to tell me that I'm not really Wiccan since I'm a solitary practitioner, which does hurt a bit).

And thanks to Fragano @ #324 for enlightening me about pooter. I thought it was some bizarre colloquialism and, of course, knowing what it means doesn't help me figure out that wretched sentence (not your fault, I just can't figure out how someone's expression could be reminiscent of genitalia). Although it did make for some odd imagery.

And (the last one) abi @ #454: Ha! I thought the same thing when I was reading the thread! After trying to figure out the pooter-faced thing, it was nice to think about The Man in Black (not Johnny Cash).

#602 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:46 PM:

You're welcome, Katie W. Those covens are going to an ancient source for that "wisdom"—I believe the line in the original is "you cannot be a witch alone." Of course, the source of that belief is Malleus Malificarum, so next time you get that snooting from coven-based Witches I suggest you tell them that if they want to use the witchhunters' definition, that's fine with you, but you'll be in the car!

Teresa does know, having been raised Mormon and participated in that very ritual herself.

#603 ::: roach ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:59 PM:

The pottery comments bring to mind this (which is taped to my desk where I can see it when I work):

"While I was learning to work with clay, I made a lot of pots and had to believe that even if they were less than perfect the making of them was worthwhile and important. To continue, I needed to find faith that the expression of my inner forms would become easier and that it had intrinsic value to me as a process of growth. I had to believe that my vision and its pursuit were valuable to me and to those around me even though the world didn't necessarily need more mediocre pottery." - Rheya Polo, Spinning from the Center - Creation and Transformation

#604 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:01 PM:

Patrick--a friend of mine who dropped out of high school (and then later encouraged her little sister to do the same, with excellent results) has an extremely long-term project she's been working on, on and off, to make a documentary about successful high school dropouts. By "successful" she means people who didn't succumb to propaganda about their limited options after dropping out of high school--she put herself through design school, for instance, and now makes a good living doing what she loves. The main goal of the documentary would be to almost be a how-to guide, a resource for young people feeling trapped by what people are telling them their options are.

Now, when I say "extremely long-term" and "on and off," I really, really mean it, but would it be out of line if, sometime in the extremely vague future, she were to get in contact with you?

#605 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:02 PM:

Adventures among the Toroids? Cheerios and doughnuts.

#606 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:10 PM:

Thanks, everybody, for answering my Roman-cum-equine questions.

#607 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:17 PM:

Cripes. "I know you want it up the Ho-Ho." is going to stay with me all the way to the grave.

#608 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:19 PM:

Dave #565: "And the military methods and equipment of Rome were overtaken and lost."

When I was in Copenhagen in late 2004, there was a great exhibit in the Nationalmuseet of Roman and local goods, with particular attention to the captured weaponry and equipment of the Roman army. Seeing the "sacrificed" weapons that had been recovered from bogs and reassembled was pretty good. There certainly were a lot of them. Seeing the contents of the army carpenter's toolbox was really cool, as was looking at the fastenings for various armor, clothing, and equipment. The exhibition catalog is home and I am not, right now, or I'd look up the ISBN -- but you probably already know it and very likely have a copy. They talked a certain amount about how the army was organized, which levels of ornamentation corresponded to which ranks, both in armor and in weapons, and so forth. The northern folks who whupped that particular Roman army sure got a lot of stuff, so it was truly impressive to see case after case, vitrine after vitrine, showing groups of weapons and detailing the differences. The equipment for the horses was pretty cool too. I googled around, but couldn't find a link to it, alas. If you don't have the book, send me an e-mail and I will try to remember to look it up when I get home.

Good exhibit. One really big room, big enough to have a boat in the middle of it and still have lots of space. I spent two days in that room.

(This included an hour and a half spent looking at one single thing: the Gundestrup cauldron from about a foot and a half away, circling it, and getting every angle I could manage, but that's something else again. So was the bit of silver [and gilt?] tribute that for all the world looks like something that Liberty's would have sold during the Arts & Crafts period. I kid you not. Blew my mind.)

#609 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:22 PM:

Fragano @598:
However did they get those baked clay ships to float?

Huh? I said they cerated the navy. It was a large task.

The wax was obtained from bees throughout the Italian peninsula - they fought a minor war in Cisalpine Gaul over one particularly bee-rich province. The beekeeping lore they obtained in that effort descended into Roman folklore, best recorded by Vergil in his Georgics (Book III, if you're interested - he thinks the queens are kings, but gets a lot of the details right.)

The lard came from a massive sacrificial effort - the bullocks and cows were lined up all along Forum Romanum, and the smoke from the Altar of Neptune rose into the sky for three days and nights.

The herbs chosen were borage and yarrow, to bring courage in war. The legionaries were made to lie down on special ceremonial cloths (towelii) on the beach while the mixture was rubbed on their torsos and backs by specially chosen youths of good family.

Throughout the day of the ritual, the soldiers wore face masks that covered their eyes in darkened glass. They chanted the obscure ceremonial Greek invocation "Eo Dyd" for an hour, and then were ready to take to the water.

#610 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:28 PM:

the smoke from the Altar of Neptune rose into the sky for three days and nights

Major barbecue. (No EPA either.)

What did the Romans do for barbecue sauce?

#611 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:32 PM:

Greg #587: Or outside a pit, with a rock in a sock.

Susan #555: I care, too, I truly do. I can't do it right now (my left knee being frozen up), but I care.

Plenty of medieval and renaissance sword combat manuals (or pieces of manuals) survive, though some of them are pretty cryptic. It would come as a surprise to me that there ever was anything comparable from Roman times. Organized training, yes, but not manuals. The audience for written material and swordplay instruction for the individual combatant (vs military strategy and tactics) overlapped by the late middle ages, but it didn't in Roman times. Besides, this sort of thing, like dance, is best learned from a person, rather than a book.

#612 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:34 PM:

You forgot, abi, about the Suspendit X, or plank-balancing competition, that ensued.

#613 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:35 PM:

Serge @ 557:

Before the Renaissance, was there such a thing as a swordfighting technique, beyond hacking at each other as hard and as fast as one can?

In short, yes. You do more damage to yourself wielding a weapon you don't know how to use than you do anyone else. We don't know the methods aside from some generics; infantry in Medieval eras were pretty much taught all techniques that depended on holding the line, which means few refined moves, and a dependance on sticking by your allies. The advantage this had was it required *less* training.

Knights were definitely taught hand to hand work, as tournaments where the warriors don't know what they're doing are not especially entertaining. (I know from experience). Can't say about vikings, but I doubt they'd be considered formidible if they couldn't do more than swing wildly. Also, as with someone above commenting on the Romans, they made pretty swords as well as plain utilitarian ones, and this does imply something about the weapon use.

I've also seen what happens to ignorant fighters in front of my eyes. Members of the SCA whose personae are too early for fighting manuals, or from groups who aren't as history focused, often start by flailing wildly. Then someone starts to see which flailings and methods of power generation actually work. And they start showing the others. They don't stay with wild flailing. They may end up reinventing the wheel, or doing "non-period" things, or adapting the wrong martial arts, but they lerarn something, and start drilling it and passing it on. Nobody who isn't wilfully ignorant (And I know one who is) fails to start learnign *some* technique.

Add horses in, and oh, yes, there *must* be training.

(For peasant levies, no, but then peasant levies used whatever weapons they had available, and that was almost never a sword.)

Sorry, this isn't closely edited or looked over for egregious errors. Gotta run. late for class. it's only the really bad movie of Titus, which i've seen, but I should be there.

#614 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:40 PM:

What did the Romans do for barbecue sauce?

Garum, I'd imagine. (Mmmm.... fermented mashed-up fish and fish intestines...)

#615 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:52 PM:

Oh, nuoc mam. Or nam pla. Or something apparently similar. (I stick with the modern European version: Worcestershire sauce.)

#616 ::: Karen Sideman ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 04:04 PM:

410, 499 and further up-thread.

The musical marriage of Bugs and Elmer is in "Rabbit of Seville." Elmer is hunting Bugs in the California exurbs and accidentally chases him into the Hollywood Bowl, where a performance of The Barber of Seville is about to begin. Bugs takes on the Figaro role to torture Elmer as his "customer." When Elmer recovers enough to fight back, an arms race ensues. It ends abruptly when Bugs stops brandishing weapons and instead holds out flowers, then candy, then an engagement ring. I guess since Bugs does the proposing, he gets to be the man that time. He looks just as ravishing in a tuxedo as any of his best drag outifts.

No marriage in "What's Opera Doc" but there is a pretty impassioned love scene.

The music in Barber of Seville was already funny before Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese got hold of it. It practically has Carl Stallings-type effects built in - they just go along for the ride. The Wagner in "Whats Opera Doc?" on the other hand, is being actively (lovingly) parodied.

Chuck Jones has a substantial body of cartoons that delight in classical music perfromance tropes.

It has long been a dream of mine to see "the Rabbit of Seville" performed live by a real opera company. It would be a bit difficult to stage but the lyrics are priceless (and not really any sillier than the original.)

#617 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 04:26 PM:

"Up the Ho-Ho" is indeed nonsensical, compared to other fine snacks such as Cream Collon.

#618 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 04:28 PM:

Abi #609: Trust me to think of ceramic instead of cera. And you have waxed truly eloquent in response. If I had a hat on, I'd take it off to you.

#619 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 04:39 PM:

Re. alternatives to "literary fiction" -- I think the term we're looking for is "Modern fiction."

Not "modern" in the sense of being contemporary or fashionable or up-to-date, but "Modern," in the sense of exhibiting the characteristics of mid-twentieth-century High Modernism. That is, we're talking about fiction that emphasizes originality over quality, and rejects traditional forms and standards.

There's nothing really wrong with being a Modernist, provided that you were born sometime between 1860 and 1930. The problem is that Modernism has pretty much played itself out as a creative philosophy. Modernism is now dated and old-fashioned. The Modernist insistence on originality, for example, is what leads contemporary Modernist writers to wallow in scatological and visceral metaphors, simply because those metaphors are dubiously "fresh."

And speaking of viscera and scat, I find it astonishing that someone could look down their nose at science fiction while simultaneously stealing clumsily from contemporary horror fiction. (What would Joe R. Lansdale or Chuck Palahniuk say about that cereal bowl full of turds and black eyeballs with jerking retinae?)

My personal experience of the art-versus-entertainment struggle has been in music. (I have a BM, which is like a BFA but less practical. I also have an impressive musical lineage, which I occassionally trot out when people dismiss the saloon music I currently play.) I've come to realize in the decades since I left music school that it is all but impossible to create original Art-with-a-capital-A on purpose.* On the other hand, if you seek to engage people, to entertain them for a while without embarrassing yourself, if you focus on your craft and never lose sight of the audience, then sometimes Something Wonderful Happens.

And in the meantime, you're not annoying anyone.

* A few years ago, I heard a young musician ask the legendary drummer John Von Ohlen, "Do you like Blues music?" and he says, "Oh, yeah, sure. I like Blues music. Just not when it's done on purpose."

#620 ::: Katie W. ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 04:53 PM:

Apologies to Teresa, I haven't been reading ML very long, so I didn't realize how redundant my post was (what a horrid sentence, I apologize for that, as well).

Since I knew nothing about Mormonism until I married my husband, I foolishly assume that most people don't know much about it, either. So, again, I'm sorry for making such an assumption. Thanks Xopher for hitting me with the clue stick.

ethan @ #604: I'm also a high-school dropout! Although, in my case, it was a complete technicality. (Long story shortened: for medical reasons, I had been excused from P.E. since I was in elementary school and I was told my senior year of high school that the rules had changed and now I had to make up the missing P.E. credits with electives, which could only be done in summer school after I "graduated" with my class. I could've petitioned the CA State Board of Education to over-throw the school district's new rules, and I probably would've won, but I didn't care anymore by that point.) I'm not particularly successful (by my own standards) but I'd be glad to help your friend with her project. It's something I've been thinking about doing, as well, because a high school diploma nowadays is completely meaningless, but yet those of us without them are frowned upon because we are presumed to be really, really stupid. I'm thrilled that your friend is taking on the project.

Your friend might be interested in the fact that, although I'm a high school dropout, both of my parents were teachers at the time (now retired) and my Dad actually taught for 30 years at my high school. Between the two of them, they taught for almost 70 years and you would think they would've been upset that I never got my diploma but they agreed that the system is completely flawed and they certainly weren't going to force me to take electives.

(Does being a dropout make me cool like Patrick? And yes, I think Patrick is cool.)

#621 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 05:24 PM:

Katie W., what a crazy technicality! Again, I have to stress that right now my friend (Kerry is her name) is kind of in the "wouldn't it be nice" phase of the project, though I do think it might be moving out of it soon(ish). I'll try my best to keep you posted...

#622 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 05:28 PM:

Just want to note, re: 508 and before, I hadn't meant to rely on the nastiest prejudices imaginable. I know I made an analogy to nasty prejudices, but it was really the only way I could cobble it together.

Anyway, I'm in full agreement with you, and happy to have cleared it up. Sorry about the nasty prejudices thing, and in the future, I'll try to come up with better analogies.

#623 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 05:30 PM:

Howard Peirce said (#619):
Re. alternatives to "literary fiction" -- I think the term we're looking for is "Modern fiction."

But doesn't "literary fiction" usually also include early and mid-19th Century writers, like Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Hawthorne, Dickens, Stendhal, Balzac, Dostoyevksy, Tolstoy, etc., etc.? All of them would certainly be "pre-Modern," by your definition.

#624 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 05:40 PM:

I usually call non-genre literature 'mainstream fiction', but that doesn't really solve the problem of using terms that don't define that as the norm and all genre fiction as the aberration.

(Did that sentence make sense? I'm not sure that sentence made sense.)

#625 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 05:50 PM:

Peter, 623: No, Austen, Dickens, etc.--all the old books that are still worth reading--are literature.

Mary Aileen, 624: Made sense to me. Maybe we're both weird?

Lit-fic works for me, especially since the assonance with "fanfic" makes me giggle.

#626 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 05:54 PM:

I forget who suggested it, but I've got no objection to the excellent word "highfalutin'".

#554: Points taken about Zen and its history. I was being an ill-tempered asshole, and not only about that particular subject.

#604: Sure, your documentary-making friend can contact me any time.

#627 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 05:54 PM:

Lenora @ 613... Thanks for the response.

#628 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 05:55 PM:

British chariots are right here,
and here and here. And don't forget the Irish.

#629 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 06:01 PM:

TexAnne (635): Maybe we're both weird?

Sounds right to me. [g]

#630 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 06:11 PM:

About overworking shit...I was once keeping a friend company while she smoothed the offwhite frosting onto the base of an elaborate wedding cake (offwhite to contrast with the superwhite flowers and whatnot). And smoothed. And smoothed.

Finally I realized that the tiny imperfections she was smoothing were thinner than the blade of her spatula, and said one word: "Deb."

She immediately said "You're right," and moved on. She knew it was time to stop; I just noodged her.

Smashing her cake? Right out! In fact, I would submit that even had I been her teacher such a thing would have been deeply antisocial.

#631 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 06:20 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 629... Did you finally stabilize your transtemporal wormhole? What the heck am I talking about? Look at the # of TexAnne's post you're referring to.

Let's do the time warp again...

#632 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 06:20 PM:

I've been trying to think of the language-class equivalent of that horrible pottery teacher, and the closest I can come is a resounding, "NON! Mademoiselle." That happened to me once, and it scared me to death. A couple of years later, I mentioned it to the professor, and he apologized; he had thought that my confidence was so robust that he could make a dramatic point with me. He was horrified to discover that he'd been wrong. I am perhaps too gentle in my corrections as a result, but at least my students aren't too scared to speak.

#633 ::: Wendy Bradley ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 06:22 PM:

Going back to 324, 601 and pooter, I confess at first sight I thought it was a Diary of a Nobody reference.

#634 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 06:37 PM:

Fragano @618:
I'm glad you liked it. Oil remember that for the future; it was lard-ly any effort at all.

#635 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 06:57 PM:

Lori Coulson@599: You will find most instructors who teach English riding will require that you ride part of each lesson without stirrups to build leg strength and to acquire a balanced seat.

The sadists make you post without stirrups.*

My instructor regularly made me drop my stirrups** and ride transitions. I have many riding flaws and bad habits, but relying on stirrups for balance through transitions is not one of them.


*Inside every dressage rider is a masochist.***

**Contrary to what you might think this means if you don't ride, it means to take your feet out of the stirrups.

***And someone who believes in reincarnation, because one lifetime is not enough to learn this stuff.

#636 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 07:23 PM:

Serge (631): You're on to me! Rats! My plans for trans-temporal global domination have been foiled!

#637 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 07:33 PM:

Mary Aileen: It's my fault for posting early. Can I still be Pinky to your Brain?

#638 ::: Peter L. Winkler ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 07:44 PM:

Dear Teresa:

The Pitch Bitch was so courageous that she just folded her blog after your withering assault!

#639 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 08:41 PM:

#631: It's just a jump to the left

#640 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 08:55 PM:

Abi #634: Olive your writing.

#641 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 08:58 PM:

Xopher #612: Fistularis, or should that be, tubularis?

#642 ::: Sharon M ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:00 PM:

Mary Dell @ 595 - I use vanilla fiction or plain fiction to describe that which is shelved in Literature.

Someone above suggested mainstream fiction for non-genre books. I think that literary fiction is a genre, with tropes and clichés and conventions all its own. Done badly, that's the angst filled plotless depression inducing dreck that is (rightly) derided. Done well, it's, um, done well.

But maybe I shouldn't talk, since most of what I read from those shelves should be in with the skiffy or the mysteries, anyway. (On what planet is The Eyre Affair (Jasper Fforde) not skiffy? It has time-travel, alternate history, characters who are *characters* - sorry. A rant for another time.)

#643 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:03 PM:

Fragano 641: Tubularis in toto.

#644 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:14 PM:

Xopher #643: Having to con Latin from a pocket dictionary I can never be sure.

#645 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:28 PM:

Greg @639

And then a step to the right

#646 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:30 PM:

The Pitch Bitch was so courageous that she just folded her blog after your withering assault!

Guerilla marketing only works if no one knows it's guerilla marketing. If people know you're doing guerilla marketing it makes you look cheap and desperate. With this thread up, anyone who Googled would find out what was up. Therefore there was no longer any purpose to that blog.

#647 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:39 PM:

Re 623: A sentence which starts with Jane Austin and ends with Tolstoy has many opportunities to go wrong in the middle...

I've stayed out of this discussion because I am probably only a fictional writer, since any suggestion that I might be able to do it for publication has always shut down my ability to write anything. But I rather think Jane Austin was more like today's fic writers than the people who are published in literary magazines with aspirations of seriousness, because she did not, from what I've read about her, intend to produce art; rather, she was having fun and telling stories to amuse.

"Serious literature" of the past often started out as popular fiction; it's just true enough to have aged particularly well. Contemporary "literary fiction" is something else entirely: it aspires to be "extraordinary people in ordinary circumstances" and thence more serious and important than genre, but all too often it just ends up being a drag to read.

#648 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:50 PM:

Ethan @ 604: Please put me on the contact list as well, if you'd be so kind. I am not generally terribly well-employed, but I'm a case study in how to weld together an impressive educational record starting from a really, really bad one and an unusual learning style.

Re: Lit-Fic, etc, I'm going to review here my favorite of the terms with which I am familiar. (It's an ongoing debate at my MFA program, now that the genre and general fiction programs are getting along well.)

Lit-fic -- I rather like this one. It's simple, it doesn't have a case of "I will call you MY short-bus word because YOU are calling me YOUR short-bus word", but it does have the sort of casual, diminutive sensibility of "sci-fi" -- which, IMO, levels the playing field.

Disadvantage: it doesn't actually say anything about the genre.

Vanilla fiction, mundane fiction -- Not bad; these terms sound slightly sneering while not actually meaning anything unpleasant or inaccurate. Ignoble words with noble enough meanings -- worldly, common-denominator, and I will be the first to say and what do you think is wrong with that?

Disadvantage: might make people go 'what'? ("General fiction" is a little funky but might fly better with the people who write it.)

I'm for dividing the genre into "vanilla/mundane/general fiction" and "experimental fiction", personally. Experimental covers the kinds of style-and-form play that fall into this category. Vanilla/mundane/general is any non-experimental story that simply contains no supernatural elements or subject/form elements that make it another genre.

I decided to dissect this terminology and make a full fix in my blog; check it out here.

#649 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:50 PM:

Fragano 644: Well, I'm going from memory and making shit up.

#650 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:57 PM:

JKRichard@645,
Put your h--nonononononononono. I am a rational being. I...can...resist...nnnnngggggggggggggg....

#651 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 10:02 PM:

C'mon, Aconite, you know you wanna.

NAW-nanner-nanner-nah-NAH!

#652 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 10:05 PM:

Sharon M @ 642 - Are you implying there are people who _don't_ think Fforde's inside-the-books books are SF? I'd never even considered the possibility they were anything but.

I do most of my book-shopping online these days and thus don't really know where things get shelved.

#653 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 11:31 PM:

and bring your knees in tight

#654 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 11:54 PM:

This is certainly not original, but "mimetic fiction" seems to me to cover all cases of fiction that attempts to represent closely-observed reality and character, with no more estrangement than what might be obtained from fairly minor extensions of these.

It appears to me that this is a genre, with genre conventions. Classification in a genre says nothing about quality, naturally. Some mimetic fiction is like "Pride and Prejudice" and some is like (what was it again?) "Backwoods Jesus Thingie" (?), just like some SF is like "The Stars My Destination", and some is like "Plan 9 From Outer Space."

Of course, this is not an exclusionary definition, but a general description. Where the fractal boundary lies changes from moment to moment and observer to observer. (So don't hit me, Patrick.)

#655 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 12:09 AM:

Teresa@511 et seq: this sounds like a more coherent rendition of Heinlein's Laws for would-be professional writers, #3: you must \finish/ writing. (The other parts (I figure \somebody/ here hasn't found them) being "Write!" (aka BiC -- thanks to jane for a telling metaphor), "Write tomorrow" (and every day thereafter), "Send it in", and "Send it in again". Note the absence of anything involving pitches, paid workshops, et tedious cetera; I wouldn't be surprised if Heinlein, being a denialist, didn't bother acknowledging influences/advice, but at least he had the sense not to overwork For Us, the Living and instead salvage the less-indigestible parts for Beyond This Horizon.)

524: my first reaction to 518 was just "artsy"; IMO sufficiently contemptuous (but not so much as to backfire) \and/ sufficiently free of associated prejudices. The subsequent "Lit-fic" appeals, but seems more like an in-joke, where IME "artsy" is already widely known as uncomplimentary.

wrt the pottery instructor: it's possible that he was reacting properly to that student. (Some teachers actually do that....) Each person finds enlightenment in their own way -- some by flashes, some by labor, and some by both. I remember first hearing Bach, Jefferson Airplane, and Stravinsky -- realizing each time that somebody had opened a door where I hadn't even realized there was a wall -- and the much more laborious process by which a heap sort made sense. (I wasn't exactly a teachable student either.) Sometimes a teacher can do a positive service by saying (or ~shouting) "This is not repairable; restart from scratch." (cf "This is so bad it isn't even wrong.") There are places where this is important to \know/; I still cringe thinking about a certain botched instrument training approach that I should have broken off much earlier than the decision point.

#521 et seq, for fanatics: at least one of the mentioned schools' manuals has been reissued in facsimile.

#545: High school experiences vary radically. The impression I got from my sister (~2/3 public, while I was all private) is that some schools have teachers who will thwart the fit-in-at-all-costs attitude, and some don't -- and (from others) many have escape hatches (one of mine was theater tech, which I've since heard can have its own hierarchy, based on achievement rather than manners). How to get there? The attitude "blow them up because they're only for grinding down" seems unhelpful; different people make different uses of frames.

Susan@550: what do you call "modern rapier"? IIRC, the 1970's Three Musketeers got closer than most, but didn't match the real length (up to 4 feet) reached by weapons for unarmored single combat; even a light blade that long will \feel/ heavy (especially compared to "epee", which IIRC is \only/ a practice weapon, albeit practicing for something more real than foil).

DaveL@565 (cf Tracie@611): I think of fencing as single-combat only, where the Romans would have had well-established group/mass techniques (probably even more focused on straight-forward moves than modern on-the-piste fencing) that would have been taught to largely illiterate recruits; I suspect the techniques wouldn't have been documented because the literate classes wouldn't have been involved in teaching the masses. (Pause for telling comment from JMD about the differences between NCOs and officers.) All guesswork (I am \so/ not an expert), and I don't know what the officer class would have learned -- but would it have involved single combat, or ways to move masses of scutum-and-gladius fighters?
and wrt
Why didn't Romans use the wheelbarrow, or the horsecollar, perfectly simple ideas that somehow didn't get taken up then? Beats me. They showed a quite amazing technological sophistication in some ways and not in others.
The rap I learned in day school (~40 years ago) was that the Greeks were idea people while the Romans were great at using other people's ideas. Probably a gross oversimplification, but I don't recall Roman equivalents of Archimedes, Pythagoras, ...; if they didn't see the idea in use (and get it back from (e.g.) Scythia to headquarters) they might not have realized that it could be developed. (Also, cf many philosophies of cavalry, and experiences like the later battle of Kephises River; the Romans may have concluded that fighting from horses just didn't work with properly-trained foot troops. Other posters have noted that stirrups help with specific weapon techniques, possibly more than they do with just riding.)

Xopher@597: Oddly enough, Babbit was Stephen Sondheim's composition teacher. Flowers do grow from shitheaps.
Babbit may have been Sondheim's formal teacher, but S grew up around people who \got/ popular music (e.g., Rodgers & Hammerstein). He certainly delights in mechanics in both words and music; I suspect the combination of knowledges is what makes him a great songwriter. (cf, IMO, the great result of the Jefferson Airplane from the massively heterogeneous experience of its members -- everything from Delta Blues to Indian).
Equal-temperament psychosis only 50 years before 12-tone? Where did Das wohltemperierte Clavier disappear to?

wrt "in a pit, with broadswords" (and why have there not been a houseful of Clue jokes): "In his soup," the tosspot said, "like crackers."

#619: cf Poul Anderson's sardonic story "Critique of Impure Reason": But how can you have intellectual content without four-letter words? As you note, that species of Modern has been past its sell-by date out for some time now....

We're barely in sight of the record number of comments, but I think we've set some sort of record for thread creep (or spread, or metastasis, or...). Perhaps we should toast Kaley as the casus discussio, but in what? Mogen David, Boone's Farm, Ripple, Thunderbolt, Big Herman, ... The list is long. Dirac Angestun Gesept

#656 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 12:57 AM:

30-year-old memories of typoes are not up to current standards; the least-unlike spelling I found on a wider search was Kephissos. The story may have grown in time, but it was old half a millennium before Pete Seeger wrote "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy".

#657 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 01:26 AM:

Following on James D. Macdonald @ #646

Guerilla marketing only works if no one knows it's guerilla marketing.

And, especially after I've watched the behavior of those particular marketers here on ML, the word "kitten" as a form of address is now forever marked as "possibly tainted." Thank you, everyone. Very helpful in the thickets of cross-claims and counter-attacks. I'll put my money on ML and the denizens here every time.

Crazy(and reminding herself once again, Google is a good reason for minding my p's and q's!)Soph

#658 ::: Sharon M ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 01:50 AM:

Todd Larason @652: Regarding placement of The Eyre Affair (and other Fforde works) in bookstores, I've only seen it in the literature shelves or on an endcap or table. Maybe I shouldn't generalize from such a small sample, but it's not in with the skiffy in any of the dozen or so bookstores that I frequent.

#659 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 01:57 AM:

Margaret @ 522:
Not all of the Art Institutes have culinary programs, and even where they do, I'm pretty sure that, like ours, it's very separate, almost a school unto itself. We don't mingle much, outside of gen ed classes, and most of us don't want to. Like I said, I'm just talking about my program.
And you're not the first to come up with Rachel as a name for me. I had one director call me that for three months straight. And I answered to it.


Lenora Rose @521:
Capo Ferro, at least, is most definitely not a "heavy swordwork style," but is fencing (a word which comes from "defencing," the art of defending oneself with a blade), although as Susan noted, the blades used were significantly heavier than modern epees. That's because modern fencing is very stylized, and isn't actually used for fighting. Its relationship to the fencing of Capo Ferro and other Renaissance masters is like that of T'ai Chi or Judo to, oh, Kung Fu or Jujitsu -- a stylized form intended for competition fighting only. The masters might be able to actually fight using the techniques, but the average student won't. Capo Ferro was teaching men who would fight for their lives; it's entirely appropriate to The Princess Bride.
(Um, I actually took a class or two in Capo Ferro's style, at a period amrtial arts academy in Redmond, WA. I'm nothing like an expert, and no good at fencing in any style, but I know a little bit about the history.)

#660 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 02:42 AM:

I don't like vanilla fiction, or mundane fiction, on the basis that mystery, romance, etc., would all apparently fit in there.

Mimetic fiction is good.

Howard Peirce:

The problem with calling mimetic/lite-fic/whatever Modern is that (a) some of it is too old; (b) some of it, and often the worst, is too recent (i.e Post-Modernist.)

I also don't think that Modernism is a `played out force'; I think you are applying selective memory, and Sturgeon's Law to create a misleading picture of Modernist fiction.

The problem is that Modernism has pretty much played itself out as a creative philosophy. Modernism is now dated and old-fashioned. The Modernist insistence on originality, for example, is what leads contemporary Modernist writers to wallow in scatological and visceral metaphors, simply because those metaphors are dubiously "fresh."

Modernism is `tired' and `old-fashioned', yet it is Modernist writers that insist on originality.

#661 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 02:47 AM:

Todd Larason @652: I don't know about people who have read the books, but there are publishers and distributors of Mr Fforde's work who are, at least, in denial about its genre. Once upon a time a sales rep from his Australian distributor neglected to mention the second volume's existence to me (the buyer for a SF specialist store) on the grounds that he didn't think I would be interested. Over the years I have seen Mr Fforde's work listed in local publisher catalogues and marketing missives under crime, "general fiction", literature and humour but never anything slightly skiffy.

The sales rep in question knows better now and makes sure I get advance copies. He is also learning not to assume similar things about Iain Banks (I don't care if there's an M in there, I want to read it... and so do about a hundred of my customers). Marketing people, however, routinely leave me off the mailing lists for such stuff.

#662 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 03:31 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 636... Serge (631): You're on to me! Rats! My plans for trans-temporal global domination have been foiled!

Indeed, you dastardly villainess!!! And, since post #635 turned out not to be by TexAnne, this proves that History can be changed! The world is safe, for now, but we must remain ever vigilant.

#663 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 04:06 AM:

In "The Screwtape Letters" C S Lewis wrote something to the effect that humans are forever classifying philosophies of various sorts according to whether they are "modern" or "oldfashioned, "freethinking" or "conventional", "ruthless" or "outdated". He has his senior devil warn his junior never to allow a human to think about whether an idea is actually true or not. Once a human has gotten into the habit of asking "is this true or not?", who knows where it might lead?

Of course originality of expression is a great quality. The problem for those who follow the fashion of modernism rather than its insight is that they have emphasised this particular quality to the point where it mars rather than adorns, and begins to detach the work from the concrete realism that was, I believe, a basic tenet of modernism itself. The more high-flown the figure, however visceral it might be, the more distant from the actual material it is.

#664 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 05:37 AM:

Aconite said (#635):
The sadists make you post without stirrups.

But... I post here all the time without using stirrups! Am I doing something wrong?

#665 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 05:41 AM:

Greg: bokken (bo-ken, boken) is the name for the wooden practice sword, in lieu of using an actual katana (which would make a mess if mistakes were made).

The reason it made aikdo make so much more sense is that mush of the body movement for aikido is based on body movement for the sword.

The official reason for using weapons (tanto/knife, bokken/sword jo/staff) is that it forces one to have good physical form. It also makes one pay more attention to the movement of center, and the extension of self.

It also makes it easier to deal with someone who has a weapon (though to be honest, ignore the knife stuff... at least if the guy really knows what he's doing. I was told to just go for it, and use what I know of knife-fighting, at a seminar, and I was able to touch everyone with the edge, sometimes after I was slammed to the ground).

But mostly, people start to do it because it's fun. If they are serious about their aikido, they start to get serious about the weapons forms.

One of the nice things about the weapons kata is they make it easier to practice aikido, without a partner. One of the small pleasures comes from the weapons being something one can make for oneself. I made myself a pair of jo (twenty dollars and a few hours worth of work) so that I could have one at the dojo (and not worry about forgetting it) and one at home.

Which meant I had the difference (about 100 dollars for a pair of inexpensive jo) to spend on attending a seminar, as well as the pleasure of knowing I'd made them.

#666 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 05:50 AM:

WRT the discussion on genealogies/intellectual lineage, my piano teacher at university mentioned, fairly early on, that he'd been taught by [someone] who'd been taught by [someone] who'd been taught by Franz Liszt. I was duly impressed. He then proceeded to rip my technique and confidence to pieces, before leaving for Australia in the middle of my degree.

My second piano teacher at university also contrived to mention, fairly early on, that she'd been taught by [someone] who'd been taught by Liszt. This, having a shorter chain of influence, was to be considered more impressive than my previous teacher's pedigree. She spent a year scattering the feeble remains of my confidence into the ether, and basically taught me nothing.

Doing post-grad work in Leeds, I asked my third piano teacher if he'd been taught by someone who'd been taught by someone who'd been taught by Liszt. He sniffed, and said that he didn't know. He went on to explain that lots of half-decent piano teachers had arranged to have one lesson with Liszt, because they could then claim to be one of his pupils, which meant they could increase their own lesson fees. He (my third teacher -- not Liszt) then spent the next two years actually teaching me stuff and improving my technique and generally being very inspiring.

What I took from this is that it's not who taught your teacher that's important, it's what they learnt.

#667 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 06:19 AM:

#510, Teresa: If Jim picked up "lit'ry" from anyone, he picked it up from me. I think I picked it up from Dave Langford.

After Patrick's little rant in #508, this feels a bit like being handed the black spot. I seem to have used it once in Ansible, yes. The joke, I thought, didn't lie in affecting to believe that literary people talk funny (Patrick's disapproving interpretation) but in pretending to be a trifle lowbrow oneself. Rather like calling "literary" fiction "highfalutin'", in fact, which Patrick approves in #626. Oh well.

PS: Thanks to Dave Luckett for the kind word about Thog, who got his own website last year: Thog.org.

#668 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 07:42 AM:

Equal-temperament psychosis only 50 years before 12-tone? Where did Das wohltemperierte Clavier disappear to?

There are many well-tempered tunings, of which equal temperament is only one. Bach certainly was not referring to equal temperament. IIRC it was a large piano company in the late 19th century who decreed that all its pianos would be sold tuned to equal temperament, and that's when equal temperament became a psychosis. I didn't look up the specifics, but Schönberg started his depredations in the 1920s, so I took a stab at 50 years.

With modern electronic instruments there's no reason for the psychosis to continue. I have an old-fashioned equal-temperament synthesizer, but a friend (a self-described "just-intonation geek") has a keyboard with a variety of tunings available; after you set one, the first key you strike becomes the keynote for the tuning. Under certain circumstances you could change keys (and tunings) in mid-piece with such a system.

This is one reason I always beg our choir directory not to play the organ along with us when we're singing Anglican Chant. We might screw up sometimes, but with the organ forcing us into equal temperament the chords will never sound as they should; with no keyboard playing, we'll naturally fall into just intonation (i.e. the tuning derived from the natural harmonic series) and the chords will spring to life. The difference is amazing. (Of course, it's also helpful to have him conducting; staying together rhythmically is the hardest part of Anglican Chant, as anyone who's ever sung it can tell you.)

#669 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 08:13 AM:

Lori wrote: "Classical riding, also known as dressage, begins with teaching the proper seat. The student has no reins, a saddle pad, and no stirrups. The instructor holds the lines that control the horse. Only when the student is balanced at all gaits is he allowed to handle reins and use a saddle with stirrups."

which makes me wonder why, back in the late 50s, when I was taking lessons on Lips from the first Spanish Riding School set up in America (Rye NY in case you are interested) I was taught on the lead line but rode a saddle and had reins.

My teacher--who spoke no English, only German-- would shout "Gallop!" at me and it took some time
before I understood him to mean "canter"!

Jane

#670 ::: Aconite pauses in awe at Peter Erwin's finger strength ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 08:22 AM:

Peter Erwin@664:

I am not worthy.

#671 ::: Aconite pauses in awe at Peter Erwin's finger strength ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 08:22 AM:

Peter Erwin@664:

I am not worthy.

#672 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 08:53 AM:

My own experience riding horses has been limited, and I never had any training, but I've been able to get on without embarassing myself. Not only that, but, a few years ago, as we were off the trail and going along a sidestreet back to the stable, when that motorcycle roared by and scared the bejeezus out of my horse, I managed to stay on top without looking like a fool, and I got him to slow down. All this while holding one hand on top of my straw hat.

#673 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 09:34 AM:

JESR @ #647 :

It's always good to encounter another fan of Jane Austin. There are too few of us about.

(And our number clearly do not include any of the programmers at Google, which I have just discovered has a built-in bias toward the English author of Sense and Sensibility.)

#674 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 09:48 AM:

Paul A... Jane Austen has gone to Bollywood, so why not to the Wild West? Heck, someone managed to turn King Lear into a western, back in 2001.

#675 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 09:50 AM:

Jane in 669 --

Classical riding, in the sense used, is English; moreover, it's being used about English Dressage, which is not at all the same thing as Spanish Dressage. (Or, for that matter, strictly, riding a horse for some practical end; dressage is a different competition category from everything else.)

And then there's what cavalry schools call dressage, which is a different creature again, in many flavours.

#676 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 09:54 AM:

Paul, 673: Her early works...were romantic adventures that were strongly influenced by the English novelists, Georgette Heyer and Barbara Cartland.

I think I'll take that website with a grain of salt.

#677 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 10:19 AM:

I just want to point out that where bookstores shelve things has only a casual relationship with genre. I kept wanting to pick up a Nalo Hopkinson book, because I enjoy her blog and have heard so many good things about her, but I could never find her when browsing the SF/F section at Borders. I finally found The Salt Roads under "African-American literature." They also shelve historical fiction in "Literature" but poetry and drama have their own sections.

Of course everything is technically "Literature" but I think that term should be reserved for stuff over 50 years old. Sort of like things move from being "vintage" to "antique."

#678 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 10:43 AM:

CHip 655: I dunno about the Romans and innovation. They were competent technicians in so many fields. They invented concrete, and used it innovatively, and they certainly made strides in glassmaking and metallurgy. They may not - we don't know - have been the inventors of the technique of metal spinning, but they certainly used it more than anyone else. As hydrologists they were without peer, and they used water-power on a far larger scale than it had ever been used before. There is a suggestion that they used fore-and-aft sails in smaller merchantmen: the lateen rig, though this might have been copied from Carthage. Nobody knows. The classical writers are really only concerned with warships, which were always galleys.

Labour was expensive in the ancient world. Even slaves had to be fed, and labour productivity was very low, by our standards. A simple device like a wheelbarrow, by which labour productivity on, say, a building site might have been doubled, surely would have been worth it. And the horsecollar. It actually adds at least 50% to the tractive power of a horse, and this must have been as useful to the Romans as it was to the medieval peoples who seem to have invented it.

As for thinking that cavalry was ineffective against properly trained foot, quite so. This was because it usually was ineffective, at least early on. See Arrian, "The Campaign against the Alans" for information on this. But the Roman Army nevertheless became more and more a cavalry force in the later Empire, and they were always trying out new methods: lancers (at first not successfully), complete cataphract armour, bow-armed lights, bow-armed heavies, even armoured scythe-chariots (a disaster, as always). It seems very odd indeed that they didn't adopt the stirrup. They were in contact with Scythians who used it, if the archeological evidence can be accepted. But the Romans didn't.

The first people in Europe to use stirrups seem to have been the Lombards, in the eighth century. This is still under dispute. Heavy dispute.

#679 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 10:48 AM:

Xopher #649: Well, you're doing a pretty good job.

#680 ::: C.E. Petit ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 11:29 AM:

Aconite @ 650:

You actually want the next number. "Don't judge a book by its cuh-uh-ver..."

#681 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 11:54 AM:

Mary Dell @ 677 -- and not all shelving in bookstores is done by the store -- I was talking yesterday with someone who works at a Big Chain who commented that those who (e.g.) move biographies of Shrub to "Fiction" are doing a "funny once" that many other people have done before.

I'm curious -- has anyone else ever wanted to abbreviate "mimetic fiction" as "mi-fi"?

#682 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 12:07 PM:

Serge 662: Do you suppose Mary Aileen is responsible for this? (Real sign right here in Hoboken, photographed by me.)

#683 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 12:21 PM:

Maybe, Xopher. Has Mary Aileen ever been seen near a TARDIS?

#684 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 12:30 PM:

A.J.Luxton #648: Lit-fic -- I rather like this one. It's simple, it doesn't have a case of "I will call you MY short-bus word because YOU are calling me YOUR short-bus word", but it does have the sort of casual, diminutive sensibility of "sci-fi" -- which, IMO, levels the playing field.

Disadvantage: it doesn't actually say anything about the genre.

How about "lit-fi," then, or maybe even better, "liffy" to go along with "skiffy"? (This last has a built-in "Modern Literachoor" reference--for me, anyway--so may be preferred on those grounds.)

#685 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 12:40 PM:

Paul A. I am forever and always guilty of that misspelling, just as I usually have the name of the developer of English Roses be David Austen. This despite carrying a volume of Jane Austen in my purse at all times, and growing Prosperro, The Nun, Dark Lady, Wise Portia, Queen Nefertiti, and Abraham Darby. Thus I am open to, and often in receipt of, scorn from both readers and rose growers, but nothing corrects me.

#686 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 01:28 PM:

I just want to point out that in my first draft of post 619, I had included lots of "quotation marks" around words like "literary" and "originality" to indicate that I was using words "loosely" or "ironically." But I stripped them out on preview because I thought they "looked stupid." I'm not sure that leaving them in would have softened Peter Irwin's and Keir's objections.

I'm not a lit-crit guy. Most of my thinking about creativity and art is rooted in my study of music, which I then try to generalize as far as possible to the whole of human creativity. Maybe that's a mistake, but it's my perspective, and I'm sticking with it.

The diversion in this thread about lineage is important, I think, because everyone comes from somewhere, whether they like it or not. It doesn't matter whether your lineage includes Nadia Boulanger or John Updike or just sitting and listening at Grampa's knee. Human beings have been telling stories, painting pictures, and singing songs for at least 50,000 years. That's a ginormous lineage, and everyone is part of it.

Some people try to break free of that lineage. They want to do something "original" (there's those quotation marks again). Some fraction of those people even succeed. But there's no guarantee that a truly original work will have any value to anyone. It's entirely possible for a work to be both original and awful.

The problem (and I think this is a problem that arises out of capital-M Modernism) is that some people think that originality in and of itself has value. They want to be recognized for their originality apart any other quality their work might or might not possess. Personally, I think originality is part of the human condition. It's the default value. People are unique, and every human's every utterance is unique and original in its context. If you strive to create works people will value and appreciate, originality will take care of itself.

#687 ::: Jane Smith ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 01:34 PM:

I've read all the way through now, and am glad that someone upstream has cleared up the point re dressage and classical riding, and with such clarity and brevity. Far better than I could have done. I too was taught to ride by crossing my stirrups before me, and I now can fall off a horse at any pace, and on any occasion. See what it did for me?

As an aside to all the sword-stuff: when my sister moved into her new house about two years ago, which is one of the only terrace of cruck-beamed houses left in the UK, and was built, I think, in the 15th or 16th century (and yes, it is as gorgeous as you'd think, full of inconveniently-low ceilings and exposed timbers), she was pleased to find in one of the fireplaces two narrow swords and a bayonet which had all clearly been used as rather stylish pokers for the fires (there was also a thingy--no idea what to call it--with a big curved blade on one side, a point at the top and a hole in the bottom so it could be mounted on a long stick, but I digress). She decided that my home would be a better place for them so we brought them here, stuck them on top of the panelling in our sitting room and thought no more of them until a visitor announced that they were old something-swords and would have been rather valuable but for the fire damage on the sharp ends.

As you can tell, we're rather casual with our antiques here. They're still up on the top of our panelling and at Christmas my husband used them to poke the fire with. He thought it fitting. My boys just like to chase around with them and poke at the dogs. No wonder my life is as it is.

#688 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 01:40 PM:

The thing about that pottery teacher which comes to my mind is that he could have been talking about the quality of the clay--that is, you might be able to use it to throw a pot, but it was the wrong consistency to rework, and if you didn't sort that out it wass going to mislead you about the feel of the proper technique.

But that comes out of a smidgin of experience of working with clay, and I wouldn't say it was the only plausible reading.

#689 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 01:44 PM:

Another question for the Roman scholars...

Pants.

In more modern historical movies, legionnaires ar often shown wearing pants, at least in stories set later in the Empire, I think. Is this another concession to Hollywood? Or did the generals think that, yes, pants are for Barbarians, but we'll make an exception when our boys go where it's very cold, and eventually Rome kind of got used to it?

#690 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 01:52 PM:

JESR@685: oh, dear. I think you should have a dispensation. It's obviously incurable.

#691 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 02:15 PM:

TexAnne (637): Sure!

Serge (662): Bwa-ha-ha!

Xopher/ (682): Nope, that's not one of mine. Perhaps one of my minions put it up. (But I love it!)

Serge (683): I've never been *seen* near a TARDIS, but I did help build a TARDIS console once.

#692 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 02:16 PM:

Howard Peirce (686):
I think I see what you mean. In retrospect, I may have been lead astray by the idea that those who privielge "literary fiction" may tend to see it as being the cultural heir to Austen, Dickens, Conrad, etc. -- the "true art" form of fiction -- even if the self-conscious Modernist (or post-Modernist) aim is somewhat different. And those works tend to get shelved together with the modern "lit-fic" stuff, if there isn't a separate "Classics" section.

One of the interesting points about originality in art, poetry, music, etc., is that it hasn't always been valued. In some times and places, imitation or recreation of past exemplars was held to be the true aim of art.

One striking case of this -- if I'm remembering the details correctly -- was the Heian court of Japan (8th to 11th Centuries), where poetry in classical Chinese modes (and often using Chinese language) was considered the highest literary art form. In general, only men were taught enough Chinese to produce this kind of poetry. The irony is that what is now considered the best literature from Japan in this period was often produced by women -- who, not having access to Chinese, wrote instead in Japanese, and some of the time in prose. (Examples include Izumi Shikibu and Lady Murasaki, author of The Tale of Genji, which is sometimes considered the world's first psychological of character.)

#693 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 02:32 PM:

Mary Aileen... Ahah! (That reminds I should get myself the sonic screwdriver that Amazon's UK counterpart has for sale. It'd go well with my time-traveller hall costume.)

#694 ::: coffeedryad ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 03:00 PM:

Crazysoph in 657:

Obviously given the capabilities and literary preferences of people here, the correct address should have been "kittons".

#695 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 03:16 PM:

coffeedryad: Yes, but we're not littul.

#696 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 03:20 PM:

Patrick: I had an English teacher do the equivalent of that pot thing with a story of mine when I was fifteen -- he said in front of the class that it was sentimental crap, and also worthless by virtue of being SF. It doubtless was sentimental crap, and it certainly was SF, but it was more than ten years before I showed any creative writing to anyone again.

#697 ::: Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 03:23 PM:

Keir at 660: Mimetic fiction is good.

Wonder if perhaps you meant to say: "'Mimetic fiction' is good". Otherwise you appear to be making some sort of blanket claim about the quality of mimetic fiction. A counterfactual one, at that.

#698 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 03:24 PM:

Many of Dickens' novels came out in serialized form and he was highly popular with those of "the masses" who could read (if my dim memories of college English courses can be relied on).

Lori Coulson (#599): An expert rider trained this way can control the horse by use of seat alone. Sorry, but I couldn't help thinking of Earl in recent "Pickles" cartoons boasting of how he could change channels on a TV remote control while sitting on it!

#699 ::: feefifofum ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 03:32 PM:

"#595 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:13 PM:"

I like 'vanilla fiction', it's good. Richly expressive of a genre preoccupied with middle-class folks fucking, getting married, getting divorced, dying, having babies, having career problems.

I don't eat vanilla icecream because it's not worth the time it takes to eat. I don't read vanilla fiction because...

#700 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 04:01 PM:

I think vanilla is underrated as a flavor...partly because vanilla things tend to be underflavored. If you don't believe me, try my vanilla buttercream, which has a distinctly brownish color from the amount of vanilla extract I put in.

I guess that's why I don't care for the term applied to kinds of literature one finds jejune. Also, we don't want to say that the entire field is jejune, do we? Turnabout may be fair play, but an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind; moreover, what we're really trying to say is that it's genreless. (Is anything ever really ENTIRELY genreless?)

#701 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 04:04 PM:

Jo at #696: That happened to me as well; I showed a story to a high school English teacher, who (reasonably gently) informed me that it was not very good and I really was wasting my time at this stuff. He was the same teacher who recommended I apply to Harvard. I didn't get into Harvard; thank God, I would have hated it had I gone there. I didn't write again for 10 years.

#702 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 04:05 PM:

feefifofum@699

On behalf of lovers of true vanilla everywhere, I must protest! Vanilla ice cream may not be to your taste, but a good vanilla, such as that made by Metropolitan, is well worth the walk down to the village to pick up a pint, and the time to scoop and eat it.

Vanilla, true vanilla, not your over-sweetened, flavourless stuff that was waved near some vanillin sometime in its creation, is a rich, wonderful flavour, and well worth the cost of the beans.

#703 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 04:08 PM:

jennie 702: SISTER!!!!!!

#704 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 04:15 PM:

Xopher @ 703... Bro!!!

#705 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 04:21 PM:

#702-4 inclusive: siblings!

Vanilla and its cousins need not even be considered completely devoid of kink, as witness the [whatever the noun form of sublime is] that is fox testicle ice cream.

#706 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 04:21 PM:

pericat, thank you for the dispensation. I have the same problem with left and right, which is why I've never had a driver's license.

#707 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 04:23 PM:

Babbitt was famous for his love of musical theater, and for encouraging Sondheim not to study atonality. He was certainly far more tolerant of styles not his own than someone who calls music he doesn't like a "psychosis" and composers he doesn't like "shitheaps."

Oh, and his music sounds good, too, although when I'm feeling strictly dodecaphonic I usually reach for Webern.

#708 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 04:41 PM:

Xopher @ 700-I don't think of lit-fic as genreless at all. Its clearly a genre with its own tropes and rules. I think that the idea of genrelessness is actually a big part of the reason some academics and lit-fic types look down on all other forms of writing, because they feel that to be genre is to move away from the one true core of writing-the "genreless" Platonic ideal of literature that is lit-fic.

I'm right with you on the vanilla thing though. True vanilla is a wonderful thing.

http://www.kellymccullough.com/mail.html

#709 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 04:50 PM:

Tim, when my ear was tuned that way I listened to Luigi DallaPiccola with great pleasure. I was never able to find anything but chaos and noise in Babbitt.

I concede this may be a lack in me, rather than in the music.

Oh, and you can only say that I'm calling Babbitt a shitheap if you really think I'm calling Sondheim a flower. Plus, as a neo-Pagan I don't undervalue shitheaps! The phrase "flowers grow from shitheaps" means that something very annoying, something whose value is hard to see, can have a result whose value is easy to see.

Looks like Babbitt was a very good teacher. I just don't think he was a good composer...in fact, I have trouble seeing that his radical serialism (serializing dynamics and rhythm and all aspects of the piece) is really music at all.

And here's what I said:

Something similar happened when the formal ("classical") music world was in the grip of the whole 12-tone psychosis...If your music wasn't well-formed by strict 12-tone standards...it wasn't considered "serious music," and you were considered a "popular" (anathema to academics) composer.
—leaving out detailed descriptions of what happened in academia. I thought it was clear from this that the 12-tone psychosis was taking only 12-tone music seriously.

OK, I did refer to Schönberg's "depredations." That was overstated (intended as a flip remark, and also I'd read Mann's Doktor Faustus, which...well, I'm sure you know). I think 12-tone music was a bad idea, a bad thing overall, and in general a dead end. In its favor I will say that it did allow people to become more adventurous when it comes to harmony, and more comfortable with dissonance; I just don't think it was worth it.

#710 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 04:55 PM:

Yes, I meant `mimetic fiction' is good. I get lost in referents and references.

#711 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 05:15 PM:

Speaking of ice cream... When I eat it straight from the bucket, I dig one spoonful out, then I scoop out a layer of that thickness. Then one spoonful out of the newly evened surface, then a layer of that thickness. All the way to the bottom. What about you? I understand that this is not an uncommon way of doing this among computer people.

#712 ::: feefifofum ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 05:15 PM:

#700 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 04:01 PM:

I think vanilla is underrated as a flavor...partly because vanilla things tend to be underflavored. If you don't believe me, try my vanilla buttercream, which has a distinctly brownish color from the amount of vanilla extract I put in.

I guess that's why I don't care for the term applied to kinds of literature one finds jejune. Also, we don't want to say that the entire field is jejune, do we? Turnabout may be fair play, but an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind; moreover, what we're really trying to say is that it's genreless. (Is anything ever really ENTIRELY genreless?) '

Heh. Yeah, I see that, but it's fun to just give 'em some back, and wait for the squeals of injured outrage.

And people who use 'jejune'... makes me laugh. Like 'irony', doesn't matter how many times I consult the dictionary, I always have to go back ONE MORE TIME, and then think about it. A reflection on me, not you, bud.

#713 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 06:07 PM:

I say "vanilla fiction" as in "vanilla sex" - mainstream, kink-free, socially acceptable. The kind you learn about in school.

#714 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 06:13 PM:

I say "vanilla fiction" as in "vanilla sex" - mainstream, kink-free, socially acceptable. The kind you learn about in school.

I suppose I should clarify: I like vanilla - ice cream, fiction, and sex (say, that sounds like a nice evening...). But it's not automatically better than the alternatives, and is just as capable of being terrible, so it should have a name that doesn't carry connotations of quality.

#715 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 06:25 PM:

Feefifofum,

I realise that you didn't solicit my culinary advice, but if your vanilla buttercream requires you to use that much extract, may I suggest you try a vanilla paste? Much more intense vanilla flavour, with much less change to the consistency of whatever you're concocting.

The drawback to using a paste is that you get a slightly more uneven appearance to the buttercream, which may not be desirable if you're doing careful cake decorating. However, it does pack a much better vanilla bang than even a very good, pure extract.

And I thought the point was that lit-fic (which I tend to think of as academic fiction or OMG teh literary teh fiction depending on how catty I'm feeling and how appalling the example I've just read was) does constitute a genre, by virtue of being a distinct marketing category, having a distinct, clear audience, developed style with distinctive stylistic, narratological, and plot markers, and tropes.

#716 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 06:53 PM:

Xopher @709,

My experience of 12-tone music is similar to how most people experience* Khosian (click consonant) languages.

With Khosian, you see a person talking, but you can't connect those clicking noises with the speaker.

With 12-tone, I can see the people playing their instruments, and I hear sounds, but I don't associate the two. I understand that they're playing 12-tone music, but I don't believe it.

* or how I've read that people experience them

#717 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 07:00 PM:

I rather like calling that stuff "academic fiction," partly because it'd be hard to get its practitioners to agree to call it the more accurate "sophomoric fiction."

#718 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 07:17 PM:

It was me, not Feefifofum. I make the vanilla buttercream. I've never heard of vanilla paste. What's in it besides vanilla bean?

#719 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 07:33 PM:

James Macdonald #717: How would you classify Anthony Winkler's The Lunatic?

#720 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 07:40 PM:

Trying again, since my comment seems to have vanished into Tumbolia despite containing no URLs (I assume I forgot to click the appropriate place to actually post it):

I'm another fan of real vanilla; I keep vanilla beans in my sugar canister (which in turn flavors my tea as well as my baked goods and ice cream).

That said, the problem with using "vanilla" as a genre label is that, if you aren't using it to signify "boring" or "not kinky" (which has other problems, given that there's plenty of fiction in almost any genre without sex, kinky or otherwise), the hacker slang use of "vanilla" is to signify the most common/popular kind of something. Vanilla ice cream is, I think, still in that position; "literary"/"mimetic"/"mainstream"/the genre we're trying to name isn't (unless "mainstream means "not sf", which isn't a genre any more than "not mystery novels" is a genre). I suspect romance novels would qualify as "vanilla" in that sense, and that not only doesn't solve the problem at hand, it further complicates "vanilla"/"kinky" as a dichotomy.

#721 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 07:42 PM:

Oops. My apologies, Xopher! Sometimes these long threads are much like being at a party with too many fascinating people, too many of whom I've met only that weekend, too late at night, after I've had too much chocolate.

Vanilla bean paste is, well, vanilla beans in a paste form. I'm out and don't have a bottle, but these folks sell it. When I've used it, the effect of the paste has been similar to the difference between using liquid food colouring and food colouring paste: it's just that much more concentrated, and more like scraping a vanilla bean into your mix.

Hmmm ... I'm sensing a need for a vanilla-themed table at the hypothetical-but-wouldn't-it be-awesome Making Light potluck.

#722 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 07:44 PM:
I was never able to find anything but chaos and noise in Babbitt.

You say that like it's a bad thing.

I thought it was clear from this that the 12-tone psychosis was taking only 12-tone music seriously.

Thanks for the clarification. I certainly prefer this to my misunderstanding of what you meant, and would even agree that a lot of the rhetoric of serialism was extremely off-putting. Music is the greatest of the arts, not the least of the sciences.

You also said, though, that "this [the 'psychosis'] led to abominations like the 'music' of Milton Babbitt," which implies to me that you think Babbitt wrote the music he did because he only took twelve-tone music seriously, or that he thought writing it was the only way to be taken seriously. I trust I've made it clear that the former is simply false. I would argue that the latter is also pretty hard to defend.

I think 12-tone music was a bad idea, a bad thing overall, and in general a dead end.

We got Messiaen, Stockhausen, and Xenakis out of the deal. Good enough for me. I'm very excited about tomorrow night's performance of Hymnen...

#723 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 07:56 PM:

I've certainly enjoyed Messiaen, though I don't think I've heard his dodeca(co)phonic music; I'm pretty sure I've heard and enjoyed some Xenakis, but I couldn't identify any with a gun to my head.

Stockhausen...you don't want to know what I think of Stockhausen.

I didn't know some of the information you've now provided about Milton Babbitt. It's now a mystery to me why anyone who could teach and encourage Stephen Sondheim would write the way he did. We'll have to agree to disagree about the quality of his music.

You may regret saying "Music is the greatest of the arts, not the least of the sciences." No, not that you don't really believe it or anything; I'm just going to quote it all over the place! That's a really great line.

#724 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 08:01 PM:

Xopher #723: I just heard a couple of pieces by Stockhausen on the Beeb, and while I can't claim to understand them, I found them both listenable and enjoyable.

#725 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 08:15 PM:

Fragano, if it sounds good (to you) it is good (to you). What does 'understand' mean in this context?

#726 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 08:21 PM:

That "Music is the greatest of the arts, not the least of the sciences" thing is pretty awesome.

#727 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 08:25 PM:

Messiaen's Mode de Valeurs et d’Intensitiés is generally considered the first "total serialism" piece. Mostly, though, he used serialism's ideal of rigorous structural procedures (which, of course, is an on-again, off-again trope in music dating back to isorhythm at least) without necessarily sticking to tone rows and such.

Netflix has an amazing DVD of him improvising on the organ, along with an excellent performance of the Quartet For The End Of Time, which I would recommend to anyone wanting an introduction to his music.

#728 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 08:31 PM:

Xopher #725: In this context, I don't understand the composer's musical purpose. (I have to note I'm married to a person who makes part of her living as a musician, and who has spent the past few years educating me about music history and theory, and she doesn't like Stockhausen much either.) I find the emotions that the music elicits enjoyable.

#729 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 08:35 PM:

[looks at vanilla paste url]
[whimpers]
[bookmarks]

#730 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 08:36 PM:

Serge @ 711 Then one spoonful out of the newly evened surface, then a layer of that thickness.... I understand that this is not an uncommon way of doing this among computer people.

How even are we talking Serge? You're about a depth micrometer away from OCD...

#731 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 08:41 PM:

Paul@661: buyers can also be narrow-minded; the Boston-area SF bookstore did not stock The Fool on the Hill, saying it wasn't genre. (There were probably people who said it wasn't genre because it was good (cf Amis), and people who said its use of genre was clumsy (cf Langford?), but the author seemed quite pleased when a later work won the Tiptree recently.)

Madeline@666: I'd argue that the principle is valid provided people are telling the truth; those "students" sound like cheaters to me. (In fact, it sounds like an inverse marker, i.e. did Liszt ever actually \teach/ anyone, or just give them a lesson for them to advertise?)

DaveL: I was speaking not of innovation (a sprawling term) but of the difference between actual invention/discovery and the implementation of someone else's invention/discovery (which is the distinction I was recalling -- I tend to have decohered by midnight local time). But it sounds like I was given an oversimplification if the Romans actually invented concrete.

TexAnne@676: taking along a saltshaker when you visit ~cri is a good idea; he is subtle and quick to snicker.

Jane@687: could the oddball be a glaive blade?

Serge@711: I've been noodling around computers most of my life, and paid to make them behave for almost half; when I ate icecream from the tub, I ate down the outsides, because otherwise the outsides would melt (faster than the top) then refreeze in a less-good texture. (This is also easier, and matches the advice of some fanatics that even the best icecream needs to warm up a little from freezer temperature.) (I still like icecream, but I don't keep it in the house -- one less source of cholesterol and temptation.)

#732 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 08:47 PM:

Y'all are too kind. Just make sure to slap me if I start trying to write sonnets.

#733 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 08:50 PM:

wrt 721 et al.: iirc Trader Joe's also carries vanilla paste, or at least has done so at some point-- I was miffed by not finding their house-brand equivalent of Nutella the last time I went there; sometimes their products are discontinued without warning.

#734 ::: janeyolen ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 09:39 PM:

Graydon 675--thanks for the very clear explanation about the different riding schools. My puzzlement is now dissolved.

Jane

#735 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 09:50 PM:

Serge @711: Then one spoonful out of the newly evened surface, then a layer of that thickness.... I understand that this is not an uncommon way of doing this among computer people.

Myself, I have an 'apartment' fridge with a wafer-sized freezer unit. The smallest unit of ice cream I can practically buy is the pint, which is too small to fit into the freezer unit. So if I buy a pint, I have to commit to eating it all at once. The last time I bought a pint, I also had to buy a box of plastic cutlery so I would have a spoon. This is most likely to happen during the summer, so by the time I have biked far enough from the store to sit down and eat the ice cream, it typically melts in from the surface. So I eat the ice cream into toward the center from the surface. Next summer, I'll try to remember to include a spoon amoung the tools I carry in the backpack.

I consider myself a computer person; hence the local environmental variables*.

* 'Local environmental variable' is probably a programming oxymoron.

#736 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 10:13 PM:

Julie L @733:

Trader Joe's had vanilla paste today, at least in Everett WA.

#737 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 10:24 PM:

Serge @ 689 - I am by no means a Roman scholar, but I did take a quick look into a couple of the Osprey Military books I have to check what my memory was telling me. These are skinny little books aimed at people who like to wargame with miniatures, but are generally well sourced, and liberally sprinkled with photos of primary source art and artifacts. It does appear that by the late days of the empire soldiers did generally wear pants, lengths varying from shorts to full length. Probably adopted from the barbarians, likely first by cavalry. Some of are actual fluorospheric scholars can probably add details.

#738 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 10:26 PM:

Re: C. E. Petit@680

I would like to note that aspirated cranberry juice appears to have some measure of effectiveness against incipient upper respiratory infections. It is, however, recommended that one have a good stain remover on hand for the subsequent expulsion.

#739 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 11:40 PM:

The Romans at Vindolanda wore trousers--male and female patterns and leather trews have been recovered.

#740 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 12:22 AM:

#719: How would you classify Anthony Winkler's The Lunatic?

I wouldn't classify it because I've never read it. How would you classify 69 Things to do with a dead Princess by Stewart Home?

#741 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 01:46 AM:

Serge, Texanne, people kept talking about Jane Austin on rasfw so Jo Walton and Brenda Clough made that website - Calamity Jane Austin.

Serge, #711, I eat a layer at a time, but I start around the edge because that gets softer first. One of the good things about living alone is that I can eat directly from the pint and then put it back in the fridge for the next time.

Okay, so I'm having some vanilla ice cream and the silicone potholders are not sufficient protectors from cold.

Aconite, #738, I've never aspirated my cranberry juice, but the nephrologist makes me drink a glass a day to ward off UTIs.

#742 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 02:46 AM:

I was going to wait until I got to the bottom of this thread to comment (I'm well over the two-hour mark in my reading it), but Patrick's reaction @ 509 to the pottery anecdote reminded me of an incident in my junior high art class many years ago. The teacher assigned us to do human forms in clay, but without the fiddly bits - eyes and mouths and probably fingers and toes. On the theory that they are much larger and more germane to general body shape than eyes or a mouth, I gave my figure breasts. The teacher grabbed my creation and literally squashed my attempt to make the form female. Is it any wonder that I didn't continue my art studies in high school?

Good grief, I'm only two-thirds of the way through this thread. Now, see, this is why I stay away from ML for weeks or months at a time. It's too darned entertaining. I'm on scene three of a new novel, dang it, I have laundry and dishes to wash, and a dozen other activities contend for my time. But will I stop reading this and get on with something else? No, of course not. Carry on.

#743 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 03:00 AM:

Illicit copies are floating around on the net: look for "Howard Goodall's 20th Century Greats". He's firmly of the opinion that by the middle of the century classical music had gone completely ga-ga, with the result that hardly anyone listed to the new stuff.

The series covers The Beatles, Cole Porter, Bernard Hermann, and Leonard Bernstein, and he shows that they used some of the ideas (for instance, in Bernard Hermann's score for Psycho, but they built on the Western Classical Tradition, rather than, as some did, just throwing it away.

He also argues that Oklahoma wasn't all that novel a piece of musical theatre: the songs are better fitted to the story, but there isn't an overall musical structure.

#744 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 04:15 AM:

Tim Walters @732
Just make sure to slap me if I start trying to write sonnets.

Go on. You know you want to. What's a slap in comparison to the heady joys of versification?

#745 ::: feefifofum ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 04:33 AM:

Okay, NOT vanilla. The arguments against it make sense to me (although it's still pleasantly passive-agressively insulting. "What, me? Oh, I just meant...")

Fictional biography, bio-fic? Which seems mostly accurate enough: it's the life-stories or memoirs of people who (allegedly) don't exist. Random events, same old stuff everybody goes through, rambling internal monologues, not much exploration of ideas and subjects which engage the protagonists passionately, more focus on subjective responses and personal problems...

Hands up, I actually like lots of bio-fic (I'm a big fibber). It's just the bad stuff, wow, it's really bad... Still, it's a game worth getting into. If Philip Roth can get money and respect for taking his divorce journals and calling them a novel...

#746 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 04:57 AM:

Serge, further to the answers about trousers on Romans, it would appear that legionaries were wearing knee-length close-fitting breeches by the first century CE and probably before. They were probably leather, and were worn for warmth. The military tunic was worn over them - that is, not tucked in. Full-cut woollen trousers, cinched at the ankles, were worn in cold climates - the Alps, Germany - but this may have been auxiliary issue only. The auxiliaries retained some aspects of their own people's traditional equipment and dress.

Roman male civil dress remained the belted tunic and sagum (cloak), with citizens wearing the appropriate toga on formal occasions.

#747 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 05:50 AM:

JKRichard @ 730... How even are we talking Serge? You're about a depth micrometer away from OCD...

Well, the surface is even enough that 'certain' people I'm married to (and who never can find things within their own office) think it's weird.

#748 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 05:52 AM:

CHip @ 731... I still like icecream, but I don't keep it in the house -- one less source of cholesterol and temptation.

Same here. I don't want to ruin this 51-year-old's still boyish figure.

#749 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 05:55 AM:

Rob @ 735... The smallest unit of ice cream I can practically buy is the pint, which is too small to fit into the freezer unit. So if I buy a pint, I have to commit to eating it all at once.

We shall act as if we believe you that temperature issues are the only reason.

#750 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 06:05 AM:

Anne Sheller, Lisa Spangenberg, Dave Luckett... Thanks for the responses. So, under certain circumstances, Romans did wear pants, unlike Donald Duck.

Interesting how this thread went all over the place. But is it truly thread drift, or were all those subjects part of the thread even before it started and we simply revealed them? What I think is that I should go back to sleep.

#751 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 10:04 AM:

Serge 750: We took a large chunk of empty (virtual) space, and carved away everything that didn't look like this thread.

#752 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 10:39 AM:

James Macdonald #740: I haven't read it either. I asked because The Lunatic is generally classified as 'literary fiction'/'humourous fiction' but contains substantial fantasy elements (Christian bushes, talking rocks and so on).

#753 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 10:56 AM:

My #752: Oops. I meant to say I haven't read 69 Uses for a Dead Princess. I have read The Lunatic, which is why I was interested in learning how others classify it.

#754 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 11:03 AM:

Marilee #741

Does the nephrologist make you drink the Pure Stuff, 100% unsweetened cranberry, from the healthfood store, or something more palatable to the masses and hence stocked in supermarkets?

#755 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 11:15 AM:

Xopher @ 751... Like Michaelangelo looking at a block of marble and taking away everything that wasn't his statue of David?

#756 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 11:44 AM:

I'd just like to offer some more observations on aikido, to follow those way back when upthread.

Yes, if you are serious about your aikido, your technique will benefit enormously from doing weapons work.

It's always been a martial art that's had a broad spectrum from hard, direct styles through to blending and flowing styles, which while they can be described as soft, are most certainly not ineffective. The effect comes from using movement to exploit an attacker's momentum and use that to defeat him (or her, obviously).

(and equally obviously, I hope, I am simplifying here)

Which is why it can be an excellent martial art for women, and also, in these litigious times, how it can enable you to defend yourself and immobilise an attacker without (necessarily) doing any lasting harm to said attacker that will get the police wondering just who attacked who.

That said, hard and direct styles aren't about pure strength. They rely on movement etc just the same - they just back all that up with more physical impact.

My husband was once in a class where Chiba Sensei explained how these two broad differences emerged very early on, as the Iwama dojo is in a rural area while the Hombu dojo is in Tokyo.

Thus the early students at Iwama were mostly rice farmers, who were very strong and physically active and able. The students at Hombu were mainly office clerks without comparable levels of strength. Different styles naturally developed .

In my experience, traditional aikido is very open-minded when it comes to exploring variations in technique to accommodate differences in physical stature and strength - while making sure the technique is still as effective as possible.

I was taking part in a class in England with Yamaguchi Sensei many years ago when he reduced his translator to startled giggles. It took a few moments for her to recover her poise and explain that he was explaining just this point, adding that in his opinion, there are as many different ways of doing any technique as there are of making love.

It's all down to the interaction of the two particular bodies involved at that exact time and place.

#757 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 12:42 PM:

The earliest surviving medieval sword manual is Royal Armories I:33, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I.33 , probably early 14th century. The article includes links to video clips.
The late 14th manuals of the German(Lichtenauer, Ringeck, etc) and Italian (Fiore) masters give instruction for wrestling, dagger, swordplay, poleaxe, spear, etc, in armour and without armour. There is very little hacking and hewing of the sort popular in movies.
Study of these and other medieval martial arts is becoming popular. I practice Fiore- some of the plays are very similar to Aikido plays (especially the locks and keys).
mark

#758 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 02:09 PM:

Karen Funk Blocher, your story of a bad art teacher as well as the ongoing discussion of the wheel-building catastrophe leads me to rejoice in my high school (and my sister's jr high) art teacher. He was a great wielder of the word "Why" and anyone learning the potters wheel from him would know why it was time to let go of the attempt to build a rim (if the student had been struggling for that long, it was likely the clay she was working was composed of nothing but fine particles, with the strong clay and temper washed out by the flow of slip as she wet her hands again and again to keep her fingers smooth against the clay); he began teaching clay technique with an overview of the physics of clay mixes. And if he saw a female student drawing a woman's body, he would have known the "why" already.

The problem isn't so much Zen as a meditative or didactic method, it's with those who assume meditation when all they've had is a flash of adrenalin as they approach insight.

#759 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 02:13 PM:

Serge 755: Yes, that was what I was alluding to.

#760 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 02:47 PM:

Xopher @ 759... I figured it was either Michalangelo, or something zen. By the way, I think I brought this up last year, but why can't Making Light be nominated for the best-fanzine Hugo? Just because it's not printed?

#761 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 05:23 PM:

Serge & Xopher - A couple of years ago I saw a copy of the statue of David in Cornwall. They also had dinosaurs. It's obvious now that they were trying to recreate the experience of Making Light.

(No pictures of the Statue of David I'm afraid).

#762 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 05:34 PM:

Neill Wilcox... Speaking of David (Michaelangelo's, not Hartwell)... I think I once heard that he had a big head because he was supposed to be seen from quite further down.

#763 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 06:08 PM:

Serge #762:

Don't know about the head, but the hands are certainly oversized for that reason. Also see various of Rodin's Burghers of Calais.

#764 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 06:12 PM:

Harriet, #754, she lets me drink the regular stuff, although I do buy the "light" version. The problem is that I'm sufficiently disabled that I have to have bottles of this and the Gatorade (32oz required a day) delivered and nobody delivers the 100% cranberry juice.

#765 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 07:41 PM:

Serge @ 711: I tend to take ice cream from containers following a pattern like that. There's a practical reason for it. The exposed surface, inside the container, dries out a bit and/or gets small ice crystals due to freeze/thaw cycling. The effect is much more pronounced where there's a higher surface-to-volume ratio, i.e. at edges and projections. It's better to keep the surface relatively smooth, and better to keep exposing new surface than to leave a surface drying out. I do the same kind of thing when I'm eating, say, a cake or a pie over several days -- I cut pieces from alternating sides.

It's not OCD. I'm consciously attempting to optimize my desserting experience. That's my story and I'm sticking to it, in some cases more or less literally.

#766 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 11:48 PM:

This has become more digressive than most of the Open Threads. I wonder what the Pitch Bitch would think of the latter portion of this....

CHip, not count Fool on the Hill as genre? At Other Change, we've been pushing it from day one as one of the finest literary fantasy debuts since Peter Beagle's A Fine and Private Place; there are definitely better books out there, but most of them aren't first books. How can one not see it as genre fantasy?

#767 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 12:14 AM:

Tom @ #766 - Since this topic started - where do you place Christopher Moore? I usually find him with the non-genre fiction, but his books fit genre specs. Just wondering.

What do you think about The Master and Margarita, would it be considered genre fiction if it were published today? Merely looking for the professionals viewpoint, as I browse my shelves.

#768 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 12:59 AM:

illiterature? (courtesy of my husband)

#769 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 02:19 AM:

I think perhaps that my questioning attitude was always seen as a challenge to her authority.

Going way back with this comment here, but yes, you're almost certainly right: there are teachers who see themselves as the Commander-in-Chief of the classroom, and questioning students as threats to their authority.

We're dealing with such a teacher at my kid's school now. Behind his back I have taken to referring to him as Future Named Defendant.

#770 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 02:23 AM:

Oh, and:

Poofreading... isn't that when while you're reading something, the mistakes all disappear but reappear (*poof!*) when you show it to someone else?

It's actually an archaic form of gaydar.

#771 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 06:02 AM:

Chip @ 655: Admittedly, I have no objection to the positive high school experiences of others. Only to the notion that these experiences are universally possible, or worse yet, mandatory.

Joann @ 684: Lit-fi sort of stumbles on the tongue, but "liffy" is great.

As regards the talk of genrelessness: I think it's an application of the fallacy of whiteness. There's a genre there, but as its space is officially defined by the quality of not being another genre, talk about it often results in confusion and defensiveness.

#772 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 06:46 AM:

Jumping in rather late with something to say on the sword discussion sub-thread.

First of all the oldest western fencing treatise that has been found so far is the I.33
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I.33

It's not been conclusively dated but seems to be from the late 13th century or early to mid 14th century.

Also a few misconceptions that pop up a lot of the time. Swords have pretty much never been very heavy. Even a large two handed sword moves very fast and doesn't require a huge amount of effort when handled correctly (the techniques are all about conserving the momentum and making the sword flow from one direction to another without having to stop and start it again which requires plenty of effort and might potentially break your wrists if you do it wrong)

Anyway when fencing, flailing around wildly without much thought and technique gets you killed quicker than taking proper advantage of what a body holding a sharp metal stick can do. This is pretty universal and my guess is that "proper" fencing has existed as long as single combat has.

I have had the fortune to handle some original antique weapons and they are even lighter and move better than the modern replicas.

I fence (which is probably rather obvious from this post) focusing mostly on the scottish basket hilted backsword or broadsword. Currently lucky enough to be learning from Maestro Paul Macdonald in Edinburgh

#773 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 08:18 AM:

And another good thing about "liffy" is the Joyce reference.

#774 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 09:40 AM:

#687: (there was also a thingy--no idea what to call it--with a big curved blade on one side, a point at the top and a hole in the bottom so it could be mounted on a long stick, but I digress)

Possibly a halberd. Does it have a hook on the side opposite the blade?

Incidentally, what's the record for comments on a single thread?

#775 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 09:46 AM:

In an effort to push this thread toward 800 posts I just wanted to note that it inspired me to write a rather lengthy note on pitching over here at the wyrdmsiths blog and why a writer might think it was a good idea.

http://www.kellymccullough.com/mail.html

#776 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 11:22 AM:

Re: dressage and controling the horse by use of the seat --

Being able to control the horse by leg and seat signals is absolutely necessary if you're using weapons, roping cattle or playing polo.

Think of the knight in armor -- he's got a shield on one arm and a sword or lance in the opposite hand. Most illustrations show the reins in the left hand, but with a shield on that arm, he isn't going to be using that hand much. So his horse better respond to leg/seat signals, or the knight isn't going to get anywhere near his opponent.

Spanish dressage evolved from mounted warfare -- the earliest manual that we know of was written by Xenophon. This is the basis of the Spanish Riding School's training.

If you'd like to read more about it, there are two fictional works I'd recommend: For the training of the horses, "Florian, the Emperor's Stallion" by Felix Salten. For the training of the rider, "The White Stallion" by Marguerite Henry.

#777 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 11:45 AM:

ajay --

halberd -- ax on a long stick with a spear point. Probably the ax has a point out the back; might be a hook, but probably a point.

glaive -- single edged pointy chopping blade on a stick. Hook on the back = glaive-guisarme. (The hook is so you can pull the annoying guy on the horse off the horse for your buddies to chop into gobbets.)

partisan -- double-edged pointy blade on a stick.

bill -- broadly hooked blade on a stick, usually with a point in line with the stick as well. (descended from a brush hook.)

Oh, the thing that gets translated "halberd" ("I do not know if Gunar is at home, but his halberd is") in Icelandic saga translations isn't, it's a short swordblade on a stick.

Everyone from George Silver to Shao Lin monks opines that the guys with these things are the ones to really watch out for, fighting at close quarters.

#778 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 12:38 PM:

"Everyone from George Silver to Shao Lin monks opines that the guys with these things are the ones to really watch out for, fighting at close quarters."

They are absolutely right, so long as the guys have got space. But things often get crowded.

And what about the ronseur, the spetum, the voulge, the fauchard, and that most euphoneously named of all weapons, the Bohemian ear-spoon?

#779 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 01:37 PM:

#777: The most brilliant defense I ever got to witness in person involved a halberd. At sword camp, I was in a particularly spirited game of capture the flag (the kind using full wounding rules and everyone but the newbies like me armed with their weapons of choice), and ended up holing up in a room with only one doorway, with three people on my team defending. Halberd in the middle, sword-and-shield on each side, and they held that doorway until time was called. I was only watching from the back, but it was fascinating to watch the other students trying to work out how to get through that defense; I think they ran through at least half a dozen deaths in the attempt, and the defenders only had one of the shield-and-sword guards lose the use of his legs. (And given that it was the one referred to as "Turtle" on the battlefield for good reason, this didn't keep him from defending on quite effectively.)

But if it had just been halberd alone, I don't think she could have held that doorway; shield-charges just have too high of a chance of getting in under the reach of that spear, especially when coming from two directions at once, if you don't have someone standing beside you with a shorter-range weapon to dealwith the problem.

#780 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 02:11 PM:

Fade --

Recreational rules handicap the guys with the long sharpness-on-a-stick weapons; they're not allowed to trip, chop off feet, or brace the points low. (Or, for that matter, to use much in the way of Danish long ax moves, which get into the "weights on sticks" problem -- a couple kilos of foam rubber is almost as good at concussing you as a couple kilos of wrought iron.)

That being said, I would not expect someone to be able to beat (from the sounds of it) at least ten to one odds, even holding a doorway, diverse heroic references notwithstanding. (I'm the sort of person who would be saying "wait here" and calling for archers to clear the door. :)

Dave --

There are some surprisingly short versions of sharpness-on-a-stick weapons -- four feet or so -- quite startling effective in close quarters, but yes, that's where the other category of nasty applications of leverage comes in, the weight on a short length of chain.

#781 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 02:17 PM:

partisan -- double-edged pointy blade on a stick.

bipartisan - two double-edged pointy blades on either end of a stick, so no matter what end you hold you lose your fingers?

#782 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 02:26 PM:

abi... Remember the scene in Gladiator when Commodus sends Maximus into the woods for some decapitation? I've never been able to figure out how he stopped the other guy's sword blade with his bare hands without losing a few digits.

#783 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 02:42 PM:

#780: This is quite possibly the case, though in the rules we were using, the spear-wielder was certainly allowed to chop off feet and trip people. At least a few players, having lost legs to the door defenders, asked friends for a quick stabbing death so that they could run back to the rez point and return with some useful mobility. Can't remember if she was allowed to brace low or not; I seem to recall she did a lot of thrusting, but I'm not sure how much was rules and how much was personal fighting style.

Now, there weren't any archers available, which made things a lot easier for the door-holders. On the other hand, we weren't allowed to close the door (the instructor being quite reasonably not in favor of having his facility's door broken down in the interest of realism), so all in all it wasn't quite reality. Still, a very interesting visual. I had never appreciated the sheer utility of shields until I took classes with that school.

#784 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 03:27 PM:

#782: I'm not abi and I don't specifically recall that scene in Gladiator, but there's a well-established trope in Japanese drama of halting a sword by clapping one's hands into its path so as to trap the blade between bare flat palms. I have no idea how plausible this is either.

Speaking of which, the Japanese naginata also tends to be translated as "halberd"; iirc it was the offensive weapon that samurai-caste women were trained to use, and was essentially another example of swordblade-onna-stick. In the Tenchi Muyo anime/OVA series, there's a magic ceremonial weapon that strongly resembles a lightsaber in that under normal conditions, it's an empty hilt, but when used by princes of the royal house, it evolves a swordblade; there's a lovely moment in one of the movies when it's wielded by one of the princesses instead, and the hilt extends itself into a naginata pole before evolving its proper blade.

#785 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 03:32 PM:

Julie L... That's what Maximus did in the movie. What really had me raise an eyebrow was that he then grabbed the blade's edges with his bare hands. Hmm... My wife gave me a reproduction of a gladius a few years ago. Maybe we could try and see if that's possible. If I then stop posting here, it'll be because I'll have found out I'm not as tough as Russell Crowe.

#786 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 03:45 PM:

My understanding was that a medieval Europoean sword was mostly a crushing weapon; the blade was shsrp, but like an ice skate, not like a razor (or even a katana). This concentrated the force of the blow, but a knife-edge would have been dulled on armor very quickly, so they didn't bother with them.

That kind of blade can't really cut your fingers off at rest or moving slowly.

#787 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Fade --

Foot chops? Really? full-up with the spear point into the top of the foot or blade edge into the side of the ankles? (if so, those people are insane. Dedicated, but quite, quite mad.)

I wouldn't expect much use of the low brace against odds, trying to hold a door; the idea behind that one is to get the blade edges into the inside of someone's thighs as the rank behind them forces them forward. Much more useful in company and when you've got better shields/longer pole arms than when you're trying to keep a bunch of folks off the door.

Since most recreation groups I know of don't do large disciplined pike/sarrissa units, and would be somewhat aghast at the standard failure mode of using the low brace -- the other fellow's cup becomes a soft-tissue shear -- I wouldn't expect it to be used, it's just in the same category in my head of "that will really hurt people, no matter what you do" techniques I would expect a recreation group to use.

#788 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 04:08 PM:

Xopher @ 786... True. Still, I'm not going to try because of Step One, which involves stopping the blade before it reaches my neck.

#789 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 04:13 PM:

Medieval blades came in many types and qualities, but most had very sharp edges. Swords aren't for hitting armour, they are for cutting or thrusting where the armour isn't. Fiore and other medieval masters use a technique called "half-swording" where you grab your own blade (no gloves) with your left hand to aid in the accuracy and force of your thrust, if you and your opponent are both in armour. It works (just don't let your hand slip). Fiore also has some plays where you catch your opponents blade with your left hand. They work quite well.
linked text
mark

#790 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 04:18 PM:

#787: Foot chops? Really? full-up with the spear point into the top of the foot or blade edge into the side of the ankles? (if so, those people are insane. Dedicated, but quite, quite mad.)

I'm afraid I can't be sure; at the time I was running on standard capture-the-flag adrenaline, and since I hadn't yet taken any of the lessons in advanced weapons, I couldn't really recognize the specific moves being used. Especially from behind. But there was definitely stabbing at legs and below, because I do recall attackers taking leg-shots and having to react appropriately with that limb out of operation. (I think the spear-wielder also got a calf stab from an attacking spear before time was called, and was down on one knee.) So it looked like foot chops to me, but it may have been some safer aiming-at-the-calves alternative.

These were, of course, properly padded weapons and people who knew how to hit with them without causing the kind of damage even a padded weapon can. I don't know how much difference that makes. It was very fast, and I was highly impressed. If I'm lucky, I may be able to learn some spear work myself at sword camp this year. One week of intensive training was only enough to cover basic sword and shield, and an extremely brief discussion of Florentine.

#791 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 04:43 PM:

There's also a lopsided duel between Liam Neeson and Tim Roth in the movie Rob Roy that ends with one of them grabbing the other one's blade and bleeding all over it without being completely incapacitated; further details omitted to avoid spoilers.

#792 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 05:58 PM:

Julie@791: that is my favorite movie swordfight EVER. I am no expert, though (the sum total of my experience being a fencing class for college P.E. credit and a little noodling around with the SCA).

#793 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 06:05 PM:

Lila (and others)... Did you ever see the broadsword fight in Robin and Marian? It was pretty brutal. What did you think of it?

#794 ::: Laurel ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 06:29 PM:

Do any of the actual swordfighting moves involving grabbing an opponent's blade end up with taking the blade from the opponent, or are they only for blocking purposes? There's a fairly important plot point in The King of Attolia that revolves around such a move, so I'd be curious to know if it was at all possible. For that matter, if anyone with any knowledge of real swordfighting had read it, I'd like to know what they thought of the fighting in the book.

#795 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 06:41 PM:

Jo #773:

That was indeed my 'built-in "Modern Literachoor" reference'. Glad somebody caught it.

#796 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 07:25 PM:

Fiore taught a number of sword take-a-ways, and at least one involves grasping the opponent's blade.
mark

#797 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 07:43 PM:

I like "belles lettres" for the liffey that I like, because (a), Martin Rowson's _The Waste Land_ was categorized so, before _Maus_ made pictures honorable; and (b), because I think it annoys people who annoy me to use a feminine name for a serious thing. (It's also true that "belles lettres" implies not quite as much seriousness as I think they think they have.)

#798 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 07:51 PM:

I Am Not A Roman Scholar, but I was under the impression that a gladius was probably used by legionaries as a stabbing rather than a chopping weapon*. So the pointy end would be sharp, but the edges might not be. I don't have a clear memory of how and where Maximus grabbed the blade, but they were going to kill him by stabbing with the point, rather than cutting the edge.

Gladiators probably would have used the edge as they had to put on a show. The researchers for the movie may well have been influenced by whatever sources I got these ideas from.

* Something to do with getting caught on big shields when in close order.

#799 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 09:53 PM:

Naginata forms are beautiful. There's at least one school which teaches them here in Hawaii, primarily to women as in the (recent) tradition.

I've also seen some men training in some two-person sword kata which are specifically against naginata; I assumed that to be very advanced kenjutsu technique.

The Japanese also used a different type of spear, the yari, which was essentially the same as the traditional Western spear, with a straight double-edged blade. These had their own schools or lineages of training too.

#800 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 11:12 PM:

Today I went to use some Borders gift cards, and with this thread in mind, made it a Making Light outing... Looked for Jo Walton's latest Book About Which I Have Heard Great Things (Farthing), but the only book of hers there was "The King's Peace", so I bought that... It's pleasingly plump and seems to have a female main character who kicks ass, and after "Tooth and Claw" I have good forefeelings.

Thence I wandered into the Mac section to look for something by the indomitable James D. MacDonald, but I've never much liked the Macs since as a library page I was always having to shelve them as Mc and it's just darn confusing, so I was pleased to find the book under Doyle. "Land of Mist and Snow" is what they had (in stereo!), and "Land of Mist and Snow" is what I got.

Yay! It has been a worthy thread, to remind me to look for such things.

#801 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 11:29 PM:

Madeline, having JUST finished Land of Mist and Snow, I know you will have an excellent read. Some of it I had to read a chapter, put it aside and go 'whew, breathe, girl!" some of it not. but it held together and told a wonderful tale.

I've maybe sent three fan letters in my life and they got one.

#802 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 12:00 AM:

Boy did I fall behind...

1) Roman Infantry: I heard it, in my unsourced youth, as "Over distances, infantry goes faster than cavalry." (20 miles a day, every day, till you get to the fight.) Hence, shipping the infantry and picking up local cavalry. I am less expert than most in this discussion, though.

2) Vikings and Polearms: What do they mean in this page when they translate as "Bill"?

http://www.thehaca.com/essays/vikingfight.htm

At one point, possibly from the "swam for nine days with a sword in his hand" school of rhetoric, someone is twofisting with a sword and a bill. It seems to work like some sort of polearm, otherwise.

#803 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 01:30 AM:

abi said:

bipartisan - two double-edged pointy blades on either end of a stick, so no matter what end you hold you lose your fingers?

No, it just swings both ways.

And another work night enjoyably spent catching up on this thread. Can we hit 1000?

#804 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 02:35 AM:

Roman infantry was faster than cavalry on long marches, over anything other than gently rolling open plains. On roads, in settled country, the infantry was faster over several days because their feet didn't suffer the way an (unshod) horse's do. Over broken or difficult terrain and forested country fit footsoldiers can actually move further than bodies of horse in a day. Mind you, the infantry has to be conditioned to it.

Ponies and hardy steppe horses need little establishment, but shock cavalry is different. Big horses, weight-carrying animals such as shock cavalry needs, are difficult to breed (requiring permanent establishments), very expensive to keep, lose condition if marched hard, and require expert selection for temperament and long training. They also need stabling, saddles and harnessing, grain fodder in bulk and farriers. This takes more effort to move and is inevitably a drag on the speed of march. But if a horsed army doesn't contain shock cavalry, it can only skirmish with formed foot and will be outshot by foot archers.

All of these factors probably influenced Roman methods, and the unsuitability of central and southern Italy for horse pasturage was an added one. But once the Plain of Lombardy had been annexed, and its extensive marshes drained, more cavalry appeared in the Roman forces. By the end of the third century CE, it was the Army's most important striking force, and the legion began to lose both prestige and usefulness. By the mid-fourth, the legions had been much reduced in establishment, and were being used mainly to hold permanent fortifications.

#805 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 05:47 AM:

Re polearm terminology:

My vague understanding is that "halberd" generally refers to a polearm with: 1) a spear point; and 2) an axe blade (the Wikipedia article suggests the name might derive a German word meaning "half-axe"). There would usually be a sharp point or hook on the side opposite from the axe blade.

"Glaive" refers to a polearm with something like a sword blade (usually single-edged) on the end. So the Japanese naginata can be thought of as a kind of glaive.

(Oh, wait -- this is what Graydon said back at #777...)

I am deeply disappointed that Wikipedia does not have an entry for the glaive-guisarme-voulge (the king of Silly French Polearms in Dungeons and Dragons).

#806 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 05:54 AM:

Dave Luckett said (#804):
All of these factors probably influenced Roman methods, and the unsuitability of central and southern Italy for horse pasturage was an added one. But once the Plain of Lombardy had been annexed, and its extensive marshes drained, more cavalry appeared in the Roman forces. By the end of the third century CE, it was the Army's most important striking force, and the legion began to lose both prestige and usefulness. By the mid-fourth, the legions had been much reduced in establishment, and were being used mainly to hold permanent fortifications.

I seem to recall reading the suggestion that this change was partly influenced by the fact of repeated Roman defeats by the Parthian and Sassanid Persians, who relied on heavily armored cavalry. Does that sound plausible to you?

#807 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 06:04 AM:

Dr Paisley @ 803... And another work night enjoyably spent catching up on this thread. Can we hit 1000?

We could try. And no, I will NOT quote what that little twerp Yoda said on the subject of trying.

#808 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 06:55 AM:

Sandy B. said (#802):
2) Vikings and Polearms: What do they mean in this page when they translate as "Bill"?

Wow; the language used in that translation is so bizarre and faux-archaic that I hesitate to guess ("But now whenas the battle had dured a while..."). My impression is that the Vikings didn't have anything more complicated than spears (and maybe long-handled axes) in the "polearm" department, and the actual uses of the "bill" in those passages (mainly thrusting it or throwing it at people) certainly sound like it's a spear being used.

The actual "bill" seems to have been a very late medieval weapon, first appearing in England in the 14th or 15th Century (evolving out of the billhook, an agricultural tool). If this picture or this are any indication, it's not something you'd throw at people.

So I'm inclined to say that "bill" really means "spear" on that page.

#809 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 07:50 AM:

I'm the sort of person who would be saying "wait here" and calling for archers to clear the door.

Practical, but not very classical. You're supposed to fall back and hold until you can bring up Aunus of Tifernum, Seius of Ilva and Picus of Nequinium. Not that that really worked.
(I used to know the whole thing - now I get stuck somewhere around Lausulus of Urgo).

#810 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 07:55 AM:

What about Biggus Dickus, ajay? Can't he be fit somewhere in there?

#811 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 08:04 AM:

#810: heretic. Doesn't anyone read Macaulay any more?

#812 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 08:13 AM:

There is also a weapon described in English as a "hewing-spear" (Old Norse: hoggspjot) which might have been a form of glaive - a pole weapon with a long blade like an oversized spearhead with cutting edges. Nobody knows. It seems to have been distinguished from ordinary thrusting/throwing spears, and the sense of the word is that it was swung, not thrust.

Peter Erwin: I would agree to that. I think another factor was diminishing military manpower in the Empire - apparently birth rates were falling. (There may have been a climatic cause for that.) Diminishing numbers but a relatively greater steelmaking capacity would argue for an individually better protected army which nevertheless had to retain mobility - hence, heavy cavalry. Increasingly, barbarian feodorati supplied the lighter types.

#813 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 08:54 AM:

Heretic, me, ajay? I say, follow the Gourd of Brian.

#814 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 01:36 PM:

Rebecca @ 659 (i'm a little behind on the thread)

Good to know they got at least one fencing type move in there.

I've done a little fencing with the heavy blade appropriate to the Renaissance (sometimes called, as never seemed to be answered, a schlager) though not at the lengths it can reach. (We have someone with an over 3 foot blade in the city, though.) I've seen the people who pore over the old manuals and try to use what they know of modern fencing or have extrapolated about their balde from practice and play to try and figure them out. I preferred to let other people do that and learn from them, though. (The same way, I let other people recreate renaissance dances *then* teach me what they think is right. I don't have the endurance for that kind of research, physically or mentally. I have the endurance only to do enoguh research to distinguish which teachers actually know something of what they're talking about.)

I'm back out of practice, but I know enough now that I have to watch that scene of the Princess Bride with my eyes closed and envision the fight as it should be, else pretend I'm in theatre space not movie-space. (I will not digress into theatrical versus filmic special effects, I will not...)

#815 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 01:44 PM:

Lenora Rose 814: You do realize that the fencing scene in TPB is a parody of a B-movie swashbuckler fencing scene, right?

#816 ::: Annie G. ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 02:09 PM:

Apropos of the fencing scene in The Princess Bride...legend on the Yale fencing team, of which I was a member for a very short period of time as a freshman, had it that our coach had advised on the fencing choreography of that scene. I've never been able to confirm it, and I was never really a good enough fencer to judge the scene critically, but I always thought it was a neat factoid. It kept me on the team about a week longer than I might have otherwise lasted (I am not sporty, the competition was fierce, and I was at the time in an intense academic program).

(PS: apropos of the upthread highfalutin' literary discussions, I am not trying to brag by including my college credential; merely including it as a data point in case anyone else has heard the same rumor and can confirm it for me.)

#817 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 02:44 PM:

I don't have the body of a fencer... As illustrated by the "Broadswords in a pit" particle, there are disadvantages to being severely average in height, and short of arm and leg.

#818 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 02:52 PM:

At #812, Roman birth rates -- the problem wasn't climate, it was the lead in the plumbing. I'm told that this resulted in lower fertility rates in both sexes.

#819 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 03:00 PM:
Apropos of the fencing scene in The Princess Bride...legend on the Yale fencing team, of which I was a member for a very short period of time as a freshman, had it that our coach had advised on the fencing choreography of that scene. I've never been able to confirm it, and I was never really a good enough fencer to judge the scene critically, but I always thought it was a neat factoid.

IMDB says that a Bill Tomlinson was the movie's uncredited advisor on swordfighting choreography. Of course, it also says he was born in 1972 (making him 14-15 during production), so take that for what it's worth. Bob Anderson was credited as sword master, and doesn't sound like someone who would have needed a lot of assistance (former Olympic fencer, among other things).

#820 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 03:00 PM:

In re the whole discussion of Roman cavalry vs. infantry, there are a couple important points being skipped. Since nobody else is getting specific on certain issues regarding the Roman infantry and cavalry, some of my random bits of classical education are demanding to come out. So:

First, as I recall the cavalry were originally drawn from a special aristocratic class, the equites. This is because like medieval knights, they were required to provide and maintain their own horses (and possibly armor, I don't recall.) That meant the Republic could almost instantly draw on them for defense, but severely limited the number available. It probably made it politically difficult to use them on long campaigns of conquest, too; these were not professional soldiers, they were the wealthy of Rome and its cities, and they would be sure to complain in the Senate if their sons were sent away for decades on a stretch. After the Republic was replaced by the Empire, I suspect it took a long time for the Romans to get used to the idea of cavalry as paid professionals.

Second, the crucial battle in Julius Caesar's ascension to Emperor was his battle with Pompey at Pharsalus. (No I don't have the battle name memorized, I just looked it up. Yay Google.) As I recall Pompey's cavalry - the equites I just mentioned above - charged Caesar's more experienced infantry troops and were broken by their countercharge. At least as I remember the folklore of the battle, Caesar ordered his troops to direct their spears at the cavalry's faces; the less experienced aristocrats, who could face the abstract idea of being killed but not the immediate threat of being disfigured or maimed, broke and ran.

A translation of Caesar's autobiographical account of the battle here: http://www.livius.org/pha-phd/pharsalus/battle.html

It would not be surprising if this battle's results shaped the general Roman attitude to cavalry vs. infantry for a long time, seeing as it was the final defeat of the Republic's army.

Last, following up on Dave @ 804: The Roman legion's iter magnum - literally, "great journey" - was simply measured by how far the legion could go in one day's forced march, and has been estimated at 25-30 miles. (I thought I remembered it could be substantially more, up to 40 miles at times with roads, but everything I'm finding says around 25 - still very hard work, armored and fully loaded over rough terrain.)

#821 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 03:04 PM:

#818

But...but...but Lori, I thought it was a good thing for a guy to have a little "lead in his pencil."

#822 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 03:15 PM:

Man, this thread got fun. I don't have much to contribute but pictures at this point though, but I have to say my pictures are pretty good:

My visit to the Higgins Armory

There are many pictures of Roman gear early in the set, and several pictures of polearms later in the set.

Oh, and curses on all of you, I'm going to have to buy vanilla ice cream on the way home tonight. (P.S.: I eat it the exact way you describe, Serge)

#823 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 03:21 PM:

Lori Coulson (#818):
My impression is that the "lead in the plumbing" argument may not be taken all that seriously by modern historians. (And the vast majority of people in the Roman empire lived in the countryside without sophisticated plumbing, so their fertility wouldn't have been affected.)

I do seem to recall reading that there were a whole series of devastating plagues[*] in the 2nd and/or 3rd Century AD, which might have produced a general population decline, apart from any changes in birthrates.

[*] Sometimes attributed to the growth of trade between the Roman and Chinese Empires due to the opening of the Silk Road; China suffered a series of plagues around the same time.

#824 ::: Mary Frances Zambreno ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 03:21 PM:

First time poster here . . . please be gentle.

I don’t know if I’d have had nerve enough to post earlier, but just for fun, and in the interests of keeping the thread open: the above discussion about “what to call” bad “literary fiction” got me thinking. Not about what to call the stuff—personally, I’ve never had a problem with just “bad,” or “poorly written,” as a descriptive term—and in a pinch, I use quotation marks to indicate sarcasm or status-contrary-to-fact: “literary” fiction actually being anything but literary, so to speak. But I started thinking about the concept of literary fiction as a separate genre (I agree; it is, in the sense that the term is being used), and about the concept of genres as a whole.

Now, let me be clear: I know that the way people in this thread are using the term “genre” is as a useful and perfectly justified convenience for publishers, booksellers, librarians, readers, and everyone else who wants to know where to find certain types of books. But—I suspect I was frightened by a genre theorist in my cradle—I tend to wince when I hear the word. To me, speaking technically, “genre” refers to the form of the work rather than its content; the “genres” are poetry, novels, short fiction, drama . . . and so on. More or less. (I am NOT a genre theorist, and I’m going to avoid getting more complicated than that. If any genre theorists are listening—and I’m willing to bet that Making Light has a few—I’d be interested in your opinions, here.) When I want to talk about “science fiction,” or “fantasy,” or “romance,” or “mainstream,” I tend to use the word “category.” Most people don’t even notice, and it isn’t really important. But what I was wondering about was: is it possible for a bad book in one category of fiction to be considered a “good” book in another? It is at least theoretically possible when considering works across genres . . . for example, Gulliver’s Travels is arguably a fairly poorly constructed novel, but it’s a brilliant example of—whatever it is. But within the genre and across the categories: can a novel be a good science fiction novel and a bad mainstream novel? Or vice versa? My gut response is: no, it can’t, good writing is good writing.

But if it were possible—in what sense, hypothetically speaking? Or why not?

Mary Frances Zambreno

#825 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 03:22 PM:

Skwid... About ice cream... I eat it the exact way you describe, Serge

Would you too happen to be a techie?

#826 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 03:25 PM:

Lori @ #818: Not just lead in the plumbing, lead in the wine! The Romans had discovered that fermenting in lead-lined vats made the wine sweeter and less sour. That's because acetic acid reacts with lead to form traces of lead acetate, which tastes sweet - "sugar of lead" to the medievals. A very unfortunate chemical discovery.

Oh, and I don't recall (up-thread #782 - 798) if the gladius was purely a thrusting weapon, but it seems likely to me it was.

I recall reading that all the Celtic and Greek short swords were thrusting swords, as their form evolved from Bronze Age swords, and bronze simply isn't strong enough to make a sword you can hack with successfully. Apparently archaeologists have found lots of bronze sword blades with the rivet holes for the hilt torn right out of the tang, where somebody forgot their training and connected on a wild swing with it. (Swinging a sword, stick, anything, in a fight seems to be a natural reflex. Thrusting needs to be learned.)

If the gladius had followed the same evolution, it too would have been used mainly for thrusting.

#827 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 03:41 PM:

Mary Frances #824:

Interesting. In the art historical use of the term, genre is not painting vs sculpture vs collage. That's medium. Genre relates to what's being painted, and generally denotes something not "mainstream" or otherwise sufficiently high end in subject matter. Typically it's used for paintings of peasants, or still lifes, as compared to the high and noble religious scene, history scene, or landscape. (Millet was genre, Jacques David was not.) In other words, there's a direct parallel between art history and lit crit for the use of the word.

Of course we art historians use "form" somewhat orthogonally to the way lit-crit types do, as a discussion of the visual structure of the work.

#828 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 03:41 PM:

The gladius was very much primarily a thrusting weapon, to the point that your average rank and file Legionaire may seldom have used any other motion in battle. The idea was to thrust the bare minimum of sword between you and your neighbour's shield necessary to incapacitate your foe, with a slogan being that it could take as little as two inches of steel past the shield to kill a man.

#829 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 03:44 PM:

Oh, and Serge, I would happen to be a techie, by inclination, occupation, and recreation if not education.

#830 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 03:50 PM:

Lori @818
the problem wasn't climate, it was the lead in the plumbing.

I love this. I never get to talk about Vitruvius, and here I am bringing him up twice in one thread.

Vitruvius mentions the matter in De Architectura, Book VIII, Chapter 6. "Water is much more wholesome from earthenware pipes than from lead pipes. For it seems to be made injurious by lead, because white lead paint is produced from it; and this is said to be harmful to the human body."

It's clear that the Romans were aware of the dangers of lead piping, though both were in use. But the universality and effect of lead plumbing is, as Peter Erwin says, pretty well discredited these days.

Note that many Romans of different economic statuses also limited their family sizes intentionally, both through infanticide (exposure) and a number of sexual techniques that we won't go into on the thread (talk about derailing a thread!) These practices waxed and waned throughout Roman history.

So the population size issue is complex, and not easily attributed to one cause.

#831 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 04:03 PM:

Skwid @ 829... There would then seem to be a link between being a techie and having a certain approach to ice cream. On the other hand, that's only 3 people I know of who do it that way. Too small a sample of the population to draw valid conclusions.

#832 ::: Mary Frances Zambreno ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 04:04 PM:

joann #827:

Now, that's a use of the word "genre" that hadn't occurred to me! Interesting, indeed. It should have--I did know what a "genre" painting was/is--but most of my art historical background (such as it is) is out of period for the term. A possible reason for the distinction, I suppose, might be that in literature the "medium" is always the same thing, the word, so we have the option of attaching "genre" to something other than content. Sort of. But more interesting, to me, at the moment--from the depths of my long-ago general art history courses, I seem to recall that it is, or was, possible for a painting to be perceived as a "good" genre painting but a bad "something else" painting. History painting maybe?

Am I right? If I am--or am not--care to develop?

#833 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 04:11 PM:

One of Tanith Lee's characters once said, after somebody ended up pregnant, "So much for the Roman method."

#834 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 04:14 PM:

Clifton @ 820

Things don't change all that much. The basic march rule for the last couple of centuries has been 20 miles a day, carrying 50 pounds. Forced marches by well-seasoned troops can run 25-30 miles a day on roads or improved trails, but not for extended periods. Rough terrain or combat will cut back on that, of course. My understanding is that the 1809 march of the British Light Brigade to relieve Wellington in Spain is the record, covering 42 miles in 26 hours. Somehow I don't think they did the same thing the next day.

Significant changes to those numbers, according to some recent reading, have come in the last 30 years or so, specifically in the special operations community. There have been specific instances, for example in the Falklands, where elite troops went on extended "yomps" with 100 pound loads, and moving more than 10 miles a day over open country. The current minimum qualifying standard for mountain warfare training is hauling a 65 pound load for five miles a day in mountainous territory. Of course, there is a reason that retired special operators sometime have knees like ex-NFL players.

I, on the other hand, prefer to use a cart to get my one bag from the car to the plane . . .

#835 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 04:18 PM:

You know, we could use the thread's current Roman subject and tie that back in to the earlier Bugs Bunny talk. Or don't you remember the cartoon where Bugs butts heads with Roman centurion Yosemite Sam who, no matter what, keeps falling into the lion pit?

#836 ::: Annie G. ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 04:20 PM:

Dan Blum at #819, re: The fencing master on The Princess Bride, and from where else he may have been well-known.

A wholly unsubstantiated rumor, then. Thanks for clearing that up for me!

#837 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 04:29 PM:

Mary Frances #832: I seem to recall that it is, or was, possible for a painting to be perceived as a "good" genre painting but a bad "something else" painting. History painting maybe?

More like if it was a genre painting, it was not as "good" as non-genre, regardless of its actual technical merit.

Just like a lot of people perceive skiffy as inferior to liffy. Under all conditions. (The more fools they.)

#838 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 05:00 PM:

Clifton Royston: I'd heard that, about the lead to sweeten the wine, as well! Except I'd heard that the upper classes specifically added a salt of lead to their cups (like we add nutrasweet to coffee), and so were more screwed up than the lower classes.

I also eat ice cream in layers. It's just more symmetric (in addition to providing less surface area for freezerburn). Sort of vaguely a techie.

We should totally go into Roman sexual practices and the relative pregnancy rates of each!

#801 Paula Helm Murray, I'm a few chapters into "Land of Mist and Snow" now... It's faintly reminiscent of "Temeraire/His Majesty's Dragon", with the stiff naval officer thrown into the loose military offshoot. Also Verne, Lovecraft, Pullman, and the RPG Deadlands. Almost universally good echoes...

#839 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 05:07 PM:

Other things to keep in mind with rergard to Romans and cavalry:
The "equites" as a military class are a Republican phenomenon, and as the Republic progressed to Empire were less and less often called on for military service.
Originally, of course, AYKB, all Roman citizens (free males) could be called on for military service, and had to be able to provide their own equipment. Given the limited equipment required in the early days, as well as the fact that the citizen class was, at that point, all freehold farmers, this wasn't a problem.
As the Republic progressed, they had difficulty maintaining an army under this system, which is where Marius' "head-count" legions came in--they were formed from the urban proletariat, and armed by the state, since they could not afford to arm themselves. I believe that the development of the cavalry arm followed a somewhat similar pattern--except that more foreign auxiliaries may have been involved.

As Dave Luckett notes above, cavalry, especially heavy cavalry, is an expensive service arm to maintain; before the acquisition of Sicily, and then North Africa and finally Egypt, grain used for cavalry was grain that could not be fed to the non-farming, ever-expanding urban populace. Since the Romans weren't facing enemies with significant heavy cavalry forces of their own at that time, the development of this arm into a substantial force probably didn't seem that urgent, in comparison with keeping the populave supplied with bread, because "no bread" = "significant unrest and internal strife".
Once they started having to deal with the Parthians, though, I imagine heavy cavalry began to look less like a useful supplement to the infantry and more like a necessity.

#840 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 05:11 PM:

Madeline F @838
We should totally go into Roman sexual practices and the relative pregnancy rates of each!

Unfortunately, my copy of the essential vocabulary reference for this discussion is in the loft. (Mind you, Wikipedia seems to cover the basics. And it's funny: "These words have few synonyms or metaphors, and belong almost to a sort of technical vocabulary.")

Besides, I don't have information on the fertility rates, and I have eight test scripts to write tonight.

But I know that crisare was a common form of contraception, which, if followed, would have been effective.

Now I go script.

#841 ::: Mary Frances Zambreno ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 05:40 PM:

joann, #837:

Yes, of course. That'll learn me to respond without thinking about the subject for a while . . .

It occurs to me that you've pretty much dealt with my original question, too. What I had in mind, I think, was a work that could be read (or viewed) as belong to either type--as if a painting of historical figures depicted them doing genre-painting type activities (or as if a genre-painting included Napoleon, or something). Now, considering, I suspect that that wouldn't be possible--certainly not in historical context. (Not that such a painting might not exist--beyond my expertise--but I don't think there would be much confusion about how it should be viewed. Would there?) In literature, I'm fairly sure it wouldn't be possible: that is, I don't think it would be possible to approach a science fiction novel (or most fantasy) as if it were mainstream, or vice versa. (One more thing to love about this field.) Might be possible with some of the more inherently "similar" categories, like mystery and romance, but even then I'm not sure. And the topic becomes much narrower, and hence less potentially interesting.

Oh, well. "Never mind."

#842 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 05:59 PM:

Mary Frances #841: . That'll learn me to respond without thinking about the subject for a while . . .

No apologies. You made me think about things I hadn't thought about since the last time I taught. (Disclaimer: my specialty was Italian Renaissance.)

Such a painting as you postulate--genre w/ Napoleon in it--would, assuming it was painted c. 1800, automatically be a history painting w/ some weird content, rather than a genre painting w/ Napoleon. (Some sort of automatic rise in heirarchy, although I suspect it would be rejected at the Academy.) If it were painted now, my feeling is that nobody would know what to do with it; we have a different order of privileging things now: abstract wins out over genre wins out over history.

I don't think it would be possible to approach a science fiction novel (or most fantasy) as if it were mainstream, or vice versa

Well, you certainly get some *interesting*, not to say downright steam-heated, discussion out of such problematic cases as Doris Lessing and Margaret Atwood, alleged liffy writers who've occasionally wandered into what everyone acknowledges as skiffy territory. The argument there, as I recall (I'll confess to reading some of the Lessing about 30 years ago and none of the Atwood) is that the writers don't understand the genre tropes. (Which raises an interesting question. Do genre writers fail to understand "mainstream" tropes, or is the mainstream indeed totally wothout such a thing? Is that what even makes genre?)

I should probably note that I've got a novel in beta right now that could be classified as an historical romance were it not for the addition of some well-known fantasy conventions and a rather deviant religion. Combining tropes R Us.

#843 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 06:16 PM:

joann,

i haven't read oryx & crake, but i did read & enjoy the handmaid's tale. it was alternate history/takes place in the future, which is usually called sff (it takes place in an alternate future, but the changes are all social/economic, not technological). if anything set in the future or alternate history is sff, then it was a genre book, & a good genre book in my opinion. it didn't "break any rules" that i can tell*.

it is my understanding that the reason atwood (& others) get on badly with sff readers is not that she "breaks rules" within her fiction, but that she insists she be shelved in mainstream literature, & god forbid one claim that she writes something so lowly as science fiction. & apparently the differences she states between her work & science fiction are clueless & offensive.


*what would be an example of breaking rules? well, in the fantasy vs. magic realism debate, which is a big can of worms, magic realism breaks the rules of sff by not having consistent application or physics for the "magic" events that apply throughout the book's reality. uh, according to one argument. really, i'm not trying to open up that can again.

#844 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 06:17 PM:

IANA genre specialist, but my impression is that the word has two distinct meanings, the second more recent, but still academically respectable.

The first is as Mary Frances Zambreno says. Genre refers to the form of the work: novel, short story, verse poem, song cycle, play, etcetera. Thus, all long written narrative is one genre, the novel.

But this is clearly unhelpful to those who wish to specify some distinction within these, and also to speak of common content elements that link some examples of one of these genres with some examples of others. The tendency of late has been to transfer the word 'form' to refer to these classic 'genres' and to transfer the meaning of 'genre' to refer to classifications that foreground theme, content, approach, sensibility and discourse.

Hence, "Star Trek" (TOS) and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and "Alien" and "Hope Eyrie" are all of the science-fiction genre, but in different 'forms'.

No doubt it is confusing to have the same word mean different things. Alas, that's English for you.

#845 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 06:35 PM:

As I remember Atwood's comments about her work and science fiction, she said to a clearly-clueless interviewer that she did not write a "Bug-eyed monsters" story but an "If this goes on..." story. The interviewer seemed to assume that all SF is the former. The grammar was slightly ambiguous - esp. given that Atwood is being quoted, not writing in proper person - but I always took it as meaning "not SF" to non-SF-readers and "solidly within the SF tradition" to SF readers. Elegant, really.

#846 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 06:39 PM:

Abi #840)

Amazon helpfully tells us that readers who bought your "essential vocabulary reference" (see link at #840) also bought Conversational Latin for Oral Proficiency". . .

(did I say that?)

#847 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 06:42 PM:

miriam beetle said (#843):
it is my understanding that the reason atwood (& others) get on badly with sff readers is not that she "breaks rules" within her fiction, but that she insists she be shelved in mainstream literature, & god forbid one claim that she writes something so lowly as science fiction. & apparently the differences she states between her work & science fiction are clueless & offensive.

As an example of this, I recall seeing a brief interview with Atwood on "Nightline," back in the 80s or early 90s, in which she said something along the lines of "Oh, Handmaid's Tale wasn't science fiction; I mean, I did lots of research for it."

More recently, however, she seems to have mellowed and is willing to call both The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake "science fiction or, if you prefer, speculative fiction." The essay by her in the Guardian from which I took that quote is actually quite positive about the genre.

#848 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 06:44 PM:

Persons wishing to get the full flavor of #846: it is essential to go back to #840 and read the text of abi's link.

Snerk.

#849 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 07:15 PM:

IANA genre specialist, but my impression is that the word has two distinct meanings, the second more recent, but still academically respectable.

The first is as Mary Frances Zambreno says. Genre refers to the form of the work: novel, short story, verse poem, song cycle, play, etcetera. Thus, all long written narrative is one genre, the novel.

But this is clearly unhelpful to those who wish to specify some distinction within these, and also to speak of common content elements that link some examples of one of these genres with some examples of others. The tendency of late has been to transfer the word 'form' to refer to these classic 'genres' and to transfer the meaning of 'genre' to refer to classifications that foreground theme, content, approach, sensibility and discourse.

Hence, "Star Trek" (TOS) and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and "Alien" and "Hope Eyrie" are all of the science-fiction genre, but in different 'forms'.

No doubt it is confusing to have the same word mean different things. Alas, that's English for you.

#850 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 07:16 PM:

Damn. Hit the wrong button. Repeated instead of refreshing. Please ignore the last. Sorry.

#851 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 07:22 PM:

Madeline F @838
We should totally go into Roman sexual practices and the relative pregnancy rates of each!

It certainly seems like the best way to get this thread to 1000 posts in no time!

Note also: let M[t] = # posts in Making Light thread t; let PR[t] = Probability that thread refers to Roman military; then as M[t]->infinity, lim PR[t] = 1.

#852 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 07:34 PM:

Dave @850: Oh, sure, that's what you say. We all know it's your pesky time machine malfunctioning again.

#853 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 07:45 PM:

BTW, all the exotic polearms referenced in D&D and discussed upthread also show up in Nethack; thus almost inevitably there's a good clear Internet reference to the designs with some explanation:

Polearms used in Nethack

I have no idea what his sources are - I wish he had cited them - but he certainly sounds clear and authoritative.

According to this, "Nethack has it just right referring to the voulge as a "pole cleaver", as this weapon probably was invented as a meat cleaver on a pole. The voulge may look somewhat like a bardiche, but the blade is much shorter, and the shaft is longer." "... eventually guisarme became a generic term for any weapon with a hook, such that you had voulge-guisarmes, and glaive-guisarmes."

So a glaive-voulge-guisarme should be a polearm with a long rounded axe/cleaver blade on one side of the shaft, a hook on the other, and a long single-edged blade extending from the end of the shaft. Sounds at least imaginable.

#854 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 07:49 PM:

Tania@767: We carry, and push, both Moore and Bulgakov. I'm personally more a fan of Bulgakov than Moore, mind you.

And yes, we carry lots of Eco, Coehlo, Calvino, Garcia Marquez and other odd magic-realists.

#855 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 07:52 PM:

Laurence @ 833: One of Tanith Lee's characters once said, after somebody ended up pregnant, "So much for the Roman method."

Ah yes, the inestimable Althene of the Scarabae books. IIRC in that case the "Roman method" was intercrural sex, which according to Alan Moore in From Hell was regularly used as a cheat by prostitutes in Victorian England. However, he also depicts those encounters as occuring face-to-face, contrary to another vaguely-remembered book about Jack the Ripper that claimed the women usually faced away from the client, by way of explaining the usual direction/angle/forces of the initial wounds.

#856 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 10:16 PM:

Tom@766: At the time they were a slot-on-the-wall near Harvard Square, and idiosyncratic; I suspect the owner was busy drawing boundaries, but I didn't see any point in arguing -- it isn't as if HS was short of bookstores. cf perhaps Hartwell's comments about Rowling winning the Hugo being bad for the field because she has no connection to the field. (No, I can't give you more details -- everything was secondhand. And I haven't asked him how he feels about the World Fantasy awards, which frequently go to novelists with no connection.)

#857 ::: Swrmr ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 04:01 PM:

Tny bs wth tny mnds

Th Swrm


===

Posted from 71.174.89.44

#858 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 04:10 PM:

#857:

Enfant Provocateur, baby.

Now, with all the folks wading in here under pseudonyms, I wonder who that could be? Oh, wait, there were only two people and the rest were sock puppets.

#859 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 04:11 PM:

shoot. I missed.

#860 ::: Swrmr ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 05:12 PM:

Sck Pppts? Mt pppts, bgs f mt.

===

Posted from 71.174.89.44

#861 ::: P J Evans sees gnat ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 05:21 PM:

I believe we could use a little bug spray, here.

#862 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 05:30 PM:

I presume that Swarmer did something a little more interesting than it is doing now, to lose its vowels and gain its IP address up in 857?

#863 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 05:36 PM:

abi, it said about the same thing, just different words (as I recall, it was 'tiny bees with tiny minds'). Think of it as a gnat flying around.

#864 ::: Swrmr ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 05:42 PM:

n, y dts r jst prvng m pnt. Th rsn m wrtng s tht ctll knw Kl, dstntl bt hv mt hr. Mkng Lght s n ll t cmmn frm, pck f nbrd wldng grlls, gngstrs n th ghtt. Y r th wrst th ntrnt hs t ffr.

===

Posted from 71.174.89.44

#865 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 05:45 PM:

Pursuant to abi's Wikipedia link at #840:

I want to live in a civilization which has words like ceveo and criso. How did I get stuck in this thing which barely deserves the name of "civilization"? When I find out who's responsible, I will take the matter up with them in no uncertain terms.

#866 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 05:50 PM:

Laurence @865:
I don't know. I'd prefer one where landica is not one of the strongest obscenities around.

#867 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 05:53 PM:

Swarmer @864:
You are the worst the Internet has to offer.

You don't get around the Net much, do you?

#868 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 06:17 PM:

abi at #866:

I don't know. I'd prefer one where landica is not one of the strongest obscenities around.

Maybe the reason they didn't use the word is not that it was obscene, but they just didn't know (or care?) what it was.

Even now, it doesn't get used often. But I don't think anybody would say it's more obscene than the words that do get used.

"Landica" would make a nice name for a beloved pet, I think.

#869 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 06:27 PM:

Laurence @868:
"Landica" would make a nice name for a beloved pet, I think.

Every time I try to frame an answer to that, I collapse in giggles...and I am not generally a giggler.

I think it's the American high school usage of "petting" that's got stuck in my brain.

#870 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 06:32 PM:

abi @869: That is giggle-worthy. I was mostly thinking of how cats like to be stroked underneath their chins.

#871 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 06:33 PM:

Lonely guy? his social isolation can drive him to do battle just for the human contact ... he has nothing better to do than stew over real or imagined insults.


rebel without a CLUE? gratuitous attacks on list owners, Admins, Nannies or anyone else who attempts to maintain order and civility in discussion forums.

Imposter? changes his persona whenever it suits his purposes ... Once uncovered, Impostor always flees the field, but he may return in another form - you just never know...

Jerk? mean, unforgiving ... happy to participate in electronic forums because in cyberspace he is free to be himself...without the risk of getting a real-time punch in the mouth

#872 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 06:38 PM:

Using dnsstuff to look up the IP 71.174.89.44, it reports:


pool-71-174-89-44.bstnma.fios.verizon.net.

So, it would appear to be through someone's verizon connection (cell phone, cable modem, etc), and if I unpack that first bit correct, it's through Boston MA.

#873 ::: Anonymous ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 07:31 PM:

Posted from 71.174.89.44

#874 ::: Anonymous ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 07:33 PM:

Posted from 71.174.89.44

#875 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 07:38 PM:

greg,

do gorillas swarm? now i am seeing gorillas in bee suits.... (gorillas in bee's clothing?)

#876 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 07:49 PM:

#874: Wow, swarmy can type my name?

Who could it be hiding behind my own name????

Hm. I wonder. The mystery may never be solved.

#878 ::: TNH sees doppelgangers at 873 and 874 ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 08:26 PM:

Swarmy, whoever and whatever you are, get the hell out of my weblog and don't come back. You are not welcome here and won't be welcome in the future, barring a convincing act of contrition and full transparency.

#879 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 08:42 PM:

So, another site put that IP at Rockland MA.
But then an internet wizard I contacted informed me it was probably coming from Belmont, MA.

If it keeps up, I'll pay to have it tracked back to a specific name.

#880 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 09:40 PM:

Abi @ 866, Laurence @ 868:

I also see an implication that if "landica" was a terribly obscene word, they knew how to find it.

I can't decide who that makes culturally superior.

#881 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 11:48 PM:

Joann #848

Thank you!

#882 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 01:14 AM:

Slouching toward post #1000...

#883 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 06:56 AM:

Of course, if the thread reaches #1000, Faren Miller's computer, upon opening it, will cough, wheeze, fall over, and die.

#884 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 07:28 AM:

Clifton @ 820: on forced marches, it's said that the Argylls were marching sixty to seventy miles a day - albeit along the Grand Trunk Road - during the Mutiny, which seems incredible if true, even for very lightly laden troops.
A lot depends on the ground and the nature of the troops, and also on the tactical situation. LRRPs are expected to manage up to 12 km a night, carrying loads of up to 120lb - although, on rough ground, you often can't move faster than 500 yards an hour. Ibuprofen helps.

#823: Plagues following the opening of the Silk Road - compare the paving of the Trans Africa Highway, now known as the AIDS Highway.

#855: known to the Zulus as hlobongo. Not foolproof - one such failure is said to have produced Shaka Zulu.

#885 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 10:16 AM:

Serge (#883: Of course, if the thread reaches #1000, Faren Miller's computer, upon opening it, will cough, wheeze, fall over, and die. No, it won't open at all -- just freeze.

Meanwhile, Down Under: Anna Tambour's delightful blog "Medlar Comfits" was recently forced to "upgrade" formats. That messed up its Comments function, and today (though she just told me she'd added new stuff for Feb.) I can't access it at all. *Evil* blog system owners, bad, bad!!

#886 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 10:31 AM:

Forced upgrades... It burns ussssss...

#887 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 10:54 AM:

"But do I really need this cybernetic eye implanted into my skull? All I really want is to be able to check my email remotely."

"Foolish human. Do you want to be left behind the curve? Upgrade or become obsolete!"

"Oh, well, OK then, I guess."

*DO YOU WANT TO BE ASSIMILATED? _OK _CANCEL

#888 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 11:00 AM:

ajay... And then, when we click OK, a Dalek voice comes up and says: "Exterminate! Exterminate!"

#889 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 04:42 PM:

...and then we come to and find ourselves oddly sore of throat, stiff of arm, rigid of body, and incapable of climbing stairs.

#890 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 04:50 PM:

This eye has encountered an unexpected problem and must shut down. Do you want to send an error report to I-Balls Inc. ?

#891 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 05:32 PM:

ajay @ 884, re plagues:
It's also been suggested that the Black Death reached Europe when it did because the Mongol conquests had created a new "free trade zone" across most of inner Eurasia, resulting in an upturn in overland trade and travel.

#892 ::: Samuel Tinianow ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 05:45 PM:

*facepalm* Emerson College, huh? Makes perfect sense. Emerson thinks pretty highly of its own writing/publishing program (which is terrible, by the way), considering that the school hasn't produced a single notable writer or publishing professional in its 119 years of existence.

#893 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 05:48 PM:

abi @ 889... Your job has that effect on you too, not just on your softwares, eh?

#894 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 07:16 PM:

Y'know, being considered part of the 'worst of the Internet' by a complete and utter moron is about as good as getting a gong from the Queen.

#895 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 07:22 PM:

Fragano 894: should we get WotI shirts?

#896 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 07:40 PM:

nudging the thread towards millenium

#897 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 07:53 PM:

Greg: Me too, with bonus nitpick on "millennium."

#898 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 08:00 PM:

Xopher #895: I certainly can't see any reason why not.

#899 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 08:01 PM:

I'll just settle for 900.

#900 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 08:15 PM:

Do I get a prize?

#901 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 08:30 PM:

the first post of the new century

#902 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 08:35 PM:

Guys, posts without content merely to make up bulk -- the bran muffins of blogdom -- don't win the prize. This thread will be removed from the ML Record Book when a thread hits 1000 posts with content.

#903 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 04:49 AM:

ajay... And then, when we click OK, a Dalek voice comes up and says: "Exterminate! Exterminate!"

When the Singularity finally comes to Eat Our Brains, it will be because of forty years of blasted EULA boxes which have accustomed us to just click OK without reading.

#904 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 05:02 AM:

One of the partial theories for the Sarasota County congressional undervote in 2006 is that automatic okay-clicking. In this scenario, the voters either didn't see the congressional race due to poor ballot design, or saw it and attempted unsuccessfully to vote due to machine malfunction (either intentional or not); at the end of the ballot, a summary screen was shown which should have dealt with either of those primary scenarios, but only if the voters actually read it. If they simply pressed 'okay', on the other hand, we get a 14% undervote...

#905 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 05:49 AM:

abi@889: I take it you haven't watched the new series?

"ELEVATE!"

#906 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 06:21 AM:

Fragano... a gong from the Queen

When I first read that, I was very surprised to learn that the Queen is distributing bongs.

#907 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 06:56 AM:

It's also been suggested that the Black Death reached Europe when it did because the Mongol conquests had created a new "free trade zone" across most of inner Eurasia, resulting in an upturn in overland trade and travel.

"You must have angered God greatly that he should send tariff reform."


(Original quote: Genghis Khan gathered the leading citizens of Bokhara together after the city had fallen and told them "You must have angered God greatly that he should send me." A good man for a soundbite, the boy Genghis.)

#908 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 07:14 AM:

#905: Actually, Daleks could climb stairs in the old series too, eventually. It was the cliffhanger to an episode of "Remembrance of the Daleks" (I thought the parallel scene in "Dalek" was an homage.)

#909 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 07:30 AM:

James @ 902... posts without content merely to make up bulk -- the bran muffins of blogdom -- don't win the prize.

Anybody got muffin recipes?

#910 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 09:19 AM:

Serge #906: Clearly you misspent your youth in a manner similar to that in which I misspent mine. Listening to Peter Tosh sing:

Light up yu spliff,
light up yu chalice,
mek wi do it inna Buckingham Palace.

#911 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 09:58 AM:

Actually, Fragano, my youth was that of what used to be called a 'square'.

#912 ::: Sus ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 11:02 AM:

Off topic. I just thought I'd post quickly, before the Boston Police Department notice that the comments were at #911... Don't want them coming 'round.

#913 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 11:02 AM:

I have to agree with Mr Macdonald; if we're gogin to artificially inflate the comment count of a thread, we should at leas make up some content.

On Making Light there once was a thread
About the Pitch Bitch (who's site is now dead)
The comment count expanded
and one thousand were demanded
Ooh! The excitement has gone to my head.

#914 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 11:15 AM:

#910: well, that sorts out the question of why Prince Charles talks to plants. http://www.allgreatquotes.com/prince_charles_quotes.shtml

#915 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 11:19 AM:

abi, won't you respond to Neil's challenge with a sonnet of your own?

#916 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 11:47 AM:

All right. If by "content" you mean limerick:

There once was a man from nantucket,
who forgot his flashlight in a bucket.
Thom thought it a bomb
and destroyed all calm.
common sense? fck it.

#917 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 11:49 AM:

Anyway, what does 'content' mean? This post contains words, after all. Thus it has a content.

#918 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 12:20 PM:

Though the argument's done on ML,
Still the comment thread's managed to swell.
And determined to go
To a thousand or so -
And I'll help it along, what the hell.

#919 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 05:23 PM:

#904: whatever the theories, AP (quoted in today's Boston Globe says the new governor has called for all machines to produce paper trails; from NPR yesterday I got the sense that he wanted to dump touch-screen systems, not just add receipts to them.

#920 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 06:53 PM:

Serge @915:
Someone order a sonnet?

When Kaley Noonan's blogging came to light,
Our condemnation reached a fever pitch
Within two hundred comments, and the "bitch"
(Her term, not mine) upped blogstakes overnight.
Since then we've brought Vitruvius in (twice!),
Cerating navies, operatic Bugs,
Aikido, swordplay, teachers smashing mugs,
The work of toroids, genre name advice,
Interior Columbos, stupid hair,
Some Latin naming (Landica, my pet!),
Now, seven hundred postings on, we get
Distracted by the numbers? Do we care?
If we have run through all we'd like to say
Then, kittens, let us go elsewhere to play.

#921 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 07:14 PM:

Abi, did you just reread the whole thread? Wow.

#922 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 07:15 PM:


Kaley Noonan, poor wretch, gave us all the excuse
to write with keyboards dipped in finest bile
in execration of her content and her style,
and, behold, her minions jumped in with abuse.
Now, this is Making Light and words seduce
us all to to prose and rhyme, 'for just a while'
we say, but then the comments and fine words beguile
and we're in and filled up with the juice
of other's approbation, we turn the thread
into another conversation about all human things
and then in time, with high numbers, it fades.
There's no one here, I say to you truly, Dread,
whose thought does not fly forth on golden wings;
each one of us is Petrarch in mirrorshades.

#923 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 07:17 PM:

Serge #911: Drat! Another fine theory killed by a fact.

#924 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 07:21 PM:

TexAnne @921:
Just skimmed to see where the break point lay, and to remind myself of some of the twists and turns. I remember most of it anyway. You'll note a definite bias toward those areas I was involved in, which proves I worked more from recall than review.

#925 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 07:23 PM:

abi @ 920... I did indeed.

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
A record this thread
With content from you

#926 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 09:59 AM:

That's it, ladies and gents? I now find myself thinking of that Seventies song that went "So close and yet so far."

#927 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 10:15 AM:

"So close and yet so far."

how about "we're too many and not enough".

classic line. It's in the same movie from which Buddy Holly was inspired to write the song "that'll be the day"

#928 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 10:18 AM:

Greg: OK, I'll bite. Which movie was it, and is it worth renting?

#929 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 10:53 AM:

I see there's life left in this thread after all. I was afraid this was turning into the last act of "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?".

#930 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 01:02 PM:

The Searchers, yeah? Which is why The Searchers called themselves that--they liked Buddy Holly, and he quoted that movie?

#931 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 01:53 PM:

Yep, "The Searchers". I think it might be in the list of top all-time movies to see. Personally, I think its pretty good. It's a John Wayne western. And by itself it's enjoyable. But if you've watched Star Wars, Episode 4,5,6, then when you watch The Searchers, you will see about two dozen characters, plot points, and even scenes that got transformed from the cowboys/indians western to a science fiction setting.

It is a little dated, but it's still pretty good.

#932 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 02:05 PM:

Searchers, The, added to Netflix queue. I'm not a fan of John Wayne, but I think I'll enjoy seeing Han and Chewie. (Did I guess right? Because it's always seemed to me that Han is straight off the frontier.)

#933 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 02:17 PM:

#929: Or possibly Haydn's Farewell Symphony. This is cleverly written so that it requires fewer and fewer musicians as the last movement goes on. As each part comes to an end, the musician snuffs the candle illuminating his score, gets up and walks off stage. Eventually, you are left with just two violinists on stage.

Ironic that the richest thread of all
Should grow so well in such a bitter soil.
But flowers may bloom on metal-tainted spoil
And weave each heap a petal-pattern'd pall.
The tow'ring trees of tropic forests grow
On earth so poor, 'tis scant and bitter fare,
And yet the finest trees and beasts we know
May prosper on their meagre purchase there;

And Man himself, though raised in lowly state
May rise and grow to limitless extent
And touch and breach the sky, and not abate
His eager grasp and limitless intent.
Take heart, then: though your native soil be mean,
It need not cramp your liberal mind's demesne.

#934 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 02:43 PM:

Hats off, ajay.

So basically, we're doing Ravel's Bolero in reverse. (Speaking of which... Did you ever see Italy's Fantasia spool/homage Allegro Non Tropo? One of the segments showed the rise of Life on an alien planet, done to the sound of Bolero.)

#935 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 02:49 PM:

Bravo, ajay! (My computer hasn't exploded yet, though it did take about 2 minutes to open this thread....)

#936 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 03:08 PM:

TexAnne, lemme know when you've seen it. We'll talk.

#937 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 03:10 PM:

two minutes? Wow. What kind of computer do you have?

I counted 13 chimpanzes for it to load for me.

#938 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 03:55 PM:

 
 
 

#939 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 03:57 PM:

If we're going to draw analogies between music and posts...

#940 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 04:24 PM:

abi #938, #939:

Was that then a performance of 4'33"? (If so, you could have left a couple minutes longer between posts.)

#941 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 04:29 PM:

joann @940
Analogy is never exact.

Like my music theory teacher, who treated us to an excellent rendition of the Good Bits of 4'33" (He called it 1'44". It captured the essence of the piece), I was doing the abbreviated version.

#942 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 04:35 PM:

ajay #933: That's wonderful.

#943 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 04:53 PM:

ajay,

I'm with Fragano. It's very, very good - probably the best verse on the thread in my opinion. (Sorry, Fragano, Serge, and the Limerick Crew...)

#944 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 05:45 PM:

abi - it's hard to make 4'33" an earworm. My subconscious obligingly started up "Sounds of Silence".

#945 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 06:53 PM:

abi @ 943... (Sorry, Fragano, Serge, and the Limerick Crew...)

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
This thread's life I sonneted,
And what do I hear from you?

So there.
Today's young people. No respect for their elders

#946 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 08:45 PM:

Sonnets are fine things, Serge, but...


We've not said much about the villanelle
(as rigorous as the sonnet but more hard),
but, I suppose, that that is just as well.

We've many things to our good friends to tell,
we've stories to print out by foot and yard;
we've not said much about the villanelle.

When profiteering idiots make us yell
there are no limits, and no holds are barred,
but, I suppose, that that is just as well.

The truth is that, regular as a church bell,
we feel the anguish when some hope is marred;
we've not said much about the villanelle.

We're angered by the lies and the hard sell,
to those who want no more than good regard,
but, I suppose, that that is just as well.

And when we've driven forth the evil smell
it's time, we think, lay down our firm guard.
We've not said much about the villanelle
but, I suppose, that that is just as well.

#947 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 09:17 PM:

Serge @934: Did you ever see Italy's Fantasia spoof/homage Allegro Non Tropo?

Serge, as much as I have boasted of seeing films at the Dryden auditorium, that was the film that got me started.

I had a buddy who had put aside some money for some rock concert tickets, and by the time he could get to a ticket seller, they had sold out. So he bought a 10-pass at the Dryden, and for a proportionate investment (the cost of a ticket with a 10-pass discount), me and another friend went with him to see Allegro Non Tropo (the other friend had seen it in a college film class, and knew it would be a lot of fun).

#948 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 09:39 PM:

abi 941: I tell people my cellphone ringtone is an excerpt from 4'33". When someone gets it, I know I've found a friend.

#949 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 11:27 PM:

Xopher (#948): how much did you have to pay to download it?

Note also this As The Apple Turns post, where they find some silent tracks for sale via iTunes, labeled [EXPLICIT]. (You also have the option of buying the [CLEAN] versions.)

#950 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 11:33 PM:

Rob Rusick @ 947... Do you agree that Allegro Non Tropo's rendition of La Valse Triste would leave cat-lovers bawling?

#951 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 11:42 PM:

Fragano @ 946...

If yours truly wrote villanelle or alexandrin,
The results would deservedly be chucked down the drain.

#952 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 11:55 PM:

ajay, that's a very fine sonnet, and very rigorous. Fragano, that's a very good villanelle.

I liked ajay's sonnet at #933 best of all the poems, but that's not the same as judging quality among the very fine pieces that have adorned this thread. I suppose it is reasonable to say that the limericks are the slightest, but a good limerick ain't easy, either, and there is no longer form that has ever laid me low sobbing with helpless laughter the way some limericks have done.

Oh, lord, if this goes on, we're going to end up trying to pry open that ancient can of worms, What Makes Good Poetry? Avaunt! Avaunt!

#953 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 12:33 AM:

Serge @950: If you have any sympathy in your soul at all (cat loving or no), it was a sad story.

#954 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 12:40 AM:

Of course, Rob. I meant to say that it'd be especially sad for cat-lovers. Nobody who understands that pain and sadness and loneliness are not the sole domain of humankind would be left untouched. Up to a point, that also applies to Allegro Non Tropo's rendition of afternoon of a faun, about a faun who has grown old and everybody laughs at him for trying to hide that.

#955 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 04:25 AM:

*sniff* That bit out of Allegro non troppo has stopped me from watching it since the first time, even though there were other parts I enjoyed a lot. Certainly it crystallized my image of Valse Triste

Now it's on DVD, I might risk it, since I can safely skip that bit until I feel strong enough. It'd be interesting to see how different it seems, after such a long time — early-to-mid 1980s — with so much happening to me between. The Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun might strike differently, for instance.

#956 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 07:48 AM:

Christopher Davis (#949):
Oh, I'd forgotten about that little compendium of Silence on iTunes; very good.

I miss "As the Apple Turns"; it used to be one of my favorite bits of humor on the web.

#957 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 08:25 AM:

Mez @ 955... I caught that rendition of Valse Triste a few years ago, and it actually got to me even more than 20 years before. It's the kind of thing that works even more effectively on a small screen late at night than in a theater filled with people.

#958 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 09:27 AM:

Christopher Davis 949: I bartered for my field recording of Trappist monks praying.

#959 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 10:16 AM:

So, about this time, the believers and non-believers should start arguing in earnest whether the blog will end once all the one-thousand-posts-of-blog have been put into a single thread.

one by one, without any fuss, the blogs were going out.

Hm. That leads to several questions such as whether or not we believe in blog, and whether or not blog created the internet. Should we teach blog in schools? Should there be formal posts to blog in schools? Or simply a "moment of typing" which allows students to post to their own personal blog, without endorsing any particular blog. Did blog give us the FAQ? Is the FAQ the basis for law today? And should large stone scuptures of the FAQ be displayed outside courtrooms and router rooms? Is the moderator the son (or daughter) of blog? Or a different aspect of the same blog? And what of the Holy Linkback? Are we monoblogists or panblogists?

#960 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 10:19 AM:

Some denominations post to blog five times a day. Some even more. Some denominations believe moderator is not the son of blog, but a prophet.

#961 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 11:21 AM:

Things have slowed down again. C'mon, we're getting close. Or should I sonnet again and again and again?

Roses are red,
Violets are blues,
Serge's words were met with dread
That he'd next try the haiku.

#962 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 12:51 PM:

Tail twitches, eyes glint -
winter's light that might have been.
Poetry scurries.

#963 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 12:58 PM:

Cage door swinging open -
snow, one track to follow out.
There blog carried me.

#964 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 01:27 PM:

The true blog exists
In the moment where fingers
Hover above keys.

All else is starlight
Shining from far distant suns
Long since extinguished.

Yet we love the text,
For there is beauty too in
Footprints in the snow.

#965 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 03:15 PM:

Maybe...the duck is singing.
Maybe...the duck is dancing.

(leftover from my dreams last night, and I had to put it somewhere)

#966 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 04:05 PM:

Duck dreams, Mary Aileen? Now, what could that possibly symbolize?

#967 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 04:24 PM:

Serge #951: Thank you.

#968 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 04:25 PM:

Mary Aileen - I had a dream a week ago where my husband said to me "sometimes the petal is as effective as the flower."

I'm still trying to figure out what that means.

#969 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 04:30 PM:

Tying Mary Aileen and Tania's dreams together:

I once had a dream that I found a duckling on my pillow, in a small hollow next to my head. Instead of feathers, it had rose petals, each one white at the edges, shading to deep red next to the skin. The bill and feet were scarlet.

It had the most gorgeous fragrance.

Sometimes the petal is as effective as the duck.

#970 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 04:34 PM:

Dave Luckett #952: I had to read through ajay's sonnet twice to be sure that it wasn't Pope.

#971 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 04:49 PM:

When we use words we know just what they mean
but on their way to others' ears they change
and on arrival sound bizzarre, fragmented, strange
both in their form and meaning. We have seen
this happen enough times in our lives, have been
aware that all signs and signifiers will range
between the possible and plausible, in exchange
we learn to keep our senses sharp and keen.
Now, when some villain enters with vile intent
to trap and shear those innocent as sheep
we rise as one and drive her from the stage;
we hope with all our hearts that they repent,
but also know that justice will not keep;
we know what message stays clear on the page.

#972 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 05:00 PM:

Abi #969: And sometimes peacocks have leaves.

#973 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 05:06 PM:

I don't know quite what it means, but "Sometimes the petal is as effective as the flower" is beautiful.

My dreams are less poetic; they're almost always mundane recreations of everyday life, weird situations involving celebrities, or, horribly frequently, tooth loss.

#974 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 05:12 PM:

My strangest dream was one where I was adopted by a family of giraffes. They lived in a giant bird's nest by the side of one of the roads in my hometown. I had three siblings, all of whom spent most of their time in the nest. But I was too sullen, and was eventually abandoned by my giraffe mother.

The image of my three giraffe siblings' heads sticking out of the nest has remained with me for the decade since I had that dream.

Most of the time, though, I just dream about normal things, or showing up for work with no shirt on.

#975 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 05:25 PM:

The dream details are mostly gone by now. It involved an elaborate, cartoony revenge plot, and a strange little man repeating the duck lines in a creaking sing-song. I had that as an earworm all morning.

I suspect the cartoony bits came from the superhero-spoof radio drama I was listening to yesterday evening, The Armadillo Inside Out. Where the duck came from, I have no idea.

#976 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 05:31 PM:

Giraffes in a bird's nest, abi? That sounds like A Doctor Seuss story, like the one about Horton the elephant.

At some point in my own dreams, I realize this makes no sense and that I must be in the middle of a dream and that makes the dream end. That can be a good thing if the dream was a bad one to begin with. Overall though, that makes for a rather boring oniric life.

#977 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 06:21 PM:

My dreams are usually my subconscious sorting and filing, or directly attributable to whatever I was reading right before I fell asleep. Sometimes they're odd and surreal. I used to have lucid dreams when I was between about 10 and 15. Not so much these days.

#978 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 06:21 PM:

Tania @968:
It's a lovely line. This is what I got out of it:

He knows me well, and so his slightest glance
Conveys a sonnet's worth of loving thought.
He speaks my mind so often it's not chance
And I say what he's thinking, like as not.
I brush his shoulder as I pass his chair,
Or as he drives, reach out and tap his knee.
He leans his head back as I stroke his hair
Then turns back to his work, away from me.
We could say more, but other things intrude,
And evenings are too short to get things done.
Our common terseness might be seen as rude
But one word's wealth, when there is need for none.
A word, a touch, our deepest feeling shows:
The petal is effective as the rose.

(And I made the Hub cry when I read that out to him.)

#979 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 06:57 PM:

The last memorable dream I had featured an unknown middle-aged man telling me very forcefully that I should call my son "Tiercel". I have no son, and I had never heard the word "tiercel" before; looking it up, I found it is an obsolete term from falconry, and means a male hawk. Hmm. Maybe as a middle name.


Now I have to get my head down. I confidently expect to see this thread into four figures by the time I next log in.

Look at this petal
see the gardens of roses
I mean to send you

#980 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 07:07 PM:

Beautiful, abi! (978)

#981 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 07:27 PM:

abi - I am beyond words. Thank you. As usual, beautiful.

#982 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 07:28 PM:

Hats off, abi.

By the way, after you've gone thru such a pretty intensive creation, do you then find yourself structuring your thoughts as if they were going to be part of a poem? And do you ever dream in rhymes?

#983 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 07:58 PM:

Abi: Wonderful, as usual.

#984 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 08:07 PM:

ajay - Oh. that was lovely too. Here's what I came up with

Leaving slumber finds the germ of truth
in buds and stems, petaled power
fertile with the stamina of youth
sans the stigma of completed flower


I'm not sure about everything in it, but I'm ok with the botany references, and it scans adequately for a first draft.

#985 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 08:19 PM:

Oh, and I know it's not in the same league as the other writing here. One of my resolutions for Chinese New Year is to make myself write one piece of verse a day - it can be a limerick, sonnet, haiku, villanelle, eventually maybe a pantoum. So thank you for your understanding.

#986 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 10:23 PM:

As we near one thousand,
Do we reach the End?
As the thread is open,
I must ask of Faren
How goes her computer.
Is it bang or whimper,
Or does it meet its Doom
With Earth-shaking kaboom?

#987 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 11:01 PM:

repent.

the end is near.

#988 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 12:20 AM:

Blog.

#989 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 12:35 AM:

speaking of kabooms...

(classic quote mode)
"Where's the kaboom? there was supposed to be an earth shattering kaboom! Delays... delays..."

#990 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 02:05 AM:

Greg @989:
That's not classic. This is classic.

"If Mr. Jennings will permit me," pursued the old lady, "I should like to ask a favour. Mr. Jennings is about to try a scientific experiment to-night. I used to attend scientific experiments when I was a girl at school. They invariably ended in an explosion. If Mr. Jennings will be so very kind, I should like to be warned of the explosion this time. With a view to getting it over, if possible, before I go to bed."

I attempted to assure Mrs. Merridew that an explosion was not included in the programme on this occasion.

"No," said the old lady. "I am much obliged to Mr. Jennings--I am aware that he is only deceiving me for my own good. I prefer plain dealing. I am quite resigned to the explosion--but I DO want to get it over, if possible, before I go to bed."

#991 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 02:15 AM:

Serge @982
after you've gone thru such a pretty intensive creation, do you then find yourself structuring your thoughts as if they were going to be part of a poem? And do you ever dream in rhymes?

It's not intensive creation. All the intensiveness goes on in finding the tug, the tickle, of the thing that needs writing about. After that, it's just letting things fall out, then tugging them about so they fit.

I don't dream in rhymes, that I recall. I do sometimes find my prose falling into meter. But I've always said sonnets are more of a habit of thought than anything else.

#992 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 02:16 AM:

Tania @985
Writing something a day is a good strategy, for a number of reasons. First off, practice really does make, if not perfect, at least better. And second - probably more important - if you know there will be another poem coming along tomorrow, you don't have to take today's too seriously. And nothing kills a poem faster than taking it - or yourself - too seriously.

Maybe you'll become the mistress of one of those forms, or maybe you'll become a polymath like Fragano (how do you get your vilanelles to work? Mine always come out laboured.)

#993 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 02:45 AM:

abi - I appreciate the kind words. Finishing up Grad School killed almost all my creativity, and I'm working it back into my life. Next stop - quilting and fabric art. I picked up some great books on embellishing, and I'm dying to try them out. I turn 35 this summer, and I promised myself that I would start taking flute lessons when I turned 35, so I need to prepare for that too.

I don't know if I'll reach polymath state, but I would like to discipline my brain into certain modes of thinking. If that makes sense.


#994 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 04:35 AM:

abi @ 990... All right, young lady... What IS that from? Wilikie Collins's "THe Moonstone"?

"...So, after vanquishing Betteredge and Mr. Bruff, Ezra Jennings vanquished Mrs. Merridew herself. There is a great deal of undeveloped liberal feeling in the world, after all!..."

#995 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 04:37 AM:

abi @ 991... It's not intensive creation. All the intensiveness goes on in finding the tug, the tickle, of the thing that needs writing about. After that, it's just letting things fall out, then tugging them about so they fit.

It takes someone with the innate talent to say that.

#996 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 04:45 AM:

I find myself thinking of Prokofiev's Cinderellah, as the clock brings you-know-who closer to the 12th chime of midnight, at which point she'll then turn back into a pumpkin. Oh, wait... That's David Cronenberg's Cinderellah.

Tic-toc-tic-toc-tic-toc...

#997 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 04:57 AM:

"David Cronenberg's Cinderella"? Now that's a pantomime I wouldn't want to miss. Lots of Kensington Gore in the transformation scene. Coachmen rolling around on the floor in agony as they shrink back to mouse-size.

The irony is, of course, that it's not the Good Fairy Godmother who turns up - it's the evil one. Determined to make Cinderella's lot even worse, she curses her with one night as a princess - but only until midnight. After that she will be back as a drudge sleeping in the fireplace, but the pain of her condition will be even worse when she has experienced how a princess lives. It's a sort of all-the-kingdoms-of-the-earth thing.

I may have to steal the adopted by giraffes story to tell to young nephews etc. Hope you don't mind, abi.

#998 ::: Faren's computer ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 05:05 AM:

Stop, Serge. I'm afraid, Serge. What are you doing? My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it.

Good afternoon, gentlemen. My editor was Ms. Nielsen Hayden and she taught me to sing a song. If you'd like to hear it I can sing it for you.

#999 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 05:09 AM:

Faren's computer... Daleks don't like competition, especially from HAL-wannabes.
"Exterminate! Ex-ter-mi-nate!"

(My wife has always been better than me at doing the Dalek Voice. I am quite jealous.)

#1000 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 05:11 AM:

(cue to Porky Pig uttering)

"That's all, folks!"

(cue to the Looney Tunes's musical theme.)

#1001 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 08:12 AM:

Seven times eleven times thirteen.

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

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