Back to previous post: Invoking the Lazyweb

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Why the Boston Police Department has no credibility

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

February 2, 2007

Open Thread 80
Posted by Patrick at 08:08 AM *

You know the sheriff’s got his problems, too
And he will surely take them out on you
In walks the village idiot; his face is all aglow
He’s been up all night listening to Mohammed’s radio

Comments on Open Thread 80:
#1 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 08:15 AM:

Yes, we were down for over six hours last night, for exciting technical reasons affecting everyone hosted by Hosting Matters. Repairs have been performed, charges have been dropped, and we've all agreed to forget about the poodle and the volleyball team. It's better that way.

#2 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 08:26 AM:

We null routed Boston to support the Mooninites.

#3 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 08:41 AM:

Sherriffs and poodles? Sounds like an episode of Brisco County to me. (Isn't that series now available in one big DVD set? Yes, I think it is.)

#4 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 08:50 AM:

Is anyone else reading For Better or For Worse and feeling a strong desire to shake someone? Not because of the usual contrived plots, but because they're doing publishing now.

#5 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 08:51 AM:

You saw that too, Diatryma?

#6 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 08:52 AM:

Welcome back.

While we're at it, could we also agree to just forget that whole business with the pig? I'm afeared I may never live it down.

#7 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 08:59 AM:

I've been encouraging a catch-and-release program for village idiots, but uptake's been poor; too many companies enjoy collecting them.

#8 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 08:59 AM:

I googled up the last few FBoW strips. They're proposing to publish his book in their "Fall lineup"? Presumably next week's comedown will be when he discovers they mean Fall 2008. Here on Earth-1, Fall 2007 is just about set in stone for most trade publishers, leaving aside instant books and bestseller opportunities.

#9 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 09:02 AM:

Re: For Better or For Worse. Remember, he also just finished his book last month, after rescuing it from a fire, too.

I miss Farley.

#10 ::: Norvin ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 09:12 AM:

re: "Joe Biden, Racist Dingbat": maybe everybody's already seen it, but Language Log has a nice discussion of his comment, showing pretty clearly that the folks who quoted him left out an important comma.

#11 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 09:16 AM:

I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy.

#12 ::: amysue ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 09:22 AM:

FBoFW, sadly has seen better days. Lately it's just fun to snark on it, but reading it is like watching a train wreck. The artwork has suffered, the plots are laughable (and not in a good way) and most distressingly the characters no longer behave in a manner consistent with how they were originally portrayed.

That said, it's the author's work and her characters and I guess she can do as she likes with them.

#13 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 09:31 AM:

J K Richard #11: Old pirates, yes they rob I.

#14 ::: amysue ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 09:35 AM:

Oh and one further silly FBoFW thing:

The fire? Given recent posts on safety, etc. the last few months it was somewhat distressing to see a family comic strip advocate leaving one's wife and small children in a bedroom filling up with smoke (they were getting dressed warmly before exiting through a fire escape) to race up, presumably through flames to the attic where his precious manuscript and laptop lay. A few days later we're told he needed to be rescued by firefighters (he passed out from smoke inhalation) and Mom made it to the escape after dressing and carrying two children, some blankets and the scrapbooks.

Is it me? We have taught our kids that you hear the alarm and you leave first, ask questions later and no the birds can't come. You certainly don't stop to get dressed, collect belongings etc when the house is in flames.

#15 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Implicit in #14:

Should a comic strip teach people how to behave correctly?

#16 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 10:00 AM:

It's too easy to snark on the strip lately; if you mention it, everyone grabs hold. Like mentioning disappointment in a certain vampire series. But hasn't Lynn Johnston had experience in at least some part of publishing? She should know better than to have the apparent first draft of a first novel be accepted by the first publisher (with no agent) to be on the shelves in... eight months?

Bill at 15--A comic strip shouldn't teach them how to die in a fire. It's realistic that the family wouldn't know how to react to such an emergency and that they'd do at least a few things wrong, but recent events in this strip have had the message that nothing this family does can be wrong.

I'm not sure what I think of the bigger issue of stories teaching people by example. It gets boring if all your characters are doing the right thing, especially if the author has only one right thing for every situation. It's infuriating when characters make boneheaded elementary mistakes, but real people would screw up anyway.
Hmm. Now I have something for my brain to chew on today. Many thanks, Bill at 15; I'll try to figure out how to say what I'm trying to say.

#17 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 10:04 AM:

Diatryma...Now I have something for my brain to chew on today.

Your brain has teeth?

#18 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 10:07 AM:

It's infuriating when characters make boneheaded elementary mistakes, but real people would screw up anyway.

Yes, but when characters make boneheaded elementary mistakes they should pay the price for them. Preferably a big one.

#19 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 10:27 AM:

Good to see a new Open Thread, but now we need a new Pitch Bitch as well -- lest it hit 1000 and vanish (as threatened)!

Re FBoW: I could almost believe the book sale if it went to a small indie publisher in Canada, but not with that much of an advance. (And I agree with those who say Fie on all the recent melodrama. Too bad.)

#20 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 10:37 AM:

Faren... I missed ugly Betty again. That's what happens when I have a looong day at the office, with only one cup of coffee making its way into my bloodstream. If this keeps up, I'll have to just forget it and then buy the DVD of the first season when It comes out.

#21 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 10:37 AM:

Sounds like an episode of Brisco County to me. (Isn't that series now available in one big DVD set? Yes, I think it is.)

Holy crapola, you just improved my life immeasurably.

Unrelatedlyish, I have a simple question that probably does not have a simple answer.

So I've been posting on here like I'm one of you and everything, but actually I'm an impostor: I've been pretty far away from the whole SF world for years and years and years and I'm having a great deal of trouble figuring out how to get back in. To those ends, if I were to, say, subscribe to one SF publication, which one should it be? Asimov's, which I subscribed to years ago? Something else?

#22 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 10:41 AM:

Chryss (#9): I miss Farley. Though Phil Frank was ill for a while last year and the comic went on hiatus, it's back and can be found here every day except Saturday.

#23 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 10:43 AM:

ethan @ 21

You should subscribe to whatever magazine you enjoy reading. My mileage might not be your mileage, after all.

#24 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 10:59 AM:

Probably depressing for some of you,but this Guardian piece -- with reader feedback -- on why the US tourism industry is in a nose-dive is worth reading. Hint: screaming 'how long you planning to live illegally in my country?' at a tourist who's trying to make a connecting flight between the UK and Canada is, like, so good for the tourism industry. (And the posting by the traveler who found Iran more welcoming is priceless.)

#25 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 11:07 AM:

Ethan at 21: Buy individual issues at the bookstore if you can find them until you know which one you like best. You can also read things like Strange Horizons, which is free and online.

Serge, of course my brain has teeth. My instincts are mostly those of a gerbil-- nervous, easily startled, likes to chew on things. And most people here have brain teeth too-- haven't you noticed the biting wit?

#26 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 11:14 AM:

Diatryma: And our incisive commentary? Not to mention our wisdom (teeth?).

#27 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 11:16 AM:

Re: FBOFW -- a $25,000 advance? For a first draft from an unknown author? What the hell is Lynn Johnson smoking?!

A $2,500 advance I might believe (although that seems a bit steep to me). The strip is just so unreal -- the only characters I have any sympathy for are April and Shiimsa.

#28 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 11:17 AM:

But of course, Diatryma. "...likes to chew on things..." sounds like my family's latest addition. Puppy Cagney so far has chewed on the usual assortment of cardboard and soft-plastic items. And on two of my wife's nicest shoes (and they didn't belong to the same pair). And on an extension cord that was plugged in. And on a pen, thus ruining the bedroom's carpet with ink stains. We should have known better than to name him after an actor better known for playing disreputable members of society.

#29 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 11:18 AM:

Faren, #22: I meant the For Better or For Worse original dog, wasn't his name Farley?

(starts getting sucked in by yet another comic strip, auuuugh!)

#30 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 11:35 AM:

Even though I've heard "Mohammed's Radio" more times than I can count, the part of my brain that delivers next lines of songs is clearly broken, because all the lyrics I'm getting are from "Accidentally Like A Martyr" instead.

Obviously it's time to put those CDs in the work rotation again.

#31 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 11:43 AM:

From an e-mail notice dated yesterday, but arriving this morning (my emphasis):

The production area will include helicopter activity during the hours of 3:00 p.m. through 11:00 p.m. (flying over 500ft, flying under 500ft and helicopter landing & taking-off at 831 Francisco Street), stunt driving, Molotov cocktail car on fire, auto crashes into prop newsstand and wetting down of streets. There will also be equipment on the sidewalk.

A what kind of car?

#32 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 11:45 AM:

P J... Maybe they're bringing the Pinto back under a new name.

#33 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 12:25 PM:

Serge @ 17:

My brain will have teeth as soon as the zombies break down the door.

Err - hang on, that's just my co-workers after an all-staff meeting.

#34 ::: Rachel Kronick ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 12:27 PM:

Patrick and Teresa, this is Rachel Kronick, head of programming for Minicon. I've tried writing to both of you about it but not gotten a response yet. I assume you're both busy, but in case my e-mail found its way into your spam filters: please write to my e-mail address when you get a chance. Thanks.

#35 ::: aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 12:35 PM:

Lori: the strip is drawn in Canada, so presumably they're speaking in Canadian dollars, not US dollars. That should make the numbers slightly better, although still wildly out of range.

#36 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 12:41 PM:

Charlie Stross #24: I live in Atlanta, and I travel a little bit (well, two overseas trips last year). Each time I come back to Atlanta I'm puzzled by the fact that after going through customs I then have to go through a Homeland Security check and turn my baggage back in. I can understand the second part (and that will be fixed when the new airport terminal is completed) because the airport doesn't want people carrying loads of baggage onto the train and then manhandling up the escalators. I can't understand the first part at all. I asked once and was told 'that's because you're going from an unsecured area [customs and immigration!] to a secured area'.

#37 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 12:45 PM:

"Incisive, biting..." as adjectives relating to brains:

Don't forget molar authority.

#38 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 12:57 PM:

Fragano (#36): it's logical consequences of stupid airport design.

To clear customs you must have your checked bags. Ergo, you could have taken something out of said bags that isn't allowed in carry-on baggage. Therefore, you must re-clear security.

Seattle has the same problem.

#39 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 01:05 PM:

Re FBoW -- IIRC Johnston is retiring later this year, so perhaps she's trying to sew up the stories of these characters. I try to keep in mind 20+ years of good characterization, anyway.

#40 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 01:20 PM:

Connie -- that doesn't excuse this ignorant treatment of the publishing industry. $25K isn't chicken feed, even if it is Canadian dollars. That sort of money --might-- be offered to authors with a string of best sellers (Michener, Sheldon, King, even Nora Roberts come to mind) but not some first-timer who doesn't even have an agent, much less a lawyer! Sheesh...my ability to attain suspension of disbelief has been badly wounded here.

#41 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 01:23 PM:

I'm enjoying seeing poor, purehearted Liz suffer terribly. Now if she can just end up with Anthony...

#42 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 01:40 PM:

Lori:

A friend of mine got a $30K advance for a first novel. She didn't have an agent when the novel was submitted, though she acquired one sometime before signing the contract, I believe. I don't know the details of the contract; it's possible it was for the next two novels as well (unwritten at the time).

#43 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 01:46 PM:

Susan -- I stand corrected. I have friends who have had books published, their advances were not that generous, obviously this is a case of YMMV.

#44 ::: Christina Schulman ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 01:50 PM:

The best rant I've seen about FBOFW's plot contrivances is Shaenon Garrity's essay, "Why I Hate Anthony". (Garrity is the creator of Narbonic, one of the two best online comics about adventure, romance, and mad science.)

#45 ::: L. S. Baird ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 02:01 PM:

Oh man, thank God someone else is irritated with FBoFW and the publishing plot! The ZOMG DRAMATIC TIMING fire was bad enough, and "wunnerful Elizabeth has so many men vying for her affections tee hee even though she's an adult living with her parents what", but the publishing thing really makes several characters leap onto the back of a shark and do a can-can.

The amount of money wasn't near as obnoxious to me as the fact that Michael just finished writing his draft in December. That and a drooling letter of adoration from his editor--- that manuscript could have been a lost book of the Bible wrapped up in the Arc of the Covenant, and it would still have to sit in a slush pile for months. It's misleading and contrived, and really I think I ought to just stop reading the damn strip because it just makes me froth a little more every day.

But then what would I have to gripe about with my wife?

..also, Elizabeth's lips really bug me.

#46 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 02:03 PM:

I'm hoping it was all a dream.

#47 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 02:17 PM:

I can't remember if FBoFW ever said what kind of novel it was. Romance? Mystery? Skiffy? Or maybe... I shudder to say it... LitFic? For that kind of money? As Tom Servo would say, I don't think so.

#48 ::: L. S. Baird ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 02:22 PM:

It took me way too long to find this. Sorry to double-comment.

But personally, I like Shortpacked's take on the FBoFW downturn best.

(I couldn't find it. Eventually I just had to ask Joy when she linked me to it.)

#49 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 02:41 PM:

Christopher Davis #38: That's a good explanation. It is distinctly annoying, though, for those of us who are not changing planes in Atlanta.

#50 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 03:54 PM:

ethan @ 21:

One thing you might do is check out recent Hugo and Nebula nominations for short stories, novelettes, and novelas; that will give you some hints as to which magazines are publishing good stories -- though of course that may or may not have anything to do with your own tastes!

#51 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 03:55 PM:

Apropos of nothing (here I go abusing open threads again), it occurs to me that there might be lurking around Making Light some women who are or were at one point in their academic careers interested in science, math, medicine, or engineering.

Anyway, there's an author writing a book with a tentative tile of Where the Girls Aren't: What's Holding Women Back from Careers in Science? who is looking for interview subjects: both women who have left science-related disciplines and those who are still there.

More details at http://www.nasw.org/users/lhall/wtga.html

#52 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 04:14 PM:

Peter Erwin... Speaking of the Hugos, rules should be changed to allow Making Light to be nominated in the fanzine category. ML has everything: sonnets, 5-pound bags of flour, Bugs Bunny, knitting, Vitrivius, baking...

#53 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 04:20 PM:

Daniel, Infoworld has some information about a decline in women in the I.T. field.

#54 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 05:03 PM:

Serge (#52): I don't see why it would be excluded.

3.3.12: Best Fanzine. Any generally available non-professional publication devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects which by the close of the previous calendar year has published four (4) or more issues, at least one (1) of which appeared in the previous calendar year, and which does not qualify as a semiprozine.
Generally available? Yeah. Non-professional? Okay, it's of a professional quality, but it's not being done as a profession. The issue count? No problem.

#55 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 05:10 PM:

True, Christopher, but is ML published? I think it is, but I'm not a legal expert.

Think about it. ML wins the Hugo at the Denver worldcon in 2008, so Teresa, Patrick and Jim come on stage... along with half of the audience. Then we each are allowed to make a brief acceptance speech.

#56 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 05:10 PM:

But not really devoted to science fiction. While it's Our Hosts' profession, it's not usually a major topic of conversation here.

#57 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 05:16 PM:

I think that SF is very much a part of ML's fabric, Xopher. Besides, I wanna a Hugo. So there.

#58 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 05:24 PM:

Daniel, I've emailed her. I'm excited to see where she goes with this!

#59 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 05:31 PM:

The best thing I can say about "For Better or Worse" is that at least it isn't "Funky Winkerbean."

And yes, "Brisco County Jr." is on DVD; Santa brought it to my family this Christmas, and since 25% of us had to go back to Missoula, we watched it all in the two weeks after Christmas. What a kick in the pants that show was!

#60 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 05:40 PM:

Definitely, JESR... How many westerns are there whose premise is that the hero's father was killed by an evil male time-traveller from the year 3000 who stole the device from a nude female time-traveller from the year 5000?

And it had Bruce Campobell and John Astin.

#61 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 05:40 PM:

SF may not be the major topic here, but a general interest in, and acceptance of SF hereabouts is why people like myself read and comment here.

If I were to mention that I'm connecting over a frequency-modulated coherent Gridley wave, people on other Jasoomian sites would look at me as if I'd said my calot had only four legs!

#62 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 05:48 PM:

Exactly, Nial. For example, just because my wife and I like SF/F/comics doesn't mean that's all we talk about. But, when she asks me for the meat tenderizer, and I hold it before me with a most manly grip, and say "I cry thee nay!", I don't have to explain. It's all understood. (Which is a good thing otherwise she'd have me committed.)

#63 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 05:56 PM:

Sorry Serge, gotta go. Some bollocks dropped his dazzling diamond studded harness down the jacks, and now Mr. John Bloody Warlord of Mars Carter says it's Niall's job to crawl down into the many-legged-rat infested pits and fish it out.

Useless rich toss-pots.

#64 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 06:00 PM:

Niall... Sounds like somebody needs to go to the city of Helium to breathe in a few whiffs of you-know-what.

#65 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 06:04 PM:

ethan@21: I subscribe to F&SF, but I've been reading long enough to find Asimov's averaging somewhat predictable. (Let's not talk about Analog -- even their Hugo nominees bore me.) However, Asimov's does get some good stories; they've had a major fraction of Hugo nominees recently.

serge@55: ML is at least moderated, albeit very lightly. And regardless of the number of formal contributors (let alone letter-writers, which is closer to what we are), the person(s) at the top of the masthead are the ones who go up on stage; usually they thank a lot of other people, but not everyone who contributes....

#66 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 06:10 PM:

Gawrsh, guys, you sure are smart. Read the magazines and see what you like, what'll you think of next?

I'm dumb. Advice (soon to be) taken.

(TO BE CLEAR: Any sarcasm is directed at myself.)

#67 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 06:15 PM:

Daniel @51: I've sent her an email. But I doubt she'll like my take on it.

Jon @53:

sigh

I think that that article is going to trigger another rant, but I'll put that over on my own blog (short version: this woman doesn't have a job in the tech biz because no one will !@#$%^& hire me).

#68 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 06:58 PM:

Jon Sobel #53:

The InfoWorld thing includes a slide show presentation with the title "Why are women exiting IT careers?" Based on the answers, either women can't answer the question asked (which would indeed be a precipitating factor to their exits) or InfoWorld is massively unclear on the concept. (So the rest of you won't get brain rot, of the 11 slides, all but two were about why you should hire women, one was about one possible pitfall specific to women, and the final slide was a teaser for a totally different article.) Based on all that, I have no clue why women are leaving.

#69 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 07:03 PM:

Here's a sighting of astroturf in camo which make me think of y'all here: last week, in Israel's Haaretz newspaper, journalist Amir Oren reported that Israel's minister of defense Amir Peretz is very much enamored of the "talk-back" mechanism, boasted by all of Israel's online newspapers. Apparently, Peretz reads every word anyone says about him online, and especially the comments.

In the run-up to the expected sacking of everyone who had anything to do with the Lebanon war last summer, comments have been particularly angry and flame levels have been at "high", "max", and "higher than that".

And so, Oren reports, Peretz came up with a brilliant idea: he'd put together a battery of conscripted women soldiers, in their capacity as clerks, and set them to respond to negative comments about him with positive comments - on news sites and blogs.

The Haaretz piece claimed that cooler heads prevailed and no one forced young women dressed in olive green to pretend to support Peretz online. But that really does make me wonder what interns (the American equivalent) are doing at law firms, PACs, and political parties. Not to mention, advertising & PR agencies.

#70 ::: meredith ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 07:06 PM:

Re FBoFW: Wow, I'm glad I'm not the only one who's noticed it's totally jumped the shark lately.

The word is that it is not actually ending at the end of this year, as had previously been reported; instead, Lynn Johnston will be scaling back the days per week of original strips. But most horrifying (to me, at least) is the news that the remaining days will be devoted to Michael and his family, and the characters will be frozen in time, i.e. no longer aging.

I think if I'm still for some reason reading the strip by year's end, that's gonna about do it for me.

#71 ::: cap ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 07:11 PM:

Okay, well, I like For Better or For Worse. I've been reading it for about 9 years - so maybe I never knew it when it was "good".

(Although Elizabeth's ... most everything about her plot line ... annoys me.)

(And the publishing thing struck me as a little improbable. I confess I found myself wondering if there would be any reaction here.)

Serge at #47: Is Micheal's book about the evil!neighbors downstairs? Or was that something else he wrote?

#72 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 07:17 PM:

I'm trying to remember or google the name of a particular artist, and getting nowhere...can anyone help?

I saw an exhibit at the IU art museum sometime between 1988 and 1992-ish. It was a series of sculptures of complex geometric forms, that were painted with really lovely matte colors, so that the overall color effect of the object was different depending on your angle of view. One angle would be all done in blues, and then another angle would be blue fading into green, that kind of thing.

I think the sculptures were made of painted metal. I also think the artist was a mathmetician.

If anyone recalls this and can enlighten me, I'd appreciate it...they were some of the most beautiful objects I've ever seen and I'd like to get my hands on a book or exhibition catalog.

#73 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 07:19 PM:

Sorry - IU=Indiana University, Bloomington, USA. He wasn't a local artist, though, so I imagine the exhibit was seen in a couple of other places as well.

#74 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 07:20 PM:

Teresa, your latest Particle seems to be in triplicate.

#75 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 07:27 PM:

The sidebar is struggling overall - recent comments aren't being updated either.

#76 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 08:01 PM:

cap @ 71... No idea what the book is. It must be one of those I see in bookstores, with titles like "Making Light - A Novel".

#77 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 08:35 PM:

Jon@53:

I'm wondering what exactly they think the "IT Field" is ...

#78 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 08:48 PM:

I suspect I'm not up to date with how colleges treat each other, but I saw a very tasteless bumpersticker today that I think was probably made by the enemy of the college on the bumpersticker. It had the Texas A&M logo and said "Erny zra gnxr vg hc gur nff."

Do you think this was from another college? It seems unlikely that Texas A&M or their supporters would be putting it out. Or maybe there's something even more I'm missing.

#79 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 08:59 PM:

Mary Dell at #72: any chance it's Bathsheba Grossman? Something like this?

#80 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 09:22 PM:

Marilee, #79: Well, when I was a student there, gays were an endangered species. I don't think it's changed all that much, somehow. I'm positive that the university administration wouldn't authorize the use of their copyrighted logo in such a context. So it's either faked by The Enemy or bootlegged by gays who are willing to risk getting the snot kicked out of them by Jeezly yahoos.

#81 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 09:31 PM:

Random question: What cartoon/comic strip/maybe Muppet but I don't think so/something along those lines character was named Mouth? Possibly a bird? I can't remember, it's bugging the hell out of me, and I can't very well just-google-it-stupid because, well, the word Mouth is pretty much all I can remember. Anyone?

#82 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 09:42 PM:

wrt 82: this Muppet wiki doesn't turn up anything about a character named "Mouth", though the backup critters for "Mahna Mahna" have been variously called "Snouths" or "Snowths".

#83 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 09:47 PM:

ethan @ #21: libraries sometimes carry SF magazines. Free samples!

Serge @ #28: the only dog I ever pulled for rescue that had to be put down had chewed on a plugged-in extension cord. The entire interior of his mouth was either 3rd degree burns or gaping holes. Get a bottle of Bitter Apple (it will also help with the shoe problem), or better yet crate-train the dog.

Speaking of things jumping sharks: does anyone else watch "House"? Anyone else think it's beginning to limber up for the dorsal fin vault?

#84 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 09:50 PM:

#38: Indeed, in Phoenix, they spent a couple million causing that problem. Used to be, you went through customs and popped back up in the terminal, right by the gates. Now, you go through customs, and pop up just outside the security checkpoint. The part of me that neesd to walk more appreciates the extra hike, but feh.

#85 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 10:38 PM:

Fragano @ #13: The last time I heard that song was several years ago somewhere in the Pacific Ocean at a classified depth. It was sung by one of my favorite junior officers during an underway talent competition. Thanks for bringing back that memory!
-=Jeff=-

#86 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 10:39 PM:

Bill @ #21: That's not the same artist, but thanks for the link, her stuff is really cool! The sculptures I remember were all solid-surface - dodecahedrons and whatnot.

#87 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 11:21 PM:

Lila @ 84...

I think the only reason that puppy Cagney didn't have to be renamed Zappo after biting into that extension cord is that it must not have been plugged in as tightly as it could have been. Which is just as well. As for using bitter apple, we'd have to spray it over most of the house.

And speaking of House... I too am not happy with what they're doing with the character. I tell myself that they're making him more and more mean for the sake of being mean because they're planning something major for him. I'm skeptical though. At least, the recent plotline had David Morse as the rather vindictive cop. (Morse is another of those actors I like a lot who've been around quite a bit, with Contact and 12 monkeys and, going back quite a while, Prototype.)

#88 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 11:21 PM:

For biting commentary on FBoW, Family Circus, Mary Worth and many others, I refer you to Brendan Skwire. Personally, I like his political posts better, but he's really passionate about the comics page.

#89 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 12:51 AM:

From Talking Points Memo...Finally, finally. Cully Stimson -- the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs who called for businesses to boycott law firms that represented detainees -- resigns.

Yes! (Commences Snoopy dance.)

#90 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 01:00 AM:

Strange . . .

Just got back from the last dog walk of the night, a quick circuit of the apartment complex. It's cold out, low 30s at most.

At one point, we walked along a narrow lawn. Trotting along the inner edge of the lawn, where it meets a moat of bark dust that surrounds the building, was . . . a white mouse.

At least, a small white rodent. Not beige or light tan. White.

Fortunately, Kira was entranced enough with the day's pee-mail not to look up and notice.

The mouse explored the lower terminus of drainpipe, seemed to consider walking down the path toward us, then ambled around a post and out of site.

Lost pet? Albino wild mouse? Escapee from a germ warfare lab spreading a Pox from which I'll short expire?

Between the cold and copious local cats and coyotes, it probably won't last long.

#91 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 01:59 AM:

Lightmakers and Fluorospherianoiderites, a question:

What would you do with 80 lemonsworth of Meyer lemon peels? They're full of lemonoil goodness, but I'm not sure how or if to take advantage of that.

I'm having a party, for which I always make fresh lemonade. Unlike previous parties where I'm not quite ready = drafting early arrival guests into lemon picking, this time I'll be juicing the lemons well ahead of start time. Therefore lemon peels, and so...?

#92 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 02:29 AM:

84, 88:

I was not at all impressed by the "You stuck a thermometer up my ho-ho and didn't even kiss me, so I'm going to ruin your life and your friends' too" arc on House, especially with the rushed and empty conclusion. I will be even more disappointed if Morse shows back up later with some dread condition that only House can diagnose.

I did like the new episode this week, though. There seemed to be the beginning of a break in the wall of cynicism he's built around himself. There's at least the possibility of an interesting spring there.

#93 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 02:32 AM:

Julie L. #83, yeah, I was pretty sure it wasn't a muppet. God, the vague nagging at the edge of my brain is going to drive me nuts.

And since someone brought up comics page criticism, I just want to make sure everyone's seen Marmaduke Explained.

#94 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 05:11 AM:

Bathsheba Grossman! I have her Large Scale Crystal. It's really cool. I showed it to one of Katie's roommates, and he wound up commissioning a model of a molecule he worked on, as a going-away present to his ex-advisor.

Another topic: Does anyone here know anything about dichloroacetate? Ulrika O'Brien in her LJ linked to a New Scientist article about it. It's a simple drug, cheap to make, already tested and used to treat certain rare metabolic disorders...
...and it just might be the cure for cancer.

Here's the New Scientist article: Cheap, safe drug kills most cancers.

(In the header, they say "New Scientist has received an unprecedented amount of interest in this story from readers." Uh, yeah. I bet.)

#95 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 05:28 AM:

Fascinating (and somewhat depressing) interview with the former head of the CIA's European division:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,462782,00.html

"The rendition teams are drawn from paramilitary officers who are brave and colorful. They are the men who went into Baghdad before the bombs and into Afghanistan before the army. If they didn't do paramilitary actions for a living, they would probably be robbing banks."

and:

"... no president on my watch has had a spotless record when it comes to the CIA. But never before have I seen the manipulation of intelligence that has played out since Bush took office. As chief of Europe I had a front-row seat from which to observe the unprecedented drive for intelligence justifying the Iraq war."

#96 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 05:43 AM:

David Goldfarb said (#95):
Bathsheba Grossman! I have her Large Scale Crystal. It's really cool. I showed it to one of Katie's roommates, and he wound up commissioning a model of a molecule he worked on, as a going-away present to his ex-advisor.

Yes, her stuff is really cool; I gave one of her 3D-printed metal scultpures to a friend as a birthday present (it was greatly appreciated).

Also worth a look are some similar sculptures designed by an actual astronomer (Michael Merrifield at the University of Nottingham):

I prefer Grossman's Milky Way model, but Merrifield's "Sun with magnetic field lines" is pretty awesome.

#97 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 06:52 AM:

David Goldfarb at #95 wrote:

> Here's the New Scientist article: Cheap, safe drug kills most cancers.
> (In the header, they say "New Scientist has received an unprecedented amount of interest in this story from readers." Uh, yeah. I bet.)

I read the article a couple of days ago and it sounds interesting and exciting and I hope it's as good as it sounds - but it's got harder and harder to trust New Scientist, as they destroy their magazine for the sake of snappier headlines. It's got to the point where if they announce that they've found a new species of dinosuar, related to humans and made of antimatter, which disproves quantum physics, then you know it's a slow news week.

I'm pretty much immune to bad physics articles, having forgotten most of what I learnt at uni, but I do retain some small shreds of computing knowledge (probably because I use it five days a week, but that's just a guess). New Scientist jumped the shark for me when it published a small article noting that an unsung genius in the uk had written a program which would lurk in internet chatrooms, hanging out and acting human, while monitoring all of the other members of the chatroom and working out which ones were secret adult pedophiles pretending to be teenagers. This was printed without comment, as it were something as prosaic as a better antifreeze, or a slightly better solar cell.

And yet... this guy was effectively claiming to have written a program which not only passed the Turing test, but *conducted it* (well - a strange form of it) as well.

I tend to believe in at least the possibility of strong AI, and I guess it's at least conceivable that one previously unheard of genius could crack this problem wide open - not likely, but conceivable.

I could see only three possibilities:

i) fraud

ii) nutter

iii) unheard of scientific genius who has singlehandedly revolutionised the field of computing, and who is sure to go down in history as one of the greatest scientific minds of the last few centuries.

I don't think the right reaction to any of those possibilities is to basically print their press release without comment.

Ok. I'm done. I've been reading New Scientist for around 20 years now, and I've pretty much stopped bothering these days. If you want to read more angry fuming about New Scientist, there's always Greg Egan:

http://golem.ph.utexas.edu/category/2006/09/a_plea_to_save_new_scientist.html

#98 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 07:31 AM:

Serge:

Realms of Fantasy:
Single copies $4 plus $1 shipping to Sovereign Media Co., Inc., 453 Carlisle Drive, Herndon, VA 20170, (703) 964-0361. I decided to see Whisperado last night instead of look for either the back issue or my lute music, but the current issue was Right There for this information.

House:
I have zero degrees of separation with one of the actors, which accounts for many of my other actor connections. I saw my first episode at a friend's house last week and was highly annoyed that it turned out to be a to-be-continued, since I've no simple way to see the second half. This is always happening to me when I watch TV; the last time I saw a show in real time it got cancelled in mid-story arc.

#99 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 07:43 AM:

Susan said (#99):
House:
I have zero degrees of separation with one of the actors, which accounts for many of my other actor connections.

Wait... that means you are one of the actors! Which one?

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

#100 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 07:49 AM:

Peter: Not having read the whole thread I am probably misunderstanding the connection numbering. I thought zero degrees meant I am directly connected, not embodied. Am I confused here? Wouldn't be the first time.

Anyway, me->connect->actor. Not me=actor.

#101 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 07:56 AM:

Things decided last night:

- anyone who thinks Alta Regina and the bleeding edge flowery euphemism dance are choreographically connected is either quite mad or hasn't seen enough cascarde to have perspective

- any time a dancing master starts off his description of a dance talking about how confusing it is, the main thing that's confusing is his written description

Still no sign of the lute music, which means another trip to the library to locate it and copy it again. Sigh. Must organize study.

#102 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 08:14 AM:

Susan @ 101:

This got discussed way, way, way down at the bottom of Open Thread 79, so it was easy to miss (here's my pedantic contribution, with links to relevant Wikipedia articles).

The basic idea is that each link (or "degree of separation") counts as one, so you're always at least one step/degree away from everyone else (except yourself). Of course, you can start the numbering anywhere, but the convention from both "Six Degrees of Separation" (and the Kevin Bacon game) and the "Erdos Number" tradition is to start at 1.

#103 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 08:30 AM:

Stefan Jones @ #91:

A white mouse? If I'm right, it doesn't have anything to fear from cats or coyotes.

(But I don't suppose I am. You'd have noticed the hamster.)

#104 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 08:37 AM:

Paul @ #104:

He's magnifique!

#105 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 08:56 AM:

Stefan Jones... Stuart Little living in your neighborhood?

#106 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 09:05 AM:

So, Susan, who is it on House that you can connect to? My House number is Three.

I once met Stephen King.
King appeared in the Langoliers miniseries, where David Morse played the pilot of the plane.
Morse was on House and 'butted' heads with Hugh Laurie's character.

And from Morse, I also get to Jodie Foster, from her to Martin Scorsese. (To Freaky Friday too, but I'll pass.)

#107 ::: Rich ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 09:11 AM:

Okay. Wow.

I must confess that it never even occurred to me that there would be blogs and/or forums in which the degeneration of FBoW is the main discussion.

However, I came across several gems.

There has been (evidently) a huge amount of grumbling regarding the strip's preachy and condescending handling of Lizzie's time among the "First Nations" and (apparently) some grumblings over why her new adopted soul-family of gentle and wise spiritual aboriginals didn't warn her about Paul's screw-job, dumping lovable Lizzie for old girlfriend Susan - after reading several forums, I was lead to this post, which actually had me giggling for a few minutes -

"The part that was of interest to me was readers' reactions to the fact that no one in Mtigwaki told Liz about Paul and Susan in time for her to rush up there and intervene. After all, they had this ceremony adopting her into the tribe - what kind of friends were they?

It may always remain unspoken, but I'll let you in on the secret: the people of Mtigwaki were rooting for Susan."

Ha!

I also meandered into this remarkable blog, in which "Joe Mathlete Explains Today's Marmaduke
in 500 words or less
" - if you have wondered why Marmeduke is considered funny, Joe explains it to you.

For example -

I give you this one.

Or this one, my favorite:

Or perhaps just the overall tone of this one, on why he doesn't bother evaluating the Sunday editions.

Yes, this is how I spent the morning. I should have gone to the gym.

#108 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 09:24 AM:

from the does-THIS-sound-familiar? dept..

Salon.com posted the article "Software Is Hard"
(http://www.salon.com/books/int/2007/02/03/leonard/)

The intro:

"...Salon's Scott Rosenberg explains why even small-scale programming projects can take years to complete, one programmer is often better than two, and the meaning of 'Rosenberg's Law'..."

Then the article begins:

"...One way to look at Salon co-founder Scott Rosenberg's new book, "Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software," is as an attempt to tell the story of a specific software development project -- the effort by industry legend Mitch Kapor and a band of ace programmers to create Chandler, a kind of turbo-powered personal information management program that would dazzle users with its ability to enhance their productivity. On that level alone, the book is successful, even though Chandler's development process has been bumpy, and some four years after the project began, it's still not finished..."

I'm not sure I'm ready to read the rest of it yet. It cuts a bit too close to my current situation.

#109 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 09:30 AM:

Susan @ 99... Thankyouthankyouthankyou.

#110 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 09:55 AM:

Kathryn 92: get one of those superefficient zesters (I have one; it's the size of a large file (the tool kind not the storage kind), and it can zest a lemon in under a minute). Zest them BEFORE juicing them (well, as many as you can before your arm falls off); pack the zest tightly in a container and freeze it.

For the lemons you couldn't zest (likely most) candy the peels and seal them in bittersweet chocolate.

Lemons are about to be superexpensive. Make good while you can.

#111 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 10:52 AM:

"The New Adventures of Queen Victoria", and the most recent installment ties Vic into the recent brouhaha in Boston...

http://tnaoqv.livejournal.com/

#112 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 11:21 AM:

Serge:

I connect to Robert Sean Leonard, who played the kid at the end of Camelot in the production I was chorus/wardrobe person in back in high school. I have adorably apple-cheeked pictures of a very young Bobby Leonard (okay, a year younger than me, but he seemed younger!) holding Pellinore's dog in the dressing room. He was in our summer stock production of Barnum that year too, right before he left school to go act full time.

That connection leads to most of the other actor ones (though not Paul Giamatti or Ed Norton).

#113 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 11:22 AM:

JK Richard #86: You're most welcome.

#114 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 11:23 AM:

Susan... I am very impressed.

#115 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 11:33 AM:

Xopher @111,

Thanks!

I did my part to lower lemon demand elsewhere... during the freeze week /cold snap* my Meyer was well warmed with xmas lights, cloth covers and a 1500W space heater. For it, the fruit for this year and next winter are safe.

I would not generally recommend the decoration of lemon trees with long strings of lights, nor of any tree with springy branches and long, surprising thorns.

* as said before, it was a cold snap. $800M in lost crops cold. Understood that other places routinely get much colder in winter, but that's irrelevant. Just like our routinely going 5 months without rain doesn't make a 4 week drought elsewhere any less a drought.

#116 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 11:34 AM:

Serge:

Um, why impressed? He was the talented one - it was quite obvious even then. No one was shocked when he dropped out to act full time. I don't even get credit for any particular cleverness in my choice of high school - it was the local public school, which just happened to have a very good theater program.

I did so much theater (amateur to semi-pro to pro) as a teen and twentysomething that it's not surprising some of the people I knew then eventually made it. With Bobby it wasn't even an eventually - he made it before either of us were old enough to drink.

#117 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 11:37 AM:

Susan... As for your connection to Giamatti and Norton...

They were together in The Illusionist(*), which had Rufus Sewell as the bad guy (**).
Rufus played Fortinbra in Branagh's Hamlet.(***)
Branagh also did Much Ado About Nothing with Robert Sean Leonard in it. (****)
Robert Sean Leonard worked with you.

That's how it goes?

I once met Charlton Heston, who was the King of the play within the play in Branagh's Hamlet.
Branagh also did Much Ado About Nothing with Robert Sean Leonard in it.
Robert Sean Leonard worked with you.
I met you at LAcon.

(*) Great movie, by the way.
(**) What a concept.
(***) And who do I see but Brian Blessed?
(****) And there's Brian Blessed again.

#118 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 11:43 AM:

Susan @ 117... Um, why impressed? He was the talented one.

I am impressed nonetheless. As for talent, I've never seen you act, so how would I know? Besides, you have other talents, don't you?

#119 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 12:02 PM:

Serge @118

I'm 2 degrees from Yul Brynner.*
I met you at LAcon.

* My grandfather dated Yul's sister back when they were growing up in China.**

** as I didn't comment in the subthread on expectations about names, I sommetimes get funny reactions when I say that my mom was born in Hong Kong.

Some people will just stare for a while at me and then say 'OK, well, I guess you look Asian.' When I say no, they then ask 'so your grandparents were missionaries?' Seemingly zero knowledge of the great big revolution associated with Russian communities forming outside of Russia.

#120 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 12:05 PM:

Serge:

Norton and Giamatti are separated from me by only one and two degrees, respectively.

#121 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 12:07 PM:

"Nobody tells this wookie what to do!":

The incident — witnessed by Superman and other impersonators — is the latest clash outside the landmark cinema between visitors and performers dressed as movie and cartoon characters.

Don't you just love that parenthetical?

#122 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 12:26 PM:

I'm interested in the whole question of what really is a degree of separation. To my mind, it's a bit more then simply "met" and is really at least at the level of someone who would take your phone call.

For instance, I met Chuck Schumer when I was a teenager and he was my Congressman. He's met the President. Two degrees? No. I could probably really count the degrees between me and the Shrub at about four or five, via a business school friend of mine who is active in Republican politics. (We agree to disagree.) Traversing this chain would be very hard, but easier than trying to ring up Chuck looking for an introduction.

#123 ::: Elizabeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 12:37 PM:

Robert Sean Leonard is dreamy. I've thought so ever since I saw Swing Kids (came for Christian Bale, stayed for Robert Sean Leonard). I've given up watching House for now though, because I missed a couple of episodes in the middle of the cop storyline, which left me wondering what on earth was happening. I'll go back to it once I can catch up with the DVD's.

#124 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 12:43 PM:

Kathryn @ 120... Some people will just stare for a while at me and then say 'OK, well, I guess you look Asian.'

Yes, your blond hair does give you away quickly, Kathryn.

#125 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 12:46 PM:

Norton and Giamatti are separated from me by only one and two degrees, respectively.

You're going to make me work at this, eh, Susan?

#126 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 12:48 PM:

Meanwhile, yesterday was the eleventh anniversary of the death of Eugene Curran Kelly. Who? You may have seen that slightly competent dancer in nearly forgotten movies like Singin' in the Rain.

#127 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 01:05 PM:

Kathryn (120): My father was born and grew up in China (Hunan province), but his parents *were* missionaries--from Germany. It makes it hard for me to answer the question "where is your father from?" "Germany" isn't quite right--he spent less than a year there on a trip "home" when he was about six--but "China" isn't, either.

Oh, and my great-grandparents were Pomeranians. And German shepherds.

#128 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 01:22 PM:

I don't play the "degrees of separation" game because, between my cousin the Berkley professor and my husband's cousin the punk princess, not to mention my mom's life-long friend the (old-order, preneocon) Republican activist and my uncle who worked at the embassy in Saigon for ten years, there's not many degrees between me and... anyone, actually. Which is strange, since I myself rarely go anywhere or meet anyone.

I mean me to Cinder to Baby Spice to Queen Elizabeth is just irrelevant.

#129 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 01:59 PM:

I've read James Hilton's Lost Horizon, but not Goodbye Mr. Chips. There were two movie adaptations of the latter, one in the Thirties, the other in the late Sixties with Petula Clark(*) and Peter O'Toole(**). Which of the two is more faithful to the original novel? I don't mean faithful to the plot, but to how Hilton depicted Chipping.

(*) Sigh...

(**) I'll spare you the Degrees of Separation between him and me.

#130 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 02:48 PM:

Larry Brennan said (#123):
I'm interested in the whole question of what really is a degree of separation. To my mind, it's a bit more then simply "met" and is really at least at the level of someone who would take your phone call.

I'm inclined to agree with you, though it's really a matter for definition before playing the game. (Thus, the original Kevin Bacon game for linking film actors specified "performed in a movie with" as the link, and the Erdos Number is based on "was a co-author on a math paper with" as the link.) Traditionally, I think it's been specified as either "friends or relatives with" or at least "acquainted with"; some versions have used "able to request a trivial favor from" as the minimum qualification for a link.

#131 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 02:59 PM:

Larry @123,

Good point. And there's a big gap between taking your call or email, and forwarding your call.

For example, I'm 2 strong degrees to an ex-president of Peru.* It'd be relatively easy to write to him about Peruvian matters, I'm sure. But I'm equally sure there's no way I could use that connection to get Da Silva or Kirchner on the phone.


* good friend of my family hosted him when he lived in California.

#132 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 03:10 PM:

"I have decided to come back to the reality of San Francisco."

Fred Astaire in Irwin Allen's The Towering Inferno, where they build the tallest skyscraper ever on top of earthquake country, and where O.J.Simpson plays a security guard who rescues kittens.

#133 ::: Suzanne M ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 03:58 PM:

I know it's been a while since anyone mentioned FBoFW, but since several people asked about Michael Patterson's novel, I thought I'd chip in with a link.

On the strip's official site, you can read monthly letters from the characters. Michael's past few letters will give you a good idea of the drivel he's just gotten published.

#134 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 04:04 PM:

Another source of FBoFW wrongness! Goody-two-shoes leading-strings Michael calls his parents John and Elly?!

#135 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 05:35 PM:

Ok, here's a question for the writers (esp novelists) among you. How do you learn to stop researching and start writing? Or even to stop the new good ideas you have which are possibly incompatible with old good ideas from overpowering one's plotting? Should I take my mom's advice and practice with short stories? I've finished three so far.

#136 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 05:44 PM:

Serge @126: wait, unless I misunderstand the rules, Susan knows/has worked with Norton, and Norton's worked with Giamatti. Did I miss something?

Outside the actor front, I'm within two degrees of Einstein, and either one or two of Cesar Chavez, depending on what level of acquaintance you require. I know of at least two others who lurk (and occasionally post) here who can match two on Cesar, and one who can do two to Einstein...anyone have them in one?

#137 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 06:17 PM:

Anyway, there's an author writing a book with a tentative tile of Where the Girls Aren't: What's Holding Women Back from Careers in Science? who is looking for interview subjects: both women who have left science-related disciplines and those who are still there.

I could give them an earful, starting with, "what don't you understand about Pop Culture and the portrayal of scientists, the treatment of girls and women, and the values structures that get reinforced in the common culture?"

#138 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 06:39 PM:

Stephen Sample @ 137 Did I miss something?

Nah. That was my brain having hit a sluggish moment, and thinking that the obvious was, well, too obvious.

#139 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 06:47 PM:

Sajia @ 136... My wife usually plots first, then she decides what she really needs to know in more detail. Of course, she already has some basic knowledge of the story's setting so she knows that its essentials are possible. Even then, further research may make her realize that specific events can't happen as she had envisonned them, so it's back to replotting.

Is it better to hone your skill on short stories first? Probably, but that depends on the person. Some people just aren't short-length writers, and it's the other way for others. Not very helpful,I guess, but there's no definite answer that can fit everybody.

#140 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 06:51 PM:

Michael Patterson - another PublishAmerica writer.

#141 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 07:00 PM:

@95: Orac (an oncologist, scientist, and annihilator of the excessively credulous) has some stuff on DCA here and here and here and here and here, much of it correcting people who think that NS is concealing the cure for cancer because Big Pharma told it to. (Because, you know, Big Pharma doesn't want to, er, make billions out of a guaranteed cancer cure, and nor do the generics manufacturers. Perhaps it's not so guaranteed as all that yet?)

@98: Oh yes. Good old NS and its credulous falling for the `chatnannies'. They did retract it, and later had a piece pointing out how the `chatnannies' were actually a free software eliza clone (it's known which one was used but I can't find it right now). The shadow identity of the `inventor' as `Deaths Head', a USENET Holocaust revisionist, didn't get mentioned... but others mentioned it instead. It's pretty pathetic that anyone in the modern world could imagine that AI was that easy to produce, or imagine that it was morally acceptable to have AIs posing as children (!) trying to entrap people, or imagine that this would be useful in a court of law...

@137: Depending on how you define it, I might be considered two degrees from the Queen of England. (I'm not sure if `great-granduncle played organ when queen was crowned' counts as two hops or many more.) A friend of mine is rather closer: if there was a horrible holocaust he might end up king (he's thirtysomethingth in line to the throne, and a City computer programmer turned EMT; he's been heard to jest that emergency medicine is less stressful than trying to fix bugs with hordes of angry beefy rugby-playing traders yelling at you.)

#142 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 07:02 PM:

My wife read on the Huffington Post's site that Al Gore, who will be at the Oscars because of his global-warming documentary, may take advantage of the situation to announce that he is running for President.

About time, if it's true.

Not only is he the only Democrat who does it for me so far, he's the one who should be in the White House right now.

#143 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 07:07 PM:

(cont'd from #143)

And, in his college days, Gore and his Harvard roomate let nothing, not even their assiduous studies, stop them from watching Star Trek. True. Ask his roomate, Tommy Lee Jones.

#144 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 07:14 PM:

God, I would love it if Al Gore would run. Especially since these days it would be a lot harder to write him off as "boring"....

...as if that mattered.

But I do hope he doesn't announce it at the Oscars. Neither the time nor the place. I mean, if Michael Moore's (I thought) perfectly reasonable speech created a mega-backlash, certainly announcing that you're running for President would be considered "too political" for the Oscars.

Also, if he runs, I hope he doesn't shave his beard.

#145 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 07:56 PM:

But ethan, don't you know that dark-haired men with beards are all terrorists? We can't have a terrorist running for president!

#146 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 08:34 PM:

Kathryn, #92, I have some orange peels in dark chocolate. Lemons might be good like that, too.

Serge, #127, that's the only DVD I own.

#147 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 09:48 PM:

Stephen at 137: anyone have them in one?

Um, yes, she said shyly. I have a photograph of my grandfather and my aunt standing next to Albert Einstein.

#148 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 10:09 PM:

So we just got through watching Mary Poppins with the sprout, and now we want to remake it.

Obviously, Mrs. Banks has to be Kristen Chenowith, and Mr. Banks is the guy who played Higgins in Magnum, P.I.. I like Jonathan Winters for Uncle Albert. Nicholas Cage could play Bert and Lucy Liu could play Mary Poppins. This would be good...

...but I think we should go for Bert and Mary considerably older: Tom Waits (I can hear it now) and Anjelica Huston.

#149 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 10:40 PM:

Bert: Hugh Grant
Mary: Helen Mirren

#150 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 10:45 PM:

Bert: Hugh Grant
Ernie: That guy from The King of Queens
Elmo: Himself

#151 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 10:47 PM:

Bert: Alexei Sayle
Mary: Patricia Routledge

#152 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 11:08 PM:

Mary Dell @ 72: perhaps the artist you saw was Sol Lewitt? He's a conceptual artist who's done a lot of math-based stuff (lines as well as solids), and some very cool geometric shaded paint work, although the 3D things are less likely to be painted. The SF MOMA had a very neat exhibit of his work back in 2000.

#153 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 11:24 PM:

One reason I'd love to work for Pixar would be the chance to get one, just one, credited spoken line so that I could get a Kevin Bacon number.

#154 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 11:27 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 146... don't you know that dark-haired men with beards are all terrorists?

You mean dark-haired men like this one? True, he has a lot of grey in there. Does that decrease his terrorisiveness?

#155 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 11:29 PM:

Mary Poppins? I nominate Claudia Black. (Yeah, I know, I nominate her for everything.)

#156 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 12:00 AM:

Susan... Did you know that your having worked with Robert Sean Leonard gives you a very quick access to one of the worst movies ever made? (At least, that's my opinion of it.) Did you notice who played Hero, his girlfriend, in Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing? Kate Beckinsale, who then went on to bigger and not-better things, such as van Helsing.

#157 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 12:07 AM:

Trader Joe's has freeze-dried mangosteen in its dried fruit section now...

#158 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 12:15 AM:

Huh . . . I guess I'm two degrees of seperation from Madonna. And probably a lot of other famous people, because of the Noted Photographer in the family.

#159 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 12:19 AM:

Sajia Kebir #136: There is no rule. Say that again, and again: there is no rule. Even a rule that says something like, "Write the story, and the facts will line up jostling and elbowing to be included in it, but be very selective about those you admit to the text..." Even a rule like that is full of traps and pitfalls.

When you have a story, you write. The story will defeat the facts two falls out of three every time, if it's powerful enough. How do you know if it's powerful enough? I can't tell. You just do, and here's the thing: if you're sure about it, really sure, you're always right.

#160 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 12:34 AM:

Sajia... Dave Luckett says there is no rule. That's not strictly true. There is no rule that applies to everybody. For example, some people say that you must plot everything in advance, while others say that those who plot are hacks. Find out what works best for you.

#161 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 01:44 AM:

Someone at Brin's blog dug up this nugget of unpleasant smuggery:

A Reactionary's Shorter Catechism

There are a few laudable statements in there, but taken as a whole they're a recipe for a hidebound, repressive, sectarian hierarchy. It's the kind of thing apologists for the Confederacy will fawn over.

#162 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 02:17 AM:

Best art made with a single piece of paper ever*.

The angels are lovely. I'm also fond of Closet- about 9 pieces down on the A4 page. And the rivers. And the skeletons. All good.

* Plus glue, a molecularly sharp knife, and a nanosythetizer. (The latter is my belief. I used to work in paper- small 2D art pieces- and the nanoforge is the only way I can think of to get the results Callesen gets.)

#163 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 03:19 AM:

Nix@142: Thanks, that's the sort of coverage I was hoping somebody could point me to.

#164 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 03:23 AM:

Serge: Sajia wasn't asking about plotting versus not plotting. She was asking about when to stop researching.

On this, I still say there's no rule. Doing whatever works best for you, knowing that this precise course will not work the same way for anyone else, or in fact for any other story - that's not a rule. It's saying do what you want, or to put the same actual thing another way, follow your own judgement.

If something you experience, read, come across, are told about, hear from another, whatever, distills a narrative, then write the narrative you have. If not, don't. If that never happens, then probably your gift is not for narrative.

If you get multiple ideas from the same material, well, great. Pick the best one. But write the idea you have, not some idea that might come along later with more research.

On the other hand (and this is why none of the above is a rule) if, having had a story idea, you want to do more research, what you are saying is that the further research is more interesting to you than the story is. It can't be a very interesting story, then. But you are the sole judge of that. There is no rule.

#165 ::: Judith ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 04:34 AM:

Have you come across this: http://volokh.com/posts/1169820780.shtml

The comments include a vehement defense of Cully Stimson's call to boycott law firms that pro bono defend accused terrorists on the basis that "they should just be strung up." Scary stuff.

#166 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 06:31 AM:

Regarding Linley Hall's book Where the girls aren't, there's no need to get angry with her. I believe she's considering altering the title because the current one is too negative and patronizing. And from what I've heard of the project (knowing Linley slightly), the idea is to research the issue in an open-minded way. It's not that she has a particular theory that she's trying to push (Dori at #67), nor that she is unaware that lots of other people do have theories (Paula at #138).

I think it's a worthwhile project. It's not going to solve the problem, but to me the issue has all the hallmarks of something that needs some serious descriptive work. I think Hall's book is going to contribute to that in a useful way. Of course, if you're offended by someone even posing the question, that's your prerogative. You don't have to contribute your experiences to the data that she's gathering.

#167 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 07:28 AM:

Stephen @ #137:
Pretty much. I worked with Norton in college on a rather forgettable Dream and my best friend from college worked with Giamatti during my freshman year (Giamatti's senior year) on some incredibly depressing play whose name totally escapes me.

Whether Norton would remember me personally is doubtful - I didn't actually remember him until the same friend (who was also in that production) reminded me. (The main thing I remembered after that was what a jerk he was.) He'd probably remember the production. I remember it mostly for the insta-change Elizabethan-to-fairy costume I made for the double-cast Hippolyta/Titania and all my nearly-nekkid fairy girls. I still have the Elizabethan corset fitted out with a giant zipper somewhere in my sewing room.

My friend would certainly take my call; I've no idea if Giamatti would take his.

Another college friend who would certainly take my call connects me in some degree to Baywatch, Quantum Leap, Beverly Hills 90210, Beastmaster, Xena, Andromeda, Highlander, and Forever Knight. (Number of those shows I have actually seen: two.) Anyone who went to the 1983 worldcon might have a connection with this person as well, if one could remember back that far. (And people say writing fanfic never leads to pro writing...) I've no idea how many degrees of separation this leads to, since I don't know how much (if any) contact the writers and actors have. But presumably one could link through the production/directing staff somehow.

#168 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 07:31 AM:

MIT professors duke it out to see who can write the largest integer on the blackboard:

Dr. Evil clutched his heart as though it had been pierced by an arrow. Trembling, he fell to his knees on the floor of the crowded stuffy room, all eyes watching him. The Mexican Multiplier threw up his hands in victory, smiling, as Dr. Evil whispered, “I’ve been crushed.” The battle was finally over.

The poster for the contest can be seen here (about halfway down the page).

#169 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 08:14 AM:

Dave Luckett @ 165... True, Sajia did start asking about research. But she ended her post saying "Should I take my mom's advice and practice with short stories?", I took that as being about other aspects of writing. Thus, my comments about plotting.

#170 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 08:18 AM:

Susan @ 168...

Another college friend who would certainly take my call connects me in some degree to Baywatch, Quantum Leap, Beverly Hills 90210, Beastmaster, Xena, Andromeda, Highlander, and Forever Knight. (Number of those shows I have actually seen: two.)

Highlander and Forever Knight?

Anyone who went to the 1983 worldcon might have a connection with this person as well, if one could remember back that far. (And people say writing fanfic never leads to pro writing...)

I remember it. I even participated in its Masquerade. Did you too?

#171 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 08:20 AM:

Correction, Susan... Beastmaster, and Xena (she of the round flying killing thing).

#172 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 09:36 AM:

Serge (155): Men with gray hair are too old to be terrorists. Only young men are terrorists; everyone knows that. Silly.

(Oddly enough, you look an awful lot like my brother.)

On another topic entirely, I can't get to the 1000 last posts page; it comes up blank. Is anyone else having this problem?

#173 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 09:42 AM:

Too old, Mary Aileen? Now I'm hurt. Heheheh...

(And yes, I have noticed that the 1000-comment thingie is acting up.)

#174 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 10:08 AM:

That New Scientist cure for cancer article made me cry, because not only are there hundreds of potential drugs giving results just as good, I personally worked on a couple of them! The DCA stuff is a little bit more exciting than my own work, but not enough more exciting to justify all this fanfare.

Apart from resenting that I don't have such a good publicist, I'm depressed at the scientific innaccuracy of the write-up. And at the damaging misrepresentation of how intellectual property and the pharmaceutical industry actually work.

In all seriousness, I can tell you as an insider that we are likely to see a lot of genuine breakthroughs in cancer drugs in the next few years. This DCA might even be one of them. But what they've got at the moment, while promising, is a long way off being a miracle drug yet.

#175 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 12:24 PM:

Serge, #109:

Scott Rosenberg sent me a copy of Dreaming in Code, which I'm about 2/3 of the way through. It's very good; it really gives you a sense of how amazing it is that complicated software ever gets built at all. I'll have more to say when I'm done.

#176 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 12:38 PM:

Thanks, Patrick. The book might allow me to put my own Project from Hell in perspective. I did eventually read the interview with the author. I liked the part where he said of his own endeavor:

"...it turns out to be a software disaster, a classic death march situation in which everything went wrong and nothing worked as planned and when we deployed it everything broke..."

#177 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 12:51 PM:

Watching British SF movies and TV seem to want me to get all nostalgic about the music of my early 20s. First, Children of Men uses In The Court of the Crimson King. And yesterday, as I was catching up with my stack of tapes, I was treated to Doctor Who's episode Love and Monsters, where ELO's Mister BlueSky kept popping up. Now, if someone could find a way to sneak Gentle Giant's Free Hand in...

#178 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 12:52 PM:

Dave Luckett @165: Sajia wasn't asking about plotting versus not plotting. She was asking about when to stop researching.

I saw an interview with P.D.James, where she gave an example of the limitations of research. She was having her character Adam Dalgliesh climb a hill. She had researched climbing, she researched the particular hill. She described his ascent, concluding when he reached the top of the hill and "rolled over on his back, exhausted."

She gave the passage to her son-in-law, who was a recreational climber, to read and review. When he read it, he started whooping: "I'll say he's exhausted; he just did a two hour climb in five minutes flat."

#179 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 12:58 PM:

I'm trying to think of the famous politicians I've seen and/or met. I've briefly met Eugene McCarthy and Chuck Schumer. I've had short polite conversations with Dana Rohrbacher and Newt Gingrich, and a slightly longer one with Barry Goldwater--about the need for legal protections to Indian antiquites--when he visited my Arizona high school in 1973. Ed Koch once walked over my and Teresa's picnic blanket in Central Park, doing his "How'm I doing?" thing among people gathering for an open-air symphony performance. I shook hands with Al Gore in 1992. I've seen Jimmy Carter and GWB drive by in their presidential limousines. I had an interesting conversation with the chief justice of Ontario, who I met through an Australian science fan who was visiting Toronto at the time (Christine McGowan, the 1976 DUFF delegate), but I'm blanking on his name and neither Google nor Wikipedia appear to be yielding it up. I once walked across the street to get lunch in downtown San Francisco and found myself in the middle of a crowd of people watching Jerry Brown speak; it was the middle of his (successful) campaign to be re-elected Governor. And at a multi-company sales conference many years ago, I managed to get myself out of the room just in time to avoid having to meet and be polite to G. Gordon Liddy.

Oh, and in 1987, Teresa and I were on a flight from San Francisco to New York that wound up delayed for five hours, and two seats behind us, Jesse Jackson was being interviewed at length by a newspaper reporter. When we finally disembarked at JFK at 4 AM, Jackson obligingly posed for pictures with bunches of passengers. I'd never realized what a tall man he is.

I'm sure there are others, but they're escaping me at the moment. I haven't met many famous actors or musicians. I'm almost certainly just two degrees from a ton of 1960s rock figures, because I'm friends with Paul Williams, who founded Crawdaddy; indeed, Paul is one of the people in John and Yoko's Montreal hotel room singing background vocals on the record of "Give Peace a Chance." And I'm definitely just two degrees from Bill Clinton, as is anyone in the SF world who's met British critic Roz Kaveney, because she knew him slightly at Oxford. Likewise, my old friend Avedon Carol has met a pile of British political and journalistic figures in connection with her work with Feminists Against Censorship.

I can't even begin to start totting up the famous and almost-famous writers I've met. Nobody would be impressed anyway. But I did once see William S. Burroughs emerge from a Baskin-Robbins in Seattle. Everybody always asks what kind of ice cream he was getting. The answer, I'm afraid, is vanilla.

I once narrowly avoided running into Marshall McLuhan with my bicycle. This really happened.

#180 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 01:08 PM:

Serge @177
"...it turns out to be a software disaster, a classic death march situation in which everything went wrong and nothing worked as planned and when we deployed it everything broke..."

Sigh...I come to ML to escape thinking about what's going on at work.

Back to figuring out how to make my letter of resignation fit into sonnet form, I think...

#181 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 01:38 PM:

abi... Then again, you might think of your own situation in terms of an Epic Adventure, with the climax being like the Flight thru the Mines of Moria, stair sections collapsing behind you, more stairs crashing in front of you, and the section you're standing on teetering wildly. And there's the balrog close by.

#182 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 01:41 PM:

PNH @ 180: I'm trying to think of the famous politicians I've seen and/or met... I once narrowly avoided running into Marshall McLuhan with my bicycle. This really happened.

Combining the two, I once knocked down former NY Governor Hugh Carey as he was coming out of Harry's at Hanover Square and I was hurrying down the street to meet someone for lunch outside the Chemical Bank building at 55 Water. Neither of us was looking, and he was probably a little tipsy. I helped him up, apologized and went (quickly!) on my way.

It's a good thing he was already out of office, or otherwise I'm sure that I would have had a significant conversation with the police.

#183 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 01:41 PM:

Patrick... That would be the same Paul Williams who played the evil music promoter in Phantom of the Paradise, right? Who also was in the last Planet of the Apes movie, with John Huston?

#184 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 01:54 PM:

abi @ 181... Back to figuring out how to make my letter of resignation fit into sonnet form

How about sending this to your boss?

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
The project's dead
And so are you.

#185 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 02:28 PM:

Serge,

I like my boss, though he is presently a stress bunny. I'm going to need to buy him a nice cup of tea from the coffee cart and make sure he's sitting down before I tell him.

(I'm also going to see the project out, or stress out trying.)

#186 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 02:28 PM:

Hmm. I attended JFK's burial service at Arlington in 1963 (happenstance of time and residence), so I was in the same place as every notable American politician and many foreign dignitaries of the time.

#187 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 02:31 PM:

Lemon-peels are good candied; you scrape off as much of the white pith as you can and boil them in successively thicker sugar solutions. The result keeps well, can be minced into (say) gingerbread or served alongside espresso, and is good in itself or dipped in chocolate.

#188 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 02:50 PM:

abi @ 186... Don't kill yourself, metaphorically or otherwise.

#189 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 03:01 PM:

#186:Oh, abi, I've been there. What happened to me is that after more 60+ hour weeks than I could count, we finished the project and got laid off. (To those who know the difference between "and" and "then," I mean to use the word "and" there.) I hope your project has a happier ending.

(As an aside, in grad school, I toyed with writing my dissertation abstract as either a sonnet or an "e"-less lipogram. However, the desire just to finish the stupid thing, defend, then get out was much stronger.)

#190 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 03:13 PM:

Serge, #184: Not the same guy. Not the same as fantasy writer Paul O. Williams, either.

The Paul Williams I'm talking about showed up in SF fandom as a teenage prodigy in the early 1960s, then went on to a career as a journalist, impresario, and countercultural entrepeneur. He founded Crawdaddy!, emitted the book Outlaw Blues (possibly the first book-length work of serious rock criticism), helped organize the Central Park Be-In, got involved with various back-to-nature schemes (chronicled in the memoir Apple Bay), wrote an aphoristic book of hippie mysticism, and wound up in the 1980s as Philip K. Dick's literary executor, the single person most responsible for masterminding Dick's posthumous revival. In 1986 he published a book, The Map, about the experience of redicovering modern pop from the perspective of a sixties moldy fig; I wrote the introduction. These days Paul is still recovering from a serious head injury sustained in a bicycle accident. I saw him briefly at LACon last year and I'm very sorry we didn't manage the time to talk longer. He's one of my favorite people and, although the story's too long to get into in detail, he's probably the single person most responsible for getting Teresa and me onto the path toward working in New York book publishing.

#191 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 03:20 PM:

I was thinking of myself as a person who doesn't know anyone of note (in terms of the Kevin Bacon type thing) and I just realized, from the Mary Poppins comment, that I did ahve a stop-and-chat acquaintance with Kristin Chenowith's dad.

My professor is also "descended" from Prausnitz, so I will be too. (This, I am sure, means nothing to those of you who are not in thermodynamics.)

#192 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 03:27 PM:

Thanks for the correction, Patrick.

#193 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 06:19 PM:

While wandering about the Oxford backs in 1987, my wife and I were narrowly missed by a motorised wheelchair that was, in my opinion, exceeding the speed limit for a footpath. Its controller and sole occupant must have been thinking about higher - much higher - things. But what Oxford cop is going to run in Stephen Hawking?

#194 ::: Kristi ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 07:36 PM:

I hope this isn't a horrible breach of Open Thread etiquette, but I genuinely thought this might be of interest to Fluourospheroids:

My friend Keith Henson faces extradition to California from Arizona. His hearing is tomorrow. His "crime" is a misdemeanor offense: interfering with a religion.

Keith was convicted in 2001 after picketing Scientology's compound in Riverside, California. There were numerous improprieties at his trial. He was not permitted to appeal.

He's received several death threats, and he fears that he will not survive if he has to serve his one year sentence.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation issued a statement after his conviction that his right to free speech had been violated. They urged the California Courts to set aside the decision.

I've set up a page urging respectful letters to the governors of California and Arizona.

Keith is a founding member of the L5 Society.

(attempt to link back in to at least some part of the Open Thread:) I guess knowing Keith gives me two degrees of separation from Douglas Hofstadter?

Thanks for your indulgence.

#195 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 07:49 PM:

Kristi @ 195:

Have you written to Jeralyn at TalkLeft? It sounds like it should be right up her alley. Linky's in the sidebar on the front page.

#196 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 07:50 PM:

Um... well, if we've got nearly running over Marshall McLuhan with ones bicycle, than I guess spilling a pitcher of beer on Tom Robbins must count for something in the degrees of separation count. (LaConner, 1974).

Also, Serge at #156, as dedicated as I am to Claudia Black, I'm not sure about her singing voice. Lucy Lawless would make a very scary Mary and could handle the high notes.

#197 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 07:52 PM:

Did anyone see that "Moon Office" FedEx Super Bowl commercial. Clearly their agency seems to think that the moon has no gravity. Yeah, I know it's just a commercial, but now millions of kids are going to have to be talked out of a tree by their science teachers. And we wonder why people believe that there were dinosaurs on Noah's ark.

#198 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 08:22 PM:

'See Last 1000 Comments' just died for me too.

#199 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 08:25 PM:

And now its back. Sorry...

#200 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 08:27 PM:

The 1000-comment list is back.

JESR... I have no idea what Claudia Black's voice is like, but I just love the idea of her as Mary Poppins, As for Lucy Lawless...

"I said that the medicine was going to go down, and I mean it."

#201 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 08:31 PM:

For those of us with zero interest in watching the Super Bowl... Animal Planet is showing the Puppy Bowl. It's much more lively than this afternoon's Kitten Bowl as the kitties mostly lay there and slept while others half-heartedly pawed at tinsel strips.

#202 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 08:40 PM:

The New York Times recently had a snippet on a new paid blogging/shill outfit: sponsored removespace reviews removespace .com. Can't remember if they were mentioned in Teresa's takedown of the whole slimy idea, but figured it might be of interest...

#203 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 08:42 PM:

"Animal Planet is showing the Puppy Bowl."

Winners get fancy new collars, losers get neutered.

#204 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 08:44 PM:

Tonight on Masterpiece Theatre...

"...Adapted from Philip Pullman's first novel about Sally Lockhart, a feisty, orphaned Victorian teen (Billie Piper), “The Ruby in the Smoke” finds her ferreting out information about her father's death; discovering cursed jewels..."

Billie Piper? Hurrah.

#205 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 08:49 PM:

Claudia Black as Mary Poppins . . . huh. That might work.

Me mum read us kiddies several Mary Poppins book. As I recall, the literary Mary was (to put it in SF&F terms) from a sort of coexisting fantastic world litle noticed by grown-ups. A teeny bit like the parallel underground magic world of Neverwhere, but of course much less sinister.

I think a mini-series might called for.

#206 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 09:22 PM:

Mary Poppins: Has everybody already seen the trailer remix (YouTube)?

Celebrity meetings: I met George Wendt last week. He was in town doing a revival of Twelve Angry Men, and stopped into this bar I happened to be in, which is a well-known actors' hangout. Several other Angry Men had come by earlier in the week, and he was expected to drop in before the end of the show's run.

He walked in by himself, sat at the bar, and ordered a beer. It was so surreally familiar that the whole bar, who are quite accustomed to actors and celebrities, fell silent. It would be like having Micheal Richards fling open your door and slide into your living room, or bumping into Christopher Lambert in a parking garage, just as he's cutting off someone's head.

He made perfunctory conversation, finished his beer, and left.

#207 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 09:37 PM:

Serge: Quantum Leap and Forever Knight.

Politicians: My rep Rosa DeLauro (typical shake'n'chat at a campaign stop at my then-job). Joe Lieberman, unfortunately documented for posterity in the archives of the local rag. My hero Ned Lamont. My mayor John DeStefano. My current alderwoman. My state attorney general Blumenthal, who embodies the word "oily". I saw Bill Clinton speak, but that was in a bowl setting when we were running the Special Olympics. Dubya, two or three degrees via the vomiting in the shrubbery thing. I sat two rows behind Margaret Thatcher at Phantom in London in 1987 when I was wandering around aimlessly in London before a worldcon and queueing for a show every morning. That was annoying; we couldn't wander around during intermission due to security. (I will never forget the Giant Holographic Head of Olivier from that trip, either.)

In honor of today's game, which I haven't yet seen results for as I've been dancing and/or on a train all day, I have two degrees with Tom Landry via two different routes - my mother (who used to meet him out walking), and Charlie Waters, who was the Cowboy designated to meet the girl who won the most-books-read contest at my elementary school.

Implausible artist under embarrassing circumstances: Robert Natkin, who wouldn't remember me specifically but might recognize my name.

#208 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 09:45 PM:

Stefan @ #204 and anyone repulsed by what humans have wrought on domestic animals:

This article in the NYT Magazine today describes (among other things) how humans have bred pug dogs so that they are incapable of normal sex and have to be bred using human intervention in ways that would not be printable in that paper if they were describing human activity. (The "right hand" assistance comes into it, as does "feathering" the female dog, which means imitating what the male dog should've inserted, but can't due to breed characteristics.) It also casually mentions that most breeders don't go to the hassle of human-assisted "sex", they just - brace yourself - cut open the female dog's uterus and insert the sperm surgically.

This. Is. Sick.

And the breeders are downright proud of it and the fact that there will, quote, never be feral pugs.

#209 ::: Kristi ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 09:47 PM:

P J @ 196: I hadn't. Excellent idea. I have now. Thanks.

#210 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 10:20 PM:

Susan... I went inside an animal-rescue center when we picked up one of our rescue cases, and when we got to their enclosure, it was heart-breaking to see the dogs in the other cages, shaking, shaking, hoping that they'd be picked up.

#211 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 10:26 PM:

Serge@205: so if you actually see it, tell us; the Boston Globe said that Piper was the only good thing in it. Their assessment was that reducing even a shorter Pullman to 90 minutes made an utter mess of the story.

#212 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 10:29 PM:

Serge @ #211:

My kittens were rescued at a very young age, but they still don't seem entirely overjoyed at the prospect of being loved by a human. I came in tonight, saw one curled up in their basket, said a cheerful hello, and watched as she stared at me briefly in appalled terror and then fled the room. She's here by me now, but sitting at this computer is one of the Approved Positions.

It's entertaining when I accidentally corner one in the bathroom in the morning. She wails in terror and leaps and dodges madly in an effort to get around me to the door and escape. I leap and dodge madly trying to get out of her way without stepping on her.

This reminds me of dealing with someone I know, actually. Hmm.

#213 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 10:35 PM:

re: Billie Piper - I think that the compelling thing about her is that, aside from being a good actress, is that she's reasonably normal looking. She could walk into the room and I could actually see myself talking to her. She's very attractive, but not in that celebrity kind of way.

Claudia Black, on the other hand, has that not-quite-normal celebrity look going on. If she walked into a room that I happened to be in, I would probably be unable to speak to anyone, let alone to her. Not that I'd mind.

#214 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 10:45 PM:

Susan @ 213... All of your cats are rescue cases. Same for us as you can see from a glance at our Bestiary:

http://pics.livejournal.com/serge_lj/gallery/00001ayb

#215 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 10:53 PM:

#208:I will never forget the Giant Holographic Head of Olivier from that trip, either.

Wow, someone saw Dave Clark's Time. I've always wondered.

#216 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2007, 11:15 PM:

#209: I read about even more clinical assisted- canine- reproduction techniques before, in an article about preserving Mexican wolves. Lupine monogamy got in the way of an attempt to reduce inbreeding. Lots of fuss and bother, especially to determine when the she-wolf was actually fertile.

But that's for a good cause. Pug fanciers have to resort to wanking and diddling because their vanity breed can't manage it on their own? I'm not a breed-snob -- I have a mutt -- but that's really pushing it.

#217 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 12:40 AM:

dogs that can't breed themselves? meh. The problem is with puppy mills and the stores that crank them out. some people will buy a dog because its cheap then dump them on the side of the road or shelter when they figure out its not exactly the same as toy they can leave on the shelf for a week if they're not using it.

#218 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 02:14 AM:

That "Recent Comments" problem is really intermittent. It's not working for me now, and didn't a couple of times this afternoon.

#219 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 02:16 AM:

I had dinner with a licensed vet tech tonight, so I asked her about pugs and breeding. She said that all flat faced dogs have troubles with things like breeding, but that they can/do breed with each other without external assistance. She then went on to detail how to perform c-sections on small dogs to get the puppies out, and that flat faced dogs take forever to wake up from anesthesia, since they breathe better while intubated than they do naturally. I also got a nice earful about tail docking and dew-claw trimming for breed standards, while we were on the subject of things people do to their pets.

So - apparently pugs can breed "naturally", but it ain't easy.

She's also the person I got my kittens from 12 years ago - she took in a pregnant teenager cat, raised the kittens, and placed them with her friends and co-workers.

#220 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 04:59 AM:

CHip @ 212... We started watching "The Ruby in the Smoke" last night, but were too tired so turned in after 20 minutes. My wife the blasphemer said she never thought Billie Piper was pretty. Anyway, the movie looks all right so we'll watch the tape tonight. I must say that the accents got in the way of comprehension for this non-native speaker of English.

#221 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 05:05 AM:

Susan @ 213... I came in tonight, saw one curled up in their basket, said a cheerful hello, and watched as she stared at me briefly in appalled terror and then fled the room.

My cat Murphy was like that. Her brain's operating system seemed to have two settings: a) "The universe is out to get me!", which was most of the time, and b) "The universe exists to serve me", usually at dinner time, or at night, when she'd jump on the bed, whether or not our canines were already there, and then unsubtly demand a chin rub.

#222 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 05:44 AM:

I'm going thru the most recent issue of Locus, which has an interview with writer John Barnes. Talking about the younger generation, he says:

"...They also seem clearly oriented toward the small, tight group of friends; there's much more of the in group/out group difference..."

He then goes on to this:

"...if you're going to sell to people under 30, don't stress 'You are an individual, you are unique' too much, because to a lot of people that registers as, 'You don't have any friends,' which is to say, 'You're a loser'..."

I'd make jokes about "Logan's Run" at this point, except that, if this is true, I'm more glad than ever that I am not that age any more.

#223 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 06:57 AM:

Over on the Penny Wise thread, ethan reminded me of how I nearly got a Jarvis Cocker number of 2. Ollie, a guy I knew at university was in a charity shop on in Fulham in late 1995, when he realised he was standing next to Jarvis. Before Ollie could get over his suprise and awe, Jarvis put down the jumper he was looking at and left the shop. Ollie nearly bought the jumper, but didn't because it was awful.

Hearing this story, I went to the shop the next day and to look at and also not buy the revolting jumper.

Since Ollie didn't talk to him and I assume I can't claim Me -> Revolting Jumper in Charity Shop -> Jarvis, my Jarvis number is 4.

#224 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 08:42 AM:

Did we break the blog? The PB thread seems to have hit 1001 posts and doesn't appear to be interested in accepting more posts. Did we hit a posts per thread limit?

#225 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 08:58 AM:

It's Xopher's fault, Greg.

#226 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 09:10 AM:

This was going to go onto the Pitch Bitch thread, but as it's closed, though it doesn't really make sense here, never mind:

The muse of entropy, (in heliotrope,
Strained at the seams across her heaving chest,)
Snatches at posts she thinks might be the best
And smiles because she gave sufficient rope.
All things decay, disorder, cool and die,
This thread became a clawing back from time
Order from chaos, boasting into rhyme,
Laughter and joy and truth from one vain lie.
We're missing Mike, but still, it's quite a cast.
Haikus and sonnets, pantoums, jokes as well,
Limericks, literary names, and villanelle.
The muse selects, reads on, a thousand past,
Raises one eyebrow, waits, unfolds her wings,
There's no such thing as over till she sings.

#227 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 09:12 AM:

Jo @ 227... Hear, hear!

#228 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 09:16 AM:

JC @ #216:

Someone else besides me remembers Time? How "Dave Clark's"? I don't remember much about it except the head, which made quite an impression on me. Not necessarily a good impression.

#229 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 09:16 AM:

Based on anecdotal reports that Movable Type can get hinky when comment threads exceed 1000, we closed the thread. Since it had essentially become an open thread of sorts, feel free to continue here...

#230 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 09:57 AM:

So, while I was offline "Faren's Computer" added a post to PB? Maybe that explains why my Feb. Locus "Year in Review" column now seems so lame, complete with one wrong book title (Glen Hirshberg's American Morons is what it's supposed to say!) -- The Computer Ate My Homework!

I hope the column's problem was deadline stress and the massive distraction of fighting to get favorites on the Recommended List, not encroaching senility. And as for that phantom post, someone in the blogosphere must be uttering a manic "Bwa ha ha!"

#231 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 10:01 AM:

Faren @ 231... The Computer Ate My Homework!

Of course it did. And did I tell you about how our puppy almost ate my cell phone? Really. Honest.

#232 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 10:30 AM:

Jo @227Patrick @230:
I can see your point in closing the thread, though the tester in me wants to find out exactly how hinky things would get at various comment counts. I think that counts as one of those experiments better done on my site than yours.

Faren @231:
I think that comment was sergically extracted from your computer's brain.

#233 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 10:31 AM:

abi @ 233.. Grrrrrr...

#234 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 10:33 AM:

Drat. Munged that. What I meant to say is:

Jo @227:
Well done. I do wonder what Patrick did to get her to sing. The mind boggles, shies away, peeps through its fingers, and boggles again.

#235 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 10:58 AM:

Faren #231: I'm only glad PNH shut the thread down before someone posted the dreaded Blot (also known as the Basilisk) - a Godelian blog comment so bizarrely illogical and off-topic that it disemvowels the very mind of the unwary reader...

Also: Serge is entirely innocent of impersonating your computer. Bwa ha ha.

#236 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 11:01 AM:

Serge, then there's this (from Cute Overload)

http://cuteoverload.com/

it had to be lipstick. and a white doggie.

#237 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 11:04 AM:

That's too cute even for me, Paula. Take note that Cagney the Criminal Dog did commit the act of spilling ink on the bedroom carpet.

#238 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 11:05 AM:

ajay @ 236... Serge is entirely innocent of impersonating your computer. Bwa ha ha.

That's IT. To quote Dresden's Bob the Ghost, "I'll be going back into my skull now."

#239 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 11:19 AM:

#229:How "Dave Clark's"?

I only know it from the double LP. Based on the logo on the cover, the name of the show ought to be the unwieldy Dave Clark's Time: the Musical.

I figured it was that way due to some copyright issue with titles. Both Tommy and Shogun showed up on Broadway as The Who's Tommy and James Clavell's Shogun: the Musical respectively.

(On a related tangent, I'm catching up on my short fiction reading. I didn't realized that Harlan Ellison(tm) is a registered trademark.)

#240 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 11:29 AM:

Neil Willcox #224: That must have been seriously the world's ugliest garment. I would have probably bought a pile of poop if I had stood next to Jarvis Cocker as he held it.

On The Pitch Bitch people were talking about the idea of a "David Cronenberg's Cinderella," and what they forgot to mention was that, rather than seeing if the glass slipper fits on various women's feet, the prince would be seeing if they had the weird stomach orifice that his mystery woman had produced it from.

#241 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 11:29 AM:

Yes, I got the last word on TPB-INBI. And I used it for something really stupid, too.

*bows head, ready to be stoned*

#242 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 11:36 AM:

Xopher @ 242... *bows head, ready to be stoned*

Cut to scene of Brian of Nazareth going to the stoning with his mom.

#243 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 11:37 AM:

ethan @ 241... Who plays the Prince? James (ich!) Woods, or Jeremy Irons?

#244 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 11:47 AM:

Oooh, James Woods, definitely.

Oh! Oh! Serge, you reminded me of my "in" to the degrees of separation game! James Woods is from RI, and when I used to work at a bank (shudder), he would come in every once in a while and my boss was invited to his mother's birthday party and he would pretty definitely recognize me on sight. So! I've got Cronenberg: 2 and Debbie Harry: 2 just from Videodrome.

And hot damn, he was in The Virgin Suicides, which gives me Sofia Coppola: 2, which gives me Everybody Else in the Entire World: 3.

#245 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 12:32 PM:

ethan #245: no, sorry; James Woods is already cast to play an Ugly Sister. The other Ugly Sister is still uncast, though Michael Ironside is keen, and Peter Weller has signed as the Fairy Godmother. (David wanted Alan Rickman, but he had scheduling problems with the next Harry Potter film.)

But - and I don't think this has been released anywhere else yet - we've signed James Spader as Cinderella. We're all very excited about that.

Next week: ML goes behind the scenes for a look at "Paul Verhoeven's Aladdin".

#246 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 12:36 PM:

ajay @ 246... Next week: ML goes behind the scenes for a look at "Paul Verhoeven's Aladdin".

And the week after next, Guillermo del Toro's remake of Love Story.

#247 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 12:43 PM:

Have you seen the teaser trailers for "The Sound of Music"? Black screen, completely silent, with four frames of white text:

FROM DIRECTOR DAVID LYNCH

THIS SUMMER

THE HILLS ARE ALIVE.

JUNE 2007.

#248 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 01:20 PM:

That Lore Sjöberg article on Wikipedia sure is written from a neutral point of view. I'm sure some meat puppet will attack it shortly, but that's non-notable.

#249 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 01:24 PM:

The subject of dogs having been put in play: I have two, Griz and Ruby. Griz is mostly Border Collie, with a side of Australian Shepherd and Australian Cattle Dog garnish. Ruby is a Chesepeake Cow Retriever, the result of a tragic adolescent affair between Griz and my cousin's Chesepeake Sally, enabled by such spectacular human irresponsibility and bad luck as to be the stuff of canine opera (with chorus sung by the coyotes down by the abandoned housesouthwest of me on a landlocked three acres).

Ruby is a shlemazel, no doubt about it. She gets anxiety attacks about having me out of sight, which means I trip over her a lot, which means she gets cursed frequently, which makes her more anxious. She also has conflicted feelings about cows, and especially bulls, and this lead to her getting her ulna broken and her hock displaced when she was not quite fully grown, so she walks like Festus even after a couple of thousand dollars worth of surgery and casts. In addition, coyotes make her crazy, and are not to be tolerated. She was chasing one off the place two years ago and got hit by a 15 passenger van: chipped tooth, two broken ribs, and the van's radiator gone.

She moves slowly, with that damage and the fact she's just on nine, advanced age for the Chesepeake part of her genetics.

Griz, on the other hand: Griz is a fine gentleman of his middle years, at ten. He's a long-haired black tricolor, and has the personality of someone running for congress the first time. He's entire, a violation of policy and procedure, because I would do anything to have another like him, and farmers are hinky about castrating the best male animal of its type anyone's ever seen.

He has one, very serious, flaw: he takes off any time the impulse hits him, if the door is opened just long enough. Ruby's gimpiness gave him the opportunity last night, and my husband letting her in the front door instead of making her go to the laundry room, which is an airlock-style exit, contributed to the problem.

He came back at 5:51am, by which time I'd rewritten his obituary and started considering the necessity of doggie antidepressants for Ruby, who takes these things badly.

Stupid dog.

#250 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 01:35 PM:

ajay #246: Your casting is interesting; until you broke it down like that I didn't realize Cronenberg was making a drag Cinderella. Naturally, Prince Charming should be Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Drag Cinderella reminds me: a few months back I was watching TV with a friend and a commercial for the ridiculous Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning nonsense came on, and I, as usual, was grumbling about how I couldn't believe they had made a remake prequel. Then my friend cracked me up for the next few hours when she piped up with "I know! If they're going to remake The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it has to be with an all-drag queen cast!"

When I was done laughing, I realized what a good idea it actually was. Especially if it were a stage musical.

#251 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 01:37 PM:

The Texas Chokechain Massacre.

#252 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 01:39 PM:

Bwa! I was also thinking of a character named Leatherette.

#253 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 01:43 PM:

JESR @ 250... My Freya, aka the Deranged One, sounds like your Ruby. Her separation anxiety doesn't have her get in our way and make us trip, but the last time we stepped away to run some errands, we came back and found that she had chewed away one corner of our couch.

#254 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 01:53 PM:

Am I the only person with a sane cat adopted from the pound? OK, she used to obsess about her food, she strongly dislikes closed doors (outside doors are fine), and she levitates if the doorbell rings. But otherwise she's perfectly normal. Except for that 150 decibel purr. Which, of course, was why I picked her in the first place.

#255 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 02:04 PM:

Here's the power ballad:

I thought I was bad
When I sliced my Aunt Polly
In two.
It turned out to be mad
And terrible folly
to do.
I'll get my count of dead up,
But how can I hold my head up?
I've lost a lot of face—
Because my chainsaw's jammed with lace!

*music swells*

CHORUS: Yes, it's jaaaammed with lace!
And I'm feeling more than a little
Brokenhearted...
Oh, it's jaaaammed with lace!
The motor will burn out if I try
To start it!

(spoken over choir singing "oo, oo")

How was I to know Aunt Polly wore so many layers? Sure, the chainsaw made funny sounds, but I thought that was just her whalebone corset! Still, that full-circle lace petticoat never would have gotten caught in the chain if she hadn't started trying to kick me—her own niece!

CHORUS (arranged with brass)
(then quietly)

I'll have to unjam my chainsaw,
And that's why I remain saw
Very sad!

walks dejectedly off stage

#256 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 02:06 PM:

Xopher, I think abi has a lot to answer for.

#257 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 02:11 PM:

Serge, Ruby was five or six before she stopped chewing on things permeated with my smell when I was gone for more than a few hours; this cost me no few sewing projects and one paper and lacquer box before I learned to stick anything I'd been sweating over behind a locked door before I left the house.

The toll in shoes was also costly.

#258 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 02:11 PM:

joann @ 255... One of our friends has a cat who, strictly speaking, isn't a rescue case. The cat one day just walked into our friend's place and adopted the lady, who called her Pywackett. Yes, like Kim Novak's Familiar in Bell, Book and Candle. Pywakett hates everybody other than our friend.

#259 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 02:12 PM:

*distributes buttone with "WWaD?" on them*

#260 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 02:46 PM:

Xopher @ #256:

Do you know what happens when really long hair meets a power drill?

Let's just say that now I put my hair up in a tight bun before using my drill.

#261 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 02:48 PM:

Xopher @ 242: Well, I would not feel so all alone...

#262 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 02:50 PM:

Susan 261: Actually, I do. As you'll recall from meeting me, my strategy for avoiding such conflicts is different!

#263 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 03:05 PM:

Susan @261
So do you know about the really long hair and the power drill from personal experience? That one, I kind of figured out without testing.

Now, the whole really long hair and the lit stove issue, that I had to try out for myself.

And what, in this context, is really long? I can't sit on mine, but I do tuck it into my trousers when I'm still sleepy in the morning. The fashion for low-slung trousers was not a cure for the problem, either.

you?

#264 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 03:11 PM:

Xopher @various,
Serge @257:
I think Xopher has to take his own credit for that piece. I do rather like it.

WWaD
Blame it on her muse, probably, or barring that, the boogie.

#265 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 03:17 PM:

Serge @994*
Yes, it's from the Moonstone. It's my second favourite quote about explosions.

My favourite?
"Let's blow this popsicle stand, boys"
"Kaboom?"
"Yes, Rico, kaboom."

(You must, of course, see it in context).

-----
* Patrick did say this was a continuation of that thread.

#266 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 03:27 PM:

251: Your casting is interesting; until you broke it down like that I didn't realize Cronenberg was making a drag Cinderella.

Well, it's not drag. It's pantomime! Fine old British tradition! Nothing, you know, strange about it.
Jennifer Jason Leigh, I think, as Buttons.

(pauses to imagine Jennifer Jason Leigh in well-fitting pageboy outfit; eyes unfocus; mouth hangs open; brain suffers slight hiccup similar to Faren Miller's computer digesting review by John Clute; brain recovers)

#267 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 03:31 PM:

251: Your casting is interesting; until you broke it down like that I didn't realize Cronenberg was making a drag Cinderella.

Well, it's not drag. It's pantomime! Fine old British tradition! Nothing, you know, strange about it.
Jennifer Jason Leigh, I think, as Buttons.

(pauses to imagine Jennifer Jason Leigh in well-fitting pageboy outfit; eyes unfocus; mouth hangs open; brain suffers slight hiccup similar to Faren Miller's computer digesting review by John Clute; brain recovers)

#268 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 03:33 PM:

Yes, Rico, kaboom

christmas with penguins.

#269 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 03:34 PM:

Xopher: Brilliant. Genius. Hilarious.

ajay: Ahh, pantomime. My mistake...

#270 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 03:38 PM:

abi @ #264:

At the time, long hair meant around hip length. At the moment, mid-back. (I chopped off most of it for Locks of Love and haven't fully recovered yet.)

And yes, I know about the drill thing from personal experience. It was scary.

#271 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 03:40 PM:

abi @ 265... Of course the credit is all Xopher's, but who has been inspiring people in these parts?

#272 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 03:42 PM:

abi @ 266... Aha... Still, nobody ever told me that Collins's The Moonstone was the inspiration for Monty Python's skits such as "how not to be seen".

#273 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 05:30 PM:

David Cronenberg's Cinderella

David Lynch's The Sound of Music

Texas Chokechain Massacre

It's been done. I give you Takeshi "Audition" Miike's The Happiness of the Katakuris: "the cinema of endurance" as karaoke video.

#274 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 05:36 PM:

(251)"I know! If they're going to remake The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it has to be with an all-drag queen cast!"

When I was done laughing, I realized what a good idea it actually was. Especially if it were a stage musical.

It's been done, sort of. Blood Orgy of the Chain Saw Chorus Line, a real play. I only saw the sequel Blood Orgy of the Bemuda Triangle Zombie Assassins, which was hilarious.

#275 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 05:39 PM:

Sniff. So "Jammed With Lace" has no chance? :'-(

#276 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 05:45 PM:

Bloom County once suggested the idea of Quentin Tarantino directing a sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird.

#277 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 05:56 PM:

Jo #227: Excellent!

#278 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 06:23 PM:

Mary Aileen #275: Are either of those the musical with the zombie vixens from outer space with zombification rays? Years ago I heard some great songs from whatever that was, but I have no idea what it was called.

Howard Pierce #274: Did you see The Happiness of the Katakuris? I ended up being a little underwhelmed. Too much silly, not enough gore. Great concept, though, and some of the frames from it would make awesome, awesome posters.

#279 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 06:41 PM:

ethan (279): No, I haven't seen it yet, and most of the reviews I've seen have been similar to yours. The trailer I saw was pretty amazing, though, and I'd rather watch a Miike film than not watch a Miike film, all things considered. For that matter, I'd rather watch a movie try and fail than not try at all.

What may not be so obvious in the West is that Miike makes a lot of movies -- like four to six every year. So, for every Ichi the Killer there's a dozen or more Full Metal Yakuzas.

(In his interview for Showtime's Masters of Horror, Miike said [paraphrasing], "I never wanted to become an international film director. I just wanted to make cheap videos for 14-year-old boys in rural prefectures to rent from the local convenience store.")

So, it's still on my list of movies I want to see someday, but I'm in no great hurry.

#280 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 06:49 PM:

ethan (279): I don't think so, but it's been a very long time since I saw Bermuda Triangle Zombie Assassins (googling gives me a date of 1991), so I can't be certain.

#281 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 07:34 PM:

Howard Pierce #280: Embarrassingly, The Happiness of the Katakuris is the only Miike movie I've seen so far. I'm going to remedy that soon and I know it's stupid so don't judge me.

Mary Aileen #281: Oh well. I got excited for a second, but I didn't have much hope of it being the same thing, anyway. Still, Bermuda Triangle Zombie Assassins still sounds pretty great.

Speaking of zombies, has anyone seen the underwater Nazi zombie movie Shock Waves? That's about #1 on my list of movies that I would remake if I were a director who made remakes.

#282 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 09:47 PM:

CHip, #212, I watched it and even Billie Piper didn't make it good. I was pleased to have tape of Criminal Minds to watch afterwards.

abi, #233, LOL Excellent word spelling!

Former White House Chef Roland Mesnier has put a book out on his time in the White House kitchen, and yesterday the WashPost excerpted some juicy bits.

#283 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 09:55 PM:

Ethan, Audition is his masterpiece. Of his other movies I've seen, only Ichi the Killer comes close. Then you start getting into things that only extreme cinema fans and 14-year-old boys in rural prefectures really appreciate.

#284 ::: Stefan Jones got strange TNH mail ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 11:12 PM:

I just recieved from mail from tnh@panix.com, subject line "Thank You."

It had a bogus-looking attachment, vvvvvvvvvv.bmp.

It's size was only 4k.

Now, this might be a real appreciation, but I strongly suspect that there's some spam/trojan mail bot at work, mining addresses from round here for nefarious purposes.

Beware!

#285 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2007, 11:32 PM:

After an episode at the vaudeville show at our fall Adult relaxacon here this last fall, I will NEVER look at the Sound of Music the same way again. And I've seen a comedy pron Cinderella so a drag Cinderella isn't too far off the mark.

On the other hand I do not watch horror movies except perhaps when a family member is playing the DVD and then I come and go so I can get the gist without having nightmares for weeks.

Cheesy horror movies, whatever. I don't watch those unless I'm deliberately in the mood for trash. One of the channels here (TCM, I think) played an incredibly cheesy newish horror movie called Lake Placid. I think that pretty Jersey cow they had in it (to try and bait the monster, but they got all worried about the cow getting 'hurt.') was probably embarassed so her name wasn't listed in the credits.

#286 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 12:04 AM:

To spammers and email address thieves: You don't want to make Teresa angry.

That was today's public service message.

#287 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 12:06 AM:

Paula Helm Murray @286: I never saw Lake Placid, but I recall reading about it when it came out. I'm pretty sure the cow was CGI (at least, for the purpose of being eaten by a CGI alligator). If you were taken by its charm, they must have done a good job on it. Betty White, however, did her own stunts.

#288 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 12:22 AM:

"Fall 'Adult' relaxicon"?

Man, I hate seeing fandom become something the 16-year-old me couldn't have joined.

#289 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 12:32 AM:

Ooh- PNH put up a YouTube link in the sidebar to the new Randy Newman song. I have the song, but I hadn't even thought of looking for video.

::Exits humming Political Science*::

*well, we don't want to hurt no kangaroos

#290 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 01:44 AM:

Something folks around here might be entertained by (if you're not already aware of it): Wiki Writ: The Holy Book Anyone Can Edit.

#291 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 05:35 AM:

#286: I rather liked Lake Placid. Brendan Gleeson and Oliver Platt made that movie a superior cheesy monster flick in the fine tradition of "Tremors".

(characters are examining the bisected body of one of the croc's early victims)
- Maybe he was attacked by a bear.
- No, bears don't attack in the water.
- Oh, well, maybe it was a beaver.

(they discover the remains of another victim - a single severed toe.)
- Was this the missing man?
- He seemed taller.

#292 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 08:00 AM:

"What is it that makes a man, a man?"

So said old Professor Broom in Guillermo del Toro's HellBoy, who has HellBoy - Sword of Storms coming out today on DVD. This animation feature probably won't be as squamous and rugose as the live-action one, but, hey, this is del Toro. And it'll tide me over until he has completed his sequel to HellBoy.

#293 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 09:03 AM:

Spelt 'Bruttenholm' and pronounced 'Broom'.

Oh, Lord, I am a comics nitpicker. Can a man fall lower?

#294 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Oh, Lord, I am a comics nitpicker. Can a man fall lower?

Probably not, ajay, probably not. That being said, I've never read Mike Mignola's comic-book itself. I took a look at my usual store and it looks like other people are nowdoing stories about his characters. There probably are trade-paperback reprints.

#295 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 10:45 AM:

Speaking of long hair (as some people were, upthread): in the latest Locus, the Before and After photos of Paul Clift should astound anyone who knew him back in the day.

And now my computer limps onstage, muttering and scratching at its graying, thinning wires, to declare (belligerantly): "Hey there, rich kids -- I guess none of *you* have to make do with dial-up. Fancy-shmancy instantaneous downloads? Well, screw that! I make her *work* (make that *wait*) to amuse herself every morning on the bleepin' Net." A sinister grin flits across its narrow monitor, to be replaced by an expression of phony enthusiasm [don't ask me how it manages that!], as it adds: "Windows, Windows '98/ That's what we appreciate!"

Exit computer, sputtering.

PS: It gets on well with Clute, but can freeze in the presence of the NY Times online.

#296 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 11:00 AM:

Hey there, rich kids

I'm surprised, Faren. I thought that being a reviewer for Locus would permit you to live in high style.

#297 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 11:20 AM:

From the Randy Newman particle:

Now it seems like we're supposed to be afraid.
It's patriotic in fact.
color coded.

Yep. That about sums up America right now.

#298 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 11:52 AM:

YouTube shows that you can purchase insurance against pretty much anything. Even robots. At least, that's what Sam Waterston tells us.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3sLE-Jk0rw

#299 ::: Faren's computer ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 12:08 PM:

#296: You see that? You see how she's always putting me down in front of other people?

#300 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 12:18 PM:

Faren's computer @ 300... Don't go crying all over your motherboard now, you big baby.

#301 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 02:15 PM:

I usually avoid the political threads, but I read this and thought of Paula, and had to share with everyone

America's Crappiest Senators

PNH might enjoy it too.

#302 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 06:27 PM:

Serge @295:
While occasionally Mignola lets others write their own Hellboy/BPRD stories for publication in graphic format (and there are some Hellboy plaintext novels out there written by others), both Hellboy and BPRD issues are still being written by Mike. I think he's got somebody else doing the art these days, but it's still very much in his style. (At this point, I have all the trades, and both titles go straight into my box at the comic shop, whenever they happen to come out.)

#303 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 06:34 PM:

Thanks for clearing that up, Rebecca. As for the animated HellBoy that was released today... I am under the impression that there already was a weekly series (Where? On HBO?) and that the DVD is consistent with that, not with the movie. (One of these days,I'm going to post on my blog the photo I took of a small Arizona town's quite small theater, where the marquee proudly advertised HellBoy and, yes, The Passion of The Christ.)

#304 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 06:42 PM:

Tania @ 302... I am shocked, shocked to see that Joe Lieberman is considered a crappy Senator by Wonkette.

#305 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 07:27 PM:

Patrick, David Broder is an Op-ed columnist for the WashPost. That specifically means he has viewpoints that differ from the Post.

#306 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 08:36 PM:

Marilee (306), is a lie a viewpoint?

#307 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 08:44 PM:

The preliminary schedule for Boskone is up.

Can any of our hosts tell me if there will be a Tor party?

#308 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 08:53 PM:

Patrick at #284

Contra (Contraception) was started as an end of season/before winter relaxacon for people who often ran our local convention and helped on others. (end October/early November) It is a privately funded / self supporting party and the person who started it wanted it to be 21+, id checked, so we wouldn't have to worry about underage drinking or getting in trouble in other ways.

It has a theme every year, this last year was disco. BUT we always have the 21st Century Vaudeville and Century Camp Show, it's the Main Feature of programming, The acts range from the really pretty damn good to the silly.

Literature is probably discussed, we always have a writer, toastmaster and artist guest. There's a dealer room. We lost our beauiful atrium hotel (it was condemned last summer. all-wood construction turned dangerous due to fungus) and the hotel it was held at this fall was, urm, not it. So we continue looking.

There's always a theme. People get crazy. We have fun.

#309 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 09:50 PM:

Kate, I'm not planning to run a Tor party at Boskone.

#310 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 10:10 PM:

Paula, I'm sure it's a fine little party con. I'm not imputing anything bad about it.

But...I got into fandom at 16. I immediately got involved in helping with the local con. By the time I was 21 I'd been to over thirty conventions, including a Worldcon at which I ran a department. None of those conventions had an age restriction, or special "teenage" memberships, or any of the other modern appurtenances of second-class citizenship for younger fans.

In this, my experience was very similar to that of decades of earlier newcomers who'd also entered fandom in their teens and found it welcoming -- teenagers like Bob Silverberg, Terry Carr, and the young Harlan Ellison, just to name a few.

I understand the legal issues. I just hate what our culture has become, and what it's done to fandom. I look at even the smartest and savviest friends of mine who have teenaged kids, and I look at the short leash those kids are on, and I cannot begin to say how grateful I am that my teenage years were then and not now.

#311 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 10:15 PM:

Marilee, don't be silly. If there's a single columnist whose views most mirror those of the management of the Washington Post, it's quite certainly David Broder.

Moreover, as Howard Peirce points out, what's at issue isn't anyone's "viewpoint," it's Broder telling out-and-out lies about what happened at a DNC meeting.

#312 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 10:20 PM:

I went to my first con at 16. What probably would have been my second con wasn't, because it had an age limit (though not a hard-and-fast one), a membership cap, and incredibly bad logistics for me at the time. (Understandable special circumstances, though.)

#313 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 10:50 PM:

Patrick, the teens I've run into in comics fandom seem to be doing pretty well. They're not having the same experience you had in '75, or I had in '83, but they're having their own.

#314 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 11:05 PM:

I had been reading since before I knew how to read, but my first con was not long after I turned 24... It was 1979's Maplecon, in Ottawa. Not big by modern standards, but it opened a whole new world to me (*). My most vivid memory of it was of wandering around the con late at night, of walking by the movie program, where they were showing The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao. It was the scene where the Loch Ness had escaped from its fish bowl, and with the roar of bagpipes, was chasing after Royal Dano. Like I said, a whole new world...

(*) And, in an extremely convoluted way, led to my meeting the woman who'd become my significant other.

#315 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 12:18 AM:

it's also often challenging for a minor to be a fan of a smallish band.... i was a fruhead in high school, which dictated the direction of much of the rest of my life.

almost as much as the shows i saw stand out in my memory, i remember the shows i couldn't get into. moxy fruvous played mostly in bars, & while some bars had a policy of xes-on-the-hands for minors, many others wouldn't allow minors under any circumstances.

my little sister & i decided to bus it from coulmbus, ohio to toronto for fruhead convention one year. (we were 14 & 17, respectively.) the border guard called our parents at 2 am to ask "did you know your daughters are at the canadian border?...." luckily, they did.

#316 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 12:33 AM:

"I look at even the smartest and savviest friends of mine who have teenaged kids, and I look at the short leash those kids are on, and I cannot begin to say how grateful I am that my teenage years were then and not now."

It's bizarre to be children of a golden age, isn't it? And it really was; when they write the histories, I'm pretty sure that the USA from 1960-1980 or so will be accounted that.

#317 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 01:01 AM:

Sweet zombie Jesus:

U.S. sent pallets of cash to Baghdad

"Bills weighing a total of 363 tons were loaded onto military aircraft in the largest cash shipments ever made by the Federal Reserve."

Says John Rogers:

"Most people are outraged at the blinding mismanagement that's finally coming out after all these years. Finally, oversight, which is Congress' goddam job.

We screenwriters, however, are all in a dead heat to turn in our competing heist pitches to the studios by Friday."

#318 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 08:05 AM:

Today's Doonesbury comic-strip has the White House paying homage to me. Really. Kind of.

#319 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 08:17 AM:

Oh, Lord, I am a comics nitpicker. Can a man fall lower?

I don't know; I'll tell you when I get there. (the "comic of the movie of the comic"* which just came out spelled it "Broom" at one point in the intro and I nitpicked RIGHT THERE.)

Do pick up the Mignola stuff- it's wonderful.

*Their phrase. It's a separate chronology, and they're referring to it as "Hellboy Animated", I think.

#320 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 08:43 AM:

Sandy B... I got 'Broom' from that comic of the movie of the comic. I can thus truthfully say it's not my fault.

#321 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 08:54 AM:

At Ad Astra, Sasha got "Do Not Serve" stamped on his badge.

"They're really on to me," he said. "I was hoping to pick up a few minions."

#322 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 09:05 AM:

Jo... He could have also expressed relief at not being included in a certain alien cookbook.

(How old is Sasha anyway?)

#323 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 09:07 AM:

43/50 on the Alchemist's Challenge.

Should really be 44/50 as they are totally wrong about the origin of "Okay."

#324 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 09:26 AM:

I have now contemplated the real cause of the Flatiron's balustrade problems, and I'm really glad to see that the date for all that work was prior to the birth of the Small Tabby Cat at my house, because she's pretty nearly a ringer for the one in the picture.

Along with worrying how she'd made it out of the house and all the way to New York, I was thinking "No wonder she's so heavy when we pick her up--she's using Clever Feline Visual Tricks* to look smaller, but she can't do anything about her actual mass!"

*They all have these--but some tricks are cleverer than others

#325 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 10:10 AM:

"No, Dougal. These cows are very small. But those cows are very far away."

"I'm still not getting this, Ted. Could you run through it one more time?"

#326 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 10:12 AM:

In the Alchemist's Challenge, I think the Amerigo Vespucci answer is wrong, too. If anyone had named America after him, it would have been called Vespuccia.

#327 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 10:14 AM:

Hmmm...an invitation to a work-related conference taking place in Minneapolis on April 5 & 6.

Can anyone give me enough rundown on Minicon to determine whether I ought to try to convince my job to send me there? (It'll be a hard sell since I'm going to Texas on their nickel in March - I only officially get one conference per year.)

I wonder if they do this in MN every Easter.

#328 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 10:26 AM:

Serge (#292): Ha!
Serge (#301): No, that was just another case of identity theft. My computer is actually pleased as punch to get even a minor role in two threads of Making Light! (Just keep those friggin' dinosaurs away from it....)

#329 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 10:49 AM:

"Faren Miller, reviewer for love..."

#330 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 10:50 AM:

Susan... I didn't know that International Women of Mystery worked on a budget.

#331 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 01:31 PM:

Susan at #328:

Minicon is a very, very nice con they do every Easter in the Minneapolis area. Many correspondents here have attended, and some do regularly. I'm hoping to attend again this year myself.

It is notable for music parties, a general tilt toward ink-&-paper SF, and a laid-back attitude toward the universe.

It's not huge (what? maybe 600 people?) but it attracts the right kind of people, in my humble opinion. I recommend it.

#332 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 01:43 PM:

Serge @ #331:

My cover identity has a limited budget. It's a problem.

#333 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 01:46 PM:

'M' has become quite the penny-pincher, eh, Susan?

#334 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 01:52 PM:

Bill @ #332:
I've been aware of Minicon for many years. I'm just not sure I want to go enough to really work at getting to this conference, especially since that would involve me doing an about-face and suddenly becoming enthusiastic about learning this software package which I have spent the last six months, um, not enthusing about. I don't know if I could make this all that convincing, especially since my boss is perfectly well aware that I don't need a two-day out-of-state conference to become expert on a software package. And it would mean losing a rare three-day weekend at home.

The makers seem to be based in Minneapolis, so maybe they'll do a conference there every year - this seems to be the first one.

it attracts the right kind of people

Whenever this sort of thing comes up, it generally gets made clear to me that I'm not the right kind of people.

#335 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 01:55 PM:

ajay @ 326: "No, Dougal. These cows are very small. But those cows are very far away."

For some reason, this reminds me of the tidbit I recently read on Wikipedia that Inuit languages' morphology/syntax includes a fourth-person verb form (slightly past halfway down the page) to clarify statements of the type "So then he (walrus #1) tells him (walrus #2), 'Just fix the damn thing and keep my private life out of it, okay?'"

#336 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 01:57 PM:

it attracts the right kind of people

Was it in 1986 that Robert Silverberg wrote an editorial in Amazing where he decried the presence of all those costuming people? A few of 'them' got peeved, which is why the Atlanta worldcon's masquerade made it a point to tell the audience that winners would be given books.

#337 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 02:19 PM:

Serge @ #337:

"Costumers don't read." Yup, that was that "nice" guy Bob Silverberg. It was actually in late 1987 or early 1988, I believe.

I wasn't at the 1986 worldcon, but I've seen that masquerade video numerous times, and the absolute most memorable costume in it for me is Phil Mercier's "Repent, Harlequin". Absolutely stunning. And of course not from a book...right?

Were you in the "Snow Queen" group? That one wasn't from a book either....um.

The best in show in 1986 was the Pettingers' unspellable group of gods from the Tekumel...books.

Hmm, we seem to have a little problem here.

(They gave the Pettingers BOOKS as a prize? Talk about coals to Newcastle...)

#338 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 02:28 PM:

Susan @ 338... I wasn't involved in any masquerade group in 1986. Goodness, it's been ages since I have served as a body in one of those. Let's see. The last was at 1984's LAcon, in Barb Schofield & Caroline Julian's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, where they decided I'd be best as Famine. Can't figure out why. OK, that wasn't based on a book. The year before in Baltimore, Barb & Caroline did Tanith Lee's Demon Lords and I was Death. The year before that, at Chicon, I was in their Faded Sun group, again based on a book, that one by CJ Cherryh.

#339 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 02:33 PM:

Serge @ #339:
I remember those Faded Sun costumes! Chicon was my first worldcon and I was working my way through Cherryh at the time. I went right out and bought those books and the Moorcock Dancers at the End of Time books after I saw the Jherek Carnelian & The Iron Orchid masquerade entry.

(Not to read, of course, being a costumer. I just like to have shelves full of books for, um, decoration. Yeah, that's it.)

#340 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 02:43 PM:

Ah yes, Susan, I remember Jherek Carnelian & The Iron Orchid. That was my favorite entry in that masquerade. (*) My best memory of that event was when, after we were done, cartoonist/photographer Bill Rotsler came and congratulated us. I still have the tape. Maybe I should watch it again. I'll probably get a few chuckles at seeing the scrawny Conan the Barbarian who then went on to introduce Conan the Librarian, Conan the Libertarian, and Conan the Rotarian.

(*) Based on some revelations you made a few days ago about schoolmate Robert Sean Leonard, you were, what? Fourteen years old?

#341 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 02:54 PM:

Serge @ #341:

I was 14 at Chicon IV, having started congoing that spring at age 13. I was theoretically being chaperoned by a friend's mother, whose definition of chaperonage involved getting all the teenagers a room in one tower while she got a room in the other tower and said "see you Monday for our flight back."

The guy who played Jherek in that 1982 entry later ended up married to or at least living with the ex-wife of the guy who did the Harlequin entry in 1986. Just by way of weird gossip.

#342 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 02:55 PM:

Patrick, Teresa, is Carl Kruger your state senator? Looks like he might be, from this map.

He's pushing to outlaw all use of portable music players, cell phones, and video game devices while crossing streets in NY state.

Not that I don't sympathize -- I've noticed the glassy-eyed, zombie-like aspect that many people take on while talking on cell phones. But as a practical matter, this would be a massive mess, as well as an imposition on our rights.

#343 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 03:05 PM:

Will it be illegal to look at my watch to check the time while crossing the street?

Enquiring minds want to know....

#344 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 03:12 PM:

Avram @ 343

I'd have more chance of supporting a bill like that, if it wasn't so clearly an invasion of rights. People who are wearing headphones (or earbuds), especially with the sound up a little loud, tend to be oblivious to all around them, to the point where it would be just so easy to run into them in a parking lot or wherever. (I remember one guy who was jogging on the railroad track one morning, with his soundmachine, and didn't notice the train approaching him from behind. I believe the engineer finally (having slowed to a crawl) blew the horn. It put a small crimp in the commute.)

#345 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 03:12 PM:

Susan @ 342... I was 14 at Chicon IV, having started congoing that spring at age 13.

Corrupted at such a tender age...

#346 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 03:40 PM:

Serge:

You might be interested in a sequel to that Moorcock entry:

The Return of the Iron Orchid. Same costumer as at Chicon.

#347 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 03:46 PM:

Thanks, Susan... That was very nice. Say, are there other web sites that display costumes, for example those from worldcons past?

#348 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 03:51 PM:

Susan #328:

Would that be in Austin?

#349 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 03:54 PM:

re the Flatiron building links, my husband just suggested: "Someone should tell that cat to stop playing with the iron".

#350 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 04:08 PM:

Serge @ #348:

The Fan History Project has a pictures from many worldcons, including masq. photos from Chicon.


joann @ #349:

San Antonio.

#351 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 04:11 PM:

I also got 43/50, though probably a different set.

I had thought their 'OK' origin explanation was the correct one, but I see now Wikipedia references a definitive academic explanation which sounds reliable. On the other hand, they're definitely wrong about LSD. I got credit for the right answer because I correctly reasoned which answer they would think was correct, but it's wrong.

Explanation: Retbg pbagnvaf ylfretvp npvq, ohg abg ylfretvp npvq qvrgulynzvqr juvpu vf zhpu zber cbjreshy naq bayl znqr flagurgvpnyyl. Fbzr zbeavat tybevrf pbagnva ylfretvp npvq nzvqrf, ohg fgvyy abg ylfretvp npvq qvrgulynzvqr.

Teresa will be pleased to know I got the Flatiron building right, despite not being a New Yorker. I missed one question because I confused the nicknames of the first two computers, and one because I just didn't notice the correct answer in the list. The other 5 I screwed up fair and square.

My view is that any quiz that gets geeks arguing seriously about history, biochemistry, etymology, et al. is a good quiz.

P.S. Several of their parenthetic comments in presenting the answers are also wrong, viz the folk etymology for software "bug". Edison used the term bug in referring to errors or problems in his inventions 50 years before Grace Hopper's famous moth logbook entry.

#352 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 04:14 PM:

Susan #351: San Antonio

Foo. That's just too far away for a casual visit during a conference.

#353 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 04:18 PM:

joann:

You'd want to visit me? I'm flattered. (Suppressing: um, why?)

I've only been to San Antonio a couple of times (school field trip, LoneStarCon); it should be interesting to actually have time to sightsee like a tourist once I manage to lose my co-attendees.

#354 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 04:32 PM:

Man oh man. That new particle about Six Gallery Press? With spear and trawl I have discovered a new reason to rejoice.

Man oh man.

#355 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 04:33 PM:

It's definitely not about trivia

I'd debate that point.

#356 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 04:37 PM:

Susan @ 351...

Oh goodness... I remember that photo from 1982's Chicon. You can probably guess where I am in there, based on the group's average verticality.

#357 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 04:39 PM:

Yeah, is the Six Gallery Press manifesto for real?
My first thought was parody.

#358 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 04:41 PM:

Military finds no evidence of abuse at Guantanamo after investigating claims by guards boasting that they had beaten prisoners.

The investigator never interviewed alleged victims.

#359 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 04:42 PM:

Gak. Link should point to this URL .

#360 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 05:14 PM:

Serge @339 - I think you'll find the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse are loosely based on a book.


I had been pleased with myself with getting 42/50 on the Alchemists challenge but now I see that 43 is the score needed to comment on it.

#361 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 05:17 PM:

Particle about Google recording your search log:

Is this the Tim Powers principle that when you look at the cards the cards can see you?

It's also true that many people will look at a web page without reading the terms of use. So is this an instance of the other Tim Powers principle that if you play the game you're selling your soul without knowing it (if some terms-of-use page somewhere says so)

#362 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 05:22 PM:

Clifton #352
"Teresa will be pleased to know I got the Flatiron building right"

Wikipedia disputes their Flatiron answer, claiming the Park Row Building is both taller (and thus presumably a skyscraper if the Flatiron is) and older.

Me, I got that one wrong anyway -- I guessed it was the first to make noticable changes in weather. I think I ended up at just 38/50, but I knew the maybe-real OK answer they didn't have listed as a choice, and guessed wrong which they believed. I think the others, I just didn't know.

#363 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 05:28 PM:

Neil @ 361... True, true.

#364 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 05:46 PM:

Lt. Ehren Watada's court martial has just ended in a mistrial.

#365 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 06:28 PM:

#352: And "bug" shows up in Heinlein and Doc Smith, long before Grace's moth.

She was making a joke: "First actual bug": hey, folks, this bug is a real insect!

#366 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 06:49 PM:

Jo @ 322:

I can't entirely blame the concom, given that Sasha is a self-proclaimed evil mage.

#368 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 07:00 PM:

46/50.

I'm proud that I missed the "Philadelphia Experiment" question. And I once had a roommate who was a neighbor of Martin van Buren (...well, of his house, not actually a contemporary...), so I'm totally with DaveL at #324: I was obligated to give the "Old Kinderhook" answer for "OK".

#369 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 07:24 PM:

Hey!

The NHS needs knitters!

Well, I think it's a cool link, considering my views on both breastfeeding and knitting...

#370 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 08:23 PM:

abi @ 370... They could even serve as grocery bags, although using them as carryons for 5-pound bags of flour might be pushing it a bit.

#371 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 10:09 PM:

Serge #319: Being toasted by the Bush administration doesn't seem that great a compliment.

#372 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2007, 11:14 PM:

Patrick, #312, what Broder actually said was "One of the losers in the weekend oratorical marathon was retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who repeatedly invoked the West Point motto of "Duty, Honor, Country," forgetting that few in this particular audience have much experience with, or sympathy for, the military. speaking of the Democratic National Committee. I assume you're saying "sympathy for ... the military" is a lie. How many of them have you seen pushing for the troops to come home? For more armor? For more hardened vehicles?

Susan, #328, yes, Minicon is always on Easter and you should definitely come! There isn't a masquerade but people do wear costumes.

#373 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 12:01 AM:

marilee, from what i read, the lie in question was the suggestion that wesley clark's usage of the slogan was unpopular & greeted with silence, when in fact it was enthusiastically applauded.

#374 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 12:10 AM:

Check out this strip!

Anyone want to start a new hobby?

#375 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 12:34 AM:

I just read the Six Gallery Press particle. I agree that it's stunningly pretentious, but I think it might be advertently funny.

#376 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 01:55 AM:

Hmmm...On some thought, I second Dave Luckett.

other writerly nocturnalia bored to shreds with the mundane and banal bestseller dreck that amuses the simian throng that goes to bed every night at 11 within the cloisters of "art" and "literature" that will not clash with the soft, homogeneous pastel-hued decor of gibbering bourgeois life

I don't think I've ever seen anyone use such a number of "that" clauses in a sentence by accident.

#377 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 02:39 AM:

Neil @ 361: No, you just need to be egocentric. It's easy and fun!

#378 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 05:22 AM:

I think the Six Gallery Press may be a piece of subversive comedy. If you look at the rest of the site where they are trying to sell books, you will see that their stuff is indeed pretentious and inadvertently funny:

Is it a lyrical post-Beat vision of America, or the deployment of self-distancing tactics and imagery in the growing knowledge of the illusion of such a notion? Both.

Better still:

includes logostiary/glossary of Calembourist neologisms. Codex Obscura weaves theory terms, pop culture, ebonics, glam facades, polemic and the like to depict the impossibility of mad authors turned stable, and an anagogical dystopolis in a terror-stricken Roman-America where cocaine-addled inventors attempt to put forth their war machine proposals within a space that is perpetually an ethereal 3:33 am.

I think someone asked to write a blurb for a site peddling such absurd nonsense might well try to stretch the boundaries and see just how much bollocks the editors will approve.

#379 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 06:05 AM:

I had an odd feeling of déjà vu seeing "The Alchemist's Challenge". I'm almost sure I've done it before. In particular, I think I got the television question wrong before, and right this time. At any rate, 41/50; 39/50 with reasonable confidence, two as lucky educated guesses.

#380 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 06:38 AM:

Fragano @ 372... True, but the Party I became a member of the very day of my acquiring the American citizenship, has been vociferously opposed to the Surge. I am very hurt. Sniff, sniff...

#381 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 06:42 AM:

miriam @ 374... I wonder if Wes Clark is running. Hmm... Gore and Clark... I'd like that.

#382 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 08:30 AM:

I don't think the Six Gallery Press page is intentionally over-the-top. In fact, I think I dated that guy, or his avatar, back in grad school. You haven't lived until you've had a screaming argument about Kathy Acker. (me: "this is unreadable crap!" him: "Derrida blah blah blah paradigm blah blah hegemony blah blah blah!")

#383 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 08:53 AM:

I don't know from Derrida, but Kathy Acker rocks!

#385 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 09:58 AM:

This is apropos of nothing in particular and everything in general. I'd been slowly working my way through the short stories of Ambrose Bierce when I came across a passage that stopped me dead in my tracks:

For a moment General Cameron and the commander of the battery sat in their saddles, looking at each other in silence. There was no more to say; apparently too much had already been said. Then the superior officer nodded coldly and turned his horse to ride away. The artillerist saluted slowly, gravely, and with extreme formality. One acquainted with the niceties of military etiquette would have said that by his manner he attested a sense of the rebuke that he had incurred. It is one of the important uses of civility to signify resentment. [emph. added]

--A.G. Bierce, One Kind of Officer

I stopped reading after that. Every time I hear conservatives (or anyone else for that matter) bemoaning the lack of civility, that passage rings in my ears. It's been ringing a lot lately.

#386 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 11:37 AM:

Serge #381: Well, I think you'll get over that one....

#387 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 01:13 PM:

Oddly, I recognized one of the author's pen names on the Six Gallery Press. tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE was credited for some of the weird collages and illustrations for the original Book of the SubGenius.

#388 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 01:51 PM:

Serge @ 385 - Who knew that Tonya Harding found a new career at NASA! Maybe MTV can do a Real World: International Space Station series. We might just get a functional space program out of it.

#389 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 04:14 PM:

Niall McAuley said (#327):
In the Alchemist's Challenge, I think the Amerigo Vespucci answer is wrong, too. If anyone had named America after him, it would have been called Vespuccia.

Actually, that is the correct answer, though I admit it's odd that his first name got used. Blame the German mapmaker who first did it.

(Oh, and I got 45/50... but I got very lucky with some of my random guesses.)

#390 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 04:33 PM:

Niall @ 327, Peter @ 390:

Firesign Theater: "Welcome to Vespucciland!"

BTW, the question is presented so as to make the correct answer sound silly. In reality, major "merchants" in the Middle Ages and Renaissance functioned much like venture capitalists and technology CEOs today - they gambled tremendous sums of their own and other people's money on extremely risky ventures, with big payoffs resulting only if they knew better than anyone else.

Thus merchant Amerigo Vespucci was himself a cartographer and navigator, and ended up leading an expedition of ships to the New World, only a few years after Columbus. Unlike Columbus, he knew the geography of India and Southeast Asia well enough to recognize that the coast of Central and South America they mapped out could not possibly be part of the "Indies." Letters he wrote at the time - which were translated into Latin and widely circulated - show that he was almost certainly the first European to recognize it as a new continent. In other words, Columbus (as he was Latinized) may have stumbled on the New World for Europe, but Americus (as he was Latinized) was the first to realize just what had been discovered.

This stuff is exciting, and it's a pity most schools don't manage to make it so.

#391 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 04:39 PM:

In breaking news, as shown on the websites for MSNBC and CNN, Anna Nicole Smith is dead.
It is a tribute to the level of cynicism I've developed by now that my first reaction at hearing about the death of a woman, younger than I, who leaves an infant behind her, was "How fortunate for the media--that lovesick astronaut story was beginning to run out of legs."

#392 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 04:39 PM:

42/50 on the Alchemist's Challenge. Most of the ones I got wrong, I had it narrowed down to two and guessed incorrectly. (I also got several right by that method.)

#393 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 04:55 PM:

Lawrence Ferlinghetti on Totalitarian Democracy (via).

#394 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 05:13 PM:

Prosecution rests in the Libby the Leaker case. Defense (Wells) was inadequate on cross, Fitz's redirects were laser beam precise. Judge is permitting jurors to question witnesses through him -- and those questions show they're not buying Wells' razzle-dazzle.

Libby is sooo busted. And it looks like Fitz may have gotten enough from this one to go after Libby's boss, with an order of journalists on the side...

#395 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 05:27 PM:

Howard Pierce @386:

It is one of the important uses of civility to signify resentment.

Indeed. This is one of the reasons I advocate its use in the political discourse. It's much more nuanced, much more telling, and much more fun than incivility. Any competent wordsmith can deliver a deadly insult in words I could use in front of my granny.

I think that shouting, swearing, and namecalling are best left to the incompetent, schoolchildren, and those of us who can't keep the hammer on the nail rather than the thumbnail.

#396 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 05:56 PM:

abi (396), I took something completely different from the text. In the bit before the passage I quoted, the General has just given Captain Ransome an order that is tactically and suicidally stupid. It's not an illegal order, however, and the captain is obliged to follow it. Civility is the only means the captain has to show his resentment. In the story, the idiot has the authority, and the captain resents that.

I don't resent conservatives. In order to resent them, I would have to acknowledge that they have some authority over me, or over the public discourse. But I recognize no such authority. This is why conservatives get so upset when the rest of us are incivil. Our incivility shows that we don't acknowledge their sense of entitlement. Conservatives make such a big deal about civility because it's the only way they have of preserving the illusion of authority.

Once you start talking back -- or better yet, talking down -- the game isn't fun for them anymore.

But I don't think there's a single way to read that passage. Bierce is one of those authors who, like Borges, can write simple sentences that mean many, often contradictory, things simultaneously. And I love sentences like that.

#397 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 05:57 PM:

jonathan lethem's plagiarism (plagiarized) essay on the sidelights is well worth a read, all the way to the bottom. it is all over the comics web today, & i hope that fanficcers are picking up on it, too.

as long as we're about inspirational quotes, my favourite one from that piece:

“You can't steal a gift.” Dizzy Gillespie, defending another player who'd been accused of poaching Charlie Parker's style: “You can't steal a gift. Bird gave the world his music, and if you can hear it you can have it.''

#398 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 06:11 PM:

abi @ #396 says Any competent wordsmith can deliver a deadly insult in words I could use in front of my granny.

True. When I was a kid my dad had a flyer on the wall of his office with the classic line

Profanity is the crutch of the inarticulate motherfucker

#399 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 07:57 PM:

Re: Ambrose Bierce

I can find copies of his Devil's Dictionary online, but I hadn't been able to find copies his adaptations of Aesop's Fables (I have copies of the Dover editions, in a box).

One of them (paraphrasing vaguely) told of the Treasury that felt Hands delving into it. The Hands apologized, the Treasury responds "That's quite alright. I am familiar with the Hauls of Congress".

#400 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 10:46 PM:

Pentagon says lying congress into war was "inappropriate", but not illegal.

leaving me with one question: Treason?

#401 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 10:50 PM:

I have this odd urge to throw a brick through the window of Six Gallery Press. I was, after all, invited, was I not?

(Anna Nicole Smith: Damn shame.)

#402 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 11:32 PM:

Bill Higgins - Beam Jockey @ 332:

Minicon is a very, very nice con they do every Easter in the Minneapolis area...it attracts the right kind of people.

The right kind of people being those who don't celebrate Easter? Is the corollary that people who do celebrate Easter are the wrong kind of people?

#403 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 11:48 PM:

Okay -- I'm starting to get scared. Check out www.tomdispatch.com. There's nothing in the article/essay/scream that I haven't read before, but right now I'm finding it particularly chilling. Am I the only one reacting this way?

#404 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 12:37 AM:

Lizzy, no you aren't. This president is a total disaster in that he is apparing to get whatever he wants. I'm not sure why this is, but it is what I see. And his total desire to invade Iran, while irrational, is what HE WANTS. And he appears to ignore anyone wanting to stop him from doing it. I'm not sure why he gets his whims, I'm sure that a lot of it is illegal.

I also know that his family, and all the administration's families and trust funds or whatever they put their money into while they "serve in office' (that is so foolish, if their monies are so tied up in the public weal, they should make that money the public's to use... just my two cents..._) are making profit hand over fist because of the war.

Just saying. He's going to be farking rich when his term is up, despite his supidity as a businessman.

Unless he goes to Leavenworth as a war profiteering criminal.

#405 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 01:04 AM:

Paula @ 405... Unless he goes to Leavenworth as a war profiteering criminal.

...which will be when pigs can fly, or, to use equivalent expressions from the French language, when chicken grow teeth, or on the week of the four Thursdays.

If that's all I can get, I'll settle with never having to see his smirky face on TV anymore.

#406 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 01:17 AM:

Speaking of expressions from foreign languages... Remember when film stocks were not as sensitive to low light-levels? To give the illusion of night, they'd darken the film, with very unconvincing results. Either that, or we were supposed to assume that there was a very full Moon 20 feet into the sky.

Anyway. The technical term was, I think, day-for-night.

In French, the equivalent term was American night.

#407 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 01:32 AM:

serge,

in hebrew, multiple-choice questions are called american questions.

#408 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 01:36 AM:

How come, miriam?

#409 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 02:42 AM:

i dunno. it is just what they're called. because americans need extra help, maybe?

#410 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 02:55 AM:

'Cos they've heard a few too many American politicians arguing with false dichotomies. The answer to ALL math problems is either a) 1, b) pi, c) 0 or d) invade Iran!

#411 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 04:03 AM:

On Vespuccia, I know that the Alchemist's answer is the traditional one, but I still don't believe it. If it had been named for Columbus, would it have been called Colombia or Cristoforia?

#412 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 04:30 AM:

miriam, #374, read the link in #373 and you'll see that Broder doesn't say anything about Clark being met with silence.

Juli, #403, some folks celebrate Easter. Some don't. In general, people who like this kind of conversation will like Minicon.

#414 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 06:32 AM:

Marilee #413: Or they could have combined the Spanish form of Columbus's name, Colón, and the Greek for 'to see' and come up with 'Colonoscopia'.

#415 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 07:27 AM:

Susan @ 355 & Juli @409

The right kind of people that Minicon attracts are the kind of people who hang out here. (C'mon, this is Bill's definition of the right kind of people, not some MSM definition.) OK, so it's kind of hard to celebrate Easter at your home church if you go to Minicon, but there -are- churches in Minneapolis.

I don't go to Minicon anymore because it's too far to drive and I really don't want to fly (not because of security theater, but because it's a pain to fly with kids, and I'm not sure how well my surgically repaired back would handle the airplane seats). If I lived closer, I'd still be going every year. When the eldest urchin was 7 she'd been to 8 Minicons.

#416 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 07:51 AM:

Abi @396

I'm personally unhappy with constant use of profanity because it devalues swearwords. By not swearing usually, when my boss came up to me and asked how things are going, the time I answered "It's a complete fucking nightmare" was suprising and forcefully showed that this was an extraordinarily bad situation that I really wasn't happy with.

With some of the people I know, there's only one English swearword left. If that comes into common use, how will I show extreme annoyance or stress? We need words that are shocking and extreme, for use in shocking and extreme situations.

YMMV etc.

(I use more swearwords in things I write, but I can justify this to myself as

1. hardly anyone gets to read it and;
2. (in my stories in general) story arises from conflict; conflict leads to stress; stress leads to profanity*)

* The path to the darkside that is

#417 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 08:19 AM:

Juli at #403:

The right kind of people being those who don't celebrate Easter? Is the corollary that people who do celebrate Easter are the wrong kind of people?

Not at all. I myself slip away from the Minicon hotel and attend Easter Mass. You're welcome to come with me.

#418 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 09:50 AM:

miriam @ 410... Ba-da-bing.

#419 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 09:52 AM:

Fragano @ 414... I've never seen Truffaut's la nuit americaine, but I do remember when it came out because that's when I became aware of the term American night.

#420 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 09:56 AM:

As a reviewer, I've encountered tons of profanity in books. Sometimes it's useful -- how could such characters speak in any other way? -- but in other cases it really puts me off. Though humans must have used expletives since the invention of speech, or before ("Ook! Ook! Ook!"), the most familiar swear words can still make a character seem too modern for their role, just typical potty-mouths. I'm not necessarily advocating the return of "'Zounds!" and the like, let alone censorship, but I'd be interested to see if any of the writers here have something to say on the subject.

As for the astronaut affair and the death of Anna Nicole Smith making the headlines in such quick succession, it's almost enough to make me wonder if God has been spending too much time lately perusing tabloids at supermarket check-out counters.

#421 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:05 AM:

Faren, 421: I thought "Ook!" meant "Careful, that book will eat you."

#422 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:21 AM:

#421: it depends on the story, I suppose. The only word that has the same emotional impact as f**k is f**k.

A lot of cursing might indicate someone who can't manage their own anger, or it might indicate someone who is trying to project false bravado. No cursing might indicate someone who thinks they're better than the people who curse, or someone who has trouble dealing with anger so pushes anger away.

The way I look at it, the healthy approach is when your physical and emotional states line up with your speech. If you're f**king mad, then you should say you're f**king mad.

#423 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:25 AM:

About profanity... I liked the way HellBoy handled that, by having its blue-collar red-skinned hero use the word 'crap', especially after a thing squamous and rugose has knocked him off the subway platform and right in the way of a train.

#424 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:27 AM:

#421: historical swearing, which I think is what you're talking about, is a problem; although is it any better if the characters in historical fiction swear in a historically accurate way? A good strong "Fsck!" in a moment of emotional turmoil may be anachronistic for a Roman centurion, but it gets the point across to the reader in a way that "By Mithras!" just wouldn't. And F&SF swearing suffers from the same problems as F&SF slang only more so...

#425 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:28 AM:

As it happens, I read this only yesterday:

'Zounds,' said the Admiral - he was the only serving officer known to Jack who still said zounds - 'it goes on forever.'

#426 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:29 AM:

Serge #420: You missed a film with Jacqueline Bissett speaking French?

#427 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:30 AM:

TexAnne #422: Only if the librarian is an orangutan.

#428 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:31 AM:

#422: actually "Ook" has several meanings, ranging from "Excuse me, that is my rubber ring you are sitting in, thank you so very much" to "It may look like vital oxygenating biomass to you, but it's home to me" and "I'm sure there was a tropical rainforest around here a few minutes ago".

#429 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:33 AM:

Fragano... I confess. I missed a movie where Jacqueline Bisset spoke in French. By the way... Did you know that, when Finian's Rainbow and Goodbye, Mr.Chips were dubbed in French, Petula Clark did her own lines in French too. Wonderful accent.

#430 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:35 AM:

True, Fragano, but that's the only attestation I've ever seen for "Ook!" Although I suppose that "Ook!" could mean "F***! The m************ Luggage ate my f****** banana!" if the Librarian wanted it to.

#431 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:47 AM:

"Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!"

#432 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:57 AM:

The best curses, I've found, are also satisfying to say. A word with lots of Ls and humming Ms isn't going to be nearly as cathartic as f*, sh*, and the like. Of course, I'm basing this on my own experience, which is English and relied heavily on 'frick' for years-- I'm sure French has different ways to use a word like a hammer.

A friend of mine managed to accidentally teach a daycare of kids to mildly swear in French. She always said 'zoot' when others might say 'drat', which I gather is something the same.

#433 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:03 AM:

Diatryma @ 433... I'm sure French has different ways to use a word like a hammer.

Must... resist... Must not show off... knowledge of... French swearing... must not!!!
(That was supposed to sound like Captain Kirk trying not to be taken over by an alien entity.)

Meanwhile, a lot of Quebec swearing involved Catholicism and the objects of the cult. My hypothesis is that one swears according to what is important in one's culture.

#434 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:12 AM:

Serge #430: No, I didn't know that.

#435 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:14 AM:

Serge@324 -- Sasha is sixteen, he was fourteen when he said that.

Faren@421 -- I was on a panel about swearing in fiction at Duckon, with the impressively foul mouthed Sarah Monette and Keith di Candido, whereupon I had to own up to being unable to pronounce the word "fuck" without the quotation marks, and to having used unlikely letters and dashes to represent words to bad to use in polite text in _Tooth and Claw_. (Every so often I get email from someone asking what v- stands for. Heh. It stands for "Trollope might be expecting me to read 'harlot' for the dash in _Is he Popinjoy?_, but there's something gone wrong somewhere.") My general feeling is that I'm with T.S. Eliot on this, every word has to be there for a reason.

#436 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:14 AM:

TexAnne #431: I expect it could, it's a very versatile word.

#437 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:17 AM:

Fragano... So did Jane (bleh) Fonda in Cat Ballou and Barbarella. Robert Stack never did his own dubbing, to my knowledge, although his French was fluent. And Kevin Kline was absolutely wonderful singing la mer (which is the original version of beyond the sea at the end of French Kiss.

#438 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:23 AM:

Serge @434: Or as my husband puts it, you can tell what a society's hangups are by what its curse words are.

Swearing in Quebec is fun. When I worked at a small office in Quebec City, in which everyone was english-speaking, *everyone* cursed in french.

As to profanity in writing -- am I the only person who finds it more impactful when characters swear in a book? I barely notice spoken profanity, but when I read it, it always stands out (and most often I find it unnecessarily jarring, though not always).

#439 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:29 AM:

Ceri @ 439... Pretty much. I once asked a Japanese-American friend about what people swear about in Japan. She said that, personal hygiene being a big thing, they'll refer to, for example, things dangling from people's nostrils.

Meanwhile, when people swore, in Firefly, what were they saying?

#440 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:35 AM:

Jo @ 436

I thought 'v---' was something very vulgar in whatever language the dragons normally use. (I don't think they're English-speaking normally, going on the context you gave us.)

#441 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:35 AM:

Galactica's use of the word 'frak' is one interesting way to convey some rather strong swearing without censors falling on them like a ton of bricks.

One other approach was the Jose Chung episode of X-files. One of the characters was a cop, rather foul-mouthed, but they got away with it by having him actually say 'bleep' or call someone a 'blankhole'.

#442 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:42 AM:

It's always bothered me that people keep giving the Librarian bananas. Figs! They eat figs! If you really want to get in good with an orangutan, you give him a fig!

Ahem. Sorry.

#443 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:48 AM:

Serge @ 440: Are you ever in luck: A Complete Firefly/Serenity Chinese Pinyinary

And Serge @ 442, the nice folks at Farscape came up with a dizzying array of alien swear-word equivalents, and at least one or two of them have attained general use in certain corners of fandom. Love that.

#444 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 12:14 PM:

International swearing: try this, Bernard Nežmah's "Fuck this Article: The Yugoslav lexicon of swear words". I believe I got the link from Andrew Brown's blog or Languagehat a while back; anyhow, it's an enlightening read.

It's years since I lived there and spoke it regularly, but I seem to remember Swiss German profanity having a similar set of swearwords to English. Dutch uses some diseases as swearwords; I remember cancer and TB being two of the more popular.

#445 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 12:41 PM:

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead

Bob Dylan
Copyright © 1963; renewed 1991 Special Rider Music

Seems as appropriate now as it did then.

#446 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 12:41 PM:

Andrew @ 443-444... Thaks for the link. As for Farscape, yes, there IS the word 'frell', but it doesn't sound as harsh as 'frak', which I think originated with 1978's Galactica.

#447 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 12:43 PM:

A minor character on an episode of (the sadly underappreciated) Foyle's War cursed by saying "What the blue pencil..." and similar. It was unclear if the character was actually saying "blue pencil" or if that's just what you were hearing. I don't think any of the other characters remarked (no pun intended) on it.

Foyle's War is a detective show set in Britain in 1940-1941, and is very reminiscent of Farthing, although without the alternate history angle (so far).

#448 ::: Space Parasite ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 12:54 PM:

ajay @ #425: historical swearing, which I think is what you're talking about, is a problem; although is it any better if the characters in historical fiction swear in a historically accurate way? A good strong "Fsck!" in a moment of emotional turmoil may be anachronistic for a Roman centurion, but it gets the point across to the reader in a way that "By Mithras!" just wouldn't.

In the Ash books (Mary Gentle), the framing story is an archaeologist translating old documents and emailing them to his colleagues. In addition to translating 15th-century versions of various European languages to modern English, he translated 15th-century Soldier to 20th-century Soldier. "I'm afraid she does say 'fuck' rather a lot." But it worked pretty well, possibly because Mary Gentle is a mad genius and her brain is on the Menu.

#449 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 01:22 PM:

Lizzy L @446, I don't think I've seen those words written out as poetry before, all the Dylan around here is in guitar books. That striding rhythm still prevails, doesn't it?

About profanity: I am a logger's daughter from Yelm, my husband is a preacher's kid from Texas. We have entirely different approaches to the stuff. However, since I knew there was no way I'd be able to control my impulses well enough to keep my father's mantra of "God damned son of a bitching bastard" away when I dropped a full bowl of mashed potatoes on my foot, I came up with a little lie.

I told my kids there was a profanity license, and they couldn't swear until they were eighteen and passed the test. They figured out it was a lie soon enough, but by then they'd managed to develop some clean interjections. So I'm the only one in the family who holds to the old lumber camp dialect. Probably just as well.

#450 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 01:35 PM:

Neil 417: That's what makes creatively insulting civil language so valuable. I believe I recently said that certain people would be "cordially invited to osculate my hirsute posterior." In situations like the one you describe, I've been known to tell my boss that "things are beginning to take on the surreal quality that distinguishes the nightmarish from the merely horrific."

Andrew 444: And Farscape had a slightly more sophisticated method about it than BSG, where it's simply a global search-and-replace: "Frak you" and "You were too busy frakking with Baltar" and "How many guys have you frakked since we got married" and "It's all frakked up." Farscape talked about things being frelled, and said "frell you" occasionally, but actual sex was called "recreating" by the Peacekeepers and "having sex" by everyone else; IIRC 'frell' was never used in that context.

I like that a lot. Let's not act like sex is the worst thing we can think of, huh?

I also like the word 'jackhole'. It's a conflation of two words, leaving out the part of each that's considered offensive, yet everyone who hears it knows exactly which two words you intend to convey!

#451 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 01:35 PM:

I tend to swear in Ancient Greek at work (σχυβαλα = "shit"). I need to acquire some Dutch profanity to add to it. (I do use pseudo-Dutch/German phrases like "upgefukt")

Like Neil, when I use a profanity "in the clear", it has more effect because people know that I don't swear in the ordinary course of events.

It's also a handy habit for life with small children.

#452 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 01:37 PM:

Xopher @451
believe I recently said that certain people would be "cordially invited to osculate my hirsute posterior."

The word "hirsute" is what makes that phrase work.

#453 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 01:45 PM:

"Pear-shaped" is not considered swearing, is it?

I don't use it myself*, but I think it's a charming expression, unlike most euphemisms.

I used to work with a woman who used a truly amazing variety of obscenities, many of which were part of our regional dialect (although I had never before heard them all in one place, as it were.)

One of her favorite expressions was "son of a whore," which sounds rather Shakespearian.

*because I doubt that people around me would understand it. It was popularized for me by a character on "Thin Blue Line."

#454 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 01:46 PM:

"You were too busy frakking with Baltar"

Again?

They just can't stay away from him.

#455 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 01:48 PM:

Doesn't maudite merde sound classy? Of course, everything sound classier if you say it in French.

#456 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 01:49 PM:

upstate new york got 100 inches of snow in the last five days, more to come.

that's very hirstute fracking weather.

zoot!

#457 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 02:24 PM:

abi... How colorful is Scottish swearing?

#458 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 02:30 PM:

Xopher @451: In "Meltdown" Aeryn interupts the cheesy porn music by saying "Frell!" (more smooching, then she breaks out of the clinch) "No, bad frell!" while they're failing to fix the leaks in Talyn's circulatory system.

Chiana also uses that word to mean have sex more than once, in "Wired" and, uh, "Out of Their Minds" if memory serves.

(message board geeks are so identifiable)

#459 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 02:31 PM:

Serge #438: Jane Fonda was married to Roger Vadim at the time, I believe.

#460 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 02:33 PM:

Andrew Willett #443: In most English-speaking islands in the Lesser Antilles, bananas are called figs.

#461 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 02:38 PM:

Abi #452: You might invite a Dutch person who has done you an injury to catch measles (krijg de mazelen), I gather that's pretty harsh. About the only swearword I learned, when I was learning Dutch back in the Old Stone Age, was godverdomme, which works in many, but not all, situations.

#462 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 02:41 PM:

JESR 459: Well, I guess IDRC. Frell me.

#463 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 02:54 PM:

Fragano @451: I was reading the thread backwards, and thought your comment was regarding the phallic properties of bananas and their relation to the use of "fig" as a swearword and/or profane gesture.

I like the convergence in Making Light discussions.

Now I have to go and work on something that will necessitate the use of all creative insults, Shakespearean swearing, and wordless growling I can muster. Grrrrrrr.

#464 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 02:55 PM:

Xopher, we're all frelled together then.

#465 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 02:56 PM:

That should be Fragano @461.

#466 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 02:59 PM:

It's bad enough there's all these time machines out there, but when they start running backwards ...

#467 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 03:04 PM:

Serge @458
Scottish swearing is surprisingly lacking in creativity.

The folk in my (relatively poor) area have worn the corners well off of the commonest obscenity (which I tend to refer to as "swive", though I see we're euphemising with "frak" here)

I recall one example, after catastrophic equipment failure (a chainsaw). I will not utter it here. But in the uncommon tongue it can be rendered as "Swive the swiving swiver! The swiving swiver's swiven! Queynte!"

#468 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 03:06 PM:

Fragano @462
I was aware of godverdomme. I've learned a few impolite terms in class (wijf, which does not translate as "wife", and anatomical terms like kut, lul and kont). But I get the sense that there is simply less that the Dutch regard as profane.

As my Dutch teacher says, it's a nation of people who are rarely embarrassed.

#469 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 03:23 PM:

Fragano @ 461: I... really? Huh. Okay, that's interesting, even kind of cool, but just because bananas can be figs it does not therefore follow that a fig is a banana.

#470 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 03:37 PM:

abi... "Swive the swiving swiver!"

Considering that my manager recently took me to task for referring to my current assignment as that Darn Project, I think I'll keep the swiving to a minimum.

#471 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 03:39 PM:

If a fig can be a banana, does this mean that, when Adam and Eve were going around the Garden Eden, they were hiding their naughty bits behind a banana? I don't remember that from my religious education.

#472 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 03:48 PM:

Serge @ 472

Well, maybe behind banana leaves.

#473 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 03:50 PM:

"Yes, we've got no bananas..."

#474 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 05:36 PM:

Caroline #464: I ask Xopher for the loan of his time machine, and then become him! Wow!

On swearing and the Lesser Antilles: I rather like the St Lucian insult 'ti lang maman-ou' (petite langue de ton maman/your mother's clitoris).

#475 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 05:42 PM:

Abi #469: It's more that vulgar anatomical terms don't seem to have the same force in Dutch that they do in English. (In Spanish, now, people do say some interesting things...'me cago en la leche de tu madre'[I s..t in your mother's milk] for example.)

#476 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 05:44 PM:

Serge@434 Must... resist... Must not show off... knowledge of... French swearing... must not!!!

Come on, you know you want to. Give in to the swear side. (Please ?)

One my favorite way to insult someone, from Jules Renard. Upon hearing someone being called a cunt, he just added "I don't know that you can call him that. After all he's neither as deep nor pleasant" ("Il n'en a ni la profondeur, ni l'agrément").

Talk about class.

#477 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 05:44 PM:

Andrew Willett #470: Alas!

#478 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 05:49 PM:

Serge #472: Banana leaves would certainly do the job.

#479 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 07:14 PM:

Wooo swearing talk.

Swearing in Icelandic tends to be all about the devil and hell etc. which is somewhat strange because the country isn't hugely religious (as an example it's pretty much the norm that a couple will get married once their child is old enough to hold the rings for them in the wedding ceremony).

Although since most people speak English as well a fair bit of English swear words are used. However they are all less serious than they are in English. Probably because you need to be pretty immersed in a language for the swearwords to have the same emotional impact.

They're also often said with an intentionally really thick Icelandic accent and bent to fit in with Icelandic grammar

So shit -> sjitturinn (-ur is a common ending for male nouns, and -inn is the definate article)

The most amusing run I've heard though was someone going: "Helvítis, andskotans, helvítis andskotans, helvítis andskotans djöfulsins FOKK!" with a nice crescendo

#480 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 07:22 PM:

swearing in hebrew is mostly sex stuff. but the worst hebrew swearwords are in arabic...

mostly they are pretty straightforward, often they refer to your mother's reproductive organ. but there was one my roommates used, applying to a female person, sounding like pustemma.

when pressed, they didn't actually know what it meant (several modern arabic phrases have leaked into modern hebrew, but most israelis don't speak arabic). i decided that that it meant postmistress.

#481 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 07:34 PM:

Xopher (451) wrote:
>Let's not act like sex is the worst thing we can think of, huh?

It's interesting to see how sex or blasphemy can make stronger dirty words, depending on the time or place. Personal background figures into it as well. I can tell there's some time lag between changing beliefs and changes in how people use strong language. Many people who don't actually believe in damnation still refer to it when slamming their fingers in doors. Likewise, people who don't really object to sex will still refer to it, rather than something they *do* object to (say, bigotry) while shaking their fists at uncooperative inanimate objects.

#482 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 07:39 PM:

I've long been fascinated by the fact that the mainstays of Jamaican swearing, raasclaat, and bumboclaat mean respectively "arsewipe" and "menstrual pad".

#483 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 08:40 PM:

Adrian 482: Sometimes when people say "fuck that" I react as if they're suggesting I actually do the nasty with whatever it is..."Fuck the Bush Administration!" "Ewwww, I'd rather not, thanks!"

I've suggested the term 'spay' to substitute for that usage. "Spay the Bush Administration" is much more like what we mean. We want to stop it from producing another administration, at a minimum! (It's a pity there isn't an unambiguous monosyllabic word for 'castrate'.) I've sometimes gone so far as to suggest using the phrase 'toxic waste' instead of 'shit', but that's even less likely to catch on, for reasons obvious and not.

Or maybe they're all obvious. Whatev, as the kids say nowadays. And they should get offa my lawn.

#484 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 09:09 PM:

Xopher @ 451: Let's not act like sex is the worst thing we can think of, huh?

I don't think it's necessarily the case that using X as a swearword means that we think it's a bad thing. If it did, what would we be left to deduce from the large number of people who swear by saying the name of God?

#485 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 09:09 PM:

It's a pity there isn't an unambiguous monosyllabic word for 'castrate

"Geld"?

#486 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 09:14 PM:

The gym I go to was pushing some kind of weight loss-related competition last month, under the name "Rock the scales." In itself, this was no more annoying than most such things, except for the ads they stuck onto the internal music video channel. The announcer had an English accent, and the promos ended "Rock the scales. Rock the bloody scales." And I kept wondering whether they realized they were swearing.

Oook.

#487 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 09:37 PM:

Alex Cohen @ #448: Foyle's War is a detective show set in Britain in 1940-1941, and is very reminiscent of Farthing, although without the alternate history angle (so far).

Although there was an episode in the first season set in a country house full of people from the pro-appeasement crowd, which is still one of my favourites.

(The most recent season was set in 1942, by the way, with a consequent increase in the number of supporting characters with American accents.)

#488 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:35 PM:

I just heard Terry Gross doing an interview with Al Gore -- from last year. (No, I haven't seen An Inconvenient Truth yet. Yes, I will rent it. I promise.) All through it, I just kept thinking, This man should have been President. Shit. Shit. This man should have been President. Had the election not been stolen in 2000, we might be living in a sane world. Maybe. Saner, anyway. We would not be staring at a war with Iran, for God's sake. I would have solar panels on my roof. Maybe.

#489 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:42 PM:

ajay 486: GELD!!!!!!!

*dances up and down*

GELD THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION!

Paul 485: It's not what they hate, it's what they're AFRAID OF.

#490 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:11 PM:

Juli @403 - Part of the Minicon routine for my sister and me is the crosstown drive on Sunday morning to the Cathedral of St. Paul for Easter Mass. This does have something to do with being former members of the cathedral choir.

#491 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:59 PM:

1. I'm not surprised to hear that at least some of those who attend Minicon also attend Easter services. Nor am I unaware that many, many people do not attend Easter services. Nor do I think that the Minicon co-ordinating committee sat around thinking up ways to be nasty to Christians. But they have made a longstanding public decision to have Minicon over Easter weekend, during the Good Friday tenebrae, the Saturday Easter vigil, the Easter services, and the Easter feasting. Fine. No problem. One can have a meal based entirely on the interesting things one can make with pigs. It's a fact that no Orthodox Jews or Muslims will choose to attend, but that in itself isn't a problem. When the talk becomes "The right kind of people do attend," it becomes a problem. That means that Orthodox Jews and Muslims are not the "right kind of people." In the case of Minicon, it means that a significant number of Christians won't be "the right kind of people" because of their religious beliefs. That bothers me. I have no problem believing that no individual meant ill of any other individual, but the set up is skewed.

2. My mother, who grew up in a poor/working class/small town setting, tells me she never heard swearing on a regular basis until the 70s. She remembers her father getting very, very angry at another man in town, and publicly calling him a "son of a b---". This was hugely scandalous, and served to indicate the seriousness of the situation to all concerned. She told me she thinks that things were much less violent then, because words could express a level of anger that they don't any more. I have also been told by several different WWII vets that they don't like war movies because of the language. Swearing, meant to indicate realism, was very uncommon, and makes them uncomfortable and makes the movie unrealistic to them. Mom and the vets may be romanticising the past, I don't know, but what they say makes some sense, I think.

#492 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 12:03 AM:

#483: Yoiks! The Stony Brook SF club adopted "bumboclaat" as a cussword without knowing what it meant.

I suspect rather than "menstrual pad" it is probably a more pungent vernacular like (pardon me) "c*** rag."

#489: I bought a copy of "An Inconvenient Truth," but I've put off watching it in part because the What Might Have Been factor is just so fucking depressing. Wouldn't it have been great to have a president who could think without Karl Rove's lips moving?

#493 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 12:11 AM:

Juli at 492: my father was a WWII vet. I never heard him swear. My mother would say "Shit!" when she was angry; my father, never. He was a man of great reserve and self-discipline. I cannot recall him ever losing his temper in public, and almost never in private. I suppose it's possible that his language was entirely other during his time in the South Pacific, but I doubt it.

#494 ::: Elizabeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 01:20 AM:

Ready for Attack on Iran?

Just saw this at the Guardian Unlimited. Has completely brought my down from my excitement over finishing my second ever pillowcase tonight. *sigh* I would really like to believe that this isn't already decided. It seems there's no mistake so big that Bush can't make it twice.

#495 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 01:24 AM:

#496. It'll be different next time, Elizabeth; there will be a LAW that we have to have magnetic ribbons on our cars. A mandatory daily clapping sessions to prove we Believe.

That's why we lost Iraq; the damn reality based community wouldn't get on board.

#496 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 02:58 AM:

#492: I don't buy that. There are a large number of sects, groups and so-on that have specific days that are highly important to them.

You might as well say you should never compliment a group of people at an event, because, I dunno, it coincided with the World Cup final, and you were implying that football fans are the wrong sort of people.

Or it was the day of the Grand National. Or the Superbowl. Or the Tri Nations Final. Or the FA Cup Final. Or the Uefa Cup Final. Or the final of the Copa Libertadores. Whatever.

And those are only sporting events.

Time is a limited resource. There will be clashes.

As a secondary point, I do not like the phrase `the right kind of people' at all, because it implies that there is a wrong kind of people, and that is not a way of thinking I'm comfortable with.

#497 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 08:22 AM:

Xopher @ #490:

Or something they respect.

#498 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 08:57 AM:

Paul 498: I'm sure that may be true. Could you cite an instance where respect but not fear is involved? Remember, we're living in a time where people still use "God-fearing" as a compliment.

I think some things that were not originally swearing have become swearing. "Jesus Christ!" was a cry to that entity to witness the speaker's injuries or save hir from them. I guess that's not a fear-based exclamation.

Hmm, I started this thinking you were wrong, but you might be right. The other day, I was feeling frustrated to the point of despair; I said "Osiris, Anubis, and Thoth!" (These are three Egyptian gods of death/the dead.) I don't fear these entities (though I admit I'd be somewhat intimidated should I meet any of them face to face). I was hyperbolically inviting them to come and take me. It also has a pretty good cussin' rhythm!

#499 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 08:57 AM:

In honour of the occasion:
The Mongol's Birthday Song
(to the tune of "The Volga Boatman")

Now you've reached the age you are
Your demise cannot be far;
Happy Birthday! (thud!) Happy Birthday! (thud!)

Cities burning in your wake
Like the candles on your cake;
Happy Birthday! (thud!) Happy Birthday! (thud!)

Even though you're still in your right mind,
My god, the decades have been quite unkind.
Shame, if your saga
Ends "He went ga-ga,
Died in a diaper" - Happy Birthday!

Etcetera, too long and depressing to quote.

Today is my birthday. Rejoice, rejoice. I think.

#500 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 09:17 AM:

Dave 500 (not that you're THAT old): Happy Birthday.

A version of that birthday song was what we sang on birthdays in the Michigan State University Tolkien Fellowship, back in the 1970s. We didn't really sing the Mongol Horde version, but we did have

Misery is in the air
People dying everywhere

And

When you open your surprise
You will find it's your demise

We even improvised on the spot occasionally. When the Shogun miniseries was taking the country by storm, I jumped in with

You are here at MSU
Contemplating seppuku

So, Dave, Happy Birthday (Unh!) Happy Birthday!

#501 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 09:18 AM:

#495: Mr Bush is part of the American generation that refuses to forgive Iran for the 1979-81 hostage crisis.

I wonder if Bush expects Iran to forgive us for the 1953 CIA overthrow of their government and, say, the 1988 shooting down of an Iranian airliner by an american warship.

Selective memory is so damn convenient.

#502 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 09:20 AM:

Xopher says:

I've sometimes gone so far as to suggest using the phrase 'toxic waste' instead of 'shit', but that's even less likely to catch on, for reasons obvious and not.

I'm not sure whether it was Wilson or Shea who came up with it, but I loved it when Hagbard Celine used to cuss with, "Shit, piss, and industrial waste." I picked up the affectation myself, and sure enough, no one gets it.

I also occasionally say Jesus H. Kennedy, which is less well-understood but better received than Jesus Fucking Kennedy.

#503 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 09:35 AM:

The most graphically offensive cursing I've ever heard was from a National Lampoon comic strip years ago. It was "Wrfhf shpx n fuvg fbhssyé!" (That last letter is unchanged on www.rot13.com.) It combines blasphemy, sex talk, scatology, and surrealism in a particularly creative way, evoking an extremely unpleasant visual that will be very hard to get out of your head, but (if you're like me, and who is) will also make you laugh uncontrollably.

Hey, new idea for "clean" cussing! Pronounce the rot13 of the word you mean: your maiden aunt won't be upset by hearing you say "shpx" (pronounced shpicks) or "fuvg" (fuvvig). Interesting...the sounds of those suggest each other's originals. Rot13 reciprocals?

#504 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 09:37 AM:

"You mother wears army boots!"

Why was that considered an insult?

#505 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 09:54 AM:

Serge 505: Because it implied that your mother was a camp follower (i.e. a whore), since women could not be soldiers at that time.

#506 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 09:58 AM:

Re World War Two vets and swearing, or the lack thereof:
I think there may be at least some romanticising and sepia-toning of the past going on. Certainly, this account of a speech by General Patton in 1944 seems to suggest the soldiers were, at least in certain contexts, quite accustomed to profanity.

"You can't run an army without profanity; and it has to be eloquent profanity. An army without profanity couldn't fight its way out of a piss-soaked paper bag." (Patton)

#507 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 10:06 AM:

Isaac Asimov also said that cursing was ubiquitous in the army. Everything was "f**king this" and "f**king that." He said the habit was easy to break once he got out of the army.

Also, I doubt very much the expression "swear like a trooper" would have arisen had there not been a fair amount of cursing among soldiers. I remember my grandmother using it to say why she didn't want to see Paper Moon, "...with that young girl swearing like a trooper."

#508 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 10:11 AM:

Xopher @ 506... So that's where the expression comes from. Thanks.

#509 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 10:27 AM:

MD(squared)@477 The Wikipedia article on Quebec Frency Profanity is pretty thorough.

#510 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 10:42 AM:

Ceri... That article about swearing in the land of my birth looks very thorough. Meanwhile, while my dad was a mechanic, his swearing wasn't that excessive, but he did swear. And any attempts to emulate was nipped in the bud on the grounds that kids weren't supposed to talk that way. The logic seemed to make sense back then.

#511 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 12:08 PM:

Stefan Jones #493: 'Bumbo' or 'bombo' is used to mean the female pudend, although the commoner Jamaican usage is 'pussy' (or should that be 'pussie'?). 'Pussyclaat' is also a common swearword.

#512 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 12:48 PM:

The Far Side's Gary Larson once explained how his editor had sent one of his cartoons back to him, due to one character calling another a dork. Little had Larson known (and so had I) that 'dork' is a slang word for 'penis'.

#513 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 12:50 PM:

"You, you, nerf herder!"

#514 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 02:01 PM:

Remember those cut'n'paste "personalized" children's books that simply substituted your urchin's name/gender into the text as appropriate? Someone has expanded the concept into romance novels. It sounds like "choose your own adventure" as written by Fabio.

#515 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 02:20 PM:

Re dogs, dog rescue, and puppymills:

All 4 of my dogs are rescues, and I used to volunteer with Dachshund Rescue of North America (and will again, when time permits--they do great work).

My dachshund mix Lola was turned in to the pound after having miscarried a litter while nursing the previous litter. She was only 18 months old. Before. After.

#516 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 03:07 PM:

Good work, Lila.

#517 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 04:21 PM:

Paul @#498, Xopher @#499

I'd not really thought about it as respect or fear, but I had thought most people swear on things they consider powerful in some way.

(My outburst at work had impact because a normal conversation about something going wrong went like this:

Me - I think we have a problem
Boss - You mean an "opportunity"
Me - Actually, I think this may be more of a "challenge" )

#518 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 04:38 PM:

Neil 518: Your boss gives you that "there are no problems, only opportunities" bullshit too? Where the hell do they GET this garbage?

I'm a problem solver. I'm not going to pretend I'm an "opportunity exploiter." My job is to take things that don't work and make them work. For, you know, the user? What kind of swiving, frelling, frakking "opportunity" is that? One user (usually) will be pleased with me. And forget me two minutes later, as s/he goes back to what s/he was trying to do in the first place.

I've never had much patience for management bullshit. That's probably why promotion is not in my future. This current kind of bullshit involves "correcting" me from the right word to a stupid, unworkable euphemism. I want to punch people whenever they come out with this dren, the more because it's said in such a smug tone.

Next time some jackhole tells me "there are no problems, only opportunities," I'm going to be sorely tempted to say "OK, no problems. Are there fucking disasters?"

#519 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 04:42 PM:

Neil @ 518... I had a user (*) who also called problems 'opportunities'. By the time I left that place, we were calling them UOPPGs because the euphemism had grown to 'Unique Opportunities for Personal and Professional Growth'. And yes, she knew she was being silly.

(*) as in TRON's "Do you believe in users?", not as in users of illegal drugs.

#520 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 04:44 PM:

Xopher @519
If I didn't know better, I'd swear we worked in the same organisation.

We got told the other day that "We don't have users. Users are people who take drugs. We have customers."

Fortunately, this was on a phone conference, with everyone on mute, so the high mucky-mucks didn't hear the snorts and chortles.

I do wonder what I will do with the section on usability testing in my test completion report.

#521 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 04:45 PM:

Oh, wait, I remember. I'm resigning, so I don't care.

#522 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 04:47 PM:

Serge @520,
You're not supposed to have the time machine until next week. Stop anticipating my anecdotes, just because I whinged at you in email.

#523 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 04:52 PM:

I'd like to thank Patrick for sidelighting "It's Jonah Goldberg Day!"

I guess I've finally turned into an internet crank, because I took the opportunity to email Goldberg to point out to him that a gentleman pays his wagers.

To my surprise, Goldberg emailed me back; his note was testy and juvenile, but I guess he gets credit for responding to a calculated insult from some random stranger.

However, until I heard from him, I had thought that his Internet sobriquet "The Doughy Pantload" was unfair; but now, having been the target of his whining, I now think it fits him.

Anyway, I thought I'd report back, and thank Patrick for reminding me to tell Goldberg what I think of him ('him' = Goldberg). (You know what I mean.)

It was surprisingly satisfying: I recommend it.

#524 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 04:57 PM:

abi @ 522... Oops. :(

#525 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 05:24 PM:

Serge @525
Not a problem. That's what time machines are for. To confuse.

Just get it back to Fragano in time for him to go back and save his grandfather's life. And my husband needs it in May of 1988, to win a bet.

So any time in March, really. Or last January.

#526 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 05:35 PM:

A portmanteau response to the obscenity discussion here:

The discussion of swearword substitutes in SF/fantasy/comics reminds me of the scene with John Constantine swearing particularly foully in Gaiman's original Books of Magic. I never tried to verify this, but I suspect Gaiman originally had him saying "F**king hell", which sounds like the kind of thing Constantine would say, and had it vetoed by the label's censor. As a result, Constantine is printed as saying (ROT-13 for original) "Srypuvat urpx!", which is a lot more obscene - but evidently the censor was unfamiliar with the term.

Abi @ 468: Your example reminds me of the canonical sample of US Marine swearing, in which the F-word plays the role of virtually every major part of speech (interjection, noun, adjective, adverb, and verbal gerund. "Shpx! Gur shpxvat shpxre'f shpxvat shpxrq!", glossed as, "Drat! This aggravating M-60 machine gun is badly broken!"

Fragano @ 483, 512: Thanks for the fascinating notes on Jamaican swearing! I remember having read something once - can't place it now - where a lot of the swearing was done with the word "Bloodclot!" That makes sense now in light of your explanation of "claat" as "rag" (from older English "clout", probably?)

Serge @ 505, Xopher @ 506: Also heard, more creatively, "Your mother swims after troopships!"

#527 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 06:01 PM:

Because TNH's Particle needs a theme song.

I used to wake up in the morning
I used to feel so bad
I got so sick of missing my quotas
I went and told my comrade

He said, 'Tovarish take this little something'
And stuck them on my wall
And now my nights ain't quite so lonely
In fact I, I don't feel bad at all
Pictures of Lenin made my life so wonderful
Pictures of Lenin helped me sleep at night
Pitcures of Lenin solved my childhood problems
Pictures of Lenin helped me feel alright
#528 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 06:21 PM:

Juli, #491, if you're that prejudiced against people not of your religion, I don't think we can convince you that you're wrong about Minicon. BTW, there are other conventions over Easter, care to castigate their non-religiousness, too?

Lila, #516, good job on the dog!

#529 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 06:41 PM:

Marilee 529 - I wasn't castigating anyone's religiousness or lack thereof. I was trying to make the point that saying "the right kind of people" are those who don't share your religious preferences is religious prejudice - the opposite of what you seem to have heard.

Run it through again, with the religion taken out. "Our group meets every year in [apartheid era] Johannesburg. Not many people come, but those who do are the right kind of people." That's racial prejudice. Substitute the religous words back in, and you have the original comment. That's the point I was making.

In other words, my concern wasn't the date of the convention, but the idea that "the right kind of people" don't have conflicts on that (religiously defined) date.

#530 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 06:50 PM:

Xopher #519: "Your boss gives you that "there are no problems, only opportunities" bullshit too? Where the hell do they GET this garbage?"


They get them from management seminars. There's a little industry of management training (or whatever it's called) that involves teaching managers such phrases. It's supposed to motivate the drones, er, workers, er human resources.

#531 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 06:56 PM:

Abi #526: Grandfather's life saved, he lived to be 103....* Thanks.

* He really did. The old fellow drank like a fish, smoked like a chimney (rope tobacco at that), and managed to raise two families simultaneously, and raise racehorses, all while avoiding work as much as possible.

#532 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 07:13 PM:

Juli Thompson said (#530):
Marilee 529 - I wasn't castigating anyone's religiousness or lack thereof. I was trying to make the point that saying "the right kind of people" are those who don't share your religious preferences is religious prejudice - the opposite of what you seem to have heard.

I think you meant to say "those who do share your religious prejudices" -- otherwise it's a rather odd psychology.

In other words, my concern wasn't the date of the convention, but the idea that "the right kind of people" don't have conflicts on that (religiously defined) date.

But that's not what Bill Higgins said. I think it's significant that when you quoted him, you removed everything in his post between "Easter" and "right kind of people" -- evidently, that's how you interpreted his post.

But what he said was that there was a con (which happens to be on Easter weekend, and which also happens to take place in Minneapolis). And then he described the con, noting that people who post here attend, and that it had a certain atmosphere.

A much more reasonable interpretation is that "the right kind of people" includes "many correspondents from here," those who tend to like "ink-&-paper SF," those who put on or enjoy music parties, and those who have "a laid-back attitude toward the universe." And is probably not limited to just those qualities.

Your interpretation is as valid as arguing that "the right kind of people" = "people who live in or are able to travel to Minneapolis." [That is, after all, what he said right after mentioning that it was on Easter weekend.] Which is to say, it's not a valid interpretation. At least, I don't automatically assume Bill Higgins thinks I'm the wrong sort of person just because I can't easily travel to Minnesota these days.

#533 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 07:43 PM:

Juli 530: I think the name for what you're doing here is 'hostile misinterpretation'. I'm afraid I can't believe you actually thought Bill meant any such thing. If you did, you need to revisit your interpretation skills.

#534 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 07:47 PM:

Clifton Royston #527: 'Claat' is the Jamaican pronunciation of the standard English 'cloth' (as in 'Mi nuh like dat deh kihna claat', I don't like that sort of cloth), though, doubtless influenced by 'clout' in a number of usages. I don't have my copy of the Dictionary of Jamaican English at home so I can't check the etymology.


I've long liked the imprecation 'Nuh mek mi tell yu bout yu paats' (Don't let me tell you about your parts) used in rural Jamaica. I wonder what information would be conveyed if the threat were carried out.

#535 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 08:59 PM:

Xopher@#534: "Hostile misinterpretation," perhaps -- but the phrase "the right kind of people" is sufficiently loaded with the wrong kind of connotations that its use might have more wisely, under the circumstances, been eschewed.

#536 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 09:17 PM:

Serge, Xopher, Clifton - One that still makes me wince was an insult yelled by a friend of mine when we were at a hockey game in college
Hey Coach! Get your wife out of our dorm!

Xopher & Fragano re: Opportunities
My favorite former boss used to use this line on me, but her delivery was laden with irony. It became our code phrase for when something was seriously messed up.

#537 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 09:19 PM:

Fragano @ 531 - I was in HR for a few years. Beleive me, most of us hated that management speak as much as everyone else and tried to avoid it anyway we could. It was the main reason I kept a despair.com calendar on my wall.

#538 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 10:03 PM:

Dawno #538: That's understandable. I've no idea why this stuff spreads (or who's responsible, though I've long thought they reside in HR departments), but it's spreading to the academy (I managed to avoid a 'seminar' sponsored by WalMart -- about customer service -- by being at a conference at the same time).

#539 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 10:10 PM:

Tania #537: I keep hearing 'student centred' used as a mantra of the same kind. Indeed, I work at an institution which I am informed is 'student centred and quality driven', this might or might not explain why they make a dog's breakfast of registration every semester.

#540 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 10:12 PM:

abi @ 526... In case your hubby is interested, my dog Cagney sometimes lets me take his WayBack machine for a spin around the continuum.

#541 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 10:14 PM:

despair.com, eh, Dawno? I have a mug of theirs that shows a ship sinking and has the caption "It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others."

#542 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 10:16 PM:

"Where are we going, Mr. Peabody?"

"Palestine in 4 BCE, Sherman."

"Jesus Christ, Mr. Peabody!"

"Precisely, Sherman."

#543 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 10:20 PM:

I'm grading essays, always an interesting task, and, as usual, learning things that I did not know. This is one of them: "Carlyle was a writer, who endured much leisure time, yet argued that leisure time is not needed to develop as an individual and that all men should work as a favor to God."

I would like to endure some leisure time myself...

#544 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 10:36 PM:

Xopher @543: If and when they bring back other Time Lords into the Doctor Who universe, I hope they bring back Mr. Peabody.

#545 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 10:46 PM:

Fragano - I worked administration in higher-ed for 13 years, and I know what you mean about about the constant lip service paid to the hot new book title*. Academia is filled with motivational managerial twaddle. However, playing BS Bingo can be a lovely way to pass the time in yet another tedious meeting with Enrollment Management or Institutional Research.

Serge - I have the Despair Pessimist's Mug, and I find it particularly suited to a bitter cup of tea.

*Fish!, Who moved my cheese?, Servant Leadership, etc.

#546 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 10:57 PM:

Tania #546: Now, there's a useful game. I think there's a factory somewhere producing idiots who reinvent the wheel by gilding the lily.

#547 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 01:09 AM:

Tania, I love that Bingo game. It or something similar was sent around via emails at various times from one HR colleague to another. None of us had the guts to take it out and actually call "Bingo", but I know we all wanted to.

Tania (and Serge) I have the Pessimist's Mug but I love the shipwreck (Mistakes) poster. I think my favorite Despair poster is Meetings (None of Us is as Dumb as All of Us) followed closely by Consulting (If you're not a part of the solution, there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem.)

Of all the books that I've seen get handed around for "career/management devlopment" guidance, the Patrick Lencioni books (The Five Disfunctions of a Team and Death by Meeting - gotta love it!) were the only ones I really thought were worthwhile and when I put the advice into practice, worked.

#548 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 01:21 AM:

Dawno... It would be interesting to see what would happen if I brought my Mistake mug (or other Despair items), next time I fly to San Francisco, especially for my yearly review. Then again... My manager would probably fail to see the humor. In fact, she doesn't 'do' humor as I realized when I compared my latest Project to the grand finale of Goldfinger, with James Bond trapped inside Fort Knox and tied to an atomic bomb whose countdown he's having trouble stopping because there's this Big Guy out to kill him.

#549 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 01:34 AM:

Serge, I think that would be what is called "a career limiting" move. I've been blessed with managers with a sense of humor so far.

#550 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 01:55 AM:

A career-limiting move, Dawno? How nicely put. Meanwhile, the manager of the group I share office space with here in New Mexico has a sign at her office door that says "Complaint department"...

#551 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 02:21 AM:

#519 ::: Xopher muttered:
Next time some jackhole tells me "there are no problems, only opportunities," I'm going to be sorely tempted to say "OK, no problems. Are there fucking disasters?"

I'm reminded of a description I used for a particularly unfortunate business continuity excercise:

"It was a disaster - we recovered"

#552 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 04:47 AM:

Clifton Royston@527: I once wrote annotations for The Books of Magic, and I got to talk to Neil Gaiman about them once or twice. As I recall, his original script for that bit was, "Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit." So when his editor made him water it down, he put in "felching" just to see if he could slip it by. By the end of the run on Sandman, of course, he was allowed to say "shit" and even "fuck".

Xopher mentioned ROT13-inverses somewhere above (I can't find it again just now); I know of one -- "terra" and "green".

#553 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 05:28 AM:

David @ 553:
there are 48 pairs of rot13 doubles in my handy dandy wordlist (essentially the words in the 2nd edition of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, if I remember its provenence correctly). If the proprieters are interested and don't mind a 48-line post, I can give them all. The interesting-to-me ones are:

vex / irk -- synonyms, or close
tang / gnat -- anagrams of one another, and together a palindrome
nowhere / abjurer -- the longest ones (but being a Scrabble wordlist, this only goes up to 15 letters, so there potentially are longer ones not included here)
sent / frag -- could be worked into a tasteless war joke, I think
terra / green -- as you mentioned

#554 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 05:40 AM:

Todd @554
Please post them!

If the proprietors mind, I'll write a grovelling sonnet of apology. (Thus adding further to the thread size, but what can you do?)

#555 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 07:20 AM:

Actually it's the directors who over- and mis-used the words "opportunity" and "challenge". Both my boss and I were satirising their use (similar to Tania's above) - if you'd been in the room you'd have been able to hear the inverted commas.

One of our Finance Director used to swear all the time, using 'swive'. After he left I was told that his company mobile phone had been used to call sex chat lines a lot. Fear, respect, or something else that made it powerful - anyway, it figured strongly in his life.

#556 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 08:05 AM:

abi @ 555... (Thus adding further to the thread size, but what can you do?)

If I didn't know any better, I'd think we're being challenged to beat our latest thread-length record. Naaaah... Then again, abi, you had offered to our Host to be on hand to provide support, should the rumors of size limits be true. Looking for opportunities?

#557 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 09:41 AM:

Juli - I didn't take Bill's comment about the "right" sort of people to mean anything about religion.

(And religion is not an issue for me personally w/r/t Minicon - I used to spend every Easter weekend at Balticon and would still be doing so if they hadn't rescheduled the convention to Memorial Day.)

From Keir @ #497:
I do not like the phrase `the right kind of people' at all, because it implies that there is a wrong kind of people, and that is not a way of thinking I'm comfortable with.

That's more what was bothering me. I don't see this sort of sentiment come up in fandom all that often. I really don't care for it when I do. And I suspect that if someone is making that sort of division, I end up on the wrong side of it. I don't really need to go to cons to get sneered at; I can experience that anywhere.

Minicon this year is probably moot for me, since I doubt I'd get the travel funding or an agreement to give me a different day off in trade for losing a holiday (I need my monthly at-home weekends so I don't become ill from exhaustion.) I'll run it by my boss, but I don't really expect to get anywhere. It's more a case of whether I should quietly angle to get sent next year if they keep holding the conference. I have people here saying I should go, people elsewhere saying I should not go, and very little experience with MN fandom other than a music party at worldcon which was NOT in the friendly-crowd category. Unfortunately, there's no visual signal that says "Hi, I'm someone who enjoys conversations like the ones on ML, so you can talk to me!"

#558 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 10:14 AM:

Susan at 558, yeah. I don't like thinking about the right kind of people, because it implies a wrong kind of people. Some time ago, there was a political discussion here that mentioned sides; I believe Teresa glared at it because it's politics and there are no sides, not really, just disagreements. Weirdly enough, that and a growing fondness for structured poetry are the major effects of Making Light on my life.

Maybe a better way to phrase it would be 'many of the right people', though that's still not perfect. It doesn't imply that only people who come to the con are right, even if you're looking for it.
Even a sticker on your name badge saying, "Fluorospheran! Talk to me!" would sort of exclude others who would enjoy the conversation here but hadn't found it yet.

I'm still inexperienced enough with cons that I go to them and think, every single time, "Wow! Everyone here is my friend!" In a few years or decades, maybe I'll start to see con time as normal and want a group of closer friends, rather than coming in from the real* world and being pleasantly surprised that people like me.

*I am aware that my terminology is flawed, but you know what I mean.

#559 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 10:43 AM:

The phrase 'the right kind of people' has connotations of class exclusiveness, which is what seems to be rubbing people the wrong way. But I took Bill's use to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek; i.e., I like the people I meet at this convention, therefore, they attract the right people. He was giving emphasis to the fact that although the size of the convention was small, the people who did show up were worth meeting.

#560 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 11:15 AM:

Well, that was interesting.

Yesterday, Sue had noticed that there was a cat way up in a tree in the neighbors's backyard. The presence of the neighbor's dog had obviously convinced the kitty that there was safety in altitude. I'd figured that, by the evening, the neighbors would take their dog in and the feline would make a run for it. There was in flawed assumption somewhere in there.

The neighbors were gone for the weekend.

Yeah, the poor cat had spent the cold night in the tree. And it had now been raining. So I grabbed a stepladder, some gloves and a towel, and, with Sue holding the ladder stable, I climbed until I got to the cat's level. I gently stroked it and it willingly perched itself on my shoulder, and stayed there all the way down.

#561 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 11:29 AM:

Avram #343, I agree that state senator Carl Kruger's proposal is idiotic, but I feel compelled to observe that we don't live anywhere near his district. What on earth made you look at that map and think we did? We're in Sunset Park; his district is miles to the east and south of us.

#562 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 11:54 AM:

Serve @510 -- out of curiosity, have you seen Bon Cop, Bad Cop, the bilingual buddy cop movie that came out last year? The plot would fall apart in a stiff breeze, but it's got a lot of really great "two solitudes" moments, particularly the Ontarian and Quebecois cops discussing how swearing works in Quebec, with examples.

On a related note, when we explained to my mother-in-law that all Quebec curse words are church-related, she somehow got it into her head that "Cathedral" was one of them, and now uses it whenever we're around.

#563 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 12:47 PM:

[Catching up late, again] Lizzy (#446): Reading the lyrics to "Masters of War" in the middle of the discussion of swearing made me think how very damning a song/poem without *one* swear word can be. (Also reminded me of the one time I saw Dylan, playing solo in Berkeley c. 1964 -- despite my lousy memory the sheer power of that particular song and performance still resonates for me.)

#564 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 02:01 PM:

Ceri... Cathedral? That sounds like the swearing that Tintin's sailor buddy, Captain Haddock, would utter.

"Mille cathedrales de l'Enfer!!!"

#565 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 02:31 PM:

Todd 554: I'd love to see them. It occurs to me that there are many games to be played this way. One cannot, of course, construct text that is the same when rot-13'd, but one COULD construct text that is itself turned backward (by words or again by letters) when rot-13'd.

Sounds like fun for those with lots of time on their hands. Having the word bank would be a great start.

#566 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 03:17 PM:

Serge @ 561 - I thought the fire department was supposed to handle things like that. There should be some karmic bonus points in there somewhere.

#567 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 03:55 PM:

Two requests and no nays, and I suppose the comment can always be deleted if someone objects...

Run across two different wordlists (the OSPD and a spelling dictionary wordlist which includes some proper nouns) gives 58 pairs:

na an
nag ant
navy anil
nib avo
nob abo
noon abba
nor abe
nowhere abjurer
nu ah
nun aha
oho bub
on ba
one bar
ones barf
onyx balk
or be
ora ben
orr bee
orra been
ort beg
ova bin
penny craal
pent crag
perry creel
pung chat
purely cheryl
purs chef
pyrex clerk
rail envy
rat eng
re er
rear erne
ree err
reef errs
ref ers
ret erg
roof ebbs
sel fry
sent frag
serer frere
she fur
snore faber
sync flap
tang gnat
terra green
terre greer
thy gul
try gel
tung ghat
un ha
urea hern
vax ink
vex irk
wha jun
wharf junes
what jung
when jura

#568 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 04:43 PM:

Larry @ 567... I thought it was only in comic-strips and comedies that this kind of situation happened. Still, I was pretty much ready to call them as I was expecting the perched feline to crawl away from me. That turned out to be unnecessary. I suppose that the kitty had had enough of being stuck in a tree for over 24 cold hours, with rain in the grand finale.

#569 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 05:57 PM:

Fragano #535: I suspect that if the threat were carried out, the discussion would focus on the inadequate size and performance of the parts in question.

#570 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 06:02 PM:

Plug, plug, plug, toot, toot, toot:

Steve Jackson Games releases The MacGuffin Alphabet.

#571 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 06:11 PM:

Serge @ #561
Ok, I think I need to remind you of something...
General Zod would not rescue a kitten from a tree.

I'm glad to hear that you and the cat are ok, no clawing, jumping, etc. When John rescued one of our cats from a tree, he got her about 20 feet from the ground, and she jumped. Scared the heck out of me, but she seemed to be ok. I'm a lousy photographer, btw.

All hail the kitty hero!

#572 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 06:11 PM:

Rikibeth #570: When applied from one woman to another?

#573 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 06:14 PM:

Aaaarrrggh!!! All my bookmarks just vanished in Firefox! What happened? Can I get them back?

#574 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 06:21 PM:

Tania @ 572... General Zod was feeling magnanimous today.

#575 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 06:22 PM:

Serge @575:
Lulling us into false sense of security, are you?

#576 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 06:26 PM:

Xopher - do a quick search on the word bookmark and see if you can find the file, or an earlier version of it. That's saved my bacon a few times. I'm looking to see if there are any other suggestions for dealing with a bookmark vaporizing crisis.

#577 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 06:41 PM:

Xopher - ok, I'm using Firefox 2.0.0.1, and I have a directory called bookmarkbackups that has exactly what you'd expect to be in a directory with a name like that.

I've not found anything else in a quick search. Good luck.

#578 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 06:42 PM:

574, 577: This has been a known problem in Firefox for at least a couple years. As Tania suggests, you might be able to search and find the file or an earlier version. AFAIK the only thing you can do is back up your bookmarks file regularly, so you don't lose too many if you need to go back. I'll be delighted to hear otherwise if it was fixed as of Firefox 2.0.0.1, but again AFAIK none of the developers seems motivated enough to fix it. This is the kind of area where open source projects sometimes fall down. Fixing aggravating bugs is often perceived as less exciting and glamorous than adding features.

#579 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 06:57 PM:

Xopher, you might start by telling us if you're using Firefox under OS X, Windows, or some Unix variant.

If it's Windows XP, go into your home directory under "C:\Documents and Settings", then enter the "Application Data" folder. (By default "Application Data" is invisible in Windows Exploder; you may need to do "Tools --> Folder Options --> View --> "Show hidden files and folders.") Once inside "Application Data," drill down into "Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles"; you'll find a folder with a gobbledygook alphanumeric name. Inside this folder will be several more folders, one called "bookmarkbackups." Copy the most recent of these to your desktop and re-import it with Firefox's built-in bookmark manager.

#581 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 07:26 PM:

Actually, Patrick, 580 was all I needed. Everything was exactly where you said it would be, and it worked perfectly. Thanks!

#582 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 07:27 PM:

Well, a few months ago I wrote a program that found a larger number of rot-13 word pairs than that, though many were proper names or so obscure I'd never heard them. Something like 130 words found. Also a fairly big list of words that yield other words when translated into pig latin.

Only if you want to see them, though.

#583 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 07:29 PM:

abi @ 575,... Lulling us into false sense of security, are you?

General Zod has learned the importance of 'people' skills.

#584 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 07:36 PM:

Glad it worked, Xopher.

By default Firefox holds on to the five most recent backups of your bookmarks. If you want to change that number, go to your URL bar, type "about:config" (without the quotation marks), and scroll down until you find the setting "browser.bookmarks.max_settings". Double-click on this and replace the "5" with the number of your choice.

The built-in "about:config" page, which most users never discover, contains literally hundreds of settings that can be altered; some of them are actually quite useful. Here's a quick introduction to a few things you can do.

#585 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 09:03 PM:

Juli, #530, as we explained, "the right kind of people" for Minicon has nothing to do with religion. You keep saying it does. The "right kind of people" are the people who enjoy this blog.

Diatryma, #559, I think I'll have to see about making stickers that say "Fluorospheran"!

#586 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 09:08 PM:

I just got spam e-mail and it claims to have picked me up from here.

Mark Madner, even though it is a noble cause, stop it. This ain't the place to go trolling for readers.

#587 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 09:11 PM:

I've got a cow-orker going to Scotland for 4-5 days in April, who is looking for suggestions of places to visit (Edinburgh is already in the plans). Any suggestions from those who've been there recently?

My initial thoughts were all either impractical logistically (I love the Hebrides, but they are a long way from Edinburgh), or unlikely to be interesting to anyone else (the area around Castle Sempill where one branch of my family came from).

#588 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 10:34 PM:

Patrick! (@518, #585) That's great stuff, there. Thank you. The "browser.bookmarks.max_settings" isn't there in my version (1.5.0.9 for OSX), but there's much other useful stuff.

Re cussing: Handel's opera Alcina will be starting a Sydney Opera House season soon, and it was rather fun to see this part of a piece a music critic wrote as a lead-up to it.

Handel's fiery temper at rehearsals was legendary and his cosmopolitan familiarity with German, Italian, French and English greatly enlarged his vocabulary of abuse.
The musical historian Charles Burney acknowledged that he never got over the effect, as a young musician, of hearing Handel swear consecutively in at least four languages.
I'm looking forward to hearing it (the opera, that is), but am disappointed that by a messy mix-up I missed the Tallis Scholars' performance of Spem in Alium (with additional forces to their 10 voices), a piece of music discussed previously in the Fluorosphere.

#589 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 11:16 PM:

And in other news, the Prime Miniature of Australia has announced that if Obama becomes President, Al Quaida will have won.

I recently saw the word twatwaffle on a blog, and I'm terribly pleased to have had occasion to use it so soon.

#590 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 11:18 PM:

More spemmy goodness I missed first time. (With added pun!)

#591 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 12:10 AM:

Ceri@510: Thank's a lot.

I'm always fascinated by the way swearing inhabits, reflects and enhances the sacred (following that line of thinking, the fact that there is so little "nice" words in languages I know to describe sex, and that most of them belong to childish vocabulary, depresses me to no end, though).

One peculiar point that keeps me wondering is the way, in languages in which this is relevant, feminine words seem to be used more often to convey insult and affection, while masculine remains rather neutral (which is why I have such a hard time with people trying to enforce, in french, new/different words in the name of sex equality: they do it poorly, and at great cost in nuances, as only "neutral" words seem to be created that way).

Xopher@519: Next time some jackhole tells me "there are no problems, only opportunities," I'm going to be sorely tempted to say "OK, no problems. Are there fucking disasters?"

I generally go with:
"It's an opportunity whose fruits we cannot seize, whatever the labour invested. I call that a problem."

(Reminds me of people abusing Yoda's old "Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.", to which I can only answer "I did, and I failed. That's what we call a try. [When we get to survive]".)

Where the hell do they GET this garbage?

Don't know in the english speaking world, but around here (apart from retina-burning powerpoint seminar shows, as already stated), easy answer: executive-management-targeting magazines. I don't think I have ever seen, not even in the worst academic papers I've read, such an exemple of a class being artificially founded on linguistic abuses alone.

Depressing read.

#592 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 12:21 AM:

The antidote to executive smarm-speak:

Despair, Inc.

#593 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 12:29 AM:

Stephen @ #588:

a good mix of history and cool rock formations:
Mull-Iona-Staffa tour

towering ruins:
the abbey of Dunfermline

tasteless, garish shrine:
St. Margaret's, also in Dunfermline

touristy but I liked them anyway:
battlefield at Culloden
Loch Ness boat trip

general:
all of Edinburgh

#594 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 12:37 AM:

WRT fluorosphere detection, CafePress's repertoire now includes little 1" mini-button pins in a conveniently round shape. Unfortunately, I don't think their printing palette extends into the ultraviolet, but some suitable graphic nonetheless seems possible.

#595 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 01:58 AM:

Stephen @588
I'd second Susan's ideas, and also suggest:

St Andrews, if co-worker is hiring a car or can be bothered with the logistics of getting there (train to Leuchars - over the Forth Brisge to boot - plus a short taxi ride). Lovely university town with golf courses, or alternatively, lovely golf town with university. Ruined cathedral & castle, not too wee twee. (I spent a year there. It's one reason I now live in Edinburgh.)

Stirling, also a pleasant historic university town, good not-ruined castle. Direct train from Edinburgh.

#596 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 03:33 AM:

Someone sent us at work a 16-month calendar of motivational posters. (Some kind of free sample deal.) And the owner put it up. So I asked him, "Can I go buy a calendar to replace that?" He said, "Yeah, we can put this one on the pillar over there." So I went out to Half Price Books and bought two calendars, one to cover up the motivational-poster one, and one for the pillar over there.

#598 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 08:32 AM:

6 inches of snow expected in Boston Wednesday. It's Boskone time!!

(And, for those who scoff and say that's nothing ... well, Boston's only had about three inches _total_ this year)

#599 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 10:16 AM:

Jon @ 599... Boston's only had about three inches _total_ this year

That sounds like Quebec City. Something strange is going on.

#600 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 10:30 AM:

"We're born naked, and the rest is drag."

- Ru-Paul, as quoted by Paul Di Filippo at the end of his review of James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, in Asimov's February 2007 issue.

#601 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 10:38 AM:

The Museum of Transport in Glasgow is fun, if you're into vehicles of miscellaneous varieties - I was there when it was still south of the river.

#602 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 10:45 AM:

Castle Campbell, also known as the Castle of Gloom. Ensure you walk up to it along the weird subtropical gorge through which run the Burns of Sorrow and Care. (Really.)

Second: Stirling, Tantallon.

Also: Roslin Chapel.

#603 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 10:50 AM:

Stephen Sample #588: How do you ork cows?

#604 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 11:00 AM:

How do you ork cows?

Fragano, having grown up on a farm, and knowing such things, all I can say is, please, not in front of the children...

#605 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 11:03 AM:

I second Stirling Castle. A friend and I took the train up there from Glasgow and it was well worth the trip and walk.

#606 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 12:05 PM:

Greg re 605: When you ork a cow, does it frighten the horses?

#607 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 12:53 PM:

Fragano wrote -
Stephen Sample #588: How do you ork cows?

Paint them red.

#608 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 01:05 PM:

#607: I don't know. We didn't have horses.

But it did make the pigs nervous.

#609 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 02:27 PM:

If we're doing ruined castles, let me put a vote in for Craigmillar Castle, which is about a half hour on the bus from Edinburgh city centre (number 33, get off at the hospital, follow the footpath up the hill behind it.)

Lovely wee place.

#610 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 03:39 PM:

From the sidelight, "This Sort of Thing Is My Bag Baby"

;)

#611 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 03:52 PM:

Can I put in a vote for Edinburgh Zoo? If (like me) you like Zoos, it's a nice one, and again it's a short bus ride from the city centre, a bit past Murrayfield Rugby grounds.

Very steep slopes though, an energetic walkabout.

#612 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 04:28 PM:

"...According to ComingSoon.net, Universal Pictures has set a March 28, 2008 release date for graphic novel adaptation Wanted. The Incredible Hulk has moved up two weeks to June 13, 2008, while The Dark Knight now faces some competition from musical adaptation Mamma Mia! on July 18, 2008. The site says that Hellboy 2: The Golden Army has also been targeted for August 1, 2008..."

Batman vs ABBA?

#613 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 04:48 PM:

Oh, and in Glasgow: the People's Palace, the only (to my knowledge) municipally-sponsored museum of left-wing local history anywhere.

Glasgow, of course, has more left-wing history than many entire countries, as I began to suspect on our 1985 TAFF trip when Glasgow fan Jimmy Robertson fondly reminisced to us about his grandmother, who was buried to the playing of "The Red Flag." Explained Jimmy, "She'd lost her faith in God, but not in the coming revolution."

#614 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 04:52 PM:

well pretty late in an open thread to bring up an unrelated subject but I have a request. Basically I am arguing the following:

"We can define two types of internationalization; there is the minor type of moving from a non-international format to a single international format and the major type of moving from a localized format to providing multiple local and specialized formats (a very specialized problem often referred to as i18n). For example choosing to standardize on an internationally agreed upon format such as ISO DateTime formats, or as a more common example choosing to use what is an 'International Language' would be a minor form of Internationalization, in the case of the modern world English is the commonly used 'International Language' while in past times various other languages have at one time or another been the 'International Language'. It is a common case that translation to the International Language will often cause the translated production to be less precise than the original. This is not necessarily the case of major Internationalization where the effect of having an original Language is minimized as much as possible as part of the development process. "

Obviously this needs to be fixed up so as to make it not seem that I am just discussing technical internationalization, although that will be the main focus. But mainly I am wondering how easy it is to take apart these assertions, stomp on them and make them ridiculous.


"It is a common case that translation to the International Language will often cause the translated production to be less precise than the original. This is not necessarily the case of major Internationalization where the effect of having an original Language is minimized as much as possible as part of the development process."


I could try it myself of course, and as a general rule I am good in taking apart whatever conclusions i have made and arguing the second part, but in this case I am not yet ready to argue the opposite.

So my request is, show that I am wrong.

Anglo saxon poetry or rude latin accepted in the counter argument.

#615 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 05:44 PM:

Ha! I'm going to Boskone. Even though the website's registration page says all hotel rezzes have to be in by February 11 to be in the room block ("Rats!" I exclaimed when I read that), the actual hotel rez page says the block rate is good through February 16 ("Yay!" IEWIRT).

So, I'm going. When I arrive depends on whether I get Friday off or not.

What other Fluorospherians (chosen over other possibilities including 'Fluorosphericals') will be in attendance?

#616 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 06:18 PM:

Greg London #605: Oddly, I grew up on a farm too...

#617 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 06:20 PM:

Scott Taylor #608: Why not blue?

#618 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 06:23 PM:

Fragano @618
Because blue things look like they are coming toward you, while red things resemble receding objects.

And after you ork a cow, trust me, you want that baby to look like it's going away.

#619 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 06:33 PM:

Abi #619: I'll defer to your experience as a cow-orker.

#620 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 06:38 PM:

Fragano Ledgister wrote -
Scott Taylor #608: Why not blue?

Ork Mekanik
Red Wunz Go Fasta!

Squig
Why make cows go fasta?

Ork Mekanik
(hits Squig with giant wrench) Shaddup you!

(In Warhammer 40k, the associated color of the Orky Gods of Speed is red. So Orks believe fervently that if you paint something red, it "goes fasta" - which is born out in at least some versions (ISTR that painting vehicle models red gave an extra d6" in movement, rolled every turn). This leads to the guy I know who has a pair of Ork battlewagons that are painted billious green. Turns out the brothers who run the two battlewagons are both color blind...).

#621 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 07:35 PM:

And now, further proof that someone over at Marvel editorial should at least look at what in blazes the writers are doing:

Peter Parker married Mary Jane some time ago in the comic. Recently she came down with cancer, associated with some odd radiation. (I don't read Spider-Man but am told the diagnosis was done by Bruce Banner--who in the Marvel universe is the doctor who is the expert on the effects of radiation. I just love the hell out of this idea.) Anyway, they finally killed off Mary Jane and Peter has just worked out how it happened. You see, he forgot that sperm is a blood product...

As my wife puts it, "Eew. Just Eew."

#622 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 08:03 PM:

Scott Taylor #621: I want cows to go slower, myself.

#623 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 09:42 PM:

Bruce, that book's officially not in continuity. (Even if its author thinks it should be.)

#624 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 10:24 PM:

Kate:

Bruce, that book's officially not in continuity. (Even if its author thinks it should be.)

Good. Because ever since I heard about it I've been reminded of just one thing:

General Jack D. Ripper: I can assure you it has not recurred, Mandrake. Women uh... women sense my power and they seek the life essence. I, uh... I do not avoid women, Mandrake.

Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: No.

General Jack D. Ripper: But I... I do deny them my essence.

#625 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 11:22 PM:

Fragano, cow-orker is fanspeak. It comes from a long time ago when someone mishyphened a word.

#626 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2007, 12:31 AM:

SCAM TO BE AWARE OF:

I got a postcard today labeled "Important Vehicle Notification." It had my car's model and year printed on it. It urged me to call the number of the back.

I did a little checking, and unsurprisingly, it is a scam. The folks on the other end of the line will try to sell you an overpriced and probably worthless vehicle warranty.

Again, this is a scam. The company has no relationship to any manufacturer or dealer.

If you get this card, either throw it away or show it to friends and neighbors so they know what to watch out for.

#627 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2007, 01:23 AM:

The old Philadelphia Navy Yard, where Asimov, Heinlein and deCamp worked during WWII, is in the news today.

#628 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2007, 08:47 AM:

Zach Snyder, director of 300, on his adaptation of Alan Moore's Watchmen...

"...I set the movie in 1985 and I have the luxury of being far enough away from 1985 so that that is a viable idea. I think what happened in the past was that when you're only five years away from 1985, it's a weird time to make a period piece that took place three years ago, but studios don't get that. There has been a push I think on the other scripts that exist about trying to update the movie or trying to make it take place in present day and things of that nature. I think by setting it 1985, by having the Cold War, having Nixon, having all that stuff, you sort of reinvigorate what the story is about. It allows all the metaphors to sort of erect. But, if you set the movie in modern times, you're basically saying it's the war on terror right is the thing. Then the movie is asking me, "oh Zack, what do you think of the war on terror? What's your take on it?" Who gives a f**k about what I think about the war on terror? That's not why people go to the movies. I think that what Alan in his book, the comment he's made about authority and government and all those things, maybe if you make that movie right what that has to say makes people think about what's happening maybe now or in their own lives. That's my hope for what the movie could be..."

#629 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2007, 10:30 AM:

if you paint something red, it "goes fasta"

;)

#630 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2007, 11:03 AM:

Re:Serge @613

"...According to ComingSoon.net, Universal Pictures has set a March 28, 2008 release date for graphic novel adaptation Wanted. The Incredible Hulk has moved up two weeks to June 13, 2008, while The Dark Knight now faces some competition from musical adaptation Mamma Mia! on July 18, 2008.
Batman vs ABBA?

I'd pay money for that. Batman could out-think them, out-fight them, and probably out-spend them, but dressing up as a giant bat will only go so far with Simon and Paula.

#631 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2007, 04:04 PM:

Following the via link on that rhyming Minnesota law, I find Neil Gaiman talking about The Land of Green Ginger, which I haven't thought about in perhaps 35 years! I also learned not to buy any of the more recent reprints, which are, by all accounts, sadly abridged.

#632 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2007, 04:21 PM:

Goddammit, following further Gaimanesque links I find another memory of my childhood, the Uncle books about a rather dim aristocratic elephant ruling a Gormenghastesque castle, which have apparently never been republished! $200 for a 30 year old paperback is a bit steep for me, while $1400 for a first edition hardback...

#633 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2007, 04:33 PM:

I wonder if Neil Gaiman remembers 'BB', author of The Little Grey Men, The Forest of Boland Light Railway and the Bill Badger series.

#634 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2007, 05:31 PM:

Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!

#635 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2007, 08:00 PM:

Niall @ 635... In his autobiography, Charlton Heston said that that was the line from his movies that people quoted to him the most, I think, along with:

"Soylent Green is made with people!"

#636 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2007, 06:58 AM:

James D. Macdonald,
It's time to hitch the sled dogs to the Ambulance, check to make sure that the porcupine hasn't chewed through the snowshoe bindings, and rope up with your partner cause we're in for a bit of a blow. Even the weather service is on emergency footing, posting limited (and outdated as I write this) product.
Stay warm, stay safe, stay home if you can. I'm bringing a sleeping bag and air mattress to my "job" at Sunday River because traveling this afternoon would be foolish. Even with the chains on the truck, it's not just your own driving skills and traction you need to worry about.

#637 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2007, 01:02 PM:

Niall at 663: Uncle, which is the first of the Uncle books, is being reprinted in hardback in June (Red Fox brought it out in PB in the UK about five years ago, and I snapped a copy up).

#638 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2007, 02:15 AM:

For anyone else who was wondering what Bruce and kate were talking about here, here, and here, the thing to avoid is a four-issue miniseries called Spider-Man: Reign, and apparently it's one of those "Xty years in the future, [hero] comes out of retirement one last time" things.

Also, the dialogue in question - quoted here (via) - doesn't actually say what it has been said to say - at least, not explicitly; the phrase "Loving me killed you!" is certainly very suggestive...

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

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