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April 18, 2009

A parable of editors
Posted by Teresa at 11:00 PM *

It’s a central narrative of Britain’s Got Talent: the shy, podgy little contestant comes out on stage and says they want to sing professionally; that they believe it’s what they were made to do. The audience titters cynically: Yeah, right. The judges don’t quite roll their eyes. “Go on, then,” they say. “Let’s hear it.” The contestant takes a deep breath and —

ZOMG, it’s Paul Potts singing “Nessun Dorma”. It’s thirteen-year-old Andrew Johnston singing “Pie Jesu”. Most recently, it’s Susan Boyle, singing “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables. When they open their mouths, what comes out is the real thing: rich, powerful, self-assured music.

And the crowd goes wild! Amanda Holden’s jaw drops. Simon Cowell freezes in place. Piers Morgan goes from looking like a side-figure in “The Calling of Matthew” to an adoringly hopeful “Nativity with Donor”. The audience is transformed. People gape in amazement. Old ladies weep openly into their handkerchiefs. One person stands up, then another, and suddenly the whole audience is on its feet, cheering.

This is exactly what it’s like to be an editor.

Yes, you get cynical, because you see one submission after another that says “Read this, it’s great!” Only it’s not great, it’s anything but great, it’s passable at best; and the passable ones are a tiny fraction of the many, many, many submissions you see. Then one year you open yetanotherenvelope, and ZOMFG it’s the real thing!!! Overcome with joy, you fall over backward and wave your arms and legs in the air in that wholly ravished “Do with me what you will” kind of way. OMG OMG OMG it’s Maureen McHugh, it’s Stephan Zielinski, it’s Jo Walton, it’s wonder beyond reckoning. It’s the real thing. It’s what you live for.

The audience of Britain’s Got Talent reacts as they do because they’re human. So do editors.

(The above is translated and expanded from a rant Patrick ranted earlier this evening. He spoke it first, but I recognize its central truth as one I also know. So does every other editor I work with; and all the good agents, too.)

Comments on A parable of editors:
#1 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 11:56 PM:

Yes! I absolutely understand! Not for editing, but yes!

#2 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 11:59 PM:

Anyone who's had any teaching experience knows that feeling: you look out into the same old sea of blank faces, and one of them lights up.

#3 ::: Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 12:17 AM:

Actually, Simon doesn't "freeze in place"; remember, he's an A&R man in real life.

Look at his eyes when Boyle hits those first notes: it's the pose of a man who knows he's hearing the Real Thing, and also realises that he's going to have to pay for, so it's best if he doesn't give everything away to the contestant.

Iirc, he did the same thing when Fantasia first sang on _AI_. (Still the only ep of that one I've seen in toto.)

Most of the time, he's acting as if it's his money on the line; in those few cases, he's in the adult version of "Which one is Pink?".

#4 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 12:24 AM:

Which is why the rant about how the agents are killing publishing rings so flat to me. I know better, because agents are human too.

#5 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 12:34 AM:

you look out into the same old sea of blank faces, and one of them lights up

From the other side: You feel like you've become a lightbulb, or something close to it, because that lighting up is so strong a feeling.

#6 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 12:57 AM:

I ran into Dale Vance, one of my junior high math teachers, at my granny's funeral. (He's my first cousin once removed.) He said, "You probably don't remember me --"

"Of course I remember you!" I said. "I think I can still recite your Intro to Geometry lecture. It was one of the best hours I ever spent in a classroom."

And we both lit up!

#7 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 01:19 AM:

There's a Doonesbury cartoon that addresses this. I couldn't find it with a quick google, but the first panel shows the professor providing 'wisdom, wisdom', and the next has the class giving back 'received wisdom'. A student (who?) challenges the prof, suggesting an alternative explanation, and the professor is excited. A real student! He hasn't seen one in years.
I suppose I'll have to go through my old Doonesbury books, now.

#8 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 03:02 AM:

It's the same wherever the signal-to-noise is low, and the rare signal is strong and true and unexpected. I've probably read thousands of scientific papers and books over the years, and I can remember perhaps a dozen as bringing me up short with the knowledge that here was a truly new and enlightening insight that opened up whole new fields of scientific knowledge or technological capability. And a few of those are remarkable for containing several new insights. My reaction to reading each of these papers was exactly that "ZOMG! Genius!"

A couple of examples:

"Dynamics, the Geometry of Behavior" by Abraham and Shaw, that showed, mostly in beautiful graphics, how dynamics and geometry are related, and set the stage for the development of the theory of nonlinear dynamic systems, chaos theory, singularity theory, etc. It also was at the beginning of the movement that made graphics once again a legitimate tool for teaching and explaining mathematics.

"Fractals: Form, Chance, and Dimension" by Benoit Mandelbrot, and its successor, "The Fractal Geometry of Nature".

"Personal Dynamic Media" by Alan Kay and Adelle Goldberg. This paper described in 1977, work over the previous 7 years in which the notion of personal computers and their future uses was first well-articulated, the notebook computer was invented, the graphic user interface was first invented, object-oriented programming was invented, and the use of computers as personal instruments for artistic and musical creation was developed.

#9 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 04:22 AM:

Ken @ 3 Look at his eyes when Boyle hits those first notes: it's the pose of a man who knows he's hearing the Real Thing, and also realises that he's going to have to pay for, so it's best if he doesn't give everything away to the contestant.

Actually thats not likely - typically the contestants all have contractual obligations to the producers of the show (and he's probably one of them).

I think its the pose of a man who knows that he's going to look like a complete tool when the show airs for his condescending attitude in the initial interview.

His entire schtick is to be brutally honest with the many talentless people who appear on his shows. Typically he gets away with it by being both entertaining and, you know, correct. Here he got caught making the mistake of anticipating failure based on the woman's age and appearance and ended up with egg on his face. Which is part of what makes watching that clip so pleasurable.

Its a little bit like watching the video of Colbert skewering the National Press Club a couple of years ago - it wasn't just that he was so funny, it was knowing that he was doing it at the expense of his audience, and that they weren't enjoying it at all.

#10 ::: mayhap ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 04:35 AM:

I have only a certain lowgrade exposure to all things American Idol, mostly from catching the tail end before other Fox shows. My instantaneous response, which I included in my reply to my mother who had sent me the link was I did not know Simon Cowell could smile like that. It was like the day the Grinch's heart grew three sizes.

#11 ::: Francis ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 04:41 AM:

There is something utterly adorable about the cynicism just vanishing after the first few notes.

#12 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 05:20 AM:

God. I hadn't seen two of those three. So good.

And I love Susan Boyle's little happydance.

#13 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 05:35 AM:

Without wanting to turn this into an introspective love-fest, I recall that the reason I started hanging out on Making Light was that I had a higher rate of ZAP per post/comment than I was getting anywhere else.

#14 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 05:43 AM:

Barbara #7: I remember that Doonesbury. It was "Wisdom Received." And the student who surprised him asking if he was in trouble.

Lee #9: I doubt that Simon Crowell has ever worried about being considered a tool. He kept a good poker face except when he looked at Piers. Later on in the performance he looked like a kid in a candy store.

I think he really wants people who have talent to succeed. Charles Beaumont told a tale of screenwriting being like climbing a giant mountain of cowflop to pluck a perfect rose at the summit, only to find one has lost one's sense of smell. Cowell, despite his cynical shell, has not lost his sense of smell.

#15 ::: ebear ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 06:58 AM:

If that's a poker face, it's the worst poker face ever. I'd call it rapt attention and delight--and maybe a little not-wanting-to-breathe-in-case-you-wake-up.

I've had the same experience, reading slush. You get in a rut of "Oh god, how is this one going to disappoint me?" And when you make it to the bottom of page three on one, you start leaning forward, rooting for the writer, but also being terrified that it's going to fall apart on you if you trust it.

#16 ::: Francis ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 07:37 AM:

If that's what you consider a poker face, I suggest you don't play poker for money. But it's good to see that the reason Simon Cowell is so harsh is because he's looking for the greatness, not because he's genuinely purely cynical.

#17 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 07:47 AM:

I was talking about the moments before Susan started singing. After she started singing was after the cards got laid down.

Anybody else have any more nitpicks?


#18 ::: Kari Sperring ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 07:50 AM:

I so second Lila, above. I taught at university level for years and years, and I taught early mediaeval Wales and Ireland, which is a lot harder than people think it's going to be (it's messy and the languages are difficult). It was always the best thing of all when a something clicked with a student: they lit up from within, they shone and their teachers jumped up and down in delight.

#19 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 09:07 AM:

Abi #13: Yep, and that's just one reason why ML kept climbing up my own daily-blogs list. (I did draw the line before making it my homepage ;-) )

To give an older example from fantasy, I picked up a copy of Silverlock at my local library sale. I've only gotten to the first few pages of the text, but the edition (Ace 1982) starts with raves from: Jim Baen, Poul Anderson, Larry Niven, and Jerry Pournelle, all of whom describe much the same reaction -- from themselves, and their friends. It's frightening to think how many introductions the current edition must have accumulated.... :-)

#20 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 09:07 AM:

Some musical people are having a rather different reaction to the Susan Boyle hoopla. The assumption on the part of the judges and audience that she couldn't be talented because she wasn't good-looking was painfully offensive. Elisa expressed it well.

#21 ::: Christopher Kastensmidt ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 09:14 AM:

Thanks for sharing that analogy. Even being a reader feels like that. It's so rare for me to read a story or novel that really blows me away, and I'm seeing only what has already passed through the editors!

#22 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 09:42 AM:

Jon @ 20: Amen. Work long enough with church choirs, community theatre groups and sitting in on Irish music sessions down the pub, and eventually you'll meet a diamond in the rough approaching Susan Boyle's calibre who, because they never had leading lady/heartthrob image potential, never got a second listen.

(Yes, she's got a wonderful crystalline tone and excellent breath control that seems to come naturally, the second of which is the harder to find. And forgive me for being curmudgeonly, but it's very clear she learned the song by listening religiously to the West End cast recording - she had all the little phrasing details from the West End record that make me prefer the Broadway.)

#23 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 09:48 AM:

Abi @ 13... ZAP!!!

(And what's wrong with a lovefest?)

#24 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:00 AM:

What surprised me about Susan Boyle's voice wasn't that it was good. It was that she sounds like a 21-year-old. Seriously, that is a young voice.

#25 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:05 AM:

P.S. I also wouldn't say she's shy. At all. She's nervous offstage, but when she sets foot onstage, she owns it and the audience--they just don't know it yet. I'd pay lots of money to see her in a cabaret setting!

#26 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:13 AM:

FTR, the Lee at #9 is not me.

#27 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:19 AM:

Jon @ #20, I have heard opera singers opine that the human voice peaks at around 30-50 for women and a bit later for men. The current prejudice in favor of 20-somethings is like grocers deciding they'll only sell bananas when they're green.

I heard a music promoter say in an NPR interview that in the pop music field, if you have a new band to promote, you will be asked only 2 questions: "How old are they?" and "What do they look like?" Not, notice, "Can they carry a tune?" or even "Do they have stage presence?"

#28 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:30 AM:

Lila @ 27, that's very true, people I know have experienced such ageism personally.

One interesting thing is that UK pop culture seems to be in general less ageist than US - witness all those popular Britcoms about middle-aged and old folks, and the fact that American Idol has an age limit of 29 while the Brit version doesn't (Boyle wouldn't have been eligible for American Idol).

#29 ::: Glen Blankenship ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:20 AM:

Jon Sobel @28:

But America's Got Talent is the American version of Britain's Got Talent, and it doesn't have an age limit, either.

One of its recent contestants was a 70-year-old Frank Sinatra impersonator.

AGT and BGT are amateur talent competitions. Idol is a competition to become a pop-music idol. Completely different games.

(He says, having never actually viewed an entire episode of any of them).

#30 ::: jim ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:33 AM:

Am I the only cynic who thinks it's happened a little too often in these shows? I really don't trust their producers.

#31 ::: jim ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:38 AM:

Remember: Once can be happenstance, twice, coincidence, but three times is enemy action.

#32 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 12:17 PM:

jim @30

Of course this happens pretty often on these shows, but I think you're implying that somehow the producers are manufacturing these people and the reaction to them.

I think that would actually be a lot more work than what the producers are actually doing, which is setting up an environment where these people come out of the woodwork on their own. That's the whole point of the setup of the show. Just like the producers of Survivor putting people in situations where they're bound to develop intense bonds and rivalries, the producers of these shows intentionally cast as wide a net as possible so as to get both a lot of dreck and a number of surprising and interesting people.

Both are essential pieces of the show, and it's much easier to just go and find these people than to try and manufacture them. Complaining that the producers go looking for interesting and surprising performers is a bit like complaining that the Survivor contestants are so competitive, or that our hosts are wrong to only publish the best works from the slush pile, rather than a more representative sample. It's built into the premise.

#33 ::: Glen Blankenship ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 12:20 PM:

Re: Age limits

It seems that American Idol had an upper age limit of 26 until its fourth season, when it was raised to its current figure (which I believe is 28, not 29).

And it appears (at least based on somewhat sketchy, quickly-Googled evidence) that it inherited that initial lower limit from its progenitor, Freemantle Media's original Idol-format show - the British Pop Idol.

#34 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 12:35 PM:

If you want a sort of showcase contest that has actual writing involved, then you might like poetry slams. They kind of showcase a sort of combination of performance skills and writing talent.

But then, in my opinion, the slam forces the poet to cater to the short attention span by providing an immediate hook, and that's just one style of poetry. So being a competitive slam poet can force a person to cheapen the work for the sake of the audience on some occasions.

#35 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 01:39 PM:

Lila #2: Yes, absolutely.

#36 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 01:44 PM:

Heh. The first time I saw the Boyle video (which I have now watched several times with tears in my eyes, because I'm a sap) I thought of Patrick going up and down the halls at Tor waving the submission of China Mountain Zhang and saying, with that light in his eyes, "it's good. It's really good." Because all of them (particularly Simon Cowell) have that same light of pleasure and delight that I remember seeing in Patrick's eyes. Of course editors (and contest judges) want to be blown away by talent; it just doesn't happen often enough for them to expect it.

#37 ::: jim ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 01:44 PM:

Chris W @ 32:

I'm not implying the producers are manufacturing the people. I am implying they're manufacturing the reaction.

This is not the slushpile. This is a heavily filtered slushpile. There have been numerous agents of the producers (in the UK they're called "researchers" for some reason) interviewing and auditioning would-be contestants.

I don't believe that the professionals on the show -- Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan -- are unaware of what the researchers have discovered. Their surprise, I would be willing to bet, is an act. Their role on the show is, at least in part, to model reaction for us, within the characters they've set up over the run of the show.

#38 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 01:51 PM:

TexAnne #24: That was also Gail's reaction.

#39 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 02:32 PM:

Lila @ #27, the reason for that promoter not asking about carrying a tune may be the advent of pitch correction software and hardware.

I'm of two minds about that concept; yeah, it reduces the number of takes required, but it seems to me some of the authenticity is lost.

See the story of the recording of Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" for an example of multiple takes. Wikipedia uses Greil Marcus's account as a source, so I'll accept it as accurate.

#40 ::: Shalanna Collins ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 02:45 PM:

I watched the video, and--yes--I, too, cried.

All I could think was what a waste it has been that her voice has never been heard--that we have had to listen to the screechings of [insert your love-to-hate pop-tart diva here] instead for twenty-plus years. I reflect back on my years in the theater (high school, college, community theater), when we had actors who were absolutely amazing BUT were also (horrors) "fat," "homely," "old," and other deathwords of casting (even when "fat" meant size fourteen, and "old" meant thirty), and therefore our directors always cast someone who had less talent as "the ingenue" or "the leading man" so that the audience could project its attractiveness-love on that person. The supporting actors often were the ones you remembered at the end of the play, and the ones you imitated, and the ones you said you loved, and the ones everyone quoted . . . those "ugly" ones who almost didn't get put onstage AT ALL because "they're not the body types we need on the stage." But so long as our society dictates that the only PRETTY woman is a skinny, large-breasted (and that's often a contradiction--where do I lose weight FIRST?? So to be BOTH is unusual, or the result of artifice), dewily young skeeter*, then this is going to happen . . . we're going to miss out on amazing talents. I'm very happy that this one has been caught in time!

* [Same kind of mess applies to men. But they do get more of a pass on being "fat" and "old," you must admit. A little bit.]

But I do mourn for the twenty years that we could have been listening to her alongside Streisand, Garland, Midler, and the other great voices.

If only we didn't have the problem that "they need to be attractive MOST OF ALL," this wouldn't be happening. Or if we had wider standards for "nice looking" (which some of us do!)

I think the comparison to finding a great manuscript is nice, but there's more to writing a great book than there is to singing someone else's great song well, IMHO. When you're singing Jerome Kern or Cole Porter, using an arrangement and orchestra that is well proven, all you have to do is have the great voice, the breath control, the wonderful phrasing (which, as noted above, you might be getting somewhat from recordings you've heard). Now, that's tough! Yes! But when you sit down to write a book, that level of talent/craft (if you will) is not enough. You also have to have thought of an idea that will capture the imagination and that hasn't been done better before too many times. (You have to have written the song. You are making up your own phrasing. You have to play all the instruments yourself. Ouch, the metaphor yelps as it stretches.) I've often been told that I "have what we can't teach," that my writing "is eloquent" or that it "flows and holds the attention," and so forth. A kind editor at Dorchester told me that he laughed out loud and re-read several of my sentences in the opening of a novel because they were so funny. *But* none of that has given me a published novel, because there was always a "but. . . " attached to the effect that they didn't love the book enough, that it didn't do A but did B, that it wasn't quiiiite right, or something like that. (Usually no one can put a finger on exactly what the turnoff was, and perhaps they don't know. It's ineffable. It's like the reason you either love Rod Stewart or can't stand him--it can't be articulated.)

So I believe it's even tougher to write a book that happens to strum the strings of a person who has the authority to buy your book than it is to get up on stage and charm an audience with a wonderful performance of someone else's great song (as rare as THAT is). Other than that, I like your comparison. *grin*

*preparing to be slapped*

#41 ::: KarinH ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 02:47 PM:

There's a moment in the Susan Boyle clip where Cowell looks like a little boy on Christmas eve, having just got the best present of his entire life. It's at 4:02. I really like it, because it's such a human reaction.

#42 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 03:14 PM:


But why fake it when you can have the real thing?

Seriously, which do you think would get more interesting, dramatic reaction footage:

A) Three judges who aren't actors being coached on who the next contestant will be and exactly what reaction they should give to them. (With only one take to get it right, this is in front of an audience, after all.)

B) Three judges forced to sit through hours of every apologetic, reedy-voiced housewife who sings in the church choir and thinks that qualifies her for the big time. And then, just when they're ready to storm out of the building declaring that, in fact, Britain's Got No Talent, None Whatsoever, Thank You Very Much, you slip in a frumpy housewife who looks like all the rest but also happens to have a fine voice and some stage presence, and all of a sudden they're wowed.

So, I'm sure there's a lot of stage-managing before the fact and editing after the fact in order to push a certain narrative. And I'm sure there's some thought put into priming the judges to react with a big wow to certain acts (putting the acts they think the judges will like after a string of mediocre acts, etc.) But that doesn't mean that anyone on stage is acting disingenuously. And just because the producers are pushing hard on the narrative of "Unexpected person wows the pros with a hidden talent" doesn't mean that's not also what was actually happening in that moment.

#43 ::: Mike B ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 03:34 PM:

Jim @37:

This is not the slushpile. This is a heavily filtered slushpile.

Sure, but filtered for what? One assumes that the producers of the show are aware of Simon Cowell's trademark talent: inspiring shadenfreude as he mercilessly dissects the artistic efforts of pretentious people. So, presumably, they send up a lot of pretentious people, as well as those who appear to be pretentious but in fact secretly aren't.

#44 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 03:42 PM:

Speaking of "body types needed on stage" as Shalanna does in #40, I just happened to listen to the soundtrack from "A Chorus Line" last night. Remember Dance: Ten; Looks: Three?

#45 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 05:53 PM:

Ever noticed that when seriously demanding vocal chops are required, the female singers don't all look like Mariah Carey and Britney Spears?

I know a long list of performers who were "not pretty enough": Ella Fitzgerald, k. d. lang, Cass Elliot, Florence Ballard, Judy Garland, Janis Joplin, Barbra Streisand, Judith Durham, Gretchen Wilson, and Kate Beckinsale (okay, she's an actress, but still). Since all of them I'm familiar with are or were strikingly talented, I have to assume that there are a lot more we don't know about, many of whom never had professional careers.

Betty Boop was initially criticized for not being pretty enough.

Madonna Louise Ciccone sings passably well, though she's nothing to write home about.

You're familiar with the plot of Singin' in the Rain? Meat Loaf has on two different hit songs had one woman record the vocals, and a different woman appear in the video and live performances: Ellen Foley fronted by Karla DeVito in "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," and Lorraine Crosby fronted by Dana Patrick on "I'd Do Anything for Love (but I Won't Do That)." The most recent example of that trick I know of was seven-year-old Yang Peiyei singing from behind a screen at the opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics, while the supposedly cuter Lin Miaoke lip-synched the song.

The guys in Milli Vanilli were well on their way to stardom until word got out that they hadn't sung any of their songs. They just had a great look.

As I said a few years back, never believe in a meritocracy in which no one is funny-looking.

#46 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 06:11 PM:

Mind you, Betty Boop initially looked like this. Or is that what you meant?

#47 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 06:18 PM:

Jacqui McShee of Pentangle is another really frumpy looking woman with an incredible voice -- and one could say that Jansch and Renbourne aren't great shakes to look at as men.

I recommend the album I have going on in the background, Chumbawamba's The Boy Bands Have Won, not just for comment on this problem but for the great song about Charles Darwin ("Charlie") and more. These folks are doing very strong social commentary with a leftist bent, and think nothing of (e.g.) skewering Facebook with their song "Add Me." Previous albums included songs about Emma Goldman's romantic life ("When Alexander Met Emma"), the looting of Baghdad ("On eBay"), and the parallels between Unix and Molotov cocktails ("Rebel Code"). There's a lot of good music out there that isn't getting a lot of play (in saying that, I recognize that I'm preaching to the choir here).

#48 ::: m.k. ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 06:28 PM:

Shalanna @ 40: In addition to the bias towards conventionally attractive performers, I believe part of the reason Susan Boyle didn't have a singing career earlier in her life was because she was caring for her mother. Pure speculation here, but it's possible that even if she'd had the chance earlier, she may not have taken it if it would have meant leaving her mother.

#49 ::: marty ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:34 PM:

Meatloaf had some other woman sing on "Dead Ringer for Love"... whatsername..oh right, Cher. :D

It's a pity that by the time I worked out that my love of reading could lead to a career in publishing I was, I think, too old. The description of reading through the slushpile to find a nugget of gold sounds like a dream to me.

Sigh. I'm a wannabe editor.

#50 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:35 PM:

Lila, #27: There seems to be an equivalent process involved in casting Broadway musicals, with the question asked being not, "Can they sing?" but "How big a draw are they?" I bought the soundtrack for the re-release of 1776 because I wanted to hear Brent Spiner sing Adams, only to discover that he was the only competent singer in any of the major roles -- and I assume that was merely by coincidence. Pat Hingle (Ben Franklin) can't carry a fuzzy tune in a velcro bucket. The woman who was playing Martha Jefferson sounded like an adenoidal 16-year-old. I still have the CD (novelty value), but it'll never make it to my iTunes library.

*sigh* Not that this is really new. How many 1960s musicals did Rex Harrison talk his way thru in the leading role?

As I've said elsewhere, what I'd really like is to see what Susan Boyle looks like after being given access to the same kind of celebrity primping available to the likes of Simon Cow(b)ell. Does anybody think he looks like that out of makeup?

#51 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:52 PM:

Francis #16:
If that's what you consider a poker face, I suggest you don't play poker for money. But it's good to see that the reason Simon Cowell is so harsh is because he's looking for the greatness, not because he's genuinely purely cynical.

I heard an interview with Mr. Cowell that not only made me much more sympathetic to him, but also allowed me to be able to, with 100% accuracy, predict his reaction to any of the contestants at the cattle-call auditions.

Because he has exactly two criteria he judges by, in those situations:
1 -- Can This Person Sing? Which he defines as, 'basic command of the underlying skills,' like breath control and pitch and rhythm.
2 -- Can This Person Be A Grownup About Fame?

If the answer to both is not a resounding yes, he votes no. And, because he has to sift so much (painful, drama-filled) hay to find the needles, he snarks. And harsh snark helps him verify #2, as well.

#52 ::: Ron Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 09:37 PM:

Lee in #50: I'd really like is to see what Susan Boyle looks like after being given access to the same kind of celebrity primping...

Bingo. And am I the only one here who thinks she has a great face anyway?

I cut off the video when she was walking offstage, just to preserve the goosebumps I was enjoying. Her voice is better than the song. I got urged by several people to watch that for "inspiration," which is one of those things that generally put me off a bit. Not this time.

She did what yer basic pop singer stretches and heaves and eeeeemotes to do, without apparent effort. Funny: That might be why I was so surprised to see somebody say that was a "young" voice. (OK, so I'm being ageist too. I'm talking about mastery.)

marty #49: Hey, I'm 60 this year and on my third or fourth career, depending on how you count. Unfortunately it's journalism. Unfortunately my spouse is in it with me and we're watching several publications circling the drain with our finances in tow. Fortunately he has a pension so we probably won't starve. Also fortunately we aren't trying to put kids through college or anysuch with the money we have. In some ways, age frees you.

Huh. Maybe that's something else I was seeing there.

#53 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:07 PM:

Ron, 52--what I mean by a "young" voice isn't technical mastery or stage presence, both of which improve with age. I'm talking about the physiological changes that occur as a person gets older. Hair greys, skin wrinkles, voices get richer and deeper. Susan Boyle sounds like she has an 8-track tape of herself moldering in her attic.

#54 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:21 PM:

Oh my. What a fabulous voice. The Daily Record has unearthed her 1999 recording of "Cry Me A River" has posted it on YouTube. Amazing.

#55 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:44 PM:

TexAnne, #53: I don't think I quite agree. She has a good voice, which she's taken good care of. The age is there, but she still can sing. I think there are a lot of these people in the UK, too--very good singers who are scarcely known outside of their little hometowns. You hear them on folk recordings sometimes.

BTW, is it only me who thinks a good voice is also a kind of physical beauty? I think the expectation of other virtues of appearance and talent is part of the whole performer illusion which has taken such hold over the past century. It has become expected that the figure you see in front of you is the a great dancer, beautiful, has a great voice, and is a great poet and composer. All nonsense, of course. Such people are few and far between. Mostly there's people good at different facets of the job, and it's only technical illusions that lead us to believe that all these skills are often found together in one person.

#56 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:45 PM:

This talk of singers needing to be pretty made me thing of Storm Large. She got national exposure when she competed on the reality show "Rock Star: Supernova", but she's hardly become a household name. She's gorgeous — a six foot tall glamazon, as Marc Acito puts it. She also has a wonderful voice. She has an autobiographical show at Portland Center Stage right now called "Crazy Enough". In it, she talks about how she ran into obstacles in the music industry because she didn't fit the mold of cute little pop star. She's big, she's fierce, and I loved her show.

#57 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:51 AM:

janetl @ 56

Storm Large has something that other female performers who've had to fight uphill to be accepted also have: stage presence, and personal charisma. Bonnie Raitt, Janis Joplin, and Cass Elliot are the ones I always think of in this regard.

It's interesting that none of those women refused to let the public or the music business force them into a false presentation of their sexuality either. They were what they were, and if that wasn't what people wanted, that was just too bad. I suspect that the troubles they had with the business side of music were partly the result of that attitude.

#58 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:01 AM:

Randolph @ 55

For me, at least, physical beauty is only a small part of what makes someone attractive. Voice is certainly a large part (a good part of James Earl Jones' early success was due to that incredible voice, I know I fell in love with it). I think the old line, "it's not the meat, it's the motion" has as much to do with how a person holds and moves all of the body as it does with how they make love. And, of course, what people say, and how they say it makes a big difference.

#59 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:05 AM:

I'm shocked, shocked that somebody who's been singing in church for ~30 years and likes musical theater can have actually gotten really really good at it, and that somebody who actually has enough body mass to not look like yet another prefab pop singer can sustain real sound in ways that somebody who's never sung without a microphone (and to be fair, is also often dancing at the same time) just can't. It is possible to be young and thin and still have a powerful voice (Joan Baez comes to mind), but there are a number of reasons that the opera's not over until the fat lady sings. And, yeah, it's really cool when you find somebody like her, especially if you had to listen to all the people who didn't make it onto the show.

(On another thread here, though, I totally didn't get Silverlock; to me it only felt special in the sense that, say, Pilgrim's Progress reimplemented by the author of The Eye of Argon would...)

#60 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:41 AM:

Jon@20: Yes, that's a fair point...but I do want to note that her speaking voice was part of that for me. Her speaking voice is not especially nice. I was quite surprised by the difference between it and the singing voice -- maybe I don't know enough singers.

#61 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 03:15 AM:

abi@13: Without wanting to turn this into an introspective love-fest, I recall that the reason I started hanging out on Making Light was that I had a higher rate of ZAP per post/comment than I was getting anywhere else.

So much ZAP sparkling, the place is holding on its promise. It is making light.

I mean, I say that as someone who's mainly a lurker here, having litlle of worth to contribute, it's almost intimidating how fast threads can grow given the overall quality of the posts, but once one has gotten past that initial impression, damn, it's so stimulating. I always leave the place with notes, links, bits of trivia to-check, thoughts going in unexpected directions... not to mention the pleasure of poetry popping up from the most unexpected source.

TexAnne@25: I'd pay lots of money to see her in a cabaret setting!

This is exactly what I thought when I saw that video. She seems tailored for the setting.

Randolph@55: BTW, is it only me who thinks a good voice is also a kind of physical beauty?

I remember, once, in the suwbway, waiting for the next train, some woman was playing bandurria and singing in the background, and the gentleman sitting next to me turned to his friend and said: "Great God I'd rape her voice if I could". To which the friend agreed merrily.

All that to say, no you're not alone.

I can't but think of voice as a kind of physical beauty nowadays.

(But serioulsy, yes, of course. You get seduced by voices.)

#62 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 03:17 AM:

David, #60: Yes -- I keep saying that too, and it falls into a black hole. Her speaking voice is not pleasant; personal experience leads most people to expect that the singing voice will be like the singing voice; in this case, it's dramatically different. I call it the Jim Nabors effect. I would be very interested in hearing the reaction to that sound clip from someone who was blind.

#63 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 03:19 AM:

Oy. When Sentences Collide.

... "to expect that the singing voice will be like the SPEAKING voice..."

#64 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 03:29 AM:

@61, err, MD², "I remember, once, in the suwbway, waiting for the next train, some woman was playing bandurria and singing in the background, and the gentleman sitting next to me turned to his friend and said: "Great God I'd rape her voice if I could". To which the friend agreed merrily." doesn't really work that well as a nice cheerful little anecdote.

#65 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 03:45 AM:

Raphael @ 64: Thank you.

#66 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 04:01 AM:

Looking at the pictures on Storm Large's website (some NSFW), she looks ordinary, rather than super-skinny, though I found it difficult to judge scale. If the music industry doesn't want to sell that look, they're even dumber than I thought.

And I can remember a time when some of those pictures wouldn't have been seen outside Playboy. Sex has always been a part of the package the pop music industry sells, but these days they seem to have forgotten the music.

#67 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 04:04 AM:

Raphael@64 (and Marna Nightingale@65):

Note to self: "some kinds of dry/dark humor should only be attempted if proper persona background has been established beforehand, so has to make it at least understandable."


Add to that "and only if proper writing skills have been acquired".

Probably shouldn't even been attempted at all here I guess. Public space, not fit for that kind of display.

(I'm the kind of person for which horror and humor generally go hand in hand... my biggest laugh came from learning the facturing of bullets from the Chinese government to the families of its condemened to death. Not exactly the kind of laugh one can/should share heartily.)

Hope I didn't spoil anything. Let the post by edited out.

Back to lurking.

#68 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 07:59 AM:

MD2: I think you mean "billing" rather than "facturing." "Une facture" doesn't have a cognate in English.

#69 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 08:19 AM:

Randolph @#55: BTW, is it only me who thinks a good voice is also a kind of physical beauty?

Hardly -- that goes back at least to Greek mythology. And I recall hearing that Mama Cass had at least as many groupies as any of the other "Mamas and Papas".

#70 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 09:14 AM:

abi at #13 writes:

> Without wanting to turn this into an introspective love-fest, I recall that the reason I started hanging out on Making Light was that I had a higher rate of ZAP per post/comment than I was getting anywhere else.

Sigh... If I can inject a note of gloom - I wish John M. Ford were here. I didn't know him, even in a lightweight internet kind of way, but he had the highest rate of ZAP per post/comment of any creature that ever lived.

I reread his Henry V in Damon Runyan style the other day and my jaw dropped all over again.

#71 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 09:37 AM:

Shalanna@40 -- You don't have to look good to write a novel. Thank goodness. I agree it is a lot of things to get right all at once, but in the end the thing speaks for itself, and nobody says they're amazed you can do something good because you're dumpy and middle aged and have the wrong accent.

#72 ::: Rob Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 10:00 AM:

Last night, my dad told me about a Susan Boyle recording of Cry Me A River with fair amount of awe. And this is coming from a huge fan of Julie London and June Christy. I haven't had a chance to listen yet but I am amazed that anyone can do that song better than Ms. London did.

#73 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 10:55 AM:

I totally didn't get Silverlock;

Thank heavens I'm not the only one.

I went into that book expecting to be blown away, and instead was mildly entertained and slightly bored, and the ending was a total letdown.

#74 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 12:26 PM:

45: I know a long list of performers who were "not pretty enough": Ella Fitzgerald, k. d. lang, Cass Elliot, Florence Ballard, Judy Garland, Janis Joplin, Barbra Streisand, Judith Durham, Gretchen Wilson, and Kate Beckinsale

Brain FAIL. I grant you that most of the others on the list are on the spectrum from "unremarkable" to "unconventionally pretty" - IOW I can more or less conceive someone describing them as "not pretty enough" - but Kate Beckinsale? Good grief.

#75 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:52 PM:

I reread Silverlock back in January, when I was still moderately helpless after my road accident. Spinal fractures tend to put one in an odd mood. But it didn't feel anything like as good as when I first read it, a long time ago.

The conceit of the book--the commonwealth of letter--fell flat, somehow. It no longer felt strange and exciting. Yes, there were good bits, such as The Ballad of Bowie Gizzardsbane, but I didn't react the same way as I once had.

And I found myself thinking about when it was written. Published 1949, in a world in which millions of young American men had done what Clarence Shandon obviously had not.

And, not taking that vital last drink from the Hippocrene, he will, like them, forever struggle with his momories. Like them, he saw so many things, awesome things, which he will forever struggle to articulate.

I was much younger when I first read it.

#76 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:59 PM:

I still say Silverlock has one of the best narrative hooks ever -- "If I had cared to live, I would have died." And I still love the book.

#77 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:15 PM:

Dave, #66: Damn. If I were bi, I would SO be drooling! Now I need to go check out her work.

#78 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 03:18 PM:

Raphael, Marna: my first thought on that little anecdote in #61 was "that was no gentleman."

#79 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 03:23 PM:

Bruce@8: They can't have invented object-oriented programming in 1970-1977 (reporting in the 1977 paper), because it was pretty thoroughly invented already in 1967. Maybe earlier, but Simula-67 is pretty canonical.

Also see what Niven&Pournelle did with personal portable terminals / computers in The Mote In God's Eye (published 1974).

#80 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 04:17 PM:

TexAnne@68: *blush*

Oh, look a three-headed monkey !

(Three privately contacted secret black-ops teams were lost trying to hack this site to correct previously quoted mistake. The sniper of the second team wants me to ask if Mr. Macdonald would be so kind as to give him back his Stitch plushie... he loves the thing to death. Please ?)

#81 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 04:26 PM:

MD^2, #67: This isn't an issue of humor vs. horror. Casual joking about rape is one of the things that goes into the social perception of rape as just something that some guys do, that can't possibly be prevented at the source, that its victims have to accept because it'll never go away. We've had several extensive discussions of that issue, which you might not have seen if you mostly lurk.

By and large, I think Rikibeth has nailed the correct response: "That was no gentleman."

#82 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 05:02 PM:


Quite clearly, it wasn't. Which was why I specifically used the term "gentleman". Which was why I used a restrictive negation later on. I was horrified by that episode. Yet I find the casualness (nonchalance ?) of it so ridiculous I can't but laugh. As I said it's a very peculiar form of humour, it doesn't work here for various reasons (I may not have properly defined), and shouldn't have been attempted anyway (old friends would have understood that perfectly, people I don't know might just be hurt by reading it; that was awfullly tactless of me).

#83 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 06:39 PM:

"BTW, is it only me who thinks a good voice is also a kind of physical beauty?"

I once knew a woman who lived in a group home and worked in a sheltered workshop. Her age and IQ were both around 70, she was totally blind, had been abused throughout her life and couldn't do much for herself, including have more than the simplest conversation. She was skinny and wrinkled and generally disheveled.

She loved Patsy Cline. And every so often she'd break into "Crazy," and sound JUST LIKE Patsy Cline. She'd tip her head back, her face, with its permanently-closed eyes, would light up, and this rich, resonant, vibrant voice would pour out.

She was beautiful.

#84 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 07:25 PM:

MD^2: "If you can't laugh about Hell on Earth, then what can you laugh about?"

#85 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 11:25 PM:

The anecdote worked a *little* better for me after I reread the post and realized that "No, you're not alone" was aimed at the previous poster who found singing ability to be a trait of physical beauty, and NOT a mental response to the man-sarcastically-labeled-gentleman in the anecdote.

#86 ::: Strata Chalup ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 12:35 AM:

Bill @59, Carrie S @73 re: Silverlocke-- yes, my experience also.

WRT the slush pile and writing, it's the lionization of books that don't quite 'do it' for me that deters me from writing fiction. Given that the works I love most seem to be more on the sidelines of what's considered great stuff, it seems kinder to the editors not to send in that which moves me.

Witty anecdotes and colorful invective of mine have inspired many a friend and acquaintance to say "You should write!"[*] But there's got to be more to it than that, I'd guess.

All those writers saying "I can't NOT write" when in fact I'm rarely inclined to type or jot what comes so trippingly to the tongue. But that's another post, no doubt.

[*] Fiction. I do write non-fiction, but as a sideline, rather than a living.

#87 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 05:37 AM:

MD² (#67) For dark humour you should like this page ( on Erich Kästner and his books (and his eyewitnessing of 9/11/1938 (Krystallnacht, Novemberpogrom or Reichspogromnacht) and book burning of his own books), which links to this facsimile of a bill sent to the widow for an execution. It was quite expensive.

You may also enjoy the kerfuffle back in 2004 (thank you blog-memory) about the British Labour Government charging wrongfully convicted people for their years of board and lodging in gaol. It may have been inspired by the former Australian government charging refugees and detained persons for their detention, or the history of English debtor's prisons, etc.

#88 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 07:01 AM:

I have to admit that Silverlock didn't do that much for me either. Carrie@73 speaks for me.

#89 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 08:25 PM:

In today's WashPost, their always-snipeish fashion columnist says Susan Boyle should have a makeover.

#90 ::: Sandra Bond ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 01:42 AM:

Wyman @14: I read that anecdote in a Harlan Ellison book. (Pretty sure it was Phoenix Without Ashes.) I don't recall if he credited Beaumont.

#91 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 03:49 AM:

The Daily Telegraph has obtained a demo tape containing another Susan Boyle performance: "Killing Me Softly". Also available on YouTube.

#92 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 11:40 AM:

The agent/editor reaction visual that got lodged in my head was:

"No,no, yes. No, no, Yes. Nonono,noNono,noNonoNo--waitaminute---yYEEEEEEEEES!"

I love quick-time harch.

#93 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 12:59 PM:

Marilee @89 - Funny, I was going to link that saying that I agreed with her. It's easy to misread the article if you go in thinking it's going to say "Bow down to FASHION or be condemned to the FIERY PITS OF HELL", but it really doesn't. She points out that there's nothing wrong with looking polished, and there are miles of difference between "polished" and "nipped, tucked, botoxed and plumped into near inhumanity". And that Boyle should get a makeover if she wants - not that she *must* get one.

I do agree that saying "You don't look your best" is mean. But saying "you can't change your look because I need you to be a symbol of Everywoman Triumphing Over Adversity" isn't particularly kind either.

(Also, this makes twice in two days that I've defended makeovers on this site, which is... well, would be really funny if you'd ever met me. Might as well link to the Stacy London interview on the Post and make it a trifecta.)

#94 ::: Barbara ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 04:33 PM:

Carrie @ 73, I had the same experience with Silverlock. Partly because the concept of the Commonwealth of letters had been well used by others by the time I read the book in the 1970s. Partly because his maturation wasn't believable to me - I never felt I was seeing him change.

#95 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 06:38 PM:

Cat, #89, I read the article before I posted the link, and I think even being "polished" is the choice of the person, not the people around them.

#96 ::: Tracie sees weirdness at #96 ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 11:00 PM:


#97 ::: Raphael gets credit for the kill ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 09:13 AM:

Apparently they do. Well spotted.

It's unusual to see spam this early in a thread. I think spammers are now scraping Twitter for URLs.

#98 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 03:09 PM:

Time to fiddle with the spam regex. Done.

#99 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 11:12 PM:

"Then one year you open yetanotherenvelope, and ZOMFG it’s the real thing!!! Overcome with joy, you fall over backward and wave your arms and legs in the air in that wholly ravished “Do with me what you will” kind of way. OMG OMG OMG it’s Maureen McHugh, it’s Stephan Zielinski, it’s Jo Walton, it’s wonder beyond reckoning. It’s the real thing. It’s what you live for. "

I write to inspire moments like that.

#100 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 12:33 AM:

I've been reading more about Susan Boyle, specifically about her life as a woman with disabilities.

A collection of links on disabilitiesmessageboard includes this quote:

"I was slightly brain damaged at birth, and I want people like me to see that they shouldn't let a disability get in the way. I want to raise awareness — I want to turn my disability into ability."

And there's an interesting piece from Mary Schmich in the Chicago Tribune.

#101 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 01:02 AM:

P.S. She did get her "wee makeover," as the neighbors call it. She went to the same beautyshop she's been going to all these years, and spent about fifty bucks to get her hair colored. (Info from this site.)

Sounds like she's being pretty darned sensible about not letting this whole thing get out of hand. She also was quoted elsewhere as saying that she knows who her friends are; they're the ones who were nice to her before the show.

I wish her all the best.

#102 ::: Pendrift sees questionable spam ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 05:02 AM:

I get question marks for all the characters on my Mac. Cyrillic? an Asian charset?

#103 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 05:03 AM:

Killed it dead.

#104 ::: Mark sees unrenderable spam ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 04:15 PM:

All those non-standard characters, what a waste.

#105 ::: Lee sees still more spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 03:46 AM:


#106 ::: Michael I sees still more spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 08:53 AM:

This time appears to be insurance spam.

#107 ::: albatross doesn't want to eat the yucky spam today ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 09:36 AM:

The spam it falls alike upon
the just and the unjust blogger
but the just one's got it worse
'cause he's also got a key logger

#108 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 10:27 AM:

Have any of our lovely and talented hosts got an idea what searches are leading the tinned meat food products crowd to this thread in particular? Inquiring minds and all that rot....

#110 ::: Inglorous spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 12:44 PM:

see 124

#111 ::: KeithS Sees Spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 12:47 PM:

Spammity spammity spam
It's taken over from ham
    Spammers are swine
    But on them you can't dine
So let's throw them all into the can

#112 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 12:57 PM:

These spam posters want me and you
To click to their websites, it's true.
But they're uninspected
And may be infected
With pandemic spamtastic flu.

More seriously, if I were a spammer trying to find relatively recent threads, I'd be looking for whatever was "the big thing" a couple of weeks ago.

In other words, I blame Susan Boyle.

#113 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 03:19 PM:

#119: The porn spammers are coming...

Well, I would certainly hope so!

#114 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 05:33 PM:

Is the the spam that launched a thousand quips
And split the furrowed brows of editors?

#115 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 06:09 PM:

Jim @129:

If not, the pharma spam has a solution.

#116 ::: Patrick ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 01:25 PM:

Speaking of Stephan Zielinski, whatever happened to him after Bad Magic? He only have one book in him or something?

I liked that book.

#117 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 03:01 PM:

I liked it too. Very quirky.

#118 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 02:42 PM:

"A parable of editors"...

So, is that like "a murder of crows"
or "a business of ferrets?"

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