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September 14, 2013

Warrior Princess by Mindy Budgor: outdoing The Onion
Posted by Teresa at 09:59 PM * 170 comments

Josh Marshall mentioned this book on Twitter. It took me a while to believe it was real:

Warrior Princess! Inspiring new book reveals how a fashionista from Santa Barbara swapped Gucci for goat’s blood to become the first female Maasai fighter
— Mindy Budgor, 32, from California, left her comfortable life behind to live with a Kenyan tribe for three months

— Her book tells how she had to ‘learn the ways of the lion’ including drinking goat blood and throwing a spear

— Mindy’s determination paid off and she was the first woman accepted to be a ‘moran’ — a Maasai warrior — opening the door for other females

— But she never went without her Chanel Red Dragon lipstick to carry her through the hard times

Warrior Princess is impervious to parody. Three whole months to become, not just a Maasai warrior, not just the first woman to ever qualify as a Maasai warrior, but a Warrior Princess? Astounding! After such mighty feats as these, who can say what an affluent, attractive, self-deluding 27-year-old American woman may not achieve?

Mindy Budgor actually thinks she’s scored real achievements, and worthy ones to boot.The book she wrote about her experiences has been published by Globe Pequot. The sales copy calls it “inspirational.” Amazon’s “look inside!” option lets us get a look at the introduction:

Warrior Princess is the funny and inspirational memoir of Mindy Budgor, a young entrepreneur tired of having a job to have a job, who decides to make changes in her life. While waiting for her business school applications to go through, she decides to volunteer in Africa, helping build schools and hospitals in the Maasai Mara. When living and working with the Maasai, Mindy asks the chief why there are no women warriors. …

Mindy immediately realizes her calling and thus begins her adventure to become the first female Maasai warrior. As a result of this training and advocacy, the Maasai in Loita, Kenya, are leading the charge to change tribal law to allow women to become Maasai warrior. Mindy as a tribe member is ready to return to stand with her fellow warriors against whatever opposition they might face — be it lions, or elephants, or Western influence.

Uh-huh. I’ll bet all the Maasai women have her picture hanging on their walls, to help inspire them to try harder.

The Booklist review, which is otherwise depressingly positive, says “Because it was written so shortly after the unique experiences she chronicles, there’s little reflection …” Not surprised there.

More to the point, @NancyGoldstein (one of Josh Marshall’s Twitter followers) observes that for decades the Maasai have been hard hit by HIV, poverty, and land politics, and “have survived accepting $ from creepy spiritual tourists.” I’d been aware of the plastic shamans and spiritual tourism circuit in North America and the Amazon Basin. Call it a failure of imagination on my part that I hadn’t realized woo-woo culturally exploitive tourism exists in Africa as well. I expect you can find it all over the world. And if I had kids who were going hungry, and I belonged to a cultural tradition the affluent West finds exotic and intriguing, I’d be cooking up my own version of heat-and-serve woo-woo prepackaged spiritual tourism right now.

For your own further spiritual enlightenment, I recommend the nineteen one-star reviews the book has gotten on Amazon. To quote a few:

Jackson R. Pope III: Budgor combines American arrogance, millennial entitlement, cultural imperialism, white privilege and new age superficiality with a zesty dash of self-righteousness.

Tami “pinkboxcutter”: For all the people applauding this book, do you have ANY appreciation of how destructive and disrespectful the practice of using another people’s culture as a fun-cessory is? “Exotic” people do not exist to help you get over your first world existential crisis.

Nanette: Ms Princess went on a little set-up adventure and then confuses it with life. Then has the utter gall to claim she is doing Maasai women a favor and will change an ancient culture with her little vacation adventure. Ugh.

George “Hombre”: Barf. This sets the bar so vilely low. Join the Peace Corps. This is why the world hates us.

Ryan Caulfield: Please refrain from using indigenous brown people as a receptacle for your rich entitled existential crises. Has anyone checked the “facts” of this woman’s story? Her experiences can be purchased by anyone for about ten grand.

Y.: White appropriation at its grossest and most opportunistic.

Queen Mo: In case any American ever is perplexed why so many in other countries find us arrogant and ignorant…here is a perfect example. I despise the Americans who inject themselves in cultures like this is a Disneyland ride, and get as much out of it.

Schuyler V. Johnson: Mindy writes: “The blood was still warm as it slid down my throat. I furrowed my brow, curled my toes, clenched my butt, and continued to drink, while holding back the vomit. It took every ounce of my being to hold back the bloody throw-up. It felt like drinking warm whole milk, which I’ve always refused to do not only because of the obscene amount of calories — but also because I have always had an aversion to thick liquid substances.”

“She couldn’t stop herself and fell to her knees, buried her face in the tall grass and vomited it back up again.”

Mindy Budgor doesn’t swallow, and will never make Khaleesi.

I expect ol’ Mindy will either stay this stupid, which is its own penalty, or she’ll get smarter and more aware, and will consequently spend the rest of her life being hideously embarrassed by this book. I’m hoping for the latter.

Addenda:

Commenters SoManyBooksSoLittleTime and John Arkansawyer have spotted an article, The #Bullshit Files: Mindy Budgor, ‘the first female Maasai warrior’, and two interesting comments on the article by Maasai women, at Africasacountry.com.

Comments on Warrior Princess by Mindy Budgor: outdoing The Onion:
#1 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 12:26 AM:

Are you sure her real name isn't Mary Sue?

#2 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 12:36 AM:

Spiritually speaking, I think it is.

#3 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 01:00 AM:

A warrior princess?
Does she use that round flying killing thing too?

#5 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 01:44 AM:

Wait, according to the excerpts in the Daily Mail article, a "snorting, slobbering, raging buffalo" charged her, and so she speared it in "the very edge of the buffalo’s right butt cheek"? So, what, it charged, spun around, and she speared it as it was running away? Or is this one of those magic Maasai boomerang spears, that circled around and hit the buffalo from behind?

Also, I'm a little curious why 16 of the first 20 5-star reviews are from people who've never reviewed anything else.

#6 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 01:54 AM:

Jeremy, I see what you mean. They also sound very similar to each other, but don't sound like reader reviews.

This is a train wreck of a book.

#7 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:23 AM:

"a cultural tradition the affluent West finds exotic and intriguing"

Could this, perchance, indicate an answer to the greying of Worldcon?

#8 ::: chaosprime ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:40 AM:

The aside to highlight how very dutiful she is in obeying society's mandate that she police her chemical potential energy intake so severely that her brain never actually becomes fully functional is really the cherry on top, I gotta say.

#9 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:44 AM:

I see only 2 possible options here:

1) Every con man and snake-oil seller in America is salivating. Talk about the perfect mark!

2) She is a would-be snake-oil seller whose business plan is "those people will buy anything", and is hoping to laugh all the way to the bank.

I think the first option is several orders of magnitude more likely than the second, but there is always that faint possibility.

#10 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 03:13 AM:

Anyone read the article on this in The Guardian? It's disturbingly positive and credulous.

Lift your game, Guardian!

#11 ::: rat4000 ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 03:56 AM:

It becomes even more ridiculous when one realizes (I didn't know) that the Maasai are actually a group famed specifically for resisting cultural changes. What colonialism couldn't achieve in a century, one American woman succeeds at in three months. I mean, nothing I read even mentions trying to end gender segregation -- things like lion hunts and cattle raids seem to have led to more concern.

I'm also curious whether she underwent the circumcision which is, based on an hour of research, necessary for becoming a warrior in that culture. (Women are also circumsized -- or should one say mutilated -- as a rite of passage. This led to a rather depressing quarter hour of reading about FGM in Africa generally.) I suspect the reviews would have mentioned it...

#12 ::: rat4000 ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 03:59 AM:

Argh. Imagine that I spelled "circumcision" correctly both times. Please.

#13 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 05:10 AM:

So which of the Maasai was playing the Dark Lord?

#14 ::: J.D. Rhoades ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 08:21 AM:

How much you want to bet "moran" isn't really their word for warrior, they just told her it was?

#15 ::: J.D. Rhoades ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 08:24 AM:

"Later, when her warrior training is complete, she managed to keep down the ‘bold, salty and metallic’ ooze."

The jokes just write themselves.

#16 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 08:25 AM:

No, moran is the term for the members of the male age group that is currently doing the things she does. She doesn't seem to have shaved her hair, though. Or, really, done any of the non-photogenic things that are considered absolutely essential to becoming one and then being one.

#17 ::: J.D. Rhoades ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 08:30 AM:

No, moran is the term for the members of the male age group that is currently doing the things she does.

Dang. Would have been so much funnier if it had meant "idiot."

#18 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 08:50 AM:

If she'd wanted to become the world's first female Dominican priest she'd have needed more than three months just to learn Latin.

But this gives me a great idea for how al Qaeda can raise funds: Open the terrorist training camps to rich, bored young Americans. Pay fifty thousand bucks (plus air fare). Get three months doing PT in Afghanistan, sleeping in tents, and shooting AKs, and at the end you get a nice certificate (suitable for framing) indicating that you are now an International Terrorist with the rank of Top Leader. You can go back home and tell everyone how you got the Taliban to accept women. With the deluxe package, for just ten thousand more, a genuine imam will visit and explain the Way of the Prophet to you, and you will actually learn to say a prayer!

#19 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 09:02 AM:

Serge@3

use that round flying killing thing

Unlikely. She probably also doesn't have the spunky best friend/traveling companion with subtext becoming almost text.

(Now XENA I could actually see being genuinely accepted as a Maasai warrior in only three months.)

#20 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 09:25 AM:

Teresa (op): The Booklist review, which is otherwise depressingly positive

Booklist reviews are always positive, or at worst mixed. They have a deliberate policy not to print negative reviews; if their reviewer hated the book, they'll just skip over it and go on to the next one.

#21 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 09:56 AM:

While Mindy Budgor has undoubtedly qualified for a bonus ration of opprobrium with her subscription to Maasai bills of goods, I think that it's worth noting that Globe Pequot are the apex predator in this chain.

Perhaps Budgor would have self-published her short-attention-span memoir if a publisher hadn't decided there was a profit to be made from her unreflective recounting, but we can't know that. As Teresa's final paragraph notes, Budgor either pays the price of ongoing stupidity or the recurring cost of regret, if she becomes more self-aware.

Globe Pequot, meanwhile, can be sneering all the way to the bank.

#22 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 09:57 AM:

Jim @17: If she'd wanted to become the world's first female Dominican priest she'd have needed more than three months just to learn Latin.

Surely not! She's American, Latin is obviously the language of Latin America -- it's what Latinos speak -- so how hard can it be? She's got a natural affinity for it!

#23 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 10:28 AM:

So why did this nice young lady become a Maasai warrior princess rather than, say, a US Navy SEAL?

Because becoming a US Navy SEAL is genuinely hard to do, and requires a lot of dedication over a long time. Plus, the process isn't mysterious at all. Any recruiter can tell you in detail all the steps.

As to Globe Pequot, the reason any publisher publishes any book is because they think they can make money on it. "Non-fiction" isn't a promise by the publisher that the book is good, useful, or true. It's just a shelving category.

#24 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 10:44 AM:

MichaelI @ 19... Speaking of Xena's spunky best friend, remember the episode where she entered a storytelling competition? One of the contestants was a young man going for pulpy tales so they illustrated it with footage from Italian film "Hercules and the Captive Women". When Spunky's turn came, they showed how much more classy her tales were by using clips from Kubrick's "Spartacus".

#25 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 11:21 AM:

For all the people applauding this book, do you have ANY appreciation of how destructive and disrespectful the practice of using another people’s culture as a fun-cessory is? “Exotic” people do not exist to help you get over your first world existential crisis.

I would agree, except that I'm about 90% sure they found a way to part her from (some of) her money along the way in exchange for letting her feed her ego, which makes this oddly win-win.

the Maasai are actually a group famed specifically for resisting cultural changes

So it's not exactly a coincidence that they're desperately poor by the standards of almost everyone else in the world, then. As ye scorn sowing as an upstart invention of effete city-dwellers, so shall ye have nothing to reap?

Seems kind of a raw deal to the *individuals* born into that society, though. Probably especially the ones not well equipped for personal violence.

#26 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 12:11 PM:

Jim @23 -- you are so right. "Memoir" is also a category, and there is no requirement that any of the contents actually have happened.

Maasai warrior princess...notice that she claims to have been drinking goat's blood. The Maasai drink the blood of their cattle, I believe. Their precious, precious, cattle.

#27 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 12:21 PM:

Holy cats. Or buffalo.

The photo of the Warrior Princess among the Maasai women--her beaming away like a special snowflake, and the women around her looking totally unengaged and a little peevish--more or less says it all. While she was all busy being war-like, did she actually manage to "build schools and hospitals," or did she miss that drudgery by playing make believe?

#28 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 12:41 PM:

23/26
When sorting books for the library book sale, in Texas, I always wanted to put the politicians' biographies/autobiographies in Fiction. Or possibly in Humor.

#29 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 12:56 PM:

Are there any stories (any medium, and true or false) about people joining an interesting culture and ending up taking a usual amount of time to become competent but not extraordinary member of that culture?

#30 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 12:59 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz (29): There's Fletcher in The Outskirter's Secret by Rosemary Kirstein.

#31 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 01:24 PM:

Out of curiosity and a desire not to be culturally boorish, when did it stop being spelled "Masai"? This is the first time I've encountered the extra "a", but OTOH it's not a subject I read much about either.

#32 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 01:37 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz@29: I enjoyed Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis many years ago: a sports journalist spends a year in the world of competitive Scrabble, and gets pretty good though not brilliant. He keeps it admirably free of ironic smirking at the odd people he encounters.

'One Man's Quest To...' appears as a subtitle to far too many books of this sort. Do something 'wacky' for a year and write a book about it. Ho hum. Some of these are good (I enjoyed Robert Twigger's Angry White Pyjamas—Englishman in Japan does intensive aikido) but, umm, it's a crowded field now.

#33 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:06 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz, #29: G. Willow Wilson's The Butterfly Mosque (2010) is the very interesting memoir of a young American woman who converted to Islam, moved to Egypt, and wound up marrying into a large middle-class, cosmopolitan Egyptian family. She didn't stay -- if I recall correctly, she and her husband now live in the Pacific Northwest -- but the book is (among other things) very much about her desire, while in Egypt, to become a "competent but not extraordinary member of that culture."

(Wilson is also known as a writer of comics and graphic novels, and her first prose novel, Alif the Unseen, is a World Fantasy Award finalist this year.)

#34 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:13 PM:

If she's Mindy, where is Mork?

#35 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:15 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @29:

Are there any stories (any medium, and true or false) about people joining an interesting culture and ending up taking a usual amount of time to become competent but not extraordinary member of that culture?
In fiction (Steve Brust's), it's known that Vlad Taltos' father spent everything he had to gain entree to Dragaeran society, but we don't hear a lot of detail about it.

In the real world, I know that Mormon missionaries sent to preach to the Navajo used to say that they were just getting to the point of being able to speak the language when their two years were up. I expect it would take years longer for them to achieve minimal competence at dryland farming, raising sheep, or making and selling traditional art.

===

Some daft billionaire ought to sponsor scholarships for curious Masai and Amazonians who want to study the rich spiritual traditions of Ozarks auto mechanics, or take part in the initiation rites of Dakota wheat farmers.

#36 ::: Carrie V. ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:18 PM:

Nancy @29: Not to go too far off topic, because this one's entirely fictional, but it's one of the things I appreciated about the overlooked film "The Forbidden Kingdom." The movie never, ever tries to convince you that the hapless white kid will ever be as good a martial artist as Jackie Chan and Jet Li with just a few days training. He goes into "kung fu" training, and *it's really really hard*, and he's not very good at it.

#37 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:37 PM:

Jim Macdonald #18: Or you could set up visits to a camp in Yemen where an imam will instruct you in Sevener Shi'ism and you get a certificate proclaiming you a genuine Shi'ite Head.

#38 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:38 PM:

P J Evans #28: Why not Science Fiction?

#39 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:40 PM:

Lee #31: At least since the 1970s. To be in line with the actual pronunciation of the ethnonym.

#40 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:50 PM:

38
Fragano, they weren't a good fit with either SF or fantasy. (Also, at that library, all the adult fiction was shelved together - they had genre labels on the individual books, but no separate sections.)

#41 ::: Phlop ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:52 PM:

Nancy @29: A fair number of anthropology monographs, I guess. Some of Nigel Barley's writing, particularly his accounts of working in Cameroon, are a more accessible option - some of the attitudes are somewhat wince-making these days, but you get a good sense of just how hard it is to develop even a modicum of competence is language and cultural-specific skills.

#42 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:54 PM:

also, Fragano, not exactly OT, I was reading about a couple of the ancestors of Sir Hubert Jerningham, the early 20th-century governor of Trinidad and Tobago. His father's father was a descendant of Charles II, and his father's mother was a descendant of a mulatto slave in Jamaica.

#43 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:57 PM:

Carrie V @ 36... I'm not sure how long it'd take anyone to become anywhere near as good as Jet Li. When he was promoting the latest "Mummy" movie, I saw a photo of him next to Brendan Fraser, who towered over him, but my money would have been on Li. As for "Forbidden Kingdom", I loved him as the Monkey King.

#44 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:57 PM:

Lee @9:

I see only 2 possible options here:

1) Every con man and snake-oil seller in America is salivating. Talk about the perfect mark!

2) She is a would-be snake-oil seller whose business plan is "those people will buy anything", and is hoping to laugh all the way to the bank.

3) She's spent her entire life inside the consumer marketing bubble, and has never learned to distinguish facts from hype?

I sometimes wonder whether 50 or 100 years from now, we'll look as reality-deprived as the Ancien Régime.

#45 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 03:06 PM:

Jim @18:

If she'd wanted to become the world's first female Dominican priest she'd have needed more than three months just to learn Latin.
Three months would be enough to teach her to be a Lector, culminating in her staggering through one of the readings at a nearly unattended 0600 Tuesday service. Then she could go home and write a book about how she became a member of a minor order.
But this gives me a great idea for how al Qaeda can raise funds ...
I was trying to figure out how we could set up a moneymaking scam like that.

Then I realized I had just reinvented the MFA program in Publishing or Creative Writing.

#46 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 03:08 PM:

Teresa @ 35:

Some daft billionaire ought to sponsor scholarships for curious Masai and Amazonians who want to study the rich spiritual traditions of Ozarks auto mechanics, or take part in the initiation rites of Dakota wheat farmers.

I would welcome that. Instead, the Walton family spends a lot of money on international scholarships to small, very conservative Arkansas colleges. I try to view that in the best possible light. Those fuckers.

&@ 44:

I sometimes wonder whether 50 or 100 years from now, we'll look as reality-deprived as the Ancien Régime.

Years?

#47 ::: Iren eD ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 03:19 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #29:

One I know of is Claude Njiké-Bergeret, a French woman born in Cameroon as daughter of missionaries, educated in France, who then came back to Cameroon in the 1970s to be a teacher, and immersed herself in the traditional way of life of the local people. Most notably, she married a traditional chief who already had 25 or 30 wives and lived as one of them, practicing agriculture and raising children. She had two children with this man, and after his death stayed in Cameroon, where she still lives. Of course, as both a white woman and the wife (then widow) of a prominent man, she enjoyed from the start a celebrity status in her region, and part of her life was and still is mediating between local people and Europeans. She wrote several books in French about her experience, but I don't think they've been translated.

#48 ::: Don Simpson ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 03:38 PM:

On the (in this case off-) topic of shelving books by perceived better category: I once found a non-fiction book in the science-fiction section of a library, complete with fiction code and a science-fiction sticker. It had been published just after the first World War and was titled _Why Germany Will Do It Again_.

Back to topic: Who is that woman with the book series on how she is initiated into some large number of spiritual traditions? Or has that become a genre at this point?

#49 ::: Beowulf ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 04:03 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #29:
I don't have a copy on hand, but IIRC Kvothe's interactions with the Adem in The Wise Man's Fear come close to this. Learning their martial art does take him less time than normal, but its much less compressed than normal. Furthermore, its repeatedly emphasized that he only reaches the rank of "not so embarrassing we literally have to kill you before you make us look bad", rather than any sort of high honor.

#50 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 04:07 PM:

@ Everyone

Has everyone already forgotten "Mutant Message Down Under?" I suspect that Mindy read it some time ago, and understood the One True Lesson of that fabulous tome, which is that White People will buy anything!


Charlie @ 22

You're about 20 years late with that joke, which originated, quite sadly for American prestige, with Dan Quayle sometime between 1988 and 1992. (Even back then the joke wasn't funny, at least if you were American.) By today's standards, and compared to the average Teabagger, Quayle comes off as a very advanced intellect.

#51 ::: Hob ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 04:21 PM:

Jeremy @5: It's one of those rarely-seen reverse buffalo. Not the most fearsome animals, but their "snorting" and "slobbering" is really gross.

#52 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 05:05 PM:

Teresa @ 35: Some daft billionaire ought to sponsor scholarships for curious Masai and Amazonians who want to study the rich spiritual traditions of Ozarks auto mechanics, or take part in the initiation rites of Dakota wheat farmers.

This reminds me of when 'Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom' came out and someone suggested Indian cinema ought to respond with 'India Jones' about an intrepid archaeologist who ventures into darkest America to battle a Presbyterian death cult.

#53 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 06:29 PM:

Steve w/b, #32: That sounds like an interesting book indeed. What I'd like to see someone do is a similar immersion experience, but written from the outsider POV, on something like professional football and its fans. Write it straight, but remove the "this is normal" overlay that keeps people from noticing how bizarre it really is.

Teresa, #44: As I see it, your #3 is fungible with my #1. Or, perhaps better phrased, your #3 is the cause, and my #1 is the effect.

#54 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 06:31 PM:

Rob @ 52: it wouldn't surprise me if they did. There is at least one Indian cowboy series, much to my amusement. (I can't recall its name, but I do remember that one of the villains is called Rice Plate Reddy. Funny how some things stick.)

#55 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 06:36 PM:

Wow, what an utter bonehead and/or scam artist this woman is! Nauseating. I would almost be willing to bet there aren't any interviews with adult Maasai women in that book.

About the five-star reviews: I was remarking to my friend Lenore this morning that I'd be surprised if someone hasn't already implemented software that watches a product on Amazon, and every time a 3-or-fewer-star review is posted, autogenerates two five-star reviews to compensate.

Rob 52: Shortly after those movies came out I was participating in the lettercol of a Christian fanzine called Radio Free Thulcandra, and they were whining about the bad theology in the third movie. I explained that the theology of the second movie wasn't exactly accurate either (for a parallel, imagine Saint Monica cutting her son's fingers off one by one until he agrees to convert). They weren't at all interested; they were (mostly) of the type of Christian who thinks insulting, degrading, and lying about other people's religion is perfectly all right because who cares, right? Those people are wrong anyway.

Fortunately IJ&tToD is also a pretty bad movie, so it doesn't get shown much except in marathons.

I imagine theologically-savvy horror fans have to watch through their fingers as their palms are permanently affixed to their faces. Usually it's the Revelation of Saint John being abused there.

#56 ::: John Costello ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 06:43 PM:

Xopher, I think companies like http://www.viralcomment.com/ probably have this covered -- though oddly enough, the text on the front page of that site comes through in WingDings for me, so maybe it's fake. There are other such companies out there, though, and a search for "reputation management" will find you way too many.

Let's see if the gnomes accept this posting :-)

#57 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 07:54 PM:

"Steve w/b, #32: That sounds like an interesting book indeed. What I'd like to see someone do is a similar immersion experience, but written from the outsider POV, on something like professional football and its fans."

I'm suddenly reminded here of George Plimpton's _Paper Lion_. Not quite what you're referring to, but Plimpton was a writer (with no special athletic experience or expertise) who did a couple of tryout and exhibition stints with a couple of NFL teams. He even got a memento engraved "To the best rookie football player in Detroit Lions history," according to a Sports Illustrated article.

Of course, in this case it was clear to everyone involved that the engraving was tongue-in-cheek. In the excerpt of his I read from _Paper Lion_ (or perhaps one of his later football works) one of the main themes was that it was so much harder than an average person might think to even hold it together playing at the NFL level, much less play well. No heat-and-eat Maasai experience here, or claims of one. He did get to have some immersive experiences *with* NFL players, but it was quickly manifestly clear to all involved that he couldn't be one himself.

#58 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom is Dancing With Gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 07:55 PM:

I wonder if they'll waive the height limit for me?

#59 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 08:01 PM:

P J Evans #40/42: A good number of political memoirs seem to me to be bad fantasies.

One result of the long history of colonialism was the presence of non-white ancestry in the upper classes of the colonial powers. The best-known case is that of Lord Liverpool, prime minister of the United Kingdom in the 19th century, who was of Indian descent.

#60 ::: Sebastian ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 08:09 PM:

Surely I can't be the only one reminded of Mutant Message Down Under (http://www.creativespirits.info/resources/books/marlo-morgan-mutant-message-down-under-timeline), another what-these-people-need-is-a-honky tale of cultural appropriation.

#61 ::: Sebastian has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 08:10 PM:

presumably for a very long link. sending cabbage and bacon casserole.

#62 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 08:49 PM:

If I could be bothered to read the thing, I'd Google the names of any Maasai given in the book (did she even bother?) and find out if they blogged about it. Might be interesting reading.

#63 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 08:55 PM:

@Rob Hansen no. 52: I thought I had read somewhere that the cult in IJTD was deliberately designed to make Hindu viewers go, "Man, these people are Jim Jones crazy," starting with the high priest in a cow skull mask--rather than just stealing Hindu religious symbols to decorate the film's Big Bad. But Hindu I am not. Any Hindus reading out there have a perspective on this film?

#64 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 08:57 PM:

Or did I just have a "ga-doy" moment regarding Xopher's post?

#65 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 08:57 PM:

Fragano, if you want the details, they're here. It's actually pretty interesting.

#66 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 08:59 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @29, what about Doris Egan's Ivory books? As I recall, when the series opens, the main character is surviving, but just barely, in the culture.

#67 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 09:03 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @ 57: I, too, thought of Plimpton while reading this, as an example of how to do this sort of thing (for a very expansive definition of "this sort of thing") the right way.

#68 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 09:04 PM:

Jenny 64: I have no idea what a "ga-doy" moment might be. But I currently have a massive headache, so I'm probably at IQ minuses.

#69 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 10:35 PM:

Sebastian @ 60

Alex sighs, thinking of comment # 50. What a waste it was to post my thoughts. I guess I'll just go stab a water buffalo or something...

#70 ::: Miramon ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 12:07 AM:

An aversion to "thick liquid substances"? Oh my, someone stop me before I revert all the way back through adolescence to preschool. I realize that Freudian psychological theories have been out of fashion for 50 years or more, but still, she sounds like a candidate for analysis.

#71 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 12:08 AM:

Lee @ 53: In Among the Thugs, Bill Buford immerses himself in British football (soccer) fans to study the crowd violence. It's a very good book.

#72 ::: Steve Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 12:26 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @29: There's alwaysthe Irish Queen of Balochistan. More than merely competent, however. (From one of my favorite Guilty Pleasure sites.)

During Colonial times, it wasn't that uncommon for folks to run away to join the Indians. Seems that the Indians didn't have to work as hard and were a lot more tolerant than the Colonials ...

#73 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 12:50 AM:

Carrie V @ 31: Much as I enjoyed the film as is (and likewise that they didn't make him suddenly uber competent) I still wished the white main character in that movie were instead a modern day Asian-American divorced from his Chinese heritage and learning that maybe bits of it ARE awesome, instead of a white kid kung fu film enthusiast. I think it would have made a better movie without necessarily adding one whit more film time -- and since Jet Li and Jackie Chan were the one on the posters AND the big name draws, any excuse that they needed a white dude to appeal to audiences grows suspiciously thin.

#74 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 01:21 AM:

Alex R @50, that’s not something Dan Quayle himself actually ever said. It was a joke told about Quayle by a Republican Congresswoman joking with other Republicans. Even his fellow party-members thought he was a dope.

#75 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 01:37 AM:

Avram, #74: Holy shit, the list of verified Quayle idiocies on that site! Yeah, sometimes you can tell what he meant to say and how it came out mangled -- but many of them are pretty clear indicators of, if not outright ignorance, a complete lack of awareness of the world around him. I don't think it was the media alone that produced the public perception of Quayle as "dumb as a box of rocks"; he gave them plenty of help.

#76 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 03:32 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @29
It's by a person of privilege, but An Arabian Princess Between Two Worlds has the letters home from Europe of Sayyida Salme/Emily Ruete.

#77 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 04:18 AM:

I find myself thinking of Beryl Markham's _West with the Night_ which I read a great deal of time ago, and many of the details are fuzzy. She grew up in Africa in the ninteen-teens, if I recall correctly. She was a very early bush pilot, particularly notable for having been both a pilot and female in a world where neither was commonplace. When talking about her childhood. she talks about having hunted with the local tribesman. They don't seem to have made a particularly big deal out of the fact that she was female. I assume that, being white and not of the tribe, she was already so far out of their tradition that her gender was not so important.

It is a really lovely book. It's a real person, who did odd and interesting things, talking about her life, often with surprising amounts of poetry. It is lacking in many of our modern sensibilities about race, class, gender, conservation, and colonialism. For all of that, it is an incredibly human story. She is a woman of her time and place, but she is not blind, stupid, or cruel. She lived a real life in a real place, something Mindy Budgor seems not to have done, yet.

#78 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 04:23 AM:

A quick bit of googling indicates that Markham grew up in Kenya, and that amongst the many tribes in Kenya are the Maasai. I do not remember from the book if the tribe she hunted with was Maasai. Actually, what I do remember was the name of her dog, which was Buller, and who had a bad tendency to kill cats. Odd, the details that stick with one. Evidently, there is a character in "Out of Africa" based on Markham, as well.

#79 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 04:54 AM:

Who took the photos?

#80 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 05:39 AM:

Nancy #29.

Arguably, that's what the typical Bildungsroman is about.

#81 ::: Marek ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 05:45 AM:

"And if I had kids who were going hungry, and I belonged to a cultural tradition the affluent West finds exotic and intriguing, I’d be cooking up my own version of heat-and-serve woo-woo prepackaged spiritual tourism right now."

I'm not even gonna' wait. For just 199.99 bucks I will make a true Slavic voi, ready to fight the Rus, Avar and Frank! For only 99.99 more, I will also induct you into the mysteries of Svetovid, Peryn and Triglav, making you the heritor of ancient zhertsas. Order both NOW to receive a free gift of your choice: a ready to khram set to make your own backyard temple or a sacred grove sapling to compliment your garden. Slawa!

#82 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 08:43 AM:

P J Evans #65: They are indeed interesting. The name Augier makes me wonder if the historian Sir Roy Augier (Fitzroy Richard Augier) a mixed race St Lucian is descended from that family as well. As Roy had the misfortune to teach me, and I might see him next month, I'll try to remember to ask him.

#83 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 08:52 AM:

Marek #81: You left out the govno.

#84 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 11:06 AM:

Hob, #51: Mayhap a bonnacon?

Lee, #53: There's Hunter S. Thompson's Hell's Angels...

#85 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 11:13 AM:

cd @ 84: Ha! That's a great example! So is Michael Lewis' Liar's Poker.

#86 ::: SoManyBooksSoLittleTime ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 11:34 AM:

I read the book and was left believing the author to be a whiney, spoiled, angry, drama queen, who is eager to make some money. My first question is why isn't Becca in any photographs? I tried to find evidence of Rebecca "Becca" Bergman on the internet. Nothing. I would think she would want to be interviewed, or recognized on some level. How did their phones stay charged for so long? Didn't Mindy's overbearing parents wonder why she only called, twice? She never mentions insects, lice, or creepy crawlers? The ski lessons (the Masai hadn't figured out how to go down muddy hills?) , the EMT training (where was her Under Armor for blister prevention)? Tampons?! There are so many contradictions all through the book. A disappointing read mostly because I kept wondering if the author was telling the truth. It seems more believable that she wrote the book with a movie deal in mind. A comedy.

#87 ::: SoManyBooksSoLittleTime ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 11:38 AM:

Two interesting comments by Maasai women in response to Princess Warrior.

http://africasacountry.com/two-responses-to-mindy-budgor-maasai-warrior-princess/

#89 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 12:12 PM:

Lydy Nickerson @ 78

Beryl Markham writes about hunting with the Naandi tribe. Per a search the name of the tribe is "Nandi," though for some reason my brain is insisting that she spelled it "Naandi."

Of course, Markham didn't claim to be an official warrior, and she certainly didn't "save" the Nandi women from anything. Unlike Mindy, Markham was the Real Thing, tougher than a box of nails and smart as hell.

On the other hand, her book doesn't talk about her three marriages, her romance with the Duke of Gloucester, or her son, who she may have more-or-less abandoned, (or at least sent off to live with her family in Europe, and visited infrequently.) Her book may have been ghost-written (or very heavily edited) but regardless, it is a wonderful thing to read. All this is not meant to be unkind; Markham had the vices of her virtues.

If you haven't read the book, it's a wonderful read and well worth the couple bucks it would take to order a used copy.

#90 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 12:36 PM:

Jenny Islander @ #63: I thought I had read somewhere that the cult in IJTD was deliberately designed to make Hindu viewers go, "Man, these people are Jim Jones crazy

That aspect of it I don't know about, but for what it's worth I do remember an interview with somebody involved with the also-infamous banquet scene from the same movie ("Chilled monkey brains!") who said that the intent there was that the Indian host of the banquet was surreptitiously mocking all his foreign guests by serving them weird stuff that he knew they'd accept as What Indians Eat because none of them had bothered to actually learn anything about his culture.

(Sort of like the sheep's-eyeball scene in Jingo, only without a Vimes to point out what was going on. Which unfortunately meant that it wasn't clear to the audience what was going on either.)

#91 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 12:40 PM:

P.S. That was in Empire magazine's Indiana Jones retrospective.

...which I've just discovered is online. The Temple of Doom interviews are here, including the bit I remembered about the banquet scene.

(Nothing helpful to Jenny Islander's question, though, at least on a quick skim.)

#92 ::: Paul A. is visiting the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 12:42 PM:

with a postscript including source information for the preceding comment (and, alas, a blog-style URL).

I'ma keep this uninteresting, so you can replace it with the postscript and not interrupt the flow.

#93 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 01:06 PM:

She was a very early bush pilot, particularly notable for having been both a pilot and female in a world where neither was commonplace.

Anyone else having difficulty parsing this sentence and understanding how it can make sense anywhere outside of Athos (either the mountain or the planet)?

#94 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 01:56 PM:

Jenny, #63: Well, I'm not Hindu either, but one thing I do know about Hinduism is that they don't eat beef because cattle are sacred. So a Hindu priest wearing a cow skull would definitely put me into WTF territory right there.

#95 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 02:22 PM:

chris @ 91: I suspect the world referred to is that of Europeans in Africa.

#96 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 02:27 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #29: Kelandry, in Tamora Pierce's "Protector of the Small: First Test", has trained in unarmed combat and with a bladed staff in another culture. On on a number of occasions she notes how hard she trained to become competent, also that in the culture where she trained, her skill level was not at all exceptional.

#97 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 05:38 PM:

Steve 72: Indeed, I understand that everyone who has looked into it knows that that's what actually happened to that "lost colony," but the woo-woo ooga-booga types keep the silly story of it's being a deep mystery going.

#98 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 05:52 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 29:
You might enjoy Iron and Silk, the autobiography of an American expat in China who worked very hard for years to become a minimally competent wu-shu (Chinese martial arts) practitioner. It's a good book in great part because he doesn't exaggerate his own abilities at all, as compared to his teachers or their other students. It was also made into a surprisingly decent movie.

#99 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 06:07 PM:

Alex R. @69: There now, Alex, it happens to us all. I've also done it to others, which is downright embarrassing.

#100 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 07:07 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @ 97

I was feeling particularly cruddy last night - not the fault of anyone here...

The trick I use to make sure that doesn't happen if I'm in a hurry and can't read all the posts is to open the "Edit" menu and search for likely words and phrases, such as (in this particular case) "Mutant Message."

#101 ::: Chaz ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 07:07 PM:

GQ published an account of an American who went to China to immerse himself in the culture and improve his table tennis skills. He didn't even make it to 'minimally competent.'

Paddled.

#102 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 02:03 AM:

@Chris no. 93: I think it refers to the nature of society at her social stratum during that period: parts of the culture were for men and parts were for women,* so it was possible to walk into some place that we consider gender neutral--a university classroom, for example--and see only one gender. Flying was a man's world. Also there weren't many bush pilots.


*Outliers, unless they restricted their gender transgressions to a small social circle of people who liked them, were celebrities, eccentrics, or deviants.

#103 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 08:44 AM:

Nancy @29: There's always Cherryh...

#104 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 08:56 AM:

You know, it seems to me that there's a template for a novel here. Not my novel, but, y'know, a kind of 1970s interstellar comedy of social errors ...

The Galactic Federation makes contact. As part of their getting-to-know-you arrangement for new barbarian planets, they hand out about 500 tickets so that random representative humans can go forth and explore the galaxy, on the GF's tab, then recount their experiences when they get home after a year or so.

$PROTAG does the Mindy Budgor thing, only with aliens, and doesn't understand that she's barbarian (everyone else is too polite to point and mock). Hilarity ensues, with planetary-destiny-shaping consequences.

Anybody feel like writing it? (I can't: I owe David Hartwell a trilogy.)

#105 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 10:16 AM:

Charlie Stross @104, I think I would find that version depressing. I want to read the version where doesn't-recognize-she's-a-barbarian is $ANTAG. $PROTAG moves in her shadow, struggles with trying to understand the alien culture and thinks zie is failing compared to $ANTAG's (self-reported) triumphs - but $PROTAG is the one who gains the aliens' respect in the end.

#106 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 10:33 AM:

One more of the bad examples: Medicine Woman-- it was a triumph of memory to track it down. Amazon doesn't let you search on "light yellow cover". I'm reasonably sure that's the edition I remember, but amazon isn't good about editions anyway.

#107 ::: Dominique ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 10:42 AM:

Becca is Alexandra Stillman. Maybe the name was changed to protect the innocent. http://www.advicegoddess.com/archives/2010/07/09/some_people_go.html

#108 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 11:03 AM:

OtterB @ 105, I think I read that sort of story a year or two back; I want to say it was by Connie Willis but, alas, my memory is failing me. I do remember cringing at the Telegenic Idiot Hero Strutting for His Fans (or Her Fans, but I think it was a He) while the people around him quietly did the work.

#109 ::: Two Z ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 11:19 AM:

Say what you want, she's smokin' hot.

#110 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 11:49 AM:

@ Chris #93: Quoting me: She was a very early bush pilot, particularly notable for having been both a pilot and female in a world where neither was commonplace.

You asked: "Anyone else having difficulty parsing this sentence and understanding how it can make sense anywhere outside of Athos (either the mountain or the planet)?"

Um, yeah, that sentence needs a serious overhaul. Sorry. What I meant was that at the time she was a bush pilot, there weren't many pilots, period, and very, very few of those were women. Moreover, I think I was also thinking that at the time in which she was doing all this, women did not have active, public lives in the same way that men did. They were more typically hidden behind husband and family, or otherwise attached to some institution. There are, of course, lots of exceptions, but they were exceptions. Markham was a rule unto herself.

#111 ::: Lydy Nickerson has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 11:51 AM:

I am having a gin and tonic in preparation for bed. I would be happy to prepare the gnomes one. Or, alternatively, there is marzipan. I do not recommend them together, however.

#112 ::: OtterB sees spam, I think ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 12:09 PM:

@109 looks like an odd drop-in

#113 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 12:26 PM:

Charles Stross @ 104:

I recall the last time I taught a writing class. One of the students came up with a really nice idea - you know, the bones of a plot device, like that one. Not a plot, no characters, action and resolution, but a great idea. I said it was a great idea, and that I'd like to use it myself.

My God. You should have seen them bristle! I had just become an obvious thief, a plagiarist of the deepest dye.

And here you are, offering a great idea around for free.

#114 ::: Two Z ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 12:51 PM:

Otter - I've been lurking for a few weeks, thought I'd drop in and say hey

#115 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 01:02 PM:

OtterB @105:l There's a vaguely similar dynamic in the first arc of the anime adaptation (but not the original novel) of "The Twelve Kingdoms"-- two girls are swept away into an alternate fantasy dimension where one of them is destined to be the Chosen Savior. One girl gets manipulated by her willingness to leap into the role and be All Heroic And Stuff. The other girl is miserable and unwilling, but of course is the real Chosen One.

#116 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 01:15 PM:

Nancy, Teresa:
I once read a short SF story (can’t recall the author or title) in which a reporter is doing a story on an Amish community who, some years earlier, had accepted a transwoman; only to notice that one of the Amish men is a classic Roswell extraterrestrial. She tries interviewing him, but he’s unwilling to speak of his past (he’s likely a refugee from his planet) and just wants to talk about his crops. The reporter herself realizes she would never fit into this community and doesn’t try.

#117 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 01:16 PM:

PJ @ #42:

Le Chevalier St-George (1745-99) became rather extraordinarily competent as a French aristocrat.

#118 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 01:18 PM:

110
Lydy, that was how I was reading it. (I believe I'd heard of her, way back, so I had some lurking context.)

#119 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 01:33 PM:

Tsuda Umeko spent the 1870s learning to be American, and then spent the 1880s re-learning to be Japanese.

#120 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 02:03 PM:

@ Alex $ #89

_West with the Night_ is a memoir, not an autobiography. I think that she wrote about the things that held her imagination. In trying to understand her, I suspect it very telling that she didn't have anything noteworthy to say about her marriages, affairs, or child. Possibly she was just preserving her privacy, but I suspect they just didn't really hold her attention the way flying and Africa did. In an odd sense, I never really got the feeling that she was writing about herself. It didn't seem like a book about self-reflection and revelation. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't find her omitting those pieces of her life to make it a weaker book.

#121 ::: Don Simpson ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 02:09 PM:

Nancy Lebowitz @ 106 -- Yes, Lynn V. Andrews is the person I was thinking of in my post @ 48 (second paragraph).

#122 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 02:49 PM:

Two Z @114, then welcome. Sorry for mistaking you for potted meat.

#123 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 03:37 PM:

I have a bad habit of buying language textbooks that I clearly have no hope in hell of ever beginning, let alone finishing. (Teach Yourself Modern Persian—well, it looks good on the shelf and at least the charity shop I got it from made a few quid out of me for it.) Learning a language properly is one of the great personal transformations. Buying the book and just looking at it from time to time is a nod to the importance of such transformations, without actually putting the effort in.

Some years ago I skimmed through Wild Wales by George Borrow, an entertaining Victorian travelogue that I'd never have touched if Brian Aldiss's volumes of autobiography hadn't put me onto it. If you're fond of first-person narrators who unknowingly give themselves away in funny ways all the time, it's the book for you. Borrow travels around Wales apparently for the sole purpose of astonishing natives with his command of the Welsh language, and other languages, and generally being a smartarse. (He was a talented linguist, but probably not as good as he made out.)

#124 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 03:39 PM:

Two Z, #114: Welcome to Making Light. Your initial comment doesn't fit with community norms around here (which is why it parsed as spam), but if you've only been lurking for a few weeks, you maybe wouldn't have noticed that yet. Anything going on in the Open Thread that interests you?

#125 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 03:41 PM:

OtterB @105, Julie L. @115 -- that's also one of the main plot points of China Mieville's UnLunDun, IIRC (I know there's a Mieville with that as the pivot point mid-novel, and my memory isn't as good for recent stuff as for older, so I may have the title wrong...).

#126 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 04:11 PM:

Tom: You have the title right, though I'd call that a bit of a spoiler.

#127 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 04:21 PM:

Cassy B, Julie L, Tom Whitmore, thanks for pointers toward things that take the trope in my @105 where I'd like to see it go.

#128 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 04:27 PM:

Dave @113: Amateurs think ideas are valuable.

Professionals value execution.

That idea took me a minute of noodling to come up with after reading the comments on a blog entry. Turning it into a novel would take between 20 and 200 days of hard bum-in-chair work. Maybe longer.

#129 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 04:35 PM:

Lydy Nickerson @ 120

I agree with you completely, having read the book many, many times. It's a beautiful book; intelligent, poetic, and very strong, not to mention the very best first paragraph ever, "...I would like to begin patiently, like the weaver at his loom..."

But I wouldn't want anyone to think the book comes close to telling her whole story.

Also, IMHO, it's too bad she didn't marry the Duke of Gloucester; she would have been an amazing princess. (There's an alternate history novel for anyone who's interested: Celebrated bush pilot Beryl Markham marries into the House of Windsor just before World War II begins...)

#130 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 07:06 PM:

Also, IMHO, it's too bad she didn't marry the Duke of Gloucester; she would have been an amazing princess. (There's an alternate history novel for anyone who's interested: Celebrated bush pilot Beryl Markham marries into the House of Windsor just before World War II begins...)

Beryl, Air Warrior Princess! The pulpish purple prose practically writes itself!

Well, actually, it doesn't. There's that whole "execution/bum-in-chair" thing Mr. Stross mentioned somewhere upthread. Nevertheless, the Air Warrior Princess is likely to amuse me for a day or two...

#131 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 07:10 PM:

Wirelizard @ 130

"There's that whole "execution/bum-in-chair" thing..."

I've already got a couple of those; a website I'm working on (still much code to write alongside my day job) and a script for the Elf/Orc Buddy Movie.

#132 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 07:12 PM:

Sorry, the post above is incomplete. It should have continued as follows: "So anyone who wants to take the "Beryl, Air Warrior Princess" thing and run with it is welcome to the concept - just thank me in the Introduction or something.

#133 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 08:08 PM:

Here's one that I'll never write because PEBKAC: Fairies weren't depicted with peculiar elongated faces until the so-called Sicilian Fairy, Caroline Crachami, became a sensation. Caroline Crachami was a little person with (apparently) Seckel syndrome, which produces the distinctive facial features. She also had TB. A huckster promised her musician parents that he would take her to a dry climate, then the only effective cure for TB, and exhibit her in order to build up money for her continued care; instead he pocketed all of the money he made exhibiting her in London, where she died.

Now: At one point, while poor little Caroline was being shown off like a two-headed calf (pay extra and get to pick her up), a little girl about her own age was brought to see her. That was Princess Victoria.

What if Victoria had kicked up a fuss and demanded that the poor little "fairy" be taken out of the freak show? For all I know, she did; what if somebody listened? And what if Caroline, given a new lease on life by being installed at the royal family's seaside residence in peace and quiet, experienced spontaneous remission?

This started as my earnest wish for a happier ending for Caroline and her grieving parents, but the life of a little person at a court that was supposed to be beyond the keeping of court dwarfs, Caroline's alternating status as the disregarded oddity in the room and the (possibly reluctant) celebrity, perhaps her musical aspirations, even her unrecorded intervention in a major historical event . . . I hereby set this plot bunny free, because somebody else could do something good with it.

#134 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 08:14 PM:

Sorry, I typed too soon: When I first thought this one up, "Seckel's bird-headed dwarfism" was the name, with some individuals being mentally impaired and some not. Caroline may have had a condition that used to be lumped under the same name, but does not always produce mental retardation; or she may have been only mildly retarded.

#135 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 10:53 PM:

"'India Jones' about an intrepid archaeologist who ventures into darkest America to battle a Presbyterian death cult."

If they did the mormons then the bad guy could be Mitt Romney http://hesaidshesaidmovies.tripod.com/img/posters/templeofdoom2.jpg

#136 ::: Jamoche ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 12:25 AM:

OtterB @105 : that's at least one Retief story.

#137 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 02:08 AM:

Charlie, #128: Also, a lot of interesting ideas are not in and of themselves stories; they're the background against which a story could be set. Many beginning writers don't understand the difference. I didn't recognize it myself until someone else pointed it out to me some years back. Your idea is at least a story in its own right.

#138 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 02:33 AM:

Alex R @ 129 (and sundry others)

NaNoWriMo looms: the challenge to write 50,000 words in November.

Even within the select group of fluorospherians, I hesitate to suggest that anyone can hit the target, or write anything worth reading. But I reckon it's worth trying. For me, it maybe got me over the last vestiges of uncertainty, which go back to my schooldays and the attitudes of my teachers.

"Be vewy quiet, I'm hunting plot-wabbits." (Makes note to avoid Caerbannog...)

#139 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 03:15 AM:

Earlier this year, Charlie managed a NaNoWriWeek.

#140 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 08:19 AM:

#138: I hereby notify everybody that I am disqualified from NaNoWriMo in perpetuity. And I'd like to sack my muse (except I'm kind of scared of him: he looks a bit like a grizzled USMC drill sergeant, and threatens me with physical violence if I don't deliver words on schedule).

Here's what happened ...

I went on a bunch of travel in the first half of this year, culminating in a literary festival in Estonia from which I came home with Bell's Palsy. When one of your eyes begins to water after less than five minutes unless you forcibly close both eyes for thirty seconds, you can't write. Or read effectively. This lasted for nearly three weeks, after five weeks of non-writing due to travel (I can't write effectively on the road). Then it wore off over the course of about three days, and I abruptly recovered the ability to read and write after two months of forcible withdrawal.

So I woke up at 12:04am one Saturday morning, mind churning, and succumbed to a fit of hypergraphia the like of which I have never experienced before and hope never to experience again. Hypergraphia is acutely disturbing, physically draining, and quite unpleasant. It's not a normal writing process, it's a deranged compulsion. You're not writing because you want to write, you're writing because you can't stop. It's the sort of condition normal people seek medical help for. Unfortunately, I'm not normal. Result: 51,000 words in 166 hours, i.e. 2% over NaNoWriMo's monthly target in two hours less than one week. Then 35,000 words the next week. Finally, I was able to write THE END on the 18th day ... 109,000 words later.

So yes, I beat NaNoWriMo in a week and went on to write an entire first-draft novel in 18 days. Yay, me. Except it was the wrong book.

At the time this happened, I was under contract to deliver a trilogy. But I was about a quarter of the way into the first book, and I was blocked -- I had a bad structural problem and needed to take time out to think my way past it. So the crazy fit of hypergraphia burned itself out and left me with the first draft of an entirely different novel, written in an altered state, which for contractual reasons I can't sell until I deliver the trilogy. Which is mortifying, unprofessional, and one hell of an incentive to get moving and finish the official contracted project on time ...

Luckily I worked out what was wrong with the official project while I was bouncing off the walls and ceiling, and it is now back on course. The 18 day fit of insanity didn't bite too much time out of the 18-month project, so there is no cause for alarm: the first book in the new Merchant Princes trilogy is done, the second is under way, and I expect to have the third finished on schedule.

But I can't help thinking that if I'd been able to point the hypergraphia engine at the right target, I'd be delivering it nine months ahead of schedule.

#141 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 09:52 AM:

An "amusing" coincidence: "Bugor" is also a Russian slang term; specifically, it means "The Boss: Used in penitentiary for the men who control the criminals."

#142 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 11:58 AM:

Charlie @140: In the last year or so, I've occassionally had the cannot stop thing with my sculpture. Fortunately, when I've been able to relax into it, it's joyous. Does require some extended recovery, though.

I now finally have a referrent for J. Michael Straczynski's assertion, "Don't try to be a professional writer unless you cannot not write."

#143 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 01:04 PM:

Dear Mr. Stross -- thank you for letting me know there are (wheeeee!) three more Merchant Princes books in the offing.

I have been wondering about some of my favorite characters fates for quite a while. I confess, I have been worried.

(Note to self, assemble older books for re-read.)

#144 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 01:11 PM:

Lori, more details here. Note the revised UK editions of the Merchant Princes series; I'm hoping these show up in the US before the new series (I overhauled and edited everything, reassembling them into something closer to the original planned format).

#145 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 01:52 PM:

Oh, boy, revised editions?! I'll let my favorite bookseller know.

Thank you very much.

#146 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 02:15 PM:

What I’d love to see is the reverse of Charlie @ 104: tourist from a Highly Advanced Alien Civilization comes to Earth, seeking to immerse itself in the rustic, quirky, and highly romanticized human culture, and some human grifters take him for a ride.

Three months later and a few thousand credits poorer, our tourist is a black belt in karate, an ordained Catholic priest, and a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.

#147 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 03:14 PM:

Charlie @140:

Is the 18-day book saleable, or did your fit of unprofessional hypergraphia kick out something that not only took away from time writing your contracted work, but can't be recouped later anyway?

#148 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 03:26 PM:

When the news gets me down, I like to reimagine it as a headline in the Non-Jerk Universe. Hence:

Two Sides of the Planet: Kenya, California, and the Wild World of Ecotourism by Lemuanik Ole Sabore and Mindy Budgor

The engrossing account of two ecotourism entrepreneurs who changed places for a year. Ole Sabore and Budgor, who first met online, clicked immediately, bonding over the astonishing similarities among their clientele and the culture of ecotourism in their two countries. With the bemused acquiescence of their business partners, they decided to conduct a cultural exchange. For one year, Budgor would lead safaris in the Maasai Mara while Ole Sabore ran a charter fishing operation off the Channel Islands. What they learned makes for a story that is hilarious, enraging, and thought-provoking. You won't be able to put it down. This year's best read!

#149 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 03:42 PM:

Jenny: I like your universe. Please let me know if they start accepting immigrants.

#150 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 04:12 PM:

@147: probably salable, but first it needs a re-write which it ain't getting until I'm out-of-contract and can do it with a clean conscience.

#151 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 04:32 PM:

David @151: thank you for blowing it. (No more crit filter access for you ...)

#152 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 05:06 PM:

I had thought that the "Thud" posts on your LJ were open rather than flocked, and that since anyone could see those posts that you didn't mind having that knowledge be open. Evidently I was mistaken about that. I am deeply sorry, and beg the moderators to remove my #151.

#153 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 05:26 PM:

I want to say that I am capable of being discreet about sensitive information. I could adduce some examples, but by their nature they would need to involve sensitive information that I couldn't repeat, and that would be difficult to verify. So this is the sort of thing that's difficult to give evidence for.

This particular instance was stupid on my part, certainly: if I'd been thinking, I'd have said to myself "Charlie@140 wrote quite a bit, but didn't give the book's title or any information about it; maybe he doesn't want that known." In hindsight, that's obvious. All I can say now (other than that I've emailed moderators asking for an edit) is that I'm sorry for overstepping.

#154 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 05:29 PM:

I've unpublished the comment in question.

#155 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 06:01 PM:

Um. How do I email a moderator? I wish to mention something that perhaps shouldn't be noted on a public thread. Abi, could you drop me a note at (rot-13) pnffl@obbxjlezr.pbz please?

#156 ::: Andy Brazil ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 06:27 PM:

There is a short story about a guy who lives in a post-Contact world. Turns out the aliens are strict capitalists so no hand-outs for new races. The UN comes up with the fare to send him out on a commercial freighter to explore the galaxy. He comes back and writes a book about his experiences, which is of course a publishing sensation. Then it is taken up by a big alien publisher and is an inter-galactic hit. All's going well till it turns out that it's viewed as a comedy across the galaxy and has single-handedly created the "Stupid Earthman" genre.

Annoyingly I can't remember title or author, but it seems oddly relevant here.

#157 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 06:38 PM:

Cassy (and everyone),

I can be reached at abi at this blog's domain dot com.

Cassy, I'll email you, but do note that it's half past twelve where I am, and I'm not likely to be able to do anything till morning at the earliest. It may be later, since I'm also single parent at the moment, and have three people to launch tomorrow morning.

Faster service may be obtained by emailing pnh at panix dot com, since he's in a more suitable time zone.

#158 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 06:44 PM:

Abi, whoops, forgot the time difference. <sheepish look> I'll email pnh as suggested.

#159 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 06:46 PM:

And I have NO idea how that double-posted. Apologies, all.

#160 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 10:06 PM:

Everything cleaned up. As you were.

#161 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 10:37 PM:

#156 ::: Andy Brazil

The story you want may be "A World by the Tale".

#162 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 11:17 PM:

Charlie Stross @ 104 (And Various Editors)

Charlie, it seems to me that you've designed an extremely fun shared universe. Tor should have someone design the shared background then recruit a bunch of writers to create stories.

IMHO Eric Flint would do a wonderful job on one of these. (I don't mean the Eric Flint who's writing Great Big Books these days, but the Eric Flint who wrote The Philosophical Strangler, which is extremely funny!)

#163 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 12:22 AM:

On the Charles Stross shared Universe, I realise that I am very small potatoes, but I would appreciate knowing if it gets off the ground, since I would like the chance to submit, at least a chapter (or whatever) and precis.

It's a great idea. And oh, how I faunch to be able to write SF again!

#164 ::: Phoenician in a time of Romans ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 01:10 AM:

What I’d love to see is the reverse of Charlie @ 104: tourist from a Highly Advanced Alien Civilization comes to Earth, seeking to immerse itself in the rustic, quirky, and highly romanticized human culture, and some human grifters take him for a ride.

"Jewish Princess", in which Grzztblat spends three weeks being initiated into the esoteric traditions of the Jewish tribe of Beverly Hills, eventually becoming their first thirdgendered rabbi, while teaching them that Hebrew is an unnecessary and outdated language, and that male circumcision really isn't needed.

#165 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 12:12 PM:

@52, 135, etc:

The Mormons were exotic enough for a Sherlock Holmes novel, at the time...

#166 ::: Andy Brazil ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 04:10 PM:

#161 Nancy, It is indeed. Many thanks - truly All Knowledge...

And there's a Project Gutenberg edition.

#167 ::: Upset Elder ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:49 PM:

Please tell me this is all a hideous joke?!?! I thought we left those ignorant days behind us, but here is a rich westerner bringing it alllllll back. The sad thing is that she is ignoring the outrage and concern that has been generated by her book. If you don't want to talk to the people you say you are helping, you should just stay out of the way and let the genuine helpers do what needs to be done. I smell FRAUD!!!!!!!

#168 ::: Maa princess ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 09:41 AM:

Mindy or what ever you call your self, do you really know the meaning of being a moran? in my view you are not one and for your information you will never be!going to the forest for three months does not make you a moran neither does throwing a spear! you said you are from the illaiser clan who on earth gave you the mandate? why are you lying to the world.If the Maasai community decide to have awoman warrior i think we have enough women heros to take that tittle not a woman from God knows where. nobody invited you to come and change our beautiful culture and your help is not welcome because you came not to help but to destroy the MAA people. Give the genuine helpers a chance to work!! you don't have a place in Loita because you don't belong here neither do you belong to the illaiser clan. It is very clear that you are dong this for your own interests.I want to tell every one that i am 101% sure that there is no woman who has ever been given the tittle of a maasai worrior and there will never be! MINDY ITS TIME YOU STOPPED LYING TO THE WORLD!

#169 ::: voyance par telephone ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 07:01 AM:

Why visitors still use to read news papers when in this technological globe all is presented on net?

#170 ::: Dave Harmon sees more french spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 07:07 AM:

vapid and ungrammatical

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