Points of Pride

From a newsgroup post dated May 17, 2011:

Like most people, I take pride in my accomplishments. Sometimes, though, I suspect that what I consider impressive accomplishments would not be on anyone else’s list.

For example, I am very proud of having sold stories with these titles:
“Dead Babies”
“Science Fiction”
“Ghost Stories”
“New Worlds”

I’m proud of having written the title story for an anthology that wasn’t supposed to have a title story — “Beneath the Tarmac.” I consider it completely unfair that the publisher then retitled the book Deathport.

I’m proud of having written and sold a story that was specifically designed to violate an anthology’s guidelines, “The Pick-Up,” even though in the end I sold it to a different market that paid more than five times as much. This was a particular challenge because the guidelines accidentally said they didn’t want to see a character turn out to be a vampire, werewolf, elf, alien, and Elvis, instead of “or.”

In general, I take pride in perversity. “My Mother and I Go Shopping” was written specifically because an editor was complaining about rejecting a story with that title as totally inappropriate for a fantasy market. Unfortunately, that editor was no longer buying by the time it was finished, so I had to sell it somewhere else.

“Remembrance of Things to Come” was written to fit the description in a cover letter an editor was using as an example of the ridiculous crap he had to put up with. I was very disappointed when the editor didn’t think my stunt was funny, and I had to sell the story somewhere else.

“Mittens and Hotfoot” was written because a friend was complaining about the work in a convention art show, saying that there were all these pictures of kittens and baby dragons, but no one wrote stories about kittens and baby dragons.

A Little Game

From a newsgroup post dated January 30, 2011:

This is swiped from a private mailing list I’m on; I hope they won’t mind…

Let us suppose a network decided that you, yes you, are a marketing genius, and they hired you, at extravagant rates, to create three series for them.

The first is to be a continuation of an existing series that was cancelled too soon — tell them which series should have been kept alive, and what direction it would take to prevent a second cancellation.

The second is to be a remake/re-imagining of a canceled series, and you have all of TV’s history to play with, from the 1940s to last week.

And finally, give them a spin-off — doesn’t matter whether the original series is still thriving or long dead.

My original three (later revised, but we’ll get to that) were:
Revival: “Invasion”
Remake: “Car 54, Where Are You?”
Spin-off: “Wesley Wyndham-Price, Rogue Demon Hunter”

Note: I have 345 more saved newsgroup posts. No, not all will wind up on this blog. I started with 589, and I haven’t posted anywhere near 244 here. Most either just get trashed, or saved as text files for my own use. The ones that wind up here are the ones I think might be of interest.

Follow-up note: I just did another pass through the backlog, and reduced it from 345 to 288.

Our Nation’s Capital

From a newsgroup post dated January 15, 2010:

You know those overhead signs in supermarkets that tell you what’s in which aisle? There are several variations, but I assume you know roughly what I’m talking about.

Safeway, at least around here, has them arranged to list a category, and then three items in that category you’ll find on that side of that aisle, such as:

DAIRY
==
Yogurt
Eggs
Butter

or maybe

DINNER
==
Pasta
Sauces
Canned meats

Well, tonight we stopped into a Safeway down in Washington to grab a couple of things, and Aisle 2’s left-hand sign read:

BREAKFAST
==
Beer
And
Beer

I suppose there might be some innocent explanation, that they moved the beer there from somewhere else and didn’t bother to change the top line, but still…

And that “and” just somehow makes it perfect; it’s not just beer, it’s beer and beer.

For breakfast.

Esprit d’escalier

From a newsgroup post dated December 12, 2009. “Esprit d’escalier” is French for “spirit of the staircase,” and refers to thinking of the perfect comeback only after you’ve left the party or other event.

I completely failed to come up with a suitable comeback this evening.

Situation: We’re going out to dinner, and I’m explaining to Julie about George Smith, and my sudden realization that the first-person narrator is Wayne Ellsworth, who is a weirdness magnet.

“Like you,” Julie said.

“I’m not a weirdness magnet,” I said.

“Sure you are. You attracted me, didn’t you?”

I still haven’t figured out what I should have responded.

Useless Details

From a newsgroup post dated July 20, 2008:

My family has been naming cars since my Dad got a second-hand gray 1936 Ford during World War II and named it Boadicea. The following are the cars my parents and I have owned:

Parents:
Boadicea: gray 1936 Ford sedan
The Olds: forest green 1948 Oldsmobile
The Wagon: light green 1954 Chevy wagon with fake wood sides
Bianca: white 1964 Chevy Greenbrier passenger van, with red stripe
Melanie: tan 1969 VW bus
Daphne: green and white 1972 VW bus
Cinnamon: red 1980 Chevy Citation

Julie & me:
Solid Jackson: gray-and-white 1957 DeSoto Firesweep hardtop
Harry Carry the Dirty Dog: white 1971 Toyota Corolla with several large patches of brown body putty
Gretchen: Miami blue 1978 VW Rabbit
Lambert: gold 1976 Dodge D-100 pick-up with huge white camper top
Magellan the Voyager (Maggie): maroon 1984 Plymouth Voyager minivan
Polychrome (Polly): silver 1986 Chevy Spectrum
Winnie: gray 1991 Plymouth Voyager minivan
Sally: arrest-me red 1993 Buick Skylark Gran Sport
Ariel: silver 1998 Isuzu Oasis minivan (built by Honda)
Brandi: “apple-red” 2008 Hyundai Elantra

Why I Love My Wife Part 1,326

From a newsgroup post dated June 15, 2008, which I’m taking slightly out of sequence:

So I was mulling over possibly drastically rewriting a key scene in Sorcerer’s Justice, and I ran it past Julie, the only other person in the world who’s read the first draft of Sorcerer’s Justice, explaining the changes I was considering, and why.

She thought about it for a moment, then said, “It would cut down on the blood and gore.”

I agreed that it would.

That can’t be good,” she said.

Note: “Sorcerer’s Justice” was eventually published as A Young Man Without Magic.

Life of A Salesman

From a newsgroup post dated October 17, 2007:

Elsewhere there’s a discussion of a very annoyingly condescending salesclerk someone dealt with recently; I remarked there that such salespeople are fools, because you sell more stuff with flattery than condescension.

Which reminded me of an incident, lo these many years ago, which I didn’t post there because it wasn’t relevant, so I’m posting it here. Not that it’s relevant here, either, but it’s my newsgroup, so I can post it anyway.

I was in the audio department somewhere, I think at Circuit City, considering whether to replace all or part of the stereo system I bought back in 1973. I was chatting with a salesman, who was doing a pretty good job of ingratiating himself without being pushy or condescending, and I had explained that I maybe wanted to upgrade my twenty-year-old system.

He asked what I had.

“A Sansui 661 receiver,” I said.

He nodded. “A decent unit in its day,” he said, “but you can do better. What have you got for speakers?”

“MicroAcoustic FRM-1s,” I said.

“Well, you aren’t going to replace those,” he said. “There isn’t anything better.”

Whereupon he managed to flatter me immensely, and impress me with his knowledge, at the same time he lost the sale. He was the first salesman I’d met since 1975 who’d ever heard of the MicroAcoustic FRM-1, and if he said that no one had improved on it, I believed him, so I didn’t buy new speakers.

I did spend a pleasant half-hour chatting about audio equipment with him, though.

Spellbound

From a newsgroup post dated August 18, 2007:

I am sometimes amazed by what words various spellcheckers don’t recognize.

The built-in spellchecker in Eudora, for example, doesn’t recognize “internet” or “website” or pretty much any other words describing the technology it works with. It does recognize lots of names, such as Rome, Venice, and Lawrence, but not Evans.

And I have just noticed that the dictionary in WordPerfect 10 doesn’t recognize “whores.”

That doesn’t seem like a very obscure word to me.

The electronic version of Boggle I sometimes play allows you to add words to its dictionary easily, so it now recognizes a lot more than when I got it, but I still sometimes hit peculiar lapses. And then there are the obscenities — straight out of the box it didn’t acknowledge “fuck” or “shit,” which isn’t surprising for a game aimed at kids and which I’m sure was deliberate, but it did recognize “shite” and “cunt.”

How odd.

Trailer Park

(All new!)

So we saw “The Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2” Monday afternoon (and had a lovely time, thanks). It has long been my custom to assess the trailers accompanying any movie we see in the theater, so here we go:

There were eight trailers. This is excessive. It hasn’t been that long since five was the norm.

“Transformers: The Last Knight” looks big and loud and stupid. I am so not interested.

The remake of “The Mummy” does not look very promising, either. Both these first two trailers were so loud that I was beginning to worry the whole feature would be unpleasant and ear-tiring, but fortunately that did not turn out to be the case.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” was the first trailer that was not just a barrage of noise and CGI. It had moments of character, bits of humor, and generally lots of stuff to indicate that the film is not just a noisefest and lightshow. I expect to see and enjoy this one.

“Alien: Covenant”… I dunno. It looks better than the last couple of Alien movies, but that’s saying depressingly little. I think I’ll pass.

“Dunkirk”: It’s a war movie. It looks as if it’s a well-made one, with some good characters, but I’m not much on war movies these days (with exceptions for superhero war movies). If the word of mouth sings enough hosannas, I might check it out.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” looks pretty good, and I still plan on seeing every feature in the series. It would take a real stinker to make me stop. The three prequels were building up a significant amount of suckage, but the Disney takeover has cleansed my palate and renewed my enthusiasm.

The trailer for “Thor: Ragnarok” has a little more CGI than I really wanted, but the line “I know him from work!” sold me — I wanna see it. In general, the Thor series has not been at the top of my Marvel list (not that they suck, they just aren’t as good as some of the others), but this one has promise.

And finally, the next Pirates of the Caribbean film — does it even have a definite title yet? — capped off the previews. I regret to say that even though I loved the first one and it’s always a delight to watch Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, I think the series has outlasted its sell-by date. Zombie sharks are one of those ideas that sounds great in a late-night conversation but should probably not actually be used.

All in all, it was a very loud set of trailers.