Geographical Checklist

Continents visited:
North America
Europe
Asia

Not visited:
South America
Africa
Australia
Antarctica

United States:
visited:
Connecticut
Maine
Massachusetts
New Hampshire
Rhode Island
Vermont
New York
New Jersey
Pennsylvania
Delaware
Maryland
Virginia
North Carolina
South Carolina
Georgia
Florida
West Virginia
Michigan
Ohio
Kentucky
Tennessee
Alabama
Mississippi
Louisiana
Missouri
Indiana
Illinois
Wisconsin
Oklahoma
Texas
Nebraska
Iowa
California
Colorado
Arizona
Nevada
Utah
District of Columbia
Kansas
Washington
Alaska
New Mexico
Oregon
Montana
North Dakota
Minnesota
Arkansas

Not visited:
South Dakota
Idaho (slept through it on a train)
Wyoming
Hawaii

Canada:
Visited:
Prince Edward Island
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick
Quebec
Ontario
British Columbia

Not visited:
Alberta
Saskatchewan
Manitoba
Newfoundland
Yukon
Nunavut
Northwest Territories

Mexico:
Visited:
Tamaulipas
Quintana Roo

Not visited:
all the others

Other countries visited:
Bahamas
England
France
Spain
Luxembourg
Netherlands
Germany
Switzerland
Italy
China
Bermuda
Wales (but just barely)
Ireland
new> Vietnam
new> Greece

Arguable:
Japan (never left airport)
Iceland (spent a couple of hours in Reykjavik’s airport (which
is in Keflavik))
South Korea (spent several hours in Incheon airport.

Questionable as to whether they count as countries:
Jersey
West Germany
East Germany

Know Thyself

From a newsgroup post dated May 28, 2013:

There’s a website at http://iwl.me/ called “I Write Like” that purports to analyze one’s prose and match it to a well-known author. I tried it out last night.

Taking a passage from On A Field Sable told me I write like Jane Austen. A chunk of One Hundred Suns, though, matched Arthur C. Clarke.

Graveyard Girl was where it really got interesting, though — my first pass got Cory Doctorow. I decided the sample I’d used wasn’t typical, so I tried again and got Jack London. Then I removed one paragraph from that, and it was Cory Doctorow again.

Not exactly consistent results.

http://iwl.me/ is still there.

Gloomy Chick Singers

From four newsgroup posts, dated April 12, 2008; May 5, 2008; and (two of them) August 19, 2012:

On Sat, 12 Apr 2008 12:49:53 -0400, Lawrence Watt-Evans wrote:

It’s been a running gag for, oh, maybe fifteen or twenty years now that my preferred genre of music isn’t rock or country or classical, but gloomy chick singers. There is much truth to this — but one must understand how I define this, and that I do include some cross-genre stuff.

“Singer,” okay, that’s a fixed requirement. Rappers and screamers and narrators and instrumentals don’t make the cut, but one need not be a solo act; bands with gloomy chicks singing lead count.

“Chick” — yes, for the most part they must be female, but I’m willing to include bands with a female lead singer even if they may also have a male singer or two (e.g., Dead Can Dance, Transvision Vamp). There are also certain male singers who I consider cross-genre — they’d be gloomy chick singers if they were female (e.g., Meat Loaf or Peter Gabriel).

Ah, but “gloomy” — there’s the tricky part. Yes, sometimes I really mean slit-your-wrists depressing, like Portishead, but there are plenty who are only gloomy occasionally, and some who are downright cheerful but still scratch the appropriate itch for me. I can’t really explain how this works, I just know it when I hear it. Heart, while being indisputably chick singers (and quite good), does not qualify, while Sixpence None the Richer, a Christian rock band, does. Berlin is borderline. Britney Spears does not qualify, no matter how messed up she may be.

Added August 19, 2012:

I’ve just bought a couple of MP3 albums off Amazon — I had a voucher to use up — that have added new artists to my list of gloomy chick singers, so I thought I’d repost the above as a reminder of my definitions.

The new ones are Sister Crayon and Jane Siberry — not that either is actually new at all, but I didn’t have them in the collection before.

Below is a list, originally compiled May 5, 2008 and updated August 19, 2012:

As of May 5, 2008: This now includes everyone I have an entire album on CD by; I haven’t included LPs, and there may be some tracks on compilation albums I missed. (All of them from the 1980s.)

Amos, Tori
Baez, Joan
Bel Canto
Belly
Black Velvet Band
Bonham, Traci
Branch, Michelle
Breeders, The
Brennan, Maire
Brightman, Sarah
Bush, Kate
Cardigans, The
Cassidy, Eva
Clannad
Cline, Patsy
Cole, Paula
Colvin, Shawn
Concrete Blonde
Cowboy Junkies
Cranberries, The
Darling Buds, The
Dido
DiVinyls
East of Eden
Enya
Etheridge, Melissa
Eurythmics
Evanescence
Fahl, Mary
Fairport Convention
Fleetwood Mac
Flying Lizards, The
Fordham, Julia*
4 Non Blondes
Frampton, Dia (added August 19, 2012)
Frente!
Gerrard, Lisa
Ghost, Amanda
Goldfrapp
Grace Pool
Gryner, Emm
Harris, Emmylou
Heart Throbs, The
Hepburn
Hickman, Sara
Hooverphonic
Hope Blister, The
Ian, Janis
Imbruglia, Natalie
Indians, The
Innocence Mission, The
Jewel
Joplin, Janis
Katydids
Keineg, Katell
K’s Choice
La Bouche
Lacuna Coil
Laing, Shona
Lauper, Cyndi
Lennox, Annie
Letters to Cleo
Lisahall
Lone Justice
Lovich, Lene
Lush
Madonna
Maharry, Wendy
McCall, Jana
McKee, Maria
McKennit, Loreena
McLachlan, Sarah
Meg & Dia (added August 19, 2012)
Melanie
Merchant, Natalie
Minogue, Kylie
Mitchell, Joni
Moonpools and Caterpillars
Morley
Motels, The
Myles, Alannah
Nicks, Stevie
O’Connor, Sinead
October Project
One Dove
One 2 Many
Paris, Anika
Poe
Portishead
Private Life
Rasputina
Renaissance
Republica
Rhodes, Happy
River City People
Romeo Void
Roxette
Rusby, Kate
Scandal
Schmidt, Claudia
Shai no Shai
Shakespear’s Sister
Sharam, Max
Siberry, Jane (added August 19, 2012)
Siouxsie and the Banshees
Sister Crayon (added August 19, 2012)
Sixpence None the Richer
Sky Cries Mary
Smyth, Patty
Sneaker Pimps
Sonic Dream Collective
Sundays, The
Sunscreem
10,000 Maniacs
Texas
Tikaram, Tanita
‘Til Tuesday
Tosun, Sylvia
Transvision Vamp
Trynin, Jen
Tunstall, K.T.
Tyler, Bonnie
Vega, Suzanne
Velvet Chain
Wilson Phillips
Winehouse, Amy
X
Xenia (added August 19, 2012)

I’ve added more since.

==

Borderline cases I’m tempted to include but have reservations about:
Ace of Base
Benatar, Pat
Berlin
Blondie
Bow Wow Wow
En Vogue
Franklin, Aretha
Jackson, Wanda
Jett, Joan
Reinhart, Haley (added August 19, 2012)
Tony! Toni! Tone!

==

Noteworthy non-gloomy chick singers in my collection:
Bangles, The
Carey, Mariah
Chiffons, The
Go-Gos, The
Jackson, Janet
Shirelles, The
Shore, Dinah

==

* I don’t actually like Julia Fordham’s music, but I have three of her albums — gifts from one of my fans — and she definitely qualifies as a gloomy chick singer under my definitions, just a bad one.

Things You Maybe Didn’t Know About Me

Based on a newsgroup post dated May 15, 2012, but heavily edited:

In the 1980s I looked so much like Bob Seger that not only did his fans sometimes mistake me for him, but my then-brother-in-law once mistook him for me.

The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man — or at least the guy in the suit in the original “Ghostbusters” — was one of my high school classmates. He’s not credited because he was in the wrong union; he was a special-effects guy, not an actor.

The very first personal newsgroup on SFF Net, started on February 7, 1996, was mine. It was not the last, though; I shut it down a couple of weeks before SFF Net closed up shop in March, 2017.

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