Monthly Archives: July 2009

Interesting Reading from L.E. Modesitt, Jr

“Yet they’d be outraged if someone applied the stereotype of “parochial” or “limited” to mainstream fiction.” – L.E. Mosesitt, Jr, source

What was really interesting was also that people who work hard in the F&SF genre were also outraged that anyone lay such a claim against the mainstream genre.

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Question of control…

The strange thing about Nick’s claim is that the people who are being silenced are going to write more, and longer, because they’re being silenced.

It’s not silly at all. It’s human.

What he describes as “interesting debate” is made so not because I left the discussion. There’s another human fact at work here.

(BTW, Nick, in case you’re google alerts pop up to lead you here, or something like it, in fact, I was in the middle of BFE Maine with limited web access, doing graduate work morning, noon, and night, while still working on my dayjob and new writing. So… No, Nick, it actually had nothing to do with you, or your continued insistence on shoving my voice and thoughts into your own experiential narratives. Your odd insistince on engaging in rudeness is part of why I’m posting this right now.)

The thing is, when Nick describes the debate as “interesting”, it is also because he took the reigns of it, and forced it down a path he wanted. He shoved everyone into his experiential worldview at the expense of other narratives.

Look at how many posts Nick makes in comparison to everyone else, after I left, and the shape they took and you see how the discussion shaped itself around one man’s voice, the crankiest one, the first one to engage in true juvenalia up above, like putting words in my mouth, or thoughts in my head. Once again, he’s shaping the narrative around his own preconceptions of what that narrative should be, and if you watch, you’ll see him shutting down perspectives that don’t line up with his own.

It’s a control thing, man. It got interesting to him because he took control of it, not because it actually got more interesting. It was just as interesting the whole time.

Try to see yourself from the outside, party people.

The thing about publishing and books is that no one has the whole picture. We all only know a very small slice, no matter who we are. If we actually want to create a whole, we can’t use our little slice to cut away other experiences.

We learn more by approaching everyone’s perspective as inherently valid in the soft knowledge learning of books.

It’s weird to know the many things Nick’s done to try and increase the liberation of the mind, yet to watch him engage in discussion in a way that is loudly and softly bullying.


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Cats are like the crazy ex-girlfriends…

Cats are like the crazy ex-girlfriends. You see them. You think they are cute. They look at you with cat eyes and mew. You think this means – because your body and brain and biochemistry are built to think this – that the animal loves you.

Actually, what that animal is saying is “If you were only a little bit smaller, I’d kill you slowly and eat you.”

We think they are rubbing against our leg, we think this means they are engaged in an act of affection. We hear their purrs and think we are beloved.

In fact, the cat is marking you as their possession, in preparation for the day when you die, and they get to eat you. The purring you hear is just the anticipation of a meal.

Serve them, if you must. Clean up after them. Brush the mats from their hair. Coo their name into their ear and tell them they are so cute.

You’re misreading the signs in their human-like faces. It’s like those crazy ex-girlfriends that you thought, at the time, you loved, and it turns out they weren’t wired the same way you are wired, and it’s only a matter of time before you are devoured. They want to devour you.

There was a cat at my doorstep this morning, with a collar around its neck. It looked up at me like I was everything in the world to it, with big, cat eyes. It pressed against my leg.

“Does the one who loves you know you’re cheating on them?” I said. I refused to open the door. I refused to pet the creature. “Go on, now, pussycat. Go home.”

Had I but known this ten years ago, about certain women and all the cats…

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The most interesting part of this story is…

…someone apparently tampered with his front door lock.

Failure to self-identify is a no-no, for the officer in question.

But, the weirdest part of this story is how the lock was apparently tampered with.

That’s where things get fishy, among a lot of fishy things.

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So much to do… So much to do…

I will be including all of these things in this story I’m working on. Especially the electric headlight.

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Home from Maine, and why I just wrote a check for 1000 dollars to a Scam Operation

Maine was lovely. The seminars I attended were nifty, and I think the workshops were pretty all right, too.

Travel was odious, but isn’t it always odious? Blah. Airports.

Ah, homecoming… Slogging through mail…

Wait… What’s this? A warrant for my arrest? WTF?

So, there’s these little tiny-ass towns in Texas where they derive a ton of their budget from traffic violations. Little Texas towns are famous for giving you tickets for 71 in a 70, and for doing all kinds of things to encourage cops to write more tickets. Look it up. Google Pantego, Trophy Club, (this particular town…) and quite a few others.

No state tax in Texas, you see, and low property taxes. They tend to make up the gap in aggressive violations.

(On people who do not live in that town, mind you. Local inhabitants don’t realize how come their city has so much money while property taxes are so low, on the whole… Easy to do in a communter society.)

Right, so, many, many years ago (over 3 years ago) I was issued a warning, not a ticket, but a verbal warning that went something like this: “Hey, did you know your registration is expired? Oh, no wonder you didn’t know! You moved! Well, don’t forget you have to tell the DPS not just the Post Office! Right… Go to that court house over there to fix your registration.”

Apparently, I was issued a ticket for that. I had no ticket. I was given a verbal warning on this, while my car was parked. No fines. No fees. No sheets of paper in my hand. Nothing but a friendly, “Dude, oh, here, let me tell you how to fix that…”

This particular town is actually famous for being total citation bastards. (They’re usually spoken synonymously with Pantego, and Trophy Club, for all you D/FW residents out there.)

One step was missing, however.

Apparently, I was also supposed to go to the particular city courthouse, because apparently I was issued a ticket, and apparently I was supposed to physically show them that I had updated my registration and address. How I was supposed to know this in advance is beyond me. I didn’t even know I was issued a ticket.

Here’s where it gets even more shady.

Apparently, no one noticed this issue until I moved out of state.

Now that I’m a few hundred miles away, I’m issued a warrant unless I pay over a thousand dollars on two overdue ticket. Even if I prove that I, in fact, registered my car in Texas and changed my address in Texas with these documents that are, at this time, four years old, I’m still fined in the neighborhood of 400 dollars.

I register in Georgia. I change my address, register my car, etc., etc. Suddenly, a four year old verbal warning has become a citation that requires 1000 dollars, or I’m at risk every time I set foot in Texas.

Even if there really was an actual ticket, you’d think, in a sane, rational universe, there’d be some step between “Take this form and show it to the city clerk.” and “Give us a thousand or go to jail.” For instance, a form letter might go out, indicating that there’s some problem that needs to be addressed. Fees are accumulating. Nip in this in the bud, fellow American.

No, that would make it too easy for criminals to get away with their evil, odious crimes of lost registration papers. Also, taxpayers would have to pay for an envelope, a stamp, and a sheet of paper with ink on it instead of getting 1000 dollars in the mail.

Now, I have an option. I could hire a lawyer, and arrange a court date, and make my case before a judge…

I would have to show up in court (halfway across the country, mind you…) with a decent lawyer to confront the city on this issue. Plane tickets alone would likely eat most of the 1000 dollars. And, that doesn’t even begin to cover the cost of hiring a lawyer, and missing work. And, there’s always the possibility I would lose the court case, in which case I pay even more fines, and still paid for the lawyer and the plane tickets.

If there’s anything you should know about tiny towns in Texas, it’s that the city judge tends to favor the word of local law enforcement officers over the word of people who flew in from out of town and hired some slick, city lawyer.

All told, I’m fucked. I wrote a check to this municipal scam operation. I put a stamp on it. I’ll mail it in the morning.

Not only am I scammed by the city in question, what’s even worse is how arrogant they are about it.

They wouldn’t even tell me why a warrant was issued. They told me to call this other number to find that out. Twice they gave me the wrong number, (Oh, I’m sorry, did I say “XX00”? I meant “XY00”, and “Oh, *you* obviously entered it wrong. The number is XZ00.” As if they genuinely enjoy fucking with people. Yes, I was getting angry. Because you’re fucking with me, and I can tell you’re getting off on that over the phone.

People ask me, sometimes, if I miss Texas.

I miss my friends and family. Texas? No. No, I do not miss Texas.

In a sane, rational universe, I’d be able to challenge this. Verbal warnings do not equal tickets. If I fix this at one courthouse, and there is no piece of paper or person telling me I have to go to this completely different courthouse to negate a ticket that did not – to my knowledge – exist. If there is a fine accumulating to the point of warrant for your arrest.

You’d think. You’d think there’d be steps. You’d think there’d be something between a cop giving you a friendly verbal thing, and a warrant for your arrest four years later.

You’d think.

These little towns, they just thrive on that equation that people have to run in their heads, when the warrant shows up with the bill… “Is it worth fighting city hall? What’s my cost-benefit analysis, here?” They thrive on people like me, who are quick to discover that the only solution is “Fuck. Nope. Fighting it and paying it cost exactly the same, except paying it means I don’t have to lose time at work and graduate school.”

I bet that shit happens everywhere, too. I bet there’s a bunch of small towns just like that, all over.

Steps, man. Someone should put into law some kind of degree between cop saying “Dude!” and courts saying “Warrant!”. That way, if the cop’s fudging his citation numbers (as they are encouraged to write tickets in a couple of these little towns) American citizens can actually prove it.

Also, I think, if the citizen is wrong, at least they’ll know there’s a cloud hanging over their heads.

Oughtta be a fucking law. Degrees of warning between citation and warrant.

But, again, that would mean cities don’t get a check in the mail for 1000 dollars, no?

(Certified, of course. You think I trust these fucking people? They gave me the wrong phone number twice just to get a rise out of me. They wait four years to pull this shit, when I’m showing up as an out of state resident. Now, it’s more expensive for me to actually fight back than to write them a check for 1000 dollars.)

Maine was nice. Maine was very nice. Better than Texas.

It wasn’t until I moved out of Texas that I’ve started to realize how awful that state was.

When you live there, you just get used to it. You don’t even notice all the little things that add up to divide the rich and poor, the haves and have-nots.

Coming back from the airport, I rode public transportation – a very nice, clean, efficient metro train – directly from the airport to a station nearby. I rode a city bus to the elementary school across from my apartment complex. It cost me $2.25 to travel from one far side of Atlanta to the other far side of Atlanta. Along the way, people of all ages, races, and economic classes were riding the city’s public transportation. Good luck trying that in Dallas. The buses are terrifying. The train is underfunded, and has to dramatically cut back its trips all the time. And, if you’re in one of the suburbs, there are no buses. Arlington, TX, is proud of the fact that it is the largest city in America with no public transportation. It had been problematic trying to explain to the people I met while there why that’s part of what causes the urban blight rotting out the center of Arlington into crime and despair, because people who don’t have cars suddenly can’t realistically work outside a four or five block radius.

When I get confirmation this is dealt with from this fucking city I might tell you which one it was. I’m a good citizen, after all, and do not deserve to be treated this way. I do not want to risk being treated worse just because some bureaucrat thinks I have an attitude problem. I also do not consider myself some kind of social activist. I’m just another grumbling sheep, wondering when the change we all voted for might sprinkle down into the red states.

God, I am so glad I don’t live in Texas anymore. You have no idea.

And, for all you Texans out there, isn’t it weird how everyone is always complaining about the “Good Ol’ Boy” Network and you keep voting those turds back into office?

Here’s a tip: vote female, minority, and often. It never ceases to amaze me that the towns who are most notorious for behaving badly are run by and for a bunch of rich white guys.


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About the latest internet tempest in a teapot

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, feel free to ignore.)

Have a moment at a cafe, with decent WiFi and I’m a bit burned out on other stuff, so I thought I’d mention something important.

Prior to the latest tempest in a teapot, a good day at my blog netted 7 to 10 page hits – all people I know by name, most of whom I’ve met in real life.

I know posting things here does suggest at least the openness to a larger audience. However, one does get quite used to scribbling on the outside of my locker to a small, narrow audience of people who are my friends.

In the original post, I was careful to frame everything in terms of what my experience was, even with that in mind, because it is more about what I like to read and why I like to read it than about what all you have to read and how you have to write.

This, however, was not good enough. Because I used the word “Literary Fiction”.

Now, I know I used a quick, lazy term – and a dismissive one – for the 7-10 people who may or may not show up for today’s post.

I used the wrong term, because I used what I think about when I label something “literary fiction” in my mind and this is really throwing people in a needless furor.

I think almost everyone is digging their heels around their own, personal definitions of a term that isn’t actually clearly defined. Notice, you folks who’ve been on board for this whole thing, that the act of definition is *still* going on, over at Jeff VanderMeer’s blog.

I think everyone has a different mental definition of what the words “literary fiction” means, and the way to deal with this is not to engage in right-or-wrong intellectual throwdowns, but to engage the point of discord with the kind of elegant and respectful discourse that Hal Duncan does over and over again so brilliantly, to locate where future experiences can be shaped around better understandings of terms.

So, be at peace, party people. Focus not on who has the best terminology, or who’s experience is more valid (for everyone’s reading experience is fundamentally valid) but in how the terminology we use shapes our shared experience, and how we can find better terminology to understand each other.

And… seriously, where are all these pagehits coming from? I’ve gotten more traffic this last week or two than I have, like, ever.

(And, for my next offensive rant, I think I’m going to spew inelegently about how much I hate cats… Or, how much I hate the meaningless and offensive separation of salt and pepper in shaker form…)

I’m in Maine a while longer, and I hope the debate continues successfully without me.


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I’m off to Maine in the wee hours of the morning on Friday, and I wonder if I will bother posting anything at all until I get home.

Have fun, interwebs. See you in a while.

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Been somewhere else today…

It’s not that Nick is wrong in his content, he’s wrong in his delivery. You can’t refute a reader’s experience. Books are not a science – are not a quest for irrefutable proof. Treating books that way ends by hammering one person’s experience into another person’s, and misses the point of reading entirely. The result is a lot of readers who are afraid to engage in discussion because they don’t know if their experience meets with the approval of the biggest referencer in the room. Ultimately, no one has read enough.

Happens at SF Cons all the time. Happens elsewhere, too. Bothers me, obviously.

It also bothers me that it’s an accepted form of class discussion in literature programs. We’re raising lawyers not readers.

And, it did sideline from the useful discussion going on elsewhere, with Jeff and others.

I’m still thinking about how the metrics of book recommendation mixes the genre definitions up a bit, and sharpens the categories.

If anything, someday it may be possible to talk about a specific genre because the metrics will reflect it in booksales, that there are distinctive camps of audiences. But, that day’s not today, for the most part.

I think, what it does is weakens the boundary between mediums. Fans of Lost, for instance, also buy a lot of books, and the same quest for the art experience arises out of all these different mediums. You’ll see Lost showing up in Amazon also recommends for plenty of writers.

Still, I’ll think about it more.

Anyway, that’s where I am, today, and it’s a nifty place to be.

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Wait… They have music videos?

I’ve known for some time that for groovy Eurolectrofop music, you can’t get much better than “The Knife” (and the sister act, “Royskopp”).

Little did I know they also have awesomely headtrippy videos until I was looking for a live version of Heartbeats on YouTube, having heard their live act was awesomely headtrippy…

There’s two music videos for this first song, apparently. I watched both. This one has mouse puppets.

I like it.

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