In Which Our Heroine Is Public Like a Frog

1 April 2004

Herman's deadjust kidding! Yeah.

When I was a little kid, my friends did not understand the niceties of April Fool's pranks. They didn't get the concept of timing, that you should let the other person believe what you said for at least half a second before hollering out "April Fool's!" One of my little kid friends took this further than April Fool's Day. Jill had a hamster named Herman. She came out of her house mock-sobbing one morning when we were in about first grade or so, her face hidden in her hands. We all crowded around asking what was wrong. "Herman died," she sniffled. After a few moments of sympathy, she turned her grinning face up to the rest of us and crowed, "Just kidding!" Thrilled with how that worked, Jill did it again. And again. Until it was all one sentence, with no space in the middle, "Herman's deadjust kidding!"

Then, as is the way of hamsters, Herman died. Jill came out of her house with her face buried in her hands, sobbing her little heart out. Our friend Gina came out of the house next door to walk to school with her. "What now?" "Herman d-d-died," Jill sobbed. "Oh, Jill, you are such a little liar!" snapped Gina. And Jill shouted, "I hate you!" and ran home.

I would like to say something deep about learning a lesson that day, and that's why I don't play April Fool's pranks. But really it's just that I think they're stupid. Doing something silly on April Fool's Day, okay, fine by me. (Although doing something silly other days is pretty good with me, too. I am not particularly attached to my dignity or yours.) But trying to trick people into believing that something silly is not silly, is genuine -- it usually falls flat for me.

Fortean Bureau's new issue makes me smile, though. Now! With more me!

Yesterday I had cramps in my diaphragm most of the day. I don't know why my body did that to me -- I hadn't been yelling or in any particular way using the heck out of said diaphragm, and it was uncomfortable, so I really wish it had stopped sooner. But it's stopped now, so gift horses etc.

With work and all I didn't finish reading Dogland. But I got a goodly way into it, and I like it. A lot. Books set in the South during segregation were constantly recommended during my grade school and junior high years. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that my reading curriculum was obsessed with race relations, once you factor in segregation books and slavery books together. A lot of the books on these themes are exactly the same. Limited number of plots. (White kid from liberal family learns that bigotry exists and has to combat it; black kid from Northern or otherwise sheltered family has to deal with the realities of segregation and, big surprise, combat it; etc. etc. etc.) Dogland is like what would happen if one of those books was good. It's set in the South during segregation, and race relations are a big thing, but they're not the only thing; the characters, black and white, still think about other stuff. (Like the fact that Yggdrasil may be located in their parking lot....) The only complaint I have so far is that the main character and his siblings are supposed to be 4, 3, and 2, and they act 8, 6, and 3. I think this is partly because the main character is the narrator, and I don't really buy his voice as a 4-year-old's narrative voice. I don't think I'd enjoy a book this long in a 4-year-old's narrative voice, anyway, so it mostly works, except when Shetterly draws attention to the narrator's age. Then I'm bugged.

Generallly cool book, though.

They're doing it again. The letters to Salon about the abridgement article that had Chance so steamed are assuming that in the past there was an idyllic time when children all loved to read, and now, children don't. Yes. Oh yes indeed. There was a time in the early 1960s when no nerds were beaten up at school, when anti-intellectualism had disappeared, when everybody idolized the brainy and no home was without the complete works of [your favorite skiffy author here]. There was no high school homecoming queen without tape on her glasses. Riiiiiight. If everybody loved to read so much in the past, where are all these book lovers now? How did children who adored the printed word grow up to be adults who can barely read the instructions on cough syrup? The answer is, they didn't. There was no such idyllic past. There was no time when reading was the national pastime. There was no time when everybody else was reading your favorite children's book. (Unless your favorite children's book is in the Harry Potter series, in which case, hoo, do I have children's book recommendations for you.) Generalizing from yourself or even your childhood friends to What The Past Was Like is a bad idea. Bad, bad, bad.


Aaaaaaand in other news, I have officially made the transition from "Then there's a pair of us! Don't tell!" to "public like a frog": I volunteered to be on a MiniCon panel. Computers and Magick. The k frightens me. The whole affair frightens me. It's a Sunday afternoon panel, so perhaps no one will come. Perhaps they'll be dazzled by Lyda's brilliance and I will be able to be the model of a humble young writer deferring to greater wisdom. Maybe. Maybe. (Also maybe I will do something with small people, who are much less intimidating than big people, because they tell you what they're thinking, even if it's "you smell.")

I wouldn't have volunteered at all, if some guy I don't know hadn't asked me to talk to the programming lady about panels. But the programming lady was not pushy about anything (oh, thank God for Minnesotans), and this really is made for me, as panels go: how many people are writing about magical thermionic computers? Hmm? How many? And I know lots about other people's computer/magic books, and I think I shall make a list of relevant works. Because this is what inexperienced panel members do. The experienced ones show up and talk about their favorite sheep cheese or why an ergonomic work setup is very important or how Alexander the Great entertained himself in his off hours. The inexperienced ones have a few thoughts prepared in case no one cares about Alexander the Great (or, in my case, Marshal Mannerheim).

I told the Kev, and his response was, "Ooh ooh! People will get to see you go all freaky-intense!" Uh, thanks, Kev. Fabulous.

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