16 May 2002

Well, "Attack of the Killer Death Clones" starts today, and I'm not going to see it. I'm not going for at least a week, and possibly more than that, because I hated, hated, hated "The Phantom Menace." And I think a Star Wars movie that doesn't open absolutely huge is a bigger failure than most other pictures making no money at all. I have no hopes for this movie at all. None. The trailers I've seen have been so hideous, and the only thing I look forward to is the Yoda fight sequence. That's it.

And maybe a chick with a light saber. If there's a chick with a light saber, some things can be forgiven, after all these years. I was convinced, after "The Return of the Jedi," that it had been mere oversight that had denied Princess Leia a light saber. A clerical error of some sort. My cousin Garrett endeared himself to me forever by agreeing with me and letting me play it that way when we played Star Wars. And then "Phantom Menace" came out, and it was awful, and there was no chick with a light saber. Ack.

I've heard Lucas claiming that "The Phantom Menace" had to be as lame as it was, because the protagonist was a kid. My land, do I have a reading list for him. Some of it isn't even stuff that I wrote myself. Honestly. I still think he's afraid of how dark his story needs to be, and frankly, if he is, he could have just wandered off and told episodes 7 through 9 and made us all happy. We all know what's going to happen in 1 through 3: Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader. If he'd done them well, it could still have been cool without the suspense. But sheesh, if it's going to make him all jumpy about how dark it is, go make up some new stories and let it be. Let some future director make it work.

Grump grump grump. Am I prejudging this movie? Oh heck yeah. But on the other hand, it won't be the breathtaking disappointment the previous one was.

I hope.

I've had some frequently asked questions lately, actually. Go figure. So: yes, I do now own one of the Wilburys albums (in tape form), and I do know how to spell it now. I'm looking for the third one. (The Traveling Wilburys have the first one and the third one. There is no second one, and Roy Orbison is dead, so they won't go back and make it. Unlike some people who went back and made things they shouldn't...ahem, sorry, I promise no more of that.)

The "K" (in Marissa K. Lingen) is for Kristine. Either the traditional or the coastal Norwegian pronunciation is a-okay with me, although I'm likely to give you the latter if asked.

The "ng" in Lingen is as in "singer," not as in "linger." My mom has the little ones at church call her "Mrs. Ding-a-Lingen" when she does the singing with them. One of them suggested that she should be "Mrs. Singin' Lingen." That's how it's pronounced, even if I'm not sure that's how I want people to think of me (in either case, I suppose).

I think that's it for the moment on questions I get a lot. Oh yeah, I've gotten asked what model my Waterman is. I have no idea. I examined the pen and the box quite thoroughly, to no avail. It's a blue marbled Waterman fountain pen.

I finished Damnation Alley on the train up to David's and started Kate Wilhelm's Death Qualified on the way back. I didn't really intend to read Death Qualified immediately, so I put it aside for Jonathan Carroll's After Silence. It was just that I had underestimated how long the last 100 pages of Damnation Alley would take me (just past San Lorenzo station, actually), and I needed to borrow something from David that would keep me on the ride back. One of the nice things about taking the Richmond line often is that there's a housing development going up, and I've been able to watch from the leveling on up. They're going to side and paint the houses soon. I like watching them build things a little bit at a time.

We were talking with Alec about writers who revisit the same things over and over again, the other night, and I thought of it while reading After Silence. I feel a bit sorry for Mr. Carroll, because his "come back to it all the time" theme seems to be screwing things up with the woman you love by not trusting her. Sometimes those things ought to be screwed up and sometimes not, but he still returns to it, and that seems like a wrenching thing to have to do over and over again. Usually it looks like the things that writers do over and over again are the ones they find difficult, though. I wonder if it isn't like picking at a scab. I also wonder if they don't fear that if they write something that's not so wrenching, they'll be taking the easy way out.

It's a sensible fear to have, I think, but not a justified one in most cases. We take something true -- "Great art can come out of great pain" -- and twist it into something that isn't true: "great art can only come out of great pain." Or else "if I'm not suffering, it's not great art." Or worse yet, "if I am suffering, it is great art." The world is an unfair place. Something that totally rips your soul apart to produce can be more banal than something you toss off in 20 minutes.

I think we all want to justify whatever pain we suffer. We want it to either be meaningful or to become meaningful. But inflicting more pain in hopes of adding to the meaning of what we've already got -- well, no. No, no. What we want is a checklist, a list of things we can do to make sure that our stories are great art. And we can't do that. It doesn't work that way.

Pity, though. It would simplify things considerably.

Well, I've got work to do. Floors to mop and novels to write and groceries to buy again, because we seem to be incapable of going more than three days without going to the grocery store. Karina has noted that I haven't talked much about the novels I've already written, which is probably true, so I may do some of that tomorrow. I'm thinking about whether I should put the synopses for them up somewhere on my webpage. Does anybody have any thoughts on the matter? (Usually when I ask a question like this, I've already talked about it with Mark and Timprov, but the former is at work and the latter is sleeping, so, you guys, when you get to this, let me know what you think.)

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