Don't Let the Title Lull You Into a False Sense of Thematic Unity

9 September 2002

Life lessons learned so far this morning: Timprov cannot prance. "I shouldn't be too big to prance," he says. "Horses prance, and I'm not bigger than hardly any horses." (He was using a shimmery scarf of mine to get some traction on his neck muscles, and I was teasing him about it, and that's why he attempted to prance. This is not a common thing. Do not be alarmed.)

Oh, so since I brought up Timprov's aunt's illness when we were up there, I guess I should tell you that she's home from the hospital now and doing well, but they still don't know what caused her bad spells. They have ruled out a medicine she was given, a brain tumor, and a stroke, as far as I've heard. Those are pretty good things to have ruled out. I'm very glad it isn't those things. But it would be nice to know what it was -- if it wasn't just a false alarm from her nervous system, which I suppose is always possible.

I'm much, much less tired this morning than I was this weekend. Feel like I dodged the sickness bullet. Not quite up to par yet, but a lot closer. I finished Royal Assassin yesterday and will look for Assassin's Quest next time I go to the library. Fun stuff, not too deep. I read Worlds Enough and Time, Dan Simmons' short story collection, and started in on The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction. Um. I'm a bad little physics person, I am, because I sat there reading the beginning of the Foucault and thinking, "Prove it, prove it, prove it!" Very many assertions. Very little else. We'll see.

Also, Michel Foucault's picture is on the back of this book, and he looks like Uncle Fester.

The Merc has a brilliant and shocking article this morning about how the lower ranks of Al-Qaida are not getting captured and killed. Gasp! They must be joking! Surely the members of an underground multinational organization behave just as the members of a standing national army do! Surely people who believe in a cause will see that if their leaders can be killed, their cause is no good! Surely the members of Al-Qaida are immediately physically distinguishable from the other people in the regions from which they came!


Columbine's Utopia With Cheese gave a link to an article about the changes in legal rights in this country in the last year. Go read it, if you haven't already. The article was originally from the AP. Scary stuff we should know.

And a brilliant letter-to-the-editor writer believes that we could and should build truly secure walls or fences along all of the US borders (and presumably also control the coasts, although Mr. Genius doesn't mention those). Riiiight. Because the problem is the Canadians. They're sitting up there plotting against us. Every curling club harbors its own terrorist or funds a shipment of weapons straight to the middle of the Axis of Evil, wherever that is today. And the Mexicans, they're in on it, too. Sinister bunch.

Do I live on the same planet as these people?

Ah well. I read an Iain Banks interview with a great quote, very very cool: "The great thing about money is it gives you one less excuse for being unhappy - if you've got money and you're still unhappy, your nose is rubbed in the fact it's you." I liked that very much. I'm not sure that having one less excuse will improve matters, but it's good to eliminate factors, sometimes.

I got confirmation on the "intense eyes but not anime eyes" thing, thanks to Timprov and Zed. I was thinking that it's very hard for me to gauge how other people see me physically, and now I'm wondering: maybe it's not just me. Maybe you all have troubles seeing how other people see you. (Do you? Tell me.) It seems like the physical part would be the simplest, but perhaps not. We rarely tell each other neutral things about each other's appearance -- mostly we give compliments, rarely we give insults (not much past high school, I would think). And while women whine to their girlfriends -- "I'm so fa-aaat!" "Oh, no you're not, no you're not!" -- that's not usually a source of useful information so much as a source of reassurance. Things that aren't explicitly positive get avoided, for fear that they'll be insults, I think, especially since my neutral may be your insult. Or worse, your awkward and too-personal compliment.

Neutral comments on appearance are kind of like "I like you": if you say it, some people will nod and accept the information, and others will go away thinking, "Now, what did he/she mean by that?" (If I tell you I like you, what I mean by it is that I like you. Sometimes the inner five-year-old gets to say these things. Deal.)

Right. So. I'm working on a short-short I'm calling "Things We Sell to Tourists." But I don't think that's enough for the title. I like the title too much. So what I think I'll do is finish it up as is and consult with the writing group: I'm thinking of extrapolation on the theme, but if they think interpolation is the way to go, I'll consider it. And yes, of course I'll explain.

Most of my lengthening edits (and most of my edits are lengthening) end up being interpolation: taking the characters and setting and plot as they're laid out and filling in some blanks here and there. Some of them are near-order extrapolation: adding another character, say, or some totally new material that takes things in a slightly different direction. But not too different.

But I think I may want to make "Things We Sell to Tourists" into one of those series-of-linked-short-shorts things. I started writing in the paper journal about that last night, and I came up with all kinds of stuff I'd like to do with it. So the question for the writers' group will be whether the one I've already got could fit in well with more, whether it needs to be shorter or longer itself, what kind of more it could go well with, whether it works at all, whether I should scrap this one and do the rest of them without it...okay, so there will be a lot of questions for my poor writing group. There may even be a couple more examples of what short-shorts I mean, depending on how I work today. They would require far extrapolation, though, extrapolation based only on the theme and title.

I'm trying to keep them all SF. And I'm trying to stay away from Roswell and Graceland. I do not need to beat that dead horse.

I've been putting off the work on the new immigration project a bit, partly because of my weariness this weekend and partly because I don't have the contracts in my hand, and there's only so much I want to do before I have the contracts in my hand. But I do want to get the books back to the library in a timely fashion, so I'll probably get more into that this week. Research for that. More writing on the Not The Moose. Rewrite on "Another Hollywood Miracle." And the work on "Things We Sell to Tourists." I should copy Julie and start giving you my to do lists as a sidebar. But then I'd keep thinking of things to put on them. Read the Strugatskys online and write to Aet! New journal theme! Crit Alec's story! Call doctor to switch to a birth control type that's covered under our insurance!

I was doing so well with the exclamation points until I got to that last one.

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