Second to Belgium When Going Abroad

23 September 2001

Yesterday I finished both Blue Angel and Portraits in Silicon. I liked the former despite some really large annoyances -- for example, it's about an English prof at a small college. Okay. All of you English profs at small colleges? Find something else to write about! When you can't finish a novel, do not begin a novel about someone in your circumstances who can't finish a novel! It's been done before! To death! Think of something besides yourself for a moment -- it will improve your writing!

But if you can bear reading it done again, read Francine Prose's Blue Angel. She does do it well.

As for the latter, it was what I needed to be able to work on the last part of the first section of the Not The Moose Book. I needed to pick out a definite year in which the story begins, and then suit the characters' ideas and expectations to that climate and their education/information. It was very good for that purpose, and also interesting. I have no famous people in my book so far (except maybe Linus in a cameo) (that's the guy who did Linux, for those of you who don't automatically associate). So I wouldn't feel bad about including Admiral Grace, except that it would be quite a stretch to get her to Finland, and nobody in the book goes any further than Stockholm once the book has started. But she really was the best of them.

(I also started The Fine Art of Literary Mayhem, recommended to me by a journal reader.)

So today I'm going to read some more of the library books I got, mostly the ones about Finnish community design, Finnish music, Finnish frontiers, Finnish folk dance...I'm grasping at straws at this point. I've read everything useful the library has on this topic, and I've moved on to the un-useful things.

We listened to some of Timprov's Monty Python albums last night, and laughed. Of course, I have "Finland, Finland, Finland" in my head now....

And then we watched the top twenty of VH1's Top Hundred Hard Rock Artists and argued about what makes for hard rock. (Shockingly, Mark opted out of this discussion, it was just Timprov and me.) It was amusing to me: on a certain level, what they were considering "classic hard rock" or "archetypal hard rock" was, somewhere in the recesses of my brain, shelved as "children's music." AC/DC was played at skating parties from my earliest grade school years, so as they were sitting there on VH1 going, "They were so hard, man, it was so intense," I was thinking, "Huh? That's for third graders."

Poor Miss Asbjornsen. My music teacher in grade school wanted very badly to bring music to the masses. She wanted to connect what we did in music class with the experience we had of music in our daily lives. So every Friday, three people were supposed to bring in their favorite song for the class to listen to and discuss. She had no idea what she started.

It was class warfare.

My school had two main socioeconomic groups: the house kids and the apartment kids. And the music we brought showed it off like nothing else. The house girls listened to Whitney Houston. The apartment girls listened to Madonna. It got pretty catty, and then the boys joined in, and it was worse. The smart kids kind of huddled in a corner -- we knew that nothing we brought would be right, that there was no way to escape the teasing from both sides.

Miss A was so clueless. I didn't understand how she could be that clueless. I just wanted the music teacher from Bridge to Terebithia, who sung folk songs but didn't get so fixated on the masses close up.

Anyway. Plan for today is, writing, much Finnish reading, and perhaps a malt at the soda fountain in downtown Hayward, just to see if they do them right.

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