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June 29, 2008


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last pic is Persis with Selki, and It's Greykell with Barb and Cassandra.

I'll check if Sandy took pics during the ball. Which was a blast. I got a pic with Naomi. And am now in the middle of book 3.

Guess whom eight of us are dancing for on Tuesday night...

too much talk by Catherine Asaro

...must... NOT!... crack wise...

Oh, go ahead! I've disliked everything of hers I've read so you're not going to hurt my feelings.

Nah... By the way, the masquerade does look like it was really neat. How does it compare to, say, what worldcon masquerades show?

Did you rescue Elspeth from Keith - kfl? He asked why I wasn't there and I haven't been to Balticon for years.

As to Asaro, just reading the descriptions of her books made me not buy them. They sound like they're as much romance as SF!

Serge: You can crack Morecambe, if you'd like.

from kfl, yes. The topic was clearly fallout from some recent DC-area fannish politics about which I know both too little and too much, and she looked like she was going to blow her top any second, which on the whole I thought was not worth it.

Worldcon masquerades at their best are an order of magnitude better in quality and two or three times the size. Scary!

Re. Asaro: some day when I have nothing else to blog about I will write about the planet of the pastel unicorns and my deep distaste for the entire universe that surrounds it.

Hah! Thanks for the notes and pictures. I'm still ready to be a minion of your in Denver.

I've tried to avoid Asaro, but John keeps picking up her books, gets part way thorugh them and goes "WTF?! I picked her up again??"

You'd think he'd learn...

You know, I returned to this thread (I forget to read the blog generally) just to say that Asaro does not do interesting gender roles. Her standard formula is somewhere between Beauty and the Beast and an abusive relationship on a planetary scale. I read them and cringe, but read them because they are occasionally very satisfying. Even when they're not, they give me satisfying scenes that should have been in the book. And hey, snarkfood.

I enjoyed her latest Skolia book, though a lot of that was low, low expectations. But one of the things I like best may have been unintentional/my own projecting.

It's not the romance. I *like* romance. It's that the romances almost universally contain significant power differentials, both physically and politically, and she never really explores that.

Marilee... They sound like they're as much romance as SF!

And here's my chance to trumpet an annoucement that, at the worldcon, my wife will be on two panels about writing cross-genre stories.

I've read a lot in the very limited subgenre of Regency romance, mostly when I was a teenager, and a few other historical romances now and then, but I don't read romance novels in general and avoid them intensely when my own love life is in disarray, which seems to be a permanent state lately. I especially avoid modern settings, since I can only deal with romance plots in historical settings where the need for a husband is more critical to survival.

But while I like romance and F&SF if the mix is well done and creative, I find that I have a very high mental threshold for that and Asaro just doesn't get over it. Wen Spencer did, and managed to do the gender-role-reversal thing in A Brother's Price and make it entertaining. Lois McMaster Bujold did in A Civil Campaign, but her current "Sharing Knife" stuff bores me.

Much of the current "paranormal romance" craze reads to me more like romance novels with a light coating of F&SF which is insufficient for me. And the covers are just scary. I'm sure there's some good stuff out there, but I need an editor who shares my tastes to sort it from the dreck. (I'm sure there's stuff out there that's not dreck but just doesn't match my tastes...but I'd want that sorted out too.)

I read one novella of Asaro's, which was easily enough to prevent me from ever voluntarily buying a book of hers, and then read one novel after she handed me a copy as I was busy walking out of her reading. You'd think the walking out bit would have been a clue that I was not the right recipient for the freebie, eh?

The red thing with a leaf on its head is a red Pikmin from a Nintendo video game called Pikmin. Wikipedia has a description.

Susan... I think that Sharon Lee & Steve Miller's space operas might interest you. They are published as 'real' SF, but they do have a strong romantic streak in them. The Lost Fleet novels of military SF by John Hemry (writing as Jack Campbell) have a strong romantic subplot running thru the books.

(Come to think of it, 2006's James Bond movie Casino Royale is, I think, a very romantic story, but without the strict expectations that come with a story being published - and thus defined - as a romance.)

Of course, the post I just put up had it backward. Those recommendations really were for F/SF stories that also work as romances, although without that genre's restrictions. My wife wrote romance novella Kinsman and a sort-of sequel romance novel Kinsman's Oath that could have been published as a straight space adventure, because written SF is where she comes from, as opposed to people who think that something can be made SF just by throwing in a spaceship or a psychic power. Unfortunately, it didn't do well, probably because it was too much a real SF story.

Susan - I'm on kfl's side of the blowup, but I'm getting tired of hearing about it in email. I have the firm belief that he could be a reasonable person if he let go of some fannish obsessions.

I enjoyed Heyer as a teenager, but I'm not sure I could read them today.

Serge - I can't afford worldcons, but I wish her good luck on the panels!

Marilee... Maybe one day there'll be a con or a worldcon where we can finally meet. I've just passed your good wishes on to my wife.

[cue music: old advertising jingle]
Wouldn't you like to be a Pikmin too?

I'm not inclined to get a Nintendo set, but I am somewhat inclined to make a leaf and wear it on my head just to confuse people. It would go nicely with my lavender maribou deely-boppers.

Lee/Miller recommendation noted, but probably won't be acted upon unless someone puts a book in front of me.

kfl and DC-area politics: I don't have enough information to have a side, but kfl drives me crazy in general. And whatever the rights or wrongs of the particular issue in question (some sort of spinoff of the politics I have heard about previously), it was clearly not going to be resolved by an escalating argument in a hallway in the party area, and my impression was that kfl was not going to agree to drop the subject.

Serge: I could read Sue's Kinsman novella and blog about what I think about it, but be very sure you want to hear what I think before putting it in front of me, since if I think it's dreck I will have no qualms about saying so (I can distinguish between dreck and not to my personal taste.)

Dare I?
Why not? I was a great admirer of TV spy John Drake.

There's a man who leads a life of danger
To everyone he meets he stays a stranger
With every move he makes another chance he takes
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow

Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name



Sorry about that. I know you watch very little TV, but thought you might have heard of the early 1960s British spy show Danger Man, which was known in the USA as Secret Agent. It starred Patrick MacGoohan. Anyway, the quote above was from the show's opening credits. My apologies for the confusion.


Susan - It may help to have Command Voice, but I can usually just tell kfl "We're not talking about that now" and we can talk about something else.

Serge, I was singing along with you! Watching Twilight Zone the last couple of days gave me lots of early work from people who would later be famous.

Marilee... Let's see. James Coburn. Robert Redford. Robert Duvall. Cliff Robertson. William Shatner. Those are the first names that pop up, but I'm sure that I'd track even more if I went thru it episode by episode.

And let's hear it for John Drake, the coolest of British spies!

I have no idea who most of these people are, but I get a huge thrill when people have conversations on Rixo that don't actually involve me (look, I'm throwing a good party!) so please continue talking about them. :)

I didn't want to talk to kfl. I read enough of his stuff on rasff to give me a headache without having to listen to it in person. I just wanted to break up a going-nowhere-except-downhill argument before it exploded messily all over the party hallway. Tugging on the participant I actually know and like seemed the most efficient way to do this. Kfl clearly doesn't know me from the wallpaper and has no reason to listen to me, Command Voice or no.

Marilee... Susan's comment ("I have no idea who most of these people are.") reminds me of when Pixar's animated film Finding Nemo came out. There was a scene where two swordfish were having (what else? a swordfight) and one of them sounded like James Mason. My then-manager's hubby worked at Pixar so I asked her if that was supposed to be Mason. Her reaction was:


Today's kids!

Speaking of spies of the 1960s, who, among those working for U.N.C.L.E., was your favorite? Napoleon Solo, or Ilya Kuryakin? I always prefered Ilya.

Yep, I liked Ilya, too, and I still like him on NCIS. I'm watching The Apartment now, it's always listed as a comedy and it never seems that funny to me.

Twilight Zone also had a very young Carol Burnett, two instances of one of the Darren's, and Fred MacMurray (who I'm watching much older now).

Fred MacMurray was in an episode of The Twilight Zone? One actor I really love who was in quite a few episodes is Jack Klugman, who's most famous from the TV version of The Odd Couple although I preferred Quincy.

As for spies...

I think most women preferred Ilya to his womanizing partner, Napoleon. I doubt I'm the only man (OK, I was a boy then) who had the same preference for the same reason.

Regarding John Drake... I think what I liked about his character is that it owes more to John Lecarré than to Ian Fleming.

Yes, it was an episode where they land on a new planet to find a crashed ship just like theirs, with their bodies in it. Let's see if imdb will cough up the episode name.... Huh. The Scifi Channel Twilight Zone episode guide tells me the guy I was thinking of as Fred MacMurray was actually Jack Klugman. The episode was "The Death Ship." I don't know how I mistook him for Fred MacMurray! And yes, Jack Klugman was in other eps I saw those two days.

I think Ilya seemed more real, less slick, which is probably another way of saying what you were.

I think I liked how cool he was -- place to place, never ruffled. Kind of like I Spy.

Believe it or not, I never saw I Spy. My understanding is that that Robert Culp / Bill Cosby show went more for humor. Is that correct?

It had comedy, but a lot of times it was dark comedy because of the spying or cameraderie between the guys. It wasn't really a comedy show. It was the first time a black man had that kind of role.

I remember an interview with Robert Culp. I think he was supportive of Cosby, who was quite an angry young man back then. I too would have been very angry, had I been barred from equal access to Society's opportunities because of my skin color or because of my ethnic group.

Hmmm... I wonder if I Spy and Man from U.N.C.L.E. are available on NetFlix. Probably.

Heh. You missed gender, which didn't bother Cosby, but did a lot of women, including me.

My apologies for the oversight, Marilee. I'm very embarassed at it.

S'okay, it's not as obvious to you as it is to me! I still have strong memories of how I was treated at work and socially.

Marilee... When people talk of the Good Ole Days, they seem to forget how things really were. I wouldn't want to go back, and not just because that dental care really sucked.

When I was a little girl, I had a dentist who believed that chidren couldn't feel pain, and just drilled without anesthesia. I hit him, and then he strapped me down. Then we got another dentist.

I'm the outlier on things dental. The only thing I hated about dentist visits as a child was the flavor of the cleaning stuff. That's improved over the years, but it's not like it was a horror before. It might be that since I never had a cavity I missed out on the full dental monty.

My experiences as an adult have been a lot less fun: too many rounds of periodontal procedures, albeit with a very entertaining periodontist.

Dare I ask what it is that makes an entertaining periodentist actually entertaining, Susan?

As for your own experiences, Marilee, I expect that your dentist saw children as being on the same mental and intellectual level as animals, and we know that beasts don't feel pain. (Darn, my sarcasm subroutine kicked in again.)

We have similar senses of humor and we banter back and forth a lot; he's very good at interpreting my consonant-free noises during procedures.

I probably started it when the first (involuntary) words out of my mouth when I first met him were "my ghod, how long have you been out of dental school?!?!" He looked like a scruffy college student in denim scrubs. He laughed (the answer was about three years) and it sort of went downhill from there. He preens about his work, especially my patch. I insult him. He informs his assistant that he's about to get slapped for hurting me. I make approving noises. His poor new assistant hasn't quite caught on to the game, so she mostly looks horrified. After my last procedure a few weeks ago I announced lugubriously that I didn't think I liked him any more. She wanted to comfort my pain; he just laughed out loud, having correctly interpreted my absolutely deadpan expression.

When I had to have a crown put in, I went to a specialist. Phase One involved her removing the tooth remnants from my jaw and let bone grow back in the gap. Phase Two, a few months later, had her drilling a hole in that spot, then putting a screw in. When my wife and I later met her at the grocery store, there was an exchange of introductions where one of us admitted that she had screwed me.

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