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November 03, 2008


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To your cleverness and to Neil's I can only say...


Ooh, Richard Francis Burton's A Complete System of Bayonet Exercise. How interesting! That would date this fragment... what? A translation?

This certainly reads like Major Squick. If it is one of his adventures then it would shed some light on his trial before the Lord High Admiral.

Hmm, from context I was guessing it was his Kama Sutra, which would put this entry sometime after 1883. Perhaps I just have an incurably dirty mind.

Susan... Perhaps I just have an incurably dirty mind.

Must be that Catholic upbringing.

The Kama Sutra? Shocking. No, surely a book on the clean manly exercise of the bayonet, with instructions and explicit diagrams of men thrusting their weapons...

I'm sorry does someone have a cough?

I had meant to go with the The Book of a Thousand Nights and a Night, but discovered that this was considered obscene as well (which is presumably why I got an abridged version as a child).

(I have an extremely bad pun based on this thread which I hope to illustrate, assuming I can get a pencil, paper and half an hour free later today; if I fail, or my drawing is terrible, you'll get the text version tomorrow)

Bad puns, Neil? We don't like those around here.

Your drawing skills cannot possibly be as bad as my cake-decorating skills, at least as exercised at odd hours of the morning on minimal sleep and a diet of election returns. Looked at in the cold light of day, my efforts at ObamaCake are downright embarrassing.

I made a small sketch to see if the layout and shadows work like they do in my head. I tried to improve it (Squick should be swinging down the ladder and the shadows from the hatchway aren't right, maybe there should be more nuns in the background) but it all went wrong, so I slapped a couple of speechbubbles on the sketch and put it here.

I'm nun-plussed.

Do you need a-sister-nce?

Nun at all, Neil.

You know what would be an interesting masquerade presentation for our Hostess and her cohorts? Steampunk nuns. One would be called the Frying Nun, the other would be the Singeing Nun. Of course they'd sport corsets as outerwear. I could go as a priest called, of course, the Fryer.

The parents of a schoolfriend of mine used to run a fish and chip shop called the Fryer Tuck. Sadly, this was about the time we'd discovered spoonerisms and it became a target for our shining wits.

A nunsuch!

Our Hostess should soon be in Sistines that we stop this.

Thanks for posting the video.

Abney Park's Kinetomatographer

Serge, Neil, have you heard about the monastery that fell on hard times, and leveraged the cooking skills of two of its members to open a fast-food restaurant?

Brother Ambrose was the fish friar, and Brother Daniel was the chip monk.

Paul A... And their place, where their delicacies are served in a buffet of small portions is called "Habit of This and Habit of That"?

Awesome video, I especially enjoyed the dancing.

Gotta get my hands on an Abney Park CD. *wanders off to see if Amazon has it in stock yet*

Hey, AJ... I was wondering where you were.

AJ... Here is something I posted on my own blog not long ago that I think you might find interesting.

Hey Serge, I temporarily got caught up in other things and forgot to check this blog. Had a whole bunch of things due at the end of October, but things are a little more clear now.

I know how that goes, AJ. That's why I pretty much disappeared from the blogosphere in late 2006, with two Projects From Hell to deal with at the office.

I wonder how many Rixosous Regulars will be at the Montreal worldcon. It might be nice to have a gathering, a bit of a party. If I wind up rooming by myself, I could take care of it.

Welcome back, AJ.

Steampunk-interested folks will probably really enjoy the visuals on Abney Park's website. (And there are some interesting tidbits there for Major Squick researchers as well.)

I'll be at Montreal, of course - it's a shorter trip than this weekend's bounce down to Maryland.

Of course, A Rixosous Party could not be held without our Rixosous Hostess. That'd be simply wrong.

Thank you, it is good to be back (she said, ignoring all the puns above).

Two projects from Hell, Serge? Ouch. Mine weren't Hellish, just too many at once.

And the Abney Park page is so pretty!

AJ... Yes, those two projects were definitely of an infernal nature. Heck, one even got me demoted.

Projects from Hell and a demotion? That's hardly fair.

Oh, and I won't be in Montreal... but I'm still hoping for Seattle! I'd also like to get to one of these smaller steampunk conventions that are popping up now.

AJ... What? No Montreal worldcon for you? Curses!

Serge, yeah, unless air fair drops significantly in price or I start selling gobs of jewelry, I really can't justify jetting off to Montreal!

Think of the dire possibilities involved in The Illustrated Diaries of Major Squick...

I have a webcam. But since we now cover three continents, and I may be the most travel-prone of everyone, I think my presence is not the largest challenge. I am thinking seriously of trying for the Australia worldcon in 2010, though, depending on job situation.

I don't think Australia is in the cards for 2010. Seattle though...

The problem with Seattle is that is has to win. Reno has all the smoffish types behind it and will be strong competition.

I didn't realize that the SMOFs were behind Reno. Why the heck Reno, instead of Seattle? I hope it's the latter. That way, we could do a steampunk version of Here Come the Brides for their masquerade.

... what's SMOF/smoffish?

Sunday, Monday, Or Friday?

Say, Mary's On Fire?

Suddenly My Oddity Flares?

Science Makes Objects Funny?

Stating My Opinion Freely?

Secret Masters of Fandom. :)

It's only sort of a joke.

AJ, here's the current Fancy in case we toss more jargon at you.

I know a lot of people going for Reno, but I still think Seattle will win.

And speaking of jargon, I won't be reading Stephenson's Anathem, but Michael Dirda (Pulitzer Prize-winning WashPost critic) really wants to like it and can't. At one point he mentions Procian/Faanian side and is Neal grabbing there, or what!

Awesome! An encyclopedia! Now whenever you guys say something that makes no sense to me, I can go look it up and pretend that I knew all along ;)

AJ... "Sometimes My Oddity Flares"? That sounds like a bad rash incurred by incautious social activities.

Serge, it could be a good title for a Lovecraftian erotica story.

(speaking of such things, did you ever read Steamypunk? My morbid curiosity also flares)

AJ... Yes, I did read SteamyPunk. I'm planning to write an entry about it, and about the magazine SteamPunk, in my blog this week when I'm not helping my wife moving around now that she's got her new knee. I am so not looking forward to literally needling her with syringes filled with anti-clotting substances.

As for "Sometimes My Oddity Flares", write it and we'll read it.

Hrm. I'm not sure I could write erotica. Maybe very BAD erotica.

I hope your wife is doing well with her new knee.

Be careful about these, um, personal flare-ups. It's all fun until someone loses an eye and all that.

Serge, are you injecting intravenously or just into the muscle/fat/whatever? I used to do the latter when I gave myself my own allergy shots. I got quite good at it and the little half-cc syringes weren't especially large or painful. I wouldn't dare try anything IV though.

I can write pornography, since it does not have to be either realistic or well-written. And no, I am not going to post any here, sorry. But the idea of Steampunk porn certainly has possibilities. Maybe I should acquire Steamypunk.

Hey, did you guys know AJ now has a blog for her writing? And if she turned on the function that lets people comment with a Name/URL combo, I could comment on it. (Since I have to ask everyone on Blogspot to do this, methinks that blocking that must be the default.)

Susan... If you want, I'll send you those 4 Steamypunk stories. I was rather disappointed. I had expected stories that'd function as steampunk tales where the main... ah... thrust would have been sexual. What I found instead were sex scenes without anything leading up to them and where the steampunk really was nothing but a prop - except in the case of a steampowered vibrator. I think it showed that it's not that easy to write erotica.

AJ has a blog? Thanks for letting me know. I'll go peek as soon as I can.

A steam-powered or clockwork vibrator was the first thing that came to my mind when I thought about steampunk erotica. You'd think there'd be a lot of fertile ground for steampunk stuff in Victorian erotica/porn. Like that chair in Man with a Maid...

Sure, send it along. I'll wait to read what you say on your LJ until I've read it as well.

Thanks for the plug, Susan! That is apparently Google's default commenting option. My other blog (for my beading and stuff) is set to allow anyone to comment, and I just assumed that the new blog would have the same commenting, since they're set up on the same account.

It's fixed now! Comment away :)

Really disappointed to hear that Steamypunk isn't that great. There could be a lot of fun steamy erotica concepts. Plundering airship pirates, a hot romance between the handsome mad scientist and his lovely assistant (or the lovely mad scientist and her handsome assistant!)...

On steampunk erotica, I had a thought that someone might design a steam-powered home, with central heating and hydarlically moving furniture. Of course it would overheat requiring the loosening of cravats and corsets, the machinery would vibrate the furniture at a frequency that happens to arouse people and then someone would faint from the heat and require a reviving (and inhibition-loosening) glass of beer or brandy...

Also I saw this review of Treasure Island this morning and thought of the mechanical parrot at Saloncon. Another picture in the Guardian's less positive review.

That's hydraulically moving furniture; I didn't even manage to mispell it as hydralically, which is moved by hydras.

AJ... a hot romance between the handsome mad scientist and his lovely assistant...

...who, one day, finds that she cannot deny the truth of her body's desires anymore, and greatly surprises the handsome mad scientist when she shows up wearing not in that hated lab coat that hides her sumptuous nature, but in a gear shift.

Susan... SteamyPunk is on its way to you. By the way, I may have misled you about the steam-powered vibrator. The story's setting is a pirate ship crewed by just one woman, but sometimes she takes a companion on board. In this case, it's another woman, to whom she demonstrates that, by diverting the engine's steam flow, she causes the control levers to vibrate just so, which allows her to... Alas, the story isn't particularly arousing. Now, if Neil could write that story about the steam-powered house...

I've just realised why Abney Park look familiar; Warren Ellis referenced them a couple of years ago, I followed the links, had a look, thought "hmm... must remember these guys" and then promptly forgot.

As for the steam-powered house, it starts innocently enough, with some sort of mad Victorian professor and his assistant showing off his steam-powered "Home of the Future" to a group of ladies. Then something goes wrong, all the doors lock leaving various groups trapped in different rooms, while the boiler goes to maximum...

(This sounds like a job for Major Squick! Although later, slightly too much on at the moment)

I spent all day yesterday trying to come up with a follow-up pun for that "gear shift" quip, but I failed.

AJ... Heheheh.

Damnit, now I am thinking about Larklight-universe steampunk porn, which is just terribly wrong!

Magdalene Veen seems to no longer be part of the group; she's been replaced by Finn Von Claret. But that explains why she's credited with coming up with the performance concept for "Herr Drosselmeier's Doll." I also just realized that that song is a waltz! I'm going to have to test it on my dance practice group.

I just got all the Abney Park CDs and a bunch of Emerald Rose CDs in the mail plus the latest from my mix club. Woo woo new music!

SMOFs and Reno: I think it's that a SMOF is in charge of the bid and the others have, uh, flocked to her banner. Or something. They do seem to be terribly well-organized, in a NESFA sort of way (and to have stolen their color scheme and decor from the last Noreascon bid!)

AJ I spent all day yesterday trying to come up with a follow-up pun for that "gear shift" quip, but I failed.

Me too. Grr.

AJ & Neil:
Maybe something about how large the scientist's clock is?

(I'm always lost in a pun-cascade. But feel free to go for it.)

(For puns, I mean.)

Susan, you're thinking of Geri? She is a NESFan.

The gear shift is because of her need for recognition.

Not Geri in particular, but out here, starting at Balticon, the faces behind the Reno bid table tend to be NESFA folks. I thought at first it was another Boslando thing.

The gear shift is because of her need for recognition.

Um...you lost me. Completely.

Marilee... Her need for reCOGnition? Is Geri a Comely Wrench?

Oh, right, now I get it. Thanks, Serge. I hang my head in shame.

No need to, Susan. My brain has a knack for puns, even though English is not my native language. A young woman once was quite grateful to me for that 'talent'. It was 1982, and she and I and friends of hers had taken the subway from Queens to Greenwich Village. Unfortunately, so had one of her neighbors, who was never far away from us. Eventually, and probably because he could see we were making fun of him, he finally came to us and told her that, as far as he was concerned, she could move to Alaska and turn into an iceberg. I shot back: "Better than her turning into an ugly berg." He obviously din't get it, but she did, and that big smile she gave me was priceless.

When I was a kid and teen, it was not unusual for my family to spend an entire drive home from our errands making puns along a common theme. I don't indulge in pun wars very often anymore, but I can come up with the occasional zinger. Just not for this one, apparently.

Susan, where did you get your Abney Park CDs? I wanted to buy the latest from Amazon, but they said it had been discontinued by the manufacturer, so I had to settle for Faun and Portishead (the latter really being more my husband's thing than mine, but he's been working hard so he deserves to have a CD all his very own).

Directly from the Abney Park website, here. I think you deserve a CD of your own as well. :)

Bruce Sterling's comments on Steampunk. Read to the bottom (looks like it stops partway down).

AJ... There is no pun war, really. We come up with those to entertain, not to dare anybody to oneup us. Really. Honest. (Besides, Voltaire once said that puns are the Death of Wit.)

Marilee... Care to give me the gist? I alas boycott Sterling.

Hmmmm, I boycott Rucker, and they frequently work together. This is interesting. And are you sure it's Sterling and not S.M. Stirling?

Essentially, he says that 1) it's kids dressing up and it will be good for them when they grow up and need to have wider viewpoints, and 2) steampunk isn't from the past -- it's the instability and obsolescence of our time.

Marilee... I do mean Sterling. I became very annoyed years ago, when I read his book on what led to the birth of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and how he manipulated his readers - or at least one. Besides, I don't care for people who are hip.

As for his analysis that steampunk is about the instability and obsolescence of our time... To me, the attraction of steampunk is that it reminds us that we take things for granted that really are marvels.

Susan: Thank you. I was going to check their website, but wanted to know if there was some secret repository of awesome music of which I was previously unaware. How are their other CDs? I hear tell that they were previously a Goth band, and while I was also previously a Goth, I was pretty picky about the Gothy music that I liked.

Marilee: Sterling's opinion of steampunk is interesting, but perhaps over-analytical. Do subcultures and movements and genres always have to have so much *meaning* invested in them? I don't care about the obsolescence of my computer and cell phone and way of life. I don't have anything to say about urban decay or the fleeting nature of things or the way we idealize and reinterpret the past. I just love Victorian-style fashions, mad scientists, and airships. It's all about the aesthetics for me, just as it was with Goth (I love black velvet, lace, ornate jewelry, and Poe).

AJ... Exactly. Who says there has to be one valid reason for a thing to interest various people?

Serge, it does seem to almost suggest that we have a hivemind, doesn't it? I think everyone is attracted to it for different reasons. My Dad seems to like steampunk because he likes Jules Vernes and steam trains and tinkering with things, whereas I've never read any Vernes, trains bore me, and I'd rather bead and leave the tinkering to someone who has the right skillset. But we can both view a steampunk computer with the same level of enthusiasm.

I haven't listened to their older ones yet, just the most recent (Steampunk) one. But I understand they used to be a lot more Goth.

I just like taking things apart.

One of my favorite episodes of MythBusters was rather steampunky. No, not the one where they rigged an air-pressure cannon to launch frozen turkeys, but the one where they built a solid-fuel rocket using technology that existed during the Civil War. That thing went up fast and far. I couldn't help but wonder what evil Doctor Miguelito Lovelès would have done with such a weapon.

Serge, that sounds like a FUN episode of MythBusters! I'll have to track it down.

AJ... If you click here, you'll see the finished results on YouTube, but actually watching the whole episode and how they got there is a great part of the fun. (Ever seen the one where they built a Rube Goldberg contraption for Christmas that involved bubbling cola bottles, cymbal-clapping monkeys, robots, a turkey falling out of an oven? The failed attempts were pretty hilarious.)

Serge, since I don't watch a lot of TV, I've seen very few full episodes of MythBusters, and that was not one of them. I need to go see how much of their stuff is available on Netflix!

Rube Goldberg devices are always fun to watch.

Doctor Miguelito Lovelès

I had to google that one!

(Needless to say, I've never seen Mythbusters.)

AJ... iRube Goldberg devices are always fun to watch.

And here is the proof, with music to put a person in the Christmas spirit.

I'm at least temporarily unable to really address Sterling's points because his condescending tone really friggin' irritated me.

Now that (Christmas device) is fabulous!

Sterling says a lot in a short space; so much that I'm going to think about and reread it.

I thought I wasn't doing any steam-powered house related stuff (too much on at the moment) but a floorplan has been scribbled in my notebook, with what looks suspiciously like my handwriting suggesting steam-powered versions of 20th/21st century devices. ("Differential Pressure Cleaner" with a steam line to the central boiler?)

And I've finally worked out what bothered me about that Victorian Computer - to a Victorian, a computer is a person who computes; surely that should then be a Victorian Computing Machine.

Steamypunk received, at least if what looks like an envelope full of notecards is in fact Steamypunk!

So, having finally gotten around to making time to look at your posted fiction, I stopped dead before actually looking at it. I should ask: what sort of feedback do you want, and where do you want it? Supportive cheering section only, vague impressions, full-press Susan-with-hatchet-dripping-red-ink no-holds-barred mode? On your blog, in private email, on Rixo? Positive things public/negative things private? None of the above?

I should note that I haven't actually looked at the excerpt yet, so I've no idea if I will feel love, hate, or something in between. But I've learned from my friends who write that sometimes what they want is an editorial critique and sometimes what they want is for me to hug them and give them a warm fuzzy, and that confusing the two circumstances leads to angst. (I've been commenting on manuscripts that eventually became published books with varying degrees of ferocity since I was a teenager and am blithely opinionated but by no stretch of the imagination a professional at this.)

Coming soon to a theater near you...
Editor of Blood!!!

Susan... what looks like an envelope full of notecards

I'm curious to find out what you think.

Susan, thank you for asking before critiquing! I already get a lot of cheering and some vague impressions, so I could probably use something closer to the hatchet, if you feel like giving it that much attention ;) As long as you don't call into question my worth as a human being, I can probably take it.

It would be best if you could either post it on the blog or e-mail it to erthefae at aol dot com. If you post it here, I'll certainly see it and read it, but it will be harder for me to find later when I'm ready to write the second draft and fix whatever errors have cropped up!

Okay, will do!

I don't think the ability to write fiction correlates with worth as a human being, by the way. It's a talent/skill like many others. Some people have it, some people don't. And it can be improved with practice.

I keep my perspective on pro writers in SF fandom by remembering that they are for the most part totally unable to perform any part of the basic social dance repertoire, and that it's more likely that I could develop their skill than that they could develop mine.

Susan, I didn't think that you did... it was more of a joke ;) Some critics can be particularly vicious... Actually, I've been guilty of that in the past. I *may* have written a comic review so scathing that the editor of the e-zine I write for was threatened with a lawsuit. I've since learned a thing or two about how to politely phrase my criticism.

As part of a charity auction, someone won the bid to be critiqued by my wife. A critique is what that person got, a very thorough critique, and my wife hated having to say - even politely - that the story was dreadful. Sue is not going to make herself go thru that again.

I don't have any problem being brutal if I feel it's deserved; one reason I started Rixo was to have someplace to post such things where I didn't feel I had to censor my opinions out of politeness. It's nice not being a professional!

Right now I am in a vicious mood because I just had what I presume will be the final round of blood tests to make sure I don't have any incurable souvenirs from my last relationship. I'm 95% sure everything will come back negative, but I like to be extra-careful about these things, and I've been putting off the confirming tests for several months past the end of the antibodies-will-appear-by-now period. There's nothing like unnecessary holes in my arm to make me really ticked off. So this would be a good time to write a nasty review, but I have to reread the Weber to do it, so I can get the details right, and I feel like tonight I owe myself chocolate and something light and fluffy and non-annoying to read.

Susan... I owe myself chocolate and something light and fluffy and non-annoying to read

I second the motion.

As for the fun of extra holes in one's arm, or in any other part of the body... This morning, I gave my wife the last of the 20 lovenox shots she needed after her knee-replacement surgery. I had never done this before, but I did get better at it. For some reason though, she's relieved I don't have to jab needles in her tummy anymore.

I used to give myself allergy shots and got pretty good at it. Why on earth were you giving shots to the stomach??

Susan, oh no! Tonight is definitely a chocolate and good books night. I actually feel a little guilty wanting you to re-read Weber just so I can enjoy a nasty review.

Serge, I can't blame your wife one bit for not offering her critiques up for auction anymore! Of course, as an aspiring author, it's often very difficult to get an honest critique from anyone around you. Your friends and family either don't know how to properly critique a piece of writing, or they don't want to hurt your feelings. So when someone on the outside, especially a pro, finally gets their hands on your writing, you may find yourself in for a rude awakening.

Susan... My wife would have been unable to do it to herself so I wound up getting the job of jabbing. The shots weren't into her stomach, but in the area of her tummy, because that's what they told me to do. Just as well because that decreased the chance of my going into muscle.

I'm not a pro. On the other hand, I'm in the intended audience, and a professional editor should in some sense be a proxy for the opinions of the people who will be asked to shell out money to purchase your book. I do have an awful lot of writerly friends, to the point where I stand out in the crowd for not being an aspiring F&SF writer. They all know that tact is not actually one of my strong points, so they don't ask me for opinions unless they want blunt ones.

I'm still mildly amused that one person whose ms. I read, which I suggested he trim the first 200 pages off of because the first 200 pages were colossally boring, still has not sold the thing. I suspect the average acquiring editor doesn't have the free time to plow through 200 eye-glazing pages to get to the story in the back half of the book. I am unattractively smug about the results of his failure to listen to me on what I suspect are the grounds of me not being a pro and possibly of me being a girl.

AJ... If ever I find the time to actually work on my own literary endeavors, I'll probably ask my wife her opinion about the plot. She'll be honest about it. I am also hoping that our Rixosous Hostess will take a look at the finished result if I get to that stage. Susan won't pull any punch, but, if she likes it, I'll know I did something right.

I used to give myself shots in my, um, upper rear thigh, on the grounds that Here Be Fat. The front of the torso doesn't seem to be as reliable a location for this, but what do I know?

I'm always happy to look at manuscripts. And AJ, rereading the Weber won't be that horrid a chore. There's a workable story under the layer of mucus irritating writerly stunts. That's what makes it so infuriating.

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