Daily Archives: March 28, 2010

Reader Request Week 2010 #8: Short Bits

And now to wrap up another Reader Request Week, short answers to a bunch of questions. Because I don’t always have to be wordy, you know.

Logan:

What kind of “perfect storm” of rights, permissions, or people would have to come together for you to consider making a movie out of one of your books? Are there specific actors you’d cast, or thought in your head “I bet she’d play a perfect Zoe”? Would you lean towards Hollywood big budget or perhaps a smaller reputable ‘Indie’ outfit of sorts? Tell us what you need to make a movie of one of your works happen!!!

There’s no perfect storm, and the equation is simple: Film makers with a track record I approve of plus an advance deal I find acceptable equals me allowing an option. I am pretty picky about the track record and advance deals, however. That said, this question seems to suggest that filmmakers are falling out of the sky in large numbers, begging to make a film of one of my works, and that I would be integrally involved in the film making, neither of which is true. Nor does it mean that if I allowed an option to my work, that a movie would be the ultimate outcome. Thousands of properties are optioned each year for film/tv; less than one percent, I would expect, get past the option stage.

Arrow Quivershaft:

Why do you think so many online subcultures, even ones that have nominally similar interests, like to rip each other down? And is there anything that can be done?

No, there’s nothing to be done about it, short of attempting to censor or at least moderate the entire Internet, and that’s a cure worse than the disease. As to why one group online goes after any other group online, well, you know. They do it because they can and because no one can stop them, and generally on the Internet no one’s going to seek you out and punch you in the teeth for being an asshole. People have been jerks on the Internet for about as long as the Internet’s been used by people; that’s not going to go away anytime soon. But if you want to try to do something about it, the simplest thing to do is, as they say, to be the change you seek, i.e., don’t be a jerk online yourself.

Claire:

On a serious/political angle, what do you think of Obama’s promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay and the subsequent actions/lack thereof?

I thought his promise to shut it down by this last January was both optimistic and unrealistic, and although I would have approved of its being shut down in that time frame, I’m not entirely surprised it was not. I think Obama realizes that in the grand scheme of things, most Americans aren’t all that deeply concerned about the well-being of alleged Middle Eastern terrorists as long as we’re not actively torturing them (i.e., making ourselves look bad), so if it moves slowly he’s not going to get a huge amount of stick from anyone but progressives. So he’s not spending a huge amount of his political capital on it at the moment. I think he’ll eventually close it down, and when he does it’ll be far too late for most progressives and far too early for most conservatives.

My Informed Opinion:

You and foreign languages. I quote you:

“I only read and speak English.”

I find this pretty depressing.

Well, as do I, to tell you the truth. I wish I had had a better facility for other languages when I was younger (or at the very least, paid better attention in class). At this point I suspect the best way for me to learn a different language would be to live in another country, but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. That said, one thing that I’ve noticed over time is that some languages I can not exactly read but at least make out the gist of what’s being said, French and Spanish being the ones that pop to mind. I think that’s just decades of knowing Latin roots plus picking up a smidgen of those languages’ grammar simply through osmosis. It’d be neat if that were to continue.

Having said all that, one of the things that’s really interesting is that the continuing improvements in online translating tools means that for a limited value of “reading,” I can now read several — although it’s probably more accurate to say that I can tell which parts are likely to be adequately translated, which parts are complete nonsense, and overall get a good idea of what’s being said through context.

Eric J:

What kind of laptop do you have? Have you noticed a trend in other writers and their laptops?

I have a three year old Toshiba (on which I am writing this, since my office is not yet up and running) and an Acer netbook which I’ve had for about 18 months now. As regards other writers, I suspect they are statistically more likely than other people to own Mac laptops, but beyond that I don’t notice any particular trend. Speaking for myself, one major laptop consideration for me is keyboard arrangement and feel; one of the reasons I got the Acer netbook, for example, was that it didn’t fiddle with the right “shift” key like other netbook makers did. Anything that slows down my typing speed and makes me think about where my fingers are is bad.

gottacook:

What is your personal automotive history? Most loved and hated cars of your past? Why do you drive what you now drive? And, of course, auto or manual?

I’ve owned three cars: A Ford Escort, a Suzuki Sidekick and a Honda Odyssey, and the last two of these we still own and use. I’ve liked all my cars, because they’ve done what I’ve asked them to do, which is get me places with a minimum of fuss. I’ve never been a gearhead of any sort — my geek tendencies don’t express in that direction — so in a general sense my car choices have run toward the practical and not especially exciting. The furthest I go in that direction is kinda wanting a Mustang, although that’s more about what I thought was cool when I was younger than anything else. However, I do strongly believe that you can’t really say you know how to drive a car if you don’t know how to use a manual transmission. That’s not the same as saying I prefer a manual transmission. Just that one should know how to operate one.

Foible:

You’ve written very eloquently in the past about being poor and how it sucks. What I would like to read is an article about the good things about being poor. You don’t need to go all Pollyanna on us but surely there are some lessons you’re glad to have learned? Some things you wish your heirs could learn without having to really be poor?

I suppose that being poor can help you understand the place money holds in our society, and what amount you really need to survive, but I think it’s possible to learn those things without being poor; likewise, it’s possible to be poor and have those lessons go right over your head. Ultimately I don’t think there’s any real advantage to be had with genuine poverty in one’s history, or if there is, that the disadvantages one has because of poverty are extensive enough to wipe out most of the advantages. The one possible exception I would make for this is people who have actively chosen to be poor for personal, ethical or religious reasons, i.e., taking a vow of poverty. That’s a choice, and that’s fine. But I don’t suspect most people who are poor would choose to be so.

The Other Ian:

What won’t you eat? Why not?

I won’t eat brains. Tried them once (I think it was lamb brains) and the consistency was horrifying. I don’t need to go through that again. Plus they’re like injecting pure cholesterol into your bloodstream. So they’re horrible and bad for you. Once was enough. Aside from that I doubt I’ll go out of my way to eat animal gonads of any sort, and I’m okay with having an irrational aversion to placing animal balls in my mouth.

Daniel B.:

A while back, you were toying with the idea of ads on The Whatever. Never seems to have transpired…why?

Because I don’t want them and I don’t need them, basically. I was thinking about them at a time when I suspected I would need the additional money ads would bring — mostly because I thought I needed to get an assistant, which I eventually decided I didn’t need. I’ve said before that if I needed to put in ads I would, and wouldn’t feel bad about doing it. But I don’t need to now, and I don’t want them, so I’m not going to bother with them.

D_Tommy:

Could you tell us about your first kiss and the events surrounding it?

Yes, I could.