Reader Request Week 2007 #6: Short Bits
Since I woke up at 4am and couldn’t go back to sleep, and I’m not quite ready to dive into the novel for today, let’s bang through some short answers to many of the questions/requests for blatheration that came up in the Reader Request queue. There are quite a lot — indeed, I might even do two of these.
Lanna Lee Maheux-Quinn: “What is the most surprising thing about you, John Scalzi?”
I think probably the most surprising thing about me is that there are surprising things about me — which is to say there are a number of things about my life and how I live it that I don’t write about here. Now, let’s not get too wrapped up in this: I’m really not that exciting. I do not wish suggest that I have an evil, sinister second life, in which I am the meth king of the Midwest, or a vampire, or that I lick people’s utensils when I visit their houses, or that I dress as a furry and spend hours in cuddlepiles (which is not evil or sinister but might be full of static electricity); I neither am nor do those things. It is to suggest that I have a well-defined line, beyond which I don’t share, and relative to what and how much other people share on their blogs or journals, the line is actually fairly far back. Which is to say I have a private life, which is occasionally surprising to the people who only know me through my online life.
Ordinarygirl: “What is it about the music you like that makes you like it? Are you mostly a lyrical-type of guy or is there certain musical combinations that just do it for you? Do you see a future for yourself in music?”
With regard to what makes music work for me, I don’t think it’s any one thing, but the totality of the experience; that said, if I had to compartmentalize it, I’d say it’d be 70/30 music to lyrics. I’m willing to forgive a lot lyrically if musically a song works for me; I’m not nearly as likely to enjoy a song whose lyrics are clever but whose music is no damn good. This would explain my easy enjoyment of idiotic melodic rock while disdaining some music which, while having more street cred, is just not as much fun to listen to. Having noted that I do find that as I get older my capacity to chuck lyrical intelligence when it comes to relatively new bands has declined considerably; I have no love for Nickelback, for example.
I don’t see a future for myself in music, if the question is meant as me writing music personally; that’s something I do for fun, when I have time. I do absolutely see a future for myself in music, if you mean still finding music I like from new artists. It’s always a joy to find a new band or musician whose work hits home.
Tor: “Gears of War – buy the game or wait for the movie?”
Dude, there hasn’t been a video game-based movie yet that didn’t suck, and the genre goes back a dozen years now. Get the game.
Shawn Powers: “How as your dead tree and fast electron fame affected your daily life, if any? I creeped myself out a bit adding you to my AIM buddy list, but thousands of others likely did the same thing.”
Well, you know. The reason I put the public AIM address out there was so anyone could add me to their Buddy List. If it doesn’t creep me out, I don’t know why it should creep you out.
My fame has not notably affected my daily life. First, I live in a small town; people here know what I do but it’s not any big deal to them. Second, my “fame” isn’t real fame, of the “get recognized by total strangers” sort. Outside of a science fiction convention, no one randomly stops and goes “Hey, isn’t that John Scalzi?” when I go by (and inside a science convention they will still usually try to casually read my convention badge, since I really don’t look too much like my pictures). The most I get of that is when someone online gets excited if I link to them or put a comment on their LJ, and that’s rare enough as it is. Fact is, I don’t really have fame; at this point what I have is notability.
Moreover it seems unlikely I will gather much more fame. I’m 37 years old and past the stage where I will look any more attractive rather than less attractive as I go on, for one thing, but for another thing, I’m a writer, which means that what fame I do have accrues to my name and my books, not to my physical being. I think this is fine. I don’t actually want to be randomly accosted by people when I go shopping or when I’m hanging out with friends outside of a context where I’m implicitly on display, like a science fiction convention. I like the way my “fame” works now, which is that I go to a specific place ( a convention, a book store, etc), have a couple days where people appear to like to be around me, and then I go home and no one bugs me. I can’t even imagine how a real famous person gets through their day. I would go insane.
Walter: “Should we be more careful about announcing our presence in the universe?”
A little late for that, Walter. We’ve been blasting our presence to the universe for 80 years now, and it seems unlikely we’ll be getting any less noisy. Anyone who has the technology to hear us (and is within 80 light years) has heard us by now.
Patrick M.: “What’s more distracting when talking to someone, huge wing-like ears or a lazy eye?”
Lazy eye. I don’t really notice ears. The secret with lazy eyes is to look in the eye that’s looking at you. Simple. If neither eye is looking at you, split the difference and look at the bridge of the nose.
Kevin Q: “How do you feel about sushi? On a more general note, are you an adventurous eater (Schadenfreude pie experimentation notwithstanding)?”
I like sushi rather a lot, actually, and was happy when a Japanese restaurant opened up a couple towns over. I don’t actually consider sushi qualifying as “adventurous eating” at this point, because it’s been popular here in the US for a couple decades now (I first ate it in high school). Adventurous eating to me at this point would be eating bugs. I’m not quite there yet.
Nathan: “So, would you mind, one day next week, posting ‘A Day in the Life of Scalzi’ with pictures and video?”
First, yes, I would mind, because I would find it intrusive; second, you don’t want me to do it because it’s really boring: I spend almost all my time in front of a computer, typing. That’s what writers do. The act of writing really isn’t very exciting, and I do more writing than most writers during a day, which means my day-to-day life is even less interesting than most writers’. Sorry. I know my life seems more exciting on the other side than it does on this side.
The Anonymous Collective: “Any sexual fetish which creeps you out. Especially if it’s internet-related.”
I don’t know that I find any consensually acted-upon fetish creepy. I find a few sort of disgusting, and others amusing, and in some cases a fetish is simply so far removed from my own sexual proclivities (which are, without going into any detail, generally pretty vanilla) that I don’t really think anything about it at all, other than “well, you kids have fun.”
What I would find creepy is if someone was being very secretive about a fetish and not telling their partner(s). Look, if you’re a panty huffer (or whatever), let the person you’re with know, before they find you trying to inhale their clothes hamper. Really, it just saves time and a lot of awkwardness.
Dr. Phil: “If asked, would you teach a week at Clarion? Does the recent move from East Lansing MI to San Diego CA affect your decision?”
Clarion, for those of you who don’t know, is a famed science fiction writing workshop that lasts six weeks.
Sure, I’d teach, if I could take a week off in my schedule (and I suspect I could probably make the time); no, the recent move wouldn’t have any effect on the decision. Actually I would have preferred if Clarion had stayed in Michigan, because it’s closer to where I live, so I could just drive there in about four hours. The question is whether Clarion would want me to teach. I’ve noted before that I doubt whether a workshop environment would have been at all helpful for me as a budding writer, since I don’t have the temperament for group criticism (ego too big, disinterested in the opinion of people not actually buying work, etc); while I think I could be a useful teacher I don’t know if the people who choose the instructors would want someone who wouldn’t have want to go to Clarion to be someone who teaches there.
In any event I haven’t been invited. We’ll see if I am.