Saturday, September 26, 2009

10 Things You Did Not Know About Me Until Now

1. I was in a mime troupe. Yes, in my youth, I committed mime. I could even moonwalk. I've been haunted with guilt ever since...

2. I once had some 7,000 comic books, including Avengers #1, Fantastic Four #2, so many more. I sold them for peanuts in the 1980's to move to New York City.

3. I once had a pre-CBS Stratocaster. I sold it for peanuts in the 1980's to move to New York City.

4. I once lived in New York City. Was it worth selling everything I had for peanuts to move there? Yes. Yes.

5. The last TV show I watched regularly, not counting late night reruns of "The Honeymooners," was "All In the Family" around 1974.

6. I was a carpenter at Joseph Papp's New York Public Theatre. I was the worst carpenter in the history of the theatre since the day Thespis said, "I'm ready for my close-up."

7. In 1966 in Pomona, California, there was a garage band on our street. Lo, and he heard that Fender amp cranking out the chords to "Gloria," "Wild Thing," and "Satisfaction." And he saw the promised land. And he said, "It is good."

8. One of my odd prejudices is that I think all musicals should be musical comedies. I can't take serious musicals seriously. "A boy like that, he keel your brother." I dunno. I'll take Gershwin and Porter and Berlin any day over the modern musical. Old school? I'm paleolithic, baby.

9. My 10 favorite playwrights, starting at number one, are: Shakespeare, Ibsen, Schiller, Rostand, Sophocles, Rattigan, Shaw, Corneille, Moliere, Chekhov. In a month I might come up with a slightly different list, especially toward the bottom.

10. In my darker moments, I think America is heading toward a civil war. I suspect it is our most likely future. The New Left is totalitarian. When they shut down free speech, as they are now striving to do, there will be no recourse but violence. The libertarian, individualist right will resist. The 21st century will be ugly -- but interesting.


mtnrunner2 said...

>I committed mime

Ha! There's an engineering college near here called the Colorado School of Mines, which is fun to mispronounce, as in: "Why would anyone need to go to a college to learn how to paint their face white and act like they're doing stuff?"

Inspector said...

The 'Haf mimed..... Oh my. And I *posted* here. Must... shower...

Myrhaf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Myrhaf said...

You act as if mime were a breach of morality! Think of it as an error of cognition. A really... big... error. Like the polyester suits and platform shoes I wore back then.

Never mind. Go shower.

Anonymous said...

I too sold a great deal of my comic collection, for peanuts, in the early nineties in effort to help an old girlfriend pay off some debt. I didn’t have any as valuable as Avengers #1, Fantastic Four #2, but they were memories of my youth, now gone. Looking back, I’d would call that my “ooops” moment.

Myrhaf said...

You can always buy them in reprints, but most do not stand up after time. They were written for children. At the age of 11 I thought Stan Lee was a genius. Now I can't read the stuff. I'm getting that way with science fiction too. Even the stuff that's highly esteemed seems like worthless trash to me. You can't go home again. At least, I can't.

But then, when I read good adult literature -- Rand, Shakespeare, Ibsen, Hugo, Dostoyevsky, etc. -- I am home again.

Inspector said...

While we're on the subject of admitting things, I'll say that at first I didn't know that the term "bleg" was a portmanteau of the terms "blog" and "bleg." I just thought it was a silly, Alfred E. Neuman-esque way of saying "blog."

Mike said...

Would you care to elaborate on your loss of appetite for science fiction? As an SF writer, I am naturally curious to know. My genre is not without its serious problems these days, and I am interested in writing the SF that the others can't or won't, based on an epistemology of reason.

Myrhaf said...

I loved SF when I was young, Mike. Foundation, Dune, Stranger In A Strange Land, Riverworld, Lord of the Rings -- I couldn't put down any of these books until I was done. I would lose sleep reading them. I reread Foundation in my 40's and couldn't finish it. If you search science fiction on this blog you'll find a lot of posts addressing SF.

SF short fiction is completely unreadable today. It has fallen to modernism and naturalism. It's so boring it makes you want to cry -- or scream. The reductio ad absurdum of this movement is a school called "mundane SF": nothing impossible or even highly improbable, such as FTL, time travel, aliens or telepathy is allowed. You end up with winsome, plotless character studies.

Golden Age SF is filled with all those impossible tropes. Strictly speaking, it is fantasy that uses scientific concepts.

My problem with SF is the problem of modern fiction: it either has no plot and some connection to human life or plot with no connection. Very little of any fiction has both, but in SF the percentage is even less because once you start writing about people flying around the galaxy it's really, really hard to make it meaningful in any way.

I just read a dramatization of "Crime and Punishment" that was fascinating. I might do the play with my new theatre group. In every scene there were psychological and moral issues that you rarely find in SF because SF writers are focussed on other things.

Romantic mainstream fiction really has so much more going for it. I'm reading a play by Dumas right now called "Anthony" that deals with individualism and independence vs. conventionality. Dumas is not known as a particularly deep writer, but even he blows SF writers away in important meaning.

Now that I know you and Dr. Peikoff are writing SF novels, however, I would certainly give them a try. Good luck with it, Mike.

EdMcGon said...

The key to good SF literature is how it explores the human condition. What can we learn about ourselves from it? You only have to look at Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" for a good example.

The 21st century will be ugly -- but interesting.

Myrhaf, that sounds like the old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times." ;)

Mike said...


OK, sounds like we're in accord on this. I, too, look at the golden age of SF with fondness. Looking at your original post, I wasn't sure whether you had grown a distaste for that SF or for modern SF. It does not surprise me to hear another Objectivist disappointed by modern SF. It is, indeed, a naturalist wasteland right now... in some respects fatally so.

What I mean by that is that most SF authors are so busy trying to reinvent the genre with a mush of the aesthetics of The Matrix and Neuromancer that they've completely missed what made those stories worthwhile, and are busy constructing caricatures. The writers think they can make the next Matrix by writing bullet-time action and half-baked gnosticism against a noir backdrop. They miss that the power of the original story came from Neo's exercise of his volition. In fact, that was the entire plot-theme: free will versus determinism. How the entire SF industry can epic fail so completely and think The Matrix was a purely aesthetic exercise is baffling to me.

And Ed is right on: Good SF should present a challenging perspective on some aspect of the human condition. I don't think I could ever write a story that wasn't romantic, and if I can't tell a human story, no amount of space battle and laser swords will make up for that deficiency. I have some finished SF short stories that I am shopping around, and I am encountering a dismaying amount of disinterest from editors for stories with romantic plots.

For example, with one short story, I used the "knowledge trove" trope (a la Anthem or Logan's Run) as a device to support the reemergence of enlightenment thought against not an oppressive society, but a caretaker society where human thinking had "grown soft" in a "comfortable" world free from need. (The plot-theme was "We had things so good, we decayed in place without even noticing.") I actually had an editor say "You employed good technique handling it, but I really hate the 'knowledge trove' plot device, so I won't buy the story." So, the story is good, except it's not? I guess. Should I have had my characters just atrophy away? Because I'm pretty sure that would have made for dull reading.

My epic SF novel is in another rewrite right now because I got to the end of Act Two and realized I was just writing "Les Miserables In Space" again. I am tempted lately to just make it a faithful remake instead of twisting every which way only to end up with something derivative. We'll see.

sing for today said...

got a Q on your "Les Miserables in Space"— did you have a dissertation on the galactic sewer system à la Hugo? Or the machinations of Javert as a youth?
On a more serious note– and a harbinger of my naïveté– I wonder at your using the terms left and right– sinister and dexter– and think perhaps they are emotional triggers, and inquire as to why one would wish to be associated, even going as far as labeling one's self as "right", except in a metaphorical sense.. ?!
[dunno if that was a question ~!]

Anonymous said...

I thought that the Matrix was an update of the Cave Allegory. With Neo, etal, as one eyed men in the valley of the blind.

The sequels really didn't live up to the possibilites of the original.

C. Andrew

Billy Beck said...

""In 1966 in Pomona, California, there was a garage band on our street. Lo,..."

The very same thing happened to me, at almost exactly the same moment. It was in Marietta, Ga., and the garage band was playing "Mustang Sally".

It was a long time before I knew it, but a great deal of my course was set from then, on.

Myrhaf said...

It's amazing how profound those moments can be in childhood. Today I wouldn't think twice about some amateur band in a garage.

BTW, I just heard about Orianthi, the first woman I've heard who really kicks ass on the guitar:

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