Friday, February 06, 2004

Puzzles. And bits.

Sometimes I get puzzled. For example, I was following I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, in a lazy sort of way, because John Lydon is unfailingly entertaining, and he always goes away when he's had enough. I was faintly amused when Johnny swore on live TV a few nights ago, and the Pistols on the 1976 Bill Grundy show swam back into focus, bringing with it what it was like to be a 15-going-on-16 year old punk at the time (photographic evidence in the back of THE KINDLY ONES). And I was kind of saddened when John had enough and walked out, pointing out that he'd won and it wasn't any fun any more, because it meant that I wouldn't be nipping over to the ITV site and watching the mini-video clips any longer. This morning I looked at Google News to see if there was any further Johnny fallout, and found this. Which puzzled me. Why would anyone pretend to be an editor of the Fortean Times, in order to fail to interview John over the phone? And why would anyone brag about it? And then, having listened to the clip, why would anyone use the phrase "hilarity ensued" to describe a brief conversation between a puzzled minder and someone unconvincingly -- even desperately -- pretending to be the editor of the Fortean Times. Puzzlement ensued.

Every now and again I run into authors who are starting out and are chasing agents. They really really really want a literary agent. They are convinced that all that stands between them and success is a literary agent. They audition for agents. They rewrite their novels at the behest of agents who have suggested that if only the thing was rewritten , maybe they'd take it on. Normally it ends in tears. For all of you who may one day be authors can I suggest you read in which Teresa continues to explain it all? This time, Agents.

I wish Teresa would write a book about all this stuff, so I could point people to it. So far all she's written is Making Book, which you can read about at and order anywhere that books are sold, which contains, amongst other things, the single best essay on copyediting I've ever read.

Too many people I've been on the phone to recently have asked me to e-mail them a link to Penguin Baseball, so I shall put it up here: (my high score is 322.9 but really I just like the way it makes odd squeaky thump-whee noises while I'm making Very Important Phone Calls).

[Penguin Addition, because I think I think I just overloaded that site:

The link you referenced in your recent journal entry for penguin baseball didn't work for me... however, I have a link that does work, and I'm fairly confident it's the same game:
There's also another version here, with which you can get ridiculous high scores:
It was sent around by one of the editors in my office and has been entertaining us ever since. The office high-score record is somewhere in the neighborhood of 805. I feel confident that if I apply myself and practice diligently, I can beat it.


2014 Note: The above links no longer work, but the game may still be found here.

Found this article, on Albanian elective gender, quite fascinating:

I've been accumulating odd headlines recently. Sale of the emergency contraception sky rocks from a Norwegian news site is my favourite. How, I wonder, did they discover that these sky rocks had contraceptive properties? And why are they on sale? The article itself at does not answer either of these questions.

I thought I'd published one novella and three short stories last year. I learned from the Locus recommended reading list that I'd published three novelettes and one short story -- and realised that "Monarch of the Glen" was technically 600 words away from being a novella. (There's something to be said for the IHG approach of "Long" "Medium" and "Short" fiction.)

Good (in the sense of interesting) review of Mr Punch at I'm currently trying to turn it into a BBC radio play, and it's a tricky text to work with. Pretty much every word is doing something, which makes adapting it both easier and harder than one might think.