Pixel Scroll 7/4/20 She Has Loosed The Fateful Lightning Of Her Terrible Swifts’ Scorn

(1) YARNSPINNER. Cora Buhlert will be taking up the challenge a little differently this year, but she is running a post to hold herself accountable: “The 2020 July Short Story Challenge – Day by Day”.

What is the July Short Story Challenge, you ask? Well, in July 2015, Dean Wesley Smith announced that he was planning to write a brand new short story every day during the month of July. The original post seems to be gone now, but the Wayback Machine has a copy here. At the time, several people announced that they would play along, so I decided to give it a try as well. And then I did it again the following year. And the next. And the next. If you want to read my post-mortems of the previous July short story challenges, here are the posts for 2015201620172018 and 2019.

Because I’ve already done the July short story challenge five years in a row now and always found the experience very rewarding, I’m aiming for a repeat this year. Though for now, I’m only committing to doing this for a week, which is already half over. If things are going well, I’ll keep going, though I’m not sure if I can do the entire July this year, because Worldcon is at the end of the month and that will eat up my time and attention.

(2) TRAILER TIME. The Old Guard on Netflix is a film about immortal mercenaries starring Charlize Theron.

Led by a warrior named Andy (Charlize Theron), a covert group of tight-knit mercenaries with a mysterious inability to die have fought to protect the mortal world for centuries. But when the team is recruited to take on an emergency mission and their extraordinary abilities are suddenly exposed, it’s up to Andy and Nile (Kiki Layne), the newest soldier to join their ranks, to help the group eliminate the threat of those who seek to replicate and monetize their power by any means necessary.

(3) CLASS IS IN SESSION. In each episode of the “Science Fiction University” podcast, Driftglass and Blue Gal discuss one work of classic science fiction plus one science fiction movie. The two pieces share a theme, whether it be time travel, unreliable narrators, dystopias, etc. The most recent episode is “Episode 5: How HBO’s Westworld Went South”.

(4) TURN ON, TUNE OUT. The New Yorker revisits “The Walkman, Forty Years On”.

…Hosokawa noted how listeners used the devices to tame the unpredictability of urban spaces, with all of their unexpected intrusions and loud noises. Wearing headphones functioned both as a personal “Do Not Disturb” sign and an alternate soundtrack to the cacophony of the city. This was a new form of human experience, engaged disengagement, a technological shield from the world and an antidote to ennui. Whenever nerves frayed or boredom crept in, one could just hit Play and fast-forward life a little. One of the first Westerners to grasp the import of this new human capacity was the author William Gibson, a pioneer of the genre of science fiction called cyberpunk, who wrote years later that “the Sony Walkman has done more to change human perception than any virtual reality gadget.”

(5) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

Extract from John F. Kennedy’s Remarks at a Dinner Honoring Nobel Prize Winners of the Western Hemisphere — April 29, 1962:

I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. 

Jefferson died on this day in 1826. (So did John Adams.)

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 1970 — Fifty years ago, Roger Zelazny’s Nine Princes in Amber was published by Doubleday. It’s quite rare to find a copy these days because most of the copies were accidentally pulped by the publisher in error when the order went out to destroy remaining copies of Zelazny’s older book Creatures of Light and Darkness. It was the first novel in his Amber series. It was nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award but lost out to Mary Stewart’s A Crystal Cave. A comic adaptation was done by Terry Bisson, and a TV adaptation is supposed being  produced by the creators of the Walking Dead series.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 4, 1878 – Frank Papé.  Five dozen covers, a hundred interiors, more outside our field; an Arabian Nights, an Odyssey, a Pilgrim’s Progress, a collection of the Psalms, a Robin Hood, Robinson Crusoe, a Sigurd and Gudrun; Cabell, Cervantes, Anatole France, Rabelais, Sabatini, Shakespeare, Spenser, Suetonius; an Indian and a Russian Story Book; Golden, Ruby, Diamond Fairy Books; Uncle Ray’s Corner (Ramon Coffman).  Here is a Penguin Island.  Here is a Silver Stallion.  Here is a moment from Alfred Clark’s As It Is in Heaven.  Here is Christian conquering Apollyon.  Here is Falcon the Hunter from The Russian Story Book.  (Died 1972) [JH]
  • Born July 4, 1883 – Rube Goldberg.  A top cartoonist and not only for The Inventions of Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts (1914-1964); in 1915 his salary at the New York Evening Mail was $50,000 a year (go ahead, do the calculation); several comic strips including Mike and Ike (They Look Alike); 1948 Pulitzer Prize for this editorial cartoon.  First President of the Nat’l Cartoonists Society, namesake of the Reuben Award.  Here is his postage stamp.  Here is a Website.  We should’ve had a 100th Birthday exhibit at the 41st Worldcon but I didn’t think of it and neither did you.  (Died 1970) [JH]
  • Born July 4, 1901 Guy Endore. American novelist and screenwriter whose 1933 The Werewolf of Paris novel holds the same position in werewolf literature that Dracula does for vampire literature. It was filmed as The Curse of The Werewolf for which he wrote the screenplay. Stableford also praises his horror story, “The Day of the Dragon”. He worked on the screenplay for Mark of the Vampire starring Bella Lugosi. (Died 1970.) (CE)
  • Born July 4, 1904 William Meader. A long history in genre video starting with When Worlds Collide and The War of The Worlds. All of his appearances were uncredited as was the case in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and The Absent Minded Professor, and even his appearances on Star TrekThe Twilight ZoneGet Smart!Batman Wild, Wild West and even Munster, Come Home! (Died 1979.) (CE)
  • Born July 4, 1941 – Howard Frank, Ph.D.  Director of the Information Technology Office at DARPA (Defense Adv. Research Pjts. Agency, U.S. Dept. of Defense), then Dean of the School of Business at U. Maryland.  Internet Hall of Fame.  Moskowitz Archive Award.  The Frank CollectionGreat Fantasy Art Themes from the Frank Collection (both with Jane Frank).  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born July 4, 1947 – Ann Layman Chancellor.  Costumer, filksinger, graphic artist.  Phi Beta Kappa (Classics), College of William & Mary; M.F.A., Boston University School of Theater Arts.  Assistant Professor of Design at U. Iowa, then U. New Orleans, then State U. N.Y. at Oneonta.  Parade Artist, New Orleans Mardi Gras; Ass’t Costume Dir., Guthrie Theater (Minneapolis); full-body costumes, heads, hardware, motion systems, Sesame Street. Art Director, Kalki (Cabell Society) 1971-1984.  Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 24.  Drew the Lady of Cups (no, not the Queen) for the Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck.  Costumes, Creatures, and Characters for the 38th Worldcon.  Here she is as Maleficent (shown with Cortlandt Hull’s Ming) at the 29th.  Here she is as Black Orchid at the 37th.  Substantial artwork for the 46th.  Here is a minor adventure with her at the 51st.  (Died 1998) [JH]
  • Born July 4, 1949 Peter Crowther, 71. He is the founder (with Simon Conway) of PS Publishing where he’s editor now. He edited a series of genre anthologies that DAW published. And he’s written a number of horror novels of which I’d say After Happily Ever and By Wizard Oak are good introductions to him. He’s also done a lot of short fiction but I see he’s really available in digital form for much of short fiction or novels at the usual digital suspects.  (CE)
  • Born July 4, 1958 – Lynn Gold, 62.  Active fan in the San Francisco Bay area, and more widely as a filksinger.  With Lee & Barry Gold (no relation) published The Golden Gait Songbook for ConFrancisco the 51st Worldcon.  Co-founded FanFare Music, the non-profit parent of Consonance; chaired Consonance 2001 and 2003-2004, Toastmistress at Consonance 2011; Interfilk Guest (traveling-filker fund) at NEFilk 10 (Northeast Filk Convention).  Guest of Honor at LepreCon 25, Loscon 28.  [JH]
  • Born July 4, 1967 Christopher McKitterick, 53. Director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction, a program at the University of Kansas that supports an annual series of awards, lectures, classes, workshops, the Campbell Conference, and AboutSF, a resource for teachers and readers of science fiction. He’s also a juror for and Chair of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel from 2002 onward. And yes, he does write genre fiction with one novel to date, Transcendence, more than a double handful of stories, and being an academic, critical essays such as  “John W. Campbell: The Man Who Invented Modern Fantasy and the Golden Age of Science Fiction” which was published in Steven H. Silver’s Hugo nominated Argentus. (CE)
  • Born July 4, 1977 David Petersen, 43. Writer and illustrator of the brilliant Mouse Guard series. If you haven’t read it, do so — it’s that good. He published a few years back The Art of The Mouse Guard 2005 – 2015 which though expensive is stunning as a look at his series. It almost got developed as a film but got axed due to corporate politics. IDW published The Wind in The Willows with over sixty of his illustrations several years back. (CE)
  • Born July 4, 1983 – Milena Wójtowicz, 37.  A talkative optimist, a devoted lover of dogs, statistical yearbooks, books, Internet comics, and Christmas lights.Six novels, three dozen shorter stories, a dozen translations.  Among her characters are beautiful princesses, insidious dragons, neglected dogs, but even princesses have no influence on the roles the author will write for them.  Here is the cover for Wrota (Polish, “gate”).  [JH]
  • Born July 4, 1989 Emily Coutts , 41. She plays the role of helmsman Keyla Detmer on Discovery. She’s also her mirror universe counterpart, who is the first officer of that universe’s Shenzhou. (I like the series and am definitely looking forward to it when it jump a thousand years into the future next season!) She was in one episode of the SF series Dark Matter and in Crimson Peak, a horror film but that’s it for genre appearances. (CE)

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) HAT TIP. SYFY Wire’s “Fangrrls” probe “How Legends Of Tomorrow Paid Tribute To The Roots Of Fanfiction”

…The whole episode, titled “The One Where We’re Trapped on TV,” is a campy delight with fun twists on major TV shows, but the Star Trek parody in particular is pretty special. Sara and Ava play the roles of Kirk and Spock, respectively, and the series goes so far as to have them kiss on the bridge.

It’s a significant moment for a few reasons. First, it’s just plain delightful to see all the K/S (the original ship name for Kirk and Spock) sexual tension play out on screen. Second, having queer characters assume the roles of characters who have long been queered by fandom affirms how viewers have read the original characters for decades. And perhaps the coolest part of all is that in so doing, Legends pretty clearly nods to one of the roots of queer fanfic: slash.

(10) SERLING INTERVIEWED BY GUNN. “Interview With Rod Serling (1970)” on YouTube is an interview with Rod Serling about sf on television that James Gunn did for the Center for the Study of Science FIction at the University of Kansas in 1970.

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Horror Europa With Mark Gatiss” on YouTube is a 2012 BBC documentary that is a sequel to “A History of Horror.”  The documentary is devoted to a discussion of great German, Belgian, French, Spanish, and Italian horror films and includes interviews with directors Dario Argento and Guillermo Del Toro and a visit to the Slovakian castle where Nosferatu was filmed.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Jerry Kaufman, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, JJ. Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus, who found something July Fourthish in yesterday’s item about BionicSwifts.]

28 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/4/20 She Has Loosed The Fateful Lightning Of Her Terrible Swifts’ Scorn

  1. Happy 4th to all who celebrate it, and may next year’s be better for all!

  2. @5: Jefferson died on this day in 1826. (So did John Adams.) Adams’s last words are commonly reported as “And Jefferson still lives.” — which (as near as we can tell) was barely not true.

    @6: !!. The last few were so spread out I’d completely forgotten that the first two were before Doorways in the Sand, which I sometimes cite as his last half-decent book. (Yes, I know there are arguments, e.g. October, but even the first Amber series seemed to start inflated and go flat.)

    @7: Chance also did two sets of costumer drawings for NESFA uniforms ranging from Feline Deity through Cavalry (dress and undress) to Electrician; unfortunately these are not online, and I’m not even sure how many are still readily visible at the clubhouse given the metastasis of the library.

    @8: interesting typo (or is it?) in the mixed-marriage cartoon.

  3. (4) I was trying to remember my transistor radio (I had one that could get FM, a bonus) and how it was different from a walkman. I’d guess it comes down to choice. No DJ to program for you. You make up your own world in a way you couldn’t before. That mattered more than the quality of the sound. It was the new border between society and the individual, one that grew more definite with iterations like the iPod and cell phone.
    I’d say I can’t wait to see what comes next, but I really can.

  4. Hmm, I would say that the last decent Zelazny novel was Lord Demon, which was published posthumously, so….

    But I will freely grant that late-period Zelazny contained more misses than early Zelazny.

    My biggest complaint about the first Amber series is: goddamn cliff-hangers! Unnecessary and annoying! Not so big a deal now that the whole series is complete, but it didn’t add anything–cliffhangers never do.

  5. I can’t help but think that Doorways in the Sand would make for a decent inexpensive SF movie. Though it does have the standard ild SF problem in that there’s more lines of dialogue for aliens than women in it.

  6. Xtifr says Hmm, I would say that the last decent Zelazny novel was Lord Demon, which was published posthumously, so….

    My vote would be for Donnerjack but I’m still not convinced that it’s really a Lindskold novel based on a rather sketchy Zelazny idea..It’s far too well written to be a Zelazny novel.,

  7. I asked this on Reddit’s /r/printSF, but I didn’t get any useful answers, so I thought I’d ask here in case anyone recognizes it. I’m looking for the title and author of an SF story that has some similarities to a story I’m reviewing this month. I just want to be able to say, “This story reminded me of . . .” so it’s not a big deal, but I like to do it when I can. This one is so vivid in my mind it frustrates me I can’t remember the title!

    It’s from about 40 years ago. It’s set on a ship making an interstellar trip that takes 7 years from the perspective of the crew. These ships have a high failure rate (maybe 1/3 fail?) but no one knows why. They’re very well automated, so nothing should be able to go wrong.

    Some years in, one of the characters realizes that everyone has drifted into a mindless routine precisely because the ship doesn’t require anyone to do anything. So he goes about breaking his shipmates out of their funks. For one crewmember, he deliberately breaks the fragile chessmen of a set the man prized highly. For another, who was very attached to his family on Earth, he makes a porno film spliced with pictures of his relatives. There were a few others. Some of them fight with him physically when he breaks them out of their trances.

    Once everyone is woken up, he realizes this won’t last. They can talk for a while, but everyone will slide back into it, including him. So he sabotages the life-support system in a way that surviving will require everyone to work together to keep it working.

    In the final scene, safely arrived on the planet, he finds the guy who’d owned the chess set and hands him a box of replacement pieces. (Or maybe he only had to break one, so he only replaced one.)

    Does this ring a bell with anyone?

  8. (4) My little cassette player with headphones and later CD player with headphones made work at the office so much easier (especially when trying to tune out the one guy who insisted on whistling while he worked). Listened to a lot of Big Finish as well.

  9. @Kevin Harkness: the own-world was a huge difference; it meant nobody else in the crowd was on your channel, so there’d be no we’re-moving-to-the-same-tune effect, and no being stuck listening to the lowest common denominator. (Delete repeated grumble about how far down local classical programming has gone.) Penn Jillette wrote a short piece “Being Morally Opposed to the Walkman Carries with It Certain Responsibilities” about being typical Penn to someone who was being snooty about this isolation. (Probably-unauthorized version here (scroll down past stacked responses).)
    But there was also the fact that the material was without commercials (or overeager DJs), which made it more pleasant. (And more useful — we took a Walkman on our post-ConFiction train loop so we could hear stuff in our own language, from the wodge of cassettes we’d brought, rather than take our chances with radio frequencies in eight different countries.) And it meant that people could bring samples of their own work to other people (IIRC, my first listen to a Walkman was something Freff had put together) long before the net and sound files made this possible without a physical connection.

    @Xtifr: I don’t have notes on Lord Demon, so I probably haven’t read it. Not sure why as it came out when I was buying a lot of paperbacks (maybe it was just out of phase with my infrequent visits to Larry Smith’s stand); possibly it seemed unappealing, or possibly I wasn’t thinking much of Lindskjold, who I thought did some interesting ideas of her own rather flatly. (I also lack notes on Donnerjack.)

  10. Chip says I don’t have notes on Lord Demon, so I probably haven’t read it. Not sure why as it came out when I was buying a lot of paperbacks (maybe it was just out of phase with my infrequent visits to Larry Smith’s stand); possibly it seemed unappealing, or possibly I wasn’t thinking much of Lindskjold, who I thought did some interesting ideas of her own rather flatly. (I also lack notes on Donnerjack.)

    I think Donnerjack is what Zelazny would’ve written in a novel if he’d taken the time to sit down and actually damn it be serious as a writer. Lord Demon isn’t close to that good. Don’t get me wrong — I like him as writer. Indeed I’m reading My Name is Legion right now along with the WorldCon material and the latest Polity novel from Neal Asher, The Human. But everything he does seems like a first draft.

  11. @Guillaume

    Thanks! I think I must have read it in the Playboy anthology, “The Dead Astronaut,” which I bought used probably around 1975.

  12. @Cat —

    But everything he does seems like a first draft.

    I have read woefully few Zelazny works, but I am fascinated to see y’all talk about his books in this way. This is exactly what I thought when I read Jack of Shadows — that it was interesting as a first draft/outline of a book, but didn’t feel at all like a finished novel.

  13. 4) Indeed, the first time I saw a Walkman, it was in Bill Gibson’s hands, and in it was a tape by Bow Wow Wow. It was in Vancouver, and probably 1978 or 1979, whichever was the first time I attended a V-Con.

  14. 6) For a very brief period of time, I OWNED a pristine copy of Nine Princes In Amber, which I had found at our county library’s 1977 annual book sale for the incredible price of… twenty-five cents!!!!!

    Being a very astute book collector back then, I knew EXACTLY what and how valuable it was. Alas, I was also a poor college student and when I needed money for textbooks, I sold it to a local comic book shop for $250. I have regretted doing that for the past forty years…

  15. Ccontraries says to me I have read woefully few Zelazny works, but I am fascinated to see y’all talk about his books in this way. This is exactly what I thought when I read Jack of Shadows — that it was interesting as a first draft/outline of a book, but didn’t feel at all like a finished novel.

    I like him a lot but everything (for the most part) that he did has that feeling. The short stories are better in that regard, but the novels really do all feel like they need a second pass. And many are far too short to be novels, more like fragments of novels.

  16. Kathryn Sullivan: (4) My little cassette player with headphones and later CD player with headphones made work at the office so much easier (especially when trying to tune out the one guy who insisted on whistling while he worked).

    Yes, and it was a godsend for people who did not want to be bothered by random strangers, especially those who were trying to hit on them. The linked article includes a quote by someone lamenting “With the advent of the Sony Walkman came the end of meeting people” — as if that was a bad thing. For people who were frequently subjected to unwelcome attentions from people they had no interest in meeting, it was a welcome relief.

  17. @Contrarius: Jack of Shadows isn’t a fair example; I recently reread both it and Lord of Light for local book clubs, and the difference was stunning. It’s possible that picking Jack of Shadows was one of the things that cost the tsar of one of the book clubs his position. (Now that group votes on masse rather than reading what the boss says to.) My recollections of Zelazny do not include that the flash was covering holes that would have been patched in a second draft (which is the feeling I get from several more-recent writers), but aside from the above I haven’t read much of him in decades; I could try rereading, but I might still see them through much younger and less-critical eyes. This doesn’t always happen; I gave up on The Cyberiad (translated by someone I’ve read (here?) was good) about 2/3 of the way through, where I thought I’d loved it four-plus decades ago. But it’s a factor when rereading things from back when there wasn’t enough genre to satisfy me.

  18. Yes, and it was a godsend for people who did not want to be bothered by random strangers, especially those who were trying to hit on them. The linked article includes a quote by someone lamenting “With the advent of the Sony Walkman came the end of meeting people” — as if that was a bad thing. For people who were frequently subjected to unwelcome attentions from people they had no interest in meeting, it was a welcome relief.

    I was going to say, “Did headphones ever successfully work that way for women?” because of the vast number of incidents (some of which I’ve experienced) of men interpreting headphones on a woman not as “Please leave me alone” but rather “Try harder”, up to and including actually yanking her earbuds out to get her attention– but I supposed that may have been too cynical of me. I’m glad they had the desired effect for you!

    My earliest mix tapes I made for myself off the radio, but because I was quite young and all I had to work with was 1. my bedside clock-alarm radio and 2. something that was maybe one step more adult than the Fisher-Price tape player/recorder model, but not a large step — you may remember that chunky rectangular machine laid out like a giant domino, with the speaker dominating one half and the cassette deck in the other with thumbprint-sized buttons along the edge, and an extendable handle that came out that end? — so I recorded by shoving the one right up next to the other, waiting for the DJ to play a good song, and hoping my pet parakeet wouldn’t choose the next five minutes in which to have one of her meltdowns in front of the mirror.

    The first time I had access to a real dual deck radio-and-cassette-player, it was an epiphany. I don’t think I had one until they came with CD players too.

  19. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little: because of the vast number of incidents (some of which I’ve experienced) of men interpreting headphones on a woman not as “Please leave me alone” but rather “Try harder”, up to and including actually yanking her earbuds out to get her attention

    I had a bit of that, too. But anyone who persisted in trying to talk to me generally got the message after I very conspicuously hit pause/mute several times, each time saying “I’m sorry, what did you say?” and then gave them one-word responses. The few who tried to touch me or my headphones figured out right away that they needed to get away from me right now if they didn’t want to be the very noticeable recipient of a public tirade.

    Most women are trained from birth that they should always be polite to strangers, that they are obligated to respond politely when people approach them, and that disengaging by whatever means necessary is not “polite” — and they are punished socially if they don’t stay polite. By my mid-20s, I had figured out that there are people who know this and try to take advantage of it, I’d had enough of it, and decided that I wasn’t going to enable that any more. But I was tall enough and muscular enough that I could enforce those boundaries. Women who are too shy or too well-programmed or too physically petite to be able to do that have my sympathies; overcoming that sort programming is not an easy thing to do, and fear of being on the receiving end of a nasty reaction is not unjustified (even I got a few of those).

  20. @Chip —

    @Contrarius: Jack of Shadows isn’t a fair example; I recently reread both it and Lord of Light for local book clubs, and the difference was stunning. It’s possible that picking Jack of Shadows was one of the things that cost the tsar of one of the book clubs his position.

    Not to worry, I’ve read Lord of Light too — loved it to death.

    IIRC, all I’ve read of Zelazny is Lord of Light, Jack of Shadows, and a couple of the Amber books. I may have read some of his shorts as well. I keep meaning to read more!

  21. Women who are too shy or too well-programmed or too physically petite to be able to do that have my sympathies; overcoming that sort programming is not an easy thing to do, and fear of being on the receiving end of a nasty reaction is not unjustified (even I got a few of those).

    I appreciate the sympathies. It definitely wasn’t easy — less because of my small physical stature and fears of physical reprisals (roller derby has helped on that front!), more because my parents were very much guilty of inculcating a “don’t rock the boat” mentality in me. It never took, quite–I always resented this particular teaching–but despite resenting it, it had a years-long squelching effect on my ability to assert myself. I think it took me until my late 30s to really be able to act despite that training.

    There’s also the constant messaging that women have to be nice, we have to take care of other’s feelings, we have to not be a bitch, we have to avoid being called a bitch at all costs, which again, I 1. knew better than but 2. was affected by for too long. Again, my parents were enthusiastic participants in this messaging. I would bend over backward to try to say The Hard Thing in just the perfect way, and they’d react with showy disapproval, disappointment, and reductio-ad-absurdum “agreements”. (“Yes, we’re terrible parents. You’re right. No, no, you’ve said quite enough already, we get the message.”)

    But germane to the headphones thing: There was a particular incident on a train, in the years before Amtrak had refitted their coach cars with AC plugs at every seat. I was working on my computer at one of the few places I could find a plug, a table in the lower level of the lounge/sightseer car after the snack counter had closed. I had my headphones on to drown out the noise of this boisterous group of young men who kept going back and forth between the two levels of the car.

    Well, this one dude in their group kept trying to catch my eye and make little “hello” waves at me every time he and his cronies went by. And maybe I made a mistake in that, the first time he did this, I made a curt little wave back which I thought sufficiently communicated “Yes, I see you. The answer is no. Goodbye.” (Fairly certain he totally understood. He just didn’t care. See the famous study on “soft nos”.) But he kept it up, even after I pointedly ceased to acknowledge him.

    This went on for some time. Finally, he actually sat down across from me at the table, stuck out his hand, and said, loudly, “Hi, my name is [NAME]. And you are…?”

    I looked him in the eyes, said, “Not interested in conversation right now.”

    He got this deflated, kicked-puppy look on his face and said, “I was just trying to be friendly–”

    “No. You were not. ‘Friendly’ would mean respecting that I obviously wanted to be left alone.”

    He dragged himself off in that kicked puppy way (later I realized I was lucky he hadn’t taken advantage of my relative isolation to react in more aggressive/violent ways; had I realized it earlier, I wouldn’t have done much different, though–been slightly more prepared for the eventuality I guess), and I was relatively proud of myself for the interaction. I was just getting to the point in my life where I’d decided “They’ll call me a bitch no matter how polite I am in my refusal to back down, so I’m no longer going to care whether they think I’m a bitch.” It felt uncomfortable but very satisfying.

    The very first (male) person I told about this interaction said, “Ouch. Couldn’t you have been a little nicer to him?”

    And that’s the way of the world.

  22. Yeah, women don’t win by being nice, but also don’t win by being direct and honest. In my case, it was further compounded by my mother also using the fact that she had taught me to never, ever make a scene, to control me herself.

    I did finally learn to “be rude” to my mother when I needed to. It was harder to learn to be rude to outwardly nice men who obviously weren’t responsible for my mother’s controlling behavior. No, they weren’t, but I had to learn that they were not that different, and to never, ever be alone.

    I think there are a bunch of people who don’t realize just how much I trust them, because the result is that I just act almost like a normal person around them.

  23. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little: They’ll call me a bitch no matter how polite I am in my refusal to back down, so I’m no longer going to care whether they think I’m a bitch.”… The very first (male) person I told about this interaction said, “Ouch. Couldn’t you have been a little nicer to him?”

    Same here; it got to the point where I realized that with the persistent ones, it was just going to drag on unpleasantly with my demurrals until I finally was forced to flat-out say “NO” in a way that made it absolutely clear they were never going to get a “yes” no matter how much they pestered me, so I just abandoned the “drag on unpleasantly” part in order to get it over with and get on with whatever I was doing.

    My favorite story is the guy who, upon being told “No, thank you” continued to press me for a reason why, so I finally obliged him by telling him I just wasn’t interested in going out with him. He then insisted to me that instead of telling him that, I should have lied and told him that I had a boyfriend so he wouldn’t feel bad. I suggested that he get counselling to help him learn how to accept a “no” graciously and deal with his insecurities, instead of expecting women to coddle him with lies.

     
    Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little: See the famous study on “soft nos”.

    Is this the one you mean? It’s very interesting, though I can’t say that a lot of it is a surprise.

  24. That’s the one, although rather than coming at it direct I first encountered it via the YesMeansYes blog. And no, it’s not a surprise, but it’s amazing how many people still seem to need to read it, given how often they still trot out “Maybe you weren’t direct enough; maybe you shouldn’t have restricted yourself to hints; maybe you shouldn’t rely on him to read the signs; maybe you should consider that you really did lead him on since your ‘no’ wasn’t explicit enough…”

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