Comments on Wardog's Ferretbrain Presents the TeXt Factor Episode 7 – Like Excalibur

The TeXt Factor crosses the halfway mark

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Arthur B at 14:30 on 2010-06-20
This week Kyra is insightful

I think you mean Kyra are insightful. ;)
Arthur B at 15:06 on 2010-06-20
(Also the halfway mark was midway through last episode ;) ).
Shimmin at 18:58 on 2010-06-20
I don't want to criticise, but didn't Jamie do a better picture?
Shimmin at 21:11 on 2010-06-20
Around the 28-minute mark, Kyra has a bit about how South of the Border, West of the Sun examines people's effect on each other. There's a nice phrase: "people not affecting each other when you think they would or should, and over-affecting each other when you think perhaps they'd be better just to get over it." I actually had to stop and check a minute that I hadn't just nodded off and missed the transition to The God of Small Things. I think it's kind of interesting that these two books both give that idea a significant role.
Shimmin at 22:35 on 2010-06-20
Oh dear, triple post... never mind. I noticed that the first scuffle in The Maltese Falcon is actually a bit more complicated than I said here.

I described it as:
Cairo basically calls Briget a whore > Bridget slaps him > he slaps Bridget > Spade slaps him

Having read a bit more, it's actually more complicated:
Cairo suggests boy outside is one of G's employees...
Briget, laughing: "Yes, unless he's the one you had in Constantinople."
Cairo, suddenly enraged: "The one you couldn't make?"
Bridget slaps Cairo
Cairo slaps Bridget
Spade slaps Cairo

So more or less the way it pans out is, she calls him a Big Gay, he calls her an unsuccessful whore, &c. Just for clarification, y'know.
Dan H at 23:15 on 2010-06-20


I don't want to criticise, but didn't Jamie do a better picture?


I'm not sure, if he did, it might have gone out in a different email.
Arthur B at 00:52 on 2010-06-21
@Shimmin: Are you reading "make" as "have sex with?" there? Because my reading of that conversation is:

Cairo suggests boy outside is one of G's employees.
Briget suggests he's one of Cairo's spies instead ("the one you had" translating to "the spy you employed").
Cairo gets annoyed and points out that Briget wasn't able to identify his spy in Cairo ("the one you couldn't make" = "the spy you were unable to spot"). He's presumably annoyed because she's implying he hires incompetent bumblers who let themselves get seen by the people they're tailing.
Briget then slaps him for making fun of her failure to spot his spy in Cairo.
Shimmin at 09:19 on 2010-06-21
@Arthur: although it's not a reading I'd normally go for, I have seen it used in that sense and I think it's an American usage.

I was a bit confused by this scene to begin with, because their reactions didn't seem to fit the words. Having now read a bit more, and seen that Cairo is apparently supposed to be gay and that Bridget is using Feminine Wiles on Sam, I think the sexual reading makes more sense in this context. I really can't see Cairo getting "suddenly enraged" like he does just because he had a rubbish minion, especially given his fairly placid behaviour in the first interview with Sam. Bridget also overreacts if she's just being mocked for not spotting the spy - flushing, biting her lip, leaping up to slap him? It doesn't work for me. But one malicious insult followed by another followed by violence, that makes sense.

Weird; normally I'm the one getting innocent readings while you lot revel in the Sex...
Arthur B at 10:52 on 2010-06-21
@Arthur: although it's not a reading I'd normally go for, I have seen it used in that sense and I think it's an American usage.

I've seen it used that way too, but not in that time period - I sort of mentally associate it with teen high school dramas from the 50s (or 80s ones that are deliberately trying to recall the 50s), with giggly whispered conversations about how Bobby totally tried to make it with Julie in his Cadillac on Lover's Lane but then Mandy caught them only she was out with Danny and Danny and Bobby got in a fight and Danny totally broke Bobby's nose.

Either way. It is possible that this is meant to be ambiguous. It's even possible that both meanings are correct, they're not actually mutually exclusive.
Shimmin at 14:43 on 2010-06-21
Ah, that was the picture I had in mind! Hooray.
Jamie Johnston at 19:47 on 2010-06-21
@ Shimmin & Arthur: I can't remember how I read 'had', and reflecting on it now I'm about fifty-fifty; I did, and do, incline to read 'make' as sexual, though. I can't fully justify that. I think part of it is that, as you say, Shim, it would seem a bit strange for Brigid to get so angry at the suggestion that she isn't a very good spy / sneaky person given that (as far as we've seen up to this point) she doesn't in any way present herself as a good spy / sneaky person or pride herself on being one, whereas she plainly does present herself as a sexy and alluring woman.

Also, there may be a little support for that reading later on (spoiler tags start here, to avoid revealing either what happens later in the book or how long the book stays in the competition):
in chapter 9 (specifically on page 84 in the edition we've been using) Brigid gives Sam her first account of what happened in Constantinople, i.e. what lay behind that conversation between her and Cairo. And her account is that Cairo and Thursby hired her to get the falcon from a man called Kemidov by - it is strongly implied - seducing him. Now, of course, it turns out pretty quickly that this story is almost certainly false, but it may have be an accurate reflexion of the sort of tactics she was using in Constantinople, especially since they're the same tactics she's using on Sam now; or, if not, it may at any rate suggest that Constantinople episode is linked in her mind to seduction. A bit tenuous, I admit, but information is so thin on the ground in The Maltese falcon that one has to make a little go a long way.
Jamie Johnston at 20:25 on 2010-06-21
Just finished listening to the Woman in white section, and on reflexion I do to some extent stand by my 'Marian actually misses Hartright quite a lot on her own account' theory, though not in a 'secretly fancies him' way. I think the thing of it is that she's there with cruel Glyde and machiavellian Fosco and creepy Madame Fosco and dispirited Laura, and it's all complicated and difficult and unfathomable, and she misses Hartright because he was naive and wet and completely unaware of anything more complex than the prettiness of Laura Fairlie and the idea of people being deliberately mean to each other is totally alien to him.

Also, oh dear, my Australian accent is atrocious. Apologies to Rolf Harris, Australians, and People With Ears.
Jamie Johnston at 22:10 on 2010-06-21
Got to the Score! bit. I notice that I was so busy making my own bad pun (soz) that I forgot to ask the crucial question: is "soixante-nervous" brilliant or awful, or both? I am deeply uncertain.
Arthur B at 23:06 on 2010-06-21
I think it is brilliant and awful. In the archaic, "inspiring fear and reverence" sense of "awful".
Rami at 05:26 on 2010-06-30
Finally got around to listening to all of this. One question -- while I've not read The Maltese Falcon I have seen the film. In the film, Cairo's character is played very camp -- I was wondering how much of that was directorial interpretation and how much is in the text?
Wardog at 12:01 on 2010-06-30
He's very effeminate in the text as well - he's completely dandified, the text makes several sly references to the fact he's a big gay and I believe Effie calls him a queer at one point.
Arthur B at 00:01 on 2011-04-25
So it's recently come to my attention that Dan "Drood" Simmons has declared that the West had better start exterminating Islam soon or we're done for. On being called on that, his response was to make it very clear that it wasn't an April Fool, he did totally believe all that.

Probably old news to most here but I thought it interesting in the context of the is he being racist/isn't he being racist discussions with regards to treatment of foreigners in Drood.
Robinson L at 22:00 on 2011-05-09
So it's recently come to my attention that Dan "Drood" Simmons has declared that the West had better start exterminating Islam soon or we're done for. On being called on that, his response was to make it very clear that it wasn't an April Fool, he did totally believe all that.

Holy balls was that offensive.

It's too bad, because the beginning of the Time Traveler story is pretty awesome, and even when the hysterical Islamophobic fear-mongering shows up, the narration is very well written—if only the story it was narrating wasn't Fucked Up Beyond All Repair.

(Whereas Drood I tried out despite warnings and the fact that it's approximately the ideal size for bludgeoning elephants with ... and gave up after two chapters because it was just boring.

(... Feel free to say "I told you so," Arthur.)
valse de la lune at 13:55 on 2011-05-13
Oh fuck Simmons. I've always been positive he's racist--see Song of Kali where pages upon pages are spent on denigrating, demonifying and generally bad-mouthing Indians and Hinduism--but ugh. What makes it worse is that Song of Kali is actually, IMO, pretty good. Simmons evidently wants to be Lovecraft.
Wardog at 14:14 on 2011-05-13
Is this the same Simmons who wrote Hyperion? I have to confess I quite enjoyed that... it's the Canterbury Tales in spaaaaaace. But I've only read the first book so all sorts of awful could be lurking elsewhere.
Arthur B at 14:15 on 2011-05-13
I've still not worked out what the hell he was trying to say with Drood. For a while I thought the "sinister opium peddling Chinamen" stuff was a deliberate overstatement of Victorian racist tropes as a suggestion that the entire sewer visit was exactly what Dickens claimed it was towards the end - a bit of overdramatic theatre put on by actors in order to prank Collins. And likewise, I thought the ludicrous EVIL EGYPTIANS UNDERMINING OUR WAY OF LIFE plot was meant to indicate that Collins was tripping balls and imagining all sorts of completely ridiculous stuff which pointed more towards his own prejudices and inner conflicts than anything that was actually going on in the real world.

But now I wonder whether Simmons was being sincere the entire time and the "it was all an opium dream" thing was meant to give him some kind of plausible deniability. Or maybe Collins was meant to be hallucinating the future or something. Either way, the cartoonishly racist stuff now doesn't seem to be Simmons' way of saying "Hey, this is cartoonish and stupid, maybe you should question whether this really happened to Collins"; I think, at the end of the day, the only conclusion is that Simmons just holds cartoonishly views. I'd not read any of his stuff before Text Factor but we've got fairly extreme examples from three different places and two of them don't have the "lol all the characters were actually high" excuse.

Either way, time to take Hyperion off the must-read-sometime list.
Cammalot at 00:02 on 2011-05-14
Oh dammit, he wrote "Ilium." I really liked "Ilium." Not so much the sequel, and I couldn't finish "Hyperion" -- I think I was too young for it, I think it may have actually just frightened me.
valse de la lune at 07:01 on 2011-05-14
I liked Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion but the Endymion duology that follows is just... Paragraphs-long explanations of how love is a physical force that keeps the universe together? A moment where the messiah sacrifices herself so everyone who's ever drunk her blood knows true suffering and true love? Fucking really? Did we walk into Harry Potter without noticing?

Couldn't stand Ilium. I kept getting the feeling that the academic protagonist who gets to fuck Helen and ends up wrecking the Olympians is a self-insert. Or at least a wish fulfillment fantasy.
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