December 23, 2004

You keep using that word. But I do not think it means what you think it means

I just twitted Brian for advertising a hiatus with rare TAR updates, followed by substantial posts the next two days (to be fair, I bet he's keeping his promise not to update the papers blog). But I found a better example of this on Mark Becthel's The Daily Blog at Sports Illustrated Online:

Mark Bechtel is the Scorecard editor for Sports Illustrated and writes a Daily Blog every Wednesday for

It's not a blog either. I will grant 'the'.

Anyway, I have some post ideas in the backlog, but I also have several things to do between now and the New Year. So I expect not to update this site for a little while. Happy holidays, all. A couple of thoughts below the fold, one of them mildly philosophical.

Those of us who have driven back and forth between Pittsburgh and points west may sometimes have been heard to wonder whether Ohio is really necessary. All in good fun, of course--keep exporting stuff like this and no one will ever question your worth (the key word is exporting). But--when it snows, could you try to keep I-80 clear? Thank you.

And, since I was somewhat trying to outrun a storm*, I was reminded of Jack L. Chalker's "The Stormsong Runner," which I'm going to spoil. (It's in Great American Ghost Stories, the anthology that needs to be read only for the top-nine "One of the Dead" by William Wood. Anyway, "The Stormsong Runner" is narrated by a teacher in the mountains of West Virginia. One girl in his district is marked and outcast because, as she and everyone else thinks, she is called by the dead to bring down storms. The climax comes when a storm will burst the dam; the girl is heard arguing with her dead father (or talking to herself in a deep voice? there are some things not dreamt of in the narrator's philosophy), protesting that she can't do it, while the father says even worse things will happen if the storm isn't called. Somehow the dam holds, or the valley is evacuated--I forget--and the girl explains that she didn't have to do it, because the dead got some woman in Kentucky to call it.

"Well," I thought. "That's too cheap. Ghosts just don't act that way." Isn't that an odd thing to think? I don't believe in ghosts. And I can't say, within the story, ghosts don't act that way--obviously they do. Maybe in ghost stories as a genre ghosts don't act that way, but it's Chalker's prerogative to break conventions, isn't it? So whence my imaginative resistance?

*Though what turned out to be key was outrunning the cold front--when the snow turned into freezing rain driving became much easier. And don't you think, if I were posting about philosophy, it would be worth wondering what "the snow turned into freezing rain" means?

Posted by Matt Weiner at December 23, 2004 12:31 AM