Monthly Archive: October 2008

wikipedia = fun

Years ago in my halcyon childhood, my suffering parents bought my brother Yan and I a set of the Columbia Encyclopedia, which I guess is what people who can’t afford the Britannica buy their kids. It was pretty impressive – a rich, dark blue faux-leather binding, gilt-edged paper, all that. My suffering parents were obviously still hoping their childrens’ ability with trivia and video games would somehow translate into well-paying careers, and thought the encyclopedia would help.

I immediately looked myself up, and was amazed – and dismayed – to discover that I wasn’t in there. And me, a famous Defender Prodigy with the high score in no fewer than three New Jersey arcades.

A few years ago, when Wikipedia (motto: almost!) was the hot new Internet toy, I created my own page there. Ah, those were the days. I played it straight; no claims of royalty, nothing about me inventing the automobile, very little megalomania in general. It was fun while it lasted; a few years ago I was deemed not important enough and my page was deleted. And so far none of you bastards have been moved to re-create it, and I hate you for the lapse, believe me.

I wouldn’t bother re-creating it myself, for a variety of reasons. Number one, I have no desire to get into a humiliating battle with Unseen Millions about whether or not I am a “notable” author (hint: I am probably not). Number two, let’s face it: a Wikipedia page is not exactly an honor. Wikipedia is about as reliable and useful for real data-gathering as interviewing drunks down by the pier. Sure, you might get some decent info, and it’ll certainly be entertaining, but you can’t list any of them as references.

This may sound like sour grapes. Would I burn Wikipedia down if it were a structure, in revenge for my de-listing? Sure. I also flatly refuse to play first-base for the New York Mets, the picky bastards. Since it is an amorphous web-page and not a structure, or a person whose kneecaps I can break and then run away, I must choose to suffer the humiliation and carry on.

Of course, Wikipedia is damned entertaining; I spend hours every week just paging through it, reading fascinating entries and wondering if any of it is actually true.

If anyone is nuts enough to actually want to create a new Wikipedia page for me, I encourage you to be creative. I wouldn’t mind being a former President of Nauru, or a former Bounty Hunter. Give me some magical powers, too, if you don’t mind, and for god’s sake use some free stock photography for my photo – some good-looking, strong-jawed fellow, but with a rakish quality. I mean, go all out.

The Man will likely delete my new entry, so it might be best if you organized a bit and formed a team who would be prepared to post replacement pages as quickly as they come down, using slight alternate spellings to evade automated checks. Naturally I’m not actually endorsing any of this, but in case you’re determined no matter what I say, I’d like my middle name to be Rex.

Why I Do Not Hate The Kindle, Despite the Fact That I Do Not Own One, and Most Probably Never Will, Unless The Earth is Conquered by Hideous Lizard Aliens and Our Alien Overlords Decree That We Must All Use Kindles, Which Would be Insane

The other afternoon I wandered downstairs onto the first floor of the Somers Manse for the first time in weeks. I avoid the first floor because the front door is located there and past experience has taught me that the front door is the gateway through which the outside world torments me. Neighbors always want to speak with me about vague “behavior” issues, their children always want to taunt me with childish insults and name – calling, and authorities of all kinds are always delivering subpoenas or demanding admittance to ask me questions – all very tedious.

So, despite the fact that it inspires the local kids to more and more creative names for me, I tend to stay upstairs, where I have everything I need: My tatter bathrobe, my Converse Chucks, bottles of Rye in the desk drawers (for sustenance), and plumbing facilities. Whenever I am lured downstairs I always seem to get into trouble.

This time, however, I found to my delight my first royalty statements for The Electric Church. Discovering that several thousand people you don’t know personally have opted to spend money on your book is always cause for celebration, and the next 24 hours are a bit of a blur.

When I woke up, I took another glance at the statement and discovered that a good number of folks had bought TEC electronically. I don’t know for sure that all – or any – of these were Kindle sales, but I assume at least some of them must have been. This remains a tiny, tiny portion of my sales, but you hear a lot about the Kindle. Personally, I’d rather have bamboo shoots slid under my toenails than read a book on the kindle, but then I am also the Last Man on Earth to Not Own a Personal Cell Phone, so I’m obviously an idiot. When the Kindle first emerged I thought it would die a quick, smothered death, but it hangs on, doesn’t it. not exactly taking the world by storm, but still. . .there.

I’ll probably never own one, or anything similar. I just like books too much. While my sad devotion to an ancient technology is. . .well, sad, it doesn’t bother me much. I enjoy gloating over my stacks and stacks of cheap paperbacks too much. Carrying around all the same books in one brick-like digital reader just depresses me. Plus, I worry about DRM issues and not actually owning anything. It’s bad enough that I had to replace all my old Iron Maiden cassettes with CDs, if I have to buy old 1980s Del Rey fantasy books all over again just to satisfy my OCD tendencies, I will cry. And I don’t doubt at all that 10 years from now the kindle will be a convenient paperweight and we’ll all have to re-buy all of our books on the Apple iBook or some such bullshit.

Still, I don’t hate the kindle. No, really. The rosy glow of book geek joy that emanates from folks when they’ve just bought one means that at least people are excited about reading, and as an author I can’t look down on that, now can I? If it gets people to read more, than I’m all for it. Just like that dreadful Harry Potter.

Oh well. No one is paying any attention to a rummy skiffy writer like me, and thank goodness. If people were paying attention to  me, we’d likely be going through some sort of worldwide economic crisis. . .oh dear.