Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Here's something fun I saw over on Archipelapogo, and I figured I'd give it a shot. (Scott, 'pogo's writer, is one of the fellows from Collaboratory.) What happens is this: he e-mailed me five questions, and I answer them below. Then, anyone who reads these and wants to take a whack, leave a note to that effect in my Comments for this post, and I will e-mail you with five questions of your own. Sort of like those "Friday Five" things that I used to see on blogs (though not so much anymore), but the questions are actually targeted to the person, as opposed to merely being five generic-type questions that might not even apply. Got that? OK, here are my answers to the questions Scott posed:

1) Where did you get the name Jaquandor? What is it’s special significance to you?

This is a bit of geekiness, and thus far I've only encountered one person who ever recognized the reference. "Jaquandor" is the name of a minor character in the 1980s comic book Six From Sirius, which was a four-issue limited-series put out by Marvel's Epic Comics line. It's a science-fiction story about a team of six elite agents who work for Sirius Swarm, the Galaxy's dominant government. They basically go on space opera-ish James Bond type assignments. There was a sequel series, called Six From Sirius II. Both were written by Doug Moench and illustrated by Paul Gulacy. I always wished those guys would have done more series with those characters. (I could have used another name from that same series, Jakosa Lone, but that would have drawn cries of derision from certain quarters….) Anyway, I've been using the name online for about five years now; I started using it when I was active on Usenet.

2) If you could give one bit of fatherly advice to your daughter today for her to receive twenty years from now, what would it be?

The world is an amazing place; never stop being awed by it and never stop learning from it. Never lose the "sense of wonder". Always look for beauty and knowledge. (And yes, that's all one piece of advice.)

I'd love it if she went into a "creative" field, but really, I think I'll be happy no matter what she does, as long as she always keeps learning and doesn't slip into the trap of confusing her day-to-day minutiae with the entire world. (Well, I'll probably be unhappy if she becomes Chair of the Republican National Committee. But you get the idea.)

3) What was it like having a college professor for a dad? What were the pros and cons?

Hmmmm…in general, my father has always been fairly laid-back about his academic background. He's not one of those people who insists on being called "Dr." by complete strangers, and he's been known to teach classes in t-shirts. He was quite concerned about my academic performance, of course, but I don't think he was any more concerned about that than other intelligent parents. (It's the unintelligent parents you have to worry about.) Of course, there were the obligatory howls of consternation when I'd bring home a bad grade in his particular subject (mathematics), not really because he assumed I'd have a similar level of ability there but more because clearly I wouldn't have actually asked him for help in long division or trig or whatever. Occasionally, when I would go to him for help with the math homework, he'd be appalled when he realized that I was being taught incorrectly (I think), and this would bring about the inevitable tirade about teachers and whatnot. But that didn't happen all that often.

4) Which of the four Bills Super Bowl Losses was the toughest to stomach and why?

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh!!

I'd have to say the first one (Giants, 20-19), by a pretty wide margin. That's the one the Bills absolutely should have won, and it's almost unforgivable that they didn't. As I think back to that game, it astounds me how badly the Bills were outcoached in that game. Their defensive philosophy of "bend but don't break" (which, incidentally, I hold as the main culprit in all four of those losses) really hurt in the game against the Giants. That's the game where they allowed a nine-and-half-minute scoring drive at the beginning of the third quarter, and when the Bills had the ball on offense for only nineteen total minutes. That's the game where Thurman Thomas rushed for 135 yards, but only had 19 carries. If Marv Levy would simply have noticed how Thomas was cutting the Giants to ribbons and run him 30 or 35 times, there's no way they would have lost that game. Yeah, Scott Norwood should have made the kick - - that's what NFL placekickers are paid to do, after all - - but that game also should never have come down to a kicker never known for his distance being asked to make a low-percentage kick.

What's funny about the two games against the Cowboys is that I firmly believe the Bills could have won both of those games. Both times, their defense actually played tough in the opening half, and both times the Bills had early leads. And both times they were done in on turnovers.

In reality, the only time I think the Bills were actually beaten by a clearly superior team was the second one, when the Redskins beat them.

5) Which three books sparked or reinforced your passion for reading and writing? Pick one from childhood, one from adolescence, and one from adult life.

For our purposes here, I'll define "childhood" as up to 13; "adolescence" to include college; and adult life to mean after college. (Hell, I'm not at all certain I'm an adult even now!)

Childhood is something of a toss-up, but I'd probably go with Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles. This was my first encounter with multi-volume fantasy series, set in imaginary worlds with a map inside the front cover. (I could as easily have chosen John Bellairs's The House With a Clock In Its Walls, which cultivated my love of Gothic and horror fiction, and Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey, which began my love of written SF. And of course, it's not a book, but the bedrock of my storytelling world has always been Star Wars.)

Adolescence: This is pretty hard, actually. Music actually eclipsed reading for a long time; I actually started college as a music major, and listening and performing were paramount. I suppose the book I'd pick here would be one I read during my sophomore year in college (during May Term, actually - - remember those, Sean?) when I'd go sit on a blanket under a tree reading it after class. This was Carl Sagan's Cosmos. And actually, this is something of a cheat, since I had been transfixed by the television series when it had first aired during fourth grade. Maybe I'd instead choose John Steinbeck's The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights, which kindled a fascination with the Arthurian legend that is still flowering in me to this day, in the form of the novel I'm writing. But actually, given my answer to #2 above, I'll go with Cosmos.

Adulthood: This is even harder. Again, I'll cheat by narrowing it to two: Guy Gavriel Kay's three-volume Fionavar Tapestry and Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Aside from Arthuriana, my love of fantasy in general was pretty dormant until I encountered the Kay series (although it, too, is Arthuriana in part). And King's book crystalized so many thoughts I've had about writing over the years. At one point in the book he says something like, "Do you really need a permission slip from me or something like that to call yourself a writer?" Funny, because in a way, that's precisely how I've come to see that book.

OK, there are my answers. Anyone want me to ask? I won't be asking about the air velocity of an unladen swallow….

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