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What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2541] Fri, 08 October 2004 10:02 Go to next message
Ellen Hayes  is currently offline Ellen Hayes
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Obviously, I've got some idea... but I want to hear what YOU think has inspired Tuck or parts of Tuck. I'm also not interested in how much you little data-mining gnomes can dig out of your archives.
What do you think has contributed to Tuck in the way of other media?


Ellen
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Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2543] Fri, 08 October 2004 17:18 Go to previous messageGo to next message
rachel.greenham  is currently offline rachel.greenham
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Ellen Hayes wrote on Fri, 08 October 2004 15:02

Obviously, I've got some idea... but I want to hear what YOU think has inspired Tuck or parts of Tuck. I'm also not interested in how much you little data-mining gnomes can dig out of your archives.
What do you think has contributed to Tuck in the way of other media?


Ellen
nosig



This would really be mapping the common points of reference (or lack thereof) between you and the readership. Smile

I've said it before but Tuck and Mike's relationship keeps reminding me of that of bredin (sword-brothers? oath-brothers? can't remember) from Darkover, by Marion Zimmer Bradley. A relationship that's solemnised with an exchange of knives.

The model is probably that of Regis Hastur and Danilo Syrtis in, um, The Heritage of Hastur. Although they did also end up as lovers and I don't expect the Tuck/Mike relationship to gain that dimension, that didn't actually stop them being bredin which I think was the deeper relationship. I think they were about the right age too.

Can't be more precise, has been a long time. The oath Mike gets Tuck to repeat at King's Island sounded familiar but I'm not sure it's from that.

A lot of those books had progagonists trying to come to terms with being or becoming something they never expected.

Heinlein almost goes without saying. Razz I think it may relate more to some of the earlier stuff I haven't read though (and the stuff I did read was even longer ago than Darkover). Someone mentioned Friday to me in connection with Tuck, but I can't really comment as I haven't read that one.

That's all that comes to mind right now. Maybe more later.


Rachel
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2544] Fri, 08 October 2004 21:45 Go to previous messageGo to next message
lurker
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Encountering recognizable slices of work life and incorporating into Tuck.
My favorites were about non-tech people reacting to tech capable people as illustrated in Ellen's non-Tuck Tech Support stories and in Tuck. I've found interesting the impatience of suffering fools that are not technical by those stories' protagonists. Yeah - the customer is always right, but sometimes you want to scream....

I've worked in Tech support for more than 5 years and I finally had to get out because I couldn't hide my displeasure at talking to those who I believed were "lazy" customers who themselves are supposedly technical. Especially when you speak with them in the beginning, they seem to believe they know what they're talking about. Sad

Real incidences:
Example #1:
Pager goes off 2 a.m. and wakes me up at home (we were a small company - no 24 hr office support) - I reached the customer at a trade show floor who needs his unit up in running in eight hours and desperately wants to know cable pinouts.
"Sir, do you have the manual that came with the unit at hand?", I asked.
"Yes"
"Can you turn to appendix B?"
"Yes - Oh! Here it is - great!"
The standard acronym for this problem is inability to RtFM - Read the F@#king Manual!

Example #2:
Customer: "My unit was dead on arrival, no LEDs are lit! - I insist you send another one right away!! I've got other people contracted here in support of this turnup and you guys are costing us a fortune by sending f*&ked-up equipment!!! When this is over were going to send you a bill for this!!!"
Me(ANNOYED, knowing unit went through 72hr environmental burn-in testing before shipping): "Is the power strip turned on? I not going to ask if you plugged it in..."
Customer: "Oh sh#t...."

You know you need to get out when your boss hints in the hallway that some customers are indicating that you have an attitude problem...

I understand why Tuck would rather deal with baby-poo than with customers. At least you know the baby can't help it Evil or Very Mad

On the other hand, you wonder if Tuck's lack of empathy to his peer's that are technically challenged germinates some of his own problems. Recall even how Tuck was explaining the use of LaTex to his math teacher and his math teacher was having difficulty following him. I saw this frequently at college in Engineering school between the class genius' and the merely capable. The same merely capable who by the way are in the top 1/2 percentile in the college entrance exams.

Inspiration from real slices of life and illustrating it in words- that's the art....
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2545] Fri, 08 October 2004 23:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Lynna  is currently offline Lynna
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I would think that much came from real life experiences of Ellen and others, plus a good dash in inspiration and a very good imagination.(And the talent to stir them all together and end up with some really good stories).

Lynna
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2546] Fri, 08 October 2004 23:45 Go to previous messageGo to next message
OtherEric  is currently offline OtherEric
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Gah, that's a hard one, espically since you say you don't want us to data-mine. One thing that comes to mind is the jargon file- perhaps you came by all the items in other sources, but I get the feeling both you and Tuck have read it and grabbed bits that amused you without necessarly encountering them somewhere else. (I've done that, myself.)
Other than that, I have the impression that you've read an enormous amount of science fiction. Tuck isn't SF, unless you really want to torture the definition, but it reads more like SF than other types of stories. (I know that's very general, but I think it fits.)
Mostly, though, Tuck feels like it comes from real life- perhaps slightly exaggerated, but not that much. It's one of the only things I've read about what people call "nerds & geeks" that really captures what it's like to be part of that crowd, and really not mind that you are that much. The cast is my sort of people, even to this day. (Case in point: tomorrow is the day we try swapping over our twice-monthly game from Gurps 3rd to Gurps 4th.)
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2547] Sat, 09 October 2004 05:17 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
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Leave it to Beaver, Gilligan's Island and The Gong Show.

Seriously, Tuck's fabric seems to be made up of a weft of my life and literary experience and the warp of Ellen's imagination. By this I'm not suggesting I had anything to do with it, it just seems that way. I'm not into music and computer games in the same way Tuck (and perhaps Ellen) is but otherwise I recognise and resonate to even some very off the wall confluences.

People are bound to mention Heinlein and Bradley but how about A.E. van Vogt, Alfred Bester, Ted Sturgeon, P.J. Farmer, Roger Zelazny, Spider Robinson, Alan Dean Foster, Mike Resnick and Doc Smith? Also, Gardner Fox, Jerry Siegel, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Hayao Miyazaki, Dave Sim and Alan Moore.

- Erin

[Updated on: Sat, 09 October 2004 05:33]

Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2548] Sat, 09 October 2004 15:35 Go to previous messageGo to next message
lurker
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OtherEric wrote on Fri, 08 October 2004 20:45

Other than that, I have the impression that you've read an enormous amount of science fiction. Tuck isn't SF, unless you really want to torture the definition, but it reads more like SF than other types of stories. (I know that's very general, but I think it fits.)


I sort of agree and also see hints of character developments you find in good popular SciFi cinematic story structures. They are relatively incomplete to keep you wondering more about what makes each character tick. More specifically, the embellishment of secondary characters in the ensemble cast. Every character has just enough depth of redeeming values, flaws and emotional scars that you can eventually create more complete backgrounds on each and develop plots around each. This allows you creative people out there to come up with great Fanfics.
You start out with what appears a cultural identity and you think of a person as one of "them". As the story evolves, an "evil" character isn't really evil, just a soul that's very "human" who must survive within the cultural identity and tries to belong for safety and security. We initially see only cause and effect - then it develops into why. Centauris of B5 and Klingons of Trek started out evil, we later find they are really tragic situations. Why are the Jocks at Travis' school palatable, but Jocks at Tuck's school evil? Are the school's really that different in a rather homogenous midwestern city? Is this a cause and effect of very deep and emotional misunderstandings between groups? Will Ellen make them tragic in the end? Notice that Jody in the latest chapter becoming remorseful?
Besides wondering what happens to Tuck, as a reader I anticipate and want to understand more about Mike, George (why is he an asshole and yet what is it in his nature that everyone puts up with him?), Book, and Dan. Why are members of the Pack, members of the Pack? You have this tight group of females supporting each other that they are a powerful school clique. But as individuals, they have serious personal issues and you feel with them. It's what keeps me wanting to read more of this story - the TG issue about Tuck alone would not have kept me reading Tuck. It's about the relationships.
I postulate that's where Ellen gets some of her story's construction.
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2549] Sun, 10 October 2004 15:14 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Doragoon  is currently offline Doragoon
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Anyone find it odd that no one is saying any kind of TG fiction as possible inspiration?

we all acknowledge that this IS TG fiction, but everyone is saying books and tv shows and things that have no real relation to anything TG.

Is it really that much not like any other TG story that no one thinks ellen was inspired by it?

Or is it that people think tuck is too good to be connected to other TG fiction?

Or do we just view ellen as being above reading such stories?
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2550] Sun, 10 October 2004 16:06 Go to previous messageGo to next message
OtherEric  is currently offline OtherEric
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Doragoon wrote on Sun, 10 October 2004 12:14

Anyone find it odd that no one is saying any kind of TG fiction as possible inspiration?

Not really. I can't think of any TG fiction I've read that directly influenced Tuck. (I could probably come up with several that Tuck influenced, however.) Also, most tg fiction that I've found worth reading anything other that 1-handed is not primarily TG fiction; it's something else with TG elements. (Bek D. Corbin's stories are a great example of this- Superheroes w/TG elements, Fantasy w/TG elements, etcetera.) Tuck is mostly a coming-of-age tale, with TG elements.
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2551] Sun, 10 October 2004 16:45 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Cate
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After reading Ellen's totally unambiguous statements about the work of Vickie Tern; I'm thinking maybe Ellen was inspired by her to prove that TG fiction could be something much more than jerk-off, humilation porn. That Elllen may have been inspired to perhaps become the polar opposite of that school of TG fiction?

Things you despise can be influences, too.
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2552] Mon, 11 October 2004 03:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Brooke  is currently offline Brooke
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Cate wrote on Sun, 10 October 2004 13:45

After reading Ellen's totally unambiguous statements about the work of Vickie Tern; I'm thinking maybe Ellen was inspired by her to prove that TG fiction could be something much more than jerk-off, humilation porn. That Elllen may have been inspired to perhaps become the polar opposite of that school of TG fiction?

Things you despise can be influences, too.


Well, some stories of that sort can be fun if you are in the right mood. But I agree that a lot of them are major turn offs in any mood.

And getting inspired to write something that's the antithesis of something else, or that shows the flaws in the unspoken assumptions of a genre is common enough (heck it's the way several of my stories started)
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2553] Mon, 11 October 2004 05:41 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Eric  is currently offline Eric
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lurker wrote on Sat, 09 October 2004 12:35

You start out with what appears a cultural identity and you think of a person as one of "them". As the story evolves, an "evil" character isn't really evil, just a soul that's very "human" who must survive within the cultural identity and tries to belong for safety and security. We initially see only cause and effect - then it develops into why...


I wouldn't go that far. I don't expect to encounter an explanation for Nickerson or Rob Walsh or a lot of the other forces of darkness here.

Not that you can't do so. I mean, sure, you could write a fanfic from Nickerson's POV and decide that his self-important "fascist" attitude came from having been an assistant to someone who lost control of a school because he or she had been too permissive and too uncaring about the regulations. In trying to avoid what he thinks of as anarchy, he takes any attack on the rigidity of the school structure (e.g., the pirate radio station) personally, which puts him on the defensive even before the attacks start centering on him and making him completely lose control. But how would knowing that help Tuck's story? Tuck reacts to Nickerson as someone undeserving of any sympathy and having no redeeming qualities, and the story's better for it.

Similarly, what we know about Rob Walsh and Bobby McPhearson is that they get drunk and aren't very bright in any case; consequently, they're easy for Tuck to outsmart, even if that may subject him to more violence in the longer term. Unless Ellen plans to recast them as Tuck's protectors under some weird set of circumstances, is there any reason to know more than that? In a story told entirely from the POV of a character that we're expected to sympathize with, cardboard villains aren't necessarily a liability.

Erin Halfelven wrote on Sat 9 October 02:35

People are bound to mention Heinlein and Bradley but how about A.E. van Vogt, Alfred Bester, Ted Sturgeon, P.J. Farmer, Roger Zelazny, Spider Robinson, Alan Dean Foster, Mike Resnick and Doc Smith? Also, Gardner Fox, Jerry Siegel, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Hayao Miyazaki, Dave Sim and Alan Moore.


I'd definitely add Larry Niven; I'd be inclined to subtract Doc Smith. I also continue to believe that O.S. Card's Ender's Game is almost a direct influence here.

I don't know enough about specific RPGs to identify any games or developers whose ideas might have had general influence (as opposed to the specifics of the games that Mike GMs), but I certainly wouldn't be surprised to find some.

Sort of along the same lines, a story with as much of a sound track as this one might well have some overriding musical influence, but if so it's certainly not going to be one that a Kingston Trio/Cashman, Pistilli and West guy like me could come up with.
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2555] Mon, 11 October 2004 13:42 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Cate
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Actually some of the Kingston Trio's stuff ties in real well with the Tuck cycle. 'The Merry Minuet' embodies the cynicism that frequently surfaces in Tuck and friends. And 'Strange Days [in Hoggsville, USA]' has a mildly gender-bent sense of "Wa-Fu?!?!?" that most episodes of Tuck have running in their subtext.
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2556] Mon, 11 October 2004 14:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
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Well, works by Niven and Pournelle, E.R. Burroughs, Frank Herbert and, I think, Harry Harrison and Isaac Asimov are at least obliquely mentioned. There's some Keith Laumer-like humor frequently, too.

I still see Doc Smith or maybe Burroughs in the sense of melodramatic description Ellen sometimes uses, usually for comic effect. But then most of the SF writers on ANYBODY'S list have been influenced by Doc. Smile Laumer, Niven and Pournelle, Foster, Herbert and Harrison almost certainly.

And let's not forget Moses Horvitz and Louis Feinberg. Smile

- Erin
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2557] Mon, 11 October 2004 23:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
lurker
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Eric wrote on Mon, 11 October 2004 02:41

I wouldn't go that far. I don't expect to encounter an explanation for Nickerson or Rob Walsh or a lot of the other forces of darkness here..

Neither would I regarding Nickerson. As Master Storyteller, it's Ellen's option if she wants, whether or not to find a way to redeem Rob Walsh in the story arc. It ain't over till it's over... Smile
Parsing what Eric wrote on Mon, 11 October 2004 02:41

Not that you can't do so. I mean, sure, you could write a fanfic from Nickerson's POV .......In a story told entirely from the POV of a character that we're expected to sympathize with, cardboard villains aren't necessarily a liability..

There is a cute SciFi parody starring Tim Allen made back in 1999 titled "Galaxy Quest" (remember, I said "cute", not "great"). It's about actors who onced starred in a SciFi cult TV show. They are now reduced to attending as paid guests at sci-fi conventions as their only means of income because they became stereotyped to their Sci-Fi characters. There was one actor who played as an extra with a single line that gets invited to these events and laments having wore the red uniform. It appears any tertiary character in a red uniform will be killed off during the episode. In Tuck, Nickerson wore the red uniform..... Laughing Yes, you can still have an evil non-redeeming character in a story that no one wants a fanfic about. Paraphrasing Freud about dreams: Sometimes an evil is just an evil.

Ellen asked in this thread what we thought might be her inspirations for Tuck, more specifically "What do you think has contributed to Tuck in the way of other media?". Characters in real life aren't black and white. IMHO, good fictional characters aren't either - you can still empathize with them with their flaws. It just appears to me that she uses a sort of literary device where characters appear set and then a surprise event happens and the characters grow. The shows I cited earlier overtly used the same device. I think it's a fun device!! Cool
Examples: Debbie going ballistic at the TG convention in LA. Did that make Debbie unredeeming and evil? Were any of you readers out there expecting the breakup? Up until Tuck needed Brian's help in finding Mike - Brian was an asshole born of sibling rivalry - was Brian evil? Now we see Brian coming to aid in unquestionable support of Tuck - close the ranks and get ready for battle! The point in the subplot when Tuck realizes Kelly was female - was Ellen evil?(YES!!Evil or Very Mad)She used masculine pronouns the whole time up to that point! I must admit, I sort of saw that one coming... Smile
One note regarding Seasons...Miss Jane in the original Joel Lawrence story arc was IMHO a sadistic personality. By the time Tigger and others evolved her character, she became a positive character who helps her charges. I hope this new updated version from Ellen has Miss Jane giving Tuck the insight Tuck/Val needs to deal with his problems...

Anyways, I was just musing where Ellen might have gotten her inspirations. I guess I'll just retreat into the shadows and lurk.... Crying or Very Sad
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2558] Tue, 12 October 2004 00:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Ellen Hayes  is currently offline Ellen Hayes
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lurker wrote on Tue, 12 October 2004 04:01

Anyways, I was just musing where Ellen might have gotten her inspirations. I guess I'll just retreat into the shadows and lurk.... Crying or Very Sad

Ellen darts Lurker. "Eyyyy, non'ah that," she warns as Lurker crumples to the floor, unconscious...
We COULD get all maudlin and cry in our beer here, but: A) I refuse to allow that when I don't have the faintest idea why; and B) Let's not because I'm perenially depressed enough for two dozen people anyway.

So what other media do you think has influenced Tuck?


Ellen
nosig

Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2559] Tue, 12 October 2004 00:16 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Lynna  is currently offline Lynna
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Upon some more serious contemplation of the question, I have come to the following conclusion:

Ellen has possession of a multidimentional communications apparatus (Based on the Tardis) and there is a real Tuck & friends out there somewhere.
She has been writing their story as told to her.

This would account for some of the time lapses between chapters, as the conditions were not proper for multidimentional communications.

Lynna
"From warped minds....."
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2560] Tue, 12 October 2004 00:46 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Brooke  is currently offline Brooke
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lurker wrote on Mon, 11 October 2004 20:01

The point in the subplot when Tuck realizes Kelly was female - was Ellen evil?(YES!!Evil or Very Mad)She used masculine pronouns the whole time up to that point! I must admit, I sort of saw that one coming... Smile


I bet that if you check, all those masculine pronouns are being used by the viewpoint characters, none of whom is Kelly.

*They* thought she was a guy.

It is an evil trick. But there are lots of them out there. Most writers (and most GMs) use them just enough to keep people on their toes.

Evil trick? I think not. [message #2562] Tue, 12 October 2004 02:04 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sir Lee  is currently offline Sir Lee
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Brooke wrote on Tue, 12 October 2004 01:46

lurker wrote on Mon, 11 October 2004 20:01

The point in the subplot when Tuck realizes Kelly was female - was Ellen evil?(YES!!Evil or Very Mad)She used masculine pronouns the whole time up to that point! I must admit, I sort of saw that one coming... Smile

I bet that if you check, all those masculine pronouns are being used by the viewpoint characters, none of whom is Kelly.
*They* thought she was a guy.
It is an evil trick. But there are lots of them out there. Most writers (and most GMs) use them just enough to keep people on their toes.

No, it's not an evil trick. It's called "being consistent." The story not only takes Tuck's POV (usually), it's (usually) TOLD BY TUCK, in a linear form. Although it uses the past tense, this is mostly a stylistic device (present tense tends to make the narrative more urgent and... well, tense) -- the way Ellen writes it, the story should be seen as happening "now," not being reminisced by the protagonist years later (the log/timestamps form particularly bring it to the foreground: were Tuck retelling the story of hir teenage years from sometime later, (s)he couldn't be that detailed. And, if Tuck is telling what is happening "now" from hir POV, obviously (s)he couldn't include information (s)he wasn't privy to at that time -- like Kelly's real gender.

For the opposite (and less common) approach, check the excellent "The King Must Die" by Mary Renault -- the story is narrated by the aged King Theseus, who now and then digresses and mentions facts that happened years after the main narrative.

Now, if (for the sake of argument) Ellen were to narrate the initial Tuck/Kelly encounter as a third-person omniscient narrator, she could (if she so wished) have made clear to the reader from the beginning that both characters were working under mistaken assumptions. This device has been often used in comedy, where the mistakes and antics are a substantial part of the plot. However, I doubt that it fit with the tone of the Tuck Saga -- which may have its comedic moments, but has an underlying edge that doesn't fit well with farce.

OTOH, "Tuck Season" is much more farcical (at least in the original version -- the revised one seems to have a bit more edge), and it DOES use a variant of this device -- the Seasons House people are working under the assumption that Eugene is a "macho asshole", while Tuck mistakenly believes that "Charlene" is a real girl. Mayhem follows...


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
Re: Evil trick? I think not. [message #2564] Tue, 12 October 2004 11:30 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Ellen Hayes  is currently offline Ellen Hayes
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Sir Lee wrote on Tue, 12 October 2004 07:04

Mayhem follows...

The canonical version is "Hilarity ensues"... which has a certain sanguine overtone which makes me nervous.


Ellen
nosig

Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2568] Tue, 12 October 2004 23:07 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Mike the Younger  is currently offline Mike the Younger
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Strictly as a Wild-Assed Guess...

Armor by John Steakley
Vampires, Inc by John Steakley
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2570] Wed, 13 October 2004 01:48 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Eric  is currently offline Eric
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Erin Halfelven wrote on Mon, 11 October 2004 11:22

And let's not forget Moses Horvitz and Louis Feinberg. Smile
- Erin


Took me a minute. Maybe we should add Stanley Jefferson.

Eric
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2572] Thu, 14 October 2004 00:19 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
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I couldn't remember the correct name or I would have. Smile Thanks.

Julius Marx told a great anecdote about Stan in one of his books. (I think it was Julius that told this one, I've read a lot of these guys books.) He visited Stan in the hospital near the end of his last stay there. They talked a bit about people they both knew and things they had done and Julius mentioned in his retelling how sad it was to see Stan with so little energy and having so little fun.

A nurse entered carrying a tray of medication, and perhaps realizing she was in the presence of two of the best comic minds of the century, she tripped. She did a marvelous unintentional pratfall, the tray of medications sailed through the air and landed on the foot of Stan's bed, not having spilled a drop of any of the liquids or cups of pills.

Stan and Julius laughed and congratulated the nurse and Stan sat up in bed, spinning the incident into the outline of a slapstick routine set in the hospital; probably with a few quips from the quipmeister to egg him on. Julius said that Stan seemed so very alive and thirty years younger while he described the comedy he saw in his mind.

Then suddenly, Stan said, "But Babe's dead," and lay back on the bed, an old man again. Not long after, he died.

For anyone still wondering, ARTHUR Stanley Jefferson was Stan Laurel, and Julius Marx was Groucho. Norvell 'Babe' Hardy was Stan's partner Oliver Hardy. The aforementioned Mr. Horvitz and Mr. Feinberg were better known as Moe Howard and Larry Fine; they did much of the writing for themselves and their partners in the act known as the Three Stooges. Smile

Much of the comic sensibility in Ellen's work is visual slapstick with exactly the sort of not-so subliminated mayhem frequently used to good effect by the masters of the cream pie. Smile

- Erin
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2573] Thu, 14 October 2004 16:26 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Cate
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Erin, are you trying to tell us that Ellen once shot an elephant in her pajamas? [Though, how an elephant got in her pajamas, she'll never know!]
< waggles eyebrows >
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2574] Thu, 14 October 2004 22:04 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
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Well, sort of. Smile Ellen does know a lot of old comedy routines, apparently. Once in awhile, I catch an echo of one of them in the story and that sort of sense of humor seems to be part of her concept of the characters. When I had the Tucker family riff on Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" in my "Tuck and the Wizard" fanfic, Ellen commented in a letter that it seemed so much like I actually knew the Tuckers, that it was almost spooky. Smile

Of course, Ellen had me punch up the threat level in the story and ease off on the cuteness. Smile I think of Valerie as being very cute and apparently this annoys Ellen a bit. Very Happy

- Erin

[Updated on: Thu, 14 October 2004 22:04]

Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2576] Fri, 15 October 2004 05:13 Go to previous messageGo to next message
rachel.greenham  is currently offline rachel.greenham
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Erin Halfelven wrote on Fri, 15 October 2004 03:04

Of course, Ellen had me punch up the threat level in the story and ease off on the cuteness. Smile I think of Valerie as being very cute and apparently this annoys Ellen a bit. Very Happy


Oh you noticed?

... <very, very tired>

Hmm. Perhaps we should try out the poll functionality on this bb software...


Rachel
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2579] Sat, 16 October 2004 03:21 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
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Well, it seems to me that most of the characters react to Val as her being very cute and a bit of a ditz. This is one of the things that seems to disturb Mike about Tuck/Val. Not only does Tuck pass easily as a female but as a particular sort of cute girl who is smart and funny but a bit of a scatterbrain. Smile

I think Mike wants to grin and chuckle at the girl but realizes that this is his best friend Tuck--who isn't really acting that much different than he ordinarily does except superficially. Which means that since those behaviors work very well for Valerie but not so good for Tuck--well, then Mike's friend Tuck really is better at being a girl than being a boy. And I don't think that thought would ever have crossed Mike's mind without the evidence.

This makes for a comedy of discordance that's almost like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeanie, or The Munsters and The Addams Family. Things are either not what they seem or they never were what they seemed to be. Expectations are not being met but since we're all in on the gag as readers, it becomes the expected surprise and we all grin and laugh while the bees buzz around in Mike's head. Smile

Bill got some of this and it bemused him too when he followed Tuck around thru Valerie's chores. Sarah doesn't have Bill's centerboard, she expects the world to keep making sense and when it stops doing that, she gets angry. Also funny, but scary for Tuck. Susan reacts like she's run into a wall when she encounters this effect but she is more Bill than Sarah and has adjusted. The Pack saw the funny aspect from the beginning and had fun with it but now, Valerie is just Valerie and for some of them, Tuck is the persona who jars.

Persona, not personality, because Tuck and Val have the same personality, expressed slightly differently but they are both just Eugene putting on a comfortable persona. And Tuck is pretty comfortable in either role, it's other people who react badly to Tuck.

- Erin
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2581] Sat, 16 October 2004 05:08 Go to previous messageGo to next message
rachel.greenham  is currently offline rachel.greenham
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Erin Halfelven wrote on Sat, 16 October 2004 08:21

Well, it seems to me that most of the characters react to Val as her being very cute and a bit of a ditz. This is one of the things that seems to disturb Mike about Tuck/Val. Not only does Tuck pass easily as a female but as a particular sort of cute girl who is smart and funny but a bit of a scatterbrain. Smile


Absolutely. Thank you. Smile

Of course, I know real people who object to being called cute too. Doesn't mean they aren't. (In fact their denials can be so cuuuuute!)

(You know who you are. Twisted Evil )


Rachel
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2587] Sat, 16 October 2004 15:59 Go to previous messageGo to next message
OtherEric  is currently offline OtherEric
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Erin Halfelven wrote on Sat, 16 October 2004 08:21

Well, it seems to me that most of the characters react to Val as her being very cute and a bit of a ditz. This is one of the things that seems to disturb Mike about Tuck/Val. Not only does Tuck pass easily as a female but as a particular sort of cute girl who is smart and funny but a bit of a scatterbrain. Smile

I think that scatterbrain is the wrong word, although I'll concede that it might seem that way to somebody who doesn't know Tu-Val well. The real problem, IMO, is the exact opposite- Tuck overfocuses and loses track of anything else. I aslo really don't see where you see people seeing Val as a ditz. That's a bit of an ambiguous word, but I don't see it really possible to describe somebody as both smart and a ditz. (Smart and scatterbrained, sure. Smart and ditz, no.)
rachel.greenham wrote on Sat, 16 October 2004 02:08


Of course, I know real people who object to being called cute too. Doesn't mean they aren't. (In fact their denials can be so cuuuuute!)

Nothing really meaningful to add, but I know exactly what you mean. Valerie, I think, would fall firmly in this category.
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2588] Sat, 16 October 2004 17:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
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To me, ditz is not a synonym for stupid. There's some overlap there but a ditz is someone who seems to lack focus OR seems to focus on the wrong aspects of things--in a particular, mostly harmless, sort of way. It's derived from dizzy, probably thru the fake Yiddish-and-Italian-derived street-slang of New York and some other big cities. The dictionary says ditz means scatterbrained or eccentric. Tuck is certainly eccentric. Smile

Tuck does have a laser beam ability to focus, but this makes for a very narrow attention which can look UNfocussed to people who don't know. When Tuck stares off into space thinking of programming the phone to make pizza orders automatically, Valerie looks just like a cute, ditzy chick airily contemplating what underwear goes with fuschsia toe-nails. Smile Since the current discussion was something else, Tuck looks ditzy. For a reasonably cute girl, this is cute; for a weedy, scrawny, little guy, this is dangerous.

- Erin
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2589] Sat, 16 October 2004 19:00 Go to previous messageGo to next message
OtherEric  is currently offline OtherEric
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Erin Halfelven wrote on Sat, 16 October 2004 14:11

To me, ditz is not a synonym for stupid. There's some overlap there but a ditz is someone who seems to lack focus OR seems to focus on the wrong aspects of things--in a particular, mostly harmless, sort of way.

Perhaps it's just me, but ditz or ditzy has always suggested an unwillingness to think- not necessarly stupid, but not smart either. (My definition doesn't fit Tuck because Tuck is perfectly happy to think- it's just that Tuck avoids certain subjects like the plague.)
Erin Halfelven wrote on Sat, 16 October 2004 14:11

When Tuck stares off into space thinking of programming the phone to make pizza orders automatically, Valerie looks just like a cute, ditzy chick airily contemplating what underwear goes with fuschsia toe-nails. Smile

Exactly. I think we're very close to agreement on this point. I don't think Mike would consider Valerie scatterbrained because MIKE does know better. Perhaps I'm just getting to specific in looking at something you meant as a more general observations.
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2590] Sat, 16 October 2004 23:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
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Hmm, you do have a much harsher definition of ditz than I do. And curiously, to me, that definition would fit more men than women. Smile

- Erin
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2591] Sat, 16 October 2004 23:54 Go to previous messageGo to next message
OtherEric  is currently offline OtherEric
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Erin Halfelven wrote on Sat, 16 October 2004 20:15

Hmm, you do have a much harsher definition of ditz than I do. And curiously, to me, that definition would fit more men than women. Smile

That's the interesting thing about slang terms like that- the definition can vary depending on where you hear it, and those differences can magnify. I remember years ago when there was some controversy about a show- "Cop Rock", I think- was going to use a slang word for a condom in prime time. One article actually quoted the word involved, "scumbag". And I wound up having discussions with several people, including my parents, about that. We knew the word, we used the word to describe real assholes, and not a one of us had ever had the slightest clue that the word was a slang term for condom. It's still used, and I have yet to hear anybody ever use it to mean condom.

I guess 'ditz' does get used more in reference to females generally, but my family certainly never discriminated in the use of the term. It didn't occur to me that it might be more commomly used about one gender until I thought about how it was used in the media. (Now that I think about it, I suspect that most times it's used by people I know more as semi-polite shorthand for "dipshit", rather that an abbriviation of "ditzy". Which would explain the different reaction to the word.)
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2592] Sun, 17 October 2004 02:26 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
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I'd have to say that your use of the word 'ditz' is less standard than mine. Smile The similar word I would use for your meaning would likely be 'putz' or the more Anglo-Saxon 'shithead'. Smile Dumbass would be good, too. None of those are polite, tho. Politely, that is not using profanity, obscenity or scatology, I might refer to one as...uh...ass? Except that isn't considered a 'polite' word in the U.S.

How about, "the southend of a northbound mule"? Smile

BTW, I always thought 'scumbag' literally meant USED condom but I've very seldom heard it used to mean anything but a worthless person of a particularly obnoxious, usually male, sort. Smile

- Erin
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2600] Mon, 18 October 2004 03:35 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Doragoon  is currently offline Doragoon
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The problem with tuck being percieved as cute has to do with reader's expectations. Most stories describe the main character as cute and feminine ad nausium. This is becouse those traits are greatly desired and admired by the people who write (and read) the stories.

As far as i can remember, ellen doesn't normaly describe tuck as feminine or cute. tuck certainly doesn't describe himself that way in his mind. and niether of those traits are important to tuck. as tuck himself has said, he would be happy with turning into a man and not being able to do the Val thing any more.

how i see tuck is as a practicle no nonsence kinda person. kinda like heinlein's friday, and i don't think anyone ever described her as being cute. They also both have that mistaken destiny thing, raised as something they were not meant to be...

though who knows what tuck really is after you peel away all the social conditioning.
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2601] Mon, 18 October 2004 03:46 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
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I didn't mean to say that Ellen or Tuck described Tuck as cute or ditzy, I said it looked to me like people were reacting to Tuck in those terms. Smile Still think so. Frex, Tuck's paranoid flinches make people nervous but when Valerie does it the reaction is different, conciliatory and sympathetic, or even bemused.

But we're working with slippery words here, I've run across three different people lately who used cute in the sense that I would use sweet, as applied to a person or personality.

- Erin
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2604] Mon, 18 October 2004 10:10 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Doragoon  is currently offline Doragoon
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i would just say that compared to how tuck is normaly percived, being treated normally probably makes him feel like they think he's an idiot.
Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2605] Mon, 18 October 2004 12:36 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Ellen Hayes  is currently offline Ellen Hayes
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Doragoon wrote on Mon, 18 October 2004 15:10

i would just say that compared to how tuck is normaly percived, being treated normally probably makes him feel like they think he's an idiot.

That's also because, in Tuck's view, so-called 'normal' people ARE idiots. I mean, who in their right mind would drive a car wherein putting a tape in the player will sometimes cause the engine to fail (and maybe the brakes as well) ? Yet, they think this sort of behaviour in their computers is normal...
I could point to a few dozen other examples.
Come to think of it, THAT's probably been one of my inspirations, at least one of the smaller ones...


Ellen
nosig

Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2606] Mon, 18 October 2004 13:45 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Ellen Hayes  is currently offline Ellen Hayes
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And would you explain this?
Erin Halfelven wrote on Mon, 18 October 2004 08:46

Frex, Tuck's paranoid flinches make people nervous but when Valerie does it the reaction is different, conciliatory and sympathetic, or even bemused.

I've no CLUE what you're saying here...


Ellen
nosig

Re: What are Ellen's inspirations? [message #2607] Mon, 18 October 2004 20:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
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All of this is, of course, what I read into the text. Smile

Tuck reacts strongly to perceived possible threats, sometimes physically flinching. When Tuck does this, many people think he's being a dork. When Val does this, almost everryone gets concerned. It's all in the perception. I'd probably have to look for hours to find examples.

The one person who doesn't seem to really treat Val different than she treats Tuck is Amy, though Jack, Cathy, Kelly and Dobson come close. Mike tries but the situation seems to confuse his instincts. Debbie and Susan next; Debbie only treats Tuck as Val when it suits her, consciously or unconsciously and it really doesn't matter that much how Tuck is dressed. Susan has a worse case of cognitive dissonance than Mike. Kim seems to see Tuck as a weird dorky friend and Val as a friendly rival. The rest of the The Pack and Da Boyz have mostly less defined reactions, but different for Tuck and Val; the girls mostly prefer Val and the guys all prefer Tuck.

YMMV Smile

- Erin

Ditzes [message #2611] Tue, 19 October 2004 05:32 Go to previous message
Eric  is currently offline Eric
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Erin Halfelven wrote on Sat, 16 October 2004 14:11

To me, ditz is not a synonym for stupid. There's some overlap there but a ditz is someone who seems to lack focus OR seems to focus on the wrong aspects of things--in a particular, mostly harmless, sort of way. It's derived from dizzy, probably thru the fake Yiddish-and-Italian-derived street-slang of New York and some other big cities. The dictionary says ditz means scatterbrained or eccentric. Tuck is certainly eccentric. Smile



Not sure this adds anything to the discussion, but in another piece of probably permanently unfinished (barely) fan fiction (I used two characters from the saga who've been mentioned a combined total of three times, and flashed back to 1993), I used "ditz" and "airhead" synonymously to mean something resembling the blonde stereotype: a person who probably never had a deep thought in her life, and who tends to speak in non sequiturs any time the discussion gets beyond her capabilities. (In the story, one of them's a future McAllen cheerleader; the other had been a character in a school play who, when taken in costume to a party with an older sister, not only proved convincing in the role but attracted about ten guys, half of whom already had dates.)

Eric
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