Thursday, November 30, 2006

Getting Back on the Blogging Horse

I'm a bit rusty at the blogging right now, so we'll start small -- with a long story about my chosen online handle, a statement on hyperbole and sarcasm, and some words from the eminently quotable and incredibly clever Mr. Chris Sims of the Invincible Super-Blog. I'm still in the National Novel Writing Month participant habit of padding my statements in order to up my wordcount, so please do excuse the clumsier parts of this first post when it comes to word choice and grammarical structure. Shortening your sentences after a straight month of trying to make everything as long as possible to make your wordcount takes some getting used to, but I am confident of my ability to shake unhealthy writing habits as I change writing venues.

Mr. Sims stumbled across this thread, which linked to one of his old posts, over on the Comic Book Resources Comics Should Be Good Forum. One of the commenter thought that Chris was too emphatic to be serious in his hatred of the Terry Long character, and that erroneous assumption required swift correction. He lacked both an account and the motivation to create one, so he asked me to post for him. I posted this (for the purposes of historical accuracy, the censored obscenity was "fucking"), linked Chris to it and explained that I used the old online handle that I had created when I was a teenager on the old site for Comic Book Resources. Chris reacted as you would expect:

I rolled my eyes privately, and kindly told him that the name had been chosen from the James Garner film that was on television at the time when I first created my Comic Book Resources account back in the 90s, and when I made a new account after a few years of being offline I'd felt nostalgic enough to use the old name again. Chris reacted to that in a way that made me thoughtful, to say the least:
I've always thought "Ragnell the Foul" was a little melodramatic and eye-roll-ey, but if that's the alternative, then I appreciate your honesty and candor.
Now, the reality of it is that I had chosen Ragnell the Foul after my Arthurian obsession which occurred in the last two years of High School and the first two years of my United State Air Force term of enlistment, and Patience during an afternoon that I whiled away with a marathon of a Western style television series, called Sugarfoot, that starred an actor named James Garner (who, coincidentally, is from Norman, Oklahoma, in this this very state and very close to the city in which I live). The Western style television series, called Sugarfoot, featured at least two female characters who had a name which was chosen specifically because it described the exact opposite personality the female lead displayed, Prudence for a very foolish woman and Patience for a temperamental person. At the time, everyone on the JLA board was obsessed with the wait for JLA #16, and that was the first board I posted on. So, it was born of sarcasm.

I chose Ragnell the Foul after reading a reference book on Arthurian Legend which listed the wife of Sir Gawain as "Ragnell the Foul." I liked the phrasing. I like the sound of it. I liked the character it referred to. And, most importantly, I liked the story it referred to, so I picked this one when I re-entered fandom after a brief hiatus of two or three years of patriotic and idealistic (it had to patriotic and idealistic as it was highly unprofitable) military service.

I liked the exaggerated title because I have always found overstatement to be comedic, and, because I had had enough of "Chill out, Pat, live by your name" online when I was a teenager, I found it to be a useful warning to anyone who might stumble across my posts.

All of this, of course, brings me back to the original problem of one Mr. Chris Sims, lately of the Invincible Super-Blog, which was an online reader taking a writer's overstatement for the purposes of comedy to be overstatement for the purposes of sarcasm. To which I can only offer my name, and my own example.

That is to say I might at some point say "I find the writing of Judd Winick in Green Lantern, Volume Three, Green Arrow and Outsiders to be so brain-meltingly simplistic and gut-wrenchingly horrible that I would rather gnaw my own arm off at the elbow than hand over payment for an issue of either series knowing that the money would lead to encouraging Judd Winick to keep writing comic books like he does in those titles."

Now, everybody reading is well aware that I would likely not gnaw my own arm off at the elbow for such a trivial purpose. But, most everyone who regularly reads this blog is well aware that I have valid reasons for disliking at least parts of the Green Lantern, Volume Three run of Judd Winick, and that I have detailed those reasons elsewhere on this blog.

See, overstatement for the purposes of comedic effect without sarcasm. As Terry Long the character is to Chris Sims, so Judd Winick the writer is to Ragnell the Foul.

Excellent! All of the references are hyperlinked. Everything is in first person. Everything is factual. Everything is about comics. I would say that I am ready to return to blogging now.

Wordcount: 916
(Damn, seventy and four words short of one thousand. I am going to have to add ninjas to the next post.)


  1. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who resorted to listing numbers like "seventy and four" to pad out the word count.

    Verification word: witythsm, which is what happens when you say something really clever during climax.

  2. Tom -- It really adds up when you have "One hundred and ninety and five" chapters, and you title each one.

    One chapter is two words, with a ten word title. :)

  3. When I read "Ragnell the Foul" I imagine some kind of awesome barbarian who smites evil with her wicked awesome battle-axe. Or something. Had no idea it was Arthurian. :)

  4. It always had a slight Shakespearean ring to me.

    "By the pricking of my thumbs, something Winick this way comes."

  5. As for the name 'Patience': My grandmother's name is Grace. After a childhood of being told to live up to it, she switched to her middle name (Viv) as soon as possible....

    (Verification word: jkoojub. Clearly, I am the Walrus.)

  6. Tom -- It really adds up when you have "One hundred and ninety and five" chapters, and you title each one.
    That's part of why I started giving each chapter an individual title. My method was way more time-consuming, though, since I decided to use poetry lines that were relevant to the chapter (and each focal character got a specific poet!). On the plus side, it was a decent excuse to read the good (non-cat) stuff by T.S. Eliot and some Dylan Thomas.

    If I'd been thinking, I would have done the old "In which our hero encounters..." chapter preview at the beginning of each one.

    I enjoyed the excerpt of your novel on the NaNo site; the tone and structure reminds me a lot of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Any chance of seeing more of the finished product?

    Marionette: Hilarious :). I'm going to remember that; it's so fitting.

  7. God, I love James Garner. He looks like my Dad. And Maverick was always a hoot. Yes, I'm dating myself. Do you remember "Nichols" It only lasted one season, but it was hysterical.
    And it was very kind of you to clear up the whole Terry Long thing for Chris. Sending him off a cliff seems a bit drastic, but I
    imagine they wanted to make sure he bought it.

  8. I just remember the guy calling us the "abstract concept sisters"

  9. Umm...not to nitpick, but you're actually eighty and four words from a thousand...:-)