maybe it’s time for people to get FOUND in space

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joanne mcneil

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Jan 4, 2021, 6:56:02 PMJan 4
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As it happens, my spaceship sputtered out somewhere east of Albiorix just now. i’m so happy to have come across this online community for what i thought was a unique predicament.

At first I thought we could go to a Usenet group about cats and then I'd ask how Miette is doing. (How is Miette doing??) But a bunch of anti-maskers have taken over! Or maybe they changed over time from earnest cat posters in the 90s into scary conspiracy theorists. A dark path, either way.

One thing I loved about your new book was how you captured the experience of whiplash online when one jumps right from a funny or tender moment into something shocking or evil or discomforting. Do you remember the internet as an environment that was mostly positive or do you think these kinds of juxtapositions are the way of the internet?

#1lostinspacefan

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Jan 5, 2021, 4:56:15 PMJan 5
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IS THIS HOW YOU USE USENET?

Miette has become almost too powerful; all the energy that drained out of Donald Trump when he failed to be reelected has gone into her. She screams constantly and I feel that she's approaching human words. Remember at the beginning of quarantine, when cats were really angry that we were home all day? That's changed, and now if I leave for even an hour, she puts an eternal curse on me when I return.

With the earlier internet, I feel like you would eventually find your way to something evil. You'd mosey on down to something evil. The pace was slower. Now it's more like jump cuts, like the Director of the Internet has discovered an alarming new technique. This purest example of this whiplash I've ever encountered came in the form of this review of The Thorn Birds I once stumbled across on Goodreads. It begins:

"This might sound strange, but I crave a book that is going to ruin me for all other novels to come. And this was it! Something in my greedy little reader paws, wants a book that is going to destroy me. Wreak havoc upon me. Do you know what I am talking about? Well, maybe you don't. Hmph.

This story lifted my heart and made my soul come alive. I felt as if the characters ingratiated themselves to such an extent in my very being, that I had sensations of them dancing upon my soul. With that being said, there is something that you must know and accept before beginning this novel. These events would never, could never, happen in real life. Therefore, just go with it. Enjoy the story. Suspend belief. Do whatever you need to do.. because once you do, you will have a reading experience unlike any you've ever had before. This is a story you will never forget. It's memories will be permanently imprinted on my heart forever. So.. what are you waiting for? Why are you still reading this review? Um..?"

It ends:

"I've recently been informed that this author has supported and condoned the rapes that have been occurring on Pitcairn Island located in the South Pacific. I cannot stand by and be silent, and I certainly cannot and will not endorse that point of view. In fact, I think it is horrific. If you are interested in finding out more information, you can view this article that a fellow GR friend shared with me."

That is the modern experience of the internet, to me.

joanne mcneil

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Jan 6, 2021, 11:33:01 AMJan 6
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Wow! I'm not sure if I should read The Thorn Birds immediately or stare out the window for the next three months in contemplative silence.

The one that always gets me is when people share the video of a cute little kid in the 70s counting with Herry Monster on Sesame Street. Because I have *only* *ever* seen this video in tweets with text that says "And now he's a registered sex offender." Yikes. What am I supposed to do with this information?

Then again, sometimes the weird juxtapositions are great! I heard the good news about the election last night at the same time someone unearthed Jon Ossoff's nerdy old tweets. How nice to click on the Les Mis anime video he recommended in 2012 and play One Day More to celebrate his 2021 win.

And now let me awkwardly jump back to questions about your new book!

I was fascinated with how you put the internet in contrast with the protagonist's transient life as a public figure. There's the dreaminess of the internet, while her reality is a blur of cities and people. And then there's the curious reason why she commands these audiences—a post, "Can a dog be twins?" How do you feel about lectures and book readings and public-facing activities like this? Is it especially weird to talk about the internet from a stage?

Oh, and I have a follow up question — when we were talking earlier you said that submitting and slushpiles would be different now for an emerging writer. I want to make sure I understand what you mean by that. What did you have at the beginning of your career that an emerging writer might not these days?

#1lostinspacefan

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Jan 7, 2021, 3:29:24 PMJan 7
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Yes! Sometimes it seems that the main thing the modern internet knows how to do is tell us who's a pedophile at 3AM.

Jon Ossoff's secret showtunes past was an unexpected little dog treat for me ... but not as unexpected as his tweet begging Pitchfork for a review of the new Imagine Dragons. Yesterday is already a smear in my mind, but I have a perfect recollection of that being the last pure moment of enjoyment I experienced before everything started to go down.

I just meant that submission looks different now. What I knew how to do was print out a thick creamy packet of those mermaids-losing-their-virginity-to-Jesus poems, break into a metallic sweat while folding them perfectly in thirds, and mail them off to an address that was wrong by exactly one number in the zip code. Now you have to think your poems directly into the editor's mind and I have no idea how to do that. Though there is one thing I did have that people starting out now don't have, and never will again. The Market Guide to Young Writers, 4th edition, with bloodstains next to all the publications that are most difficult to get into.

#1lostinspacefan

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Jan 7, 2021, 4:01:59 PMJan 7
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Oh I forgot to answer the middle question! I'll be back for that one after I fall asleep for several hours in my beautiful nest in hell

#1lostinspacefan

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Jan 8, 2021, 3:10:37 PMJan 8
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Back again! I love readings and I love signings and I love talking to people afterwards. I have only ever given two "lectures" -- one was an excerpt of this book, delivered at the British Museum. The other was a complete accident and one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. I was in San Francisco, assumed that I had been engaged to give a reading, and was told five minutes beforehand, in the greenroom, that it was actually supposed to be a lecture. I was provided a bottle of bourbon and then proceeded to talk off-the-cuff for 45 minutes, asking the audience to "caw like birds at me" if I started to go off topic. That's the sort of thing I used to do. That's the sort of thing you used to be able to do.

In reality, of course, I'm a writer, so I don't feel that I'm up on the stage under false pretenses. But it was fun to write a character who was only known for this string of borderline nonsensical words, this piece of deliberate unmeaning. The lights are shining in her eyes, there's a gnat in her mascara, she's about to have a caffeine heart attack, and her only passport to this situation, the only thing the audience knows about the inside of her mind, is the words, "can a dog be twins."

weary flake

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Jan 8, 2021, 8:44:39 PMJan 8
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On 1/8/21 12:10 PM, #1lostinspacefan wrote:
> Back again! I love readings and I love signings and I love talking to people afterwards. I have only ever given two "lectures" -- one was an excerpt of this book, delivered at the British Museum. The other was a complete accident and one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. I was in San Francisco, assumed that I had been engaged to give a reading, and was told five minutes beforehand, in the greenroom, that it was actually supposed to be a lecture. I was provided a bottle of bourbon and then proceeded to talk off-the-cuff for 45 minutes, asking the audience to "caw like birds at me" if I started to go off topic. That's the sort of thing I used to do. That's the sort of thing you used to be able to do.
>
> In reality, of course, I'm a writer, so I don't feel that I'm up on the stage under false pretenses. But it was fun to write a character who was only known for this string of borderline nonsensical words, this piece of deliberate unmeaning. The lights are shining in her eyes, there's a gnat in her mascara, she's about to have a caffeine heart attack, and her only passport to this situation, the only thing the audience knows about the inside of her mind, is the words, "can a dog be twins."
>

What's your favorite episode? Some spooky episodes were the
one with the little exploding robots, I think a black and
white episode. Another is the color episode with the cone
shaped creatures that would disappear and reappear, approaching
menacingly.

jordan two delta

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Jan 9, 2021, 10:38:07 AMJan 9
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Looks like we have company! Hi, Weary Flake! Where are you posting from? My favorite episode is...umm, the first one? I watched a little bit on Hulu since we started this thread but I don't know the show all that well. Which episodes would you recommend?

I am tempted to start this post with a comment like "this is a strange week to be having this conversation...." But I can't remember anytime in recent years that wasn't strange or wasn't stuffed with overwhelming and/or terrifying news. Although, some weeks have been more overwhelming and terrifying than others. My dog died a few hours after the vote was certified. I can still see her little paws out in the snow. She was very very very old and I'm choosing to believe that she held on through the worst of the pandemic to offer joy when things were confusing and hard. The vote is certified, the vaccine is here...it's no utopia now, but it's no bottomless living hell either.

...And the dictator is banned from the portal!! At least, for the time being.

That's another thing your book captures so well, #1lostinspacefan. There are hundreds of millions of twitter users and still the place can feel intimate, like we all know which clown needs to get kicked out of the bar.

Oh, and his desperate attempts to get his twitter fix through alt-accounts were the icing on the cake.

How does Twitter feel for you now that he's gone?

weary flake

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Jan 9, 2021, 2:48:58 PMJan 9
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On 1/9/21 7:38 AM, jordan two delta wrote:
> Looks like we have company! Hi, Weary Flake! Where are you posting from? My favorite episode is...umm, the first one?

The first few episodes of the first season are too serious, I
like it when it starts getting more light hearted. The 1990's
movie is also not light hearted enough. I'm talking about the
1960's TV show Lost In Space, I don't know if you're talking
about something else.

I watched a little bit on Hulu since we started this thread but I don't know the show all that well. Which episodes would you recommend?
>
>> What's your favorite episode? Some spooky episodes were the
>> one with the little exploding robots, I think a black and
>> white episode. Another is the color episode with the cone
>> shaped creatures that would disappear and reappear, approaching
>> menacingly.

I don't know the names of these Lost In Space episodes. There's
also the black and white episode where the girl falls into a
place behind the mirror that has a kid stuck there who likes to
irritate a monster into chasing him.

> How does Twitter feel for you now that he's gone?

I don't like Twitter itself, it is uninformative, and it is badly
engineered from what I've seen and heard from others.

#1lostinspacefan

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Jan 11, 2021, 4:08:02 PMJan 11
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Hell yeah, I'm gonna start doing inlines too; I'm getting into the usenet experience.

> I don't know the names of these Lost In Space episodes. There's
> also the black and white episode where the girl falls into a
> place behind the mirror that has a kid stuck there who likes to
> irritate a monster into chasing him.

Ok, I'm going to watch the episode where the girl falls into a place behind the mirror that has a kid stuck there who likes to irritate a monster into chasing him. A little research tells me it's called "The Magic Mirror." Let me know if there's anything else I need to know about it going in.

I experienced a moment of pure punch-drunkness that I was no longer going to have to see that avatar in my feed, with the hair and the goggles-tan and the look of him holding a little crime in his mouth. Experience of his face felt so enforced, as if we all had to use that image as a fucked-up penny for the last four years. The structural effect was immediately apparent, too -- there were so many days, both during his administration and before, when the entire timeline was shaped around something he had said, was effectively a mass response to him. It was like in Die Hard or The Towering Inferno when an entire floor gets blown out of a building and the whole structure goes shimmery for a minute. Will there be a way of reconstructing the historical texture of what happened, of how he controlled the conversation? What happens now?

Secondarily, the jokes reminded me of every single bygone platform that the human race ever rushed and then abandoned. People said, "he's been banned from xanga," people said, "he's been banned from friendster," and the inside of my head started to flash the way it did when Johnny Mnemonic mentally communed with that dolphin. Hold on, I'm looking that up on Wikipedia. The dolphin was addicted to heroin???

> I don't like Twitter itself, it is uninformative, and it is badly
> engineered from what I've seen and heard from others.

Agree.


jordan two delta

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Jan 14, 2021, 4:55:51 PMJan 14
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I'm watching The Magic Mirror episode as I type this and I have questions. Namely, what has gone wrong with our society that we don't wear turtleneck-tunics all the time or call things "gizmos"? I like that the girl who falls behind the mirror has a pet alien chimpanzee named Debbie the Bloop. Although, I guess that's no heroin-addict dolphin....wow!

Part of the reason I thought this might be a cozy internet space to hang out for a while is the name reminds me of the 90s irony humor that was all over the internet back then. They were so earnest and innocent! Can you imagine trying to explain what a binch is to the people who would hang out in groups with names like alt.swedish.chef.bork.bork.bork? (Or alt.tv.lost-in-space.danger.will-robinson.danger.danger.danger, for that matter)

I am really curious about your blog. Which I found! It's been fun reading the archives. You kept it going for quite a while. Do you meet people through it? Do you miss blogging at all?

#1lostinspacefan

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Jan 14, 2021, 5:32:00 PMJan 14
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That's always my question when I watch sci-fi from the 50s, 60s, 70s ... WHERE ARE THESE CLOTHES? WHERE IS THE DREAM OF THESE CLOTHES? Where are the tubes for women, where are the onesies for men? Where is sunglass with only one lens? Where is the boot that walks on the moon?

YES. When I was doing my big mimismartypants, elysesewell, Lisa Carver rereads that was my main thought -- these people are so funny but there's also something incredibly normie about them, which wouldn't be true now. The Swedish Chef was truly funny to us, in those days. People would ride a joke out for like ten years. Now the jokes mutate too fast ...

much like a coronavirus.

Do you mean Emperor of Ice Cream Cakes? At Blogspot Dot Com? Blogspot blogs felt so late in the game at the time, and so unbelievably innocent and early now. I read through that one a few years ago and it's always an interesting exercise to go back and realize that you still sound like yourself. The form is different, even the vocabulary, but there is a quality that does not change.

jordan two delta

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Jan 15, 2021, 11:31:00 AMJan 15
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You do sound just like you in the old blog! That's just what I thought—this sounds like the person I just met on Zoom. One nice thing about reading it is I now have wonderful book recommendations from ten or fifteen years ago you.

What have you read and liked more recently?

And I really loved your poem about Jimmy Wales, perhaps the best thing to read today, on Wikipedia's 20th anniversary.

Did you ever have an ebay phase?

#1lostinspacefan

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Jan 15, 2021, 12:57:59 PMJan 15
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Oh we loved doing found poems back in the days of blogs. Remember when spam used to be incredibly beautiful, and contain fully intact lines of poetry that you just had to gather up, assemble, and present to the public? That time is now gone but we enjoyed it to the fullest while it lasted. There was even a literary movement called Flarf that took this method as one of its guiding impulses; Seth Abramson probably wrote one million words about while it was relevant. If you've never heard of it, you'll enjoy going down this rabbit-hole:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flarf_poetry

I totally had an eBay phase but it was extremely ... eccentric. I bought ... beads. Thousands of beads. No one knows why and only a fraction of them were ever used in the making of jewelry, but they are still in my home. Beads. Buy Them Now. Sitting awake at 3 AM on an auction for ... beads. Heart palpitating as you rip open the package ... Beads. Where are they coming from? Siberia, for some reason. Beads.

I cannot explain anything about my past to you, I can only hope that your own eBay phase was even weirder, that you were into dolls or something, or that you tried to buy Keith Moon's head in a jar like Ray Smuckles. (Should we talk about Achewood?)

jordan two delta

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Jan 15, 2021, 2:33:36 PMJan 15
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What could be more appealing than beads on eBay in 2006? Beads that will haunt your dreams if you don't tip that bid up to $4.05 from $3.27. For about six months, I had an obsession with "micromosaics" and a bunch of eBay saved searches to show for it. I still have a jewelry case full of grandmotherly broaches and clip-on earrings that i will never get rid of or ever wear but these are priceless mementos from a time when shopping on the internet seemed like a social good. (All those packages from Emily in Wyoming! Or Svetlana in Siberia! People I'll never know...with stuff...for me!)

I love that years ago some poets found spam in their inboxes and thought YESSS.

Is this where I admit that I don't know a lot about poetry? From the outside, it seems like there are a lot of movements. Like there are hundreds of avant-garde kickball teams and one of them might chose you. Did they find you? Did you find them? Or is it more ad hoc than that?

And yes, let's talk Achewood. Was this part of your internet comfort re-reading?

#1lostinspacefan

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Jan 16, 2021, 2:14:26 PMJan 16
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Micromosaics! That's a perfect example of the randomly assigned 2006 eBay obsession -- a single click and the next thing you know you're sweatily stumbling your way through a labyrinth that leads to hell. A more modern version of this happened to me recently: after I became insane from coronavirus, I got obsessed with something called "Norwegian guilloche enamel" and spent like four hours a day on Etsy searching for it, hoovering up pictures of it, page after page after page of Norwegian guilloche enamel. It was pretty ugly, actually. I never bought a single piece of it and the mania passed as quickly as it had appeared. This is the only memory that will remain. Norwegian Guilloche Enamel.

Achewood WAS a part of my internet comfort rereading. It always has been. Sometimes you start all the way back at The Party, sometimes you start with Cartilage Head. I was awake in my sister's house at three in the morning, reading The Great Outdoor Fight on my phone, trying to get my big stupid fingers to click on that microscopic forward arrow. Just like small times. And with each reread you notice new ways that the vernacular helped build the language, the sense of humor, of the internet we experience now, and how the majority of people don't even know it. And then you think about the sources you don't know, the trajectories you can't trace, the language in your mouth that just appeared out of thin air.

There is something that feels quite intimate about this space, like no one else can hear us here. I wonder if I'm saying things I wouldn't ordinarily say in interviews, simply out of this false sense of hiddenness. Such as: I never have and never will join a poetry movement! Hiss!

#1lostinspacefan

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Jan 16, 2021, 2:31:19 PMJan 16
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Oh no I just started looking at Norwegian guilloche enamel again

jordan two delta

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Jan 17, 2021, 4:09:51 PMJan 17
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wow. i should take advantage of the intimacy this space has conjured up and ask ultra-revealing questions like....

—what tv shows do you like? (feels like the most irreverent possible question to ask on a LIS* NG**)
—what are you reading these days?
—what's the first place you want to visit when the quarantine is over?

Wait. now I sound like the login screen for an online bank.

WHAT IS YOUR GRANDMOTHER'S MAIDEN NAME?

feel free to disregard any of the above questions. What was the switch from forums to Twitter like for you? When were you first aware you had an audience online?

*I noticed in the archives that people used to refer to the show here as "LIS"
**they also used to say "NG" for "newsgroup"

#1lostinspacefan

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Jan 21, 2021, 11:37:54 AMJan 21
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Right now I'm rewatching Buffy to drive my husband mad -- he does not like vampires because he thinks they're Catholic (vampires *are* Catholic), and he does not like pointy things going into people, and he does not like it when David Boreanaz does an Irish accent, and he does not like "the memory of walking past the Hot Topic back in the day and how much the music would scare him." But he has to put up with it because we're trapped in captivity together, like those poor gorillas who got Covid.

We were also on a Baywatch tear for a while. Baywatch is a perfect show for when you're operating on about 70% brainpower. Every episode contains at least two montages set to original music and every single one of the songs I've heard so far could have been a hit for Bruno Mars in 2014. It's uncanny. We also became major John Allen Nelson-heads during the course of this viewing and Jason bought me the only extant piece of John Allen Nelson fan memorabilia on eBay for Christmas. It's his headshot and resume. He was apparently once in a movie called Hunk.

Right now I'm rereading Astrid Lindgren's Seacrow Island, which is a very very calm book. This comes on the heels of a massive Tove Jansson reread -- Fair Play, The Summer Book, Traveling Light, the comics.

The first place I want to go when quarantine is over is Scotland, or maybe Key West. That all sounds very aspirational, but the reality is that I'd be happy to go to a fucking Kroger.

Twitter felt a lot like forums, especially before you could post images. I had an audience on there almost immediately, thanks the the idiocy of Anthony Weiner, who -- it's coming back to me now -- did he cause all of this? Is Anthony Weiner the true reason we ended up in this timeline?

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