Letters Column in December 2011: Were it Not for the Shiny Teeth

Posted on December 14, 2011 by Jenna

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Ooh, crazy awesome Christmas present from Rand Brittain, including a Nook! I don’t know how long it’s been since I haven’t been in imminent danger of running out of books. I guess only a couple of years? Maybe? Not sure.


//Q: How do you catch an elephant?
A: You make a sign: “Elifants”. When elephants come along to laugh at the sign, you look at them through the wrong end of binoculars, pick them up in tweezers, and drop them in a milk bottle.

I was seven once. It hasn’t entirely worn off yet.//
— BrunorBL, on There is a King

Interrupting Cow answers emptiness with moo!


Yay cute! After work overload and after sleep deprivation and pending contact with disease-ridden masses, this was exactly the right thing!
— cariset, on Ping


*nods firmly*


I am enjoying Chibi-Ex and Nightlights. I look forward to enjoying more Hitherby story.

I hope you don’t mind me doing a little bit of self-promotion here: I just finished coordinating and editing a free public-domain dramatic reading of Through the Looking-Glass for LibriVox, a site devoted to producing free audiobooks. As well as doing the sound editing, I also read the narration for it, getting to do the which was sort of the point.

(I also did the narration for the production of Alice in Wonderland.)

As I said, these are free and in the public domain for anyone to download and use. I’m quite proud of them — although more for “Looking-Glass”, as I did more work on that.//
— David Goldfarb, on “Vrum Vrum VRUM”

No, go ahead and promote! That’s awesome. ^_^

(P.S. Chibi-Ex and Nightlights! And possibly Alice in Wonderland?)


I just noticed that this foreshadowing implies that there’s at least a bit of Ink’s story left to tell, which makes me happy.
— Xavid, on Ink, Inappropriate

Oh, yeah. Sid and Max got their story told first, but there’s room for just about everybody at the tower to get some story resolution during the giant murky middle of Hitherby, and Ink’s got plenty left to do. ^_^


Xavid recently said on an old post:> I just noticed that this foreshadowing implies that there’s at least a bit of Ink’s story left to tell, which makes me happy.

Of course she hasn’t! She hasn’t killed God yet! :) You know, she didn’t actually promise to destroy God, or Cronus, or Zeus, or whomever. She promised to destroy the one who sat on the throne of the world. We now know that means The Monster. But she does not yet know this.

Will she find out? Will she succeed or will Jane’s Magical Interrupting Cookies foil yet another mean machination of mighty Monstercide? Only time will tell! (But not Cronus, he doesn’t really seem to say much these days.)
— Nyren, on Whoever Can Bear the Weight

Interrupting Cookies answer emptiness wiMOO

That was actually the cow, though. I think the cookies actuaMOO

… I guess that’s classified information!

Miscellaneous shadowy consortiums of interrupting entities answer consideration with collaboration!


Plastic fits in the place reserved for the most evil and sadistic entities; the cruelty of the plastic coat hangers is matched only by their will to dominate all life. They have a steel hook combined with the flexibility of plastic. Has anyone ever told you “Everything’s going to be all right”? If so, they have not encountered the plastic coat hangers. Now go listen to ‘End of All Hope’ by Nightwish, because that is the song that you’ll hear when you see the might of their empire of fear and pain. Legend has it that the original coat hanger was plastic and was born of the roiling pit containing all the sins of malice; the worst of sins.
— Lord Vlaew Emeritus, on Blog for Choice Day

There are people in the world who can keep hope alive even when there is plastic. They are few and far between but I think the rest of us depend on them for our existence.

They are the candles in the closeted ocean of the dark.


Well, I’m not convinced that she doesn’t still have “certain misconceptions regarding her nature and destiny”. But foreshadowing narration in a story? That’s solid.
— Xavid, on Whoever Can Bear the Weight

Ahahahaha recusing.


Formica’s island, near Sicily’s coast -Italy-:

— angelo.pampalone, on Formica

A whole island. Just for him!

However I kind of suspect after reading D&D that it is mostly inhabited by axiomatic ants. They’re the worst kind of ants. That’s the axiom!*

* it is not the axiom. The actual axiom is the axiom of choice. That is why some modrons must be rogue, and why Zermelo-Sigil, Lady of Pain, is so studiously neutral in their regard.


I’m new to Hinterby Dragon, these are new entries or old entries rearranged in a logical way?
— angelo.pampalone, on The Frog and the Thorn: Chapter One

It’s a table of contents for recent entries in the “Frog and the Thorn” arc.
— Rand Brittain, on The Frog and the Thorn: Chapter One

Thank you Mr. Rand
— angelo.pampalone, on The Frog and the Thorn: Chapter One

All is correct! I’ll be putting up another chapter index when I’m done with the letters column. ^_^


Oh, Melanie (, cunning Melanie)! You so wacky!

But seriously, that’s not the way to inspire loyalty in your mostly nameless troops! But I guess it is the monster way.
— Rand Brittain, on Harold’s Head Gets Underfoot

Enh, she’s got employee relations in the bag. They were right next to Harold’s head! It’s because of how white and sparkly her teeth are. You can hate her, you can love her, but in the end you’ve got to admit that somebody with teeth like that, well, they’re going places.

Apparently, into Elm Hill!


Hee! That’s a Martin-like level of cheating. :-) (Except that I doubt Martin would have *quite* the nasty edge that Melanie, cunning Melanie, beloved of the gods, has.)
— cariset, on Harold’s Head Gets Underfoot


It’s also a direct riff on Odysseus; he pulled the same trick on poor Protesilaus.


Melanie, cunning Melanie is not trying to inspire loyalty though convetional means. The issue is not loyalty in any case, its the perception of weakness. A monster cannot be seen to doubt, cannot show fear. Monsters are for creating and causing doubt and fear.

It would be like you showing up at your local baker with a loaf of stale bread from the poor house for your hearty baker man. Its an insult, an affront. Any one who sees it happen realizes “This isn’t a Baker! It’s a pauper! I don’t get my bread from paupers!” and they will go elsewhere for their daily bread until it is true.
— kaos_konfety, on Harold’s Head Gets Underfoot

Hee. I remember how freaked out I was when I was poor enough to be eating peanut butter originally intended for zoo animals. (Money came in not long after, which is good, because while I’m a little ashamed of being embarrassed, I’m not ashamed of thinking it was a horribly vile substance.)

The analogy is… poor at best… I’ve though of several better while typing this… but the essence is there.

If she stands at a gate she has proclamed she will pass and none bar the way she can change her mind, turn aside, make a new scheme. All the power is hers, so none can question her choices.

On the other hand if she shows up and a thin, weak child stands tall at the gates and yells “YOU-SHALL-NOT-PASS!” The next this she does HAS to be to stride in, no matter the cost.

I never really liked Vincent anyway. His death is his own error, he assumed Melanie (Cunning Melanie, Beloved of the gods) had made a mistake. You don’t get a title like that by making mistakes.
— kaos_konfety, on Harold’s Head Gets Underfoot

That is all basically correct. Melanie isn’t actually the monster, so it’s not fatal for her to turn around when someone’s barring her path, but it’s pretty close to. It’s also a lot of why the monster spends a lot of time being genial, ambiguous, and mildly indifferent, so that he can treat setbacks as meaningless, mildly exasperating, or just-as-planned. This doesn’t go all the way back to Nabonidus, though, so I’ll admit that some of that is narrative convenience. ^_^


Come to think of it, why do gods love Melanie?
— Randford, beloved of humankind, provider of Nooks, on Harold’s Head Gets Underfoot

That’s a good question!

How do you learn to jerk somebody’s body around like a puppet just because they ate a bit of your research assistant? I mean, is it something you pick up as a postdoc? Do you have to go to a special school? Is it a liberal-arts only thing? (Do you learn theological warfare at a liberal arts program or a seminary?)

There are many questions.

Her teeth really are white, though. I mean, ultimately, a lot comes down to the TING with monsters and their victims. But beyond that, it’s just like she gets under their skin.


Probably the same reason that Athena loved Odysseus — Melanie is clever and therefore admirable, to a god who likes that kind of thing. Odysseus did a lot of rather monstrous things too.
— rpuchalsky, on Harold’s Head Gets Underfoot

You sow one field with the people of salt and everybody gets all freaky. Seriously, people! It’s not like he actually ran over the human baby!


Sure, but “beloved of the gods” should mean that she’s beloved of the gods in general, not just that she’s beloved of “those gods who like that kind of thing.” There’s a god who likes just about every kind of thing, somewhere. That’s like saying I’m “Randford, beloved of mankind” because my mother loves me.
— Rand Brittain, on Harold’s Head Gets Underfoot

Possibly she is basically Nanny McPhee and they love her because she straightened them out when they were young British children. She shows all the signs!

Oh God the face of Kurt Vonnegut on my Nook is giving me SUCH a skeptical look. WHYYYYYYYYY


I’m still not reading the current entries because I’m still working through the back catalog (which I’ve made into a series of crude ebooks for convenience with my Nook; not things which I would want to redistribute because the formatting is awful, but it does let me read them on the go). I do note the titles as they come up in my feed reader, though. I just read the legend “The Frog and the Thorn” the other day; looking forward to getting up to the story version so I can see how much they have in common.
— ScrewyAnathema, on Miscellaneous Projects Status as of September 17 oh god that was three months ago

Haha! I should make ebooks of this stuff sometime. Just have to … have time. Not for the ebooks, but for the organization.

There’s not that much obvious connection, I should admit, but, well, it’s all Spattlefunk in the end.


Arguably, in terms of cause and effect, Melanie is beloved of the gods because Liril, in a moment’s desperation, named her thus. Pressure does that sometimes. It’s also true that things happen for more than one reason, and in this case, the question of exactly which of many causes happened first may be a bit too entangled to answer.
— Aetheric, on Anthropomorphizing the Crucible


“Make me a god,” she says. “Make me the kind of god that can kill spiders, and break free of any web, and never go hungry or go thirsty, and be by all others loved; to tell the lies that everyone believes, and to slip past any security, and to overcome any obstacle, and to perform transformations, and to become the cleverest creature in all the world and save all the hurting people from their pains. Can you make me that?”
— Melanie


Speaking of entanglement, after composing the prior comment in Notepad to get the links right, I somehow posted it here, under one of the entries I linked, rather than at the current update as intended.
— Aetheric, on Anthropomorphizing the Crucible

And Liril replies:

“I can’t,” Liril says. “I can’t, Melanie, not you, never you, not you.

Sometimes things just are. It’s OK. There’s nothing we can do.


//Now here’s the stuff I’ve been waiting for since April. Action and humor (“his recent loss of health insurance has fallen entirely off the list” made me laugh out loud, a difficult thing to do in a written medium) and suspense and philosophy all mixed together in a way I’ve never quite seen done anywhere else.

I rather feel sorry for Vincent, but I can’t help sharing some of Melanie’s contempt for him as well. If he wanted to be good, he could have gone right instead of left. If he really wanted to be good, he could have had enough backbone to oppose Central, or at least leave it. Instead he just followed Melanie’s lead…

…oh. And there’s another application of “be a lamb”: …like a sheep.

And Melanie suddenly seems a great deal more powerful and threatening. I mean, we’d been told before, but now we’ve been shown.

I am eager for more.//
— David Goldfarb, on The Incredible Leap of the Sinless Man

I hope that it did not disappoint. ^_^


Off-topic: I discuss Hitherby a little bit within a series of posts on someone else’s work here.
— rpuchalsky, on The Incredible Leap of the Sinless Man

I blame society!


The mystery of what happens when gods eat human flesh resurfaces! It getting “inside” Tainted John brings to mind the way Amiel is inside everyone in her line, promising, always promising. There’s some crude corporeal aspect to these gods, that runs parallel to their higher spiritual nature born from promises. That’s as far as I can push speculation; I don’t think Amiel exploded and force-fed herself to all her descendants, heh. But maybe there’s a connection between both ways of forcing gods along certain lines.
— dave.o, on The Incredible Leap of the Sinless Man

The question of physicality is a rough and strange one and one to which we shall, in time, return.

Best wishes,