Tuesday, November 14, 2023

o to be a blogger

1. Due tribute to the fine sf author Michael Bishop, who died on Monday. His novel Unicorn Mountain won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award in 1989, and my vote was among those it got. In the sf field he seems most known for his weird and imaginative tribute novel Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas. But that wasn't his only story in honor of PKD: There's also his even more peculiar short "Rogue Tomato," which is the first Bishop story I ever read, never to be forgotten. When I got to meet him in person a couple years later, I mostly burbled about "Rogue Tomato."
Then there was the time that Ursula K. Le Guin, a woman writer with children, lamented the lack of depiction of her kind in fiction. Has there ever, she asked, been a protagonist who was a woman writer with children in a novel written by a man? And the answer was yes: Who Made Stevie Crye? by Michael Bishop.
But he also wrote many other notable and impressively readable books.
Michael Bishop also suffered the unspeakable tragedy of having his son, who was an instructor at Virginia Tech, killed in the massacre shooting there in 2007.

2. Due crogglement at the appointment of former UK prime minister David Cameron as the new foreign secretary. But, many exclaimed, he isn't even a member of Parliament any more! (The UK, plus the Republic of Ireland and so far as I know no other countries, functionally require their political executives to simultaneously be members of the legislature. This supposedly is so that they can stand up in the legislature and answer for themselves, but there are many other ways to make executives answerable to legislators.) So that's easy enough, he's being appointed to the House of Lords. But the House of Lords, being very much these days a secondary body, is not where cabinet members sit, aside from the Lords floor leader. So let's check the historical facts here, and establish that:
a) It does still happen that other cabinet members sit in the Lords. Both Boris Johnson and Gordon Brown had them for relatively brief periods.
b) It's also happened more than once since the Lords demotion that the foreign secretary in particular has sat in the Lords (one remembers Lord Halifax in the runup to WW2), but until now it hadn't happened for 40 years.
c) It's also occasionally happened that former prime ministers return to the cabinet in subsidiary roles, but until now not for 50 years.

3. I am thankful that people writing about Artificial Intelligence seem to be taking to calling it A.I. Calling it AI in sans-serif typefaces made it look too much like Al, as in Al Haig or Ring Lardner's You Know Me Al. And I would keep wondering who this Al character was.

4. Here's a list of the longest-running shows on Broadway. The ones I've seen on stage are:
Cats (touring company, in San Jose)
Les Misérables (touring company, in San Francisco)
Rent (Oregon Shakespeare Festival production)
Fiddler on the Roof (at least twice, including a fabulous high school production)
Hello, Dolly! (in San Francisco years ago, can't remember the circumstances)
My Fair Lady (at least four times, most recently the Lincoln Center revival on my last trip to NYC)


  1. Re: Michael Bishop - I agree with your assessment of Unicorn Mountain. The other story by Bishop that has stayed in mind for decades is the novella "Death and Designation Among the Asadi", one of the most powerful stories I've ever read that was deeply grounded in anthropology.

    1. This is Matt Fisher (since the comment was posted as "Anonymous")