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February 22, 2005

Let's Mock Scalzi: A Contest


Yes, we are a very literate family.

Gotta take a few days off to get some work done. However, two things:

1. Be sure you're back here on Monday for a big announcement regarding Agent to the Stars.

2. In my absence, I thought it might be fun to run a little contest, in which y'all get to brutally mock me for fun and prizes.

The Let's Mock Scalzi Contest -- The rules:

i. Imitate me writing a Whatever entry, on whatever topic you want.
ii. Put it in the comment thread to this entry.

See? Easy. You don't have to write a full Whatever entry, incidentally; I think a paragraph or two will suffice, although I guess if you really want to go whole hog and do a whole fake entry, who am I to stop you. You can actually attempt an imitation, or just kneecap me with a vicious parody of my trite and hackneyed prose style. You know, whatever works for you. My only request is that in mocking me, you don't mock my family (i.e., you can mock me as much as you want, and even mock me in the act of talking about my family, but suggesting not nice things about Athena and/or Krissy isn't cool). Other than that, fire away.

I'll look through the entries and pick a winner on Monday. The winner gets a signed Advance Uncorrected Proof of Agent to the Stars (although probably not the one Kodi's reading; she's possessive). I'll personalize it if you want, or just sign it, the better for you to hock it on eBay one day, presumably after my tragic blender accident has driven up the price of Scalzi memorabilia (Note this is not a guarantee of a tragic blender accident; the details of the tragic accident may vary from its representation here).

Have fun and see you all on Monday, at which time -- remember -- there will be a big announcement. No, not the winner of the contest (though I'll do that too). Something else.

Posted by john at February 22, 2005 02:23 PM

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Tracked on February 25, 2005 03:17 AM


CB | February 22, 2005 04:45 PM

The Let's Mock Scalzi Contest:

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Interesting review of OMW in this months Geriatrics Health newsletter. (link)

"Scalzi's 'Old Mans War' is stimulating enough to to guarantee two movements a day"..."Makes getting old sound fun!"

I haven't been paying too much attention to how OMW is selling but it is interesting to note that twenty minutes after that review in the GH newletter, my Amazon sales ranking went up 0.0864 percent. Also, even though I haven't done much research into this but I do know that at this stage in its publication history, OMW is 5.26 percent more successfull then Heinlein's Starship Troopers. Anyway, time to go back to no worrying about the continuing success of OMW.


Chris Byrne | February 22, 2005 05:24 PM

I can't really mock you so much, I write too much like you, only with more commas, parenthesis, and spelling errors.

Paul | February 22, 2005 05:51 PM

It's almost eerie. CB has you, right down to the embarrassing typos.

John Scalzi | February 22, 2005 05:52 PM

I think that would make the mocking all that much easier, then, Chris.

Justin Johnson | February 22, 2005 07:15 PM

IMAGE: Athena with two large knives, death and carnage all about, grainy photo.

If you read any newspapers from Ohio you've, no doubt, seen this picture plastered on the front page. Krissy and, especially, I couldn't be any prouder. She didn't flip out at random, but, thanks to my careful tutelage, knew exactly where to slice, which is why she's covered in all that blood! Her body count was up to fifteen (fifteen!) dead and another twenty-seven (twenty-seven!) wounded before cops took her down with three (three!) horse tranquilizer darts! I let her have a can of coke before sending her off to school. Eye-witnesses say she didn't cut anyone more than once. But that's just the lead-in for my real post. The Dayton Times mentioned Old Man's War inthe article.

"Athena Scalzi, daughter of best-selling author, John Scalzi, whose book, 'Old Man's War' is at 1337 on Amazon, went off on a massive slashing spree, giggling and grinning manically the whole time."

It's been a good day!

Christopher Davis | February 22, 2005 07:17 PM

You probably know that I'm a liberal. If you don't know, I'm telling you now. If you don't like that, too bad. However, even if you don't like me being a liberal, you should know that Old Man's War is being printed on actual paper, which is the same substance that Regnery publishes all their books on, so if you buy Regnery books, you should buy mine too.

Except that you should buy multiple copies of mine.

Scott | February 22, 2005 07:23 PM

I was going to play along, by pretending that Scalzi was a plagiarist, you know, as a mocking personal attack.

It was going to be funny because I was going to take one his articles wholesale, and repost it as a mockery of him, when in fact I'd be mocking his putative plagiarism. Then I realized it was too meta-comedic and I'd probably have to explain it. So I decided to skip the mocking plagiarized article and just explain my idea.

My inability to properly and satirically mock Scalzi in this fashion is lessened by my ability to recognize my own inability. But for the record I'd like you to know that I've been a professional writer for many years now, and I think I've come to a point where I can express my thoughts clearly. So, don't think you can tell me what it is I'm trying to say. The fact is, me and my editors both agree that I'm quite capable of expressing what I mean (or what my employers want me to mean, when it comes to the corporate writing). I've been published enough to prove it.

Saundra Mitchell | February 22, 2005 10:52 PM

I almost hate to admit it, but Athena's "Two Girls, a Camp and a Bear" is going to be published by Ort Books. I know, I know, this is the third book the Scalzi Clan has published through no particular effort of our own, and all I can say is: Sorry. Athena got Krissy's looks and, apparently, my luck. We can't all be so blessed.

I'm going to wrap this up now because she's home from school and she wants me to teach her what "stet" means (see picture below of her playing with her galleys,) and that's exactly what I'm going to do.

Dan | February 22, 2005 11:53 PM

(Here's my attempt:)

To the dissatisfied reader who commented elsewhere that OMW is nothing but a “tarted up, unholy marriage of Starship Troopers, Frankenstein, and the Chronicles of Pern”:

Several of my faithful have been goading me to (textually) kick your ass. Unfortunately, my answer to them has to be: Ummmmmm, no. To put it another way: No.

Oh, sure, nothing would please me more than to spend a few paragraphs painstakingly picking apart your argument, making a veiled but unmistakable reference to your questionable genetic provenance, and finishing with a light, cleansing quip. I would love to do just that. But you did one thing right: you kept the criticism on your own site and didn’t haul it over here and dump a steaming heap of it where I have to see it. Thus, I feel that my only recourse is to abide by the Scalzi Allegorical Household Rule on Unsolicited Criticism (to wit: “As long as you stay off of my property, you can drive by my house, slow down, say rude things, try to see in the windows, flash a gang sign, whatever you want. Nothing I can do about it, it’s a free country. But walk uninvited through my front door, track mud on the rug, throw food, and make distasteful noises? Well, then, prepare for a beatdown, Scalzi-style. This is my house and retribution will be swift.”) It’s a good rule, and it’s my rule, and I’d damn well better live by my own rule, wouldn’t you say? If I don’t, then this site (and each of my 16 other sites) is just a free-for-all, and NONE of us wants THAT, thank you very much.

(Thanks for the diversion. Now why did I find this more fun than writing as myself?)

Daniel H. Alvarez | February 23, 2005 07:39 AM

It's been a while, and so I thought I would update you on the status of my war with the Child-Free.

As most of you know, the sullen ranks of the child-free, whose various bulletin boards I routinely perused to better understand the various psychoses thereof, joined forces in an attempt to annihilate me last Easter. They came dressed as giant-bunny rabbits bearing baskets filled with what turned out to be gelginite gaily disquised as dyed eggs. Kodi took out the three approaching the front door, and Athena waxed the ones around back by hurling advance reader copies of OMW as if they were shuriken. Which is a terrible way to treat any book, not only mine, but I forgave her when she turned to me and gave me one of her devastatingly cute smiles and asked, "Was that the right way to scythe their heads off, Daddy?" I can't refuse her when she uses the verb "scythe" properly.

Needless to say, this got my ire up. The details are far too tedious to go into now (so read my previous 2,719 posts on the matter), but suffice it to say that as of this Easter, we expect to be able to declare victory over the whining forces of the Child-Free. Any treaty of surrender shall include the provision that, henceforth, the Child-Free shall, at least once weekly, be forced to either 1) read my column and like it, or 2) escort a group of ADHD children to a "G" rated film while feeding them high-fructose corn syrup laden snacks. Or they can buy a copy of OMW. Their choice.

Daniel H. Alvarez | February 23, 2005 07:46 AM

That *was* fun. But I forgot to mention that Kodi is an Akita, dammit...

Juan Scabbies | February 23, 2005 09:27 AM

The Confederacy is completely evil. I don't mean run of the mill evil, I mean hard core training children in satanic ritual cannibalism evil. I mean forcing old people to pry the last of their real teeth out with screwdrivers evil. I am talking about feeding fishline to a small dog to tie a hook on the other end when it comes out and tow it behind your monster truck evil.

Tripp | February 23, 2005 09:38 AM

Today I will (in no particular order) take a shower, speak with some people from New York (the Big Apple!), write up a thirty page fact sheet and presentation on an actually pretty interesting new cereal box, pound out material for another "New Book" (I can't mention much, but I should have big news on Monday!), do my accounts receivable, including the first pass at my quarterly taxes, and my charitable giving, hammer out some details in Ghost Brigade and kiss my wife, because I'm just that kind of guy!

Also, today is the last day of the month and not only have I done all my assignments, but I have bandwidth to burn!

So just for you today, I give pretty pictures of my beautiful yard: huge mowed front, trimmed sides, the lake in back, some deer that I've saved from starvation, and, for my ex-girlfriend (who didn't marry me but I forgive her, because I'm just that kind of guy) our cat Ghandi. With the exception of the last two of these, I am not responsible for the care and tending of any of the above; really, I mean it. If you admire any of them you can thank my wife, who I'm sure had something to do with it and is around here somewhere. Please, thank her, not me, because I'm just that kind of guy.

So here you are. I may be back later in the day, but then again (all things considered) I may not. I know you'll miss me. I know, I know, but I'm busy, and busy is good, so I'm good.

Juan Scabbies | February 23, 2005 09:39 AM

The Confederacy is still evil! It has ceased to exist in any real sense for well over a century now but yet it's evilness lives on in the hearts and minds of all ignorant southern bigots. THe evil nature of these inheritors of the urge to enslave hapless black people knows no bounds. It corrupts children, destroys social order and causes gingivitis.

Evil, pure evil, is a black cloud of political motivations that drives every white Southerner to vote for Bush, eat greasy convenience food (and train there children to do the same, underfund public schools and push for flag-burning legislation. Every single aspect of evil that exists in America today is the fault of these depraved misguided Southern whites. Evil I say! Evil!

Juan Scabbies | February 23, 2005 09:46 AM

I recently recieved an email from one of these poor Southern inbreeds. Here is an excerpt (i edited the content to reflect the authors true character): "I is sooo agitated at ya'll right now! Here I was just minded mine own biznis when you came up at us and stated how evil all my family is. I am infuriated."

As you can clearly see the evil of the culture that produced this half-wit is very corrosive. His sublime hate for decent opinions contrary to his own is a reflection of all supporters of the Confederacy and the pro-slavery movement. Someone should flog these people into submission and force them to recognize the inherent correctness of my position. I can ask no one to do it for me. I must take it upon myself to enforce my indignation. The evil of the Southern regime must be pointed out...lest we forget how evil it was and, because of Southern pride, continues to be.

Juan Scabbies | February 23, 2005 09:55 AM

Why is it still here? The evil of the Confederacy lurks everywhere. I saw a rerun episode of the Dukes of Hazard today on comedy central and was apauled to see the confederate battle flag blatantly painted on the top of Bo Dukes Dodge. Then following that I ate a bowl of Raisin Bran and my cereal flakes and juicy raisins amalgamated to form the evil stars and bars of the Battle Jack! I closed my eyes in frustration, and there it was again! Those evil makers of evil evil have invaded my home, my television, my breakfast and now my eyelids! When will this evil stop? Please help me! I am surrounded by the evils of a century past! I moved to a cornfield to escape its taunting but even here it finds me. Someone help! Evil, evil I say!

John Scalzi | February 23, 2005 10:00 AM

I hope you know, Juan, that I'm considering all your Confederania as a single post.

RG | February 23, 2005 11:40 AM

It has been mentioned by many reviewers that the main character in "Old Man's War" is exceedingly lucky in surviving my fictional battles.

What are the alternatives? Would you expect a main character to die in Chapter Five? Of course not. Therefore, I had the bullet ricochet harmless off his wristwatch and lodge in the skull of a secondary character.

In Chapter Fourteen it was necessary, storywise, for a black hole to unexpectedly materialize in front of our hero and transport him to a secure underground bomb shelter just as a nuclear warhead was about to drop on his head.

Force fields, time machines, and magic squirrels were used to similar effect in subsequent chapters, all with great success. At no point was credibility stretched.

P.S. My Amazon book rating has only benefited from the recent drop in humidity levels.

Castiron | February 23, 2005 12:07 PM

Lard sushi.

Come on, you know you want to try it once. Yeah, it'd be a lousy idea for a steady diet; just reading that article took six weeks off my life expectancy. But for that one-time special occasion? A mouthful of delicious raw salmon wrapped in artery-clogging, cholesterol-laden, flavorful lard? Sounds great to me.

John Scalzi | February 23, 2005 12:17 PM

That last one's more of a "By the Way" entry, methinks.

(I am also ashamed to say lard sushi almost sounds good. Almost. Replace the seaweed wrap with bacon, though, and oh yeah. I'd snack on that.)

Tim Pratt | February 23, 2005 12:32 PM

I'm torn. Why? Because I recently saw the latest edition of Unfortunate Son, the online newsletter of the Child-Free Sons of the Confederacy, which includes a very complimentary review of OMW, in which parallels are drawn between the interstellar conflict in my book and the "War of Northern Aggression," with my heroes compared to plucky Southerners defending their homes and rights. The newsletter's publication date suggests that this review is the cause of the previously-inexplicable spike in OMW's Amazon ranking. While I revile everything the CFSC stands for and find their incessant mewlings pathetic in the extreme, the fact remains that no group that promotes my book can be all bad, so I'm compelled to admit that those gray uniforms were pretty snazzy, they make superior bourbon, and it shows a certain heartening self awareness that, as true sons of the Confederacy, they have the good sense to refrain from breeding.

Spencer | February 23, 2005 02:58 PM

By now I'm sure you've all seen the news. Yes, it is indeed true, I am currently detained in the Dayton County Jail pending charges for my unfortunate attack on Senator John Kerry. I'd like to thank my wife for smuggling in the laptop and the Starbucks next door for allowing me to tap into their WiFi.

The reports that I plan to plead insanity on the grounds that childfree, confederate christians made me do it are untrue. I warned Senator Kerry in the days leading up to the election and he now has the imprint of size 12 Ohio sh*t-kicker boot on his face to remember me by. My only regret is that the police tackled me before I could finish him off for good and save the Democratic Party from Kerry running again in '08.

While I regret that Athena will grow up fatherless and that I will, no doubt, be forced to be someone's jail bitch, in the end I can only hope that my actions somehow cause my Amazon ranking for OMW to jump even higher. I've already received offer letters for an upcoming book on prison philsophers and to reprint all of my old movie reviews in the New York Times. From what I understand the editorial staff at the NYT plans on merely removing the name of whatever movie I was reviewing and inserting the name of the newest Keanu Reeves film. Money is money, after all.

I thank you all for your kind words and Jonestown type devotion in this trying period. I'm hoping for an O.J. type jury of disenfranchised, liberal Ohioans.

rhorsman | February 23, 2005 04:02 PM

I'm going to pretend that many Whatever readers have written in, asking me how we decided on the page numbering system for OMW. I know many of you think that when you get to be a bigshot fancypants Published Novelist that the choice on how to number the pages is one of the perks of the job. But in fact, a number of people have made the important decisions before I even get so much as an unbound galley:

Numbers Editor: the Numbers Editor determines the basic system to be used (ordinal, binary, x-Mississippis,etc.), based on marketing data, sales projections, demographic reports, and a coin toss. It sounds boring, and it is, but a good numbers editor can make or break a book or at least get it printed in an order that matches the writer's vision. Teresa Nielsen Hayden started as a Numbers Editor. She's still famous for talking Philip Jose Farmer out of starting Dayworld on page 57.

Non-Alphabetic Typeface Designer: This person designs a brand new font for the page numbers, taking into account the genre of the book and how the page numbers can best serve the needs of the story. You may want to know why the same font as the text isn't used. The reasons for this are complex and varied and someone who isn't a Published Novelist (like most of you, and unlike me) wouldn't really understand. Just take what we give you.

By the way, Donald A. Wolheim broke into the business working as a Non-Alphabetic Typeface designer. This was back when you drew the typeface by hand using a lump of charcoal and numbers only went up to 216.

Number-Proofer: The Numbers Editor determines the vision. The Non-Alphabetic Typeface Designer brings forth the form. The Number-Proofer makes sure that each number follows one after another after another after another, in the proper sequence, and in a timely fashion. This may seem like no big deal, but for OMW this required no less than 320 separate checks, one for every single page. When was the last time you counted to 320? I get tired just thinking about it. Luckily, as a Published Novelist I work from home so I can take a nap.

Hugo Gernsback started as a Number-Proofer, though back then they were called "Counters" (because they were often found under piles of dirty dishes). Gernsback -forward-thinker that he was- is actually credited with inventing the numbers 217 to 321, so without him OMW wouldn't have happened. Or would have been shorter.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about how the string for the binding was chosen.

Kate Nepveu | February 23, 2005 04:36 PM

So far I'd vote for Tripp, if you'd asked for votes.

John Scalzi | February 23, 2005 04:40 PM

Actually Krissy has declared that she would be choosing the winner, pointing out (probably correctly) that I'm a little too close to the subject. I of course like several of these so far.

tdj | February 23, 2005 07:58 PM

Some of you already know of the wry amusement I get from the geriatric-free people. You know, the ones that can't stand old people, mutter endlessly at their being allowed to be in movie theaters, and generally make asses of themselves over the issue.

Lately I've received several emails regarding Old Man's War (which was recently reviewed by both the Chippewa Valley High School paper and a guy on Livejournal who said it was OMG AWESOME!!1!), complaining that I am "pro-geriatric", which is wrong because these people will destroy social security and drive way too slowly.

Two things that these people should remember:

(1) I reserve the right to be an asshole in this, my personal web space, and

(2) Bush is a tool.

You'd think this kind of thing would be obvious.

Soni | February 23, 2005 08:51 PM

Just a note to let you know that I will be OOO today to finish up the last 8 chapters of Book of the Blogged 6 (which series, as you'll recall, I sold by virtue of having my dream about it telepathically intercepted by an editor over at Harper, who found the concept interesting enough to make an offer to my agent before I had even woken up and contemplating about writing it). So, no more posts from me until tomorrow. In the meantime, I am calling for an open thread week. Anyone can write anything about OMW that they want. You kids play nice, now!

Yeah, I know I said I wouldn't be in today, but I just had to pop in and link to this groovy indie single that a fan sent me. It's a mashup of a Old Man River, performed accapella by Eminem, and Pink Floyd's Dogs of War, entitled (aptly enough) Old Man's War Goes To The Dogs. Enjoy.

PS: I noticed that Amazon spiked an hour after I posted the song link to the site. Heh. Enough ego-surfing...I gotta get these chapters done.

Just popping in to post this story about a Confederate-led riot that's suddenly erupted in Juan's neighborhood. I had to stop at the part about where they were preparing a flaming cross enema for someone, in order to get any work done, but I'll catch up on the full story later. So what do you all think about this? Should Confederate supporters be forgiven for rioting when publicly slandered, or do they simply slander themselves by virtue of their capacity for near-human speech too much to be allowed to take offense when others merely shoulder the burden for a while?

Really, I'm getting back to work now. I promise.

Yeah, yeah I know. But I just had to share: Krissy went shopping today. Check out this picture of my butt. Do you think these jeans make me look fat, or is it just the camera angle?

Hey, an editor at Vogue just emailed me. Turns out they want to publish the picture of my butt in an upcoming coffee table book on Geek Fashion. Looks like I'm going to be on the cover. Who knew? Even though it's only going to pay a few measly grand, it will boost my exposure (heh!) and maybe bump OMW into a third printing, which (as you all know) will greatly increase my chances of getting Athena into that college for developing child prodigies that I wrote about last week. Cool!

Here's a picture of Kodi sniffing my butt. Ahhh...the sweet smell of success.

Heading back to work, but just had to rant - looks like Bush spoke today. In public. You think the Republicans would learn by now that just because you can prop the guy up by the mike without him falling down it's not like he's really alive or anything. Sheesh.

Take my word for it....you should never, ever (and I really mean it) combine breakdancing (hey, I was taking a break) with a freshly inbibed Pepsi. Not pretty. Now I have to re-key an entire chapter...after I dry off the keyboard, that is.

Well, I finished all my chapters up early, so I'm heading off to bed. Just dropped in to let you know that while I was finishing up the last rewrite, my agent called and said someone wanted to make an offer on publishing these posts in the form of electronic haiku for a poetry study on the blogosphere. It's only a "Meh" advance, but I think I'll take it. After all, those MiniMacs don't buy themselves.

John Scalzi | February 23, 2005 08:53 PM


As if.

Otherwise, on target.

Soni | February 24, 2005 12:22 AM

My bad. It's been a long week. I should have said a longneck bottle of Ye Old Cat Sodomizer. Salut!

marrije | February 24, 2005 07:25 AM

Gotta take a few days off to get some work done. However, I do have time to read insanely long MeFi threads and throw in my two cents. Because, hey, I'm all about the blogging for dollars, right?

GSLamb | February 24, 2005 07:30 AM

Old Man's War.



Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me.


Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena Athena.

Me Athena Me OMW Athena Athena OMW Me Me OMW Athena Ohio Me Athena TOR OMW OMW Me.

Chris Byrne | February 24, 2005 09:57 AM

I'mna get Old Skool here for a minute:

I hate your sandwhiches. No, I don't know what they are, and I dont particularly care. It turns out that here, about 46% are ham and cheese(with mustard), 46% are chicken salad, and the rest are pastrami on rye (in the U.S. we call them New Yorkers).

Each of you carries baggage from your deli affiliation, and all of that baggage has a funky smell to it, like mayonaise left out in the sun too long. Listenting to any of you wax poetic about the sandwhich marketplace as a whole, and the various nutritional and gustatorial benefits of each is enough to make me commit to a lifetime of nothing but healthful leafy green salads.

In the spirit of fairness and completeness, lets go down through the list of various luncheon persuasions and menu selections.....

Okay that's enough there, I'm starting to make myself hungry

Patrick | February 24, 2005 11:25 AM

Those of you who know me and, dare I say, love me (or not, because there are a tremendous amount of people who think I'm an asshole. Which is their right, of course; however, I believe that most of those who think I am an asshole are Child-Free, Confederate Red-Staters who voted for Bush and refuse to purchase a copy of Uncle John's Book of John Scalzi), realize that I'm not at all serious when I go on and on about Old Man's War (Which, incidentally was reviewed in "Gerbil Living Weekly" Issue #7, p. 33, right under the op-ed piece: "Shavings or Newspaper?"). However, it has jumped 5,500 points on amazon, and is now the top-selling book ever published by Tor, or in the genre of science fiction, or in the English language, so I thought I'd just give it a mention.

But I didn't come here to write about OMW (which is now available at Betty's Book Stop in Redding, PA - thanks for the info, Martha!), I came here to write about napkins.

For people in the north, civilized Democrats who know how to use utensils, napkins are generally utilitarian in nature. A Blue Stater (of which I am one, in case you haven't read me before, and if you haven't, have I mentioned that I made $30,000,000 on Agent to the Stars simply by posting it on my website? You know, $30,000,000 is a lot of cash to haul around when it comes in $1 increments. Not that I'm complaining. I'm a working writer and a published author and a Democrat and have a child and am not from the South, so everything's good) will place a napkin on his/her lap (I hate the use of "his/her", but I'm utterly PC and just can't force myself to use "their" because "their" is plural, and only used by those who don't know the English language well enough to write a book of the caliber of The Rough Guide to John Scalzi's Living Room [now available as a pre-order on amazon, along with OMW, which, as I see now, is the most well-known piece of writing in history, finally topping the Bible]) to avoid having food spilled on his/her pants.

A Red Stater generally uses napkins as something upon which to draw a picture of the Confederate Flag (which is evil, by the way, as I catalogue in Uncle John's Book of the Evil, which I'm really not supposed to talk about yet, but you all can keep a secret, right?) before burning a cross or lynching someone.

Personally, my favorite use of the napkin is that of quick notepad. While I drag my laptop everywhere I go (writers do that, especially if they've written something as monumentally important as OMW, which is now required reading for schoolkids in some parts of Indonesia and all of Somalia), occasionally as I'm drinking a non-migrant-worker picked latte in a local coffee bar. I have been known to write down story ideas on napkins while Athena does high-level algorithms in crayon (here's a cute picture! Isn't she cute? Awww. She got all of Krissy's looks, thank God. Not that I give God credit for everything; only the Religious Right and their wingnut zealots and the occasional rap star does that. I worked hard to make OMW the only book to be gold-plated and placed in the rotunda of the Library of Congress, and while I am open to the possibility of a higher being, s/he had nothing to do with my abilities as a working, published, reviewed author), which is what I was doing today when an editor from Vintage Press stopped by, recognized me from the author photo on the back of Rough Guide to Being John Scalzi (to quote Britney Spears, "Oops! I did it again!" I'm not supposed to talk about that yet), picked up the napkin, and decided to publish it as a series of science fiction novellas, even though all I was writing was my grocery list.

Funny how things like that happen to me. Oh, and by the way, Bush is an idiot. (As you'll see from my upcoming book, Uncle John Scalzi's Book of the Dumb George W. Bush).

Now I have 43 articles to write and Athena has to get to her viola lessons (Yo Yo Ma has offered to tutor her for free, solely on the basis of reading OMW), and Krissy will be home from her actual job (unlike the job that my neighbors think I don't really have, that being the official biographer of Pope John Paul II...whoops! Slipped again!), so I have to run.

One more thing. Buy OMW. If you don't, the terrorists have won.

RooK | February 24, 2005 11:54 AM

John sits down at his never-quite-clean desk and jiggles his mouse while stifling a yawn. His two linked monitors flicker to life, showing all the e-mail he's been inflicted with overnight, plus the state of his most pressing writing project.

Ah, shit. I've really got to get some good writing momentum today. Deadlines deadlines deadlines. Yep, I can probably bang out a couple thousand carefully-crafted words today if I just set my mind to it.

...right after getting myself some cereal and a can of Ole Cat Sodomizer.

John wanders off, and returns with the intended nourishment. He proceeds to emit various slurping sounds as he scrolls through e-mails and its accompanying advertisements spammination. Then, setting the bowl off to one side, he cracks his knuckles, and addresses the keyboard.

All right, now to do that voodoo that I do so well.

John stares intently at the screen.

Perhaps a quick "WHATEVER" post will help get my juices flowing...

John leans waaay over, and gives the mighty "Wheel Of WHATEVER" a spin, to find out what he should blog about today. The pointer has the entries of "Old Man's War" and "Athena" flash by, followed by the "Something about iTunes playlist" and "lambaste the Confederacy" slots. It slows over "name-dropping of other authors", and barely crawls past "cruise news for stupidity". Finally, the plywood apparatus creaks to a halt with the pointer indicating "write something new".

Aw, crap.

After a moment of absently running his hand of his head stubble, John gives the wheel another spin.

Brian | February 24, 2005 12:37 PM

...Ahh, where's that link? Instapundit just mentioned OMW again... Amazon ranking, climbing... excellent!

Shoot... left this thing on again.


Margie | February 24, 2005 03:19 PM

Hi John. I was thinking of you and wanted to send you a note basically telling you that I am thinking of you. Then I came across your contest and thought “Hey, this sounds like fun. I think I will give it a try.” I am blessed to already be the fortunate owner of a signed copy of “Agent to the Stars” but having two signed copies would double my profits. And if there is one thing life has taught me its that money is good. Good money. Good. Friendship is right up there too but there is no need to get all sentimental about friendship publicly now is there especially considering that the academy awards are coming up and we will be getting many many hours of just that sort of thing. A topic included in your book – plug plug – or am I giving too much away. Oh, and I would never say anything bad about Krissy (Hi Krissy!) or Athena. I’m sure they might have a hard enough time as it is living with such a talented person. Hope to hear from you soon.

John Scalzi | February 25, 2005 08:08 AM


I left you mail.

Jeff Porten | February 26, 2005 01:13 PM

I am sorry to announce -- and at the same time, oddly relieved -- that this will be the last post to the Whatever. It's been a long, strange trip, and I've been amazed all along by the interest, concern, and vast amounts of time-wasting activity that my readers have been willing to invest here.

But most of all, I've been amazed at your gullibility.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but there is no John Scalzi. Or at least, not as you know him. The real Scalzi lives in a four-story walkup in an unfashionable neighborhood in Brooklyn. By himself. That's right, all of the rest of what you "know" about me is just a little fantasy world that I created to -- well, I'd like to think it was for purer reasons than tricking you into caring about me. But even today on the last day, this is still my site and so if it all comes down to ego, so be it.

Getting started was simple. It was really a two-part process:

1. Choose an odd-sounding city where I "worked" at a newspaper, but not so strenuously that you could then call me on my lack of journalism skills. I picked Fresno, but it could have just as easily been Kalamazoo. From time to time, I still regret not using Gary.

2. At the time, I worked as a copy editor at Condé Nast -- still do, in fact -- and I was sick of hearing about those damned kids making three times what I did working at dotcoms. So I added AOL to the resumé, again shooting for "more interesting than you" but still somehow nonthreatening.

After that, it was my safety valve. Whenever I couldn't stand how much my life was sucking, I put on the clothes of my doppelganger and wrote from his perspective. What was amazing is that even though I have three unfinished novels in my bottom drawer, this turned out to be the only fiction I know how to write. Writing is easy when you can do it in 400 word chunks about whatever you damn well please.

But then things got weird. When I was a kid, I had a Batman comic where the bad guy decides that it has to be a dozen people in the Bat suit since no one guy could do everything Batman can do. In the 21st century, anyone with a web site can do the same thing. By the Way is written by a dozen suits at AOL; I don't even have posting privileges over there. Agent to the Stars and OMW were pounded out by this terminally shy 22-year-old kid I met at Starbucks. He's a barista. As for the Bathroom Readers, well, you should take a grain of salt when people claim to have written anonymous works.

The only place you've actually seen my writing is right here, and as I think should be clear by now, I've pulled the wool so far over your eyes that it will protect you from public indecency laws.

But wait, you're saying. What about the pictures?

Ah, yes. Those. The parts I can be most proud about this whole sorry fiasco. (Or the parts about which I can be most proud.) Brace yourselves, because this isn't pretty.

"John" is a guy I know for reasons that will remain unsaid. He's an... actor in movies I'm sure you haven't seen. He's about fifteen years younger than I am, and in far better shape (although it's true, we're both bald). And he has family in Ohio and a digital camera.

Ohio? I haven't seen that much grass since a concert in Central Park in 1971. If you only knew how addicted I am to my no-foam half-cafs and that falafel stand just off of Lex, you'd be giggling as hard as I am.

"Athena" is the "little girl" who lives downstairs. In quotes because she's now 19 and a total hottie. Those pictures you're seeing were taken during the first Bush administration, and yes, I really do have mad Photoshop skillz.

As for "Krissy"... well, that's why the site is coming to an end. Suffice to say:

1. When your real-life girlfriend is on the far side of 45, as you are, she may not be as amused when your fantasy world includes a woman in her early 30s.

2. Likewise, said pictures of that woman should not be an actress whose photo you've snapped with a telescopic lens while following her around Manhattan.

3. Especially when your girlfriend knows someone who knows someone who knows the actress. And when that actress has a lawyer who understands the finer points of the use of a subpoena and restraining order.

Did you know that New York state law allows a restraining order to extend to electronic media? Now you do. And you know why this is the last post.

Thank you again for all of your kind interest; I really have enjoyed getting to know you and I'm sorry that you haven't done the same. That's all for now. But in five years, should you find yourself compulsively perusing the web site of a 24-year-old rockstar-cum-model who was "discovered" in a roadside diner and who appears to be as silly lucky as John Perry (or John Scalzi), then by all means, wave hello.

Audrey Estock | February 27, 2005 01:27 PM

Awards and New Books

Well, I received and interesting little bit of news today. It was somewhat hard to miss it, and I already know many of you know about it.

Earlier today President Bush went on television and praised Old Man's War. He called it a marvel and a sensation. He actually urged the entire country to go out and buy it! Now as to why our president would encourage them to go out and buy this particular book, I'm a little stumped.

But what matters is my sales have gone through the roof! Not that I pay much attention to them, or anything.

I must hand it to our president, though. He knows how to choose a good book. I think I'm starting to warm up to him a little more, and I think I can see his side of things. Perhaps the Iraq war wasn't as bad as I had previously made it out to be.

Other good news, thanks to the president's kind words I've been able to sell another book! I have three weeks to write it, so I'll probably be scarce. But to keep you all wondering, here's the opening paragraph:

I don't usually like people. Can't stand them. And I couldn't stand her, either. But she managed to get her way into my bed somehow. And it was good, real good. We screwed for six hours straight, like a pair of mutated rabbits in heat. And I'm sure you know what the normal kind are like, even on their off days.

After that she pissed me off so much I just had to kill her. Sure, the sex was great, but she wasn't my type.

Like it so far? I think I've finally chosen the perfect title for it: Pattern Of Stars. I'm sure that after what the president said about OMW, POS will sell equally as well, if not better.

And it's being published by Publish America. After the recent issues surrounding them, I'm sure they deserve to publish a book by a well known, and may I say popular, author. PA says they will make their best efforts and that after this book they hope to see more of me.

Sorry to cut this short, but I have to go check my sales n--

I mean play with Athena now. Honest.

Chris Byrne | February 28, 2005 02:07 AM

Hey uhh, I suppose I should still call you John, ever been to the mediterranean deli on 42nd, one block down from lex on the corner of 3rd? Best Schwarma in Manhattan man, but there falafel sucks.

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