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The Autographed Cat Interviews, Part Two

We’ve got the Autographed Cat back in the chair for another round of questions, this time from folkmew, plaid_dragon, telynor, kitanzi, and chatworthy…

from folkmew

1) You’ve said Chivalry is important to you. How do you think your personal ethics were instilled? Parents? Friends? Reading? Pivotal experiences?

It’s really hard to pin down. I think a lot of it came from my mother and my grandfather, who were primarily responsible for teaching me the proper way to treat other people. A large part of it also comes from the fact that I’ve always been a romantic. I have a lot of old-fashioned notions about the way the world *ought* to be, regardless of how it actually is. This has often bit a bit difficult for me, since I’m often out of sync with everyone else, but it’s the only way I know how to be.

2) I am parenting 2 boys – what are things you love about being a “boy” (man)? In what ways do you think boys/men get short changed? Have you had experiences where being male was either a bonus or a detraction?

Hrm. It’s a bit difficult, because biology notwithstanding, I’ve never felt especially male. I had a psychology professor in college who, while talking about gender identity, administered a personality assessment, and said that I had the most female oriented mind of any male he’d ever had in his class.

Having said that, there certainly are places where being male is an advantage, though in most of those cases, there’s no particular reason it should be so. Men are still taken more seriously on technical matters, and in many cases on financial matters.

Biggest drawback is expectations driven as well. There is a very strong social expectation, especially among young boys, to be “macho”, and any boys who don’t, can’t, or won’t live up to it are, at best, excluded, and at worst actively targeted for teasing, bullying, and other cruelty.

3) Do you remember any of your childhood teachers positively?

Oh, certainly. I could name any number of them who were a great influence on me, but the person who comes most strongly to mind was Mrs. Manning, who was my high school English teacher in 10th and 12th grade. She was an excellent teacher, and was personally encouraging to my creativity, which often manifested itself in odd directions.

Mr. Osborne is another teacher who had a profound influence on me. He was a transplant to North Carolina from Boston, the director of the community theatre, and also taught English and Drama at the high school and co-directed the high school drama club. I took three years of Drama in high school under him, and appeared in many plays both for the high school and community theatre. Not only did I learn an awful lot about acting from him, but also carpentry, painting, and various techie parts of the stage. And while my then immaturity often exasperated him, he kept giving me parts and tech jobs, and I think over the years was one of the people who tempered my exuberant childishness and got me to start taking things a bit more seriously.

4) What was the first science fiction or fantasy novel you remember reading?

It was probably either one of the Danny Dunn novels or else a Tom Swift, Jr. novel. Once I discovered SF, I devoured a fair amount of it.

5) Are there any places you’ve lived that hold especially strong pleasant memories?

Oh certainly. For all that I’ve often complained about what a boring and limited place it was to live, Williamston, NC, was a great place to grow up. I joke that Williamston is forever stuck in 1950, but that made it an absolutely ideal place to be a kid, in a town where no one worried about a ten year old riding his bike all over town, where there was still plenty of countryside to roam over, and a small-town ambiance that every now and then I actually miss.

Since becoming an adult, I think my favourite place I’ve lived is still Athens, GA. It’s a marvelous little town, close enough to the big city of Atlanta to make it easy to go over for whatever cultural events one wants to attend, but with it’s own vibrant college-town culture. I still miss hanging out downtown, hopping from bar to bar to hear all the local music that was still the town’s trademark when I moved there.

from plaid_dragon

1)The world will end in 24 hours. How would you spend your last day?

Getting off of it. Failing that, as close to as many of my loves as can be managed.

2)If you could be anything you wanted to be, what would you choose?

Me! I’m already exceptionally good at it, or at least that’s what I’m told. It comes easily to me, and I’m at my most relaxed when I’m being me. 🙂

A more serious answer: I would love to be able to be a full-time creative person. To sit and write, or create music, or whatever caught my imagination and fired my soul, without having to worry about any of the mundane worries that life demands. I guess what that really means is that I’d like to be independently wealthy. *laugh*

3)Hershey’s or Cadbury’s?

Oh, Cadbury’s, no question. Hershey makes a perfectly serviceable chocolate, I suppose, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that it’s real quality. There’s better than Cadbury’s too, of course, but between those two, I don’t see any actual competition.

4)If you were invisible for a day, what would you do?

Well as intriguing as using this ability to sneak a peak into your shower would be….*wink*

Kidding aside, I’m trying to think of an answer to this question that DOESN’T involve doing something either salacious or illegal, and nothing’s really coming to mind. This may just be a failure of imagination on my part, but I can’t really think of what I might use such an ability.

5)If you were suddenly elected president of the USA, what would your first act be?


The problem is that the President doesn’t really have the power to act unilaterally. The things that I’d be able to reasonably accomplish as President are limited.

I think the first thing I would do is invite the leaders of both the Democrats and Republicans to my office, sit them down and say “Ok, now look. You both have some good and bad points, but on average, neither one of you has the magic answers. So you’d better learn to work together, because I’m going to be regularly reporting to the American people what goes on behind closed doors around here, and who is doing what and why. It’s time to stop trying to tear down the other side, throw out all this absurd bickering, and actually try and get something useful done. If you don’t agree, let me know right now, because I’m going on the air in five minutes for the first of my daily press conferences.”

from telynor

1. What one thing do you think has improved your music the most?

I have been blessed, in the time since I seriously took up music again in 1998, to be constantly surrounded by superb musicians. The desire to become skilled enough to deserve to sit in the same circles with those musicians is what has helped me achieve everything that I have to date.

2. What one thing do you think you could do at this point that would enhance your experience and ease as a musician?

I’d love to start taking actual one-on-one lessons with a guitar teacher, to direct me in the acquisition of skills that are now either sub par or that I haven’t picked up yet. While I feel that I play the guitar adequately for the material that I perform, there’s a lot more that I would like to do with the instrument, but I’m not always sure the best way to begin.

I would also, at some point, love to learn to play the piano, just because I’ve always been fascinated with the instrument.

3. What do you think is the most attractive thing about you?

I’ve never really come to grips with the idea that anything is especially attractive about me, though I’m happy to have been proven wrong on more than one occasion. I suppose the trait that’s most important to me in my dealings with other people is my own integrity and personal sense of honor.

4. Is there any decision you’ve ever made that you’d like to go back and change?

Oh, gosh. Dozens, but on the other hand, if I went back and changed those decisions, I wouldn’t necessarily be where I am today, and I don’t think I’d give that up for the world.

I have had no shortage of sorrows in my life, often brought on me by the decisions that I have made for myself. But those sorrows have tempered my wisdom, and shaped my vision, and without those experiences, I might be a -very different person today.

If I could guarantee that everything would end up the same, there are a few things I would do differently, but without that guarantee, I’ll leave things just as they are.

5. What, aside from giving birth to you, is the greatest gift your mother gave you

A strong sense of individualism and a spirit of adventure. My mother is, if anything, a freer spirit than I am, and she always taught me, from my youngest days, that it was perfectly fine to be my own person, to chase my own dreams, and to live my own life. I am the person I am because of her guidance, and I cannot possibly ever thank her enough for being the parent
she has been.

from kitanzi

1)If you had a son, what would you name him? If you had a daughter?

Hrm, is there something I should know? 🙂

Garry for a boy. My father wasn’t someone especially close to me, and while I loved my grandfather and cannot begin to measure to impact his values had on my life, I would never give a boy today the first name of Luther (Though it would make a perfectly serviceable middle name, I guess. So I would want to choose someone from my life who had a profound and positive influence in my life, who was a mentor to me both professionally and personally.

I would name my daughter Piper. I’ve always said so. I just like the sound of it.

2)If you were unexpectedly given an offer to cover all expenses and loss of income, would you go back to school, and if so what would you want to study?

In a heartbeat. I would go back and finish my English Literature degree, and I’d continue with that education as long as I was being funded. I don’t know that I’d *do* anything with it when I was done, though I still sometimes wonder what kind of a teacher I would make, but finishing college was just one of those things that I never gave any thought to when I was younger; it was just something that I knew I was going to do, and I’ve always been disappointed in myself that I didn’t.

3)Being a semi-professional uncle, is there one thing you’d most like to teach your adoptive nieces/nephews that you learned from your mom?

Never go along with the crowd just because they’re the crowd. Chase your own dreams, and don’t ever let anyone tell you that they aren’t worth chasing.

4)If you had to give up one sense, which would be easiest? Which would be hardest?

Hardest would probably be touch. I’m extremely tactile, and I can’t imagine not being able to feel touch.

Easiest? Ye gads, I don’t know. One of the problems with being a sensual person is that all my senses are important to me. I love beauty whether it is visual, audible, a pleasant smell, a luxurious taste, or an interesting texture. If you forced me to pick one, I’d probably choose sight, but I don’t feel especially happy about it.

5)Just how many books, minimum, do you think we need to have a real library?

No less than three Metric Bryants (3,000). Yes, I know we’ll have to have a larger place to live by then.

from chatworthy

1. Where’d the name Autographed Cat come from?

Answered previously.

2. I’ve never heard you sing, so… You’re giving a 30 minute concert. Describe your set.

Well, that’s about how long I performed at OVFF. Here’s what was on that list:

I really should have had a couple of more ready, since I actually had a bit more time left over — I had slightly under timed the set, and of course I allow for setup and breakdown, which a lot of performers don’t. I explained this to Mary Bertke, who scolded me for only going doing 30 minutes of material in a 45 minute set, but since they were running a good hour and a half behind by that point, I don’t think it was a disaster.

I’ll be doing a short set at ConCertino (20 minutes), but I think in that one I’m going to concentrate on doing a bit more of other people’s stuff, since I think that kitanzi and I are likely going to be the only Atlanta filkers there.

3. How do you survive Atlanta traffic?

Largely by staying out of it. Kitanzi and I live and work in Alpharetta, which is a good 15 miles north of I-285 and 45 minutes north of the heart of the city, and we don’t play in traffic if we can avoid it. To be honest, Atlanta traffic is really only *horrible* on weekdays between 6:30am and 10am, and then again from about 4:30pm to 7pm. All other times, and all day on weekends, it’s just normal highway driving.

4. Baseball: How ’bout them Braves?

Good grief. I honestly expected this was going to be the year that someone else took over the National League East, probably the Phillies. To my surprise, the Braves are not only in first place, but they’re tied for the best record in baseball, and they’re doing it with offense. For a team that spent a decade relying on pitching dominance, this is an odd surprise. But I’m enjoying it.

I don’t actually watch as much baseball as I used to, just because I don’t often make the time to sit in front of the game for 3 hours the way I did before, but I still watch the scoreboard and read the game recaps on the EPSN website, and lurk in the newsgroup. My other favourite team is the Boston Red Sox, and they haven’t been doing too badly, either. 🙂

5. Paper or plastic?

I always generally preferred paper when given a choice, but the place we tend to shop lately doesn’t offer a choice, so we get plastic. In the end, I’m not sure it actually matters that much to me anymore.

If you want me to interview you, leave a comment. If you would like to ask me interview questions, leave a comment as well. Even if you don’t have a livejournal account, I’ll still be happy to address them. 🙂


The first five interviews…


The Autographed Cat Interview, part three


  1. 1. What are five songs you remember from your childhood?

    2. What places do you remember from being a ten year old roaming through the woods and riding a bike around Williamston?

    3. What are some types or articles of clothing that you once thought were cool, but that you no longer own?

    4. If you could have anyone living play or sing in the arrangements for your first CD, who would you choose?

    5. Of the places you have and have not traveled, which single place would you most like to go or return to, and why?

    And yes, please, interview me.

  2. Clarification request:

    three Metric Bryants (3,000).

    Why is 1000 books a Metric Bryant? Where did the name come from?

    (This is not an interview request, unless you want it to be one)

    • Re: Clarification request:

      James Bryant is a member of the lois-bujold mailing list and has an extensive personal library. From the bujold list FAQ:

      11. What is a “Bryant of books”?

      The Bryant is a unit of books, originally used by Pouncer (Jeff Melcher) in April 1998 and named for listee James M. Bryant. The original size of the Bryant was 5000 books, which was something less than the size of James Bryant’s library at the time. Shortly thereafter, the Bryant was re-defined as 1000 books.

      In May of 1999, the OT Thug (Jeff Parker) proposed an expanded set of measures for books, based on the (fictional) castle library of the late Sir James Bryant, which were adopted with some modifications by other listees. Those units are:

      1 Bryant (B) = 4577 books
      1 Habryant = 2289 books
      1 Sitter (or Rhoom) = 1104 books
      1 Dinky = 161 books
      1 Wallshel = 23 books
      1 Bedside = 17 books

      The 4577-book Bryant is now generally referred to as the Old English Bryant, and the 1000-book Bryant as the metric Bryant.

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