In response to innumerable questions directed to me in e-mail, I have decided to compile the most frequently-asked questions into a FAQ. And thus you now find yourself presented with yet-another boring page of self-absorption and gloom, but done in pastels.
1. Why did you pick the alias " klaatu"?
I happen to be a big fan of the 1951 "B-movie" The Day The Earth Stood Still. It's a great movie with a great message, and also an excellent example of how good writing can overcome a very low production budget, or perhaps it's better said that it's a fine example of how even a very low production budget can be used to bring excellent writing to the screen. I was looking for a new alias for my online persona, and this film came on and at one point, the friendly space alien Klaatu escaped federal custody and sought refuge in a DC boarding house. The address was within a block of the address where I was then residing, and this was so coincidental that this choice for my new alias seemed obvious.
2. Who are you really?
That would be telling. In terms of appearance, I'm nobody you'd be likely to notice or remember if you saw me on the street. I'm basically a bipedal ape with opposable thumbs, binocular color vision, and I make and use tools and language in purposeful goal-oriented behavior. Oh, I usually wear clothing, too. In other words, I'm just another human being.
3. What kind of work do you do in real life?
I don't work, other than doing personal web-pages and UseNet commentary. I have yet to discover how that can be made to pay the bills. I live rather frugally, as I am collecting a disability income. I occasionally suppliment this by doing website enhancements for other people, or helping them install and configure Linux. I'm a qualified Linux system administrator, though not particularly talented.
4. You post a lot to dc.general - and you have extensive pages of commentary regarding Washington DC. Some of it's frankly quite bizarre. What is it with your love/hate relationship with the Washington DC Metropolitan Area?
If you were from here, you wouldn't have to ask. If you're not from here, there's not much I could say that would enlighten you, other than what I have said and what I do say. What I can say is this: it's my home, it's where I work, and where I play. I love my home, and my Nation and its Capital. But I despise the state it had fallen into over the last two decades, and in particular I loathe certain aspects of local culture, which aspects I regard as essentially parasitic when not actually predatory. While there are indeed a great many kind and decent people in and about the Washington DC Greater Metropolitan Area, there are a great many which I classify as being either carpetbaggers or bloodsuckers, and at times I am quite convinced that backstabbing is the indigenous artform with points awarded primarily for inventiveness. There are also a lot of gangsters. This is one area where the figurative rats come out of the metaphorical walls and frolic at the allegorical feast, which spectacle has so annoyed me that I can only respond to it with strange art. As for some of my pages being quite bizarre, sometimes the only answer to a reality-gone- Dada is Surrealism. I don't know why I catch all of the flak I do, I'm just trying to do a prose assault on the anarchistic rebellion of the morally-and-intellectually bankrupt local political scene, possibly akin to a textual analogue to Salvador Dali's "Inventions of the Monsters".
5. You post a lot to alt.gothic - are you a Goth?
I'm not exactly a Goth. I am gothic - I'm a hermit after all - and I'm a cynical bitter morose person who enjoys solitude and shadow. I very much like the Goth aesthetic, particularly the music. However, I don't feel called-upon to dress all in black and hang out in dimly-lit clubs smoking clove-cigarettes with other mopey elitists, at least not all of the time, though occasionally I will do all of the above, and spent most of the early- and mid-80s doing exactly that. I like hanging out with Goths, since they play music that I really enjoy. Also, they never poke fun at the way I dress, or the music I listen to, or the fact that I can carry on an intelligent conversation, and the best thing about Goths is that if I feel like being a cynical bitter morose person who enjoys solitude and shadow, Goths don't give me a hard time about it, since lots of them are also cynical bitter morose people who enjoy solitude and shadow.
6. You post a lot to alt.culture.vampires - in fact, you sent out the newgroup cmsg propagating the newsgroup across the global InterNet - and you post a lot to alt.vampyres - why?
I've sent out a couple of cmsg newgroup. I created the alt.bio.technology heirarchy, and miscreated the newsgroup alt.cloning (which caught me a lot of flak I might add). If I see a need, or a demand, for a newsgroup, I'll send out a control message to create it, after discussion and approval in alt.config. Why create alt.culture.vampires? I was asked to do so - see the alt.culture.vampires Frequently-Asked Questions page.
8. Why post to alt.culture.vampires and alt.vampyres? Why the fascination with vampires?
Hey, I like to read and write horror, and occasionally go see horror movies. I even have a published horror/SF novel, In Darkness' District. And yes, it's about vampires. Vampires are a perennial and recurrent icon in the horror field. Lots of writers have made money writing about vampires. They're very spooky and you never know, there might be one sitting behind you reading over your shoulder. Ha ha, made you look. Actually, literarily, the vampire is an excellent vehicle for allegory, after all, the classic Dracula can easily be deconstructed as an allegory on Victorian sexual mores. Vampire stories have also been used as allegorical vehicles for exposition on everything from drug-addiction to venereal disease. The vampire, as classically presented, also serves as an allegory for the sea-change, or renascence of the old ways, or irruptions of the new. Tales of vampires traveling and creating other vampires can be viewed as an excellent allegorical vehicle for cautionary tales regarding espionage, infiltration, and insurgency, particularly as regard hostile or genocidal ideologies. I like to correspond with other writers, and also I think it's a good idea, when trying to create a product, to determine what the consumer will buy. By exchanging ideas with others in the vampire-themed newsgroups, I can better determine what sort of story will be best-received by potential consumers, and then I can go write something that people will want to buy. One of the best places to discover marketing-worthy conceptions of that horror-fiction icon, the vampire, is in the vampiric newsgroups. And before you ask, I am not a vampire nor do I wish to be one. I find the concept of immortality based upon an eternity of serial-killing to be singularly unappealing. Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, I do not "think I'm dracula". That would be being a lot crazier than I really am. I can, however, see how some people who are not familiar with Goths might arrive at such a conclusion, if they've ever seen me heading out to hang out with the Goths and get in an evening of excellent music and drinking of much beer.
9. Are you really as crazy as everyone says?
Lots crazier. Or maybe not - it all depends on how you define craziness. It also depends on exactly how crazy, and in what manner, "everyone says I am". It also depends on who "everybody" is; I have stepped on a lot of toes in my career and many there are with their axes to grind. I'm extremely reclusive and I don't much care for company. Many people who know my habits of reclusion and aloofness probably think that I'm quite mad; actually I am simply not very gregarious and have a cynical view of most of mankind. Is that quite mad? I think that in whatever manner and to whatever degree, everyone's quite mad. I don't think that anyone can live in our modern lives in our modern world and not be quite mad, it's essentially an adaptive strategy. I believe that very few people question this, but fewer-still are willing to try to become hermits and from a far remove, attempt to right the wrongs of the world, or even their own small part of it; clearly such activities would be Quixotic and thus crazy. I am, however, a hermit and spend a lot of time trying to interject what I think of as common sense into various aspects of society as it's reflected on the InterNet. Clearly this is Quixotic and thus I am a crazy hermit with too much time on his hands and too much InterNet access. Or maybe I'm just a misunderstood artist, alienated and morose, occasionally cranking out some work that may or may not have its intended effect. At any rate, for me as for Sartre, "Hell is other people". I could at this juncture subject you to a diatribe on what I call the idiocy of people who can't discern between fact, fiction, or sarcasm and allegory - and rhetoricians who exploit that failing for their own political or social advantage - but for now I will spare you. I often make use of fantastic satire and take literary liberties with allegory to the point where some insist that my poetic-license should be revoked. I will only say of such would-be critics, that anyone who can't tell the difference between persistent delusion and overuse/over-extension of metaphor, themselves should seek professional counseling, or perhaps simply a degree in English Literature. Deconstructing Surrealism to show that the artist is mad, in-general (and by the Surrealist's design) only proves the Deconstructionist to be a fool on a fool's errand. If all of this makes me "crazy", so be it.
10. Are you really incarcerated in a madhouse/penitentiary, and that's why you spend so much time on the InterNet?
Hardly. I have been seen in real life and people can attest to my existence and ability to visit bars and restaurants at will. And no, I will not give you their e-mail addresses so that you can pump them for information to enable you to stalk me - as I have said, I am a hermit and very reclusive. I place a very high value on such privacy as remains to me.
11. Are you going to do any more writing? Of fiction?
Maybe. But it will probably be some time. My Muse seems to be on vacation. Perhaps that's all for the best. People who know me in real life have in the past tended to point at my writing as the best possible evidence that I am not only insane, but dangerous, and should be incarcerated in a madhouse/penitentiary. Regarding this, I can only point to the very large number of horror-fiction writers who have yet to be convicted (or even suspected by legitimate authority) of acts described in their works of horror fiction, or to be incarcerated in a madhouse for having written as their Muse moved them to write. I will spare you a repetition of earlier remarks concerning Deconstruction of Surrealism. I will leave you with something attributed to Stephen King, about the technical term for people who believe that writers really are about what they write about, being "idiots".
12. Why do you write mostly horror fiction? And nasty horror fiction at that? And even worse, why is your nasty horror fiction so entertwined with politics?
You might as well ask a Goth why they wear black. I write horror fiction because it turns out that I can't write romances, my science-fiction is essentially unimaginative, and I somehow seem to have acquired the knack of writing creepily. Some people actually pay good money to be creeped-out, note that in the 1980s, one fourth of all books printed in English were written by Stephen King. I just want some of his market share. I also find horror to be the perfect genre in which to attack the mundanity and banality of much of our lives - for after all, is not surreality simply the extension of a comprehensible (if purely existential and workaday) horror into an incomprehensible waking nightmare? As to politics invariably intruding into anything I write, it's simply because I can't imagine human beings living in any group of two or more and not having politics be involved. People organize in response to almost any situation imaginable, and this of course will affect the outcome of any process, be it in real life or in fiction.
13. Don't you have any interests other than InterNet, Writing, and Politics?
Of course I have many interests. I enjoy reading, of course; I enjoy a wide variety of musical styles and artists. I've been playing guitar for 20 years, primarily the blues and some neo-classical forms as well. I like to pet cats. I like to pet dogs. I find yardwork to be relaxing. I like to go to clubs and dance now and then. I like to sit around in public parks and get some sun. I like to watch beautiful women walk by, and I like to ponder modern tastes in fashion. I am also very interested in space exploration, the Sciences, and I'm particularly interested in our Homeworld, Earth - particularly as regards ecological and environmental crisis, global change, and conservationism. I like to do stream-walks and pull nasty manmade messes out of local streambeds, try my hand at occasional impromptu erosion remediation and so forth, and occasionally I like to move interestingly-shaped stones together, to see what may be built from them. People have been known to chance upon places where I've done my little improvements and wonder if the elves have been at work -- in the midst of the city there are, within the wooded margins of the stream-parks, unvisited fairy circles, monuments, and submerged sculptures within spring-fed idylls, visited mostly by wildlife, and occasionally myself.Please see the Earth Operations Central Portal Site Copyright (c) (copr) 1998 all rights reserved, TJH Internet SP and Earth Operations Central. All rights reserved. Transmission or reproduction of this document other than via InterNet Protocols is expressly prohibited.