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Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Time Event
The Small Child's Developing Theory Of Genre
Gareth has a new imaginary city, a counterpart to the glorious Martian metropolis of Woof Woof. The new city is called Arf, and it's in Fairyland.

One of the first things Gareth figured out about dogs is that, in Doggish, woof and arf are the same thing, and each one means whatever the dog in question happens to be thinking when he says it. Nonetheless, Woof Woof is always on Mars, and Arf is always in Fairyland. Both can now be reached by pretending to drive my car, but they're very far apart, and Gareth scorns the idea that I could be confused about which one we've arrived at. They're nothing alike, Mars and Fairyland! Surely Mommy knows that!

It's not yet clear who lives in Arf. Fairies, presumably, and there are probably dogs, too. However, I am assured that there are no robots in Arf, though robots are quite common in Woof Woof.

My two-year-old knows there's a difference between science fiction and fantasy, and it's a boundary he cares about policing. How did he figure that out?
Suspense Is Way More Fun When It's Fictional
My brother-in-law would make a fine protagonist for a spy thriller, though Zach's not actually a spy. Intrepid high-tech defense contractor, jazz drummer, and devoted family man protects America from secret Nazi clones and unreconstructed KGB sleeper agents! Tom Clancy, eat your heart out! Zach's fictional alter ego could experience all the emotional states his cancer is putting him through, only in the story he'd have an enemy he could shoot back at, a kind of enemy the human brain finds much easier to cope with, and a few hundred pages would get him safely to victory.

Instead, the suspense in this episode is about the scans Dr. Bigwig will be analyzing at the end of this week, and the treatment plans he and Zach will make based on all that new information. This suspense is no fun for anyone. The book Zach imagines writing, if he makes it through all this, is about meditation and biofeedback, at which he turns out to have a really impressive and previously unsuspected talent. Like, Buddhist-monk-level talent, and he's needed it. Real suspense about one's own survival, it turns out, is best handled in ways that don't make for Hollywood blockbusters.

The prayer request has gone out. If we were in a Hollywood blockbuster, the music would swell, and the Bat Signal would reflect luminously in the clouds, and we'd all be changing hurriedly into our superhero costumes, or whatever. I'm concentrating on the hope that the scans will be, above all, accurate and complete, and that the best possible decisions will get made and implemented brilliantly. If the news also happens to be good, and the tumors have been shrinking in response to the last round of chemo, so much the better.

If praying for people you don't know, or barely know, is a thing you do, please remember Zach.

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