1. What is your name?

Halspal

2. Tell us something about you, your background, and what you've been up to lately?

My writeups are autobiographical and comprehensive so me and my background are covered exhaustively there.  If you read them all you'd know more about me than most any individual I know in real life.  Lately I've been adjusting to life without my long term spouse, Mary.  She went off to Heaven in December of 2009 and left me with a blank slate.  We were one of those couples attached at the hip so learning to live in her absence has pretty much occupied all of my time and effort.

3. How did you discover Everything, and how did you become a noder?

Like many others I found E2 through Slashdot, specifically through the short list of outside links on their front page.  One of the other sites linked from them, The Filthy Critic, became a favorite web site immediately and when Mr. Filthy pretended to die in a horrible bicycling mishap my attention shifted to one of Slashdot's other links, Everything2 (blow your mind).  One of the people here in particular, dem bones, reminded me so much of The Filthy Critic that I was soothed.

In one of my writeups I mention that I came here looking for the lyrics to Plastic Jesus, which is true, but when I first arrived there weren't any writeups at all for the song.  One of the early joys I experienced here was watching articles appear under that title, as if by magic, to satisfy my original search.  The serendipitous nature of E2 with its semi-random softlinks and unpredictably shifting front page is still the most interesting facet of the site to me.

When I became a noder is a little more complicated and possibly sort of a downer because I don't consider myself a 'noder' and dislike the term and everything it represents.  I could write a book about the divisive and destructive nature of subcultures of any sort so I'll avoid the tangent here, except to say that people classifying themselves as 'noders' or 'ninjagirls' or 'outies' or 'grey panthers' or any other fractionally exclusive thing is abhorrent to me and in my opinion disastrous at E2 or any place like it.  I'm a human who posts things at a web site.  You're a human who posts things at a web site too.

If this thing is allowed to become some kind of insider's club or niche geek subculture its usefulness and value to the larger world is gone.  E2 isn't a family.  Your family is your family.  If you don't have a family or your family hates your guts, E2 still isn't your family.  E2 isn't a community either.  It's a web site full of text.  There can be a limitless number of communities within E2, but no, having an email address and an internet name doesn't automatically grant you citizenship in any sort of community I'm a part of.

What made me start posting things at this web site is more concise and direct.  My wife and I decided to start  a cottage industry self-publishing stories I told people across the bar - to become a virtual bartender when being a real bartender started hurting my back.  We were planning to put all of the stories on the internet then offer a printed version for sale when I stumbled on E2.  I vividly remember the day I read Pseudo_Intellectual's Address to Malkin Bowl aloud to Mary, then played her the linked audio version of Rowan reading it himself.

She agreed we should use E2 for public display of the work rather than building our own site.

4. What are your favorite writeups -- both your own and from other noders?

Favorites among things that I've written myself is easy, none of them.  They all make me cringe, some more than others.  Before I began posting my stories at E2 I put earlier versions of some of them on paper and immediately burned them in a can in the yard upon rereading.  The reason the stories were posted here and subsequently published in book form was specifically to make them harder to burn in a can in the yard.

It's my belief that if you're comfortable with your own writing after setting it aside for awhile and revisiting it that you must not have invested much of yourself in the writing.

As far as favorites from others, that's a complicated question for somebody who has spent more than ten years reading writeups nearly every single day. I guess I'd refer you to the list of things I've Ching!ed for the overview but there are a few standouts.

If I had to make a short list it would include Nathan, this is unacceptable, by dem bones, None of these kids gets hurt., by jessicapierce, anything at all by allseeingeye or ToasterLeavings, and several of the now absent writeups by amnesiac.

If forced to pick an all time favorite writeup from the whole pack it would be a tie between donfreenut's Christmas Eve, 1996, which I still consider among the most elegant pieces of writing of any kind I've ever read, and etouffee's Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis.  The etouffee piece makes my favorite list because it embodies yet overcomes two things I despise the most at E2:  It's short throwaway poetry and it's written under somebody else's title, a riff off of a Tom Waits lyric.

5. What are your favorite and least favorite memories from E2's history?

My favorite general memories from E2 are nearly all ephemeral and impossible to describe, but share the common thread of serendipity and have become part of my being rather than pages in a scrapbook.  Most of the magic at E2 for me is the same as the magic that I experienced behind the bar, with the random appearance of people and ideas intersecting and coagulating and melding together in unpredictable ways.

My favorite specific memory is easy because it's just about my favorite memory in life.  When I was a little boy I decided that when I grew up and wrote books I would take the last name of my favorite author, Nevil Shute, as my pen name.  Thirty years later as a direct result of my work at E2, through some kind of wacky cosmic symmetry, the first professional advice I received in the publishing industry came from Nevil Shute's own publishing attorney, some forty years after the death of the author.  E2's original promise to 'blow my mind' had been fulfilled.

I still have trouble wrapping my head around that one.

My least favorite memory from E2's history is easy and dreadful.  The day dem bones told me that he was retiring from the helm was the day the music died for me.  He was the firewall that kept the dark forces at bay and while the site survives his absence it does so with dark forces constantly oozing in around the edges.

It's a far less stable environment.

6. What keeps you coming back?

Unlike a lot of people who have made various emotional attachments to people or things within E2, I've always viewed the web site as more of a clinically distant observer so the things that attracted me to the site have remained largely unchanged.  With the exception of the missing firewall, E2 today is indistinguishable from the E2 I joined in 2001.

7. What do you hope for E2's future?

More of the same, I suppose.  I'm an analytical person and don't trade much in hopes or wishes.  I have guiding principles.  My guiding principles for E2's future are:

  1. Tell me everything that you know for sure in a readable fashion.
  2. Propel the species in a positive direction.
  3. Expire without a degenerate spectacle.
  4. Leave a cheery homenode.
I expect everybody here to do those four things and if I was in charge they would replace all of the help documents and most of the staff.  The extent to which you do those four things is the sole determinant of my opinion of you within the context of E2.

If you're doing E2 right and I'm doing E2 right I know everything you know plus you know everything I know.

8. What does E2 mean to you?

It's a free data stream.

9. Who are your favorite noders? Which ones do you miss the most?

I have too many favorite users to list here but checking my Ching! list would be one way to see the ones who have moved me the most, and the most often.

I don't tend to miss people at E2 because the killer app of the internet in general and E2 specifically is that it remembers everything you tell it.  If your work is still here, and you were doing E2 right, everything I've ever known about you is still here even if you're not.  If your work is removed it's like you never existed, for my purposes, so I don't miss you.

Two notable exceptions would be that I miss having dem bones in charge and I miss amnesiac in the catbox.

10. Who would play you in the Everything2 movie?

Strother Martin

11. Please fill in the blank: "E2 is to the Internet as ___ is to the world."

Basalt

12. Any questions that I didn't ask that I should've?

Gemini

Everything2 Decaversary Interviews

If you have questions or comments, please contact Halspal or Jet-Poop.

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