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Unveiling the Bard
by Quentin 'Cubist' Long
©2002 Quentin Long -- all rights reserved

Michael William Bard: What can I say about this man that hasn't already been said thousands of times over?

Well... quite a lot, actually. Not because I pretend to any deep comprehension of the lad's soul, but, rather, because of one of his standard personality traits: He shuns the limelight. There are some who, upon finishing a big job, will pause and shout to anyone within earshot, "Hey -- look what I did!" Bard? He's more likely to simply nod, cross that item off his 'to do' list, and go on to the next task. Not exactly the kind of behavior calculated to attract testimonial dinners, eh? Thus, not all that much has been said about Bard, so he's pretty much virgin territory, as far as this sort of thing goes...

He and I work well together. I think this illustrates the truth of the adage 'opposites attract'; in our case, the opposing principles involved are Chaos and Order. This is quite evident in our respective literary techniques. When writing a story, I kinda wing it; Bard not only formulates a detailed plot -- he follows it. I strive to have raw emotion drip from my passages; Bard has a tendency to go for academia-style passive voice. I figure that any and all funky typographical tricks are fair game, 'all grist for the mill'; Bard cleaves to the austere purity of unadorned text. Heck, even his typoes are usually correctly spelled (albeit inappropriate in the context) words!

See the pattern forming?

Interestingly enough, there are some areas in which we change places, as far as that Chaos/Order thing is concerned. F'rinstance, Bard has a hell of a time remembering the names of characters and other details, so I often find myself acting as his auxiliary mass storage...

Sadly, Bard suffers from delusions of inadequacy. For whatever reason -- innate Canadian modesty, metastasized? relative proximity to the brain-warping influences that emanate from Quebec? too far south of the life-giving Arctic Circle? -- he is all too likely to discount or overlook his own strengths. Like plotting and vocabulary, to name only the first two that come to mind. He's also a damn sight more disciplined than I am; if Bard were TSAT's webmaster, every issue would be uploaded exactly on time, no question!

I think we work well together, and the interests we share in common are part of the reason why. Both of us are SF fen and Monty Python aficionados; both of us have years of experience with roleplaying games, from D&D to Hero System and points beyond; both of us are computer jocks, even unto the actual programming thereof. As it happens, I'm a Mac-olyte and Bard is a PC Zombie, but I don't hold that against him -- as a PC Zombie, he's suffering enough already. And who knows, maybe the protracted ordeal of attempting to force that damn box to do what he wants is one of the reasons he's more disciplined than I am?

But I digress...

Another thing we have in common is a sense of humor -- warped. Of course, some of you may think that goes without saying, what with Bard being a Monty Python fan. And he's not afraid to let his brain in on the fun; if he saw a T-shirt with "Doppler Shift" on both sides, blue letters in front and red in back, I am confident that he wouldn't need anyone to explain the joke to him.

What else? Well, we're both musically inclined... and both of us have distressingly large quantities of trivia stored in our heads. Speaking of which -- Bard has achieved the remarkable goal of simultaneously [a] being a trivia geek and [b] forgetting the names of characters in stories he's working on! It is unclear to me how he manages this feat, but it is simply an empirical fact that manage it, he does. Somehow.

Another of Bard's feats which I occasionally marvel at: He puts up with me. Now, I'm nowhere near as intensely irritating as my character Jubatus is (not that that's saying much); I am nevertheless blunt, often brutally so, and my punctuality leaves much to be desired. And yet, Bard is still willing to work with me! His toleration is enhanced, no doubt, by the fact that we live in separate nations, on opposite sides of the continent, 2,000 miles apart...

And how do we manage to collaborate, given that rather significant 3-space distance between us? In two ways: One is Instant Messages, and the other is e-mail. Many's the night we've spent hours on end typing back and forth to each other on stories we're working on, or stories we're editing for TSAT, or even just to mutually indulge in Carrollian heights of logical irrationality. For us, e-mail is somewhat less important as a means of communication -- but e-mail attachments are what we send manuscript drafts back and forth as. Keeping the lines of communication open is a vital necessity for collaboration, and I'm happy to say that both of us work at doing just that.

There you have it: Michael W. Bard, in an 852-word nutshell. This essay has only scratched the surface; I haven't even begun to tell you of his dark secrets, such as the evil years he spent working tech support for Microsoft!

Maybe next year...

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