Remember the days when writers used to write paper letters to each other, sent through the mail? Did their letters feel so different from all the emailing that goes on today? We set up writers Claudia Dey and Stacey Levine in a paper-correspondence, and are posting their letters on The Believer Logger slightly after the letters are received by their intendeds in the mail. This is the second letter from Claudia to Stacey. Here is the previous letter in the series. This was the first letter.
Dear Stacey,
It is spring here and everyone is injured. Just yesterday, I saw a young woman in jean shorts with a gold-colored prosthetic leg. This would never have happened if she had been wearing an overcoat. With human skin comes medical equipment, I guess.
Apparently, the new thing is “cool”, which I admit I have tried, but found, with its emphasis on opposing actions, exhausting. I prefer a more direct route so I just wanted to say outright: I am having a terrific time on our blind date.
There are a couple of flourishes in your first letter that readers would not have been able to see. One is a sticker of a pretty, galloping horse with the thought bubble: “I am not confused.” Another is your signature: Stacey L. The L is shaped like the L on Laverne’s shirts. I am curious: Have you ever worn a uniform? Or ridden a horse? (I have done both, and unfortunately, my horse was confused.)
Please, what was the honking sound you set your paragraphs to? Animal? Machine? My ambient panic? I felt especially concerned when you left off your letter to investigate Nancy Drew-style: “There’s nothing wrong with going outside late at night…”
You asked what I am up to this week, and all I can say is: Last Sunday, something very upsetting happened on our street. We pulled the curtains open and there were police cars, ambulances, two fire trucks and a SWAT team in front of our house. I stepped onto our porch and asked the nearest cop what was going on and he said: “There is a man in distress and we are trying to keep him calm.” I had a baby in my arms. “There are no weapons involved. There is nothing for you to be concerned about.” I decided we should leave the house.
Going out the back way, I turn into the alley with the stroller and, ahead of me there are four people in stocking feet standing with their backs to a garage door. They are making the sound of children in trouble; laughter, but not quite, and they are looking up. On separate rooftops, there are two SWAT team guys in full riot gear. They are standing very still. A gasp and suddenly the four people run between the houses; whomever they are tracking has moved from the back of the house to the front of the house, and they are on the roof.
Five hours later, I am coming home with the baby in the stroller and now, also, with my six-year old. We are meeting my parents at our house to celebrate Mother’s Day. (It is Mother’s Day.) We arrive at the back alley and it has been cordoned off with caution tape. At its far end, a neighbor I recognize sees me and shrugs. A police officer appears; he lifts his finger signaling to wait. He then comes back several minutes later, “Just out of your eyesight there is a woman on her roof. She is threatening to jump.” I explain where we live. “You need to take the other way home.” Doing so, my six-year old asks, “What kind of fever does she have?” I tell him that is a good way to think about it.
We get home and my fingerprints are pressed into my son’s hand. The baby has fallen asleep. My mother, who loves crime of any kind, tells us what she has found out: The woman had a fight with her boyfriend. She has threatened to jump if anyone walks by and looks up at her. She is running and jumping between the rooftops. Is your office door locked?
An hour or so later, my son scrapes his knee. As my father says, it “ looks angry.” He is inconsolable. Eventually, a good half-hour into murder-scene crying, I bring him out on to the street to distract him with the emergency. There are about a hundred people on their front lawns in barbecue outfits, talking in groups and looking up. The SWAT men are carrying metal things and trick driving, but despite this display, my son wants to get closer to see the woman. No, I say, while explaining to the trumpet player across the street that I am consoling my child with his bleeding knee by watching a suicide attempt.
Soon after, they rescue the woman with a cherry picker. Wheeling her on a stretcher into a waiting ambulance, I can see the back of her head and it tells me nothing about her. A neighbor grumbles: she kept the street closed for seven hours. As if to say: and she didn’t even jump!
In true date-fashion, I’ll answer your questions now (again, terrific.) I do not use outlines. This is not to say that I don’t have ways of ordering. I am very orderly, but not omniscient. Maybe I am like those architects whose blueprints are scribbled onto napkins and I have rooms filled with napkins and they are carefully catalogued. I actually feel I would make a lesser building if I did have an outline - that I would be superimposing something GPS-esque on to my work prematurely - and that the best parts often come unbidden. You?
Regarding Canadian-writer happiness measured against American-writer happiness, let’s meet at the border and discuss it. Which side would you want to be on? The happy or the unhappy side? Does one make for better writing?
I am reading “The Girl with Brown Fur” and find I am laughing like those four people with their backs to the garage door, looking up, not knowing what will happen next, but caring in a way that is unsettling.
The thing is, about the woman almost ten doors down, unless she had been really precise about her fall, it would not have killed her. She would have broken bones – maybe just a leg - and joined the legion of people walking around injured.
Tell me: How was your Terence Davies movie?
Your pen pal,
Claudia

Remember the days when writers used to write paper letters to each other, sent through the mail? Did their letters feel so different from all the emailing that goes on today? We set up writers Claudia Dey and Stacey Levine in a paper-correspondence, and are posting their letters on The Believer Logger slightly after the letters are received by their intendeds in the mail. This is the second letter from Claudia to Stacey. Here is the previous letter in the series. This was the first letter.

Dear Stacey,

It is spring here and everyone is injured. Just yesterday, I saw a young woman in jean shorts with a gold-colored prosthetic leg. This would never have happened if she had been wearing an overcoat. With human skin comes medical equipment, I guess.

Apparently, the new thing is “cool”, which I admit I have tried, but found, with its emphasis on opposing actions, exhausting. I prefer a more direct route so I just wanted to say outright: I am having a terrific time on our blind date.

There are a couple of flourishes in your first letter that readers would not have been able to see. One is a sticker of a pretty, galloping horse with the thought bubble: “I am not confused.” Another is your signature: Stacey L. The L is shaped like the L on Laverne’s shirts. I am curious: Have you ever worn a uniform? Or ridden a horse? (I have done both, and unfortunately, my horse was confused.)

Please, what was the honking sound you set your paragraphs to? Animal? Machine? My ambient panic? I felt especially concerned when you left off your letter to investigate Nancy Drew-style: “There’s nothing wrong with going outside late at night…”

You asked what I am up to this week, and all I can say is: Last Sunday, something very upsetting happened on our street. We pulled the curtains open and there were police cars, ambulances, two fire trucks and a SWAT team in front of our house. I stepped onto our porch and asked the nearest cop what was going on and he said: “There is a man in distress and we are trying to keep him calm.” I had a baby in my arms. “There are no weapons involved. There is nothing for you to be concerned about.” I decided we should leave the house.

Going out the back way, I turn into the alley with the stroller and, ahead of me there are four people in stocking feet standing with their backs to a garage door. They are making the sound of children in trouble; laughter, but not quite, and they are looking up. On separate rooftops, there are two SWAT team guys in full riot gear. They are standing very still. A gasp and suddenly the four people run between the houses; whomever they are tracking has moved from the back of the house to the front of the house, and they are on the roof.

Five hours later, I am coming home with the baby in the stroller and now, also, with my six-year old. We are meeting my parents at our house to celebrate Mother’s Day. (It is Mother’s Day.) We arrive at the back alley and it has been cordoned off with caution tape. At its far end, a neighbor I recognize sees me and shrugs. A police officer appears; he lifts his finger signaling to wait. He then comes back several minutes later, “Just out of your eyesight there is a woman on her roof. She is threatening to jump.” I explain where we live. “You need to take the other way home.” Doing so, my six-year old asks, “What kind of fever does she have?” I tell him that is a good way to think about it.

We get home and my fingerprints are pressed into my son’s hand. The baby has fallen asleep. My mother, who loves crime of any kind, tells us what she has found out: The woman had a fight with her boyfriend. She has threatened to jump if anyone walks by and looks up at her. She is running and jumping between the rooftops. Is your office door locked?

An hour or so later, my son scrapes his knee. As my father says, it “ looks angry.” He is inconsolable. Eventually, a good half-hour into murder-scene crying, I bring him out on to the street to distract him with the emergency. There are about a hundred people on their front lawns in barbecue outfits, talking in groups and looking up. The SWAT men are carrying metal things and trick driving, but despite this display, my son wants to get closer to see the woman. No, I say, while explaining to the trumpet player across the street that I am consoling my child with his bleeding knee by watching a suicide attempt.

Soon after, they rescue the woman with a cherry picker. Wheeling her on a stretcher into a waiting ambulance, I can see the back of her head and it tells me nothing about her. A neighbor grumbles: she kept the street closed for seven hours. As if to say: and she didn’t even jump!

In true date-fashion, I’ll answer your questions now (again, terrific.) I do not use outlines. This is not to say that I don’t have ways of ordering. I am very orderly, but not omniscient. Maybe I am like those architects whose blueprints are scribbled onto napkins and I have rooms filled with napkins and they are carefully catalogued. I actually feel I would make a lesser building if I did have an outline - that I would be superimposing something GPS-esque on to my work prematurely - and that the best parts often come unbidden. You?

Regarding Canadian-writer happiness measured against American-writer happiness, let’s meet at the border and discuss it. Which side would you want to be on? The happy or the unhappy side? Does one make for better writing?

I am reading “The Girl with Brown Fur” and find I am laughing like those four people with their backs to the garage door, looking up, not knowing what will happen next, but caring in a way that is unsettling.

The thing is, about the woman almost ten doors down, unless she had been really precise about her fall, it would not have killed her. She would have broken bones – maybe just a leg - and joined the legion of people walking around injured.

Tell me: How was your Terence Davies movie?

Your pen pal,

Claudia

We’re excited to post our online exclusive interview with WTF host Marc Maron. His podcast, on which he interviews (mostly) comedians, is one of our most favourite podcasts out there. The interview was conducted by Kyle Dowling. Here is an excerpt.
THE BELIEVER: I remember you once saying that sometimes it takes five years to write a good joke.
MARC MARON: Yeah, jokes do finish themselves. I really do see them as ongoing conversations about personal themes that I ruminate on. Then my attitudes change and I sort of add that to the conversation. Whether people know the evolution of the conversation or not, I don’t know, but thematically, as a comedian, I stay in the same ballpark—around my issues and my philosophy of life.
BLVR: That idea of the ongoing conversation is very present in both your act and on WTF. Where did the concept of an “ongoing conversation” come from?
MM: I think I got it from my grandpa Jack. He used to have a hardware store and there was always this weird klatsch—is that a word?—of, like, these old men that you could just hang around with in his hardware store and just bullshit. I found it so fascinating. You know, for the years I was doing stand-up, I kind of lost touch with that.
BLVR: Until you started the podcast?
MM: Yeah, but that’s not why I started it. At the time, I didn’t know what else to do. I had nothing going on, and I was working with a guy who’s a genius radio-producer, and I said, “Let’s try this.” The only thing we really committed to was the schedule. I said, “I don’t know what the show’s gonna be, but let’s put up two a week, at this time, and just honor that and see what happens.” That was really the only intention. I didn’t know if anybody would listen to it.
Read more…
photo credit: Noah Kalina

We’re excited to post our online exclusive interview with WTF host Marc Maron. His podcast, on which he interviews (mostly) comedians, is one of our most favourite podcasts out there. The interview was conducted by Kyle Dowling. Here is an excerpt.

THE BELIEVER: I remember you once saying that sometimes it takes five years to write a good joke.

MARC MARON: Yeah, jokes do finish themselves. I really do see them as ongoing conversations about personal themes that I ruminate on. Then my attitudes change and I sort of add that to the conversation. Whether people know the evolution of the conversation or not, I don’t know, but thematically, as a comedian, I stay in the same ballpark—around my issues and my philosophy of life.

BLVR: That idea of the ongoing conversation is very present in both your act and on WTF. Where did the concept of an “ongoing conversation” come from?

MM: I think I got it from my grandpa Jack. He used to have a hardware store and there was always this weird klatsch—is that a word?—of, like, these old men that you could just hang around with in his hardware store and just bullshit. I found it so fascinating. You know, for the years I was doing stand-up, I kind of lost touch with that.

BLVR: Until you started the podcast?

MM: Yeah, but that’s not why I started it. At the time, I didn’t know what else to do. I had nothing going on, and I was working with a guy who’s a genius radio-producer, and I said, “Let’s try this.” The only thing we really committed to was the schedule. I said, “I don’t know what the show’s gonna be, but let’s put up two a week, at this time, and just honor that and see what happens.” That was really the only intention. I didn’t know if anybody would listen to it.

Read more…

photo credit: Noah Kalina

Interview with Jon Raymond [writer]
Part I.
When Jon Raymond taught a fiction workshop of mine a few years ago at Portland State University, he’d lope into the room sporting a hunter orange cap and down coat, worn to a dull sheen. Raymond’s workshop coincided with the 2008 publication of his short story collection, Livability, and the premiere of Wendy and Lucy, the second feature film he co-wrote with director Kelly Reichardt. This spring, Raymond will publish his first new novel since 2004’s The Half Life. Due out April 2012 from Bloomsbury, Rain Dragon follows a young California couple as they negotiate their transplantation to an organic farm in Oregon. 
Now in his early 40s, Raymond met me this past November at downtown Portland’s Tugboat Brewery, fresh from the Emmys. Mildred Pierce, the HBO miniseries starring Kate Winslet that Raymond co-wrote with director Todd Haynes, had been nominated for 21 awards—a subject we raised and dropped within a few sips of our pints, moving on to Neil Young, California spiritualism, the “loser ethos” of his hometown, and French altarpieces. - Ramona W. DeNies
Jon Raymond: The Emmys were really more fun for my family and friends watching than for me. Though the swag rooms were interesting. The people I end up dealing with are still from the same small world. Not that it’s a huge sacrifice to be screenwriting. But novels are what I put the most stock in, am most invested in. A fairly brutal act of will is required to complete something like a book. I don’t know how pandering you want this to get, but just the books themselves, it would be nice if they were more read, more lucrative. Screenwriting is easier, compared to the heavy lifting of prose. Almost relaxing. It’s fun to be on a team, where other people depend on you; that’s an itch that doesn’t get scratched by fiction writing. And there’s a lot of plausible deniability with the films. For a book, there’s no hiding—you’re the sole proprietor. I had dinner a few weeks ago with Paul Auster, of all things, and I found it gratifying that he said much the same thing.
The Believer: I looked up The Half Life and Livability on Amazon’s bestseller list. So, they’re at 1,572,556 and 79,836 respectively. That’s an encouraging trend, right? How do you feel about Rain Dragon?
JR: I started Rain Dragon well before Livability, so it’s been dragging on. It’s been a real struggle. God willing, people will like it, though I’m nervous, to be sure. I don’t feel like the book’s going to be a humiliation, deplorable or evil, but I don’t know if it achieves its goal or not.  It might be a “small book.” I’m okay with that. Any way I can think of not to worry about what I put out there is helpful. It might not be good, but I think about Neil Young. He puts stuff out, good or bad, goes where he has to go, and lets other people sort it out. That’s what I aspire to. The other model is Jeffrey Eugenides – a book every ten years. He must be a wreck.
BLVR: It doesn’t read like a small book to me. It’s still sinking in. So your main character, Damon, he’s open to communal farm life. But while his girlfriend gets increasingly absorbed into the farm, he doesn’t show much aptitude. So he turns to his L.A. ad-man experience, taking the farm’s message out into the world through consciousness-raising seminars. It’s a curious twist. It’s like he’s evangelizing. But for what?
JR:  I was interested in knowing how people construct a sense of identity, as a couple, and I felt that this is fundamentally a spiritual pursuit. This was a big avenue for me going into Rain Dragon. As I started it, I was reading a lot of Walker Percy and Graham Greene, writers I respect, and who are both very devout in their ways. Greene was Catholic, extremely pious in a way I don’t really understand. Greene and Percy worked out their religious issues on the page in a way that made me wonder whether I was somehow lacking. There’s a book I encountered called California Spiritualism; I thought, oh, this is my religious upbringing. It’s not as weak or lame as it might sound; it’s somewhat viable. I wanted to write about new age spiritualities in a way that others might write about Catholicism; manifesting own’s own destiny is a theme that circulates in the book. 
BLVR: This is a West Coast spiritual phenomenon that we’re talking about?
JR: Self-actualization idealogies are baked deep into our DNA here – the tools of the encounter group, the meta-communication that started in the 1940s and 50s, the Erhard Seminars Training of the 1970s.  The Landmark Forum we have now stems from EST. With organic farming and its progressive ideals, there is some kind of intellectual relationship between these worlds. And the vocabulary is now steeped into coporate America, it’s how businesspeople now talk about projects: whose vocabulary is most powerful, whose “technology” is most effective. Silicon Valley was built on this new-agey sense of spiritual achievement. Steve Jobs was a pure product of this consciousness-raising. 
BLVR: So in Rain Dragon, there is this rigorous pursuit of manifesting one’s destiny. I feel like that theme is also present in the The Half-Life, with your teenage protagonists living on a Portland commune in the 1980s. In The Half Life there’s also just plain manifest destiny, with the backstory of the Oregon Territory. Your latest film, Meek’s Cutoff, follows pioneers on the Oregon Trail. Are you conscious of certain recurring elements in your fiction and film?  
JR: Well, Rain Dragon and The Half Life obviously share overlapping geography and trace some overlapping history. There are structural similarities between the two novels as well—people being lost, having to find their way out of situations with incomplete information. That wasn’t conscious though. They open the same way—arriving here in Oregon, from California. I was interested in the idea  of veering off from the same starting place: that part was conscious. I read what I felt was a gratifying review of Meek’s Cutoff that connected the film to some of the stories in Livability, made a connection between imperialism, how people change a place. That’s in Rain Dragon, too, a history of place that all of the characters participate in. 
BLVR: When you think about your books and films collectively, do you want them to work together to communicate something larger?
JR: I do see all my works as part of a whole piece. This is something that doesn’t get talked about in workshops—establishing themes that one can work with over time. In workshops, every story is it’s own thing. But one has to think bigger than that; what will sustain you over time, take many angles for you to fill in. There is a political utility to thinking about what happens in your own backyard. For example, in Livability, the story “Young Bodies” is one of my favorites. For a long time I wanted to do a story about two people trapped in a mall overnight. The story drives to a scene – it’s really just a few lines – where a young Russian girl who works at a mall gives this other mall worker a blow job, and she’s thinking about history in this very angry, pessimistic way. I feel like I was able to get to pretty candid place about some of the darker aspects of class and human nature in that scene. It’s funny, though. The story’s been optioned by a guy in Australia, and should it get made down there I don’t know if she’ll be Russian anymore. I don’t know what kind of Russian expat population Australia has. But to my mind, Kendra, the girl, is very much a creature of Russian nihilism. I guess they could substitute some other backstory. But to me, there’s a certain flavor of Russian negativity that’s kind of integral to her character. We’ll see what happens. 

Interview with Jon Raymond [writer]

Part I.

When Jon Raymond taught a fiction workshop of mine a few years ago at Portland State University, he’d lope into the room sporting a hunter orange cap and down coat, worn to a dull sheen. Raymond’s workshop coincided with the 2008 publication of his short story collection, Livability, and the premiere of Wendy and Lucy, the second feature film he co-wrote with director Kelly Reichardt. This spring, Raymond will publish his first new novel since 2004’s The Half Life. Due out April 2012 from Bloomsbury, Rain Dragon follows a young California couple as they negotiate their transplantation to an organic farm in Oregon.

Now in his early 40s, Raymond met me this past November at downtown Portland’s Tugboat Brewery, fresh from the Emmys. Mildred Pierce, the HBO miniseries starring Kate Winslet that Raymond co-wrote with director Todd Haynes, had been nominated for 21 awards—a subject we raised and dropped within a few sips of our pints, moving on to Neil Young, California spiritualism, the “loser ethos” of his hometown, and French altarpieces. - Ramona W. DeNies

Jon Raymond: The Emmys were really more fun for my family and friends watching than for me. Though the swag rooms were interesting. The people I end up dealing with are still from the same small world. Not that it’s a huge sacrifice to be screenwriting. But novels are what I put the most stock in, am most invested in. A fairly brutal act of will is required to complete something like a book. I don’t know how pandering you want this to get, but just the books themselves, it would be nice if they were more read, more lucrative. Screenwriting is easier, compared to the heavy lifting of prose. Almost relaxing. It’s fun to be on a team, where other people depend on you; that’s an itch that doesn’t get scratched by fiction writing. And there’s a lot of plausible deniability with the films. For a book, there’s no hiding—you’re the sole proprietor. I had dinner a few weeks ago with Paul Auster, of all things, and I found it gratifying that he said much the same thing.

The Believer: I looked up The Half Life and Livability on Amazon’s bestseller list. So, they’re at 1,572,556 and 79,836 respectively. That’s an encouraging trend, right? How do you feel about Rain Dragon?

JR: I started Rain Dragon well before Livability, so it’s been dragging on. It’s been a real struggle. God willing, people will like it, though I’m nervous, to be sure. I don’t feel like the book’s going to be a humiliation, deplorable or evil, but I don’t know if it achieves its goal or not.  It might be a “small book.” I’m okay with that. Any way I can think of not to worry about what I put out there is helpful. It might not be good, but I think about Neil Young. He puts stuff out, good or bad, goes where he has to go, and lets other people sort it out. That’s what I aspire to. The other model is Jeffrey Eugenides – a book every ten years. He must be a wreck.

BLVR: It doesn’t read like a small book to me. It’s still sinking in. So your main character, Damon, he’s open to communal farm life. But while his girlfriend gets increasingly absorbed into the farm, he doesn’t show much aptitude. So he turns to his L.A. ad-man experience, taking the farm’s message out into the world through consciousness-raising seminars. It’s a curious twist. It’s like he’s evangelizing. But for what?

JR:  I was interested in knowing how people construct a sense of identity, as a couple, and I felt that this is fundamentally a spiritual pursuit. This was a big avenue for me going into Rain Dragon. As I started it, I was reading a lot of Walker Percy and Graham Greene, writers I respect, and who are both very devout in their ways. Greene was Catholic, extremely pious in a way I don’t really understand. Greene and Percy worked out their religious issues on the page in a way that made me wonder whether I was somehow lacking. There’s a book I encountered called California Spiritualism; I thought, oh, this is my religious upbringing. It’s not as weak or lame as it might sound; it’s somewhat viable. I wanted to write about new age spiritualities in a way that others might write about Catholicism; manifesting own’s own destiny is a theme that circulates in the book. 

BLVR: This is a West Coast spiritual phenomenon that we’re talking about?

JR: Self-actualization idealogies are baked deep into our DNA here – the tools of the encounter group, the meta-communication that started in the 1940s and 50s, the Erhard Seminars Training of the 1970s.  The Landmark Forum we have now stems from EST. With organic farming and its progressive ideals, there is some kind of intellectual relationship between these worlds. And the vocabulary is now steeped into coporate America, it’s how businesspeople now talk about projects: whose vocabulary is most powerful, whose “technology” is most effective. Silicon Valley was built on this new-agey sense of spiritual achievement. Steve Jobs was a pure product of this consciousness-raising. 

BLVR: So in Rain Dragon, there is this rigorous pursuit of manifesting one’s destiny. I feel like that theme is also present in the The Half-Life, with your teenage protagonists living on a Portland commune in the 1980s. In The Half Life there’s also just plain manifest destiny, with the backstory of the Oregon Territory. Your latest film, Meek’s Cutoff, follows pioneers on the Oregon Trail. Are you conscious of certain recurring elements in your fiction and film?  

JR: Well, Rain Dragon and The Half Life obviously share overlapping geography and trace some overlapping history. There are structural similarities between the two novels as well—people being lost, having to find their way out of situations with incomplete information. That wasn’t conscious though. They open the same way—arriving here in Oregon, from California. I was interested in the idea  of veering off from the same starting place: that part was conscious. I read what I felt was a gratifying review of Meek’s Cutoff that connected the film to some of the stories in Livability, made a connection between imperialism, how people change a place. That’s in Rain Dragon, too, a history of place that all of the characters participate in. 

BLVR: When you think about your books and films collectively, do you want them to work together to communicate something larger?

JR: I do see all my works as part of a whole piece. This is something that doesn’t get talked about in workshops—establishing themes that one can work with over time. In workshops, every story is it’s own thing. But one has to think bigger than that; what will sustain you over time, take many angles for you to fill in. There is a political utility to thinking about what happens in your own backyard. For example, in Livability, the story “Young Bodies” is one of my favorites. For a long time I wanted to do a story about two people trapped in a mall overnight. The story drives to a scene – it’s really just a few lines – where a young Russian girl who works at a mall gives this other mall worker a blow job, and she’s thinking about history in this very angry, pessimistic way. I feel like I was able to get to pretty candid place about some of the darker aspects of class and human nature in that scene. It’s funny, though. The story’s been optioned by a guy in Australia, and should it get made down there I don’t know if she’ll be Russian anymore. I don’t know what kind of Russian expat population Australia has. But to my mind, Kendra, the girl, is very much a creature of Russian nihilism. I guess they could substitute some other backstory. But to me, there’s a certain flavor of Russian negativity that’s kind of integral to her character. We’ll see what happens.