What Cronan Knew

(By WWS)

From:         WWS <wschmidt@tyler.net>
Subject:      Re: Sad news: A fellow poster has passed away
Date:         04 Nov 1999 00:00:00 GMT
Message-ID:   <3821C595.E38FDFA3@tyler.net>
Organization: yeh, right.
Newsgroups:   rec.arts.tv,alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer,alt.fan.tom-servo,rec.arts.sf.tv

"Gary J. Weiner" wrote:
> WWS wrote:
> >
> > "Gary J. Weiner" wrote:
> > >
> > >
> > > I guess Cronan has achieved ultimate troll status, God put him in his
> > > killfile.
> > >
> > > Aw, damn...
> >
> > You never know, God may just be making him a sysop.
> Does this mean we'll be seeing him on a future episode of "Touched 
> by an Angel"?

I don't think he would be nearly as patient with foolishness or venality
as anyone on TBA.  When he gets there, it's gonna be lightning bolt time,
as as he would have said, he'd be fixin' to open the biggest can of
whoop-ass you ever saw!

I'm remembering the times I used to log onto undernet chat sessions
with him.  He would be the same Cronan, even more so sometimes!  One 
of the things he loved best was to get channel op status, and then
de-op everyone else before they noticed what he was up to.  After
that, he delighted in "kicking" anyone who didn't stay up with the
conversation or wasn't participating.  Or sometimes just to stir 
the pot if things got too dull.  Chats with him were entertaining,
aggravating, mind boggling - but never dull!  One of the things he 
loved outside sci-fi was Jackie Chan movies - but he recognized that 
the primary goal of any type of entertainment (which is just another 
name for interesting communication) is to keep your audience on it's 
toes all the time, always wondering what was going to come next, always 
actively engaged in trying to figure out where things are going.  The 
content was important, but the pace was just as important, and a fast 
pace  can overcome and sometimes even substitute for a completely 
cohesive plot - of course, it's best if they go together.   He had an 
intuitive  understanding of what was going to succeed or not that was 
phenomenal - I remember when he saw "Matrix" the first day and told me 
that it was  going to be a smash, not because it didn't have flaws (it 
had a lot) but because the flow and the pace was so good.  That's why I
know that he  was going to be a rising star if he'd ever had the time - 
he had an insight into the process of fame/notoriety that was more 
developed than most writers who have worked in the industry for years.  
He knew that you don't have to be deep, or correct, or even cohesive 
all  the time - but you do have to know how to interest and tickle 
imaginations enough so that they always want to come back for more.  
And the only really unforgiveable offense is to bore your audience - 
they'll forgive you for anything except for that.  Also, he knew that 
especially on  Usenet, people want to feel *smart* when they respond,
so when he started a thread, he would deliberately leave errors and 
holes in it so that the readers could feel they were "smarter" than 
him, and would jump all over it - lots of times, he would have a thread 
planned out in his head 4 or 5 levels down before he ever made the first 
post.  He told me once that I tried too hard to get everything right at 
times -  that if I ever *did* get everything right in a post, that was 
the kiss of death and the guarantee that no one would respond - no one 
wants to say "me too", and it's hard to show off unless you can correct 
someone else's mistakes.  (he analyzed d.t.'s success for me quite 
accurately in that light, I hadn't understood till he showed me what 
made it work)

Those themes were what he was working out in his mind while he was posting 
here - that's why he never worried about someone getting offended at 
something he said, he saw correctly that a large part of the audience on 
usenet *Wants* something to be offended at, it gives them a chance to 
respond and to become part of the ongoing conversation.  He crafted his 
threads consciously to play to that need, and it worked almost every time.  
He found playing Villain a lot more entertaining than playing Hero, but 
knew that any entertaining story has to have *both* if anyone is going to 
get involved or care about it - furthermore, the best stories of all are 
not usually defined by how good the hero is, but by how clever and tricky 
the Villain is.  And people love that kind of thing, always have.

I didn't understand the Usenet till he taught me what made it work.
He saw through the surface and into what made things tick better than
anyone else I've ever seen here.



I am the very model of a usenet personality,
Thanks largely to my knowledge of internet scatology,
I've had insights both logical and factual
On matters esoteric, idiotic and nonsensical;
I'm relatively knowledgable on subjects philosophical,
(I understand the subtext in relationships sapphostical)
While well acquainted with matters transcendental
I am the only man who is truly plain and simple.

 - Cronan Thompson

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