Monthly Archives: August 2008

Cone of probability

Whenever I watch the news these days, I feel like I’ve been drinking even when I haven’t.

Yesterday, just about every person I know called me and begged me to leave Nola (when they weren’t asking me to go check that they’d closed their windows). No matter how much I wanted to stay, I couldn’t keep putting everybody through that much stress, I couldn’t keep withstanding those phone calls up until the point when nobody could reach me anymore and would worry all the more. My roommate and I had already started packing and getting the house ready when Toni called and said, “Just calling to find out when you’ll get here, cause I KNOW you’re leaving, just probably packing right now.” How’s that for subtle? We were right ahead of the worst of the traffic getting to BR, the worst of it being on Airline near the airport and just after we merged onto the 10. After that, it was at least 60-65 into BR, a relatively normal trip. [Normal, especially when compared with Friday’s “normal” commute into work when I got caught in the middle of a massive prisoner evacuation and passed countless government vehicles going toward Nola.]

So I’m here, I’m as safe as anybody else and now I’m stressing about those left behind, who refuse to leave. W, K and S, you are in my thoughts and you BETTER be safe.

And from today’s horoscope ( “Sunday, Aug 31st, 2008 — If you have been thinking about taking a vacation or just going away for a weekend getaway, today is a great day to make your plans.”

Everybody, be safe.

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Quiet for a moment

My beloved Cheers has let me know that they’ll close tomorrow afternoon and likely won’t reopen till Wednesday. In that case, I don’t know when I’ll next have access to the internet and/or time to blog. I promise I’ll take care. Be careful and be safe.

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It’s probably not a good time for me to be getting into the comic AD on Smith Magazine’s website, with Gustav bearing down and the intermittent neighborhood pow pows about who’s got ice and water, who’s got whiskey, who’s got batteries. Who’s leaving and who’s staying. Or maybe it’s the perfect time. Check out this panel, right here.

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Gustav and other, more important, matters

As a writer, a superstitious creature to whom everything is a symbol and a sign, I am not pleased Gustav is thinking of a visit on this particular weekend, the anniversary of Katrina weekend. “How is your anxiety level?” they’re asking on the news. Well, news people, high – my anxiety level is high. Mostly because I don’t want to leave Nola, but the anxiety levels of many people that I love can be lowered if I merely stay in BR tomorrow after work. [Have you evacuated yet from New Orleans????? Under no circumstances, I must remind myself, am I to utter the words, “come hell or high water” in the next oh, say, forever.]

The important thing in all of this, the only sane thing to do, is to of course mock Gustav heartlessly, to anthropmorphize a terrible collection of wind and rain. Thus, in that spirit, from Becks:

“Office Procedures Concerning Storm and Office Closings
As we watch the progress of the storm, the following are the firm’s guidelines based upon the hurricane’s intensity:

Hurricane Category #1: No excuse for being late. Leave earlier to give extra time to avoid fallen trees and limbs.

Hurricane Category #2: Due to the horizontal rain, you may wear jeans.

Hurricane Category #3: Whereas most of the area will be flooded we suggest you avoid wearing open toe sandals when coming to work. Canoes will be provided to get to the building safely without getting wet.

Hurricane Category #4: More than likely there will be no electricity. Given that, we will have manual typewriters available to all staff members. Please take extra caution and wear water-proof make-up if Category 4 or above.

Hurricane Category #5: Velcro will be provided to keep you attached to your chairs when the windows blow out. For those that survive, we will have chocolate cake at 3:00 pm in the kitchen.

Have A Nice Day!”

And, from my horoscope for today (thanks, “Thursday, Aug 28th, 2008 — There’s a strange and fateful wind blowing into your life today and it’s hard to say exactly what it will stir up.”

We like irony. Of course we do. We’re writers. Why am I using third person plural?

A quote from T.S. Eliot to use one of our Word of the Days ( “Driven by dæmonic, chthonic Powers.” Chthonic is apt for Nola in a pre-storm frenzy. The city is sweating a chthonic anxiety through its pores. Sinking in a bit of distressed chthonic quicksand, or threatening to.

Alright, more important things to talk about.

Getting into BR yesterday, I heard a news item about a hotel in England charging BY WEIGHT for kids’ meals. Before eating, the child would have to step onto the scales and the price of their meal would be contingent upon their weight, by stone (an awful word for weight anyway). The promotion (PROMOTION?!), thought of as a “bit of fun” and “innocent” by the hotel, will likely be withdrawn. “Mr Massey said the promotion had been thought of as a bit of fun. ‘If it’s going to be the subject of such concern and such, forgive me for saying, a huge over-reaction, a little bit of the kill-joy taking some fun out of something, I think we should adopt the Oliver Cromwell puritan streak and withdraw it.'” That man is an idiot. Idjit. It’s not just about obsese children, either (but that’s enough). Eating disorders are a very real thing and I agree with Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum, “It’s the mere fact that you’re going to make an exhibition of the child.” NOT overreaction, idjit.

This piece about Lynn Johnston ending the “For Better or Worse” comic and retelling it, starting in 1979 again, intrigued me. What an interesting way to not retire. 🙂

And then there is this article about Hari Puttar. Nothing new, Bollywood always remakes movies and that might not even be the case with Hari Puttar. Great publicity though, if Warner doesn’t stop the release of the movie.

I’m reading Bird By Bird and here’s an early quote from the introduction that made me laugh because it is so, so true. “Every morning, no matter how late he had been up, my father rose at 5:30, went to his study, wrote for a couple of hours, made us all breakfast, read the paper with my mother and then went back to work for the rest of the morning. Many years passed before I realized that he did this by choice, for a living, and that he was not unemployed or mentally ill.”

And, also from the introduction, “I think that this sort of person often becomes either a writer or a career criminal.”

I’m listening to To Kill a Mockingbird on my commute. I’ve always wanted to read this book, but I think I’ve been a little scared by it. Don’t ask me to explain. If you get it, I love you. Anyway, heard 1 and 2 (about 20 pages) on the way home last night and picked up the book to look at some of the language myself. It’s great hearing Sissy Spacek read it, but there’s something else entirely about holding the book in my hands and looking at those words. Like this, pg 10, “Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.” Whoa, for the sake of language. And here, page 22, for the sake of the message, “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

And, the epigraph, which made me laugh so much I had to rewind the beginning of the story. “Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.” – Charles Lamb. I suppose…

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Sometimes you forget and then Toni wallops you upside the head and reminds you

Read this if you have ANY interest in writing. Keep it fun, Toni says and her father said. That’s the thing I’ve been lamenting the most the past few years, the thing I’ve been recovering in little precious patches – WRITING IS FUN. It used to be (and can be again!) the thing I love to do best in the world. I’d rather be writing than anything else, yes, yes I would. Every moment I get to write, I’m lucky. Thanks for reminding me of that, Toni.

For those of you wondering what happened to Fess Up Friday (FUF) and PerNoWriMo, New York and just me before NY descimated it, but I’m getting back on track. Since my last FUF, this is what I’ve written:

Wednesday the 13th: 1,115 words on the plane
Friday the 22nd: 1,024

But it’s been so worth it. I may not make 50,000 words this month, but I’m glad I’m doing PerNoWriMo because I’ll be thousands of words and entire scenes further along than I was. The urgency was everything. And the intangible things, forget word counts, are coming together better than I could’ve hoped. I know, this year I’ve known and I continue to know, that I’m finally going to the right place with this book. Despite the occasional despair, I’m on the right road and pointed in the right direction.

Stop reading this now and go read Toni’s Muderati blog.

[8.25: There are some cool videos up about Toni on the Romantic Times website. Go here.]

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Let’s talk about movies…and other stuff…

So despite what someone or other said, (“You didn’t come to New York to watch a movie,”) I did in fact see two movies while I was there. Man on Wire was showing up there, but I missed that. Instead, Becks and I saw Tell No One and Pineapple Express.

Tell No One is a French movie based on an American thriller, presumably by the same name and written by Harlan Coban. I find that fascinating. We saw it the same day we arrived, extremely tired, and for some reason thought the man on the poster was John Cusack. We were very confused for about 10 minutes when everyone was speaking French and it was subtitled. A recently review I read (EW, likely) described it well (let me paraphrase) when it said that the movie gets increasingly more implausible, but you don’t mind terribly because the acting is top notch and the mood is just right. I’m fascinated that the French took one of our thrillers to make one of their movies. Don’t know why, but I just can’t let that go…

Pineapple Express was hilarious. Long, but worth it. I’m not really into drug humor, or idiot humor. But I AM into James Franco and occasionally into Seth Rogan. So it’s really funny, a really smart dumb comedy. I kinda want to see Simon Pegg and Seth Rogan do a zombie movie with Judd Apatow. But that may be too much of a retread. I want to see James Franco in anything…Anything.

Then a neighbor loaned me The Heartbreak Kid and that was funny too, but I’ve rarely met a more obnoxious or despicable character than the one Ben Stiller plays here. Was not charmed by the end. Though I guess I can respect turning a genre on its head a bit and showing us a not-so likable guy fighting for love. Except I’m not sure that was intended. Yeah maybe, because of the end, but I still have my doubts. I’ve seen everybody involved do better.

And then there’s Penelope, with Christina Ricci. Wow. Really loved this movie. It was smart, pretty, funny and had a lot of heart. And a certain kiss in it goes straight to the head of the class. With every movie I see him in, I’m falling just a little bit more for James McAvoy. He officially goes into the “would watch anything he’s in” category. I’d even watch him in a horror movie and that’s saying something, considering what a wuss I am.

Now I’m going to drop a lot of links on you of things I’ve been reading and following.

* The YouTube of Magazine articles? What do you think about this?

* I’ve always said Jon Stewart should run for president. I’d vote for him. He’s somebody we can trust.

* It’s Kafkaesque, all right. Also pretty dern operatic.

And more on the Sherry Jones/Jewel of Medina/Censorship? debate:

* Rushdie’s 2¢ (really wish we had a cents key on keyboards, what does it mean about our economy that you have to search for the cents symbol if you want to use it? do our youngest generations know what it means, even? a rant for another time and place, I suppose.)

* Wha?

* Really, Which side ARE you on?

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I called Matthew Modine dude, met a rockstar and his mother and other tales of New York

So New York… when people ask, “How was New York?” how do you answer that? My answer, the short one, has been, “Wonderful and exhausting.” That’s true. You want a longer answer?

Becks and I went to New York together a few years ago and stayed with Aunt B and Uncle R in the ‘burbs. I think I only stayed four or five days that time, it was right before and after New Year’s. An amazing trip that we reference all the time. So when Becks asked me to go back with her to visit Aunt B and Uncle R again, I was all for it (after a bit of persuading due to my un/self/ish employment). It was really cool cause it was almost like no time had passed at all. Aunt B and Uncle R were still awesome and I still mostly remembered where everything was in the apartment and the ‘burbs around the apartment. Which was kind of mind-blowing when I considered how much *I* had changed since I’d last been there.

I got to see the cookie monster, an old roommate of mine from BR. Becks and I joined her for Korean BBQ on her lunch break, then checked out Pinkberry‘s frozen yogurt at her recommendation. I adored Pinkberry, though Becks didn’t like it as much as me. Oh Pinkberry, come to New Orleans!! They’re only in California and New York at the moment. Somebody give me lots of money so I can open a franchise here. I called Alice and by lucky coincidence, she worked nearby, so we went and visited her there at work, which was fun.

Our first full day in the city, Becks and I were trapped in the B&N on 5th Avenue while it rained and met a rockstar and his motherAndre of ism. After Andre left to procure a monster umbrella, his mother Suzanne invited us to ism’s show at Bowery Ballroom the next night. I’ve always wanted to go to Bowery Ballroom AND it seemed like a fun thing to do while we were in the city. So our devoted tour guide LL met up with us there the next night and we had an enormous amount of fun watching four really talented bands. The rest of the lineup were: Alex Nackman, Honor By August and Kill the Alarm. It was a high-energy show and each band had devoted fans throwing themselves around the wooden ballroom floor, singing right along. That’s what I like to see. The crowd thickened up by the end of Alex Nackman’s set and it never thinned out. All in all, it was an incredible experience to have on our New York visit. I’m begging ism to come south for a tour, so maybe I’ll get to see another show soon.

LL recommended the Peanut Butter Co for dinner one night and we got there just as it was closing (right before 10 p.m.), so we ordered all of our peanut butter-laced food to go and took it to Washington Square Park to have an all peanut butter picnic on the chessboard tables. I had the Elvis (peanut butter, honey and banana) while Becks had a spicy peanut butter and pineapple jam sandwich (there was supposed to be chicken, but it was mysteriously missing) and LL had a BLT with peanut butter. We all shared the peanut butter pie (well Becks was all pb’d out and could only have a bite), but the milk was gone by that point and we were all a little sugar high. Very fun, though. We met up with Alice and played pool (which is surprisingly hard to find in the city) and then cards until the bar closed. Then off to a diner the bouncer recommended for grilled cheese sandwiches, french fries and coffee.

Becks and I had a family day on Sunday and went to a BBQ in the ‘burbs. It was Aunt B and Uncle R’s son J and his family and a LOT of lamb. We teased Aunt B and Uncle R endlessly about this enormous cut of lamb the butcher talked them into. J almost couldn’t grill it. After endless lamb and veggies, there were WONDERFUL brownies. We went back into the city and lived it up, taking the FIRST train back to the ‘burbs the next morning.

And then there was Dylan’s Candy Bar (where the cookie monster used to work when she first moved to NYC) and Patsy’s Pizza and Serendipity 3 – all in ONE day! This was the same day we were not early enough to get tickets to a Broadway show, but consoled ourselves with Indian food and… we passed a guy on the street who dropped a whole bunch of papers. A bike messenger and I both called out to the guy. I picked up the papers and said, “Hey dude, you dropped something.” And the guy turned back, thanked the bike messenger and then me as he took the papers. He was turning away when I realized he was Matthew Modine. “Hey wait,” I said and he turned and looked at me, patiently waiting for me to do the whole fangirl thing and beg for a photo. I studied him and after a couple seconds, he realized I wasn’t going to out him (or myself as a giant silly fangirl tourist), winked at me and went on his way. If it weren’t for the wink, I might’ve second guessed whether it was him later, but it was definitely him. I called Matthew Modine dude. And he totally missed all the silly fangirl-ness that happened when I realized that *I called Matthew Modine dude*. LOL.

That was also the same day we spent over three hours walking through Central Park, which was really awesome and exhausting. It was a pretty day, but it was also the first day of our unseasonably cool trip that made us understand why New Yorkers abandon the city whenever they can during August.

Our last day in the city, we scored our tickets and Becks went back to spend time with the family while I took the subway to South Harlem to meet up with someone or other, in town for business as he’d been for a few weeks beforehand, and walked along the Hudson while munching on some good pizza and stealing the last of his pb smoothie (PB AGAIN!). Then we met up with LL for the show, which was Cirque Dreams. It’s probably pretty obvious why I wanted to see that particular show, but it was actually Becks’ idea. And then… LL, Becks and I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, as Becks and I had done on our first NYC trip together. Only this time, I had to purchase pajama pants from the nice people at Walgreen’s first and this time, it was night and we ravenously finished the last of my cheesecake from Lindy’s before coming back to the city.

So we didn’t sleep again, but took the last train back to the ‘burbs and packed so that we’d be ready to leave at 5 a.m. as Uncle R had instructed on the note he left for us. And at 4:19, he knocked on our door and we had breakfast with him and Aunt B and I was really sad that our visit wouldn’t go on for another week and I hadn’t gotten to spend more time with them.

I’m forgetting a million things we said and did, I know. But there are lots of things I’ll never forget. For instance, when I’m tired, I’ll never forget to “plead 4:54 a.m.” I’ll remember all of the odd things I saw on the ‘burbs train late at night or early in the morning. And I’ll remember every single one of the pictures we took, even if I can’t get my crappy camera to give them up to my computer at the moment. And I’ll know that, when playing Egyptian Rat Screw, you’re always right as long as you don’t give up the cards first.

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I’m going to New York!

Well, my best friend is really amazing and really evil and… now I’m flying with her to NYC tomorrow morning, with less than 24 hours’ notice. Whoa. So, if you don’t hear from me for a little while, don’t be alarmed. I’ll have lots of stories soon.

So sorry to miss a certain wedding bash I’d been looking forward to. But very, very proud of my friends for making what can’t be missed about them official. All my love for your nuptials. I’ll be wishing you both lots of sanity.

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Bernie Mac dies

Jamey and I were just talking about Bernie Mac yesterday, about how brilliant he and his show are, now were. I was really sad to open up my email and see that he had died. Goodbye Bernie Mac.

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Fess Up Friday, SYTYCD and whatever else I’m in the mood for…

First, Fess Up Friday. Keep in mind, I’m not counting today cause I probably won’t get my words done till later. I’ve been finding (again, don’t know why I thought it’d changed) that I write best at night. Duh. I’ve known that since I was 10, but it seemed like a lot of other things changed in grad school and out in the Read World, so I wondered if that had too… Nope.

Saturday, August 2: 1,328 words
Sunday, August 3: 1,626 words
Monday, August 4: 921 words
Tuesday, August 5: 837 words
Wednesday, August 6: day off due to exhaustion, work and SYTYCD
Thursday, August 7: 2,039 words

I was so excited about PerNoWriMo starting August 1st that I entirely forgot that it was my one-year anniversary of living in Nola. That’s what anniversaries are good for, though. They’re on-going. So now I’ve been in Nola a year AND a week. LOL. Thank goodness the First Day Clusterfuck didn’t turn out to be a tradition…

Now, well…SYTYCD. Sigh. What am I going to do not that it’s over?? It was so hard to wait every week for Wednesday and Thursday and now I’ll have to wait till next summer…MONTHS! Well, it will give me more time to write. So why am I so addicted to SYTYCD? Let’s just say, I’ve always loved watching dancing (LOVE cheesy dance movies, it probably all started with Dirty Dancing). But I never had a favorite choreographer before. And now I have two. Mia Michaels and Wade Robson. I love Tabitha and Napoleon too. And I’ve gotten so good at differentiating their styles that I recognize their work in other mediums and I can tell when they’re cribbing moves from each other. Ashamed to say, but I’ve always been a Survivor fan, and I got into American Idol two seasons ago against my will. But SYTYCD is better. Yeah, it’s still commercial, it’s still FOX pulling the strings, it’s still highly produced. But the blood, sweat, tears, the personalities all seem well…real…and that’s a different beast for reality t.v. There seems to be something actually at stake. The dancers are attending a very public education and you can see them grow, really grow, by leaps and bounds through the season. And, ironically (or not), I discover MUCH MORE great music on SYTYCD than I do on a “music show” like AI. It’s going to be hard to wait for next season…

But I’ve been lucky. I discovered the wonderful Blog About Things and the SYTYCD vlog which actually made me understand that people like Josh so much (and sorta why). I mean *I like* Josh, I just liked lots of other people better. Twitch, for instance (my favorite after Kherington and Chelsie and waaaay before them, Kourtney) or Katee, who seemed like a lock. And EW, who I love, is mad about SYTYCD too, so that’s good to see. And then there’s the funny post-finale discussion boards where everyone was apparently creeped out by the amusing Homage to the Rabbits routine that I adored. LOL. And this, from the official Fox site boards:

I love this show and watched every episode. I was glued to the set last night for the announcement of the winner. I was so disappointed that the end came so late and was rushed. After waiting two hours the announcement of the winner should have been a little earlier so that Twitch could have had his moment with the judges and audience before being escorted off the stage with just his flowers in the midst of the rain of confetti for Joshua! It was not the way to end.

Thanks Geri317 for one of the calmest, most balanced takes on the finale. I agree.

Alright, no more SYTYCD talk for months (likely). Let’s move on to another terrifying author story (What is it about Fess Up Fridays and literary true tales of horror?).

And this about Joyce Carol Oates (sigh) and her fictional take on the JonBenet Ramsey story, as told by the brother of the slain 6 year old. I agree entirely that JCO is capable of much, much more than the crap writing (read the first chapter), but I’m not surprised. JCO doesn’t have to write well in every book. She’s so prolific that even if 1 in 20 of her books/stories are a masterpiece (and those are pretty safe odds, likely), she’s still leaving an enormous legacy. I have a weird tie with the JonBenet case in that she was buried in the tiny cemetery across the street from my high school. I’d sit in writing class, looking out these HUGE windows and I could tell when her grandmother was visiting her grave because most of us students knew her car AND let’s not forget the passel of reporters that would take up the bus curb on the tiny one-way street waiting to get incriminating, grieving shots of her coming or going. It’s one of the experiences, if not THE experience, that made me decide I didn’t want to be a journalist. I was certain then, watching all of this happening from such a weird angle, that I could never remove my emotions from my writing. *AND I DON’T WANT TO*

And just so you’ll know how well-balanced my interests are (LOL), here’s an interesting article about an advance in fingerprint technology and cancer research.

And let’s not forget there’s another war on. “Saakashvili agreed the timing was not coincidental, but accused Russia of being the aggressor. ‘Most decision makers have gone for the holidays,’ he told CNN. ‘Brilliant moment to attack a small country.'”

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