shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


Five sets of notes in four days. Late nights for longer. Tally: one packaged up script clocking in at 109 pages that does not--at the moment--make me cringe. Yay!

Of course, I'm totally brain dead at this point, but it's good brain dead.

The kind that needs sleeeeeep. And the sun will come up tomorrow, way too goddamn early.


A good poem.


by Terence Wench

All last night I kept speaking in this
archaic language, because I had been reading
Poe & thinking about him. I read "The Murders
in the Rue Morgue" which is supposedly the first
detective story. Who dun it? I wondered.
It turns out an orangutan was the murderer.
It looks to me like the detective story genre got off
to a pretty ridiculous start. I used to visit
Poe's house in the Bronx. I used to think,
God, Poe must have been a midget. Everything
was so small. Poe died in Baltimore and I can see why.
In Baltimore, all the people are very big and sincere.
During dinner last night, I told Doug and Susan
about "Murders in the Rue Morgue." I said I hadn't
finished it yet, but it looked like the murderer
was going to turn out to be an orangutan, unless
the plot took a surprising new twist. Then Doug
suggested that he and I collaborate
on a series of detective stories in which
the murderer is always an orangutan.
Polishing is such a silly thing to do to writing. I mean, really, this is work for the maids. (Oops, just figured out why they call it that--writers are servile creatures.)

I miss all youse guys who we haven't been chatting on the phone to, and writing email to (I am in such strong email denial that I'm the quote of the week at See Max Run whining about it), and just generally feeling alive in the same world with. Soon. And very soon, many of you we will see. Yay! (Um, I guess that means we have to put a magazine together, which reminds me I haven't posted the TOC here yet.)

Greg Van Eekhout (who has posted the TOC in his blog) is doing a YA novel writing dare next month. I'm sure I don't know how these things work, but I'm toying. Because come Thursday, I will have a finished script and I did say that the next thing I was going to do was finish The Girl Gang, which is really just a beginning and lots of notes at the moment. And I could do it in the month, doing 1,000 words a day, or just a tad more. Thing is, the world is strange, because I've never met Greg, and yet here I am, considering following in his unknown footsteps. This Internet is freaking amazing.

I dunno though. But it would also give me a chance to outline the next script, so mebbe... Just mebbe.

What was supposed to be here tonight are pictures of the adorable and spiffy George Rowe the Dog (Poster Boy for American Values) sporting his new summer hair cut, complete with oohlala fluffy tail. But I don't know how to download the pictures into the machine and Mr. Rowe the Boy has gone to bed, so that'll have to wait. Probably a few days, since tomorrow is printing out/bradding up/etc night and Thursday we're having dinner with and going to a reading by Greg Bear, who I also don't know at all.

Good night. (She says, heading off to "polish.")


Did I say done? That's not what I meant.

(Nebulous, nebulous bastards.)

Still working, probably will be straight on to morning and through Thursday when I will go, whew for real, for at least 24 hours.

So, not much till then. Random quotes from books to entertain and amuse till then.

Currently, I have pulled the first two books I could get to, from the "Folklore" area.

Let's roll the dice.

The moon was safe! How the people all shouted! How they praised the brave princess!

I like it, it seems oddly appropriate. From "The Crab That Tried to Swallow the Moon" in Wonder Tales of Seas and Ships.

One more? Okay.

The Magi received their biggest blow in 522 B.C. when a Median usurper and Magus named Gaumata posed as the regent of Cambyses II, Cyrus' successor, while the king was on a military campaign in north Africa.

Perhaps not so relevant, unless a Median usurper and Magus is headed my way. No matter. Sentence from "The Fall of the Magi" in From the Ashes of Angels: The Forbidden Legacy of a Fallen Race."

Back to work.


Okay. Whew.

The rewrite is done, now I do a quick proofread to make sure I haven't done anything really daft like forget a character toward the end, and send it off to my exceedingly talented, astute and generous readers who will turn around reads really quickly. Then I will have time to fix minor things for the Nicholl deadline and bigger things for the Austin deadline. Everything else is cake. The script will then be really, really done.

I hope.

Script drafts are nebulous things.

Now I will print out the fully done and polished Fine Fellow and do a nice print out of it and bind it all up and fill everything out and write a check. Otherwise, the printer is sure to stop working -- printer, you didn't hear that -- late Wednesday night or something.

I feel like a crazy zombie girl. The hands are a bit better. I've been bracing and doing exercises for them.

Friday night we went to a lovely party for Peter Beagle who was in town doing various things mostly related to Joe Sutliff Sanders Tolkien class and he was very nice and damn him and all his good ideas. It was very pleasant, even if I had drive 300 miles through crashing thunderstorms earlier.

Updates should regularize on this thing again, now. Unless, of course, my brain dies.


I picked up Hold That Tiger, Mabel Stark's official circus autobiography, courtesy of a library not very far away through interlibrary loan. I'm glad there was a copy readily available in a Kentucky library--there should be. Anyway, propaganda though it may be, filled with lies and half-truths and fairly well useless on anything except the technique of tiger training, it is a beautiful book. It was worth looking over a copy for the photos alone. Just to give you an idea of how bright Mabel Stark the real lady who tamed tigers burned: There's a photo of her, Sammy (a very 'tame' tiger), and Mae West. It's hard to say who's more luminous and holds the camera's eye more, Mabel or Mae. The tiger doesn't even register until about thirty seconds later.

I'm glad I've got it. Also got The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl and a couple of audio books for a lengthy drive I have to make tomorrow, two longish short stories by Peter Straub and Every Tongue Got to Confess(which I figure may be one of those rarities--a book that should be listened to before it's read).

The script. Well, it's not done yet. I've at least given another pass to everything up to page 80, which in this particular script means 30 left. Which is not bad. It's the ending, and it needs some work, but I think I may understand it. I haven't gotten to work on it much since Monday, but I've noodled and I've thought lots. And I've tried dreaming solutions, which usually works, but hasn't so far. But, even if there's no light, there is a tunnel, with an end, and perhaps I will reach it. Whether I will have to go back and look for all the things I dropped along the way is another matter entirely.

I have good readers. If only file formats weren't such a bitch in screenwriting. They are; trust me. Mac/Windows compatibability couldn't be better, compared to trying to switch scripts with somebody with a different program than you. Thank god for Adobe, I guess, though you can't use those handy notes that way.

Now this is boring.

Instead picture a lady, and a tiger. Or maybe, if you'd rather, a little tramp.
The words carpel tunnel have been uttered to me. This damn script is a wily beast with at least 120 heads. I close on the prairie.


Okay, trying again because Blogger is being weird.

From an interview with the wonderful photographer Rosamund Purcell in Conduit (which is a fine little magazine):

Q: ... Is exploration in danger of becoming extinct?

Purcell: I would hope not. We're living in a grim time and in a grim place, a wrong-headed place. We're stuck with television and newspaper and what do we really know? We know nothing. So I don't think we explore things enough. We wouldn't be in the trouble we're in if we had any understanding of how we are seen by the rest of the world--we don't understand how other people live, we don't know how to treat them. And even just thinking about going into a jungle to explore, you know every one in a while an explorer will find something like that mouse lemur that no one knew existed, but otherwise, we understand very little of what we see. In every period of time the people think, well now we've exhausted all the possibilities, now we know it all--but how could we know where the boundaries of exploration end?

# # #

I am Working.
From an interview with the wonderful photographer Rosamund Purcell in


This will probably be abbreviated, since Christopher is cooking and the cooking sounds are less and less which probably means it's close to time to actually eat the food.

I have to finish the script. I have to finish the script by the end of next weekend. I am in serious avoidance of the script mode. This is not PRETTY. Grrrr.

Today. I managed to keep saying how I needed to work, then spending all day running errands. It was a beautiful day and fun, but I did feel a bit ridiculous when any hint of an interesting shop or yard sale was enough for me to scream, "Let's go back!" And I got a chair massage from a hippie painter, who it turned out used to inhabit our very same building 10 years ago. She also told us that we should get married around year 3, because she and her boyfriend have been together for 6 years and it's just never going to happen now. You have to think they have a great relationship for her to be telling this to two complete strangers.


Last night was this month's gallery hop. We were mostly underwhelmed by the art, but there's something about getting free nosh that means you can't complain too much. We saw a beautiful exhibit of Loas, some just unbelievably wonderful, which was the highlight of the evening. And I bought something, something I can wear, but I can say no more. I still have to go pick it up.

I'll try and find some links to the Loa lady's art, because it was so good.

Then we went to Buster's which is the neighborhood bar bar, with an awesome juke box, and had a couple of beers, then home to watch the extremely interesting Dogtown and Z Boys documentary.

Up early this morning for Farmer's Market and fresh flowers and nice vegetables and the dogs all trying to behave while they show each other up and etc.

See what I'm like when I'm avoiding The Work? As I said, it ain't pretty. Why don't I go check on dinner?

Did I mention I started a new story to avoid working on the script?


I suppose it would help if I had something to say, but really I don't. Except:

Good night.


Realizing as I look at last post in blogger window that "Drew the Pleasant Punisher" could also be either a fantasy trilogy hero or a porn movie hero. Or possibly a Viking that everyone had suspicions about.

But really he's just a skinny guy who works at the Y.

Tonight we watched half of Secretary, maybe more than half. Maggie G-word (too lazy to look it up, know I will screw up spelling if I wing it) is exceptionally cute. James Spader was born for the role. Tomorrow night we will watch the rest, and I will report back.

Sometimes it's a shame I don't write about work on here. Tomorrow's going to be very interesting.

Anyway. If that wasn't cryptic enough for you...

I finished the Robert Hough book, The Final Confession of Mabel Stark, which I recommend very highly if you like circuses or lady tiger trainers or expatriate Kentuckians or funny sexual anecdotes or well done historical novels. This has pretty much all of those in spades and is well written besides. At first, I thought the little stylistic tics would bother me, but in the end, they mostly worked gangbusters.

I made a mistake though, in that I started poking around on the Internet before I finished it, looking for information about Mabel Stark herself. There's surprisingly little and I hope this book (or the Kate Winslet movie that's slated) changes that and makes Mabel the remembered star she should be. It's a funny feeling, not knowing if Hough's creation bears any actual resemblance to Mabel herself, but I like to think she does. Winningly so. And that's why -- BIGTIME SPOILER AHEAD AND YEAH OF COURSE YOU FIGURE SHE'S DEAD IF YOU READ THE BOOK AT ALL SO THAT'S NOT IT BUT I DO THINK IT COULD SPOIL THINGS SO IF YOU PLAN TO READ THE BOOK AND AVOID ANY PRESS ABOUT IT THEN DON'T READ FURTHER HERE --

I did not expect that she'd have committed suicide. There's this innate pluckiness and unwillingness to give up despite the most terrible parade of things that I find it almost unbearably sad that she ever got low enough to kill herself. For someone like Mabel Stark to do that... well, it's not right the way our culture uses up people and then forgets about them, or expects them to lose their dignity to survive. It's not right. And it was the same then as now, so I'm not even complaining about Now, I'm complaining about Our Culture, longer, maybe all the way back. Pretty far, at any rate.

I wonder if they will keep the sex with tigers stuff (well, not really, but kinda) in the movie. Probably be vaguely hinted at, I imagine, or played up as a perversion of the tiger. I've interlibrary-loan requested a copy of her, probably pre-fab, sanitized autobio from the 40s, cause it's too expensive to buy.

A good book.

And listening to the Mountain Goats. There's a lovely song about a haunted house.


Mabel Stark link, yes. Here's one with an essay by the book's author that's damn fascinating, and will make you want to read the book, if I haven't already.

Now I am reading ZZ Packer's short story collection and trying not to figure out if she got paid 6 figures for it how much that is per word. (eight stories, none of them that long, and she's 26 or something obscene like that)

So far there are brilliant bits and it's not like I'm saying people shouldn't get paid that much for short story collections. I think everyone should. Or at least, everyone good.


So, Drew the Pleasant Punisher says to me last night, as I concentrate very hard to keep my legs moving in an awkward motion and not have a stroke, "I like to think of this as a cross between the treadmill and the stairmaster." At which point I think, wow, I really should thank him for actually defining my idea of hell.

I didn't even open the file of the script yesterday. Bad, bad, bad. No one should feel sorry for me next week, when I am in dispair and getting up in the wee hours. Well, maybe a little...

I did read some pieces from workshop so I can get caught up there, and sometimes that will shake out the gauze from my head and help me work better, so we'll see. We'll try. We will at least stare at the screen and tweak the same sentence over and over again. This is colloquialism gone wrong folks; I'm using something that is not the royal we, but is wholly inappropriate here.

Stephen Hunter went to chain restaurants and reviewed them. The results are high-larious and high calorie. Read 'Eating the Movies.'


Monday, Monday, as that lame song they always play on bad morning shows goes. And that's just how I feel about it. Like a bad morning song.

Six Feet Under is really good this season. Last night's episode had a big Jeanne Tripplehorn joke, not to mention was directed by Nicole Holofcener.

The Mountain Goats and the Baptist Generals (two bands) are both from Denton, Texas, I believe, and not as I have misled you from Tallahassee. They are fine and excellent bands, both, and really nice guys to boot. We bought all their CDs. The Baptist Generals new drummer looks just like Jason Schwartzman. In fact, it may have been Jason Schwartzman. They're getting ready to hook up with another great band, Crooked Fingers, for a little tour. The best to all of them.

Was a fun show, at High on Rose, and one of the guys who works at the bar sounds just like Jack Womack, according to Christopher. We told him so. Turned out he'd once bought Elvissey for a friend, knowing nothing whatsoever about it. I went home, let out George, got an extra copy of Random Acts of Senseless Violence and gave it to him. There's a great joyous look people get when strangers suddenly give them a present. I love that look.

Yesterday afternoon, after the house was clean and the groceries bought, I practiced extreme writing avoidance by going to see The Hours downtown. It was good, and I learned two things: lesbians are sad and so are people with AIDS. I'm just kidding, of course. It was good, and I'm glad I saw it, but I'm not sure exactly what I think about it yet. The performances are all spectacular, they managed to avoid melodrama and it is a very good adaptation of the book. I'm not sure there was enough...light. During the big scene of Richard, when he was tearing the blinds off the windows and screaming, "Let in some light." I kept thinking, well yes, let's have some. Maybe I could see this thing better.


I did do a little work on the rewrite. Just a little. Now I'm too the really hard part, the part where I have to actually go in and sustain logic. Ugh.


Maybe they're always that good.

Or maybe we were blessed, with that peculiar energy that comes the first night out, two days after finishing the record you've been sequestered working nonstop on for two months. Maybe it comes with hearing applause again, and feeding off that energy. Maybe it was just nice to be out and about.

Whatever it was, it was an amazing show.

It's always a gift to watch those rare performers who manage to convey their sheer joy and passion for the music in live performances, and who exchange energy and seem to feed off each other in the best possible way. The Tim Malloys are like that, at least Adam and John are. Gillian Welch and David Rawlings seem so in tune with each other it's practically scary; it's like they keep falling in love with each other, over and over, every other minute. If they ever split, I'll be very, very sad. The both get these little smiles when they're playing, that break into full ones when they can't help it. They were giddy, giddy, giddy the other night, every time the audience clapped for them. (I"m reading The Final Confession of Mabel Stark by Robert Haugh--it's a fictional autobiography about a famous tiger trainer who was born in Kentucky (and got married a lot), and there's a section I kept thinking of watching them where she talks about getting applause for the first time from the house and feeling like no matter what else, at that moment: I'm the kind of person people clap for. Anyway...)

If I'd written this after the show, like I should have, it would be longer and more detailed. You'd feel like you were there too. Instead, I will just finish up with Mr. Rowe's setlist, copied down for this express purpose. Did I mention we were in the third row?

Oh, one last thing, David Rawlings plays guitar like he's a livewire and his fingers are emitting arcs of electricity. Like he's being shocked with each note, literally. It's phenomenal to watch. And some of the songs become completely new things, the way Gillian sings them, what was sad becomes a smile.

(The new album will be out in June, because they're putting them out themselves now, so smaller delay. It will be awesome if the new songs they played are any indication whatsoever. I'm sure you can get more information at the website here.)

Okay, setlst (some song titles may not be right):

I Wanna Play That Rock and Roll
Miss Ohio (Great line: "I want to do right, but not right now")
Make a Pallet On Your Floor
(This is when they admitted that even though they kept looking at the floor
they didn't actually have a setlist, or that they did, but they threw it out
on the first song because, as David said, "We could tell it wasn't right for
Rock of Ages (Wanna Go Round)
Jesus, We Can Only Wonder Why?
Elvis Presley Blues
True Life Blues
Dear Someone
One More Dollar
Everything Is Free
Red Clay Halo
(Here Christopher has a note that it's cool that Ed McClanahan(writer) was in
the audience as a special guest of the concert series.)
Walking on the Narrow Way (I had a really good mother and father...)
(Tuning difficulties and David said, "It's like a Swiss watch up here,
My First Lover
By The Mark Where The Nails Have Been
Airmail Special (sung by David)
Yellowbird Song (but we really don't know on this one, really pretty tho)
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
Don't You Call My Name (the Caleb song)
Orphan Girl
I'll Fly Away
She Walks These Hills (which was killer awesome)

Great show.

Tonight we go see The Mountain Goats from Tallahassee, because Michaelangelo e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago and said, "You are going to see the Mountain Goats on April 12 at High On Rose, right, right?" And when a music critic e-mails me and says that kind of thing, all I can say is, "Of course."

I've been doing some work on the horrendously slow-going rewrite of Voices, which has to be done in two weeks or so (eek ack uck). We're at the coffeeshop now and I'm burnt out for the day on work, and will probably just read some comic books. We had lunch at this great gourmet cafe where all the sandwiches are named for famous dead people and actually reflect their personalities. I had the Isadora Duncan. And the best mint lemonade ever.

I think that is enough, if not all.

(Everyone who I really want to write e-mail because I deperately owe you e-mail, I figure this slow-going rewrite means I will end up getting to that tomorrow, just to have a break.)


We are making packages, or rather Christopher is making packages, and when he gets too enthusiastic about putting in a beloved household item, I say, "No, not the plastic toy alligator."

Fun, fun. I have nothing all that interesting to say, as this day was a prelude--albeit a damn busy one (the blackberry is still mooing, dastardly thing)--to a nice dinner and third row at the Gillian Welch/David Rawlings show. Yay! It starts late, which is not so Yay!, but it's in a great smokeless venue and they finished their new album YESTERDAY and will probably play lots of songs from it, maybe even for the first time live which is always exciting.

There are links, but only one is going to make it because shoes are being tied and someone needs to use their computer so they're lurking. It's hard to truly laugh about the war, at all, but I do find it kind of funny that the D.C. power-PR guys have a fan club for the Iraqi Information Minister. No one will ever acccuse him of not being able to improvise. I'd love to see him do a one-on-one with Dan Rather. The mind reels at the possibility of a vortex of unreality opening and sucking them both in. Or perhaps not.


You should all see Midnight, if you never have and if you have see it again. It's the only one of the Wilder/Brackett written but not Wilder directed films that _feels_ like a Wilder film. And it's so, so good. Such a more interesting tale of Cinderella.

I saw it again for the... I don't know... 20th time tonight. It's readily available on video and I'd imagine DVD and it ROCKS.

"Don't forget, every Cinderella has her midnight." That has got to be one of the best lines in all movies.

And it has one of the funniest set-up/pay-off sequences in all movies. Don Ameche wins you over. Claudette Colbert could act with her toe, more than what's going on today.

See it.
I don't see the point of petty thievery, never have. What's the point of invading and hurting people's lives for such a small return? Rob a bank or something. Grow some guts. Have a reason to skulk away and feel like the piece of shit you are. Do something big enough that your victims, or your annoyed, have a chance of someday spitting in your face in a courtroom. Don't half-ass it. And stay the fuck out of my house.

There. I feel much better now. Nice glass of wine.

"Crossroads" isn't even worth talking about, I don't think. I find it anthropologically interesting that Britney dressed as a hooker whenever she had to perform. Hmmm... I also think of the movie as revisionist history. This is the Britney that Britney wishes existed. The noble motherless child, the good girl, who brings her friends--who are screwed up but only because of other people's viciousness--her best friends, who are also hot and can sing, along for the ride. Who meets the guy of her dreams and gets laid. Who gets discovered at an "audition" in L.A. two days after she gets there. Where I might add one of her screwed up friends is able to sing back-up even though she just got out of the hospital for an inadvertent abortion by way of falling downstairs. The worst thing, the biggest indignity, is perhaps that Kim Cattrall was cast as the bitchy, absent mother. That is just WRONG.

I've ridden in convertibles and your hair does not still look like that when you get out, girls.

Mr. Barzak updated his blog. Go read.

And George was wrong. It's not spring. Grrrrrrowl.


It is officially spring, for George has decreed it so, with his waggy tail and perky ears. It's true that animals know. I'd thought maybe it was spring before--even though it dropped down into the 40s over the weekend--but I was wrong. It was just unseasonably, or perhaps pre-seasonably, good weather. Today though, this afternoon, Winter and Spring had a fight and Spring won. It was rainy, cold, generally blustery and the kind of weather that makes you feel like you live in the mannerhouse of Russian tragedy, whether you do or not. This afternoon, the sun slowly emerged, the birds swanned around like they'd known it all along, even the breeze was warm.

And George had it in his step, that secret knowledge. That secret knowledge that no doubt comes from desperately needing your heavy winter coat shaved off suddenly so romping outside does not make you want to combust.

There it is.

I had lots of links for today, but feh, it's gotten late, I haven't answered e-mail, so why should I bother? Most of them can be found if you go poking around at the New York Times "Most E-mailed Articles." Some of them cannot. Some of them may have gone missing. It was nothing earth-shattering, I promise. The one exception, not to earth-shattering, but to New York Times, is a piece on Cat Powers focusing mainly on the live experience at the Washington Post. I don't think the reporter has ever actually done so, but just heard rumors. Which makes the whole enterprise a little arch.

Hmmm... Christopher's at the ballpark with the menfolk, bonding or talking business or something like that. I suppose I'll fill my wine glass, pick something to eat than can be heated, watch the news and finish the last of the Steven Millhauser novellas, since that book is woefully a day late. Which is just ridiculous. I refuse to become a "renew freak" what with it being so easy to just read the damn things and take them the block and a half down there on times. There's an impetus at work that doesn't happen when you actually own a book and could read it any old year. I'm racing the clock. It's like a game. And now I've lost. But will I backslide? No, I will finish the novella, and get the book back tomorrow and pay my 20 cents of late fees with the proper chagrin. That's what I'll do.

You, on the other hand, should go buy the new Realms of Fantasy (surprisingly cleavage-less cover this time) and read Chris Barzak's wonderful, sad mermaid story. It's very, very good. And if he ever updated his blog, I'm sure he'd do an entry about how it was out, and maybe even when he wrote it and where it came from. But he doesn't, so you will have to content yourselves with buying and absorbing his essence through the precious words, rather than the precious cyberspace.

(See you soon.)

And typing of Chris reminds me of the Pop Culture dance class that's starting soon in town, where you learn popular eighties dances with the appropriate tongue in cheek. But. Must. Eat. Food. Now.



The Darwin Lecture

Chris Brochu's talk on Sue was excellent. Quite young to be such a prominent scientist, or as Christopher summed it up, "He's the China Mieville of paleontology."

His actual preferred field of study is crocodilians, and we missed the more formal lecture on those. Which is unfortunate, since every time the word crocodilian came up he gave out a little cheer. Whereas Sue was once referred to as a several ton alabtross around his neck. Basically, he ended up doing three years of work on the description of Sue's bones for the Field Museum because of timing and luck.

The talk was fairly general, but fascinating and he dispelled a ton of myths about what people "know" about T. Rex's in general and Sue in particular. It turns out we know a lot less than what's actually reported. Science often does. Which is what makes it so damn exciting.

There were lots of kids in the audience, as always, and they're just so cute when they ask questions (and generally pretty informed as well, but those aren't the kind of questions that are fun to put up for perusal). "So, um, if a man was eaten..."

"Could you speak up?"

"So, um, if a T. Rex got a man in its mouth, could it bite him in half?"

"Um, no. He'd certainly be dead, but really more mashed than sliced clean in half." And then a demo with the teeth.

That was from the little girl in front of us with nice blonde hair's brother, which makes me feel really sorry for her.

Kid over to the side with his robust amateur spelunking, fossil-hunting dad. "Um, is it true that a big dinosaur like T. Rex might excrete bacteria that would poison the wound it gave a prey and cause it to die?"

"Yes, I know the paper where you're getting that." (There was a tone here of "Oh, that damn paper again.") Dr. Brochu points to scale T. Rex head on stage. "I don't really think they'd need to poison their prey, do you? I think they could kill it pretty easily. However, a bite from any type of animal, that doesn't brush its teeth, will turn septic. So, yes, if something survived a T. Rex bite the wound would probably turn septic."

A college girl (groan) in the back. "I've seen on TV and stuff that they can't see something that's not moving, is that true?"

"No, that's just in the movies. There are some amphibians that have that trait, but not T. Rexes."

All in all, the paleontologists who visit the Darwin lecture aren't great with kids. They're a little annoyed at having to deal with them and their questions, I think, but I love the fact that the kids are there and, at least for a few more hours, engaged by science. How cool is that?

And Christopher asked a question that got him to tell us that Sue was about 25 years old when she died, which I don't think he intended to.

Some of the most fascinating and complex parts of the talk were about the technology they used to study Sue. There are some pictures of the super-powerful CT scan they had Boeing do over here at National Geographic.

A very nice evening as always, in contrast to...

Spike Lee's talk

It wasn't awful, it just wasn't anything really. It did leave me with the sinking feeling that most college kids aren't that bright and can't speak standard English very well. There were a lot of reasons it wasn't that great. Here are several, where you is Spike Lee.

1. You tell us you give 30 or so of these a year, and it's obvious you're doing it for the money because you're practically checking your watch on how long you promised you'd be there for the 5 grand or whatever. He literally just stopped talking during a story at the end and said, "Let's bring up the lights and take some questions." So, we just hit an hour and fifteen.

2. Do not underscore the above point, and disrespect your audience, by further making it clear without coming out and saying it. "Okay, two more questions on each side."

3. Your opinions might have been controversial ten years ago. Now they aren't and you need something to back them up.

4. You're supposed to be inspiring these damn kids, so be inspiring, damn it! Don't waste everyone's time shuffling around on stage and half-heartedly calling things you disagree with in society, "Crazy."

I could go on, but really, it was so disappointing. Perhaps it's the setting. Certainly, the level of the questions asked would lead one to believe that it's not worth it to get to passionate about the talk itself. But, leaping jehovah, do the kids that ask the questions need to hear something more challenging than this.

A sampling of questions. Three versions of this particular one were asked, I believe. "As an African-American female, how do I break into acting/entertainment industry/music industry?"

He coddled them with his reply (and you just know they were hoping it would be, "Why, you get discovered by Spike Lee at a college q and a session, that's how. Come with me and star in my next movie opposite Denzel."), for the most part, when he should have just said, "You do it like everybody else: work your ass off. Next."

Then there was the kid who decided he was going to challenge Spike Lee on the war. Earlier, Spike had done what was probably the most interesting stuff of the night (sadly) about the war--the hall was overwhelmingly against it, judging by applause, and these are college kids in Ky.; the polls are lies--and how he was sick of the whining that Iraqi troops "weren't fighting fair. They're changing clothes." And he did a little thing about guerilla warfare in American history and how if you think about the amount of firepower the U.S. has that's the only way these people can effectively fight back. Etc. SO, kid who's not nearly as smart as he thinks he is in the blue t-shirt hits the mike and says, "I have a comment."

Stand back. He has a comment, ladies and gentleman.

"About what you said earlier. And I um, just want to um, give my comment and then get your comment on my uh comment. When you were talkin' about propaganda and everything--"

Stop the record. If your argument, what you're taking umbrage at, includes the qualifier "and everything" you should sit down and shut up, because you don't know what you're talking about. But anyway.

"And everything, well about the troops changin' clothes and um that and not fighting fair, you know Geneva Convention. They're changing clothes and waving at American troops and that's not ethical and um, you know, you saying that like you did, well that's one-sided, that's propaganda. I think you're the propaganda and--"

(I am being really kind here, because this was in no way as coherent as what's above, but I can't render it verbatim or it would be unintelligible. The big thing this kid is missing is that Spike Lee is not a journalist, can say any damn thing he wants, and does not have to tell both sides. Plus, this kid is stupid and has not mastered the English language. He and his buddy walked out behind me and high fived as the buddy said, "Dude, when you said Geneva Convention, I was like, he just said Geneva Convention to Spike Lee." (Obviously, they know something about Spike Lee and this code phrase that we don't. Perhaps it activates his secret agent training.)

"Thank you for your comment."

Doesn't address the kid's blather at all.

Then, a girl comes to the mike that actually does have a legitimate issues question for him, but also is horribly timid and not willing or able to state her position. You see, Spike was supposed to speak in Cincinnati not too long ago, but pulled out at the urging of the NAACP because they have urged a boycott by black performers to punish Cincin for not taking race seriously enough. The girl asks why he didn't come and he says:

"Well, the NAACP talked to me about that situation and how the only way we would cause change there was by hitting their bottom line, so I decided not to go. This is the same reason we're eating freedom toast and freedom fries right now, talking about boycotting French companies and pouring French wine and Dom Perignon down toilets. You get people to hear you by hurting their bottom line. Next."

That is the lamest ass answer I've ever heard and does anyone actually believe that we're really hurting the French's bottom line. This really bugs me. Because in Cincinnati, I think the city was forced to take notice when they had several days of rioting, and I don't think that people who need to be there raising issues and stirring up activism not going is changing a damn thing. I don't think that Spike Lee's deciding not to visit hurt anybody's bottomline, frankly. But, maybe that's just me.

The thing was, these kids didn't deserve well thought out answers, because they didn't have well thought out questions. Anyway, it was depressing.

As was the girl next to me who groaned when they shut out the lights and said, "But I have to take notes on this." Then proceeded to write down everything, in the dark, with her perfect little writing even though it was just an ad lib lecture.

The only moment in the questioning that I actually liked came from a 12-year-old kid who just got his first camcorder. "I'm trying to make (muffled) films and how do you do that?"

"What kind of films?"

"Meaningful films. Because the ones I'm making now don't make no sense at all."

The poor misguided youth of America. I like them better when they're smaller and saying um is excusable.


So tonight we met our Not Really a Personal Trainer Guy at the Y. I probably shouldn't go into too much detail, because it might set a precedent for what is sure to be much blood, sweat and humiliation to come. But it's just too much fun not to.

Because Drew doesn't really cost anything, he's obviously not that into it. It's just, like, his job, and the kicks come from a sweetly sadistic streak that I can see even if it hasn't manifested itself yet. Basically, we've signed up for the 12 week "Please help us, oh my god, our muscles are jellifying as we try and cross the threshold of your palace of sweat and life" program. We see Drew once a week and he tells us what new torture is in for us. We'll see how it goes. The bad thing is, if we blow it off, we still have to walk George right by the big glass front windows full of exercising people with nothing to do but glare at us, mouth the word "Loser" and fetch Drew.

But I have faith. We'll see. It's only a half a block away.

This wasn't what I was posting. I'm just up later than normal doing anything besides reading, because it's workshop chat night. In three, two, one...

But Michaelangelo had a link to a very funny Kelly Osborne gig review that I just had to snatch. Let me preface this by saying that no matter what else Kelly Osborne may or may not be, she is a beacon of self-confident pudge in a world of uber-skinny for teenage girls. Bust had a piece in a recent issue about Kelly giving all teenage girls the confidence to wear belly shirts and not just the Britney clones (though I'm not entirely sure that's a good sign, natch). Anyway, this is just good catty fun.
Naught to do but compose my blog entry.

Just lots and lots of links today. Sorry I'm being so damn sporadic lately. That's the word for it too--sporadic. I am in a period of sporadicacity, sporadicness--ATTACK OF THE SPORES! Things will slow down; I will respond to e-mail. I will get some damn writing done. I will get up when the alarm goes off. I will pet George and drink coffee. The taxes will be done. The sporads will be defeated. Yes, victory, it shall be mine.

Don't know what just happened there, but I can only attribute it to the little recognized "late afternoon weirds." You know, like the "mean reds" or the "Monday morning blues." It's a phenomenon.

I think I'll start backwards, so we're time traveling, back to the first links I haven't had time to post... but not yet.

I like linking to the Hindustani Times, I just do. Especially when it's a fun story about the inexplicable filching of Keith Richards' cigarettes.

And then there's the paleontology link of the day (and don't think I won't be asking Brochu about this at the event tomorrow evening, and wishing I could hear Jack Horner's cry of small vindication): Dino was a cannibal. And, CNN's version-- if you're wondering what Jack Horner has to do with it, well he's (one of) the somebodies who likes to say T. Rex was predominately a scavenger. I'm thinking today he's having a beer, and a lot of phone calls from his buddies.

Going back further, so far I can't remember why I'm linking to the Kon Tiki article in the New York Times. Except that it's very interesting.

And the Vodkapundit's very funny illustration of Peter Arnett vs. Creature.

I will skip the Geraldo link and only comment that this is one of the funniest headlines I've seen all week: Correspondent Will Leave Iraq Rather Than Be Expelled. Glad they cleared that up.

And everyone's heard the Leslie Cheung news by now, so sad. Canto-pop attracts tragedy...and speaking of attracting tragedy...

One of the stories I've been following most closely this week was the young photojournalist, previously an employee of the Gore campaign, who was missing in Iraq. Her name is Molly Bingham and she's safe now. She's from one of the most prominent families in Louisville; among other things they, for a very long time, ran The Courier-Journal newspaper. This was when it was one of the top papers in the country. And it seems like tragedy is drawn to them. Not in the way the Kennedy's are magnets of doom, because I've always thought they were obviously sending out a signal which was being responded to by the universe--if not always at an appropriate level. But the Bingham's are often doing good things, being writers or journalists or crusaders and bad, bad things happen. So, whew. For the interested, here's Molly's dad's heartfelt entreaty from earlier in the week, in their old family paper, asking for his daughter's safe return. He now hopes she'll take a job in the fashion industry. I hope she won't.

We need more brave souls. We need all of them we can get.