shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


certain kind of sadness...

...that makes me going hunting for some poet's words that can say it better than I.

Tonight, it's Miguel de Unamuno and this poem of his:

The Snowfall Is So Silent

The snowfall is so silent,
so slow,
bit by bit, with delicacy
it settles down on the earth
and covers over the fields.
The silent snow comes down
white and weightless;
snowfall makes no noise,
falls as forgetting falls,
flake after flake.
It covers the fields gently
while frost attacks them
with its sudden flashes of white;
covers everything with its pure
and silent covering;
not one thing on the ground
anywhere escapes it.
And wherever it falls it stays,
content and gay,
for snow does not slip off
as rain does,
but it stays and sinks in.
The flakes are skyflowers,
pale lilies from the clouds,
that wither on earth.
They come down blossoming
but then so quickly
they are gone;
they bloom only on the peak,
above the mountains,
and make the earth feel heavier
when they die inside.
Snow, delicate snow,
that falls with such lightness
on the head,
on the feelings,
come and cover over the sadness
that lies always in my reason.

There aren't nearly enough good poems about dogs, so a poem about snow and sadness. Farewell, Dolph, another fine dog I never got to meet.

throw the bones and drop the i-ching

Everyone seems to be moving their blog to some new service lately. I fear I am lazy (as witness my un-updated links bar and the totality of this page) and resist change. Plus, Blogger's supposed to be sending me a hoodie because they made a bunch of things I shelled out for free.

Really, I have nothing to say, as it's early, but we overslept and now there is a complicated morning of ferrying, then coming back and getting ready, then post office to mail a videotape, then work. The cleaning up of the ms. progresses.

There may be no time for posting tomorrow, as Robin McKinley's reading/signing, then Yo La Tengo's playing. Unrelated events. Not to mention the Return of Spike.

I have to go make the toast. (!)


many, many things says the sea

It's been awhile, so you can expect random things like Victorian Robots. And there's nothing wrong with that.

I'm going to try and do this sequentially, but I make no promises or guarantees of coherence.

We did see Underworld and were not surprised one bit by it. It was a fun bit of fluff that lived up to expectations, which were not very high. Christopher liked it because he said it's much more honest than The Matrix about what it is, and what its purpose is. That primarily being that swooshing around in leather trenchcoats with guns is visually stimulating--especially if you play a lot of video games. Actually, he didn't say that last bit, but I think the meaning is mostly accurate. He also says that this is honest in the way of, this is what a certain type of three guys will give you if you give them $20 million and say make a genre movie. Another friend said it was a strange case of interesting backstory with an uninteresting forestory to hang it on, more or less. My main quarrel, that I kept thinking during it, was that the guns bored me. Too many guns. Too loud. And disturbing in many ways that I won't get into here in their gratuity. I would have much preferred fancy, futuristic crossbows, which could have achieved the same kind of "bullet" with far less pow zap. One of the things I always liked best about Buffy was the show's point of view on guns. I just think they're too easy. And yes, again, too loud.

So, that was that movie. I won't tell you not to go see it, and if you're going to, you probably already have anyway. Just keep your expectations at the right level. They did manage to make the werewolves actually scary and besides, Scott Speedman is hot. Just ask Felicity.

Before that movie, I read Scott Westerfeld's forthcoming (March 2004) Midnighters: The Secret Hour, which is a damn fine piece of fiction that I recommend you buy all the teenagers you know and then the adults. It's that good. One of those ripping yarns, characters, world and premise you will get caught up in and want to stay that way. It'll be your new favorite television series, movie AND book--even though it's only a book right now. It's quite wonderful. And there are two more to follow. Scott's science fiction duology, The Risen Empire, is also highly recommended.

On the Netflix front.... Lemme see. There was Identity, which is fun and has John Cusack, but was sillier than I thought it would be. Plus, we figured out the twist too early, I think. But a pleasant flick for a rainy evening in. One of my favorite things I've seen lately actually is COMEDIAN. I'm not a huge Jerry Seinfeld fan, but... I love good stand-up and am fascinated by how it works, and that's what this movie is about and also about having become successful doing something you love and it still being hard, and it still being worth your time to strain at being better at it. To be new and not be easy. It's good. Plus, there are a ton of cameos and bar conversations with other comedians.

Other movies that aren't really worth talking about too much are Solaris (just didn't hang together) and All the Real Girls (which is just too damn slow). Oh, and Laurel Canyon, which I do recommend and found highly enjoyable if for no other reason than that Frances McDormand gets to play the hotty she is. Not every day you get to see a beautiful _woman_ play a beautiful woman. Usually, they get forced into playing girls or crones.

Read Robin McKinley's new book Sunshine, which is a truffle of a book you can savor over a weekend. It has Buffy-esque qualities, and the main character's voice is charming and very funny.

And jeez, that's it for now. Okay. Oh, except, yes, Bill Murray is a god. Sofia Coppola really is that talented. Lost in Translation is a wonderful movie.

And really, that's it, before my hand cramps up. Off to the library to stare out over Phoenix Park and edit. Perhaps, lunch first.

(If you haven't subscribed to One Story yet, you should and you should make sure you get the back issues with "Child Assassin" and "Mr. Lobster" in them.)



Well, I was doing a little boycott of this thing until the book got done. Guess what?

The book is done. Well, done except for the fixing it up part.

But done.

The Girl Gang. Final first draft word count: 69,685.


OH and this...

just in cases

Yesterday's little conversational tidbit, I've discovered, is open to misinterpretation. It's nothing against the Dixie Chicks. I like the Dixie Chicks. It's more about not caring more about the lives of people that are famous than other people's lives.

So, there you go.

Today is a lovely, crisp fall day. We farmer's marketed for a bit, then visited Sam's Hot Dog Stand, a little green and red hole in the wall on South Limestone that we've been curious about for ages and unble to find open. Better than I thought actually, and far less Heart-Stoppingly Bad For You in taste. I got a healthy hot dog and it was still quite good. (Of course, I'm one of those freakish types who was completely brainwashed by the Yuck-Mouth "Don't drown your food!" commercials as a child, and don't get anything on my hot dog. I have a bit of a fear of sauces and goops and things.)

Now, it's library work time. I have my YA manuscript, which I've been reading through this week, and when I finish reading and making notes on what there is so far, then I write the end. I finally figured out why I was holing up in a cave next to where the ending lived, but refusing to go over and introduce myself. It was, oddly enough, a point-of-view issue. You see, I didn't really outline the novel all the way through. I'd just kind of think a few chapters ahead and I knew the major story beats and I knew the end-end but I hadn't really worked out the details. And so I found myself making the plot choices i wanted to, but which were impossible to make work within the first-person POV the book is told from. So, I'm reading everything to get a good sense of momentum, then I'll make a few changes late in the ms. that fix those plot choices and, voila, write the end. Then, my favorite and a just-as-hard-part: the rewrite. The rewrite is easier for me, because you have something to work with. Because you know that there actually is a story there, and it's just your job to make it the best, most engrossing, closest-to-your-intention that it can be. Like I said, not easy but better than facing the void. In my humble opinion, anyway.

Of course, the next bit always feels like it will be easier than the bit you're working on at the moment. It usually isn't.

I'm stalling.

Tonight, a drive-in doublebill -- Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Underworld.

I'm still stalling.


sometimes people remind you they rock

I say, with a little sprinkling of sarcasm: "Don't worry, the Dixie Chicks are okay, their flight bumped a building but landed fine."

Other person says: "I'm glad to hear no people got hurt, but I couldn't care less that any of them were the Dixie Chicks."


Beat the Clock

I have 15 minutes till they lock us in the library, or possibly frown at us and escort us out. Can I do a short blog update in this time? Edge of your seats, friends, I know you are.

We came here so I could catch up on email, but instead I only managed to send three. Grrr. Tomorrow or the next day, if I owe you a letter.


I'm thrilled that I'll be able to see the Chagall exhibit while I'm in San Francisco, but slightly bitter about missing the upcoming Diane Arbus retrospective. 'A nice piece in the New York Times Magazine about her work and the show.'What's left after what one isn't is taken away is what one is,'' Arbus wrote in a notebook in 1959. I like that very much.

And it's a slight comfort if unsettling that the staff at the Baghdad Museum actually hid many of the items in the collection before the war.

The music is playing me off the stage. Must dash.


world's best nature writer?

Argue the point if you must, but I say yes. I can't wait to read the new David Quammen book, which is pretty much true of everything he writes.

bouncy, bouncy

Jeff Vandermeer reviews Trampoline for Locus Online today. A good review and I don't envy a reviewer trying to sum up this particular anthology with so many interesting, wonderful stories in it. It's kind of fun seeing which stories get mentioned and which don't in the Trampoline reviews. Two of my very favorite stories this year don't, Richard Butner's "Ash City Stomp", which inspired the anthology and the cover art and can be read at that link, and Karen Joy Fowler's "King Rat," which is one of the most beautiful, haunting pieces of fiction I've ever read. And of course, I think Christopher's story "Force Acting on the Displaced Body" is a knock-out; it gets better every time I read/hear it and is damn near perfect in my opinion. And I find it melancholy, aching, amusing, yearning, searching rather than diverting.

But, anyway, a good review: go read it.


whether you do or you don't

--Get Johnny Cash that is, and realize what a huge loss his death is you should read the tributes in today's Nashville Tennesean. The man was loved and became an icon for all the right reasons, and stayed deserving of it all, which is no small thing. Plus, the records rock.


Sounds like it's going to be really interesting.

Especially on the heels of Carnivale. (yay!)

We saw American Splendor last night and second the recommendation of everyone else who's told you to see it. Good movie. More on that later. Maybe.


Look out Jackson town...

why, god, why?

Am I up right now. I have to get up in three hours and yet, here it is, middle of the freaking night and I am up now. And wondering if that person in that truck at the post office that I see through the window is doing what I think he's doing.

Oh wait. Whew. He's not. He's either doing his really crash-and-burn plan to break into the post office or works there. Probably works there.

You know what's sadder than being up at four and knowing you have to be at work by 9 and wondering what in the hell is wrong with you because no one sane is awake at this hour? It's when you hear one of your neighbors come home, thrusting you into an existential crisis in which the words fuddy duddy and adult come into play.

@ @ @

I didn't post about the Sept. 11 anniversary, and I'm not going to do so now. But I hope everyone took maybe a heartbeat longer than we all should every day to look around and think about how lucky we are and how important it is not to let things get (irrevocably) hopelessly screwed up in our country, and in our world, in the name of a senseless tragedy.

@ @ @

I want to write Stage Magic Fiction.


leaves in the air, that smells like change

Something sad about fall. Any moment, I expect to see the skeleton of autumn come rambling by. I never know where it's going.

Got several large, amazing books at the library, racing to beat the disconcerting "library's about to close" unpleasant, easy listening music, because I felt I needed something to insert directly into head that I didn't have on hand tonight.

You should track down Remarkable Trees of the World by Thomas Pakenham for the pictures alone. And I also got a book with CDs in of lots of poets reading on rare recordings, because tomorrow shall mostly be spent driving with George the Dog to my nephew's show and tell. I've been told George is the object de show. I will try and remember to bring the digital camera, as there haven't been enough George pics of late. The George fan club must be restless. He's pretty and happy with the fall right now too.

And well, that's it. Thinking happy thoughts for Alan and Kristin and wishing we'd been able to make it for their celebration and occasion.


because stealing can be a good thing

Vewy sleepy, as the lispy spider says to the buzzy fly. I didn't sleep well at all last night and now I find myself in the library, seduced by trashy magazines because it's okay to read trashy magazines in the library. No, really.

Still perfectly lovely fallish weather here, in case you were wondering. We drove out to Adair County to see Christopher's family yesterday afternoon, after some library time. It was a nice time, great place, good food. Then, I actually got back to work on the YA in the car on the way home. I think I'm about 20-30 pages from the end. This is a woohoo kind of moment. I sent off the first 75-80 pages to a wonderful, genius friend and that somehow freed me to work. I believe what Ernest Lehman said about getting rid of it sometimes being the only way to see how to fix it, how to do it, how to finish for real.

So, that's nice. We were on our way to Argentine tango, but I'm tired, and yes, it's more interesting and we'll probably take the next class in it or one of its variations. But it looks like Mr. Barzak's the winner for now with salsa. I feel like Wednesday night salsa just across the street is more the thing right now and I am in the mood to dance.

Stealing is okay, especially when it's from someone industrious like Greg So, I'm gonna steal his plan to finish everything in progress by Jan. 1.

For me these things are:

The YA, finish first draft and revise
Finish and revise and send out that ghost story set in high school
Revise and send out my time travel story
Revise and send out my Romeo and Juliet story
Finish and revise and send out the zombie/city/syphyllis story
Write my column for Lady Churchill's
Send out some letters and then some scripts
Finish first draft of new script (though I'm willing to let this one slide to next year)

Not in that order. It feels doable. Lot of stuff, but most of it nearly done. I must be forgetting something.


p.s. I like this story quite a lot

READ: The Ironworkers Hayride by Robert Olen Butler from the latest issue of Zoetrope All-Story. It's sweet.

haze is rarely purple, discuss

It occurs to me that I've talked very little about movies in this space recently, even when I've been watching them.

(Though really, all of life right now is just waiting for the premiere of Carnivale on HBO. I will be so disappointed if it is not my most perfect, favorite show ever.)

Yesterday, I took two movies out of the library, since we were oddly netflixless. The first was Me Without You. It's about the joined-at-the-hip friendship of two girls from childhood to the beginning of adulthood. I could relate. I had one of these soul-sucking, sometimes wonderful but always constraining friendships in my own childhood that crashed and burned about two years into college. At the time, I couldn't imagine anything more painful. In retrospect, even a couple of months later, it felt like freedom and unlike the girls in the movie, it was a relationship that stayed crashed and burned and for the best. I still refer to her, not completely straightfaced, as "Satan" when I tell certain anecdotes. I've heard she grew up to major in recreation, to be a realtor then a pharmaceutical rep. So, yes, that disintegration was definitely for the best. But anyway, this movie is about two British girls, stretches from the 70s to the 90s and has a nice little love story for you to root for all the way through. Definitely worth seeing. It avoids sentimentality and brutality, but manages to be heartbreaking and honest in lots of ways about a certain kind of female friendship that you rarely see in any kind of art. It's messy. Women's friendships rarely get to be truly messy. Plus, I think Michelle Williams in underrated.

The other movie I watched is this bizarre artifact that completely perplexes me. It's called Sordid Lives. This movie has bad acting and overacting and maybe even a smidgen of good acting here and there, and the same with the writing and the directing (though alas, the cinematography is low rent throughout). It's almost impossible to stop watching it, even though it always feels like a sad exercise in community playhouse theater gone wild. I will just say this, as I feel it sums up the entire movie experience: Olivia Newton John sings hymns with a Southern drawl. It's worth it for the utter desperation and sense that Marcel Duchamp will walk through your door at any moment those aural vignettes bring.

Otherwise, yesterday was spent doing pleasant things. Today, we drive places and eat meat cooked over open flame.


twinkle-toes of links

So, last night was supposed to be an early night, but then we went down to the diner on the corner and had good food while we read our books and ran into people we've been intending to hang out with forever and just never had and so a fun night of drinking and chatting and borrowing graphic novels ensued instead.

I'd call it serendipitous, rather than random, which according to today's Washington Post is the teenager term du now.

Also, in the WP today, an article on why straight girls kissing each other is such a big deal for so many guys. The thing that I think is most hilarious about the Britney-Madonna flap is poor, almost-never-mentioned Christina Aguilera. Apparently, no one's surprised or shocked, or even cares, when Christina tongues Madonna. This is like insult to injury. You have to think Christine A is out there somewhere right now, putting hello kitty band-aids over her nipples and preparing to go out to a bar and kiss every woman in it in a desperate attempt to make Entertainment Tonight -- "Christina Aguilera Girl Kissing Spree: Britney Spears' Mother Approves." Yes, friends, if you go look at google news and browse the entertainment headlines, my favorite right now is the one about how Britney's mom knew about the kiss in advance. And yes, she kisses her mother with that mouth.

Anyway. I wish I had some ibuprofen.


here ye here ye

A blissfully breezy evening and I do mean bliss. Walking feels like floating. There is only a cool comfortable draft, no humidity, no chill. Just perfect. The moon just showing off its better half and the streets deserted.

George is happy. We had to walk him twice happy. He tried to take off up the street without his leash happy.

I'm hoping this is early fall and we'll get a month or two of this.

This, of course, ignores the fact that there is an overzealous hippy practicing his drums in the backyard. Boom boom boom BOOM. That is the noise I hear when I walk home from the Y. Boom babababa BOOM. That's about the whole of the repertoire. It makes me want to build a tree stand and purchase a b.b. gun.

So, I have to go to San Francisco soonish, early October. I'm trying to think of all the people I should see while I'm there if at all possible. I have trouble remembering where people are who I haven't visited though, so remind me if you're in the Bay Area and want to have a nosh or a drink or something in early October -- this of course, if I don't start pestering you to set one up first.

An exhausting, really interesting couple of days at the day job (which I don't talk about here so that's all you get). And tomorrow will be catch up day. I think I got to page 10 on the new script this week and am still in desperate need of one of those days where I fluuff (pronounced floof) around in my pajamas because I am doing nothing but Finishing The Book and put it off for hours and hours and hours and then stay up all night and get it done. I need one of those. Maybe this weekend.

I think we're going to take Argentinian Tango classes. Or possibly salsa. We have a few days to decide. If you have a vote, drop it in the quick topic with your Hobbit Name. (Hobbit Names rule.) We are ruled by public opinion.



fun with hobbits

Get your mind out of the gutter, perv.

Okay, now go visit the Hobbit Name Generator and then post your hobbit name in the quick topic if you wanna.

Christopher's Bulbo Brambleburr of Bindbale Wood and I'm Belladonna Chubb (name generators HATE me).

We are all such nerds. Isn't it great?

it burns! it burns!

Well, actually not, since all it does is rain here now. But I like rain, far more than I like sweltering, make-you-a-big-sweatball-as-soon-as-you-step-outside heat, which is I believe the technical meteorologist term for it. There are kids out there right now, aspiring to become meteorologists and then--weathermen. Or women. And I don't mean the kind Terry Bisson may have been involved with either.

Scary, huh?

"The Facts of Life" is a fine, sprawling novel and I highly recommend it. I didn't quite love it as much as "Fitcher's Brides" (or the "Tooth Fairy" for that matter), and it doesn't actually feel like a World Fantasy winner to me. But don't ask me what that statement means. I came to Graham Joyce in strange way, and this one is for those of you who denounce or doubt the Power of the Blurb. Kelly had sent me "Black Glass," Karen Joy Fowler's last collection for one of my birthdays. I read it and loved it and then about a year later, I read Sister Noon, picking it off the bookshelf at Christopher's place (this was when he still lived on Frankum Branch and worked at the farm). I hadn't been able to find anything to read for weeks, and I just fell into Sister Noon headfirst and loved it. It was the perfect thing, absolutely the perfect thing to read. And then I read Sarah Canary, quickly followed by Sweetheart Season and the earlier collection of stories. And any stories we happened to have in stuff that hadn't been collected. Having exhausted the many-splendored works of Karen, I was at a loss. So, I started digging through one of the many unsteady towers of books that didn't fit in shelves and I came up with Graham Joyce's The Tooth Fairy. I'd been told I should read Graham Joyce, but was skeptical, until I saw one of the blurbs -- yes, friends, romans and countryhicks, it was a blurb by the one and only Karen Joy Fowler. I was sold. I read it and loved it.

The Facts of Life is good too. Quite good.

We went back to the gym last night. It felt great.

Have a good day, as they say in the movies and possibly in Morocco.


you make up the cute post title

Well, I had every intention of being extremely productive today. Over the course of these three days, in fact. So productive that people might look up from their coffee and think to their-strange-selves, "Do you think The Flash was based on a real person? On a girl? I feel like someone is out there doing amazing quantities of work at light speed."

It was not to be so. I wrote a new scene on the new script today, but it was a very short scene. And I opened the YA manuscript (which is in itself an achievement, the last month) and fiddled around with it and mostly got it ready to work on and then stopped. It's okay. I feel like I'm about to kick into workmode again, where I can get lots done and not bat a lash, and my office has been cleaned (who can say whether this brings on workmode or workmode brings this on?). All by way of saying, I'm not going to worry about it too much. Sometimes what you need isn't a weekend of all-fired work. Sometimes it is. This time, I think what I needed was lots of reading and movie-watching and being outside and ruffling George's fur and just being involved with the general stimuli of the world. I needed a break. It was a very nice one.

And reading might count as work, sometimes.

Although, not with the stuff I've been reading lately. Don't you just love those periods where everything you pick up is golden enough to keep you engaged?

Again, I will shove you toward my favorite book in quite awhile "Fitcher's Brides" by Greg Frost -- which I hope makes it into consideration for the Tiptree, as it certainly explores the notion of gender and marriage as both constraint and freedom. And I'm also now just finishing up Graham Joyce's "The Facts of Life." It's a highly enjoyable read as well, though I won't have any final thoughts on it until I finish it.

"The Good Thief" is a decent enough heist film, if you're in the mood for that kind of thing. (Great soundtrack. And I can't say enough about Nick Nolte's eyebrow folds! Amazing!) And I finally saw "28 Days Later," which I enjoyed more for the frothy moments of light-filled darkness than for the scary, Night of the Living Dead-esque bits. A good film, not a great one, I don't think -- though it might have been if it were made in the 70s -- and definitely finely made. The male lead had extraordinarily long eyelashes. Anyway.

Rest is good. The rest is good. And soon all the lovely people will be back with WorldCon gossip and stories. All very nice.

I think, in the continuance of getting very little done, I'm going to go see what's on the television machine.

G'night. (I still owe every single one of you email. Well, those of you I know and exchange email with. Blame Christopher.)