shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


The comments section of Nick Mamatas journal is so pretty--go see for yourself, it's like a little gallery of avatars.

Not much to report today. A busy, busy day.

SARS isn't going to kill us all, not yet. If you're worried about an epidemic, again, donate to a nice AIDS charity. They need it most.

I haven't done my taxes yet and I feel so ashamed. Ashamed in the way that I wish I didn't have to do it at all and kind of envy the fugitives who've been on the run living like mountain men for years at a time. It happens.

Coats of invisibility have a ways to go, yet. But I'd wear this.

And the thing I'm looking forward to most of all this week, even more than the Crooked Fingers and Spike Lee's talk is the annual Darwin Lecture Series of the Kentucky Paleontological Society, which features Mark Brochu talking all about Sue. I maintain that my Paleo-hero will still be Jack Horner, if for no other reason than that there's really no other paleontologist who makes an unnamed cameo in a David Quammen essay. I need no further reason.


Alan's finally talking sense, otherwise known as English (and I don't mean the way the Amish know it as English).


Hmm... I wonder what it says about me that the e-mail solicitation for the Best Porn on the Web at "Bang Bus" just makes me wonder what the buses look like? Surely something good. I think a site of just provocative bus photos would be wonderful, sans homo sapiens specimens.

I must warn you all that I've been slightly discombobulated all day, so much so at times that a discussion about whether "crotch pants" could serve as a synonym for "loincloth" or in fact was a word at all. Of course, it's hard to talk when you are laughing that hard, but these things are important. Syntax is important.

When we got home, Christopher typed and printed a letter to George, complete with addressed envelope to George Rowe the Dog and slipped it underneath the door. Then said to me, what's that? Mr. Rowe accepted the invitation to go for a walk later in the afternoon.

The new Calexico album is freaking unbelievably awesome and makes me want to write a movie just so it can be the soundtrack. It's even better if you get it in the new used section for less than 10 bucks, and even a free beer and cookie too, because it's Anniversary Sale Day at the record shop. Yippee.

We saw "Bowling for Columbine" with Joe S.S. (who's been making all the internet comments discussions as "you know, that bald guy, the nice one" ever since ICFA) on Saturday night at the Kentucky. Very pleasant and the audience was suitably into it. I thought it wonderful that of the Oscar movies, the Kentucky chose to play that one and "Spirited Away" this week. And they still have the unbelievably heartbreakingly awesome "City of God" about Brazilian street gangs, which I never really got around to talking about here. It's unflinching and honest and just amazing. See it when you get a chance -- the more you think about it, the more you'll like it.

George is dreaming right now, in that way dogs sometimes have, where they remember how to talk and how to run through clouds. Like parasomniacs in the mad thrall of night, only far less violent and much cuter.

A full few days and I'm uncognizant of much news, blissfully so, to be honest. The laundromat is where the real survival of the fittest struggles go on. You can't even read the "Thrilling Tales Treasury" (success!), or you'll miss something important and vital to having dry clothes. And clean ones. Girls with ponytails seem to fare the worst, as they expect some special kindness to their lacy things; they learn the hard way, the hard lesson of life: "Honey, if your shit is in my way for no reason, I'm just going to dump it in the floor." Mondays are no-smoking days; we didn't know.

A weekend of pleasant contacts with people long out of touch (too long), or just out of sight. Coherence to follow.

That is all for tonight, I think. Good evening. We hope you had a pleasant stay.


Test, blogger's eating things.


It's funny, this trying to buy the McSweeney's pulp fiction issue at your major chain bookstores. Christopher and I had an extremely similar and likewise infuriating experience to Greg van Eekhout's at our local huge independent bookstore (which models itself after Borders) when we tried to buy it.

It seems like there are lots of things to write about at the moment, but no real desire in me to write about them.

Morning... I wonder who first uttered the utterly inept "Good morning." I can't for the life of me figure out why it caught on. I think most of us would be perfectly happy to skip the truly morning parts of morning and just cut straight to late morning. That I could get behind. "Good late morning." And we would all smile because we were happy and not sleepy.

Ah, would that it were so, Clementine.

Hem on Monday night were quite wonderful, despite the strange way we saw them. There's a NPR-syndicated radio show taped here, Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour, every Monday night, that's mission statement is to promote grassroots Americana music. They get an excellent mix of bands, some not to my taste, some very much so. And I suppose that may be a byproduct of their success, because frankly, the guy who runs the thing is a folk-loving ninny. Now, don't get me wrong. He seems like a very nice guy and his house band ain't bad, but anybody who will out and out, every time, identify theirself as a "folk singer"--well, hip isn't the word, folks, but that's alright. It takes all kinds. Unfortunately, even though it does take them, they can still be excruciating to watch flail at the world.

Case in point. Folk boy kept flailing at Hem about their being from big ole New York City and how he bet people looked askance when they started playing in New York City and people in New York City don't even go out so he doesn't know how they managed to SELL OUT their first three shows on buzz alone. I must say that the band remained commendably pleasant through this, but I guess you have to when it's going to be broadcast round the world to people who've come to trust this guy.

They did a kick-ass version of "Jackson," which is on a limited-to-200 CD of four covers they were selling that is just lovely. "A dream is a wish your heart makes..."

Anyway. Somehow I managed to wrench my neck, not from watching war coverage. Thankfully, that's now become so "five days ago" that I can manage not to do it without really trying. The problem, and I suppose the brilliant thing, about what the military has done here is that yes, unprecedented access, there's no question... BUT, the sensation I get is that there's no big picture of what's going on at all, not even when they try and piece one together. It just really seems like nobody has a clue what's happening, really, with the war. So, I browse the headlines and try to ignore the shaky cams out in the desert. I go to CNN and AP and look at the still photos of the day and I get a much better feel for how awful it is. Photojournalists, especially during times of war, are heroes to me. There's something about the distance they're removed, even when they're right there, just being behind the camera gives the really good ones that edge, that ability to capture the moment that means something in the midst of a what's happening. That's a hard thing. One of the problems with the TV coverage is that sometimes we need to stop time to really see something--TV news doesn't do that. It barrels on and by the time it slows down, we've moved on.

Anyway. I'm rambling and it's getting to be, well, still early freaking morning actually. But, links:

Interesting essay from the WP on words in wartime.

Neanderthal smash.

The weirdest thing in Kentucky news yesterday (dead sheep alert).

And, last but not least, the inimitable, irreplaceable Molly Ivins.

Have a good day.


Surreal Post Office Moment #539:

"Girl, you look familiar!"

"Did you used to hang out at the place -- you know the one that little blonde who owns the Rosebud used to have -- "

"The Bistro!"

"Yes, the Bistro!"

"Girl, I started singing in country clubs when I was 14 and yeah, that was me!"

"Oh my god!"

"Oh my god is right!"

"It's so good to see you."

"Sorry to interrupt, but I think you sang at my church in Versailles!"

"King's Way. I did, I love that church. I sing for the lord now, I have a lot more peace."

"Oh yeah, when I was partying, back in the '80s, I had the panty hose and the heels and the make-up -- I looked like a 50-year-old when I was 22! Now I don't care, anymore."

"Oh me neither, about the outer, you know, I can dress up when I want to. And anyway, the '80s were a confusing time for me."

"For me too."

...this goes on for a few minutes, discussing the new CD the singer has out, the party days, and then...

"I have to ask you two, have you accepted Jesus Christ as your lord and savior?"


"I know they train you to ask that."

"They do, just last weekend, they told us to witness like that, just go for it. So, are you saved?"

"You know, it's funny you should ask, I was just telling my dad last weekend that I don't need to go to a building to be close to god."

"I get you it's about spirituality, not religion. I'm a minister, you know."

"Yeah, I don't need a building, but I don't talk about politics or religion with anybody, don't take it personal."

"Honey, like I said, it's not religion, it's spirituality."

"Whatever. I don't talk about it with people."

And then the singer ripped open the package she was mailing with her CD in it and signed it to the woman who used to hang out at the Bistro, but now works at Flag Fork Herb Farm because when she worked for the state she had 50 bosses and they send you the e-mails and you can't even do your work and one day she just realized life's too short. The singing minister made the other woman promise to contact her. The third party lady was low priority, but the singing minister just might show up at her church one day soon. She's going to call the brother.

It was like a reunion or something. It was hard not to whirl and look.
I hope the celebs have hangovers too, otherwise I feel cheated by fate! I didn't even drink that much. Ouch, the exclamation point hurts my head.

I probably would have been a lot more entertaining if I'd done this entry late last night, after the show actually went off. But. Here we are.

Cintra Wilson has another kick-ass wrap-up over at Salon, by the way.

I had a dream last night and it was about Catherine Zeta-Jones' (Douglas?) final fitting for her dress. Pendulous balloon breasts shifting, a man with stick pins and a very nervous constitution, the danger of deflatement...And Catherine snapping to beat the band while pausing to eat roasted poodle and pickles.

i bet I'm not far wrong.

Who am I kidding? It's over. The Oscars were as anti-climactic as we all knew they were going to be this year, except for Michael Moore's bluster, which was hardly a surprise after they announced he'd won. (Debate going on over at the seemaxrun board as to what part of his speech actually crossed the line and garnered the boos. I think it was because everybody who was there knows that Jeb Bartlett of NBC's West Wing is the real fictitious president.)

The kid from Y Tu Mama Tambien cleans up nicely.

Roman Polanski winning proves that, as Bill Maher has said, you really can get away with anything. (Also according to Maher, the incident of infamy involving Polanski actually involved him drugging the 13-year-old and sodomizing her. I'm sorry, but that kind of changes things for me. I'd always assumed it was more along the lines of sleazy indiscretion. I think maybe once people cross that line where you have trouble disassociating their personas from their work, they have to die before you can consider the work independently. I know this makes me wonder what I've missed in all of Polanski's work I have enjoyed. Maybe nothing.)

I'm boring even myself. Chris Cooper seems like the nicest man. For the love of god, someone get Renee Zelweger a steak or three, okay? If Zeta-Jones was a better person, she'd give one of her breasts to Renee to get her started on looking healthy again. Please, someone, book her for Bridget Jones dieux.

The best part of the Oscars, was, even long-distance the catty running commentaries as Christopher and I passed each other off to Kelly and Gavin and Barb in Northampton, as they passed each other off to us. Good times. I wonder if they have hangovers.

Time to go to the post office and mail out copies of Say..., hope my headache goes to sleep so I can actually get some work done today, take George for a walk and go see Hem later at the Kentucky. Well, actually it can't be all those times at once, but you get the picture.

Mikal Trimm has a really funny blog. It's here.

Remember, don't go thinking you're Michael Moore. They really will hook you up to the electroshock for those kinds of things these days.


Best inane journalist comment of Saturday, from a fluffy CNN reporter in Clarksville, TN, right over the border from Ft. Campbell, KY:

"Earlier today I overheard a poignant comment at a Pancake House..."

The rest really doesn't matter does it? "I overheard a poignant comment at a Pancake House..."

I've been trying to watch less of the coverage, because the fact that it's not even trying to bring any depth to the situation is just pissing me off. When the tagline on the screen is saying, "Coalition Forces Liberate Iraqi Town" --and it is--then you just can't tell me the news isn't expressing the Administration's point-of-view without examining it one bit. I imagine I'll have more to say about the news coverage later, but right now, let's talk about

The Oscars.

It all feels rather anticlimactic this year, as the ... Oscar Party, which usually happens at ICFA in Florida with the absolute best people in the world to watch the Oscars with (well, except for the Speedo Incident and that whole "There's not even any dialogue in that scene" debacles, but those were interlopers). None of us are there this year though, and none of us are together. Perhaps there will be phone calls? I expect that the Oscars will be a downer this year, and I haven't even done picks yet. I did have a glass of champagne, or two, at dinner last night in prep, and since it's a muted year and all went with the bottle of Coppola white rather than the usual champagne for during the show itself. Hell, I haven't even seen most of the movies yet, for some reason, and instead of going to see Chicago this afternoon, I'm walking down to the arthouse theater to see City of God.

I'm sure I'll have loads of critical comments after the ceremonies though, unless of course it's preempted by la war and emerging news from the Pancake House.

Listening to the wonderful music of Smokey and Miho, yay! (Thank you, Mr. B.)

And I've already done some rewriting on the script this morning, so the rest of the day is free to be movie watching and maybe coffeeshop e-mail answering and George walking. All of which are very good things.

You have a good day too. (Oh, and make sure to read Barzak and Kristin's pigden posts as they are both very amusemoi today.


Things that I've heard on news channels that brought me to inadvertent laughter:

Connie Chung cuts away to some green, fuzzy footage of an "embedded" reporter trying not to piss himself and trying to narrate while there's fire being exchanged around him. He dives and the screen goes blank. Connie says, "John Williams had to duck, but he was unhurt."

John Williams had to duck...

(Remember, when you're mulling this -- the woman is married to Maury "I sold my soul to Satan and Jerry Springer got a better deal" Povitch.) (Which is just to say, she probably has a teenage lover and Maury has two and some day we could be watching them lob chairs at each other indulging their obvious love of trash culture.) (The pearls? What is it with the women who wear pearls? Barbara Bush anyone?)

The other thing, was a mosque in Deerborn, Michigan, where the CNN guy obviously thought the story he was doing was jubilant Iraqi-Americans. It was going just fine until he said, "So, you're obviously thrilled that Saddam is being attacked?" And the head of the mosque says, "Well, our feelings are mixed, seeing our country being bombed. But yes, we are glad to see Saddam go. It's about time the people who put him in power take him out!" This was repeated several times to the reporter's extreme panic, and the rest of the people there began to chant, "Saddam must go!" in the background. Cut back to the studio, where the anchor's even nervous and says, "A spirited group in Deerborn..." I'm paraphrasing, because I'm not a johnny-in-front-of-the-TV blogger, but pretty close to exactly this happened.

Why is that anything except pre-approved news freaks out reporters these days? Why did they agree to be "embedded"? Is there anyone who believes truely honest reporting will come from this? Or that any of these reporters will EVER be able to even honestly do a story on the military ever again?

Maybe if they have to duck enough. Funny how hard it is to even feign objectivity when the marines you're covering are the ones keeping you calm when it's the second hour with the gas mask on, I bet.

It seems like there was something else. But it's left me.

Christopher's not feeling well, coughing like a person who is coughing really hard (though the Robitussin my grandmother gave us from circia 1987 seems to work great), and he still intends to go on a 25 mile bike ride in the morning. Poor, misguided one. His story "Horsethieves and Preachermen" from Ideomancer is going to get an honorable mention in the Year's Best. Yay!

And I am tired. But the workshop will live for at least another month, and that's a good thing.

Ding dong, George is snoring. Time to go watch more "news."
Quite possibly my favorite poem, by Gloria Frym:

Training for the Apocalypse

Consider the will to love
as the decision to survive.
That's how the agents of Eros operate.
They sneak into your dreams
just before the world ends.


Hey there chicken littles, it's been one helluva week. And I mean for me personally, on top of the other and I just haven't been able to muster the will to update. I have lots of links, that I probably won't put up, because it feels like more profound sentiments should abound. But then, I'm also too tired to be very profound.

I was in a hail storm today, I had to pull over. I didn't have to put on a chem-bio suit.

The sky wasn't really falling.

Alright, if that's the best I can do: links.

The Glove Monster's witch doctor. If you're going to do-do that voodoo, I guess it makes sense to be high dollar about it. I must say I do love the lower rent versions though. Going into a job interview with a voodoo doll on your lapel? GENIus, genus even, human wisdom on display. Has there been an SNL skit about this? If not, there should. I want to write a political novel, someday when I'm far away from it, with a voodoo doll in it.

(It's really interesting what links just aren't worth typing in the HTML three days later. Moving on.... )

The Camp David of the ancient world...?

The workshop is trying to save itself, with recommitments and letters and wishes. And I really hope it works. It is a damn fine group of writers to be involved with.

There are tanks and chem-bio suits and diplomats winking at each other and diplomats that aren't diplomats anymore and no Cary Grant in the background at the United Nations and no end in sight even though they're claiming it is. I don't have anything good enough to say about it. Just swirls that don't make coherence, that won't cohere, not tonight. Words that are incapable of being bombs.

Night all.


After the St. Patrick's Day parade, and a two pints of Guinness each, we were walking George back home. Passing the post office, a giant SUV with a strange license plate pulled into the parking lot and the little dog inside started climbing all over the nice Japanese man who was driving, barking at George. The guy rolls down the window, points at George as if to instruct the little dog, and says, "That is dog."

# # #

Another walk in the woods today, one that was too long for George, which means that from now on there will be George walks and us walks. I guess this means I can't use George as a reason why we shouldn't go any further anymore.

Oh, and someone needs a bath now, after sinking down into the mud, squish, squash, several times. Mud is good on hot day for dog.

# # #

More than a little sad today, as the wonderful to ever have given us the space and the time Max has announced that our screenwriting workshop will soon disband. I imagine that some of us will stick it out in some capacity, reading each other's work. It's an awesome group, and I feel priveleged to have ever been a part of it. And so, yes, very sad that it will end soon.

All good things, they say...


The Cowboy of Red Sevilla

Last night we decided to have a proper dinner out -- well, not with tea and crumpets or anything, but with lingering and good food and wine -- because we hadn't in awhile. We settled on Red Sevilla, which is down on the corner of Limestone and Vine, right across from Phoenix Park and the library. It's a charming little place, which is never very busy (when we're there anyway) mostly due to its reputation for horrible service. (Actually, it's not that the service is horrible; it's actually very pleasant. But it's very leisurely, which people in central Kentucky, and most of the rest of the US of A, are never quite sure how to react to. Chop! Chop! We're living busy, busy lives here! Etc.)

It's a smallish place, and there are rumors that there's a hotspot latino dance club upstairs, but we've yet to see an entrance or evidence of this. One wall is red, one is brick, there's a stage on which the local flamenco troupe appears on Saturday nights, and lots of nice and unobjectionable art and some spectacular Spanish movie posters. The bar is a nice tiled affair and the place is just pleasant beyond all belief. The food is wonderful. Especially the side dishes. It's like each one of them is the perfect version of itself. Fried plantains? Best you'll ever eat. Yucca with white cheese? Ditto. Mashed potatoes with Manchego and garlic? The fluffiest, lightest, yummiest on earth.

Our waiter may have been the patron, a charming guy who was genuinely excited when we praised our dinners. He was also one of those people who is equally fluent in Spanish and English, which always makes me envious and sad that I'm not. Don't even get me started on more exotic languages. It like they have the option, regularly, of becoming someone else, or speaking in code. Usually, it's something I just take for granted but every now and then, when I see someone move back and forth between languages that quickly, it takes my breath away.

We talked and exchanged forkfuls and listened to the table of college girls who came in get a lesson on what the food was and why there's no such thing as low-fat dressing there ("olive oil, it's all fat, but is delicious!"). Things were quite wonderful and we were almost ready to leave and then... And then...

The old cowboy came in. He was old and bald, with a skinny white beard around his face. He dressed all in black, with a giant silver belt buckle winking like a metal god whenever it caught the light. He had a karaoke machine. A "Party Tyme" karaoke machine. Which he proceeded to set up and then launched into a heartbreaking rendition of "Love Me Tender." His voice was spectacular and absolutely his alone, full and a little chilling in context and oddly accented. At first we thought it was an all-Elvis karaoke machine, but then he talked one of the girls into picking a song, and it became apparent that there were many and scary choices available. Her voice was too thin and he tried to coach her, tried to shove the microphone into her face. He was impressed with her, until that fateful duet of "Unforgettable" he talked her into, that she just tossed to the winds and let fly. The disappointment was palpable.

Another couple came in while Christopher was singing a spot-on version of Willie Nelson's "Always on My Mind." The place erupted into applause when he was done. The waiter asking, If he always sang that way?

It was time to go, after the girl's abyssmal version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." But the cowboy wouldn't allow it. Christopher was going to sing another song.

"Oh, what a beautiful mornin'..." A lovely version to be sure, and no one else seemed to notice the change in one line to a "sinking feeling..."

We left, everyone in the place wishing us goodnight and proprietors thanking Christopher for singing and telling him he had a lovely voice. When we got out on the street, the King of Karaoke says to me, "Now that's a good restaurant. When everyone tells you good night when you leave."

A remarkable night out.

Then home and asleep far too early.

# # #

Odds and ends. Today's the St. Patrick's Day parade. I have mixed feelings as St. Patrick's is a personally huge holiday for me, but only if I'm in Minneapolis with Lorraine and Chris McLaren. I will have to live vicariously through them this year, wishing I could see the Folk Underground and Boiled in Lead (20th anniversary!) show at First Ave. And dancing and friends and whiskey, sigh.

But I suppose I will go down to watch the parade, if for no other reason than because Gillian Welch tickets go on sale at the Kentucky Theatre immediately following.

Miscellaneous links from yesterday...

Further proof the Dixie Chicks rock. (My only other war-related link is the story about civil disobedience in today's Washington Post, which I forgot to actually copy. So, go read it. Civil disobedience warms my heart.)

The mystic of toilet paper.

And a movie that sounds quite wonderful, Til Human Voices Wake Us.

And, of course, we are just dancing in the streets thrilled here about Kelly and Gavin taking over Year's Best, and about the prospect of more Terri Windling fiction. Yay!

Go forth and Saturday.


There are many things I could say about this, but I suppose the most accurate is that it is irritating. I'll not elaborate here, because I'm a sporting person. It wouldn't really be fair, in the whole sleeping-dogs side of things. There's a short term with "p" at the head of it I'm thinking of here, to describe this piece... And hmm, I'm also meditating on interesting marketing choices like pissing a bunch of people off when you're launching a new publication.

I don't think people should be begrudged profit, just because they're involved in art, especially the packaging of it. (That's the March 12 entry, btw, Wednesday. Greg Beatty is my hero.)

Go, monkey, go.

Warhol and theft in the New York Times.

And, that's all. Provacatively yours.


Christopher's reading Pattern Recognition and consequently asking me to google lots and lots of words. Steganography, I can report, is worth googling, but you should take the second link, rather than the first. Much more interesting.

We just went for a walk through Elton John/Billy Joel (no comment) traffic with George and took back Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn (more on that later), and found out that Hem is playing next week's edition of Woodsongs! Yay! That means Ramsey Midwood, Kathleen Edwards and Hem in three weeks, at the Kentucky Theatre, less than two blocks away, for 5 bucks, on a world-wide radio show. Pretty cool, huh? I think so. And am wiggly, cheery, clappy excited.

Ella Minnow Pea, by playwright Mark Dunn, is a lovely, frothy book that leaves substance behind. It's a subversive book of letters, told in letter format, about the island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina, where the cultural icon is Nollop himself who came up with a sentence that used all of the alphabet with minimal repetition: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." A monument with this sentence on it starts to lose its letters and when they are banned madness and delicate political commentary and social humor ensues. And the writer plays by his own rules, which are highly restrictive. It could have collapsed at any moment, from heavy-handedness, or the format, or any number of other factors, but he kept it under beautiful control. It takes a day or two to read maximum, and your local library probably has it. (Mine did.) Definitely worth it. And thanks to Jen Fu, a stranger who I found via Tim Pratt's links page, who highly recommended this book.

Hmmmm.... Other things of the day.

Josephine Tey gets the notice of Jonathan Yardley at the Washington Post. He usually annoys me greatly, but on this one he's right.

Oh there was other stuff, largely this excerpt from the White House briefing a couple of days ago, which might just indicate something or might not...

Q Ari, on North Korea, like you said that --

MR. FLEISCHER: By the way, whose seat do you -- who is not showing up for
their briefings anymore? (Laughter.)

Q The Washington Post.

MR. FLEISCHER: Oh. Well, I can't call on them now. Maybe they're
mysteriously in another seat.

Q They were supposed to come today. They are not here.
MR. FLEISCHER: Goyle, you have the seat.

I suppose it must feel like there's remarkably little point in showing up.


Having a cheapish, nicish, last-glass-in-the-bottleish Chilean white of golden hue. (Hue being a pretentious word for color, or a brand of stockings.) (Stockings being a wonderful word for "hose" or "tights.") (Hose and tights not being things that sound pleasant to wear, but being at the bottom of the word totem poll for describing said things.)

See what happens when I wait until the end of the day to blog? Mass distraction.

Movies that I forgot to write about.

Igby Goes Down. Whichever the middle Culkin is, can act. (As can the youngest, I think.) I presume this is because they suffered less friendship with the Glove Monster at their more impressionable stages. Poor, poor Macauley. For being first-named Macauley and being the iconic palms on jaws kid. It's sad to think someone's a "what ever happened to..." at the ripe old 20s, and even more so to think about how he must feel that his bros. are keepin' it real with the indie street cred. Word.

Anyway. A worth it movie, if you're in the mood for troubled disaffected teen, and looking for something infinitely better than that swill version of Dangerous Liaisons Do High School from a few years back. (Also, oddly, with Ryan Phillippe in it. I'm not sure I'm spelling his name right, nor am I sure how to spell it--Kelly and I tried various and dangerous pronunciations of it last night and they all sound silly.) He's good and Claire Danes is a glowing revelation as the tough-as-nails slut. Phillippe-sois is AWFUL. Over plays it. Susan Sarandan, who is often a bit of the divine, also overdoes things, though not quite so badly. Bill Pullman plays crazy dad, but his twinkle is still his twinkle and it didn't really sell crazy to me.

Long story short: I hear it's better than Possession.

24 Hour Party People, on the other hand, is a must. Steve Coogan is wonderful, likable and not nearly as acid as usual. The music is grand, the actors cast to play musicians grand, the filmmaking innovative and interesting. It doesn't feel real for a minute, until it does, because you know it somewhere somehow deep down is. Or at least pretty close. The extras are fun too.

And I finally got Christopher to get over the Marisa Tomei thing and watch Happy Accidents, which as predicted, he liked lots and lots.

I've rambled enough, and Hem's on, and I'm missing a great opportunity for some swirly dancing around the room. So...

The world's best Jesus painter, mebbeeeee..... From Kentucky.

Hank Stuever writes about tiny dogs and the people who emotionally abuse them. (Note to PETA: No animal abuse actually takes place in this story.)

Go have some freedom fries or something.


Oh, I completely forgot about the damned hiking book. The book which referred to that hike as "moderate." George and I barely made it up the gorge alive. Really. We thought about just staying there, but we didn't have enough bottled water. It honestly wasn't that bad, until we hit the Wall of Doom, which had to be at least six or eight miles straight up, despite the fact that the entire trail was only two. I call this relative length, which Christopher doesn't understand at all. He scoffs, but I know that you people, you can understand what I mean.

Sure you can. And if you can't, well then, don't ask where I'm taking you when we hit the little gravel parking lot. We'll see how you feel after the "moderate" hike.
Sorry for the station interference. We've taped a bunch of coathangers to the antenna and things seem to be transmitting just fine.

(It occurs to me that this indicates that there were technical problems. There weren't, but you just go right on thinking that.)

(I still owe you e-mail. I know, I know. So, shoot me. I'll get around to it this week, to Everything In My Inbox. Promise. Not lightly.)

Listened to a few tracks of records I don't own yet, but want to. This list is getting too, too long. The Smokey and Miho track they've got up on Salon sells the record, and the new Kristin Hersh and Throwing Muses album sound delightfully like they should. There's more, but I'll get depressed. These are the ones at the top of the list. Sometimes I wish I had my very own teenage boy who had endless amounts of time to burn bootlegged CDs for me. And I can't even wax or wane about the good ole days of whatever that site run by that kid was, which I can't even remember the name of despite it's being modern copyright history. Yeesh, brain freeze sucks. (Christopher writes to remind me it was called NAPSTER.) Anyway, I can't wax about that, because I missed the MP3 revolution. Don't know what to do with 'em at all. It's a sad, sad fact.

Much like this entry, so far.

But there are pictures! Which I am going to put on little link pages that you can click on if you want to see them, rather than causing the internet to come crashing down around us by sticking them up here. They tell a little story of our weekend and the woods.

This is me in the woods. Note the shades and the posture. I am a creature not entirely comfortable with the woods. This was about a quarter of a mile into a two mail hike through a nature preserve. A nature preserve which used to describe what it was -- The Palisades Nature Preserve -- until they renamed it after a man, who I happen to be glancingly familiar with and can report is a boorish alcoholic bore. Why do we feel like we have to rename everything after politicians and contributors? Isn't it better when things have names like Kill Devil Hills, rather than Margaret McSomebody Hills? It's disturbing too that certain words will always be tainted by nefarious meanings for me, because of my sojourn in politics. Words like "contributor" which rather than meaning "one who contributes" now means "influence bought and sold."

Anyway, two mile hike, down down down to the river to see the several hundred foot tall cliffs tower over. But we're not there yet.

We took George, slinking toward Bethlehem here, like a proud star or the Poster Boy for American Values that he is. He was a very good boy, except for that one time when he tried to jump in the river. You have to watch him every second. The sirens of the river, they call to him, he claims.

And then, we saw the famed palisades, which don't look anything like an influence peddler. They're very nice, and there's a surprising amount of sand on the shore and the trees had spooky clumps of leaves and other things from recent flooding but I wasn't able to get a very good picture of that.

And, flashing back in time, remember when I was kvetching about the ice storm? Which has left piles and piles of branches and sad cracked trees seeming defeated rather than triumphant all over town? Well, here's a little of our backyard, circa three weeks ago.

All the Say... replies are done, it's shaping up to be a helluv-an-issue.

More coherence later.


I just ran into someone dressed as the grim reaper in the hallway, complete with skeleton fingers. The someone was an admirably creepy walker and silent grinner.

Life is so strange.
From the Washington Post's Media Notes feature:

Bush made news of another sort last night, says the Washington Times:

"A long-running Washington tradition apparently ended last night when, for the first time in memory, the doyenne of the White House press corps was not called on in a presidential press conference.

"Syndicated columnist Helen Thomas, who has covered every president since John F. Kennedy, was relegated to the third row in last night's East Room event and – if the memory of press corps veterans is accurate – received her first presidential snub. . . .

"For four decades the White House correspondent for United Press International, Mrs. Thomas, 82, has in recent months harangued Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer, asking how President Bush can slaughter innocent Iraqis in a quest for oil.

"Now syndicated by Hearst Newspapers, Mrs. Thomas has also denounced Mr. Bush outside the confines of the White House briefing room. 'This is the worst president ever,' Mrs. Thomas told the Daily Breeze of Torrance, Calif., in January. 'He is the worst president in all of American history.'

"Also snubbed by Mr. Bush at last night's news conference was Mike Allen of The Washington Post, the second consecutive time that the president has skipped over The Post's correspondent, who was seated last night in the front row."

Now that's hardball.

And completely inexcusable. I wondered if she was out sick or something.

# # #

BTW, Barb has a great entry on the anti-war movement of Northampton, Mass. Go read that, since I'm being dull and busy today.
Note to spammers. I am SO not going to fall for "Do Not Delete -- Live's Are At Stake" because if they really were you'd use the apostrophe correctly. Ahem.

Everyone who I owe e-mail, you'll get it this weekend I promise. Work is being unwieldy for the last two days. But at home, DSL!

Happy Friday!


I am here in the Land of Interminableness, where we are not sure if the day will ever end. Not sure if we'll need a nap when we get home. Not sure if it's raining outside. (Though it is much, much warmer.)

Probably most everyone who reads this also reads William Gibson's blog, and so will know just where I stole it from. Like I care. The (possible) city under Tokyo. I love underground cities; in fact, my YA novel-in-progress is set in one. And Christopher found out from some guys at work that there's a series of limestone caverns beneath Lexington, which among other things, cause certain sections of roadway to melt or freeze faster than others. My research on underground cities while I was trying to find a setting for The Girl Gang (the aforementioned YA-in-progress) turned up a wonderfully alarming number of them, right here in the US of A. And not always where you'd expect either. So much for life above ground.

Another bit of fascinitude I came across in New Scientist about an art (?) exhibit that is also science around our sense of smell, and why it's not better. This interview reads like it could be a story. I like the idea of mind control through scent, though that has nothing to do with this piece. (And by like, I mean find interesting, not advocate.)

I'll lay off the Glove Monster today, lest I be voodoo cursed by the noseless one. But this parody from the ever-vigilant Mr. McLaren is too good to pass up. Find the whole set here, but make sure you see the smooth criminal warning.

Coming across a poet like Harvey Shapiro, who has two amazing poems on poetrydaily today, always makes me feel like a dolt for not having found out about this guy and his work sooner. It makes me wonder what else I'm missing (ah, the toe in the ocean). A few minutes turned up these other poems, which also proved to be amazing: Night, New York Notes, American Poet, Brooklyn, and this little essay.

And, last but never least, rest in peace, Patsy. I took out my "Patsy Cline Sings Songs of Love" CD last Saturday night, and have spun it several times since then. I wasn't even feeling sad (at least not until I put it on). It must have been something in the air.


Christopher's making supper (oh yes, we are so eighteenth century, baby), but I forgot something.

Something very, very important.

Happy Fat Tuesday. It seems like it would be better if we could all celebrate together, but till then:

Don't give up anything. Take up things.

(I could just be advocating this because I'm not religious.)
Kristin, you could be doing it with your mind, or it could be that the sensors aren't aimed right. Or that aliens are messing with your head. All I know is that there are a ton of people thinking about this.

Don't trust the streetlights. It could also be the squirrels.
A few things today.

But first. Sometimes I forget to keep up with Sci-Fiction, although I generally go back and read most of it, when that happens. There are some people I just always read stories by, though. And Jeff Ford is one of them. His "The Empire of Ice Cream" is quite marvelous, and I highly recommend it.

And, because I can never see this poem enough (I love Wallace Stevens), even though it has nothing to do with the story:

The Emperor of Ice Cream
by Wallace Stevens

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal.
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

# # #

We can all breathe a sigh of relief because those poor bastards at that Bible college in Eastern Kentucky won't have to keep the mark of the beast any longer. (Story worth it for the quotes alone.)

Rick Bragg on the flame-bearing fire dancers of Mardi Gras.

And since it's a writing work kind of week, the following post on rewriting, by Terry Rossio (co-writer of Shrek and many other good movies and half-host of Wordplay):

Let it Be, Let it Be

Posted by Terry on Tuesday, 4 March 2003, at 12:50 a.m., in response to Re: The dreaded re-writes. Tips, anyone? posted by ChrisB on Monday, 3 March 2003, at 11:30 p.m.

This may be an unhelpful generalization, but I think rewriting is mostly about getting the story be what it's already trying to be, based on your initial inspiration.

There is promise in the premise that needs to be fulfilled in the execution.

There is promise in those characters, and those character relationships, that needs to be fulfilled in the execution.

There is promise in those main cool setpiece scenes you came up with that needs to be fulfilled.

There is promise in the voice of each character when they get to those scenes -- that needs to be fulfilled.

So much of rewriting, I think, has to do with studying the story and characters and seeing where they're 'naturally' headed based on your early inspiration, and those early decisions, and then getting out of your own way -- getting ride of the clutter you came up with to prop up the story -- and doing what's needed to get the whole thing get where it's really trying to go.

This is especially true for characters, and character relationships. For each character, it's helpful to ask the question -- what are *all* the scenes I really want to see with this character, what are all the emotions and situations that are potentially great with these people, what is the promise of the characters as introduced -- and which ones have I missed completely?

You'd be surprised. I always am.

I always am too, and sometimes amazed as well.


The endless invention of criminals never ceases to amaze.

From the South Florida Sun Sentinel
via the AP wire:

A woman caught using black paint to cover up the distinctive white markings of a missing Wellington, Fla., show horse may have given Palm Beach County sheriff's deputies the clue they need to unravel a baffling mystery involving the theft of expensive horses in Florida and Illinois.

Back in his stall Sunday was San Diego, a 13-year-old gelding lured from his paddock in late January and apparently stashed in a nearby stable. There, Palm Beach County Sheriff's investigators say, attempts were made to disguise the horse by using a caustic oil-based black enamel to cover his white legs and a white stripe on his face.

Two other expensive show horses, reported stolen last year from the Chicago area, were also recovered in Wellington on Saturday, officials said.

"Ma'am, ma'am, why are you painting that horse?"
No sooner do I bring up outlining debates on Wordplay, than I discover one is in progress. The claws are out, ladies and gentlemen. It's fun readin'. There's also a good thread starting on American Idol, talent and how to gauge whether you've got any.
Happy Chris McLaren Day, Happy Chris McLaren Day,
We hope it's a very happy day, lalalalala,
He's the King of Canadia, for what it's worth
(Better than the King of Pop)
And today there will be books and garlic and wine and pizza and music and whisky!
Yay! It's Chris McLaren Day!

When Chris and I met it was in 1996 at Dragon-Con (my first convention and I had no idea what to expect). He was there to see the Flash Girls' last show (which didn't turn out to be their last show at all), as was I, and to give Sunshine a ride and put names to faces. I met a lot of people that weekend. But Chris is one of the only ones I can remember in great detail. We talked Scooby theory and he tried to save me from Moebius the Uber-Freak of Atlanta, who I believe I may have threatened to set on fire at some point. I didn't see him again for another year or so, and by then Lorraine and I were really close, and we were in the Cities to celebrate her and our friend Liz's 30th birthdays. There was much hilarity and hangovers and really freaking good champagne.

I have a picture of the three of us in Dreamhaven, the morning after the party, looking very sweet and happy together. If we can get the scanner to work, maybe I'll stick it up here. We have many traditions, the three of us, most of which involve good drink, good food, and good music. And all of which involve really good people.

Chris, I'm glad I know you. I'll heft a glass to you tonight. (If not to Canada!)


The browser Safari rocks, except for the fact it doesn't currently support blogger. Small things, though; and that's why everyone must continue to keep the Microsoft browser on board, despite the wish to not. Huh. Corporate overload, there?

Today, very productive. Wrote over a 1,000 words on a new story, which I'm quite happy with. I'd done a little sketchy first draft of it last week, which is being thrown out and used as world information only. Last night, after we got back from our movie and pizza, I sat in the comfy chair in my new office and made lots of notes. Outlines are miraculous things for keeping going. That sentence is remarkably awkward, but clear enough I think. Charles Edward Pogue, who posts a lot over at the Wordplay forums (hands down the best writing discussion site on the net, but more focused on screenwriting), has some interesting things to say about outlining whenever the subject comes up at WP. I'm resistant to it, mostly, but almost always end up doing it. His point, or one of them, is that with an outline it's easier to go off the path if the opportunity presents itself, and absolutely easier to get back on if you've taken a detour that turns out to be wrong. To me, the most useful point of outlining, is that you have to think a lot about story and the world and the characters and you as a matter of course discard most of the ideas that come quick and easy to you. It forces you to stretch, and to surprise yourself. Dunno. Thoughts? Outlining, pro or con?

A note here, is that I've found most rabid anti-outliners actually do outlines, they just don't call them outlines. You can write a whole story, and it still be an outline, just an outline done the Really Hard Way.

Boy, did I not mean to go off on this tangent. Anyway, the new story is a zombie story, of a sort. And then, I had a bath, and read some of The Quick and the Dead by Joy Williams (which is absolutely amazing and hilarious), then did a little work on the rewrite of Voices. The first 33 pages are complete-amundo and rewritten and workshopped. Yippee. I might make the early Nicholl deadline of April 1 after all.

Oh, Affinity, by the way, was one of those books that tries to make itself into a different book at the end, with a twist, but fails because the other story just isn't there. Just wasn't included in what came before. Still a very moody and rich piece, but ultimately, unsatisfying for lots of reasons, but mostly the fact that the ending is a cheat. This is one of those times I'm really glad I can return the book to the library, without having plunked down a dime for it. Sarah Waters is a fine writer though. I highly recommend Tipping the Velvet.

About Schmidt is wonderful and damn near pitch perfect. So many wonderful and charming little touches here, and a pervasive sense of sadness they have the guts to carry straight to the end. Jack Nicholson plays his own antithesis and does it with beautiful understatement. I don't want to talk to much about this, because you should go see it pretty much clean. I will say, though, that I wish people would stop making tacky jokes about Kathy Bates being nude. Kathy Bates rocks, and she should be commended for her commitment to the scene, not mocked for being, um, something besides a size 2 Botox queen. That said, I did have a dream last night where I was wearing her body. It wasn't unpleasant at all.

It was warmer here yesterday, warm enough for us to take George on a walk after dark. I hope the cold is gone, gone, gone for a long while.

Now we are off to a funeral home visitation for the girl one of my grandfathers might have married, if he hadn't fallen for my grandmother instead. The world being as small as it is, especially in Jackson County, she's my sister-in-law's grandmother with the lovely name of Ruby. She's been sick for a long time, and so in a lot ways I imagine people will be feeling relief that she's no longer suffering. I wonder why it feels like a wrong thing to type that, when it's true.


Smoky bar equals sore scratchy throat.

Smoky bar equals stuffy nose.

Smoky bar equals EVIL.

Seriously, I really hope this town is able, at some point in the very near future, to pass the "controversial" no smoking in bars and restaurants ordinance. I do not like having to dry clean the clothes I wear out to hear a band. People do not have a right to smoke in close, public places. I'm sorry, they just don't. My friend Betsy always says that she would like to carry a squirt gun and shoot water on the smokers, and when they said "What are you doing?" She'd say, "Oh, am I invading your personal space and comfort with my obnoxious discharge?" Of course, Betsy actually said it wittier, but you get the point.

Anyway, the bands were eh, and some ugh. Christopher ended up knowing the bass player for one of them -- though frankly, the thing didn't really look like a bass, but like a doctored up wooden carving with part of a tuba affixed to the neck -- and they even dedicated a song to him. I swear.

We also encountered this completely obnoxious character, who I managed to insult right off. (That was always my problem in bars during the years when I frequented and tended them; you can't control the people you're in close proximity too and the booze frees the tongue and insults are bound to result.) He was floofing around with his glass and splashed water on us. I ask who did it and Christopher points out this twig with Farrah hair and a pretentious black frock coat on. I say, "It's always the ones with feathered hair." Christopher, of course, relays this to the twig. He then asks me if there was ever a time when feathered hair was in. I say, it worked for Farrah Fawcett, but historically, things tend against feathering, you know, fashion-wise. Whatevah.

Turns out the whole water splashing thing is this guy's lame-ass scam to try and horn in on other men's women. He tells me he's trying to make his boyfriend jealous as one point. I watch him repeat with various other people, the flicking of water and ask what's wrong with him. Christopher tells me if I talk to him again, he'll deck the guy.

Much hilarity.

Then there was the guy who had the seizure, and all the hip kids who might rock out, by you know, nodding their heads, and the poor schlub trying desperately to score with someone, anyone from a table of fashionista Japanese girls. (Japanese girls always have the cutest coats and scarves.)

Colin and I serial-killer spotted, and then eventually we came home.

OH, there was a girl who looked a lot like Kelly there. So we gave her a note that said you look like a friend of ours named Kelly Link, you should read her book, Stranger Things Happen. She and her friend giggled with delight and she tucked the note into her purse. As we were leaving, they said hi and we stopped to chat and it turns out the sort-of doppelganger's friend is currently reading The Melancholy of Anatomy by Shelley Jackson. Small world, huh?

We like giving notes to people. Or making lists.

This morning I read all the Say... stories we've got so far and put them in piles. We have some really good stuff. And then I read more of Affinity, which is a good read, as all girl love prison stories must be. Now, I'll put my mini-hangover aside and we'll go see About Schmidt, finally.

Later, there will be writing of my own. In my newly put-together office. It is nice having things newly put-together.