shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


the cold that ate madison, or my excuses

So, yes, I came down with the sentient cold pretty much as soon as we arrived in Madison, and managed to prop myself up through regular infusions of vitamin C and various fizzy dissolving substances and wine. But today, I'm just exhausted and this whole, lovely Wiscon is just a blur. Once again, I'm left with a list of people I only got to say hello to that I'd hoped to chat for at least the space of a drink with, but I've learned to accept that list as an inevitability of having too many people I only see a couple of times a year. Oddly, lots of the people I end up spending the most time with are the people I see or talk to more frequently, but maybe that's not so odd.

Anyway, I probably don't have to tell you of the sentient cold, because you, like half the people here, may already be coming down with it.

Christopher Rowe, Index Case of the Cold, just looked up at me from where he's napping and told me not to put any pictures of him sleeping on no web log. And I would if I could, but I have no way to violate this order. Hmmm...

So, instead of an actual rundown of the low down, a few little thoughts on highlighs of the past few days...

Things I've bought that you should too: All the new stuff from Small Beer Press, which includes, the new Lady Churchill's (including Vol. 2 of Dear Aunt Gwenda), Sean Stewart's PERFECT CIRCLE (which I started reading and is AMAZING), Jennifer Stevenson's TRASH SEX MAGIC (isn't that the best title ever?) and Richard Butner's beautiful, reads-even-better-than-it-looks chapbook "Horses Blow Up Dog City and Other Stories." You should purchase these things, and also the new issue of Flytrap and the new Rabid Transit chapbooks, both of which are only a google away from your hot little hands.

Getting to hear pieces of: John Kessel's new story, the science fiction convention portion of THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB being read by Karen Joy Fowler to a very appreciative audience (Karen's probably on her way to a town near you Right This Minute, so go look on her website and go out to hear her read), Richard Butner rocking his excellent story "Drifting," the beginning of Christopher's new novel.

Things I learned: Romance novels are like first contact novels (KJF copyright); Jim Munroe can rock a Destiny's Child song in karaoke ("Pay my bills!") and Benjamin Rosenbaum, who has more energy than you and me put together, can rock karaoke in German. (Christopher Barzak, however, remains the karaoke king.) The absolute best thing in the world to hear after your reading, from an editor, is do you have a contract? (The reading was great; Justine, Mr. Barzak and Scott all read most wonderfully and I managed to croak my way through my first chapter.)

The children of SF are well-behaved: This is true. They are all docile and cute as buttons.

I had no business on that blog panel: Lots of interesting things touched on at the blog panel, especially by Susan, on how much private life is too much, the dangers of instant reporting without instant verification, and Kathryn Cramer's firsthand account of what it was like to be threatened my nutheads who disagreed with her. (My comments consisted essentially of: blogging = fun, or I'd stop doing it; blogging = character, not plot; blogging = balance between disclosure and secrets keeping.)

And um, hmmm... if you're ever at the Concourse, spring for the Governor's Club room. We like the bartenders in the free drinks lounge. That's it.


surrounded by madison

Well, we made it. We're in lovely Madison, Wisconsin, for yet another lovely Memorial Day weekend at Wiscon, the world's only feminist science fiction convention (as they say). We've already seen most of our very favorite people in the world, so the rest is sure to be fine. Updates sort of as they happen, at least if the hotel's wireless network holds out.

Otherwise: good night for now.

And, as the highways of Illinois remind us with fragmentary bulletins: Guns Save


the future is now.

And it's funded by my federal income tax return.

(Well, for me it is, you have to pay your own way.)

More anon, as fools say.

best television station name ever

So, there's something you get in the south that at least I'm not aware of in other environs. And that is religious media with crazy, perfect names. It's unaware self-parody with a completely straight face (a dour face even). Case in point.

In today's local paper, there's a profile of WLJCT, a local Christian TV station in Beattyville, Kentucky. (At which I once scandalized a studio audience by loudly and accidentally exclaiming "Fuck!" after missing a Bible Trivia question when I was 11.) Anyway, what does the WLJCT stand for, you may be wondering? It stands for (get ready):

Wonderful Lord Jesus Christ Television.

Which is frankly what I think all television sets should be called from this moment forward.

Still though, my favorite example of this has to be the radio station WJMM, or Where Jesus Means Money. This fine radio station devotes itself to three things, according to its website:

• Local and national religious programming
• Praise and Inspiration through worshipful music
• Motivational and teaching programs that are life changing.

Uh-huh. Change this.


starlit bicycle day

What a great Saturday. Pretty much perfect, actually.

Got up around 8 and bicycle-geared up, headed down to Phoenix Park (home of the mysterious camel statue) for Bike Lexington Day, or whatever they were calling it. Basically, it was the culminating event for the city's observation of Bike to Work Week (which was Commute Another Way Week for Lex; hey, it's something). Anyway, Christopher was already hard at work in his cute little tight pants giving away free helmets and stuff when I got there for the main event, a 10-mile car free ride throughout downtown. Police escorts are such a rare treat in pretty much every facet of life, except at funerals, and so very cool. We were two of around 300 I'd guess, and there was every single kind of cyclist represented -- including lots and lots of kids, some nodding their heads contentedly in bike baby seats on the backs of their parents' bikes. (The kids were totally kicking ass by the end, too.)

We wound all through downtown with a police escort who was mostly okay, but also a little unable to not stop the car and talk to every other freaking policemen at every singe intersection we passed. Thus leading to lots of calls of "slowing," "no wait stopping," "no just slowing." At any rate, I felt pleasantly exercised and fine about skipping the gym afterward. Christopher headed off to lead a 40 mile ride around the city.

The most amazing moment of the day was when we crested a hill at the front of the pack and looked down at the winding road below and saw only the brightly colored sea of cyclists making their way to where we were. It was like the future.

Then I watched THE SECRET LIVES OF DENTISTS, in the vain hope of clearing out our dusty netflixes before we leave for Wiscon. (Right.) I liked it, and found the lead performances very good (and it's not Campbell Scott's fault that you just want to smack his character for the majority of the movie)...but, you know, no matter how good it is, it's probably not as good as "The Age of Grief," which it's based on, and really how many movies about adultery can one girl see in her lifetime? I have to be near my quota. This sounds like I didn't like it, and I did -- I understand why the raves, but, it didn't really open up anything new thematically. It was accomplished and I wish I could say more about it than that, though it's certainly a marker of artistic success in and of itself.

Revised for a bit and clocked my reading piece to see if I needed to shave on it any. I think it's just about the right length (which is comfortably shorter than the maximum length in case anybody coming to reading is wondering whether to bring pillows). I've no doubt the reading will be action packed and excellent, just by virtue of the other readers. I only wish not to be the weak link. Justine has made a very purty flier, complete with Mr. Rowe's faux book cover for my book. There's something delicious about having one's first book cover be fake.

And, well, that's about it, save a late afternoon of Putting Things Together around my folks' house, where we are now. (They babysit The George of Goodness for us when we're gone.) I just went outside with George and was amazed to see a small flurry of fireflies headed out over the field and a sky full of stars above. I miss sky full of stars; I miss flurry of fireflies. Summer, good.

earworm "Temper Tempter" Tuscadero
checkout Catherine Wheel
namecheck Justine "Artiste" Larbalestier


small things, and cool ones

First, go check out David Schwartz's killer post on THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB (currently at number 15 on Amazon -- yay!). He is right on, of course, and if you haven't bought and read yet you need to find out what's wrong with you. Seriously.

More importantly, I'm Flannery O'Connor's work. (I tested out this little quizilla, btw, and I'd suggest not choosing a fascination with dark places unless you like a certain terrible writer who has recently moved out of her gothpalace in New Orleans, if you know who I mean.) I'd have preferred Dorothy Parker, but I'll take it gladly!

Flannery O'Connor
Flannery O'Connor wrote your book. Not much escapes
your notice.

Which Author's Fiction are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

(Via Sarah Weinman.)

Also, go see whether your neighbors give political contributions, and if so, to who...on a site profiled in the NYT today. And after you're through finding out you live in R-ville, go take Jacob Sager Weinstein's surefire debunker of the bogus argument that gay marriage is somehow a different issue than interracial marriage was in quiz form, by asking you to pick out which arguments were made about gay marriage and which about interracial marriage. Not that any of you need it, but it's an interesting exercise and makes its point in a way I haven't seen. Make sure to read Jacob's comments at the end.

The proof for Say...why aren't we crying? arrived today and it looks just too smashing for belief. We went with a more classic interior this time, less art, but cleaner, and the cover is spectacular. Very excited to see the finished product! As you should be: order now.

earworm: "Van Lear Rose," Loretta Lynn
checkout: THE LUCKY ONES by Rachel Cusk
namecheck: David "Love is Red" Schwartz


you say addict, I say good taste

So, I've taken the "2004 Summer Movies Cinema Caucus," and just like the Cinetrix (who also took the quiz in the persona de dubya and got predictable yet creepy results), I'm an art-house addict.

The Art-House Addict simply loves subtitles and low budgets and avoids the mall multiplex like the plague. Going against the grain is the name of the game for the Art-House Addict, an independent thinker whose taste runs more to The Seventh Seal than The Sixth Sense.

Only, not really. Those of you that know me and my tastes know that it's not necessarily art house movies I like, or blockbusters I loathe. I just like good movies. Unfortunately, I guess that's such an indefinable quantity that we have to have odds and yeah, I think the indie films we get to see are probably generally better than the blockbusters. (Notice I said get to see -- there are plenty of shit indies out there without distribution or with limited dis that doesn't get them to Lexington.) Also, I'm not that excited about the list of movies they think I'd like.

The top five on our Netflix queue right now (which is awfully stale, I might add) is:

1. Big Fish
2. The Cooler
3. Dirty Pretty Thing
4. The Ladykillers (original)
5. Alphaville

I have to admit that I usually futz around so anything past three we'll probably never see. (Yes, I've seen The Ladykillers.) We have right now The Secret Lives of Dentists, Northfork and The Quiet American (my nemesis)... Okay, I'm probably not making my own case here. But really, I don't feel I can be put in this narrow art-house fan straight-jacket. Not unless I get Enid's wardrobe.

Anyway, where do you stack up?

(p.s. our writing group really does stomp the terra!)

get out your magnifying glass

Great article in the NYTimes about the auction of the Authur Conan Doyle archive.

For 25 years the cardboard boxes, more than a dozen of them, sat in a corner of a London office, gathering dust while lawyers argued about whom they belonged to and scholars dreamed about what was inside. But the auction this Wednesday of their contents, once belonging to Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, has provoked another fight and a mystery almost worthy of Holmes himself.

The Conan Doyle archive — including his unpublished first novel, a rich cache of family letters and handwritten literary notebooks full of research and musings about works in progress — is expected to bring in about £1 million to £1.5 million ($1.8 million to $2.7 million), according to Christie's, which is handling the sale. But even as that auction house has attracted a stream of Conan Doyle enthusiasts thrilled at the newly released material, it has also been sharply criticized by some scholars and members of Parliament for allowing the sale because they say crucial legal questions remain unresolved.

And a few other little things...

Matthew Cheney has an excellent little story, "Prague," up at Ideomancer. (Via the invaluable and newly spiffed Write Hemisphere.) Cheney's blog The Mumpsimus is always interesting and it's nice to see some of his other writing. From Ideomancer's introduction of the story:

He wrote "Prague", he says, after reading parts of a biography of Karel Capek that a friend brought back to him from Prague, and from watching a bunch of Jan Svankmajer's movies one after the other.

It's a dreamy surreal story anchored in very real emotion. It's hard to do short and surreal well, and "Prague" manages it with style to spare. So, check it out.

Stupid Evil Alert re: this "anti-homosexual agenda" father-daughter team profiled in the Wash Post.

And also from the Wash Post (Barth alert!): the USDA was violating its public policy of not admitting beef from Canada.


The Say...why aren't we crying? proof should show up today and the lovely, perfect, timely copies soon thereafter. We won't breathe a sigh of relief until then, but it looks like we're on schedule to debut a very strong issue at Wiscon over Memorial Day weekend. If you run a website that does reviews of fine short fiction/poetry/comics or work for a magazine, etc., that does reviews of such -- and aren't already on our reviewer mailing list -- and would like a review copy, please send me an email (available at the bottom of my profile page linked at the top of this one). I'll try and get around to posting a cover image and re-post the TOC.

And now, grindstone.... nose...


shoe tree, ladies of the WNBA, transitory Venus, & etc.

A few little news stories worth a peek today...

The NYTimes has a nice short piece on a shoe tree, out in the middle of nowhere, Utah. It's a tree hung all over with shoes, which is far, far cooler than the way people chuck shoes over all the power lines in our town. The origin story:

And so goes the reason for the Shoe Tree. Mr. Stevenson's wife, Fredda, said the first pair of shoes was thrown into the branches about 20 years ago. It seems that a couple who had just gotten married in Reno stopped to camp under the cottonwood. The husband was angry with his bride for having blown their money in the slot machines. "He said it was her fault they didn't have any money," Mrs. Stevenson said.

The young wife grew annoyed with the henpecking and threatened to walk back to Utah. The groom told her that if she was walking back to Utah she was going to walk in her bare feet and threw her shoes into the tree. He left his wife standing there and drove to the bar for a beer.
"He was here for two or three hours," Mrs. Stevenson said. "I told him, 'With an attitude like that, you'll be fighting for the rest of your lives. Go back there and tell her it was all your fault.' "

The man did as he was told. The couple patched things up and the groom threw his own shoes into the tree as a sign of solidarity. A year later, Mrs. Stevenson said, the couple returned with their baby and threw his shoes into the tree as well.

Even though the WNBA season will be interrupted, we can all look forward to cheering on our favorite WNBA players during the Athens, Olympics. Go, team.

There'll be a transit of Venus on June 8, though most of us won't have too great a view.

Likewise, the Sun rises with the transit in progress over eastern North America, the Caribbean, western Africa and most of South America, allowing observers a brief view before the event ends. How much early risers see will depend on the weather and how high the Sun rises above the horizons before Venus moves out of view.

In New York, sunrise will be at 5:25 a.m., and Venus is to begin exiting the solar disc at 7:06, when the Sun is 17 degrees above the horizon. The planet's final contact with the edge of the Sun should occur at 7:26 a.m., when the Sun is 20 degrees high. Times are similar for most cities in the Eastern time zone and one hour earlier in the Central time zone. But moving West means that the Sun is lower on the horizon.

And finally (and I can't remember where I first saw this so thanks in absentia of by-name thanks), Kelly Jane Torrance has a nice examination of where the short story is, quoting its admirers and forecasting its renaissance. (Possibly.)

On the contrary, says Greg Hollingshead, author and professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. “TV and the Internet have easily consumed those short timespans that formerly might have been devoted to reading short stories.” Maud Newton agrees: “It's easier to watch a half-hour TV show than to read a short story. I'm sure the rise of TV had something to do with the demise of the Saturday Evening Post back in 1969 and has continued to affect the demand for short fiction.”

McGarry goes so far as to argue that television is the reason magazines have replaced fiction with non-fiction. “I think fiction upsets people more; it takes them out of their world; it entangles them in other lives in a very intimate way,” she says. “Readers of slick magazines may be trying to resist this. They want diversion but they don't want to leave the safety and familiarity of their own lives and minds.”

And while short stories may be short, they are concentrated . “A reader loses himself in a novel, but can stay there for a longer time, until the novel's world becomes familiar, comfortable,” says McGarry. “A short story takes you in, but spits you right back out again.” Hollingshead notes, “This was Frank O'Connor's argument in The Lonely Voice : Short fiction is about people at the margins, the novel addresses the mainstream middle class.”

It's worth a look for all youse short story lovers out there. You know, youse guys.

That's all for now.

worm: "Army of Me," Bjork
check out: SUNSET AND SAWDUST, Joe R. Lansdale
namecheck: Tim "Sold a Book and How You Like That?" Pratt (YAY!!!!)



I just finished Joe Lansdale's rip-roaring character study of one of the most convincing and charming ass-kicking women I've encountered in a long time: SUNSET AND SAWDUST. I can't resist posting (or attempting to post) an image of the cover and I hope it's not monstrously huge. It's a beautiful, sexy and dusted dustjacket, and one of the most-appropriate-to-the-book covers I've come across in awhile.

How can you pass up the promise of that cover?

I've got a real weakness as a reader, and a writer, for the odd metaphor and simile, especially those delivered with the deft touch of irony and Lansdale is a master at spinning phrases into gold here. The prose is fluid and sharp at the same time, full of twists and turns on a sentence by sentence level. The plot ticks along and manages to be surprising, mostly, but here's the real hat trick. In a murder mystery, you want surprise, right? But in the few places where I as a reader am waiting for a surprise and don't get one, or where something happens as I thought, the writing is so good and glides the moment right into someplace else, someplace better and deeper, that I don't mind at all. That is a magician's touch at work.

The bad guys are really, really bad, but mostly they're just a sideline to the real show, which is the book's women, led by Sunset (so named for her fire-engine hair) who opens the book by killing her husband and is quickly taken under her mother-in-law's protective wing. That's all I'll say about the plot and doesn't give away anything you wouldn't learn in a page or three. Oh, except to note that there's a surprising environmental element that gives the climax a special, almost biblical quality.

A fun, zippy read that manages to be more than that -- to add something to the western genre even though it technically isn't one. SUNSET AND SAWDUST's involving in the same way a great movie is, and it's so chock full of excellent dialogue and even more excellent characters that a girl can hope that someday it will be. Just let's pray they don't cast Nicole Kidman as Sunset. Anybody can have red hair in Hollywood, people.

my most favorite beloved post of today

Is right here, at Twinkle Twinkle Blah Blah Blah, Etc.

Go, click. Enjoy.

Also, Peter over at Special Agency has posted a very nice account of last evening at the Cambridge City Hall.

cicada-crazy, sad books, news that is troubling, etc.

Let's get the depressing, alarming stuff out of the way first...

True cowards show themselves as such, in this WP piece about the lukewarm to ice cold welcome that Joseph Darby (the most prominent whistleblower on the Abu Ghraib abuses) has gotten in his home town of Corriganville, Maryland.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld praised Darby for his "honorable actions." But Washington is a universe away. "They can call him what they want," says Mike Simico, a veteran visiting relatives in Cresaptown. "I call him a rat."

The sentiment is so deeply felt that even those who praise him do so only anonymously, or with many reservations.

"That boy's got a lot of courage," says Alan St. Clair, who lives down the road from Darby's high school home. "But when you go against your fellow man like that, I don't know. Some people won't like it."

Some people. It's always "some people" you have to watch out for.

And, in further disturbingness, Howard Kurtz talks to various news organizations about how their Iraq coverage is being impeded by dangerous conditions.

In sad books news, disturbing in an entirely different way, the Boston Globe has various writers -- including the Kelvin-Grinks -- weigh in on the closing of Avenue Victor Hugo in Boston.

Gavin Grant and Kelly Link, writers and publishers in Northampton, met while they were working at the shop, and he even proposed to her there. (She accepted). They say the closing is a huge loss for Boston.
''It's incredibly sad," says Grant, 33, who, with Link, owns Small Beer Press. ''It's amazing that you would lose an intellectual space like that. . . . Boston will not be the same to us without Avenue Victor Hugo."

(Via Beatrice.)

Doing happy Wiscon dance now... Oh wait, that means we have to finish the magazine. Stopping happy Wiscon dance for a few days...

The only truly good news of the day being in Massachusetts, of course. Happy weddings, all! THe pictures are amazing, but hearing the cheers on NPR this morning was something even more special.

Does anyone actually care that Anne Rice is now Anne Surburbia?

Also, cautionary, big caution:

Do not eat cicadas.

A man who cooked and ate nearly 30 cicadas sought medical treatment after suffering a strong allergic reaction to the sauteed insects.

The man showed up at a Bloomington clinic Thursday covered from head-to-toe in hives, and sheepishly told a doctor he'd caught and ate the cicadas after sauteing them in butter with crushed garlic and basil.

And please, refrain from referring to yourself as a "cicadamaniac."


the joys of sleeping in on Sunday and Firefly rage

I managed to sleep in until 10:30 this morning, and Christopher roused me to the half-awakeness that provides the best, most vivid dreams while bashing around in preparation to attempt to ride 40 miles within the perimeter of New Circle Road, a bypass that encircles our downtown and its surrounding environs. (I yanked my shoulders into a little unhappiness at the gym doing shoulder raises with dumbbells yesterday and so will probably be doing any movements that require the raising of my arms very rarely today. Not to mention 13 miles is the most I've managed on the new bike.) I had a leisurely and healthy breakfast and figured I'd quickly work my way through the blogroll, since no one really updates over the weekend. And yet all sorts of interesting stuff abounds. (This can only be the psychic fallout from Terry's wise decision to stop blogging on weekends.)

I actually find it easier to update on weekends, though with little of substance and never any news. I tend to get hyper-saturated by news during the week and have extremely limited contact with it on Saturdays and Sundays. Our weekends are so jam-packed these days, blogging is one of the only permissible forms of procrastination I have left. (Would that it took up more time...)

Sadly, this Guardian piece on cocktail movie classics (via the cinetrix) leaves out my favorite one (or close to it, since I don't play favorites). THE BLUE GARDENIA is a wonderful picture by Fritz Lang that plays with our expectations watching a murder mystery from that time, and from our remote-controlled now. "For drinks, Polynesian Pearl Divers, and don't spare the rum!" Any drink that obscures a murder has to be a classic.

And now on "Firefly"...

I have to qualify everything I'm about to say here with the admission that I have not historically watched a lot of science fiction television (that being the specific SF definition and not the way we usually use it as a catch-all for SF/F) besides Buck Rodgers and V when I was a kid. Oh and Flash Gordon. But I was way more of a "Twilight Zone" girl than a "Star Trek" one. I've attempted to watch a few other series as an adult, most recently "Farscape" and "Odyssey 5," but ultimately just haven't gotten caught up in them the way I expect to in TV shows I'm going to follow. I'm not saying that all the shows I haven't seen are bad: I'm just copping to the fact that I haven't seen them. Mostly, I find there's a sort of stilted quality to the episodes I have seen that just doesn't work for me. Boy, "Firefly" couldn't be further from that. This is intelligent, vigorous science fiction that accomplishes its task of making the future feel like now, despite its differences from our world.

Christopher and I have been working our way through the DVD boxed set of all the episodes that were made for Fox. And despite the fact that I know Fox is evil and stupid and, well, evil and stupid, the conflicting emotions of wonder, anger and sadness were flying fast and furious as we watched this. Damn, it was good.

We only watched a few episodes when it was on (yes, guilt), and I have to admit, watching them in that way, out of order, I wasn't hooked. I wasn't sure I liked the casting or the western stuff. I thought it was a good show, but I wasn't sold. I'm sold now. From the pilot on, every single episode is gold. How many shows can you name where every single episode from their first season is excellent? I'm having trouble naming any. Even "Buffy" had some flawed or eh episodes in its first season.

The cast is unbelievably perfect and its a marvel to see how a NINE CHARACTER ENSEMBLE still works in a very personal and real way, without anyone ever getting forgotten or left behind. The set design and world-building are top class. The writing is wonderful -- equal measures poignant, hilarious, salty or sweet. It's so good. Christopher said last night, "This is one of the best things that's ever been on TV. If I were Bill Gates I would give them the money to make it and just put it out on DVD." Yeah, it's that good. And it ends in mid-arc. Mid a bunch of arcs. Which is damn unsatisfying and why Fox executives' babies should be fed to wolves to stop the propagation of what is clearly a new mutation of humanity. How anyone could be stupid enough to have been watching these episodes and think this wouldn't end up making a ton of money is beyond me. And that's using their measure of success and not the artistic one this show managed to achieve.

The good news, of course, is that the "Firefly" movie SERENITY is scheduled to start filming within the next few weeks, with the original cast. If it does well, and I can't imagine it won't, there will be sequels AND the possibility for a return of the TV series (though apparently Fox and Universal have some kind of rights issues which prevent that from happening until at least 5 years from now). But anyway, this is all by way of saying that you should pick up the box set and watch it. You should get excited about the movie and go see it when it comes out.

This show deserves it.

worm: "Lifeline," Catherine Wheel

check out: Chicha's entry on forgetting meds at her new mental illness blog Another -- it's one of the best things I've ever read on a blog (& she should publish a novel already)

namecheck: Robert "Glue" Rosenberg


things hated: getting up too early on Saturday morning

It's the perfect, steadily raining kind of day to sleep seriously in. Especially after the exhausting week I had, but no... that would be too sensible. I'll try and wait out the rain to go get strawberries from Tennessee at the farmer's market (the ones last week were specimens of tasty perfection). I'll sift through the written critiques from the writing workshop and continue revisions on The Book. Maybe I'll even have a nap. It goes without saying that I'm behind on email, and I'm behind on reading things for people and I apologize if I owe you a read or a note. We're also designing Say... this weekend, so it may be next week before I have time. Mea culpa.

The NYTimes has a piece on Los Angeles coffeehouses that cater to screenwriters.

"The best seats are the ones where people can't see your screen. That's critical because you don't want people to see what you're doing," explained Sharon, an aspiring screenwriter who wouldn't give her last name for the same reason that she shielded her screen. "There is a level of embarrassment," she said. "Not that people are going to steal your work, but that you are a cliché: an out-of-work screenwriter in Hollywood."

Why would I want to be out of work there when I can be out of work here? Also, even though I've been known to lug computer to coffeehouse on occasion, why does this article seem to accept the delusion that screenwriters can't work at home, for if they did their minds would explode all over their nice white walls.

But anyway, it's the kind of story that'll improve your own self esteem on a Saturday morning. It starts out with Effram Potelle of Project Greenlight infamy, for muse's sake. It even turns out that working in a diner as opposed to a coffeehouse makes you a morally superior person. I want to work in the Kentucky Theatre when it's empty, but I'm not going to people. I promise.

Giant crater news from off the coast of Australia.

The cinetrix is right on about MEAN GIRLS. What she said.

Today's bullshit horoscope, not even by Sydney Omarr's team of black clad assistants any more: CANCER (June 21-July 22): The atmosphere is seductive and alluring for the romantically inclined. Make the best of warm feelings in relationships, and extract a pledge now if you want the magic to last. Be confident of success.

"The magic?" Great, I always new I was dating a witch. We're supposed to go to the parkinng lot carnival tonight, but the damn rain is KILLING the atmosphere. Promising an evening of extreme muddiness or, worse, of no parking lot carnival. Good call scopemeister.

worm: that whole Sun Kil Moon album

check out: Hicksville by Dylan Horrocks

namecheck: Christopher "Japan Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" Barzak (also, "eat your heart out, Bill Murray")


Forget coffee, JABC talk...

It occurs to me that many people may just have read or be reading THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB (back to 19 at Amazon) and I've been waiting for this moment for months.

A sidenote: Jennifer Weiner floated a guess -- I'm hoping tongue in cheek -- that Karen is Jane Austen Doe, which is just wrong on so many levels. Not only does it not match the details, but it doesn't take into account the fact that Karen is a genius who's never been one to complain about her career! (Via Old Hag.)

Anyway, those of you who've just finished reading JABC -- let's talk about it. Kind of inconvenient-but-workable blogger comment or send me email (in inconvenient-but-workable profile).

Also, wouldn't MY LIFE by Bill Clinton be better if it was MY SO-CALLED LIFE by Bill Clinton? He could be hyperaware in a charming way and dye his hair odd teenage girl colors and be betrayed by his best friend and finally choose between Jordon Catalono and Brian Krakow. A girl can dream. Sigh.

Night for real this time. (But seriously, post your thoughts about JABC.)

evil triumphs eternal (and some temporal nonevil)

Ari is winning. He only emotes when he's bested his opponents, which in Power Player Celebrity Jeopardy isn't all that impressive to begin with. I want to dream tonight of him playing Helen Thomas and her beating him to ring in every single time. Just like old times, it's the possibility that Ari might be forcibly beaten by an angry mob that compels one to watch.

I heart the Defamer.

I also heart Kristin Hersh, and via largehearted boy, find a brand new interview with her. Her newest project is 50 Foot Wave, and newest Hersh projects are always a reason for excitement.

Ed at Return of the Reluctant is working on a new play, Wrestling an Alligator, and seems to be filled with the energy of work being well done. An excerpt of the excerpt:

THE BUSINESSMAN: I have some preliminary questions, and then we’ll get to the heart of the matter.

TARROW: Fire away.

THE BUSINESSMAN: Are you married?


THE BUSINESSMAN: Are you a vegan?


THE BUSINESSMAN: Have you strangled a dead dog?

TARROW: No. But under the right circumstances, I’d strangle a live one.

THE BUSINESSMAN: Quite. Do you smoke?


THE BUSINESSMAN: Did you inhale?

TARROW: Yes. In happier days.

THE BUSINESSMAN: Do you drink?

TARROW: Sometimes. On sadder ones.

There was going to be more, about my first firsthand experience with the (sort of) Milford Model and etc. But I find I'm too tired, not inclined to elaborate on much of anything at the moment and would rather just have another glass of wine.


worm: "Strange Angels," Kristin Hersh

check out: hell, the whole Firefly boxed set

namecheck: Lacy "Cannes-Luck" Waltzman

if you can call this excitement

My favorite political writer from way back Molly ivins is going to have a new book out! (Seriously, wayyyy back -- I started reading Molly Ivins on the recommendatoin of a Governor's School for the Arts teacher in 1993 because he thought there were resonances between our POV's; this because I almost exclusively wrote seething-at-the-mouth political poetry about George the First and his brethren. Excuse me while I'm a tiny bit unembarrassed: I was in high school, people.)

From Helen Brown at the Telegraph:

Allison & Busby is publishing the political satirist Molly Ivins's Who Let the Dogs In? next year. Ivins's column has been syndicated across America for the past 30 years and she has now produced a "Hall of Fame of America's most amazing and outlandish politicians". It will be interesting to see if Clinton's estimation of his career matches Ivins's.

This sounds like the book Ivins was +born+ to write. And much more exciting than 900 pages of Clinton (though don't we all just wish we'd had the option to reelect the guy again? I sure as hell do.).

(Item via the inimitable Maud Newton.)

More later, now day of busy calls to me with its decidedly un-sirenlike song. And by the way, our new writing workshop rocks the house.

worm: "Hard Drive," Evan Dando

check out: the "Out of Gas" episode of Firefly

namecheck: Kristin "Moderate NQ" Livdahl



Apparently, it's all true, infamous Brood X is awakening to seek its terrible vengea--er, mating season. I've now been told of two separate conversations where someone was informing others that cicadas can kill your pets if they eat them and someone butted in and said, "They can eat dogs?!"

Yes, they can. And they love human big toes, I'm told.

"It's happening," said Michael J. Raupp, a University of Maryland entomologist, referring to the mass emergence of the Brood X periodical cicada in the District and 15 eastern states. In the coming days, he added, "it's going to be, like, everywhere."

I, like, love this fancy science talk.


Have you voted for Rupert yet? Christopher received the following message on one of his bicycling lists:

Yes, my brother and I went to high school with Rupert (Rupert was in Scott's class, and Rupert's younger brother, Chris, was in my class, one year behind).  He is a class act....Vote for Rupert.

There you have it, folks. If you're not an enemy of truth, justice and the right way, you'll go do what you should. (I know it's tempting to vote for Shii-Ann -- but she already got a car.)

These people have Bigfoot's footprint. No, really.

And last, what's your name's Naughtiness Quotient?

worm: "Lilly and Parrots," Sun Kil Moon

check out:: WHICH LIE DID I TELL by William Goldman

namecheck: Rupert "He Wouldn't Lick His Plate If You Gave Him the Million, Promise!" Boneham


burning castle (updated w/ pic link)

There's a castle in Versailles, Kentucky (photos at link). It swirls in legend, mostly. People drive by who hear made up stories about it, or who make one up, because it's so improbable, sitting back off a heavily traveled stretch of highway. It belongs to a sheik. To a madman who never lets anyone see it. It's haunted.

The real story, I've heard, is that this guy built it for his wife, after they came back from touring Europe together. Inside the turrets and the wall, it's just a castle-like house, never completed, because they broke up. He, the builder, kept working on it off and on through much of his life. He had no formal training as an architect, but he somehow managed to do enough research and learn enough to design the thing and to make it work. He ran a construction company and in their downtimes, he'd put his guys on building the castle. He died last year, in a nursing home, with Altzheimer's. His kids were going to try and turn it into a bed and breakfast or sell it to be turned into one, the last I heard.

And now, lightning has struck it, and it's burning. The flames are reaching as high as the turrets and the news helicopters are en route. It's burning and burning and it will keep burning until it's done. I hazard no one will ever build it back.

Castles may be fated to burn or bleed or crumble, but they shouldn't. They seem like they should last, no matter how incomplete or ill-constructed. No matter if the reason they exist burned, or bled, or crumbled a long time ago. Castles should be immune to bad luck.

Updated: Picture and story here.

(p.s. Go vote for Rupert to win the million.)


In case you've missed Wonkette's previews of this week's Celebrity Jeopardy starring Washington power players, you might want to look at this WaPo article.

Things learned while observing a day's worth of taping of "Celebrity Jeopardy!" with a bunch of wonks, talkers and other media types the show labels as Washington's "power players":

Al Franken should not be allowed to climb inanimate objects.

Maria Bartiromo has trouble differentiating between a golf club and a golf tee under pressure (but okay, okay, she did know that Tiger Woods makes the most money on the PGA Tour).

Tucker Carlson is disturbingly well versed in things related to "homemaking," like dust bunnies and Brillo pads.

Bob Woodward needs faster thumbs.

Now, even in the best of times Celebrity Jeopardy is pushing it with the use of the term celebrity, but I must admit to an impure thrill at the thought of Ari Fleischer's return to television. McClellan has just never delivered the same quiet shock of watching pure evil spin, spin, spin the wheel, never quite captured the same laconic disregard for that news-saint Helen Thomas (who could eat both of them for lunch and use their shin bones as toothpicks). Yes, I'll be tuning in for Ari. Bless us every one.

Also, Mary Gaitskill had a fascinating piece in the WP Magazine about what happens when you're nice to children -- "when a well-meaning but inexperienced couple volunteered to host two small children from the city, they got much more than they bargained for."

AND the Mumpsimus is right about Alan. (And is sort of responsible for me being here trying out Blogger's new toys. Throw your stones at him. Wait, I didn't mean for you to do that -- I wouldn't be so impolite as to suggest anyone throw stones at a stranger. You may throw them at Christopher instead. Kidding, kidding... Have you no sense of humor?)

(Now she remembers how the digressions went in the old Blogger days. They were many, and long, and wild as rivers with too much water in them. Yes.)

worm: "It's a Shame About Ray," the Lemonheads

check out: This Guardian Bit-Part Quiz (via the cinetrix)

namecheck: Jenn "I Still Owe You A Drink At Wiscon, You Know" Reese

not that I want to...

...stir up all the used bookstore ranting that makes me sad again, but a short interview with Vincent McCaffrey on the subject of Avenue Victor Hugo Books closing in the Boston Globe.

I even wrote my senior thesis on "The Perfect Bookstore," which I claimed should reflect the individual bookseller's personal philosophy and love of books. After graduating, I sold books from a cart in front of the Boston Public Library for a couple of years before opening Avenue Victor Hugo with my wife Thais. Until recently, it was still possible to run the kind of place I originally had in mind -- but sadly, I no longer believe the independent bookstore is a viable business.

Again, he has interesting things to say that are worth thinking about, and it's very, very sad that AVH has left us.

(link via Project: UnButtercup)

worm: "Pavlov's Bell," Aimee Mann

check out: THE DREAMS OUR STUFF IS MADE OF, Thomas Disch

namecheck: Barb "Birthday Girl" Gilly

This is a test...

Wow, blogger suddenly improved.