Monday, August 29, 2011

Book? Check. Pajamas? Check. Baby Nieces? Check.

To calm the mind: a favorite picture from last Christmas.

Books are for cuddling.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


It's a strange feeling to be waiting for a storm. You get this weird sense of suspension. I'm taking advantage of all the warnings to stay indoors, and doing some good work this weekend.

I called my parents, who live in southern New Jersey (outside Philadelphia), and asked them, "How's the weather?" Har-de-har.  My Dad cheerily told me that he figured out the vector of the wind and is fairly confident that if the big willow tree falls, it will land between the house and the garage.  My Mom, who grew up on a vegetable farm, told me her heart is going out to all the farmers who have acres and acres of tomatoes ripening at this moment. Rain like this is devastating to tomatoes, she said.

It started raining around 1pm here; the worst rain and wind are predicted for tomorrow; I'm not concerned, though I do expect we'll lose power. As I watch the radar map on TV, I keep thinking of Laura Ingalls Wilder and The Long Winter.  They had no way of knowing when the next blizzard was going to come, until it came.  If they'd had radar and telephones and all that stuff, would Almanzo and Cap Garland's courageous quest for grain have been less terrifying?  I still get the willies when I think about how close they came to getting caught in that next blizzard.  I also keep thinking about this one winter when I was a kid: A blizzard knocked our power out, and the power stayed out for days. I happened to be sick. You know what it was in the house?  COLD.  This storm that's about to happen will not be cold.

Why do the news people think it's a good idea to stick their news anchor out in the middle of surging waves in hip waders while he or she tells us what the weather is like on the coast of Maryland?  That strikes me as extremely silly.  It's dangerous and unnecessary, and it makes the news people look like they're desperate to make everything seem more dangerous than it actually is.  In addition to which, the waves that keep hitting him make it impossible for us to understand what he's saying.  Just... tell us what it's like in words that we can hear, and show us a picture with no humans, okay?  Geez.

Well, back to my book.  Stay safe, everyone.

Hurricane Irene, August 27, 2011. Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pants Pants PANTS

Perhaps (based on emails I received from friends across the pond) I should have clarified that when I said (in my last post) that Shah Rukh Khan stole my pants (in my dream) and wore them in the rain, I meant pants in the American sense, not pants in the British sense (see definition 2b). Allow me to clarify this now, for the sake of Dream Shah Rukh's dignity. :D HE STOLE MY TROUSERS, OKAY?

Relatedly, here's an amusing dictionary of British slang.

I'm not sure what it says about my reasoning capabilities that during the earthquake on Tuesday, as my house swayed back and forth and my mind tried to make sense of what was happening, I got to "a monster-sized backhoe is picking up my house and carrying it away with me in it" before I got to "earthquake." I thought to myself, "Don't the backhoe people understand that I'm still in the house? Why was I not informed of this move?!"

Personally, I think all it means is that I've never experienced an earthquake before. It was SO disorienting. It didn't seem as if the thing happening should be possible. I will be very happy for it never to happen again. If a tiny little earthquake like that can give you such a sense of being out of control, I don't even want to think about what it's like to be in a big earthquake.

In the meantime, a good distance away in NJ, my parents' drinks were sloshing around and the windchimes started playing. A friend in NYC, who didn't feel the earthquake, saw hundreds of people gathering on the sidewalks and assumed they must be movie extras. (I ♥ NYC ^_^.) And codename: Apocalyptica the Flimflammer, on MA's north shore, started sending me a stream of emails. "I wonder if mom and dad felt the earthquake!" "I wonder if President Obama felt the earthquake!" "I wonder if Mark Hamill felt the earthquake!"

(The answers, BTW, are "Yes", "No", and "Oddly enough, there have been no reports on whether Mark Hamill felt the earthquake.")

There's a lot on my plate right now, so off I go...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dreams, Whales, Books

I've been rather itinerant for the last week or so... did some visiting, some birthday celebrating, and so much reading that you'd think I'd be reading in my dreams. Instead, I had a dream that Shah Rukh Khan raided my suitcase, stole my pants, wore them in a rainstorm and ruined them. This is nearly as random as the dream I had once that Eminem was my boyfriend: when he came to visit, my father chased him around the house in a rage. Or the dream I had last night that I found a pair of glasses, needed to know whose they were, and hired a private investigator to find out. The role of the private investigator was played by Matt Damon. This is usually the situation when actors appear in my dreams -- the actors appear not as themselves but playing the role of someone else. Not the case with Shah Rukh. He was himself when he stole my pants. The nerve!

Anyway. Itinerant. I went on a whale watch, with 7 Seas Whale Watch in Gloucester, Massachusetts. (The link automatically plays a video.) The sea was unusually still -- so still that we saw sharks more than once -- and so quiet, nothing but the sound of the whales breathing, slapping the water, appearing and disappearing. It's hard to believe, when the whales show themselves, how big, slow, and majestic they are; you think you're prepared for it, but you're not. They brought tears to my eyes. We have an enormous responsibility to them and we're not doing a very good job.

If you ever have the opportunity, do a whale watch. You will not be sorry.

Now, about all that reading... I need a clone. Can I have a clone who's wired in to my own brain? I've got about fifteen Must Read Now books piled up on my bedside table, then a shelf of Must Read Next fiction on the bookshelf outside my bedroom and a shelf of Must Read Next nonfiction just below it, but really what I need is to be reading all of it simultaneously. I'm adding about five books a day to my hold list at the library, I'm buying books I've already read because I need to reread them immediately and can't bear to give them back to the library, and then there's my e-reader, which is full of manuscripts, mostly mine, and research I've compiled into Word docs, and nonfiction books, and other stuff there's no way in hell I'm ever going to get to. This is a wonderful, intoxicating problem to have, but I don't really know how to manage it. All of this reading is in service of the next book I'm writing. I would like a clone, please. I will call her Cora, or maybe Beverly. Daphne? Could I get three clones?

In the midst of all the reading, I'm also reading one thing just for fun, Edith Wharton's The Glimpses of the Moon, because I adore Edith Wharton, though I have several friends who don't like her at ALL, which I completely understand, though please note that my understanding does not alter the fact that my friends are in error.



Yours with inexplicable hyperactivity,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chime, Outnumbered and Stuff

Kangaroo summoning and socks seem to be going head to head as the best birthday presents in my birthday poll. As I recall, that was the case last time, as well. (I actually voted for the least popular item, the foot-fungus-ridden seven league boots. Because being able to travel seven leagues in one step feels worth the itch right now... ^_^)

In other news, I will spend my whole life trying to write a book as beautiful as Chime, by Franny Billingsley. Seriously, folks, this is one of those books where my post-it flags became so numerous that I started to feel like I was flagging the whole book. The delicacy of these characterizations, the depth of feeling captured, the familiarity of some of our most basic and self-destructive feelings -- guilt for hurting the people we love, turning to self-hatred, then deciding to try to heal -- this book is gorgeous. (Also, randomly -- and referring back to a previous post -- it strikes me that it's a book that Terrence Malick could make into a gorgeous Terrence Malick movie. Just the right mood and feel.)

If TV is more what you're looking for, have you seen Outnumbered?

(ETA: Here's a link in case you don't get "the problem of the fourth plinth" reference and are curious.)

Finally, a note -- I only just noticed that I never updated my My Books page to reflect that Bitterblue takes place eight years after Graceling, not six. This change occurred somewhere between drafts one and two, for a very specific reason that I'll probably explain in a FAQ someday. Right now, it's too spoilery to explain.

You're probably beginning not to believe me, but I swear that I'll be able to post some info soon about Bitterblue timing.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Birthday Month on the Blog

August is Extreme Birthday Month here on the blog. This month, I turn 35, my father turns a particularly distinguished age, and the babies, if you can believe it, turn TWO -- and that's not even taking into consideration all the friends with birthdays now-ish. I'm sending happy birthday wishes to Switzerland and France this week! :o)

I have to say, I feel bad about how weak my blog posts have been lately. I just... well, remember my blog post with the emoticons? Please refer to that if you're wondering how I am. It's not a permanent state. That's the best that can be said of it.

Because I don't have the juice to create a new birthday poll and because I'm still rather fond of the one I created three years ago, here it is again: What would make the best birthday present? Please vote! If you can't see the poll, check it out on my Blog Actual.

Yours in needing some rest,

Thursday, August 4, 2011

♥♥♥s to Sydney

Can your local performance arts center put together a promotional video like this one?

Email users, if you can't see it, go to my Blog Actual.

It's called The Ship Song Project. The original song is by Australian Nick Cave. It's performed by Neil Finn, Kev Carmody and The Australian Ballet, Sarah Blasko, John Bell, Angus and Julia Stone, Paul Kelly and Bangarra Dance Theatre, Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Opera Australia, Martha Wainwright, Katie Noonan and The Sydney Symphony, The Temper Trap, and Daniel Johns and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. It's directed by Paul Goldman and arranged by Elliott Wheeler.

You can read about the making of the video, see photos, and learn more about the Sydney Opera House here. Thank you to Brian Ibbott at Coverville for the links.

Sydney, I ♥ you.

Monday, August 1, 2011

La La La La

In the Boston Public Garden, walking on the grass is not allowed. The other day, codename: Isis (nearly two years old) kept trying to climb over the low chain to get onto the grass. Codename: Cordelia said to her, "No, Isis, we're not allowed on the grass." Isis said, "Okay Mommy." Then she threw her hat as far as she could over the chain and said, "I need to go get my hat."

In the meantime, in order to stop codename: Phoenix (nearly two years old) from trying to climb into the duck pond in an attempt to bring a duck his missing feather, I had to create an elaborate story about how the feather was going to float across the water to the duck all by itself. (Around boats and over waves, dodging the fishies.)

Hey, Cambridge-and-Environs residents! Bob Slate is coming back! YAHOO! Those of you who've been reading my blog for a while may remember how sad I was when the news came out that Bob Slate Stationer was closing.

In other news... for those of you getting tired of me talking about So You Think You Can Dance, don't worry, the season is almost over. :) It's a confluence of things. I have lots of deadlines this summer and no extra energy for in-depth blogging. I have stuff about Bitterblue I want to blog, but am not allowed to yet. And, despite the inevitable copious bullshit, it's an unusually good season of SYTYCD. If things go as I hope they will, I will love all the people in the finale and be happy with any one of them winning.

I tend to enjoy a super-cool dance (with super-cool characters, if the dance is a story) more than an emotional dance where everyone is flailing around with agonized looks on their faces and we've been informed beforehand that the subject of the dance is something deep and meaningful. I mentioned a dancer a couple weeks ago who has "it." If you want to see a super-cool dance with the super-cool "it" oozing out all over the place, you should really watch this video (or this video if you're outside the USA or, um, want a better-quality picture and playback than the crap Fox puts online). This is contestant Tadd Gadduang dancing with All-Star Lauren Froderman (last season's winner, who also has "it"), choreographed by Mandy Moore. I love the hand in the pocket -- could he be more cool? I was enjoying this routine so much the first time I saw it that I didn't even register that Tadd had lost his prop (the hat). He didn't need the hat to make the dance work. I did, however, notice Lauren accidentally punching Tadd in the face (at 0:51) and Tadd not even flinching. His mouth was all bloody during the judging section! Tadd is a b-boy (as you might gather from some of the things he does so gracefully in this routine) who isn't trained in other styles, but he seems able to absorb every style of dance the show throws at him. (He was one of the dancers in the vulture routine I linked to a couple weeks ago.) One of the most exciting things that happens on this show from time to time is that you have a b-boy who can do the other kinds of dance, too, which gives you a dancer with an extra (and extra-awesome) skill set that the choreographer can take advantage of. I love when they work breaking into contemporary or jazz routines. Anyway, I think I know which other contestants will end up in the finale (go Melanie!), but I and a few compadres are extremely worried about Tadd. If you watch the show and don't usually vote, think about voting for Tadd on Wednesday. This is extremely important, people! :o)

Okay, on that note, I need to get back to work, sigh...