Monday, February 19, 2007

Why we can all stop trying to develop book trailers

They've killed it, baby. Check this out:

Warning: you don't want to have any sort of beverage in your mouth...

Friday, February 16, 2007


We had a water main break a few miles from here: one of the big 48-inch deals that carries All The Water For a Long Way Around. While they attempt to replace or repair the thing, we are instructed to boil our water. We worry about e. coli, of course. So, for tonight, we are switching away from drinking filtered water (just how much can that filter do? We're not sure.) to bottled water. So far so good.

But a little while ago I found it necessary to clean the cats' litterbox. I can assure you that is how much detail you want on that activity: it needed doing, and I did it. But afterwards, I stood at the bathroom sink wondering: when one is under a boil-water advisory, and one has just cleaned out a litter box, is it helpful to wash one's hands?

This problem may keep me awake for hours.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bravo, Mr. Harris!

Prairie Lights, about which I lamented last week, has rescheduled the reading with Krista Jacob. My heart is gladdened.

Bravo, Mr. Harris!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The most depressing development this week

I recognize that this is a tragedy of a fairly abstract variety, but it makes my heart heavy anyway:

Prairie Lights Bookstore, the literary hub of Iowa City, closed its doors early Tuesday evening in response to threatening phone calls and letters received by store owner Jim Harris that day. Although PW Daily was unable to learn the specifics of the threats made, they clearly were in reaction to a reading scheduled for 7 p.m. that evening by Krista Jacob, an abortion rights activist and the editor of the book Abortion Under Attack: Women on the Challenges Facing Choice (Seal Press, 2006). Jacob's collection of essays by a number of feminist writers explores the impact of race, economics and culture on women's reproduction rights and women's attitudes toward abortion.

Iowa, for those of you who don't keep score, is -- against all odds -- one of the most significant literary destinations in the country. In the scheme of things, this was an important reading. Whether or not one happens to agree with Ms. Jacob's philosophy (and I must admit I haven't read her work; that's not the point) the fact that a mob was allowed to shout her down is an outrageous offense against some of the most important flavors of freedom humans are supposed to have.

My first reaction, on reading this, was (of course) outrage at the terrorists who made the threats. My second was horror that the owner of an independent bookstore -- in Iowa, of all places, where they take the literary as seriously as they do their religion -- caved in and gave the terrorists what they wanted.

According to store book buyer Paul Ingram, the decision to close the store was made by Harris, who was preparing to leave the country the next morning. "Jim did not want to subject people to possible harm when he was leaving town. He did not want to leave his staff in an awkward situation," Ingram said.

How can free speech be less important than that trip? Miss Outrage thought, immediately. Postpone the trip by a day; cancel it if necessary. A stand must be made. We'll hand out flak jackets and mace to everyone who comes to the reading...

What? The owner had staff? And they would be present, because their boss required them to be?

Even Miss Outrage must admit this is a quandry. I am, after all, that same wild-eyed chick who was prepared to go chica-a-chica against the crazywoman who threatened the old lady working the counter at a boutique in Red Bank: her broadsword against my, er, machismo. This was an old lady we were talking about, and none of it was her fault. I could see how to take the crazy one. But the pregnant friend with whom I was shopping was, well, outraged at the suggestion that she should put her pregnant butt on the line. And once the adrenaline wore off, I saw her point.

The same point applied to Mr. Harris, unfortunately. It wouldn't have been right for him to DRAFT his staff into the War on Troglodytery. But in my heart I wish that, just for that one night, I was an employee of the Prairie Lights Bookstore, and Mr. Harris was taking volunteers.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Oh God Yes

I need the t-shirt. I'm just afraid that if I wear the t-shirt to cons, I'll get roughed up by geeks.

Well, ninja geeks maybe.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Am I gorgeous yet?

Lately I have been looking at humans with the eye of an exobiologist. Yeah, okay, I'm an SFF writer. But while most of us will look at most cats, most horses, most members of whatever other species we have decided is generally appealing, and just appreciate their highly varied beauty... when we look at humans, we make judgements. He isn't as ripped as the models we see in ads; her thighs are too big; doesn't he see how stupid he looks with that cheesy moustache?; I might look good if I weighed 20 pounds less, dyed my hair, had plastic surgery, worked out 12 hours per week, whatever.

Models aren't beautiful enough yet -->>

Porn stars aren't beautiful enough yet -->>

But what I have observed, lately, as I looked at humans as individual examples of a widely-varied species, is that they are all different. And when I look at them the way I look at cats, or horses, I see the beauty in all that variation, and I wonder where all that judging comes from.

Someone (with an awful lot of time on his/her hands) figured out, a few years ago, that if Barbie dolls were real women, they wouldn't be able to stand up -- they're that distorted. In the short film about the model in the link above, the most telling moment for me was the part where whoever finally prepared the ad elongated her neck, shrunk her shoulders, and rearranged her eye sockets until she was as distorted as poor ol' Andrew Jackson in the new twenty dollar bill. In fact, seeing the final product of the billboard in the short after having seen the process through which the billboard was developed, I was finally, forcefully struck by the distortion in the image. I wonder how many other distorted images seem normal to me. I wonder if I've ever seen anything real in the media at all.

Of course, because I am an SFF writer, this makes me wonder how people can object to SFF on the basis of non-realism. At least, in SFF, we're honest about the ways in which we rearrange the truth. But I digress, as usual...

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Iron Man Returneth

Mark finally came home yesterday morning, after circumnavigating the globe in 9 days. "Eighty days? Pheh! Real men do it in nine!" says he. After meetings in Texas, China, and Israel, presenting at a conference, and more nights upright in airplanes than in beds, he should be an absolute mess -- and he isn't. Oh, sure, by the time he got to Israel he'd developed swollen ankles -- but, sheesh, one transcontinental flight will do that to me. And when he got home yesterday morning, without the adrenaline that had been the wind beneath his wings, he was tired enough to spend much of the day napping. But he was not the mess that anyone who had transited 24 time zones in 10 days should be.

How does he do it, you ask? Well, homeopathic has a lot to do with it. Our dear friend Sonja Benjamin, world-class homeopath, put him on a regimen of Arnica (yes, that same stuff you take when you've overdone it on the tennis court or injure yourself running), which is apparently the classic remedy for jet lag. Having spoken with him from his last stop in Israel, where he sounded nothing short of chipper, I can attest that the stuff works for jet lag as advertised.

Sonja gets to reap the benefits, too: we're all going out tonight, Mark & me & Sonja & her husband Walter, an iron man in his own right-- for jazz, drinks, and art that has escaped the Louvre, at the High Museum. Tomorrow morning, we plan to sleep in. And then, perhaps, things will return to normal.

Well, normal for us. Which is really not normal at all. :)

Friday, January 12, 2007

In case you had forgotten how powerful ideas really are...

What I know, with unshakable confidence, is that I NEED a container of Certainty. I must find out where to purchase one, and then have it shipped to UPS, obviously. Clearly FedEx can't take the risk.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Outside Time

Back before we had the Julian and the Gregorian calendars, there were older ones. You knew that, of course. The Hebrews started counting time thousands and thousands of years ago. The Sumerians made them look like the only guy at the meeting still trying to work with a paper planner when everyone else has a Treo. My favorite old calendar (yes, I am a calendar geek): the old Celtic calendar. It tracked both the solar year, which of course is the one we run on, and the lunar year; and it had an entire leap MONTH every few years to make the solar and lunar years line up like they should. It also had a period outside time, every year, called Yule.

During Yule, you weren't supposed to do anything except celebrate Yule. This was the period during which ordinary rules were turned on their heads, and the rich had to give to the poor, and crossdressing was the order of the day, and a temporary king, the Lord of Misrule, was appointed: and whatever he said, went. Mostly, it seems, he ordered another round of drinks. It was Yule, after all, and it was too cold outside to do anything except hang around, watch the Yule Log burn, and have another drink.

Where were you during that wonderful no-time that we no longer call Yule, but now call Christmas Break, or even Winter Break? I was playing with my family, resting from my war against the Gods of Computer Chaos, and trying to recover what measly scraps those aforementioned Evil Gods left behind.

I didn't do any of the things I was supposed to do, though. I didn't update my blog -- obviously. I didn't stay in as close contact with my clients as I like to, because email wasn't always working. I didn't make a whole lot of progress on most of my self-appointed jobs. But it was Yule, and for a blessed little while time didn't count. And trying to recover lost data was just one more way of getting in touch with the people who matter to me -- in this case, most notably, the writing partners for whom I am constantly grateful, who found new ways to overwhelm me with gratitude for their presence in my life, when they turned out to have saved everything I had been sending them. If only I'd sent them what I'd been writing for the past six months...

I'm back in Ordinary Time, of course, as are we all. Because my daughter's Winter Break didn't end until this week, I'm one of the last to climb back into the pool. This time in, I come back not merely refreshed but with a renewed sense of gratitude: for my wonderful family, for my ever-illuminating and patient clients, for my fabulous writing partners. Whether or not we realized it at the time, last year was way cool. This one's going to be even cooler: I can feel it already.

Welcome back. :)