Saturday, July 4, 2009
"You wish they understood as you do, that there is no escape and never was, that from the moment two cells combined to become one they were doomed."
What a ride. Everything matters, kids.
- So first, because this blog is about ME, my story "Afterlife" was a Story of the Week over at Narrative Magazine, and what a joy ride that was! Lots of great comments and I felt like a proper writer. For a week. And now to carry on with my big bad self.
- Farewell to Farah Fawcett. Charlie's Angels notwithstanding, she was brave and ballsy and my heart goes out to her and her family and mostly to Redmond, her kid.
- And Michael Jackson, holy shit! Nothing I can add here to the media voyeur monster machine, but his music was sure a part of my life and my kid's life and his weirdness was always something to marvel at.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
A team in the southwest German city of Darmstadt first produced 112 in 1996 by firing charged zinc atoms through a 120-meter-long particle accelerator to hit a lead target. (Is it just me, or is that kind of hot?)
"The new element is approximately 277 times heavier than hydrogen, making it the heaviest element in the periodic table," the scientists at the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research said in a statement late on Wednesday.
The zinc and lead nuclei were fused to form the nucleus of the new element, also known as Ununbium, Latin for 112.(blah blah blah, here's the whole Reuters article)
The 112 refers to the sum of the atomic numbers of zinc, which has 30, and lead, which has 82. Atomic numbers denote how many protons are found in the atom's nucleus. (I love this.)
In 1925, scientists discovered the last naturally occurring element on the periodic table (FYI: Uranium). Since then researchers have sought to create new, heavier elements.
Proving the existence of atoms with such a high mass, the so-called superheavy elements, is a complex procedure because they exist for only tiny fractions of a second and then decay radioactively into other elements.*****
Creating new elements, that's so God Particle. And something about atomic nuclei forcibly fusing to produce something brand new that only exists for fractions of seconds is so Las Vegas, baby.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
From the site:
"Books will be chosen for inclusion on the IndieReader site by a panel of editors, literary agents, and marketing professionals, and all categories of books (except for porn) will be represented. There will be a charge for membership; in exchange, authors will get a sales venue and a web page with its own URL. Authors will set their book's retail price and receive 75% of the sales (the buyer will pay for shipping). Authors will have complete control over the editorial content of their sites with no general restrictions on reviews, interviews, video, and audio."
It's a brave new world for entrepreneurship, yo. Via GalleyCat.
Euna Lee and Laura Ling, journalists investigating North Korean refugees, were arrested by North Korean guards on March 17 near the Chinese/North Korean border. They've been tried, convicted, and now sentenced to 12 years of hard labor No Ko style, in a secret high court. No one thinks they're going to serve the time, rather, they'll be used as pawns for political leverage. It's a steaming hot situation, what with sanctions being considered by the U.S. the U.N. and Japan for No Ko's recent forays into nuclear foreplay, and North Korea threatening severe repercussions if that happens.
But here's what gets me: Euna Lee has a 4 year old daughter. What possessed her to go to North Korea? For what, exactly, fame? Glory? Self-actualization? I don't get it. And I hardly have pity when the baby card is pulled for sympathy, because no one twisted her arm to go. I remember having a 4 year old. Nothing could've convinced me to leave him. The way I see it, the duties of motherhood trump everything. EVERYTHING. I guess they thought they'd be safe (in North Korea???)
Color me self-righteously indignant on this one. I hope they're freed and returned home safely. And I hope Euna thinks twice before she takes on another risky job. Wait until the kid is grown some, it happens fast. 4 year olds need their mommies more than we need the scoop on North Korean refugees. Seriously.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Pasha Malla's The Withdrawal Method, which just won Canada's DANUTA GLEED Literary Award for best first collection of short fiction, and may I mention how adorable and funny Pasha Malla is? He scored $10,000 for this one, drinks on Pasha!
Also one-clicked Dennis Lehane's Gone Baby Gone for particular inspiration, and Jhumpa Lahiri's collection Unaccustomed Earth, whose stories, I hear, are so good they make you slit your wrists and gouge out your eyes.
As always, I encourage supporting independent bookstores (but Amazon is so fucking cheap, whaddareya gonna do?)
Adam Lambert, American Idol first runner-up? Wha? There's never been a more talented contestant than Adam Lambert, and gimme a boy with eyeliner, nail polish and glitter any day. I think Kris Allen is adorable, or, as the French say, adorable, and talented, yada yada, but Lambert is in a league of his own.
Eh, he's already a supah star and will be just fine. But knock me ovah with a puff of smoke, yo.
Friday, May 15, 2009
I'm super fascinated by the hummingbirds drawn to the feeder at my window. Boss Man is wearing himself out keeping other birds away, but they do get in to sneak a few sucks. Apparently, a dominant territorial man-bird will allow a female at his feeder after he's mated with her.
Girl gotta put out to get fed.
Look at the hummingbird's skeleton. Its forked tongue does a long wrap-around the skull and attaches to its forehead. Look at those wing bones, like filigree, and that way-cool neck, like beads. Wow. That little coccyx. I love this creature.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
And then there's Adam Lambert, all talent and glam angelic goth. They're all shining super stars.
And hey, didn't Jordin Sparks look hot in all her voluptuousness? You go, girl.
And while I'm on the TV subject, this year's Celebrity Apprentice was pure entertainment, despite the nepotistic, ever more weirdly-coiffed pompous and bloviating Donald Trump. I was glad Joan Rivers won, let's hear it for old people! We'll all be there someday (if we're lucky).
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
We have tons of hummingbirds nesting in the pines and silk trees outside my bedroom, so I hied myself to OSH and bought a hummingbird feeder and boiled up some syrup (1 C. sugar in 1 C. water, my mother's tried and true bird recipe) and waited. What I didn't know about hummingbirds is that they're fiercely territorial, but all I had to do was watch to observe it.
If any other hummers come buzzing by to poke into the sugar, one fierce Ruby Throated tsk-tsking fellow who's roundly claimed this feeder as HIS comes darting out of the pine (also his) to bombard the intruder. He will not allow any other bird to partake of the ample supply I've put out for them.
I get it though. I so get it. When my son decided to start cooking I had a hard time letting him into my territory. I get a bit too enraged hunting down the pots and pans that have their own territories the past 30 years that I've lived here. Emptying the dishwasher is another issue, chez moi. I have the matching Oneida Michelangelo silverware, and the stuff I ripped off from the Blue Cross employees' cafeteria (industrial silverware that will outlast the sun) when I was a student nurse supporting myself as a claims examiner part-time. THEY GO IN SEPARATE DRAWERS. At least, they do when I put the dishes away, and being that emptying the dishwasher is one of my least favorite chores . . .
The BF moved in 4 years ago, and there's this thing called "compromise" that's been a little tough for me. You don't wash towels with sheets, for instance, or underwear. YOU WASH THE FUCKING TOWELS WITH TOWELS. So he washes HIS towels with whatever he wants. Compromise. We all do our own laundry.
Meanwhile, this bird's gonna drive himself nuts, and I'm trying to have that mean something to me. It's constant, the shooing away of the invaders. It's gotta be exhausting. I'm getting exhausted just watching him.
One stealthy little bugger just logged a quick suck at the feeder that the boss-man didn't catch. Methinks it must've tasted even sweeter.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Yes, it's the Columbine anniversary, yes, it's Hitler's birthday, but 4/20 is also a High Holiday for lots of stoner types. It's National Pot Smoking Day, "an unofficial counterculture holiday that is based on the simple concept of smoking some cannabis and being happy. "
Spark one up for freedom, yo.
Yours truly and humbly got a nod for "Lobster Girl" in SmokeLong Quarterly, and dearly beloved Night Train got two nods for "The Tree That Girdles Itself" by Donna D. Vitucci, and "Dating 101" by Angie Chau. Kudos, yo!
More shout outs to my darling pal Myfanwy Collins for her wonderful story "Liar" in Pank, to T.J. Forrester for his story "To the Bone" in Storyglossia, which also gets kudos for 5 notable stories this year. A shout out to FRiGG for 2 starred stories, and have you seen FRiGG's new microfiction issue? Sweet fancy MOSES it's good. Be sure to read the hilarious microfiction debate.
And in other writing news, 3 recent acceptances for yours truly and humbly.
- "Wreckers" will be in the next issue of Freight Stories
- "Fallen" (from my novel-in-stories-work-in-progress) will be in the annual (3rd) annual issue of Pank, along with Matt Bell, David Erlewine and the irrepressible Aaron Burch.
- "Birds, Bees" will be in the next issue of The Los Angeles Review.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Whipped up a sexy pasta puttanesca tonight.
All ingredients from Trader Joe's.
Tin of anchovies
jar of capers, drained
jar of pitted kalamata olives, driained
red pepper flakes (some like it hot)
large can of diced tomatoes
jar of Trader Joe's Arrabiata sauce
about 12 large cloves of garlic, chopped
a fistful of Italian parsley, chopped
bread crumbs, toasted, about a cup
a pound of whole wheat linguine cooked al dente
In a large, cold pan, mix the olive oil and anchovies, turn on the heat low and poke and mash at the anchovies until they start disintegrating. Throw in the garlic and continue cooking with very low heat. When the garlic softens and the anchovies are pretty shredded, add the parsley, and some red pepper flakes, keeping the heat low until the parsley is cooked a little. Turn up the heat to medium or so, not letting the garlic brown, and dump in the canned tomatoes with its juice, more pepper flakes to taste (plenty!), the Arrabiata sauce (or another can of tomatoes in puree), some black pepper, the olives and the capers. Bring it to a good simmer at medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, then dump in the cooked al dente pasta. Lower the heat and toss it together , then add the toasted bread crumbs, and mix it all up some more. Serve with good parmesan cheese or a parmesan/reggiano mix, and a glass or three of red wine. You can also add some red wine to the sauce in the simmering stage.
Weep for the whores of the world.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
It was sent out yesterday and arrived today.
I'm not CRAZY about a folded submission, but, in this economy, if an editor of a journal that still clings to the old ways (snail mail) gets upset about a folded submission, then it's probably not a magazine I want to be in (okay, that's a lie. Or a rationalization).
The envelope came with a thermal printed postage/mailing label, very professional. The return address is to WordHustler's P.O. Box in Los Angeles. At the bottom of the mailing label in very small print: Prepared with care by WordHustler.com - One Click to Destiny.
Very small print. It doesn't bother me.
Zero complaints about the printed submission: very white, 20 lb stock, cover letter is professional and lovely, no signature, of course. They do have an option of adding a photographed signature. The pages are loose, clipped together with a large, high quality butterfly paper clip, again, very professional. The SASE is printed with my name and address, stamped, and has the WH tracking number printed on there as well. My address in the return address, but it would be the literary magazine's return address in a regular submission.
I communicated via email with WH about the possibility of opting for a full sized manila envelope for a 4 page submission, paying a bit extra for the larger envelope. They aren't set up to do that now.
For submissions over 4 pages, they do use a full-sized manila clasp envelope, and I'm now confident that it's more professional than anything I do on my own at home, being that I address my manilas and SASE's in my big loopy longhand, and plaster on stamps all akimbo.
Two thumbs straight up.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Delacorte Press, Kurt Vonnegut's long-time publisher, announced that Look at the Birdie, a collection of 14 never -before published stories will be coming out in November of this year! 14 never-before published Vonnegut stories!
And more! Read about it here.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
So now with WordHustler, you upload your story (they now take Word.docs and convert them to PDF files for you), you choose a market from their market list, compose a cover letter (which they address to chosen market), they print it all up, stuff it into a manila envelope with thermal printed labels (I do my envelopes in longhand) along with a standard #10 SASE also printed with your address and the return address of the market, and they mail it for you. For a manuscript up to 20 pages it's $5.99. Here's their price list:
All of our prices include tracking, postage, and free SASEs!
Under 4 pages (Query Letters, poetry submissions) $.99 10 pages (Articles, essays) $3.99 20 pages (short stories, partial mss, articles, essays) $5.99 30 pages (short stories, partial mss, articles, short screenplays): $6.99 50 pages (short stories, partial mss, articles, short screenplays): $8.99 Over 50 pages (Screenplays, Manuscripts, Novels, Non-Fiction Books) $0.10/page
If you want to include a receipt/reply postcard, it's an additional $1.29 (or so). If you're traveling the world you can use their Virtual Office and have the SASE's returned to them, and they'll update your profile online so you can see you've been rejected by AQR while sipping chai in Mumbai.
You get a free submission when you sign up. I did it. I sent a story to Black Warrior Review. Pretty cool. And since it was free, I included a receipt postcard, postage paid and self-addressed. If it works like it's supposed to a black warrior will drop that postcard into a postal out-box, and I will know BW got my story.
As an aside, snail-mail/SASE submissions give that mailman-anticipation-buzz. Now that I mainly submit online and have no outstanding SASEs, I have lackluster interest in what comes in the snailmail box. It's kind of fun to anticipate mail, even if the presence of one of your SASEs is rarely anything good.
Anyhoo, now all I have to do is hurry up and wait. I'll update the experience.
Okay, so I have a little TV addiction problem, one of my vices being American Idol. This year I think the competition is hot. 16 year old Allison rocks the kasbah with her Janis Joplin vibes, Matt is a little Michael Bubbly (you know who I mean), and I loved his Part Time Lover rendition from last night. And then there's ***A*D*A*M***. Adam Lambert has the kind of talent, not just chops but a whole sensibility, that has already launched him into the super star stratosphere in Alicia's Universe. From devastating looks to vocals that don't stop to what the new chick judge (Kara?) calls artistry. Because that's what it is, art, interpreting (and choosing) tunes according to his own private Adam Vision and belting them out with his giant talent.
Lil is talented (yawn) but too much same-old-same-old. Kris is adorable and talented, a contender for sure, but he doesn't have the consistency of, say, ADAM (doh). Anyway, it's a great season IMO. Who's going home today? I think it's got to be Scott (enough already).
Monday, April 6, 2009
A good article in yesterday's NYT about the short story inspired by near simultaneous new biographies of Flannery O'Connor, Donald Barthelme and John Cheever.
"Reading through their collected stories, you wonder if novels are even necessary. The imperial ambitions of a certain kind of swaggering, self-important American novel — to comprehend the totality of modern life, to limn the social, existential, sexual and political strivings of its citizens — start to seem misguided and buffoonish. More of life is glimpsed, and glimpsed more clearly, through Barthelme’s fragments, Cheever’s finely ground lenses or the pinhole camera of O’Connor’s crystalline prose."The article by A. O. Scott goes on to say that these three writers "shared the good fortune of writing at mid-century, when the institutions of print supported the flourishing of the short story as never before or since." Well, yeah, maybe, but we've got the world wide web today, and I'll venture to say (without knowing anything really) that the dissemination of pith and narrative is at its height, even if you can't make living off of it like in the days of mass-circulation magazines.
(As an aside, the photo is of Flannery O'Connor's typewriter. How much lower the slush piles must've been back in the days of the manual typewriter and carbon copies! The word processor has generated the writer-wannabe in slush glutting droves, which in turn has spawned the evolution of the low-res MFA program as well as countless other MFA programs, all generating moolah for universities and short fiction like weeds in an empty lot in rainy season.)
Scott suggests that the Kindle might parallel the iPod's effect on music and revive the short story's popularity. I dunno. It's easy to listen to music, something you can do either actively or passively. Much/most contemporary short fiction requires concentration and a high level of reading skills, too demanding maybe, for mass consumption. Literary short fiction tends to be incestuously consumed by literary short fiction writers. Kindle might be conducive in reviving that old conceit: The Plot! Short fiction where shit actually happens!
Anyhoo, anything that touts the short story (and snorts at the novel) gets a solid woo hoo from this incestuous girl writer.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
I don't know why I never read this before. It's been the kind of wonderful book that could wholly take me away to another place and time for the half hour, hour that I've spent with it at a time. Carson McCullers was 23 when she wrote this, and that freaking blows my mind.
It's an extraordinary book. First published in 1940, and one of the characters, a black doctor, Doctor Copeland, says this:
"I have a program. It is a very simple, concentrated plan to lead more than one thousand Negroes in this country on a march. A march to Washington. All of us together in one solid body."
In 1940, the fictional Doctor Copeland had a dream. 1940. The enormous empathy and humanity and prescience that McCullers, a woman who grew up in the South, had at that tender age for the plight of the black man freaking flumoxes me. I have McCullers fever.
The book is largely about delusion, too, the delusions humans use to make life easier, to cope with slings and arrows, much like religion. Mr. Singer is singular in that he's a deaf-mute, an "other" that the various characters put their Jesus figure spin on, being as his muteness makes him somewhat ethereal and unfathomable. His quiet, attentive patience makes him like a blank Scrabble tile, played to fill each character's need. And then Singer has his own delusion in the passion he has for his friend, Spiros Antonapoulos, who is presented to the reader as a simple (as in mentally challenged), indifferent boor. And the good Mr. Singer inexplicably adores this oaf, to the tune that when Antonapoulos dies, Singer commits suicide. It's astounding, really, how complex and yet wholly true and heartbreaking it all is, and how this book explores human isolation and despair, and the nimble way we humans scramble to find a way to live with it all.
McCullers titillates, too, with Biff Brannon's inappropriate attraction for 12 year-old Mick Kelly, building tension as you wonder if he's going to go all Humbert Humbert. There's a whiff of pedophilia in the air that dissipates (pedophilia-like) when at the end he begins to see Mick losing her childishness after she gets a full-time job at Woolworth's to help out the family. There's also titillation in the inexplicable fondness that Singer has for Spiro Antonapoulos, as in: are they 'mos? The question is subtly posed; never answered. I love this. It keeps my Curious Yellow gland excited.
Craft note: Anyone wanting to nail dialect should-oughtta read this book. It some good dialect.
I officially love this book.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Truly tragic, and we all know about it because she was 1) a celebrity in her own right, 2) married to a celeb, Liam Neeson and, 3) comes from a celebrity family, the Redgraves. And I'm not going to digress about the word "celebrity" here, but it's an interesting word.
I'm inordinately fascinated by causes of death, and this one is no exception. She had an epidural bleed, a medical/surgical emergency, allegedly from a small fall on a bunny slope (and you do wonder how small that fall really was). Then a fatal comedy of errors, blowing off paramedics, a delay to get to a medical center, in hindsight, so many shoulda this, shoulda thats, with the result that a healthy, vibrant mother, wife, daughter, actress is now dead, no re-dos. That she's a celebrity brings it all into world focus, the uber fragility of life, the nothingness of our individual existences, and yet, the everything factor of them.
She was a perfect candidate to be an organ donor, but nothing was said about that. I would think the family was approached; it's kind of a hospital's mandate to approach a family in these circumstances to donate much needed organs, and maybe the hospital staff did and maybe Natasha's family agreed, understandably electing to not publicize this to avoid the media frenzy that would carry over to the recipient. I hope her organs were harvested because I know some non-celeb person somewhere is dying for her heart, her lungs, her liver, a kidney.
If you're an atheist, in my opinion, this kind of stuff makes life even more precious, cuz baby, this is it, one fast whirl on the planet, liable to go up in a puff of nowhere fast. I'm gonna take this tragedy and do something fun because of it, something rewarding, decadent, something life-affirming. I'm gonna take a moment or ten and think of how lucky I am at this moment in time to not have anything greater than a stinking economic crisis to worry about. I'm going to see the tax man today, get that out of the way, and then go see my best pals at the beach (with the BF at my side, natch), observe the earth (it might rain in L.A. today, woo hoo!), drink champagne and toast to life. Natasha, I promise a sad-but-somehow-merry libation to you.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
So, some writing news: I have a tawdry whirl of addiction called "Tango" that just came up at DOGZPLOT, and may I say that Barry Graham is one cool cat.
I'm another bridesmaid, pulling up as a finalist in Narrative Magazine's Fall Fiction Contest, and I'm as happy as lemon meringue pie that they will be publishing "Afterlife" as a Story of the Week in the sometime future.
And a short story "Gravitas" is forthcoming in Hobart 10.
Enough about me, let's talk about you for a minute. What do YOU think of me?**
*In this time of the New Frugality, I'm cooking a lot more and enjoying it too. Tonight I'm-a making a version of pizzoccheri: pasta with cabbage, kale, leeks, potatoes, sage and butter, fontina, Parmesan, gruyere.
Addendum: It was finger lickin' good.
**And apropos of nothing, may Bernie Madoff rot in hell.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
It's a New Year and we have a new president, and HOPE is the buzzword. Here's hoping. So far, 2009 has had its rough patches for yours truly, the worst being the sudden and unexpected death of my beloved Stevie, my female wheaten terrier. She would've been 10 in March. On the morning of January 5th, she howled and died instantly, and all the king's horses and all the king's men . . .