Smart-asses, welcome

Jenn Reese has an interesting and fun entry in her journal today that revolves around playing a certain kind of game.  Here’s how it works at Jenn’s place:

Post something positive about a presidential candidate for whom you *do not* intend to vote.

-Giving credit to Clinton for being female or Obama for being black is off limits.
-No snarky or smart-ass answers, please. (Just for this entry — I promise!)

If you decide to play, thanks! 

I think this is a fun game, but feel incredibly compelled to offer a flipside version (without any intent to offend, only to amuse).  So, in my version, say something positive about a presidential candidate for whom you *do not* intend to vote,  but feel free to be a smart-ass (within reason, of course–try to be witty rather than nasty, I guess).

If you decide to play, you should also make yourself go over to Jenn’s entry and do the more honorable version.

Home again

I am back home from New York City, a bit bedraggled but thoroughly enjoyed myself. Saw Aimee Mann in concert, the anniversary reproduction of Harold Pinter’s “The Homecoming”, Southland Tales, shopped in open air markets, was a guest on the Hour of the Wolf, which you can listen to here, and ate lots and lots of good food. Gave a reading at the KGB Bar last night with Naomi Novik. The place was packed. My friend and colleague from YSU, Phil Brady, was in town and came, so we had another Youngstowner in attendance. Afterwards I had dinner with everyone at an amazing Chinese place nearby. The actress Helen Mirren was there, too. I stared unabashedly once this was brought to my attention. Luckily I was outside the restaurant when that happened, finished with my meal, and could stare through the restaurant window at the second floor at her, without her noticing and feeling like she had a stalker. I barely slept last night, got up at 5 AM this morning to get ready and catch a taxi to the airport in time for my way-too-early flight to Pittsburgh. On the way, my driver made it clear to me over and over that he had only just arrived in America recently, and kept asking me for directions to LaGuardia as he took me further and further out of the city. On one exit he asked if it said LaGuardia. I was totally out of it and sort of looked up and said yes anyway, even though after we passed into that exit and into a tunnel I immediately wasn’t sure if I had just said yes as an automatic response or if the sign really had said LaGuardia. Getting ready to go into another entrance ramp lane, he pulled up beside another cabbie, rolled down his window, and said in a hysterical voice, “LaGuardia!? LaGuardia!?” and the other driver looked back at him in puzzlement, concern and panic, shaking his hand as he drove, a gesture that said, “I don’t know what the hell you’re saying!” I rolled down my window at that point and said, “Which exit is LaGuardia?” and he told the other driver to follow him. It was the most ridiculous taxi ride I have ever experienced outside of Tijuana and Bangkok. New York, oh, New York, how the mighty have fallen.

My eyes are dry and puffy from lack of sleep. I have a cough that came with a cold two weeks ago, but didn’t leave when the cold left. My body feels heavy and fatigued. I am going to make tonkatsu for dinner, because tonkatsu makes everything better. Always, always.

Thank you for a great week, New York and its denizens. I hope everyone has a great holiday season. Now I’m off to settle down into bed for a cold winter’s night.

Which way do you spin?

I just did this right brain/left brain test and am so weirded out.  It’s a test to see which hemisphere of the brain you use more.  Initially I saw the image of the dancer going clockwise, the right brain way of seeing it.   And I watched it and watched it and couldn’t see it the left brain way until I decided to focus on her shadow, and when I looked back up she was spinning counter clockwise.  Then I couldn’t see her going any direction but counter clockwise.  I thought for a while maybe this was timed and messing with me maybe?  So I focused on her shadow again and when I looked back up at her she was going clockwise again.  Then I didn’t even have to focus on the shadow but could focus a little while watching her spin and she’d switch directions right before my eyes.  I am probably freaked out by this more than I should be.  Our brains and eyes and their relationship is so odd, though, isn’t it?

Tell me if I’m flipping out or if this happens to you too.

Take the test by clicking here.

Fooling Around

My friend Brooke is helping me do a lot of the local promotion and publicity for my book. The girl knows virtually everyone you need to know around this place to get things noticed, and so my publicist at Bantam sent her a box of books the other week to help when getting in touch with reporters and reviewers etc. The day she got them, a bunch of my friends and I got together for dinner, and afterwards we went to the Italian Festival in the downtown. When we were done, I walked Brooke back to her car, and she got the box out and said, “Let’s see if we can cover the trunk of my car with them!” So, with lots of night glare, we proceeded to take silly pictures. It’s already one of my favorite memories that I’m making with this book coming out. I’ve got lot of angels in my life, and it’s nice to be reminded of that. They’re all swooping around to help me in so many ways right now, and that was a really unexpected gift that’s come out of making a book. Brooke is one of my main angels. And the way the glare is in these silly photos, she even glows a little like one.

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You can stand under my umbrella

A return to a mood I have not felt in a while.

Recently I have been sort of obsessed with the song “Umbrella” which is sung by the very popular Barbados-born Rihanna. And when I say popular, I mean popular. You go to this woman’s myspace page and look at how many “friends” she has. Over 900,000. That just sort of blows my mind, people myspacing so much that you can get over 900,000 people under the same virtual tent. But back to my recent obsession with “Umbrella”. Like most Rihanna songs, it both attracts and repels me. I love the general tune, and the sentiment of the lyrics really grab me, but Rihanna herself sings them in way that feels less sincere than the lyrics themselves. At least, this is the case for “Umbrella”. In another case, the lyrics are kind of a problem as well as Rihanna singing the song in the first place. Such as “Unfaithful” a big hit of hers when was it? Last year or two years ago? I’m not sure. I’m not going to look it up either, but you know, in the recent past. The problem with “Unfaithful” is that the singer is basically feeling bad and guilty because she Can’t Stop Having Sex With Other Men and can see how this hurts her boyfriend so much that he is slowly dying. She says, “I don’t want to be a murderer.” And yet it seems to me like she’s saying, But I Can’t Stop Having Sex With Other Men! What a dilemma! Boyfriend slowly dying, sex with other men, I don’t know, which is more important?

It’s easy to forgive a song like “Unfaithful” because the song itself is so utterly flawed and stupid because of the basic narrative of the lyrics. I just can’t sympathize, you know? But songs like “Umbrella”, which has actually quite touching lyrics, irk me, because I love their essence and become irritated because they feel less “felt” or “sincere” when in particular being sung by Rihanna.

Don’t get me wrong. Despite my Rihanna bashing here, it’s done with love. I can’t help but like the girl, I guess. She’s so cute and despite her not being the person I think best for some of her songs, she has an interesting sound in the way of commercial music. And she’s from Barbados. Awesome.

When it comes to “Umbrella” though, I find myself kind of crushing on Scott Simons’ version, which I found the other day and have been obsessing on in a happy way, as opposed to my frustrated obsessing over Rihanna’s version. In any case, I’m playing the Scott Simons version of the song over at my Myspace page, and you should go take a listen. You can also follow the link to Rihanna’s Myspace and listen to her version and also the aforementioned terrible song “Unfaithful”. I’m charmed by Scott Simons’ version. I will now go stand under his umbrella.

Wiscon Redux

Ok, so I am settled into a cafe here in Youngstown with wifi access that you *don’t* have to pay for, which seems to be the problem with a lot of cafes I stop in at. So many are those T-mobile spots like at airports where you have to buy access, which I think is not good for business really, people, at least not mine. I will buy scones and coffee and tea and sandwiches, but don’t charge me for a connection!

Wiscon. I love Wiscon. I’ve been attending for the past seven or eight years, only missing one when I was living in Japan, and I have to say, if a convention committee anywhere wants to know how to run a successful convention with lots of happy people attending, you should go to Wiscon to learn what’s up in the “They know what they’re doing” department. Wiscon gets the best people: smart, articulate, aware, jovial, supportive. After attending the Clarion writing workshop in 1998, Wiscon was the place where I started to find my second family. The only bad thing about Wiscon is that it only occurs once a year for several days. This is unfair. It means I never have enough time to spend with everyone I love, like and want to get to know better. My Friday nights at Wiscon are pretty much shot no matter what because I MC the Ratbastard’s Karaoke Party, which I absolutely love doing, but it means I never get to be out talking to people at the party for more than the space of a three minute song. It also really drains me to MC, even though I love doing it. My energies ebb all day Saturday from the frantic fast pace and trying to be energetic and encouraging and entertaining for the party. It’s worth it though, because so many people are nice enough to tell me during or after the party or the next day how much fun they had, and I’m glad that Alan and Kristin and I have something we can do to make people happy and jazzed that first night of the convention after the opening ceremonies. It makes me feel like we can give back for all the happiness Wiscon gives us.

Highlights of the convention were seeing Maureen McHugh for the first time in years. You look great, Maureen! And I will definitely take you up on visiting Austin in the future. I really do need to come to Texas and shatter my image of it. Catching up with Terri Windling, one of my angels, and dancing with Karen Fowler while she reveals she knows the words to the “My Milkshake Brings All the Boys to the Yard” song, watching Heather Shaw-Pratt teaching her baby how to shake its bootie before it joins us in the outer world, seeing Mary Rickert and her really awesome nice husband Bill (though not enough as I’d like–guess I will just have to move to Milwaukee or thereabouts), dancing with my editor Juliet Ulman, who has this really cute move she does where she puts her hands on her knees and shakes it all the way down and out to the beat (I would steal this move for my own dance move repetoire, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t look as cute when I do it), chatting with Chance because I love chatting with Chance, and seeing Haddayr Copley-Woods’ smiling face everywhere I went (yes, appt. next year for sure!) and teasing back and forth with Tim Pratt over who our editor loves best (I still think it’s him!) and carousing with Alan Deniro and Kristin Livdahl as always, and listening to Kelly Link’s and Laurie Marks’ beautiful Guest of Honor speech, and seeing Cat Valente get crowned and Shelley Jackson’s fabulous hair and dress, and seeing Graham again, brother in the American-in-training/Brit-in-training exchange program, meeting Niall Harrison, who is really really nice and funny and smart, and their friend Liz, and subjecting Rick Bowes to Wiscon’s outrageous energy, being called the cute boy by Midori Snyder always makes me melt and smile like a cute boy should, signing people’s copies of my story in Twenty Epics and Interfictions (I am still surprised when people seem to know me let alone want me to sign anthologies with my story in them) clapping for Tempest Bradford’s slightly drunken toasts, singing “I Wanna Be Sedated” with Nick Mamatas (still grateful he wanted to sing that song!) and hugging Hannah Bowen even if I didn’t get a chance to talk to her ALL WEEKEND (what’s up with that, where were you?) talking with Jackie M. over race and class issues, squeezing Susan Groppi and Karen Meisner whenever I had the chance (though again, failure to get my Susan and Karen time–next year I will make sure to come in early and stay at Ms. Meisner’s instead of coming in on Friday because of a freelance project I was doing here in town), hearing Dave read the water poet story, which I love, meeting Steve Berman and his fabulous friends finally, drinking and dancing with the Nightshade Boys, seeing and signing Sharyn November’s copy of the Coyote Road, which looks GORGEOUS (like her hair), reading with Meghan and Alice and Rick, watching Gavin Grant smile proudly at his awesome wife as she gave her Guest of Honor speech, and seeing Kelly’s sweet cute mom so excited to be there and proud of her daughter as well, and seeing E. Sedia’s new book, and hearing from her that there’s a new award called the Plunkett starting next year for works that investigate class issues (much needed) and what else? What else? I know I’m forgetting someone and something. I can’t help it. It was the best convention ever.

Disappointments: again, not getting to spend as much time with everyone I wanted to spend the entire weekend with. Being afraid to read a really sad section of One for Sorrow at my reading and going for a part that has funny stuff in it too because I feel better when I make people laugh more than cry. Also, not getting the chance to do that tarot reading with Barth Anderson (who gave me one at Clarion in 1998 which pretty much detailed my life for the past nine years in general, making me feel like that poor woman in The Red Violin who traveled the world like the fortune teller told her, but trapped inside that damned violin ad infinitum!). Also, not getting to talk to Greg Van Eekhout and Jenn Reese as much as I’d have liked, beyond a little bit waiting in line for reservations and drinks and whatnot, and at parties for very briefly.

I missed Dora Goss and Elad Haber. Next year, I hope you two will be able to come again. It wasn’t the same, even with all the greatness happening.

I’m glad to be home and have my bed back, and brownies Tony made for me to come home to, and my parents, who picked me up at the airport as is our ritual, and hearing my dad’s idea on a One for Sorrow sequel, which was actually really awesome though I’m not sure if I can do a sequal to One for Sorrow (but who knows, that idea was really pretty awesome, Dad) and now it is sunny and beautiful and I’m sitting in a comfy chair drinking tea in a cafe with people walking by outside and I’m feeling, you know, lucky and happy.