Thursday, April 28, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Another helpful read, for writers and readers, is Mitali Perkins's article in School Library Journal, "Straight Talk on Race: Challenging the Stereotypes in Kids' Books."
I'm writing this in a rush because there are two 20-month old girls in the other room about to wake up at any moment. I'm writing it carelessly and badly because I'm distracted by being furious with Bank of America, who recently raised the minimum balance on my checking account from $750 -- which was absurdly high to begin with -- to $1500, and informed me of this change with a note on my bank statement. Hello. I am a freaking busy person. I read my bank statement to make sure no one is stealing from me. I do not always read the extraneous writing on my bank statement, and sometimes I don't get to my bank statement for a while. I should have been notified of a change like this in a separate communication. The new minimum balance is BEYOND absurd, as is the $14 fee I was charged for dropping below that balance. I have resisted closing my BoA account up until now, despite numerous frustrations and insults like this one, because so many of my bills are set up to be paid automatically from that account, and changing those arrangements will be a big hassle. Finally, today, I am mad enough to close the account and reorganize all my bills.
USAian readers, if you're fed up with your big bank and are ready to move your money to a local bank or credit union, check out moveyourmoneyproject.org, which explains the benefits of investing locally and also has features to help you find and read reviews of local banks and credit unions in or near your zip code. Thanks, codename: Joe (who was nearby when I saw the Bank of America fee, and witnessed me losing my temper) for the link. It's one of the resources I intend to use to help me open an account with a banking business that won't make me feel like I'm being taken advantage of on a continuing basis.
Apologies again for the rush in which this post was written. And for souring my support of Writing the Other and Mitali Perkins's article with this bank rant. They deserve better.
The littluns are stirring. Better post this and go. ^_^
Thursday, April 21, 2011
PERSON 1: You could certainly drop the appendix.Here's what I'm wondering. Do you think they were graduate students or writers (or some such) talking about a document? OR, do you think they were surgeons, having a conversation about which organs it's acceptable to drop on the floor?
PERSON 2: Yes, the appendix!
I prefer the second option.
Anyway. I don't have a lot of time today, but I want to recommend two things: the Edward Gorey exhibit at the Boston Athenaeum. And, this blog post by Lesley Kinzel about her thoughts on the TSA, scanning machines, patdowns, and differences between men and women. (Thanks, B!)
Monday, April 18, 2011
Go to this page, turn up your sound, click on a few squares, and see what happens. Then click on more. Keep clicking! Write your name and see what it sounds like. Draw lines and grids. Draw the Grim Reaper! Draw flowers!
YOU ARE WELCOME. (Thanks, Jess!)
Moving on. The following is a public service announcement for people who are new to the activity of running/jogging. Newbie runners, in case you don't know: when given the choice between running safely on sidewalk or running safely on pavement, choose the pavement. If the choice is sidewalk, pavement, or dirt path, choose the dirt path. Please. Running is a high-impact activity. You cannot condition your body to it too slowly. Take it easy, take lots of rests for your joints and feet even if your heart is going strong; if you are new to the sport, do not run every day; listen to your body and don't run if it hurts; and choose the least-hard (safe!) running surface available to you. Things you inadvertently do to your joints now, even if it feels fine while you're doing it, have the tendency to come back back years later to haunt you. TRUST ME I KNOW.
This has been a public service announcement, inspired by many people I saw running on the sidewalk along Memorial Drive today, even though the paved road was closed to traffic and open to runners, and even though there's a dirt path along the river.
The rest of this post is about the movie 127 Hours, and I'm not going to say anything grisly, but if you've seen the movie and had a hard time with it, or if you don't want to hear about self-surgery, now is the time to stop reading.
I quite liked the movie, and was super-pleased that a film about a man stuck by himself in a canyon for 127 hours wasn't the least bit boring. James Franco was completely believable and sympathetic as Aron Ralston, the real-life adventurer who actually was trapped by a fallen boulder in a Utah canyon for 127 hours in 2003, finally escaping by cutting his own arm off with a blunt blade. I will say that just as advertised, the graphic parts are *extremely* graphic, such that some of the images -- one in particular -- were imprinted in my brain for about 24 hours after watching. I don't usually have a problem watching grisly things, so this is a testament to how grisly this thing was. I'm not surprised to read about people fainting, having panic attacks, or needing medical assistance while watching this movie, and I will warn you to take it easy if you're planning to watch it. If it's helpful, the most difficult part only lasts maybe 10 minutes, and it's very close to the end.
I like to read other people's reactions to movies to help me cement my own. I read a few reactions that made a big deal about the character's deep inner transformation and inner experience, and I can't say that I shared that reaction. I felt that Ralston as a person was dealt with rather shallowly, as was any personal transformation he underwent -- and please note that I'm not saying he was presented as a shallow person, nor am I saying that real-life Ralston was/is a shallow person (I don't know him, I haven't read his book, I have no idea what kind of person he is!). What I'm saying is that the character's inner life and outer relationships were dealt with rather shallowly by the writers of the movie. "I should answer the phone when my mother calls" and "I should leave notes when I go adventuring so people know where I am" are both important realizations (the latter being of life-and-death importance in this instance, obviously). "I'm a person who needs other people, I can't do everything myself, I'm not invincible, I take people for granted" can be profound, but at least within the 94 minutes of this movie, it was not the stuff of a fascinating character study. I'm fine with that. Ralston's physical experience is well more than enough to carry this story, and there can be no doubt that what he endured and then accomplished physically demonstrated an enormous emotional and mental depth and strength. This is a survival story, well-filmed and well-acted. It leaves you with your mouth hanging open in amazement at what Ralston physically survived, and what people in general are capable of.
(I was also a little amazed at my own abusive cheerleading. After he finally frees himself, he pauses for the merest instant to rest and recover from just having amputated his own arm. In that instant, I started yelling at the TV. "What are you doing? Don't just stand there! Gather your supplies and move! Move it, Aron!" I couldn't help myself. I was so desperate for him to survive, and it's not like he cuts off his arm and then everything is better. He's still in a canyon in the middle of nowhere all by himself, starving, dehydrated, bleeding, in terrible pain, and minus one climbing hand.)
It's a physical survival story, and I recommend it for that.
Relatedly -- if you're looking for a survival story in which the character, also based on a real-life person, demonstrates tremendous depth, intellect, conscience, and a (heartbreaking) inner transformation, I would say watch Into the Wild, about the wilderness trek of young Christopher McCandless, except -- and this is a spoiler, but it's an important one -- that is not a survival story. McCandless died on his trek. The movie is desperately sad in the end, but McCandless, as portrayed by Emile Hirsch, touched my own life. I felt privileged to know him.
127 Hours trailer:
Into the Wild trailer:
Thursday, April 14, 2011
So, a while back, I mentioned that I'm going to be in Australia in May. I now have events, dates, and locations!
Thursday 19th May at 17:30
Galaxy Books, 173 York Street, Sydney
I’ll be doing a book signing.
Friday 20th May at 18:00
Kinokunyia, 500 George Street, Sydney
I’ll be doing a talk, Q&A, and signing.
Sunday 22nd May at 11:30
Sydney Writers’ Festival
Sydney Dance Company, Studio 4, Pier 4/5, Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay
I’ll be ‘in conversation’ with Judith Ridge, and will do a signing at 12:30.
Friday 27th May at 17:00
Readings, State Library of Victoria
Palmer Hall, State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston Street, Melbourne
I’ll be ‘in conversation’ and do a Q&A and signing.
Saturday 28th May at 12:30 (note the time change)
The Emerging Writers’ Festival
Town Hall Melbourne, 90-120 Swanston Street
Panel: Going Global. How do Aussie writers fare overseas? We look at how to navigate the business of becoming a global success, and whether it’s more lucrative to sell to international or local markets. With Kathy Charles, Luke Devenish, Chris Morphew and me, hosted by Jacqui Dent. I will be speaking from the perspective of a non-Aussie writer, of course. :o). Presentations, panel discussion, and audience Q&A.
I'll let you all know if there are any updates or changes!
I could be on a panel. I have thoughts.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Here's a moment I love:
She had to get this right, and she was not sure how you did. "Well, here goes," she said.That's it. Maybe it doesn't look like much out of context, but that's the character of Sophie in a nutshell. She never knows for sure how to fix things (which is, incidentally, NEVER her fault), but that doesn't stop her from trying. I love that.
Diana Wynne Jones died on March 26, and my inbox has been filling with friends' favorite tributes to her. The Diana Wynne Jones obituary at the Guardian, by Christopher Priest, taught me about the fascinating life she led. Kirkus Reviews' tribute, by Deborah Kaplan, taught me that her books had a way of predicting her future. Bn.com's tribute, by Sarah A. Wood, goes into more detail about the books, and Neil Gaiman knew her personally.
Thanks to Amanda, Tui, and Anindita for the links.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
So. As I sat in my office swivel chair the other day, swiveling a bit (as one does), a hand appeared over my shoulder. I knew myself to be alone in the house, so there was only one explanation -- it was the ax murderer -- so I jumped and screamed, and even grabbed a pencil with which to STAB HIM TO DEATH.
Anyway. Turns out I'd just swiveled myself against my money plant tree, which was being friendly, not with hands, but with leaves. Which was QUITE a relief.
One of the things I haven't really gotten back on top of since I got home is my blog. Which accounts for the patheticness of this thrilling Ax Murderer? Or Overgrown House Plant? tale.
To redeem myself, here are a few things that made me really happy recently:
- A slideshow of beautiful walled cities. Need some inspiration for your writing? Take a look at these gorgeous sites.
- In a similar vein, a slideshow of "extreme castles."
- The FABULOUS soundtrack of the movie Taal, composed by A.R. Rahman.
- These four Michael Jackson songs covered by Snowblink on Daytrotter. Go to that link to hear clips from the most eerie, sad, beautiful covers of "Thriller," "Don't Stop till You Get Enough," "Human Nature," and "P.Y.T." -- and, if you're like me, put down four dollars to buy them right away.
Have a nice weekend, everybody!
Monday, April 4, 2011
Also, something my sister, codename: Apocalyptica the Flimflammer, does in her free time, which she's given me permission to share with you. Are you ready for this? The first one is inspired by a character from Madeleine L'Engle's A Wind in the Door. Meet Proginoskes (and click on any photo to enbiggify):
Here's what happens when she buys new sheets:
Recognize this Russian landmark?
This one's called Glad Bears:
This one's called Creature from a Dream:
This one's called Comb:
And here's a beetle:
*is so freaking proud*
These pictures are the property of my sister. Please do not gank them.
And that's all. :o)