Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Winter Edition of MiCrow -- "Spaces"

The winter edition of MiCrow is now up. The theme for issue #4: "void." My piece, "Spaces," was skittering around in a coffee cup before I heard the submission call. Glad it found a home here.

MiCrow #4

What a gorgeous issue. And free to download.

Read it, or Bobby Chiu's zombie bunnies will eat your fucking brains. (statement not endorsed by MiCrow, Mr. Chiu, or anyone sane)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Up At Powder Burn: And I Know

Now up at Powder Burn Flash: And I Know

Thanks to Aldo, editor, for featuring me, and for saying re: my submission, "Well that was a nasty little surprise to wake up to." Hehe. I love noir.


If you've got a minute -- actually, a minute and fourteen seconds -- take a look at this animated film over on Deviant Art: The Great Jump by *boum. It earned a well-deserved DD, and the ending... wow. Just watch.

Since DA has begun allowing film as a category, these short little gems are cropping up more and more. Glad to see it. An amazing category of art.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Book Review: "Bad Marie" by Marcy Demansky

All right, look. This won't be much of a book review. Honestly, this is probably the third in a string of books I hated. And I'm not going to bother delving deep into why I might dislike it. Let's keep it brief, okay?

Marie is thirty and fresh out of prison after serving a six-year stint for aiding and abetting. Her boyfriend robbed a bank and someone died, and then he picked up Marie and then they went to Mexico to hang out. The authorities found them, and she ends up in prison, and somehow, she doesn't mind this. So now she's out, doesn't talk to her mother, and her only choice is to see an old friend for help. Ellen is wealthy and needs a nanny. Marie moves in. She drinks whisky and eats chocolate and takes care of Caitlin, Ellen's 2 1/2 year old daughter. And she fancies Ellen's French husband, the idiotic Benoit Doniel. There's a scene in a bathtub, Marie is forced to leave, and then...

Marie makes an unending series of bad decisions which are barely decisions at all, as if she's just coasting along through events which are not her fault and which she doesn't understand. Pets die, movie stars are ridiculous, and there is a lot of macaroni and cheese. And then the book ends. See? Now you don't have to buy it.

As with Koja's "Under the Poppy," I will now reveal to you that this came rather highly recommended from a source I now find dubious, at best. Probably they -- and a lot of other people who apparently found book this "hilarious" and "irresistible" -- either have something in common with Marie or wish in some way that they could be like Marie. I am neither, and hence, I found nothing that reverberated with me. Possibly I am too fucking old to find this amusing. But I will say that the writing, and especially the voice, are wonderful. It was simply Marie herself that I wanted to kick and leave flattened on the curb, like a particularly sad creature from the book.


In good reading news, I started another book. It has short stories and poems by a single author, and having only read the first story, I am devastated. In the best way, I suppose. Review when finished, but the story alone ranks as one of the very best I have ever read.

However, there is definitely a current of sad loneliness, despair, and it appears I am in for more of that. I wish for another book like Wesley Stace's "Misfortune." After this next one, I am looking for some lighter reading, and something decidedly humorous. Suggestions welcome.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

3ww: The Curtain

The Curtain Rises

The applause of ten, a hundred, never seemed enough, even though he told himself he was only pandering to the basest instincts of the human animal. Still, he found himself, night after night, behind the heavy red curtain, listening to them shuffle in. Trying, when those curtains opened, to see through the stagelights, to feel their number out there, in the creaking, worn velvet seats. A spiritual head count, ending when he darted through the curtains once more, bowing to encores, his heart sinking even as he was awash in their purported admiration.

But now, tonight, he is stopped in the alley by a man in a black cloak, black top hat, shoes shining like puddles in the street after a four a.m. rain.

"Sir, if you would oblige me--"

"I don't do that anymore!" he snarls, feeling surreptitiously for the knife in his pocket.

"Ah, no," says the man. "I did not mean... It's just that I missed the performance, and I know it is too much to ask, but even a song -- no, a note. Just one. That's all I ask. If you wouldn't mind."

He cannot see the man's face. He looks around the alley. They are alone.

A soft, warbling note. It rises, clear as a distant bell, and then the alley is filled with it, this single note, the bricks sending it back to two men standing in their shadows.

When he stops, there is silence.

And then, applause. A slow hand-clap. And finally, the man removes his top hat.

"Sir, you do me the greatest honor," he says, voice trembling, husky.

The singer, player, actor, he advances. Pauses.

"No, it is you." He swallows, tries to keep, for once, the stage out of his voice, his mannerisms. Still in his performance garb, he is, for once, uncostumed. "You who do me the honor. Father."

A carriage arrives at the end of the alley. Carefully, awkwardly, the two men make their way to it. Inside, a silver flash of brandy, padded seats, and a short ride across town. And in the alley, a cat continues hunting, its coat sleek and dark.


Just a little something. I am maudlin and overly dramatic today. :) Thank you again to ThomG and the whole Three Word Wednesday community! The best promp comm on the web. Much love.

As always, comments, including con-crit, welcome.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book Review: "Under the Poppy" by Kathe Koja

Gorgeous cover art for Kathe Koja's "Under the Poppy," isn't it? When I first read a review of this work, I found out that Koja lives about 20-30 minutes from me. Then I saw the cover and was sold.

Or it might have been the references to brothels, sex puppets, homoeroticism, and Brussels. Whoo! That sounds pretty much like an RS homerun, wouldn't you think?

Or not.

Poppy is, in some ways, historical fic: Belgium in the 1870s, war coming, and besides a fair amount of political intrigue, there's a lot to do with social standing and the relative importance (or non) of women, gays, those with money, those with not. It takes off with a barn-burner of a scene: up in one of the private rooms at Under the Poppy, a rather specialized brothel, poor Pearl is being accosted by two men. Or is she? Manager Rupert Bok answers her screams, and all find out that Pearl's patron isn't who he seems.

It seems the prodigal son has returned. Or brother, or long-lost lover, depending on one's perspective. Now, against the backdrop of imminent war and a financial crisis, the Poppy is, essentially, under siege. And so, too, are the hearts of our three main characters: Decca and brother, Istvan, and their mutual friend and mutual love interest, Rupert.

And now things get messy, and unfortunately, not only in the plot.

I wanted to like this book. I wanted to love it. But at every turn, I found myself sighing with aggravation. Let me return to the inital review that caught my attention: Koja has written a fair number of books, and the reviewer seems to put the reason that she isn't a household name yet squarely in the territory of "subjects too strange and out-there for the average reader."

I hold the reason is something different entirely.

Yes, I'm aware that many people don't want to read a book whose main love interests are two men, nor do they want to read about puppets that perform sex acts on stage. But neither of those things is portrayed graphically, if at all. (a minor quibble from me, and undeserved, but nonetheless: WHERE was the sex? A shirt is unbuttoned and then... fade to black. Harrumph. Harrumph, I say!)

The problem, I believe, lies in Koja's writing itself. The author is a staunch supporter of the emdash, the run-on sentence, and most of all, the beloved head-hopping. While Cory Doctorow calls her writing "poetic," I call it a bleedin' mess. I had to stop quite often to figure out just who said what. And what is this? Same paragraph, different scene altogether? If the author was trying for an omniscient pov, I believe she failed. The voice never catches, and leaves one aggravated.

As, in fact, do her characters. While Decca made my heart ache, the two supposed stars of this show, Istvan and Rupert, did nothing. They both remained as insubstantial as the gauze on a performing whore's tits. Istvan, our master puppeteer and brilliant strategist, a man with a shady past and a flair for the dramatic, should have leapt off the page. And Rupert, supposedly a magnet for men and women alike, a man who does not understand his own massive sexual attraction -- er, I didn't understand it, either. And trust me, that man should've been right up my alley.

Add in an unrelentingly grim story, some obvious twists, and the regulation "and this is how they all lived afterwards" ending, and you've got an unsatisfying read.

The editor in me wanted desperately to clean this story up. It's already complicated enough, with characters designed to put on a good show; if Koja had stepped back and let the story tell itself, they would've been the star. Instead, I felt as if she was trying to be impressive. As if her true goal was to say: Look at me! Look at what a writer I am!

Now. I loves me some experimental literature. But it doesn't always work -- for me. And so I end this review on this note: Bryan Russell wrote an intriguing blog, You Hate Me and I'm Okay With That, which talks about writers being crushed when a reader disses their work. He uses JK Rowling as an example: despite selling 900 billion books, some people despise her work. About his own writing, he says:

not everyone will like my writing. It doesn't really matter how good I become, there will always be people who won't connect with it.

He goes on to talk about this subject, and I bring it up because, while Koja isn't a household name, people do love her books. For me, though, there was no connection at all.

But if you think, despite this review, that this book is intriguing, and you'd like to give it a read, let me know. I was going to put it into the box for the used book store, but it occurs to me that someone might love this book. If you think you're that person -- and you live in the US -- let me know. I'll be happy to mail it out to you.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lego Zombie Apocalypse; Crepes at Midnight

If the zombie apocalypse ever occurs while we are all Legos:

Holy fuck my feet are stuck to the ground!

There is something called Zombie Con? And I must now go to it? For rlz? YES.

Also, this is to get you ready for tonight's fourth episode of The Walking Dead. Of special interest: Kirkman wrote this episode. If I had a goatee, right now I would be stroking it as I contemplate this information. Also, I might be in a traveling circus.


Last night, B and I tried a new place for dinner, What Crepe? in Royal Oak. Crepey goodness. Not creepy -- crepey! Before I review, we got a certificate for $40 for only $10 on Living Social. Apparently, 700 other people did as well. No, really. They sold over 700 of them in 24 hrs.

So we took our certificate and got there at quarter to six, which is very nearly early bird time, but it was a good thing in this case, because by 7, when we were leaving, the place was packed and had a line waiting. Of course, I don't think they've got more than ten tables, and only a couple of them seat more than two, so it would be easy to fill the place up.

The restaurant is tiny, cozy, and filled with dark colors, chandeliers, comfy chairs, and a few antiques. The service was pefectly adequate and friendly enough. She did forget our appetizer, but that didn't matter: the dinner crepes are fairly large, and we barely had enough room after to split a dessert crepe. I had a glass of Wende chardonnary that was absolutely wonderful, although I would caution the drinkers among us that though they advertise a full bar, they don't have the most popular beers and wines. No Bud on this menu, no Sutter Home zine, and no, oddly, Bailey's for my coffee after dinner. Having said that, they're infamous for dazzling, delicious martinis, which I'll try next time around.

The crepes were slightly rubbery in spots, but considering how difficult it is to make them, I'll let it go. Besides that, the fillings are divine. B got the Mushroom Madness, with shiitake, crimini and white mushrooms, spinach, gruyere and a truffle zip sauce. I got the smoked salmon, with a dijon sour cream on top, avocados, capers, onions, and diced tomatoes. Fully enjoyed my crepe; the salmon itself was wonderful. Dessert was a crepe with Nutella on the bottom, just enough, topped with strawberries, bananas, and blueberries, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Nummy. And I had a coffee with hazelnut liqueur instead of the Bailey's.

Crepes don't run more than $9, and you can create your own. They offer a coffee press, martinis, and totally vegan options. If you are vegetarian/vegan, this is an awesome place to go. Open until midnight some nights, and we really want to go back on a Friday night: Friday's, dinner is by candlelight, and they show a black and white movie at 7:45. And on Wednesdays, it's $20 pp for unlimited wine and tapas-style sweet and savory crepes. Saturday nights is live music; last night was jazz musician Wendell Harrison.

We used our certificate and owed $5 more. What a bargain. And better yet, it did what they hoped: we'll be back. In fact, we can't wait.

Reviews on Yelp are overall good, though some people who went when What Crepe? first opened complained of poor service and some bugs in the system. That, people, is why you don't go to a restaurant when it first opens. Sheesh. Also, some guy complained that they have a lot of vegan/vegetarian options, and he thinks that's ridiculous and any place that caters to such idiots should be docked stars. Well. That might take the cake for most ignorant thing I've heard in a while.

We absolutely loved it. Truly an experience.


That's it, people. Zombies and crepes. Think about that.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Online zines ranked; My pipeline to the universe is porn

Short, Fast and Deadly editor Joseph Quintela tweets about Flavor Wire's list of the ten best online lit zines. S,F, a D didn't make it, but I agree: if there were a top twenty, JQ, it'd be there. Def.

I recognized half of the ten -- Pank, kill author, DecomP, anyone? -- but now have a few more to check out. Not sure about number one. Are its contributors really Matt Damon, Ben Whofleck, and Sarah Silverman? I... huh. Gotta think about that before clicking. Don't think I'm anything less than a media junkie and total TMZ follower, but this disturbs me. Could be that I've got this thing about circles in my world overlapping. All circles stay separate! There shall be no mixing!

Along with the questionable list at top, I found a blog by Tom Kepler, writer of flash fic, reviewer of online zines, and... instructor of transcendental meditation? For the moment, I'm ignoring that last part. I dig meditation; the whole world could benefit from a bit of that every day. But a blog of "consciousness" by an instructor of TM makes me slightly wary. Everybody and their brother has got a pipeline to the next dimension, a way to open your mind to the universal wavelength. For a fee. So, yeah, I'm wary. But since the blog isn't about that, but is actually totally interesting and very informative and well-written, I'm recc'ing it!

And besides, he's got a writerly, reviewerly blog with a side of peace-and-love, and I've got a writerly, reviewerly blog with a side of cocks!

This was on AOM. He has no idea what it's made of or who did it, but I'd say it looks like a very good Sculpey creation to me. Could actually be bronze and gold, but I doubt it.

It is definitely, however, a cock yin-yang. And that makes me happy. Something else that made me happy: AOM did a whole self-love series on Sunday. For once, I don't care that the guys are hot underwear models and not real men I'd meet on the street. Is there anything hotter than men masturbating? Not much.

For the people who are here because Joseph Quintela said my chapbook was a "stunning debut" and some other very nice things (that made me cry -- again!), or for the folks who are here because my review of "The Honey Month" has been linked somewhere literary, the above must be a shock. Let's end this, then, on a piece of micro-flash that didn't make it into "Letters":

Light Change
He beats off to beat the light. The long red at St. Mary’s and William is his favorite. Most days, it’s an exercise in frustration. He imagines the lights winking at him -- yellow a sly challenge, red a lone hard stare, an alien eye of denial. He tenses through the seconds, floors it on green, eager to meet his next conquest.
He rarely visits his mother. She lives a long, light-deficient stretch of road away.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Review: "The Honey Month" by Amal El-Mohtar

The premise of "The Honey Month" is deceptively simple: the author received twenty-eight imps of different honeys, and for each day of February, she sampled one. Each "chapter" is a day, with a description of the color, scent and taste of the honey, accompanied by a poem or story. Her descriptions are worth reading in themselves, but it is the stories that are at once strangely engaging and sometimes pure magic.

El-Mohtar is probably best known for her spec fic poetry, which abounds here, and her style translated into short stories becomes like some of the honeys: crystallized, complex sweetness. Something to be savored:

"... the time for coaxing sweetness from the world: sap from trees, scent from flowers. It needs to be tapped, to be gently drawn from its winter bed like a child on a chilly morning, sand in its lashes, dreams in the eye. It does not yet know itself to be sweetness; it is a snowdrop, not a rose." -- Day Three, Early Spring Honey, Sag Harbor, NY

The sweet lightness of many of her tales is sometimes underscored by a flash of darkness, but it melts on the tongue and is gone. She rises highest, in my opinion, when that darkness is given free rein. Day Eighteen, Manuka Honey: crows and medicinal-tasting honey, a story of a small child and a nighttime visit that gave me shivers. Day Twenty-Seven, Leatherwood Honey: an intriguing and deliciously dark take on what it means to give, to take, to bow one's head.

Although the volume is slim, I wouldn't recommend reading this all at once. Much like her tiny vials of honey, the days should be sipped, enjoyed. There are countless elegant turns of phrase, and descriptions apt and unusual. Accompanied by the beautiful artwork of Oliver Hunter, and with a gorgeous cover to boot, this is a book to be treasured. And best of all, this is not something you'll find on the shelves of Borders or other major chains. Published by Papaveria Press, this book is a rare gem, and a look at what major publishers are passing up (though I think El-Mohtar has quite the writerly career ahead of her).

Note: Amal El-Mohtar co-edits the online poetry zine Goblin Fruit, along with Jessica Paige Wick. Published quarterly, GF hosts some amazing spec fic poetry.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Alice Coltrane; two micro-flash

Alice Coltrane. Wife of John Coltrane. Pianist, organist, and jazz harpist. Via Madame Lamb, who asks you to seep into this mystical jazz. This is reckoning.

Two micro-flash written recently. It's good to have written something, let me tell you.

Out Of Tune

The percussion between my legs belonged in my heart, but no matter how he played it, I couldn't match up, note for note, moan for moan. Instead I laid on my sister's sofa and thought of her admonishing me, all those years ago, not to wear too much make-up. I'd look like a slut. And here I was, in four coats of mascara and enough Bonne Bell lipgloss to reflect the moon back at itself, a musician I'd just met at the bar atop me, crooning off-key in my ear. At least it sounded off-key. Everything did these days.

*originally written for Lily Childs's Friday Prediction. Each Friday, Lily gives you three words. You use them in a drabble, no more than 100 words, written in the comment box. The following Thursday, Lily picks a winner. I must say that the collection for this week's was outrageously strong. Superb collection, and it's well worth going over to see what everyone else wrote. Lily's blog here.

* * *


Six crayons left in the box. One of them says "Halloween," but it's brown. Another says, "Killer," but it's pink. One says "Fuzzy Chick," but it's green. I use them anyway, drawing on the back of the bathroom door until it's covered with a story about people in spaceships. When Shane sees, he takes away my crayons, and he yells. He tells me this is why I'm in here. Because I can't treat anything nice. But I'm quiet, and when I'm curled up in the bathtub later, Barbara comes in and puts the crayons in with me. She puts a finger over her lips. She kisses my forehead, and my temple, and my ear. She leaves, and the door locks, softly.

I eat the crayons one by one, so Shane can't take them away again. The last one is "Mink," and it's purple, and it tastes like the people in the spaceships.

*originally written for Killer Chicks for their Halloween contest. Three words, drabble must be under 150 words and written in the comment box, much like Lily's contest. Killer Chicks' blog here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Walking Dead -- reviews

Reviews, plural. Both graphic novel (through vol. 8) and the first two episodes of the new tv show, currently airing at 10 pm Sunday nights on AMC. Show's website here.

When I was a little RS, my mother would pick up nearly anything readable for me at yard sales. Among the things she picked up were the occasional horror comic -- I didn't really care for Batman and Superman and Hulk. But I did kinda like that Cryptkeeper...

Still, comics were never my thing. Every writer or voracious reader has a story like this, and mine goes: I read "Jane Eyre" for the first time (of many, many, many) at age 12. So, yeah, I like a lot of words. I like description. I like sinking my teeth into a novel.

And I love zombies.

So when Christopher Grant, editor over at A Twist of Noir, emailed to say, "I heard you like zombies. Ever heard of this?" I was skeptical but intrigued. He said, "You should probably just buy the Compendium, which is the first eight volumes." I said, "Yeah... think I'll just buy the first volume for ten bucks and see where it goes from there."

Two weeks later, I've devoured the Compendium, watched the first two episodes of the tv show, and I'm pretty much sending him obsessive emails about this. I called him a pusher. I'm not far off. This thing? It's like a drug.

You've heard this story before, or have you? Zombies rise up for unknown reasons, plague mankind, and now civilization is a fond memory and scrounging for food and thunking the heads off the undead is the rule of the day. There aren't many survivors.

Most movies and stories take you from day one, the outbreak, and lead you through to either the characters' deaths or the point where they realize this is a new world. The camera does a long, panning shot of a horizon, complete with drifting black smoke and crows. The end.

Not Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead." Here is where we start. Because this isn't about zombies. Zombies are, at their best and when used by a skilled writer, merely a metaphor. A vehicle. And Kirkman's use of them is a masterpiece. This is about what happens to people in extreme circumstances. Every page, you are confronted with a decision: what would you do? That's what he excels at.

The characters are presented with such subtly; Kirkman never panders to his audience. He expects you to be intelligent grown-ups here. He expects you can handle this, and maybe you can. I've had my moments of nearly not-handling it, but it's not his fault. He's imagined the possibilities in depth, and it all strikes home with truth and realism. Not everyone's a hero.

The Compendium is the first eight volumes. Volumes 9-12 are currently out and will be in my hot little hands soon, and volume 13 arrives in due course. In the first eight volumes, you'll follow (former, I suppose) sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes as he confronts this new world, fights to protect his family and to create a new, bearable existence, and sees a lot of shit go down. Be warned: there are some graphic moments in this graphic novel, and this ain't for kids. And there are a lot of things which just made me really uncomfortable.

But it's a great ride, and I look forward to finding out what happens next. This from the girl who's never really liked comics.

As for the tv show, weeeelllll.... I thought episode one (currently free on AMC's website) was great. I knew up-front that the show's producers had said they wouldn't be sticking to the book exactly, that they would be diverging in spots. And oddly, I, like most of this fandom, it seems, was very open to that. It was kind of exciting. And the changes to the initial story were small but meaningful, and whether I liked them or not, I was perfectly content with them.

And then I watched episode two.

I'm still grumbling.

Diverge? Okay, I'm not going to get started on a rant. I'll be giving this some time to play out, and I'm not giving up on it right now. But I ain't happy. On the plus side, this show looks great, the acting is fine, and it's been wicked cool to see iconic scenes from the book portrayed on the screen. It's already got an enormous fan base, and as Christopher told me, he'll be watching the show as an "alternate universe" from now on. That's good advice, and I'll get on board with that and see if it doesn't help my view.

That's it. Oh, one more thing: you get the Compendium and you'll be hooked. And when that happens, drop me a line, okay? I love dissecting this. It's a very immersive, rich experience, and one that begs to be shared.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

3ww: The White Bear

I haven't done Three Word Wednesday in a few weeks. Today's words called me back.


The White Bear

The bear's belly was slit open, a gaping, steaming hole through which I could see its treasure: two cubs, one brown, one white. I fell to my knees, sword abandoned by my side. Blood soaked the pine needles. My grief was immediate, for I remembered the dream of only last week: the white bear, rising up over me, its roar waking me and leaving me trembling amongst my furs in the dark.

And now I had slain it before it had ever grown to test me. I could never be tested now. I would never be a man.

"I did not know, I didn't know," I cried, pulling the white cub from its mother's belly. Crimson fur, closed eyes: I held the death of my dream.

But from within, a whimper. The brown cub lived! I rubbed the sleeve of my parka over it, and it opened tiny jaws and mewled like a kitten. Standing, I tucked the thing next to my own skin and I ran with it, sword on my back. My village was three miles away. I ran and ran.

From high in the branches of the cedars, an owl watched. And with a blink of yellow eyes, a slow, sleepy gesture, it called the moon, who called to a white bear far away on a mountaintop, muzzle deep in a caribou.

The bear stopped eating. And turning on huge paws, it began its descent. Down the mountainside.

To find its daughter.


Thanks to ThomG and the 3WW community. I appreciate you reading and your feedback.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Santa Gryff; Disney RSB--pic heavy post!

Santa Gryff would like to remind everyone that there are 47 days until Christmas.

He says if you want to stuff his stocking, he likes Pounce, and not those other cat treats. Specifically, not kitty Greenies and none of those icky Taste Temptations. Also, he says that if any ladies out there would like Santa Gryff to sit on their lap, he is very warm and very purr-y. Yes, he's got claws and he uses them, but love hurts.


Pics from my trip (and wow are they totally random):

Best shot I could get of Billy Ocean performing at the open theatre in Epcot's World Showcase, where they present different perfomers every few nights for Eat To The Beat during the Food and Wine Festival. Okay, I could've got up closer, but I was all a-giggle and a-wiggle. First off, Billy Ocean is an amazing performer, and he sounds exactly like he did in the 80s. Unbelievable. He was dressed impeccably, and he's got great white dreads. He really put on a great show, sang all his hits, and he would lean down to take roses from the ladies in the front. He would even go down the steps from time to time and sing to a lucky lady and kiss her on the cheek! I thoroughly enjoyed this show. Wanna feel old? Yesterday, while listening to America's Top 40 Countdown from 1984 (via Sirius channel 8), "Suddenly" was the #3 hit.


Upcoming, they had Boyz II Men. Yes, I am sad I missed them. "And we've come! To the end of the road... though I can't let go..." *sigh*

Cucumber margarita had at the Tequila Cave in Mexico's pavilion. I highly recommend this place and this margarita, and I overheard quite a few people saying that this is the best bar in Disney. Totally. Only tequila (over 300) and margaritas, but seriously, do you need more than that? Next time, I'm having the passion flower.

Hollywood Tower of Terror. My favorite ride. Remember not to do your seat belt tight -- keep it loose, so when you drop, you'll lift off the seat a couple of inches. *grin*

Me and Arnold. Planet Hollywood shop. They had a gremlin and various movie props, but I loves me some Terminator.

Every day, Jiuliana who cleaned our room made us new towel animals. Not actually sure what the two little ones are here, but the middle is probably a basket of flowers. With eyes.

Me and B on the boat over to Wilderness Lodge for dinner at Artist's Point. Beautiful evening, great ride, the Lodge is stunning, and dinner was OMG so expensive and... maybe not worth it. B disagrees entirely. I just think that it was far, far over-priced for what you got. A menu with emphasis on fresh game and fresh, seasonal ingredients is wonderful, but the creativity was seriously lacking and I was not in any way wow'd by my choices. They were competent and delicious, but did not reach the next level, if you know what I mean. Still, it's the highest rated (per reviews) of any signature dining restaurant at Disney, and the service was fabulous. Could've been slightly warmer, and the atmosphere could've been a bit... more. It was sort of blah. Meh. Everyone's a critic, right? If you're interested, we shared smoky portobello soup and then I had cedar planked salmon with white truffle chips, and B had a buffalo steak cooked r/mr. We shared a berry cobbler for dessert.

Waiting to go into the Toy Story ride/competition. Much like Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, you sit two to a car and shoot at things. But we both preferred the Space Ranger Spin over this one. Personal preference, I guess, but I didn't like to have to keep pulling the string to fire. I'm a button masher. Either way, B racked up the points, and I sucked. :)

Vampire bat in its enclosure in Animal Kingdom's walk-through "forest" in the Asian section. My favorite part of AK is all the animal stuff: the safari, the two walk-throughs, and Rafiki's Conservation Station. I could really just do those things all day, over and over. I wish they had more benches, as I just love to sit and watch the animals. Favorite: gorilla. Second fave: tiger/vampire bats. Couldn't decide.

Expedition Everest, roller coaster in AK and my favorite ride in that park, and my second favorite overall. Goes backwards, and the theming is just fun. Also, they have a single rider line and I will totally use that over and over, riding Everest four or five times in a row before I get tired, while people are still waiting for their first ride. The only benefit of having a partner who doesn't ride the coasters.

Some decorations inside Magic Kingdom. Very nice overall, but they do so much more for Christmas.

Pool at our hotel. They had a waterslide. We loved it. Also loved the nachos and the pool bar. We made nachos and frozen rum runners our afternoon treat.

That's it! We've been to Disney a few times before, so we didn't take a ton of pics this time. Highlights of the trip, for me: Billy Ocean, the Thunderbirds doing a fly-over at Magic Kingdom to salute our troops, finding a new little part of Disney that we hadn't seen before, dinner at the Irish pub in Downtown Disney called Raglan Road, and indulging in things I normally don't, such as having nachos four times in a week, a rum runner every day, and hot fudge sundae in a waffle bowl several times. Also, they upgraded us from a regular room to a suite -- for free! -- and that turned out to be wonderful. Two full bathrooms, now that is a luxury. :)

Back to writing for me, and to my normal job. Happy Monday, everyone!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Seven Unrelated Items, but there is beer

I haven't really blogged in a bit, so you're getting a witch's cauldron full of spicy ingredients here! Don't worry, I'll number them. I'm quite organized.

In random order:

1. I've now caught up reading over at Erin Cole's 13 Days of Horror, and the scariest story is: Chris Allinote, Frosted Glass. Tightly written, controlled, and fucking scary as hell. I haven't been that -- yes -- horrified in ages. Less than a thousand words, I'd say, so give it a read. Chris is a great writer. I may have to stalk follow.

2. A new, fun little writing exercise: Lily Childs's Friday Prediction. The prompts are three words, your piece must be under a hundred words, and it must be written in the comments. Mine's up. First good thing I've written in two weeks, if not longer.

3. Speaking of writing: today is zombie day! I've got the day off (back tomorrow, though), and first I'm going to catch up on reading the graphic novel, The Walking Dead. Then I'm going to finish the last two thousand words of my already-8,000 word "short" story, untitled zombie fic. Later tonight, I'm watching the series premiere of The Walking Dead, which first aired this past Sunday on AMC. It's been called a "blockbuster" for the network, and people everywhere in the blogosphere seem to be talking about it. I've been avoiding the talk for now, but I'm sure I'll be ready with both book review and a review of the tv show sometime this weekend.

4. Earlier this week, I attempted eggplant again using A.S.'s tips. B and I LOVE LOVE LOVED it, so hearty thanks to A.S., and here is what we did: cut off ends and outer skin of eggplant. Sliced into strips, about the width/thickness of a ruler. Drizzled olive oil on a baking sheet. Dipped eggplant slices first in egg, then dredged through the following mixture: panko (Japanese bread crumbs), red and black ground pepper, oregano, sea salt. Placed strips on sheet, baked for about half an hour at 350, mostly because I was doing other things and didn't pay attention to them except to flip about halfway through and used a spray olive oil to keep them slightly moist. They came out wicked crispy and delicious, and we put them on pasta with marinara. We ate all of them, even after we ran out of marinara sauce. Crunch, crunch, crunch. Thanks, A.S.!!!!!

5. Bryan Russel, aka Ink, over at Alchemy of Writing has an interesting post today: the one-pass manuscript revision. His post is based on this quote:

“Doing a seventeenth revision on a project does not make a writer an artist or move him above the writer hoi polloi any more than dressing entirely in black or wearing tweed jackets with leather elbow patches or big, black drover coats. These are all affectations, and smack of dilettantism. Real writers, and real artists, finish books and move on to the next project.”

                   -- Holly Lisle, Vision: A Resource for Writers, May-June 2002

Hallelujah for this. I can't tell you the number of writers I've seen who wrote something last year, two years ago, three... and they're still querying agents and revising. Again and again and again. Stop revising! Write something new! Hey, maybe your ms is truly a gem and no one else is seeing it, or maybe you're just polishing a turd (a lovely phrase I've heard so much in the last week on writer's forums). How do you know which is which? You don't. So move on.

Better, more intelligent, thinky-thoughts on Alchemy of Writing. Bryan is a master of the essay and creative non-fiction; I highly rec this blog.

6. Why I have not answered your email or written much in the last week:

Gryff, laptop monster. "Oh, u no want to pay attention to me? I fix that."

Okay, also, I did have the constant pain and headache. It lessened each day, and I feel pretty good today, hence the blogging at great length and plans to write zombie fic.

7. Another pic from my trip, and then I'm signing off FOR REAL:

We go to Disney this time of year specifically for the Food and Wine Festival. In the World Showcase section of Epcot, they have arrayed a number of free-standing little pavilions, all from different countries, and each has a couple of different entrees, desserts and drinks from their country, all served in small sample portions and usually less than $5. New this year to the festival was Belgium, which had the best freakin' little mini-waffles with a fresh berry compote on top. OMG OMG OMG. And this is a pic of me in front of Germany, because I am of half-German descent (the Bohn part).

The U.K., for those wondering, was represented by a "fisherman's pie," which was supposed to be like shepherd's pie in that it was a saucy little stew of lobster and fish topped by mashed potatoes. Quite nice, not spectacular. I had it with a Guiness -- and why do they think that only Guiness represents the beers of the U.K.? I do not know -- and then we had a plate of Irish cheeses and brown bread. I don't care for cheese, so have no idea if they were any good, but the bread was rather hearty and nom nom nom with delicious Irish butter.

"America", btw, was represented by a selection of Sam Adams beer (HELL YES BEST BEER IN THE WORLD), a passable lobster roll, and chocolate cake. I have loved Sam Adams since I was old enough to drink and they were fairly new and specific to the New England region, where I grew up. Their lager is still the best I've had, and their Octoberfest is really, really good. But most amazing of all is that Sam Adams Lite actually tastes wonderful. There's not another lite beer that can compete.

That is all! I'm going zombie! Once you go undead, you can't go back!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pushcart Prize; The entire world is made of rubber, or I am on a tiny boat

You know what? I am the worst person in the world to tell a secret to. Upon hearing the words, "Don't tell anyone!" I immediately go into spastic mode. Running around, lips moving. Telling my imaginary friend. Bursting to call someone, you know, in the real world. Babbling to my dogs.

So I am quite proud of myself for keeping this secret for a whole, oh, less than 48 hours:

"Letters" is a Pushcart Prize-nominated work.

You can see who from SFaD and Deadly Chaps was nominated here.

And here is a link to the Pushcart organization itself:

The Pushcart Prize - Best of the Small Presses series, published every year since 1976, is the most honored literary project in America. Hundreds of presses and thousands of writers of short stories, poetry and essays have been represented in the pages of our annual collections.

Writers who were first noticed here include:

Raymond Carver, Tim O’Brien, Jayne Anne Phillips, Charles Baxter, Andre Dubus, Susan Minot, Mona Simpson, John Irving, Rick Moody, and many more. Each year most of the writers and many of the presses are new to the series.

Holy shit, right? Look, I know I haven't got a snowball's chance in hell, but this is seriously one time when saying, "It's an honor to be nominated" is true, true, true.

Recently overheard in our house: "Pushcart nominees don't have to pick up the dog poop!" "Hey! You don't use that tone of voice with a Pushcart nominee, mister!" "The Pushcart nominee would like another can of Coke, please." Poor B. In short: he lives with a writer. We all know what that means. Just his luck he got one of the crazier ones.

We also know this, don't we, fellow writers: After the inital excitement, it's back to "I am terrible! I should never write again!"

Regarding other, less-braggy blog posts and pics from my trip: I hurt my neck on a roller coaster this past Friday, and I've been having nearly constant bouts of vertigo, which makes me nauseous, and yesterday was about 24 hours of the worst headache I've ever had. I've never had a migraine in my life before, but I'm sure that's what it was. It was horrific. Feeling better today, but I haven't been reading anything at all for days, much less writing, and I'll get to sorting through pics soon. Here is one:

I am pretending to be frightened of the giant grasshopper. Or whatever it is. Seriously, though. Giant bugs. WHY. What is their purpose? Also, I need to lose a few pounds. Le sigh. I like to eat. Had nachos four times in Disney, and a hot fudge sundae in a waffle bowl four times. Three frozen chocolate-covered bananas. And a huge-ass cucumber margarita. Taste buds -- the most important buds of all.

La la la! See you soon! After I recuperate a bit and take more Advil! Send lattes!