Saturday, March 31, 2007

Lumberton, North Carolina

Should be named Billboardton, North Carolina.

Friday, March 30, 2007

St. Augustine -- I See the Lousy Parts So You Don't Have To

If you've been to Europe, it's hard to be too blown away by St. Augustine, but if you're with people who like to walk around alot, why not? I found the grounds of most of the museums to be nicer than the actual buildings and exhibits. But the Castillo de San Marco was pretty cool. Great views of Anastasia Islands and the port. I think the main thing is to stay in St. Augustine, at an inn or something. We're staying at a Hampton Inn right off I-95, so it's not quite the same. On the tourist trolley going through the city, I noticed a bunch of places I wish we had time to visit and regretted spending so much time at the "Fountain of Youth" (which is only cool b/c they have albino peacocks and lovely grounds) and the Old St. Augustine Village, which isn't that old (and is only nice b/c of the gardens, and honestly, considering how expensive tickets are, probably not worth the price). Cheaper would be walking and windowshopping through downtown St. Augustine, down George and Spanish Streets, and checking out the Flagler College grounds, which used to be gorgeous hotels. So if you go, stay at an inn on Avenida Menandiz and skip the Old Jail, no matter what anyone tells you.

We're driving up to Lumberton, NC, tomorrow. I just ate a huge chunk of mint Oreo bark I didn't even like very much. And it's raining. Now you know what kind of day (and what time of the month) it's been. I just took an Arthritis Tylenol since no others were available. Hopefully, that will not prove to have been a huge mistake on my part.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"my" "life"

Sometimes when I'm running to catch a bus hijacked by Neo-Nazi fascists on which my only living relative, my 5 year-old precocious niece Gina, is a passenger, or I'm revealing the secret of the slightly smelly gray depression in my backyard to a gang of teenage detectives who are convinced I killed their principal when really they should be chatting up the Western civ teacher who hasn't been quite right in the head since he fell down that elevator shaft two years ago, sometimes in these normal day-to-day activities, I feel it -- a big black presence looming over me, and I can see the darkness out of the corner of my eye, and I wonder if my optometrist is in league with the IRS agent-cum-amateur wizard who cursed me with poor vision as a child because my mom didn't pay her taxes. And then I realize it's just my personal sound boom, getting in my frame of vision again. It never ceases to amaze me the kind of shoddy workmanship you get from people who answer your ad on Craig's List and are willing to be paid solely in future signed first editions of the book that has yet to be published...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Six Word Stories

The Guardian always has such lovely ideas (even if they are Hemingway in origin). Unfortunately, they forgot to email me for my six word story (I count hyphenated words as two words, though apparently that was up to the writer in the Guardian piece), so I'll just post a few "genre" stories I wrote here. Enjoy!

She swallowed. She puked. It squirmed.

Long-lost twins. (Explosion!) Which survived?

Squabbled. Global warming. Revelation. Too late.

Circus comes. Tornado appears. Town saved.

Lost compass. Mutant kangaroo. Returned bald.

Self-sacrifice? Didn't save senator's son.

Peasant today, king tomorrow, beheaded Friday.

You got any?,,2041548,00.html

probably won't interest you at all but...

Much to my great joy, I realized my novel will reach 50,000 words in less than 17 pages, which will be about page 172, far fewer than the 200-225 page goal I have envisioned (my novel takes place over three days, and while there are flashbacks galore, I don't want the three days to seem eternal, and so the book must be breve). 50,000 seems to be the recognizable minimum for a novel, which in general I think is ridiculous. A story shouldn't be more or less long than necessary to tell the story you've set out to tell. So many books are bloated by the publishing industry standards, and this, I believe, is the reason we don't have any masterpieces. If your story requires 900 pages, then take 900 pages. If it requires 150, that should work, too. So many great novels are either novellae or huge monsters, and I am much more willing to decide if I like a writer by what they can do in a short space than I am to take on a tome without knowing whether it will be worth it. Anyhow, mine will most certianly be in the low-mid 200s.

The Discovery Channel coopted the BBC's Planet Earth documentary, which is absolutely breathtaking. This is the sort of stuff I live for, and while I'm sure it must be absolutely mental to have live in a tent for several days praying a motion sensor will alert you to the activity of some rare animal or other, that would be such a great job, though I think the sweeping panoramas of the mountains, deserts, and such would be more my cup of tea. God bless the British for going out and spending five years on this amazing series. I was a bit put off that there wasn't a woman in sight in the filming of this documentary, and I wonder why that's the case. I looked at IMDB, and I saw two female names on the production and editing end, but I'm still curious as to who made up the actual crew of cameramen... Anyhow, check your local listings and see how awesome our planet is and why we should do everything necessary to preserve it.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

all is forgiven

As a wee lass of only 13, I had the misfortune of taking a film class at a camp that thought it proper to show me Tarantino's From Dusk til Dawn. I was utterly scarred, and I have never quite gotten over it, despite my great love of Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. But now all is forgiven, what with this delicious quote from EW's feature of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's favorite movie posters (the bold is mine).

Tarantino picks: Thriller (a.k.a. They Call Her One Eye) 1974)
In 2003, Tarantino told EW this Swedish revenge flick provided the primary inspiration for his Kill Bill, and was directly referenced in Daryl Hannah's one-eyed assassin. ''They actually have XXX scenes in the movie,'' said the director, who gave it to Hannah to watch. ''And Daryl said, 'Quentin! You gave me porno to watch as homework!' I was like, 'They're only certain scenes. And they weren't sex scenes. They were just degrading.'''

You can check out the poster here.,,20015648_6,00.html

bad behavior

Went out and bought John Dos Passos' The 42nd Parallel (first book in the U.S.A. trilogy) and read a bit of it, already entranced. Also Craig Ferguson's Between the Bridge and the River. I'm surprised more comedians aren't novelists because good comedy and good literature (and good music for that matter) is all about beat, timing, pacing, knowing when to spring something on the audience and when to hold back. Actually, I think comedians should be allowed in the Writer's Guild, even if they don't publish their work. Theirs may be a largely spoken word medium, but they write everything beforehand -- they operate on a script of their own devising, so let'em in, I say! Comedians need health insurance, too!

I also saw Reign Over Me yesterday, largely because the last scene was filmed across from the apartment building on the Upper West Side where I babysat last year. I knew it was an Adam Sandler film, but had I known it was a serious Adam Sandler film co-starring Don Cheadle, I would have chucked my kids over and gone to stalk Don Cheadle because he's a really fine actor. Anyhow, the film was better than I expected from the subdued reviews it received. Yeah, it's two hours long, yeah, the subplot with crazy Saffron Burrows is bizarre and forced, but at the end of the movie, I asked myself, "Am I happy I spent six dollars to come see the matinee of this movie?" and the answer was, "Yes." Cheadle and Sandler have a good thing going together, and for all its faults, its worth the intense little trip.

Page 155. I must reach 160 by Thursday morning. This is my goal. I ain't leaving Sarasota without 160 pages, whether they suck or not. I'm trying to put in a bit of fun stuff, a bit of the ridiculous, because let's face it, life is ridiculous, and personally, I'm exasperated to the point of banging my head against cymbals at least every other day, despite my solitary sort of life, and I imagine if your family were falling apart, and you were criminals, or the child of criminals, or the hostage of criminals, you might be a bit exasperated too. And nothing really reflects that quite so well as the media, so there you are.

I bought two postcards from the Ringling Museum last Monday of paintings I found particularly striking. Since I am sure there are copyright problems with inserting pictures of them, I will simply direct you to Google or otherwise check out Moonlight Landscape, by Joseph Wright of Derby, and Roman Courtship, by Sir William E. Reynolds-Stephens, for a bit of art appreciation.

Friday, March 23, 2007

skedaddle is a good word

Common trait of my dreams: I attempt to go somewhere without my shoes on. Or I lose my shoes en route. While this trait is not exclusive to dreams in which I am in an airport and about to leave the country, it is rare that I have an airport dream without the accompanied loss of shoes, baggage, and/or passport in tandem. Last night, I had my first municipal airport dream, in which I was the pilot. The airport was also a stable, but that's neither here nor there. When I realized I had to run and go to my plane, I left without my shoes, and then had to go back, at which point I put on my shoes, and then had to dodge a parade of tiny planes landing in Madeleine-straight lines to varying degrees of success.

One more week in Florida. Seriously, what am I going to do between Easter and my dad's wedding? Ugh.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Interview Questions No One Ever Asks (Unfortunately)

Do you prefer rocking chairs or chairs that simply stand there, motionless and, let's be honest, kind of snooty?

Don't you think your oeuvre's a little small and insignificant to warrant a Nobel Prize?

Kierkegaard: bitch or son of a bitch?

How do you conceal all that dandruff when you're on location?

As a Republican do you actually drink the blood of little children or just gargle?

Is it true that all your colleagues hate you because you have a tendency to throw drinks in their faces at release parties you weren't invited to in the first place?

That half-sulfuric, half-skunk smell, is that coming from you?

Why do you think knocking up that poor actress and then leaving her for a supermodel hasn't visibly damaged your career?

Where did you buy those clothes, Sux Fifth Avenue?

Seriously, where did you get the drugs you were taking when you decided to star in Death to Smoochy and how much did they cost? You know, besides your dignity...

How do you not see how ugly your children are? Are you sure they're yours?

Have you actually listened to your music? Don't you think God's kind of pissed at you for all this "bitches" and "ho" stuff you keep singing? When you go to hell, who would you like to room with?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Last night I killed a lion. It was following a group of older people, and they were hoping if they ignored it, it would leave them alone. So I broke off a piece of a sapling and stabbed the lion and then strangled it. None of the older people helped me, and it took a long time to kill the lion, who I wasn't particularly afraid of (it was fairly docile, though its ill intentions towards the older people was, to me at least, obvious), and I certainly didn't have anything against. Honestly, I was mostly irritated that I wasn't getting any assistance in the matter.

Let that be a lesson to you. If I am ever killing a lion to help save you, if you are not physically impaired, you'd better not just stand there and chat, or I will not be happy with you.

Monday, March 19, 2007

strange things

strange thing 1: my grandparents insist on using the speaker option for the house phone, so we can hear what they're saying all over the house -- now speaker is what you use when your hands are full. my grandparents' hands are never full.

strange thing 2: when we use the house phone to call someone, the wireless goes down. when someone calls from outside, this does not happen. or maybe it's a speaker-related issue.

What I like:
banyan trees
miniature mechanical circuses (a la the one I saw today at the Ringling Bros. Museum today)
Conde Nast Traveler magazine
London, no matter what New York magazine says

what I don't like:
how much work I'm NOT getting done

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Why I'm A Bad Person...

I've never seen an episode of Dancing With the Stars, but I have seen the recent ads for the next season, and every time Heather Mills says, "My main concerns are -- keeping my leg on..." I get the giggles. Holy crap is that funny.

What's Your Favorite Disaster Film?

I admit it. I'm a sucker for a good disaster movie. Man against the elements, particularly the kind of elements that hurtle giant trucks, cows, and/or fireballs at the hero/heroines. Heck, I'll even watch a bad disaster movie. Ex: Volcano last week and, right now, The Day After Tomorrow (I'm also watching bits of Final Destination 2 during commercials).

The best disaster film of all time? I think it's Twister, with Independence Day and An Inconvenient Truth rounding out my top three (don't think Al Gore's doc counts -- you clearly haven't seen it). The non-docs succeed to me because of their sense of humor. But I also admit to a secret love of Daylight, though I watched that on a giant drive-thru style screen at an isolated camp in the woods of Maine at the age of 13. I have sincere doubts as to how it holds up 8 years later. But I remember being on the edge of my seat.

What's your favorite disaster flick? War films don't count, and if you write Titanic, I will make nasty comments about your mother. Just a warning.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I don't have much of a desire to rant today. I think I'm just going to read Baudolino and play mini golf with my grandparents.

Baudolino is fascinating because I'm reading this "faked" history in translation. While William Weaver gives us some fine prose, the parts where he has to translate poetry or song must be literal translations because they are utterly lacking in musical quality -- while I assume this to be a Weaver problem, not an Eco problem, I could be mistaken. Unfortunately, I don't have any Italian Eco on hand, so I don't know that I'll be able to resolve the question anytime soon.

I recently read these "guidelines" on the dos/do nots of writing, and while none of them are exactly revelatory, I have yet to find a piece of good, even great, literature that does not indulge in one of those "do nots" from time to time. Tell me if I'm wrong, but I think at the end of the day, if you've written something you can read out loud with pride, then you've done well.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Problem With This, Right Here

You know how when you think you've escaped some stressful stupid crap by moving several states away and engaging in Zen-like behavior and conscientious workmanship? And then, it comes back to bite you through this horrid thing we call the Internet. Maybe blogging is a stupid idea. You want to send something out into the cosmic void so you know your voice is being heard by somebody, but UNFORTUNATELY, there are alot of voices in that void, and they're all screaming, and God forbid one of these Google geniuses could have come up with a filter. Wouldn't it be nice if Gmail just refused to send you angry emails, including your own, the ones you're likely to regret later anyway? Granted that would be censorship and privacy infringement and a whole other mess of bad stuff, but I wouldn't mind. Because people blow. Lots and lots of people. Blow. Including me. And I can't erase history. I can't even erase my friggin' online history. I have to think about my future every time I write down a Goddamn thing. In what light will this post throw me in 2027? Do I really want to meditate upon the worst possible swear word? Do I really want to call (insert name of bad actor here) a douchebag? What if he becomes president someday? Could I be tossed in jail under the Patriot Act?

Stupid, stupid, stupid. People are so nasty to each other. Why can't we all just get along? Huh? Why? Don't roll your eyes when I'm talking to you! Come back here! Come back here! Fine, I didn't want to hear what you had to say anyway. Bitch.

Page 134 -- Hoorah!

Hey, sports fans*,

So I'll be driving the majority of the Eastern Seaboard thrice in the next month or so, once with my g-rents, and once round-trip with my mother and sister, so here's a question: what would you recommend taking a looky-loo at during our great journey North (and then South, and then North again). I'm talking spots unheralded in your typical tourist book. My sister and I are avid photogs, so we'd be terribly grateful for any suggestions of strikingly weird places.

Also, good news, a prosy poem I wrote entitled "Palms" is going to be published in a snazzy little online journal come summer. I'll give you the details when it gets closer to that fine June day.

As a gift, to celebrate the Ides of March, I'd like to leave you with this awesome Halloween picture of my mother and stepfather to relish. How my sister managed to keep the camera from shaking with laughter remains a mystery to me.

*Yes, I'm quoting Champ Bear from The Carebears. What's your point?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


OK, so you knew I was going to see this movie despite the critical drubbing, out of love for Gerard Butler. And I did go see it last night, nauseous with trepidation.

Before we go into the movie's flaws (of which I don't think many of the critics were clear), I would like to point out the good parts. Gerard Butler is, of course, hot. So are all the Spartans. Michael Fassbender, I don't remember you in Band of Brothers, but you better believe I'm going to go rewatch it now because you were absolutely fantastic. The funny thing is that it's kind of a long music video, so when they stop for dialogue that isn't screamed, THAT feels out of place. Still, the dialogue that isn't "a civics lesson" as Newsweek so aptly described it is pretty good and funny, mostly the stuff cribbed from Herodotus, who is a great read. I recommend The Histories to anyone, just because Herodotus is the most readable and entertaining of the ancient prose writers. The fight scenes are very good, as is the music. Lena Headey's dresses are also quite nice.

the voice-over/storytelling aspect is too much -- waaaay too much
Rodrigo Santoro, who is so dull and misused on Lost, is unrecognizable, extremely tall, and very weird as Xerxes. I'm not saying he didn't nail Xerxes as a character, but the character itself is very weird
a crippled hunchback seeking revenge is the downfall of the 300 -- that makes me uncomfortable; Dominic West plays an asshole and does it well -- that makes me more
the political overtones: sure, Leonidas and his men are bitchin' soldiers who know how to fight, are defending freedom, and all that crap, but they're also completely insane and Leonidas, while brave, is also extremely proud, so proud that he's willing to die and let all of his soldiers die rather than bow down to Xerxes -- and then there are the other Greeks, who go along with the Spartans, except they're not as good soldiers (they have lives, you know, and real jobs) and they also care about their lives -- they're killed faster, but they also get the hell out of there when they realize they're doomed; there's no shame in living to fight another day, but try and tell Leonidas that
what metaphors one takes away from that are up to the audience, though it doesn't help that the one voice of Spartan reason against war on Xerxes also happens to be a traitor (if that was supposed to inspire liberal guilt, it sure worked), and the black-and-white, Leonidas is right, Xerxes is evil, the government needs to support its soldiers, no questions asked, and the rest of the Greeks are kind of wusses... it's hard not to feel the pinch
however, this isn't then, and America isn't exactly an underdog... of all people, the Iranians shouldn't be offended by the movie -- they should just ignore it; it's silly and has nothing to do with them now
it's silly -- the movie is very melodramatic and very silly

I would say, if you like Gerard Butler, go see it. If you can ignore the voice-over and the lame "freedom at all costs" propaganda, you'll have a good time.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Riches grift my book

So the show stole my epileptic child idea. But mine is a real epileptic child. So I should be alright. Ugh. Gotta finish this before I have to rewrite the whole goddamn thing.

On another note, it's friggin' good television.

Don't Husk With Me

Badass expressions don't make up for the fact that the front man is brandishing A CORN COB.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Post 100

Brought to you by Kashi's Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Cookies, the best cookies on earth when you only want one cookie and you want to pretend you care about your health! Let it be known that my grandmother thinks they taste like cardboard, but that's only because she's old and doesn't know anything. Love ya, Grams!

Also, if, like me, you weren't blown away by the first season of Extras, yet continued to watch it because, let's face it, you watch too much TV, and now no longer have access to HBO, several of the Season 2 (and last season! no!) episodes are available on youtube (I only found the Daniel Radcliffe, Orlando Bloom, and Chris Martin ones, sliced up but fully present). Absolutely brilliant.

Partial Recall

Oh, now I remember. My aunt or my uncle or my grandparents or someone INSANE bought Williams-Sonoma Winter Forest hand soap, so now everytime I want to wash my hands I have to prepare myself for the fact that my hands will now smell like I've just cut down a Christmas tree. Now people scrub for an hour to get the tacky pine sap off them after cutting down a tree and hauling it home, and even if they manage to remove the stubborn adhesive, the smell lingers. It's okay in the living room where it belongs, but on your hands? No one enjoys that. NO ONE. Stupid hand soap.

Also, I forgot to add Love in the Time of Cholera to my list (it was hiding in my computer bag, so I forgot about it).

The War on Describing Stuff

If you happen to be a grammar fiend like myself, or have anything approaching an interest in linguistics or the craft of writing sentences that will not be scorned by present and/or future generations, I suggest moseying on over to the NY Times Sunday Book Review and perusing the "first chapter" of When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It by Ben Yagoda. The book promises to do one the disservice of making me uber-conscientious of my use of adjectives (why aren't my nouns strong enough? why not use an adjectival phrase instead -- or better, a verb that says what the adjective only pokes at? Blast!). Speaking of which, I wonder if Ben's book will address the use of foreign adjectives in English language (example: uber), which is equal parts annoying and addictive. Yet another book I have to get and read.

Aside from the books I should be studying as I "work" on my thesis and that whale book, which teems with choice adjectives, the current lit awaiting my attention here in Sarasota, FL (all of which, I might add, are recent acquisitions -- though the Doctorow's just a loan) are as follows:

A Fine Line by Rohinton Mistry
The March by EL Doctorow
My Life as a Fake by Peter Carey
Baudolino by Umberto Eco
Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne

By the way, Saul Bellow's a big-time adjective abuser, though deployed with experience, skill, and wisdom, such adjectivism happily manages to buoy up prose already supple and sensuous (or something).

Also, I had something else to write about... I've forgotten now, so I'll add it in later. Now I am off to take a walk and circulate my blood un poquito.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Eat, Pray, Love, Get the Hell Outta Here

Elizabeth Gilbert's book is kind of self-absorbed, but she's a fine prose writer and it's pretty damn entertaining. Rather than inspire me to find inner peace, though, I now want to go Ubud (in Bali, in Indonesia). It's all distraction, though, from writing my novel...

Anyone have any other ideas of how to distract myself??

Or an extra ticket to Ubud??

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Peru, Where are You?

Foreignness and familiarity: you can find them anywhere. In your own country. Par exemple, Florida. I've been here before. I get Florida. It has the same chain stores as the Northeast, the geckos and little iguanas have long since stopped surprising me, and the genetic makeup of the people, while further along in years, hasn't radically changed.

But what's strange is living in a gated community. Gated communities do not thrive in the north, and I really don't understand their existence in the south, except as an extension of the "club." The neighborhood doesn't just "happen" to have a golf course; the golf course just happens to have a neighborhood. This is a state in which residences are designed around the attractions (golf courses, Disney World, swamps, and so on) to maximize the amount of money they can suck dry from the elderly. And I don't think the retirees would want it any other way.

I love so many kinds of writing, but my dream, my absolute dream, is to write-on-the-go. I wasn't being cute when I called this blog, littlemissnomad (OK, a little). That's the goal, to get moving and to write from there. Moscow, Australia, Argentina, Hawaii, Berlin, hell, Antarctica, the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, so on and so forth, until I get tired and have to retire in London.

I'm trying to write this part of my novel that's set in Peru, but it's hard to write when I can't see it in my head. If I don't see it in my head, I generalize, and that makes for crap writing.

In other words, I'm getting restless and worried about how much writing I'm getting done, and if it's any good. Moreover, I'm going back North in early April, finishing up what I need to finish up, and then after Easter, I have two months before my dad's wedding and my summer job commences. What am I going to do and where am I going to do it? That's the question. If anyone knows a cheap place for me to go that ain't on the eastern seaboard, I am all ears.

Friday, March 9, 2007

under siege

The bird is gone, and I was able to take a shower. I don't know what the hell that was about.


Some crazy-ass bird (looks like a giant hummingbird to my mind) keeps flying up and slamming its beak into the wire-mesh window above my shower. It's been doing this for about 20 minutes now, for no known reason, but it's scaring the crap out of me. So I'm hiding in my bedroom, unclean, waiting for the madness to end.

Also, trying to think up an 80s power ballad for

Also, trying to work on my thesis...

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Can you write a great short story before March 16th?

We'll see. Guardian Unlimited's online books section doesn't really have anything comparable in America as far as I am concerned.

and their major short story contest

You KNOW I'll be entering this bad boy.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

the longest train ride

There's a Simpsons' sky, cool cartoon blue, innocuously white puffy clouds. Every so often, the landscape looks dry, brown, parched. I want to dig down and find salvation, but someone's already beaten me to it. Piles and piles of gravel, sand, dirt, clay, who knows what. There's construction too, so the train crawls, and I get impatient because it reached us a half hour late, and it's now an hour and a half behind schedule. I won't get off the train til 4, and I didn't bring any food with me -- the last thing I had to eat was half of a day-old tuna sandwich at 9:30 this morning. I feel like hell.

A busted tin shack straight out of the Cape Flats or maybe Rio with volcanoes of trash studding the backyard like fire ant hills -- they're contagious. A ghetto-fabulous girl (gold winter jacket, gold and black purse, highlights on already-dyed hair, a Superbowl baseball cap) sitting behind me has two CDs, the first one is Toni Brazton, the other a constant a hip-hop techno beat that she decides to keep cranked up so all can hear. Thump-thump-thump. I consider homicide.

And those orange trees! We pass by endless orange groves, pruned into meticulous hedge-like columns.There may be nothing nature gives us that is better than a beautiful ripe navel Florida orange. It should not be infected with the smell of melon, like the one I took from Smita's this morning and had to junk at the station.

But she gave me Eat, Pray, Love, so all is forgiven.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Funnyman Jim Gaffigan

Right now I'm watching the Jim Gaffigan stand-up special on Comedy Central. I think my facial pores produce some organic makeup that make my eyes sting when I laugh so hard I cry. Furreal.

Reasons I Am Grateful for Hitch

So last summer when I was working at Emma Willard, we showed the girls Hitch, and while the movie isn't exactly one of Mr. Smith's best films, I am grateful for its soundtrack. Can you imagine these little kiddies' lives without the joys of Heavy D and the Boyz? Or "Don't You Worry About a Thing"? Granted we get John Legend's version, not Stevie Wonder's, but it's not a bad cover at all.

Note to self: you don't like crepes and you never will, no matter how highly a creperie may come recommended; just give it up and stop getting them.

I had a highly productive literary day, which is why I am posting this. Also, I watched a little TV online because I haven't been watching it on TV. It's nice. Who needs Tivo, when you have the Internet? Smita finally defeated me at Blokus, though she took 20 minutes for every move. That's how I got so much reading done. I was so irritated that I didn't even try. Not to take anything away from her victory...

Back to Sarasota tomorrow, and hopefully I'll see my other sister, Allie, who is at her roommate's grandparents' timeshare for spring break near Tampa, getting a tan because her skin is genetically different from mine and doesn't go straight from ivory to crimson like the rest of us. I think it's gotta be the Native American drop of blood because the rest of our ancestry is very much Northern European albino. I, on the other hand, look precisely like the Irish horse thieves that make up the brunt of our long and distinguished line....

I Have a Title!

For my book! Hoorah! And it's perfect!
But I'm not going to tell you what it is just yet. I'm just going to say that I'm very much a fan of it.

I finished Equus and The Motorcycle Diaries yesterday. Equus wasn't what I expected, and I hope that helps inform my writing. It's an interesting play. If I lived in London, I would definitely go see it, despite my apathy towards Mr. Radcliffe.

Monday, March 5, 2007

A Few Hours Later...

I would say Factotum composer Kristin Asbjornsen is like a Nordic (Norwegian?) Fiona Apple.

I read the first third of his collection Sometimes You Feel So Alone… just now at B&N, which fascinated me. Here is a writing style similar to most high school kids who are just angry and don’t want to be hemmed in by all that sonnet garbage or anything, they just want to say what they want to say and hell with the rest. In every class there’s that bitterness, the poor have it, the middle-class, and I’m sure the rich kids, who are the most pitiful of all because they’re the ones who, if they have any sense of self, really have to prove themselves not to be undeserving bratty heirs. You can’t be a good writer without a bit of struggle, and you can’t go looking for struggle, because then it’s fake, and what the hell is wrong with you anyway? I’m not saying Bukowski writes like a high school student; he doesn’t. He just takes this form that poets reject because they have it so mentally interwoven with the really awful crap they wrote back in their pre-college days that the form becomes tainted. What he does is remove the self-consciousness that plagues most poets, teenagers or otherwise, and writes instead a semi-autobiographical poetry (not confessional, which is so often bullshit) of absolute candor – and its mostly commentary not emotional tear-mongering… which is good. The one problem I have (and I guess I do always have some problem or other) is the disjointed quality of his poem, that he doesn’t mind repeating himself or having a bit of unnecessary sprawl. Which is very L.A., but still. I suppose that despite the prolific amount of writing produced, a lack of craftsmanship is what makes him so popular, so “real.” It’s funny that hard living makes for such good reading (or writing, for that matter). I used to be defensive about this because I’m so clean, I squeak if you rub me the right way, but I wonder now if it’s not that modern writers exploit themselves for an “edge,” so much as people living on the edge often have no way of keeping themselves from falling off without the steady grip of a pen in one hand and a notebook in the other.

So that’s interesting.

I bought a remaindered Baudolino because I’ve never read any Eco, and I felt I should. I bought Peter Carey's My Life as a Fake for the exact same reason. I also feel I should read Malamud, not to mention a sweeping array of others. And I will. Soon. How is one supposed to manage a real job and still read the books necessary to be a complete person? I ask you…

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Games & Other Forms of Torture

Smita, tutor to the equestrian stars, and I have been playing rounds and rounds of Blokus. Despite my intense hatred for the game, which is a spatial/visual tile game, I am undefeated. Then we played "Word Sweep!," a dictionary game, which I felt I should be good at, but lost 2/3 of the time. I think the time element worked to my disadvantage. Also, I didn't know such words as "grok," "grommit," "keno," "retrench," and "kenosis," among other words (actually, none of these were mine). Smita can't pronounce Blokus, and yet, she kicked my ass at the game involving words.
Anyhow, I hate playing games. I have a terrible competitive streak, particularly with word games and games that last a long time. I feel if I have to put in alot of time or I feel the game is intellectual, that I should win, or at least not have the worst score. So I'm a pain in the ass. It's totally genetic, and it's also a problem I have encountered in MANY Yalies.
What else?
I didn't bring sneakers (WHAT?!!) and have developed painful blisters from all the walking in flip-flops I've been doing. Smita thinks I'm a wuss because she cultivates blisters like violets. We walked to Palm Beach (you have to go over a bridge) to sit on the beach on the Eastern side, facing the full-on Atlantic (as opposed to the Intercoastal Waterway) and watched the lunar eclipse. We missed most of it, but it was quite nice sitting in the sand.
On the way back, a mysterious creature ran across our path. It looked like a weasel the size of a large dog. Or a coyote with bobcat characterstics. We can't come up with anything, so I've been guessing far-fetched things like an escaped dingoose (dingo-mongoose hybrid) created by some mad too-rich Australian scientist. Smita is appalled by the idea, probably because she is old and lacks imagination. Then again, she thinks it is probably a R.O.U.S., which is from The Princess Bride, so she is clearly delusional and should not be trusted.
Thus far, The Motorcycle Diaries isn't as moving or detailed as the film, though the young Che is just as handsome (though in a different way) as Gael Garcia Bernal.
Right-o, I think you've had enough.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

West Palm Beach and "This Week in Culture"

What up, tigers?

My friend, Miriam, sent me this week's "Best Headline Ever," courtesy of the Washington Post, "Swiss Accidentally Invade Lichtenstein." You know, after all these years of neutrality, you thought they would have aimed a little higher with their first invasion. Like, Luxembourg even. Or my grandmother's house.

If you've never been to West Palm Beach, you should go. I got here last night, driving down Route 70 (I highly DON'T recommend that) from Sarasota to St. Lucie, Route 1 to Jensen Beach (cute little town) where I met up with S, and then down the Florida Turnpike to downtown West Palm. She lives right next to Cityplace, which is the reason all these high-rent condo highrises are being constructed. Cityplace is like a Disney/Rodeo Drive esplanade of shops, restaurants, a gelatery, a movie theater, a music hall, and a lighted outdoor piazza where live music plays on weekend evenings (possibly more often). The first time in weeks I've been around people my own age, eating awesome mashed potatoes for the first time at The Cheesecake Factory (who knew it had real food?), and getting gelato at Bacio (that's kiss in Italian).

Saw Zodiac last night at Muvico (the aforementioned movie theater). Not shockingly, it's more akin to Se7en than Fight Club. Fincher made an excellent film, extremely watchable, violent, well-acted (you may not know Anthony Edwards is in it, because he didn't get top billing, but he's got a big part, and he's very good), well-shot, everything is pretty much perfect, particularly Mark Ruffalo's softened voice and Robert Downey Jr.'s hair... but it's not something I'd watch again. Despite the violence of Fight Club, there was a cool, funny edge to it that you wanted to see again and again. A single viewing didn't feel complete. The case-reality of Zodiac and its presentation worked both for it (it's a movie set in a very specific time) and against it (if you're not from California, I imagine it doesn't resonate as much). This is an issue I have with all films that are true stories. They don't have re-watch value with me.

Same goes with Flags of our Fathers. Its extreme focus on these three guys and the infamous Flag of Iwo Jimo photo is both necessary to what Eastwood and the writers wanted to (and could do, considering this is based on the book of the same name) and ultimately to its detriment. There is no added fiction, no subtlety, no nuance. It is an account, and thus, a film worth watching once -- but only once.

I finished Perfume as well. I'm not sure how to critique it because I knew the ending beforehand, which may have caused me to be anxious for it to move along. However, even if I hadn't known how it would end, I would still have felt the pain of padding in the slim 250-page novel. The seven years in a cave may have resonated for others, but for me it just felt like Suskind was afraid to get on with things. Sometimes I think the novel would have been better as a long short story or novella. Then again, this one may be all on me. I still recommend the book, though. When it's good, it's very very good.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

regarding snails and my life of crime

According to a article, British scientists discovered that in order to conserve valuable energy, snails sometimes follow the existing mucus trails laid down by other snails to get around, meaning they only have to create a fraction of the mucus needed to make a new trail.

This is a snail I followed around on Inishmor (I think that's the right Inish) one day. You may notice a lack of mucus behind it. Well, I have a confession to make. The amount of mucus my nose and throat occasionally produces is not enough for me to slide around on. So I stole this snail's mucus. I'm not proud of that, but now that I know other snails do it all the time, I feel much better.

The next thing I'm going to steal? Jack Nicholson's sunglasses.

Happy March

Tomorrow's my half-birthday. I'm sure I'll be too depressed to write anything.

Actually, I'm going to West Palm Beach this weekend to visit Smita. Hoorah!
In summing up, I wish I had some kind of affirmative message to leave you with. I don't. Would you take two negative messages?
-- Woody Allen