Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Mills of the Gods

Thirteen years ago I was working at Tor Books when I was asked to submit a story to a small-press anthology to be called Coney Island Wonder Stories. I wrote a story called "Somewhere in Dreamland," sent it in, had it accepted. A little while down the pike, the editors told us that the book would be a little delayed, but we were welcome to submit the stories to magazines and so on. So I sent the story to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, where it was bought, and in due time, published. I had somehow forgotten that the book itself had never seen the light of day...until today, when I got an email from one of the editors, apologizing for the delay and noting that the book is, at last, coming to a bookstore near you. Or at least to an online bookstore. I get my copies next week; I look forward to reading the other stories in the book.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Garage Sale, Part 2

Wow. You list something on Craigslist and half the universe goes nuts. It's the American Girl doll, you see. Half a dozen people vying for her. Plus a couple of people who asked for photos of the bunk bed. This is fascinating.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


This morning YG, Miss Enthusiasm herself, told me she didn't feel safe living in America with Bush as president. Well hell, neither do I, but it's hard hearing this from a nine-year-old. And the usual arguments--that moving to Canada or England or Mexico not only won't solve much, but will be abandoning our post as Americans--don't persuade. I can talk to her about the things our family does--recycling, limiting our driving, donating money and goods, working for the schools, etc.--to make our world better and safer, but they don't persuade much either. I feel a mama-lion attack coming on: I want to rise up and slay the people that make my kid feel unsafe. And I'm not talking Osama bin Laden, I'm talking about George Bush and Michael Brown and Dick Cheney and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I'm talking about people who believe that you can educate children but don't believe in funding public schools. I'm talking about a whole lot of people; I don't need to give you the list; you know who they are...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Happy Birthday, Dear Ernie...

My browser opens up in IMDB--the Internet Movie Data Base. This is handy when we're watching a movie and someone says "Wait, who is that?" Among other amiable things on IMDB, they have a "Today's Birthday" feature. And today is the late Jim Henson's birthday.

Spouse, Sarcasm Girl and I all noticed this at the same time, and spontaneously went into a Muppet-style chorus of "Happy Birthday to You." Spouse does an excellent Fozzie Bear; I was a little more on the Ernie side. Not sure exactly what SG was doing, but it was muppety. Mr. Henson, wherever you are, we're thinking of you.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Call Me Wuss

I'm thinking of going No News for a while. I have to do this every once in a while, to preserve my equilibrium.

Look, I believe in knowing what's going on. But I am also a worrier. An equal opportunity worrier: health, politics, the kids, weather. You name it, I'll obsess about it. Spouse, who is one of the world's great humans, has become used to me rolling over in the middle of the night and muttering, "I'm not dying of some weird disease, am I?" "No, you're fine," he'll say, and that's all I need in that moment. But I can as easily lie awake worrying about the ozone layer and weather patterns (which is my current fret) or whether Sarcasm Girl has an adequate social life or...whatever. I believe the technical term is anxiety neurosis.

Whatever the hell it is, it means that I can get overwhelmed by the news and paralyzed thereby. This is probably exacerbated by the fact that I read an awful lot of SF in the 70s of the "if this goes on" variety, and am quite capable of projecting a future in which my beautiful daughters live out their lives enslaved or grubbing for survival in a nasty apocalyptic world. It's hard to think about whether I want to paint the sunroom, or figure out who has to be picked up when on Friday afternoon, when I'm obsessing about what current events mean about the future. Not thinking or worrying, but obsessing. So, while it makes me feel a little weak and shallow, I'm stepping back from the news a little bit until I get the worrying under control.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Under Construction

Visitors to this space may remember that last winter we developed a leak in the roof which thoroughly soaked YG's closet. Once the leak was contained and repaired, we had to rip out all the soggy plaster and bags-full of damp mousy non-fiberglass insulation, leaving in place the lath and studs on the ceiling, the full left wall, and half the rear wall. Then we let it dry out. Then inertia took over and we did nothing despite the fact that the closet was as dry as it was going to get.

Yesterday I more-or-less frog-marched Spouse to Home Despot to buy Sheetrock(tm) to put new walls in. The suasion was required, not because the man is lazy, but because his standards for his own work are so high that he can get paralyzed at the thought of trying to meet them. I (at least where construction and repairs are concerned) am more of the get-it-done than the get-it-done-perfectly school--I'd love to have it done perfectly, by someone other than me, but since the exchequer does not permit that right now, just getting it done was enough for me. The first part was cutting the Sheetrock into manageable bits that would fit in the car--the thought of our brave little Civic with two 4X8 pieces of Sheetrock strapped on top led to a montage of those pre-Wright Bros. flying machines that achieve lift-off then crash hideously. No. I had made a cutting pattern (all those years of working with Butterick patterns leaves its mark) and we sat on the floor of Home Despot, using a 2X4 as a straightedge and cutting the Sheetrock. This seemed to amuse the nice people who work there--they'll cut lumber for you, but not Sheetrock--and I found myself revising the store motto as we worked: "You can do it! We can watch!"

Got home. Further demolition proved to be necessary (the top of the right wall) which took an hour or so. Then the actual cutting to size and screwing of the bits into place. The ceiling piece was the toughest; after that things went pretty quickly. I learned that one can use a planer to take down the edge of Sheetrock (which makes perfect sense, it just never occurred to me before) and that a fully-charged battery on the drill is never quite enough to finish the job you're doing. By evening the closet was done, YG had gone through many of the clothes and realized that they could be added to the Garage Sale/Katrina pile, and her room had been tidied again. We will still have to fill and tape and prime and paint the closet, but that's for another day. Hopefully another nine months will not go by before it happens, however.

Friday, September 16, 2005

An Invitation

Okay, despite my best efforts to filter spam, I still get five or six pieces of garbage in my inbox every day. My favorite this morning had a nearly-irresistible subject header: "Invitation to Act as Next-of-Kin." I was hoping it was an invite to act as mourner at a high-end funeral, something Dickensian involving horses with black plumes drawing the hearse. Or at perhaps an opportunity to appear at the reading of a will and sob distractingly at the mention of the Dear Departed's name. Or at least one of those romantic-comedy situations where someone needs an instant family member to a) impress boss; b) impress new flame; c) impress INS officers.

But no, it was just the usual scam letter. Although I was pleased to be introduced to the letter's author: "Before proceeding,I wish to introduce myself a barrister at law and the principal consultant of Iwuson & Associates (LEGAL RACTITIONER)." I mean, how many letters from Legal Ractitioners do I get in a day?

Would have been fun to be a mourner for hire, though.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Words fail me

You have to see this. It's an ad, simply titled, "Big Ad." It is totally wonderful. Thank you, Kath (the woman who posted the URL on a list we're on) for cheering my day.

Garage Sale

Anyone know anything about holding same? I come from NYC, where garages rent for $400 a month. My notion of what to do, how to price stuff, and how much traffic to expect is...well, nil. I would appreciate any guidance folks have to offer. We've got several pieces of decent furniture (an almost new stereo cabinet, a kids' bunk bed which includes a built-in cupboard, desk, and chest of drawers, and some shelves), books, clothes, CDs, videos, household stuff... And I have no idea what to do with it all, except to put the clothes on hangers. And shelve the books spine-out.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Win Some...

Back is better today, but YG is home sick from school. Ah, well.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Spent yesterday moving furniture. Spending today on ibuprofen, with a pillow in the small of my back. Have used up the last of the arnica. I do know how to handle this so that it goes away soon. Wish it would go away sooner.

Still, everyone has a new desk (or new-to-them), and a good deal of organizing has gone on.

But, still again: Ow.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Jimi Doin' Monterey

In the late '80s a wonderful series of ads ran in the NY metropolitan area. They were for the NYNEX Yellow Pages, the tag line was "If it's out there, it's in here." Most of the ads, print and TV, both, were clever puns. The very best, The very best, in my humble, was a spot with a squad of uniformed Marines doing a variety of moves: the funky chicken, moonwalk, even mirroring Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar at the Monterey. The pun: Rock Drills.

All this passed through my mind today when YG got her first electric guitar. It's a handsome object, shiny black, and came with an amp and carrying case. She immediately started wailing on it, playing her current favorite song ("Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Cold Play) with frightening body English. It was cacaphonous and cute as hell.

It's a start

The CEO President

Mark Morford makes an interesting point: Don't criticize Bush for doing what he was hired to do
But it's so unfair, isn't it, to attack poor Dubya like this? After all, Bush has always been the rich white man's president. He is the CEO president, the megacorporate businessman's friend, the thug of the religious right, a big reservoir-tipped condom for all energy magnates.

Not being a Major Corporation or the CEO thereof, I think I can be pardoned for wondering when I get a president for me. When do the people in Louisiana get their president? And how is the US going to get by while we're waiting him out and (please God) finding someone who's interested in The Rest of Us to put in his place? Look, I know that politicians have to have an ear out for the needs of big business and the money people. But from where I sit, Bush is ideologically programmed to believe that big business is all that matters--he doesn't have an ear out, he's theirs, body and soul. And the bodies and souls and property of the individuals in the Louisiana Gulf* just don't seem to count.

*I've had a *ping* go off in my head for the last two weeks every time a newscaster says something about "flooding in the Gulf." For the last dozen years "Gulf War" has meant the Middle East. Now we've got our own, more local "Gulf War." If you wrote this in a book, it would be considered heavy-handed.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Life Goes On, Bra...

Meanwhile, a few days before I went off for my Excellent Adventure in Scotland and England, I got a call from my lovely tenant at the Barn, my father's house in Massachusetts (of which I am now the owner). There had been a storm a few days before, and now the faucets at the house were running black sludge. Sigh. And of course, nothing gets done quickly: before repairs could be made (or their scope even suggested) the water had to be tested for bacteria (no one explained to me exactly =why= this had to happen). So this morning I get to call Culligan, who ran the tests, and the well guy, and get some answers. And then give (doubtless highly expensive) orders to have the repairs made. It is possible that, in order to do some of these repairs, I'll have to go back and move everything out of one of the basement store rooms so that we can tear down the wall to get at the tanks. I am so full of joy about all this, it's choking me up.

Update: looks like we don't need a new well, which would have pushed the whole thing into the realm of the tragic (well, that's hyperbole...but I'd rather be sending money and goods to New Orleans than throwing it, literally, down a hole) to the merely upsetting: $2000 for a new water tank (the old one is going on 45 years old, and not a well tank), and somewhere between $3-$4000 to clean the well and, if necessary, replace the old pump, which is probably nearly as old as the water tank. Drat. And words stronger.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


In an effort to stop the spam robots, I've turned on Word Verification. I hope this doesn't inconvenience anyone or keep people from commenting; I'm just tired of those faux posts that begin "Great Blog!" and then go on to tout snake oil or hair treatments or penis enlargement. If I want advertisements for those things I'll watch TV.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Anne Rice Says It

I've never been a big Anne Rice fan. I found Interview with the Vampire just readable, and it was downhill from there. I realize her work may not be my cuppa. But this piece is right on target:
"But to my country I want to say this: During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us. You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras, you want our cooking and our music. Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us 'Sin City,' and turned your backs. Well, we are a lot more than all that. And though we may seem the most exotic, the most atmospheric and, at times, the most downtrodden part of this land, we are still part of it. We are Americans. We are you."

What Can Kids Do?

Sarcasm Girl's sarcasm has failed her in the face of the enormity of Katrina's destruction (and the government's inept response to it). We've given money (and traded off take-out dinners for a month to do it), and I'm spending some part of the holiday weekend bundling up clothes to donate. But she really wants to find some way to make a difference. Our current thinking: she can do research on ways kids can help with the rescue and restoration efforts and get that word out to her friends. But what can a 15 year old do?


Friday, September 02, 2005

Tone Deaf, to Say the Least

From Ezra Klein's blog via Making Light: the latest enormity from Our Fearless Leader:
The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch. (Laughter.)

Scroll down to see the parodies: what The Man might have said about the Hindenberg disaster, the plague, the Warsaw Ghetto, etc.

Too bad about Trent Lott's house, huh? I can hardly bear to think about it, sure.

What's Right With America...

Liberal Blogosphere for Hurricane Relief

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Hurricane Katrina destroyed thousands of lives.

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Please donate now.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

They Found Fats

If you're a music buff, a bit of good news from New Orleans:Fats Domino Found. Allen Toussaint is still missing, but may be among the refugees in the SuperDome.

Pound Wise, Penny Foolish

Per a Molly Ivins article that was forwarded to me (Steinski to Spouse to me, bumpety bump), "…in June, Bush took his little ax and chopped $71.2 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent reduction. As was reported in New Orleans CityBusiness at the time, that meant 'major hurricane and flood projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now.'"

I am not so foolish as to think that if that money had been available all the hurricane preparedness projects would have been completed and there would have been no loss of life or property; such projects are generally massive and take time, as well as money, to complete; there's always the danger that while you're preparing for disaster the disaster will strike. But if Katrina had petered out, and there'd been that time (and more--hurricane season isn't over) to finish the various projects...saving $71.2 million, compared to the billions and billions that are going to go into rebuilding New Orleans and Biloxi, makes no sense at all.

Ivins goes on to observe that this administration appears to be moving further away from policy based on science, expertise and experience and further toward policy based on ideology. I believe in the importance of faith, I believe that (metaphorically) faith can move mountains. But when I have to build a bridge, get my tonsils out, or chart the human genome, I want science, expertise and experience, the more the better. I believe in science and technology and the power of the human mind to come up with solutions to human problems--if God hadn't wanted us to solve problems, would we have the brains we do?