Sunday, February 27, 2005


7:53 - Starr is bizarrely scary. Maggie Gyllenhaal is drunk and possibly heading toward a Jolie-esque familial moment.

This may well be all I have to say, cause I'm sleepy, haven't seen any of the damn movies and am way more interested in finishing Boy Proof than watching this stuff.

The phrase BLING BLING has now been retired. Send Starr a telegram.

Now Oprah is there. This back and forth is a little too much. Go home and read, O!

(Apparently telling someone they look "gorg" is the new thing. Do not say this to me.)

8:12 - Renee Zellweger, also drunk, definitely scary... she may be about to implode. Why, Renee, why?

8:20 -- All young actresses may be on heroin. Thank god Cate Blanchett is there to be classy. We love you, you Ionic column.

Don Cheadle's wife is hott. He is nicee.

Scarlett -- pretty as always, but hair's a tiny bit crimping iron.

This really may be it. Night all. Stay red.

8:45 - Terry Bisson loves Pootie Tang. Or maybe he was kidding. Chris Rock shouldn't be so hard on himself.

Oooohhhh... will Halle Berry scratch his eyes out for that Catwoman 2 joke?

9:07 - What the fuck? I guess that the make-up winners aren't important enough to get to go up on stage? That's a bunch of bullshit. They should get their time up there just like anyone else.

Drew Barrymore looks amazing.

9:22 - Edna Mode! Happy now.

10:01 -- Paul Newman. Either still alive or dead. Hard to say. Wait, it's not even his montage -- it's Sydney Lumet's and he's still alive. I think they should start doing lifetime achievement at the technical awards with Ms. Johannsen -- better to stay awake.

10:09 - Okay. I am now officially a lame pumpkin. Boy Proof is a lovely little book, but now I am finished with it and must sleep. Let me know what Kate Winslet's dress looks like. Turn the lights off when it's over.

Monday, February 21, 2005

switching stations for a moment

We just got back from The Sadies/Neko Case show. Fucking rocked, of course. But here's my query. For those of you kids in the know (Richard, Ted?) how does one choose the optimal set of ear plugs, which block out just enough decibels to protect your hearing but not enough to damage your experience. (The ability to block out really drunk annoying guy and his drunk bimbette botox queen who just wandered up the street from the radio folk hour show with Webb Wilder would be a plus, but not necessarily a dealbreaker as there's something kind of ambient about comments like "'This Little Light of Mine' was pretty damn cool, huh?" or "Depressin'? You mean like Amy Mann?" I'd tell you about the botox broad's broken wrist, but it's late and what I'm really interested in are...) Ear plugs.

Advice, warnings, pointers, cost estimates. Por favor?

Also, The Sadies won my heart with their version of "Pretty Polly," a song I've never actually heard a version of that I didn't immediately fall in love with.

Stranger than fiction

Alan thought that I should retell the story that Ted was asking about below. Frank, I'm sorry but you're wrong. It's true, however strange it is. I told the story at Wiscon last year and I got the feeling that no one believed me. About a year and a half ago, a co-worker was down south somewhere, I think it was Belize, for a family vacation. One of her daughters scraped her leg on coral while she was snokeling. When they got back to the U.S. the scrape had gotten infected so she was treated with antibiotics and the scrape seemed to get better. A little while later, her daughter complained about pain in her leg after a soccer practice. When they pulled the sock down, her leg was swollen and red, so they took her right into the doctor again. The doctor referred them to an orthopedic surgeon. I think they thought the infection had gotten into the bone. The surgeon recommended immediate surgery. After he was done, my co-worker said that he came out with a little tray. He said that he had never seen anything like it and showed my co-worker and her husband a small fish. The fish was about three inches long and an inch and a half wide and was just plain tan colored. The doctor said that he thought she must have gotten some eggs in the scrape from the coral and the fish just grew in her leg. The doctor said he would probably get a good journal article out of it but I don't know if its been published, yet. I think he kept the fish with that in mind. My co-worker's daughter who is a teenager was understandably mortified and didn't want anyone to know about it. I'm hoping it will become just a great story for her to tell someday. It is amazingly similar to a Rosario Ferre story with a shrimp. I copied the story for my co-worker to give to her daughter. She didn't understand why I was giving it her but she took it and said, "But this isn't fiction, it really happened."

My take on the whole thing from discussions with a few microbiologists is this. In college cell biology, we were taught that we first developed in the ocean bathed in salt water. When we first left the ocean we had to find a way to take it with us. and so the ocean is now inside us. The egg found a friendly environment to develop and it must have been able to draw nourishment from its surroundings. When her body couldn't get rid of it, it probably tried to set up some kind of barrier around it. I was told that that happens with some types of parasites.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Who really wants to follow a post by Ted?

Anyways… I know I’m not the only one who gets sucked into research sometimes to exclusion of writing. My standard M.O. is to do a lot of research on a subject that interests me for a story but then not use any of it. All the extra tidbits stay locked up in my skull until the next alcohol influenced discussion in a bar or at a con. A few weeks ago, an inversion kept the Twin Cities covered in smog for about a week. At one point it stretched all the way to Columbus, I guess. There were air quality warnings that began warning anyone with lung disease or immune problems to avoid any outdoor activity and finally stretched to cover everyone else. In addition to a general haze hovering in the sky, driving home after work a few nights our neighborhood had an eerie fog covering it that smelled like burnt rubber. I thought it was a good reminder to everyone up here that what goes out has to go somewhere and most of the time we’ve been lucky it hasn’t stuck around. At one point during the week, I found myself explaining what an inversion was to a co-worker. I went on to explain how deadly the fogs could be, telling her about the killer fogs of London and Donora, Pennsylvania. The look on her face led me to explain that I’d ended up looking into the subject as story research after watching a special on the crater lake/carbon dioxide disasters in Africa. I think because I have asthma, these fogs had a horrible fascination for me.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

adventures in publishing

Recently I came across some blog entries in which authors display or discuss the cover art to their recent or forthcoming novels. For those who haven't heard, here's the tale of the cover art for my story collection:

When I was first shown the cover art, I hated it. I tried to get used to it; I waited to see if it would grow on me, but it didn't. I offered to pay for new art, but my editor refused, saying that money wasn't the issue; it was a matter of the appropriate relationship between publisher and author. I asked about the possibility of new art for the paperback; he said there was none.

The hardcover came out, and I couldn't stand the sight of it. I decided to commission art on my own. I found an artist who has done many covers for the publisher, paid him $3500, and told him what I'd like to see. Once he was done, I offered the resulting art for use on the paperback. The answer was no.

(The artist told me he was told they would consider using the art for a subsequent book of mine, but they weren't going to change the art on this one.)

I made one final, last-ditch attempt to salvage the situation. I figured I could print up my own dustjackets and hand them out for free at conventions, as a kind of promotional item. That was when my editor told my agent that I absolutely could not do such a thing. He said that the publisher had friends in every branch of publishing, from printing to distribution, and those friends have long memories, so it would go badly for me if I made the publisher angry at me. My agent believed they were capable of following through with this threat, and convinced me to scrap my plans for printing up my own dustjackets.

Then I asked my editor if I could buy the paperback rights to the collection. This would have been expensive, turning the collection into an enormous financial loss for me, but I was willing. As usual, my editor did not reply to my e-mails, but told my agent he would look into changing the art for the paperback.

How had the situation changed? I didn't know, and was skeptical. I continued to ask my editor for the chance to buy back paperback rights; all he would say, to my agent, was that he was working on changing the art, but it was a delicate process. Finally, after four months, he told my agent that they would use the art I had commissioned "as a springboard" for the new cover. He said they'd "send a few different sketches" for me to look at.

So then I repeatedly asked about the status of the new cover, and the message conveyed back to me was not to worry, there was plenty of time. Then, after three months, my editor sent the new cover for the paperback. It had NO ART WHATSOEVER on it, just the title and author name in a generic font. It was a done deal, no room for discussion. When I asked about buying back the rights, my editor replied (again, through my agent) that it was too late for that.

It was at that point that I asked my editor to make a textual change to the paperback edition and remove his name from the book's acknowledgements (which I had written a year and a half earlier, back when I thought he was on my side). He told my agent he would. He did not.

What is perhaps most painful is the realization that I could have avoided all of this. When I was first shown the cover art, the contract for the collection hadn't even been signed yet. (My editor had scheduled the book without securing the contract first.) I could have backed out. But at the time, I still thought my editor was on my side. At the time, I thought he was doing his best to help me, and I wanted to maintain a good relationship with him.

How naive I was.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Handy money-saving tip?

Apparently running cheap liquor through a Brita water filter makes it taste much better.

(Via MemeMachineGo.)

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Tokyo Times

I love the Tokyo Times . It's a blog full of fun and wacky news bites about some of the more absurd things that occur over here in Japan. Read, read, enjoy. Mata ne...

Friday, February 04, 2005

'Why, because I'm famous."

Sayeth the T. Mr. T, that is. Oh, and I mean singeth the T.

Also, Herve Villechaize.