A motley coat
As You Like It, Act II Sc. 7
O worthy fool!
...in his brain,
Which is as dry as the remainder biscuit
After a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd
With observation, the which he vents
In mangled forms. O that I were a fool!
I am ambitious for a motley coat.
Want to know if your ears (at least) belong to an old fart or not? Go to this site and play the famous Mosquito tone. (Once you get to the actual site, it says "Click here" but that's not where you click; you click on the "Play" triangle on the little sound player. I hate ambiguous user interfaces.) If you can hear it, your ears are still as spry as those of a teenager. If you can't, maybe it's time to look into getting that recliner you always wanted. Me, I heard it very, very painfully clearly.
Of course, age is only a state of mind, and has nothing to do with what frequencies you can detect with the naked ear. What the oh, for hey, you kids, get off my lawn!
Thanks to my friend Eva for the link.
Not only did Rob Reiner direct The Princess Bride, he also directed This Is Spinal Tap. My friend Ahang has, through one of the many miracles of Facebook, alerted me to an interview in Vanity Fair commemorating 25 years of Tap. Thanks, Ahang! (And thanks, as well, to my friend Chard, who again, through Facebook alerted me to the existence of the fan page for Inigo Montoya.)
Most of today was taken up with a very demanding, yet very satisfying reading-and-workshopping of my full-length play The Death of Albatross, through the generous support of Merrigong Theatre Company's script-development program (that particular program, alas, has no further funding luckily, I got in under the wire).
The day begain with a reading by professional actors, who did a great job, particularly as most of them were reading it cold (a couple had been involved in its first, rather more informal, reading at the Illawarra Performance Writers Group a while back). Thanks for getting so involved, guys! The energy was high, most of the jokes got laughs*, and the actors were very positive about the play itself and about its possibilites for improvement. They had a lot of great thoughts it was intimidating, actually: how come they can come up with all these ways that might improve and enrich it, ways that I never thought of? Why had I not thought of them? Is there something wrong with my understanding of playwriting, that I had not thought of them? But one must push these thoughts aside, for they do not serve one at all well.
Then, after a much-needed lunch break (for my brain was full), I sat down one-on-one with the program's dramaturg and we discussed the feedback, identifying which of the comments reflected major areas for revision, and which were less crucial or even just something to file away as a useful perspective that need not be incorporated into this piece. I have two weeks to redraft, then she has a look at the next go-round between then and the second reading, a week after that. I am both dreading and looking eagerly forward to having a bash at the next draft can I truly make it a whole lot better? I kinda like it now; will these suggested changes make it fabulous?
Then this evening was the awards night for last year at Margaret's school, and I am very happy and proud to report that she came first in her year in German. This is one of the top schools in the state, if not, indeed, in all of Australia, and even to get in is a huge achievement. And then, to get an academic award why, you're the best of the best! (But we all knew that about Margaret anyway.)
*The one joke nobody laughed at and this crushed me, for I love it was the line, "People will flock to Albatross!" Nobody, but nobody, got it. Or maybe they got it and just didn't think it was funny. Either way, I'm crestfallen.
...this is the sort I would like, please.
Why? Well, as the writer points out, they're reusable, and therefore more environmentally sound. Moreover, duct tape (yes, duct tape) has a deep symbolic value for me. Back when I was teaching with DC IMPACT, we used duct tape for everything: communication, armor repairs, haberdashery and tailoring, first aid, jewelry and other fashion statements, structural reinforcement, workplace safety measures, artistic expression, toy construction, everything. Plus, my first car (a 1976 Toyota Celica the loss of which I grieve to this day) was not only the exact color of duct tape, it was actually held together by duct tape.
Duct tape: good. Flowers: good. Duct-tape flowers: good2.
My emo story "The Futurist" appears in issue 82 of Adbusters magazine! You can buy it at left-leaning or generally politically geeky newsstands all over North America, and you can order it from their web site. (The web-site page for that issue is not yet updated, but I have actually held Issue 82 in my hands, and it does exist.)
I did not enjoy writing this story at all it was a Clarion story, and I spent each week at Clarion setting myself new challenges: write a story with huge infodumps and make them work; write a story that included issues that were painful for me personally; write a story that was dark and depressing instead of funny (or at least funny to me); etc. This was the dark and depressing story, and I hate both writing and reading dark and depressing stories. Opinion in the Crit Pit was divided, but one or two of my fellow Clarionites were very enthusiastic about its merits (hi, Lyn!), and so I started sending it out. And lo! A sale! For money! In a non-genre magazine!
In other news, many of you may know I'm a complete Grammar Daemon. If I ever happen to make a grammar mistake, my shame reaches abysmal depths. So I'm highly motivated to do it right. One of my most precious tools for this is the ability to diagram sentences, taught to me in seventh and eighth grade by Mrs. Heinz (as she was then known). The nuances of this skill have eroded over time, but the basics are still with me, and still help me understand sentences and write them clearly. So imagine my joy to see this:
Yes. It's the diagram of a piece of an Obama speech. I just stare at it in happy wonder. Here is the explanation, by the diagrammer himself.
I don't know about you, but I frequently lust after the fabulous coats I see fictional characters wearing in various spec-fic movies. Wear the coat, acquire the characteristics! Apparently I'm not the only one who reasons this way, because this site exists for the purpose of vending to us our dreams in coat form. The photo I've included here is Trinity's coat (from The Matrix, which I'm not even going to bother to link to in any form because come on, if you're here you know how to use the Internets).
Many thanks to my friend Chris Green for leading me to this site.
Masques, the anthology that contains my story "The Dancing Mice and the Giants of Flanders," is launching in Canberra, at 5.30pm on 20 March 2009 at the Australian Archives. I may not be able to be there, myself, but maybe you'd be interested! (If I find out about any readings, in any Australian city, I'll be sure to post the info here. I may even be part of one myself; who knows?)
This is brilliant. And funny. And heartbreaking on so many, many levels.
(Thanks to my friend Missy for bringing it to my attention.)
When my brother and I were extraordinarily little, one of the special treats was to get to sleep by myself in my mom's room, while she slept in the third bed in the room my brother and I shared (like I said, we were really little back then). One of the very, very, very best things about it was that my mom had a clock radio (AM only, of course; we're talking the early 60s here) that had a snooze setting, and she would set it to softly play top-40* to us as we would drift off to sleep.
Me, I was never much good at drifting off to sleep (something my daughter has inherited from me), so I was usually awake for the whole hour, listening to the best of the early 60s while the dials and clock face of the radio glowed a gentle orange. Here's one of the very first songs I remember, and I specifically remember it from those nighttime snooze settings, when I felt special and wakeful and gloriously alone to think my own thoughts.
*Holy crap, there's a whole site devoted to WABC Musicradio 77! I remember Cousin Brucie; do you??
Like a number of my Clarion buddies, I'm linking to our fellow Clarion buddy Chris Lynch's blog post about what we've all been up to, writing-wise. As Jason Fischer points out, Gardner Dozois told us in tones that brooked no debate that most of us were destined for total obscurity. Either he meant it and is monumentally wrong, or he said it on purpose to goad us and is a brilliant amateur psychologist (although editors do tend to need those skills).
Anyway, if you're wondering whether Clarion, as rumors would have it, steamrollers your creativity flat for months and years after you emerge, check out Chris's post and marvel at how well we all write in two dimensions. (After all, screens, paper, all two-dimensional. It's all good.)
Seems like someone tagged William Shakespeare with the 25 Things meme. A sample:
1 Sometimes I Feele so trapp’d by iambic pentameter... Does that make me a Freake?The rest are even more revealing.
2 I haue been Knowne to cry at Bear-baiting.
3 I am not uery ticklish. I am Not. So prithee, do not euen try. Waste. Of. Time.
The Aussies will probably hear of this from other sources, but you, O thou American, may not: there's some excellent Australian science fiction being podcast at the moment on Terra Incognita. And not only good stories, but reviews of new, major Australian works (such as Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels and Kim Westwood's The Daughters of Moab).
"The Miner's Tale" (from the Canterbury 2100 anthology) has been named on ASiF's recommended reading list for 2008 one of three stories from the anthology. I am very pleased about this, needless to say! (Moreover, I appear alongside a number of legendary writers, which I find a tad intimidating, even as I also find it giddily encouraging.)
(Note: "ASiF" stands for "Australian Specfic in Focus.")
Thanks to Peter Ball for the link.
Interested in steampunk? But who isn't? You can look at the fabulous Dr. Grordbort's fabulous products including a fabulous video here. Just about every pixel of this densely packed and visually baffling (not to mention fabulous) site yields a wonder upon clicking.
My friend Chard was staggeringly kind enough to give me the hard-copy Dr. Grordbort catalogue last year (you may remember my blogging about it), and it's definitely worth the looking. And perhaps even the buying. Not to mention that it supports the New Zealand economy to buy a copy!
In my "25 Things" post, I mentioned that The Taming of the Shrew is my favorite Shakespeare play. A couple of commenters mentioned the BBC production starring John Cleese, and it just so happened I had purchased a copy when last in England, dahling. I'm watching it now. It's fabulous. It's worth tracking down. I couldn't find it on amazon.com (although admittedly I was not particularly diligent, giving up after scanning only the top few search results). Oh, wait you can get it from the Royal Shakespeare Company's online shop.
Cleese is really far more subtle as Petruchio than you'd think if you'd only seen Python, and the woman playing Katherine was actually unnerving in the depths to which she plumbed the character. The pace is a tad slow, but so what? Who's in a rush? This is The Taming of the Shrew. Relax and enjoy it. And have a wink with Kate and Petruchio at the end. I always do.
On facebook, seems like everyone's doing this "Write 25 things about yourself" thing. I've been intrigued to read friends' 25 things, and then I shrugged and wrote my own 25 things, and then I saw that my friend Lee Battersby put his 25 things on his blog, and I was already in go-along-with-the-crowd mode, so I'll do that too.
1. I was born two months premature, and weighed 3 pounds 15 ounces at birth.
2. I have written two novels; neither has been published as yet.
3. If there's no Diet Coke anywhere near, I get really uneasy.
4. I LOVE to travel, and have been to quite a few amazing places.
5. My daughter and I don't look all that much alike.
6. I grew up in a house from which you could see no other houses; it may surprise you that this was in New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the US.
7. I have been known to make quilts.
8. I have been known to break boards with my bare hands and feet. And elbows.
9. I am a very good cook.
10. Grammatical errors make me go berko with rage.
11. My 29th birthday was celebrated in a Siberian living room, wherein lots of Russians sang me a heavily accented rendition of "Happy Birthday to You."
12. I used to have a ham radio license.
13. I can fly airplanes.
14. My favorite movie is "Galaxy Quest."
15. My favorite Shakespeare play is "The Taming of the Shrew." (Yes.)
16. I am going through a very, very rough time at the moment.
17. However, point 16 (above) has revealed to me that I have many unbelievable, wonderful, legendary friends.
18. I am absolutely terrified of being too cold. It really does border on phobia.
19. I was once the spelling champion of Sussex County, New Jersey.
20. Some of my jobs over the decades have included: book repairer, self-defense and karate instructor, technical writer, desktop-publishing person, web monkey, secretary, and data-entry primate.
21. I have been heard on national (Australia) and international radio many, many, many, many, many times. Usually talking about storms and floods, but very occasionally about myself and my writing.
22. My hands are disproportionately large, but it makes it easier to play the guitar.
23. I have a blog at lauragoodin.blogspot.com.
24. One of my works in progress is a YA novel about pirates in flying ships powered by turtles who read bad speculative fiction (note: it's the turtles who read, not the pirates). Can't think why I'm not making progress on it.
25. Being able to pick the right word pretty nearly all the time is my superpower.