Sunday, May 25, 2008

Everyone's a critic

I went to the library after work the other day. I'm in the middle of something thick and fairly engrossing these days (Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl), so I wasn't looking for anything in particular. I don't even think I was looking for anything in general, really. I just like going to the library, especially the tiny branch by the lake, and especially when it's a sunny day and I can park a few blocks away and walk.

Anyway, I was in the fiction section, trying to balance my own instinct to loiter with the librarian's instinct to close the library and go home, feeling pressured to choose something fast, even though I knew I didn't really need anything to read. I sort of panicked and shifted into search-for-interesting-cover-colors mode, pulling the prettiest books off the shelf as I waited for "last call." And then I opened up a certain book--I don't even remember what, exactly--and a little piece of paper fluttered out of it and onto the floor. I picked it up. It was a note written in blue ink on a little square of plain note paper. "This book is terrible," it said. "Don't bother."

I love this. I mean, I'm not sure how I feel about the unsolicited non-recommendation--it makes me feel like the person who wrote it had just a tiny bit too much time on his or her hands, or is kind of judgmental, or maybe it just really was that bad--but it's like some kind of literary vigilante justice! Zorro for the Oakland Public Library! I wonder, if I were to pick up and shake out all of the other books in the OPL system, how many more notes of this kind (and others, I suppose) I'd find. And are there recommendation notes? If I were to open a copy of A Prayer for Owen Meany, one of those books that pretty much everybody agrees is wonderful and brilliant, would I find a little sheaf of notes telling me I'd made the right choice? Who is that Post-Itted man (or woman)?

Anyway, I put the book back, but now I kind of wish I'd brought it home with me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Come on, baby, you drive me crazy

Goodness gracious! Great balls of yarn!

(I'm sorry; it had to be said.)

This came for me in the mail yesterday. At work. I think you really have to be a knitter to understand the joy of unwrapping this kind of volume of yarn, and I wish you could all see these particular skeins in person. These are the skeins that ate New York. They are each the size of a newborn, or a loaf of bread, and although they are not what you'd call super-portable ("What's that under your arm? A small sleeping bag?"), I somehow find myself unperturbed about the possibility of running out of the dye lot I need.

I have to admit: it's not mine, technically. Didn't I tell you? I'm going to be a professional knitter! Somebody I know from work made me an offer I couldn't refuse: I knit her a pair of baby blankets, and she gives me money. (Knitting as income! What a fine world we live in!) I even got to pick the pattern--I'm adapting the Mason-Dixon ballband dishcloth to blanket size. Basically, if I were using cotton (my patroness bought the yarn--all acrylic, which I feel we need to have a chat about), you could soak up half a swimming pool with this sucker. It's going to be awesome (she says, before she casts on).

Sunday, May 18, 2008


You know, I'm discontented with a lot of areas of my life right now. My career isn't going where I want it to; I'm shy and flaky and frustrated about dating; I keep waiting for change, striving for it, and it doesn't happen.

But sometimes, like this weekend at Lake Tahoe, I can't help but look at my life and think, this is amazing. I couldn't have made this up: this place, these people, cruiser bikes and grilling on the beach at sunset and poker late into the night and having people around who care one way or the other about me. I can't complain about any of this, or about anything else. This is good.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Dear Bones,

I apologize for thinking briefly but with enthusiasm today about the extra writing time I would have during your summer hiatus. I didn't mean it! Thank you for all the singing this week! And one more thing: Please do not kill Agent Booth, because I think that I, not to mention one Dr. Temperance Brennan, would miss him terribly, and we don't want that, do we?

To recap, I will not gloat over additional writing time if you will keep my favorite striped-socks-wearing dork of an FBI agent alive.

With remorse,

A loyal viewer

12 of 12: May

Happy 12th to all, and to all a good night! For background info on the 12 of 12 guru, Chad Darnell, and to see other people's 12s, click here.

Getting on with it:

6:55 - Bed. Pondering whether a good hair day is worth ten fewer minutes' sleep. (It totally was.)

8:02 - Corner of Lake Park and Grand. Nancy Pelosi's hiding due to her own failure to protect the constitution? Hokay.

8:12 - Returning The Life of Emile Zola, the 1937 Best Picture, which I reviewed over the weekend.

8:25 - Part of my Monday-morning routine: copying my Entourage calendar for the week to the weird, low-budget Little Prince calendar I bought for $3.

11:01 - Break! Saltine crackers and Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress to ward off pre-lunch crankiness.

11: 27 - The Creative Screenwriting Magazine podcast, savior of many a long day of edit entry. I'm starting as far back as iTunes will let me and working my way forward, even the ones I've already heard, which should see me through for awhile (supplemented by Ira Glass and the This American Life team, obviously).

4:55 - Free! Waiting for the light at San Pablo and whatever street puts me on 580.

5:30 - Chatting with my mom. (Yes, I called her yesterday, too. I even took her out for gelato. What kind of kid do you think I am?)

6:55 - Christine being awfully nice and giving me a ride to our end-of-season choir BBQ. We must have been talking about pianos here (apartment-dwellers: traditional or electric?). You know, as you do.

8:26 - Super-secret shot of choir folks eating dessert and talking about the hopes and dreams of choir-dom.

9:20 - Alto section, second row, of whom I hope to see plenty over the summer break. I like these girls an awful lot (plus, they totally keep me in tune).

10:02 - Bones! How are you so crazy and adorkable all the time, and then BAM! Random violence!? Why do you play with our emotions like this? (Not like Agent Booth's going to die, or anything. What is this, Lost?)

Happy 12, all. See you in June. (JUNE! How did that happen?)

Monday, May 05, 2008


The many astonishing sights of Maker Faire:

Twenty-foot musical, ear-wiggling, robotic giraffe; responds kindly to petting ("That feels good!"); answers to name of Russell: check.

Bona fide knitting celebrity the Yarn Harlot. Stop laughing, you.

Life-sized Mousetrap, fantasy of geeky children everywhere

Why yes, since you ask, that is the face of Nikola Tesla etched into a tortilla by a laser. How did you know? (Million-dollar scheme: calibrate this machine for the Virgin Mary. Seriously, people.)

To get to the other side

Is my life a Pee-Wee Herman movie?

I was driving up my street this morning, muttering to myself about Monday and morning and sleep and work, when I had to stop. And wait. For a chicken--a rooster, actually--to cross the road.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

Excuses, excuses

Ooh, I'm a bad blogger. A week between posts! Leaving a gap like this makes me feel like I deserve a lecture, like when I visit the dentist and he tells me I need to floss more. I'm not sure exactly what kind of build-up I accumulate when I forget to post, but I'm sure it's something bad. Resentment, maybe? A sense of neglect?

The truth is, I'm trying to write. Elsewhere. Much to my dismay, I'm not one of those fancy-pants book-deal bloggers, and until that day comes, I have to pretend like I have some kind of writerly priority system. Cinema Hype comes first, because of the whole contract-and-money thing, and then any necessary real-life-type writing (mostly to try and attract more contract-and-money situations), and then finally the creative work that's been percolating all day, unless crew or choir or small group or my own delirious need for sleep intervenes. They often do.

I like to listen to the Creative Screenwriting Magazine podcast during long afternoons at work--it's all very "I'm a waitress but really I'm an actress," this entering edits and updating databases while listening to long interviews with working screenwriters. If I time it right, I can finish a podcast just as it's time to go, and rush home to get something down before the inspiration of the day fades or I have to eat dinner and leave the house, whichever comes first. I was listening to the Michael Arndt/Little Miss Sunshine episode recently, and Arndt described his time of holding down a day job and writing in his spare time as one of the hardest things he's ever done. I can't express how much relief that brought me. People do this, apparently. Those half-hours add up, and eventually become finished pieces, however slowly. Piling up enough of those pieces might mean, someday, not having to squeeze it all in around the margins. I'm trying to establish a more consistent writing habit to make the most of that time, to have a little faith, to create a little hope for myself. I do think it's going to work, this keeping on keeping on. Though if somebody wanted to offer me a book deal now, that would be all right too.