Saturday, October 11, 2008

Thus endeth the run ...

Sort of.

Fine. Livejournal wins. I'm going to blog mostly at livejournal now--the "Copyright infringement" linky is on the left. Or, you can access the blog from my webpage at www.kellyswails.com. Or go straight there at kelly_swails.livejournal.com.

I'm not going to delete this blog, because there's some cool stuff in the archives. And you never know, someday if I become a writer full time I might want to upkeep two blogs again.

Why the change, you ask?

Well, LJ has lots of cool features, and I feel like more people read that blog, anyway. Also, I've had a hard time separating my "writing" self from the rest of my life. Keeping two blogs for different aspects of my life has become increasingly cumbersome.

So, goodbye, blogger. It's been a good run. And we can still totally be friends.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Politics -R- Us

Watched the VP debate tonight. While I feel Palin redeemed herself a bit, I don't know that this debate changed any minds. The Obama supporters will love Biden; the McCain supporters will love Palin; and who knows what the undecideds will do. Almost a month away from the elections, and I think it's still a coin toss.

Interesting article by Glenn Beck. Something to think about. Politicians are so busy being partisan that democracy itself is in peril. It's crap like this that almost--almost!--makes me want to run for public office.

WARNING: DON'T VOTE (Jennifer Aniston, Leonardo Dicaprio, Halle Berry, Sarah Silverman, ...)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Busy Weekend

Friday: Me and Ken's 10th wedding anniversary. We celebrated by making a big flowerbed (brick edging, fill in with topsoil) and scattering sand around our backyard to help alleviate our drainage problems. Afterwards, we ate an unsatisfying dinner at Outback Steakhouse. We then commenced to ... lounge ... at home.



Saturday: We finished up the yard work and then headed to Chicagoland to visit Ken's college friends. One of them had been named on of the "top 40 Illinois attorneys under 40", so we attended a nice dinner party complete with wine, appetizers, and dessert. We pretend this is our anniversary dinner instead of the fiasco from the night before.



Sunday: Traveled home only slightly worse for wear. Ken is watching sports while procrastinating on schoolwork; I am doing laundry, cleaning, and contemplating a walk. I also foresee a trip to the grocery store. Later I will polish a flash fiction piece and send it off.



All in all, quite productive. I'll sleep well tonight, I think.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Soggy Sunday

The remnants of Hurricane Ike came through Central Illinois today. I have no idea how many inches we got. I heard predictions of 6 to 8, and that would probably be about right. Earlier I tried to drive to McDonald's to get breakfast and the highway had standing water. I probably could have made it through, but why risk it for an iced coffee? I didn't want to do laundry because I didn't want to overtax the sump pump (which has been working overtime to keep our basement dry, thankyouverymuch). So what have I accomplished today? Nothing, and it's been wonderful. I read a book and knitted and slept. There is something so decadent and marvelous about a Sunday-afternoon nap.

The rain has no passed and so I must try to get some laundry done. A girl's gotta have clean underwear, don't ya know.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ah, fall.

Fall is my favorite time of year. Yesterday was 75 and sunny and perfect. Today is drizzly and 75; tomorrow will be rainy and a bit colder, I suspect. I love love love when the trees start to turn and the weather turns chilly and it's jeans-and-sweatshirt weather. I love when it's too cold to sleep with the windows open but not cold enough to turn on the heat. I love the mums and the high school football games and the pumpkins. I love pulling out fall and Halloween decorations. I love baking oatmeal cookies and buying candy "for Halloween" a month in advance.

This is the time of year I feel most alive.

Last week when I drove past our local high school the lights were on over the football field and a pack of girls crossed the street in front of me, on their way to the game. Back when I was that age, the Friday Night Football Game was the place to be. My friends and I would pour wine coolers into 32-ounce "Hawk Mugs" the local Hardee's sold and sneak them into the game. We'd walk around the track while the game happened so we could See and Be Seen. The cool kids hung out behind the home goal posts. The stoners held court underneath the bleachers. Some kids lined the fence around the field and actually watched the game. The liquor made the lights brighter than they were and now makes some of my memories surreal. We'd wear green and white and sing the fight song and drink our drinks fast so we wouldn't actually get caught with the goods. Afterwards we'd drive around the back country roads and try to find the after-game party, or we'd hang out on the square and be obnoxious, or we'd drive to Jerseyville to get pizza. Anything to sober up before curfew.

This is the time of year I feel most nostalgic. It's weird, too, because I didn't really like high school all that much. I don't keep in contact with hardly anyone I went to high school with. All I wanted was to graduate, leave, and never go back. I have no intention of ever living there, but when I think about my hometown, this time of year especially, I get the warm fuzzies.

9/11

I remember. We all remember.

Monday, September 08, 2008

downtime

Ken and I carpooled into work today, and on the way home we went to Petsmart to check out the wall o' rescue kitties. So cute! We've talked about getting another girl kitty, but none at the store jumped out at us. The right one will find us when it's time.

I did a little bit of writing neepery tonight, but mostly I knitted and watched the movie Contact on TV. We recently (read: last week) ditched cable and got Direct TV, and I have to say I'm enjoying the upgrade.

And now I'm going to go read in bed. Ah, free time.

In the next few days I'm starting on a new writing project. I will try to be better about regular posting, though.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Public service announcements

You can buy the Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog soundtrack on iTunes. Go forth and enjoy all the Bad-Horse goodness.

Season 4 of How I Met Your Mother started September 22nd. Go forth and and enjoy all the story-telling goodness.

Yeah, I finished the draft of the WIP today. How could you tell?

I knew yardwork was a bad idea

This weekend Ken and I finally stopped talking about putting in a flowerbed and started working on it. We cleared weeds, we dug a trench, we poured sand, we moved bricks. Now all we need to do is get in a truckload of dirt and decorative rock to actually make the bed.


Oh, and yeah, we have to get a new sliding glass door, too.


I'm not saying who was operating the trimmer when a rock got thrown. I will say I heard the hit, looked at the house to find the dent in the siding, and saw the spiderweb cracks in the window.

Luckily it's a double-paned window so we're not imminent danger of getting a living room full of glass. Never fear, a call has been made to the insurance agent.


For your viewing pleasure:


Monday, September 01, 2008

I know, I know ...

... I've been remiss about posting lately. But! I've had my head down on the WIP. That's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it. If the planets align correctly, I could have a second draft done by 10 p.m. tonight. Fingers crossed! And then, my pretties, you will inundated with blog content from yours truly.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Frolicking in the snow

My niece just started her freshman year of college. On Saturday I visited her, took her to Wal-mart and out to dinner, and basically just hung out with her. It was a good time, and since she's attending college about 40 minutes away from my house, it's an experience that I'll repeat a few times a month.

Seeing her dorm room was an eye-opening experience. So tiny! It's hard to believe that my dorm room wasn't much bigger than hers. Back then it had seemed huge because it was something of mine that didn't belong to my parents. It represented freedom and Independence and potential. I laughed and cried and learned how to make new friends in that room. I stayed up late and stressed about classes and worried about failing and watched the walls spin from drinking too much free beer. Watching my niece go through that experience now is exciting.

L. is on the 8th floor, and so she's got a pretty kick-ass view. As soon as I saw the expanse of treetops I was back in St. Louis, watching the first snowfall of my freshman year. I could smell the freshness of the snow, see the ice form on the inside of the window, and hear a few floormates knock on the door, saying we should play outside. Myself and three others--people whom I haven't talked to in fifteen years--played in the falling snow at 2 a.m. We ran around the quad and made snow angels and had a snowball fight and built a snowman. We played so long that once I got inside, my body stayed cold for hours afterward. I smile when I remember hanging my wet clothes all around my half of the room, hoping my coat and glove would dry before class on Monday.

Movie Review--Tropic Thunder

Tropic Thunder is an action/comedy starring Ben Stiller, Robert Downy Jr., Jack Black, Brandon T. Jackson, and Jay Baruchel. Actors shooting a Veitnam War-era movie are accidently dropped into the middle of a baaaaaad situation and are forced to become the soldiers they are protraying. The acting is great. Robert Downy Jr. is especially good. The screenplay is awesome; the movie has an actual plot and all the humor, action, and emotion make sense. Jack Black plays a strung-out movie star, and he rocks as usual. Black never holds back, and his performance in TT is no exception. I'll definitely buy this movie once it comes out on DVD. Here's the thing, though: I'd pay full price to see this movie again because of Tom Cruise. He plays a pudgy studio head, and he's awesome. He's only in a few scenes, but they rocked. So, go! You'll laugh! You'll laugh harder!

Olympic glory

Here's the best story of the Olympics. Anything I say will get in the way. Go read.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Yep, sounds about right

Your result for The Perception Personality Image Test...

HBPS - The Optimist

Humanity, Background, Big Picture, and Shape


You perceive the world with particular attention to humanity. You focus on the hidden treasures of life (the background) and how that fits into the larger picture. You are also particularly drawn towards the shapes around you. Because of the value you place on humanity, you tend to seek out other people and get energized by being around others. You like to ponder ideas and imagine the many possibilities of your life without worrying about the details or specifics. You are in tune with all that is around you and understand your life as part of a larger whole. You prefer a structured environment within which to live and you like things to be predictable.








The Perception Personality Types:


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Take The Perception Personality Image Test at href="http://www.helloquizzy.com/">HelloQuizzy

Gen Con Reports

I've made a few Gen Con posts on my livejournal blog. You can see them here and here.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ask and you shall receive

Or more accurately, I tell you I'll do something and I do it. I present the World Con report.

Road-weary

Arrived home from Denver at around 3:30 a.m. Slept it off for about six hours and now I'm vegging in front of the TV with a laptop and a kitty in my lap. Driving to a far-off destination can be a bitch--let's face it, we spent two days on the road--but at the same time I like it. We saw parts of the country we'd never seen before, we sang along to songs, and we experienced a few truly crappy McDonald's. The drive itself was easy--only four interstates with very little construction. We stopped in Omaha to see a college friend I hadn't seen in almost ten years. We ate. We drove. We slept. And then after World Con we did it all again. Good times, but it's always good to be home.

Here's what I've learned on my summer vacation so far:

1. Omaha really is a happening place. The downtown has seen some gentrification in recent years and is pretty hip. We saw it at night, and we were going to stop on the way back through to experience some of the little shops and stuff during the day, but we wanted to get home, so ... next time.

2. People in Iowa can't drive. At least, they are incapable of driving over twenty miles an hour on a two-lane highway in the dark. You know how they put all the traffic on one side of the interstate when they're working on the other side? Well. This scares Iowan nighttime drivers so much that they come to a stand-still. I will just stay it was an unpleasant way to spend a half-hour when you're still several hours from home.

3. Apparently you have to go to an actual city if you want to see political ads. Or maybe the campaigns have already written off my area. Whatever the reason, I've seen more of McCain and Obama during the past four days than I had the previous month. And I've been watching the election coverage on the news networks!

4. Having a weird schedule + eating at weird times = weight loss. Who knew? I think I skipped a lot of meals and walked a bunch, so that helped. Whatever. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, right?

5. You know how on the map of the US, Nebraska is pretty much bare after Omaha? Yeah, they aren't lying. It's freakish. Colorado is the same way--you'll easily go fifty miles without seeing a house. Spooky. Also, Iowa is full of rolling hills, Nebraska is flat, and Colorado is hilly with brush instead of grass.

6. Being a mile closer to the sun really does mean you burn quick. We went to a Rockies baseball game on Thursday and zowie! I got a little pink. We didn't stay for the whole game, and it's a good thing, because otherwise I would have been lobsterfied. And before you say it--yes, I was wearing sunscreen. Not enough, apparently.

We leave for another convention in two days--this one much closer to home (Indy)--and so here's what I have to accomplish:

1. Laundry

2. Mow the lawn

3. Finish the current chapter in the WIP already

4. Return the rental car

5. Return the library materials

6. Knit something so I can make sure I still frickin' know how

7. Veg


I'll post a link to the Official Worldcon Con Report once I write it. Now, I must put jeans in the dryer ...

Friday, August 01, 2008

Friday night, girl's-night-in style

Tonight I knitted (one more square of baby Coop's baby blanket to go!), watched Ocean's Eleven and That Thing You Do, and ate ice cream for dinner. Right now it's almost midnight and I'm coloring my hair. The only thing missing is a mani-pedi and pop music on the radio.

I love vacation.

Well, technically I have to work on Monday, but that's just what it is: a technicality. Mentally I'm vacationing until the 18th. Hitting WorldCon in Denver and then Gen Con in Indy.

Must rinse the gray outta my hair now.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Internet fun, weekend edition

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, acts 1, 2, and 3 are available free until July 20th at midnight EDT, me thinks. They're for sale on iTunes, for those of you who want to shell out the four bucks. NPH, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day singing their little hearts out. Good times. Plus, it's always good to support the internet movie format.

Pandora: radio from the Music Genome Project. I love how you plug in a band, and based on the qualities of that band's music, the site pulls music from the database you'll enjoy. Put music theory to work for you! Frickin' genius.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Technology rules

The iPhone, I have it. It's pretty and shiny and useful. It surfs and plays and calls and receives and directs. Ah lurve it.

Not much writing will be done tonight, I fear.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog

Act 1 is up, and it's full of Neil Patrick Harris and Nathon Fillion goodness.

http://www.drhorrible.com/act_I.html

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cattery


Moonshine



Kahlua


Morgan

New kitty pictures, just because.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Conflict of interest

Am I the only person that has a problem with Project Runway and Ghosthunters episodes airing at the same time? Which one to watch live, which one to DVR? Oh, the conundrum.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Two movie reviews, a book review, and general upkeep

I've not been around the blogsphere much lately, mostly because I've been working on the rewrite of my Work In Progress, going to the movies, and in general enjoying the summertime. Here's a recap of my recent activities.



*Just bought Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. So much fun. I like Guitar Hero better than Rock Band, probably because Ken doesn't like playing Rock Band with me--something about my inner rock goddess embarassing him--and GH:A hasn't dissapointed me so far.



*Recently finished Codespell by Kelly McCullough. Lots of fun. It's the third book in the series, and it didn't dissapoint. The thing that intimidates me about McCullough's books is he's got three zillion characters to keep straight, so I spend some time at the beginning of the book pushing aside the cobwebs in my head so I can remember everything. Once I get past that, though, it's one hell of a ride straight through to the end. If you enjoy science fiction and looking at the legends of greek mythology in a different light, I highly recommend the series.



*Making notes for my next book. Another YA, this one science fiction. I can't wait to dive in, but lots of research still needs to happen.



*Movie review: Hancock looks at the dark side of superherodom. Will Smith plays the title character. He's a drunk who's pissed off at the world. He doesn't remember who he really is or where he came from. The only thing he knows for sure is that he's the only one of his kind, he doesn't age, and he's indestructable. Jason Bateman plays the PR guy set on changing Hancock's public persona, and Charlize Theron plays the PR dude's wife who has some secrets of her own. A decent way to spend the afternoon. Ken really liked it; I though it could have been constructed a teensy bit better, but I enjoyed it as well.



*Movie review: Wall-e is an awesome movie. Wall-e a class of robot whose task is to compress the massive piles of trash left on earth after humans have evacuated the planet. The title character is the last working robot, and over the course of 700 years has developed a personality. Eve is a robot sent to earth with a specific directive. Using very little dialogue, the movie delves into several themes: rampant consumerism, artificial intelligence, companionship, and the potential future of humankind if we don't start taking care of ourselves and our planet. I would watch this again. I dare say I'd pay full price the second time.



I leave you with a picture of my daylillies in all their glory.





Monday, June 30, 2008

Fruits of my addiction




One completed horizontal ribbed scarf, one almost completed vertical ribbed scarf, and 1/4 of a baby blanket made of seed-stitch blocks.

Friday, June 27, 2008

It's NPH, baby!


Teaser from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog on Vimeo.



Neil Patrick Harris. Joss Whedon. What more can you ask for?

Friday, June 20, 2008

New Music Friday

I've recently been introduced to Jonathon Coulton (thanks Sean Murphy!). This dude sings the geek soundtrack.

Zombie geek? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjcH2UmK1uo

Computer coder/World of Warcraft geek? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4Wy7gRGgeA

History geek? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdUUywIsIGI

Microbiology geek? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqOVYpkZ0qs

Math geek? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uluZMafXVE

Science fiction/WoW/Christmas geek? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5M9UTlDb10

Rock band geek? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAgutrkFjBQ

Guitar hero geek? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7OG2qHWMgo&feature=related


And that's just the tip of the iceberg, my friends! He's got songs about Tom Cruise and DNA! What's not to like? Go on over to his website and buy some .

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Who knew?

Your result for The Fashion Style Test ...
Glamorous Soul
40% Flamboyance, 52% Originality, 63% Deliberateness, 57% Sexiness
[Tasteful Original Deliberate Sexy]
You choose your outfits carefully according to many criteria. You don't like looking cheap, dull or random and you go to great lengths to avoid this. You are successful, too. People admire your taste and sex appeal. Many try to imitate you but not many can recreate your unique style. Sometimes, however, they find you too intimidating to approach. If you don't wear retro style yet, perhaps you should consider it. It would become greatly your sexy, mysterious self.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lessons learned

A few things I learned over the weekend:

1. Do not, under any circumstances, see The Happening. M. Night Shyamalan wrote, directed, and produced it, and it is truly terrible. The concept was good--it's a day-of-apocolypse story--but the execution was horrible. Characters and dialogue were awful and things were thrown into the plot that made no sense. Ugh. One good thing I will say about it was there were some nice cinematography. I repeat: Do. Not. See. It.

2. Driving along the edge of a severe thunderstorm is almost worse than driving right through it. Also, looking for a tornado while trying to keep the car on the road in the wind for an hour straight can be a little exhausting.

3. Reading a holocaust novel right before bed can give you funny dreams.

Friday, June 13, 2008

R.I.P Tim Russert

Tim Russert, political analyst for NBC, has died. I'm saddened and a little shocked. While I wouldn't call myself a political junkie, I do enjoy a civil political debate and fair coverage of a candidate or issue. Mr. Russert provided that. Who will host Meet the Press on Sunday? There is no replacement.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Music Tuesday

So I just bought the new Alanis Morrisette album today. Actually, I pre-ordered it from iTunes like any self-respecting fan would. So far it's angsty and fun, which is pretty much par for the course.

My purchase got me thinking about the role music has played in my life. My parents were always into music--my mom more than my dad, maybe--and several of my childhood memories revolve around music or have music playing in the background. For instance:

Saturday was cleaning day at our house. Mom would either put on American Bandstand or turn off the TV and listen to the radio. I particularly remember listening to Laura Branigan's "Gloria" while helping mom dust. We'd sing and dance and clean and giggle. It should be noted I still do that. It's easier to clean out a closet when you can toss crap into the trash in time to the Chicago Soundtrack.

Mom listened to all sorts of music, but she especially liked country. Kenny Rogers, Anne Murray, Crystal Gayle. Dad liked music from the '50's and early '60's. Think "Leader of the Pack." My cousin (who was around mom's age) liked rock like Led Zepplin. I think she'd listen to music as she cleaned, too, and she'd wear a red kerchief over her wild blond hair.

I got a record player in third grade. I listened to mom's 45's--Jackie Robinison's "Tears of a Clown" had a heavy rotation--and Jack Wagner's "All I Need." My first full-length vinyl album was Michael Jackson's Thriller. I played and played and played that thing. It should be noted I've tried to buy the album from iTunes several times, but I can't bring myself to do it. I don't want to help pay his legal fees, ya know? Maybe I'll go to a used record store and try to snag a copy. I get a copy and support the local economy without giving any to Wacko Jacko that way.

Mom is currently on a Big Band kick.

Last time I was at Dad's I saw Abba's Greatest Hits sitting next to his CD player.

I have everything from Kenny Rogers to Kanye West on my iPod.

We all evolve; music's presence is the constant.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Psyche development via material possessions

I am one of those women who are more comfortable at a table full of guys than a table full of girls. (I currently work in a profession that's 80% women ... go figure.) On the playground I played dodgeball and soccer just as much as I played hopscotch and jump rope. In high school my best friends were guys. I wonder how much of that had its roots in the toys my parents surrounded me with.



My mom bought me the typical girly toys: dolls and kitchen gear. I had Barbies, stuffed dolls, dolls that peed when you fed them, dolls that closed their eyes when you laid them down, dolls that had different outfits. I fed them, gave them naps, changed them, and put them in the mousetraps. I had an orange-and-brown metal kitchen set complete with fridge, stove, and sink. I had an easy-bake oven that saw some serious action.



My dad bought me boy toys: balls and trucks. I had colorful balls, balls attached to paddles, whiffle balls, ping pong balls. I had dump trucks, army trucks, matchbox cars and trucks, Tonka trucks. I especially remember a whole Tonka Trailer-Truck set that included little plastic hay bales, horses, and fences to keep everything corralled properly.

A nice marriage of the duality occured when I played in my dirt pile (really just a bare patch of lawn next to the house). There, I used the trucks to make mud pies that I would then "feed" to the dolls.

My mother taught me to crochet, gossip with friends, polish my nails, bake a cake, and how to laugh with others.

My father taught me to gut a fish, know when to keep my mouth shut, hammer a nail, creative cursing, and how to laugh at myself.

Oddly, my dad taught me how to bake and decorate sugar cookies. He actually did most of the baking in our house; with the possible exception of Chocolate-oatmeal-no-bakes and Rice Krispie treats, he owned the sugar in our house.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Television and the Young Mind

In my youth, I watched a fair amount of television. Back in those days there were three big networks: ABC, CBS, NBC. In the St. Louis environs we also had PBS, channel 11 (local station) and channel 30 (a precursor to Fox, if memory serves.) My viewing habits were governed by two facts: I was a night owl by nature and my mother was a stay-at-home mom.

Back in those days I lived and died by Sesame Street and Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. I remember counting with the pinball-machine cartoon (1-2-3-4-5 ... 6-7-8-9-10 ... 11-12!) and going away to the Land of Make Believe. Once, during a public television tele-a-thon, I called the 1-800 number to see if the people on the phones in TV were real. (Yeah, I got in big trouble for that one. I wonder how many kids those PBS fundraisers talk to?) The Electric Company aired later in the morning, and as I got a little older I watched that, too. One science lesson illustrated the concept of optical illusions using a level floor tiled to appear sloped. It seems like I watched Kids, Incorporated around this time, too. As I watched the kids sing and dance I wanted to be just like them, all graceful and beautiful and talented.

During the afternoons, my mother commandeered the television to watch soaps. I can still remember the order they aired: Ryan's Hope at 11, All My Children at 12, One Life to Live at 1, General Hospital at 2, and The Young and the Restless at 3. I learned all I needed to learn about boys and cooties before I started school.

Once Dad got home from work and did whatever yard work needed done, he or mom would cook dinner as we watched the news (usually KSDK, the NBC affiliate). During the evening we watched TV as a family: Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, The Muppet Show, The Wonderful World of Disney. Later, my mom would go to bed early, and then it was just dad and me. We'd watch Joker's Wild, a game show that came on at 9, and then we'd watch the news again before catching The Twilight Zone, Dr. Who, and The Benny Hill Show. For a while we watched a women-in-prison show called Cell Block H; I don't remember it very clearly, though, so I bet it was only on for one season. I usually fell asleep during these shows; I'd wake up in time to watch The Lone Ranger with dad at 6:30 before mom woke up.

On the weekends, dad would go fishing or hunting. Sometimes he'd take me with him, but when he didn't, mom would take a break from cleaning the house to watch American Bandstand and dance with me. She taught me the Mashed Potato and the Twist. This was, of course, after the Saturday morning cartoons: Bugs Bunny, Roadrunner/Wile Coyote, Smurfs, Scooby Doo.

During my tween years I watched Doogie Howser, The Wonder Years, Quantum Leap, and the occasional Mystery Science Theater 3000 with dad. And of course I discovered MTV. And all during my childhood mom and I watched all the awards shows; Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, Daytime Emmys. If there was a statue to be had, you can bet me and mom were on the couch with a pan of Rice Krispie treats watching who won it.

What's this all say about me? I get my sci-fi/fantasy geekiness from my dad; I get my pop culture awareness from my mom. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Watch this space!

I've been feeling a little nostalgic lately, probably because I've been thinking of the future. There's no better way to figure out what I want to do with my life than look at what I've already done, am I right? So I'm declaring this week "Nostalgia Week," complete with pictures, witty anecdotes, and, if I play my cards right, raw emotion. This will get into full swing Monday evening. Until then, brace yourselves: the ride's about to get a little bumpy ...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Notes from the addiction clinic

Me: So, I went to this yarn shop after work called Needleworks.
Ken: The crack house.
Me: I found it pretty intimidating. There's like three or four rooms full of yarn of all kinds, hand dyed, hand spun, regular stuff, sparkly, really bulky, super thin. You name it, it's there. What was cool, though, was there were three people sitting around a table knitting--
Ken: Sniffing cords.
Me: Um, sure. What I found interesting, though, was that there was a guy there. I'm guessing he was in his sixties. He wore a Cubs t-shirt and knitted with three double-pointed needles.
Ken: Huh. So anyone really can be an addict.


The trip was good: despite my intimidation, I scored the yarn and instructions for a Gryiffindor scarf. I don't know if I'll use the pattern--it seems a little more advanced than my skill level--but the colors are spot-on. Can't wait to knit it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My husband rocks

He surprised me today by bringing home Rock Band. This may be a part of his nefarious plan to pull me away from knitting. I'll let him think it's working ... for now ...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Can I get a "hell yes," people?

Looks like HIMYM is back for another season! This brightened my mood considerably.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A post of three parts

1. I got purling down. Ha-ha-ha! Now I'm half-way through a lovely pink-and-brown varigated-yarn potholder. Next, I will practice changing colors of yarn, and then work on a scarf. Today at Hobby Lobby I saw some cool lime-green yarn, which would be fun, but I think first I'd like to make a burgundy-and-gold Gryffindor scarf. Knitting is the new crack.

2. We watched Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle today. Funny stuff. There were some lame things--riding a cheetah, for example--but some really funny things, like Neil Patrick Harris snorting coke off a stripper's ass. Ken and I and a few friends are going to see Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay this week. Hopefully it doesn't suck.

3. We went to the theater and watched Iron Man last night. Great movie, awesome special effects, good plot. Robert Downey, Jr. rocked the role of Tony Stark, Gwenyth Paltrow made a good Pepper Potts, and Jeff Bridges looked good bald. I thought the actual story wasn't as good as Batman Begins but on it's own merit it's pretty good. I think it's worth paying full price. If you see it, stay through the end of the credits. There's a little scene that sets up a sequel. I know what you're saying: "Why should I stay for five minutes and watch a bunch of names scroll the screen when I could already be half-way home?" I'll tell you why: Samuel L. Jackson. 'Nuff said. Though I have to say it was cool watching the names roll by. There were a zillion (okay, maybe only a hundred) people that worked on the computer graphics, and I told Ken that soon we'd go to a movie and watch the credits to see our friend Jimmy's name. To which he replied, "Have you talked to Bridget lately?" and I had to say "Uh, no." This only proves once again that I am a bad friend.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

I was wrong

Turns out I don't know how to purl, yet. Bah. I've got knitting down, but purling is like knitting backwards, and I'm hitting a roadblock. It's basically an essential stitch to master if you're ever going to make anything smooth ... so. More practice. And then! I will win and I will make a scarf and life will be good.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

I'm doomed




I went and did it. I bought a pair of knitting needles and some yarn, and last night I got together with some co-workers and learned to knit. Okay, "learn" is a strong word. "Tried" is better. This morning I tried to do some more and failed to even get started. I tossed the needles aside and said, "bah! I have too much other stuff to do anyway."

And then I went online, found a cool beginner's website, learned a new way to "cast on", and went to town. I knitted two rows, purled two rows, and cast off. I wouldn't say it was easy--I dropped a few stitches and my finished product is pretty loose--but I think I'm actually getting the hang of it. I'll never knit my own sweaters, but if I can get good enough to work my way up to scarves, I wouldn't complain.

Like I needed another way to fill my days, right?


ETA the pictures.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Quality time with the spousal unit

Last night Ken took some time away from schoolwork long enough so we could see a movie. We watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall. There were some cute parts and funny parts and raunchy parts, and the Englishman was hysterical, but as a whole it wasn't cohesive as I would have liked. There were a ton of penis shots, which I found funny but annoyed Ken.

Soapbox: Jason Segal wrote the script and plays the male lead. He's naked a lot, which I think is supposed to be endearing because he's goofy and a little doughy and not at all buff and the two female leads (Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis) are both predictably skinny and hot. For me it just pointed out the sexist nature of Hollywood--sure, guys can be shleppy and headline a Major Motion Picture, but a goofy, less-than-perfect woman (think Judy Greer or Jeanne Garafolo) will usually be cast as the snarky best friend.

It's not nearly as good as Knocked Up or Superbad, probably because Judd Apatow only produced it, he didn't direct it. If you see it, either go to a matinee or wait for DVD. Definitely don't pay full price.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I went and did it

I bought the textbook I'll need to study for the Specialist in Microbiology ASCP exam. It ships May 1st. Between now and next spring I'll be doing one of three things with my spare time: writing, studying micro, or reading fiction. Oh, let's be serious, one of four things: gotta add "playing Guitar Hero" to that list.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It never really goes away, does it?

So today I had the day off. It's a gorgeous day, beautiful, sunshiny, no humidity, slight breeze, around 80 degrees. (Yes, Bridget, I know it's like that every day in LA. Shut up.) I colored by hair, finished a short story, contemplated getting Chinese food for lunch but then convinced myself to way until mid-afternoon, and got a manicure. I went into one of those strip-mall places full of Asian women who barely speak English because those type of nail places give better manicures that salons that charge twice as much. I allowed myself to enjoy being pampered for a half-hour. I tipped the woman generously, and left to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

I got about halfway to my car before I mentally flayed myself for spending $17 on a frivolity. "Self," I said, "You could have spent $8 on this exact nail polish at the mall and used it for the next two years."

Why, why, why, do I feel guilty about spending money on things that aren't essentials? Why can't I get it through my head that just because I grew up poor doesn't mean I am now? Why can't I understand that I work hard for my money and so it's okay for me to have nice things?

I don't always feel this way. I'm fine with buying a computer or an iPod, and I have no problems paying for a gaming platform or a few books or a gym membership, probably because I know I'll get my money's worth out of them through use. But getting a manicure seems like such an indulgence that I beat myself up about it.

New Music Wednesday

For those of you who don't know, I'm a movie soundtrack junkie. Grease, Chicago, The Village, it's all good. Hell, I even own the soundtrack to Twister. If some crazed fan ever sent me the Last Action Hero soundtrack on CD, I probably wouldn't have them arrested. So, I'm getting ready to buy the soundtrack to Forgetting Sarah Marshall, mostly because Jason Segal from How I Met Your Mother is in the movie and performs on the soundtrack, but also because I plan to go see it this week. The first song on the album is "Love you Madly" by Cake. It's a spry little number, and it makes me wonder why I don't own any Cake albums. I said all of that to say this: if you had to buy only one Cake album, which one would it be? (That's right, I'm lookin' at you, Innuendo, but anyone can chime in.)

Friday, April 18, 2008

What's shakin'?

Everything, as it turns out. We had an earthquake this morning, 5.2 on the richter scale. Around 4:37 this morning, I felt the bed shake and a clinking noise. The noise was Ken's glasses hitting a drinking glass on his bedside table (I think) and the shaking was, um, the earth. Actually, my first thought was, "Is Kahlua having a seizure?" because, well, that's basically how Bailey died in front of us, and we all know how disorienting waking up from a dead sleep can be. I looked at the foot of the bed, but Kahlua wasn't there; he was sitting in the middle of the bedroom, minding his own business. Morgan lay sleeping at my side, and Moonshine was nowhere to be found. I said, "Is it an earthquake?" and Ken said, "No, it's the glasses clinking," because he had that whole disoriented thing happening, too. I was more "WTF?" than scared. It lasted I dunno, maybe 15 or 20 seconds, then it stopped. Ken promptly fell back to sleep. I lay awake for a bit thinking about the New Madrid fault line. I grew up in the St. Louis area, and they taught us about it in school, so of course the thoughts running through my head was "Holy crap, St. Louis is in ruins" and "Hope my family's okay" and "Ken's too busy with finals to be dealing with this now." (Ken works for an agency that coordinates Illinois law enforcement in an emergency.) This is the seismic zone that caused the quake today. If I have a handle on the way these things work, if New Madrid had a big quake, this fault line would be affected, too.

Don't worry, everyone is okay here. It was a weird 20 seconds, though. Clearly, the end is near.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

This and that

So, today I mowed the yard for the first time. We had waving fields of grain, we did. I feel like I need to go bale the trimmings.

So I'm procrastinating from writing by watching Ghost Hunters. I love this show. These paranormal investigators go into a "haunted" place expecting to disprove the haunting. Sometimes they find actual abberitions, though. I particularly like it when they catch a spirit's voice on tape. It's usually disembodied and barely understandable, but always creepy. Good times.

Cubs are on. They are winning. Life is good.

Tomorrow I go to cycling and finish a short story. Friday I have dinner with friends. Saturday I may help a girlfriend with her daughter's slumber party. This weekend I start another short story. May is taken up with fixing and finishing my YA project.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Answers to your burning questions

1. Have you ever killed a man?
Um, no. Why do you ask?

2. With your own hands?
If I were to kill someone--and this is purely hypothetical here--I would use biological means. A little botulism toxin goes a long way, you know.

3. What, in your opinion, is the best way to transport contraband across state and country lines?
I would never transport contraband. But if I did, I'd have to say "Pay a mule to do it." Why get your own hands dirty? Wasn't I plain enough about how I feel about that in question 2?

4. Even if you're transporting explosives?
Yep.

5. Really?
Yes, really. Sheesh, people.

6. Have you ever stolen a library book?
No.

7. On purpose, or only because you found it under your bed years after you reported it lost and paid the fine?
Neither. I'm as clean as a preacher's sheets on this one.

8. Where were you on November 1, 2007?
Uh ... probably at work. Or at home. Possibly both, but not at the same time.

9. Can you prove it?
No. Dear God, now that I think about it, I may have been out of the country.

10. You had to think about that, didn't you?
Yeah. That's actually kind of a scary question when you really think about it. What if you really did need to prove what you did on a past date?

11. How much is it worth to you for me to pretend I didn't notice?
Not much, actually. I'm not easily embarrassed.

12. Have you spent years building up an immunity to iocane powder? (And if you know a faster method, will you share it?)
As a matter of fact, I do know a better way, but it involves a land war in Asia. You don't want to hear about it.

13. Name three different ways to start a fire.
Um ... hmmmm. A match. Dropping a chunk of pure sodium in a bucket of water might work to get some sparks going. Flint and steel.

14. Now try to convince me you only know that because you were a Girl/Boy Scout/Guide once.
I'm not even going to try. Anyone who knows me knows I'm no girl scout.

15. How many digits of pi can you recite from memory?
3.14 .... so, the first three.

16. Did you have to count out the digits on your fingers to answer that?
No.

17. Did you check online to make sure you remembered right before answering?
No.

18. Does all this talk about numbers make you uncomfortable?
Oddly, yes.

19. Or are you just wondering what it has to do with the rest of the meme?
Well, that, too.

20. Seriously, where did you bury the body?
Dude, I'm not telling you.

21. Where were you on March 16, 2036?
I'm definitely not answering that.

22. If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump, too?
Hell, no. I'm probably the one that pushed them.

23. What is the ninja replacement score for your life?
Oh, jeez. At least three.

Neil Patrick Harris is my hero

Just read this over at msnbc.com. All I can say is, right on, Neil. Right on. I am one of those fans that looooooove HIMYM, and if the producers and studio fuck it up with stunt casting, I'm going to be severely disappointed. As far as I know, CBS has not picked it up for the fall line-up yet; if this show gets canceled, I'm waging a yellow-umbrella campaign. For those of you who hadn't heard, Jericho got canceled by CBS last year; the fans brought the show back by sending in thousands of pounds of peanuts. (Peanuts were an allusion to a "don't give up" anecdote in the show.) True, the seven episodes of the second season sucked pretty hard, mostly because I think CBS had no intention of keeping the series going; they merely wanted to wrap things up as quickly as they could. Anyway, if HIMYM gets canned, I'm so sending CBS a yellow umbrella. (Apparently a yellow umbrella figures heavily into the story of how Ted eventually meets the mother.) Who's with me?

ETA: Looks like Neil may be in a bit of hot water. I think I understand what he's saying: hey, Brit didn't do a bad job, but we don't need to rely on stunt casting because it's a damn fine show without it.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Bliss.

Today was a perfect spring day. Sixty-five degrees, breezy, sunshine-y all day long. Absolute awesomeness. I got some laundry done (yay), made a new crock-pot lasagna recipe (needs a little tweaking but yummy anyway), cooked no-bake cookies (always excellent), tried baking seven-layer bars (still cooling so the jury's still out), cleared the dead perennials from the flowerbeds (exposing new growth underneath, bonus), grocery shopped with Ken (double bonus) and walked around the woods near our house with Ken (triple bonus). All that plus I've made a little headway on the short story that's due May 1st. I honestly don't know what could have made this day any better.

Okay, okay, maybe an e-mail from an agent wanting to see a full manuscript. Other than that, though ... nothing. And, hey, the day's not over yet, am I right?

As Ken and I walked through the woods earlier today, I realized again how much I need to live in the country. We always talk about buying a house in the woods, and today just completely reinforced that notion for me. Friends of ours live in the country, and a few times a year they have bonfires. We go and eat food and drink wine and listen to the quiet and look at the stars and as we do all those things, I can actually feel my soul become peaceful, like I've found a piece of me that's missing. Today was a good way to recharge the batteries.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Recently discovered cat facts

1. Moonshine is almost brave enough to go into the shower when its running. Ken even shoved her in the other day and she didn't freak out too bad. Once she takes that plunge that will make us a two-shower cat-household. (Morgan's been taking showers for almost two years.)

2. Morgan loves to lick the glue on envelopes. He doesn't discriminate against old envelopes, either; if it's paper and it has glue, he licks it. This always makes me think of the Seinfeld episode where George's fiance Susan dies from licking too many cheap envelopes.

3. Kahlua doesn't chew his food. He also yodels before he barfs. It's an odd sound to hear at four in the morning.

Spring is in the air ...

... and so I'm getting the urge to redecorate and plant flowers. It's this time of year that I always curse myself for not planting bulbs in the fall. It's also the time of year that I tell myself this is the year I'm actually going to do the back flowerbed and plant lots of annuals and actually have a decent lawn. It might really happen this time. I can't really plant any flowers until around Mother's Day--they'll just get frostbitten otherwise--but I can repaint the master suite in the meantime. I'm thinking brown walls in the bedroom, teal blue walls in the bathroom, and curtains/bedding/accents with a mixture of both colors. I've found towels and curtains I like a Target; finding new bedding could be an issue, as could finding a shower curtain. I'll search around until I find something, but I forsee a weekend soon where I'm up to my elbows in paint. I can't wait. And then maybe we'll be grown-ups and buy an actual bedroom furniture set. Right now it's a mish-mash of childhood, garage sale, and hand-me-down furniture.

I've also been pondering re-doing Ken's den. He's actually just turned our spare room into his office; I'd like to surprise him with new paint and a few cool asian-feel pictures for the walls. I think he'd really appreciate that, and it wouldn't take much effort. Maybe the next time he's away on business.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Davidson's swan song

I like watching college basketball. During the season I usually only care about Big Ten teams, but during March Madness I'm all about the underdog. Today 10-seed Davidson played 1-seed Kansas for the last final four spot. Davidson's a great team, surprised every team they played, and Stephen Curry is a phenom as far as offense goes. They had a legitimate shot at making it ... and they lost 57-59. It was an excellent game, full of ups and downs and a close score the entire time (the biggest lead was Kansas by six at one point). Every one of those kids played with heart. They could have won. But instead we have 4 1-seeds as the final four. How boring.


On a different note, yesterday somebody backed into my car in a parking lot. This is the second time that has happened to me. I swear to God my next car will be lime green.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Excuse me while I try bulemia on for size

Check this out. While my inner teen says "yay!", my outer adult says, "come on." I mean, I'm glad they're reissuing the books, because they were favorites of mine as a kid and they'll do well in the current market atmophere. However, do they need to make girls feel any worse than they already do about their looks? Seriously. Is being a size six all that bad?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Industrial-strength crud

So, um, yeah. It turns out I have a sinus infection, an ear infection, and I'm working on a mild case of pinkeye. I'm on antibiotics now. Amoxicillin, thy name is love. I also get to do nasal irrigation with saline four times a day, which is just as much fun as it sounds.

My working theory is that I had the flu late last week and that opened me up for all the creepy-crawly goodness.

Honestly, I didn't think I had an infection until someone suggested it to me at work yesterday because other than my raw-from-wiping nose, I'm not in pain. Pressure, sure, and full of snot, but my face and ears don't hurt. My eyes burn a little but that's it. Oh, and I haven't tasted anything for four days, so I have no real appetite, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

So I get to brave one more day of work (hopefully I'll get to leave early) and then spend all this weekend recuperating. I'm not even going to feel guilty about not writing. I'm going to sleep and read and watch comfy movies and listen to the thunderstorms we're supposed to have.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The cruds, I gots it

Avoid this year's strain of influenza at all costs. Seriously. It's nothing to fuck around with. All day Saturday I rotated between sleeping with a blanket, sleeping without a blanket, watching t.v., and walking back and forth to the bathroom. Talk about fatigue--the amount of energy it took me to walk from the living room to the kitchen to get a glass of water nearly did me in. And let's not even talk about aches and pains--at one point I took and shower and cut it short because the water falling on my body hurt. Sunday I spent the day blowing two quarts of snot out of my nose, but I had a bit more energy so I was okay with that. Today I stayed home from work, blew even more snot outta my sinuses, and even mustered the energy to surf the web, take a shower, and do a load of laundry. Tomorrow I might be nearly normal.

I hate being sick. I had plans this weekend--Chicago, Carrollton, and Peoria, two of them events that will not be replicated--and I didn't get to do a single one.

On a brighter note, How I Met Your Mother is on tonight. It's on the bubble for pick-up next year, so if you've not watched it, give it a try. Neil Patrick Harris needs all the viewers he can get.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Downtime

I've worked that last three weekends in a row, and what does that net me? A weekend off, right? Why, yes it does. Apparently I haven't been living right, though, because I've caught a cold. Right now it's in my chest as well as my head. All that laundry and writing I'd hoped to get done with weekend? Eh, maybe. Most likely I'll be camped out on the couch with a magazine and a book and a bottle of juice. The only downside is that so far, I haven't lost my appetite ... so no sickness-related weight loss for me. If you're gonna be sick, you might as well lose a pound or three, am I right?

I. Love. Judy. Greer.

I've loved her ever since she played the freaky outcast in Jawbreaker. I loved her before anyone knew who she was. An executive over at ABC finally got a clue and cast her as the lead in a new series called Miss Guided. (Though it might have been Ashton Kutcher that got the clue--he's the executive producer of the show.) She is just so geeky and real and honest and awesome. Don't believe me? Check her out here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

3.14

Happy Pi day, everyone! Watch out, world: the geeks are about to celebrate.

Today my niece is in town checking out the University. Ken and I were on campus for a bit to have lunch with her. While there, we saw two hot girls from the math club were selling pieces of pie in observance of Pi day. Yeah, you read that right: two hot girls from the math club. We wondered if they were actually members or if they'd been recruited for selling. Or perhaps they were smart enough to realize that the math geeks are going to be the ones makin' all the money after graduation and so decided to invest in their future and became Math Club Groupies.

At work the micro department observed pi day by bringing in pies. I was actually sort of bummed to have the day off ... but they promised to save me a piece of peanut butter pie so I have that to look forward to tomorrow. It'll make working Saturday a little bit sweeter, yes?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Odds and Ends

There's a rumor going around that it's going to be 60 degrees on Wednesday.

I. Am. So. Pumped.

Watching Raiders of the Lost Ark right now. I can't wait for the new one to come out in May. I'm a fan of Harrison Ford, of course, but I'm anxious to see if Shia Lebouf can pull of the role of the son.

Speaking of movies, last night a friend and I watched the Scream trilogy. The first and second ones are classics, but the third one fell a little short on plot and tension. It felt too forced. A big reason for that, I think, is because the third movie had a different screenwriter than the first two.

Lots going on this week. Gym on Monday, taxes on Wednesday, niece in town on Thursday and Friday for a campus visit, work this weekend. The new writing goal is to have a rough draft of the short story done by the end of the week. Fingers crossed and all that.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Book Reviews

Okay, okay, okay. I know I have a section of my website that's supposed to be for book reviews, but the spousal unit is way busy with school, so until he can update the site, this will have to do.

Dead To Me by Anton Strout
In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that Anton is a good writer-friend of mine (as you've already figured out from my posts here and here). I didn't know until I bought the book that my mentor, Kelly "Y" McCullough, blurbed it. I can totally see why he did; there are a lot of similarities between Kelly's and Anton's storytelling (first person, fast-paced, world-based.)
Dead To Me follows Simon Canderous, a guy who is psychometric. What's Psychometry, you ask? It's the ability to divine the history of an object just by touching it. Cool, right? Not so much when you touch a potential girlfriend's cell phone and learn enough about her last tryst to completely turn you off. However, this ability is great when you work for the Department of Extraordinary Affairs in New York City. The members of the DEA spend their under-budgeted, over-worked time solving crimes of the zombie-vampire-otherworldly sort. Simon's got a "misspent youth" past that lends a little bit of credibility to the character without making him unlikeable. The plot was at times a little jumpy, but the writing was crisp and funny and so I could go with it. I would recommend it if you're looking for an enjoyable way to kill a few evenings.

Happy Hour of the Damned by Mark Henry
I don't know Mark at all, but let me tell you, I can't wait to meet this guy at a con. Any married man that can write about clothing by name-dropping designers is tops in my book. Happy Hour of the Damned follows a Seattle woman named Amanda Feral who, unbeknownst to her and against her will, gets made into a zombie. Amanda is bitchy, shallow, materialistic, and selfish; all of this is okay, though, because Amanda is well aware of her flaws and refused to apologize for them. She is who she is and if you don't like it, fuck off. She quickly befriends Wendy (a like-minded zombie), Gil (a flamin' gay vampire) and Lisel (a succubus). Lisel sends Amanda a text message that simply says "Help" before disappearing off the face of the earth. Amanda and her friends try and find her and get tangled in a World Domination plot along the way. There's lots of fun world-building here, as well as gratuitous cursing, bulimia jokes, splatter-rific gore, and fashion. While the plot is a little jumpy (at one point I had to flip pages to refresh my memory about a character who turned out to be A Bad Person.) Amanda is wonderfully flawed, the tone is satirical and fresh, and there's footnotes. Reading this was time well spent, but stay away if you find eating homeless people insulting.

I win!

Sort of. I didn't get the story written today like I wanted to ... but whatevs. I'm having trouble bringing the funny; I think I need to flesh out the character a little bit more and try a different approach. Round two starts Sunday (I work tomorrow.)

Other than that, the day went pretty well. I got most of the laundry and grocery shopping done. I also watched Chicago, which is a favorite of mine. I own the soundtrack so I know all the songs by heart, so I sang along during the entire movie. I'm not afraid to admit I even danced around a bit. My cat Morgan weaved around my feet and meowed, so I guess you could say we were singing a duet. Okay, that sounded a lot more "crazy cat lady" than I intended, so maybe forget you read that last little bit.

Wanna hear something crazier? When I watch musicals or music videos or live music or a play, sometimes I get a little nudge in my chest: I wanna do that. It makes me wonder if I weren't an entertainer of some sort in a past life, or if I'm going to be in the next one. One can argue that a writer is an entertainer ... but it's not live. Well, unless you're giving a reading or something. But still ... something about getting up in front of people and really letting it rip, really putting yourself out there, intrigues me. The only acting I've ever done was the senior play in high school, and I was ... okay in that, I think. Not great. But not sucky, either. This all comes around to my theory that artists (writers, painters, actors, directors) have a lot in common.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Day off

Tomorrow I have the day off work, and I swear I'm going to be busier than if I went in. On the to-do list:
Laundry (yikes)
Write short story (lofty, but doable)
Run on the treadmill (gotta get some of this schlebby winter flab off)
Pay bills (yuck)
Make tax appointment (double yuck)
Make dinner (easy-peasy, in the crock-pot)
Maybe see a movie (not sure which one yet)

And you know, maybe read a book or something somewhere in there. We'll see how much gets done. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Inspirational speaker

So Ken over the past few days had a work conference. I joined him--who am I to turn down a hotel room and food?--and it was a nice, relaxing time. Ken works with an Illinois agency whose purpose is to organize statewide law enforcement in the event of an emergency. There were lots of panels that dealt with terrorists, pandemics, bridge collapses, and the like. While I didn't attend any of those--I shopped and napped and read and relaxed instead--I did attend the dinner on Monday night. I am so glad I did, because I got to hear the guest speaker. I forget his name, but he was an insurance executive that was on the 105th floor of 2 World Trade Center on 9/11/01. His first-person account of the event was by turns terrifying and wrenching and inspirational. Mostly he talked about how every single decision that we make every single day is important, and that keeping your cool and being rational during a crisis can save your ass.

This guy was in a meeting when the first plane struck the other tower. He was in an interior room with no windows; the lights flickered, but that was all. They couldn't hear or see anything else. Soon after the volunteer fire marshal came and corralled them up, saying he couldn't leave until everyone left the floor. So they took the stairs down, down, down. He following people out onto the 90th floor lobby; at the time he didn't know why everyone left the stairwell, but he followed--maybe they had to take another set of stairs or something--but once he was out of the stairwell he saw that the 90th floor was all windows. He got to see the destruction for the first time. He remembered thinking, "It's a clear, beautiful day. How did that pilot miss?"

He commenced going down, down, down. Hits the 78th floor. A woman that he knew well was corralling everyone into the elevators--there was still power and all that in the second tower, so why the heck not, right? This guy didn't follow the woman he knew; something just told him not to. He continues to go down the stairs. Once he hits the 75th or 72nd floor (I don't remember which), he and his fellow descenders feel a huge ball of heat, hear a horrible sound, and the walls of the stairwell rocked back and forth at 30 degree angles. Debris fell. Handrails popped from the walls. He didn't know it at the time, but the second plane had just hit, and everyone he knew that had followed the woman into the elevators is dead. He mentions how the friction from the plane entering the building generated 2000 degrees F of heat; those people were vaporized. They literally didn't know what hit them. They were alive. And then they weren't.

He remembers how calm everyone was; the stairwell fit three people across and that's how everyone went down. People had taken off jackets, discarded laptops and other equipment, women had tossed their heels, but all of that had been pushed to the sides; it didn't block the road. Down, down, down.

At one point, he helped an obese woman descend. She said she couldn't do it. He said she had to. At another, a maintenance man's walkie-talkie squealed with a voice that said, "We're on the 82nd floor, we're stuck" and the dude trucked back up the stairs to help his friend.

Later--and I don't remember where he said he was, maybe the 30th floor?--he saw some firefighters and police officers on their way up. He said the men were silent, but their faces said it all. They were going to fight a fire they couldn't contain; they were climbing to their deaths. And they went, without complaint or question.

On the fifteenth floor, a worker--maintenance man, maybe--sang "God Bless America" and between each line shouted encouragement to all the descenders. The speaker likened it to the musicians that played while the Titanic sank, and he could just imagine what the singer's superior had told him: keep their spirits up, make them laugh, do what it takes to get them out of the building. The speaker left through the lower mall and out the street. He spoke about the smoke and falling debris and red blotches from the falling bodies. Eight minutes after he exited the building, it collapsed. He said he can hear the sound of the building falling mixed with the noise of a million people screaming at once every day. He was able to get a subway to Penn Station, take a train to his parent's home in Philly, then drive to his home outside Chicago. He attended Wednesday night Mass at his church with his wife.

He ended the speech by thanking the room full of law enforcement officers for everything they do and reminding everyone once again that every decision you make every day makes a difference. I have never felt so inspired and insignificant at the same time.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Grrrr ...

So my ancient TiVo did not record "Lost" tonight. It should be recording this very second but it isn't. Ken and I went out to dinner and hung out at the bookstore for a bit. I looked forward to watching "Lost" while zipping through the commercials. The rest of my night is ruined, I say, ruined! Yeah, yeah, I know. I can watch the episode online tomorrow night or wait a week and watch it before the new episode next week. But it's not the same.

I'm so calling the cable company tomorrow to upgrade our service. Take that, ancient TiVo!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

And the Oscar goes to ...

Oh, yeah, the Academy Awards, baby. Every year I say, "Self, I'm going to have an Oscar party next year. I'll get some friends together and we'll dress up and drink wine and eat fancy cheese on expensive crackers." And then every year I watch them on the couch in my pajamas with a bowl of snacks in one hand and the TiVo remote in the other. Ah, well.

Watching the Awards via TiVo is really the only way to go. I start an hour or so after the broadcast begins and fast-forward all the commercials and boring and/or political acceptance speeches (of which there will be plenty this year, guaranteed). I usually have caught up to the broadcast by the last 45 minutes or so, which is kind of cool because I get to find out who won the big awards at the same time as the rest of the world.

I used to really get into the fashion-police type shows that typically air the week following the Oscars, but not so much anymore. I can only take so much negativity before I want to yell at the TV "get a life already, move on!" Sure, I like look at People or eonline.com with friends and talk about the fashion as much as the next person; I just don't need to hear a Joan Rivers clone bitch about how "fat" someone looks or how "last season" this dress is.



On a completely unrelated note, the weather simply must get better soon. If we get anymore snow or "wintery mixes" I'll scream. I want nothing more than to go for a jog outside and plant flowers and soak up a little sunny warmth with my bare arms. Someone pass the serotonin.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

You say it's your birthday?

Well, it's my birthday too, yeah!

I think I'm the only woman in America that loves her birthday. I have to admit part of it is the me-me-me quality of the day. As I get older, though, the celebration of life factor is part of it as well. I got to have another year to play around on Earth, and God willing, I'll have lots more. It probably doesn't hurt that I look younger than 33, too. :)

Today I'm running on the treadmill, maybe going out for breakfast, window shopping, then heading to Biaggi's for dinner. I've been craving butternut squash ravioli for a while, so I'm having that and foccaccia and wine and perhaps some chocolate cake.

Tomorrow at work we're celebrating me and another co-worker's birthday with Papa Del's pizza, cookies, and german chocolate cake. For those who haven't had it, Chicago-style pizza is like eating a loaf of chewy/crispy bread loaded with cheese and a gallon of tomato sauce. It's heavenly. And then I'll be going to the gym tomorrow night after work, no excuses.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bookstore shenanigans




Anton rubbing spines with some fellow authors. We tried to take a picture of him next to Pat Rothfuss, but the bookstore seemed to be sold out of The Name of the Wind ...

Our Intrepid adventurers buy a book

So the other night I found out my friend Anton Strout's book had landed in bookstores. The official publishing date is Feb. 26th, but unless your name is Rowling, pub dates don't really mean much. Anyhoo, once I heard the news, Ken and I hotfooted it to the bookstore.

6:55: *I go to the information desk and wait*
6:55:30: *Ken goes to the stacks to see if it's there*
6:56: Nice information lady comes to the desk. I ask "Do you have ..." While Ken pops out of the stacks waving the book.
6:56:05: I squeal and run to join Ken at the stacks!
Kelly: Oh, look, they've got a bunch here!
Ken: We need to take pictures. Did you bring the camera?
Kelly: Of course. *Brandishes camera*.
Ken: *Fiddles with electronic device* It'd be funny if we did a little movie.
Kelly: We can totally do that! *fiddles with electronic device* Now hit the button like you're gonna take a picture ...
Ken: *hits button* *screen goes blank* Ummm...what did you do?
Kelly: What did I do? *fiddles with electronic device* Crap, I think that batteries are dead.
Ken: *fiddles with electronic device* Yep.
Kelly: Gimme your keys, I'm going to Target.
7:00: I drive to Target, obeying all traffic laws.
7:02: I run across parking lot, purchase batteries, and run across the parking lot again.
7:04: Drive back to the bookstore, once again obeying all traffic laws.
7:05: I hit the stacks and have a moment of panic because I've lost Ken.
7:06: Ken finds me.
7:06:20 Maniacal picture taking-ensues.

I'll post some pics later. Right now blogger's being fussy and I don't have time to mess with it. (See next post).

The Wonder of Science

Ken has had chronic heartburn for ... sheesh ... years. He's taken Prilosec quite successfully for that time, but now his doctor wants to find out what the heck is going on. Today he gets to be knocked unconscious and have a camera shoved down his throat. I don't think it'll be all that bad, but the last time Ken had anesthesia he had sort of a bad reaction and was sick for a couple of days. That was for a gallbladder surgery, though, and so I hope they don't have to give him as big of a dose today. Fingers crossed and all that.


ETA: We're back home now and Ken is sleeping it off. Nothing serious, but they did find some polyps in his stomach that they've sent for biopsy. The doc seemed to think they were benign, so I'm not worried.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Guitar Hero III news

I just got through five new songs plus the Tom Morello battle on Hard. My left hand and wrist are shredded but I'm a happy camper.

And now to put some words behind me on the WIP. This should be fun, considering my left hand is nearly worthless.

Friday, February 15, 2008

NIU Shooting

Apparently the Northern Illinois University Shooter lived in Champaign and attended the University of Illinois. This is the area where I live and work. My gym is just a few blocks from the shooter's apartment. We may have shopped at the same places or eaten at the same restaurants. The idea that someone I may have passed on the street is capable of opening fire in a classroom sickens me.

Why NIU? Why not UofI? Why not anywhere? The crazies live among us; the scary part is we can't always tell the difference between the crazies and the normals.

One of the Virginia Tech victims attended high school in Champaign. We have a street named after her now.

Housecleaning

You've probably noticed I've cleaned the place up a bit. Now that I've got an *ahem* official website, Ken had to change some settings and such to make both blogs fit into the page format. That said, I've decided that I'm going to make the blogspot blog my personal blog and the livejournal one more writer-oriented. Hey, I might be a professional, but that doesn't mean I still can't be zany on the internets, right? For now I'll have tabs for both blogs on the website.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The best husband evah

For Valentine's Day Ken surprised me with my very own website!!!! It's pretty bare now but it's up and running and looks awesome. Go on over to www.kellyswails.com and have a look around.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Food Porn

I don't cook often. When I do it's like grilled cheese or an easy pasta dish. If meat's involved it's a pretty good bet that a crock pot's involved, too. I'm not a good cook by any stretch of the imagination.

Oh, sure, I bake a lot, but that's just chemistry in action. It must be the scientist in me. I love knowing that if I measure precisely and follow the procedure, it'll turn out right. And, let's face it: anything with fat and sure is all sorts of awesome.

So, while I am an award-winning baker, my cooking is ... meh.

Which brings me to the Valentine's Day meal I've prepared for tomorrow. I've assembled the lasagne and apple crisp (two follow-the-procedure dishes) so they can just be thrown into the oven after work. I've got the accoutrements of garlic bread, ice cream, and salad waiting in the wings. We'll eat like kings! We'll eat like princes for the next two days! And then by Sunday we'll curse the Italian grandma that invented baked pasta! And that's assuming I haven't screwed anything up!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Progress

Topped 15,000 words tonight. I'm deep into Chapter Eight, which I hope to nearly finish tomorrow. I've also done a few loads of laundry and baked a batch of brownies.

My work here is done.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Retail therapy

Today I went shopping and totally blew my wad at the bookstore. "The Muppet Show" season 1, Apocolypse 2012, and two books by Lilith Saintcrow found their way into the proverbial shopping cart. Next week I have four glorious days off work, one of which is my birthday, and I intend on spending the time reading and writing and watching nostalgic TV. Hopefully it will take my mind off the empty e-mail inbox. Or at least slow my incessant checking. We'll see.

Ken and I are going to sign up for the local mini-triathlon this year. No, we really are this time. So I suppose I can't spend all my time holed up on the couch. At least some of it has to be spent on a bike and a treadmill.

Two things to make the work week go faster: Jericho on Tuesday and Lost on Thursday. Well, I'll probably end up watching Lost on Friday because of Valentine's Day. Ken wants to make a big multi-course meal to celebrate. Salad, pasta, garlic bread, cheesecake ... oh, yeah. My jeans feel tight already.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss--book review

The Name of the Wind is a tale that answers the question "How would a legend tell his story?" Kvothe is a man with a past. He's known by many names--Kingkiller and Kvothe the Bloodless among them--but now he has fashioned himself as a innkeeper named Kote. He's in hiding from his enemies--we don't know who they are--but a man that calls himself Chronicler has found him and wants to transcribe Kvothe's stories. It turns out that even the most unbelieveable tales have a kernel of truth in them, if you dig hard enough. In this first volume, we learn about the events that shape our hero and drive him to the man he will become. While its structure is framed--our movements back and forth in time are marked by shifts between first and third person--it's essentially a first-person epic fantasy told after the epic events have happened. It's the first volume of a trilogy, and so while we learn a lot about the world and its inhabitants, many events and relationships are only foreshadowed. The prose is wonderful, as is Rothfuss's world-building. Fans of sciences such as chemistry and biology will find lots to like here. It's hard to find an author that, after reading 250,000+ words, you're dissappointed to finish the last page. Not because the story was bad, but because the story has to end at all. I can't wait until the next volume hits the shelves so I can live in Kvothe's world again.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Aargh

I have got to stop checking my e-mail every three seconds. Agents will get back to me when they get back to me. Not before.

As noted on the progress bar, I'm up to 14000 words on Through the Portal. Not great, but not bad considering I spent over a month tearing my hair out on a short story. Oh, and I have those other shorts to write, too. I'm not going to let myself stress out over it, though. I'll keep chipping away at it--five hundred words here, two thousand there, a page or two between loads of laundry ... and before you know it I'll have a rough draft done. Right now I'm thinking it's not quite magic-y enough, but I figure I can add that in later. I tend to build my world around the characters instead of the other way around. Whatever works, right?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Jewelry goodness

One of my writer buds (Brad Beaulieu) is married to a wonderfully creative woman that designs jewelry. You can buy her wares here. They're funky and retro and very reasonably priced. Valentine's day is just around the corner, you know ...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cold hard cash

Today I received a check for my short story "Three Wishes" for the Terribly Twisted Tales anthology. What to buy, what to buy, what to buy ...

I think a piece of jewelry might be in order, as is Rock Band.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A few discoveries

So a few weeks ago Ken decided he wanted to make the spare bedroom into his den. This meant that we spent a Saturday sorting through and throwing away junk. Quite cathartic. I found two things buried in the closet: my fake ID from college and two folders full of my old writing. Finding the ID was fun. It's so horribly bad that I can't believe it ever worked anywhere. It's also a nice reminder that at one point I actually was too young to buy liquor. As for the writing ... oh, man. Some of it's pretty wretched ... but some of it's not so bad. There's essays as well as fiction dating back to high school. There are at least two stories missing; one written in the sixth grade about a man and a woman on a space ship that watch the destruction of Earth from space and one written my freshman year of high school about a sociopathic teenager that kills girls who have the nerve to date her ex-boyfriend.

I've decided to take a page out of Lyda Morehouse's book (she's a member of the Wyrdsmiths writing group--yeah, the same Wyrdsmiths that's on the blog roll over on the left) and throw up a few excerpts now and again. My first selection is dated January 13, 1993 and is the opening paragraph to a story called "Another one for the Scrapbook."

He was having those feelings again. It took him by surprise, really. He usually didn't have these feelings until Springtime. He had often compared these feelings to the "I-have-the-munchies-but-I-don't-know-what-I-want-to-eat" feeling. You know, you know you want to eat, but not what. He knew he wanted to kill, but not who. Not yet.

Okay, terrible, right? But not. The writing suuuucks, but the elements are there. I have the warm fuzzies.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hold all my calls

With the Golden Globes a wash and the Oscars questionable due to the Writer's strike, I'm all about the Screen Actor's Guild awards tonight. I'll be on my couch in my jammies with a bowl of popcorn.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Conventionitis

Here's the list of cons I know I'll be attending:

WisCon (Memorial day weekend)
World Con (August 6-10)
Gen Con (August 14-17)

This will require I take two weeks off work in August. Oh, darn. Technically I can't ask for the time off until February but--fingers crossed--it shouldn't be a problem. I'm not above bribery attempts to make it happen.

I'd also like to attend World Fantasy Con in November, but we'll see. The above cons might tap out the whole vacation fund.

I've also got good news to share regarding Gen Con. I've been asked to sit on a few writing panels! I'm excited and nervous. Excited because it's a milestone of sorts; nervous because strangers will look at me like I'm a real writer. For now I'm going to try not to think about it lest I get too freaked out. I'll also be giving a reading, so I need to think about what I want to read.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Writer's Conundrum

There are many aspects of the writing life that I didn't expect when I started writing seriously. How to think like a writer. What do to with all the ideas that flood your brain when thinking like a writer becomes second nature. The nuts and bolts of the craft. Meeting other writers and finally feeling like I belong somewhere. Finding mentors. Bonding with fellow rookies so we can make the journey less painful. Supporting your friends by buying and reading their work.

It's this last bit that's given me some trouble over the past four months or so.

Sometimes when you meet someone you know immediately that you'll be friends. Last year at Gen Con I met Pat Rothfuss. I found him to be warm, kind, intelligent, and funny. His first book had just been released and had been generating a good amount of buzz in the industry. His dust jackets carry some serious blurbage. I didn't care about any of that--I just knew that I wanted to be friends this guy with the funky beard that could laugh at himself and others with equal abandon. And of course I wanted to support him so I bought his book. I didn't get to it right away. And then I found out Pat had been nominated for a Quill Award. And his Amazon ranking was in the top 1000. Fans wrote him truly moving letters about what his book meant to them.

I read the prologue five times. I couldn't read any further. I wasn't that I didn't like it or that I didn't find it interesting. The dust-jacket blurb reeled me in further every time I read it. I wanted to read it. I wanted to love it. It took me a while to figure out why I couldn't get past the first page.

I'm a deep reader. What I mean by that is, I invest myself fully into a story or book or series. When I read Robert Jordan's books, I dream I can channel. When I read Harry Potter, I dream about meeting Voldemort face-to-face. When I read Scott Lynch I dream I'm con-artist; when I read Steven Brust I dream I'm a knife-throwing assassin; when I read Kelly McCullough I dream I can whistle in code. I laugh out loud. I cry. I tense up at the scary parts. My heart beats faster during sex scenes. I've been known to throw a book out of anger. I wonder what daemon my friends would have if we lived in Phillip Pullman's world. I've posted on message boards. I've written Steven King a fan letter.

And this is why I couldn't read Pat's book. I was afraid I'd like it too much. Somehow I couldn't reconcile being friends with Pat while being a geeky fan. I didn't want to idolize him. I wanted to be able to buy a round of drinks and talk about politics and pop culture and his blood fued with Anton Strout without thinking in my head, "Dude, you're sitting next to the guy who wrote The Name of the Wind." It bothered me, because let's face it, if I were any sort of friend at all I'd read the damn thing. But the nature of Pat's success coupled with my tendency to geek out over books I love ... well. The picture it conjured didn't look pretty.

Finally I couldn't take it anymore. I e-mailed Pat and told him my thoughts. He responded right away (and I paraphrase here): "What's wrong with being a fan and a friend? I don't have many of those." I'm not lying when I say it felt like I'd just gotten permission to love his book. And oddly, permission to hate it, as well.

I'm on Chapter Five. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Stamps!

I totally geeked out at the post office yesterday over their new Star Wars and SuperHeroes stamps. I bought a sheet of each. So fun!

The short story is in several reader's hands. We'll see what they have to say. I'm going to work on the book for the rest of the month and then start on the other shorts I have in the back of my head.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Dear, sweet Jesus. This book rocked. First off, the story is simple yet complex. The prose is clear and concise. Card cuts to the core of truth about the group dynamics of children--and I dare say, adults--with a few well-turned phrases. He showed me how siblings could love and hate each other at the same time. He made me believe that Ender could command a military offensive at the age of ten, just as I believed Ender's 12-year-old sister Valentine and their 14-year-old older brother Peter could influence world events over the internets. I believed that a kid could be made into a machine. I believed a machine could still love. Sure, there were a few things that were a little off--relativity and space travel among them--but I was willing to suspend disbelief long enough not to care. This one is near of the top of my "favorite books" list. Highly recommended.

The edition I read had a lengthy introduction. I've read (more like devoured) author intros as long as I've been reading books. This one was a particularly good one in that Card mentioned the book had been used in the classroom in several different ways: military leadership classes, literature classes, religious discussions, etc. He wrote something that touched me deep to my writer core, and I share it with you here (I'm also going to put the quote at the bottom of the page, for those that venture that far): "The story of Ender's Game is not this book, though it has that title emblazoned on it. The story is the one that you and I will construct together in your memory. If the story means anything to you at all, then when you remember it afterward, think of it, not as something I created, but rather as something that we made together."

Sunday, January 06, 2008

It is done ...

The rough draft is complete! And now the real work begins. And, a title. Hopefully I can get this done over the next couple of days so my intrepid beta readers can get their grubby hands on it.

Life is good.

Did the familial holiday festivities yesterday. Gifts+food+time spent with family=full tummy+low grade headache. Actually it wasn't too bad, but all that driving in one day sort of drains me. Today Ken and I ate breakfast out before I finished the rough draft of a short story and did a little laundry. Now I am going to nap just because I can. later I will tackle Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I've never read it, but Ken just finished it and said I have to read it. Plus, lots of authors say it's one of their favorite adolescent reads, and so I'll give it a shot. Probably it will just make me feel inadequate but what the hell. I'm always in for a good story.

Next up on the writing front: editing the short. Work on two other shorts between bouts of Through the Portal. Perhaps start another round of agent requests for Stormy Weather. Try not to feel guilt at not getting all this done overnight.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Kitty pics





Because, you know, it's been a while.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

There's a leak in the dam!

So I think I've finally hit on the right way to approach this short story I've been working on. I've started it four different times; the first three, I'd get about 1,000 words in and decided I hated it. And not just "ugh, this a tough paragraph to write" or "ew, I don't like this passage, it's got to go on the rewrite" but "dear sweet Jesus, this sucks. I'm gonna go wrap presents/do laundry/scoop cat litter." Today, faithful blog readers, I'm 1300 words in and I can't wait to get back to it. The tone is right, I'm learning a bit more about the character, as I write I'm getting ideas for what comes next and how to fix what I've already written so that what's coming makes sense ... ah, writer bliss. I tell you, it's a wonderful thing. I have tomorrow off and it's entirely possible I could finish the rough draft.