Month: August 2004

Folks.

My folks came out to visit. They were supposed to be here on Wednesday, but arrived on Sunday afternoon, having forgotten to call before they left. At the time, I thought it was strange–they were always so fanatical about calling before they left, in case “something happened.”

Cell phones. Social changes. They had three of the things with them.

We did a lot of hanging out; they did a lot of shopping (pre-HS for two daughters and a college freshman son who’d just as soon wear highwater pants, I take it). Thursday we went to the USOTC (US Olympic Training Center) in CS. I’d never been before. “Cinderblock” and “the best training facility in the country” aren’t two phrases I’d use together, but there you go. Those things the sponsors pay for are at least adequate to luxurious; those things the sponsors don’t pay for aren’t. I mean, “be” verb not. We heard lots of stories about the atheletes; the thing that stuck with me the most was that the athletes really are meant to be goodwill ambassadors. After training 10hrs a day, 4 hrs workout, part-time job or school, they still have to do community service. The meeting rooms are open for non-profit organizations to use. Most of the training areas are open to public view, and every half-hour, a guided tour comes through.

Friday we went up to Denver. Started with the zoo. New exhibits. Old favorites. No sunscreen. Three teens. Went well. To sixteenth street mall. Three teenages. Rode up and down on the buses while others shopped. Again, went well, considering got lost and three teenagers. Then Casa Bonita. It was like a continuation of the House on the Rock in Wisconsin, only instead of paying entrance fees you pay for food.

So. All of the kids have now moved past the really-annoying-teen-phase now. I love my family, but this is the first time I’ve seen them in a long time that hasn’t had this undercurrent of whiny viciousness running underneath it. I had a lot of fun.

Julia Child.

Julia Child died on Friday.

What a good lady.

I usually limit myself to four-letter words.

English: May the malevolent hedgehogs soil your cornflakes.

Irish: Go salaí na gráinneoga cealgrúnacha do chuid calóga arbhair.

Phonetic: guh SAH-lee nuh GRAWN-yoh-guh KYA-luhg-roo-nuh-khuh duh khwihj KAH-lo-guh AH-ruh-wir.

An tInneal Mallachtaí

via Randy.

Conversation.

LEE

[Insert casual insult here.]

DE

What the hell did you say that for?

LEE

God told me to.

DE

God sure tells you to do a say a lot of petty, stupid stuff to me.

LEE

Yup.

DE

I mean, he could be telling you to do something important, like take over the world or kill people.

LEE

He did tell me something important once.

DE

What was that?

LEE

How to win the lottery.

DE

Really?

LEE

Kind of useless. ‘Buy all the tickets, dumbass,’ he said.

DE

[Loses it.] Dang ol’ God.

Even more easily amused.

Found a place with the FLCL collection for ten bucks. Ordered it.

Maybe nobody else is this easily amused.

Forget the headline on this article. Read down a bit.

“Other new cast members include Miranda Richardson as a newspaper gossip columnist…”

Coooooool. She was in a lot of the Hallmark specials that covered classic fantasy and heroic novels. The one I’m thinking of is Alice in Wonderland. She was the Queen of Hearts.

“Off with his head! Off with her head! Aaaaaaauf weeeeth oll thayh heeey-eads!”

I can’t think of anyone more skillfully annoying to play Rita Skeeter. I can’t.

Writerly thoughts.

I’m reading another John R Gardner book on writing, On Becoming a Novelist. The other book, I forget the name off-hand, but the one culled from his writing class notes, is much more tolerant and understanding. This one, he’s right, you know he’s right, but he’s a cantankerous old writing teacher that’s had it with some particular types of crap.

For example, he goes off about genre fiction, especially sci-fi. (He doesn’t call it science fiction; he calls it sci-fi.) As an example of how crappy sci-fi is, he uses…Harlan Ellison.

I’ve read some Harlan Ellison, that looking back, I know completely abrogates (is that the word?) Gardner’s point. But the example Gardner used, from “Over the Edge” (the second Jack the Ripper story), he’s right on:

Ellison writes:

“It’s not often that people will tell you how they really feel about gut-level things. […] A psycopath, a butcher, a lecher, a hypocrite, a clown. ‘You did this to me! Why did you do this?’ Frenzy cloaked his words.”

Gardner comments:

“This is not the Pollyanna style favored by hack writers of the twenties and thirties but the hack-writer style that superseded it, disPollyanna. Sunny optimism, with its fondness for italics, gives way to an ill-founded cynicism, also supported by italics […]. One is annoyed because the whole thing is phony, an imitation of things too often imitated before. The problem with such writers, it ought to be mentioned, is not that they are worse people than those who wrote in Pollyanna. They are almost exactly the same people: idealists, people who simple-mindedly long for goodness, justice, and sanity; the difference is one of style.”

So.

I’ve read two Gardner books, aside from his stuff on writing, Grendel and The Wreckage of Agathon. Grendel, is inspired in places. Agathon is genuinely moving in places. Maybe that’s all he was going for. They aren’t immortal books, the way Dumas or Robert Louis Stevenson or Tolkein books are immortal. Gardner, as good as he is (and he’s saying things I need to hear), isn’t everything.

I keep thinking of an old creative writing teacher I had in college. It’s like he took the cantankerousness out of this book and skipped the inspiration, and that’s what he taught.* I rejected everything he said, because he made it into an insult toward pure dreaming, and how to catch that on paper. Going back and reading Gardner now, I can have respect for it.

Anyway, just some thoughts.

*Bedard.

Wander, wander, wander.

Lee and I went dropped off the bebe and went wandering today. At one point, we wandered through a natural foods market (“I miss going to grocery stores where you dance in the aisles,” he said. “They have pretty good music here,” I said. I didn’t notice I was bouncing around until he said that) and found bath salts.

One: Tired Old Ass Soak.

Two: Chocolat

My parents and siblings are coming to CS in a weekish. I think I might have to get them one of each.

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