Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Contest Season

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I mailed off my GH scores, and as usual, I have mixed feelings. Not about the entries--I'm darned clear about how I feel about them--but about me.

The score range on this batch covered more territory than in some years, and I even saw a couple that were in the wrong category. How is it possible to miss that? One actually had the proper category printed on the cover sheet, yet that wasn't the category I judged. The other just wouldn't fit, period. So is this a case of writer can't get it straight, or writer thinks the competition in category #2 will be weaker, so I'll just plop mine in there?

Huge errors like that make me feel better about my own writing. At least I can keep my categories straight. But they also show problems that I wonder about for myself. Backstory dump? I do that (hazard of writing my way into a story). Blocks of description? Also guilty. "Meh." I worry about that, too.

Contest entries can give you props, too, especially if you don't make usage errors like rein/reign or write synopses that read like DVD programming instructions translated by non-native speakers into English.

The thing that worries me is the story. Some of these ideas were really interesting, and I wonder whether mine by comparison are dull. Same-old, same-old. Behind the curve. Whether what I write stands out or ends up a competent 6.7 on a 1-9 scale. I'm not a huge contest junkie because I'm too damned competitive. I don't mind feedback (ask my critique partners), but there's something about the "me against them" aspect of contests that brings out the Viking in me. If I can't pillage, I don't want anything to do with it.

Friends of mine who believe in me tell me I should enter (fill in prestigious contest) because they're sure I'll do well. It's happened once. Once, and the manuscript that hit isn't publishable now because the targeted line closed. Everything else--stuff I've cared about--has been close, but no cookie. It's frustrating. And now I have an agent, which means more of the same, but a bigger ouch when the "no" comes back. You can chocolate and massage your way out of a low contest score pretty easily. Not so with an editor.

I'm interested to see what finals.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Boyz N the Woodz

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DH ventures off in the woods today for the church men's retreat and leaves me with the offspring. He should have fun. ATVs, skeet shooting, barbecue. Lord only knows what they'll talk about, but it won't really matter. They have the two primary ingredients required for male bonding:



beer



food cooked over open flame

If only world peace were this easy.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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BED LIST: ORLANDO BLOOM



Okay, this choice is totally predictable and definitely skewing me into Tiger Beat territory, but...damn. I don't think it's possible to make this man look bad.

DINNER LIST: GRANT HILL



Grant Hill is probably the class act in the NBA. He's loyal to his team, an excellent player (so unfair that he's been injured so much), and unfailingly thoughtful, courteous, and intelligent. He does have a degree from Duke, after all. He's also amassed one of the best private collections of African-American art in the United States, which is currently on display at the Basketball Hall of Fame. I can't imagine running out of anything to talk about during dinner. He's definitely someone you could wake up with. Plus, he's handsome as hell.
(So why isn't he on the Bed List? I hear you cry. Because if you had the staggering good luck to be with Grant Hill, you'd want to savor the experience as a private treasure.) A true total package: husband material.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

OMG, Pedicure!

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I am probably the last woman on the planet (well, in my corner of the planet) who has never had a pedicure. Until today. I had about an hour, I had $25, so I dropped in to the nail salon.

Oh. My. Goodness. Not only was a very nice woman rubbing and sloughing and trimming my feet, but the cushy chair I was in had massage. Yum. One tip to me: don't do this again on the afternoon after the morning you've shaved your legs. Sea salt scrub and hot towels hit on the owie! side, but calmed down well enough. Floated on out of there in my disposable lime green thongs feeling great, my tootsies a lovely shade of O.P.I. Berry Berry Broadway.

Yep. Definitely something to add to my regular to-do list.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Club Med(iterranean)

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Our good friends, Comic Man and Mrs. Comic, held a killer brunch today. It's a good thing I don't live in the Mediterranean. I'd be roughly the size of Corfu. On the menu: Greek salad, grilled lamb, lemon-garlic chicken, spanakopita, tzatziki, hummus, olive oil roasted potatoes, pitas. Garlic. Lots of garlic. And baklava. Baklava is of the devil. The woman at the deli who insisted "Whole tray!" to Mrs. Comic when she picked up the baklava is of the devil. My willpower (such as it isn't) is of the devil because I felt the urge to help Mrs. Comic clean off "whole tray!" of baklava.

Given that I could make an entire meal out of spanakopita and baklava, maybe it's just phyllo that is of the devil.

Mrfmnnh. Time to lie down and digest.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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BED LIST: NICK LACHEY



It's not the first time I've said it, but it bears repeating. Jessica Simpson is an idiot. Why anyone would let someone this good looking and nice (he is a Kentucky boy, after all) get away must have fried most of her brain cells (all that bleach must have had long-term effects). I'm on Team Nick with this one. Let's hope his new gig on ESPN brings him some overdue attention. Or maybe not. That way, it would be easier to keep Nick, who surely needs some TLC, all to myself.

DINNER LIST: BILL MURRAY



How can you not love the man ranked #1 in Comedy Central's "Mouthing Off: 51 Greatest Smartasses"? He hasn't lost his touch as he's gotten older, either, which is what makes him so interesting. In addition to being hilarious, he's a multi-faceted guy. He loves golf (from what I understand, getting paired with him in a celebrity Pro-Am is like hitting Powerball), owns several minor-league baseball teams (someone who gets the game, obviously), and, believe it or not, co-starred with Sigourney Weaver in The Guys, the play about the 9/11 firefighters. Obviously a man of many talents. That, and if you can get him to channel Carl Spackler from Caddyshack, someone who will make you snort vodka up your nose during dinner.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!

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In honor of Valentine's Day, the Seduction Style Quiz. I am...




Your Seduction Style: The Natural



You don't really try to seduce people... it just seems to happen.

Fun loving and free spirited, you bring out the inner child in people.

You are spontaneous, sincere, and unpretentious - a hard combo to find!

People drop their guard around you, and find themselves falling fast.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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BED LIST: JASON STATHAM



DH is addicted to Luc Besson movies, which explains why, one Friday night, he brought The Transporter home from Blockbuster. I planned to read while he had his drive-fast-shoot-first-kick-ass fix, but I made the mistake of looking up--whoa. Not only can Jason Statham kick ass, he's cute. His character's name in the remake of The Italian Job is "Handsome Rob," which fits. He's got incredible moves, abs you could grate Parmesan on, and a very dry sense of humor. I'd sign him up for a sequel.

DINNER LIST: KEVIN KLINE



Kevin Kline is a handsome man, but even when he was young and handsome, I would rather grill him than thrill him, if you knowhatI'msayin'. He's one of the few men to win an Oscar for a comic role (A Fish Called Wanda--don't call him stupid!), and someone who's believable and watchable in everything he makes. Plus, he made a perfect Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and that's not a role I like very much. Yep, he'll do.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Home Again, Home Again

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So DD wakes up with a temp of 102, so that means I'm home for the second time this week (DS stayed home Tuesday). Being home on a school day feels weird. Aside from the send in sub plans, what can the kids do without needing constant supervision stress, you have to figure out something productive to do with the rest of your day so you don't feel like a complete loser.

Days like this remind me of how a house can consume every second of your available time. Even though it's pretty clean thanks to book club last night, there's still a zillion things that need fixing or cleaning or plumping or folding or something. I've thrown a sop to the housekeeping gods by running a load of laundry (maybe two). Maybe I should vacuum something else.

I don't do well with unstructured time.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Books and Cooks: The Time Traveler's Wife

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For someone who's allegedly smart, it took me long enough to realize that my book club discussions might be good blog topics. All together now: DUH! Our group meets once a month, and we all bring a food mentioned in or inspired by the book to munch on as we discuss. Tonight's choices:

WE'RE READING:



I'M SERVING: ROASTED CHICKEN AND MUSHROOM RISOTTO

All of us were in awe that this was a first novel. Keeping track of the structure alone must have been heinous (one of us imagined a room full of sticky notes keeping track of Henry's time jumps). I managed to avoid entanglement in the time travel logic by going theater and engaging my willing suspension of disbelief. Rather than keeping track of dates, I just checked the ages of the characters and went with it. Most agreed that the love story was the core of the book, that watching the Clare/Henry interactions as she ages, having known him most of her life, and he slips in and out of emotional moments was the best thing about the book.

As a heavy romance reader and writer, I'm not sure that I agree. Clearly, the relationship between Clare and Henry kept the narrative going, given that there isn't a chronological flow to what happens to them. Still, I think I'm more of a romance purist than I thought. Their final meeting, when Clare is in her 80s, didn't resonate for me the way it did with some of the others.

All in all, Niffenegger's debut is a great read. Interesting, unusual, but not pretentious in the slightest (despite the chemical formulae and DNA deconscruction that crop up from time to time). I'd read her again.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Me and My R(N)C

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Florida's an interesting state, especially politically. There's something to be said (I'll leave it to you to decide whether it's good or bad) for having the President's brother as your governor. Another quirk of Florida politics is its reliance on a closed-party primary system. In primaries, you can vote only for candidates from your party. There are a million reasons why this is a boneheaded way to do business, but it's also the reason I'm a registered Republican.

Republican candidates for office run the gamut from moderate to creepy-scary conservative. I think it's safer to stay Republican and vote for the most sensible one of the bunch than to vote Democrat in the primary and basically just confirm the one person in the race who's reasonable, which is what seems to happen around here. And since I vote in nearly every election, no matter how small, turns out I am a Republican "Super Voter." (If they only knew...)

So I get this survey from the RNC--the "Republican Party Census Document"--and I have to say that as a survey, it's just about the most biased form I've ever encountered. My inner English teacher just about edited the whole thing and sent it back, but sensible me said I'd just be wasting my time and not to bother. *sigh*

What bothers me about the thing is that it's not looking for what Republicans are thinking--it's written to confirm what's already on the the platform. A sample: "Should students, teachers, principals and administrators be held to higher standards?" Now who's going to argue against high standards? The problem is, "standards" in Republican Party parlance means "giant-ass testing program with which we will compare schools, declare them 'failing,' and open up cracks for vouchers." I have a philosophical problem with that, so I'd say no...but the question is of the "When did you stop beating your wife?" variety, so you can't win no matter what you select.

Here's another: "Do you think U.S. troops should have to serve under United Nations' commanders?" Well, no, because basically, they can't. Baby bro, recently returned from a yearlong hitch in Iraq, explained that U.N. security forces (blue berets) look after U.N. workers. Member nations like ours serving at a U.N. peacekeeping site, like ours are in Bosnia, work together. Commanders from each nation that has provided troops for the peacekeeping force create a consensus command, but troops from those individual nations only take orders from their own individual commanders. Since the U.S. is the biggest dog on the U.N. Security Council anyway, other nations would be far more likely to take orders from one of our commanders than vice versa. Bad question, written precisely to get people riled up over an "issue" that isn't even an issue.

The whole document's just so silly--but the problem is that people don't think anymore. It's far more easy to say "ditto" to someone else, no matter how bass-ackwards their thinking, than it is to work out a problem on your own and state your own case (especially if it's a bit odd or out of the mainstream). That's what scares me about the RNC "Census." If the Democrats had a similar document, I'm sure it would be equally poorly written. Political parties these days have grabbed onto the "you're either with us or you're against us" line, and woe be unto you if you think well enough to see merit on both sides of the aisle.

Don't even get me started on why there weren't any campaign finance or ethics questions on the survey...

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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In honor of this week's Super Bowl (go Steelers!), two gridiron greats:

BED LIST: TOM BRADY



Too bad Tom's always in a helmet--he looks good! Plus, he's got a great sense of humor: here's the clip of Tom in his underwear from SNL. See what I mean? Since he won't be playing this Sunday, I'm sure I could think of some ways to cheer him up. Hell, being in the same room naked with him would cheer me up.

DINNER LIST: JOHN MADDEN



Madden's pretty much a lunatic, but he's an interesting lunatic. We could discuss things like the Madden curse and why he's so terrified to fly. He could tell me all about the Madden Cruiser, his custom bus--he drives everywhere, so that's a LOT of miles. We could dissect Florida's chances under Coach Meyer and talk NFL until they threw us out of the restaurant (Doesn't matter that Outback sponsors the Cruiser--I'd take him to Charley's for steaks. Madden strikes me as a purist.) Plus, it would be fun to watch him diagram how dinner arrives: "The T-bone and loaded baked potato are in the shotgun, but watch as the beer makes the sweep left to pick 'em off at the breadbasket."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Logjams

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Time to 'fess up: I have not been writing. Nothing on the novel, nothing meaningful at school, not even an outraged editorial (which is pretty common when governors and legislators reveal their latest "brilliant ideas" about how to "fix" public schools without even bothering to check with a teacher first). Haven't been blogging, haven't been posting on my usual loops. Haven't been reading my usual loops, to be honest. Meaningful literature around here lately has been of the jump-up-and-write-it-down-before-I-forget variety, which means most of the stuff in my handwriting conveys vital things like "pay bills" and "library books?" and "lunch in fridge."

This not-writing thing is pretty unusual for me. I rarely have nothing to say. Hell, I never have nothing to say. But this little to say business has me perplexed. There's zero chance I'll finish the new book if I never write anything in the new book. (There's a shocker)

Thankfully, the beavers who seem to have taken over upstairs from my usual squirrels appear to be hibernating, so the logjam might be breaking up a bit. I restructured the first "chapter" (read: backstory dump stolen straight from synopsis) of my current ms and actually was able to insert some new material tonight. Nothing like running away from home and having my usual dinner date cancel unexpectedly--I took over my booth at Moe's, ate my naked burrito, listened to my iPod, and actually wrote.

I WROTE.


Yes, this is big news. Now the trick will be to keep the momentum going. Hmm.
 

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