Friday, February 22, 2013

The Bard

"Claudio" and two stage managers.

Today my youngest son has Shakespeare auditions. It means that all day I’ll be hearing Shakespeare. He’s auditioning for the role of Antipholus of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors. I’m really looking forward to the play, especially since I haven’t read this one, because it’s known for wordplay and puns (okay, I’m not so fond of puns, but I love wordplay).

I love Shakespeare season because Matthew will quote Shakespeare for months on end. To me, the cadence of the plays, the witticisms, and the layers of meaning are literary bliss. You can’t help but love, “You speak an infinite deal of nothing.” (The Merchant of Venice). Or, "Sweetest nut hath sourest rind; Such a nut is Rosalind." (As You Like It). And what about the play within a play of Much Ado About Nothing, where Shakespeare pokes fun of Romeo and Juliet.

And here’s Matt’s favorite line: “O, that he were here to write me down an ass! But, masters, remember, that I am an ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass.” Much Ado About Nothing.

I thought I’d share a few photos from past years.
Irreconcilable Differences in Much Ado About Nothing.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Renewing My Membership in Luddites-R-Us

Do you ever just feel like you’re never going to keep up with technology? Like once you think you’ve figured something out, some techno imp/evil nerd adds some new feature(s) just to make your life miserable. There are days when I want to renew my membership in Luddites-R-Us.

This week I discovered that the important phone call I was waiting for got sent to Missed Calls because the phone was plugged in and decided not to ring. (I mean, who told it not to ring?!)

Today, a friend posted about Facebook’s Message’s “Other” file. I didn’t know that FB had an “Other” file that it could dump messages in. I spent the morning “messaging” people whose messages got stuck in the other file and saying “sorry.”

So if you’ve left me a voicemail, sent me an email, messaged me, etc., etc., and I never replied, it’s because I’m techno-incompetent. Sorry. I’m trying.

The scary thing is that I’m the go-to-tech wizard for several friends/relatives. Yeah, my kids get shivers just thinking about it.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Five: Most Quotable Movies

Friday Five: Most Quotable Movies

1. The Princess Bride

            “He’s only mostly dead.”

             “Have fun storming the castle, boys.”

             “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling you something.”

2. You’ve Got Mail

“Don’t you think daisies are the happiest flower?”

“You thought Frank was the Una bomber.”

“That caviar is a garnish.”

3. The Bourne Identity

           “If you’re going to kill me, you better kill me the first time. You better kill me dead.”

           “How could I forget about you? You’re the only person I know.”

           “Kill Wombosi? We can do that any time we want. I can send Nikki to do that…”

4. Sahara

          “I don’t speak English…I only know how to say ‘I don’t speak English’ in English.’”

          “I’m so tired of being shot at.”

          “Hey, you know how it is when you see someone that you haven't seen since high school, and they got some dead-end job, and they're married to some woman that hates them, they got, like, three kids who think he's a joke? Wasn't there some point where he stood back and said, "Bob, don't take that job! Bob, don't marry that harpy!" You know?”

5. My Big Fat Greek Wedding

        “Don't play with the food! When I was your age, we didn't have food!”

       “What do you mean he don't eat no meat…Oh, that's okay. I make lamb.”

       “Let me tell you something, Toula. The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.”

       And one more for the road.

How to Steal a Million

      “I was chipping a piece of your father’s paint from that lovely Van Gogh when you loomed up in your nightie and shot me in the arm.”

What about you readers, any favorite movie quotes?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Subliminal Messages and Editing

Yesterday, I began editing my latest novel. I printed the whole novel up and sat down with a ream of paper. I was going to begin by dealing with all the notations in the novel. When I’m drafting, I don’t want to get caught up in anything that will slow down the pace of the writing. So, I leave myself notes like: find a name for this character, add a beat, figure out where item/character X is, and fix—this is horrible.

But I decided that it might be a good idea to at least read the first couple of chapters since it’s been three and one half months since I last looked at the chapters. I told myself that I’d just read through it. No editing. So I curled up on the couch and began reading. I didn’t get far.

I read the first sentence. I stopped. I read the sentence again. I swallowed. It was the worst sentence I’ve ever read. Truly horrible. As in someone must have inserted this sentence into my manuscript as a joke horrible. (And my kids often do that. They’ll crack my passwords and randomly insert sentences.) But I couldn’t blame this on them. Their insertions are more transparent—Buy Jacob a car. Raise Matthew’s allowance.

In any case, I couldn’t let the bad sentence pass. I picked up my pen and rewrote the sentence over and over. I think the only thing left from the original sentence were a couple of  “the”s and an “a” or two. And once I got started…well, the red pen is a hard thing to put down. (When I was in college, the rumor was the longer you could keep the professor from picking up a red pen, the better your grade. It was actually true. We got docked a letter grade for every spelling/grammar error.)

By the end of my writing period, I’d edited two chapters. But, sadly, I didn’t come across any pleas for new cars, money, steak dinners, or vague threats about what would happen if I put onions on homemade pizza again.

I wonder what the next few chapters will bring…

File:ٍEditing strike01.jpg

Monday, February 11, 2013

Post-First-Draft-Creative-Exhaustion Syndrome

Last Friday I finished the first draft of book three in the Screwing Up Time series. Yay! It was the fastest I’ve ever written a first draft. It took three and one half months and the holidays were in there too.  I’m amazingly thankful.

But if you’ve never written a book before, you should know that writing “The End” is nothing like you see in the movies. In movies, the writer types “The End,” grabs the paper out of the typewriter, tosses it on a stack of papers, and smiles triumphantly. That cues the-worst-is-now-over-the-writer-will-conquer-the-world music. Very romantic. Very not true.

Here’s how it goes for me (and most writers I know). I type “The End.” Then, the first thought that goes through my mind, “Maybe I just wrote ‘The End’ because the ending is so bad that the reader would never know it’s the end unless I told them.”

The next three to five minutes is spent wondering how much the book sucks. A little, a lot, or toss it into the fire? However, having written other novels, I know this is post-first-draft-creative-exhaustion syndrome. The cure is to ignore self-doubt by chanting, “A first draft is a celebration of everything that can go wrong on a page.”  

Now two days have passed. It’s time to print out the tome, grab my red pens, my highlighters, and my multi-colored post-it flags. And so the editing begins. 

File:The End Book.png

Friday, February 8, 2013

Blizzard-induced Green Eyes

I’ve been watching the weather with green eyes today because I’m finding myself very envious of the New England blizzard. (We lived there for seven years. And I don’t even mind the shoveling—I think of it as weather-induced exercise.) I know I should be thankful that we won’t have the power outages or the damage. And I am.

But I miss the pristine beauty of freshly fallen snow. I love the absolute silence of standing outside in a snow storm and not hearing a single sound. And when the snow turns to blizzard, I love the sense of other-worldliness as the drifts obliterate all that is familiar.

But I will content myself with the swirl of snow we had last Saturday. And I’ll enjoy the fact that spring has come early and all my daffodils are blooming. But I’ll checking Facebook for all my friends’ status updates on snow totals and praying they stay safe. And if they go over 18” (the highest blizzard total we had while we lived there), I think my eyes will go permanently green.

File:Miniskirts in snow storm.jpg

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

International Intrigue

Every morning, my clock radio goes off and classical music wakes me up—which is fine if it’s Debussy, but not so great if they’re playing Wellington’s Victory. (I think it reflects a perverse sense of humor to be playing something like that at 7am.) In any case, this morning the music dutifully began playing. Then, something else happened.

In the midst of the music and an NPR report, a series of beeps began. They had rhythm. There were breaks, which were followed by more beeps. My husband rolled over and said, “What’s that?”  I said, “Uh, I think it’s Morse Code.” Or some variation because it wasn’t exactly Morse Code.

So we began speculating which of our neighbors is actually a sleeper agent for the North Koreans. Could it be the young woman next door, who talks with a nervous wheeze? Maybe she’s nervous because she’s afraid we’ll discover her secret. On the other hand, a spy would probably have better training than that. It could be our other neighbor, the one who never does any weeding and her weeds migrate in our yard and flower beds when they go to seed. But I think spies learn not to draw attention to themselves—and weed problems are a definite attention getter, at least for me.

Of course, the cold reality of the situation finally cooled my writer’s imagination. We live in Chattanooga, not exactly a hot bed of international intrigue. The Morse Code was probably just some kid trying out his skills…at 7am…not likely.

Hmm. Maybe Chattanooga is the new hot bed of espionage—it’s our uberfast internet service (actually made the national news as fastest in the nation). And now Chattanooga is the home base for clandestine messages. It makes sense, and it explains the dozen Homeland Security officers that I saw at Starbucks.

Now I just have to figure out which of my neighbors is involved.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Face Blindness, Part Five

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know that I have prosopagnosia, i.e. face blindness. (For more on face blindness, click here, here, and here.) In spite of FB, I’ve always believed I got along pretty well in the world. Until the other day.

My family and I were on the way home from a meeting and I mentioned someone (we’ll call him Bob). My family said, “Uh, Bob wasn’t there.” I said, “Of course, he was. I was leading a meeting and I saw Bob’s face for over fifteen minutes.” Calvin assured me that Bob couldn’t have been where I was because Cal was teaching a class and Bob was in his class.

I argued. But only briefly because everyone else agreed with Cal and since I’m face blind my person recognitions skills are limited. Even now, if I had to swear who was present I would still say Bob was there. But clearly he wasn’t.

In the end, my family figured out that Bob’s brother was actually the person who was there. And I must have confused Bob and his brother. This would be fine if Bob and his brother were similar, but they aren’t. Their coloring, height, timbre of their voice, etc., are all different. In other words, all the qualities that I use to recognize a person are different. And I still couldn’t tell them apart.

When I realized that, my hands went cold and my stomach queasy. It was as if the world moved sideways, and I didn’t. Because the inevitable question is how many times has this happened before, and I didn’t ever know it. Scary thought.

File:Mask Shopping in Venice (5372053918).jpg
Imagine how hard it would be to recognize people if everyone wore a mask--the same mask.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hurray! It's February!

First off, I want to say that I’m sorry I disappeared this week. It’s been a harrowing five days.

My mom had major surgery and my dad and I were with her for several days at the hospital. Thankfully, she’s recovering well and is back home.

A huge storm hit. And our sump pump died. Thankfully, it was only a partial death. So instead of bailing the basement with buckets (which we have done before), we had to plug and unplug the pump every hour. Yesterday, the new sump pump arrived. Yay!

When the huge storm hit, our city was spared tornadoes. But I was sitting with my mom in the hospital when I got the news that the manufacturing plant where the husband of my dear friend worked took a direct hit. Thankfully, we found out within the hour that everyone had survived. However, the plant was completely destroyed. And a lot of people are now without a livelihood--we’re hoping and praying that the company will rebuild and continue to provide some kind of work for their employees in the meantime.

And now that today is February, we can kick January out the door--it sure feel like it's been much longer than 31 days.