Friday, November 30, 2007

the Maude Method(tm) workshop

Well it's time to take a break from the fiction writing, back to the world of reviews and easy essays. How mouth-open-while-swimming-in-the-ocean it's been. I've got two beautiful stories. Maybe I'll send them somewhere to publish them. In the meantime, I'm very happy to sit here and read them to my cat.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

down with distractions

x-ref: this is really happening dot com

like you mean it

Elizabeth Kennedy
1 Quibbler's Cove
Oakland, CA 94606

To: scribblers everywhere
Re: email signatures

Dear friends and collared greens,

Let's agree not to sign emails with "best" or "cheers" anymore. It drives us crazy, much like spoken sentences that end with a raised pitch (just make the statement already; lifting the intonation makes the listener think you may be asking your declarativea most impossible action).


Monday, November 26, 2007

hunka hunka

JR complained there are never any personal revelations posted on this here sandwich board. Okay, fine. Here's some dish: meet the men in my life. I am so in love with them, I can't even tell you.


And Frankie Sinatra!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

a holiday bookmark: read the marketing copy

So I'm making several sweet dishes that require a few more bitter or earthy things for balance and whatnot. Skillet rapini to the rescue. And beet salad with a tame homemade almond butter. Why the beet salad, you ask? Because it involves bomboloni, small bitey bits that are filled with gorgonzola and look like little edible knobs of heaven. Case closed, victory is ours. Good stuff. And healthy--you deep fry them! And so I'm looking at my little candy thermometer package as I gear up and get all the prep set. And the cardboard tells me that my thermometer is all of the following:


Well, well. I'm beyond delighted. Who knew when I was done with my doughy bits of cheesy delight that I could eat the thermometer too.

Fantastic. Like I says, I'm SO thankful for it all. I, for one, intend to enjoy this stuff, folks. It's all we've got.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"biggest bug ever"

I don't know how you feel about T. C. Boyle's writing. His stories are the itch that I scratch over and over. Then I'm stuck with that radiant prickle, that ugly heat, that regrettable, memorable fuss he injects under my skin with the sticky, showy abnormalities of his characters and the outrageous, exaggerated effects of their various deficits of body and spirit.

So I--of course--read that damn story (Sin Dolor) he just had in The New Yorker. I instantly regretted admitting to the chambers of my mind yet another tortured cast of Tom Waits-Diane Arbus mutant children, each more screwed by nature than the next, this one being a merry little narrative involving scorpions, skewers, heated blades, and a young boy who literally feels no pain. Predictably, the good doctor (see moral struggle in your writing manual) tries at once to exploit him and champion his cause.

And so it was one of those couldn't-have-written-it-better life developments that ratcheted up the Boylean hyperbole a mere day or two later. I opened up The New York Times and saw a story about a prehistoric sea scorpion that would have been seven feet long. Yes! Scorpions, like in the story, only monster huge. Epic scorpions, if you will.

Thank God Boyle did not read that before he submitted the story. Lord knows where the crazy bastard would have run with that one.

Monday, November 19, 2007

the two turkeys

Hail, gluttons across the land! Light the beacons and send word. You are not alone in this time of consumption and sloth!

I offer you a new tradition for your post-Thanksgiving day off. Rather than clothes shopping among the throngs (or as my good comrade calls shopping, outfiteering), stay home and celebrate Lord of the Leftovers. What is *that,* you ask? Well ...

It's easy. You eat whatever mountains of food you have left from the big day in whatever order you'd like in whatever quantity with whatever beverage you prefer, all while enjoying a Lord of the Rings marathon in the best company you can muster. It is preferable to be near a fire. And if you can work it out, it's best that it's raining outside. And hard.

For the advanced Hobbitians, role play is strongly encouraged. You can take turns being the Lord. I, for example, am Frodo when he's run out of drink and you are Samwise coming over and giving me your little bota full. Or I play Aragorn and you have to be the wind that is always blowing gently when I am on set. And so on. But if you're old-fashioned or uncomfortable with that, the plain Lord of the Leftovers routine is perfectly sufficient too. Don't feel inadequate if you can't go quite that performative distance just yet. We'll get you there eventually. We are very patient Hobbitses.

One last thing. You may even want to plan and name your menu accordingly. I, for example, will be making my new traditional dessert, Raspberry Fool of a Took. Get it? If not, you probably will not be invited to our Lord of the Leftovers. And you should go outfiteering instead.

progress report

Just broke the double digits in the marathon training this morning. MW blew through her first ten miler like it was a block jog. RP did an insane thirty-five push-ups this morning. It's so fun being surrounded by superheroes.

Ah, superheroes. I've been thinking a lot about which superhero I might be. And unfortunately, I think I found myself just this morning. I'll give you a moment to reflect upon all the golden heroes of your mental pantheon. Good. Done. I'm sure they're tremendous. Since this is, after all, my blog, we're going to talk about the one on my mind, the Greatest American Hero. The one who runs into walls and stuff. He came to me unbidden.

It was after our run this morning and we were nearly out the door of the Sunnyside Cafe when the theme song came blasting over the speakers. Natch, we stopped short. And we, yes we did, we started singing along, knew every word. With a belly full of bananas fosters french toast with rum raisin sludge from heaven, I felt more at home than I had in a long time. Punky Brewster bless that famed duo Mike Post and Stephen Geyer for their numero uno ditty, "Believe It Or Not." Here's a refresher:

Anyway, enough shenanigans. Practically speaking, this month of writing thing has been gnarly and the organizers of NANOWRIMO can kay my aye, but I do see the end of the month coming soon and so I am feeling sane about it. These last two weeks are big writing.

All in all, carpe diem never felt so good. But all that said, I would not mind having a private (handsome) chef or my own massage therapist, and my imaginary admin (Hillary, you've met) really could be doing a better job getting my laundry done.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

give a calendar for christmas

Click View Calendar Pages and check out the Miss Decembers. You will die of love.

Oh and let me just add this, which I just found: my heroes.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

season of eats

**Make that February, not January**

Hello holiday gastronomers,

As you eat your way through the season's wild offerings, spare a teeny bit of room in January for my glimpse into the happy-belly goodness of local underground dinner parties. The full meal-deal story will be in The East Bay Monthly. Good eats and, as one of my students once said, gooder times. What a prospect I lay at your feet.

So come back to me then for the lowdown (don't worry; my imaginary admin—her name is Hillary, since you asked—will get on the horn here and remind you when the story's out). This is just a heads- and tummies-up to the bar: Kennedy promised to give you the goods (and the requisite secret password, d'accord) and indeed she will.

Cornucopiatiously yours,

Monday, November 12, 2007

though i walk through the valley of darkness, i stumble upon some shade-grown coffee beans ...

Okay, fine. I broke down. I got a latte. And it was heaven. Pure and simple. But if you were trying to keep up this insane pace of writing, race training, editing, fiddling, and general life-living, you'd be on coke *and* meth. I'm telling you. I'm the picture of virtue, all things considered.

So! While I'm here. NANOWRIMO is for effing crazy people. Effective this week, I am shifting the focus from quantity to quality, from novel to story, because otherwise I'm wasting too much time. Call me crazy, but I'm in it to win it and I need to produce something other than a cracked-out, hepped-up, 1667-word-a-day notebook full of spinouts and drive-at-all-costs uturns.

Mmm ... coffee.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

the clock, the executioner's song

Norman Mailer is dead. I am sick about it. Just sick. Having long sensed the imminent inevitability makes the twist of the blade no easier. Mailer was far and away the author I most loved to hate. I'd first encountered him when I was teaching literature at Lorton Penitentiary.

One of the books I assigned in the course was In the Belly of the Beast, the letters and acute existential ramblings of Jack Henry Abbott, a convict and aggressive self-educator. Anyone who follows the angling stream of literati chaos likely recalls how Abbott and Mailer struck up a correspondence, how Mailer championed Abbott's parole, and how Abbott subsequently stabbed a waiter within days of his release.

I sympathized for Mailer in that era, the sobering humility of choices that prove retrospectively so ill-advised. But the more I read of him, the more I learned about him, the more grandiose his ego, the more incendiary his style, the more of a blind-swing provocateur he seemed to me. And this, of course, brought out the lion in the grass in me. I have never missed an opportunity to stage derision, however humble my savanna may be.

But it all comes to nothing, I see again. The giants all fall. And the thud sets the earth shaking. And we wend our way—quiet, quiet—back to the shade another day. The sun beats down all around us. We skulk and sulk, are agitated and upset. And the invisible clock ticks again just a little louder from somewhere out of sight.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

this just in: some of us lack maps

The dear and delightful DC has unearthed this invaluable gem and I find myself once again unable to resist sharing. I don't know where he finds it. I really don't. But the thing just spirals out of control, devolving right-quick into the most incredible spectacle.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

the harpies alone are reason enough

So I have mostly honored the November radio-silence thing I had going. But it was my responsibility as a good citizen to get on here and tell you local folks that you would be a damnfool to miss out on Argonautika at the Berkeley Rep Theater.

I know, I know that genius is the too-thin butter on the too-stale toast, meaning it's assigned everywhere to everything, like the new ric-rac edging on Cheez-its. But let me tell you, pal, that Mary Zimmerman is for reals for reals frickinsharp. I have not liked a show this much since I discovered Froggy Went A'Courtin as a wee babe. And I LOVED me some Froggy.

It is a Scandanavian-Design set with recessed oven lights, replete with hilarious and operatic acting, goddesses in platforms and Barbie gowns (except Athena, who appeared in all ways to be a kickass dyke), all the standard delights of Greek mythological insanity, a satisfying smattering of pop culture references (wait till you hear the tune the ladies of Lemnos play in their boudoirs), and just about the prettiest darn ending a dazzle-ready girl like myself could ask for.

I am going to tell you again. Go see Argonautika. You will be better for it.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

day one, check!

Well look at that. Tonight I started the novel I've been thinking about for, oh, six years. Of course wading into it was the equivalent of swimming into Class VI Alaskan rapids with the hopes of channeling them through a silly straw, but I'm alive in the chill in any event.

Now, cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good.
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move.

Aaand ... this orchid that has been massacred by tenacious ant colonies (plural), knocked by cats from a second-story balcony (repeatedly), and split and repotted by yours truly and her brutal tools has just started blooming on my first day writing this thing. When we look for indicators of universal support, it's nice to have such easily accessed signs.

And by the by, our mile time is now roundabout 9:30. I've got a 12k coming up this weekend. I'm feeling like setting a personal record.

"Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense."

No such thing as impossible, only what's not yet happened. That earthquake the other day reminded me: time's only ever of the essence. I write now or I may never have written.