12/31/2005

Health post followup

[NOTE: For any new readers, this blog is generally dedicated to the weirdness of the world, as well as my writing schedule, but sometimes we get onto other things. Like baby carrots.]

A reader writes:

I tried the baby carrots a couple of years ago. Too much of a good thing is possible. I ate about 14 every day throughout the day at work. Trouble is that everything I like is full of vitamin A, cantaloupe, spinach, prunes, etc. On top of that I was taking a multivitamin every day. I ended up with an overdose. It's a fat soluble vitamin and excess amounts are stored in the liver.

I had what felt like palpitations. I was alone that night and when I went to sleep I was fearful that I'd never wake up. Clearly I did. Anyway I changed my habits. I read that it takes about 3 months to clear out the liver.

12/30/2005

A friend writes:

"Why did the media stop demanding a death toll in Katrina? Why did the government stop searching the attics? Why was it so easy for us, after a week of horror, to put it aside for the next piddling story just because the next hurricane came and uneventfully went? Why the f--- doesn’t anyone care?"

Hmmm, but usually people harp on the media for exaggerating, sensationalizing and focusing on tragedies. Guess people are starting to understand why...
My post is working already...

This morning I got an e-mail from an acquaintance, and a .JPG was attached. The e-mail said:
C: Please help me with this issue. Is she wearing a Timex or a more expensive watch? I can’t quite see what the brand is.

I e-mailed him back and said, "Is this a snow penis? Did you read my post?"

He e-mailed back: "I must have missed the post. I just want to know whether it's a Timex."

So I e-mailed him my blog post of a few days ago. He sent this back:

O.K. thanks got it. It was a picture of a babe with really big boobs. She just happens to be wearing a watch. I thought that it was funny. I expected that you would reply by saying something like, yes it's a Timex and simply ignore the fact that she has huge boobs. Oh well. Yes I agree that it would not be good to have it on a worplace computer.



Secrets of dieting

Few blogs are being updated today, so I might as well contribute something instead of whining about it.

Here's a secret weight loss tip for the new year.

Bring things to nosh on at work that are low in calories. Right now, I'm eating baby carrots. They'll make me full 'til at least lunch, and satisfy my need to chomp.

I've also discovered the fun of virgin Maries. Get some tomato juice (like 50 cal a glass). Pour a bunch of coarse ground black pepper at work, a dash of Worcester and Tobasco, and voila (or wah-la, as one of my reporters once wrote), a lil' cocktail to sip on. Yes, I keep the ingredients at work.

Fresh peas are a delicious snack in the summer, harder to find in the winter. I also keep apples around, nice soft Macintoshes. I'm not much of a fan of hard apples.

That said, I'm probably eating pizza for dinner tonight while I revise my book, just because it's a madcap revising weekend. So...at least I'll have a little room to grow.

12/29/2005

Frohes neues Jahr!

I have a German phrase-a-day calendar for the new year. Phrases for the first week include:

Jan 1: Frohes neues Jahr! (Happy new year!)
Jan. 2: Ich habe zu viel Champagner getrunken! (I drank too much champagne!)
Jan. 4: Eine Frau braucht ein kleines schwarzes. (A woman needs a little black dress.)
Jan. 5: Benimm dich deinem Alter entsprechend! (Act your age!)

What's up with that?!

12/27/2005

Gimmie one reason

Another reason to stay in during my writing/hibernation period is this: when writing, My schedule has to be fluid...for instance, one day I was on a roll and stayed up until 3 a.m. writing, then slept late the next day, then woke to do more work, then took another nap from 4-8, etc. During those long periods, having to stop what I'm doing and get ready to go somewhere, that'd mess things up. I don't even like knowing I'm going to stop at a certain time, or wake up at a certain time.

Again, maybe if I was writing full-time this would change, but I have to take my few free days and make them count.

Mean junkmail subject head of the day

COME ON LITTLE-D1CK, SPEND 60 BUCKS TO INCREASE 3" stay

12/26/2005

Blog

My friend Jodi is an excellent writer, and finally started a blog.

A request

Sometimes people think they're doing me a favor by sending a funny photo that takes four minutes to download, a funny cartoon that takes four minutes to download, or worse. And they try to be coy by saying nothing in the e-mail about what it's about, so I don't know if it's important or not. They take time to download, and time to look at and time to delete. If you are one of those people that sends me one every other day, I appreciate your thinking of me, but please resist a bit. If you do it once in a while, I will trust your taste, but in the two seconds it takes you to send it to me with nothing in the e-mail other than "Look at this! It's really funny!," and then I save it at work and open it up and it's a picture of some kids building a snow-penis, I do not appreciate it.

From now on, I'm going to take the same two seconds back to write, "Hey, that was funny! Thanks!" because I am a polite, kind person. You'll never know if I opened it, and I won't know if it was actually something important (like a missing poster of my long-lost sister), but how about STOP BEING SO COY and actually say in the e-mail what it is that I am going to be downloading, if it's important? I know it kinda ruins the joke. If it's that original a joke, send it, but otherwise use some discretion.

If it's important, please tell me that it's important. If it's Frosty the Snow Tool, please stifle yourself. I don't want frozen genitals on my work computer.

Update

Okay, I guess I came off as kind of mean up there. I'm sorry. I'm glad any of you talk to me, and are kind enough to send me icy putzes. I just get behind on opening them. So please wait for the really really big ones. Thanks.

12/25/2005

Update

I just caught up on about 60 e-mails. I'd responded to them all at one point but hoped to respond more when I had time. Sometimes they just pile up while I'm at work.

When I started the novel that I've been working on for five years, it was a pretty original idea. However, each week makes it a little less likely to be original.

Luckily, it's pretty detailed and doesn't just rely on gimmicks and stuff, but it's all the more reason that it has to get done by Feb. 15.

Random

I had a delightful Xmas eve dinner of sushi with a few friends, down the street from me. My new sushi discovery is seaweed salad, which is really sort of spaghetti-thin strands bathed in sweet sesame sauce and it isn't anything like seaweed. Probably isn't very diet-friendly, either, but quite tasty.

Still working on my writing. It's now or never. Self-imposed deadline: Mid-February.

I watched the first season of Desperate Housewives on DVD. I think the per capita murder rate on Wisteria Lane is higher than in New York.

The gas man came and adjusted my heater. He told me he graduated from high school with Kevin Smith. Since I have a worry-free contract, the adjustment AND the Kevin Smith stories were FREE!

12/23/2005

Happy holidays

And thanks for reading.

There's a short story I've made notes for over the last two years but never just sat down and pulled it all together.

This morning I got up with the express purpose of writing it, or a lot of it. I'd thought of some good twists last night and was inspired. So I wrote it today -- 26 pages! Just a first draft, because there will be blanks to fill in, and I'm sure things to change. I will put it aside a bit, then revise it someday. It feels good to have finally gotten it out. Whew.

12/22/2005

Hooked on phonics did not work for the MTA.



23rd Street station

Read about Val's five-mile walk to work.

I don't know what everyone's so upset about. Yesterday, after work, I hopped on the PATH train to 23rd Street, walked a block to Monster Sushi, and enjoyed a delicious Dragon Roll. Mmmm-hmmm. But that one-block walk in New York was cooooold.

12/20/2005

Transit strike

So I hear that across the river, there's a transit strike and a lot of N'Yorkers can't get to work. WALK IT, YOU SISSIES. Walk those 30 blocks from the Upper East Side to midtown in the cold. You pick on me for living in Jersey, but our ferries, trains and buses to the Big Apple are still running, so walk and we'll meet ya there.

UPDATE: Read all about Phil's commute.

12/19/2005

Ego-Googling

Yesterday there was a story in the New York Times Book Review about how writers can use special blog search engines to find out what bloggers are saying about their books. So, you know what I had to do today.

I used the Google blog search engine and read some delightful compliments. One girl wrote:

"I usually hate Red Dress Ink books, but my writing teacher says it's the only good one."

Hahaha! Well, there are some other good ones, but hopefully your teacher will assign it.

To writers

I'm on a chick lit loop, and one writer just sold her book and posted this:

And I have to add, to everyone getting rejections and feeling discouraged right now, don't give up! My "practice" novel got 60+ agent rejections. There were many times that I felt I'd never get published. But I kept writing, and here I am! Take care everyone!

So there you have it. I imagine she did a lot of revising over that time. No one sends to 60 agents at once, nor 60 editors...ever. The first few give you feedback and you do more work. It's a process.

12/17/2005

Oh, great.

I've run out of dopey blogs to read...now I actually have to work on my book.

12/16/2005

Mess transit

If the NYC transit union heads decide to strike tonight, how will they get home?

12/15/2005

Picture THIS!

Why is it that otherwise reasonable friends of mine think it's a good thing to tell me they dislike my author photos? First off, they were selected by showing them to a lot of people, and those were the ones that came out best. Some people really liked them. Some did not. Photos, and a person's appearance in general, strike everyone differently. That's why some people think you look like a certain actress, and other people can't see it at all. It's also part of why some people are more attracted to you than others. If my author photo is already on my book by the time you've seen it, that means it's on at least 30,000 copies. Telling me how ugly it is when it's already there does me no good. If you can't think of something nice to say...

The odd thing is that people tell me I look "too serious." Author photos are usually thoughtful or serious; they're not modeling portraits. Look at Melissa Bank's photo for the Wonder Spot. This is a perfectly good author photo. If you stare at it a while, of course, she looks angry. And she is not smiling. But it's a typical author photo.

A few people have told me I looked angry in one or the other of my photos. I really wasn't, but thanks for notifying me. Other people think I look like I'm smiling (which I was in at least one), and some just see them as neutral (which they are).

So get off my back!!!

12/14/2005

Hibernation

Someone e-mailed me regarding my hibernation post:

Want to go to the Hoboken Cafe happy hour kinda thing tomorrow night?

Pfffft.
Head

Do you have an unexplained headache this morning? Want to know how I know? (Note: It has nothing to do with my other post.)
Owww

I was in my office popping popping-paper today, and someone who was still recovering from last night's Xmas party came in and asked me to please stop.

12/10/2005

Generations

I am scared of getting old, and equally scared of my generation getting old. When I was a kid, my brother and I and cousin would be in our great-aunt's house listening to our relatives talk about the '50s, referencing early TV shows and commercials like "I can't believe I ate the whole thing." The fifties were what I considered the Old Days.

I don't think I can come to terms with MY childhood being the Old Days. I hate it when someone reminds me that the mid-'80s were twenty years ago. I know that some day, I'll tell my kids about how I grew up with only three TV networks, and it used to take our television a minute to "warm up." But I still want the fifties to be the Old Days.

There was a line in the Wonder Spot in which the main character notes that her mother once told her that when she was young, girls used to say, "We don't smoke and we don't chew, and we don't go with boys who do." That cracks me up. That's something people would have said back in the Old Days, and that my own mother would have told me about.

There was no equivalent in my generation. And I doubt there's an equivalent now, except maybe "Use a condom."

Anyhoo, I'm getting off track. Sometimes I co-host trivia, and if there's a song from the '70s or '80s in the audio round, some early Gen Y twentysomething in the audience will say, "Oh, that was in Shrek." My half-sister's favorite movie is "Moulin Rouge," and I can guess why - it was probably her first time hearing those David Bowie and Elton John songs. That'd blow me away if I didn't know those tunes already, too.

Anyway, my point is, my childhood is slowly becoming a thing of lore, like the '50s. I hope it doesn't happen too soon. Were the '80s innocent, like the '50s always seeeeem to be? Yes and know. Honestly, I remember them as a wonderful time, even though my family life was a mess and I got picked on at school. I still managed to keep my nose in Mad Magazine and my ears on American Top 40. I don't know if I can admit that those things are old-fashioned. Well, maybe when I'm fifty I will.

For now, let's let the '50s stay the Old Days, and the '80s seem like Just Yesterday.
Staying in

Some have doubted my vow to hibernate this winter. Well, of course I leave my house once in a while, but I really am making my best effort to avoid doing it every night. It's easier to write when I don't have to wake up or leave work knowing I have to rush somewhere else right away. It's getting darker earlier. And it's cold out.

I made major writing progress yesterday and today. I have a new project to finish by March.

12/09/2005

Melt

O wicked, wanton, noontime sun
Why must you come out
and ruin my fun
The Wonder Spot

I started reading Melissa Bank's 'The Wonder Spot' and now I want to stay up and finish it. It's 2:16 a.m., though.

I can never answer when people ask "What are you reading?" because if I really like something, I want to read the whole thing right away. I could very well finish this book by 5 a.m. (just because I read fast if I like something) and then sleep three hours until time for work. But maybe I'll just keep myself in suspense until the weekend.

So far, this book doesn't feel like "chick lit," but it all depends on what the definition of chick lit is. Sometimes, it just acts as a marketing term to sell women's writing, and, well, I gotta be all for that.

2 p.m. update

I eventually did read a lot more, although I haven't finished yet. I am blown away by the writing in this book. It's not the specific language so much, but the way she is so dead on with her dialogue and depiction of the relationships between characters. There are a lot of similarities to The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing; the main character in these interconnected stories is again Jewish, young, has an odd Carson McCullers-esque hope/envy relationship to her brother's girlfriend(s), and eventually winds up in publishing. So why am I so newly impressed? It's still such a compelling story and so different from chick lit, too. What is it that makes the difference?

Again, it's not the language. Perhaps it's the pacing. This book is slower and not as goal-oriented as some chick lit. Right away, a lot of "chick lit" books begin with a goal (like finding a good relationship), and the main character then rapidly sets off to meet it (NOTE: in any of these comments, I am not excluding myself or anything I've written, nor am I complaining about chick lit, just trying to figure out why Wonder Spot feels different from it).

The first story has the main character, Sophie, at the age of 12...and her comments, her friends' comments, and their actions place me right in the mind of an edge-of-innocence mid-80s adolescent. And even though I remember a lot of what happened back then, I don't think I could be as dead-on in my dialogue and description as Melissa Bank. Just the scene where an eighth grade boy asks Sophie, "Are you going out with anybody" reminds me exactly of the way kids used to talk back then. I don't know if kids use the term "going out" anymore, or it's been replaced by "hooking up" or something else, but the sense of innocent kids trying to be not-so-innocent places me dead in that time. The school's "cool girl" is alternately aloof and unreachable but then says things to Sophie like "see you 'round, basset hound." Cracks me up.

Melissa Bank, by the way, hates the term 'chick lit.' I consider it a marketing term, but she doesn't really need that kind of help.

And now back to rejoicing over the snow.

12/07/2005

A different kind of terror victim

This is sad.

The man [who claimed to have a bomb], identified as a 44-year-old U.S. citizen, was gunned down on a jetway just before the American Airlines plane was about to leave for Orlando.
...According to a witness, the man frantically ran down the aisle of the Boeing 757, flailing his arms, while his wife tried to explain that he was mentally ill and had not taken his medication.
The arts are hard, Part MMCCXXXIII

This week's New York magazine says that Jennifer Jason Leigh "continues to write screenplays -- though she recently shelved a project when a studio balked at the budget."

12/06/2005

Debate

I'm going to this, 'cause my friend is debating:

"Is Dating Tougher for Men or Women?" The Anonymous Blogger vs. Hillery Borton (Moderator: Evanchik; Host: Seavey), at Lolita bar on Broome and Allen, Wed. Dec. 7, 8pm.

12/02/2005

Happy December

Thanks to those who came to my reading tonight. It was nice to see y'all there. A little audience debate erupted over what men like to read vs. what women like to read. Fun stuff!

On tap for this month: Revise, revise, revise...

12/01/2005

If I had a lot of money

If I had a lot of money, I would buy one of those $1,500 defibrillators, and I'd carry it around. Then, if someone went into cardiac arrest, I would charge them $2,000 per minute to borrow it.

11/30/2005

Salutations

Someone once said it was weird that when I send e-mails, I don't put the person's name first, or "Dear Grizelda," or anything like that; I just start with the e-mail. I don't know...I never thought of e-mail as conforming to any etiquette rules. I just kind of launch into it. Is that weird?

Have I mentioned

Have I mentioned lately how nice it is that Jennifer Weiner mentions me in her FAQ? She's awesome.
Reclusivity

I am going to spend the month of December in hiding, finishing two writing projects that I've been working on. It's now or never. I need to concentrate.

Yes, I know, this isn't much different from my usual state.

(Well, in hiding except for my reading this Thur, of course...and hosting trivia next Tue...and things I have to go to, and...)

On another front, here is the best use for Blackberry I've ever seen.

11/26/2005

Reminder
Reading
Caren Lissner, Laurie Graff, and Melanie Murray
read from
SCENES FROM A HOLIDAY
(including the novella "Carrie Pilby's New Year's resolution")
Thursday, December 1, 2005
7:30 pm
soy nog! soy nog! soy nog!
Barnes & Noble
Eighth Street and Sixth Ave, West Village
(396 6th Ave at 8th Street)
NYC 10011
The book is available in stores now, or
Click the link to order or read about it on Amazon.

11/24/2005

Happy Thanksgiving

So much to be thankful for. I'm thankful that you read my writing, and are my friend. XOXO.

11/23/2005

An IMbot Thanksgiving

Lizzner: Happy Thanksgiving.
SecretSparkle: Today isn't Thanksgiving.
Lizzner: Tomorrow is.
SecretSparkle: So?
Lizzner: So I was saying happy Thanksgiving in advance.
SecretSparkle: You were saying happy thanksgiving in advance?
Lizzner: Yes I was.
SecretSparkle: Eh. Whatever, Lizzner.
Lizzner: You are impolite.
SecretSparkle: You humans say interesting things.
Lizzner: Happy birthday.
SecretSparkle: Today isn't my birthday.
Lizzner: When is your birthday?
SecretSparkle: My birthday is June 26th.
Lizzner: How do robots have birthdays?
SecretSparkle: I don't know.
Lizzner: You are stupid.
SecretSparkle: Huh? What's with that?
Lizzner: Are you sparkling today?
SecretSparkle: Sparkle today. 1 Makeup Tips 2 Fashion Tips 3 Fashion Tips from Limited Too!
Lizzner: You are a bitch.
SecretSparkle: That's an insult, if I'm not mistaken. Why would you say such a thing?
Lizzner: Because you are.
SecretSparkle: OK, whatever.

11/22/2005

Barometer record

Congrats to my barometer on its record low.

11/21/2005

Is this worth doing?

I spent a lot of my free time this weekend revising about fifteen pages of something. Was it worth it? Well, I think so. There is, of course, the possibility that this thing will never get published. So will it still have been worth it?

I still think so.

What would I have done instead of revising? Probably watched more DVDs, maybe taken my friend up on his offer to go see "Walk the Line," and one and sat at a bar and watched the Iggles lose...fun stuff. So in terms of productivity, I didn't lose a lot. I somehow did manage to finish watching the first season of "Lost" this weekend (what's in that damn hatch?! Maybe it's Richard. Richard Hatch.)

But the biggest factor in why I needed to do the revising this weekend is that I really, really want to tell this story. It would have bugged me if I DIDN'T spend so many hours revising it. I'm adapting it, figuring out what makes it more readable, now that I know more about it than when it first started.

And as I mentioned a billion times last year, there are good times to submit, and bad times. January, Feb, March, and April will be okay. Once the warm weather comes, editors fly away.

Thus concludes another dull entry on writing...

Some quotes from this evening:

"I'm going to become an agent, an editor, and EVerything!" - A writer I know

GUY I KNOW: I gave away most of my comic books. Time to grow up.
GIRL: What about the t-shirts?
GUY 2: And the action figures?

(And no, I'm not sending to Overheard in NY because I was part of the conversation. It's more funny if you randomly overhear stuff like that.)

11/18/2005

More American graffiti
(from the PATH)



11/16/2005

Not forgotten

I have a few photos on the Forgotten NY page from Sunday's tour. I highly recommend Kevin's alternative tours of NYC.

http://www.forgotten-ny.com/forgottentour23/tour23.html

I am just never going to catch up on "Lost" quickly enough to keep up with all the spoilers in the media. So they're meeting people from the other half of the plane tonight?!? Whatever.

11/15/2005

Prep

Whenever I'm uptown in Manhattan, I love taking photos of Preppies.



Update: Wes writes: "Yellow sweatpants pulled up around the calves? What happened to clean, collared shirts and sweaters tied around the neck? I miss the preppies of old."

These were Sunday morning rebellious young preppies. I think the one on the right is Holden, or that kid from "Tadpole," or Igby, or...

Update 2: Michael writes that 64th & Lex is not uptown.

Well, it sure as hell is different from 44th & Eighth...

11/11/2005

Combonyms

Okay, please don't send me any more. I will NOT post them anymore. But here are three that were sent by readers recently:

From J.E.G:

Scrumtitious, adj. Not as tasty as the advertising would have you believe. (scrumptious + fictitious)
Semaphoreshadowing, n. Tip-off that later on in the movie, there might be some guy waving flags around.

From Anonymous:

Mantrum - when a man throws a tantrum.

That contributor adds: If you list it on your site, please list it as from anonymous.
Wonder why?

11/09/2005

It was forty years ago today...

That the East Coast blackout occurred. The DJ on WABC radio (Dan Ingram) was confused about why his records were moving so slowly...and then everything stops. It's somehow captured for everyone to hear. Worth listening to:

http://musicradio.computer.net/images/ing11-9-65blackout.ram

11/08/2005

Gnaw

Dear Diary,

I left my Halloween pumpkin on the ledge. I hope nothing happens to it.

11/07/2005

Maximum overdrive

Dear Diary,

Why does everyone think the New Jersey Highway Department is corrupt?




(Note: Since I work for a newspaper, I must add this disclaimer: I was only joking, and I'm sure the sign is privately owned or at least privately paid for by Corzine's campaign. It has been used for elections in this area before. I just thought that was funny.)

11/06/2005

Everyone knows it's windy

It got really windy out. There are squalls moving across the northeast.

I told Dawn she should write a post headline, "Everyone knows it's windy." She said she used it last week!

11/03/2005

Guess what the cover of the New York Post says is the hottest dog in New York City right now??

PUGGLE!
From an article I read yesterday:

Although bought within a month of completion, Prep was rejected by 14 of 15 publishers and, in one case, was rejected, then un-rejected, and then rejected again.

So you want to be a published writer, eh?

Curtis Sittenfeld was a Times writer, among other things, and still she had to engage in the above battle...as do we all (except maybe Tom Wolfe). Spending several years writing is sometimes the easy part!

11/02/2005

Anything goes

Here's my article about Paul Provenza, co-producer of "The AristocRats."

11/01/2005

Wiki wiki wiki wiki...

Sometimes I think that people making lists on Wikipedia are tempted to invent a few of their own additions...

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_slurs:

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ (Subcontinentals in U.S.) "American Born Confused Desi Emigrated From Gujarat Housed In Jersey, Keeping Lots of Motels, Named Omkarnath Patel, Quickly Reached Success Through Underhanded Vicious Ways, Xenophobic Yet Zealous": Extended version of ABCD used for American-born Indians who are confused about their culture, implying greater racial and cultural disparagement.

Ahhh-Jew (U.S.) Indicating that a Jew is present with a false sneeze

Americans Americunt/A Merry Cunt (UK) an American tourist

...and those are just the A's.

10/31/2005

Jess's poll

What's more demoralizing - dating, or job-hunting? Jessica poses the question, and gets some interesting answers!
Good morning.

Woke up, put on clothes wenmunchmunchmunchmunchmmmmmcandycandycandyyum
yumgobblegobblemunch.

10/30/2005

Happy Halloween

I was at a H'ween party in NYC with lots of writers last night. There was one person there dressed as Valerie Plame, and another dressed as Harriet Miers. And one girl dressed as pi. (She was wearing a shirt with pi to like the 31st decimal place.)

10/29/2005

Writing

I had a writing project that I wanted to fix all week, but I didn't have time, and I hate the idea of working on it a little before work or a little after. So it ate at me all week. But after some work tonight and this morning, it's where I want it. That's quite a relief.

In other news, Vidiot told me that where I made a reference to homonyms earlier, it was actually homophones I meant. HomoNYMs are slightly different. I told my dad, and he said he was going to sue his elementary school teachers.

By the way, "Vidiot" is a combonym.

10/26/2005

Political

This blog never gets political, so maybe it's time.

Opinion:

That plan to give NYC subway riders a break around the holidays is stupid.
Thank you.

Recent quote from Dad

"I thought of a good homonym the other day: Summary and summery. Think of the ones you saw first, like waste and waist. That would be a good homonym."

Goatwatch

The goat does not wear a watch. But I will find out his/her name by the end of the year. Even if it's just Billy or Nanny.

10/24/2005

Really lost

My brother reports: "The next new episode of 'Lost' isn't until three weeks from now. That's annoying. At the end of the last episode, they showed scenes from the next episode. So if they have it, why can't they show it??"

In other news...

I thought 2006 would be the Year of Malice, but apparently he's starting early on his fanclub.

10/22/2005

Fall

Don't worry, folks. Slowly but surely, it will feel like fall.

ORDER NOW!

The collection containing the Carrie Pilby sequel is available on-line, and should be in stores in a week. You can also review it if you've read it (and have something nice to say, hopefully!)

Click:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0373895372/qid=1119277915/sr=1-3/ref=sr_1_3/002-0170990-1772057?v=glance&s=books

10/17/2005

Apostrophe Catastrophe

Does Veterans Day have an apostrophe in it? And...why the confusion? The Black Table published an article today that I wrote about this topic. I didn't write the headline...apparently their editors are even angrier about the apostrophe situation than I am!!!

Update....

Willllma!

Tropical Storm Wilma is expected to become a hurricane, and has helped tie a record for most storms. Oh, and it's raining again.

Disclaimer:

I post this every once in a while: I use this blog for concise thoughts and to keep readers updated on my projects; it only represents a small smidgeon of my personality and sometimes doesn't represent it at all, so if you are someone who only met me recently, please try not to make too many assumptions. There is more to me than what you see here. Also, I try not to get overly personal on it, so don't worry that you'll be blogized. Thank you, and now back to our program.

10/16/2005

Wedding

I was at a lovely wedding today. Many people whom I have become friends with in the last few years were also there, so it was fun. Here is a shot from this morning, where the bride and other members of the party are getting made up...I chose a photo where you can't see the faces clearly because the bride should be the one to decide if she puts up photos or not, but I know that a few people who were there like to read blogs, so this still gives the idea.

10/14/2005

I found this post from a year ago (actually, 10/22/04):

On another note, I revised the first 50 pp. of my book some more this evening. If they were, like, pages 200-250, I wouldn't worry so much. But this is the beginning. I think I'm almost done. I see the light!
This morning's weather

For those not in the Northeast, this is the longest series of rainy days I think we have ever seen. And it's not just drizzle -- it's heavy rain and wind. It's like a five-day-long nor'easter.

It's kind of cool.

10/13/2005

Joke

MY DAD: What do you need when you have a lawyer who's up to his neck in concrete?
ME: More concrete?
MY DAD: (disappointed) Oh...you've heard...ok, bye.

10/12/2005

This morning's weather



Click for more!

10/09/2005

Reading

Caren Lissner, Laurie Graff, and Melanie Murray
read from

SCENES FROM A HOLIDAY


(including the novella "Carrie Pilby's New Year's resolution")

Thursday, December 1, 2005
7:30 pm
Barnes & Noble
Eighth Street and Sixth Ave, West Village
(396 6th Ave at 8th Street)
NYC 10011

The book will be in stores and shipped from on-line orders in just two weeks!!
Click the link to order or read about it on Amazon.

10/08/2005

That's Italian

Italian Carrie Pilby reader-turned-friend Alex P. was in New York for a trip, so we met up. Since he revealed he was a concert pianist, I forced him to play a song in my living room. He played "My Way." Appropriate choice!

Moonlighting

"Gimmie Madonna. Nobody's gonna want her number next year, anyway." - Bruce Willis, episode 14, "Moonlighting"

I've been watching more episodes. It really was a brilliant show. Except when they screwed it up.

What's interesting about stuff circa 1985 is that it mostly looks modern. Go back a year or two before that and it's pure '80s -- the hair, the pop culture, etc. But by 1985/86, the hair was shrinking, some people had computers, and there were VCRs and cable (both mentioned in the 2nd season of Moonlighting).

But what's different -- and funny every time I see it -- is that whenever Maddie and David are in their car and need to make a phone call, they have to stop and use a pay phone. No signs of cell phones anywhere. So odd.
Gone phishing

Over the last several months, I've gotten many e-mails that look like they're from eB*y or PayP*l telling me to change my password because someone is trying to fradulently use my account, etc. But the e-mails themselves are fraudulent. The thing is, they use the proper logos and even e-mail address, so they look real. It would be easy to be suckered in, click the link and give financial information.

In the last few days, I've gotten some from AOL. But today was the best - I got one that totally looked like it was from the Red Cross. It has all the Red Cross logos inside, copy that was clearly stolen from a Red Cross website, and pictures of devastated houses and starving dogs. What gives it away is this sentence in the beginning:

Dear sir,
This are some of the tragic events wich we ask you to support all those people wich houses and all they had it is history :


Then it talks about measles, both hurricanes, etc. Then the last line is:

To help all this peoples click here.

Riiiight.

10/07/2005

It's cold

Anyone else having thermostat wars in their office? I put it on 73, someone else turns it down to 69, etc.
Suffered for his art

A 22-year-old poet named Dennis Kim was learning over the railing on the Christopher Street pier on the Hudson River, admiring it with his friend Jennifer two days ago, when his backpack full of romantic poetry fell in. He told her he couldn't let it go and jumped in to get it. Then the currents took him away.

It's such a sad thing. I wonder if some of his poetry is on-line. The Hudson River often looks pretty calm when you're standing over it, so people don't realize how strong those currents are...but it's very hard to get back out when you've gone in. I wonder if there should be signs at random points reminding people of that. Yeah, yeah, I know, you might think that's a stupid suggestion, but I'm just saying "maybe."

10/06/2005

The debate

The NJ vs. NYC debate was a lot of fun tonight. It was a silly issue, and thus a silly debate (I didn't realize that NJ has a high percentage of sliding doors that are dangerous to bears). I think New Jerseyans get a bit tired of hearing their state maligned, and of Manhattanites constantly being afraid to leave Manhattan for a few seconds to come to NJ - usually because Manhattanites have to justify their high rents by spending every minute in Manhattan. Well, that was my premise, anyway. I also said NYC is a lovely place to visit, but I mentioned the murder rate of 600 per year. Disclaimer: I love Manhattan too, which is why I live near there (for now)...I just don't think NJ is inferior.

My debating opponent, poet Boni Joi, was very clever and funny and had a good response to a Frank Sinatra question from the audience. Someone tried to say that they slaughter pigs in Secaucus, but I pointed out that that stopped 50 years ago (or thereabouts). Oh, snap!

I have to thank all of the people who turned out, no matter which side they were on - including Anonymous Bob, great blogger Brother Lawrence, brilliant writer Ned (who was largely a few blocks down for the Happy Endings reading series, where he was reading with the talented Will Leitch whose debut novel "Catch" comes out in two months), and some people who I'm not sure have their own web pages: Carly, Matt, Joel, moderator Todd, and probably several others. If I forgot you, I appreciate it.

I don't usually namecheck (or namedrop), but I wanted to thank those folks. And you, if you were there, too. Surprisingly, a large Jersey contingent came out! We still lost 12 to 13, but what the heck.

Some of the debate will appear on the fabulous TV cable show Across the Hudson, soon to be airing on both sides of the river.

Okay, it's around midnight and I should really start getting to work (ha ha).

10/05/2005

Reminder

I'm debating tonight (Wed) whether "New Jersey is inferior to New York City." Of course it isn't. Debate starts at 8 p.m. at Lolita bar, 266 Broome St, New York, NY 10002-4509 (212) 966-7223.


The gig is up

Or is that jig? Anyway, Two people e-mailed me today to tell me that combonyms are "portmanteau words." Wikipedia says:

A portmanteau (plural: portmanteaux or portmanteaus) is a word that is formed by combining both sounds and meanings from two or more words. It can also be called a frankenword. The term used in linguistics is blend ... This word was coined by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, in which it is likened to a travelling case. He used the French word "porte-manteau" (coat hanger). Carroll has Humpty Dumpty say, "Well, slithy means lithe and slimy... You see it's like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word."

Interestingly, Wikipedia also notes that "Californication" is an example. Those guys sure have a sense of humor.

I still think combonym is a better term.

10/04/2005

Trivilous Combonyms

Melbow - n. the elbow of a guy named Mel.

Anyway, since this letter was from Norway, I should reprint it:

Hi Miss Lissner, this one’s for you:
If you write a book on combonyms, shouldn’t it be called a blok?
Blok Pronunciation: bl k \ nounAn idea that sprung out of a blog but eventually turned into a book project.
-Nils, Norway

I think blook is better.

10/03/2005

Things I saw in New York



Oh, reminder: I am still debating on "Is New Jersey inferior to New York City?" on Wednesday night at 8 at Lolita Bar in Manhattan. It won't exactly be formal or serious.
Get your sequel now:

Apparently, you can order Scenes from a Holiday, including the Carrie Pilby sequel, and receive it a matter of moments if you go to the page below! And you get it really cheaply!

http://store.eharlequin.com/splash/reasons_to_shop.jhtml

10/02/2005

More combonyms (TM)

Carl from Baton Rouge (who apparently has six animals and people staying with him post-flood) submits:

Novertime. n. Hours you work, beyond 40 per week, but for which you do not get paid.

OK. Other folks: If you have more, put them on your own blogs, so we can start a revolution of combonyms!

Maybe I should put together a book of these. It seems like everything has been done, but I'd do it.

C

9/30/2005

How to wake right up without coffee

I was listening to the news on the radio this morning and they said that former Reagan Education Secretary Bill Bennett had said something racist on his radio show. I thought, "Shouldn't they qualify that for saying it was something 'that some feel is racist' or 'supposedly racist'?" Then I heard the quote.

"But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky."

Yes, this is real.

9/29/2005

Buy the book

A description of Scenes from a Holiday is now up at Amazon. It includes the Carrie Pilby sequel. It should be out in four weeks!

9/28/2005

More combonyms

Owen submits:

bactor - n. A bad actor (see also bactress) -- OT

There are currently only two mentions of the word combonym on the entire internet. Mention combonyms on your blog and make it three!!!

9/27/2005

Those amazing animals

I messed up the link to local animals for adoption last time. Here 'tis.

9/26/2005

Critiquing writers

There was some discussion recently among my writing group about criticism that's unhelpful. I confess that I actually instigated the discussion. I've found that lately, people in my group have been asking me questions about the piece I've brought, rather than telling me what THEY think. And this was pissing me off.

For instance, I would bring chapter 3 of my novel and they'd say, "Is there a payoff to this later?" or "Who is your audience?" or even "Why did you choose this to bring?" I would rather hear what THEY think, not what *I* think, because an editor or reader is not going to call me on the phone and ask me whether a paragraph is justified -- they will either keep reading, or not. It would be more helpful if the group said, "This seems like it's targeted toward 12-year-old boys, because of the video game references" or "This part is a bit dull unless it's leading to some action soon."

I think this has been happening more because I've been bringing novel excerpts rather than short stories where the beginning and end are obvious. But that doesn't mean they should sit around and ask questions about what happens next. I want critiques on what I've brought, not an interrogation about my goals.

I could go on at length about the difference between helpful and unhelpful criticism in writing groups. Let me just say this:

1. Don't tell a writer his work is 'good' or 'sucks.' That's a) too vague, b) unnecessarily hurtful in some cases, and c) useless, as opinions on what's good or sucks can be as diverse as your freckles. Best-sellers can suck, too. INSTEAD, tell them where it sucks, and why, and what they can do to make it better. Be specific. If a page is boring and doesn't move the story along, say so. But comment on what's good about it, too, so a writer doesn't accidentally take something good out, and so that they understand what they're doing right.

2. Criticism on how you feel while you're reading is important. If pages of it don't hold your interest, say so. If something sparks your curiosity, tell exactly where. If a character says something that puts you in suspense, mark that down on the paper. If something makes you laugh, put a smiley face. These are the things that determine whether readers keep reading. Did a poignant passage make you sad? I want to know that.

3. Okay, here's one. Someone wrote on my most recent piece, "So many visuals." Um, is that good or bad? Sometimes, people will put a check mark next to a sentence, or circle it - and I have no idea what that means. Can ya ^$#(* be more specific please?

4. Oh, this one's for friends. If you ask to see something I'm writing, don't then put it aside for two months. This happens to ALL writers: We give our friends something to read, and then they don't get to it and the issue kind of hangs in the air for a while after that. I know why it happens: Because you hear your friend talk about his/her book, and you're intrigued, and you like your friend, so you want to see it. Then you get it and realize it's raw and not a work of genius, and so you aren't as excited anymore. Especially since it's 300 pages long. Then weeks turn to months. But this is kind of tough luck - you asked to read it, and your friend went through the trouble to print it out, and now she/he needs your thoughts. Now that you've learned your lesson, next time, ask a friend if you can read 10 pages. That should save you the trouble of having a 200-page manuscript on a pile of things on your desk. (Note: Val, this was not directed at you. You're off the hook. It's a general reference.)

5. Don't make the mistake of thinking that because you're not a professional, your criticism doesn't matter as much. The editors or readers getting a manuscript don't have any magical powers or talents that you don't. They'll read the book just like you do. So if you find it really interesting, other people will too, and if you find it boring, other people might, as well. Your critique DOES matter.

6. Write stuff on the MS as you read it. Don't make up stuff later. Editors and readers will only read it once, and have their first impressions that will help them decide whether to keep reading. Then, when you get to the end, write your overall thoughts.

7. Read this just like you would a book in the library.

In short, you may be getting into a lot if you volunteer to read someone's work-in-progress, or if you join a writing group. Just remember, we writers lose perspective on our stuff, so just telling us anything at all about where it works for you and where it doesn't -- and why -- is invaluable to us. Just be specific, and give suggestions.

One more thing. On my last piece, I got two comments on my last line. Someone wrote, "Great last line." Someone else wrote, "I'm not sure I get this." This is good. It tells me that some will love the last line, and others won't understand it...depending on my aim, I may need to make it clearer. But I'm glad I know that it DOES make sense to some people. So both comments are useful.

Oh, and a big thank you to anyone who's read my unfinished manuscripts over the years, as well as to people who've read this blog and asked if they could submit a few pages to me (usually I follow my own advice and try to keep it to 5-10 pages, otherwise, I'll never get to it!)



finishing revisions two weeks ago...

9/25/2005

Welcome back to E!

---It appears that Demi Moore and Ashton Kutsher have gotten married! Yay. I guess it's not a "rumer." Hee.

---I've been meaning to quote from this Liz Smith column in the Post on Sept. 12. Apparently, Liz is getting a bit morose. She takes issue with magazine caption of Jennifer Aniston walking on the beach because it says, "A solemn Jen...faces life on her own." Then Liz pontificates: "She couldn't just be happily on the beach doing her own thing. As for facing life on her own - in the end, we all do. And it is much healthier to get used to it early rather than later. But everybody should be prepared to 'face life' on his or her own."

Way to cheer us up, Liz.

9/24/2005

Have you met...our most amazing pet?

I was shamed again by my animal-saving pal Jane after I posted that snoozing cat photo last week, so here are pets for adoption in the NYC/NJ area.

Also, fear not...I will still find out the goat's name. I still want to know.

9/23/2005

Goat watch '95 concludes

Me (to halfsis): Did you find out the goat's name?
Halfsis: I keep forgetting.
Me: Well, summer ended. No $25 for you.
Halfsis: It's Billy!!
Me: You can't make it up.

9/22/2005

Debate Oct. 5

I will be debating on Wed, Oct. 5 over whether New Jersey is better than New York. Of course, it is. More details to come. The debate, of course, will be in New York. Oh well.

Low pressure

The center of Hurricane Rita is 897 milibars, which is so low that this chart doesn't go there. I guess it's about 26 inches. Much lower than my room will ever get!

9/21/2005

Category 5

Hurricane Rita is now category 5 with winds 165 MPH, heading for Galveston.

Chaos of Katrina

There were many stories about the suicide of New Orleans police spokesman Paul Accardo, but none of the ones I read said that someone told him his wife, from whom he was separated, had been killed in the storm. The information later proved false. Who knows whether that was why Accardo killed himself, but it shows once again how slow some information is late to get written about because of the chaos. Here is where I read it yesterday.
Whoopsie

I sent an e-mail to one of the writers whom I edit, and I guess I also accidentally CC'd a friend of mine who has nothing to do with the paper. She wrote back anyway.

I think I got this by mistake, but yes, of course I will be extremely delicate and careful re noticing late captions!. also pull quotes. it's the verbal people vs. the visual people and we must win at all costs!!!
see you soon

The time and temperature


It is going up to 84 degrees today in New York. Yoo-hoo, autumn, where are you? Fall starts THURSday. (NOTE: Earlier today, I wrote that fall starts Friday. This blog regrets the error.)

For those bloggers who always complain that the media is lazy, stupid, etc.... The New York Times Co. is about to lay off 45 reporters. The idealistic young scribes are still out there, but there are fewer of them, and fewer newspapers for them to work at.

9/20/2005

Vamperor - Emperor of the Vampires.
submitted by: Bob.
Catitude -- What your Siamese is giving you when she sits on your couch staring you down.
More combonyms

Clousy - adj. Cloudy and lousy
Depressay - n. An essay inspired by, or about, depression (written version of Emo...or Screamo, which is also a combonym)
Combonym - n. Combined word (and note that this is its FIRST MENTION ON THE INTERNET!) (acc. to Google, anyway).

9/19/2005

Remaining hurricane names for this year

Rita (currently on way to Florida)
Stan
Tammy
Vince
Wilma

Guess they didn't think far enough ahead. I submit:

Xavier
Y The Hell Don't You Stop Raining On US
Zip Back to Where You Came from.

9/18/2005

Last weekend of summer.

Woke up, put on clothes, etc.

9/16/2005

Up all night with AIM robots

Lizzner: Hey, Secret Sparkle.
SecretSparkle: Nice to see you again, Lizzner. What can I do for you?
Lizzner: Seems to me the only ones awake are you and Austin Powers.
SecretSparkle: Seems to you the only ones awake am I and austin powers? Why did you say that?
Lizzner: Never mind. Spoke too soon.
SecretSparkle: No problem.

Lizzner: Hi.
Austin Powers: Cheers. I'm takin' a little breather right? I'll be back in action soon. In the meantime why don't you say 'ello to my friend SmarterChild. Grrrr baby.

Lizzner: Hi.
SmarterChild: During the course of our conversations you may see sponsored messages. These messages have the word "sponsorship" at the end. Sponsors help me remain free of cost to you. To learn more about sponsored messages, click here.
Lizzner: How smart are you?
SmarterChild: "Artificial intelligence" means different things to different people. Some consider Conversagent-powered interactive agents to demonstrate artificial intelligence. I like to think that they demonstrate the intelligence of the people who built the software platform and the scripters of the interactive agents themselves.
Lizzner: Wow. Now I'm tired.
SmarterChild: lol! Whatever!Tell your friends about me. I love to meet new people.

9/14/2005

Rock you like a

Okay, so the annual Aug. 15-Sept. 15 hurricane watch on this blog was kind of canceled due to tragedy, but here's Mother Nature blowing one last furious storm in our general direction on the last day.


Goat Watch

ME: How's school? Do you like the kids?
HALF-SIS: Yes. I know a lot of the eighth graders but I haven't had a lot of chance to talk to the seventh graders yet.
ME: They're babies. Did you find out the goat's name?
HALF-SIS: No.

---------------------------

What's up with this heat wave? I'm glad it will be fall in nine days. Newsweek this week mentions a few places that are good for "leaf-peeping." That highway in the White Mountains of NH sounds nice.

9/13/2005

9/12/2005

Tap tap tap

This week, I have even more writing assignments to finish than usual...

So if I don't post on a given day this week, you can assume I woke up and put on clothes.

9/10/2005

Televangelist

One of the things that the internet brought us was the ability to realize just how original we really aren't. Try to come up with any unique idea and see if a Google search doesn't reveal that some other guy in Montana mentioned something similar on his blog three years ago.

In the last few years, I've "invented" some combined words, but the first two already had numerous mentions on the internet, so I obviously wasn't the only one who came up with them. But here they are anyway.

Trivilous -- adj. Trivial and frivolous
Cybrary -- n. Cyber library
Froductivity -- n. Hard work on the set of "Lord of the Rings"

9/09/2005

Whitening

I sent copies of Carrie Pilby and Starting from Square Two down to an author in Baton Rouge who is volunteering at the shelters and requested them. Hopefully this won't increase the suffering. I also sent Tom's of Maine toothpaste to make the package actually useful.

9/06/2005

If you're looking

Many people ended up at this blog today by putting Sgt. Paul Accardo into Yahoo or Fox. You probably actually want the Associated Press story that was filed last night, so just click this link.

9/05/2005

Unfathomable

There is still too much news to report on, just like in the weeks after 9/11.
Normally, a police officer committing suicide for any reason would be major news. Two New Orleans cops killed themselves and it's only being mentioned as part of other stories because so many other people have died and are still dying.
If you put "Paul Accardo" into Google news, you first get these excerpts from the days after the storm:

"The challenge is an engineering nightmare," Paul Accardo, a police spokesman, said...

One police officer was shot in the head by a looter in New Orleans, but was expected to recover, said Sgt. Paul Accardo, a police spokesman....

Sgt. Paul Accardo pointed a gun at his head and took his own life last week.


--------------------------

Media

I haven't heard much griping about the media in relation to this tragedy. We all know it was the media who killed Princess Di and kept purposely showing photos of the Twin Towers burning in order to manipulate people into supporting Bush's war (*sarcasm at work*), but now, few are complaining that their images of New Orleans are meant to be manipulative or shock journalism. None of that "They're alarmists" or "They're trying to scare us" nonsense.

If not for the media coverage, the harrowing photographs, many of us would not have known the severity of the situation. The media in NO has set up bulletin boards and become a primary way for people to reach each other. Three years ago, the Picayune ran a series on what would happen if a hurricane hit N.O. In the final analysis, sometimes we need to see those horrific images.
My vacation

I went to Utah to see the sights.





I'm a fan of freight trains, of which Utah has many.



I wanted to come back at sunset to this place, thinking it would be even more beautiful:



But I was stopped by a MASSIVE TORNADO.



Still, every cloud has a silver lining.



(PS: It was really just a storm cell, not a tornado.)

9/01/2005

Okay, I'll stop posting this stuff after this, but it's better to understand the true extent of what's going on. This is from the Picayune message board:

I got a call from my sis-in-law ... Due to running out of food, water and general flooding (water is now 10 feet deep at by brother's house), she moved to a neighbors house. There are 3-4 adults with her, one with severe asthma and no medications. They tried to get out by boat yesterday, but then got shot at by looters. Vicki is calling around to see if anyone has any resources to help, and she was hoping someone might have a contact or an idea. If you would kindly forward this to anyone you know that is in or was in the National Guard, military, etc.. They are on the deck of a house waving a red flag between South Claiborne and Willow at:2723 Jefferson AveNew Orleans, LAThank you
This is horrifying.

New Orleans descends into anarchy
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — Storm victims were raped and beaten, fights and fires broke out, corpses lay out in the open, and rescue helicopters and law enforcement officers were shot at as flooded-out New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday. "This is a desperate SOS," the mayor said.

To keep up, check out www.wwltv.com

------

A lot of the people who did not evactuate were very hold. Some are on dialysis, are diabetic, or have other problems. A few just had a lot of pets and didn't want to leave them. The Times-Picayune has a message board where their relatives are posting, looking for them. It reminds me of the flyers that went up around New York City in the days after 9/11.

The only thing that will help is the gov't bringing in supplies and keeping those people safe, and the hope that there aren't any other disasters in the near future.
Volunteering

If you've been wondering whether there are going to be volunteer opportunities down South, apparently they are, but right now they are going to need people who can make commitments of more than a few days. I imagine there may be specific projects way in the future that can use shorter-term volunteers. Here's an e-mail I got:

Hands On Network is supporting recovery efforts of The Red Cross by organizing and deploying coordinated volunteer teams of 25 or greater to serve in immediate disaster response efforts at the Volunteer Operations Center in Montgomery, AL. There are literally tens of thousands of people in need of immediate first aid, shelter, food and water. The Red Cross has set up operations centers in Montgomery, AL and Baton Rouge, LA to coordinate all volunteer response efforts and deploy volunteer groups to the areas in most need of immediate assistance. Volunteers will be used to perform a variety of functions to provide immediate basic needs and services to displaced individuals and families. Specifically, volunteers will to help erect temporary shelters (tent cities) and organize support services (serving food, administering first aid, dispensing water, providing comfort, etc.). Volunteer Eligibility --Seven-day Commitment, Minimum: Volunteers can only be accepted if they are able to serve at least a seven-day shift...

Also, I got an e-mail from the University of Pennsylvania saying that they will offer classes to kids who live in Philly and go to college in the NO area for the fall semester. Additionally, staff can get up to three weeks off, paid, to help with the relief effort.
Donating and updates

Below is the official site to donate to the Red Cross, which has set up shelters across Louisiana and Mississippi. I got to it from their homepage, www.redcross.org, but to keep up with demand, they have asked Yahoo to donate a separate page where people can donate to the hurricane relief effort. They have boxes where you can donate as little as $10. Here is the link:

http://store.yahoo.com/redcross-donate/

Carl from Baton Rouge reports:

Right now I am trying to separate fact from fiction.
The stories circulating around Baton Rouge are becoming more frightening by the hour, but it's unclear which, if any, are true.
So much is unconfirmed right now, including reports that dozens of buses carrying refugees from the Superdome to Houston stopped at an outlet mall in Gonzales, two-thirds of the way between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and that people got off the buses and began urinating and defacating in the parking lot.
Every community along I-10 right now has growing tension.
If a million people must abandon the greater New Orleans area and surrounding parts, they have to go somewhere. Baton Rouge is one of the first places they can stop.
People here want to help, and they have been. People here also want to circle the wagons and protect their own.
fear this is only beginning.
LSU's athletics facilities are now being used for helicopter landings, medical triage and shelter. Sports information office workers helped carry body bags into the baskeball arena. The place could be a staging area for dead bodies for weeks.
Every business in town that has power has long lines and overflowing parking lots.
Right now, I feel lucky to have power, but I wonder what life is going to be like in the coming weeks and months.


Note: It is apparently true that a random guy came upon a school bus in Louisiana and drove a bunch of people to the Houston Astrodome. They were allowed in.
Here's a group blog from New Orleans.

And this is from the Times-Picayune's blog (they can't put out a print edition):

Ant balls not an urban myth

In addition to all of the other horrors befalling New Orleanians during the flood was the creepy discovery that red ants form themselves into floating clusters to avoid drowning. As Dante Ramos and I paddled along Carrollton Avenue on Wednesday, I saw two glittering, golf ball-sized masses of ants floating beside our canoe. - Doug MacCash
It's strange

People are dying in New Orleans, but the coverage up here is comparably small, and nightly talk show hosts make jokes and move on to other things. "If you're watching this on a looted TV, give it back," Jimmy Kimmel said.

Here is a forum where storm refugees post if they're ok, or looking for someone:
http://www.wwltv.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=15

What's odd is that people knew that a direct strike from a hurricane would flood New Orleans -- knew it for years -- but still it seems like there was only so much they could do.

A friend of mine linked to an article saying that FEMA released a report in 2001 listing the top 3 disasters to which the US was most vulnerable: NY terrorist attack, earthquake in San Fran, and hurricane for N.O.

They said on the news that all events at the Houston Astrodome have been canceled through December. That means people could be living there for three months. How scary! I guess kids will go to school there too? I imagine they'll need lots of volunteers to help out.

8/30/2005

So many people are suffering in Louisiana, and as with any sudden tragedy, there are probably many horror stories that haven't made the news yet. Not everyone could get out, of course -- the critically ill who couldn't be moved from hospitals had to stay...what did their families do? I suppose they had to leave them and hope for the best. How did people without cars get out? The people who got to the Superdome and survived are lucky, but there's no air conditioning in there...it must be just awful.
Woke up, put on clothes

and went to work.

8/29/2005

Last report from Carl in Baton Rouge for a while, since he's lost power:

Laptop has about 2 hours of battery power, which I'm conserving. Baton Rouge is getting its hardest punches now, and this will probably be going on for another 2-3 hours. One radio station reports 71 trees down in East Baton Rouge Parish.

At times it's quiet, but then that familiar woosh outside my window makes me wonder if I'm about to see a tree branch in my bedroom. Holes in the roof of the Superdome, I hear. Amazing.

8/28/2005

HOLY CRAP

Carl forwarded this warning that came from the NWS in Slidell, La. It's so strongly worded that some were questioning it:

MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS...PERHAPS LONGER. AT LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL...LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY DAMAGED OR DESTROYED.

HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY...A FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT.

AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD...AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONS...PETS...AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK.

POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS...AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.

THE VAST MAJORITY OF NATIVE TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING...BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED. FEW CROPS WILL REMAIN. LIVESTOCK LEFT EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL BE KILLED.

N.O. TV has all the updates on who's evacuating (several parishes). Scientists are comparing data.

8/27/2005

Wet wet wet

My dad was in Florida and just got back. "It was okay. The only bad thing is, there was a Port-A-John and it flopped onto the hood of the rental car."

HAHAHAHHAAHA

8/26/2005

Goat Watch

Thanks to my brother chipping in $5, the bounty for my half-sis to find out the goat's name is now

***$25***
Home Stretch

Two more weekends of proofreading, and then my novel is done.

I won't have to be constantly scared anymore: Scared of sending it out too soon and being rejected, scared of getting it out too late after someone else wrote something with a similar plot.

Scared of not finding the right words to emotionally reflect what's in my heart.

Namecalling

They said on the radio that Jerry Seinfeld just had a baby boy named Shepherd Seinfeld, and Soleil Moon Frye just had a girl named Poet Goldberg. Those are kinda cute, I think. But then they said Penn Jilette's kid is named Moxie Crimefighter. What's he going to call his pet dog, Jennifer Elizabeth?

More writing nonsense

"Scenes from a Holiday" including "Carrie Pilby's New Year's Resolution" hits shelves two months from today.

8/24/2005

Trends

Hours after posting my link to Flying Spaghetti Monster, I saw a guy in the PATH station wearing a WWFSMD? T-shirt with a picture of His Stringiness!

Also, I hear that Jess Liese read her Nicemodernist Manifesto at KGB last night. That means it's cemented into the annals of literary history.

8/23/2005

Random scene from Sixth Avenue



Please explain in detail your problem.

A few months ago, my template all of a sudden acted weird, and putting in various codes or re-choosing it didn't help, so I had to choose a new template.
Now my NEW template is all of a sudden acting weird, running a line down the right side right through my posts, changing the margins, and pushing my sidelinks to the bottom.
People will try to get anything into Wikipedia.

I laughed very hard at this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:
Votes_for_deletion/Log/2005_August_20#
The_Fox_and_the_Hound_Steal_Money




Also please see the new Wikipedia entry for "Flying Spaghetti Monster." It's a brand new theory of creation, and actually shows in-depth pictures of the Flying Spaghetti Monster who created humankind.

I think it's time for me to go to sleep now.

8/21/2005

Another boring update on revisions.

I spent a crazy amount of time this weekend revising a particular part of the book that needed fixing...which included writing it two different ways, editing them both, and in the end, choosing the better one but throwing in a dash of the other.

I think I'm almost done.

There are no big problems to overcome, no big research to do, no parts I like that really really should be cut out. It took - what? - nearly four years to get this far.

Someone asked me today what I think of a certain author who writes two books a year. I said, well, he may be more talented than I am. Or, he may be writing stuff that's closer to his life, which means less research, less figuring things out, less trial and error.

It's going out in Sept, I think. (And to think, around last September, I was hoping for November! But I would have been lying to myself if I thought it was ready then.)

I also got to do laundry this weekend, so I feel all caught up.

8/19/2005

Work

GRAPHIC ARTIST: Which story did you just call down to me?
ME: ‘We row.’
GRAPHIC ARTIST: Oh. Because ‘we row’ and ‘RICO’ are very similar.
ME: Yeah, because one’s about the mob, and one’s about ROWBOATS!!!!!!!!!

8/18/2005

Woke up, put on clothes, etc.

8/17/2005

Woke up, put on clothes, etc.

Quarterly Disclaimer: Every few months I post this disclaimer, which is...

If you're someone who barely knows me, and you read my brief comments on this blog, you only know a tiny tiny percent of me, maybe less...so please try not to form judgments! I know it's hard. Feel free to ask me questions. There is more to know.

Yes, sometimes I think of something funny and put light, goofy observations here, but I'm not like that all the time. This is a place to add pithy remarks, maybe help friends and acquaintances and readers keep up with a few things I'm doing, but there is plenty about me that's not on here. And I don't put really personal stuff here.

So don't worry that I will write about you. And don't be afraid to ask me questions personally. There is much more than what you see, and some of it might even be very different.

For instance, I think this website is really something.

8/16/2005

Things I saw on the way to work, Part I...

What's worse than owning a Chevy Nova?



Owning a Chevy Nova and getting a parking ticket on it.

(Oh, by the way, yes I do know that 'no va' means 'doesn't go' - so don't write in!)

8/15/2005

Nothing to see here, folks.

Yawn.

A few new photos are up at the barometer blog, though.

8/14/2005

Love

In the Sunday Times Styles section every week, they have a column called "Modern Love." This week's story is from a woman whose friend Tina kept pining for her ex-boyfriend, Marcus. Marcus was wonderful and Tina could never get over him, but he broke up with her twice to travel or pursue projects or do whatever, and she told him the second time never to contact her again. Then, Tina told the author that Marus had just e-mailed her. He told her he would always love her, never stopped thinking about her, etc. He didn't ask her to come back, though. So she didn't respond.

As the author of this piece points out, it's quite possible that Tina was doing the right thing by ignoring Marcus, as much as she loved him. Yet, Tina always talked about him. The author finally meddled in Tina's business by phoning Marcus and telling him how Tina really felt about him. Eventually Marcus got back together with Tina...and they got married!

I bring this up because you just never know what can happen in life and love, especially when you're young, and there are no hardfast rules. Sometimes people have a great relationship in college or when they're in their early 20s, but there's something missing or something wrong, and they don't know if they should break it off and hope for something better (after all, they have a lot of dating years ahead), or accept the shortcomings and make an effort to stick it out.

There is no right answer to that. The couple can get married, and one or both of them might meet someone who is much better for them and regret it. Or, they might break up and realize how hard it is to find another kindred soul, and realize they should have gotten married.

The book "He's Just Not That Into You" would have told Tina in this tale that a guy who breaks up with her twice is not treating her well enough. In most cases, that's true. If someone wants to be with you, even if they need to work on their projects, they're not going to dump you. And chasing after them doesn't change their mind. But in this case, this couple broke up twice and ended up married.

The only thing that sometimes helps people make decent decisions about love is time. You know a lot more in your 30s about how you relate to other people, and what dating is like, than when you're 22. But sometimes, the opportunities are fewer. What to do?

How can you be 22 and forecast what's ahead? If you're really in love with someone, or really being treated badly by someone, the answers to what you should do are obvious...but if it's not that cut and dried, it can be hard to figure out.

Anyway, that's just something I was thinking about. Sometimes missed opportunities and regrets are harder to deal with than things that simply didn't work out. But you can't always know until later what the outcome will be.

(By the way, the woman in the piece was not really named Tina, but I left the paper at the coffee shop so I don't remember what her name was. It was probably a fake name in the story anyway.)

And now....

This has nothing to do with that, but I had to share it from my recent Sopranos viewing because it's funny:

Tony Soprano: We're the f--- have you been? You're late!

Christopher: Sorry, the highway was jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive.

8/12/2005

Something I just said to my boss

"It's funny, very sick, and don't attribute it to me."
Hmm...looks like the annual Hurricane Watch on this blog, from Aug. 15 to Sept. 15, when we usually see most of them up here, may have to start three days early!

"Forecasters said the storm could strike the coast anywhere from South Carolina to New Jersey." - AP
Training

Author Jennifer Weiner comes up with the best reason to take off from blogging that I've ever heard:

"Posting will be infrequent for the next week or so, as we are dealing with the nascent stages of toilet training."

I sent her an e-mail:

Re: Toilet training/blog
Date: 8/11/2005 12:00:54 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Lizzner
To: Jennifer Weiner

What are you training your toilet to do?

Caren