In case anyone was wondering, today I did the following:

-Woke up
-Put on clothes
-Went to work.


Oh, I see.

No wonder no one saw the Lhasa. It's a shih-tzu!
Now the Boy thinks I'm crazy. Doesn't anyone see the Lhasa?

Update: "Bunny" has written in to whine that she can't see the Lhasa Apso. You must tilt your head to the right. No more clues, darlings.
Tissue box, or hidden Lhasa Apso portrait?

The simple tissue box below is supposed to have flowers on it.

But can you find the hidden image of a Lhasa Apso, the "lion dog of Tibet"?

Don't see it? Look more closely!


CLOOOOSERRRRR...and stop cheating!

All right, I'll show you.

Think they did that on purpose?


Beautiful morning

One of the best mornings I had in college was when I got up at 7 a.m. on a Sunday. I happened to wake up and I wasn’t tired, and the air was cool because it was autumn. So I figured I would take a walk outside.

I lived on the 18th floor of one of three very undistinctive gray high rises for upperclassmen, an area known as “Superblock.” When I looked down from my window, I could see a few things: Locust Walk, the long brick walkway that ran all the way through campus; the other two high rises across the Walk; and a metallic sculpture of two red cylinders, which were derisively called “The Dueling Tampons.”

But I also saw something else: Several skeletal trees whose pointy red and yellow leaves were tumbling to the ground, covering the Walk. No one was outside, as they were probably still hung over. My two roommates had taken me to a few fraternity parties, and I never felt like I belonged (which was no surprise). I didn’t want to drink the beer, which one roommate of mine had said “tastes like warm piss” before she drank three cups.

By the time I got downstairs, the little pointy community church across the street, which was somewhat out of place on our campus, was having an outdoor rummage sale. I looked through the boxes on one particular desk and noticed something alluring: A cache of quaint old post cards.

I bought several of them and headed along Locust Walk toward the center of campus – the College Green, with its lush grass and Gothic buildings. It was such a beautiful day, and I didn’t want to go back inside too soon. Once there, I sank under a tree and began to read these quaint genuine letters from the 1940s. Spade-shaped leaves darted off the trees and landed all around me.

Dear Mrs. Riley,

Yesterday I joined the 2nd sportsmans Batt. Royal and go down to camp tomorrow. I will let you know how things go later. Sincerely, R.J. Pearce.

It was written in spiky black ink, to Mrs. H.J. Riley of 127th St. in New York, on a colorful postcard showing Hungerford Bridge in London.

Dear Elizabeth,

Will you please get in touch with me at MA4-6143. Call any morning after 10. I want to talk to you re: A matter Sy Travers asked me to look after. Ask for Millicent.

Dearest Betts:

The nuns were baking bread. Are the nuns still baking bread. O where are the purest of loaves. Go to Atlanta. Don’t come here. It is quite fruitless here. But please write. And 1943 will be better than 1942 if you still like apples. The best of my love. Nat.

Dearest Betty:

Lost your address for quite a spell but today found it – wish you were here to have a shot of soup with me…

Envelopes bore stickers saying OPENED BY EXAMINER 5872 and BUY WAR BONDS AND STAMPS.

As I read these, I felt relaxed and at peace. I enjoyed the quaintness of the missives, as well as the overall simplicity of the morning. The only thing that bothered me was that I imagined that if I went back to my dorm room and told my roommates how much I’d enjoyed it all, they’d just say “Whatever” and think I was weird.

So now I’m telling you instead. Hope it's okay.

How bizarre, how bizarre

Someone wrote a comic strip that talks about This Is Chick Lit controversy and skewers the literary scene in general. You have to keep clicking the arrow at bottom right to get the whole thing. There are a lot of pages of this, so only read if you have a few minutes and your boss isn't watching. There are a coupla swear words too.



**This year, the Frankfurt book fair is being held from Oct. 4-8 instead of later that month. That means that agents and editors who just came back from vacation after Labor Day are already hugely busy getting ready to go to Frankfurt, where they sell (and buy) foreign rights and see which books are going to be hot.

Luckily, I heard back from my literary agent last week on something I wanted her to submit. I'd already revised it once with some of her suggestions in mind. She said she thought it was ready and wanted to send it out...tomorrow. As a typical writer, I wanted to read it again and make last minute nips and tucks, so I got it in the mail to her today. Now I just have to wait and hope something happens. It's a nice feeling for it to be out of my hands.

**On the news, they say the housing bubble has finally burst. Prices have dropped 3.9 percent from last August to this August, especially in the Northeast. That still means a $400,000 house is going to be $384,000.

**The Boyfriend was kind enough to take me to a Met game this weekend (or is that MetS game? Which is correct?) I always enjoy the atmosphere, but shouldn't baseball only be seven innings? I know, if I was a bigger fan I wouldn't think so. I still enjoyed it.

**Speaking of sports, tonight, the Louisiana Superdome hosted its first football game since Hurricane Katrina. Yay!


It's hard out there for a gourd

Barnes & Noble has these tiny kits up front called "Pimp my Pumpkin." The kit includes feathers and things to turn any pumpkin into a pimp. Don't give this out to little kids on Halloween.

Sunday is the first day of October, the best month all year. Rejoice!


It's all relative

The boyfriend spent some of today with my relatives for the Jooish holidays, and wasn't completely scared by them. Isn't he great?

Apparently, in certain junior high schools, it is now the rage for girls to dye the tips of their hair various colors.

It's fall at last. Happy fall!!


Pinata party

I never got the chance or inclination to buy a scanner, but it occurred to me recently that I could use my digital camera to just take a photo of any photo I want, thus bypassing the "scan" process. Now I have the above photo on my computer as well as in an old photo album.

Anyway, hope everybody has a great Jewish New Year (5767) and a good weekend.



You might want to check your heating unit before it really gets cold and then your gas or oil or electricity provider is swamped. Just turn it on to see if it works.

See, I care about you.


Speaking of agents...

Tonight I went to a celebration thrown by the relatively new but highly successful literary agency Firebrand, notable for having two young and dynamic agents: Caren Johnson, whose parents spelled her first name correctly, and Nadia Cornier, who keeps a popular blog called agentobscura on Livejournal. Their new office is around the corner from the Union Hall bar, where they sat in the back and offered delicious hors d'ouerves including pizza-like wedges of bread with tomatoes, duck, and carmelized onions. YUM.

I talked to an exec from Books-a-Million who says that right now, the biggest seller is teen fiction. Sounds good to me!


Literary agents

Literary agent
is a funny profession. There is no college major for it. Yet, most people who do it need a college degree anyway to get in the door. To do the job, you have to know (or learn) about a few different things: literature, publishing, business, and contract law. To get into an agency, as far as I know, you usually become an agent in two ways: You work for a looong time at a publishing company as a book editor, or you work for several years as an assistant at a literary agency – sometimes as an intern first. Eventually, you are allowed to develop your own clients and be a full agent.

Even if you are straight out of a master’s program in creative writing, you might have to start as an intern or assistant, which basically means that you could be starting at a lower salary even than journalists.

If you become an agent, you also won’t have a lot of money at first, because you are basically playing the stock market with books. If you agree to represent my book, you are doing so because you predict that it will sell, and you will make money from getting 15 percent of the advance and royalties. If the book advance is $10,000, you get $1,500, even if it took a year to sell the book and work with the author to get it into good shape. That’s $1,500 spread over a year. Of course, royalties can kick in after it comes out. And obviously, if you end up selling a best-seller, you can get wealthy off it, just like picking the right stock. And if the book becomes a movie or TV show or anything else, the profits can be huge. It's a gift that keeps on giving.

So picture the literary establishment in New York: Half the people you meet want to write a book, or they’ve written one and want to sell it. They all want agents. It’s true that you can send your manuscript straight to a publishing company, particularly if you have an editor’s name, but they get so many submissions that it can take months for them to look at yours. If you have an agent who is moderately respected, an editor will take a look at the book sooner, knowing that the book has to be pretty decent to have this agent going to bat for it.

SO you have all these authors trying to get agents. And a number of agents in New York who get swamped with query letters and manuscripts.

Still, many of them are willing to work with new authors if they get a project they really love. It’s just that there are all these obstacles, everyone fighting for time and ink. As a result, you hope that the books that do end up making their way to the finish line are really good, or at least, really serve a purpose.

Fall starts in three days

I took the photo below last autumn in New England. I try to get up there at least once each fall.


E-mail of the day

"I wish I'd met Florence Wolfson 70 or 80 years ago!" - a male reader

Link of the day

Someone in Kansas said nice things and linked to me (scroll down a few days):




I get a weekly summary of books that have been sold to publishing companies. I just saw this one, which has me really curious. I'll want to read this:

NYT reporter Lily Koppel's THE RED LEATHER DIARY, based on her recent piece in the Times, about her discovery of a 1930s teenager's diary in a dumpster and subsequent solving of the mystery of its owner's identity, Florence Wolfson, now 90, once an aspiring artist who loved Balzac, Central Park and male and female lovers with equal abandon, to Claire Wachtel at Harper, by Kate Lee at ICM (world).

A woman who loved male and female lovers 70-80 years ago?!?!? Who trundled through New York City reading Balzac? She sounds like a great literary character, but she is real. I'm looking forward to hearing more about old Flo.



Addledwriter.blogspot.com EXCLUSIVE:

John Mark Karr says he killed Steve Irwin!

Says he met him in a seafood restaurant and accidentally stabbed him with a swordfish. Report does not jibe with eyewitness accounts of stingray attack; police also say he was in jail at the time.

New York tabloids plan to run with cover story about Karr's confession tomorrow.

Claims to have photographic evidence of his accomplices:


Tsk tsk

Only a few people shared their mental health tics with me. Therefore, no post for you. Ha ha!

Someone wrote to me and said, "I wish I had only one." Then he said all of his were too embarrassing to reveal.

Which can only mean one thing: Weird fetish.

For everyone who is turned off by silverware near their mouth, there is someone who likes it a little too much.


What's yer problem?

Several years ago, I knew a guy who said he would get sick if he saw eggs cracking. He couldn't stand the sight of eggs cracking.

When I was a kid, for several years, I couldn't eat yogurt without mixing it all up with my spoon first to make sure there wasn't a beetle in it. I had to check thoroughly. That's because I had read a newspaper article about a woman who was suing Dannon because she was eating her fruit-at-the-bottom yogurt and saw half a beetle in it and realized she'd eaten the other half. In court, she said she suffered from shock and her hair fell out.

I couldn't eat that yogurt without thinking about the beetle. I knew the odds were 99.99999 percent that there was not a beetle in my yogurt. Just like my friend knew there was nothing wrong with eggs cracking. But we all have our little irrational things that we must do, or feel, even though in our heads we know it is completely irrational.

A psychologist might say that they come from something early in childhood, or something our parents did, but maybe sometimes it's even genetic. Who knows.

I had a math teacher in high school who kept the windows open even in winter because he'd spent several years on a submarine where there were no windows...and now he always wanted to know the windows were open. He otherwise was pretty normal.

In college, my psych professor asked us this question: Would you wear a sweater that had been worn by an AIDS patient?

Most of us said we wouldn't. We knew you couldn't get AIDS from a sweater. But still, we didn't want to wear it.

You can be otherwise normal and just have a tiny issue, something you don't even think about most of the time and that people don't know about: Being repulsed by eggs cracking, needing windows open so you won't be claustrophobic.

So, today's topic: What is YOUR tiny mental health issue? (Note: I am not talking about the major ones. ;) Just tiny things you barely think about that are irrational and hardly even affect your life. If you deny having any, then that counts as one! Fear of spiders may or may not count. Some spiders are poisonous.)


A reader writes:

I absolutely, positively hate putting anything metal in my mouth. Whenever I eat with metal silverware, it can't touch my teeth at all, and at home, I pretty much use only plastic silverware. Someone scraping their fork on their teeth with every bite - even thinking about it makes my pulse double. This is probably due to the amount of dental work I've had done over the years, but I also read recently that it was a side effect of a medication I take.

Either way, it's a good case for eating pizza or some other utensil-less food.

That's interesting, and pretty much the kind of thing I mean. Weird.

But that brings me to something related: Does anyone know why most people can't stand fingers scraping down a blackboard? There must be some simple answer in science, and I don't remember ever hearing it.

Someone else wrote to say he checks and re-checks to make sure doors are locked, and the stove is off. I do that too...but it's not a bad practice to have, since leaving a stove on or a door unlocked can lead to disaster. I guess it's hard to draw a line between safe and mental tic.


No entry

Today and tomorrow are days of blog-silence on my blog to remember those lost, those who volunteered, and those who lost a loved one on 9/11.



I went to a lovely wedding today in which the bride and groom smiled a lot and seemed very happy together, and everyone enjoyed himself/herself.

This is in contrast to some weddings I've been to, where the bride and groom seemed so nervous about getting everything right that they didn't seem to be enjoying their own celebration. No matter what tradition dictates, a wedding should be a cause for joy, not angst.


Uh oh

Someone told me via e-mail that "in certain shots," a girl named Buckwild from the Flava Flav reality show on VH-1 sort of looks like me. Oh, heavens.

Let's stress the "in certain shots." Hopefully my face is thinner than this. Hopefully.

I liked it better when I was compared to this girl.

Anyway, have a good weekend!


This Just In

Reading Carrie Pilby or This Is Chick Lit MAY reduce the risk of heart disease!**

**If you jog 50 miles while reading it


In a blog entry yesterday, the boyfriend was referred to as "a certain boy." We regret lack of credit given to said boy, and any resulting distress this may have caused.



A certain boy told me that www.intellicast.com is a good site for people into weather radar. I looked at it, and as usual, he's right. How does he know more about weather stuff than I do? Boys are smart.


Twivia question update

Congrats to all of you who guessed DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER! You win nothing except my respect, especially for the Canadian who answered.

Here is an educational response:

Has anyone else answered your trivia question yet? It's Ike, our only presidential Dwight. I had the answer without looking it up, but I did Google to find out where his name came from -- this PDF summary of his post-presidential papers hints that he was named after 19th century American evangelist D. L. Moody. (The D. L. stands for Dwight Lyman.) That's the earliest first-name Dwight I can think of, although there were a couple of early Yale presidents with the last name Dwight. On another subject: Your blog is one of the few I regularly read that doesn't offer a site feed. I'm sure there are other readers who would appreciate a feed as well. Setting it up in Blogger involves about six clicks of the mouse, and there's no effort involved in maintaining it. Your barometer blog already has one. Hope you have a good turnout for Tuesday Night Trivia. I've only been able to play once -- living 2,000 miles away puts a damper on participation -- but I enjoyed it a lot. www.batesline.com

On an unrelated note

I got this in my work e-mail and it made me laugh:

I’m Not Loving the Hummer of a Summer Promotion!Action Alert Deadline: September 15, 2006

This summer McDonald’s really is supersizing it. As part of its “Summer of Happy Meal Fun” campaign, the burger giant is offering toy Hummers in its Happy Meal and Mighty Kids Meal boxes and calling it the “Hummer of a Summer” promotion.
'The dream'

When I had just graduated from college and fantasized about someday being a full-time writer, I pictured myself having the following schedule:

1. Roll out of bed, get the New York Times, read it in my kitchen. Listen to the birds in my back yard.
2. Diligently write for a few hours.
3. Go have lunch at a little cafe. People would be used to me there and some would talk to me about what they're writing or reading.
4. Do a few more hours of writing.
5. Eat dinner.

Of course, that didn't take into account many factors:

1) It's risky to live on writing income alone, unless you hit the big time right away. And that almost never happens. If you finally sell a book, the typical first-time writer's advance is about $10K. It is still a dream to get a book published, but you can't exactly live for a year on $10K. Now, it's likely that you'll get a two-book deal, because if the publishing company liked your first book, they want to make sure they have your second. So let's say you get a $20K advance. That means you have a lot of money to play with, but you also now have to write the second book. If that takes a year, you're living on $20K in a year - minus 15 percent to your beloved agent, and minus say 20 percent to Uncle Sam. And if you don't think your second manuscript in good enough shape after you've been writing it for a year, you'll need longer...

(Disclaimer: These do not necessarily represent the advances I got, just giving typical first-time novelist advances. I am also not considering royalties, which you get if you sell maybe 5,000 or more copies of yer book. Because of the chick lit boom when my first book came out, I got lucky in that respect.)

2. The fact that being a "full-time" writer really means you have to be secure enough to pay your own health benefits, etc. etc., otherwise it's still smart to keep at least some sort of regular job. Particularly if you don't know whether your 2nd or 3rd books will be finished and accepted.

3. If you were to have days off completely to write, that dream of reading the Times in the morning might dissolve when you start oversleeping and suddenly get up at 10 and realize you have to get writing done. Ah, the best-laid plans...

4. The procrastination factor -- still need to call plumber, do research for writing, go to library, etc.

5. Staying home all day and not socializing or doing some sort of job could adversely impact your creativity -- especially since sometimes the best ideas come if you're doing other things.

Do you still want to be a full-time writer? It has its plusses and minuses. Even the successful young literary lions sometimes do part-time professorships or have some other income. Look at how Ned Vizzini worries about his finances on his blog a lot.

I still maintain that whatever happens, getting someone to pay you for your words is a near-miracle, and I'm a very lucky person that it happened to me.


Later today, I will post the answer to the trivia question below. No, it is not Wwarren G. Harding.

I hear that trivia last night had a decent-to-low turnout, because of rain and because it's a short week and first trivia game post-hiatus. I will probably go next Tuesday to show my support. It's time to get trivia movin' again!

One of the team names was reportedly "Six Feet Down Under." Tee hee! ;)


Hurricane Florence-to-Be

From the National Hurricane Center as of 11 a.m. today:


Link to discussion.

Trivia question

Sure, our president is sometimes known as "W," but what American president had a W as the second letter of his first name? Can you figure it out without checking references?

And by the way, Tuesday Night Trivia returns tonight at the Baggott Inn! See below for link.

Update: No, Carl, the answer is not "Gwover Cleveland," but nice guess!


There once was a man from...

Welcome back! Hope you had a good holiday weekend. I was in Nantucket Isle with the Boy. Here are but a few choice pics. I had never been there before, and it's very colonial and beautiful.

(No, I don't know who the kids are in the shots, but they add color, don't you think?)

On another note...
Track the future Hurricane Florence. Will ol' Flo come visit in two weeks? Or will she head straight north and become extratropical?


Everyone have a great Labor Day weekend.

In September, for a while
I will ride a crocodile
Down the chicken soup-y Nile!
Paddle once, paddle twice
Paddle chicken soup with rice