Sunday, March 21, 2010


There is a post coming up about the great and disturbing books that I've been reading lately, but my brain needs to clear a bit from the fog of a spring cold before I feel up to tackling it. There will be mention of how I came to discover that I am the "selfish" spouse & a roundabout reference to the Gutenberg Elegies (which I'm now enjoying very much).

Meanwhile, I can only say that posting was one of those chores that kept getting pushed off the schedule until I came down with the cold and everything was put on hold. I've already slept through this lecture regarding the dishes (What exactly was I doing the week before last, you might ask. Good question.).

Today is one of the days that come toward the end of a cold in which you believe you've been blessed with clarity because there are actually thoughts getting through the fog and the random and singular nature of them masquerades as clear thinking. Therefore, it's a good day for piecemeal organization and a short post. :)

Hope everyone is having at least one clear spring day like this before the heat sets in.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Paying Attention

I know, I know--this has been moving away from dealing strictly with what I'm reading. Part of that is that I'm on a scifi kick and it's sometimes a struggle to understand what I'm reading, much less come up with intelligent comments on it. I did finish an interesting book on whale song that turned out to be more timely than anticipated, with its emphasis on interacting with whales. Perhaps there will be a post about this in the future (I can say that the dogs are very interested in the CD that came with the book--I'm curious how the whale sounds translate into their experience).

Meanwhile, I found myself at B&N this afternoon, trying to jot down notes for my current revisions. Having conveniently decided that walking through the mall could double as needed research for a particular character, I found myself in front of Hot Topic (dark, chatty clothes for teens). I realized that part of what I'd been doing is looking at merchandise rather than looking at people. I'd been seduced by the shiny lights and attitudinal models.

This is the distraction of being at the mall by oneself--there is little to distract you except for the displays and I am easily distracted. Which brings me back to the revisions. The stories are suffering from the same sort of surface distraction. There is detail and there is language, but the characters are shiny soulless bits of description that haven't yet shown me how they are stylishly fooling themselves by dressing their kids or spending an afternoon bickering with a good friend about whether they're going on the right vacation or dating the right guy. While I'm trying to cheat them into life with Plot, they're snoozing in a Times New Roman casket.

Maybe they'll start to twitch when they realize I'm paying attention. :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

In Plein Air

Catching up on my reading is proving easier now that I'm able to sit next to an open window and catch a breath of the yard as it slowly hardens into a well-tracked clay interspersed with fluffy emerald poofs of not-grass. It's like the yard itself is dreaming of what it used to be or what it could have become without all those pines.

I finished the latest Realms of Fantasy, glad to notice that the sleep-editing of the previous issue seems to have been replaced by a more alert perusal of the text. I like the new format, including moving the gaming and movie reviews to the front and letting the stories run beginning to end and ending with reviews, almost like suggestions for additional reading. The only quibbles I found where the completely uncritical look at paranormal television shows--just because I read fantasy doesn't mean that I don't live in reality--and the oddly truncated artist interview. The artist interview also contained no labels for the artwork pictures (which made understanding the references made in the interview tricky). Although the Q&A format was a turnoff (the artist either didn't completely answer the lengthy printed questions or had his responses edited for space--why not edit the questions as well?), the pictures themselves were unusual and an unexpected choice that I enjoyed very much.

Those pictures reminded me (sorry) of some of the posters that used to hang on the walls of Mr. Gatti's when I was growing up. Italian prints of art works that showed figures that seemed to be wearing clownish outfits yet didn't exude a 'funny' vibe. More like clowns as just another group of genderless people, stacked on bicycles on their way to their jobs.

While these images quietly tweaked my perceptions while I waited for my pizza with extra pizza, a giant TV set and arcade games competed for my attention. Similar to my working environment today, there are things that I can focus on to lose time, repetitive actions that reward behavior in electronic pellet format, and things that add to my awareness of my surroundings and push me back into my thoughts. Surely this is part of the description post earlier. Knowing what is distraction, what is obfuscation, and what will truly open up a sense of wonder. Wonder, by the way, is one of the keys to an engaging story. On the whole, ROF put out a successful issue by reminding me of that fact.