Friday, April 18, 2008

feng shui w/ cat

So. "Death by Feng Shui" went up on yesterday, and already I have had 4 crits. Which is not bad; I'll probably get four or five times that many by the end of the week, if past experience is an indication, however the first few usually say everything that needs to be said. Generally the crits are positive; the most salient point is that I need to wrap it up a bit better, so I did. I actually read the thing through myself this week, and it's better than I thought.

I'm curious, though, as to how people keep grousing about the point of view shifts. I was going for a semi-detached, quasi omnisicient viewpoint in this, so there are POV shifts in the middle of scenes without my customary page breaks. I remember now, I used to do this quite naturally when I was a younger writer, but Rob & co. trained me out of it.

This time I used the freeflowing POV consciously, because there is a certain element of satire in the story. I wanted to be looking down on the characters, judging them; but I'm surprised at how intolerant people are of it. Nobody has yet had the gall to say "NEVER DO THAT!", possibly because my style is competent enough that they guess I did it deliberately, but about half the reviewers (including one in my RL writer's group), have said it bothered them. Kind of strange how ingrained the single-viewpoint mode is, in contemporary American writers.

Anyway, I brushed up "Death by Feng Shui" a bit and I'm considering markets to send it to. It's rather Hitchcockian in tone, not actually a fantasy piece, so mainstream or suspense, or possibly slipstream publications are the order of the day. Suggestions are welcome.

Meantime, anybody who wants a freebie copy should let me know.

Now for the cat! This guy looks a lot like my cat, and I can easily imagine Rudy with this expression on his face.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

thanks... I guess

I had a very strange compliment the other day.

Those of you who care may be aware that Kansas University won the National college basketball campionships last week. Since 90% of the people in my office graduated from KU or are from the area, there was a considerable fervor at my workplace. Of course most of my co-workers are well aware that I care not a fig about organized sports, much less college athletic programs, and anyway I have no affliations to KU. I try not to be outwardly scornful of the hoopla, but it's pretty obvious I'm only being polite when I ask if anyone is going to the game and they have to tell me it's in San Antonio, Texas.

Anyway, the final game was between KU and Tennessee--whatever their team name is. My co-worker Darin is a mild-mannered, very quiet and pleasant guy who happens to be a KU fan. His wife is from Memphis. I gather the past weekend was rather tense in their house.

It seems that KU got a big lead early in the game, but then began to slump and the Tennessee team began to catch up. By the time there was two minutes remaining on the clock, KU was down by five points.

I know this because Darin told me all about it, Friday afternoon while we were waiting for it to be quitting time. "I thought of you then," he told me. "I figured it was all over, and I was so mad. I said to my wife, 'Enjoy your title!' and I stomped off to the bedroom--I just wanted to be alone. I didn't even want to see the end of it. And I thought about you, and I thought it must be nice."

"Because I didn't care?" I said.

He nodded, smiling ruefully. "I kind of envied you for that."

Friday, April 11, 2008

brain burrito

From McSweeney's: Reviews of New Food

Brain Burrito

Submitted by Alex MacInnis

On the board at the burrito stand across from the high school, the choices get more hardcore as you move down the list. We'd been working our way down, a burrito a day after school, seeing who would stop where. I didn't enjoy the tongue burrito, but Dave ate one, too, and said he wasn't stopping. I was pretty bummed to hear that. The next day, we ordered two brain burritos. A couple of guys we knew came over to watch.

I tried to eat around the brain and get big mouthfuls of the beans, but you can't really eat only one side of a burrito. We were standing in the parking lot, and I wasn't gonna ask for a plate and fork. They give you a tub of salsa, but I'd already used all of that.

There's no taste at all—it's like food that was left on a grave overnight for an ancestor and then you actually go back and try to eat it in the morning and it tastes drained. It's just like eating a burrito of gray fat. Every bite, you ask yourself, "What on earth am I eating?!" and your brain races to inform you: "It's BRAIN, IDIOT! It's BRAIN!"

Each of us was only eating as fast as the other guy, and these were pretty big burritos. They probably hadn't sold much brain the last couple of days and were trying to use it up. Once we hit about the two-thirds mark, we just agreed to stop without talking about it much. It felt lame to waste all that brain, though.

misc chi

I asked Sit to write my name in Chinese characters the other night. I can't replicate them here, obviously, but in Mandarin, my name is He (lotus flower) Li (pretty). "Li" is common in girls' names. In Cantonese, I'd be "pretty light." Which has a kind of pleasing similarity to the English meaning of my name, which is "holy."

It's not bad, but I could do better. A friend of mine who actually speaks Mandarin got himself named "Start at the Source," with the help of one of his teachers. It's pretty cool and suits him well.

And Sit asked me to house-sit for them again, in exchange for some private sword training. And how! He also said he'd teach me the second half of the longsword form this year. This makes me rather smug, because he hardly teaches the sword form anymore. "It's too hard," he said in class, when someone asked about it. "Nobody can learn it. Everybody quit."

Not me. I may not be progressing fast, but I'm still slogging along. And I'm finally healthy enough to be practicing again, so I'm looking forward to class on Saturday.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Happy Birthday to me...

I am very ill.

More ill than I have been in recent memory. Probably the sickest I have been in my adult life, if you consider severity and duration. I'd been hacking and choking for two days, bad enough that I strained the muscles across my ribs. I actually gave in to the combined nagging of my mom and husband, and went to the doctor yesterday. She listened to my lungs, looked in my ears, and told me I have a bronchial infection.

So I am taking antibiotics, for the first time in 14 years. Last time, I was a sophomore in college, suffering from impacted and infected wisdom teeth.

I stayed home again today. I slept til noon. I asked the SP to bring me some chicken so I could make soup. Yes, I must make my own soup, because I cannot tolerate the stuff that comes in a can. Although it would be nice to have some of the Cream of Chicken and Almond soup that the Hardware Cafe used to make. Too bad they're out of business.

The good thing about taking antibiotics, especially when one has never taken them before, is that they work really fast. My skin is already looking great. I still feel a little dizzy from the fluid in my ears, and weak from my lungs not functioning efficiently, but I am home, and kind of lethargic, so I've been sewing. I completed a slubbed-silk bias-cut skirt that I first cut out almost two years ago; it's hanging in my closet waiting for a Spring-y day. Yesterday I cut out and assembled a white linen vest with a short standing collar; it's quasi-Chinese and quasi-Victorian cowgirl.

I think today I may put together that tweed jacket I cut out last October. But then there is also a silver silk shell, cut out and waiting for attention. Who knows? Sewing is soothing. And when I concentrate on things, I'm less likely to cough.

You know, despite being sick I feel happy. It's a sunny day outside, if not warm. My sweetie called to wish me a happy birthday and say he was bringing my present home. He's been working hard on my office this month: the monster of a workbench has been sanded and coated with polyurethane. He'll probably install it this weekend. The woodwork has been stained, shellacked and is looking lovely. He says its the most interesting thing he's gotten to work on in a while.

The cat is sitting in the sunny window, looking at me and purring. I've got a slice of homemade blueberry bread, made with Mom's homegrown blueberries, sitting here on a plate, warm, with plenty of butter, and a cup of tea. Brandi Carlile is on the CD player. I just got a birthday package in the mail from Mom and Dad; they sent me a pair of deerskin gardening gloves.

All in all, not a bad birthday.