Saturday, December 29, 2007

a year's end list


Haruki Murakami, particularly Dance Dance Dance and A Wild Sheep Chase. The thing I like about Murakami, aside from the lovely writing (or, at least, the lovely translation of his writing), is how he wraps the surreal and bizarre in a mundane skin. You become so enmeshed in the solid detail of his worlds that you are ready to see, or taste, or feel anything he wants you to; and it's only when you put the book down and have sat back and had a cup of tea and thought about it for a while that you realize how preposterous such things are... but they're already sitting in your head like heavy little pebbles so it's too late to stop believing.

Ian McEwan. I read Atonement after reading one of those bright young thing books--a consciously literary story full of quirk and flying trapeze vocabulary--which was good, but exhausting. Atonement felt solid after that. It's claustrophobic and tragic and romantic and devastating; and while McEwan plays with perception and time, I didn't feel like he was ever just trying to dazzle with some sort of flim-flam. It's a well-made story and it made me feel, which is always the point.

Bill Bryson. I've been dipping into Bryson for a couple years, but I finally sat down and read A Walk in The Woods all the way through. It's absolutely hilarious and wonderful.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows
. There were many things about this book that I didn't like. However, I'm also a person who has an obsession with knowing How Things Turn Out, so finally getting to read the last book was a relief. I could have done without knowing How Things Get Wrapped Up Nice And Tidy And Tied With A Shiny Ribbon though. That last epilogue had me gagging on happy endings. Snape continued to be my favourite character (I nearly did a small dance of giddiness during his chapter) and I was crushed that Sirius Black did not make a last minute reappearance.


Pushing Daisies. Whimsy, quirk, and oversaturated colors on top of a splendidly morbid premise. It's like a weekly dose of Jean Pierre Jeunet, only in English and with Jim Dale narrating.

Chuck. I love spy shows. I watched every single episode of Alias, even when it started crashing downhill at breakneck speed and the plots became more repetitive and more absurd than you might believe possible. Chuck is a spy show, but it's funny. It's also clever, ridiculous, and utterly enjoyable.

Torchwood. As my sister says, this scratches the itch but it's not as satisfying as the real thing. Maybe it's not Doctor Who, but it's still in a universe where the Doctor exists, along with monsters and space ships and marvelous, shiny gadgets.

The History Boys. Really excellent. Fascinating to see people who worked on the same part for so long in a theater setting transfer that work to film.

The Darjeeling Limited. Which has my favourite soundtrack ever. I play it over and over and over until anyone in the vicinity tells me to turn it off.

The Lives of Others. Made me cry, made me angry, and gave me a satisfied glow when the ending turned out exactly as good as I could have hoped. The brilliant thing though is that I thought the end was going to be sad and grey and unfulfilling, and then at the last moment it wasn't. Brilliant.

James McAvoy, because The Last King of Scotland and Becoming Jane were two of the few movies I saw this year that made me think, that was good. Also because he is Mr. Tumnus. Also because he was in Starter For Ten, which also boasts the amazing character of Salmon. My friend, Miguele, and I are going to start a fan club for the man who has the best sneer I've ever seen.


BBC Radio Plays. I had forgotten all about the existence of radio plays until my hurt knee forced me into long hours of sitting down. Now I want to write one.

Fionn Regan. Lullaby voice. I never actually pay attention to the lyrics because as soon as he starts singing I want to be curled up in an armchair and half-way to dreamy contemplation of nothing. He could be saying horrible, depressing, maudlin words and I'd never know.

The Kinks. Mainly for "Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues" and their songs in Wes Anderson movies.

David Bowie. "Starman" is making me rethink my childhood dislike of Labyrinth.

... I was going to write more, but I started this so long ago, back when it was still that dusty year of two-thousand and seven. Now we're in 2008 (such a round and loopy number, shall we all be fat and happily crazed this year?) and I don't feel inclined to finish. So here's my end of year summation, incomplete and inconclusive, leaving the way open for whatever treasures throw themselves across my path in this curvaceous, this round and contented, year of 2008.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

safety scissors and glitter

I'm trying to find my way back into two projects, the first being my fairytale about jester, servant girl, prince, et al., and the second being a something that started as a quiet little story about a postman and then devolved into a mess of uncommitted murders, telepathy, and different narrators.

They are both giving me headaches.

The thing about me writing is that I haven't done much of it. I've always made up stories, but I hardly ever write them down. I'm always too busy with dance things, or too lazy, or too content just reading the work of others. So the writing is hard work. I feel like I'm just learning my way around a story, seeing how the hidden gears work, feeling the strong joints and the faulty ones. I really want to give it a go though; it's so refreshing to have a project that you can work on and then pull apart and then rebuild in a different shape altogether. It's like playing with a box of odds and ends, with some modeling clay somewhere in the middle. I don't know if the thing that I end up with is any good, but it's fun to poke around in the supplies.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

on chocolate

I wouldn't say I'm addicted to chocolate. I'm not the kind of person who MUST have chocolate every day, who delights in truffles and fudgey cakes, who always orders a dessert with chocolate in it, despite ominous titles like "Chocolate Volcano" or "Molten Hot Chocolate Cake" or "Chocolate Ecstasy". I don't like truffles. I REALLY don't like fudge. I've tried one of those chocolate fountain things once and found it disturbing and probably unhygienic. I don't say that I'm a "chocoholic" with equal pride and guilt.

However. I do like chocolate. I like, particularly, dark chocolate that's not too sweet, either plain or lightened with nice tidbits. I like good chocolate, except in the case of certain Japanese goodies which have a weird "chocolate"-like substance that's either waxy or fruity or nothing remotely like chocolate, but still manages to be tasty in some mysterious way.

Chocolate things I like at the moment:

1. Green and Black's dark chocolate
Very, very good chocolate. Not too bitter and properly smooth.

2. the Bread and Chocolate Bar from Theo Chocolate
Dark chocolate with speckles of salty, crunchy French bread crumbs. I know that this sounds slightly unappetizing, but it's addictive and delicious.

3. the fleur de sel caramel chocolates from Recciutti Chocolates
I'm actually not certain about the spelling there, but these are fantastic. A slim piece of salty and buttery French caramel dipped in dark chocolate. More gooey than I usually like, but there are lovely salt crystals pocking the caramels that crunch in a nice way.

Not sure what the point of this list was going to be. Probably it's just the result of me reaching the edge of boredom from sitting on the couch all day with a bum knee and the fact that I've been munching a Bread and Chocolate bar while watching The Lives of Others (which is excellent). It'll probably take about two more days to finish off this bar, because while I like chocolate, I also find that chocolate river in Willy Wonka's factory vaguely stomach-turning. Too much brown meltiness and stodgy boredom sets in.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

tomorrow, tomorrow

I have surgery tomorrow. Wish me luck.

I'm always complaining about the inferiority of American radio compared to the BBC. However, in a move of astonishing brilliance, NPR made a bid for the lead tonight. I caught an interview, partway through, of a scientist who wrote a book called (I think) The Metaphysics of Baboons. He discussed, in depth and with his own impersonations, the particular baboon call which proclaims their rank in the social hierarchy. These are called "wahoos." Mainly, I suspect, because they sound like "wa-hoo!" or "waaah-hooo!" or (in the case of those very low on the hierarchy due to poor physical condition, age, or injury) just a rather sad "waaah."

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I shall be hunting an MP3 of that interview to cheer me up post surgery.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Three incentives for me to get past the sofa bound stage of recovery from surgery:

1. Atonement

2. The Golden Compass

3. Juno

I mean, I'll have to at least recover enough to drive myself to a movie theater where I can resume a sitting position.

Went to see Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. I didn't really like it very much. I so liked the idea of it when I first read about it, but it came off as a bit trite. Expectedly quirky, not dangerously on the edge of mad weirdness. It felt almost calculated in parts. Here is the eccentric old man and his young protege who lacks only in being unable to see her own wonderfulness. Here is the odd child who teaches the man in the suit to have an imagination. And that last scene, with Natalie Portman waving her arms to conduct waves of glitter and color, embarrassed me. I was sitting in my seat and cringing.

So, not a brilliant pick. I much prefer Helm's Stranger Than Fiction.

Much more exciting is the first season of 24, which we started this weekend. I've never seen the show before and it's HORRIFICALLY addictive. Mainly, I suppose, because you get no closure at the end of the episode. You are nearly compelled to press the next button until your eyeballs feel like they might fall out.

My story about glass, which is called "Heart and Legs" at the moment, is now 4100 words. I think there might be about a third to go. There's a jester in it, and a prince, and a brave serving girl. There are also oceanic monsters that popped up without warning. I rather like them.

Monday, December 3, 2007

progressing through the glass story

Right, so I was feeling so flush after finishing that last story that I decided to have a go at another. A nice little fairy tale this time, I thought. Only now it's getting all out of hand and sprawling and going sarcastic and being generally ornery. I'd like to chuck it all off till later and go back to my postmen, but I want to finish it off. In my head, it was going to be an easy job to finish it in an afternoon, but I've done nearly 3,000 words and only feels half done. Needed to take a break because I felt like I was hurling myself towards a finish, only to discover that someone moved it several miles further along. Meh.

What happens when you feel cocky? That's right, you trip and slip on a banana peel.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

pineapple nibbles

This morning my mom and I went shopping... There was this very odd event at the department store which involved breakfast-y nibbles, mimosas, terrible cups of tea, and a jazz band comprised of elderly men in natty plaid jackets. The band was quite good. So were the pineapple-ginger nibbles, which were basically chunks of pineapple, covered in bashed up mint and coconut, on little sticks. The shopping was tiresome; even at 9 in the morning there's a sort of manic frenzy around holiday shoppers that I find exhausting.

I've been reading The Modern Library Writer's Workshop by Stephen Koch and so far it seems mostly sensible. I love that he quotes Toni Morrison and J.K. Rowling in neighboring sentences on the same subject (character development). I also like that he never says anything with the whiff of "thou shalt not!" This quote, which Koch takes from Richard Bausch, is nice:

"Dream the story up, make it up, be fanciful, follow what occurs to you to say, and try not to worry about whether or not it's smart... Just dream it up and let the thing play itself out as it seems to want to, and then write it again, and still again, dreaming it through, and then try to be terribly smart about it."

Even though reading a book about writing is really one of my numerous techniques for putting off actually sitting at my own desk, I think this one is interesting.

I've just read this from Catherynne Valente writing on Jeff Vandermeer's blog, which I thought was funny. Mostly because I have a weakness for steam power/clockwork/Victoriana myself and the way she calls those sorts of stories "steampunk" and "clockpunk" was, I thought, very funny and appropriate.

I've also been reading bits of Jane Espenson's blog. She's a screenwriter and producer and her writing is very smart and funny. She also notes what she had for lunch every day. Like Cup of Noodle improved by a squeeze of lemon.

I think I'm becoming a bit of a blog junkie. They are just so addictive. It's a bit like reading the opinion section of a newspaper detailed exactly to my own tastes and interests. Every day there's something opinionated and personal to read about writing or reading or dancing or whatever, by people who I think probably have the brains and knowledge to back up what they say. Almost as tasty as pineapple nibbles, really.

Friday, November 30, 2007

finish line

o ho ho! she chortled with glee.

Just, just finished a short story that I wrote entirely in one evening. Granted, this evening ended at 1:30 the next morning, but still. Chortle.

There is a slightly delirious joy in finishing something. Especially when the story shaped up like magic and all you had to do was tell it. Why is there a pond showing up? Ah, now it all becomes clear. Who is this Baron chap? Oh, now I understand.

Lovely lovely lovely glee glee glee.

I'm sure that later, when I read it with the clarity of distance, I'll groan at the mountain of revising it needs, but for now, in the short moments before I go towards the land of nod, I am basking and chortling and would be rubbing my palms together if I weren't typing.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

further opera delights

Highlights of The Rake's Progress:
1. Chi, who manages to steal the spotlight with her deranged Japanese fan girl impression. Who can pay attention to the heartsick yearnings of Tom Rakewell and Anne Trulove when Chi is frantically trying to get an autograph?

2. The names: Rakewell (the rake), Trulove (the one true love), Sellem (the auctioneer), Shadow (the Devil). Subtle.

3. The enormous grey-green balloon bloating out of the stage like something from a Jean Pierre Jeunet film. Bulbous and grotesque until it pops out of the floor to become... a Hollywood trailer!

4. Nick Shadow's brimstone moment. I was waiting and waiting for him to do one of those exits that you expect from any proper Devil character: sinking into a trapdoor with lots of mist and orange light, maybe some pyrotechnic special effects. And then, at last! There wasn't any orange light or flame, but he did strip off his Matrix style black leather coat to reveal an orange and pink unitard with little feathery bits fluttering on it, and sequins.

I loved Baba's voice, but on the whole, it's not an opera I'd see again. I can't remember a single melody and none of the music really made me feel anything.

I have a sudden craving for frozen yogurt. Why are there no Yogurt Land's up here? How gloriously fine would it be to have a large styrofoam cup of mouth-twinging tart yogurt topped with blueberries and kiwi fruit and mochi balls, maybe with a few shards of dark chocolate to finish it off. Why is frozen yogurt so little loved here? It may be cold, but you can always eat it inside, huddled by the vent of the heater.

in an operetta...

Am back from seeing The Rake's Progress. Am feeling strangely tired. Also have the Magnetic Fields song "In An Operetta" stuck in my head.

sing me the kind of song you hear
in an operetta.
in an operetta..

with twinkling harpsichord to accompany.

sing me the words i long to hear
out of violetta.
in an operetta...

tiddly-dum dee dum dee dum...

See what opera does to you?

Monday, November 26, 2007

to see and not to see

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist. Bad puns on Shakespeare and all.

First off, what not to see:

August Rush. When I saw the trailer, I thought, how INCREDIBLY cheesy. But then I also thought, well, maybe it's one of those incredibly cheesy movies that somehow sweep you up in their flood of sentiment and make you feel all warm and fuzzy. After watching the scary gore of Jekyll, I was more than ready for warm and fuzzy. This movie isn't just cheesy though. It's ridiculous, sentimental, and unlikely, without the spirit to make any of it believable, even in a pastel-coloured, saccharine pop song sort of way. Exception: Freddie Highmore is adorable as always and there is this moment when, as the musical prodigy, he is jamming on an enormous church organ and it seems perfectly possible that he is the next Mozart. I'm partial to organ music though... It can be so gloriously moving, and I don't know if it's the sound or the spiritual connotations or what.

What you should see:

Olafur Eliasson's work. Aside from having an amazing name, Mr. Eliasson's work is sort of like the grown up version of exhibits at the Exploratorium, only with lashings of visual stun. I wasn't interested by the frozen BMW (except that I enjoyed watching people bundle up in the museum's grey fleecy blankets and troop into a giant freezer). My favourite piece was "Beauty," a dark room with streaks of light shining across a waterfall of mist pouring from the ceiling. The light made the water ripple and waver in the oddest ways. It looked like a surreal veil between dimensions, or a spiderweb in a breeze, or maybe a ghost.

Jekyll. BBC miniseries with the incredible James Nesbitt as Jekyll and Hyde. Some of the narrative seems a bit wonky and the American baddie has a dreadful accent (deep South on an alternate and mentally unstable universe?), but it's really shivery, especially in the moments of transformation.

Get Smart. I just saw the trailer for this movie and it looks amazing. Steve Carrell as an incompetent James Bond. Anne Hathaway as a beautiful spy named... Agent 99. Alan Arkin is in it, Alan Arkin! And Hiro. I've never seen the original tv show, so there's nothing to be disappointed by. It's all fun spy gadgets and explosions to look forward to. Did I mention Alan Arkin?

Monday, November 19, 2007

funny pictures

Am starting the day with freshly shorn locks (a mighty improvement in terms of comfort and ease over the hair that was beginning to take on Cousin It-ish properties) and a new (for me) and wonderful collection of comical illustrations from Cabanon Press. I like the one of the people reading on the beach. I also have a cup of Darjeeling tea and a pain au chocolat, so my morning is going very well, thank you.

(I started this early and then didn't finish till now, so, no I'm not actually having breakfast at noon.)

The thing I love about getting my haircut is the hilarity of the whole process. Wendy is my favourite Hair Dictator. She is one of those meticulously fashionable Asian women, with perfectly layered hair and impeccable makeup. I think she doesn't approve of my showing up in baggy corduroys and not a trace of makeup... She always asks if I "ever wear makeup" or if it's just today that I've been too slothful to put any on. I say that I'm wearing sunscreen and lip balm to pacify.

The actual cutting of the hair is the real treat. You're not allowed to cross your legs because that sets you crooked and disturbs Wendy's symmetry. Then she starts cutting off big hanks of hair (I'm always in for drastic changes) and you end up with a very ragged bob that she shampoos. Then comes the fun bit. She gets out a little pair of scissors and attacks your hair, leaning in so close that her face gets powdered with snippets. Each strand is examined, trimmed, checked again, and forced into submission. Then she rinses it to get rid of some of the little pieces that might be distorting the true shape of everything, and gets out the razoring tool and shears off miniscule pieces that aren't living up to their promise. It's an intense experience, but I have to go through the whole thing being careful not to catch Wendy's eye in the mirror or I won't be able to smother the urge to laugh. She's very very good, but also extremely funny in living up to a caricature and I don't think she would appreciate my laughing. It would mess up the hair.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Magnificent Books That Offer Succor When Inspiration Lacks

(from top on down)
THE MERCHANT OF MARVELS AND THE PEDDLER OF DREAMS by Frederic Clement. Gorgeous collage-type illustrations that suggest stories at every turn. Fairy tales or fairy-like tales especially.

AN EXALTATION OF LARKS by James Lipton. Sheer language wonderfulness, not just odd collective nouns. Also, tidbits of curious information.

A DICTIONARY OF FIRST NAMES by Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges. Indispensable for obvious reasons.

A DICTIONARY OF GEOLOGY by John Challinor. Dictionaries of specific terminology are often useful, especially when the entries have some torn off corners of historical stories. I also am fond of words like "lacustrine" (what lake deposits are to a geologist).

PERSONAL RECORDS: A GALLERY OF SELF-PORTRAITS selected by Margaret Bottrall. Enjoyable browsing. The compiler compares the experience of the book to walking through a portrait gallery, and the enjoyment is very similar. Snippets of letters and autobiography and whatnot don't give much depth to the portrait, but it's fun to imagine the person they conjure up.

BUTLER'S LIVES OF THE SAINTS. It's interesting to see what made people seem worth sainthood, especially in the older cases. Lots of gore and horrible deaths are easily imagined.

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SUPERSTITIONS ed. by Christina Hole. My favourite "reference" book hands down.

A FIELD GUIDE TO THE LITTLE PEOPLE by Nancy Arrowsmith. The drawings in this book are fantastic. Somehow they manage cute and ugly and detailed and crude all at once.

also, THE ART OF MODERN CONJURING by Professor Henri Garenne. This one hasn't been useful yet, but it feeds my obsession with stage magic. I mostly bought it because the back advertises the illusions inside with many exclamation points: "Producing 200 Yards of Colored Ribbon from an Empty Hat!" and "Talking to a Living Head Inside a Bottle!" and etc.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I KNOW that Pez dispensers topped with the heads of characters from The Golden Compass are something, I'm just not sure what.

I took a nap this afternoon. Didn't mean to, but I was reading a catalogue for Barnes and Noble when, suddenly, I start up and am halfway to the door before I realize that the knocking was not part of my dream, that my dream (something involving me being late) was not real, and that I had fallen asleep in a position that made my neck twitch. The person at the door was one of those magazine salespeople, but when he saw me, blinking oddly and disheveled, I think he lost his persistence.

Am slowly working my way out of the confusion that happens when you wake up without realizing that you've been asleep.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

on reflection...

This sign is from the airport, international terminal. Something--probably the pictures of the Olafur Eliasson exhibit I'd just seen in the MOMA store--made me think of a room with a giant, still pond in it, fathoms deep and smooth as glass. Or a room panelled in mirrors with different colored lights reflecting in all directions. Unfortunately, I think it's actually a politically reworked word standing in for "chapel" or somesuch. But since I didn't actually go and check, I can pretend that through a little corridor and up some stairs is a magnificent Room of Reflections whose beauty will make you fall on your knees, like that little person icon there, in wonder.

Am tired of writing today. I've done perhaps 1500 words and things were humming along nicely, but I'm at one of those getting from here to there moments and I just want to skip over it and go on to the next bit which is going to involve bright lights and nightmares. It's the pyrotechnic bit of the chapter. There are just all these details that need setting up and they're feeling a bit sluggish and dull. However, I've found out what a ghost machine does and more about Agatha, so that's good.

I watched the "Utopia" and "The Sound of Drums" episodes of Doctor Who and was happily astonished by how fantastic Derek Jacobi and John Simms are. There's a moment when Jacobi just looks into the camera and goes from being an affable professor to a very dangerous maniac. It's chilling and wonderful. There are moments of sci-fi apocalypse that seem a bit ridiculous (though still much enjoyable), but having a character who is quite like the Doctor yet so horrible, driven mad by the same powers that make the Doctor wonderful, is brilliant. Typical archetype stuff, I guess, but really solid nonetheless.

Bought three new cds: Muswell Hillbillies by the Kinks, End of History by Regan Fionn, and Hilary Hahn's Bach Partitas for Solo Violin. Self-indulgent, I know. I went in planning to get the Bach because I think the partitas are glorious, but then I wandered into the music section and was lost for an hour or so. How could I resist an album with songs titled "Hey Rabbit" and "Abacus" (the Fionn)? Or one called "Muswell Hillbillies"? There's a song on that album called "Have A Cuppa Tea," which made me laugh because I went into a coffee shop the other day and said, "may I have a cuppa tea?" and the girl behind the counter said, "huh?" Hopefully the music will live up to my enjoyment of the titles, and if not, at least I have the Bach to console myself with.

Obviously, I haven't been working too hard if I've had time to watch Doctor Who and buy music and take pictures in airports, but I still haven't found the stamina for writing again. It's odd, because I don't know the details, sometimes even the big obvious chunks of "what happens next?" until I'm writing them, but once I do see them in my head, I get impatient about turning them into words and just want to dump them out and carry on to the next bit. Lazy.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

taking a break

Am doing some work today and this is where I am:

There's my notebook with the (very) scattered notes for the next bit. When I'm staring into space (which is often), I sometimes fiddle with the little glass fox Shan brought back from Budapest. That's green tea there... The tea is essential because I'm always cold and it gives me an excuse to wander off to the kitchen for the kettle. My favourite pen, a Sonnet, which makes writing entirely un-hand-cramping. I found that paper in a drawer and it's fabulous. It's from a pack of 100 sheets that I think I got from a Japanese stationary store: B5 loose leaf "art spiral." Originally, I believe there was a binder it fit in, but now I just shove the finished pages into a folder until I type them up.

Had a lovely dinner last night with Heather, who's off to Berlin on Monday. We did some shopping for travel thingys, admiring the lovely things in the Apple store especially, and made a pumpkin pie. It was a nice evening. I was cranked up on sugar and tea and so didn't get to bed until three in the morning, but I woke up feeling splendid today so I guess there's no logic in it.

It's not even 5 o'clock and it's getting dark. The short days are so unsettling when they start. I aways have this irrational feeling that the quantity of daylight shrinks a bit every day and will go on shrinking until there's nothing left but this endless nighttime, but then I get into winter mole mode and am just as shocked when they start stretching out again.

That's about it really. I've just found out that the Magnetic Fields are coming in February, but will probably have to be reminded... I'm always forgetting to go to shows that might be good. Ah well.

Back to work.

Friday, November 9, 2007

music on the brain

I think the next nonfiction book I want to read is Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks. I've had Sacks recommended to me by several people, I think Shan especially mentioned The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat (a title that I thought sounded like something from Chesterton). Sacks is a neurologist and this new book is how our brains interact with music. The Guardian has an excerpt up on their website which managed to make me go a bit teary-eyed. He describes the experiences of a man who suffered severe brain damage from a form of encephalitis. His memory, for most things, just isn't there, lasting less than a minute in the present and compounded by retrograde amnesia. But he retains the musical ability that he had before his illness when he was a musicologist. And he is madly in love with his wife.

It sounds impossibly redemptive, right? If it were a movie, I'm sure that the music would be like some magical key that would unlock his way to his own history; and I know that it's nothing like that in real life. A story wouldn't be satisfied with such incomplete healing. It's devastating to have no sense of your own past beyond a second, but the idea that some of his emotional memory survived is comforting in a way.

P.T. again tomorrow. I'm sure they're going to scold me for letting my knee collapse during barre... oh well. I won't be repeating the experience if I can help it. Completely mortifying. No more barre for me. I'm going to limit myself to non-standing-up exercise for the near future-- that sounds a bit pitiful, doesn't it? Hey there's still cycling. And lifting weights. Alex is on my case to work out my arms anyway.

Off to watch some Doctor Who. I think "Blink" might be the most frightening episode yet. It's the sort of scary that makes you just a bit nervous to turn out the lights.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I just received an email from Barnes and Noble informing me that the third season of Doctor Who is on its way to my mailbox. I feel like I'm waiting for Santa Claus. Cue "Up On the Housetop."

P.T. is happening at 8:15 tomorrow morning. Which means leaving at 6:30 AM because I'm not sure of the parking situation. The meters in front of the building are limited to one hour, which means I either have to find street parking (HA), or beg the ladies at the desk to feed my meter and hope they remember. So far, P.T. mostly consists of me staring at the few inches of muscle located over my knee and trying to bunch it up as hard as possible. They attach this fancy little shard of plastic to my leg which measures how much work I'm doing and celebrates with an orange light when I'm doing well, and berates me with a wimpy green light the moment I slack off.

The first chapter of the new story is nearly done. I could have written more, but laziness and malaise prevented me. Some days the words are easy and I'm watching this story happen in my head and only a bit aware of the words coming out on paper, and sometimes it's really hard work. Not that you can tell afterwards which is which. Today it was really hard work and I sat at my desk for awhile and stared at the wall and for an hour only saw that wall, so I gave it up and went to the library.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Despite early protestations about Moonlight (vampire as private detective television program on CBS), I have become shamefully hooked. Not that this any indication of quality. I'm merely a sucker for nearly any serialized drama (except daytime soaps which are mostly loathsome). If something has a story that spills into next week or tomorrow or next month, I'll be there to find out what happens.


Sophia Myles's makeup. I thought she was very pretty in Doctor Who, but Hollywood makeup people definitely know how to banish the undereye circle and airbrush people beyond the scope of reality.

Vampire names. Mick Saint John. Lola. Josef. When you have supernatural characters, why give them normal names? This would confuse people. This is also why you have to name your human characters with clunky normality, like "Beth." Obviously.

Drugs that look like those horrid packets of colored sugar that children eat by licking a plastic wand, mashing it into the stuff, and slurping it off.

My absolute favourite moments though are when a vampire goes over the vampiric edge and gets nasty. Eyes cloud over and turn blue-ish, little fangs sprout, hair suddenly looks like too many volts of electricity are being shot through it. It's as if the designers couldn't decide between the zombie look and the pit bull infected with rabies.

I wouldn't recommend Moonlight to my friends, but I will still watch in the hopes that something truly outrageous will happen. I'm envisioning some apocalyptic vampire/human battle resolved in tragic self-sacrifice reduced to barely palpable romantic tension.

blood and guts

This, obviously, is why I fancy Doctor Who. Just look at that charming face.

Tonight I feel oddly bloodthirsty. Having spent most of this afternoon thinking about stories in general and particular, I'm a bit disturbed to find that when I ask myself, well what happens next? the answer tends to be: somebody dies.

What? Why does somebody die? Have I been reading too many murder mysteries? Is it because someone dying is a handy little plot mechanism that shoves some energy into a story that is getting overweight and picturesque? The most recent book that I abjectly admired is ATONEMENT by Ian McEwan. People die in this story, but their deaths don't serve to create plot. The hugeness of the book is interior. Events happen, but what I care about is what Cee and Robbie and, most of all, the magnificently frustrating Briony are thinking. There is no clumsy: he walked into a room with a gun.


The fictional dead don't feel (unless you make them, but that's different).

I took barre today and had moments when I felt like my knee was strung together with rubberbands. Stretched out rubberbands, not the nice taut new ones. Now it's gone a bit puffy and squishy, probably full of what Dr. Bost cheerfully refers to as "blood and guts." I think he actually relishes saying that.

Why does 50,000 words suddenly seem ridiculous?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I have a physical therapy appointment tomorrow. When I called to make the arrangements, the nice lady on the phone suggested I bring workout clothes and assured me that they have towels and showers available. Very nice, I said.

"Oh, and it'll be about an hour and a half to two hours long."

What? When I do anything that requires "workout clothes," it's never longer than an hour. Even 45 minutes makes me feel virtuous. I'm going to be working on straightening my knee. One knee. I'll be exercising a knee for two hours. Quite frightening. Perhaps after this surgery I'll have a knee with Jedi-like powers. A superhero knee.

One of my favourite bits of The Darjeeling Limited was the slow-motion shot of Adrien Brody running for the train. He's graceful and interesting and you notice how the fabric of his suit flows just right and the way his fingers unfurl from the handle of his Louis Vuitton suitcase. I wondered if this fantastic detail was the result of incredible movement ability on Brody's part or simply the effect of slowing down the film. Thanks to this bit from the website, I've decided it's the later:

Which makes me want to drive down to the financial district and video business people on their way to work to see if everyone is interesting in slow motion.

Monday, October 29, 2007

exactly not quite what i mean

Today I had the opportunity to answer some questions in a rather interview-ish format. One of the questions went along the lines of: "What do you want to achieve in dance? What about dance is important to you?" And I said something along the lines of how I want fluency of expression. Communication with people. Connecting with the audience and saying something honest. Rising above technical amazements. All these rather worn out turns of phrase and sentiment kept falling into my mouth. It's something I've said often, parroted back ever since one of my teachers (the extraordinarily beautiful Ms. Dunn) told me that dance is an art that only becomes meaningful when based on generosity.

Not that I don't believe this. I do, but I've spent the rest of the day thinking about this--injuries have a way of making you evaluate, constantly, the worth of dancing. Over and over again, weighing the drudgery of rehabilitation against the reward of dancing again. Is it worth it? starts off a train of arguments in my head at least ten times in a day-- and I realise that yes, I want to communicate ideas to other people, but the meat of it is what I feel when I'm dancing. That's what intoxicates me. I get satisfaction from other kinds of work. Writing, for instance, has moments of complete absorption. It can be thrilling and exciting and strange, but it's still a pleasure of workmanship for me. Dance is the only thing I know so far that gives me that visceral kick. It makes me feel different, extraordinary. I feel, inside me, the same species of gut and heart and mind vividness that I can sense in poetry and music.

In one of Jasper Fforde's books, a character describes poetry as the "crack-cocaine of the literary world." That's what I feel like when I'm dancing well. I bypass the process of consuming and understanding the art and go straight to wherever it is-- solar plexus, soul, whatever--where you experience those aches of feeling so commonly described in drama, but so rarely felt to that sheer degree in real life.

Chasing that is what means the most to me in dancing. Of course, I want to make other people feel too. If they can have at least a morsel of that same shock of sensation, then I'll feel I'm doing a useful thing. I'm selfish though and the thing that keeps me dancing at all is that greed for feeling.

That's what I really meant. It makes me sound like an addictive personality, doesn't it? Lucky I haven't latched onto any dangerous and illicit substances.

And now, to calm my hyper-ventilating dance indignation organ, I'm going to watch Doctor Who. My first Tom Baker episode. It's called GENESIS OF THE DALEKS, which seems promising.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

bits and bobs

Stephen Fry has a blog, let us celebrate.

He has also started writing a column for my favourite paper of the moment, The Guardian. To be completely clear, The Guardian of the UK, not the Guardian of San Francisco which is generally painful to read. The UK Guardian is wonderful; how can you not like a paper that sets forth its editorial code in the language of souls and morals?

"A newspaper's primary office is the gathering of news. At the peril of its soul it must see that the supply is not tainted."

Today I signed up for NaNoWriMo, which is simultaneously a Very Cool Thing and one of the worst acronyms ever. It stands for National Novel Writing Month and designates the time between the 1st and 30th of November for writing 50,000 words of a novel. 50,000 words is quite a short novel, but a very respectable output of words in one month. I suppose NaNoWriMo is easier to say than N.N.W.M, but it sounds like it should be the name of some unused Star Wars character.

Writing 1,700 words or so per day is certainly something you can do while immobile.

I've been tinkering around with writing over the past few days. It's odd and slightly uncomfortable, rather like a pair of shoes you haven't bothered wearing for a while. I've ended up with bits and pieces of things, all fragments that might put up with further exploration.

Friday, October 26, 2007


This is what happens when you find out that you have an injury that is going to take some time to heal. You think about what you're going to do with all that time. There are suddenly huge piles of empty hours that need to be occupied with something or else you will turn into a mushy lump. Anything that involves moving in any degree of vigorous is out. No dancing, obviously, no long walks, no running, no wandering around a city on foot so you can poke into interesting corners.

So I'm starting a blog.

I'm thinking about all the movies I'm going to watch.

There are always books to read.

I'm writing again, which is surprisingly enjoyable.

I want to tinker at the piano and relearn all the French I've forgotten.

I may actually finish a knitting project.

There are lots of things that aren't dancing which are interesting, fascinating, and wonderful, but the sad thing is, a month of them might be a novelty, but four to six seems like a long slog of grey.