Tuesday, September 30, 2008

bedtime stories

The Graveyard Book came out today, and reading it at bedtime makes me very, very happy. It is a story by Neil Gaiman, and pictures by Dave McKean, and it is entirely wonderful.

(I actually skipped ahead to the fifth chapter, which is about a strange and intoxicating dance, when I brought the book home this afternoon. But now I'm reading it properly, starting at the beginning.)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

a story is a story is a story

Have you ever been telling someone an anecdote and, in the middle of it, begin to actually listen to what you are saying and find it so strange and unbelievable that you start to think you're making it up?


Right then, that would just be me.

I had to think for awhile afterwards to reassure myself that, yes, strange things do happen in real life, and, yes, I had seen this particular strange thing with my very own eyes and hadn't dreamed it or wished it or really even embellished it at all. Which disappointed me, as I was beginning to think that my imagination had gone round a strange and interesting bend.

Ah well.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

dancing shoes

Am just back from dancing. From an evening of swing dancing with the ever lovely Emily at Forrester's Hall in Redwood City.

I've never done swing dancing before. I've never really done any proper social dancing at all, except for a very little bit of salsa, and then the usual bopping around to loud music in clubs or at parties, which I'm not sure counts as "social dancing". I spent most of the evening staring down at my partners' feet, trying to figure out what was going on. Even so, the dancing was marvelous, exhilarating, and an utter delight. It felt wonderful and strange to be surrounded by so many people who were dancing because there was nothing else they would rather be doing. Sheer fun and delight. Everyone was so friendly. A very kind man named Adam, who is one of those dancers who move so smoothly and casually that you can't help but imagine that he moves under a perpetual summer breeze, taught me one of the basic steps. Someone else taught me part of the Charleston, and someone else showed me how to do triple steps. Most of the time, I just whirled and slid around, and laughed my head off because I was having such a good time.

Am also now inspired to write something about those twelve dancing princesses and their worn out dancing slippers, and about how it feels to dance the night away. Lauren suggested it, and the more I think about, the more I wonder...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

friends and fish

Just back from a very lovely evening with friends. We ate sushi, including the extra-fatty tuna which glistens in pink strips over rice and which I learned is called toro. I didn't have much faith in the idea of extra-fatty tuna, but it turned out to be delicious, in the same way that Brie and very good butter are delicious. I wasn't brave enough to try the fried shrimp heads. "They taste a bit like potato chips," Neil said. But I just couldn't put those round, black, little eyeballs and poky antennae in my mouth.

We talked about fascinating things, like the Chevalier d'Eon, and ruined temples, and mysteries. It was wonderful to have good food and good conversation, and to be wrapped up in the company of incredibly good people who make me happy. It was rather like sitting around a fire in a comfortably shabby and well-loved room, and drinking in the stories that float out into the warm air... only in a rather small Japanese restaurant with whiteboards on the walls and slightly silly music.

We also went to Preston's, which is a place that Willy Wonka would no doubt smile approvingly over. There were chocolates with all sorts of delectable fillings, and ice cream with the most lovely chocolate sauce, and Art Deco stoves.

I'm now too full of sugar and affection to sleep. Will probably go read more of The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar so that I can extend the happiness into the wee hours.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I'm copying a friend and writing down what I'm reading right now, mostly because I've had books scattered everywhere, with little slips of paper, or gum wrappers, or paper napkins, or takeaway menus, marking a spot in their pages. I wasn't sure what I was reading. I'd just pick up whichever partially-read book was nearest and read, and then put it down somewhere, and now that I've gathered them all into a pile on my dresser to finish, I find that it's bigger than I thought, and more haphazard.

1. The 13 Clocks by James Thurber.
Thanks to the lovely Kat, I have this for a bedtime story. It is all kinds of marvelous.

2. The Arabian Nightmare by Robert Irwin
Bizarre and happily mad, and apparently meant for reading in bed.

3. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Reading this again because I am outlining the plot as part of an exercise given to me by Geoff Ryman. It's very interesting, and humbling, and educational.

4. Japanese Fairy Tales by Iwaya Sazanami
Which contains one of my favourites, "The Tea Kettle of Good Luck."

5. V For Vendetta by Alan Moore
Books with pictures in are always good.

6. The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (2007) edited by Ellen Datlow and Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant

7. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale
A book that "aims to be factual," about murder and detectives in Victorian England.

8. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
Was feeling guilty that I hadn't read anything of hers.

9. Little Kingdoms by Steven Millhauser

current issues of The New Yorker, Harper's, Good, and National Geographic. This isn't my usual magazine diet. Usually, there's quite a bit more fluff, but this is what happens when you get delayed at the airport and have already read the fluffy magazines they have at the newsstand, so you're forced to buy the stuff that has actual columns of text about things that happen in the real world.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

ringing in the ears

If I hear the words, "Thanks, but, no thanks," many more times, I will have to start lip-synching them and making funny faces.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

books with pictures

Had a most excellent and diverting afternoon. Went to class, which was hot and airless and very, very difficult, but also good (even braved the dreaded pointe shoes for a few exercises). Then my sister and I had lunch with the lovely Heather. We ate really delicious Chicago style pizza, and then went for equally delicious ice cream and a walk past a picture book that had been stuck up on a wall with all the other posters advertising albums and movies.

We found the cover on the other side of the wall:

And were wondering what a picture book was doing on a wall anyway, when we saw this:

Also went into a comic book shop that collects illustrated toilet lids and hangs them around the perimeter of the space. The sheer number of stories and pictures was slightly overwhelming, but there was this guy with the most amazing Tim Burton hair and pinstriped suit who seemed to really know his books. Enthusiastic people make me happy.

Monday, September 8, 2008

and tomorrow there will be pain.

So, I've discovered that taking two months off from dancing is good for what ails you, but rather dreadful for the self-esteem. It's like having two bodies: the one that remembers how everything should feel, and the one that acts like a really ignorant lump.

Alex used techno music in rehearsal today. I think my head is still going, boomf boomf boomf boomf.

It was a nice change to think really hard about stuff like muscles and standing up properly. The nice thing about dancing is that, even when it's not working, at least you can keep doing something. I keep moving around, maybe look like a fool and an idiot, but at least I can keep on until I tire myself out. With writing, when it's not working, I seem to spend a great deal of time staring at a wall. And then looking at the paper. And then staring at the wall. So, it felt good to move, even if I'm going to be horribly, dreadfully, stuck-in-a-block-of-concrete sore tomorrow.

Am now going to watch MASH and have a cup of tea.

Friday, September 5, 2008

airport things

Airport delights:

1. Upon emerging from the security checkpoint at Lihue Airport, you come upon two musicians in aloha shirts, one playing the guitar, and the other playing the ukelele. They sing songs in Hawaiian, which has a multitude of euphonious vowels.

2. The newsstand in Lihue Airport sells cookies with chunks of arare (rice crackers seasoned with soy sauce) scattered throughout like chocolate chips.

3. The sensation my new old typewriter made while making its way through security and agricultural inspection: What's in that sturdy plastic case? Oh, just a typewriter. Oh... well, haven't seen one of those in a while.

4. The flight attendant who used the expression: "What the h, blank, double hockey stick, do they think they're doing?" This entertained me entirely too much, and I kept looking up from my magazine and thinking, hah! Double hockey stick.

5. Science fiction exhibit at SFO. Not entirely sure what this was about, because I was on a moving walkway and too tired to go back and look, but there were definitely robots. Big, silver robots. And wonderfully pulpy illustrations in bright colors (I've just looked them up, and they are covers from Weird Science and Weird Fantasy). I love the SFO museum.