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Showing posts from April, 2009

promises to keep, and miles to go before i sleep

I’ve spent a lot of time the past couple of days doing mad edits to Lilac Mines before it heads off to the printer. It’s been a flashback to my undergrad days, when I often asked myself the question, Can I read a whole book in one day? Only then it was usually a result of having spent the previous day watching reruns of 90210 . It’s been stressful, the way I hear book publishing can be (from AK, who reads Poets & Writers Magazine more thoroughly than I do), but I think I’ll be pleased with the result. Right now I’m trying to detox from the nitty-gritty part (yay for yoga!) and get excited for what comes after the nitty-gritty, which is the fun part: readings. Where I get to see all of you ! Here’s the first one, which I’m pleased to announce on the eve of Buy Indie Day : Where: The Promising Series at Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont, L.A. CA 90027 When: Friday, June 5, 7:30 p.m. Who: Cheryl Klein, Raquel Gutierrez , Orlando Ashley and Scott Turner Schofield; hosted by the fa

i shit in the soup of your mother, and other LATFOB lessons

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For the past six years, I’ve spent the last weekend of April sweating (or avoiding rain) inside a plastic tent at the L.A. Times Festival of Books . This year my organization didn’t have a booth, meaning that I was free to roam, which was cool but also like waking up from one of those dreams where you have to take algebra again and didn’t know you were enrolled until the day of the final. I kept having to remind myself, No, I’m not working. I’m not due back at the booth to take over Jamie’s shift. I did spend some time hanging out at the Manic D / Gorsky Press / Poetry Flash booth, home of brightly colored table cloths and some good indie reading. (I’m biased , but I’m also telling the truth.) Panels are always a bit of a gamble—I’ve seen so many on publishing and L.A. lit that no matter how good the panelists are, I usually end up wanting to claw my eyes out. So I try to steer clear of those now. But I saw a lovely fiction panel with Susan Straight , David Benioff (who taught us h

two ridiculous things that i love

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In case you thought my thumbs-down for 17 Again proved I was a big snob, let me take this opportunity to say: I heart Fast & Furious . Everything about it: Michelle Rodriguez (though there’s too little of her), Vin Diesel, the way the cars are both pristine and feral, the ridiculous dialogue, the ridiculous but well-paced plot, the ridiculously gratuitous three-girl make-out scenes that are part of every underground street racer party scene, and did I mention the ridiculous hotness of Michelle Rodriguez? (Seriously, she’s practically the only celebrity out there for girls whose tastes veer tomboyish and non-blonde. She’s shouldering that burden on very nice shoulders, but it would be great if she could have a little company.) My favorite aspect of the ridiculous plot is that a drug lord would A) hire street racers to zip drugs across the border—because there’s nothing more inconspicuous than four pimped-out hot rods driving in formation at 120 miles an hour; and B) stage a race

excuse me, i’m off to bench press some dictionaries

As of today, my six-week post- surgery ban on strength training is up! And the ban on lifting things like boxes of magazines and buckets of cat litter, both of which I apparently have lots of occasions to lift. And I heard saunas were off limits too, although I don’t really know why and don’t use them very often anyway. But it’s good to know I can. I actually haven’t done any of these things (except go in a sauna in February ; go figure) for three months because the rules for a pre-op hernia are pretty much the same as for post-op. And this is just a theory, but I think my totally un-diversified workout routine has been partially responsible for the recent grumpiness of my lower back. So, in my mind, I’m about to embark on a healthy diet of yoga, weights, core training (whatever that actually involves, unless it’s Pilates, which I kind of hate), dancing and running. And why not throw in a little rock climbing? Ooh, and parkour ! In reality, I’m actually going to miss making AK lu

kid-tested, right wing mother-approved

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There are some movies you want to see because you know they’ll be good, and there are some movies you see for the air conditioning. Like 17 Again . No, that’s partly a lie. Although AK and I did see it at the cheap-o Highland 3 during the still-scorching late afternoon yesterday, I also kind of wanted to see it because 1) most movies about teenagers have fun clothes , 2) maybe my 16-year-old mentee would see it and then I’d be, like, speaking her language (although last I checked, the movie at the top of her to-see list was Obsessed ), and 3) I have a high tolerance for dumb comedies, in a way that I do not for dumb action movies. Because of its dumb-comedy designation and its 13-year-old target demo, I tried to be patient during the scene where Mike (Matthew Perry reincarnated, sort of, in Zac Efron ’s body) gets beaten ad nauseum with a variety of toy swords by his geek best friend who doesn’t recognize him. After all, I’d signed up for this. The movie is a revival of the ‘80s bo

mighty mustang memories

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More stuff ripped from the Facebook headlines/notes application: 1. Did you date someone from your school? I went on one double-date-like thing with Bonnie, Jason and this friend of Jason’s who clearly had some mental irregularities. He called me for a few months afterward to tell me the news that was coming through his police scanner. I didn’t go on another date until college. 2. Did you marry someone from your high school? No, since I am not into police scanners. 3. Did you carpool to school? I walked or hitched a ride with Bonnie in her mom’s VW Bug, which would sometimes stall when we tried to drive over the huge roots in our school’s crappy parking lot. 4. What kind of car did you have? None. I wished I had an easily-stalling VW Bug. 5. What kind of car do you have now? Ninety-seven Honda Civic. Movin’ on uh-uuup. 6. It’s Friday night in the present: I’m probably dashing off to whatever my social-butterfly girlfriend has planned for us, complaining mildly that we

vineyards and velociraptors

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Just like how that set of stairs in Washington, DC will forever be known as The Exorcist Stairs , wine-tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley has, since 2004, been known as The Sideways Tour. I've seen ads for actual bus tours built on this theme, a la the Sex and the City tours of Manhattan. But we had something better than a bus: We had Meehan , who'd scoped out the area a couple of times since moving to SB in August. Ever since her friend's dad got ill from picking pesticide-drenched grapes, she's been an advocate of organic wines, so our first stop was a small but beautiful winery called Demetria , which practices not only organic but also " biodynamic " farming. Lee, the head winemaker, was happy to fill us in on the principles of biodynamics , which involve reviving damaged soil and planting according to the phases of the moon. It seemed like one part sustainable farming, one part Scientology. But as Meehan said, "The main thing is approaching the

not-so-slow-food

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Claire’s comment on my previous post reminded me that it’s time for my annual Cadbury Crème Egg Experience, in which I am lured in by its fascinating/creepy faux-yolk center, then reminded that it tastes like a big gob of nasty frosting. I will proceed to finish the egg anyway, because nasty frosting is still frosting, and I like to finish what I start (thanks to This Afternoon in Drama for alerting me to this pathology). I will repeat this exercise with Peeps , which look like how a cloud would taste if you’d just dropped acid. Except in real life clouds probably taste like water and/or pollution, and Peeps taste like stale goo. Just as I sometimes put off eating healthy things that are delicious (mangoes, strawberries, pineapple) because some part of my brain has declared it a chore, I also get excited about disgusting things that are bad for me because my brain thinks it’s going to have a sinful good time. That part of my brain seems to be stuck in its early 20s, the years of

slow food life

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Instead of New Year’s resolutions, Jenny over at Run Jen Run always comes up with themes or role models for the year. This year she’s channeling Patti Smith . Since I’m still working on fulfilling my 2009 resolutions (sorry, dusty bike, I’ll let you out of the garage soon), I decided it was best not to be too action-oriented regarding my 32nd year. This may not be the catchiest theme, but I think I’m going with Slow Food Life. Here’s what I’ve learned from the slow food movement (of which I’m not actually a part, having just consumed a bagel with Trader Joe’s hummus and 7-Eleven coffee), which I think can be extrapolated to the rest of my life: Fast and productive are not necessarily better. Organic is good. Doing it yourself is good. Quality is more important than quantity. Your neighborhood and your loved ones are wonderful resources. Sometimes recipes go wrong and you have to throw out a bunch of tomatoes and start over. I’ll stop before I get too self-helpy. This weekend AK and

inspired by birds

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Nothing like dancing on a bar top to keep you young. Unless, of course, you're super drunk and even the gentle Christmas lights strung throughout the bar can't hide your crow's feet and you yell out, "Oh my god, you guys, I'm so crazy!" and what everyone hears is, "Oh my god, you guys, I'm trying desperately to hang onto my obviously fading youth!" I didn't yell on Friday night, but I did--for the first and possibly last time ever--climb on top a bar and, well, actually I hula-hooped. Apparently it's what they do at Birds if you stay past 10:30 p.m. Who knew? We had a great time watching the absurdly comedic, semi-improvised Glass Beef Musical at UCB (and sneaking peeks at Natalie Portman, who was in the audience), then we headed next door for a few Citron martinis and the next thing I knew, Alberto was pushing me toward the bar. I would be lying if I said he had to push hard. Soon it was clear that it was all part of Alberto's

an homage to my penny-marshall* future

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1. duplicity, duality As I head into my late early thirties, I’m developing a mild obsession with actresses who haven’t had plastic surgery. When I was younger, all grownup faces looked the same to me, and that look was “boring.” But just as I’ve discovered that people over forty can do things other than make you dinner and pay for college, I’ve also learned that some of them freeze their faces into little shrines to their former selves, and some of them age. After seeing Duplicity , AK and I had this conversation: Me: It’s really nice to see Julia Roberts looking so great but also normal. I mean, maybe she’s had a little Botox here and there, but I don’t think she’s had any full-on surgery. And she’s skinny, but not so skinny you can’t imagine her eating. She looks like she has a life, you know? AK: Yeah, it’s nice to see. But I’m not against people getting face lifts if they want. We do lots of stuff that’s unnatural to our bodies, so it seems hypocritical to judge them for taki