October 28, 2004
Tonight We're Gonna Party Like It's 1997

I had a good Problem Solving day, which is a nice change from all the Problem Creating days I've had lately. Most of the solutions were for logic and structure issues in the book. For example, the opening narrative (minus the prologue) is set in 1997, but I realized I hadn't clearly established that for the reader, and I didn't really want to slap "1997" in the chapter heading, because then I'd feel obliged to put a date in all chapter headings, and since most of the story takes place over a three-year period, that'd be goofy.

Then I noticed this bit on the first page:

Sharlene favors kitty calendars

So I changed it to:

Sharlene favors kitty calendars, rendering 1997 about as cute as the upcoming millennial apocalypse will allow.

First page, second paragraph, baby.

I deny actually yelling, "boo-yah!"

October 26, 2004
Some Good Things Followed by Some Disappointing Things

E and S are over for Pizza and Movie and Introduce-Your-Friend-from-Way-Back-to-Your-Girlfriend-and-Pray-to-Any God-Who-Might-Be-Listening-That-They-Get-Along Night (we did, swimmingly - S is nifty).

There's a knock at the door, and since we were expecting the pizza any minute and E was buying, he answered. I come out of the kitchen to see him talking to a guy with a clipboard but no pizza. I assume he is explaining that our pizza was plundered by pirates. In my world, this kind of thing happens all the time.

Turns out he was engaged in a get-people-out-to-vote activity, and since E was not the Lady of the House, I took over (I am not the Lady of the House, either, but I am the Chick on the Lease, and the only one around who's registered to vote in this precinct).

We talked politics for a while, and rather than provide a blow-by-blow account, this about covers it:

E: "It was funny to hear the Politically Aware Pissing Contest you two were having."
Me: "Sometimes there's a fine line between flirting and a pissing contest, mister."

Eventually the pizza arrives, and we settle down to watch the movie, which is Bartleby. I missed it when it first came out, and I'd been looking forward to it for a while. Which didn't stop me from checking the run time about 40 minutes into it, and heaving a sigh when I found out there was another 42 minutes to go. Yep, at mere 82 minutes Bartleby is about 30 minutes too long.

It would have made a good one-act play, and Glenne Headly was wonderful in all ways, but the pacing was too damned slow. Also, if you're trying to telegraph CREEPY + CAMPY to the audience, you can go with a theremin on the soundtrack, or Crispin Glover in the title role, but, really, both is a bit much.

Oh, and the design was nifty in an Appliance Colors circa 1970 way, but it was too relentlessly cheerful on film. Like the script, it would have worked fine in a black box theatre, where it could have floated free in its own surreal little world. I suspect most the performances, including Crispin Glover's, would have been more effective there.

Which brings me to Bubba Ho-tep. This is going to require a flashback...

While loath to use his cellphone when he's on a bus (and good for him), E will sometimes call when he's waiting for a bus and wishes to be entertained. I don't why he calls me, because instead of entertainment, he usually gets something like this:

What E Says: So whadja do this weekend?
What I Say: I finally saw Bubba Ho-tep.
What E Says in His Squeaky, "Isn't Bruce Campbell the Ginchiest!!" Voice: Wasn't it great?
What E Hears: Five minutes of deranged screeching about what was wrong with Bubba Ho-tep.

As with Bartleby, I was planning to see Bubba Ho-tep when it was in theaters, never got around to it, and was looking to forward to the DVD.

The first thing I noticed was that it was beautifully shot. Really, just gorgeous. In fact, maybe a little too gorgeous for a movie that features the afore-ginchy Bruce Campbell as an aged Elvis and the always-wonderful Ossie Davis as a man convinced he's JFK teaming up to fight the mummy who's been feeding on the souls of the residents of their rest home. Not that such a premise (and a damn fine premise it is) doesn't deserve to be beautifully shot. It's just a little distracting to have to reconcile a long shot of an artfully distressed corridor lit in amber and gold plus a touch of contrasting icy blue with a giant plastic scarab pulled along on a string.

Even more distracting was the fact that once I'd noticed the director of photography's lots-of-warm-amber-with-a-splash-of-blue one-trick palette, I couldn't unnotice it ("hey, look - now it's rusty walls lit yellow behind blue pajamas lit bluer!") Seriously, just about every shot. And the glacially-paced editing gave me plenty of time to appreciate each carefully arranged and ultimately distancing composition. It looked and moved like a knockoff of The Shining, only with amber and blue instead of white and red.

Oh, and in spite of the promising premise, the script was crappy. Exposition like you wouldn't believe. Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis did what they could, but the pacing was so slow, even their considerable collective ginchiness couldn't salvage the thing.

Here's a useful directorial policy: if the dialogue sucks, get through it as fast as you can, and bring on the soul-suckin' mummy.

That's probably a good arbitration strategy, too.

October 20, 2004

I saw the sun come up this morning, but that was just because I hadn't gone to bed yet.

I tried to stick with the schedule most of the rest of this hemisphere uses, really I did, but things just weren't clicking. And ever since I've surrendered to my natural sleep pattern, I've been much more productive. At this rate I'll be ready to hand off a manuscript to interested parties by the end of the month, as promised.

Now, my favorite typo catch of the day:

He’s drawn an illustration of his cocktail napkin.

Yeah, I've changed that to "on". But it's more fun to imagine the other way, especially if you hang the drawing on a wall, with a little plaque next to it: "Cocktail Napkin #5 (pastel on vellum)".

Also, Courier is actually starting to grow on me. Metaphorically speaking, that is.

October 18, 2004
Hey Nonny Nonny

I was standing in line waiting to buy my quarterly supply of tinte liquido en crema para el cabello (doesn't that sound better than "hair dye"?) when I noticed that the very first ingredient listed was Nonoxynol-4, cousin to popular contraceptive and discredited microbicide Nonoxynol-9. Funny, it never even occurred to me to think about what Nonoxynols 1-8 might be used for...

Nonoxynol-1: Herbicide
Nonoxynol-2: Fertilizer
Nonoxynol-3: Chemically inert, but prone to yelling, "You kids get off my lawn!"
Nonoxynol-4: Ingredient in hair dye, and, yikes, potential Endocrine Disruptor
Nonoxynol-5: Emulsifier
Nonoxynol-6: Sick of hearing "Why can't you be more like Nonoxynol-9?"
Nonoxynol-7: Industrial Solvent
Nonoxynol-8: That "New Car" Smell
Nonoxynol-9: Spermicide; voted Nonoxynol of the Year forty-eight times in a row

October 15, 2004
Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus

From this fall's State of Washington Voter's Pamphlet:

State Representative, Postion 2
Virginia Abeyta

If Libertarians govern Washington State, everyone employable will have a job. Small and large businesses will prosper. State taxes will be lower while our transportation mess is cleaned up. Prices of housing and food would drop. Property rights will be restored, along with the environment. Everyone’s civil liberties would be respected.

She doesn't say how, but I'm guessing the plan includes flying reindeer.

October 14, 2004
False Alarm

Tonight I waked by a courtyard that, like so many other public spaces in Seattle, has life-sized statues of average citizen types just hanging out. The block and the courtyard weren't very well lit, and it was a little unsettling to come round the corner and discover that one of the statues seated on a park bench had been replaced by Anubis, the dog-faced Ancient Egyptian god of death.

First thought:
Oh, great - now he's gonna pull my heart out and weigh it against a feather on the Scales of Justice. I am so not in the mood for this.

Second thought:
Oh, dear - apparently it is possible to read too much mythology in elementary school.

Third thought:
Oh, hey - that's not Anubis, that's a bronze statue of guy kicking back with his fingers laced behind his head and his elbows positioned in such a way that they seem form the pointy snout and ear of Anubis viewed in profile (which, considering the conventions of Ancient Egyptian art, is about the only way he's ever viewed).


October 12, 2004
Advice for Cell Phone Owners

1. Don't drop it in the bathtub.

2. If you must drop it in the bathtub, try to catch it before it submerges completely.

3. If it's a flip phone, and you can catch it before it submerges completely, try to keep the bit with the keypad out of the water.

4. Yes, I know that means the LCD bit will get wet. Yes, water will get under the under the screen. Use a blow dryer. Yes, that works. How do I know? How do I know? Because I do, that's why. Look, I told you not to drop it in the bathtub in the first place, didn't I?

October 10, 2004
Jane Stumbles out of the Cave, Blinks Twice, Scratches Her Ear, Lies Down for a Little Nap, and Dreams of Query Letters

In my e-mail a few days ago, from B:

One is shocked and amazed that Random Jane has not been updated to indicate the loosing of your corporate tether. One may only assume that new life of leisure is still too novel and filled with daily lie-ins, chocolates pilfered from office candy bowls and stored in preparation for the lean months ahead, and fanciful outfits to get down to the business of writing. Not a neiner neiner in sight…sigh.

This is an excellent point, and some explanation is certainly in order. So here are the last two weeks in review:

My final week at work was, like so many other weeks, busy, stressful, and long. This poor little site didn't stand a chance, especially when you add in the alcohol-fueled (and much appreciated) going away parties. S actually came to the office at 10:00 p.m. on Friday to help me transport six years of accumulated hooha, including some housecubeplants that have done startlingly well, considering the total absence of sunlight in their environment. I was working up to the moment S arrived. And then I wrote a couple of e-mails from home. This is how tightly wound I was.

By 9:30 the next morning S and I were on the road to Leavenworth, which in Washington is a faux Bavarian village rather than a prison.

We were there to celebrate J's birthday, which coincided with Octoberfest. There are many fine beer gardens in Leavenworth, but I can't recommend going to them during Octoberfest - they are packed to the rafters, and the presence of a nearby oompah band playing "The Chicken Dance" is not, in my view, sufficient consolation.

However, I can heartily recommend the hospitality of W & J. Somehow I missed the part of college that involved the Luge and thanks to W I am now thoroughly acquainted with it (and thanks to T for not going overboard while on pouring duty).

So in case it isn't obvious, I didn't get much rest during my first weekend post-corporate tether. And, as usual when I pack too much activity into too little time, I got sick. It's like the stress was actually holding illness at bay, and soon as the source of the stress was gone, the impending sinus infection sprung into action. I spent my first few days of freedom either logy and headachy, or hyper from the Sudafed. By midweek I was much improved, but I was also acutely aware that I hadn't take more than a few days off since December...I don't count going back east to attend my grandmother's funeral in January as R&R.

In short, I desperately needed a break from work in all its forms, including getting down to the business of writing. But writing - and its related business - is what I'll be doing on Monday, and all the days that follow until the money starts to run out.

Wish me luck.

October 09, 2004
Another Item for the "Things I Won't Miss about Office Buildings" List

My pal Rhonda reports from the frontlines of the Cultural Wars:

Dear Jane,

Since you are now out of the workforce, I feel it is my duty to keep you up to speed on the deep ironies of the modern workplace.  I must write in to complain about a disturbing notice I spied yesterday at the Wells Fargo branch in my fancy-shmancy downtown building.  The good folks at Wells Fargo have helpfully provided a notice on their door advising customers that they will be closed on October 11.  To better serve customers, they have provided this notice in both English and Spanish. 

The English version says:

We will be Closed
Monday, October 11
Columbus Day

The Spanish version says:

Estaremos Cerrados
El Lunes, 11 de Octubre
El Día de las Americas.


We will be closed
Monday, October 11
Americas Day

Jane, I find this very, very problematic.  If it is unacceptable to refer to “Columbus Day” in Spanish, then it should be equally unacceptable to say it in English.  Perhaps we should just name it “Rape and Pillage of the Continent Day” and call it a wash.

Besos y abrazos,