August 05, 2003
The packing goes on and on. Media is just about packed - books, videos, dvds, cds (of course a selection has been set aside for keeping me musically occupied). My shoes have been boxed up, and they've only required two boxes. Clothes are next. Scott has a really, really bad Cosby cardigan that simply has to go - it may be too ugly to donate even to Goodwill.
I've got a summer mix compiling in my head. Really digging the new Fountains of Wayne song, "Stacy's Mom." The video's a hoot; Rachel Hunter plays the ridiculously hot mama figure. Another one I like is "Move Your Feet" by Junior Senior. The video looks like an Atari game. Still lovin' Sugar Ray's "Mr. Bartender" - even though Mark McGrath's hair has been bleached like mad, he's still pretty darn hot.
So what are your summer songs?
August 06, 2003
Hawk attacks Chihuahua in Bryant Park
One of the hawks that patrols Bryant Park attacked someone's dog yesterday. Can you really blame the bird for thinking the dog was a rat? Now there's talk of scrapping the program, which means people will only start complaining about the pigeons again. Sheesh.
No More Wire Hangers!
This was the acknowledged, but unspoken agreement between us as we went through Scott's closet last night.
I'm officially a crankpot. The apartment is hot, stuffy and dusty, and I'm tired of the landlord traipsing in with potential tenants while I'm all dishabille, trying to pack up the place. I still live here, but people are opening my closets full of my stuff in my presence. Arrrgh. But I guess we both have to do what we have to do.
August 12, 2003
"Quick, the Angelika!"
"The House Filmgoers Love to Hate" - NYT article on the the Angelika's lack of appeal.
NYC has tons of movie houses. Certain movies should be seen in certain venues - for instance, Le Divorce is currently showing at the Paris Theater - I've seen Topsy Turvy and Amelie there and enjoyed the experience as much as the movies. Mike Leigh was so thrilled to see lines outside the theater for Topsy Turvy that he just had to take pictures.
You go to certain theaters because of limited engagements or because it's where you happen to be or where you're meeting a friend for a film. So I've had my share of films at the Angelika, on Houston and Mercer. But I tend to go there only if I have to - the screens are small, the theaters are long, and if you get there too early, you have to wait until they tell you to get in line for the movie. Get there too late, and good luck finding a seat together for you and your friends. You're either way in front, craning your neck, or stuck in back, squinting and trying to hear over the talkers, the candy wrappers, and the self-important chuckles of filmgoers who want you to know they've gotten a joke that you've somehow failed to miss. (Sorry, Best in Show wasn't that funny.)
Ah well, it wouldn't be a New York fixture if I didn't have something to complain about.
I really hate packing. Given how much time I've had I should be done by now. Unfortunately I've become a tad too acquainted with the TLC lineup. Must really get done in the next few days, because I have social engagements coming up and it would be nice to actually enjoy them guilt-free.
Have suddenly gotten a cold in the last few days. Feeling better, but trying to rid it with vitamin C and medicine - don't want to be all red and sniffly when I'm supposed to be dolled up and fabulous this weekend.
Saw Seabiscuit over the weekend with my friend Julie. An uplifting, sentimental movie, and that's not an epithet. I would love to ride a horse. The closest I've gotten was riding on a pony in kindergarten. I thought I'd be able to yell "Giddy-ap!" and leap over the fence, but no, the pony and I were led placidly around the pen.
As of yesterday, Scott has successfully defended his dissertation, so he's now Dr. Scott. Hurrah!
Now must really get to packing, especially if I'm going to justify tagging along with some gals in Scott's department who are going shoe shopping in the Hamptons or thereabouts later this week.
August 13, 2003
Not Everyone's Dear Jane
The other night, after Scott's defense, I joined him and his colleagues at a local watering hole. At some point it came up that one of the women in the party adored Colin Firth after seeing Bridget Jones, but had not seen him in Pride & Prejudice. I strongly encouraged her to see it, explaining that BJD is a modernization of the P&P story.
However, another young woman in the group, one of the first-year students, immediately spoke up and declared how she couldn't stand Jane Austen, something along the lines of that she "just didn't get it." (Clearly.) The rest of the table, knowing my admiration of Jane, were highly amused and spoiling for a fight. But I simply shrugged and redirected the conversation. I mean, what could I say to someone who seemed so convinced? "How sad for you" was all I could think.
I know not everyone cares for Jane. To each their own, &c. However, I did feel the tiniest bit affronted, feeling not just that one of my favorite authors had been dismissed, but my partiality for her as well.
But it's not as though I haven't observed the same feeling in others - people are protective of their tastes and can feel defensive when such are criticized. That doesn't mean we shouldn't express our opinions, but we shouldn't be surprised if they are challenged, nor should we care or have to change our minds. Hopefully there is an interesting exchange in the conversation, rather than injured feelings. Although if the other person is a stubborn contrarian, the kind who can't or won't consider any of your arguments and has to rule the point, as it were, then it's fine to secretly think "Oh shut up already, you stupid prat/cow." Some battles aren't worth the effort.
August 14, 2003
Get Your Jane On
I am all astonishment! The Smithsonian is offering a day-long seminar entitled "Jane Austen's Life, Times, and Literature" on November 6. The seminar even includes a Regency-style luncheon. Wow. I am sorely tempted.
August 15, 2003
The Night the Lights Went Out in [Insert Your Town Here]
My experience with "Blackout of 2003" was merely inconvenient at worst. Had I still been employed, it would have been pretty bad getting home, if I could manage getting out of the city at all. Major heebie-jeebies at the thought of being stuck in an elevator, the sweltering subway, or on the railroad.
Spent the early part of the morning packing up things, getting stuff into the car for Goodwill. Was absolutely delighted that they took all of our offerings - clothes, books, and Scott's 15-year-old stereo. The freestanding box speakers were enormous; except for the Record button no longer functioning, everything was still in perfect working order, including the turntable. Scott waxed wistful, but it was more than time to let the behemoth go.
Met up later with some of the gals in Scott's department for a girly excursion to the Hamptons for some serious shoe shopping. Part of the venture was just getting out from the chaos of the apartment and driving through picturesque towns on a beautiful summer afternoon, Kylie blasting from the radio. Girlie talk ensued: Colin Firth and his wife have a new son, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is pretty damn cool, the benefits of waxing, and having boots in different lengths makes complete sense.
An hour and a half later, we got to the American Legion in Amagansett, where the sale was held. My blackout moment was thus: the lights flickered on and off, then completely off. The room was still fairly well lit because the doors leading outside were open. Hardly anyone noticed - we women were far too busy hunting down shoes. Hearing the news, the scale of the blackout sounded overblown to me at first.
Earlier, one of the store employees announced that a woman had bought 34 pairs that day - holy kitten heel! At one point I carried four pairs around the room while I tried to make up my mind; after comparing notes I eventually set down some Kate Spades and Bruno Maglis back on the table. So now I have completely impractical but adorable round-toe open-backed Italian high heels and some sleek suede-like Pumas for around 75 bucks. My companions acquired three pairs each, so we all did well.
Driving back home was mostly a traffic issue, given the one-lane roads, but these well-heeled towns already had their local police manning the intersections. Scott was home when I got back, our neighbors were all sitting outside in patio chairs. We took a walk to a nearby ice cream stand that was still open. Well-packed cups of pistachio and vanilla served as a suitable dinner.
Had not yet packed candles and I was still trying to figure out where to pack the batteries, so after digging for matches we had decent illumination. Phone service was still available. Power came back on around 11 p.m. We even had cable. So such was our hardship, which was really not much at all.
August 17, 2003
While I suffered through the blackout by fending off other shoe shoppers, some people actually did the Samaritan thing. So just what kind of person takes it upon themselves to venture into the middle of an intersection in New York City to help another such goodly soul to direct traffic? People like Paul Frankenstein. Even though he too was without power, he blogged via proxy - do go and read his account.
Good for you, Paul!
August 18, 2003
I couldn't disappoint you by actually being ready on the day of loading the truck, could I? There's a little bit more to do, nothing too troublesome. But alas, it's time to dismantle the computer. (This gal needs a laptop, don't ya think?) Fortunately we merely load today. I'll get some sleep tonight. After cleaning, of course. I have left out my desert island Jane Austen omnibus (which inexplicably only contains 4 of the 7 extant works, oh well). And dearest, loveliest Jen has actually taken the day off to help us. Hurrah!
Gotham notes - because this city is so amazing, power was restored to the subways and the railroads in time for my social plans. I toured the city and escaped the heat in various coffee shops (ok, ok they were Starbucks) with Mike. Thanks for hanging out with this sentimental chick, my dear friend. Also did dinner at Gotham (the restaurant) with the Pemberley set - Golda, Karen and Jen. We were fab, the food was exquisite, the tab was (gasp!) suitably posh. Finished a lovely day by walking into the breezy night back to Penn Station. My toes aren't happy, but my eyes had their fill of the city lights.
This girl's a native New Yorker - wherever I go, a little bit of my heart will always be here. Talk to you soon.
August 22, 2003
Much has happened. The days are all blurring together. Cats and people are in one piece, not too frazzled.
Jen and Mark are saints for taking days off from work and helping to load and unload respectively. I have way too much stuff and need to seriously do something about it.
The place is really nice, the coolest apartment I've ever had. Must make it all cozy and livable, and pleasant enough to invite people over without gritting my teeth. I know Atlanta's not as exciting as New York, but I hope friends will come and visit.
Back to the unpacking (and setting up my own computer so I don't have to borrow Mark's!). More later.
August 27, 2003
Boxes, boxes everywhere
Ok, this isn't really a departure from my usual existence, but now that I have a nice apartment, I really have to get more Home & Garden around here rather than Self-Storage.
To fill you in on the drama that was moving:
1. It cost three times as much to rent a U-Haul leaving New York as it would have been to move from Atlanta to New York. Even the guy behind the counter when we returned the truck was shocked.
2. The toll for crossing the Verrazano was thirty-four dollars. Fortunately, we did a trucking route for most of the way down, so that was the first and only monster toll.
3. The truck didn't have a tape deck, so we improvised and used a little CD boombox in the cab. It seems the cats preferred to have music, as they whined whenever a CD came to an end.
4. We stopped over in Richmond for another fly-by-night visit with our friends Sarah and Tim. I was greeted the next morning in the living room by little Evelyn, who is up and walking and very gracious about letting strange people hold her. When I first saw her, she was standing, bent in half, looking at me upside down through her legs - a reasonable version of Downward Facing Dog.
5. Since arriving, the bed, television and the computer have been set up. Beginning to have some sense of how to arrange the furniture, some of which was merely brought down to tide us over until we can get better items.
6. Culinary comforts were indulged: tasty wings at Taco Mac, pizza at Fellini's, cinnamon crunch bagels at Panera, monster burritos at El Myr, burgers at Vortex. It's a bit of a walk, but my favorite brunch place, The Flying Biscuit, is nearby. I've yet to go there, but I'm merely building up the anticipation.
7. This weekend will be a geekfest - I'm going to DragonCon, where one of my favorite writers, Anne McCaffrey, will make an appearance, and Saturday night there will be a pulpy triple-feature at the Starlight Drive-In. I'm so psyched.
Ok, back to unpacking. And trying to get the effing cable company to set up cable here. I want my BBCAmerica!
I have friends who for various reasons choose not to have television in their lives. Bully for them and their enlightened minds and pocketbooks. I, however, take comfort in being the intellectual peabrain, and will put down money to have the idiot box available.
Most of the utilities I have set up without a hitch. But there seems to be only one damned cable provider for my area, and they keep telling me that they do not service my address, although they do service at least one other address down the street apparently. What the f*ck am I supposed to do? I can't blow up at the poor person on the other line. I don't know what the previous tenant had, the landlord was the one who originally gave me the provider info, and I've done web searches to see if there are any other listings for my area (I live in the city of Atlanta, but I'm in Dekalb county - much of Atlanta is in Fulton.) I guess I'll have to try and ask the neighbors.
This should not be so difficult. And now I really feel like an idiot. I already lost half a day yesterday at Wal-Mart getting my tires changed - I might have had a little more time had somebody bothered to call me and tell me the car was ready, but no, I had to sit around reading Jane waiting for the call that never came.
I am Charlie Brown, trying to kick the football that the Lucys of the world keep snatching out of my way. Maybe it would have done Charlie Brown some good if he could have cussed rather than crying "Arrrrrrgh!" all the time.
August 28, 2003
BBC will release archives online
The service, called BBC Creative Archive, will provide free access to the BBC's radio and tv archives, including downloads, provided the material isn't used for commercial purposes.
Neal Stephenson Interview
Wired interviews Stephenson about his new trilogy, The Baroque Cycle.
August 30, 2003
DragonCon 'Aught Three: Day 1
This year's con is a spectacular treat, and perhaps one of the advantages of living down here again. The few that I've attended up north were puny in size and narrow in focus (horror, more Scott's hurrah than mine). Upon reading the program schedule, I marveled at just how much Anne McCaffrey is doing - at the age of 77, the woman hardly travels anymore - and she's published 78 works, which doesn't account for the translations in 22(?) languages, including Arabic, and soon Thai (in her Q&A she mentioned how the Thais have previously pirated her works, which is typical practice, I'm afraid, and yes, I'm freely slandering my native heritage. The Land of Smiles, among other Asian nations, is also the Land of Flagrant International Copyright Violations.)
Then I realized - she and her son, Todd McCaffrey, are publishing the next Pern volume, Dragon's Kin (out Nov. 25 in the US) under joint authorship, and Todd is completing a new work, Dragonsblood, on his own. The torch is being passed, and she notes that it is stipulated in her will that only he and her daughter Georgeanne are allowed to write any future works set in the universes she has created. Whether that includes their involvement with coauthors wasn't mentioned. Anyway, so my crass speculation as to her appearance at this year's con is to promote the new work, but also to Impress the fans to the new authorship. As much as I love the worlds of Pern, &c., as nice and knowledgable a guy as Todd McCaffrey is on the panels in which I've seen him, I really, really hope they don't bollocks things up.
But I'm sure it will all be fine. (holding her nose and taking the leap of faith between)
Anne told her favorite joke to close out the Q&A, which was held after she and Todd did a reading of the prologue and chapter seven from Dragon's Kin (brief, non-spoiler review - it reveals more about watchweyrs, and I can't wait to read it. I keep hoping I'll win one of the galley copies being raffled during the con, but we'll see.) Anyway, I'll try not to louse up the retelling:
A fly finds a sweet, delectable mound of horseshit and happily munches away. After a time, hearing some approaching noise, she realizes it's time to move on, but she's very full after such fine feasting. She spies a nearby pitchfork and climbs up the tines, the plan being to glide from the top of the handle to her next destination. The noise grows ever louder, and she finally reaches the top. But instead of gliding away, she falls straight down to the ground. The moral of the story?
Don't fly off the handle when you're full of horseshit.
Lady Crumpet (of Pern)'s Schedule
9:30-11:00 am Dropping off Scott's books for his office, waiting in line to pick up our convention badges, good for all four days. Why is the line so much longer than that for merely waltzing in that morning and breezing through the same-day purchase line? Of course, I could have picked up my badge last night, but perhaps that might have been a tad overeager. Plenty of stormtroopers, Jedis, Klingons, and aliens whose provenance I can't recognize milling about, and faux firelizards perched on shoulders. There's a woman with a Harry Potter scar in completely the wrong place, and a really convincing-looking Hagrid as well.
11:00 am - 12:45 pm Badges in hand, we grab a bit of breakfast in Peachtree Center and pore over the program to plan our schedules. Cries of "Who are these people?" from the non-con people are heard. The geeks have inherited downtown Atlanta, and we are not-so-meek in the safety of numbers. I rather suspect that the fully obscuring costumes and realistic laser rifles and sheathed blades would not fly in security-jittered New York. I'm just another girl in a cute checkered shirt and jeans and her bright blue Pumas, lugging a big flowery bag containing all three volumes of the Harper Hall trilogy and Todd McCaffrey's bio of his mother.
1:00 pm The opening of Weyrfest, the Pern programming track. Very nice people, lots of attendees because of Anne's appearance at the con. A bit much on personal info and in-jokes when only the schedule was discussed, and that was already in the paper program. For this I am missing James Marsters, gorgeous Spike of Buffy fame? I guess I could have walked out, but fortunately there was a free raffle for galley copies of Dragon's Kin. Didn't win, but I may still have a chance later.
2:30 pm Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey's reading from Dragon's Kin and their Q&A. I take lots of pictures which I'll still have to crop. Anne has a great smile and reading voice. Near the end, I venture a question: Were her children interested in her works growing up? Not surprisingly, they had to come around and be old enough to read the books. And of course, she was their mother first, author second, though when it was her writing time, the nanny or other caretaker had the charge of the children. Todd mentioned as how he was a teenager when he had finished his Heinlein and was looking for something else to read, and got hooked in by "Weyr Search." Her husband at the time told her she wouldn't ever make enough money to pay the phone bill, but she was determined, and was able to send all of her children to college and pay the phone bill. Her favorite tv show currently is Stargate, and mentioned how one of the actors would make the perfect F'lar.
4:00 pm That Vision Thing: Cordelia Dissected - a panel convened to discuss Cordelia's development as a character since Buffy and to bemoan her shoddy situation - left, indefinitely, in a coma. The one bit of useful information I got was that Charisma Carpenter didn't quit, she was fired, though no one talked about the circumstances or how they knew this information. So with Carpenter gone, Cordy is left without real resolution, which is a shitty thing to do to a core character, especially since we've had to put up with character arcs I couldn't care less about - Gunn and Fred and even Wesley. And then having to sit through Cordelia and Connor in "Rain of Ick" - I mean, come on! One person in the audience put it best - the last season has been a "buttload of badly." I could have done without the one guy braying inarticulately about how Angel has ripped material from X-Men. The one panelist who rather dominated the discussion kept talking about "fan wanking" and how the show's writers were always "blowing up the Death Star offscreen." I agreed for the most part, but I could have done without all the variations on wanking. At times I wondered if I should have been at the session with George Takei (Sulu of Star Trek) especially when Braying Comic Book Guy had the floor. Have got to sit near door in the future. Too much is going on this weekend to put up with someone else's wanking.
5:30 pm McCaffrey Trivia, hosted by the writer Jody Lynn Nye. Tough questions, though I felt rather stupid when I couldn't name the Rowan's full true name - Angharad Gwyn Raven, damn damn damn. Of course, I could have been the woman who correctly named Pride and Prejudice as the novel certain characters were reading in one of Anne's books, but then couldn't name the author of said novel. *palpitations* The whole room was aghast - hello, it's only OUR DEAR JANE AUSTEN! She tried to make allowances by confessing that she was French, but Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ! I'm a stupid American, but even I know Flaubert wrote Madame Bovary (and have even finally read it). Still didn't win a galley copy. Feh.
6:30-7:00 pm More panels I could have gone to, but Scott and I met up for a quick run through the Dealer's Room and Exhibit Room and then dinner at Azio's. Suddenly felt unwell, but better now in the comforts of home. Really ought to entertain prospect of sleep.
BookCrossing is about turning the world into a library. Register your unwanted books, write in the designated ID number, then give the book to someone, or leave it on a bench for someone to find. This might be a better venture for me than to get a paltry sum for them, as the effing Strand was wont to do.
August 31, 2003
DragonCon: Day 2
I don't know, are four days a bit much for a sci-fi con? But as fortune would have it, there's something to interest me on each day. Today's wanderings:
Caught the tail end of the parade - what's the big appeal of being a stormtrooper? You're a clone, you're dispensable, those are not the droids you're looking for. But see a bunch of these (mostly) guys together, and it's like they've found their fraternity brothers.
People were already forming a line for the Anne McCaffrey signing around 10 am. Yikes. Scott promised to wait in line for me while I went to Anne's panel with her former editor Betty Ballantine at 11:30. That was a good session, a nice conversation between old friends. Amazing to think that at the time, sci-fi authors couldn't get publishers interested in books; the best one could hope for were stories in magazines. Ballantine helped to change that, and Anne was one of those pioneer authors in her field. One funny bit of trivia - the title for Anne's short story collection, Get Off the Unicorn, was actually intended as Get the Unicorn. But a proofreader didn't realize that, so it's a title that actually has an error in it.
I missed the last question, because I realized I needed to make the mad dash to the autograph line. I saw a woman with a whole small suitcase of books - did she honestly think Anne could sign all of them for her, with everybody else waiting behind her? I brought the Harper Hall books, hardcovers in editions I'd read back in seventh grade, which took me forever to find. But there was a limit of two books per person for the first 75 people, so Scott continued to stay with me in line, which extended well beyond us. In fact, we barely got in. I chatted giddily with the woman behind us to allay my nervousness.
The DragonLady herself was most gracious. I thanked her for writing such books and gushed how much they meant to me, something I'm sure she's heard millions of times. She signed my books, she signed the other book and program I'd given to Scott, and then we were off. I never thought I'd ever get to see her, let alone have the chance to say anything to her.
We took a quick run through the Dealer's Room, a place where one can drop lots of money on rather pointless, overpriced things. I do succumb, however, when I find a Giles action figure - Giles being the librarian/watcher for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We librarians need our idols too. Also on the same level are the tables for the Hall of Fame, where you can go meet your tv/film star and pay for an autograph or a picture. Lou Ferrigno and Marc Singer look awfully good for their age. Alas, Gil Gerard needed the benefit of his sign for us to know that Buck Rogers was in the room.
Caught the 2:30 session with the writer Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, also one of Anne's coauthors. I asked her whether there were any points of friendly debate
during the cowriting process. But she was rather practical - Anne was the more famous, the more published, so Anne won by default, which got a big laugh out of the room.
The next session was with Todd McCaffrey, son and another coauthor. Before the session began I was able to say hi and ask him to sign my program and my copy of Dragonholder. His session talked about Pern and what he stories he would like to explore set in that world, such as when the First Interval took place, or even stories about those who came out of the Nathi wars - Benden, Boll, etc. I feel much, much better - he really does have a sound knowledge about his mother's creations - after all, he did grow up with her dragons. I think he'll do a good job, and I will be eager to see what he comes up with. He mentioned that Anne was most emphatic that the Pern universe would not be tied in to the worlds of Anne's other novels.
After that panel, was done for the day. Dinner at the Wing Factory, stopped off at home, picked up Mark, picked up some snacks for the drive-in and headed for a triple feature: Blood Feast, 2000 Maniacs, and Trader Hornee. It took forever to get in, but it was cool there was so much interest. There were some old trailers and a Bugs Bunny cartoon between the flicks - the trailers, especially for Caged Virgins, was surprisingly racy. By 1 am, we were too tired ffor the third film, so we headed out after helping some students from Tech jump their car.