Thursday, October 28, 2010

On Mammoth Attraction

From The New Way Things Work, by David Macaulay with Neil Ardley:
One day, I happened upon a mammoth whose hair had been lovingly combed. The hairdresser, in fact, was just about to return her creation to its owner. No sooner had the perfectly coiffed animal stepped into the street, however, than a combination of litter, loose laundry and stray cats flew into the air and secured themselves to the startled beast's freshly combed coat. It is common knowledge that a well-groomed individual is more attractive, but never before have I seen this so forcefully illustrated.
This is the prologue to the entry on electricity in The New Way Things Work. Whenever I need a refresher course on how something works (or my first lesson ever, when it's something I've never wondered about before, like, oh, I don't know, a sewing machine), I go to this book first. SO MANY THINGS are explained in it, and I find that I understand mechanics more quickly when the lesson includes laughter, large, clear pictures, and woolly mammoths.

Writers: I find this book to be a super-helpful resource. Macaulay's other nonfiction books have helped me out a lot, too, when planning my fantasy worlds -- especially Castle and City.


In other news, I love Deborah's post about demonstrating how useless an author's opinion of his/her own text is to people trying to interpret the text. An excerpt: "These days, creators of texts are so willing to talk about their intentions that it would be really easy to let students analyze a series of texts, make their own judgments, and then read stated authorial intent. Example: give them a series of texts whose creators have claimed to have major feminist intent but where the text itself is a mixed bag, such as Buffy, or (far worse) Veronica Mars."

I'm hopping on a train shortly, so that's it for today. Chicago: AWESOME. What a great city, what great people I've met -- and the Chicago Public Library is an impressive institution -- hopefully I'll have time to blog more once this week is over. South Bend, here I come. Happy Thursday, everyone!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Up There Orbiting the Earth

My subject heading is from my most favorite This American Life ever. It's spoken by John Hodgman (who is, among other things, that wonderful man who plays the PC in the Mac ads) in a piece he did about the strange phenomenon of fame. The episode is called "Nice Work if You Can Get It" and I strongly recommend you listen to the entire thing, if you ever have 60 minutes to do so. If you have less minutes than that, then Hodgman's piece, which is my favorite in an episode of favorites, lives in the first 20 minutes.

I've always been fascinated by the phenomenon of stardom. The phenomenon just gets more bizarre, too, as social networking grows. If, by following the actor Shah Rukh Khan on twitter, we know that he just ate sushi and also he's nervous because he's base jumping off buildings, does that mean that Shah Rukh Khan and we are friends? Of course not. Shah Rukh Khan has not the foggiest notion who we are, nor could he even begin to get to know all his fans, even if he wanted to. Well then, does it at least mean that we know him? No, not in any real sense. All we've got is the public image that's being projected to us. So... what the heck are we all doing? What are we trying to get at? I'm asking both sides, the stars and the fans. I just think it's fascinating how happily we will love what is essentially the imaginary concept of a person. Of course, as novel readers who love characters, I suppose we're familiar with one version of that kind of love. :o) But in the case of superstars, the imaginary person we love is also a real person that we don't even know, and might not like if we did. *begins to confuse self*

Last week I posted a very silly post about Shah Rukh Khan on account of my brains were exploding from work, but while I was looking for those pictures, I stumbled across some interesting stuff that got me thinking along less silly lines. His stardom is kind of a mindboggling phenomenon, seriously, and if you do a bit of your own googling, I think you'll find plenty to read/watch. I'm going to embed the first part of an interview with Khan in which he talks a little about the phenomenon of stardom and how he keeps perspective. He also talks about growing up Muslim with religiously-tolerant parents, losing his parents at a young age, his relationship with his faith, the chances he took in his career, and so on. He seems modest but with a realistic appreciation of his situation (if he wants to walk on the beach and be left alone, without fans mobbing him, well, no worries, he can just buy the beach).



The second part of the interview made me sad because he talks (graciously) about routinely being pulled aside at airport security whenever he flies within the USA on account of the nature of his name and his looks. He talks about other stuff, too -- what it's like to win awards, his parents again, being a Bollywood outsider, concerns for his children, cricket -- and the link for Part 2 is here.

Coming soon: a blog post that isn't about Shah Rukh Khan. No, really, I swear!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Because I'm Tired

I have been working hard on a LONG speech (60 minutes) I'm giving next week in Chicago, and I feel like I should write something here about speech-writing and revising and timing and practicing, but, you know what? I'm too damn tired. Also, I've been researching the American health insurance industry and, well, do I need to tell you how mindbogglingly infuriating and dispiriting that is? For-profit health insurance companies make me hope hell exists.

I'm too tired for serious blogging.

Hence! Would you like to see some pictures of my new favorite movie star?



Why do I like Shahrukh Khan? Well, his acting, OBVIOUSLY. Here he is in the role of "Cloned Man Jealously Guarding His Necklace."



Here he is in the role of "Tiny Chess-Playing Man, October 2009."



Here he is in the role of "The Bad Boy." I can tell because it says so on his shirt. In glitter. It is impossible to argue.



Oh, that's better. Here he is, my new favorite movie star, in the role of Ram Sharma, kickass army major going undercover as a college student in the movie Main Hoon Na.



Indian actor Shahrukh Khan, in case you didn't know, is extremely not in need of the addition of one more person to his fan base, because, as it happens, he is the world's biggest movie star, with fans numbering in the billions. That's billions, with a B. But that's one of the things I like about being a fan. It makes no difference; you love what you love. I've seen three movies starring Shahrukh Khan now and find him to be charming and charismatic and very funny as an actor. I recommend all three, even the one of which I want to read a smart and qualified person's feminist analysis, because WOW was there some interesting stuff going on. It was a sort of Ugly Duckling tale, but the boy was the Ugly Duckling, for once -- except that the whole point was that he wanted to be loved for who he really was, not the fake, pretty, sparkly person he became in order to draw the attention of the girl. In the end, he got the girl -- who, incidentally, he'd been LYING to for the entire movie -- because she fell in love with his Ugly Duckling self. And ultimately, he was allowed to return to his non-sparkly persona. (When does that ever happen to the Ugly Duckling girl?) At least, this was one of my many interpretations of what happened, though of course it depends on my aesthetic (not everyone would have found sparkly Suri more attractive than grim, conservative, mustachioed Suri), plus, I'm conscious of my interpretations being limited by my ignorance of all things Bollywood. Some of the critics had interesting takes. The movie I'm talking about is called Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and that link includes some talk about the critical reception. (The "bad boy" photo above is the "sparkly" version of the character Suri.)

The other two I recommend are Chak De! India, which I blogged about the other day, and Main Hoon Na, which was one of the silliest movies I've ever seen in my life. (I mean that as a compliment.) I suppose you could say that Main Hoon Na is your typical comedic political thriller/action/martial arts/romance/college story/family and relationships musical. You know?

The Big Rig Flyers at TSNY Beantown, also known as my wonderful trapeze instructors, are putting on a free show on Friday, October 29th at 7:30pm. The theme is "Circus of the Living Dead," more info is on the website here, and the location is the Jordan's Furniture complex in Reading, MA (right off of exit 39 on 128/I-95).

And! Did you know that PBS is airing a six-hour series on the Big Apple Circus in November?

Watch the full episode. See more Circus.

Have a good weekend, everyone. Next week I'll be in Chicago and South Bend.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"It's a barbarity that clarity is a rarity."

News: the Fire paperback is coming out on January 25, 2011 and is available now for pre-order on Amazon and BN.com. I don't have any timing information regarding Bitterblue, but I promise to post it here once I do.

So, my subject heading is a line of dialogue I enjoyed from last week's episode of Bones. More specifically, I enjoyed Bones's reaction to it. Bones (a.k.a. Dr. Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist who catches murderers with the help of FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth and an excellent team) is one of my favorite ladies on TV. If you're looking for a show full of satisfying murder mysteries that make any sort of sense, then I wouldn't particularly recommend Bones. But if you're looking for funny dialogue and strong characters and relationships, well, I think this one fits the bill. I can't get enough of Bones and Booth -- they're the perfect foils for each other -- and I love Bones's extreme logical nature combined with her sudden bursts of passion. Plus, she's absolutely correct that babies like dancing phalanges.

Anyway.

I am beside myself with happiness about the rescued Chilean miners. Here are some fabulous pictures. Welcome back to the surface, gentlemen!

The Cambridge Public Library had a display of Bollywood movies at the front desk the other day, so I picked one up -- one called Chak De! India that had a picture of a woman's hockey team and a soulful-looking man on the front. I LOVED this movie. How is it that sports movies like this can be so predictable, yet still create so much tension? I recommend it, especially if you love sports movies and especially if you love sports movies about women (like Bend It Like Beckham, which I also LOVED and recommend). In the meantime, I'm planning to watch more Bollywood movies, including more starring the soulful-looking man, who turned out to be the actor Shahrukh Kahn.

I also saw a documentary called In the Light of Reverence, which is about three tribal nations, the Hopi, the Winnemem Wintu, and the Lakota Sioux, and their struggle to protect sites that are sacred to their people. I recommend this one, too. Here's a little more about the movie from the PBS website, and here's the website of the Sacred Land Film Project, which is "a community dedicated to protecting the Earth's sacred places through education and action."

And I reread Pamela Dean's Tam Lin. I love this book, even though I don't understand all of it, even after my reread. In particular, the in-story production of The Revenger's Tragedy continues to fly above my head. I'm unable to follow the play itself, and am subsequently unable to appreciate how it relates to the book's greater plot. I'm hoping one of my friends will read this post and take it upon him- or herself to explain it to me. :D? In the meantime, for the uninitiated: Tam Lin is a modern retelling of a traditional Scottish ballad that is frankly also rather hard to understand, but despite all this lack of understanding on my part (your mileage may vary), I highly recommend this book. It's one of those long books that sucks you into another kind of world, and when the book ends, you hate to leave. It takes place in the 1970s at a Minnesota college that is awfully reminiscent of Carleton College. (Dean, a Carleton alum, remarks on the similarities in her own author's note.) It stars a fascinating cast of characters (including a lot of beautiful men) who have, in my opinion, a superhuman ability to quote (flawlessly) relevant (lengthy) passages from classic plays and poems at just the right moment, which is amusing and enriching and sometimes even fascinating, as long as you're able to stop feeling inadequate for not being able to do this yourself, despite being an English major.

You don't need to recognize all the literary names and references to enjoy the book, though it would probably enrich your reading to have some familiarity with Hamlet. In fact, I've been thinking that the next time I read Tam Lin, I might reread Hamlet first. There's a weekend of play productions in the book that the protagonist goes to; I would just die to have been able to go along. It's Hamlet and Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, one after the other, performed by the same production company. (If you love Hamlet and have not yet read or seen RaGAD, you are in for a treat, btw. It exists as a film, too.) Here's a Tam Lin quote from the scene during which the protagonist, Janet, is attending the performance of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, after having attended Hamlet the night before:

The Hamlet scenes, when they got around to them, were played exactly as they had been the night before. This was jarring at first, but became progressively less so as the play sobered itself up, until by the end the scenes with Hamlet in them were funnier than those with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Janet began to feel afflicted with mental double vision. Last night, you were made to feel, all this hilarity, spotted with philosophy and twisting itself around to despair, had been going on somewhere backstage; now you were backstage, and on the other side the tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, was taking its accustomed course.

I just love the idea of the two realities happening simultaneously, hilarious and tragic, unaware of each other but different sides of the same coin.

I do have a small bone to pick with Tam Lin, and that has to do with something I hardly ever complain about: the design of the version I read (the 1991 hardcover edition published by Tor, with the cover I show above). Specifically, the font. The periods and the dots that make up the colons and semi-colons are too small, so small that in my speedy reading, I kept missing them. Too often, this caused the sentences to seem to make no sense whatsoever, so that I had to backtrack and search for the punctuation I'd missed. I know it's a metafictive book that's all about reminding the reader that she's reading a book and blurring the lines between real realities and book realities, but not like this! This is just annoying. I showed it to a friend who also loves Tam Lin, and my friend said that the characters in the book would hate that font choice. I thought that was pretty damning. If I decide I need to own this book, I'm going to look for an edition with a different font. It's too bad, because I love this particular cover.

I'm going to close with something awesome my editor told me last week. It was about something she heard someone else say, and then she told me, and now I'm telling you, so I'll try to be faithful to what was actually said (!). Basically, my editor heard the author Nicole Krauss (The History of Love) say something like this (and apologies to Krauss and to my editor if I mangle this -- any errors are mine!): when you're writing, there's a sort of existential abyss nearby. The writing process often feels like “working very close to failure -- things could fall apart at any moment” -- and that place feels very alive to Krauss. She likes to “carry the abyss in her pocket.” Isn't that hopeful? Anyway, I found it to be.

Have a good week, everyone.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This Is How It's Done, Take Two

The girls are playing together quietly in the other room. Signs suggest that they intend to keep doing so indefinitely -- but it's 2pm, which is a good nap time, and they aren't bouncing around with energy, so... well, you might as well try.

You pick one up in either arm, stand up (that's one serious squat), and sit in the rocking chair. At first, they don't protest; this could, potentially, be interesting. Maybe you're going to play Trot Trot to Boston with them, or let them bang on your laptop. But then, when all you seem to be doing is rocking them and ignoring their signals that they'd rather get down... well, this might call for some screaming and struggles. At least, now that they're 14 months old, they're more aware of each other and of their own bodies than they used to be, so they're not kicking and pushing each other as they did 7 months ago. No, the kicks and pushes are directed at the appropriate person: you.

Briefly, the girls are distracted when they notice that you're wearing four earrings. They stand up in your lap, stop screaming, and yank at said earrings. Finally, secret codename: Isis rips one of the earrings out of your ear and hands it to you helpfully, as if to say, "Hey, were you looking for this? Because I just found it in your earlobe." "Thank you, Isis," you say. "Thank you." Not really wanting to experience that searing pain three more times, you manage somehow to remove your remaining earrings while continuing to hold both girls, then throw the earrings out of reach, onto a nearby table. They land noisily, which leads both girls to point at them enthusiastically and yell, "Whazzat? Whazzat?" "Those are my earrings," you respond. "Aunt Kristin's earrings."

These girls aren't seeming particularly sleepy.

You bounce them in your arms, making "Shh shh shh shh" noises intended to calm them. Isis finds this fascinating and stares at you, going "CHH CHH CHH CHH" and sticking her fingers in your mouth to figure out how you're making that fun, awesome sound. On the other side, secret codename: Phoenix starts kicking and screaming again. Phoenix LOVES the Sandra Boynton book, Blue Hat, Green Hat, so, quickly, you assess everyone's outfit and approximate a line from the book, announcing, "Yellow pants, red pants, black pants, OOPS!" Phoenix freezes in her howling, looks at you, and bursts into giggles; then takes a big breath and starts howling again. At this point, Isis is also howling and kicking, so clearly it's time to bring out the big guns. You start singing the "Stay Awake" song from Mary Poppins.

Not three minutes later, Isis is fast asleep, in a position that looks horribly uncomfortable but that she's apparently okay with. Phoenix, on the other hand, has discovered that in the absence of your earrings, your hair is excellent for pulling. It can be yanked out of its braid and it's so much longer and more interesting than the hair of her usual grown-ups, yes, indeed, she can pull on individual strands or she can grab whole handfuls and make a big mess. She can pull it really hard and, on account of Aunt Kristin's arms being full of toddlers, one of whom is asleep, Aunt Kristin can't try to stop her! This is SO much more fun than trying to pull Aunt Kristin's hair when Aunt Kristin's hands are free! YANK! YANK! TEAR!

Suddenly, secret codename: Joe comes home. When he walks into the room, Phoenix believes she's being rescued from her cruel aunt who won't put her down. She drops your hair, reaches her arms out to Daddy, and opens her mouth to scream. Joe takes one look at you, sees the fast-asleep toddler on one side, sees the imminently-screaming toddler on the other side, and bounds across the room. He snatches Phoenix up and bounds away again, just in time. Phoenix screams and kicks and howls, but all of it takes place at the other end of the house, and she doesn't wake her sister.

A few minutes later, having made the executive decision that Isis is well and truly asleep, you lay her down in the nursery. This leaves the rocking chair free for Joe to work his magic on Phoenix, who's still howling. Joe sings a song to Phoenix about how Daddy loves Phoenix and Phoenix loves Mommy and Mommy loves Isis and Isis loves Tanker (the cat) and Tanker loves Aunt Kristin and Aunt Kristin loves Sophie (the other cat) and Sophie loves Daddy and Daddy loves Phoenix. The song is a never-ending loop. You begin to feel a bit sandwiched by cats.

A few minutes after that, a sleeping Phoenix joins Isis in the nursery. The time is 2:30pm.

And that's how it's done.

(A lot more interactive than the time I did it seven months ago. These girls are growing up!)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Boston Book Festival and South Bend (and a Massachusetts Voting ETA!)

A quick reminder that I'll be at the (free!) Boston Book Festival this Saturday, October 16, appearing on a panel with Francisco X. Stork (Marcelo in the Real World and The Last Summer of the Death Warriors); Kathryn Lasky (the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series -- have you seen the ads for the owl movie?), and Noni Carter (Good Fortune). The event is at 4pm at the Trinity Forum. Check out the schedule to see all the other stuff going on. Also, a note: I've been informed that President Obama will be at a rally a couple blocks away from the festival. This means you should leave some extra time for your transportation. :o)

Also: the time has changed for my event in South Bend, IL on Thursday, October 28. It now begins at 4:30pm. See my Appearance Schedule for more details.

ETA for Massachusetts Voters: I talked about Ballot Question 2 last week, and now I want to mention Ballot Question 3. This is the proposed cut of MA sales tax from its current rate of 6.25 percent to 3 percent. That is a HUGE difference. I just heard an interesting debate about Question 3 on a radio show called Radio Boston, and if you're undecided on Question 3, you might might to listen to it yourself. Do so by going here and clicking on "Listen Now." I will be voting no on Question 3 and urge you to do so as well. Our schools and our state programs and services need that tax money.

Hopefully, that's the last of my voting talk until voting day. Thanks for your patience, everyone!

Monday, October 11, 2010

At the Risk of Sounding Like a Broken Record: You Learn to Write by Writing

When I travel, I almost always bring work along, but the kind of work depends on the kind of travel. For me, writing and revising require a level of focus that itself requires periods of planned, uninterrupted alone time. ("Planned" meaning "anticipated." The uninterrupted alone time can happen on the spur of the moment, but I have to know at the time it begins that it's happening. In other words, I need to be confident that I will not be interrupted in the next however-long. In (other) other words -- if I believe the cable guy is coming, then that's not good writing time, even if it turns out that the cable guy never comes. Also, when the cable guy doesn't come, WOW do I ever hate him for ruining my writing time for nothing. But I digress.)

As it happens, planned uninterrupted alone time does not occur very often when one has traveled to a house of twin babies. :o)

Therefore, last week, when I went to Florida, I did not bring writing or revising work. Instead, I brought a little bit of planning work for a couple of future projects I'm contemplating, and I brought the manuscript of the first novel I ever wrote.

I wrote a practice novel before I ever wrote Graceling, although, of course, I didn't think of it as a practice novel at the time. It's a middle-grade realistic novel about a 12-year-old girl who lives in a rural community and is dealing with issues of (lack of) popularity, a best friend's illness, financial stresses, and questions about her own faith. This is the novel I mentioned the other day when I answered a few FAQs about writing -- it's the book I started writing at the end of my time at Simmons.

I brought this manuscript to Florida in case I had time to read it again (for the first time in years) and decide whether it's worth trying to fix up and publish. One afternoon, while the girls both took miraculous 2+ hour naps at the same time, I sat on the couch reading it while secret codename: Cordelia sat at the table, doing some paperwork. (In addition to being the mother of two 14-month-olds, a wife, a volunteer at a camp for grieving children, a runner, and an awesome sister, Cordelia is a licensed therapist who works with kids aged kindergarten through high school.) Cordelia knew enough not to ask me what I was working on, but at a certain point, I felt like maybe I should explain to her why I kept grimacing and moaning and tragically grabbing my hair.

I said to her, "I wish I could publish this book exactly as it is right now, so that beginning writers out there could read it, and see how AWFUL it is, and take heart. I wish they could see how corny the dialog is; how the prose is straining, so obviously, to be more poetic than I was capable of making it; how unoriginal the conflict is; how much it reads like a practice novel. If beginning writers could read this, I think it could give them hope for their own work. Yeah, Graceling is full of flaws and things I wish I'd done differently, but it's SO much better than this, because I wrote this practice one first. I mean, I'm even reading this in its 5th or 6th revision -- and it's still so awful!"

Guys? It really is awful.

Writers need to have objectivity to write a good book. We need to write that first (or second or fifth) draft and be able to see that it's awful, so that then we can figure out how to fix it. When a writer tells you that her work-in-progress is awful -- don't jump to the conclusion that she has low self-esteem. She's probably just telling the truth. Being able to see a book's flaws is the first step in trying to make it better, trying to get it closer to the dream you had in your heart and head when you started.

(If you don't believe me, read Laurie Halse Anderson's blog post in which she reveals the The Big Secret of Writing. I LOVE that blog post.)

Cordelia knows how awful this first book is, because she's the first person who ever read it (in its earliest, most awful incarnation!) and gave me constructive feedback. She didn't disagree with anything I said last week, but she also said, "Still, I really liked that book."

I asked her, "What did you like about it?"

She said, "I liked the cat, and the sewing, and following the main character's thoughts as she explored her faith. I liked the overarching concept."

This made me happy, because these are a few of the things I like about the book, too. These are the rare parts of the book that I think succeed at expressing whatever I was trying to get at.

After last week's reading, I've decided *not* to revise this book. But that doesn't mean I'm abandoning it. I think that what I'll want to do at some point -- when I don't have so many other ideas clamoring for my attention -- is rewrite it entirely, starting almost completely from scratch. Maybe with a very similar plot -- maybe not -- but definitely with brand new prose and dialog, except for a few bits that I love from the original. Because even though the book is currently awful, I can see what I was trying to do, and I have Cordelia's assurances -- and the assurances of a couple other readers -- that there is something in there worth taking another crack at. I think that someday in the future, I'll be ready enough, and good enough, to try it again, and do it better.

Writers out there: be patient with your craft; take heart; do your best; and, keep writing.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Life Gets Better

If anyone has been trying to register for the Teen Volume Conference in Chicago using the link I provided the other day -- I provided the wrong link. I've corrected it, and here it is again if you want to go there now.

A shoutout today to Massachusetts voters! You may or may not be aware that there's a confusing question on the ballot for the mid-term elections on November 2. (FYI: The deadline for voter registration in Massachusetts is October 13.) I'm talking about Question #2, which regards the repeal of a law called 40B. 40B is Massachusetts' affordable housing law. It's not a perfect law, but nonetheless, I think that its repeal would be a terribly mistake. Here's a blog post that explains why -- and my apologies for not explaining it myself. I'm traveling right now and am pressed for time (I know, always an excuse). Please vote no on Question 2!

Also -- I'm guessing a lot of you -- particularly in the wake of the heartbreaking news about the suicide of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi -- have heard of the It's Get Better video project, but for those of you who haven't, I want to point it out. Dan Savage started the project to reach out to young LGBTQ people who're being bullied, to give them evidence that many LGBTQ adults are living good, fulfilling, loving lives. School can be hell, but if you can just hang in there, life does get better. Here's an interview with Dan Savage in which he explains why he started the project. And here's a rational and thoughtful post at the Bitter Buffalo that talks about why the project is worthwhile, even though it is, of course, not a "magical cure" for the problems of LGBTQ bullying and teen suicide. If you think it might help you or someone you know who's young, LGBTQ, and struggling -- go look at these videos, read these articles, talk about it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mamet, Hogwarts, Plus, Come See Me in Chicago

Every once in a while, I watch the movies of a writer/director whose writing style is completely different from my own, and think about how funny it would be if that writer were to make my books into movies. For example, David Mamet.

Here's the scene between Katsa and Po, when they're arguing in Katsa's rooms near the end of Part One after Katsa has had a Very Bad Conversation with Giddon (that was me trying not to be spoilery...):

KATSA: The thing is -- how DARE you! How could you --
PO: I never -- Katsa, I never -- see, the thing is --
KATSA: But, see here now, listen, I've got to get downstairs. He's calling me, you know he's calling me.
PO: He's -- calling? But -- what --
KATSA: It was terrible.
PO: Did you -- no, you didn't. Did you? Tell me --
KATSA: It was your idea! You said -- you TOLD me!
PO: I'm not saying I said --
KATSA: Oh, what does it matter? The thing is, he's calling, so what should I do, bring a knife?
PO: You think -- a -- what? A knife?
KATSA: Should I bring a f***ing knife?
PO: But -- Katsa! A knife! No one can make you -- Katsa!
KATSA: Should I? Tell me! Otherwise, how the hell --
PO: You keep --
KATSA: Oh, hell. Would you just go away?
PO: Would I just --
KATSA: Would you please, would you just go away?
PO: I'm not going away. I'm going to Monsea.
KATSA: You're going --
PO: I'm going. To Monsea.
KATSA: Oh.
PO: I'm going --
KATSA: I'm sad.
PO: You're sad?
KATSA: I'm sad. Oh, hell. You're going to Monsea? Oh, hell. I'm f***ing sad.

Quite possibly, that only amused me and, like, three other people in the entire world. My apologies to everyone else. Here are some movies I recommend, most of which Mamet directed and all of which he fabulously wrote: The Spanish Prisoner; State and Main; The Winslow Boy (from Terence Rattigan's play). And one of my all time favorite movies: Glengarry Glen Ross, directed by James Foley and fabulously acted by Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, and Kevin Spacey. (Those of you who know the movie may be thinking, "And Alec Baldwin!" I can't deny he did a great job. But for some reason, I never liked that scene. I don't know why. It never felt like it fit into the movie, IMHO.)

Unrelatedly: Did you hear that Hogwarts finally got Internet access? (H/t, Sam!)

******

Here's the information for my event at the Lozano Branch of the Chicago Public Library:
Date:
Wed. October 27, 2010
Time:
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Location: Lozano, 1805 S. Loomis Street, Chicago, IL 60608
I'll read from my work, blather a bit, do a Q&A, and sign any books you bring along. Here's a link with more info.