Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
work hard every day
I get up out of bed, I put on my clothes
'Cause I've got bills to pay
Now it ain't easy but I don't need no help
I've got a strong will to survive
I've got a deeper love, deeper love
Deeper love inside and I call it
Pride (a deeper love)
Pride - a deeper love
(Pride) a deeper love
Woah woah woah woah
It's the (pride) power that gives you
The (pride) strength to survive
Listen to her on YouTube (no video, just glorious sound)
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Instead of blogging, I'm sending you snooping via two links:
"Honestly, I still can't wait to get my pants on in the morning," Friedman said.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Yes, Forks High School is running a Poetry Out Loud competition! You can see the Poetry Out Loud-logoed poster right above the heads of lead characters Edward Cullen and Bella Swan in the hit teen movie Twilight. The scene is a hallway scene about 20-25 minutes into the movie and takes place right after the characters first talk in science class. The poster is right above some lockers behind the characters."
Friday, December 12, 2008
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Do you like me? Check yes or no.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tafuri: Though there have been some great ones in the music's history, trombonists (compared to other instrumentalists) are a bit of a rarer breed. Why did you gravitate toward trombone?
Schweizer: ... I should tell you that I barely ever think "trombone" anymore, it feels more like my voice — it just "is". It does not feel difficult. But let me try: it was and still is a mixture of love for the many sounds of the instrument and a certain instinct that this was the sound my soul was going to need to express itself. Trombone is a talking sound, and I do think of music in terms of language.[...] from a very early age I had a certain urge to do things that had never been done before, or to do old things in new ways, which got me kicked out of most schools I ever tried to go to.In the field of musical instruments, this means I was clearly hearing possibilities on the trombone (not on the violin or the piano) that I didn't hear anyone play, and it is towards the realization of these visions that I enjoy working today.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
That's where we bring the manuscript (in the words of my editor) to "complete and breathing life."
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
- I've set up a wish list on Amazon. You can choose a book and donate it directly from there. The list is small now, but it will grow as the campers and counselors and the director add new requests to it.
- You may also buy from that list at your local independent bookstore and have them ship to the address below.
- You can blog about your favorite camp or horse related book. I'll round up those posts here, plus forward them to the director and consult them in expanding the Wish List. (Little Willow already did this. Thanks, LW!) Feel free to copy this entire post or use the button I'm putting in my sidebar.
- If you're an author or illustrator or publisher or blogger with a camp or horse related book, you can donate directly to the camp, but please remember that the camp serves kids ages 7-15 and your donation should reflect the needs of the camp. (Please, in all cases, only NEW books.)
Questions? Email me at: email@example.com
Sports & Games
Flying Horse Farms
225 Green Meadows Drive South, Suite A
Lewis Center, Ohio 43035
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
My dog loves to howl when the firetrucks go by. She also howls when I leave the house without her. Or if she hears my voice on the answering machine. This one's for her.
by Paul Zimmer
Amongst dogs are listeners and singers.
My big dog sang with me so purely,
puckering her ruffled lips into an O,
beginning with small, swallowing sounds
like Coltrane musing, then rising to power
and resonance, gulping air to continue—
her passion and sense of flawless form—
singing not with me, but for the art of dogs.
The rest is here.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
"Germany loves hedgehogs. There is a powerful organization, Pro Igel, that lobbies on behalf of the cute little critters. It has forced McDonald's to change the design of the lids on its McFlurry's shakes, since with the previous design, hedgehogs were getting their heads trapped and starving to death. Pro Igel ("igel" is hedgehog in German) also has conferences, education programs, and a Hedgehog Hotline. Plus, they do igel rescue."
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Rather than cajole him, I asked: So when does winter end?
"On the water" was his measured reply.
I'm at A Cast of One today.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The 2009 Launch Conference for the International Year of Astronomy is in Paris. Student ambassadors from all over the world will be there, including two from the United States. There's a seminar on "The Question of Parallel Universes." And a live video conference with the South Pole Station. And a session with a Nobel prize winner in physics.
And my daughter is one of the two U.S. students invited to attend.
Here's the full schedule for the two-day event.
I asked her if there would be a cheesy but satisfying medal ceremony like at the end of the original Star Wars movie, and she laughed. But that's exactly how we both feel about it. Woo-hoo!!!
Below: Rebecca at age 8, having her birthday party at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton, VA. (That's her in the center, of course.)
The press release:
NASA SELECTS ASTRONOMY STUDENT AMBASSADORS
WASHINGTON -- Forty-six undergraduate and graduate students have been
selected to represent NASA in their local communities as recipients
of the agency's International Year of Astronomy, or IYA, Student
Two of the students were chosen to attend the opening ceremonies of an
IYA event in Paris in January 2009. The students representing NASA at
the ceremonies are Rebecca Holmes, a sophomore at the University of
North Carolina Chapel Hill who is majoring in physics and astronomy,
and Norberto Gonzalez, a junior at the University of Puerto Rico at
Arecibo with a biology concentration.
The IYA Student Ambassadors Program is designed to encourage
undergraduate and graduate students to participate in IYA activities
and generate excitement about NASA's discoveries in astrophysics,
planetary science and solar physics within their local communities
and beyond. These students will serve as role models to others.
"NASA is a major partner in the United States' celebration of IYA
activities," said Hashima Hasan, NASA's Astrophysics education and
public outreach lead in Washington. "The Student Ambassadors Program
is just one of many activities the agency has planned throughout the
The ambassadors were selected from more than 150 online applications.
Applicants must be U.S. citizens, full-time students and participate
in activities that align with NASA's IYA goals.
The National Space Grant Foundation manages the IYA Student
Ambassadors Program through a grant from NASA. For more information
about NASA's involvement and a list of student ambassadors, visit:
For more information about NASA and its programs, visit:
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
For Veterans Day, Paul McCollom gave me permission to re-print his email about running the Marine Corps Marathon in honor of his daughter (who is deployed to Iraq) and to raise money for the Fisher House Foundation. If you remember, I first blogged about it here.
He's a funny guy and tells a great story:
Date: October 31, 2008
To: Team Fisher House Support Heroes
From: Elderly Marine Corps Marathon Finisher
First of all I want to express a heartfelt THANKS to each and every one of you. In response to my requests (begging, pleading, etc) you contributed an amazing $9,450 to Fisher House Foundation; in total the 285 runners making up the 2008 Team Fisher House raised an incredible $375,000!
I promised you that I would absolutely refuse to quit and that I would make a spectacle of myself for Fisher House and I delivered on both as I finished slowly, in great pain, and ugly. How ugly was it you ask? It was so ugly that children screamed and ran, women fainted, grown men cried, a group of Eastern European villagers were passing out torches and pitchforks, and Marines scoffed. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating somewhat but while it did really hurt a lot over the last 6 miles I finished all 26.2 in just over 5 ½ hours. However you are the real Champions for Military Families and whether you believe it or not you were with me in spirit, your support sustained me, and I quite literally could not have accomplished it without you.
As I've said all along the marathon is simply a tool to bring attention to Fisher House, so to help you put a human face on all this I am going to tell you about two local families.
The first is about a Marine Mom in Saginaw, Michigan who called me after she heard about my fundraising activity. Her son was wounded in an IED incident just over two years ago and was treated in three different military hospitals over a 13 month period. She was with him for the entire time and told me that had it not been for Fisher House they would have had to sell their home and declare bankruptcy. Her son now lives at a local half-way house as he continues his struggle to lead an independent life.
The second is about another Michigan family whose son was badly burned more than a year ago in an IED incident. They too have spent months staying at a Fisher House in Texas as he continues his treatment but in addition to a place to stay the Fisher Foundation has paid most of their travel expenses as well. Stories like these are repeated daily at each of the 42 existing Fisher Houses. There were 38 Houses at the beginning of 2008, there will be 46 before the end of the year, there are more seven more scheduled for next year, and more are needed.
As for my daughter, 1st Lt. Rebecca McCollom (soon to be Captain), she is in the third month of her second Iraq deployment and she remains my inspiration. She is well and working hard at doing whatever it takes to make sure that the Marines in her Company fulfill their mission, operate professionally, and return home safe and sound when their deployment ends. I was lucky enough to get a call from her as I was walking back to the hotel after the marathon. She was excited about my finishing and said that next year that she would run with me on Team Fisher House 2009 and that she would "kick my ass" (Marines talk that way). I told her I that I would hold her to that commitment but if she couldn't outrun me by at least an hour the Marines would probably kick her ass for embarrassing the Corps. By the way, you should consider this an early warning that I will be hitting on you again next year to continue your support for those who continue to sacrifice on our behalf.
I have a final story for you. A young soldier was near me at the start of the race and I continued to see him from time to time over the course of the marathon. When I hit my personal "wall" at mile 20 I lost track of him but I found out later that he went on to beat me to the finish by almost 15 minutes. I was ecstatic for him and moved by his accomplishment because he was running on one leg, damaged from combat wounds, and a high tech prosthesis; and he and his family had depended on a Fisher House during his recovery.
With Sincere Appreciation and Deepest Respect,
Monday, November 10, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
earth and God
(for Hudley Vincent de Paul Bonair)
This is not a poem about cricket
except my grandfather was once young
and fast and black and when he was 80
I saw him wield a bat
with such fearsomeness that we all
stopped our game and watched him
run and swing and swing again
and it's probably unimportant
that this was no game to him
chasing down the bigger boy
beating me up on the street
in the middle of the game
where my mouth had gotten me in trouble again
Go here to hear the poet read the rest of the poem aloud in his beautiful Trinidad and Tobago cadence. The "Read Along" link will give you the full text of the poem, which will be published in his 2009 collection, Gully, but don't skip listening to it!
Poetry Friday is hosted today by Jone at Check It Out.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
We're counseled to tell those we love that we believe in them too.
Teachers believe in their students. Parents believe in their children. Countless writers say that they would've given up on their eventual masterpieces if not for another friend or writer or editor who "believed in them."
I don't think of belief as blind faith in anything--not in a thing, a person, or a system. I think of belief as love in action.
We hold fast.
We call forth.
If you're drafting a long story---and many of you are for National Novel Writing Month---believing means knowing the words you put on the page today are not the end.
See them clearly, as neither bad nor good, but just the beginning.
Hold fast to the plan you've set out for yourself.
Call forth what you have today.
It is by such actions that we love into existence what we truly believe in.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
The first year I was eligible to vote for president was the year I got married. I was twenty-one and the year was 1984. We lived in Virginia, but I was registered in Tennessee, and as the new spouse of an Air Force lieutenant, I could vote by absentee ballot. We voted in our home precinct in Knoxville.
Four years later, I voted by mail from Okinawa, Japan. In the fall of 1992, my ballot was postmarked "Montgomery, AL." In 1996, my ballot was sent from Stuttgart, Germany. In 2000, I mailed it from Newport, RI. In 2004, I voted from Goldsboro, NC, where we later changed our registrations to the local office.
Now that I'm back in Virginia, I once again mailed my ballot, this time to North Carolina. My husband still serves in the military. I think of the oath that he took 27 years ago: to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. As a military member, he may not campaign for a candidate, which is as it should be. Some members, as they reach high rank, even discontinue voting to maintain absolute neutrality in their service.
But most of the thousands of servicemen and women will vote, many by absentee ballot, some of them from war zones. Some pundits think of "the military" as a voting bloc. It is not. In twenty-seven years, I've met political views of all stripes. Your military defends the Constitution and this nation, not either political party.
As a member of a military family, I love it when communities support us with their kind words and generous actions, but I hate it when we have to tear up roots and move on. One thing always sustains me, and it's something that is confirmed with each new assignment: there is no "real" America. There is only the America that we all serve, each in his or her own way. And that America is the one that we vote for, we work for, and we risk it all for.
Please vote as your head and your heart and your vision for the next four to eight years counsel you. My husband, my daughter, and I already did.
For more views (or to join in!), read the Blog the Vote roundup, hosted by Colleen at Chasing Ray. Be sure to read her post about teaching American history to military personnel. Rock on, Colleen!
Friday, October 31, 2008
Whatever Happened to Oliver Tooke?
The plump-kins went on frowning,
The night was filled with gloom,
The witch rechecked her witch watch—
A minute half past doom—
As down the street came innocence,
Disguised as Captain Hook.
His name was Oliver Uriah Roy (O.U.R.)
The witch was serving black ice scream.
She offered him a spoon.
When Captain Hook-Tooke took it,
He would swear he heard this tune:
O.U.R. such a pest!—
And poison pills
To give you chills.
Let goblins sort the rest.
The night went black and blacker still
Than midnight in a can.
The witch who took young Captain Hook
Preferred a Peter Pan.
“Ya takes the dainties what’s as comes,”
Declares the Witches’ Oath.
“But Captain Hook and Peter Pan?
I’d roast the beggars both!”
O.U.R. such a pest!—
And poison pills
To give you chills.
Let goblins sort the rest.
She whisked him through the curtain fog
Upon a jiggery rake,
And where they flew nobody knew,
But, mates, make no mistake:
O.U.R. Tooke’s been taken,
For upon the neighborhood
The horrifying echo fell,
“O.U.R.—gone for good!”
O.U.R. such a pest!—
And poison pills
To give you chills.
Let goblins sort the rest.
----- by J. Patrick Lewis
Poetry Friday is (g)hosted today by Poetry for Children.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
...there were postcards. And that's all I have time to send you today. It's work, work, work for me!
(I respect myself for wearing that visor and large sunglasses. It shows wisdom and forethought, unlike allowing a parrot that close to my face.)
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Not a cell phone.
Yes, he was reading while walking, just as I used to do. I smiled at him as we passed, and tried to see the title of the book, but he slipped on by before I could.
Read on, Book Nerd, read on!
And to whomever wrote the book he was engrossed in: You did good. I only wish I could have reported it to you. Perhaps it was a writer like Jacqui Robbins describes in her post, Bottom of the Ninth. As she says, "You want your readers refusing to pee because it would mean putting the book down."
Anyone else catch a kid reading this week?
P.S. Did you notice that my "add a comment" form has changed? It's a new option in Blogger and I like it much better. You don't have to leave the main post when you comment and you can subscribe to the comments for a post even if you don't leave one yourself. Now if we could all leave tiny calling cards at each other's blogs...
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
"Yes, we know it's fiction. But when Jim finally popped the question on the season premiere of NBC's "The Office," millions of viewers instantly forgave the producers for repeatedly bringing together the small-screen soul mates over the seasons -- only to tear them apart again and again.
While the 52-second scene may have seemed sweet and simple, executive producer Greg Daniels reveals it required high-tech special effects, huge rain machines, a month of meetings and a budget that doubled somewhere along the way." The rest here.
At least when I write a scene, I don't have to worry about budget. Mine is always zero.
Monday, October 27, 2008
:60 PSA for Flying Horse Farms from Donna Raque on Vimeo.
For more information on how to help go to: Flying Horse Farms.
Flying Horse Farms is a provisional member of the Paul Newman "Hole in the Wall Gang" network of camps for kids with serious illnesses. They hope to open in 2009.
From their website:
Camp is not only a place for children who are terminally ill, but also a place where children who will survive their illnesses can grow and develop the skills necessary to thrive for the rest of their lives.At Flying Horse Farms, these same children learn what they can do, not what they cannot do. Camp is a place where we focus on the possible, a place where kids can just be kids. Campers serve as role models for one another and begin to see themselves, often for the first time, not as victims, but as strong and capable leaders.
Amen to that.
Friday, October 24, 2008
It was obviously horrific for some band members, like the trombone or tuba players, who I could almost hear thinking: if I wanted to play solo, I wouldn't be in...DUH!...a band!
The gallant boy who offered to share his music stand with the girl beside him. Only she was almost two feet shorter than he was.
The girl in the fleece vest who burst forth with an operatic voice which she wrapped around French words while slouching and flipping the bangs out of her eyes. (Please, someone! Tell her what a miracle her voice is! And show her how to use it!)
Another girl sang "Killing Me Softly" like a forty-year old chanteuse. Except for the part where the soundtrack erupted into rap. But I liked it.
A friend of my son's had an entire entourage to carry his amp, cords, guitar, shirt, hat...and then he totally justified it by playing an original piece in which his fingers crawled up and down the frets like a frantic spider.
I'm not a musician. But I love watching how music bestows unreasonable gifts at random, on the awkward and graceful alike. It's the closest thing to unconditional love I've ever witnessed.
Here's Wallace Stevens, from Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction: It Must Give Pleasure
To sing jubilas at exact, accustomed times,
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Editorial letter on the left, manuscript on the right
Looks nice and tidy, doesn't it? The problem is that my mind, the tool with which I will do this round of revisions, isn't. It's scattered and easily distracted and worst of all, stuffed with ego.
So I find myself going through the same emptying rituals I always do:
1) Deliberate time-wasting. I watch "light" TV like Pushing Daisies (about children's books last night! Anyone see the editorial assistant dribble on the rejection letter? Eeeew.) Also, Big Break X and (with my niece wielding the stop-action Tivo remote) Dancing With the Stars.
2) A bit of mindless munching (mini bags of "buttery salt and cracked pepper" popcorn.)
3) Yoga. Sanctioned mind-emptying.
4) Long walk with my dog (helps counter-balance the mindless munching.)
It's also worth stating that I didn't stage this picture for the blog. The manuscript has literally been on that platter for a week. How blindingly un-self-aware I was. Or how brilliant. Either way, Round 2B* of my revision work has been served. I'm not as full as I once was, and it looks tasty.
*Round 1 was the developmental edit, finished in August before I headed to the SCBWI LA conference. Round 2A was the edit of the first third of the book, which required some re-working (and a new chapter!) accomplished last month before we moved on to the entire manuscript's line edits, otherwise known as this month's incarnation, Round 2B. Yes, there will be a Round 3, the copyedits.
NOTE: If I have brain cells left over, I will blog. I need help with the title, for one thing. As soon as I can get a synopsis worked up for you, I'll throw a few titles your way and see what you think.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Wheeeeeee! My daughter, Rebecca, was chosen as one of NASA's Student Ambassadors for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy!
From the website:
In 2009 we celebrate the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first observations of the universe through a telescope. In honor of this early event, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the United Nations have proclaimed 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy to spread awareness of astronomy’s contributions to society and culture, stimulate young people’s interest in science, portray astronomy as a global peaceful endeavor, and nourish a scientific outlook in society.As an ambassador, Rebecca received a grant (her first!) to "generate excitement about NASA scientific discoveries in astrophysics, planetary science and solar physics within her local community and beyond."
I've already tagged her to blog for me at least once a quarter in 2009 about her ambassadorial adventures. Here's a link to the U.S. International Year of Astronomy site, which will be updated with events and information and ways you can celebrate everything in the universe.
P.S. That's one of her pictures, above. She says: This open cluster, NGC4755, is also known as the "jewel box." Even 50 s exposures saturated the camera around those bright stars (the brightest are close to 6th magnitude.)
Monday, October 20, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Love Like Salt
Read the rest here
I needed "love like salt" this week. And I was blessed, because it flowed. Amen.
Poetry Friday is hosted today by Becky's Book Reviews.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
This picture's from my journal on Jan. 19, 2002.
The phrase "a magpie intelligence" had caught my eye like a shiny object, so I wrote it down. (You can see the other unrelated trinkets I stashed on that page too.)
Are you a magpie writer? Do you collect random phrases, names, and ideas years before you know what to do with them? Is your journal as completely random as mine is, like a half-built bird nest?
And did you know that the magpie is in the same intelligence class as chimps and dolphins? (Yes, that makes me feel better.)
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Now I have a new reason to love Georgia. Letters From Rapunzel is on the list of nominated books for the statewide children's book awards. If you read the full list below, you'll see why I'm so thrilled. LOOK at those other fantabulicious authors and their books I'm hanging out with!
The Georgia Children's Book Awards
ESPECIALLY FOR LOWER GRADES (4-5)
• Dowell, Frances O’Roark (2006). Phineas L. MacGuire … Erupts! Atheneum.
• Harley, Bill (2006). The Amazing Flight of Darius Frobisher. Peachtree.
• Lombard, Jenny (2006). Drita, My Homegirl. Putnam.
ESPECIALLY FOR UPPER GRADES (7-8)
• Gauthier, Gail (2006). Happy Kid. Putnam.
• Hill, Kirkpatrick (2007). Do Not Pass Go. Margaret K. McElderry.
• Hobbs, Valerie (2005). Defiance. Frances Foster.
• Smith, Roland (2007). Peak. Harcourt.
POSSIBLY FOR ALL GRADES (4-8)
• Bell, Hilari (2007). Shield of Stars. Simon & Schuster.
• Carbone, Elisa (2006). Blood on the River James Town 1607. Viking.
• Coombs, Kate (2006). The Runaway Princess. Farrar.
• Dahlberg, Maurine F. (2007). The Story of Jonas. Farrar.
• Graff, Lisa (2006). The Thing About Georgie. Laura Geringer.
• Holmes, Sara Lewis (2007). Letters from Rapunzel. HarperCollins.
• Lord, Cynthia (2006). Rules. Scholastic.
• Lowery, Linda (2006). Truth and Salsa. Peachtree.
• Lupica, Mike (2006). Heat. Philomel.
• Riordan, Rick (2006). The Lightning Thief. Miramax.
• Rupp, Rebecca (2006). Journey to the Blue Moon. Candlewick.
• Weeks, Sarah (2004). So B. It. HarperCollins.
• White, Ruth (2007). Way Down Deep. Farrar.
Monday, October 13, 2008
My niece, Emily, is battling cancer, and her mom sent this information about childhood cancer:
Every day 46 children in this country will be diagnosed with cancer. That is two classrooms full.
Every four hours a child will die from pediatric cancer. We have known several who fought bravely but did not survive.
The average age of a child being diagnosed is 6; the average age for an adult is 66. Emily was a few months shy of her 10th birthday.
Cancer is the number one cause of death by disease for our children. It kills more children than asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, congenital anomalies and pediatric AIDS combined.
Pediatric cancer is cured about 75% of the time. That means one out of four children diagnosed will lose their battle.
It has been 20 years since any new pediatric cancer drug has been approved.
Currently there are between 30-40,000 children being treated for cancer.
Only about 20% of adults with cancer show evidence that the disease has spread to distant sites on the body at diagnosis yet 80% of children are diagnosed with advanced disease. Emily was one of them.
By 2010 one in every two hundred teens and adolescents will be a cancer survivor.
Most children are treated with smaller doses of adult drugs.
Due to the toll of the currently available therapies on their growing bodies, three out of every five children who survive cancer will be diagnosed with another cancer, a chronic illness or another life threatening illness before they are adults.
So I would love for everyone to stop and think of all the children who are courageously fighting this disease and the ones who earned their wings who fought so hard against this ugly beast.
Friday, October 10, 2008
The premise is simple. The documentary follows a group of prisoners who are rehearsing Shakespeare's The Tempest. And what a storm it is.
Here's what Patricia Freeman says at independentfilm.com:
“When is a man forgiven?” [...] an inmate at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in Kentucky asks this seemingly innocuous question. Yet [...] these words encompass the very heart of the film; they force viewers to consider extreme states of our human existence and to reconcile how both society and man struggle to embrace felony and felicity, reproach and redemption, vice and virtue, punishment and pardon.
If this film asked us to hate these men, that would be easy. If it asked us to ignore them, that would be easy, too. But it doesn't. It asks us to see them for who they are: men who have killed people. And then we go from there into territory that only Shakespeare seems to have the language for.
I can't recommend it enough.
Go here to watch a trailer
And here for an article in the Christian Science Monitor
And here is the ending of The Tempest, which the prisoners perform:
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
Ironic, isn't it? Everything dissolves, and yet... these words don't. They find new spirits to conjure them. And the insubstantial pageant rages on.
Poetry Friday is hosted today by Picture Book of the Day.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
The Washington Post home section took on the challenge for branches in Bethesda, Quince Orchard, and Chevy Chase.
There was no teen section of my library when I was fighting my way through adolescence. The kids' area was downstairs---it had one of those modern sunken reading areas; everything else was upstairs. (Including the Anne of Green Gables books and all the SF I wanted to read.) When allowed up there, I remember making a bee-line for Seventeen magazine.
Would I have hung out in a designated YA section? Maybe. For the whole cliched teen thing, I preferred buying a cherry Icee at the Family Pantry and standing there giggling over Teen Beat without buying it. The library was an alone kind of place for me. I liked being free to slink up and down the aisles and find books without the social judgment that so pervades the teen years. If I had to carry my selections to a designated shag rug and bean bag chair, I might have thought twice about what I picked out.
But libraries now are more social than ever. It's about studying together, and book clubs, and "meeting people" as one teen in the article said. As long as teens still get to be alone with a book at some point, I'm okay with that. One body to a bean bag, please!
P.S. Awesome it is. Check out the Jabba the Hutt bean bag chair. And other rejected Star Wars merchandise at Geekologie.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Which brings up an interesting question: should writers help their kids with writing assignments? Around here, it goes like this:
- They always, always, always do the rough draft with no input from me.
- They get to decide when to ask me for advice, if at all. Sometimes, they share work just because they like what they've written and are proud of it. I'm not lying when I say that both of them are far better writers than I was at their age.
- The most common thing I ask to see is more detail. Personal, vivid detail. No "I participated in outdoor activities" when "I chased an armadillo" is the colorful truth.*
- I encourage them to go at it again. They usually do.
- They can bring any piece of writing back to me as often as they want. I'll read it. We can talk about it. But the work's all theirs.
One more thing. They know how many times writers---all writers---rewrite their work. I tell them. Repeatedly. My husband recently backed me up, telling my son that he re-wrote an important briefing nine times. Nobody in this house ever gets it right the first time. Except the dog. She's brilliant.
*I'm not sure if an armadillo pursuit belongs on a college application, but it's 100% true and one of my son's favorite memories of our time in Mississippi.
P.S. This blog post is exactly 250 words.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Spanish Pipedream (aka Blow Up Your TV)
lyrics by John Prine
She was a level-headed dancer on the road to alcohol
And I was just a soldier on my way to Montreal
Well she pressed her chest against me
About the time the juke box broke
Yeah, she gave me a peck on the back of the neck
And these are the words she spoke
Blow up your T.V. throw away your paper
Go to the country, build you a home
Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches
Try an' find Jesus on your own
All of it here
YouTube: Prine singing Spanish Pipedream in concert
Song notes (taken from the lyrics link above. I don't know if these are accurate.)
---"I wrote it for a Puerto Rican dishwasher in Chicago 'cause he liked Spanish songs." ~John Prine London, Aug 8, 1976
---"I used to keep a small bowl of real fine pebbles that I picked up on my mail route, and if somebody said something really stupid on TV, I'd throw some at the screen." ~John PrinePoetry Friday is hosted today by Two Writing Teachers
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Alexis (identity issues.)
Gertrude is plainly a bootie and nothing else.
Fanny (who you might have expected to have bootie) is eccentric and fun.
Pippi isn't so Longstocking, but the clogs are cute.
Sara vs. Sarah. (hmmm. My spelling, "Sara," returns no loafers, thank goodness. But I kind of envy those "Sarah" Shane&Shawn racy numbers.)
I'm very sorry. More about writing next time.
Oh, wait! Shoes you can write on. Whew! I'm back on message.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
the revisions for my second middle grade novel, The New Recruit, which must be put to bed by mid-November or so
the slow drafting of an unnamed YA novel
But...then another thing happened. In the midst of the revisions, I suddenly wanted to write another middle grade novel really badly. Not that I want to stop with the YA. But I realized how much I love middle grade. I think it was this definition from the Cybils that did me in:
"The middle grade years are, in my view, the reading years with the most potential to turn a child into a reader for life. It's often the books you read between the ages of 8-12 that you remember long into adulthood as your dearest books of all. These are the years when kids really and truly start to figure themselves out as readers--their likes and dislikes and all the rest in between. It's during this time when children strike out on their own in earnest, reading for themselves and by themselves, all the while creating themselves.
In this Cybils category, we're looking for stories that capture real life in all of its wonderful messiness. So we're not talking magic or superheroes or werewolves or elves. Instead, think adventures and school stories, mysteries and stories about families, and tales that tell kids of life across the globe. Tell us which of the Middle Grade fiction titles published this year you think kids will still be talking about when they're all grown up, and still reading away."
--Kerry Millar, organizer
Nominations are open! Go quickly and nominate your favorite middle grade book!