Thursday, October 29, 2009

Books and Christmas

I'm subbing at the bookstore today (The King's English on 15th and 15th--come see me). And I think I'll start some holiday shopping while I'm at it.

You'll recall (maybe) that I asked if you liked getting books as gifts because I'd begun wondering if they just created a sense of obligation in the giftee. But after reading what Shannon Hale had to say on her blog recently, I've had a change of heart.

Shannon issued a call to action to her many readers. BUY BOOKS AND GIVE THEM AS PRESENTS THIS YEAR! She said. Only more eloquently. She spoke of the publishing industry and how everyone is wondering (nervously) where the world of print is headed. About the only thing we as bibliophiles can do is express our commitment to books by putting our dollars there.

And of course I think it's important to shop indie.

So! Books it'll be this Christmas!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How to respond to people who think writing books for kids is a warmup act

I stole this from my friend Kerry's blog (visit her at Windmill Watching). Thanks, Kerry! This says it as well as anything I've encountered.

“Many people believe that authors of children’s books eventually ‘graduate’ and go on to write books for adults. That’s like saying your pediatrician may get good enough to, one day, be a doctor for grown-ups.”

from Joy Feldman, author of The Gollywhopper Games

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blog as sketchbook

First let me just say that there's a sloppy snow going on outside which makes me feel like staying in bed until March. But not until I have eaten a whole pie first. (Possibly razzleberry.)

Okay. What I really want to say is that when I started blogging I had no idea that it would be something I could use the way an artist uses a sketchbook. You know how artists are always sitting around parks drawing stuff that captures their fancy and then how they use those bits later in an actual painting? Well, sometimes in my blog entries I just throw out random observations which, upon reflection, I realize might be the start of a column.

Especially when my deadline was YESTERDAY and I got nothing for my people. Hence, I think I'll take that riff on Nick Zano's abs and turn it into 500 words. And I will keep Valynne's comment in mind that whatever. She wouldn't mind kissing him for research purposes. NOT that I'll mention her by name.

(At least I don't think I will . . . )

Monday, October 26, 2009

This is one Monday . . .

. . . when I'm glad my dad isn't coaching anymore.

Strange, though, how old habits die hard. Like, I've been avoiding the papers, the TV, the radio so that I won't accidentally have to hear about how CRAPPY BYU played on Saturday (it's true, though--they did play like crap). All the old instincts of self-preservation kicked in, and all I could do was keep my head low, just like when I was a kid.

Sometimes I think I should write SOMETHING about what it was like to have a dad who coached college football. But I've been reluctant to look like I was trading on his name. And, frankly, I've always been more interested in writing about commonly shared experiences than the exceptional ones.

Still. When I told the story tonight about my sixteenth birthday and how Don Ho sang happy birthday to me (I was the one wearing an orange muu-muu) in a night club because one of my dad's former players ran the joint, my kids said they'd never heard it. And that made me think I should write some of that stuff down.

Friday, October 23, 2009

If you know me

. . . you also know I am completely addicted to celebrity gossip. Which is why I'm sitting here at my desk looking at LIFE AND STYLE instead of working on a column.

Specifically I am looking at an article called "The Hottest Guys on Fall TV," mostly because I don't get it. Take this photo of Nick Zano on pgs. 46-47 (yes! it's a spread!). Apparently he's Courtney Cox's cougar bait on her new show. (Topic for another day--the bogus-ness of cougar-ness.) Anyhoo. He's shirtless. And he's ripped. And tanned. And his jeans are barely skimming his chiseled hips. But he's POUTING like a full-on girl working it for the camera. And his hair is all gelled and styled AND THE WHOLE PICTURE IS SO NOT ATTRACTIVE. Like, what would happen if you actually tried to kiss this guy? Would he always have one eye on a mirror?

Because you just know with a guy like this there would always be mirrors involved.

Obviously I need to get busy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

And I forgot to add . . .

. . . that a number of writer friends (including Sara Zarr and Emily Wing Smith) are being honored tonight at a ceremony at the Salt Lake City library. The Utah Book Award will be awarded to the best book of 2008. But come on. They're all best books.

Back home

The trip to Cedar was lovely. I listened to P. D. James' INNOCENT BLOOD, one of her few stand-alone novels. It's dynamite. Whenever I read James, I hear whispers of Dickens and Trollope. Also the Bible. What amazes me is her closely observed details of setting, her profound sympathy for unsympathetic characters, and her image-making ability. I think she's just grand.

The talk went well. As I suspected, no actual teens showed up. The average age of my listeners was probably 65. But they were totally game and engaged, and I wanted to have a big old pizza party and sleepover with them when I finished.

I ordered a meat pie at the pub instead of fish and chips. Fish and chips would have been a better call. The waitress warned me that the meat pie was sweet. And I thought that would be fine. But I kinda didn't fancy the clove-i-ness of it all.

Came home to autumn in the Avenues. Let me tell you, people, there is no more beautiful neighborhood in autumn than mine. Not to be rude.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm off to Cedar City!

To talk about "teens"! And "books"! And how to connect the two!

I hope I have actual teens in the audience because it would be interesting to hear what they have to say, as well as get a few great recommendations. I suspect, however, I'll have mostly parents, whom I will encourage to read YA for themselves because there are just so many great YA novels.

While in Cedar I plan to eat at the restaurant at the Crystal Inn which features pub food in keeping with all things Shakespearean. A pot pie or fish and chips sound mighty fine right now on the fall-ish day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pet peeve

Movie trailers that give everything away . . .

Last night I went to see THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE and sat through twenty minutes of previews that were basically Cliff Notes. And by the time they were done I went wow. I don't have to see a single one of those movies now. Riddle me this: what is the point of a trailer like that?

I liked SEPTEMBER ISSUE, a documentary about scary Anna Wintour, the editress of VOGUE. By the time it was finished I was grateful I don't work for her. At the same time, I always admire people who are just really, really fabulously good at what they do. I did want to see her eat steak, but alas it was not to be.

Speaking of eating--I ate a limited edition (what a concept) Snickers bar today that had fudge instead of caramel. It was highly satisfyhing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

But seriously now who is Scott Bakas?

I think I meant Scott Bakula. See below and everything will be illuminated. Which is close to the title of another movie I actually did like.

Do I Even Remember How to Blog?

The answer is "no." Like, I even forgot how to "sign in." I AM SO LAME. But I'm gonna step up to the plate and take a few cuts and work on being less lame.

During my long silence I did manage to do a few things like drive to Oregon to see my law school son and his wife. While there we went to see the new Matt Damon flick, THE INFORMER. Or maybe it's THE INFORMANT. Whatever. Anyway. Seeing the movie gave me a chance to think about storytelling and risk.

For those of you who haven't seen the movie, it's about a corporate whistle blower. Sort of. Not surprisingly, Damon is great. Scott Bakas is great. The production values are great. It's a movie that's easy to admire. Which I did. EXCEPT I didn't like it. This happens sometimes--you can appreciate an artistic endeavor for all kinds of reasons, but in the end, the thing just leaves you cold.

I think the problem for me had to do with the whole "control of sympathy" issue. Generally speaking, we want to read about or watch characters we can root for--even if they're "bad guys." Think of Russell Crowe's character in THE 3:15 TO YUMA, for example. But Damon's character (for me, at least) was unlikable and even worse, uninteresting. I. Just. Didn't. Care. About. Him.

I can sort of see all the parties involved, sitting around a table going, "Let's try something different! So we won't be bored with ourselves as artists any more! Let's do a WHOLE MOVIE ABOUT A SCHMUCK!" Probably the process was interesting for those involved. But dudes. Come on. Think of the audience.

I ate a liverwurst sandwich today. I am the only person of my generation I know who likes liverwurst.