Sunday, January 30, 2011

But on the other hand--the week in review

Here are some of the bright spots of the week that was--

1. Celebrated Ken's 56th birthday with all the kids. Except for Geoffrey and Alec. So in other words celebrated Ken's birthday with not all our kids. (Thanks to Dylan and Julie for giving Granny a ride!)
2. Sampled cupcakes from a cupcake store in Foothill Village called The Tooth Fairy
3. Met with my writers' group
4. Had a lovely dinner at the Alta Club
5. Saw a couple of Sundance films
6. Chatted on the phone with the Grand Dame of Utah Children's Letters, Bea Williams
7. Visited Waterford School and made friends with a (real) Chihuahua named Perry Mason
8. Wrote two columns for the Trib instead of my usual one column
9. Ate lunch with Louise
10. Watched BYU beat SDSU

On the other hand there were these things--

1. Didn't lose any weight
2. Received a number of manuscript rejections
3. Received more snotty e-mails than usual
4. Missed Gigi's performance in Circle Cycle due to ticket misunderstanding
5. Saw a couple of Sundance films
6. looked outside and saw dirty air, thus forcing me to pull the covers over my head
7. Lost sleep
8. Lost faith in the novel I'm writing
9. Discovered that my iPod had crashed (lost everything on it, too!)
10. Watched BYU lose to New Mexico

On the other hand--

1. Had useful conversations about writing with columnist Robert Kirby and agent Tracey Adams
2. Heard from a number of lovely friends and family members
3. Enjoyed a video chat with Chloe Ann and her parents
4. Walked the dogs
5. Knit four beanies
6. Blogged and read other blogs every day
7. Bought a potted pink hyacinth (and it smells divine)
8. Had vegetarian Chinese with Q and actually enjoyed it
9. I.M.ed with Geoff
10. Heard from Phil, who said he feels good about his test
11. Drank pots and pots of herbal tea and thought fondly of Lisa B.

So all in all there were more good things than bad things about this week. Now that's a good thing to realize!

Saturday, January 29, 2011


So Ken and I scored tickets for three movies, including one tonight--SON OF NO ONE--that was hailed by one trade magazine as this season's first bomb at Sundance. Yes! I love it when Ken and I score tickets to bombs! It reminds me of the time we were in London and we saw a production of MIDSUMMER'S NIGHT DREAM that opened to the worst reviews in the history of British theater. (Memo to Directors: turning "fairies" into "flies" and "forests" into "dung heaps" is not likely to endear you to audience members who have spent a buttload of jack to see that particular play because of its light heart.) (But whatever.) (I'm guessing fancy pants directors aren't reading this blog.)

Anyhoodle. Earlier this week we saw TERRI, which struck me as an attempt to do Napoleon Dynamite in a darker hue, in a minor key. I really wanted to like it. And I did like John C. Reilly's performance. But beyond that I . . . just didn't buy it. (Further Memo to Directors: loose ends do not necessarily = artistic ambiguity. Sometimes loose ends just = loose ends. And they're distracting.)

This afternoon we saw SALVATION BOULEVARD, which I'm guessing will go into some kind of general release. Lots of A-listers in that movie, including two guys I love--Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan. I've said this before, but the reason I love Brosnan is that he's a handsome guy who isn't afraid to be a NUTJOB. George Clooney is a little that way, too, only Clooney always manages to hang onto to a piece of cool, no matter how silly he behaves. Brosnan, on the other hand, has no pride. None whatsoever. And I admire that immensely.

SALVATION was funny, although predictably all the religious people in the movie are idiots. (Further Further Memo to Directors: P. J. O'Rourke was right when he said going after evangelicals is like shooting fish in a barrel. So come on. Surprise us for a change.) I don't know that I'd recommend the movie, but it did make me laugh.

Okay. That's it. And btw we're not going tonight. So if you want tickets to Sundance's first official bomb, give me a call.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Writing exercises

So I've been going to the Poetry Daily site every morning, and then I try to dash off a quick (badly written, but that's not the point) poem of my own as a way to get the juices flowing. Anyhoo. Today's poem was called "In the Room of Glass Breasts." And I just went . . . no. Also, hell no. Didn't even bother to read the poem (which is possibly brilliant, but who knows?) because I could NOT get past many unfortunate visuals.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's Jimmer time

A few years ago Ken and I had our youngest son's name legally changed. He went from being Quinton Edwards Cannon to Quinton Edwards COVEY Cannon in honor of my maternal grandfather who had just died. And then we gave this information to my mother for her Christmas present in hopes that she would leave us all her worldly possessions. KIDDING!

Anyway, last night Alec sent me a text suggesting we give Quinton yet another name. Jimmer. As in Quinton Edwards Covey Jimmer Cannon in hopes that Jimmer Fredette will leave us all HIS worldly possessions. Not kidding.

The thing is that it's fun to be a part of something like this. He's unique. Watching a local player tear it up on this level won't happen again any time soon. So you just gotta get your popcorn and drink, sit back and enjoy the show. His performance against SDSU last night?


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Handling criticism

Okay, everyone, I wasn't fishing when I posted on Monday. Well. MAYBE A LITTLE. But I did appreciate your comments about the "Special to the Trib" piece. That particular column pushed a lot of people's hostility buttons--I think I understand why, although frankly I'm still a little surprised--so your kind words buoyed me up yesterday. Which brings me to today's subject.

I'll confess. I did feel a little rattled by some of the feedback I received--it's never fun to be called lame, self-serving, self-indulgent, unfunny and incompetent, although if readers had attacked my cooking I would have REALLY been hurt. I guess what bothers me the most is that I let it . . . bother me. The bad part about letting stuff like that get under your skin is that it makes it so hard to write the next column or story or novel.

So. I want to open this up. How do you handle the unkind remark? Looking forward to your responses.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Special to the Trib today

I wrote this piece today and sent it along to the Trib. They decided to run it--it's online now and will appear in tomorrow's paper. Ken just checked out the comments and said they're all negative. People just aren't feeling the love, apparently. I don't know. I still like it, I think.

Maybe you heard already, but that Great Famewhore of Babylon, otherwise known as the Westboro “God Hates You” Baptist Church, was in town this week, and one of the places they picketed was my kids’ alma mater, West High.
I know!
My son told me in advance the WBC was coming, so early Monday morning I got in my car and drove over to West High to check on the protest’s progress. Only, I didn’t see a single protestor . . . UNTIL I drove down the street past West High School to the Triad Center, home of KSL Television.
And le voila! There they were, holding their kooky little “God Hates You” signs for all the world (but mostly surprised commuters on Third West ) to see.
Hey! It was an honest mistake! The WBC folks aren’t from around here. No wonder they confused the addresses of “West High School” and “KSL Television.” It probably happens all the time. Visitors from out of town show up to get a tour of the studio and somehow find themselves instead in the faculty lounge at West High School.
VISITORS: Where are we?
TEACHER: The faculty lounge. Have a brownie btw. They’re left over from inservice last night.
Anyhoo! The experience prompts me to make the following observations.
First observation. Media images make everything feel larger than life. Perhaps if you were to see a photo still or television coverage of a protest like the one on Monday, you’d get the idea that there was a HA-YOOGE event going down. Five or six Westboro protestors fill the frame of a close up shot, and suddenly you (the viewer) start thinking what a field day for the heat! A thousand people in the street! And then before you know it, you’re combing the attic, trying to find that old Buffalo Springfield album you bought in the seventh grade.
Meanwhile, what you don’t realize is that in actuality, there were only five or six Westboro protestors there. Period. End of story. And that in real life, the whole thing felt kinda tame and pretty lame. (What you ALSO don’t realize is that you ain’t never gonna find that Buffalo Springfield album in your attic, because your mother sent it to the D. I. when you moved out. Thanks for that, Mom!)
Second observation. A small handful of the signs brandished by counter-protestors were nearly as mean and dumb as the hate-mongering signs welded by the WBC, which suddenly makes me think of that Sublime lyric: “Bradley’s on the microphone with Ras-MG, all the people in the dance will agree, that we’re qualified to represent the LBC.”
Sorry. I don’t know why I have so much music in my soul today. But come on, you teenage persons! You’re so much better than that! Don’t you know when you hold up a sign bashing Jesus, you become the very thing you profess to despise? Take a cue from girlfriend there that morning carrying a sign that said PREACH LOVE.
Third observation. Speaking of “the heat” (which we were earlier, which is why you stopped what you were doing to search for that album, which your mother already gave away 30 years ago), the best thing about the whole protest was the expression on the face of the cop directing foot traffic. He was all seriously? I had to get out of bed this morning to deal with this? Why can’t everyone just mind keep their hands to themselves and mind their own business?
At least that’s what I think his expression was saying.
Or maybe he was just all seriously? The Bears got their butts kicked by the Packers on Sunday?
(It’s hard to tell with cops sometimes.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The King's Speech

So, Ken, Q. and I saw it last night, and (no surprise given my rabid Anglophilia) I loved it. Such great production values, such great performances (it's always wonderful to see Colin Firth get to play something besides another iteration of Mr. Darcy). At its heart, the movie is about surprising and lasting friendship.

Geoff saw it in England where it is most definitely NOT rated "R." You know the Brits--an f-bomb here, an f-bomb there don't amount to much when you can unload them with a swanky accent.


Friday, January 21, 2011

More about the poodle

I left St. George and the poodle behind today. My parents told me to leave him at the poodle spa there so they can pick him up on their way home from California. I dropped him off this morning, and may I say that the poodle spa is much nicer than many of the rooms Ken and I have stayed in when we travel. I imagine when the poodle retires tonight there will be a classy dog treat on his classy satin dog pillow.

Seriously? I wouldn't mind coming back as one of my mother's dogs in the next life.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Signage the New York Post would admire

So I kinda love the New York Post, even though it's owned by the Evil Overlord, aka Rupert Murdoch. The reason? The headlines, baby, the headlines. Do the google thing if you want some entertaining examples. Meanwhile, I have to say the headline writers were really on their game during the whole Tiger Woods story with winners like these: "I'm a Cheetah!" and also "Tiger on the loose: lock up the waitresses!" Headlines like those make me proud to be a human being, even if the article content doesn't.

Anyway, as I was driving down St. George Blvd the other day, I noticed a sign for one of those places that sells removable tops for pickup trucks. And the sign went GO TOPLESS! Which is sure to get your attention in a place like St. George. Although I think maybe the sign should have also added (JK!) because the average age here is maybe like 90 years old.

Okay. Back to writing now.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Strange bedfellows

So through a combination of circumstances, I have ended up babysitting my mother's dog while I'm down here in St. George, hiding from the world, but apparently not from poodles.

Anyhoo, when I woke up this morning, I discovered the poodle and his fancy new hairdo in bed with me, except that he was sleeping vertically like a person, and his head was on the pillow right next to me. He turned his head so that his nose was touching mine. He stared deeply into my eyes, and I could almost hear him say, "Well, well, well, life is full of little surprises, is it not?' Only in French.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A plan! A plan! Look, Boss, I have a plan!

Or at least I'm trying to get one lined up.

I'm holed up for the week with the hopes that by the end of it I can have an outline for a mystery, along with a couple of excellent chapters. Also, I would like to emerge from the end of this week looking like Angelina Jolie. A little magical thinking never hurt anyone, right?

At the moment I'm reading a book called HOW TO WRITE KILLER FICTION by Carolyn Wheat, and already it's saved me from thrashing about for several months, trying to figure out what I'm writing. Turns out I am writing a "novel of suspense" instead of a mystery. There's a distinction--sort of like there's a distinction between fantasy and sci-fi, although the two are always lumped in the same category. Basically, in a mystery, the detective is always several steps ahead of the reader. In a novel of suspense, the reader is often several steps ahead of the hero--or at least the reader is swept along with the hero as he/she is plunged into chaos and confusion.

Yes! I love chaos and confusion!

Other points worth noting: Wheat paraphrases one of Salinger's characters who says you should figure out what book you want to read and then write it. Well, of course! That seems so obvious! And yet I realize that for the past few years I've been trying to figure out what book my editors want to read. Hopefully I can find a plot that'll satisfy me and an editor. Who wants to pay me money.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Now here's something I didn't see coming

When we were in Jr. high, my girlfriend Gigi Ballif and I were into astrology. We bought those little horoscope books at the Woolworth's because we were fourteen and into self-discovery. And also we were bored.

Anyhoodle! I LOVED LOVED LOVED that I was an Aries because I just thought Aires people were uber attractive--all dynamic and and FIERY and full of passion not unlike those heroines in the historical romances I was reading. I had visions of myself being all uppity with the brooding Lord of the Manor who secretly dug my spunk and so forth because don't you know I was an Aries! And that's how Aries women are. Uppity. All "dude if you get in my grill I'm gonna get in yours."

Also, I felt kinda sorry for Gigi because she was a Pisces and who wants to be a fish anyway? Furthermore, who wants to date a fish? Certainly not the Lord of the Manor. I never said this to Gigi, though, because she couldn't help that her birthday was March 4 and why mention something you can't change?

EXCEPT APPARENTLY YOU CAN CHANGE IT. I just learned that they've added a thirteenth sign to the Zodiac, which means things have gotten shifted around a big, which means I am NOW A FISH. A fish, people.

The foundations of my world have been rocked. Rocked, I tell you.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Do ya think?

This morning as Kathy and I walked, she talked a little about ADHD in the classroom and suddenly I wondered if the fact that I started three separate and unrelated knitting projects last night in the space of 45 minutes is indicative of anything . . .

But that's not what I meant to say here! (And is that also indicative of something?) What I MEANT to say is that Kathy and I also talked about Louise Plummer's mother who I didn't know and who Kathy never met. But Louise told me once that her mother would sometimes end a discussion with the statement "oh well." It was her why of shrugging her shoulders and saying "what are you gonna do?" when faced with one of the life's hard realities. Only she was Dutch, so she said, "Oh vell." And that's something Kathy and I regularly say to one another as an acknowledgement that we haven't solved any of the world's problems by the end of our walk. We say "oh vell," just like we're Dutch. And then we think fondly of Louise's mother.

I love this because it just goes to show that we all bequeath little legacies to our fellow human beings--even the ones we don't know.

Thank you, Louise's mother.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Adverbs again

I've decided that contrary to everything you hear in writing classes, adverbs are our friends because they make me laugh. Like yesterday I had an e-mail from my funny friend Jamie, with a subject title that said "at last I can use the word HANDSOMELY in an e-mail." Or something to that effect. Anyhoo, Jamie! It made me laugh.

So today I decided to used an adverb in an e-mail and here's the one I chose: HALF-ASSEDLY. Which is how I run my life.

Feel free to list your favorite adverbs. In a sentence even!

Monday, January 10, 2011


The other day when I was teaching a Relief Society lesson at a local nursing home, I told my little audience that life is way, way, WAY too short to hate an entire season, so from now on, people, I am going to EMBRACE WINTER!

So I got up this morning with a plan to embrace winter. Here's a recap.

1. At 5:15 a.m. I put on an insane number of clothes so I could go on MY morning walk with Kathy and instead of grumbling I went WINTER, I EMBRACE YOU BECAUSE THERE'S NOTHING I'D RATHER DO THAN PULL ON LOTS OF UNCOMFORTABLE UNDERWEAR TWO HOURS BEFORE THE SUN COMES UP.


3. At 10:30, I drove over to Stephanie's house and did a little fishtail thing along 9th East because it was icy and apparently going 15 mph was too fast, so I exclaim WINTER, I EMBRACE YOU BECAUSE DANGER MAKES ME FEEL ALIVE AND ALSO GIVES ME AN OPPORTUNITY TO LAUGH IN ITS FACE. HAHAHAHAHA!

See? Aren't you proud of me? Meanwhile, I am sipping some herbal tea because THAT'S one of the real pleasures of the season.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Somehow . . .

. . . the topic of GUILTY PLEASURES keeps coming up with me. Like, I asked you at Christmas what your holiday guilty pleasures are. Yesterday I was listing my musical guilty pleasures, which I will share with you. But I'd like to hear what yours are, too.


1. Tom Jones (love it when he growls out I THINK I BETTER DANCE NOW in the song "Kiss").
2. Speaking of "Kiss," Prince does a good version, too. Prince. He/she/it is another guilty pleasure. A BIG ONE.
3. AC/DC. May the Lord have mercy on my soul.
4. The Beastie Boys. HELLO, NASTY is one of my favorite CDs ever.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A dad memory

As Ken and I walked the dogs this morning, we started talking about fathers--specifically the role they play in daughters' lives. And I asked him if I'd ever told him The Sex Talk Story. Much to our mutual surprise, he said no. I had not.

Anyhoo! This is how it all went down. I was maybe fourteen or so, sitting in the family room when my dad showed up and said, "I've got something to tell you." I was all yeah? What is it? Let's get this over with so I can keep doing a whole lot of nothing. So he said, "Guys will give love to get sex. Girls will give sex to get love. I'm here to tell you you don't have to give sex. Okay?" Then he left abruptly and I went EW! DON'T EVER SAY THE WORD SEX IN FRONT OF ME AGAIN!

In retrospect I realize how difficult it was for my dad to share that bit with me. In retrospect I also realize he did it because he wanted me to feel like I didn't have to put out just so some male WOULD love me. I already had a father who did. A good one.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Please read previous post before reading this one

. . . because you'll see things in a different light.

Last night, Alec asked if I'd seen his U of O sweatshirt and my first thought was, "Yeah, he probably secretly thinks I did something with it along with David's scarf." So I said no, although I did help him look for it. We didn't find it. So he called his cute mother-in-law (hi, Karin!) and SHE hadn't seen it. So then he wondered if he left it at one of the many eating establishments we've frequented in the past few weeks. Still, no sweatshirt.

"Here's the thing, Mom," he said. "I distinctly remember draping it over the back of a chair. I thought it was one of the chairs in the dining room."


Later I went to my closet to find something. And guess what was hanging up there. And suddenly I remembered! I found it draped over the back of the dining room shirt and I hung it up in my closet because I thought it was the new sweatshirt Sally had given me for Christmas.

They're the same color. Except that Alec's sweatshirt is big and green and has a big yellow "O" on it whereas my new sweatshirt is gray and O-less.

But whatever. The point is they're both freaking sweatshirts. A girl can get confused.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How kids view parents: the stages

Not too long I gave Q. a grey knit unisex-y scarf of mine because he liked it. My friend Nancy bought it at the Sundance outlet and gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago--and really it's quite an attractive neckwrap. You put it on and immediately you feel all uber-cool and Robert Redford-y. I'm happy to share it with my youngest son, who is one of the handsomest, nicest boys in the world.

Anyhoodle! This morning on our way home from the airport where we deposited London-bound Geoffrey, Q. asked if I was SURE the scarf had been mine in the first place.

"What do you mean?" I asked, feeling mildly annoyed.

He then wondered--politely, carefully, but nonetheless outloudly--if I'd gotten mixed up. Maybe I'd had a scarf similar to the one I'd given him that wasn't actually the one I'd given him? Was that possible?

"WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?" I asked, now feeling NOT mildly annoyed.

He explained that his friend David had lost a scarf at our house, and when he saw Q.'s Sundance outlet scarf--the one Nancy gave me for Christmas and I SHOULD KNOW BECAUSE I WAS THERE WHEN SHE GAVE IT TO ME--David suggested it was the one he'd misplaced.

"ARE YOU ACCUSING ME OF STEALING SCARVES FROM YOUR FRIENDS?" I asked. "BECAUSE DUDE I HAVE WAY BETTER, MORE WORTHWHILE THINGS TO DO IN THIS LIFE THEN STEAL SCARVES FROM YOUR FRIENDS." (Such as reading online about how one of the Kardashians delivered her own baby, for instance. But whatevs.)

By now Q. was thoroughly sorry he'd brought up the subject but still. I could tell I hadn't convinced him and do you know why? Because all my kids think I'm crazy anyway, which brings me to the title subject. When your kids are babies, they kinda worship you. And then when they're a little older they're embarrassed about you. And then after that they just think you're nuts. They love you, but they think you're nuts. This was a point Louise made in her brilliant talk in church a few weeks ago. She should post it so you can read it.

Okay. Thank you for listening. Meanwhile, please ex-squeeze me while I go steal me some scarves.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Instant communication

One of the ways life has REALLY changed over the past twenty years is in the field of telecommunications. We all have instant access to each other these days, including the babies. Our grandbaby--cute, cute girl--has been staying with us and her parents have a monitor, so when she cries they can hear her even if they're in a different part of the house. And it occurred to me that crying into the monitor is the baby's way of texting her parents. WHERE R U? OMG I AM SO BORED. COME GET ME.

Babies are so clever. LOL.