Cecilia Tan's monthly web journal, from 2003 and beyond...
Presented in backward chronological order.
And thanks to Lauren Burka for lending me Wheelock's Latin--Harry Potter fandom takes a lot of studying to keep up with. Or, it does if you're a Ravenclaw.
Much of the content on the new blog is me whining about English grammar. The fact that I am in the middle of a massive proofreading/copyediting project probably has something to do with that.
As for life, I'm flat broke, credit cards maxed, but I'm hopeful that the Fetish Fair Fleamarket ATLANTA will bring in some profit in February. If you'd like to attend a nice weekend immersion in leather/fetish/BDSM, and the Boston FFF is already sold out (which it is), Atlanta is really nice. We are in a high class hotel (the Sheraton Buckhead), and the community in Atlanta has been really warm and friendly. Lots of parties and things going on.
Meanwhile, I have taken the ebook plunge. My 2001 erotic sf novel, The Velderet, is now available for download from Lulu.com for a mere five bucks. The print version is still available, too, but the bookstores are just becoming a less and less viable outlet for so much material right now. There is simply so much you won't find out there, and what does make it to the shelves is so scant that Circlet Press is essentially dying on the vine for lack of cash flow.
Which brings me to my next big thing. PARTY AT MY HOUSE, Saturday November 4th. This is a fundraising party to try to boost Circlet's efforts to print "Best Fantastic Erotica," a book that I feel really ought to see print. The details of the invitation are here: Fundraising Fete details, and if you can't be at the party but you'd like to help by pre-purchasing a copy of the book (and get you rname on the thank you page inside, if you like), check out the Donations Page.
I never made it to King Richard's Faire this year. Just too busy, and pained at the thought of giving Bonnie Shapiro money. If I were sufficiently motivated, I'm sure I could have cadged a comp ticket out of someone, but I was just too slammed with work and things.
You're probably all wondering what I thought of the Yankees getting the boot from the Tigers in the ALDS. Pitching, pitching, pitching, that's what I think. Find out my thoughts on that and Cory Lidle on my baseball page: Why I Like Baseball.
Meanwhile, I picked up the gig to edit the Maple Street Press annual on the Yankees. It'll be out in February and I am writing a few pieces for it, too.
And so much more. The book I'm writing with Anna Benson is out at publishers now, and my agent is entertaining bids from several. So that is on the way. Next SABR Boston Meeting is November 4th at B.U., 10 am to 4:30 pm.
My practice in Okazaki Restorative Massage is moving along, too. I'm going to a healing arts seminar in South Carolina next month to learn more techniques. If you have sore muscles, back pain, stress, or stiffness, come see me.
And I still haven't come close to updating about everything going on in my life. Busy just doesn't begin to cover it, does it?
Hopefully things will slow down a bit by Christmas...!
Well, we had a web server crash, and had to restore the site from backups, and I think I lost the updates to the page I had made in June/July. Or has it really been since May since I wrote an entry here? I'm sure there was ONE in there. Ah well.
Since the last update I can prove was made, though, I've gotten certified in Okazaki Restorative Massage. (So if you are interested in an appointment, drop me an email!) corwin got certified, too. The going rate for a one-hour massage in this area is averaging around $85. I'm charging $50 through the end of 2006.
Okay, I gave in and started a Livejournal, also. But this will still be the archive of my monthly updates to ceciliatan.com. If you want to see the LJ also, which will be shorter but possibly more frequent entries, it is at: pennae aquilae.
I've been playing baseball again in Pawtucket, RI, again with the "Shove Insurance" team in the Slaterettes league. Details over at Why I Like Baseball.
The fantastic anthology (if I do say so myself) that I edited for Thunder's Mouth Press, SEX IN THE SYSTEM, is now out. This anthology of high tech and near-future erotic stories includes top-notch contributions from the likes of Joe Haldeman (Forever War, Camouflage, etc.), Shariann Lewitt (Rebel Sutra, Interface Masque, etc.), Scott Westerfeld (Peeps, Polymorph, etc.), Sarah Micklem (Firethorn), Steve Berman (Trysts), Jennifer Stevenson (Trash Sex Magick), Gavin Grant (Year's Best Fantasy), Paul DiFilippo (Ribofunk), M/ Christian (The Bachelor Machine), and more... it's simply great. If you want to buy it through Amazon.com, I get a kick back if you do it by clicking here: Sex In The System
I'm leaving next week for Worldcon in Anaheim, where I will be throwing at least one party, doing a reading, and speaking on several panels on some of my favorite subjects which include sex, ethnicity, and Harry Potter (that's three SEPARATE topics, though I agree putting the three together would make a fascinating panel).
Cherry is finally back on the road, by the way. Yes, my Honda Shadow, which is 20 years old this summer, seems to be running fine. Too bad I've been too busy to actually GO anywhere on the bike.
Whew. I leave for Book Expo America in about 8 hours, and my to do list is still 25 things long, but I had to pop in and do a web page update.
The sun shone for about 5 minutes today, which is quite a change for the torrential rains we've been having in MA. Ridiculous amounts of water. Basement flooded, the whole bit.
I have good news and bad news regarding my elbow. The bad news is that despite it being pain free and "cured" all winter, now that my baseball season is about to begin, I tweaked it somehow and am back to square one with rehab, pain, and the three I's (ice, ibuprofen, immobilization). Not being able to type a lot really puts a cramp in my productivity. The good news is that TODAY it didn't hurt and I've ben off ibuprofen for 2-3 days, so it is definitely recovering. This is why I am typing this now, while it doesn't hurt!
So the cover of Publishers Weekly today has "Alan Moore: Literary Pornographer" as the cover story. This is notable for a few reasons. One, they really are just counting graphic novels and comics as books now. Two, they used the word "pornographer" in PW. Despite the fact that Bush is still in office, the publishing world seems to suddenly be veering back toward embracing erotica, sex, and the like. Several big houses are launching women's erotica imprints, and the hype about Moore's "Lost Girls" is another sliver of hope.
What is interesting about Lost Girls, of course, is that Moore is writing smut about characters created by other writers, like Alice in Wonderland and such, and this raises the question of why is it "literary porn" when he does it and blasphemous plagiarism when slash writers do it? Hmmm... Speaking of slash, if you are 18 years of age or older and you like both Harry Potter and the erotic fiction I've written, then there is a LiveJournal you should visit. Yes, I'm being coy and secretive about what the content is exactly, and you'll see exactly why if you go there: The Raven's Quill.
Next month I will be receiving my certification as a massage technician in Okazaki Restorative Therapy. So if you want a free practice massage between now and June 15th, please contact me. This form of massage is one in which I will use my elbow and forearm to crush your puny muscles to a pulp. I mean, I will restore proper chi flow to your myofascial channels. Let's put it this way... it's not a relaxing spa type massage. If you have a masochistic streak or you are a martial artist, though, it's the best massage ever. Email me if you would like to be a practice victim.
I must give big thanks to my friend Lisa for introducing me to what is my favorite anime ever: Gankutsuou. It's a retelling of the Count of Monte Cristo set in the year 5000. It sticks pretty closely to the Dumas plotline, but with some very definite science fiction twists. I loved the animation, the music, the characters, everything. Probably one of my favorite soundtracks of all time, all movies, not the least of which because many of the tracks eerily resemble the music I composed in college. But really, really good. Check it out or I may force you to watch episodes with me if you visit me.
50 Greatest Red Sox Games is now in stores everywhere and I have done a bunch of radio interviews promoting the book, on Fun 107, Sirius Satellite Radio, New Hampshire Pubic Radio, and the like. If you want an autographed copy from me, Paypal $27 to me with who you want it made out to and your address and I will get you a copy via Priority Mail (or airmail if you are in Canada). The paperback of 50 Greatest Yankee Games is also out now, and I have a few hardcovers of it left, too. $27 hc, $19 paperback. Includes the shipping, as I said. If you don't care about the autograph, buying by clicking the Amazon links on my pages here and at Why I Like Baseball gives me a kick-back.
In other news, THE MILF ANTHOLOGY, which I co-edited with Lori Perkins, is now out from Blue Moon Books and getting a lot of attention. How can it be the first book ever about MILFs? No one else had the guts, I guess.
All right, my arm is starting to tire, so I shall stop now.
I am currently in Florida working on baseball writing stuff, the upcoming issue of Gotham Baseball magazine, and the like, and also visiting my parents who very conveniently retired to sunny Florida a few years ago. (More details in "Why I Like Baseball," as usual...)
When I get home I take off for New York city for the Leather Leadership Conference and Yankees Opening Day. So yes, busy, but I am always busy. While I'm in New York it'll be my birthday, too, and then comes Passover and Easter... I'm tired just thinking about it.
The 50 Greatest Red Sox Games is hitting the stores in the next 2 weeks or so. Amazon.com has it (see link to the left if you want to buy it!) and I have ONE copy that the publisher sent me in advance which I can oooh and aaah over. Let me tellya, it never gets old to get a new book in the mail with your name on it.
I'll try to add more later, but I have to get to sleep so I can get up for baseball in the morning!
It's Valentine's Day and, as I have often said before, having a holiday which celebrates love and affection is a good thing, even if I have been avoiding stores, tv commercials, and tonight fancy restaurants, to keep from overdosing on the pinkness of it all.
corwin and I are going to do our romantic dinner for two TOMORROW to avoid the crowds.
Meanwhile, let's see, Atlanta was fun, the Fetish Fair Fleamarket there went very well, although thanks to the hotel's intractability on some contract terms, we lost a pile of money. Five figures. Yes, ouch. But we proved we can export the concept and we feel good that future ones will make, rather than lose, money. We're looking at New Orleans and Philadelphia next.
When I say we, by the way, I mean me and Danny of Leather By Danny.
So last month I mentioned a possibility of an ebook collecting all my Kylaran continuity SM erotica stories. Looks like it is going through. I've titled it "Edge Plays," and the book will have about five stories plus the novella I started last month before Arisia and which I just finished this week. The novella concerns what happened to Arshan in the weeks leading up to when he meets Mriah, all of which takes place some years prior to the events in Telepaths Don't Need Safewords. I didn't expect it to be 29,000 words, but there you have it--one half-Kylaran noble can have a lot of sex/SM in a week. (Update: See left column or above for link to download it!)
I'll read from it on February 28th at the Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco, 7pm. For directions, visit the CSC web site. Their online calendar is way out of date so don't bother looking at it, just know I'll be there on Tuesday the 28th and come and hear some very juicy smut.
I've finally written the essay on whether I think Snape is evil or not. Find it on Gather at http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474976729328. What's "Gather?" Well, it's sort of the next generation of web community after Live Journal. Kind of like Blogging meets NPR. I notice as of today the little "beta" has gone away, so it would appear they are fully launched. If you want to join my Gather community, email me and I will send you an invite.
My Harry Potter obsession continues. Having just re-read all the books again while working on my Snape essay, I am beginning to worry that I may spoil my enjoyment of Book 7 by discovering spoilers for myself. I've developed some very well-supported theories about what may happen, which is new for me. Usually I am content to just let the author do the work and I just go along for the ride. But these kind of obsessions fuel my own creative engine, so I have not reined in my imagination one bit.
This past weekend was the Arisia Science Fiction Convention, which continues to be some of the most fun I ever have at conventions. It helps that the con was founded by and is still run by a bunch of people who think a lot like me, and there is a lot of sex-positive programming. I traditionally do a reading of my latest erotic science fiction on Friday night, and follow it with a Circlet Press party.
This year I read two totally new pieces, one called "The Spark," which I just sold to Lynne Jamneck's as-yet-untitled lesbian erotic sf anthology for Alice Street Editions, and one that is so new I only wrote it on the day before the convention. I have had a feeling that I was due for a major fiction dump of some kind for a few weeks now. It seems to me that when I get really obsessed with a movie or book, such that I want to watch it over and over or read it over and over, it usually means that in the back of my head something is brewing and about to come out. I sat down to write this new piece on Thursday and ended up writing not only it but about four other sections of an ongoing story in the life of Arshan, one of the two main characters in Telepaths Don't Need Safewords. My plan is to finish up the other parts I started and then to perhaps put them all together along with all the other short stories I've written since Telepaths that deal with the same universe, some of which relate directly to Arshan and Mriah, others which are just in the Kylaran continuity. The idea is to put them together in an e-book that the Erotica Authors Association would offer exclusively for a 6 month period, and then I'd sell it elsewhere. I still know close to nothing about e-books short of a little advice Adrian Hunter gave me a while ago -- perhaps I ought to email him and see if he remembers me.
In related news, I think Harper Collins has put Black Feathers out of print without telling me. It is no longer available on Amazon.com except through used book sellers, which is as close to a definition of "out of print" as you can get. I sent a letter demanding the rights back or a reprint (ha!). The e-book of that which Harper published may still be available, but I'll be demanding those rights, too, since the print edition is no more.
Anyway, the thing I got obsessed with in the past few weeks is the Harry Potter films and books. All right, I was already a huge fan, wore my robes to the movie premiere, did the midnight party thing for the last 3 books, etc . . . But I got sick right before Xmas, a sinus infection that turned into a bronchial infection and which basically had me dragging around useless for about 10 days (and I still haven't completely recovered). During the useless period, I rented all the HP movies and watched them again, and then went to see Movie 4 for the second time.
When I finally sat down to write, I didn't get up for about eight to ten hours, that is how much I wrote, and the well was far from dry. So this is very good.
Meanwhile, because writing erotica can be so draining, over the past two days to keep my writing energy up I have written some critical essays analyzing various themes in the Harry Potter works. I have posted them to Gather, which is a kind of next-generation beyond LiveJournal, and you can have a look if you are interested:
Death And Afterward In Harry Potter
Flight as a Metaphor for Freedom in Harry Potter
Yesterday was also the latest regional meeting of SABR Boston, the local chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research, which I enjoyed immensely. I run the fundraising raffle for these meetings and it is loads of fun.
My next big adventures are the upcoming Fetish Fair Fleamarkets, one in the Boston area January 27-29, and one in the Atlanta area February 3-5. we're desperate to get more people to stay in the hotel, so if you are at all interested or curious about BDSM and would like to attend a great event which is easy on the wallet (only $10 for all vending and classes, $25 and up for fetish masquerade ball tickets), check out the Atlanta FFF web page and please make a hotel reservation . . .
Winter is officially here today; it snowed all day and about 2-3 inches accumulated. I ran errands, and everywhere I went I had to get the snow off my windows each time. The roads were not bad--it was just above freezing and traffic melted what was there--but they say there is a chance we might get something heavier on Tuesday. Sigh.
Life has been extremely hectic lately, with lots of deadlines and crunch times, but eventually the projects will be knocked off and I will have some space clear to write some fiction again, right? Well, that's what I keep telling myself. The projects have been very good, though. I was one of the main editors on a book called '75: The Red Sox Team That Saved Baseball (which you can buy by clicking on the Amazon box in the left column . . . hint hint...), which was a local SABR chapter project--meaning I did it for love, not money. I also just finished editing an anthology of fiction for Thunder's Mouth Press to be called "Sex In The System," an anthology of high tech sex stories. I got great stories from Joe Haldeman, Shariann Lewitt, Scott Westerfeld, Sarah Micklem, and many others for it. I think it is due out in Spring 2006--don't have the exact date from the publisher yet, but I will post when I do.
Meanwhile, I'm starting to think BLACK FEATHERS may have just been remaindered. All of a sudden Amazon.com isn't selling it, but Amazon re-sellers are for like $2.50 a book. Hmm. Still no publisher on the "sequel," which is strange since Black Feathers really sold pretty well. You'd think someone would give a shot at the next book of its kind.
Thanksgiving went absolutely swimmingly. Scliff, corwin, and I managed to pull off our most ambitious menu yet. In fact, it was the first time in 20 years of "Duck Day" that we actually printed up a menu. Here's what it read:
Duck Day 2005 (Menu with wine pairings)
Assorted Cheeses and Wines
Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
with bread sticks
Lahn Sauvignon Alto Adige 2003
Pears poached in port on greens
duck liver mousse
Cassoulet Semiotique: "The Signs of Cassoulet"
duck confit and duck sausage
garlicky white beans
Domaine Le Clos De Caveau
Vacqueryas Cote du Rhone 2001
Intermezzo: champagne lemongrass granita a la Aquavit
Duck "Ikea" with lingonberry sauce
served with shaved parsnips
and haricots verts
Orlando Abrigo Langhe Nebbiolo 2003
The Washing of the Dishes
Chocolate Soup "Chinois"
served with sweet Chinese crisps and
a strawberry-filled dessert wonton
Pear Tart with Almond Cream
I was particularly pleased with the way the "chocolate soup" came out. The idea for this dessert came about when we ate some time ago at Taberna de Haro where they serve a dessert called "natillas," which is a vanilla custard soup. Theirs is delicious, so much so that we ordered a second serving of it, but it has a custard-y flavor that makes one wonder why serve it at the consistency of a soup? Could you make a true vanilla soup that was not a custard (or egg) base?
Also a few years back corwin wanted to do a white chocolate dessert and we found it hard to get a consistent flavor that didn't end up either being overpowered by any other darker chocolate. I did find several recipes on the web for "chocolate soup" and I thought, perhaps instead of vanilla soup, I should be trying to make white chocolate soup?
At Halloween I previewed white chocolate soup experiment #1, and it was quite good. At Ted's housewarming I tried #2, which had more booze in it and discovered that cognac or bourbon could give it a delightful bite, but that Ghirardelli is too grainy. Then I tried a dark chocolate version to bring to dinner at Shariann and John's. corwin had been talking about wanting to do some kind of crisp for the topping, perhaps something like the angel wings that Pat made last holiday season. I thought, though, that it might be better to do something like the crispy fried noodles they give you for wotnon soup at suburban Chinese restaurants. corwin searched long and hard to find a wonton skin recipe (almost every recipe tells you to just buy them), then combined it with a fortune cookie dough recipe to make a sweet wonton skin. We fried up some crisps of it and they worked great.
The final step was to make the "dessert wonton" to go on the side of the cup. The idea for the final presentation is that each cup would have in it half dark chocolate soup and half white chocolate soup (like a yin/yang symbol), topped with a crisp knot and served with a fruit-filled fried dessert wonton on the side. corwin had his heart set on something orange-flavored, but all you can get is marmalade, which is always too bitter for him because of the skin. In the end we tried it with a half of a frozen strawberry, and that worked perfectly. The frozen fruit withstood the hot oil while the wonton got godo and crisp, and didn't melt or seep away. Getting both soups into the same cups was quite a trick, a two-person coordinated operation--fortunately it could be done the day before when no one was around to see the spillage. We fried the crisps earlier in the day and the final part, the dessert wonton, we fried right before serving. Email me if you want the complete recipe with all the steps--I just haven't gotten around to typing it up, yet.
corwin and I are taking a course in Okazaki Restorative Massage. It is one full weekend a month for 8 months with a fellow named Tom Ryan, who has been teaching ORM since 1987. ORM is a style of massage that deals with keeping your chi flowing and which is particularly good for martial artists. It can be painful at times, but so can going to the chiropractor. At the end of the 150 hour course we will be certified technicians in ORM. We are learning anatomy and physiology as part of the course, and a lot of Chinese medicine, as well.
Now that I think about it, the world's most famous practitioner of ORM may have just passed away. I'm talking about Pat Morita, who used some kind of restorative massage technique on Daniel-san in The Karate Kid. Sure, that was the Hollywood version, but now you know what I am talking about.
Meanwhile, I am still feeling very good about tae kwon do. I started up in classes again in August after a three year layoff. My knees ache a bit and my elbow flares up from time to time, but getting really sweaty and stretched out it better for me than any trip to the chiropractor ever was. Hard to imagine but I was never really loose for about 5 years, and now I am finally getting it back. It's not a coincidence that this is happening now, though one could say it has fateful contributing factors. For one, I always knew I was going to go back, it was just a matter of when. The fact that corwin started danzan ryu jujitsu this year helped, as his enthusiasm for it really helped me to whet my appetite for it again, and also his teacher, our friend Steve Balzac, had us over for dinner one night. Steve has done the full Okazaki massage treatment on me a few times and he said, "you know, your problem is that now all your strength is on your front side, and your back is weak." After hearing that, I finally added a series of lumbar strengthening exercises to my daily routine and guess what? A lot of the lingering chronic pain I had for years, finally went away. My doctors--even my chropractor--had been telling me all along to do a lot of back stretching, and to do a lot of situps. I suppose it should have been a no-brainer to strengthen my back too, once the spasms had gone, but it took Steve to point it out. Once I started doing that, I knew I was ready to go back.
I am not quite back to my usual level of ass-kicking. There is still some lost flexibility and strength to regain. But generally speaking, I'm on the way.
Now I'm looking forward to Christmas and holiday parties. Ours is on New Year's Eve, as usual, and if you are reading this and thinking you should have been invited but you didn't see it, email because we may not have your current address. (And actually, as of December 4th when I'm writing this, corwin hasn't mailed the invite yet . . .) Speaking of which, Santa if you are reading this, I did update my online wish list at http://www.ceciliatan.com/wish-list.html and I have my one at Amazon.com.
I hate Microsoft Word. I use it as the word processor to edit my raw HTML files like this one and all too often it just crashed on me in the middle. I get the "Microsoft Word has unexpectedly quit" message, or sometimes one that says Word will now restart and try to recover my work. Not once has it ever recovered a single word. Pain in the ass.
I don't recommend music very often, because there is little that I hear that really blows me away, but I really got into Archetribe. The link goes to Amazon (and yes I get an associate's commission if you buy it there), where there are some sample MP3s. The only way I can describe this double-CD set is to say it is incredibly subtle. It has some similarities with Afro-Celt Sound System, but without the bang-you-over-the-head rhythm and hooks that are Afro-Celt. This is not "dance music." It is trippy, exacting, beautiful, listenable, and wholly unique.
Dinner party season is here--we kicked it off with a sit-down affair on Halloween night. I got dressed up like something dark and scary for the kids (black leather mask, black tri-corn hat, big black cloak. . . ) which was great fun. Some of them were actually scared to come through the outer door onto the porch to get their candy. Of course their fear soon turned to delight as I told them to take 2 or 3 candy bars . . .
That is one of those great moments, when fear turns to delight. I think the moment I became a goth came when I was six years old, at Disney World. I was one of those kids who was always waking up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep because I was afraid of things. (Godzilla, the apes from Planet of the Apes, giant germs that could come through walls, the house catching on fire. . . ). But during the daytime I was also one of the fearless kids--the first one to jump into the deep end of the pool, or climb to the tippy top of a tree. I suppose you could say I was more afraid of things I could imagine than things I could deal with. But when we went to Disney World, I avoided the Haunted Mansion. I thought, just what I need, another something to keep me awake at night. (I am the same kid who wouldn't go to see the Star Wars movie because the TV commercial showed it had monsters in it. I eventually did see it, with a friend and her two younger siblings.) But I didn't want to appear chicken. I managed to put it off until the last possible moment, and then we went in.
Of course I loved it. It was scary at first, the Stretch Room, the thunder and lightning, but it quickly turns fun. Morbidly, creepily fun, delightfully morbidly creepy and fun. it was the only ride that I begged to go on a second time.
My favorite quote of this Halloween came from a little girl in a pink bunny suit. She must have been about four or five, and she was one of the ones who hung back until her mom assured her it was OK, that I wasn't going to bite. After she took her candy bars, her mother prompted her to say Thank You, which she did, but then as they turned to go, and she reached up and took her mother's hand, she said "So, why do I have to say thank you if she was going to give me the candy anyway?"
Speaking of playing dress up, may I put in a plug for the short film Drag Queen Heist, written by and starring J. T. Tepnapa? No, this one you cannot buy on Amazon. In fact, you can't even buy it online anywhere as far as I can tell, but you can get a copy of the Nifty DVD by emailing the folks at SkyAngel Films. The short film is quite funny, but the DVD includes a bonus easter egg of the even more gut-splitting '50s "adolescent health" film "Masturbation: Putting the Fun Back Into Self-Loving." And if you're wondering where you've seen J.T. Tepnapa before, he plays a prominent role in the all fan-produced Star Trek: Hidden Fronter which streams on the web at www.hiddenfrontier.org. Going where no Trek has gone before.
Finally, can you believe that corwin and I have our 14th anniversary tomorrow? Kinda neat, eh? We're going out for a romantic dinner for two, but we're also celebrating next week also, because the site of our first date in 1991, The East Coast Grill in Inman Square, is having their 20th anniversary. To celebrate, they are having "old school" week and serving old menu items at THEIR OLD PRICES. So three-course prix fixe for $20. I emailed to say we were coming in and to beg for the return of one of the things that we ate on that first date 14 years ago: Jamaican Party Beef From Hell. My mouth is watering as I type this--they emailed me back to say they would make some up for us specially. Here's to another fourteen years!
October 15, 2005
Wow, for a minute there is actually stopped raining. It was quiet and there was no traffic and no sound of rain hitting the window or the roof. Then it began to fall again, and a car went by, but for a second it was eerie, like: what's missing?
It has been raining for 9 straight days now, in what I can only assume is a heavenly crying jag over the fact that the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox got swept out of the playoffs by the White Sox, this after being beaten in the final series with the Yankees for the division title as well. Red Sox Nation deserved better, at least ONE win to exult over.
The Yankees at least pushed it to the final game in the best of five against the Angels, before they too were left by the roadside. There will be no Round Three of the Yanks/Sox playoffs we have become used to. But it is only a matter of time.
Meanwhile, I am moving on with my life. It must be a sign that I am overloaded that I actually found the exit of the Yankees from the postseason as something of a relief. I'm drowning in responsibilities and deadlines which seem to come up faster than I can knock them off. The stress has not been good on my health lately, but I have been combatting it with regular workouts in tae kwon do for the first time in years and years. I'm still very far from where I was, and where I would like to be, but at least I am getting my heart rate up and my muscles stretched.
I'm back at King Richard's Faire, working for Billy Miller the flute-maker. I would have been there in September but when I didn't hear from him I assumed it was because he decided not to come back after the bad money year we had last year. No, it was that he lost my home number (which hasn't changed in 10 years) and wrote my cell phone number down wrong, so didn't get in touch with me until three weeks into the run. The only reason I have time to update the web page today, actually, is that we are rained out. I went down to the site today planning to lead a NELA tour group and then work in the afternoon and the entire place was under water. They had pumps going like crazy but still waited until 9:30 am to call the day off. It is supposed to -- finally -- stop pouring tonight and so tomorrow should be muddy on the ground but the air will be dry.
Saw MIRRORMASK, the new Neil Gaiman/Dave McKean movie. Quite entrancing. It's sort of a YA movie (young adult), much more satisfying than its genetic predecessor from the same Jim Henson Company -- Labyrinth -- in which one never really believes for one second that a young Jennifer Connolly (A Beautiful Mind) would actually choose her infant brother over the beguiling and beautiful David Bowie. Of course the real DNA ancestor of both films is "The Wizard of Oz," and I'm sure someone out there right now is writing a film crit thesis about exactly that. Or they will be soon. It would seem that at this stage of his life, Neil's muses are his daughters -- or at least they are some of the time -- as can also be seen in the book Coraline, and the book and TV series "Neverwhere." I remarked to corwin as we left the theater last night that I wonder how Neil's oeuvre might be different had he not had daughters, and all daughters at that? His inner anxieties translate into beguiling fantasy.
This reminds me of something I've been trying to figure out. I've never been particularly good at remembering names, but it seems like especially recently I will come up with a name or nickname for a person that is only to be used in my internal thoughts, and the next thing you know that is the only name I seem to have room for in my brain. You'll know this has happened to me if you hear me say something to you like "Hello, Whiskers, how are you?" and you are not a cat.
Two books arrived recently that could not be more different. The first was " Fenway Fiction" edited by Adam Pachter, which contains an early draft of chapter one of Bambino Road, the Babe Ruth fantasy novel I wrote, and which I was very pleased to find has a lot of really, really good pieces of contemporary fiction in it. The other is a large tome called " Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong," edited by Russ Kick, which contains an essay I wrote about how action movies are the new pornography. The book is star-studded and worth a look at the table of contents which includes just about every sex writer you can name working today.
The next big thing that will come will be The 50 Greatest Red Sox Games, due in March 2006. I am proofing the page layout now... and in fact I should get back to doing that this very minute. Until next month!
Well, the summer flew by and I felt the first pangs of Autumn Blues on Friday because there was a scent of chill in the air and the Yankees had lost the night before. We face the prospect that the Yankees may not make it into the postseason for the first time since 1996. Then again, they may pull it off. But the anxiety can be a killer, eh?
Two weeks ago I started tae kwon do again for the first time after a three year lay off. I've been itching to get back into it but I wanted to wait until my baseball league's season ended. Well, it ended, my team came in second place in the league standings, I batted over .400, and I'm not done yet. I plan to play again next year, assuming I don't injure myself in tae kwon do...
...which I already have. This was the other reason for feeling pangs of depression on Friday. On Thursday night I went to TKD class, my fifth one since returning, and after class I was feeling my knee and it really didn't feel right. Then I noticed whenever I put weight on it a certain way, I got a shooting pain down the outside of my shin. Ouch. It feels to me like I strained the lateral collateral ligament, which is NOT one of the parts of my knee I've ever had trouble with before.
That's annoying, but the knees are 38 years old, and often feel like they are ten years older than that. I had at first been bummed that I will miss class next week for travel, but now it appears I need to rest this tweak before I can go back. So perhaps it is just as well that tomorrow morning I leave for Florida for my father's 70th birthday. We're celebrating it with him at Tropicana Field on Tuesday, when the Yankees will be there.
After spending time with my parents in the Tampa area (we're also planning to go fishing), corwin and I are headed to Miami to see his parents for a few days, and then it will be back to Mass. for the oncoming fall and winter. Or, as I like to call it: "soup season." In fact, it's already been getting down into the fifties at night, and since we don't put the furnaces on for another month or so, I've already started making soups.
I invented one the other day, using a fresh jalapeno pepper, a can of coconut milk, lemongrass, bell peppers, cilantro, some water and a boullion cube. Came out sort of like tom kah gai, but mellower. And damn easy.
The latest cool thing I would like to recommend to all my friends: sudoku puzzles. This is the number puzzle craze that swept japan, then London, and now is hitting here. Will Shortz has some books out, and corwin and I have been doing the daily sudoku competition at Sudoku Online -- the prize for which is a book of sudoku puzzles! We haven't won yet, but the puzzles are of very good quality. Surprisingly, right now I am faster at solving them than corwin is, but he will probably catch up. I say surprising because he is Mr. Numbers, and I am not, but sudoku are less about math so much as they are a logic puzzle. Each puzzle is a 9x9 grid that you must populate with the single digits 1 - 9, with only one of each integer in each column, row, and square. You are provided with some and must fill in the rest. They are perhaps even more addictive than crossword puzzles, and a nice break from word puzzles (which I also love).
Other than the knee tweak, everything here is going swimmingly, the best it has been in years. Well, okay, Circlet Press continues to struggle in the difficult book industry, as does my career overall as a writer, but we persevere. I feel very good about recent artistic achievements (did I mention I finished writing that Babe Ruth novel I started working on 5-6 years ago?) and my prospects for the future. Just a lot of good stuff in my life right now.
I keep reminding myself of that when I feel the edges of depression nibbling at my psyche. Today is the anniversary, after all, of the blackest moment of the blackest period of my life. The devastation in New orleans has not hit me as hard as 9-11 did, partly, I am sure, because I am in a better state of mind to handle it. I obsessively watched the CNN.com coverage for several days, then made some donations, but I don't obsess. Besides the Red Cross, I also donated to two animal rescue organizations. Noah's Wish is an organization aimed specifically at rescuing animals in disasters, and they have collected hundreds of lost pets in Slidell, LA. They are housing them, feeding them, providing medical care, etc... while trying to reunite them with their owners. People are being reunited with their pets every day through their efforts. The other organization which is closest to New Orleans is the LSU School of Veterinary medicine, which is coordinating all the New Orleans animal rescue efforts (The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LA/SPCA), the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association (LVMA), the Louisiana Animal Control Association (LACA), and the LSU AgCenter are all part of it). The John Parker Coliseum at LSU has been turned into a huge animal shelter. Find out more at The LSU web site. Both organizations take donations online. Hint hint.
Now to make it through soup season, and the deep part of winter, which is jigsaw puzzle and dinner party season. Perhaps we'll get people together for mah jongg as well.
June 22, 2005
Summer has finally sort of arrived here in Boston, by which I mean I turned off the furnaces, the solstice happened, and the like. But they say tonight we can expect it to be down to 53 degrees again. The cats are so unhappy about it being cold and rainy all spring, they have been fighting to get into my lap.
I've been spending a lot of time in front of the computer (even for me), but the result is the "50 Greatest Red Sox Games" book is done and off to the publisher. Bill (Nowlin) and I still have a few piddly things to do, but the big monkey is off my back.
The Yankees, meanwhile, have been alternately unbeatable and awful all season, going on a long winning streak, then a long losing streak, now a winning streak... it's weird. Even my friend Eric the stats guy, who usually has a mathematical explanation for what seem like variations from the norm, is stumped.
Eric, by the way, is also one of the organizers of Readercon, which he not only convinced me to go to instead of Old Timer's Day at Yankee Stadium, he also convinced me to take part in the Kirk Poland Memorial Bad prose Competition. His actual words on the phone were "You have thirty seconds to convince me why you should not do the Kirk Poland this year." Eric, who is a huge Red Sox fan and one of the first people in science fiction fandom to talk baseball with me (back when we were in the closet about it because sf fandom used to be sports-phobic), had called during last night's game(s), which surprised me, but apparently he was TIVOing the Sox game for later consumption. The Yankees, meanwhile, were getting their asses handed to them by the Devil Rays, 10-2. I was following the game on MLB.TV, which is live streaming video on the Internet. (Did I mention I love technology?)
Anyway, the Yankees started to rally just as he called--Gary Sheffield hit a three run homer--so I figured Eric must have been the lucky charm, and so I kept him on the phone. In fact, I agreed to do the contest. If he had called two days ago, my excuse would have been "Well, I'm writing this book on the Red Sox and it is completely sucking up all my time." But, the manuscript went into Fedex yesterday, and so ... I said yes. Although Eric got off the phone with the score 10-6, to try to squelch the rally, the Yankees later scored 13 runs in the 8th inning and won 20-11. No, I'm not making that up. That's only one run short of their team record for most runs in an inning (set in 1920 in Washington... you know these things when you write baseball history books...).
Anyway, you're wondering "what's a Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition?" (That or you are laughing your ass off in anticipation.) This quote from Diane Patterson's weblog "Nobody Knows Anything," about the 1998 Worldcon: "... the Kirk Poland contest [is] named for a character in a novel about fandom written in the early 70s. ... The important bit is that Kirk Poland is shorthand for "extremely bad SF writer," much like Bulwer-Lytton is in general for prose." Like a game of "Dictionary" (or "Bullshit" if you play with grown-ups), each contestant is trying to fool the audience into picking their rendition of something as the "real" one. In this case, it is a rendition of bad sf/f prose. But not just BAD sf/f prose, but PUBLISHED sf/f prose. The moderator reads the first half of a passage, and then each contestant reads a completion (one the real one and the others fake. The audience votes on which they think is the match--or sometimes they just go off their nut and vote for the funniest, or the worst...
The first Kirk Poland I attended I laughed so hard that the next day, my sides hurt and I couldn't sit up. I figure competing in it is a win-win situation. If I win, I get a very unique accomplishment to add to my accolades. If I lose, I get to say, gee, I just CAN'T write bad science fiction.
Now for some recommendations. Do you like Star Trek? Do you like it so much that now that there is no Trek on the air, for the first time in decades, that you find that you miss it? Well, check out Hidden Frontier. It is a completely fan-writte, fan-acted, and fan-produced Star Trek, now in its SIXTH season. The eps stream live on the web, run about 25 minutes each, and are very very... well... Star Trekky. They have replicated the hallmarks of the show, good and bad, right down to the stilted dialogue, baffling villains, stiff body language, rubber science, and annoying character quirks. I am ADDICTED to it, I tell you.
I got interested in watching a few episodes because some of the cast & crew will be guests of honor at Gaylaxicon this year (Hidden Frontier has some gay characters and a story arc about them that carries over from season to season) and I wanted to know a bit about it before meeting them. Now, I'm completely hooked. It takes about four episodes before it begins to eat your brain, but then it does.
Another thing that is eating my brain lately is MegaTokyo. This web comic by Fred Gallagher has been collected into three manga-style volumes by Dark Horse, and I picked up Vol. 1 free at Book Expo America. This is serious lough out loud stuff if you are a geek or if you live with one. I immediately went out and bought volumes 2 and 3, and now I'm following the web comic online. The basic premise is that our heros, Piro and Largo, two heavy-duty American gamers, end up in Tokyo without the money to get home. The Tokyo they visit is the one that exists in the back of all us sf-loving geeks' heads... one where every now and then a giant fire-breathing turtle comes and knocks down some buildings, and all the school girls look like... oh, wait, that part's real. Anyway, MegaTokyo is not only a terrific postmodern romp through the psyche of geek subculture, it turns out to be a very sophisticated study of gender and gender-relations. If I were teaching a class on "gender in 21st century literature" or something, this would be on the reading list. I'm going to nominate it for the James Tiptree Award, though having been on the jury for the award last year, I know that it's unlikely to win, since an ongoing comic isn't contained and 'judge-able" like a novel or a short story is. Anyhow, check it out.
Lastly, while I'm on recommendations, here are some restaurant recommendations for the Boston/Cambridge/Somerville area:
Oops. Didn't update the ol' homestead.. I mean homepage... as often as usual in the last several months. Finishing up "50 Greatest Red Sox Games" and keeping Circlet Press above water have pretty much been taking up all my time. That and running programming for NELA. And SABR Boston stuff. Oh and also promoting and traveling around for the newly released "50 Greatest Yankee Games" book.
YES! It's out! Can I now brag a bit? Check out this from the Publishers Weekly review: " Tan does a fine job choosing the most important contests from 100 seasons of Yankee baseball and recounting them in a gripping style." And also " Tan displays a knack for narrative, developing entertaining, dramatic story lines even though the outcome is never a surprise. If you saw one of the games (or watched it on television), long-forgotten details will come flooding back. If you didn't see the game, you'll almost feel as if you were there." Yes! What a rave! The reviewer understood what I was trying to do, and said I succeeded. Phew.
I have a lot of friends and relatives wanting personalized autographed copies, so if you are one of them, here's what you do. First you PayPal me $28 per book, which includes the price of the hardcover book AND the shipping in US or Canada, by going to www.paypal.com and choosing to "Send Money" to "firstname.lastname@example.org." Then you tell me in the form there who you want it made out to, spell their name correctly, and put the address you want it sent to. That's all there is to it. Alternately, send me a check in the mail with the same info to 1770 Mass. Ave, #278, Cambridge, MA 02140. If you don't want it autographed by me, you can buy it at Amazon.com and if you do it by clicking on the link here: 50 Greatest Yankees Purchase Page -- I will get credit for it!
I recently added a few more speaking engagements for the Yankees book, and some dates changed, so check the "tour schedule" for the latest info.
My latest erotica editing job, "Blood Surrender: Erotic Vampire Stories" is supposedly out from Blue Moon Books. i say supposedly because although I have physically seen it in the booktore, I have not received MY copies of the book yet... this is anotehr one you an orer from Amazon and I will get credit for it if you click on the following: Blood Surrender Purchase Page (They say you must buy right away within the current session and not just put in your cart for later to get the credit.)
Sent in my registration to play baseball again this summer with the Pawtucket Slaterettes, and maybe this will be my last season? I will leave it open for now, but we'll see how the old knees hold up. And the elbow. And the lower back... I also am definitely planning that in September I will start up tae kwon do again. corwin has lately been doing DanZan Ryu Jujitsu at MIT where an old friend of ours teaches in the student/alumni club. He has fallen head over heels for it, despite tearing his groin and also mucking up his rotator cuff. It must be love... What I like about it is he is finally learning a martial art that involves Kicking Some Ass. What he studied before, aikido, was nice, and I respected it, but it never struck me as very much fun. Now he knows why.
On or around May 7th look for a podcast interview with me here: http://smallworldpodcast.com -- about erotica, science fiction, SM, feminism, and other similar topics.
Oh yeah, and my nephew Owen Zachary Tan was born in April, for those who are wondering how my brother and his wife/mysister-in-law are doing. corwin and I are getting ready to be the "cool aunt & uncle" though this kid will actually have a LOT of those!
Lastly, here's a reminder to any Red Sox fans who are reading this. I need your suggestions and nominations for the final game to be included in "50 Greatest Red Sox Games" -- follow this link: http://50greatest.spellbook.net/phpBB2/ and post your suggetions there!
Argh, my computer keeps crashing as I try to write this journal entry. I am very happy with my new computer because it is a big, sexy iBook G4, and my old iBook was starting to get old and slow and its disk too crammed... so I went and bought a new one, with the 14" screen, to make sure I had enough workstations for when my interns started this semester. More on that in a moment. Anyway, the new iBook is snazzy and sexy, but my old Mac Classic applications are being veeeery buggy. I write almost exclusively with a word processor called WriteNow, which I have been using for EIGHTEEN YEARS now (holy crap!) and the version in particular I am on, version 4.0, I have been on for over a decade. Well, the little program that could may have finally met its match but I shudder to think I will have to convert twenty years of writing archives into Microsoft Word format. A friend suggested I try AppleWorks instead, but Word's ubiquity is its only virtue, and the only virtue that matters at this point. Gah. I try never to use Microsoft products, and Word in particular has many horrible kludges. But if WriteNow keeps crashing, which it does several times a day... I don't see any other choice. (There is no current version of WriteNow, a program that was made by T-Maker, Steve Jobs' old company after he left Apple, and before he went to NEXT, which is why the two platforms WriteNow ran on were Macs and the NEXT Machine.)
Okay, now for something less geeky. Or not. It is winter, and that means non-baseball season, or as we called it in recent years, "Harry-potter-lordoftherings-season." In other words, when there is no baseball, it is my time to turn to other entertainment pursuits, like movies, and DVDs, and listening to music on the radio and CDs and the like. Every year I get to rediscover how much fun my CD collection is (The Best of Oingo Boingo has aged well, and Ottmar Liebert and Luna Negra continue to entrance, and gee, I had forgotten how much Iliked that Stone Edge album...). This year, now that I have watched absolutely ALL the extra features on the Return of the King extended edition DVD, including BOTH easter eggs, my attention has turned to the new version of Battlestar Galactica.
I was a huge fan of the old Battlestar Galactica--years after the show had gone off the air my best friend and I were still playing let's pretend games based on the scenario (which is why it is especially funny that we got to meet Richard Hatch together at a sf convention in 1996...). Now, we're thirty something, and the old show seems rather overpopulated with goodie-goodies and sanctimony, and we're ready for something a bit grittier. Now that I think about it, our let's pretend scenarios got pretty gritty, too, so it should not be a surprise that I am really enjoying the newly "re-imagined" BSG on the SciFi Channel. (No, I still don't have a tv, but I have good geek friends who have the technology to make sure I get to see it.) The way I see it, BSG always shared some genetic material with Star Trek, which I was absolutely obsessed with as a child, when it used to show every day at 6pm on Channel 11 in New York (the station eventually known as "Eleven Alive!"). Gene Rodenberry's original idea for the star "trek" was that humans would be taking a wagon train across the stars. The Starship Enterprise ended up not being that, but Glen A. Larson's orginal Battlestar Galactica certainly was exactly that. The new BSG also has some kinship with Babylon 5, the first "space show" I took seriously as an adult. Bab5 attempted to tell a more epic scale story than the "small screen" usually allows, the tv formula usually requiring a restoration of the status quo for every episode. Bab5 dropped that concept as early as it could and at the time it seemed quite revolutionary. Now shows in many genres do the same--as do comic books, which used to also follow that single-issue structure--as the audiences have become more sophisticated consumers of the media. Trek, meanwhile, was considered fairly radical at the time in the 1960s, introducing social issues, etc... and as new trek franchises sprang up, they did their share of social commentary, too. But every writer I have known who has written for Trek, either tv or book, has chafed at the restrictions placed on them by Paramount. Ron Moore, the new BSG's main creative force did his time as a trek writer, and benefits not only from his experience but from his new freedom. I am especially gratified to see a writer in the sf/f genre using the full range of human emotion and experience where love and sexual attraction are concerned! We've always said that just because you're busy saving the human race doesn't mean your libido or your heart will let you just shut them down. In fact, they may demand your attention more than ever. Moore has created a cast of flawed and realistic characters who you love and root for all the more because they don't fit the stereotype of "hero." I'm loving it.
I've also been reading a ton of books, but mostly for the Tiptree Award, an annual literary award for the work of science fiction or fantasy that best explores or exapnds our understanding of gender. I won't editorialize about the books we have been reading since the results will be out soon enough -- the winner to be announced in Juy at Gaylaxicon, right here in Cambridge, MA -- other than to say we've read some great books and some real dogs, some real irrelevant and others surprisingly relevant.
So I said above that I would say more about interns. In 1994, the very first intern I tried to hire chickened out before she even worked a single day, after I sent her a book to read, despite the fact that during her interview she had insisted to me that "we are very liberal here in Ohio." Since then I have had dozens upon dozens of interns, and it has never happened again. Until this month. This month I had not one, but BOTH interns I had hired for this semester poop out on me after one day of work. The first one worked a single day, then emailed me the next day to say she wasn't comfortable with our subject matter. Okay, I give her credit for being mature about it, knowing herself, and handling the matter in a professional manner. But then the next week I hired another, and deja vu all over again. Same thing. Two in a row? Can it be a coincidence? Or are today's college students so affected by the new Bush-style conservatism that they are afraid how it will look on their resume? Or are they really just that squeamish about sex and erotica? Jeez, that's scary and sad to contemplate.
So anyway, if you know anyone who wouldn't mind coming over to my house and being my clerical support for the next 12 weeks, 1-2 afternoons per week, please email me...
Other than that little hiccup, Circlet is getting back on track and I feel most of my life right now is flowing fairly nicely. corwin and I are enjoying a patch of domestic bliss, our taxes are done, the cats are healthy and aggressively affectionate, and we're both starting, finally, to exercise more. He's taken up jujitsu at MIT three nights a week, and I'm finally riding the exercise bike a friend loaned me and doing my lumbar stabilization exercises regularly. Tonight we supped on lemon-brined cornish game hen with pan vegetables. Last night it was white trout with garlic and herbs served with roasted asparagus. Tomorrow will be a warm spinach and duck confit salad for lunch and who knows what for dinner? (Actually, tomorrow dinner I will eat out, at the SABR Hot Stove meeting at John Harvard's Brew House...)
Now if only winter would end. Pitchers and catchers report this week.
So since I last wrote I have been to Spain and back. corwin and I went for ten days and had an absolutely amazing time. It was also interesting to note that it was the first trip in thirteen years we have taken as a couple that wasn't tacked on to a business trip, part of a family visit, or with other friends. I highly approve of this whole vacation thing.
Spain was a good choice for us because we loved the food there, loved the culture, and I speak Spanish. It's rusty, very rusty Spanish, but it meant that when we were in a taxi looking for a rental car office with no address, I could converse with the cab driver about what we should do next, where to go, what to try, etc. We saw Seville, which we loved, plus we drove through Ronda and Jaen, stayed in a castle, and then finished up in Granada to see the Alhambra. Sevilla I fell in love with and can imagine living there. Granada, not so much, unless I could live in a huge palace on a bluff overlooking the city... My love of really really really old things continues to manifest. We visited roman ruins from 3 A.D., moorish castles from 9th century, renaissance palaces from the 16th century, and everything in between. Our first night in Seville we ate dinner in a tavern that has been continuously operating as a tavern since 1386. And the food was good, too.
The Fetish Fair Fleamarket is this weekend (December 17-19), so this week is taken up with cranking out the final pieces of production for that, and then a few days to recover, and then the holidays are here. Still haven't finished my shopping, but I am getting close, at least.
Of course, right now all I want to do is lock myself in my office and work on BAMBINO ROAD, which has only two chapters to go and then it is finished. But that's not feasible, so I'll have to content myself with just adding a thousand words a day for a while. I had a few days in the past few weeks where I pretended I wasn't home and I wrote swaths of 5,000 and 10,000 words, which is how I wrote so quickly from beginning to now almost the end in a span of about five weeks. Now, if only I could write 50 GREATEST RED SOX GAMES as fast... but there is still research to be done.
Yes, I'm alive. I know it has been the longest gap in between home-page updates I have ever had (six months), but rest assured it wasn't because of anything bad. Well, not really. My elbow continues to be balky but it is improving. For a while there it was better if I kept my typing to a minimum--in fact, it still is, but screw that!
Let's see. Life has been very busy. I hardly know where to start... let's see. I played baseball with the Slaterettes again this summer and I continue to have a great time, even though this year my team didn't win a single game. No, not kidding. Check out the entries about it at Why I Like Baseball for more details. I suppose I proved to myself that it isn't just about winning, though, but about playing, for me. That shouldn't come as a surprise since I seem to like practice even better than games sometimes. I guess I'll keep playing until my body says I can't anymore.
I went back to King Richard's Faire this year, after a year off. Billy Miller, the flute maker who I have worked for since--what, 1991?--got talked into opening the shop again after skipping last year, and so I came back and worked 6 of 8 weekends. It was great to see a lot of my old friends again, but the Faire itself seems like it is going downhill fast. There were only a few days when it was really crowded. I don't know if Bonnie Shapiro has quit running advertising or what, but it was a bit depressing to see how thin the attendance was on some days. Don't know if Billy will be back next year--we'll see.
Bill Nowlin and I are now working on 50 Greatest Red Sox Games -- you can nominate a game at our discussion forum at http://50greatest.spellbook.net.
Meanwhile, in case you hadn't heard, hell froze over, pigs flew, and the Red Sox won the World Series. I was pretty caught up in it--there's nothing like a city in the throes of pennant fever, and championship fever goes to new heights. Even corwin was rooting for the Sox by game four of the World Series. They deserved to win is how I feel, if they could come back with the most unbelievable comeback in basebll history, after being down 3-0 to the Yankees, to come back and win four straight, and then four straight against the Cardinals! Nothing like a blood sacrifice (as Curt Schilling gave a new meaning to the phrase "red sock") under a blood red moon eclipse. Freaky.
As such, I'm now finally trying to finish the novel I began a few years ago, Bambino Road, about some people on a quest to reverse the curse. It had stalled a bit, mostly because I just couldn't figure out when the story should be set, given that the Sox kept NOT winning it. Now that they've done it, I am setting the story in 2003. I will probably have a first draft done by January at the rate I am going.
What else is new? Had to spend $8000 on a new furnace, and finally got the hole in the front hallway ceiling fixed. corwin and I also painted the front hall ourselves, and then swore: never again. It took us four solid days to do it, and for what our contractors would have charged for the same work... it wasn't worth the pain, physical strain, and time out of our lives we gave up to do it. Some people really enjoy doing their own renovation, or so I hear. I like some projects. corwin and I built a nice shelf for ourselves in the kitchen, for example. But no more painting, plastering, or carpentry, thanks.
I've been completely sucked into Rosemary Kirstein's Steerswoman saga. The fourth book in the series just came out, it is called The Lnaguage of Power. What's confusing is the first two books in the series I guess were originally publishd in some other format (perhaps from some other publisher), but now they are published as one volume under the title The Steerswoman's Road. Book Three, which is now Book Two, is The Lost Steersman. And then comes the most recent. All are completely engaging genre sf/f that have reached the place in mybrain that absolutely loved Marion ZImmer Bradley as a kid, but which is too grown-up now to enjoy reading those old Darkover novels anymore. Like the Darkover novels, you have a fantasy-like setting, but with hints that something science fictional is going on -- you pretty quickly figure out that the "wizards" who use magic are applying advanced understanding of the laws of science to keep a feudal populace submissive. Our main character is Rowan, a steerswoman. The steerswomen are a kind of knowledge-gathering society for the common (non-wizard) people. They walk around the world, charting and mapping it, asking questions and building understanding. Anyone can ask a steerswoman a question, and she will answer truthfully. Likewise, she can ask any question and you must answer back, or face being put under a ban so that no steerswoman will ever answer you again. The books are not only a very engaging amd moving adventure, with terrific characters and a lot of fresh turns, but they are a very nice investigation into the nature of scientific thought and the power of reasoning. I really enjoyed them and now I am on tenterhooks waiting for the next volume, which wont' be along for a while since Language of Power just came out in September. Argh.
Phew!! I've just finished some of the most intense working time in my life, finishing up the book pictured to the left, FIFTY GREATEST YANKEE GAMES. The manuscript is very nearly done, just one last chapter (which is being selected by the fans on the Internet--go to the Fifty Greatest discussion forum to choose your favorite game from the list of nominees.
Talk about fun, I got to go to Florida and hang around the Yankees and interview guys like Ron Guidry, Reggie Jackson, Graig Nettles--all the heroes of my youth, basically--plus guys who predate me like Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Ryne Duren, Phil Linz, Tom Tresh, and many, many more, just great guys. Al Downing, Elliott Maddox, Jim Kaat, you get the idea. Every time I talk to another player, I learn something.
So it has been fun, but it has also been work. I was looking over the research materials I have gathered, the books I have read, the PDFs which are eating up my hard drive, and realized I've basically done the amount of work that many people do for their masters thesis (and probably four times as much work as I did for my own masters). And to think that in many ways I've still only scratched the surface of what there is to know about the Yankees, much less major league history. It's easy to see why it can become a lifelong pursuit. Baseball is all about stories. Each game is a story, and the games add up to a longer story, the seasons add up to some epic stories, and each player in the game has his own story... there is no end to the interesting characters, the surprising situations, the ebb and flow of adversity and victory. Like I said, fun.
The book will be out next spring (2005) from Wiley.
Meanwhile, I've been weathering some severe ups and downs, mostly downs, with Circlet Press. Financially, the company has been in a gradual downward spiral ever since the LPC bankruptcy. Lately the downward motion has gotten steeper, and I am carrying the company on my credit cards and home equity line. As the debt deepens, I feel the tide in the book industry is working against us. Not only are there fewer independent stores all the time, the prevailing wind in the industry, as in the country right now, seems to be toward an anti-sex conservative trend. The reaction to Janet's nipple is only the tip of the iceberg, as it were. In all the millions of small decisions that get made in the book biz every day, right now I think it adds up to more family-oriented, "safe" books being given the advantage, and fewer things on the edge. It isn't that the people in the industry are particularly prudes (though plenty are), but that they will go whichever way they think the wind is blowing, following the political climate. You know, oh, did you get the memo? We're all supposed to cool it on the sex, drugs, and rock and roll for the moment.
I know the cycle will come around again, as it did after Bill Clinton was elected and the days of the Meese commission were finally sent downriver, and let's hope Kerry gets into the White House sooner rather than later, but I do not think Circlet is going to still be around by the time the wheel turns, at least not in our current form. Anyone want to buy a publishing house? Our current plan is to keep publishing, gradually, a few books a year, as we try to keep backlist sales flowing to reduce the inventory. But my prediction is that by the end of 2005 we will be ready to close up shop, or change our model significantly (I dunno, go to POD or something...)
In family life, things are fairly calm. corwin and I are still on the South Beach Diet. corwin's triglycerides were cut from 484 to 240 in three months, so yeah, the diet works. We've each lost around 10 pounds, and we cook a lot more at home, which is good both for our wallets and our health. Next, we really need to start exercising more. But one thing at a time.
I am supposed to play baseball with the Slaterettes in Rhode Island again this season, but I haven't heard anything since the draft. There was some talk that they were going to shuffle players around on the teams and I have not heard what team I'm with. I have not been able to work out, though, because of my elbow. I have been in physical therapy for a couple of months now, but the elbow continues to be cranky. The fact that I have had to do SOOO much typing on the book probably is one reason why the elbow is healing so slowly. I am icing it, doing exercises, stretching, wearing a wrist brace, and all that... but it is still sore all the time. corwin and I went out and played catch the other night, not for very long, just at 60 feet, and I am still feeling it. Sigh.
In other news, let's see, I just heard that Susie Bright has acccepted two pieces of mine for the Best American Erotica 2005, which is very nice. And "White Flames," the sequel to "Black Feathers," is now in circulation. As soon as the Yankees ms is finally turned in, I will do a little more on Bambino Road! And then, I start 50 Greatest Red Sox Games with Bill Nowin!
All right, my apologies that it has been almost three months since an update but after my hard rive crash in November, it took a few weeks to return to some semblance of computer normalcty here. Then came the holidays, and then January with the Fetish Fair Fleamarket (TM), Arisia, and the deadline for the first half of the "Fifty Greatest Yankees Games" manuscript. So here we are in February, in the blink of an eye.
Computer-wise I have not done anything with the dead drive. I decided to see if I could get along with my iBook being my main machine. With an external 120 GB drive, and my old AppleVision monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse, it is functioning pretty well. I still hate OS X, and with each upgrade I hate it more. I'm so frustrated with how hard it is to find anything--they've made it so similar to Windows in some ways that at this point, what is the point of recommending the Mac over other PCs. I feel like they hamstrung the one thing that was really their strength. Waah, waah, I sound like a child of the '80s because I am. I mourn for the Macintosh as we knew it.
My latest obsession, the Aubrey-Maturin novels of Patrick O'Brian. Went to see Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World and was hooked. I am up to book 9 of the 20 book series now. Actually I am stalled at book nine because I haven't bought it yet. Hunting through all the secondhand book stores to try to find half-price copies and the like, twenty books at $12-$13 each is a pretty penny! I was VERY tempted to just click the button on Amazon.com that says "Buy All 20 Books In The Series" but given that they were out of most of the early volumes, I didn't want to pre-pay and then be waiting around for them to arrive all out of order.
For Christmas I wanted to buy copies of the first six books in the series for a friend of mine, and was appalled to find them out of stock in almost every bookstore I looked in. Here in Cambridge, where we have still-surviving independent booksellers, including some of the best stores in the country as voted by Publishers Weekly, except for the movie tie-in edition of Book 1, all five of the first in the series were out of stock. Out of stock at Harvard Bookstore, at the Coop (which is a Barnes Ignoble), Borders, Wordsworth, everywhere I looked. So I went to Amazon.com and they had books 1, 3, and 5 ready to ship within 24 hours, but not book 2, 4, or 6. I ordered what I could and then checked B&N.com--they had 2, 4, and 6 but not 1, 3, and 5! Fine, I ordered those from there. Then, suspicious about the low stock levels in the stores, I checked the wholesaler stock at Ingram.
Out of stock. And on backorder. So it isn't the fault of the bookstores for not ordering it when the shelves got empty, nor the wholesalers for not keeping enough in. It's the fault of the publisher for not anticipating that there would be huge public demand for not just the movie tie-in edition of book one, but all the early books in the series! Major Hollywood movie to spur interest in a book series which is known to be addicting to its readers and which is such a perennial best-seller that it should never be allowed to get low on stock in the first place. Someone at the publisher (Norton) did not do their job. By the next week, not even Amazon or B&N had them anymore. How many people would have done what I did, which was give them as gifts during the holidays, except on not finding them anywhere, gave something else instead? How many movie-goers meant to pick it up and start the series, but on finding the books not on the shelf, put it off until later and never get around to it? How many sales were lost?
And people wonder why book publishing is in a slump?
Okay, end of rant. The books are marvelous, and Norton has finally caught up with the demand. There's nothing like spending another winter wrapped up in J.R. R. Tolkien, Patrick O'Brian, and other British wordsmiths. Also nothing like it for giving a writer an inferiority complex, if you're prone to that sort of thing, which thankfully I am not. I've seen "The Return of the King" twice now, and re-read the book once already this season.
But I am already planning for the end of winter. We went to a friend's house to watch the SuperBowl in High Definition Television and make pizza (a huge treat since corwin and I have been on the South Beach Diet since the end of November--we've both lost about 8-10 pounds and plateaued at this point, but we feel great). It was the only football game I watched this year, and now guess what? Football season is over! That means it is baseball season.
I am leaving for Florida on Friday to travel around hunting up former Yankees to interview for the "Fifty Greatest" book. I'm also helping to coach at National Girls In Sports Day at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Orlando. I've already set up to talk to Phil Linz and Jim Kaat while I'm there. I'll be down there two weeks, then come back to Mass for a bit, then go back down in mid-March to see some games.
Speaking of "Fifty Greatest," the discussion forum I long-promised is now open for business. Nominate a game, vote in a poll, debate the rankings on the bulletin board.
When I'm done with "Fifty Greatest Yankees Games," Bill Nowlin and I will co-write "Fifty Greatest Red Sox Games" as the next book in the series. So I will be busy for a while yet.
It's winter! How do I know? Because the cats keep trying to get into my lap. I borrowed an idea from my friend Lauren Burka recently. I put the heating pad on my desk and covered it with a towel. It's the only thing that keeps the cats from trying to sleep in my laptop and in the laser printer, making all work impossible. They do fight over who gets to sit on it, though, so I may have to install a second one.
Another reason I know it is winter--I've started my Christmas shopping! And for once I am not as completely flat broke as I have been in past years, so I've actually been able to think about things slightly in advance. Speaking of which, I've updated my wish list for those who want guidance on holiday shopping for me.
Here's my latest tale of woe: last Monday my hard drive on my desktop machine crashed. As usual some areas of technology were ahead of others and the 8.1 gigabyte drive I had was too large for the backup solutions on hand, so the disk was inadequately backed up. I am anal about keeping multiple copies of my writing stuff, so none of that was really affected. But I did lose all the graphics work I had done on the cover of The Fenway Project and so I have to start that over again from scratch, scanning the images and everything.
And how's this for Murphy's Law? None of the Eudora email files were backed up. (Why does Eudora keep that stuff in the system folder?) This year I started taking submissions for Circlet Press by email. So the entire summer's slush pile in email was wiped out without a trace, along with some manuscripts I actually wanted to accquire, and my correspondence with the authors. I don't even have a way to contact the authors. Crapola, man.
Data recovery services have quoted me prices for the disk from $700 to $1700. Yow. If I'm going to have to spend a thousand dollars on technology, I think I'd rather live with the lost data and buy a new machine! You can get a lot of computing power for that kind of money now! Sigh.
The other reason I know it's winter is because I feel crummy in the morning. This morning I woke up after a solid eight hours of sleep. I was not sleepy anymore. But I was in a rotten, rotten mood. I felt completely dissatisfied with life, unmotivated, unhappy, grouchy, etc... I guess you could say I 'got up on the wrong side of the bed.' I was thinking about that expression and wondering where it came from. And then I thought, if I go back to sleep, do I get a "do over" on waking up again? I wasn't sleepy anymore, but I decided to try it. I lay back down, and closed my eyes, and after a while I fell back to sleep. I woke up a while later feeling great. Much better. Much happier. Of course, I had "wasted" some portion of the day on the extra sleep, but I didn't feel miserable. I got up, started a load of laundry, got into the shower, fed the cats, made some lunch, returned some phone calls... and here I am updating my web pages. Pretty soon I'll tackle some other things on my rather long to-do list. Hmm, that reminds me, I have to move the laundry to the dryer. If you'll excuse me...
Okay, I'm back. I haven't said anything yet about the end of the baseball season, have I? We beat the Red Sox in one of the wildest culminations of a pennant race ever. Everything after that was kind of an afterthought... No, I'm not surprised the Marlins beat the Yankees. After they turned the Giants and the Cubs upside down, you knew they had what it took, and the Yankees were so exhausted after the Red Sox series... the fans, too, were drained. Honestly, I feel like it would have been nice to win the World Series, too, but for once it just didn't MEAN as much. To beat the Red Sox after the way that team pummeled us all season long, the way things played out with Pedro, the bench-clearing brawl, etc... Joe Torre said it in the postgame press conference: "It couldn't be more satisfying." Derek Jeter and George Steinbrenner are unhappy--they didn't want to "settle for second place." But who cares about the National League anyway? The pennant is ours.
In my writing life I am busier than I have been in a long time. I'm writing the Fifty Greatest Yankee Games book, which is quite time consuming. I rewrote two sf/f stories I had in inventory and sent them out last week to some magazines. I have a bunch of erotica anthology deadlines coming up (damn it, one of the things I lost was the "sticky note" with all the deadlines on it...). I actually had to turn down an offer to write a book last week! And when am I going to get the time to work on Bambino Road? Thank goodness the Yankees DID pull off a miracle in Game 7 of the ALCS--the book won't be any fun to write once the Red Sox finally win a World Series.
Well, I am back from Tucson, utterly dehydrated and very, very tired from the US Doctor for Africa "women's baseball marathon," 24 Hours For Africa. I played three two hour shifts in the game, got a nifty hit, stole a base (or was it a passed ball?), and scored a run. Oh yeah, and we raised something like $64,000 for mothers with HIV in Africa. Complete details and a slide show of my experiences are archived on my baseball page.
Oh yeah, and while I was there, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox in one of the most gripping seven game series' in franchise history. I watched the final game from the lobby of the hotel in Tucson--my brother Julian watched from the seats at Yankee Stadium I had bought before I realized I would be in Arizona! (Which reminds me, Jul, you owe me money...) Honestly, the World Series was kind of a let-down after that, both for me, and it looks like for the Yankees, who weren't really able to muster as much of the heroics we are used in the Fall Classic. They were drained by the year-long head-to-head rivarly with the Sox, which reached epic levels once again. I have a new chapter to add to the book I am writing for Wiley now, on the Fifty Greatest Yankee Games ever...
Speaking of which, go to my Fifty Greatest web site to nominate a game for inclusion in the book! I had thought my list was pretty much set, but I am finding a lot of gems worth considering.
As far as I'm concerned, baseball season is over, therefore it is winter. I started my offseason conditioning program today (200 sit ups, 50 leg lifts, plus arm/elbow exercises, daily) and I'm ostensibly eating low carb. I lost three pounds in two weeks. Interesting.
But as I was saying, it's winter. It's time to listen to music, do jigsaw puzzles, play games, and read. It's Harry-Potter-Lord-of-the-Rings season. It's the time of year when the cats sleep on top of me.
I've decided I am going to World Fantasy Con in Washington, DC over Halloween Weekend, though. I'm not doing any programming or panels officially, other than the "mass autographing" on Friday night. I'll also be found at the Grand Opening Boutique "Perfect 10" Bash at the Boston Center for the Arts on November 9th! I'll be selling books so I ought to be easy to find. After that, it's mostly hibernation until the winter holidays are over and the Fetish Fair Fleamarket and Arisia come around.
Well, this is the first fall since 1991 that I haven't worked at King Richard's Faire. My boss, Billy Miller the flute maker, decided to take a pass on the faire this year, and I am so busy with other stuff it wasn't worth my trying to find another job there. I will miss all the flirting but my schedule is so packed right now, I'd hardly be there anyway.
Among the things I have coming up, we have the SABR Boston Ted Williams Symposium at the Boston Public Library (September 13, 10am to 4:30, featuring Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald, authors Lawrence Baldasarro, Ben Bradlee and Leigh Montville, and other experts on Teddy Ballgame). Open to the public, lots of cool door prizes.
After that I fly to Tampa to visit my parents (and see the Yankees play in the Tropicana Dome). corwin is flying to Hawaii for ten days.
The New England Classic women's baseball tournament in Pawtucket has been moved to either the last weekend of September or first weekend of October--I'll know soon.
Then comes the Lambda Literary Festival in Provincetown, Mass. October 10-12.
Then I am off to Tucson, AZ to play in the women's baseball marathon "24 Hours for Africa." I am still accepting donations/pledges for both the US Doctors for Africa charity we are playing for in the marathon, and also for my travel fund. At minimum each player must raise $1000, but I set my personal goal at $2500. All my room and board is being taken care of so all I have to raise in addition to that is $247 for my air fare. I am more than halfway to both goals as of September 7th, so I have four weeks to do the rest.
Anyone in Tucson interested in witnessing the history-making game, it will be played October 18-19 at Tucson Electric Park, the spring training site of the Chicago White Sox, and tickets will be around $5. The game will start at noon on the 18th and end at noon on the 19th. Players will play in 3-4 hour shifts. I don't know yet when I will be playing, but probably in the middle of the night...
Anyone interested in donating, can PayPal to me at email@example.com, or print out the donation form linked below and mail it to me.
Donation Form in HTML
Donation Info Sheet
Fact Sheet on the 24 Hour game
A letter from Rob Novotny, V.P. of American Women's Baseball
American Women's Baseball
US Doctors for Africa
Donation Info Package as a Word Document
Beyond that, I'm hard at work trying to get the first draft of Fifty Greatest Yankees Games done for the publisher Wiley & Sons, and I'm a bit behind my work schedule for that. I've written six of the fifty chapters in the book, and I need to pick up that pace. I've actually done the research lready for several more pieces, so as soon as I get a clear week I can knock off four or five chapters. The trick is getting a clear week! Look for a chapter to be excerpted in Yankees Magazine next year, too.
Whoops, I thought I updated the page in July, but I guess I didn't. I've been a bit busy, to say the least. Let's see, for starters there was a bunch of traveling and I've also been playing baseball in Rhode Island a couple of times a week (see Why I Like Baseball for all the details on both of those endeavors). Circlet's summer interns have been in twice a week, too, and last week I worked at the Jae H. Kim tae kwon do school from 10am to 9pm four days... wow, that's tiring.
On top of that, I've started work on my book on the 50 Greatest Yankees Games ever, the first draft of which is due in January, which is SOON! So I have spent several long days in the Boston Public library and at Harvard, copying and printing old newspaper accounts of games off microfilm. I have finished 3 of the shorter game pieces at this point, with 47 to go! I started with the games from the early part of the 20th century, but as I move into the later games I will start catching up to the era where there are still players living to interview. Adding interviews will slow down the process, but will enrich the book greatly, so I am looking forward to that. The book is scheduled to be published by John Wiley & Sons in spring of 2005.
Tai Gau, one of my cats, finally had the painful-sounding urethra surgery he has been needing. He tends to get crystals forming in his urine, which could block his urethra and kill him. After he blocked up in July, for the third time in two years, it was time to go ahead with the surgery. Today he got his sutures taken out and although he is angry about having to go to the vet, he seems a lot happier than he was when he was suffering with blockages. He'll still suffer the crystals, but at least they won't likely be fatal to him.
Julian and Heather have moved to New Jersey. It's too bad this August corwin and I have no trip to the Jersey shore planned! Oh well. Maybe we will get lucky and be able to get to some post-season baseball games this year. (Assuming the Yankees don't have a sudden slump and fall out of contention, of course.)
I guess my other big news is that I've been invited to take part in a historic baseball event, the women's baseball marathon "24 Hours For Africa." This is the women's baseball equivalent of the AIDS Ride or the Walk for Hunger. The event has two goals, one is to raise awareness that women play baseball, and the other is to raise awareness (and funds) of mothers with HIV in Africa. Each player has to raise $1000 in donations, so I am sending out emails and letters asking for donations from friends, family, associates, etc... (if you didn't get one yet, you probably will!) This is my chance to do something both historic and record-setting and also do some good in the world. (For only $150, US Doctors for Africa can see to it that a mother can get the proper drugs and treatment so that she does not pass on the death sentence of HIV to her baby when it is born. $150 to save a life? Seems pretty reasonable.) Anyway, the 24 Hour Game is taking place October 18-19 in Tucson, AZ, at Tucson Power Park, where the White Sox spring training camps take place. There will be a live web cast and such. If you want to know more or you want to donate any amount (no amount too small!) here are some links I created:
Donation Info Sheet
Donation Form in HTML
Fact Sheet on the 24 Hour game
A letter from Rob Novotny, V.P. of American Women's Baseball
American Women's Baseball
US Doctors for Africa
Donation Info Package as a Word Document
And then suddenly summer arrived. After days and days on end of 59 degrees and drizzle, today it was 94 degrees in downtown Boston. (And sunny.) Looks like the heat wave will keep up for a few days. I'm happy about this, even if it means I had to start up the air conditioner in my office and the grain moth population in our pantry suddenly exploded... yay, summer!
I also got my first mosquito bites of the summer, when corwin and I went to throw the ball around at the schoolyard near our house at dusk. Ow. We got fairly well eaten alive, actually--I have about fifteen bites, corwin lost count. The first bites of the year always swell up extra large and itch worse than the later ones.
I've been having lots of fun with baseball lately. I met Jim Bouton, and Bucky Dent, and I've finally met my team in Pawtucket. Read the details at Why I Like Baseball.
The beginning of July is going to be a very busy time for travel. Looks like I may go to Washington DC for a women's baseball tournament, then to Denver for the SABR national convention, where I'll also meet up with my brother Julian and his wife Heather. Then in August there is Horrorfind in Maryland (50/50 if I'm going) and of course Worldcon in Toronto (and no, I'm not worried about SARS).
I'm also teaching my three-night writing course on Wednesdays in July at Grand Opening Boutique in Brookline, MA. Visit www.grandopening.com for more info or to register. I'm continually amazed at the great work people produce in/for these sessions.
And there is Yankee baseball, playing baseball, the July Fetish Fair Fleamarket (tm), corwin's birthday (July 18th), and much more... yes, a busy summer ahead indeed. When the heck am I going to work on Bambino Road, my magical realist fantasy baseball novel? September, I guess.
Damn, mosquito bites are starting to itch again.
Latest mystery of life: where are the laundry baskets? corwin and I have searched the house top to bottom trying to find them and we can find only three. There are five. Where are the other two? They are large and white and can't be hidden, can they? They don't even fit in most of the closets! Where the f*** are they?!?!?!
I see this as indicative--symptomatic you might say--of a household where all is not right. corwin and I are still suffering too many perplexing miscommunications, too many "but I thought you said A," "no, I said B," "well it sounded like you meant A--if you had said B, I would have said C." Grrrr. Makes me want to tear my hair out. Finding the laundry baskets will not solve the overall situation. What will? If there was an easy answer, we wouldn't be in couples therapy. Siiiiiigh.
I feel like the weather is staying crappy just to spite me. With all the crap to deal with in life, we should have every day 50 degrees and raining also? Cue the violins please. Maybe the weather is a right wing conservative conspiracy, too. Oh year, and the Yankees are doing awfully. They did have two good games recently, which I was fortunate to be present at Fenway for, but swept by the Rangers, on the verge of being swept by Toronto. They are banged up and struggling to get on a good streak. Are the Yankees actually just the real world representation of the state of my psyche? Naw, like the weather, it is another unfortunate coincidence. I'm going to Yankee Stadium tomorrow to see Roger Clemens try to win #300, but the way my luck has been lately, it will be rained out. At least I'll get to see my parents, who are in NJ for a wedding.
It's not all gloom. I'm waiting to hear which team I am on in the Slaterettes women's baseball league. I'm doing my exercises every day and have no debilitating injuries right now. Nagging, yes--my back, my knee, my elbow--but not enough to stop me. That's the brightest spot right now.
Hopefully I'll soon get offers on two book proposals my agent is circulating. "White Flames" is the follow up to Black Feathers, another 20 or so erotic short stories of mine, and with any luck it should have similar or greater success than BF did. Meanwhile Black Feathers will be coming out as an ebook from the PerfectBound electronic arm of HarperCollins. That should be neat. (Hmm, I wonder how they give author's copies?) The other thing we have out there is a book of the Fifty Greatest Games the Yankees Ever Played. I've been interviewing former players here and there and compiling notes on what I think are the "top 50." If the book is a go, I'm thinking of starting a web site to let people vote on the "Greatest Games." But one thing at a time...
So, tonight I am taking a baseball coaching lesson as part of my preparation for the Pawtucket Slaterettes season. The league has had a bunch of practices this month but I have not been able to go to any of them! The first one was snowed out, the next one was during LLC, the next one was Passover, then I went to Atlanta... at least I'll be going down on Thursday night this week, as well. At this moment I am suffering a supreme lack of confidence about the whole endeavor. I told corwin this last night and he said "I know, but that's why you're doing it."
I know I'm no good at baseball--there is still so much I don't know how to do. But I know I could be good at it with work and practice. The whole question is how much of a beating am I willing to let my ego take while I work on it, and will the opportunity be there for me to really practice and improve? If you want to learn tennis you can go to any tennis club for lessons. Skiing, martial arts, yoga, there are places to go to learn that. With baseball, as with so many of the team sports, if you are over the age of 16, your choices are more limited. Where does an adult long out of college go to learn ice hockey? basketball? You're supposed to know it already, I guess. But I don't, so I have to find somewhere they will let me learn as I go. Hopefully Pawtucket is that place.
Meanwhile, the end of the month is coming, and it's still very cold. Today 45 degrees and rainy--but at least it is not snowing, which they thought it might. Bleah. The forsythia are blooming but it has been so cold the trees still look like winter.
I'm readying my latest erotic fiction collection, the follow up to Black Feathers. I am thinking of calling it White Flames. That just seems to fit. Right now I'm struggling a little with what order to put the stories in. There isn't one obvious one that leaps out to be first. But it has been kind of neat to compile all the stories I've written since 1998 and realize what a strong group they are. I've also looked back at all the reviews I've gotten since then, and that is neat, too. (They've all been good except for Publishers Weekly...) Once the Vivid Video sex how-to manual finds a new home, I'll give this to my agent to work on next. And then there's Bambino Road, still being written, and maybe a nonfiction baseball book, as well. Much to do. Meanwhile, I am back to being broke, having put the Jenna money toward credit card debt... life of a writer, I guess.
I am back from my spring training trip and southern baseball historical odyssey. For details on the odyssey, check out Why I Like Baseball, where I posted a day by day log, photos, etc. The trip was great, capped off by a great family reunion at my parents' house in the Tampa area. My brother Julian and his wife Heather, mom and Dad, and corwin's parents all got together with corwin and me for some great meals and some fun evenings of game-playing. Two fun games to play around a table: Catch-phrase, which is an electronic game kind of like Password, but you play in teams and can say as much as you want, and A To Z, where you have to think of words in categories for each letter of the alphabet... lots of fun.
After a winter of hibernation I am itching to get my body moving again. This is the most out of shape I have been in my entire life, and I am not exaggerating. Right now when I get to the top of two flights of stairs, my heart pounds and I'm short of breath. Bleagh. But the last pile of snow left in Cambridge is right in front of my house, and so I can start jogging and throwing the ball again. Should be around 60 degrees this weekend! Thank goodness! I'm also trying to make a plan to get back to tae kwon do, pick two days a week to try to make it religiously...
This coming week I have a planning meeting to go to for the Pawtucket Slaterettes women's baseball league. I've paid my registration and am looking forward to playing in their newly created "majors" division, mixing older teens with adult women. The Slaterettes have had an all-girls baseball league for the past 30 years! I'm very excited to play with them, and it is one of the major things motivating me to do my rehab exercises and try to get back in shape!
After a weird flurry of stories all came out of me in about a three week span during the winter, I haven't written much fiction since. But now that my baseball trip is over, I hope to get moving on writing Bambino Road, my novel about a band of people on a quest to overturn the Curse of the Babe. My writers group is reading chapter one right now. If I can get going on it, by the time of the World Series I will have a first draft complete. As for short stories, I'd like to write a few more erotic ones to fill out my next collection, tentatively titled White Flames. It would be like Black Feathers, about 20 stories of my erotic science fiction. My agent will get on to selling it as soon as I give everything to her.
We'll see if baseball season, sunlight, and physical activity are enough to rid me of the nagging depression that has been creeping around the edges for the past few months. Really, I'm too busy to be depressed.
Man, I feel awful. For about three weeks I have been feeling sort of short of breath and over-fatigued, sleeping a lot. When I am standing up I want to sit down, and when I am sitting down I want to lie down. I went to the doctor today and he said it's probably a combination of a virus, mild depression, and lack of cardiovascular exercise since the winter closed in. Bleah. I feel marginally better than last week, but youknow how the saying goes: I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired...
It makes it very hard to get anything done when I feel so low-energy and like taking a deep breath is really hard work. The result is I have been sleeping a lot and lying in bed surfing the web and watching DVDs on my laptop.
Correction, I've just been watching the same DVD over and over--The Fellowship of the Ring extended DVD. Well, okay, that is a four disc set, so perhaps the plural was warranted after all. Look, finally something to take my mind off the fact it isn't baseball season! That and I've re-read all the Tolkien in the house AND the Harry Potter series again. I am also reading Underworld by Don Delillo, but it's such a large, heavy hardcover it hurts my chest to read it in bed. Perhaps I'll pick it up again when I feel better!
Speaking of feeling better and getting more exercise--looks like I will be playing baseball this year after all. Barring injury or other catastrophe, I should be joining the women's league of the Pawtucket Slaterettes. Pawtucket is hard by Providence, about an hour's drive from here, and this reminds me I need to send them my player fee... I went down there and met the player organizer and it looks like fun. Back to the batting cage for me.
I've also finally booked my travel plans for the spring training trip this year. I'm going to fly March 6th to Raleigh and rent a car and drive to Tampa, tracing the route along some baseball landmarks as research for my novel Bambino Road. I'll arrive in Tampa on the 13th and then corwin will meet up with me for a long weekend of games with my parents. Can't wait!
After that the next big excitement will be the Leather Leadership Conference here in Boston. on April 13-15, 2003.
It is turning out to be a fine winter. I had so many fears about how awful it might be: no baseball, darkness, holiday angst, etc. Memories of the depression that gripped the whole family (and the whole country after 9-11) had me dreading the season.
But I feel good about life right now. Therapy is being good for me and corwin, I think. We had one of the best Duck Days we have ever had, followed on quickly by one of the best Christmases we've had in Cambridge. Kimberly, JB, and Ted moved to Somerville, actually, but it is without doubt now a tradition to wait for the arrival of Santa in their living room, no matter where that may be. We had a delicious beef tenderloin (also becoming a tradition), Christmas Eve dinner for 12, and the usual orgy of holiday chocolate and gifts in the morning. Christmas dinner at Shariann's, who continues to insist that she is no good at cooking, but we know what liars these fiction writers are, don't we?
corwin and I then went to Mexico to meet up with my parents, Julian and Heather, and Heather's side of the family. Retirement seems to be suiting my folks well. Dad has really come out of his shell now that the world of doctor stress, work and lack of sleep is behind him. We had a wonderful time down there, and big thanks to mom for the frequent flyer miles and to Pam and Bob for putting everyone up.
Best of all, I've written three short stories in the past month. What a shock! (Four, if you count that rather unpublishable Harry Potter erotic parody I read at Writers With Drinks...) In fact it's dawning on me that since Black Feathers came out (1998), I'm drawing close to having enough material for another collection. Don't know what I'm going to call it yet--the right brain needs to mull that over a bit more.
So the year seems to be breaking down into two seasons: baseball season, and Lord of the Rings season. Baseball season is self-explanatory. LOTR season is the time for listening to music, playing games, and watching movies, reading fiction and fantasy. Last year we had both Harry Potter and Fellowship of the Ring. This year another Harry Potter and The Two Towers. Next year I guess there will be no Potter movie but perhaps Rowling will have the next book done, and of course we will have the final installment of the LOTR films. I do not completely understand the way in which movies can sometimes seem to kickstart my dream engine, but sometimes they do. Remember The Crow back in 1994? 1995? Something in some films burrows into the right side of my brain and knocks things around in there. Stories seem to come easily when that is happening.
And it is fun to be a fanatic about something. Remember how a few years ago my fanaticism about baseball was rekindled? Well, now my youthful immersion in Tolkien is reborn. How do I know? I'm reading The Silmarillion and really ENJOYING it, for goodness sake! Oh, that and watching the DVD (and the EXTENDED DVD...) about six times...
I'm also pleased to report that I've been doing leg lifts every damn day for two months and my knees have stopped hurting when I go up stairs. Could I return to skiing soon? Hmm....