Friday, September 30, 2005

Close Encounters of the Authorial Kind

Neil Gaiman Neil Gaiman came to Google today to give a short talk and read a bit from his new book Anansi Boys. He actually spoke a lot about blogging, and how he credits his blog with helping him get to the top of the NYT bestseller list. Some of us on the Blogger team got to have lunch with him and talk a bit, which was fun, though he didn't have much time to stay. Heck, we would have kept him there all afternoon if we could have. But anyway, it was neat to get to meet him. And I definitely feel like (re)reading some more of his books now, too.

To tell the truth, I hadn't been that keen on reading Anansi Boys at first, since it sounded a lot like American Gods (the covers even look the same, which I think was a poor design decision on somebody's part). But he described it as being more humorous than American Gods and I very much enjoyed the part that he read. So I went ahead and got it from as my next audio book. I'm kind of bummed it's not Neil Gaiman himself reading it, since he was doing a great job on the few pages he read us, but we'll see what this Lenny Henry guy sounds like.

Coraline In other Neil Gaiman news, the movie of MirrorMask comes out tonight; I'm going to see it tomorrow. And something that amused me: He signed my copy of Coraline with a drawing of a mouse. (Or is it a rat? I don't know. Whatever. I like it.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Like Dreaming, Without the Sleep

It turns out that MirrorMask is probably about the best book to read in the middle of the night when you can't sleep. Neil Gaiman manages to capture the feel of dreamland incredibly well. The matter-of-fact mix of the creepy, bizarre and hilarious, along with just enough narrative cohesion to make it an actual story, seems to hit the nail right on the head. It makes for a fascinating hour or so of reading. I could probably describe it more eloquently, but it's late and I think I'm actually about ready to go back to sleep now. I wonder what my dreams will be like?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I'm Not Really Sure Camels Walk That Way

In swing class last night we learned something called the Camel Walk. For those of you who want to follow along at home, give it a try:
  1. Step forward and a bit to the right (with your right foot, of course). Now hook your left foot behind the right ankle. Now another forward right step.
  2. Repeat to the left.
  3. Now, keep going, but whichever foot has the weight on it for any given step, keep that leg straight. Bend the other one at the knee so that only the toe is on the ground. So alternate knees are popping out as you go.
  4. Now get the shoulders going. Whichever shoulder is on the side of the bent knee goes up and the other goes down.
  5. If you're trying to lead this with another person (in side-by-side position) then you've also got to lean your bodies forward on the long steps, and back on the hook steps (pushing the hips forward).
  6. If that isn't enough things for your brain to keep track of, remember that you can do this in either quick-quick-slow tempo, or just a bunch of quicks. If you do Q-Q-S, then the steps go hook-step-step, with a direction change in the middle (harder than step-hook-step).
Next time I go to the zoo, I'm going to take a closer look at the camels, 'cause this is some wacky stuff.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Winnie ille Pu

Mom and I spent a couple of hours at the Menlo Park Library book sale this morning. I came home with 15 books, at an average price of 80¢ per book. Not bad (aside from the perennial questions of where I will put them and when I will read them). Undoubtedly the most amusing find was a copy of Winnie the Pooh translated into Latin. I don't read Latin, and I don't plan on learning to, but the fact that this even exists tickled me enough that I had to get it. I especially like some of the translated names, like "Ior" and "Porcellus."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

One Ring Zero

One Ring Zero is the latest band in the Interesting New Music Department for me, thanks to Miriam this time. One description of them refers to "the sort of 19th-century, gypsy-klezmer, circus-flea-cartoon music you mainly hear in your dreams." I don't know if that's precisely how I would have put it, but I suppose it's as good as anything. These guys collect weird instruments and mix accordions with claviolas with theremins, with random toys or pieces of machinery that just happen to make interesting sounds. Neat. On their latest album, As Smart As We Are, they asked various authors to write lyrics for them, which ORZ then set to music. Interesting concept. I especially liked "Radio," the Lemony Snicket one. There were also songs from Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Dave Eggers, and a bunch of authors I didn't recognize.

Anyway, this is another in a series of inspirations I've been getting recently in terms of wanting to write more music. I should do something about that.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A Richardson Rhumba

Congratulations to the newly-weds Kimmy and Bertrand! The wedding yesterday was lovely, and I was especially happy about their first dance. They haven't been dancing for very long but they did a great job with their rhumba, complete with turns and dips and everything. And the best part was that they were just smiling so happily at each other the entire time, no looking nervous or checking their feet or anything. That's really about the best thing you could do to make a good dance, not to mention good wedding pictures. I was quite proud of them.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Tunes I Want to Write

I got to hear Nightingale play at a house concert tonight. I always love hearing them. This concert was pretty heavily weighted towards their third CD, which was good since I don't know that CD as well, though I missed a lot of my favorites from the earlier CDs. Mostly, though, I came away wanting to write tunes again. Keith and Jeremiah both come up with some really nice ones. Unique and interesting enough to be worth writing, but still fun and fiddle-y enough to blend nicely with the traditional tunes and songs they do. That's about what I want to aim for.

Update: I just went and looked at Nightingale's website (it was down last night when I posted the link above, so I couldn't check it). And on the front page it says "Nightingale -- at the elusive balancing point between tradition and innovation." Which is precisely what I like about their tunes and what I was trying to get at when I titled this post. So I guess they're doing a good job of finding that balancing point.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Spiced Peach Jam and SandWallaWallaWiches

Jam! Lacey's running around California for a couple weeks, getting in visiting time with everyone, and she spent the Labor Day weekend with me and Mom in Palo Alto. She is strewing homemade jam about as she goes, as well, and I must say the spiced peach is incredible (especially since you almost have to slice it as much as spread it). Strawberry-rhubarb was a very close second, though. Also, we got a big yummy Walla Walla onion at the farmers market and made toasted cheese, onion and tomato sandwiches. Wonderful stuff. Anyway, Lacey's blogging up a storm about her trip, and my writing is not feeling particularly voluminous today, so I'll leave the rest of the stories to her.