Eight Reasons Why I’m Glad I’m Not an Olympic Athlete

My kids are busy somersaulting into walls and begging for diving lessons, but after watching several hours of the Olympic games, I’m grateful genetics,  general aptitude, and a truly astonishing lack of coordination channeled me into a life of letters.

My reasons, in no particular order:

1. Camera operators don’t often follow female librarians or writers around at that peculiarly low angle.*

2. If a word mistakenly appears an inch too far to the left after printing, it won’t invalidate the article, destroy the book or tank my career.**

3. If an article or story doesn’t make the cut, I don’t have to wait four years before trying again.

4. My working wardrobes contain a distinct lack of Lycra and spandex—and offer far fewer wedgies, I’d imagine.

5. There’s no age limit for storytelling, and the upper age limit for librarianship is remarkably elastic.

6. Stress eating won’t put me out of either job.***

7. Under normal circumstances, I won’t suffer any broken bones either writing or performing acts of librarianship, however complicated, unless I drop something on my foot.^

8. I receive rejections in the privacy of my own home and not on International television where a billion people will witness my collapse as I sob hopelessly into the back fur of my struggling coach cat for a few heartbroken moments until I can gather myself together and be stoic and philosophical and happy for that person who turned a crappy fanfiction story into gold and a movie deal.   The footage of my reaction also won’t be replayed multiple times on ESPN—or even PBS—the next time I submit a query.

Anyone else have one or two to add?

While you’re thinking, here’s Livingston Taylor—brother of James and musical genius in his own right—imagining his own version of the Olympics:



*They don’t often follow male gymnasts and swimmers around at that angle either, I’ve noticed.  Darn it.

**I’ll admit, it gets dicier if I give out incorrect information, but as long as I apologize and correct myself, most library patrons are far more forgiving than judges—or commentators, who will apparently mention that one time you tripped in your kindergarten ballet recital and haven’t you come a long way since then, but I guess we’ll see in a moment won’t we, for the rest of your life.

***I should say, normal stress eating, by which I mean my normal, as I lost my amateur status in that event a long time ago.

^Don’t ask me about carpal tunnel, repetitive stress injuries, weakening eyesight, gritted teeth,  or certain pains in my relatively stationary derriere.


Six Sentence Sunday: Another Introduction

Six Sentence Sunday is open to all writers. Just pick a six sentence passage from anything you’ve written—published, unpublished, whatever—and post it on your blog on Sunday.

Registration for the upcoming Sunday list opens the previous Tuesday evening at 5pm CST. More information is here.

Check out all the talent!


Last week, David McRae, a character from my current WIP shared six sentences about his former partner, Judith.  I was going to back up and describe him through her eyes, but I realized that what he’s thinking describes him far better than what he looks like.*

She’d taken off the cardigan, and it was obvious that some things had remained the same—her arms were as well-muscled as ever and the clinging material of her sleeveless top skimmed contours that were a perfect combination of nature and regular training.  He’d never seriously thought about Jayce as a potential playmate—with one regrettable exception, he’d never risked a workplace romance—but he’d have to be dead not to admire the craftsmanship. 

His gaze lit on the puckered scars on her shoulder and for a moment, he was back in the hospital in his funeral suit, listening to her breathe through a tube.   He had no right to ask her for anything—not after three years of guilty silence.  A decent person wouldn’t even try.

“Does my time start now?” he asked.


*Although she does mention that the world doesn’t know how lucky it was the man hadn’t been issued dimples.  I’m just sayin’

Something Else

It’s one thing to make a parody of a popular song. It’s quite another to create a cover that transforms that song into something with melodic and emotional depths that the original wasn’t meant to have.

Ben Howard has managed it very nicely:

There’s something in Mr. Howard’s delivery that reminds me of Tracy Chapman—tone, resonance, delivery . . .  I’m not sure.  But I like it.

(I stole this from Jalisa Blackman’s last Music Monday—she’s introduced me to some amazing stuff)


Random Thursday: Musical Interludes, Libraries, and Various Smells

It all sort of jelled in a weird and wonderful way . . .


Manly Muppets

You can’t possibly have a music-themed Thursday post without Muppets.  Or I can’t, and I’m taking you all with me.

You’re welcome.*


Always Have Your Nose in a Book?  Try it the Other Way ‘Round!

Via the lovely Erika Marks,  I learned that Geza Schoen has a new scent called Paper Passion, which supposedly smells like new books.

But CB I Hate Perfume has a scent I think I’d find even more attractive:

In The Library is described as a warm blend of English Novel—an original note created to replicate the scent of a first edition 1927 novel—Russian & Moroccan Leather Bindings, Worn Cloth and a hint of Wood Polish.

Clearly, this blend is not In a Public Library—which would be the scent-note equivalent of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans—but I’m not complaining.

And it’s far better than dabbing wood polish behind one’s ears—or an English novel.


Hold the Penne

I’m not sure how many of you saw this on Murderati’s  Tuesday post but it’s funny enough to watch again.   Lisa Donahey has pipes and a truly baconesque sense of humor.

For those of you who wonder if I’ve embedded a PETA PSA by mistake, stack around until about 1:28—though my favorite line is around 2:22. Your patience will be rewarded:



Quote from this morning’s departmental meeting:

epic win photos - Book Maze WIN

“I keep getting asked about Urban Fiction—isn’t that just in fiction?”

“Unless it’s paranormal—that’s in science fiction.  Or sometimes horror, right?”

“Or mystery or romance—you don’t want to know the number of e-mails we have over who gets to buy what and where it goes.  If anyone starts up a Werewolf Detectives  in Love craze, we’re going to have to get a new bookcase and a separate budget line.”

“Sorry—we don’t have enough room to put everything in its own little section.”

“We’d could get circular Venn diagram shelving . . . The vampire romance mystery erotica?   It’s right over here—in YA.”


Sheer Vocal Awesome

I was trying to find a specific UC On The Rocks video . . . but I clicked the wrong link and my search took a weird turn.

But that’s when the magic happens:


Space Stinks

Another nerd alert, sorry, but this stuff is so cool.

According to anyone who’s taken a space walk—and to the co-workers who let them back in through the airlock—space has a smell.

It’s odd to think that vacuum has an actual odor, but space isn’t the Big Empty that people assume.  Lack of air and pressure doesn’t mean lack of everything else, and all that everything else is moving at a relatively (physics humor alert!) fast clip, causing high energy vibrations that leave behind traces detectable by human noses—the summer smell of subatomic gym socks, as it were.

Steve Pearce, a chemist who gives good  interview, is trying to recreate this odor for NASA, who I’m assuming have a purpose other than making perfume and cologne, even though that would totally solve their budgetary problems.**

Each astronaut seems to associate the odor with different earthly equivalents: seared steak, hot metal, ozone, gunpowder, burnt match, and welding fumes.   This isn’t surprising, really—space is, after all, the furnace in which universes are forged (ugh, sorry).

But for those of you who don’t find those notes particularly attractive,*** there’s a space cloud out there that might be chemically reminiscent of raspberries and rum.

Add Nebula #3 to English Novel, and you’ve got yourself a customer.


*Don’t you just want to give Jim Parsons a huge hug, even though you know it would make him terribly uncomfortable, which is exactly the opposite reason why you want to hug him in the first place?

**They better hurry—I expect the team over at ThinkGeek is already on it.

***Is it TMI or just weird to admit that I do?

(gorgeous SpaceScape art courtesy of the talented Janie Wesson and a bribe of a round of Polar Golf, at which she trounced me again.)

Poetry Wednesday: Beyond the Snozzberry

There’s a bit in the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory—the 1971 version, with Gene Wilder—where that sweet, lovely child Veruca Salt looks down her nose at Mr. Wonka and says, “Snozzberry?  Who ever heard of a Snozzberry?”

In reply, he takes her chin and says, very quietly, “We are the music-makers.  And we are the dreamers of dreams.”

When I was a kid, watching the movie on tv,* I thought this was an example of the character’s random weirdness. It wasn’t until later that I realized what a straightforward answer it was.**

The lines are from a poem that was published in Arthur  O’Shaughnessy’s  1874 collection, Music and Moonlight.  Mr. O’Shaughnessy was a herpetologist with the British Museum at the time,*** and I can only imagine that one of his co-workers might have said, “Poetry?  Who ever heard of a scientist writing poetry?”

(Arthur O’Shaughnessy)

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;
World losers and world forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities.
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

This poem answers a lot of questions.  Or maybe just one:  Why do you do what you do?

If this poem doesn’t answer that question for you, what on earth are you doing?


*Or at least the parts that didn’t scare the living crap out of me—and I know I’m not alone in that.  Were the projections in the tunnel really necessary?  It took me several tries, at a time where I had to wait for it to come around on regular television again—and yeah, I just dated myself pretty severely—just to get past the blueberry scene . . .

**And only a little later after that, my favorite English lit prof handed us this poem and asked us to speak aloud the first thing that came to mind and half the class said, “Willy Wonka!” and the other half said, “Snozzberries!”

***How cool is that?  A few of his other poems—not the cheerful ones—show some snake imagery and some interesting rhythms.