Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Frank Gorshin

I was just reading that Frank Gorshin, 72, died of cancer in mid May. I knew him as The Riddler from the 1960s Batman TV series. He was a wonderful Riddler. G mentioned it to me at the time, but I guess it didn't sink in until I saw it in print.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Black Butterflies

I remember DA telling me after her dad died that she associated him with a butterfly she saw, and that the image became symbolic of their relationship. It struck me particularly when I was in KC at my mom's house for my own dad's funeral. On a walk through the neighborhood, we saw a striking black-and-red butterfly. I saw another one today at Zilker, which since this is Memorial Day, seemed fitting.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Cheers to JB!

G, AB, and I stopped by Bull McCabe's at 7th and Red River yesterday to celebrate JB's last day as the spiritual leader of BookPeople's BookKids department. (She'll be joining the sales force at PG next week, and boy, are they/we lucky to get her!) Then AB whisked us to the UT Club for shrimp happy hour. Yum!

Friday, May 27, 2005


Y'all will recall that I sent my revision of T in to my CW editor on March 28, and since then I've been doing a bang-up job of not obsessing over it--in large part because I had so much else to do.

But this last week or so (though I was loathe to confess it), I was starting to wonder if perhaps I done something so heinous that further editorial commentary had screeched to a halt.

What can I say? I'm a writer. I fret.

And it was a huge revision in terms of new scenes and what not, which is always a little scary, even when necessary, at this point in the process. Not that I don't love to revise because I so do, just...

Arg! You get the idea.

Anyway, all of this is to say that I got an email yesterday saying I'd get one more pass with a couple of questions but, big-picture, she says she and A are "beyond impressed" and the manuscript "rocks" and is "amazing."

I could fly.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Star Wars: The War Within

First off, I should probably 'fess up that I was one of those kids who saw "Star Wars," now called "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" more than 300 times* with paid admission (some at the dollar movie at Metcalf South in Overland Park, Kansas, but still...).

I was likewise attentive to the other two movies in what then was a trilogy and agree with the majority who thought "Empire" was the best and that the Ewoks (though cute) in "Return" were a miscalculation (and the Wookie planet (Kashyyyk) would've been way more cool than Endor). I even own every issue of the original SW comic book series and listened to the wonderful radio production when it first aired.

Just establishing my credentials here.

So, I did stand in line for tickets on opening day to see "Phantom Menance," which I saw only that once. It wasn't that I didn't appreciate the opportunity to return to Lucasverse. But the pacing, which for whatever tech flaws had been brill in the first round, went flat. And I found the plot premise and characterization of young Anakin sketchy at best. Not bad for a draft, but as the final film... Eh.

I skipped "Attack of the Clones," even though it caused quite a neighborhood stir when Padmé Amidala showed up to shop at BookPeople. Didn't see it on DVD either, though G has been hinting that he wants to.

However, the will of the people (including my best friend, whose opinion on such things I trust and who claims it makes the second trilogy more resonate) seems to indicate that "Revenge" is well worth seeing (except of course for The Chronicle reviewer, but they never like anything). It's a big investment, though, because I'd have to see the predecessor, too--now, while I'm snowed under reading manuscripts for my workshop--because of course it has to be a big-screen experience.

What to do?

Opinions welcome. ...I really do want to see the Wookie planet.

Additional thoughts on the classics: (1) The scenes spliced back into the first-filmed trilogy are vexing because (a) having Han Solo not shoot Greedo first in the Cantina diminishes the growth displayed in his character arc (b) revealing Jabba in the first movie takes away the grandeur and importance of his reveal in the third; (2) As I have mentioned before, Carrie Fisher's Leia did wonders for my social life; (3) I absolutely refuse to discuss "The Holiday Special."

P.S. Did you know that the voices of Greedo and Jabba were both provided by the same actor?

*My inner adolescent is half tempted to justify such a commitment to a sci fi movie with some comment about how there wasn't a lot else to do in suburban Kansas at the time or some such, but the truth is that I just totally loved how the film made me feel.

Spooky Links

If you're likewise a sci fi affectionado, I highly recommend the film "Galaxy Quest," a well-written comedic riff on "Star Trek" (site requires Flash) and the magnificient new YA, Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci (Candlewick, 2005).

Monday, May 23, 2005

"Desperate Housewives" First Season Finale

Am I the only person who's noticed that Susan on "Desperate Housewives" never hardly illustrates any children's books although that is allegedly her job?

It's starting to bug me, like the writers decided it was so much of a non-job that you could call it "a housewife" in conventional terms. No deadlines, no conferences, no signings, no editorial correspondence, no list serv, no blog, no actual illustrating. Okay, maybe one scene where she was doodling a bit before jumping to peer out her window (again).

That said, I like show for its murder mystery and "Melrose Place"-in-the-suburbs/guilty pleasure feel. I first watched it because I liked Teri Hatcher as Lois in "Lois & Clark" and Marcia Clark as Dr. Kimberly Shaw Mancini in "Melrose Place." (Doug Savant is another Melrose/DH actor).

In addition, my all-time favorite actress, Harriet Sansom Harris (originally from Fort Worth), is now on DH. I first noticed her playing freaky Dr. Sally Kendrick (and "sisters") on "The X-Files" ("Eve," 1993) and then in a reoccuring role as Fraiser's agent, Bebe Glazer, and most recently in season 2 of "Six Feet Under." Though I've seen her of course in other great parts, too, these are stand outs.

Another random thought: have you ever noticed how most of the really talented actors--character actors--are seldom in mainstream film/movie lead roles or, for that matter, on the cover of celebrity magazines at the checkout stands?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Hot Cyn In The City

G and I watched "Six Feet Under: Season 3" these past couple of days, and I was amused to hear Brenda's take on Austin. Artsy and eclectic, sure, but most of all hot. That isn't always true, but it certainly is this weekend. It was 96 degrees yesterday, according to the kitty cat thermometer hanging on the tree in my back yard.

Speaking of G, we celebrated the arrival of his author copies of Tofu and T.Rex (Little Brown, 03) with dinner at Musashino's last night. I've mentioned this before, but G and I always celebrate every positive step in the writing life. Finished the draft, sent the manuscript, revision request, sold the manuscript, signing of the contracts--you name it. Embrace the happy!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Ballgown & Boots Dream

I'm at my Grandma Dorothy's house with a bunch of people I can't quite identify, and I'm negotiating to eat as little as I can because everything is a brownie or pie or something and I've already had a huge dinner.

I settle for this sandwich with a layer of pancake-style bread on both sides and in the middle. I'm kind of dismantling it to eat whatever filling with just one side of the bread.

Then without transition, my mama is dropping me off at the house of K, a high school friend I haven't seen since the summer after graduation. Another high school friend, M, who I saw last summer, is there, too.

I'm inside the house, putting on a sort of Old South ballgown with half hose, and we're running late for I don't know what. So, I'm rushing with them to the front door only to find that the stairs down to the McMansion-ish foyer are short shag carpeted, super steep, and just barely wide enough for a sideways foot.

I get about halfway down--I'm in the middle; K is in front of my and M in back--when I realize I can't make it because the hose are too slippery on the carpet and I forgot my cowboy boots, which are back in K's room. I ask M if she'll get them for me (she's closer to the top) but she says no.

So, I go back up myself to put them on, but then when I leave the room, the dimensions of the second floor have changed. I end up running around, asking directions from a faceless someone who's there for no apparent reason and eventually find and carefully descend the stairs, holding tightly to the rail.

By the time I get the front door open, M and K are gone. I seem to remember walking there, to the house, even though I was dropped off, so I start running, looking for a second group of outdoor stairs, which will theoretically lead me out of the Pleasantville-meets-Stepford suburban neighborhood.

Everyone I pass is vaguely surreal and doesn't seem to know what I mean by "out."

I find a young girl, who invites me into her home and asks her father who is sleeping on a hammock on the back porch. He tells me to run down the street, as far as my legs will carry me, to the first right and then to turn right again.

I start following his directions, but I feel uneasy, because it hadn't seemed so far on the way in.

I stop into a shop to ask a young clerk for directions again, and he looks at me suspiciously and says, "You're not from here are you?"

And something about the way he asks it scares me, makes me feel like a Frankenstein-esque mob will gather, torches and pitchforks, so I start running again, still in the ballgown and cowboy boots, like some heroine out of a Margaret Peterson Haddix book, uncertain as to whether I'm going the right way. Then I wake up.

Dream analysis, anyone?

Spooky News and Links

Inspired by yesterday's spookcyn post, S wrote asking what a "former Hallmarker" is. It is someone who used to work for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, usually applied more to those who've worked in the corporate offices than in the stores (like my aunt Gail).

Building on yesterday's news about the L.A. Times review and signing for A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire by Amy Butler Greenfield (HarperCollins, 2005), surf over to hear "Seeing Red," an interview with Amy about the book on "The Exchange" from New Hampshire public radio. Available on Real Audio or Windows Media.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Bloody Red

Yesterday, I rewarded myself for good behavior with the original soundtrack to "Little Shop of Horrors" from Waterloo Records. I'm personally fond of the "Dentist" song. I realize that I should feel guilty because dentists supposedly have some extraordinarily high suicide rate due to the fact that no one likes them, but I have had two botched oral surgeries, which means my beef isn't (just) prejudice.

That said, in the interests of karma, my favorite dental book is: Open Wide: Tooth School Inside by Laurie Keller (Henry Holt, 2000)(Laurie and I are both former Hallmarkers).

I'm completely fascinated by teeth in part because I was missing a couple as an adult. You guessed it, my would-be fangs. Hence, my vampire envy.

Spooky Link

Bloody Red by A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire by Amy Butler Greenfield (HarperCollins, 2005). For those of you in the area, note that Amy will be signing at The Toadstool Bookshop in Milford, NH at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 21, 2005. Those elsewhere, should contact the booksellers in advance about getting a signed copy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Ghostly Music; spookycyndicated

Yesterday, I was having New Orleans boil shrimp and scrambled eggs for breakfast when "What A Wonderful World" came on the radio. It generally makes me teary, and it did perhaps more so than usual at the time.

This apparently upset the ghost, who resolved my distress by turning off the radio. Really. Not unplugged. No station glitch. Just hit the OFF button.

When I turned it back on, the song was playing again, but I felt better and listened to the rest of it while I finished my shrimp.

In other news, thanks to SN, spookycyn is now syndicated for the chills and thrills of LJ folks. Yahoo!

Monday, May 16, 2005


DHA writes to tell me that Edgar Allen Poe, born Jan. 19, 1809, and I, born Dec. 31, 1967, are both Capricorns, which might explain a lot.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy

I've been reading "A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy."

From her other blog, Pop Goes The Library, I've discovered more about the author. She apparently likes books, my beloved Buffy, and, being a pop culture affectionado, theoretically wouldn't think twice about the dignity of my, say, recent discussion of the perils and potential of antagonists as related to Lex Luthor.

Besides, like me, she's a fellow recovering lawyer. Hence, solidarity.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Friday, the 13th

Today's Austin American-Statesman (click to see illustration by Don Tate) informs me that fear of Friday the 13th is called "paraskevidekatriaphobia."

I've blogged about F, the 13th before, but I will note that according to the Statesman article, the number 13 is considered unlucky because of there having been thirteen guests at Jesus' Last Supper (the last of them supposedly being Judas). And as for Friday, that's when Jesus was actually crucified. However, Italians consider the 13th lucky. Interesting, eh?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Over and Over You by Amy McAuley

Over and Over You by Amy McAuley (Roaring Brook, 2005). Penny is haunted by vivid dreams that feel so real, almost as if they...were? After being tipped off by a psychic, she's starting to consider extreme possibilities, destinies, and even true love. Penny's voice is engaging, her plight compelling, and her command of historical factoids inspirational. A wonderful choice for romantics, fantasy fans, and those who appreciate psychic (and psychological) puzzles. Ages 12-up.

Cyn's Hypothetical Past Lives

Nefertiti (because why not be queen?)

Mary Shelley (for obvious reasons; don't miss the picture book bio by Sharon Darrow)

Most Excellent Amazon Warrior (because of my Wonder Woman fixation)

Eartha Kitt (even though she's still gloriously alive because it's my list and I say so)

See also my boyfriend list, inspired by the novel by E. Lockhart.

Spooky Link

Debbi Michiko Florence: Writer & Bibliophile offers a buzz review of Over and Over You.

Monday, May 09, 2005

August 2007

As I mentioned on cynsations, I got word today that Tantalize, my upcoming gothic fantasy YA, has been slated for August 2007, just in time for Halloween. The novel will be published by Candlewick, and the revision process has been the subject of many a spookycyn post.

In other spooky news, I was walking through the back starwell and a flurry of posted and shelved greeting cards flew out at me from the home message board. No cats. No wind. No explanation, except of course, ghost.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mother's Day

Is it just me or were there an ungodly number of pregnant women at Central Market this morning? I've never seen so many at one time and place. Looked like a baby-products marketing convention with shopping cart and samples.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Hero v. Hero

See Hero v. Hero: How Does Superman's New Look Stack Up? from MSN Entertainment. File this one under the category of yummy.

Had big fun last night with G at Musashino in celebration of arrival of contracts!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Lex Luthor: Man Of Steel

I was reading a No. 3 (of 5) of Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, which essentially examines the Superman mythology from his arch enemy's point of view.

It got me thinking about bad guys (and gals, too).

It seems that most writers get so caught up in our heroes that we often neglect the necessary character work on our villains.

The wrinkle being that, unless they're simply sociopaths,* it's likely the bad guys have somehow justified their actions.

Their line of thinking may not coincide with ours or our readers' (at least let's hope not), but we all need to understand it.

Consider: even Hitler essentially argued that he was saving the world.


That said, all of our characters have to come from somewhere within. I'm not saying we all have inner evil, but we do all have to deal with it.

Writing into the fear or, let's be honest, the fascination, can be uncomfortable, even daunting. But it's also necessary if our antagonist is human with human motivations, no matter how disturbing, if we're to fully appreciate all levels of the story.

On a much more uplifting front, it was heartening to receive a note yesterday from an old friend who'd been reading spookycyn, which reminded me that not all ghosts are unwelcome.

*Now that I think about it, there's probably no such thing as a simple sociopath.

Seeing Through Walls

I was rewatching the pilot of "Six Feet Under" on my new DVD player so I could appreciate all of those scenes that the previous machine skipped.

Gabe makes the observation that, after her father's death, Claire can "see through walls." I can't see through walls, but I am seeing people a lot more clearly. Even those I'd rather not look at too closely.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Blood and Chocolate movie

Check out the latest from Hollywood Reporter at YA Books Central.

Spooky Link

Annette Curtis Klause from the Children's Book Guild of Washington, D.C.