December 29, 2003

The weather service issued a flood watch for the island over the weekend, but our much-hyped storm turned out to be rather wimpy. Thunder and lightning but little else. It's not rained for much of December; I wonder if that's normal?

Watched Blue Car the other night. It's sort of a Finding Forrester (or any other older mentor encourages a young person to find his or her own voice movie) meets Lolita's Humbert Humbert. Unremarkable and predictable, but then I guess there's only so much you can do with the encourage-a-teenager genre.

Drove up to Kilaeua to see Cold Mountain in the theater/community events hall there. Nifty space. Before the lights flicked off, I kept forgetting it was a movie we would be seeing and not the local children's theater group. The movie itself was good, a solid piece of work by all involved. Somewhat lacking in emotional depth but very thorough in its "any war is bad" message. Interesting to see the Civil War from the Confederate perspective; I've often only seen the view from the North, righteous and victorious.

The best part of the last few days: The Dogs of Babel. Finally, a really excellent read: evocative, poetic, emotional, haunting. Perhaps the most accurate portrayal of grief I've ever read. A beautiful book.

December 26, 2003

I'm approximately halfway through The Briar King, and that's probably as far as I'm likely to get. Although mildly curious as to how the story will work out, I'm finding I really don't care. I may "release" it with Book Crossing. . .

Ian's apprentice is off to the mainland for the holidays, so we're on a vacation, of sorts. Tuesday and Wednesday we drove down to the Poipu area of the South Shore for further adventures in snorkeling at Prince Kuhio Beach and Lawa'i Beach. These beaches are less protected from the open ocean than other places we've snorkelled, but we can add more interesting fish to our found list: a blue parrot fish, a flat bottom feeder who disappears when lying still on the sand, and a humuhumunukunukuapua'a, the unofficial state fish of Hawaii. We probably should have bought ourselves the larger guidebook to Hawaiian fish when we picked up our reef shoes and a copy of the Ultimate Kauai Guidebook.

We broke in the reef shoes by exploring Gillin's Beach and the Maha'ulepu area. Lithified sand is surprisingly sharp but delightfully alien. We explored the tidepools there, finding our first Hawaiian sea anenome, several enormous black crabs and many nudibranchs in various degrees of sand coverage. When undressed, sea cucumbers are unexpectedly colorful and rather slimy to touch. Yesterday, we took the reef shoes riverwalking up Makaleha Stream. Along the way, we scrambled through a bamboo thicket (thinking of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and found several sea hibiscus flowers floating downstream. Each flower starts the day bright yellow in the morning then slowly darkens to a beautiful rust color before falling of the end of the day.

December 21, 2003

We made another attempt at snorkeling yesterday. I may be starting to get the hang of this. I'm reasonably certain we saw yellowstripe goatfish (stirring up sand with their wiskers then nosing forward looking for lunch), several convict tangs, a threadfin butterfly fish (he looked woven), Moorish idol (one of the Finding Nemo fish), possibly some yellowtail coris, a handful of long and skinny trumpet fish, and several others we couldn't find on our find-a-fish card.

Finally saw Pirates of the Caribbean last night. It may be the silliest movie ever. I remember precisely one thing from the ride in Disneyland: the "working women" gathered around the kegs of rum, showing the sailors a good time. I suppose that tableau is memorable to many people since it managed to work itself into the movie. Interesting, though, that this is the memory I have of the ride. I think I was 9 or 10 at the time, so I probably didn't even get it.

December 19, 2003

While grocery shopping yesterday, I finally read the signs by the Hallmark display: "Christmas, Thursday, December 25th." That means this winter holiday is less than a week away. Driving home, I noticed the hibiscus along the road, saucer-sized blooms in red, pink, orange and yellow. Is it any wonder I'm not in a Christmas-shopping mood?

For years, I've listened to (and given) assorted rants about the increasing commercialism of Christmas. Somewhere, I probably still have a holiday decoration emblazoned with "Jesus is the Reason for the Season," an ironic and problematic statement. Nowhere has that been more obvious than here. I've seen exactly one palm tree dressed up in tiny lights. There are more Santas then I can count, all fat and jolly and bundled in fur-lined red snowsuits. There are oversize snowflakes in front of Safeway, streamers of red and green tinsel at Longs, and a collection of drying evergreens wilting in front of Big Save. With the trappings so obviously imported from somewhere else, it's apparent that the holiday itself is foreign. We're not celebrating the birth of the Savior of Man in some desert town two millennia ago. This holiday is about Victorian romanticism, winter in New England and a sort of aggressive nostalgia that goes beyond rose-colored glasses.

This painting-over reminds me too much of a certain species of missionary who brings not just the Gospel but a belief in the white man's superiority. Salvation for the savages in the form of proper clothing and afternoon tea. I'd like Christmas adapted for location, with lights strung on palm trees, garlands of hibiscus flowers, and "Santa" gone native in shorts and a T-shirt.

December 17, 2003

We spent the necessary three hours in line last night to be able to see the very first show of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King at midnight. It's playing at the only multiplex (four screens!) on the island. I keep meaning to determine the distance to the next nearest theater showing it. . .

Excellent movie. I'll be very disappointed if Peter Jackson does not get Best Director from the Academy this year. The entire Lord of the Rings epic clocks in somewhere between 9 and 12 hours, and Jackson deserves recognition for the consistent look, feel, and quality of the entire trilogy.

One of my favorite moments: Eowyn, Princess of Rohan, finally fed up with the men around her telling her that her proper place is overseeing the women and children and not on the battlefield, disguises herself and rides to war with her king. When he is wounded, it is she who stands between him and the Nazgul lord who would finish him. After Eowyn decapitates the Witch King's dragon and successfully deflects his sword, the Nazgul lord still mocks her, "Don't you know who I am? No man can kill me." In response, she sweeps her helm from her head, freeing her mane of blond hair, and retorts "I am no man" before she runs her sword through his face mask.

December 16, 2003

Finished Into The Wild last week. One of Ian's editing apprentices gave it to us as a going away present when we left Los Angeles. The book is about a young man who, upon graduating from college, donated all his money to charity and headed into the Alaskan wilderness, where he starved. I'm still not sure what Dave was trying to say.

The author argues that it was not this man's intention to die and explores the various reasons he might have had for heading into harsh country with a rifle, 10 lbs. of rice and no map. But once armed with a potential indictment against society (the young man grew up in suburbia, had a very strained relationship with his parents, and hated the injustice of capitalism), the author doesn't do anything with it except note that it is tragic the young man didn't live to outgrow his ideals and accumulate enough sin of his own that he might forgive his parents. None of this changes the fact that the book is good; I had trouble putting it down. I'm just sorry to see the missed opportunity. Then again, perhaps that is appropriate.

By the way, I have finally added two new quilts to the gallery.

December 08, 2003

Spent Saturday morning on the beach while Ian reacquainted himself with his boogie board. I watched a pair of tiny, translucent crabs excavate new homes, appearing at their doorways to throw bundles of sand an average distance perhaps five times the length of their bodies. A golden mutt hung out in the shallow water, leaping into waves as they came ashore, always looking seaward, watching her surfer. Another dog, a black lab, refused to stay ashore but kept swimming out to his person, a woman in a flesh-toned bikini who had to haul the dog onto her surfboard and bring him to shore at least three times.

It's rather strange to have the sun rising over the water. I've discovered a flaw in my sense of direction: until now, the ocean has always been in a generally westerly direction. Here, the ocean is all around, but our closest access to it faces east. Ian is trying to use the Hawaiian directions "makai" and "mauka", "toward the water" and "toward the mountain". We pick up stray bits of language as we travel: nearly four years after Germany, I still ask for the time in German. I have vague ambitions that "menehune" remain part of our vocabulary - it's so much more poetic than QuikStop.

I know I don't usually mention work here, but an article/pitch thing under my name is actually published on a site I don't own. It's more militant than I actually feel about things, but the response so far has been good.

December 05, 2003

Reading Wicked, another book which came with the house. The story is good, worth re-reading since there is so much meat in it (What is evil? Where does it come from? What about destiny? Free will? The ties of love and family and moral obligation?), there's no possible way to get it all the first time.

We went for a small evening stroll last night and ended up walking to town. When we got home, I did the math and figured we walked 7 miles. Oops.

I made my first attempts at snorkeling earlier this week, mostly just using the mask and holding my breath while looking at the fish in Lydgate Park. Very cool. We've tentatively planned to go to Poipu this weekend and practice some more. I'm hoping the clouds clear a bit for the excursion; at Lydgate it was pouring hard, cold beads of rain when we left the water, making the trip to the car a more intensely wet experience the swimming in the ocean.

November 30, 2003

I am clearly the child of drought. It rained heavily all night, sometimes keeping me up, and into this afternoon. When it finally tapered off, no longer having to yell over it for my voice recognition to hear me was a relief, but I was already anticipating its return. I'm living in a place that gets an average of 50 to 75 inches of rain a year, and I wonder if that's enough.

We went for a late afternoon walk to our local waterfall to see how it liked all the rain. The river is perhaps a foot higher than it was on our last visit and the color of weak cocoa. It rushes around corners, leaps over the waterfall, and boils its way downstream. The term "erosional landscape" is suddenly perfectly clear.

This was a weekend of walks. Friday, we took a long lunch break to go for a picnic and explore one of the forest preserves where we saw rainbow eucalyptus, five very large amphibians, egrets, several other birds, a centipede, and a very fast earthworm. Hopefully a couple of the pictures I took will come out well. In the meantime, a handful of pictures from our mid October trip is now online. I'll be adding new pictures as we get them developed.

Yesterday's explorations took us to the west and north sides of Kauai. I've gotten myself a library card and have checked out Roadside Geology Of Hawaii. Fascinating stuff. We used it as a guidebook as we drove, stopping to check out residual stones, 5 million year old flows, and pillow lava. We stopped by Wailua Falls, a nameless waterfall with a great swimming hole and an amazing banyan tree, and the Menehune Ditch, an ancient irrigation channel.

At Waimea, we angled inland and drove along Waimea Canyon, a.k.a. the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. We drove to Kokee at the end of the road, left the car and started walking. After a mile of steep hills, we found the lookout point, which we ignored in favor of getting up close to the top of the Na Pali Coast. The Pihea Trail, apparently carved by water and feet, winds along the ridge and swings around the head of a valley; we looked down on cascades of green tumbling to the ocean. Only when we spotted a tiny egret below us did we begin to appreciate the distance to the bottom. Again, erosional landscapes.

Eventually, the trail bent away from the ridge, dissolving into orange mud laced with a red clay and shot with grays and purples. After our shoes were thoroughly coated, we found a boardwalk trail leading into the Alakai Wilderness at the summit of Mount Wai'ale'ale. With an average of 475 inches of rain per year, it is the wettest place on earth and lush with ferns and mosses and dwarf trees. We stopped at a crossroads in the boardwalk, the rather surreal experience of finding a boardwalk crossroads in the middle of a swamp made more so by the sudden appearance of two men in camouflage accompanied by nine large dogs.

The return to the car brought us to an estimated total of 8 miles, all moderately strenuous terrain. My knees held up rather well, considering, and my feet are surprisingly blister-free. I'll be very grateful, though, when my new arch supports arrive.

November 27, 2003

The crickets here are sometimes so insistent they sound like a lightbulb just before it pops into darkness.

I want a book on local geology, one on the plants, one on the birds and one more on folk tales. Or maybe one that covers all those and traces how they weave in and out of each other. This place is so radically different from anywhere else I've been, mostly, I'm guessing, because it's such a small island, and it's so far away from anything else.

Ian has the language bug and wants to learn the local pidgin. The house came with a book on learning Hawaiian. With all the vowels and apostrophes, it's almost impossible to tell where one word stops and another begins. I've always thought of myself as a language person, but maybe I gravitate toward European languages; I enjoy seeing how they're all related and rediscovering what a hodgepodge English really is. I don't remember feeling quite this intimidated by German. Hawaiian only has a dozen or so letters - I can't tell if that's a comfort or a source of fear.

November 26, 2003

Dan Savage's Skipping Toward Gomorrah has the honor of being the first book I've read here. (It came with the house.) Has anyone introduced Mr. Savage to Michael Moore? I'd love to see what kind of collaboration the two of them would cook up. . .

Other books read in the last month in moments when the boxes and the packing tape got overwhelming: Into The Forest, a personal favorite and a reread. The country has collapsed for unexplained reasons, and two sisters must find a way to survive in a world suddenly without electricity, gasoline, telephones, or grocery stores. Also read The Center Of Everything, a Kansas-during-the-'80s coming-of-age complete with a creationism vs. evolution throw down in front of the school board. Oh, and book four of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.

November 23, 2003

Checked out Whalers last night, a bar in Lihue that does its best to become a techno dance club on Saturday nights. Evidently, we missed the memo that everyone was going to be at some event on the North Shore and that the club population would never top 20. I can forgive quite a bit when it comes to dance music played incredibly loudly, but the forgiveness requires lots of happy people melding with the rhythm. And that just wasn't happening last night. There were, however, strings of Christmas lights everywhere attracting some of the tiniest moths I've ever seen. In the space of 10 little light bulbs there were more moths than people in the entire club, jockeying for prime positions. What purpose does the attraction to light serve for moths? Is it warmth? Finding the best possible lighting to show off wing markings? Are those pools of light refuges or diners?

Whalers is at the end of the road that winds through the Marriott resort, next door to an abandoned shopping mall. To get there, you drive down a tree-lined avenue and cross two arched bridges, both marked with rearing horse statues. The whole setting screams elegance and disposable cash and insulated adventuring. It's the last outpost of the colonialists, wealth and refinement surrounded by jungle, now abandoned by choice or by disaster.

November 18, 2003

There's a new balance to learn - not to work so much that we never leave the house to experience this beautiful place, but not to forget that we are not on vacation.

Yesterday, we hiked out our front door and up the street to Ho'opi'i Falls. What geologic coincidences made the rock collapse just so, right here? It's all igneous, from the same volcano.

I love the contrasts here, the obvious convergence of elements. Fire built this place; water and air tempered it. Earth has claimed it now, but water will one day have it all. Ian explored the waterfall, the cylindrical pits dug by the endless flow of water. I sat in the rain and watched the ferns across the river nodding in the wind, clinging to cracks in the red-black rock.

November 16, 2003

When you are moving, everything else stops.

At least, when I am moving, all my other projects grind to a halt. But the move is over now; time to adjust to a new place and find a new rhythm for all the things I mean to do.

We've gone light, paring down to essentials and computers. We're developing new habits about shoes and dishes and sunscreen. I even read the "Disaster preparedness" section in the phone book and have determined we are not in the tsunami flood zone. Between breakfast and lunch yesterday, it was blustery, leading into a brief but enthusiastic downpour followed by blue skies and perfectly puffy clouds. Last night we watched a sky brilliant with stars and felt simultaneously small yet important.

On the mainland, it's difficult to imagine living here. On Kauai, it's almost impossible to imagine being anywhere else.

October 21, 2003

Finished War Against the Animals yesterday on the plane. A bit purple in places, but perhaps that was appropriate for its cast of gay men living in the small New York town of Stone Hollow. The author's heavy reliance on adjectives sometimes popped me out of the story, something I kept having a difficult time getting into since the author seemed to expect that the reader would already have some knowledge of what it is to be young and gay and to hate and fear it.

But the book made the time on the plane pass, and that's really all that matters. We ended up in an exit row, so for the first time in my life - leg room on a plane. The downside was that the arms between the seats didn't lift out of the way, so napping was even more out of the question than usual. Maybe it's the noise, the shaking, the seats or the endlessly recycled air, but I'm never able to sleep on planes.

First Impressions: someone has cranked up the saturation in the colors here. And after the muck of L.A. air, it seems I can see forever. Our hosts have promised that will be dark enough after sunset that I'll be able to see the stars. Of course, that means the cloud cover must blow back out to sea. (Can you say that when you are on an island with an average diameter of approximately 40 miles, surrounded by 2500 miles of Pacific in every direction?)

October 18, 2003

Just finished reading Francine Prose's After. Shocking and disturbing. If the author has based even just little of it on Truth, I have a whole pile of new reasons to mistrust and despise the public-school system. And to fear that there is some conspiracy out there attempting to takeover.

When did I become so into conspiracy theories? I use to roll my eyes at people who thought the government was out to get them or that the military had covered up aliens in Roswell. And, so far, I still don't think there are spacemen in the deep freeze in Nevada. But coverups, mistruths, and a desire on the part of some shadowy organization that the entire population be reduced to mindless consuming automatons who quietly follow instructions? That is starting to sound not so far-fetched.

October 16, 2003

Popped up to Santa Barbara last weekend. Happy congratulations to Fernando and Tracey on their newly-launched nuptial journey. And many thanks for the excuse to get out of town. Surprising how different things are 90 miles north: we actually saw stars glimmering in the night sky. Living in L.A. has made me forget that there could be anything in the sky other than the moon and airplanes.

Now that we've agreed that we're leaving L.A. and starting to have real momentum in that direction, it's easier to see and acknowledge all the things about L.A. that drive me nuts. Like how I won't be able to clear clearly see anything more than a half-mile away until it rains. Like just how much the air smells like lighter fluid. And how it's never, ever truly quiet. And how you have to drive a minimum of one hour to find someplace to go for a walk, and then it's usually a mall.

October 11, 2003

When I left Borders six months ago, I acquired a whole stack of advance reader editions of various books. "Uncorrected Proofs - Not For Sale." Some of them have been a delightful surprises, gems I probably wouldn't have found on my own. Some have been more of a let down. The True Story of Hansel and Gretel wasn't exactly fun, but then Holocaust literature rarely is. And now that I think about it, the slow pace probably suited winter in Poland.

The disappointment has been Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged. The characters are between 14 and 16 years old, but the book reads like it was written for 5th graders. The point of view is not from the most interesting character, and in bringing up but failing to explore a number of issues (poverty, domestic abuse, child welfare programs, reform school, public school, distrust between adults and children), the author shirks the responsibility of her medium. Rather than address or wrestle with the problems, she takes the easy way out as Jake runs away from home.

But just because I didn't like it means it's hopeless. I'll be releasing the book with a Book Crossing ID sometime in the next week in the hopes that it might find someone to resonate with.

October 08, 2003

That's it. I've had enough. Time to go.

Maybe it was because the right-wing was upset because they lost or maybe it was the belief that if only we change who is in office we could fix the economy. The first option confirms my suspicion that there is a secret society of old rich white men taking over the country. The second affirms my belief that people would rather whine about something than understand it.

The fact remains that California is in a financial fix, like everyone I know, thanks to an economy which tanked when Junior took up residence in Washington. And what's the solution chosen by popular vote? Elect a man with no political experience whatsoever and with business sense so questionable he hasn't had a true hit movie since 1994. Not only can he not choose a project that makes money, he seems to be unable to choose a project that is in touch with what the people want.

Children, take note: All you need to achieve leadership of the 4th largest economy in the world is a fat bank account and a name everybody knows.

October 01, 2003

Indulged my annual craving for steak the other night. Many thanks to Casey for the restaurant recommendation: steak for me, an oversized baked potato for Ian.

After dinner, we meandered down to the beach. Los Angeles beaches, like most of L.A., are this strange hybrid of dirty and supreme image-consciousness. The beach is sculpted flat, but it smells funny, and not just in a salty way. Still, empty, night-wrapped beaches are a good place for conversation, for acknowledging loss, for making plans. The waves broke orange in the city's sodium lights, but further out they shown in brilliant flashes of neon blue, plankton phosphorescing in the tidal chaos. In the darkness, light, and the color of hope.

September 24, 2003

Finished reading Sabriel the other day, and since then I've been trying to figure out what to say about it. It's definitely not what I expected. Not that unexpected is bad, but the story defies easy summaries. Every time I try to line up the words to say, "It's about. . . " it seems too many words have gone on vacation, leaving me unable to adequately explain anything.

It's a good story; the pacing is a bit stately, an interesting choice for something so caught up in Life and Death. Definitely one of the more interesting fictional worlds I've encountered. I'm recommendingSabriel to anyone who enjoyed Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. Both have amazingly realized alternate realities that sometimes put Reality to shame, worlds in which animals talk and the salvation of everything is in the hands of a child making difficult choices.

September 19, 2003

Excessively tired today, despite sleeping for almost nine hours last night. . .

Recently finished reading Lost. The author's previous two books, Wicked and Confessions Of An Ugly Stepsister, are much better, I think. Lost wanders too much, takes far too long to get to the good stuff. I wanted a ghost story, the supernatural kind, and ended up with a story about a woman who'd had an encounter with grief, seasoned it with a mistake, and then remained paralyzed by it. I suppose the point was that she was a ghost in her own life but it didn't make for very diverting read.

September 17, 2003

Saw Once Upon a Time in Mexico last night. Fun movie. Driving home, we decided it was a Mexican movie with an American budget and a Hong Kong action sensibility. Very much the birth of the reluctant hero. By the end of the movie, Antonio Banderas, while still dark and brooding, has found someone to live for - a nation too often crippled by power-mad criminals. He's on his way to being a modern-day Zorro, only without the funny mask and the penchant for carving Zs on everything. The fun of the movie of course is not just the hero's journey, but the gloriously outrageous gunfights along the way. And yes, Johnny Depp is fantastic.

It's a summer movie despite being released in September, and it put an awful lot of this past season's movies to shame. Proof that action movies can have action, giggles, and a point.

September 14, 2003

I've started receiving daily e-mails from the BBC in an effort to stay somewhat connected to world events. Discovered a nifty feature yesterday: the weekly list of "10 things we didn't know last week." According to this week's list, the 23rd largest tree in the world is named Adam. Of course, now I had to find out about the world's largest tree. That tree is named after General Sherman. What, did they run out of larger-than-life historical figures by the time they located Adam?

By the way, both trees are sequoias (redwoods) and reside in Sequoia National Park in northern California. Maybe it's because I grew up among redwoods but I get this superior feeling whenever I'm reminded that redwoods are the "world's largest things." My trees are the best.

September 07, 2003

It's gotten obscenely hot again. I'm beginning to contemplate moving in to the refrigerator.

Finished reading Second Glance this week. I'm surprised how much I enjoyed it; I don't usually go for mysteries. I'm never able to see the clues, so when the sleuth/narrator makes a big announcement, I always feel like he's just pulling conclusions out of thin air. Second Glance, however, while heavily layered and complicated, unfolds in a logical fashion. An evocative, poetic story of love, loss and genetics spanning 70 years with some interesting ethical debates along the way. Extra points to the author for including the ethics but always keeping them subservient to the story.

Watched Rabbit-Proof Fence last night. It's story takes place in Australia during the same timeframe as half of Second Glance plays out in Vermont. I had no idea how widespread these various programs to purify the human race were. The proponents of selective breeding and sterilization among humans truly believed they were doing the right thing, the humane thing, for everyone, improving the life of the native by making him more white, improving the life of the good, church-going, tax-paying citizen by relieving him of his charitable burdens. We look back on those activities now with shame. I wonder, though, what are we doing now that will shame those who come after us? We are no more saints than those who came before.

August 30, 2003

Actually left the house last night for an excursion into Hollywood to the Lava Lounge to see Kelp. Ian knows Todd and Paul, the bassist and guitarist, from the Meta days. The drummer, also from Meta, recognized Ian, but no one remembers his name.

Kelp plays "surf music," the kind of sound that would go with an Endless Summer movie. I can't help wondering if the music conjures up visions of sand, sun and sea out of itself or because it's called "surf music." Just when I had decided it didn't really matter, it was all happy music that made me smile, they played a song named Godsplitter after the brutal headaches experienced by the main character in Craig Clevenger's book, The Contortionist's Handbook. Aggressive, angry surf music evidently is not an oxymoron.

August 29, 2003

Ah, narrative! So refreshing after recent explorations in sociology. Sword-Sworn is a warm glow of a conclusion to the author's series about Tiger and Del and their outcast sword-for-hire adventures. Given recent discussions in our house, the end is especially satisfying.

August 25, 2003

Read Please Stop Laughing At Me in two and a half days, and that was too long to spend with the book. I picked it up because it was the last book to get a major marketing push before I left the bookstore at the end of last April. And because I was an outsider in school. I don't really recall anyone laughing at me, mostly just keeping their distance, but I figured I'd be able to relate to the author.

Not really. She endured some terrible stuff at the hands of her schoolmates, but despite everything they did to her, she always resisted her outsider status. I may not have been happy with mine, but I embraced it, more or less.

Anyway, the book is really hard to read. Not because it's difficult. Not even because the subject matter is painful. But because the author can't write. Here's someone who was so focused on her personal trauma that she managed to miss every "Show don't tell" lesson ever given. Nowhere in this book does the reader feel any of her pain. You're always looking from across the room, thinking, gosh, that's so sad. I stuck with the book to the end, hoping it would get better, hoping she'd learn to stand up for herself. If you're going to claim unpopular viewpoints, you'd better expect people to disagree with you. And once they do, if you don't resist the disagreement, either with argument or with stubbornness, they'll walk right over you. Remind me, what was the point in disagreeing in the first place?

August 23, 2003

Attended my first Hollywood premiere Thursday night. Ian was the First Assistant Director for The Drop when it filmed back in November. The premiere was sort of reuniony - all these people who had spent 12 or 14 or 16 hours together every day for a month and who hadn't seen each other since then. Lots of "So good see you again!" "What are you working on?" and "Would really love to work with you again sometime." It's sort of like signing a yearbook; do all these people saying nice things really mean them?

As for the movie, it's cool. The story is a bit one-dimensional, although it may have just seemed that way to me since I had read the script and heard all of Ian's on-set stories. Still, the visuals are impressive. The film creates and sustains a mood, making the movie more a sort of visual poetry then ordinary narrative. It's a surprisingly thinky. And, as an added bonus, it's the first high-definition, digitally projected movie I've seen that didn't have the whites all blown out.

August 21, 2003

Took my nephew to the park yesterday. It's quite possible that children have evolved into a new species of human. I don't remember running in gangs of three, throwing and chasing balls, twisting up the swings till I fell over dizzy. I don't remember the easy laughter, the games of one-upmanship. Did I forget these things as an adult? Did they ever happened for me?

Reading a couple of psychology books about bullying among girls. Perhaps I'm trying to understand my growing years. Odd Girl Out claims that the biggest fear girls have is one of isolation, and that this fear makes them do terrible things to each other. I don't think it quite applies to me. I don't remember people laughing at me; they mostly ignored me. Increased isolation would have required everyone else in my school to be kidnapped by aliens.

August 16, 2003

Started reading The Perks Of Being A Wallflower the other day at lunch. Finished it before bedtime, and no, I wasn't reading non-stop and ignoring everything else. Sort of what one would expect for a book published by MTV.

The story was surprisingly good. Very evocative and honest. Charlie is awkward, introverted, bookish, and friends with a group of outsiders: punks, gays, and potheads - people who are portrayed as being honest with themselves about who they are and where they want to be.

The part I didn't like was the revelation that Charlie did indeed have "something wrong with him" and didn't just feel that way. I spent a good part of my high-school years feeling something was wrong with me, and I don't have some childhood trauma to blame it on. The discovery of Charlie's long repressed memories of the sexual abuse he endured as a child, although a horrible thing, somehow cheapened the story. As if it's impossible to be awkward, introverted, bookish and an outsider and come by it naturally.

August 13, 2003

Finished Terry Pratchett's The Wee Free Men yesterday. Fun adventure story for kids, with some complicated what is a dream versus what is reality discussions thrown in for spice. I completely understood the heroines' tendency to correct the pronunciation of and provide definitions for people around her. It seems to be a habit among introverted bookworms.

Now I'm wondering where some of the books I had as a kid have gotten off to. Hopefully, they're all in Mom's attic. The Wee Free Men will be fun to read aloud some day, but so will The Light Princess. I'm going to be really upset if I've lost that book.

August 12, 2003

Saw Step Into Liquid at the NuArt the other evening. Gorgeous pictures of amazing waves, shot from incredible angles. Confirms my opinion of surfers as the most insane and simultaneously the most courageous people on the planet. And not just the big wave surfers and the wet-suited mammals in Santa Cruz, but the guys who surf the Great Lakes, the wakes of oil tankers in Texas, and the coast of Ireland. Who knew you could surf in Ireland?

The evening also included an authentic celebrity sighting. Helen Hunt saw the same screening we did. I think she may be our most famous sighting to date.

August 10, 2003

Realized Thursday that neither Ian nor myself had left the house in about three or four days. I'm not sure which is more disturbing: that we have been so reclusive or that the thing we found to get us out of the house was to take the recycling to the recycling center.

I think it is L.A.'s fault. The heat here is oppressive this time of year, and even simply sitting still and trying to think is sweat-inducing. It's impossible to tell whether or not the small breeze is a natural phenomenon or just the results of all the cars zooming past.

Of course, it might not just be the weather. L.A. has got to be one of the world's worst-planned cities. If anyone had any thoughts during construction, they were probably only about how to maximize profit; no one seems to have given any thought to quality of life. Especially not environmental quality of life. The expectation seems to be that your existence can be improved if only you spend enough money.

We've started talking about where we might go after L.A.. Hopefully, we'll only be here another year. And then we can go north, to some place greener and wetter, someplace where they don't look at you funny when you want to walk to the market, someplace where it isn't a crime to know your neighbors.

August 06, 2003

I moved the avocado that was rooting in a jar of water in the kitchen window to a pot the other day, making first time introductions between roots and soil. I've trimmed the top of the tree to encourage branching, but I need to pay attention to all forms of growth to keep it a manageable size. Can you banzai avocado trees? If you do, what size avocados do you get?

Also had to severely prune the philodendron. I like the trailing leaves effect, but all attempts to root in the carpet must be curbed immediately.

Finally finished Shogun. I think the reason I don't remember actually finishing it before is that the climax happens about 100 pages before the end of the book. Everything after that point is just tying up loose ends. Odd that in 1100 pages there's perhaps three or four things that conclude; everything else just comes to a convenient stopping point.

August 03, 2003

Have been working a bit too hard lately. Hands are hurting again. Took yesterday off and didn't even turn on my computer. Planning on taking it easy today. Probably just going to write some e-mail and do my best to do everything with ViaVoice.

The other problem with working too hard: none of my own projects get any attention. I'm full of fantastic reasons and plans to reprioritize but seem to be suffering from a knowing/doing gap. I know what I should do, and yet I don't actually do it.

July 21, 2003

All my fine words last week, and I'm still not writing very regularly. . .

Rereading Shogun. I originally bought the book more than 10 years ago, as plane and coach reading while traveling in Spain. No one else on the trip understood why I was reading a book about medieval Japan while traveling in Spain. Somehow I never managed to adequately explain that it wasn't the subject matter but the fact that it's an 1100 page paperback.

Yesterday, I found a little card marking page 758; the card offers a Fiesta Americana on the 4th of July, "Tu segunda cerveza gratis." I have always assumed I had finished this book, but now I'm not so sure.

Watched Treasure Planet last night. It's OK, a bit lacking in subtlety. I may now need to read Treasure Island. Mom tried to read it to me when I was small; all I remember is being scared out of my wits. I can't remember if it was the story that scared me or the paintings. It was a Junior Illustrated Library edition with very few illustrations: black and white drawings at the beginning of each chapter and five or seven color paintings. My voice recognition software uses excerpts from the first chapter of Treasure Island as part of its training. I almost know it by heart, and it's always a little sad that the story comes to a screeching halt so soon.

July 16, 2003

At the rate I'm going, I'll have to to rename this journal "Almost Weekly". . .

It's this ridiculous Protestant work ethic. Whatever I'm doing has no value unless it's gainful employment. One would think that by now I would have figured out how to turn that voice off, or at least convince it that taking small steps now toward my dreams will help me achieve gainful employment later. But, sadly, I haven't figured out either, evidently. All day, every day, somebody else's projects, somebody else's words.

I'm not complaining, much. It's more that I'm frustrated with myself. I know, and I was reminded today with one of the writers' newsletters that appear in my in-box, that I need to be writing every day. Not when there's time. Not when I feel like it. Not when the workload gives me a few spare moments. Every day.

It's just a matter of doing it. Like the yoga I do first thing every morning, except this morning since I'm not supposed to do an inversion before the end of the week.

A while ago I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, mostly to see what all the fuss was about. The author has been rather successful with real-estate, and he seems to feel that will be more stable and earn him more money than traditional stock market games. Whatever. The most important lesson I took from the book: pay yourself first. He meant literally. Give yourself the chunk of your business income that you want for yourself; sure, when the taxman comes, there will be a deficiency, but the awareness of the deficiency should inspire you to go out and make the additional money you need to keep yourself out of prison. Not exactly the way I want to live my financial life, thank you. But a useful metaphor. If I permit myself to use the time I want to spend on my projects first, before the projects for other people, I will somehow find the time to accomplish both. Walnuts and rice, again.

July 08, 2003

Saw Terminator 3 over the weekend. I don't think I've ever seen a movie more obviously designed for no other purpose than to make someone a lot of money. Problematic plot, shallow characterizations, average action sequences, and an ending left wide open for more of the same. This movie should have never made it to the theater. I don't normally complain about movie ticket prices, but $10 a head is a bit much for something that is really no more than a special two-hour preview event for a new television series.

Interesting trend, though, this summer. Are we really that afraid of technology out of control? Is it a real fear that we may be eclipsed by our own inventions? Perhaps it is time to start thinking about broadening the definition of multiculturalism. Or maybe to be more respectful of more things, from the natural systems we abuse to the artificial systems we create and enslave.

July 01, 2003

Seems to me we stand at a crossroads. On the one hand, there seems to be a growing consciousness that things cannot stay as they are. On the other, our very inertia propels us toward chaos and catastrophe. I went to the market yesterday, and while walking in the parking lot I seemed to see two buildings: the intact commercial center in front of me and a dark and crumbling shell mentally overlaid. I'm never sure what causes the destruction my inner eye sees, just that it's a possibility.

Finished reading Juliet Marillier's Sevenwaters Trilogy. Wrapped in a story of 10th century Ireland that begins with a retelling of the tale of the six brothers turned to swans and rescued through the pain and determination of their sister, the author offers a suggestion for the origin of Avalon and the possibility that when the time is right The Islands will unveil themselves. She does not speak of the return of Arthur but rather the return of balance. After centuries of destruction and pollution, of believing our human selves above and outside the tapestry of existence, we will rediscover what we once knew: We are a part of a whole, balance is everything, and there's magic in the elements, in family, in love.

June 28, 2003

Saw the new Charlie's Angels movie last night. Ian is calling it the "Triumph of style over substance." Lovable fluff. Refuses to take itself seriously. And obvious that cast and crew had a great time making it. I have to wonder though, how many sprained ankles there were, all those flips and kicks and other stunts, all done in insanely high heels.

It's good to see female action heroes, even if they're framed in a purely fantasy world. I'd like to see a movie that tries to stay as close to reality as possible but still has a female lead kicking butt. There was a preview for SWAT before Angels, a new cop action movie starring Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, and Michelle Rodriguez. The preview looked good, but I'm worried that the token woman on the team will meet an early and untimely end.

June 26, 2003

I don't appear to be doing too well on the daily part of this journal. Interesting how I can become so caught up in finding approval and validation from outside myself that I actually end up sacrificing myself.

Extremely strange dream. For the last year or so, I have had a thread pop up in my dreams: I'm in high school, and I know I have this English class, but I go so infrequently I can't remember when the class meets or if anything is due. Somehow, this has only been mildly concerning. Last night, I dreamt I ran into the teacher for that class, but instead of finding out what I might have missed, I told her about this on going dream thread from other dreams. (It's crazy, Mrs. C. I keep dreaming I'm supposed to be in your class , but I never get there and nobody seems to think that's a problem.) So, not only do I have a continuing thread in my nighttime subconscious ramblings, but I refer to it in other dreams.

Saw the Hulk last weekend. A perfectly respectable movie, but somewhat lacking in emotional connectivity. I enjoyed the experience of watching it, but I seem to have left the movie, its narrative, and any point it was trying to make, back in the theater. The most memorable thing for me? That big green man is still wearing purple shorts.

June 20, 2003

Recently finished reading A Child's Book Of True Crime by Chloe Hooper. Will likely put it on my list of books to read again; the presentation of the narrative is delightfully convoluted, and now that I know the story, I'm curious to go back and pick apart the structure. I have the distinct impression that the author has several things to say about growing up, the transition between college life and the working world, naivety, adultery, jealousy, parenting. It's just that on the first time through, I was too busy trying to figure out the murder.

Workload has been psychotic. Beginning to hope some sort of balance may be returning. Although, it just proves the saying, "When it rains, it pours." My plate is full, Ian's been hired to edit a documentary, just as soon as the DVD goodies for Hollywood Homicide are complete. My recreational reading has gotten much fluffier: Timeline by Michael Crichton. Not a lot of thought required, just a good adventure.

June 15, 2003

Enjoying a sleepy Sunday. . . Hosted a party last night, our first since our housewarming party a year ago. We've met some wonderful new people since then, and it was great fun to mix them in with the people we've known for years. Haven't yet decided whether it was the layout and organization of our kitchen/bar area that accounted for the high volume of cocktails (the beer was in the fridge, so maybe it wasn't obvious we had any) or if L.A. people drink more mixed drinks than San Francisco people.

Have learned that "Snickerdoodle" does not appear in the OED. This is a major oversight, and the first time my 0ED has let me down. It's always been able to give me word origins before. It comes as a shock to discover that something as complete and as authoritative as the OED would be missing a word as well known as "Snickerdoodle".

June 13, 2003

The point, of course, is to say something, hopefully on a regular basis. Ian has a sort of metaphor about dishes: you empty the dish-drainer to make room for the dishes you're about to wash, and you wash those dishes to make room for the ones you're about to get dirty. It's about preparing a space, making a vacuum so that I have something to fill.

It's not just a way of trying to get me to write more, more regularly, more richly, more everything. I'm too prone to get caught up in work to the point that nothing else happens. I'm hoping that this little space that needs to be filled with words on a regular basis will inspire non-work related thoughts. I need to remember there is a world out there full of inspiration. I just need to step outside.