Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Whoa! It's Wednesday

Yikes. One of those crazy weeks. So rather than focus on my current exhaustion, or how my mouth is still traumatized from "the incident with the temporary crown and a piece of super cement that simply wouldn't allow itself to be pried from my gums," let's play the glad game and focus on more happy thoughts.

::pause while I work some up::

1. Reading "Guyaholic" by Carolyn Mackler and loving it. Feels searingly honest. Recommend it highly. It's the sequel to her Vegan Virgin Valentine, I do believe.
2. Also reading "Eclipse," the third in Stephenie Meyer's vampire trilogy. Not as fast of a read for me as I'd like for some reason. (possibly the above mentioned exhaustion) But I'm fascinated to see how she ends the Bella/Edward story. One of my colleagues loves the books so much she made up an "I heart Edward Cullen" t shirt.
3. Caught the last ep. of the Scott Baio show I've been nattering about. Won't give it away if anyone plans on still catching it on the VH1 rounds, but I have to say I was delighted that the very end actually surprised me. Surely a good thing for a VH1 show. (not that I'm judging, cause, hey, I watched the darn thing!)
4. Even though I cancelled my Vogue subscription because I simply don't have time to read it (which sounds ridiculous since it is mostly ads, but humor me, please), I still just opened my mailbox yesterday and found the fall edition stuffed inside. 840 pages of Voguey goodness. At my current pace, this should last me all fall. Yippeee!

Til next time...

Monday, August 27, 2007

I miss the snickerdoodles

When we first moved into this house twelve years ago, it was basically because my mother had passed away and left enough money for a downpayment on the bigger house we always wanted but never seemed to be able to afford. Crappy reason. But this house has always felt like a big embrace to us. Big enough. Cozy. Home. And the kid got to move to a new school and escape one of those teachers from hell you get every once in awhile, especially if you're a square peg type of person and have a great sense of humor and end up in a pod person's classroom.

But I digress.

So here's the thing. Life had been spitting on us for awhile. Economic downturns. Job down sizing. Money leaking out to pay for this and that. Enormous suckage.

And we move into this house for this very sad reason even though we love the house.

And on the first day of school, I drive home with my kid and discover that our new neighbors have a tradition. Couple of moms set up card tables on the one of the lawns. People bring out lemonade and cookies. And stay there as each wave of kids - elementary through high school - come home.

Can you picture it? Every kid from age five to eighteen gathered on the lawn, hanging out, sipping warm lemonade and munching snickerdoodles. Honestly, I thought I'd died and gone to cookie heaven.

Life had been giving us lemons. But now we had lemonade. Really.

Missed that today as I drove home just now from picking up my dry cleaning. The core group of kids has grown up. No more lawn parties. At least not this year.

Til next time...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday thoughts

Don't normally post on Sunday. But school starts tomorrow and I'm antsy so this blog seemed a good place to release some of that energy. (already did the amazing and washed the kitchen floor - something I normally ignore til I can't, but still have buckets of jitters to work off) Ooh- buckets. Floor. Washing. I'm so very unclever at the moment... Sorry.

Anyway, random things popping through my brain:

1. I hate it when I settle in to a school inservice and the presenter starts with some version of "I know you hate to be here, so this won't take long" and then reads off the powerpoint for thirty minutes in a monotone. Actually, I don't hate being there. I'd like to learn something. Don't disappoint me.
2. I'm still hooked on Scott Baio, 45 and Single. Currently, his "life coach" (quote are used because I'm still not sure there really is such a thing...) has him convinced that his friend Johnny V. is toxic for him. Interesting idea - can some of our friends be toxic for us? It's something I'm exploring in one of my WIP's.
3. My agent, Michelle Andelman of the fabulous Andrea Brown Literary Agency, totally rocks!
4. Will Heidi Montag of "The Hills" ever kick boyfriend Spencer to the curb? Seemingly not.
5. I'm constantly finding myself in situations where I find something hysterically funny that others don't. Like when my work pal Heidi (not "The Hills" Heidi in case you're wondering. Which I'm sure you're so not) and I amuse ourselves by me calling out "Grandfather, grandfather" in a very lame attempt to reference the book Heidi. Okay, yeah, it's not funny is it? Oh yes it is.
6. I enjoy having friends who feel safe enough to call me and say, "Do you have five minutes? Can I just vent?" Because then I know I can do it to them, too. Sometimes you just have to blurt it all out. No answers needed. Just a bobble-head doll type nodding. Or steady breathing
on the other end of the line.
7. And everyone should be watching Mad Men on AMC on Thursday nites, if only for the wicked accurate 1960 era details. Kids bouncing around in cars without seatbelts. Ad men boozing it up at the office. Women in girdles. Girdles! Constant cigarette smoking. Everywhere.

Til next time...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Harry Potter Review: The Final Installment

No time to post the rest of this yesterday. But without further ado, I present the end of my conversation with bestest pal Beth G. about Deathly Hallows:

J: Well, Beth, when I asked you what questions you might have for the mighty JKR, you didn't have much to say. So we'll gloss over that one and move on. Any favorite characters in Book 7? My personal ones - besides my already discussed admiration for the moral ambiguities of my dear Snape - happen to be Ron and Neville. Ron for all the obvious reasons - not the least of which is that the sidekick gets to play a rather central role here. And his love for Hermione is so touching. And he grows up to be a rather wonderful (and still Ron-like) adult in the epilogue. As for Neville, I simply have to say he grabbed my heart and held it tight. (metaphorically speaking, of course. Otherwise, ick) He kept up the good fight. He came out bloodied but not bowed. He told Harry he'd kill the snake and he simply did it. And I tear up just thinking about him. The bedraggled nerd who is so much more than his enemies ever gave him credit for. Bravo, Neville. Bravo.
So how about Beth?
B: My favorite characters in Book 7 - that's tough. I'm an equal-opportunity gusher about how neat alll the characters are. I have always admired the women who are able to keep it all together without being helpless or needing rescuing like Mrs. Weasley and Hermione. I've always really like Lupin (and, as an aside - I'm quite ambivalent about the whole 'married to Tonks' storyline. Wasn't being a werewolf code for being gay? Why wouldn't it have been okay to go down that road?) But, in the end, I am in total agreement with you - Ron and Neville were the awesome-ist in Book 7. Geeky boys who can save the day do it for me very time.
J: Let's pause here while Beth and I collect ourselves. Ah, the mutual love for the geeky guys. Nerd solidarity, anyone else?
J: Okay, pause over. Now the last question. So, how did you feel about how it all turned out? Meet your expectations? Any surprises? Were your predictions correct? Are you satisfied with the outcome? How'd you feel about that 19 years later epilogue? Personally, I love it. Just knowing that Harry and Ginny named a son Albus Severus made me cry yet again.
B: I'm relieved that my dire predictions regarding Harry's demise were not correct. All in all, The Deathly Hallows was very enjoyable and a wonderful way to tie together the series. Albus Severus Potter - what a heavy legacy for one little boy to carry to Hogwarts. The little conversatin between Harry and Albus at the end made me tear up, too. The overwhelming grace of that little moment, the redemption of Severus Snape, was really beautiful. The epilogue was a wonderful way to see that it all turned out the way it should have. We readers deserved to know there was, literally, light andjoy when the mists cleared out. There is something every satisfying in the knowledge that all these young people lived and were able to carry on and marry and have children of their own. They didn't grow up to be minister of magic or headmaster at Hogwarts or lords of the magical realm. Just normal people, living normal happy lives. The best revenge against fascists and tyrants of all stripes.

J: Wow! A fantabulous final answer, Elizabeth. You've said it all, so I'll put this to bed now. And just for the record, I just read Stephen King's review and he, too, loved Mrs. Weasley's "You b----". So we are in great and esteemed company.

Til next time...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

In which Joy and Beth continue the HP discussion

J: So, Beth, we're off to a good -albeit longwinded- start. Now tell me, was there anything you didn't like? Anything you'd change?
B: Too much mucking about in that smelly old tent!! That didn't work for me at all. I'd like to think that the story would have been stronger with a little less tent-centered action and more about what was happening to those who were fighting the death eaters on the "outside." This was supposed to be the big climax of the series and it felt like most of the exciting action was hpapening elswhere for huge chunks of the novel. But honestly, that's a minor nit-pick. It wouldn't have been a Harry Potter novel if it didn't ramble off somewhere that didn't quite make sense for a while.
J: Well, I've got to agree about the tent. Plus I did keep getting the sense that said tent was a little too convenient of a device. Got everything - well okay, many things - you need all tucked in the bag that you don't lose. So our Scooby gang (pardon the mixing of genres here) is "riding under the grid" but not really. I would also - if pressed, and remember I adore this book with all my heart - have liked a little less info to be presented through Harry's mind meld with Voldy and fewer references to how Harry's scar "prickled."But hey, as you say, these are minor points.

J: Okay - next question might not be for everyone, but it's my blog, so here goes. Since you're my cohort in crime in all things Joss Whedon, are there any Whedonesque (ooh, cool word) parallels you'd like to make? (I personally think JKR is a Joss fan, but that's just me.)
B: Joss Whedon rules!!!!!!And I like that - cohort in Whedonverse crime! We should have a secret handshake or dark mark or something.
J:Great HP reference, Beth. Now on with the rest of your answer.
B: I know you are thinking that I'm going to talk about Snape here, because he's the most obvious Whedonesque character, but I"ll leave that toyou since I know he's totally your secret Harry Potter BFF.
J: So true. So true.
B: The 'verse parallel I keep coming back to is the strength of the ensemble and how it works out that triumph over the dark monsters is not always accomplished through some single person or miracle. If any of the characters had been eliminated from the main triumvirate of Ron, Harry and Hermione, things would have ground to a halt. (And they kind of did when Ron left). They learn that they truly need each other, they grow into their unique strengths and they come to understand that they don't exist in a fate-driven vacuum - no matter what some darn shanshu prophecy might say - it takes a village to kill a dark overlord, what else can I say.
J: Heck of an answer, Elizabeth! I was even reminded of the end of season one of Buffy. Like Harry, she believes she has to die to save the world. And she's willing - sort of - to do so. But you're right, I will focus a bit on my darling Severus Snape. Guess I've always got a soft spot for the redeemable baddie. Spike. Snape. Yup. Seeing the similarities. Willing to sacrifice for the pretty lady. Not what he seems on the surface. Morally ambiguous right to the bitter end. Just how I like 'em. I adored discovering that the silver doe was Snape's patronus in honor of Lily, his unrequited love. Okay, Sev didn't build a Lily-bot or anything (hey, now wouldn't that have been cool!) but still. The parallels are definitely there. And of course, I've always thought of Harry=Buffy; Hermione= Willow; Ron=Xander. Always. Even if I'm pretty sure that was never JKR's intention. It was still there for me.

J: Guess this post is gonna end up with a part 3. So just one more for today. I have my own list of favorite moments and moments that made me cry. One that stands out is in the Malfoy's Manor chapter when Hermione is being tortured by Cruella Deville - oops - Bellatrix. Ron's cries of "Hermione!" when he is not only terrified for her safety but clearly finally willing to admit how much she means to him, just got me. Ron also made me laugh hysterically during the "Silver Doe" chapter. All that meditative dream like narration, interrupted by Ron's classic, "Are you mental?" Love, love, loved it. So how about the Beth list of faves?
B: There were so many moments in the book that I enjoyed: the Oceans Eleven style break-in at the Ministry of Magic, the reunion of Ron and Hermione in the woods, the craggy relatives at the wedding. Oddly, the moment that sticks with me the most is a very sad one. Having to bury Dobby was soo difficult. I still get teary just thinking about it. But really, didn't it all just gel at that moment? It was terrible and awful and very grownup. Burying the people we love is the most difficult and humbling thing we have to do as we get older. Also - Mrs. Weasly cursing as she opened a big ole can of whoop-ass on Bellatrix Lestrange was worth the price of admission all by itself.
J: Yes! The most shocking application of a swear word in all of children's lit!! And totally well -deserved!! (by the by, did you notice the use of "effing" in this book? Also a little jarring considering where the stories started out. But I digress)An awesome kick ass moment. I'd also have to add that I shed some tears during the epilogue. I know some folks aren't fond of it, but I very much liked it. That's all I'll say, because I know you're going to discuss it tomorrow.

Til next time...

Monday, August 20, 2007

In which Joy and Beth chat about HP, part 1

Beth G. is a great pal. She shares my love of all things Whedonesque (translate: Buffy, Angel, Firefly). We watched the series finale of the Buffster together. We were there in the theater the opening weekend of Serenity, which for the sadly uninformed was the big screen version of Joss Whedon's far, far too short lived sci fi/western series Firefly. And like me, she's been a loyal Harry Potter fan since book one. She's also mom to two delightful kids and works in a job I can't quite define but know is really really cool down at the Medical Center. If pressed against a wall, I think she coordinates educational programs for med students transitioning to residencies. If she had taught Mc Dreamy I'd probably remember better. But I know she does it well!

In any case, since she's uber smart, uber articulate and has a better head for the minute detail than I do, I thought it would be fun to have a co-blogger for the great Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows review. Here goes:

J: So Beth, what did you think of Deathly Hallows? Did it meet your expectations? How would you compare it to the other six books?

B: Well, to be honest, I tried to keep my story expectations as grim as possible going into the book. I convinced myself that the only way JK Rowling was oigoing to get out of writing Harry Potter novels for the rest of her natural life would be to kill off Harry. (Brutal, yes- and that strategy doesn't even always work. c.f. Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes). With these dark expectations, I felt I would be okay with however the story unfolded. It could not possibly be worse than the worst thing that I expected - it could only be better and I would only be pleasantly surprised. And I was. Even by all the bad things that happened, because I really felt like it took guts to make grim things happen in a novel written with a young adult audience in mind. It has also been tremendously exciting for me as a reader to return to these stories to see how the quality of the writing has matured along with the characters. I think this one is the best 'novel' so far. (Please know that isn't intended to sound as snobby as it reads, airquotes and all). the writing has cretainly become more cinematic as the series has progressed - she's bringing us into the story using different angles and voices. I love the way we enter this story by sidling along with Snape into the dark fesast at the Malfoy estate in the first chapter - like a long tracking shot into the mansion. I hope she keeps writing and I'm very interested to see what comes next.

J: Whew! You were really long winded on that first answer, there, Elizabeth! Not much I can add except that I agree - it's the best one yet. Very fast paced, very - as you say - cinematic, and pleasantly lacking in over use of adverbs in the dialogue tags. Plus, dark, scary, and more emotionally arresting than the others, at least for me. The torture scene over the dining table in Malfoy's mansion as a starter just took my breath away. Yikes!

Guess that's enough for today. Look for more q and a tomorrow.

Til next time...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

In which Joy recounts her Vegas top ten

Ah Las Vegas. I love it and I hate. All at once. So without further ado, I present the Vegas top ten from this past week's visit.

10. The cabby who drove us from airport to Caesar's. Gotta admire the guy who, prompted by the woman who walked blithely in front of our speeding cab as it sped up Caesar's driveway, rolled down his window, stuck his head out and screamed "Stupid b--ch!" at her. Certainly sets the tone for the afternoon.
9. Watching some stranger win 10,000 on the Rocky Contender slot machine.
8. The pools at Caesar's. Garden of the Gods. Icy water. Cool slate. Comfy lounge chairs. Waitress in gold lame bikini taking drink orders. Coulda stayed forever. Wealthy old guys with dark tans, sloping shoulders, and beer bellies complaining about the angle of the umbrellas. European men in speedos. People in the topless bathing pool (the Venus pool!) who really shouldn't have been there. I love it.
7. The Atomic Testing Museum right off the strip. I now own an Albert Einstein action figure from the gift shop. And learned a lot, too, lest my gentle readers think I am just a shallow shopper.
6. Our room on the top floor of the older section with a full view of the Strip.
5. The Buffet at the Bellagio. Burgers at Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay. The Triple Star with fruit penny slot machines. (I am seriously the world's worst gambler, so I stick to the bottom rung)
4. Getting a bellman at the Luxor let us ride the Inclinator with him to the top floor even though you really needed a room key.
3. Eating breakfast next to Pete Rose (okay, he's an autograph junkie but whatever) at Stage Deli. "So Pete," says my college son, "Guess it's weird eating at a place where there's a sandwich named after you." Pete declined to comment. He did however complain to Jeffrey the waiter about the crispness of his bacon.
2. Managing to miss all of Tropical Storm Erin while I was gone. The news in Las Vegas consisted instead of extended coverage about Elvis since it was the anniversary of his death. Much better.
1. Spending three full days with my kid who is now officially old enough to gamble.

Til next time...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Clearly in need of r and r

Re-read yesterday's post and almost pulled it. But what the heck. Whine, whine, whine. Apologies to those clumped together as "non writer" friends. Ack! Clearly I'm in need of a vacation. And so I'm off to see my kid. More on that later. Gotta pack. Gotta get OCD about did I do this, that and the other. Nothing like those little travel traditions. Gotta find my ziplock bags and three ounces of fluids.

Til next time...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Living vicariously

I've enjoyed reading the updates from those who attended the recent SCBWI LA conference. Couldn't get there myself this time, but hope to next year, or maybe the NY one in February.

Conferences are part of the lifeblood of many writers and now that I'm trying to make this a major part of what do (as I learn to introduce myself as someone who writes and also teaches as opposed to the other way around) I understand why.

Writing is such a strange, wonderful, but solitary activity. Your non writer friends don't really "get it" even if they try to. What do you mean you don't want to talk to me on the phone now? I've written letters and the occasional essay. How long could it take you?


And they see books on shelves but not the sweat that went into writing, revising, querying, editing, revising. Don't know that even if book A sells tomorrow it will still be twelve months or more before it ever hits a shelf somewhere. Or they see their friend or cousin or neighbor who printed up a book on Glockenspiels via POD (print on demand) and they think, huh? What the heck is taking this girl so long?

But at conferences, or on line at places like Verla Kay's "blue boards" or at critique group or SCBWI local meetings, everyone "gets it." Especially in the field of childrens books, it's a pretty small little world. So even though I've not yet been privileged to meet, say Holly Black or Sarah Dessen or Libba Bray, I read their blogs. I might get to hear them speak at a conference or a reading. And I know what a monumental and fantastic thing it is to see a trailer for the movie version of Holly Black's Spiderwick Chronicles. I know how much blood and sweat went into writing and into the living that came before the writing and inspired it. And I can follow the career of debut novelist Melissa Marr on the Verla Kay blue boards. So amazing to do the real time journey with someone as you read that they've sold a book. And watch all that occurs between that point and riding up the escalator at Barnes and Noble this summer and seeing Melissa's Wickled Lovely rise into view as I got to the second floor.

So thanks to everyone who's ever posted their experiences or talked about them at a conference. It makes those of us still climbing the ladder feel a little less lonely. Inspires us to keep pushing at the craft.

In any case, I'm gonna see my kid tomorrow on my mini vacation and I have a brand spanking new shiny storm door with unbroken glass. (and a garbage can holding - no joke - about 75 pounds of swept up broken glass) Still no bare feet around the outside of our house for awhile, or else we'll be... well, you know the song. Don't you?

Til next time...

Thursday, August 9, 2007

It's coming

Even if I didn't teach, by this point in the summer, I'd know school was coming. Whole sections of Target and Walmart are suddenly havens of pencils and paper and pens and notebooks and lunchboxes and the like. Stores have cleared out the summer stuff and are setting out the fall clothes - even here in Houston where suddenly after two plus solid months of rain and amazingly cool temps it's summer with a vengeance and 97 degrees in the shade and ridiculously humid. The Hallmark store actually has their Christmas ornaments and Halloween stuff out already -which is another story entirely.

But back to the school supplies. Okay, I'll admit it. I love the stuff.

Do you remember when you were a kid? And you'd get that new box of crayons and be really really excited? Well maybe you don't. But I do. And oh how I coveted that silly box of 64 crayons. Probably because my ever practical mother said I didn't need that many. She'd only pop for the 24 pack or sometimes the 48. But never that gorgeous 64. The one with the -ooooh - sharpener on the back. So even today when I see it in Target I get kind of woozy with excitement. Ooh, the 64 pack.

Love new pens too. In junior high I had this thing for turquoise ink. Little fat roundish pens by Lindy, if I remember correctly, with this wonderful peacock blue ink. I'd use it when I wrote notes to friends. You know - the kind you fold into intricate little shapes and then slip it to them in the hall or toss it to them in class. (Of course if I were in junior high today, I'd be the one sneaking the text messages and hiding my iPod cords under my hair... or maybe not since I was the one who wasn't even allowed the jumbo pack of crayons so I'd probably be the little nerd who still had - gasp - a portable cd player!)

If you haven't been Targeting lately, check it out. Buy some Elmer's. Get yourself a new lunchbox. You'll leave smiling. I promise.

Til next time..

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Ever have one of those days?

Okay, so I've had worse. But definitely it was one of those days. The kind where you're wondering by two in the afternoon if it's happy hour somewhere. Preferably here. Now.

The kind of day where the lawn service comes uncharacteristically early and in fine spirits. And sends a rock through your tempered glass storm door as the ginormous mower zooms by. And you walk by the front door and look out and think, huh? - the storm door looks kinda pocky and you open the door and an entire door of glass falls at your feet.

That kind of day.

So you call the insurance company only to discover that your policy no longer covers glass before the deductible.

And the glass place can't come out til tomorrow. Maybe.

And while you're sweeping and sweeping and kinda getting zen about the whole thing, the guys who were coming next week to trim all the trees decide that today would work better, so now there's an army of people cutting and branches are falling and sawdust is in your eyes as you're still sweeping glass pellets off the front porch. And your foyer. And the grass. And...

Well, you get the idea.

Not the worst day I've ever had. Probably not even in the top ten. I mean, errant rock or not, I still can afford the lawn guy. And the tree guys. At least until I replace the door. And right before everything went to hell in a hand basket I had gone for a pedicure. So that was awesome. Only now I had fresh toes and so I decided I would risk all the sweeping in flip flops since I didn't want to crap up the polish.

Oh vanity, thy name is Joy.

Til next time...

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Two for Tuesday

Two quick thoughts before I dash around getting paint so the outside of our house can look all shiny again.

1. Was devestated to realize that I'd forgotten to watch the latest installment of Scott Baio, 45 and Single on Sunday night. Yes, when you've sunk to this low place - so low you need a crane to lift you out - you might as well announce it to the world.

2. Have discovered that our local grocery sells pre-packaged single servings of carmel flan. Custard with even extra sugary goodness. Oh my.

Til next time...

Monday, August 6, 2007

New characters

Worked some yesterday on fleshing out the world of a new book I'm poking away at. Guess every writer starts differently, creates differently. For me, even more than a story, I have to have characters. A main character comes to me somehow. Don't know how, really - that's the muse talking, I suppose. Sometimes it's just a voice, sometimes a whole person pops up. And honestly, a lot of what I write at first may not even end up anywhere. But I get to know this person. Well.

Conflict comes next. What's the MC's problem? What's going on in her/his world? What's about to drop on her head? And for me, that has so far come from my musings about who this person is. Easier if you know them to know exactly what needs to be added or taken away.

And so the process begins. Write. Rewrite. Revise. And then do it again. And again. And multiple agains until you get it right. Or at least close. Or until you're ripping your hair out and primal screaming. Whichever comes first. But in any case, for me, it's a character driven process.

Yesterday, and last week, I've worked on who my newest MC hangs out with. Friends and foes alike. Gave 'em names, gave 'em backstory. Added names for family members, too. Backstory for them as well. It's hard grunt work, really, but fun, too. These people pop out of the ether and plop themselves down and I get to find out who they are and what I can do with them.

Also took time with husband yesterday to rent the movie "Breach" which had some interesting characters in it, too. Based on the true story of the largest breach in American security ever. And we wondered when we finished watching and debated while we made and ate dinner, what would it take for a person to betray his country on such an enormous level? For the character in the film, we decided it was enormous ego. I can do it and you can't. I'm just that much better than all of you and you don't know it or appreciate it or even like me so I'm going to show you. Typical bully behavior, really, right down to him having had an abusive father figure sort of thing. But it went back to one of my favorite writer's questions - why is the villain doing whatever it is he's doing? Gotta have a reason.

As for the FBI agent who takes him down, played by Ryan Phillipe, I confess that I spent too many moments when he was on screen wondering the same thing, over and over. So, Ryan, what happened, really, between you and Reese?

Til next time...

Thursday, August 2, 2007

weirdest tv moment of yesterday

So while I was supposed to be totally butt in chair and moving ahead on a new project, I will confess I got sidetracked by the Rachael Ray show.

I'll admit it - twelve steps style - My name is Joy and I used to be a Rachael Ray junkie. Used to find that thirty minutes of 30 Minute Meals at 5 PM was soothing. Cheery little chipmunk Rachael racing about the kitchen with her Evoo and dramatic carries whipping together some yummo meal while I shook off the day with a cup of coffee or glass of wine (or sometimes both just to confuse my system utterly and make me race around myself) and tried to throw something together for our dinner too.

But then she got famous. And more famous. And suddenly, cheery was frenetic. And my little secret guilty pleasure got Oprahized and now even 30 Minute Meals has been redone and the set is ORANGE like her cookwear and the camera work is filmy looking not digital, which works for Giada Delaurentis and her slow moving sexy style but not so much for little cheerleader, president of every club Rachael who simply now looks muted and far away while she runs amok and even that's been slowed down, although her delivery style has not so it's simply a mess as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway - I was going to turn off the tv, I swear. But who was her guest star? President Bill Clinton!! Bill and Rachael? Together for an hour? It was too good to pass up.

The main thing I was supposed to get was that both of them are promoting healthy eating programs for kids. A good thing. Very good. American kids need to eat a more healthy non-nugget diet. I agree. (Even though someone convinced Rachael to call hers which honestly is a deterrent for me, but whatever.)

But the thing I couldn't look away from was the fantastic role reversal thing. Cause Bill isn't running for pres anymore. Hillary is. So yes, President C. is promoting his health program. But the subtext is - here's our first first man, doing a cooking segment. Cooking turkey chili with Rach and stirring a pot and talking (albeit a tad reluctantly but still) about how he now snacks on some gluten free granola with berries and yogurt and how he has a slight wheat allergy. And because he's Bill, he's doing it with a smile and style.

But still. How awesome was that?? Even if he did seem a little dumbstruck by Rachael and the whole evoo thing.

It still is no excuse for why I didn't actually get writing as soon as I should have. But it certainly was food for thought. Pun absolutely intended.

Til next time...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

almost done reading

Unlike so many of you, I have not quite finished Book 7 of Harry Potter. In fact, I find that I'm stretching things out because I'm so in love with this book that I don't want it to be over. I'm already agonizing over what I'll read next and feel lucky that I have a few books in the reading bull pen ready to go. (Did you enjoy the baseball metaphor?) I haven't typically re-read the Potter series, but this one, I know I'll go back to.

Anyway, this all made me wonder - what are the books we have that we love so much that we do indeed read them over and over? I've talked about books in this blog a few times already, but this is a slightly different spin.

Here are some of mine that I've read multiple times:

A Wrinkle in Time
To Kill a Mockingbird
Up the Down Staircase (written in the 60's but still very accurate -sadly - about schools and teaching)
The Great Gatsby

Of those, the last is one I truly never tire of. To me it says everything there is to say about love, lust, greed, and all that is good as well as seductively toxic about the American dream. If you were assigned it in school but never read it, go back to it. I guess I first read it when I was ready - 17 years old and full of myself - never yet having loved someone I'd do anything for. Gatsby's love for Daisy and what he did to get her back just grabbed at me. And her casual dismissal of him... well, that grabbed me, too. As well as seeing that if you're rich enough, you can cover up your sins with a little cash. At 17, the idea of characters who simply got away with murder was astounding.

These days, I'm less surprised by all that - but no less in love with the book.

Til next time...