June 28, 2008

Damp Animals

There were more herons this year. I must have seen seven or eight. My favorite was The Grand Old Gent who made a dignified stalk down the boardwalk every morning, the length of his spiky backhead plume indicated he’d been making that promenade for many years. He was polite with me but distant. He knows my kind isn’t quite to be trusted.

Then there was teenager heron, with hardly any spike plume to speak of, who patrolled around from fisherman to fisherman in the early morning, bait begging. He sidled his lanky way up to people with his head cocked to an engaging angle. More than one sucker tossed him a little something. He had none of the older heron’s dignity but he did have boatloads of unctuous charm. I liked them both – I like all herons.

This year I got in a fight with a sandpiper. The tide was going out, and a wave tossed several little minnows up onto the sands where they flipped about like silvery panic-strings. I started scooping them up and tossing them back in, and this feisty little sandpiper landed near me and CUSSED ME OUT. I do not speak sandpiper, but LORD! If I did? My EARS would be blistered. I realized I was mucking up the food chain and quit and let the poor remaining minnows be eaten by the angry sandpiper and all his hungry kin.

If you get up early at the beach, you learn to not be sentimental about such things; it’s a secret ecosystem at dawn with things very busy eating each other up before the sun and the tourists come. The little bioluminescent planktons I can’t see in the daytime are eaten by minnows that the big fish and the sandpipers eat, and the herons and porpoises eat the bigger fish, and Mr. Nguyen tries to eat the bigger fish, too. I passed him pulling in two more ladyfish on my walk this last dawn here.

“More soup,” he said shaking his head at them. Teenager heron coughed politely, as if to ask what Mr. Nguyen planned to do with the heads.

And of course, there are things out there that would be perfectly willing to eat Mr. Nguyen---that Bull shark certainly would have if nothing he liked better was about.

I AM sorry Mr. Nguyen’s shark was not caught and eaten – unabashedly so. I do not have it in me to anthropomorphize sharks. Sharks have not evolved or changed in LITERALLY millions of years. For countless millennia they have been a muscular tube with a toothy hole at the front where the food goes in, and then the tube changes the food to poop and energy. The poop comes out the back end and the energy is spent finding more things to stuff down the front.

They are sleek and lovely in a purposeful and singular way, but sharks do not have friendships or philosophies or life plans or aspirations. They have digestive systems and vigorous, lithe, eat-centric aliveness. They do not have souls.

I know that some people think animals in general do not have souls, but not me. I have met too many horses who CLEARLY do. My dog certainly has a dim little wriggler of a soul. I had yellow cat once who had a blinding white soul as big as a houseboat; it made his eyes shine like beautiful lamps. He died of weak lungs and old age, and I still miss him.

Schubert has no soul at all---pirates seldom do – and if he DID have one he would trade it post haste for canned tuna. Boggart, my teenager cat, has not grown to be wholly himself yet. I don’t know if he has a soul or not. It’s hard to tell with adolescents---even the human ones sometimes.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:51 AM | Comments (14)

June 25, 2008

In Which MORTAL DANGER Pre-Empts Things That Are True at the Beach (part 2)

Every morning, I get up before 6 to walk. This is a VAIN attempt (and you may take that “vain” to mean either fruitless or self-absorbed; both are probably TRAGICALLY accurate…) to UNDO some of the MASSIVE damage I am doing to my weight watchers by the NEAR CONSTANT consumption of delicious food stuffs.

DIGRESSION: Last night my sister-in-law made her Universe-wide famous chicken enchiladas. The universe has been expanding for 14 billion years, so I think it must be VERY VERY big indeed by now. Therefore it seems safe to assume it is MUCH bigger than, say, Horatio’s philosophy, and therefore, there ARE many more things in it than you or I have dreamed of, and I bet you that they ALL would LOVE these enchiladas.

I had to err on the side of safety and assume cheese-loving Overlizards from Planet Zerg were en route. I PRE-EMPTIVELY gobbled the enchiladas up, lest they cause pan-dimensional strife. YOU COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED!!! Just to be EXTRA safe, I ate a metric ton of the superb Southern Living Corn and Black Bean Salsa that Julie also made. With chips. You are welcome!

DIGRESSION 2: Honestly, I should open up a professional JUSTIFICATION service. You come to me and tell me what awful thing you want to do, and I provide the reasons why you probably should. For an upcharge, I can tell you why you simply MUST. I would quickly become SO rich that I could easily afford the liposuction I need after last night’s sauce-y bacchanalia.

ANYWAY, my parents and I get up early and take a long sunrise walk. Every day, about a quarter mile down the beach, we see Mr. Nguyen fishing with four poles he has braced in the sand. He is a short, wiry guy, very fit but sun-beaten, so I have no idea how old he is. The first day, my father said to him in Vietnamese, “Hello, sir, how are you?” and his eyes widened. He said, “How do you know Vietnamese!” and my dad laughed and said, “I don’t know much Vietnamese! I was in Duc My in 1966.” Mr. Nguyen knows that area well, so now when we pass we chat for a minute.

The first few days of our visit, he was having very poor luck. He was after delicious pompano, but was catching only a few ladyfish. I asked him how it was going this morning. “I’m tired of soup!” he told me. Soup is about the only thing a ladyfish is good for.

We continued on up the beach for another half an hour, and when we got back to Mr. Nguyen’s spot, his luck had changed. He had something large. Something Very Large. He’d been fighting it for almost twenty minutes. A small crowd had gathered to watch.

“What is it?” I asked him.
“BIG ladyfish?” he said, and then grinned and shrugged as best he could with the pole in his hand.

The thing was SO big that he could not reel it in---it was stronger than even his cut, sinewy arms. He had to WALK BACKWARDS, dragging the pole and attached creature with the whole of his wiry strength. When he reached the dunes, he would RUN forward, winding up the line as he went, all the way down to the surf. Then he would start dragging it up toward the beach again. Every few cycles he would run farther, all the way down into the water to cool off.


We sat down on the dune behind him and watched. After another half hour, my dad got him a cigarette out of his bag and he rested, holding his ground with the fish while he puffed on it. “More than a hundred pounds, I think,” Mr. Nguyen said.

After another half hour, the thing was closer. It was tiring, but so was the man. By this time, a crowd had gathered---maybe ten or twelve people who sat down and stayed to see what happened. Mr. Nguyen leaned back, holding the fish with his weight as he stole a breather.

At the same time, the fish came wallowing to the surface to rest up before they re-engaged. We saw the matte brown of sandpaper skin and the upspike of a sleek tail, which was a shockingly far distance from the triangular dorsal fin.

Holy Crap.

Mr. Nguyen pointed. “Shark,” he said, but I think we all knew. "Big one." We knew that, too. “130 pounds, maybe 150.” Holy. Crap.

Daddy trotted back up the beach and came back with bottled water, coffee, and the children, and we settled in to watch with the rest of the still growing crowd---maybe twenty people by this time, and more stopped as they walked by and were told “Shark! He has a HUGE shark!” Mr. Nguyen battled the shark all the way up to the first drop off, about three feet from shore. He was sleek and bullet-headed and truly dreadful, longer and thicker than my broad-shouldered eleven year old son, an undulating tube of deeply angry muscle with a large toothy hole at the front and a blade sharp wicked fin at the other end.


None of us could imagine how Mr. Nguyen could LAND him, but we so WANTED him to. We wanted him to win. We wanted him to somehow yank the huge shark up onto the sand and kill it and take it home and throw out all his ladyfish soup stock and dine on thick cuts of meaty shark fillet.

Mr. Nguyen handed the rod to a tall, strong looking boy of about 18 or 19, and then he walked STRAIGHT DOWN INTO THE WATER. WITH THE SHARK. He was trying to catch it by the ALIVE TAIL and DRAG it up onto the shore. It probably outweighed him.

“Oh I wish he wouldn’t do that. There is nothing that could make me do that,” said the woman beside us.
My sister-in-law said, “I would do it if he had one of my kids. No other reason.”
I nodded. “If he had one of my kids I would. But I am not sure I will do it if he had, say, someone else. Like if he had, say, Mr. Nguyen.”

The kid holding the pole let the line slip. The shark went out a few more feet. Mr. Nguyen followed. The line slipped again. The shark scythed out still farther. Mr. Nguyen followed again, up to his shoulders now with the animal whiplashing side to side. The line snapped with an audible harp-string sound, and Mr. Nguyen made one last grab for the tail. With a single lithe shudder of powerful muscle, the shark was gone. Out into sea. Out into the sea where my children swim each day.


When Mr. Nguyen lowered his hands, he was smiling. I found myself rising to my feet and clapping as hard as I could, and the whole crowd joined me. We stood and slammed our hands together again and again as he waded up. He shook his head, rueful but grinning, a good sport, and he made a modest little bow.

“Next time,” he called to all of us. “Next time.”

I tell you what though…we’ve spent the whole of this bright beach-perfect day at the stinkin’ pool.

Posted by joshilyn at 6:06 PM | Comments (29)

June 24, 2008

Things That are True at the Beach part 1

I am on my annual vacation with my family and my parents and brother and his fam. The first TRUE thing is, I do not want to do ANYTHING, really, but eat naughty foods in bulk and then lie like a bloated tick in the good, hot sun, digesting. SO. Sorry I did nto blog yet this week – I’ve been VERY busy gaining back all the fat I lost doing weight watchers. I have not counted a POINT since I arrived here at Chez Butter, and I am willing to bet that IF I continued down this path, I could gain back all 5+ pounds in the first 5 days.

NOW it ceases, and from this instant and henceforth I will TRACK my food and play tennis and add SNORKELING to my usual twice daily beach walks. I intend to catch crabs today. (I was doing my usual ulta fast scan for my grosser errors and typos and realized the sentence immediately previous sounds AWFUL. Let me hasten to assure you that I didn’t mean that in a Spring Break kind of way. I am thinking of big blues, which I will eat, and hermits, for whom my children will build elaborate sand castles. WITH MOATS! Yesterday’s castle was sadly crab-deprived, and we bascally dug the moat to fit my neice instead. My back will not take the digging of another niece-sized moat with a thimble sized purple plastic shovel.

We also like our castle to have a butt-ugly troll princess. TO make your own, you find a shell with a HOLE in it and then capture a scraggly chunk of seaweed and stuff the stem through the hole. The shell is her HEAD with a top-knotted scraggle of weedy hair. Along with a long shell for the body, you lay her head down to sleep in the tallest tower of your castle, and hope some very NEAR sighted shell prince might see her from a great – a very very great --- distance and feel the stirrings of true love and brave the moat and the niece and the possible crabs to awaken her with love;s true kiss, which he will out of necessity close his eyes to administer.

Yes, here on the Jackson beach week, even the sand castles are obliged to have PLOT.

Posted by joshilyn at 7:02 AM | Comments (13)

June 18, 2008

A Conversation with Karen Abbott

My friend Karen Abbott and I are both gonna be supporting the Margaret Mitchell House by attending the Georgia Author Book Bash with a BUNCHA other coolio writers---You can see the whole list by following the link. You come, too.

You remember Sin in the Second City right? Hee. It is Karen's first book, the New York Times best-selling tale about the Everleigh Club, the most famous brothel in American history. And it is now fresh, hot and delicious out in paperback. The book follows the twisty lives of Ada and Minna Everleigh, the clubs, ahem, proprieters, and culminates in a dramatic last stand between brothel keepers and crusading reformers. WHEE. The New York Times Book Review said, "Delicious... poetic... Sin in the Second City is a lush love letter to the underworld."

I tried to do three questions with her, but could not shut up. SO. Here is the conversation:

Joshilyn: I remember going to one of your FIRST events on tour, and there was this PERVY and rather MOIST looking fellow sitting front and center who looked like he spent your entire presentation – even the SLIDE SHOW--- praying to the dark gods to give him EYE STALKS so he could pop those google-y objects out and jam them right down the front of your shirt. And then when you took questions, his hand came ROARING UP, and he said, “How did you research prostitution? Books and Google? Or did you, you know, go under cover, you know, and EXPERIENCE anything, like, you know, have EXPERIENCES where you would actually …experience things?”

I was sitting with Anna and I started jabbing my elbow into her and hissing, “ZOMGAH, Did he just ask her if she was a HARLOT? DID HE? DID HEEEEE?” And indeed, he had!
You were VERY collected about the whole thing. You said something like, “This is historical non-fiction sir. It takes place about 100 years ago, so in order to do what you are suggesting, the first thing I would need would be a time machine…” Anna and I were DYING.

But, his pervy ARE YOU AN ENORMOUS TROLLOP? CHEAP? OR SPENDY? DO YOU TAKE AMEX? implications aside, one of my favorite things about the book is the way you make these long dead people and places come alive. How DID you do the research?

Karen: My background is in journalism, and this is the first time I ever wrote anything historical-based. I’m used to interviewing live people, trying to coax answers to questions they don’t always want to answer, picking up clues in the pauses. For SIN, with the exception of one interview with the Everleigh sisters’ great niece, I did all of my research in musty old libraries and historical societies.

It was like learning a different language, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Ernest Bell, a minister who wages war against the Everleigh sisters, has an amazing collection at the Chicago History Museum. There are hundreds of letters, minutes from meetings, pamphlets warning people about the dangers of prostitution (including gruesome images of men suffering from advanced syphilitic infections) and really personal effects: wallets, leather diaries, medicine bottles. It was a visceral, personal thing, like I was rummaging through his pants pockets.

I especially loved Madam Vic Shaw’s collection at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Vic Shaw was the Everleigh sisters’ main rival, and one of my favorite characters in the book. She’s so over-the-top wicked, a caricature in many ways, and I can’t believe she actually existed.


Joshilyn: What do you think of your cover? I wish I had those lace lounge pants…

Karen: I ADORE this cover. I know the cover can make or break a book, and I felt really lucky getting something that so clearly represented SIN not only in subject matter, but also in tone and mood. The woman is a true-life prostitute from the turn of the century, so it’s an image of someone who actually lived the things I’m writing about: beatings from professional “whippers” kept on staff at many whorehouses, exams from charlatan doctors, shady costumers, scheming madams, crooked politicians, all of it. I love the expression on her face: it’s knowing and wise, a bit salacious, but with a whiff of vulnerability. I look at her and wonder how she ended up where she was. I wondered that often about the Everleigh sisters themselves, and those questions drove me to try to find out the truth behind those mysterious madams.

Joshilyn: Can you talk a little about the significance of your title and how you came up with it?

Karen: My original title was WHORES AT WAR—

Joshilyn: Oh! Wait! Is that because of that CONCIERGE in San Francisco?

Karen: No. What? What concierge in San Francisco?

Joshilyn: YOU REMEMBER! Me and Jill met him when I was out there for gods in Alabama, and this concierge told us another writer was staying at the same hotel. I asked him what her book was about and he said, “It’s about the whores of war.” And I said, “The whores of war?” And he said, “Yes, you know, the whores of war.” And Jill started giggling and I was like, “You mean she writes, like, "World War II's Greatest Tricks????" And Jill lost it and gasped out, “HORRORS, Joshilyn. THE HORRORS of War.” But he was a native Californian and they talk funny.

Karen: People in glass houses, Georgia.

Joshilyn: I suggest you set down that STONE you are about throw, PHILADELPHIA.

Karen: Touche. But no. Completely unrelated to that concierge, I called it Whores at War in my head. I can't imagine why the marketing people at Random House nixed it!

Joshilyn: Me either! Why, it’s almost as marketable a title as… “40 Dead Horses.” Yish,I am LIVING in a glass house.

Karen: My editor came up with SIN IN THE SECOND CITY, which I think is really fitting and has the right cadence—always important with regard to titles, both fiction and nonfiction. I consider SIN a national book, though. The action originates in Chicago, but has immediate and serious repercussions across the country. The Chicago politicians during this time period changed American history, basically spurring the FBI to become the massive federal legal arm it is today.

Joshilyn: Remember for a while in writing group we were calling it “Getting Everleighed.” HEE.

Karen: Yeah. Random House nixed that, too.

Joshilyn: I can’t IMAGINE why…

ANYWAY, it is an AWESOME book…You can get it all the usual places—I linked to one place above---but if you want a signed copy, you can call my friends at the ALABAMA BOOKSMITH. SHe was just there and they have some signed stock.

TO ORDER: (205) 870-4242

Posted by joshilyn at 6:18 PM | Comments (10)

June 17, 2008

Surround Sound Cereal

My friend Mir is fussing about GRAPE NUTS because she thinks she has to EAT THEM now as she tries to get back in her regularly scheduled extremely slender shape after a happy marriage and being in her thirties have caused ice cream and a slower metabolism, respectively.

more lolcats here

Now, I do not understand the fussing. I LOVE Grape Nuts. LOVE them. But perhaps I am alone in this? Plenty of helpful, non-grape-nut-loving people in her comments are telling her ways to make them palatable:

Dousing them in sugar (Dieting: UR DOIN’ IT RONG, LOLCAT!)

Dousing them in Splenda (chemicals, much?)

Dousing them in yogurt (I HATE yogurt. I hate it so much I even loathe the very WORD. YOOOOOGurt. It sounds like the noise my big cat makes vomiting up hairballs, and quite frankly? Cat puke smells better than yogurt. I can safely clean up cat puke with nothing more than a wrinkled nose, but if I catch even a WHIFF of yogurt smell, I literally gag and if I do not get AWAY from the smell, gagging’s BFF, “heaving,” follows along behind.

When my kids were little, I had this baby nutrition book that told me the VERY best first food, bar none, was whole milk unsweetened yogurt. I wanted to be a good mother, so I FED that thick, vile repugnant white satan-food into the pink and helpless gob-holes of my darling children and it ALMOST KILLED ME. I spooned it in smiling and making yum yum noises and trying not to hurl up everything I’d eaten in the last ten years, and now they BOTH love yogurt, and they eat it and then try to give me sour little yogurt-breathed kisses. If I had another baby I would make his first food PUREED SNICKERS BARS to avoid this, that is how much I hate that smell.)

Dousing them in cottage cheese (which I can’t eat because it LOOKS like it might be yogurt. I also can’t eat glops of sour cream. Or mayonnaise. It all MIGHT be secretly yogurt trying to fool me and get in my mouth and cause me to drop dead of repulse-ed-ness.)

DOODS, QUIT DOUSING THE GRAPE NUTS! Oh, except in MILK, of course. It IS cereal, after all. I myself am not eating them often because they are DENSE and spendy on the weight watchers points, but sometimes I eat them because I LOVE them.

I also like that Kashi GOLEAN cereal. Yes, the one that looks like cat food. I eat a half cup of that with a quarter cup of Grape Nuts to add ZESTY CRUNCHFULNESS, but if you already do not like Grape Nuts, then adding them to an even BLANDER cereal is maybe not the way to go…I like it though, and that’s the key.

Life is too short to eat cereal you hate every day. I refuse to eat things I don’t; like, and I am STILL losing weight. SO. Eat a bunch of fruit and an egg? You LIKE fruit and an egg!

Or, hey, try KASHI VIVE Cereal. You get a LOT for a few calories and it has SCADS of fiber and best of ALL, it is PROBIOTIC!!! It says so right on the box. PROBIOTIC! Wheee!

I have NO IDEA WHAT THAT MEANS. But it sounds really healthful and digestively exciting. Vive is a little higher than I like on the sugars, but…PROBIOTIC! Which MIGHT mean that it NEUTALIZES the sugar or perhaps it cures scabies or repels brain sucking space alien rays or gives you massively powerful ROBOT ARMS. No one knows.

In other news, my children’s report cards came, and both were HONOR ROLL level awesome. We decided a celebratory excursion was warranted, so we drove over an hour across the state to get to closest IMAX theater. It was showing KUNG FOO PANDA.

Well, no, there is another IMAX theatre much closer--- at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, but they always show movies with names like LETS MAKE FRIENDS WITH SPACE and EDUCATIONAL PENGUINS, and NO ONE wants to see THAT. Except Mr. Husband.

DIGRESSION: Last night I accidentally asked him about EVENT HORIZON---meaning the MOVIE, but it is also, ALAS, a term that can be related to physics. His EYES began to glow with a rabid, fervent and unholy light, and he told me all about how the universe is expanding faster and faster and therefore the theory that it will reverse and contract seems less likely and eventually we won’t be able to look back and see the beginning of time (I didn’t know we could do that, actually, but OKAY) because there would be an…EVENT HORIZON in a few thousand years that would obscure the universe’s own origin. Or something. It took thirty minutes of detailed and earnest explanation to get to the term, and I have to admit I got interested, but I STILL have no idea if I want to add EVENT HORIZON to my Netflix list.

Mr. Husband, as you can see, is ALREADY friends with space, and he LOVES the penguins to be educational. My children, however, like their penguins animated and chock full of fart jokes. SO. An hours drive to KUNG FU PANDA won the day.

DIGRESSION2: May I say, the GAS for this excursion cost more than the movie tickets or the pizza and salads we ate after.

ANYWAY – KUNG FOO PANDA was AWESOME. I enjoyed it as much as the kids did. Scott is a huge kung fu movie junkie, so he got some jokes I didn’t even know were jokes, and he really likes Jack Black, so he may well have enjoyed it THE MOST.

I had never SEEN a pic in IMAX, and when the big rich fruity voice of the IMAX man came on pre-movie to earnestly and loudly explain that THE IMAX EXPERIENCE was about to HAPPEN and I better BRACE MY SELF, BRIDGET because IMAX was going to simultaneously blow my MIND and my little pink SOCKS OFF, I got tickled. I may have MOCKED the big rich fruity voice, just a TEENY bit.

Then the movie began, and…wow. My little socks are indeed pink and they were totally blown off.

I always think it’s hardly worth the theater trip when I could rent something instead and watch it in my basement in my pajamas while cuddling up to my husband on a comfy sofa and eating popcorn that cost 1/100th of the movie theater price with REAL butter instead of hydrogenated terror grease, but MAN! IMAX is a truly immersing experience. The screen is so BIG. And the sound is so…SURROUNDY.

If you haven’t been, I am a convert. It is totally worth the boosted price of admission.
Heck, it is even ALMOST worth the gas.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:03 AM | Comments (26)

June 16, 2008

Sad Days Here

Remember Snickers? She was the grand dame of the mice ladies, and she has stopped. She was very very very old, for a Gerbil. For a couple of days, it was obvious she wasn’t feeling like herself. She made her own nest behind the wooden house and slept for almost 40 hours. Then she died. She was a nice little booger who didn’t bite people’s hands (or the heads off her babies) and she had a good life. She never knew anything but seeds and kindness. Her three daughters are all getting up there, too, but they seem hale and strong.

Visitors to the house would often remark on how TAME our sugar-hearted little mice ladies are, but this is an easy thing. No person in our house ever grabbed at them or chased them. If you have seeds or cardboard, gerbils will come to your hand, and if you have seeds and cardboard every day, the human hand entering the tank comes to mean lovely things. Our girls will all hop happily onto a hand. The boldest---Alice and That Cross Dressing Poet Tennyson --- will try to run straight up the attached arm. Cosy Mole Mouse is the shy-est, and will never put more than two paws on anyone's palm but mine. She is my favorite, and the oldest now that Snick has gone, because she came from the first litter.

I found Snickers yesterday, and Scott lifted her out and put her in the small box that my kitchen scale came in. Then we called the kids in and told them. They were quite pragmatic about the whole thing.

“Aw man, I liked Snickers,” Sam said, and then his gaze became slightly avid and he said, “Can we see the dead body?”
“I want to see the dead body,” said Maisy, and then immediately reversed her decision, “Is it very dreadful? I don’t want to see the dead body.”

I said, “It is not at all dreadful. It is only a the body of the gerbil who used to be Snickers. Snickers isn’t there anymore. It’s just an object now, like the box, and it is nothing to be afraid of.”

So they gathered around the box and we viewed Snickers, curled in the bottom, clearly dead and not sleeping, all the Snickersness gone and woodchips clinging to her unanimated fur.

Maisy shrugged. “Snickers is gone from there.”

I nodded and was about to say something REALLY WISE and PITHY and chock full of UNDERSTANDING ABOUT THE MEANING OF LIFE AND THE GULF OF DEATH that I am SURE would have molded my children into better people, but then Maisy brightened up and said, "Now can we get a puppy?”

I said, “That’s a GREAT idea,” at the very same time Scott was saying, “Dear Lord, NO,” in tones of such abject horror that I fear a puppy is not forthcoming.

Rest in peace, Brother Snickers. You were a most excellent gerbil.

Posted by joshilyn at 8:58 AM | Comments (465)

June 14, 2008


THE POLLS ARE CLOSED! No more entries will be accepted. And if you missed the boat, (or the boat-like object with a mighty rack of its own) you can go see what the contest was about HERE By the way, I especially enjoyed the entries that named this the DEATH FARTS contest. Hee. Because? I am twelve.

AND, in case the above paragraph did not give it away… the number one way the Jill Fink cartoon differs from my life is:

I DO have a picture of a ship on my wall, but Best Beloveds know MY ship has boobs and is being driven through an alien wasteland by a melting cat. You can see the ship painting I own here, and in several other entries.

It was not enough to say I would not HAVE a ship picture – you had to mention a picture I DO have. I accepted a mention of either space cat OR the hat lady, or even use of the word “surrealist.” ONE OF YOU even had the artist’s name right! WELL DONE!
(If you just said I would not have a ship pic, or if you thought the ship pic was a window and said I do nto live near a large body of water, I counted that as a close call and your name went into the second drawing.)

The few, the proud, the Space Cat Remember-ers are:

Bonnie Ann C.
Christina R.
Corrie B. W.
Deb R.
Elena G.
Elizabeth F.
Jill W.
Leigh F.
Liz A. M.
Megan R.
R. Dahlman
Roxanne L.
Tracey H.


Everyone OTHER than Bonnie Ann C. stayed in the hat, and they were joined by the the many, the ALSO proud, the chairlamptootpaper rememberer-ers, who got one or more of the following answers correct:

2) I would never leave Bagel alone with that enticingly plush and clearly delicious chair. He would eat it. It is also acceptable to note that I would never have such a pristine and bit of furniture; what Bagel does not eat, the cats shred. You can see what an ACTUAL chair that has been subjected to my pets looks like here.

3) The LAMP is wrong – remember we had a whole big LAMP ordeal and finally Scott got a 12 dollar Walmart lamp to make me hush and told me I could replace it? Over a year later, and as predicted, I STILL use that 12 dollar lamp.... Here it is…

4) I would leave after the first toot. It has been well documented on the blog that Bagel can clear whole MALLS with one blast, and as Tracey H. put it, “If Bagel's toots are anything like my Boxer, Riley's, Joshilyn would be gone (or dead) after the first one. No Mulligans for Riley.”

5) I would be reading a novel. Not the paper. It is also acceptable to note that I get most of news via the internet or have some other reason that I would not be reading the paper, like no time.

Adrienne G.
Aimee P.
Amy H.
Beth R.
Bridget R. (quel)
Brigitte B.
Carrie C.
Caryn M.
Casey S.
Conspicuous Chick
Cathy R.
Deanna R.
Debra D.
Desi A.
Emily C.
Erin S.
Gail P.
Haven K.
Holly B.
Jess J.
Jessalyn A.
Jessica T.
Jessie M.
(JMLK) Melisa C.
Julia H.
Julie F.
Julie S.
Kim B.
Rebecca K.
Klint D.
Laura H.
Laurie B.
Lisa F.
Michelle M.
Pamela L.
Pat G.
Peggy M.
Penny P. R.
Rachel P.
Robin P.
Sara G.
Sara L.
Tara K.
Tracy (Lillith02)


Some of the more, ahem, CREATIVE entries:

Holly B. pointed out that Bagel’s fart are probably NOT MUSICAL. Hee. Correct!

Bridget said, “Would you really sit in your living room buck naked? What would your momma say?”

And in the same vein, SEVERAL of you mentioned that I have hair, I would be wearing BETTER shoes than that stick figure is sporting, and three of you pointed out that the stick figure is most DEFINITELY missing the mighty rack---( Mr. Husband, for example, noticed THAT one right off. Go figure.)

The missing rack of might was also noticed by Frank Turner Hollon, one of my FAVORITE writers, and I transcribe the whole of his….BARKING MAD entry here:

1) There are no paintings of boats on your walls, only plump naked white ladies eating bite-sized dried fruit.
2) Your torso is one size larger than the torso of the newspaper-reading cartoon person, barely.
3) You are not disgusted by dog-gas, and in fact, you think it smells like Purple Monkey Cranberry-Fig Sugar Scrub.
4) You don't own a lamp.
This is the first contest I have ever entered, and I sure hope I win something sweet-smelling. To be honest, my entry must be placed in the category of people who have "entered your house." Although nobody was home, I once crawled though your bathroom window, dug around in your refrigerator, and stole a pair of your husband's underpants out of the dirty clothes basket.
I hope you will forgive me and declare me the winner soon.

Unfortunately, stealing underpants is an immediate disqualifier---when will these attourneys learn to READ THE FINE PRINT? A loser is you, Frank.

On the other hand, HE GOT TO DO A CAMEO in the movie they are making out of his book, LIFE IS A STRANGE PLACE (the film is called Barry Munday) so he loses MORE because he does not need sweet smelling callous free feet now that he is a big time movie star. If his contract calls for a beach scene, he can wear crocs or call in a Hollywood Foot Double.

Heather T. and others noted that every room in my house has books in it. Correct! And I am ASHAMED it was not on my list! The following folks entered with true-but-not-on-my-list differences, OR they sent in amusing entries…like Shawn’s contention that “Nothing differs......art imitating life.... :-)???????” The following names joined all the others above for the last two drawings.

Amy M,
Elizabeth J.
Heather T.
Shawn M.

Winners: JulieB and Elena G.

Posted by joshilyn at 7:33 AM | Comments (15)

June 10, 2008

In Which I Gain At Least Ten Pounds Worth of Mental Illness

There is a contest going on one entry below this. Scroll down if you wish to enter. It’s only been up a day, and already I have learned TWO vitally important things about how to run contests in the future:

1) I should have limited the number of entries per person.

I was thinking some folks might want to take a run at all getting all five right. I DID not think that SO VERY MANY OF YOU could parse this thing so thoroughly that you could FIND upwards of TWENTY ways the cartoon differs from my real life. I underestimated your creativity, your work ethic, and your crazed devotion to princess-smooth heels. I apologize!

HOWEVER! I am retroactively saying NOW that you cannot enter more than 27 times. SO that means the TOP ENTERER’s 27 entries are ALL VALID, but dear Lord, there we cap it, okay?

For the record, in case the convoluted rules did not make this clear, there will be four drawings. Your name only gets entered in EACH drawing that you qualify for ONE TIME, no matter how many entries you put in. SO, assuming you got the number one reason correct (and most of you did, HUZZAH, well done!) the 27 entry person and the folks who entered once or five or ten times…all these people have the same chance.

2) I should have EXPLICITLY put in a rule in that said, “Please do not enter this contest by pointing out that I am SO hella fatter than that stick figure. Even though it is true. I AM hella fatter than that stick figure and BY THE WAY? SO’S YER MAMA.”

OH! SCUSE ME! Best Beloveds, I am heartily ashamed and sorry to have YER MAMA'd you. I KNOW you aren’t being mean. Really, I do. EVERYONE is fatter than a stick figure (except Kate Moss) and your mother is a LOVELY woman. I do not know what got into me.

Oh wait, yes I do.

It is this: I just experienced a HUGE (and by “huge” I mean “imaginary and mental illness fueled”) set back on the Weight Watcher’s front, and I am REELING (And by “reeling” I mean “hypersensitive and loony”) from it. Andyou know I have about four molecules worth of REASON buried deep in the grey writhing mass of neuroses I keep in my skull.

My friend Kira blogged today that she has to go to the doctor to get her virulent brain monkeys diagnosed and treated. ( BY THE WAY! The virulent brain monkeys? They seem to be catching. I know because I CLEARLY HAVE THEM NOW. Thanks, KIRA.) Of course she is unhappy because virulent brain monkeys are probably fatal, but more importantly, she THINKS she has to stand on her doctor’s scale.

Two days ago, I would have said, “KIRA! DO NOT DO IT! Come to my house instead.
You MUST come, because I own the One True Scale, and it tells people their only and actual weight, the end, forever and ever, amen.”

But that was two days ago, before THE TERRIBLE TRUTH-JEANS TRAGEDY.

Even now, in the trembling ruins of my moment in the TRUTH JEANS, I personally would have to be kidnapped, drugged and hog-tied before you could place me on a scale at a DOCTOR’s office. The nurse at my OBGYN’s used to TRY to make me get on hers, but since she didn’t have a BAZOOKA with her during any of these attempts, I simply balked.

ONE TIME she tried to get gentle-but-firm with me, and I fell to the earth, rolled my eyes, foamed wildly at the mouth and screamed, YOUR SCALE IS A LIAR AND IT SITS UPON A THRONE OF LIES!

That pretty much nipped gentle-but-firm before it budded. Now no one in the whole office would EVER ask me to mount that LYING LIAR and be LIED TO. After that, they began to sensibly ASK me my weight, and I would tell them the latest RIGHTEOUS PRONOUNCEMENT OF THE ONE TRUE SCALE, and There. Endeth-ed. The. Weighing.

But now, the One True Scale has been DEBUNKED as a LYING LIAR, too, and I am distraught.

Here is what happened: In the three weeks since I have joined WW, I have lost five pounds. Now, I believe this to be so. I can feel a difference in the way my usual clothes hang and whatnot. BUT! Before I started, The One True Scale gave me a NUMBER, and I decided I wanted to weigh about 10 - 12 pounds LESS than that number. Reasonable, yes?

Digression: YES, I realize this story would be easier to follow if I just SAID the number that the One True Scale gave me. Then I could say, “The One True Scale said I weighed ___, and I want to weigh ___.” That would be SO much less unwieldy and less obscure and less convoluted and less shrouded in utterly pointless mystery, if I just said the number. SO! I will. I WILL! I will say the number. Just as soon as you hypnotize me and inject me with sodium pentothal and tie me down in a dank room with a tiny, snaggle-toothed man with PLIERS and a CRUEL BLACK HEART and ask him to extract teeth until I give up that information. End Digression.

SO I SHOULD be almost HALFWAY to the magic number I want. If I wanted to lose 10 – 12, and I lost 5 , even an ENGLISH MAJOR like me knows I only have 5 – 7 more to go.

EXCEPT I made the mistake of pulling out the TRUTH JEANS. These are an old pair of Gaps men’s jeans that are at LEAST 8 years old. They have been my final butt test frenemy, lo these many years, and they have four levels of measurable SNUGNESS that tell me where I am in the constant war I wage against my own rear-end.

LEVEL 1: When I MAGICALLY dip 3 – 5 pounds below my goal weight, they get POSTIVELY BAGGY and I have a song in my heart and a spring in my step.

LEVEL 2: When I am AT my goal weight, they are a smooth and cheerful fit.

LEVEL 3: When I weigh the number the One True Scale GAVE ME ON MONDAY (5 – 7 pounds up from goal weight) they are SNUG but wearable.

LEVEL 4: When I weigh the number the One True Scale gave me when I STARTED, I have to lie down to zip them and they are SO snug Daisy Duke might hesitate before leaving the house in ‘em.

Beloveds, I put them on yesterday, TOTALLY expecting to get a level three butt reading (AKA,“Snug but wearable.”) What I GOT was …a LEVEL 4! YES! FOUR! The Daisy Duke would change level!

There was no escaping the message of the Truth Jeans. They were telling me that THE ONE TRUE SCALE is OLD and NO LONGER ACCURATE. The TRUTH JEANS were SO tight that IF I had ever followed through on my promise to TATTOO the awesome ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY review of The Girl Who Stopped Swimming onto my butt cheek, you would have been able to READ EVERY WORD OF IT. AND NO they didn’t recently get run through the drier or anything. They never get washed because I do not WEAR them. They sit on a shelf and are taken down to TEST BUTT SIZE with, and then they are put away. It was nto THEM. It was…The One True Scale. I put it in the trash.

Then I went and got a NEW SCALE. Glass. Analog. Expensive. Accurate to the tenth decimal point. Bitterly, brutally honest.

The Evil Oracle (as I call the One True Scale’s replacement) has this morning CONFIRMED the pronouncement of the TRUTH JEANS. My starting weight was FOUR POUNDS LOW.

Scott does not get how this is a TRAGEDY.

Him: But you STILL lost five pounds.
Me: BUT I STILL HAVE FOUR MORE TO LOSE!!!! SO instead of being ALMOST HALFWAY I am practically back where I started.
Him: No. You are not where you started. You lost five pounds.
Me. BUT They were SECRET POUNDS! I didn’t know I HAD THEM!
Him: But still, you lost five pounds.
Me: Honey. It doesn’t count if you lose SECRET POUNDS. Everyone knows that.

He still doesn’t get how this is a tragedy, but 4 out of 5 Virulent Brain Monkeys agree with me. The secret pounds don’t count, and therefore I am only one pound down after THREE FREAKIN’ ENDLESS WEEKS OF ALMOST CHOCOLATE-FREE VIRTUOUS FOOD GOODNESS.

If you need me, I will be over here. I have a very busy day planned, chock full of exciting activities like stewing in my own foul juices, brooding, and trying to get my Truth Jeans to catch fire by glaring at them with incendiary rage.

Posted by joshilyn at 10:24 AM | Comments (24)

June 8, 2008

WIN PRETTY BEACH FEET (and pretty beach reads)

Okay – this contest, she is weird. And silly. And nonsensical and it has too many rules. I hope you can follow it and actually enter. HEE! And… Pretty beach feet? Yes. That’s what you can win. But I am actually working on the novel and don’t really have the writing energy to do the FAQ yet SO. You get this weird thing with dog toots and vegan soap. Because you asked for more contests. And I live to serve.

Best Beloveds, you KNOW I am a shoe girl, and I have become addicted to this FOOT product made by a vegan soap company called The Purple Monkey. What happened was, I went to an Atlanta Writer’s Club dinner, and there was this one multitalented woman there who writes and does graphic arts of all sorts. I was pleased to see her again, but what I didn’t know was, she also makes all natural vegan bath and body lotions and potions. She was bringing some products to someone at the dinner. One jar fell off the table and the lid cracked and this BEAUTIFUL SMELL came out and FOUND me, and I found myself wanting track the place where the smell was STRONGEST and sit down and BASK in it like an OLFACTORY LIZARD.

“The lid is cracked,” the woman said. “You can just have this one. Try it out…”

That’s how they get you. The first hit is free.

NOW! Usually as early as MARCH I start with the sanding and buffing and polishing because I KNOW sandal weather is a blink away, but THIS year, spring was all about the ballet flats and so SUDDENLY it was almost JUNE and I still had wintery troll toes, knobby objects meant to live in boots and march across tundra. NOT sandal-ready. Anyway, I took the fantastic SMELL jar home and used it in conjunction with my pumice and lotion, and VOILA --- Summer feet. I haz dem.

funny pictures
(more lolcat here)

As I said, she is also an ARTIST, and a regularly commenting BB here to KUDZU. The other day, she drew a little cartoon after I posted about the BAGEL-NATORS DOOM TOOTS. I asked permission to use her cartoon and got it, and then I all SLY LIKE purchased some of her soapy-goodness products for use in this contest.

SO! At the bottom of this post, I will put up her cartoon. I have already listed and saved five REASONS this cartoon DIFFERS from my actual life. Regs will be able to spot the ways in which this representation differs from the reality described here on FTK. Write down a way this cartoon is NOT like my life, and email it to me. I tried to list the reasons in order of MOST OBSCURE to MOST OBVIOUS, so the more familiar you are with KUDZU-LORE, the more likely it is that you will be able to spot the OBSCURE reasons…

There are THREE ways to win.

1) The higher your reason hits on my premade, secret list, the better. If more than one person guesses the reason I have listed as NUMBER 1, they will go in a drawing for first prize. If no one guesses the NUMBER ONE reason, then the people who guess NUMBER TWO will go in a drawing for the first prize. And ECT on down the list. If no one gets ANY, then ALL entries will go in the drawing for FIRST PRIZE.

2) Assuming one or more people get the TOP reason, there will be a second drawing for folks who guess one of the other REASONS. ANYONE who gets ANY of the reasons correctly will go in a drawing for SECOND PRIZE. If no one gets ANY correct, than ALL entries will go in the drawing for FIRST PRIZE.

3) New to FTK? Don’t know an actual reason? Anyone who sends in an entry, even one like “You do not have a dog.” Or “You do not exist” or “You live in a jungle cave, not a room,” WHATEVER, anything at all, will be entered into a drawing for the two CONSOLATION prizes.
4) Contest ENDS on Friday, June 13th, 2008, at MIDNIGHT. Oooh. Friday the 13th. Eeps.

--You can only write down ONE reason per e-mail.
--You can enter as many times as you like with separate emails.
--You can only WIN one prize. (Winning first place bumps you from the drawing for second.)
--ANYONE who is not a blood relative of mine is eligible to enter, but if you have ever been to my actual house, you cannot win first prize or second prize. This contest IS meant to be weighted in favor of the BB’s, not people who regularly borrow my lipstick and who will therefore spot the reasons superfast.
--Folks who have been to my actual house CAN enter and will go in the random drawing for consolation prizes and also get MAD PROPZ if they get the reasons right.

Mail your way this picture DIFFERS from my actual life to my email address. Here is a handy link because I can’t possibly get MORE Penis Enlargement Spam *sigh*


FIRST PRIZE: Signed first edition of THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING and a container of Purple Monkey Cranberry-Fig Sugar Scrub. (If you hate the smell of cranberries, OR if you are a MAN and ACTIVELY DESIRE to maintain yer manly troll feet, you can alternately choose a HAND CRAFTED BEAD BOOKMARK also made by R. Jill Fink that I picked up at BOUND TO BE READ BOOKS.)

SECOND PRIZE: Signed Trade Paperback in your choice of EITHER Between, Georgia or gods in Alabama And whatever is LEFT OVER after first place picks…in other words, if first place takes the bookmark, you get the scrub. If first place takes the scrub, you get the bookmark. Like that!

CONSOLATION PRIZES: Signed mass market paperbacks of gods in Alabama and a tube of beach-friendly Purple Monkey Rosemary Lemongrass Lip Balm.

AND here is the cartoon. READY SET GO!


Posted by joshilyn at 9:09 AM | Comments (5)

June 6, 2008

Gilbert (and PreContest Info)

My friend Gilbert King is going to be on the TV tomorrow --- I just got this note from him:

This Saturday, June 7th at 7:00 PM EST, I will be appearing on CSPAN2's BookTV, discussing my book, THE EXECUTION OF WILLIE FRANCIS.

This was a lively event that was taped in the heart of Louisiana's Cajun Country, and several of the families involved in the story were in attendance. So if you missed me on my book tour, set your TIVOs or just stay home Saturday night and enjoy the show. Feel free to spread the word to thousands of your closest friends, too. (If we can get a grass roots thing going, there's an outside chance of beating Walker, Texas Ranger in the ratings that night!)

For those of you who just can't wait until Saturday, CSPAN has made the show available online.

WHOO – Gilbert’s taking on CHUCK NORRIS? Back off, Ranger!

(PS I love Chuck Norris one liners. I do not know why. I JUST DO. LOVE. Current favorite:
Q: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could Chuck Norris?
A: ...All of it.)

ANYWAY --- Gilbert is the multitalented fellow who did my author photo for the cover of THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING, and The Execution of Willie Francis is his first book. He’s smart and wry and funny and gives good interview, so tune in!


"The Execution of Willie Francis is almost certainly the best book on capital punishment in America since Mailer's The Executioner's Song." --CounterPunch
"Strangely charming and unforgettable." --Kirkus
"Required reading." NY Post

ALSO! Beloveds, you asked for a contest? Welp I can’t manage to write the FAQ right now – the novel is going well so I need to ride this horse while it is being all COMPLIANT -- but a VERY SILLY CONTEST YOU SHALL HAVE! I am working on rules now, but it should be UP Sunday night and you will have all week to enter. It involves free books, vegan soaps, and dog toots.
Yes. Really.

Posted by joshilyn at 11:39 AM | Comments (9)

June 4, 2008

Conversations While on the Death March

First of all, what kind of MORONS saddle up the dog at HIGH NOON at the front end of an already baking hot Georgia summer and go for a hike when they have a perfectly good elliptical machine in an air conditioned room with a fan and a Netflixed DVD with TWO here-to-fore unseen episodes of HOUSE already loaded in the player?

Oh wait, that would be US.

We march through the blinding yellow sunlit day in grim, sweating silence

Dog: *pantpantpant*

Ten minutes pass. We go by a yard COATED in green plants with seeds on top, each seed with its own fluffy white parachute. They wait fruitlessly for a breeze to carry them to the remaining few square inches of un-weed-infested lawn.

Me: They have a dandelion problem.

Five minutes pass. We march.

Him: I don’t think those were dandilions.
Me: Yes, they were. They had white puffy tops.
Him: I think they were something else with white puffy tops.
Me: Fine, they were Tufted Thistles. Those people have a TUFTED THISTLE problem.
Him: *skeptical* Tufted Thistles.
Me: *emphatic* Tufted Thistles.

Dog: *pantpantpant*

I catch his eyebrow cocking in a skeptical manner

Him: ... *shocked voice* You have sex for money?

Ten minutes pass. We march on. We come to another yard RIFE with Tufted Thistles.

Me: I was wrong. Those are Dandi leopards.
Him: I think it may be clover.
Me: Not!
Him: Then it’s Dandi-lopes.
Me: Dandi-lopes! EXACTLY!

Ten more minutes of sweltering marching.

Him: I should get ALLTHE CREDIT for you becoming a great novelist.
Me: Since you included the word great, I am willing to unquestioningly accept your assertion.

Ten more minutes of marching. Swelterswelterswelter

Dog: *Dramatic panting*
Me: Dude. I TOLD you it was hot. You SAID you wanted to come.
Dog: *More dramatic panting. Goes for the Oscar.*
Me: OH, FINE. *pours out remaining water into palm for dog to lick*

We near the home stretch.

Me: OKAY! I am breaking. Why do you get the credit for me being a novelist?
Him: Because I don’t talk. And you get bored and start thinking things in your head---I just saw you thinking them --- and after a while, a novel comes out.
Me: Hee! Maybe.
Him: You’re welcome.
Me: Except I wasn’t working on a novel just then. I was fantasizing about saving a train from a bunch of terrorists.
Him: Oh. How did you do that?
Me: I was very clever.
Him: I am sure you were.
Me: *happy* Look, our porch! AND THE TRAIN WAS FULL OF BABIES!

/end death march

Posted by joshilyn at 3:04 PM | Comments (15)

June 3, 2008

On Books Part 2 (now with less butt talk)

Every now and again I get an e-mail from some internet marketing guru asking if I want to test drive a product for free in exchange for reviewing it on my blog. Scott and I have had MANY variations of this conversation:

Me: Scott? I got this e-mail…Do I want to get a free ______ and write a review about it?
Him: No.
Me: *delete*

It’s never anything I want to review. I wish someone would ask me to review a PRIUS. THAT I would take. But no, it is always something that I have ZERO interest in. And part of the reason I say NO is, I don’t want to get 50 of those emails a week, asking if I want to review everything from DOG BRUSHES to LAXATIVES.

One time I remember I said, “Hey Scott, do I want to get a free bottle of color safe bleach alternative detergent and then write a review of it?” and he leveled a long, bland stare at me and said, “Don’t you think you would need to know HOW TO WORK THE WASHING MACHINE to truly take advantage of that offer?” And I --- the laundry-hating and utterly SPOILED creature who seldom if ever sullies her hands with the dials and knobs upon that hated object --- very quickly changed the subject.

But then last week, a woman asked me if I wanted to get a free Sony Reader and review it.

Me: *already reaching for the delete button* Scott? I got this e-mail…Do I want to get a free Sony Reader and write a review about it?
Me: For reals?
Scott: Have you SEEN our basement? If you get a memory chip, you could have most of that crap downstairs on a little tablet that goes in your purse.
Me: It’s not cra—
Scott: I mean you could have most of that great literature that has set your heart ablaze and flipped your brain switch to the on position and caused you to grow into the amazing creature I see before me now who blah blah etc skip to the important part, IN A TABLET THAT GOES IN YOUR PURSE. Instead of a room.
Me: Fine. But I won’t like it.

And I was very very prepared not to like it. SO prepared to not like it, that when it came, I threw the box onto Scott’s desk and said, “The Purse-sized book room came. Can you make it go?”

Scott, being Mr. Gadget, was ALL UP ONS about it. He popped the box open and had that thing out and running before I had finished the sentence. He was so enthused that I got slightly interested, and stayed in the room answering emails and glancing over to see what he was doing.

He got a little wire and clipped the thing to his computer, and within four minutes he said, LOOK! And showed me this:


Me: Holy Cow! Did gods in Alabama COME with the Reader?
Him: No. The reader came with Wuthering Heights and a buncha excerpts I deleted off it. I went and found GODS IN ALABAMA for sale and downloaded it. THAT FAST!
Me: Wait. You just went and BOUGHT gods in Alabama?
Him: Yup! Took about a minute!
Me: You know I get that book for free, right? That particular one?
Him: But now it is on my computer.
Me: Scott. I already have that book on MY computer. Which I WROTE IT ON.
Him: But look, now you have it ON YOUR SONY READER! AND IT TOOK ABOUT A MINUTE!

He was SO pleased I let it drop and asked mildly that he get me another book, maybe something I hadn’t already perused or, say, spent two years of my life writing…

He got me Pillars of the Earth which I had long been meaning to read, and I promptly shoved the Sony Reader in my purse and then forgot it existed while I read two blessedly made-of-paper ARCs.

BUT THEN! On Sunday, there was a blood drive I didn’t know about happening at my church and I got it in my head that I was going to try to give blood. THEY NEVER LET ME! I am always ANEMIC. But I thought, since I have been RELIGIOUSLY taking a multi-vitamin +iron since starting Weight Watchers, maybe, just MAYBE, I would have enough iron in my blood to SQUEAK through.

HIDEOUS CONFESSION: I DO always want to give blood. And save three lives. ALWAYS. Scott gives blood EVERY time he is eligible, and I used to give blood regularly, too, but after having my kids, I remained anemic, and they always refuse me, so I quit trying. And in my pre-defense, I HAVE been taking vitamins so I REALLY thought there might be a chance.

HOWEVER! I SHAMEFULLY and DISGUSTINGLY admit that the ACTUAL REASON I decided to TRY this particular Sunday was not an altruistic desire to help humanity. It was because (I can’t BELIEVE I am admitting this) it was because…I saw they had Nutter Butters.
I KNEW if I gave blood, DIET BE DAMNED, I would be FORCED to eat cookies. Through no fault of my own. And I instantly and passionately became CONVINCED that Nutter Butters eaten in the interest of SAVING LIVES would not count toward my points.

Yes. I am going to hell.

SO! I sat there in line, waiting to get my finger poked and have a droplet squeezed into the blue water where it bobbed right up to the top like a happy-drunk penguin instead of properly and respectably SINKING like good iron-ated decent blood would, and then waiting again for them to spin it out and see if it was under 38 which of course it WAS, and then waiting STILL MORE to sign a YES, I UNDERSTAND I AM ANEMIC AND WILL THEREFORE NOT BE GIVEN ANY COOKIES form and to be to be told to take vitamins (I AM!!!) and to eat more steak and spinach ( I DO!!!) and to eat dried apricots, which, really, I would rather eat a stuffed and buttered Piglet doll because dried apricots taste like SHOES.

During ALL this waiting I would have been bored nigh unto DEATH, except I remembered I had THE PURSE SIZED BOOK ROOM with Pillars of the Earth (which I am really enjoying, by the way---very good book!) already downloaded with me. I also had NO IDEA how to use the thing because Scott had played with it almost exclusively, but it was VERY easy to figure out. I had it up and running and was reading in about two minutes, and that was with no instruction book. And now?

I LOVE this stinking thing.
I LOVE it. I love it in an unholy way.
And I named it Clarence and I take it everywhere with me.
Here is what is good:

There is no LIGHT behind the words. You know how reading on a computer screen makes your eyes tired? Well, this doesn’t do that. In fact, you cannot read it in the dark. You need light, just like a real book. I don’t know HOW it works with no light behind it…I suspect black magic. But still, the no BACKLIT screen means no eye-sore-ness--- a necessity for someone who reads as much as I do.

Also, it doesn’t SCROLL which is awesome. I hate to read SCROLLING THINGS. It has a PAGE FLIP button, so you read the book page by page as The Lord rightfully intended. But even though it goes page by page, the pages are flexible – by which I mean, you can MAKE THE FONT BIGGER and it just puts less words on the page and then you still FLIP virtual pages.

With the COVER on, you HOLD it like a paper book, which is comfortable and familiar, so it doesn’t distract you from actually reading. It was so BOOKLY that for the first chapter, I kept reaching with my hand to TURN a page that didn’t exist. I’d find my hand hovering at the TURNING corner with nothing to grasp, and I’d get the giggles and hit the button. OH – it also has a little button that you use to FOLD A CORNER OF A PAGE DOWN to mark your place. That tickled me, too.

I wish I’d asked for this thing for Christmas a solid year ago, and I wouldn’t have had to buy and abandon a good 20 books on tour to keep my luggage under 50 pounds and still have something fresh to read on planes.

I also have to say, I felt very FIRST KID ON MY BLOCK at that blood drive. Everyone wanted to know what the thing WAS and how to work it, and it was kinda FUN to be the kid with the new cool toy. It was like when I was playing Chinese Jacks two months before that 4th grade fad EXPLODED and I was one of the people who had them before anyone knew what they WERE… I am dorky enough to admit I really enjoyed showing it off.

I AM worried about taking it on the beach later this month. It seems like SAND and ELECTRONICS might be a bad mix. I will prolly TAKE IT with me, but read it on the balcony and take a paperback down to the actual sand. Because I like this thing too much to risk wrecking it. In the same way, I feel it is not a good water toy, so I will need to bring paper books for sitting in the hot tub.

I don’t know why the THEORY of BOOK ROOM IN MY PURSE did not appeal to me, because the REALITY is so completely awesome. I also kinda think it’s cute that Scott thinks that getting me a thing that can hold electronic books is going to somehow magically make the HELL PIT BOOK ROOM clear out…unless the black magic component that makes the unlit screen can also PHYSICALLY VACUUM UP paper books and stick them on the screen like what happened to that kid, Mike Teevee, in Willy Wonka…

I joke. But I bet that day is coming.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:27 AM | Comments (33)

June 1, 2008

On Books (and other B words)

Beloveds, this is rated a little rate-ier than my usual PG in spots. We are discussing lit-tra-chure. SO. Either cover the eyes of your children and forge ahead, or come back another, gentler day when I don’t spend a solid seven paragraphs talking about buttholes.

This is one side of my basement bookroom. Books come here to die:

For the record? You can see maybe 25% of the books actually present in the room. Maybe less than that.

Here you will find all my manly gunplay books---I keep going down and shoveling through and digging out Lehane and Connely and Child and rereading them, OH! and also Gruber. You will find Georgette Heyer from when someone told me she was like Jane Austen. I liked THE NONESUCH fine, but she isn’t. I know because you will also find the Jane Austens I read to tatters and replaced with the new ones upstairs.

You will find books I started and abandoned and think I may one day go back to. Books I started and finished and threw down the stairs in a pet of anger. Books I finished WEEPING with joy or rage and could not bear to part with. Books for loaning out. Books that remind me of a certain period in my life. Books given to me as gifts from people I love or at least remember fondly. Books in genres I thought I might want to write in and then realized I didn’t even like to READ in them. ARCs scammed from tradeshows. Books from the way back back, as far as MIDDLE SCHOOL. Even about 9,000 dollars worth of old theatre textbooks.

You could dig out every Robert Heinlein space opera up to and including Stranger in a Strange Land, but not much that came after. DIGRESSION: SiaSL is a watershed book. It’s where Heinlein stopped being an excellent writer and crossed over into genius. He blew some sort of brain fuse doing it, alas, and his post-Stranger books are mostly intergalactic porn, BUT OH BUT, what an exceptional thing he did. *clapclapclap*

Here you will find almost fifteen dollars worth of the classic literature books I got out of the FOUR FOR A DOLLAR bin at the now defunct OXFORD BOOKS to prepare myself to take the GRE. I read 100 great books in 50 days, and this is why I violently hate D H Lawrence. No one should have to read ALL of The RAINBOW in a 12 hour period. It is wrong. I suspect Heinlein may have attempted it after SiaSL, and it was the thing that broke him.

BUTT-Y DIGRESSION: After I typed the words THE RAINBOW, I had a memory surge, and I MEANT to send the following the e-mail to my friend Lydia:

“Lyd! Did you ever blog about that strange moment when you were reading The Rainbow where someone is poking around in someone else's butt for PAGES AND PAGES and it is this LONG LONG overblown astonishing prose about falling into and exploring the DARK MYSTERY OF THE UNIVERSE and after it went ON for a bit you had forgotten what he was describing because it was so WINDY AND LONG, so on about page four you suddenly came to and went, WAIT! WAIT! IS THIS A BUTTHOLE??? And it was. Do you know where that blog is? I am just now blogging about D H Lawrence and want to link to it.”

EXCEPT instead of typing out a new e-mail with her addy, I LAZILY pulled up the last email I had from Lyd, where she was introducing me and Sara to her friend Tracy. AND Then I accidentally hit REPLY ALL instead of reply. Lydia and Sara are used to me, but this was in RESPONSE to an INTRO…. NEAT! A summary of the exchange would read like this:

Lydia: Tracy, meet Joshilyn.
Tracy: Hi. Nice to meet you.
Lydia: Joshilyn, meet Tracy!

Super. The final irony being that of course THAT BLOG NEVER HAPPENED. I JUST got an email back from Lyd that said:

Uhhhh, I’m going to say that was a phone call. Garsh, I had forgotten all about that. Looking forward to reading your genteel and refined treatment of the subject.

SHE IS CORRECT! The butt-description thing was a PHONE CONVERSATION we had about 5 years ago. And here Lydia has earned the right to sniff, if she so chooses, and she may even say, “Because SOME of us have SCRUPLES about what we e-mail to total strangers.”

Heh. Or put up on the internet, for that matter.

ANYWAY, I have gone down to the Book-ephant Graveyard many many many times to try to sort through and ORGANIZE and CULL, and it always ends when, after 3 hours, my husband comes down to see if they have collapsed and buried me in a page-y grave, and he finds that I have spent 90% of the 3 hours sitting flat on my bottom on the concrete floor totally engrossed in some BOOK I forgot I owned.

SO. Scott said some sort of solution MUST BE FOUND.

I may have found one. Sort of. It sure doesn’t involve throwing out any BOOKS or anything CRAZY like that. Or not buying new ones or anything ABSOLUTELY RAVING FOAMY MAD like that either. I will tell you about it later though because I got sidetracked yacking about bottoms –-- HEY! IT HAPPENS --- and now my husband is taking me out to drink pink beverages and eat naughty fried foods and play billiards and I am NOT COUNTING WW POINTS. I AM NOT> YOU CANNOT MAKE ME!

Because it is our 14th Anniversary date. *preen*

I will virtuously begin to parse out my meager points again tomorrow. Tonight, I am going to rip my wig off and eat whatever I want. LA!

Posted by joshilyn at 5:55 PM | Comments (26)