Friday, September 30, 2005


Can't Stop the Signal

In about 2 1/2 hours my butt'll be planted in a movie theater where Joss Whedon's Serentiy will be about to roll, once we sort through the 10-15 minutes of commercials and trailers that precede the feature film. (Whatever happened to cartoons and newsreels? Oh, how I loved Matinee at the Bijou as a kid... but I digress...)

The reviews tend to be more positive than not. The film's got a healthy - respectable, even - Tomatometer ranking at and an 8.4 out of 10 at

And I've been looking forward to this debut for months!

Add to that the fact that this is the first weekend in a while when we don't have big plans involving elephants, out-of-town guests, and three jars of Nutella, plus the fact that the weather has taken a turn towards that beautiful crisp fall so characteristic of this part of the Midwest, as well as the fact that my fiance is a wonderful, wonderful guy, and we're looking at a weekend that's bound to please. And possibly even be relaxing.

How the heck am I so lucky???

Monday, September 26, 2005


The 2005 Lotus World Music Festival

Loved it!

We started the evening with Seu Jorge. If you saw Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, then you saw him singing David Bowie covers in Portuguese. While he didn't do any Bowie while we were at his set, the contemporary Brazilian music was energetic and awesome.

From the muggy outdoor venue where Seu Jorge performed to the contemplative - and air-conditioned - sanctuary in the First Presbyterian Church... we saw contemporary Scandinavian folk band Frigg. Again, excellent music. (Tho' Hedningarna continues to be my favorite Scandinavian band, at least from among those I've been exposed to so far.)

We avoided the street parade in favor of grabbing a quick dinner at The Trojan Horse, a locally-owned Greek restaurant. Yummy, yummy gyros and fries. Then we dashed over to the First Christian Church, where the Palestinian group Le Trio Joubran wowed us and everyone else with their masterful performances on the oud (a large, sort of pear-shaped stringed instrument, in case you were wondering). We had hoped to hear Ana Moura sing Portuguese fado during this set, as well, but the line to get into the venue where she was performing wrapped around the corner. Instead, after Le Trio Joubran finished playing, we went over to First United Methodist and heard the last two pieces by Rachael Davis with Jake Armerding, both singer-songwriters. With its bluesy tone, the last tune showcased Rachael's voice.

Avoiding the second street parade wasn't a possibility, so we stood on the sides waving a flag to the beat of the percussion for a few minutes. Then we took off in search of restrooms, air conditioning, and more great music back at the First Christian Church. A woman approached us and asked if we would mind participating in a short survey for a graduate student doing research for her dissertation on the Lotus Festival. We agreed to answer a few questions; the crux of the survey seemed to involve what we felt about using local churches as venues for performances during the festival. Apparently she'd heard a lot of stupid stuff about how the environment was great (AC, plenty of seating, good acoustics, etc.), which misses the point, I think. Every performance I've ever seen at Lotus has been by someone who is really, really into his/her art, and there's a special joie de vivre that they have, that their music evokes, and that you're allowed to partcipate in as a member of the audience; and I just feel that the churches contribute to that feeling with their architecture, stained glass, and so forth. Make a joyful noise and all that...!

Spent the last set entranced by Nawal, a singer who resides in France but is from the Comoros Islands (off the east coast of Africa). Her performance was where I found the essence of the Lotus Festival for me. I can' recommend her music enough, although I can't tell you if what's special about her live performance carries through to the CD because her CDs sold out! (But has it in stock. It's called Kweli. I recommend it - or seeing her live. She's on tour in the US through October.)

Afterwards, we heard some music from Funkadesi and then a few songs from the Creole Cowboys. All in all, it was a great night of music. The organization that runs Lotus has made some changes that, I'm afraid, make the showcase concerts less appealing, in some respects, and I worry a little for the future of the festival because of this. But as long as it's around, do consider visiting Bloomington for the festival. I hear next year it's going to be October 5th through 8th. Mark your calendars!

Friday, September 16, 2005



Two of the workshops that I attended at GenCon were run by Brad Beaulieu (he's posted his notes on the site, in case anyone's interested), who won the WOTF contest for the 20th anthology (last year, I think). In one session, he asked if anyone else had entered the contest. Of 15 or so audience members, I was the only person who had entered a selection. I was surprised because entering this contest seems like such a logical thing to do. There's no reading fee. The judges are established authors in the sci-fi & fantasy genres. There are quarterly deadlines throughout the year. If your story places in any quarter, it's published in an anthology. There's a sizeable check involved if your work is the big winner for the year. Seems like a no brainer.

The story I entered last year is one I'm rather fond of. While it didn't place high enough to be considered for publication, I was informed that it had reached the quarter-finals, that the judges were impressed by it, and that I was encouraged to keep writing. That made for quite the positive experience.

The piece I've been working on with the aim to submit it to LRHWOTF this year (ooh, the end of the quarter is this month!) is also fantasy but quite different in tone and flavor of fantasy (modern rather than medievalesque). I like the piece, and I'm curious to see how readers respond to it. I feel like it's a winner, but I'm less and less convinced it's right for LRHWOTF. We'll see what happens... I have to decide it's finished first!

I need to follow the lessons I've learned from Marcy Rockwell and Harley Stroh. Write something every day. Keep sending stuff out regularly. Sleep is for folks who don't have aspirations to write for a living.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005



Sold a poem to Strong Verse. Not sure when it will appear on the site. It's called "Visiting Grandma," and the form is a sestina. (Recommended reading: Elizabeth Bishop's "Sestina.") Got the greatest note ever from the editor, too!

I posted links to a couple interesting contests to the forums on Ed Gentry's website. Check 'em out! One encourages you to take the cliches of a particular genre and just run with them while the other is for shorter genre fiction and will be judged by prolific genre-bending writer Kristine Kathryn Rusch, who writes the Retrieval Artist series (a favorite I recommend to anyone who enjoys a little noir with their sci-fi).

Waiting to hear on a couple writing-related things. Attempting to work with a small group of folks to establish a critique group. Finishing a story to submit to LRHWOTF.

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