Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What was That Sign?

I once went on a strange and fun trip to Paris where my two travel companions (who both had lived in Paris) decided randomly that the walk signs (which looked like this, so did not seem that strange to me) meant that they should cross the street with one leg kicked out and front and held stiff.  (Yes, this meant they hopped across the street. This was actually not the most attention drawing thing they did on this trip.) 
So, I can only imagine what would happen had we been in Amarillo, TX while this was going on.  (Video is SFW, assuming your work doesn't mind you playing newscasts at work.  The hand gesture has been blurred out so you will have to imagine it.)

h/t to TBD for the link. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

7 Things: Thank You, Borders

There's a similar hashtag on Twitter, but I have far more words about this.
1. I grew up within walking distance of another now-defunct bookstore chain.  Other than the library (which was a walk that was five times longer) and raiding my parents bookshelves, this was my primary source for things bookish.  They had a tiny young adult section that leaned heavily on the series (Sweet Valley and the like).  They did not have a romance section, romance was spread out into the fiction section, although they did have a small mystery section.  So when this new bookstore - a store my mom willingly drove me to - opened up with a huge romance section, you can imagine my happiness. 
2. As one of those people who used to regularly appear at the bookstore on Tuesdays, I sometimes arrived before the new book got distributed to all the normal places.  Sometimes I could find it myself by checking the new release shelves and tables or the endcaps, and sometimes I needed assistance.  I have been in bookstores where the staffers (the ones at the info desk even) were not particularly happy to help me look.  I never (seriously, never) had that problem at Borders.  They didn't always find it, but they were unfailingly polite about the search and in one case, where I told they guy who had checked several sections that I could come back tomorrow, he said, no, other people will want this book to, if you don't mind waiting, I'll do some more checking so we can find it.  (I did wait, and he did find it for me.)
3. I like shopping in bookstores where the cashiers were excited about the things I bought, and wanted to tell me that they had enjoyed that CD or that series. 
4. Borders ebook section had great search functionality and they always listed clearly the books that were agency priced and couldn't be discounted.  (Hint, hint, other ebook sellers.)
5. Borders had an excellent magazine section, regularly carrying titles I had trouble finding in other places.  Even other big box or chain stores.
6. Borders had a great craft section offering more than say five books about crafts including knitting, wire jewelry making and beading.
7. I live in an area with a decent number of bookstores, but sadly, without Borders I will lose all but two of the nearest places I can buy romance. At least new. Or in person.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Secret Bookstore

In the wake of the sad news about Borders, here's an interesting (short) video about a guy who sorta, kinda runs a bookstore in an apartment.  In other words, a secret bookstore

h/t to frecklesmudge for the link

Monday, July 18, 2011

7 Things: The "Friday Night Lights" Edition

The series finale of "Friday Night Lights" aired on NBC last week, which is months after the DVD came out and months more after it aired on DirectTV, but with my busy TV schedule, that was when I watched it, so I present...
1. "Friday Night Lights" (FNL) is in theory about football.  I mean, it is, and I like football, but it's also about football the way "Battlestar Galactica"* is about space.  There is football, and football practice, and football players, and coaches, and fields, but there are also great stories about fascinating characters, football is the reason they (most of them) tend to keep hanging out together.
2.  FNL is not perfect (there is that second season storyline of which we do not speak), but there are some amazing episodes.  Many even.
3. FNL shows over and over again that a happy, committed, adult couple can make for riveting television. 
4. FNL also often makes me wonder if this show (fictional, scripted, yes, I know) shouldn't be shown in parenting and maybe even teaching classes.
5. This is certainly not to say that everyone in FNL is perfect (how boring would that be), but, to paraphrase Coach, it's about people (most of them, anyway) trying to be good** people and the struggles that entails. 
6. There are some bad people too.  But why focus on them?  And of course, some of the ones who seemed bad at the beginning, well...
7. It's been an excellent five seasons, watching players from two different schools grow and change and become adult people.  (Yes, I know they are fictional. Still awesome though.) It's also the kinda show that makes you think, well thank god that poor girl has those strippers to talk to.

*The new one, not the original.
**Okay, I might be straining the definition of good, when one ponders the characters who have committed illegal acts, of which there are quite a few. But it is a testament to the character building that I still like these characters.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Acronyms are Fun

From the stories I tell people all the time files*:
My friend, we'll call her N, is a knitter. She says that knitting while taking public transportation is helpful since you have tools on your person should you need to strangle or stab anyone.  Now, lest you get the wrong idea, N is a lovely person and generally does not need to strangle or stab people, on metro or anywhere, but certainly we can all appreciate that tools with multiple purposes are good.
Now one day N was knitting, and her seatmate was male and he felt the need to sit with his legs spread particularly wide.  As a result, he was encroaching on N's seat and and person, so she pulled out her handy tape measure and offered to measure for him to see if he really required so much space when sitting. 
So, imagine my joy, to discover over at the Crazy Aunt Purl blog that this issue has been named - imaginary package syndrome or IPS: "the guys who have an imaginary package so large they have to spread their legs really wide and encroach into your personal space to accommodate that enormously huge imaginary schlong". 
Oh, and the guy sitting next to N, he closed his legs.

*So, sorry, for those of you have heard this many, many times. 

Friday, July 08, 2011

A Week in NYC - Days 6-7

Oh, Friday.  Friday had another breakfast gathering, this one of cherries, so it was more fun breakfast than work breakfast. Then workshops, signings, and meetings.  (I swear, there were awesome workshops, several about writing YA, theme with Suzanne Brockmann and Sarah Frantz, and Roxane St. Claire's mending broken scenes to name a few.  I look forward to reliving them via recording.)  Friday was also the day I started to go a little nuts.  I may, for example, have tried to steal Thea Harrison's ARC of Storm's Heart.  I may have begun narrating my actions aloud - sample, "Water.  Water is good, I should probably get some of that."  (Scintillating, isn't it?)  I may have stuttered when talking to Jennifer Crusie.  I may have told Caridad Ferrer that When the Stars Go Blue made me cry. (Okay, that was actually normal behavior for me.  I also, earlier in the week told Jennifer Echols that I sat down to read Forget You with dinner and next thing I knew it was 10:30pm.) 
It was a wild weird morning and then my sister and I met up for lunch only for us to discover that she lives in the same building as the friend I had met earlier in the week.  (Too funny.  And no, my sister had not previously met this friend, although I've known her forever.)  Both of them are dog owners, so I got to spend some quality pet time while away from my pet. 
After lunch, I returned to the madness before finally sneaking away to recharge both myself and the various electronics. Then dinner and back to primp for the Golden Heart and Rita awards.  I had overheard folks in the elevator talking about a schedule change so got there earlier than planned and was trying to find friends and such. 
I ran into a couple in the lobby who wanted to know why we were all dressed up - there was also a medical banquet, but since they asked me I explained that it was the romance writer awards.  They nodded and said, "Oh, like Harlequin?" And I agreed that yes, Harlequin publishes romance novels.  It turns out they have a friend who loves Harlequin (I assume as a reader although possibly as a writer too) and when they saw the screen listing all the workshops, they decided they needed to call and tell her.
My feet, I confess, were tired (not me, of course, I was fine) so the waiting was wearing and I confessed to another person waiting for her peeps that I was close to making new friends (not an idle threat, people, although not really a threat either). Anyway,found some chapter-mates to sit and cheer with.  Meg Cabot was a lovely host.  And the speeches were great. The woman who mentioned her son was in prison so writing was keeping her sane was certainly memorable.  The lovely Jill Shalvis won a RITA as did long time finalist Virginia Kantra.  And Lifetime Achievement award winner Sharon Sala's story of her granddaughter coming to a signing and saying, "You must be famous like Britney Spears!" was lovely. 
After I ran into another friend who recognized me because of my knitwear.  I also had a few chats with folks who shall remain nameless about foundation garments.  (My dress, while lovely, had a lining that crept up to my navel and rendered itself useless.) 
Saturday dawned and people in the elevators and such looked familiar, but they no longer had name tags.  It was very confusing.
I found a knitter in the lobby and introduced myself.  After chatting a bit it turns out she's critique partners with one of my chapter mates.  She also introduced me to another knitter/writer.  And I ran into someone else I had met earlier in the conference so we could exchange contact info. 
I ran out to do some last minute errands before heading back to check out and then head to the bus pick up.  My companion for this journey was a wonderfully behaved sevenish year old who's parents were across the aisle.  He played a quiet game on his dad's phone, then laid his head on his knees and slept, then hummed quietly to himself for a bit. He finally asked his parent's how close we were as we pulled into Union Station. 
And I made it safely home with my bags stuffed with books.  (Although a certain someone brought home a number in the triple digits.) 

Thursday, July 07, 2011

A Week in NYC - Days 5-6

Wednesday was that day - every RWA has a day where people want to see me at breakfast at some ungodly time, and they also want me to be somewhere at night.  (Actually, this RWA had two of those.)  Breakfast was an interesting gathering, then lunch where Madeline Hunter gave a great speech.  Then there were workshops and signings.  The YA chapter, since we "meet" online, had our general meeting, plus a gathering of YA focused people.  So, my writer day ended about 8, and then I went to dinner with a friend.  Somewhere, you know, not Times Square.
Thursday there more more workshops and signings (again, all wonderful, I just could talk all day about them, so I will resist).  Ran into more people on Thursday too.  It's one of those strange things that I pretty much run into everyone I know at some point, however briefly.  However, invariably you get back home and realize you meant to re-find someone and chat with them more.  This seems to increase every year.  And there are some people I ran into so many times they probably think I was stalking them. 
Lunch on Thursday was a madhouse so I plunked myself down at a mostly empty table confiding to the person next to me that I was over trying to find people only to have the next five people that sat down all be people I know.  (Seriously, in a book, no one would ever let me write that, too coincidental.) Sherrilyn Kenyon gave a great speech about powering through adversity that she has posted on Facebook. I had heard her speak at my chapter's conference, so I was prepared, but it's good stuff. 
Then workshops, meetings, signings.  I was very restrained at signings.  Well, Thursday at least.  Thursday was a free(ish) night and I went to dinner with a fellow attendee and then headed back to the bar.  Now, the staff at Marriott were all lovely, but I have no idea why with a convention of writers, you would staff the bar in the lobby with two people.  Haven't they heard the rumors?  I'm not saying all writers are drunkards, I'm saying the faster you serve the people in the bar, the longer it takes them to realize the martinis are $15.  (I'm also not saying that $15 is bad, I'm saying some of these writers are unused to NYC prices.)
Anyway, I hung out with some lovely NJ chapter folks for the remainder of the evening.  

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

A Week in NYC - Day 4

Tuesday was nuts.  I got myself  down to NYU to register myself for the IASPR conference, which was amazing. I really enjoyed the worldbuilding  workshop and had to sneak out partway through the money workshop so I could switch hotels.  Thankfully, the Marriott let me check in a smidge early, so I could then register myself present for RWA and head back to the village for the last bit of IASPR workshops including the chat with Bertrice Small.  I also met two other knitters and a crocheter there.  I feel like I'm giving short shrift to the workshops, but they were so amazing that I worry I will be talking (writing) forever if I try to talk about the use of New York as a setting for a Bollywood movie, or the use of gender roles in the "Wall Street" films or the discussion of the history of f/f detective novels.  So, short version, amazing. (If you want a longer version, I'm going to direct you here and here.)  Now pondering when I can get to the next one. 
A few of us then hopped on the subway back the Marriott for the RWA Literacy signing.  Now, I confess, I've been to a few of these, and they were all a bit different. This one was nuts.  I don't know if it was New York, or the large number of authors, or the fire code for the room or what.  The signing started at 5:30.  We got there at five and the line which started in the lobby and wrapped around the staging/cab/pickup area where they had ropes setting up three lanes, and was already bursting out of that around the corner and down the street, slowly taking over the space in front of a nearby theater. I looked over at my companion and said, "You know, my room has air conditioning."  (She was determined.)
The good news about waiting in that line was there was lots of time to chat. Even once the doors to the signing opened (which was on the sixth floor by the way, apparently, I could have flashed my name badge and gotten into a shorter line, but live an learn) we chatted.  We chatted with the folks around us.  We chatted with some fellow cherries who showed up.  We chatted as we made out way inside and up the escalators, and to the sixth floor where they wrapped and waited some more.  And finally made it in, where it was mad.  The sound, the light the people, it was instant overload. 
I found my way to several authors where I fawned, stalked and paid respects.  I told Jill Shalvis she had written "The Sweetest Thing" for me, since it was about an older sister named Tara even though she had never met me.  (Details.  She was kind enough to agree.)  I told Thea Harrison I was halfway through "Dragon Bound".  I told Sarah MacLean that "Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart" made me cry.  I waved at the lovely Christine Merrill and Robin Kaye.  And I made my way to Rachael Herron who was knitting away, and told her I loved her, but I was going back to my room. 
After decompression I headed out for dinner which was lovely. 

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

NYC - A Week in Review - Days 1-3

So, you will likely be grateful to hear that I am doing some truncating of this trip.  I awoke (I swear, I will be truncating, I know starting with waking up does not seem like it) and discovered that having a leisurely departure time made me paranoid - that I had the wrong bus time, that buses were perhaps not running that day, that I had forgotten to book a hotel, and so on.  It turns out that most of the things it occurred to me to triple and quadruple check were fine. 

I did discover that the single tracking going on made my arrival, still early, but not as early as I had hoped.  However, since it turned out there'd been an issue with an earlier bus needing to go visit the mechanic, they were only just loading the bus from the previous hour when I arrived. 

I sat next to someone who was attempting through Maryland to sleep, although apparently sleeping sitting up didn't work for her so she would sleep, slump, wake herself up with the slump, and repeat.  Later she broke out her ereader. 

We made it to New York, where I checked into the hotel for my first part of the trip and then headed out to forage for dinner.  Found a lovely Thai restaurant.

The next day, my plan was to explore the village.  I had been unaware that I had accidentally managed to be in NYC for the pride march (one guy was very insistent it was a march, not a parade, despite the alliteration of pride parade) that was occurring days after the equal marriage vote.  I had watched the news the night before and discovered this, I just had not fully processed what a march in Manhattan looks like.  So, I arrived at the village and wandered around and discovered that the places I was trying to get to were all on the other side of the police barricade from me.  Being stubborn I kept trying to go up, over, and get through, but finally conceded that this was not the day for that.  (And yes, I realized I could have taken the subway, back one stop, but like I said, stubborn).  So, I grabbed a late lunch and then headed back to midtown. 

I was meeting a friend who had tickets to a community center event to raise funds for Japan earthquake/tsunami relief.  It was an interesting event starting with child performers (although there was one girl who danced modern and hip hop and zumba in such a way that we see her possibly taking over the world).  Then it progressed to the audience judging portion where the performers were, shall we say, older.  And the final section was professionals, which included hip hop and ballet.  It was a really interesting evening.  

Monday, I went back and wandered around the village.  After lunch I may have made my way to a yarn store - Knitty City.  Cute store, lots of Malabrigo, Madeline Tosh, as well as some Sweet Georgia and Wool Candy that I may have taken home. 

And then I headed back to the village (seriously, if I'd had a GPS attached, it would have looked weird, but I had a plan) and after dinner went to Lady Jane's Salon.  If you are in or near New York, I highly recommend this event.  Due to the impending RWA conference, they had more readers than normal, but the readings were great.  I loved chatting with the fellow listeners also.  And the Madame X bar, is something to behold too.