Happy New Year!
Live, from B2 (and this could very well be the last NYE here) we wish you a very happy new year.
Back in London after a whirlwind North American tour. Never enough time to see everyone and do everything, but we did our best.
Wow ... a career change, an African safari, a boat ride to Russia, a couple of publishings, some big losses and some surprising gains (mostly around my waist) ... what a year it's been.
Much health, happiness and good fortune to all for 2008!
December 26, 2007
You'll Shoot Your Eye Out
Santa brought the kids two junior electric guitars, each with their own amplifier, and a Guitar Hero III (I'm totally getting one once I get back to England).
There has been plenty of rockin' around the Christmas tree today, along with too much food, a jolly good nap, and a holiday showing of "The Christmas Story."
We seem to have struck a lovely holiday chord.
I hope everyone had the merriest of Christmases and that your Boxing Day is a knock out.
See what I did there?
December 24, 2007
Are We Done Yet?
And as we head out to yet another mall for some last minute, non-border crossing gifts, we take our holiday Valium and send you this message (see how I'm keeping it religious?) ....
December 22, 2007
Notes from the Pantages
It’s not even a week of being away, today is Day 6, but it feels like such a long time. Three airports, three countries, six cities, one flight cancellation, three houses, one sofabed, one hotel (suites are sweet), one funeral, another death (the funeral’s today but I’m in the wrong country), countless hours spent in cars going from place to place (can I tell you how much I don’t miss the daily automotive experience), two malls, gallons of red wine (some better than others), one homecooked meal, one liquid dinner, a pizza delivery, lots of laughs, a few tears, snow, snow, more snow and now a bit of slush.
One new acceptance on a piece of flash fiction, a few new gifts bought and a few ideas nixed, additional fodder for my theory on the more things change the more they stay the same, a house renovation project that seems to be going backwards, a four-mile run that has left me mildly crippled, news of a friend's (non-malignant) brain tumor that caused him to start re-growing at the age of 35, bacon-wrapped scallops with too sweet a hickory sauce, the re-opening of a bar where I once danced in my underwear, department stores are the same horrible mess no matter what city/country you're in, and I still don't know what to buy for most people for the holidays.
But hey, there's still three days, two airports, two countries, three cities and a long car ride to go.
And this morning, I woke up and wrote in my journal that there's nothing to write about. Imagine.
December 19, 2007
Suburban Subterranean Thornfield
What with this being season of spectacularly snooze-inducing suburban sleeper sofas and all, we found ourselves in Larry’s cousin’s basement last night, on a pull-out bed, cocooned inside the most comfortable blankets I’ve ever felt. If only I had brought roomier baggage.
The downstairs is heated by a gas fireplace, which is on a thermostat and fires up whenever necessary. In the middle of the night, I could sense a flickering through my closed eyes. I woke up and immediately felt surrounded by flames, like Rochester trapped in a cellar of suburban slumber. And my Jane Eyre? Snoring beside me, lost in a dream of his own, more likely gossiping with sisters Lorna and Liza than Charlotte and Emily.
In other news, and at the risk of this blog becoming an obituary column, my step-mom’s sister, Cindy, died yesterday afternoon, only a couple hours after we finished with Uncle Norm’s funeral. She’d been struggling the (whisper it) “cancer” for more than five years now, and has been in hospice for the past week or so, growing more and more tired. Dad and Lynne have been there with her pretty much 24/7, and I’m sure they’re just exhausted.
Can we please just all agree to have a moratorium on mortality for the rest of the year?
December 18, 2007
Tuesday 200 — #71
I reckoned something was fishy when she told me her new boyfriend’s name was Coy.
“Like the carp?” I asked, thinking there was something a little slippery about him, not to mention his predilection for the fake ‘n’ bake had left him a shade lighter than what we’d branded “Oompa Loompa Orange.”
“No,” she said, her forehead furrowing into a mixture of “you’re so stupid” and “what did I ever see in you” — a look I’d become more than used to during our second year of couple’s counseling. “He’s Native American, his great-great grandfather was spiritual leader of their tribe.”
“And it’s a safe bet to say everybody in your tribe is taken with spirits.” I said. “Still, is that any reason for those pants?” She was wearing a pair of baggy, sand-colored suede trousers that hung about four inches below her knees, hemmed with another six inches of fringe. Something that Marie Osmond might have worn back in the Seventies, singing to Donny that she was a little bit Injun. “When did Lane Bryant release their ‘Colors of the Wind’ collection?”
She instructed me to procreate with myself, something else I’d gotten used to during couple’s counseling.
December 17, 2007
Geez, you'd think Canada could handle a storm. Apparently not.
So. Right. We've found ourselves in Chicago. Well, Plainfield actually, and it's just lovely to unexpectedly be with old friends (who have done up a proper Christmas tree which I'm going to sleep under) and feel like we never left.
All flights into and out of TO were cancelled this afternoon, and the next available seats weren't until Tuesday am ... which probably wouldn't get us there in time for Norm's service.
So, we're heading to Detroit tomorrow afternoon, where Larry's brother (who lives in Windsor) will pick us up, and then we'll go to Lambeth on Tuesday morning.
No storm or inclement weather can get in our way, oh no. I guess we can attribute that to Larry being a mailman back in his youth. Oh, you didn't know that? He's full of surprises, that on.
All right then. Oh. If you haven't voted yet for Bob's Yer Uncle to win the Verve Best UK Blog, please do so ... time's running out and it seems there's a last-minute effort by my esteemed competition to knock me out of the lead.
It's Christmas, go find a new terminal and give a click.
December 15, 2007
Messages — Theirs, Mine and (now) Ours
As some of you know, I spent a good deal of November writing 300-word stories for the Your Messages project, which is an offshoot of Sarah Salway and Lynne Rees' Messages (the book that inspired my Tuesday 200s some 70-odd weeks ago).
To celebrate the launch of a new edition of Messages, Sarah and Lynne invited the world to contribute 300-word responses to thirty of their favorite pieces from the book. The guidelines are over here if you're interested.
Bottom line, one of my pieces made the cut, and come January, will be in a book published by Bluechrome and sold for charity.
Yay me. And yay for everyone else whose work got selected as well. The entire process was a great creative exercise. I especially enjoyed having to turn something around within 24 hours, call it "finished" and then start something new the next day. There were some amazing contributions, and I'm well pleased to be part of it all.
In other writerly news, last night's reading at Tales of the Decongested went well. I heard some great stories and found new authors to stalk. Thanks to everyone who came to listen.
Okay then, off to find warm clothes to pack for tomorrow's trip. Apparently we're flying into a blizzard or something and I have a feeling we're going to be stranded in Chicago tomorrow on our way to Toronto. The bright side (there's always a bright side, eh?) is that it's not the weekend before Christmas, so it won't be quite as crazy with stressed-out holiday travelers.
December 13, 2007
Three Whinges and a Funeral
It's just been one of those days.
I've been trying to get some documentation from a law firm that did business for me several years back, and, well, they're basically ignoring me. I've made calls. I've sent emails. I've started to burn bridges with the otherwise quite charming receptionist. I'm sure they're all very busy, but I was (and still could be) a paying client, and is it really too much to return a phone call or send me an email to answer my question? I know it's only been 5 phone calls and 2 emails in 3 weeks, and they are on New Orleans time, but still.
I also had snafus with Royal Mail and a new prescription delivery service. Parcels were not delivered, but were recorded as such, and then delivered after the fact. Perhaps a trifling annoyance, but still.
And then there was the tax people taking their sweet time with some information I requested three weeks ago. Seems I have until the end of January so there's still plenty of time, but still.
It's just all put me into a funk, nothing seeming to go right today. And then it all got put into perspective very quickly, with a phone call a little while ago.
Larry's Uncle Norman, who over the years has been both a father and big brother to my other half, passed away this afternoon.
He'd been battling emphysema for quite a while and was doing very well, but then got diagnosed with lung cancer in the past few months. Three small spots on his lung.
He took a turn for the worse a couple weeks ago, and opted to not pursue more treatment after a fourth spot (a small tumor) was discovered. No more tubes. No more hospitals. He just wanted to go peacefully at home.
After a few rough nights this week, it ended today. He was only 69.
Memo to y'all: Quit Smoking!
My heart goes out to his wife, the lovely Aunt Rose, as well as his kids Janet and Steven (and their children, who will certainly all miss their grandpa).
Like the rest of Larry's family, Norman immediately took me in as one of his own, and in the last fifteen years, he's become my uncle as well (not to mention one of my most loyal readers — a big fan of the ALL CAP email responses, he never quite figured out the commenting thing).
We were planning to see him next week, during the North American Xmaspalooza, so at least we already have the plane tickets booked and will be there with the rest of the family for whatever services are arranged. Dag, it wasn't even four months ago that his sister went.
Too many funerals this year.
Rest In Peace, Normie. We'll all miss you very much.
December 11, 2007
Tuesday 200 — #70
He snuck into his first yoga class feeling like a koi out of the fish pond. Not really knowing what to do, he unrolled his mat and tried to imitate the roomful of stretching practitioners (he tried to think of a better word for them, but reckoned they wouldn’t appreciate ‘yogurts’). He opted to mimic those lying on their backs. Nobody likes a toe-touching show off.
He was assured this was non-competitive. Pay no attention to what the others were doing. Just remember to breathe, be aware of his limits, and maybe try to push a little further than he thought he could go — as long as there wasn’t undue pain.
He once had a girlfriend who told him the same thing, just weeks before she moved to East Berlin and became a dominatrix.
The instructor began by leading the class in a chant. A chant? This was supposed to be stretching and breathing, not choir practice. Barely whispering his first ‘ohm’, he was struck by the group’s chord. Resonance repressed his reason, and he was soon in touch with his inner Gregorian monk, settling into a pre-pretzel posture of polyphonic peace.
And then the torture began.
December 9, 2007
Observing The Observer
In today's Observer, Kathryn Fleet has this to say about the end of Heroes (season one, which just finished up over here ... I'm sure she'll despise what goes on in season two) ...
I'm way too cynical and battle-weary to buy into the all-you-need-is-love school of happy endings, but no matter. It's fair to say that, in its own small, sweet and uniquely American way, "Heroes" has delivered if not a great blast of consolation for TV viewers' lost illusions, then certainly a gently optimistic gust of fresh air, and there's a lot to be said for that.
Can anybody clue me into what she meant by "uniquely American"?
When push comes to shove, how different is Heroes from Dr. Who? They're both just glorified comic books, eh?
"Small and sweet" doesn't strike me as something washing through the US of A. Maybe it's the optimism and hope for a happy ending? Are there no optimistic, happy endings in the UK? Or maybe that's just her plight, having to toil away, talking about telly for The Observer.
She also says something about it being American because of the "all you need is love" theme. But wait, that was the Beatles, wasn't it?
And ... didn't Rose pretty much keep the universe going by tapping into time (what's more timeless than love, not to mention her and the Doctor's love for each other) and creating her predestination paradox?
Save the chav-leader, save the world.
I will agree with Ms Flett on one thing ... Sylar's kinda hot.
December 7, 2007
Go Like This
Lorrie Moore hurts my feelings.
I picked up a copy of Self-Help the other day, after reading about it on Sarah's blog.
Her stories are dead on. Her writing is piercing — sometimes inspiring me to whip out my pen and notebook, and sometimes just taunting me, saying "go back to branding (or maybe become the fry guy at Mickey D's), you'll never be as good as this, so why bother?"
"He swallows with some difficulty, his wonderful Adam's apple, gliding up and down his throat, a tiny flesh elevator ..."
"I inhale four times with the drama of the first amphibian."
"She (her crying daughter) laid her head in my lap like a leaky egg."
And those are just tips of the icebergs.
She really is an amazing writer. Reading her is (almost) like taking a writing seminar (without having to go all the way to Madison, Wisconsin ... brrr ... where she teaches).
I seem to have found a slew of talented prose spinners them this year: Amanda Davis, Greg Bottoms, Panos Karnezis.
December 5, 2007
Extra! Extra! Read All About It
A few tidbits to share ...
Tales of the Decongested has selected one of my short pieces for their December reading. If you can, pop over Foyles on Charing Cross Road next Friday, December 14 at 7pm for a glass of wine and some short fiction.
Bob's Yer Uncle has been nominated for Best UK GLBT Blog in the 2007 GLBT Verve Awards. I'm honored, especially since I'm in wonderful company and this is my second year of being nominated in this category. So go over there and vote for me (please) so I don't have to go all "always a bridesmaid" on you. And while you're there, why not give Sticky Crows some voting love ... the always charming (and consummate Scrabbler) Tornwordo is nominated for Best Canadian Blog.
Speaking of the northern neighbors, a certain Canadian who is near and dear to our hearts resigned today from his place of employment, after 20+ years of service. After much shrewd negotiation, several consultations with a Magic 8-Ball, and the tossing of a few entrail-covered chicken bones, he's decided to move on to greener pastures. A huge change, eh, and one that will no doubt make the new year full of even more adventures for both of us (and we most definitely will be staying in the city for the foreseeable future — in fact, you might say we're bullish on London). I'm psyched for him. Bring on the garden leave.
That's all for now, but there are still some irons in the fire we're not talking about.
December 4, 2007
Tuesday 200 - #69
Mild mannered Miles McMeekly stood in line at Whole Paycheck Foods, patiently waiting to purchase his overpriced organics. Ahead of him, a Botoxed Barbie seemed oddly overstrung for a mother who brandished a “Peaceful Pilates” yoga mat across her back, like a Samurai sword of serenity. Her daughter, a fidgety midgety duplicate of herself, was displaying displeasure, recently disallowed to devour a dollop of fair-trade, ethical chocolate.
“Ellie, I swear, one more peep and I’m going to explode,” Barbie barked.
In a flash invisible to mortal eyes, Miles McMeekly magically mutated into his canard-quashing alter-ego — Viscount Verity, the Veracity Vigilante.
Verity yanked the pixie's pigtail like a panicky skydiver pulling his spare chute’s ripcord once the first had failed. Ellie screamed louder than the aforementioned fainthearted free-faller.
“Take heed, Madame,” Verity boomed over the six-year-old’s squeals, while handing her a two-pound bag of M&Ms. “Your progeny peeped and yet there you stand, decidedly unexploded. Ipso facto you are deemed an indubitable liar!” With a slash of his scepter, he lashed an ‘L’ into her leotard.
“Anon, I must bid you adieu. A clerk in cheese proclaims she can’t cook to save her life. We’ll see about that.”
December 3, 2007
Better than Ice Cream
On a whim, we got tickets yesterday morning to see Barbara Cook and Friends last night. It was a benefit performance for World AIDS Day (a day late) supporting Interact Worldwide, which is an international AIDS charity based here in the UK.
The concert was amazing. Ms Cook is now 80 years old (another reason for the evening's celebration) and is every bit as vibrant on stage as the last time I saw her (some five years ago at Lincoln Center). She is a spectacular performer, her vocals as strong as any of the whipper-snappers she shared the stage with. The fact that she filled the house with an un-miked version of "Some Other Time", which was simply beautiful, was a testament to the art of vocal performance.
Her friends included Ruthie Henshall, Siân Phillips, and a slightly over-the-top Elaine Page (who sang "I Know Him So Well" as a solo and a very dramatic "Cry Me a River").
Aside from Ms Cook's brilliantly understated "No More/No One is Alone" (which had me weeping and subsequently listening to Into the Woods for a good portion of today, the highlight of the evening for me was a number I'd never heard before from an artist I didn't know — Sally Ann Triplett. She sang a hauntingly beautiful ballad about a suicidal young woman called (as best I can tell) "East River Calling." I can't find anything out about the song, but I'd love to get my hands on a recording of it. Anybody know it or who wrote it? Is it from a show?
No more questions.
I might not be thrilled about the Spice Girls, but I think I've earned extra points on my gay card with last night's stroll down musical theatre memory lane.
Witches can be right. Giants can be good.
You decide what's right, you decide what's good.
Happy Birthday to Barbara Cook, and thank you for the show.