A few days late, I'm reacting to the Golden Globe wins for The Social Network and The King's Speech. Jesse Eisenberg's Facebookland got way more awards than the other major contender where about class warfare and class consciousness factored in the plot.
This surprises me not at all. From the opening scene where fictional Mark Zuckerberg dumps Erica Albright because he thinks she hints he doesn't have the pedigree to make it in the clubs, the story becomes about retaliation against elitism. It kicks unsuspecting Americans in the guts that a software product that so connects people around the world now started out as in such an elite atmosphere. The sweet irony that fictional Mark is no better at connecting with people at the end of the movie than at the beginning justifies the price of admission. Great flick and very deserving.
The King's Speech, also a great movie, does not resonate so well with Americans. We get all a-tingle at the obligatory scene where Myrtle Logue finds the Queen of the Realm in her parlor panders to our expectations, but the class divisions seem more murky to us. The power of the class-transcending friendship is a bit lost on us Yanks.
Good for the Golden Globe. I wonder what the Academy will do.
The start of NaNoWriMo 2010 is only one week away! I was a winner in 2008, when I did it completely by the book. I also tried again in March of 2009, but gave up when my favorite aunt died half way through. In November 2009, I didn't get much further either.
I have been an avowed NaNoWriMo Luddite until now. I've written all my novels or partial novels by hand in fancy Maruman Cover Note notebooks from Japan. This year, I will try authoring with FastPencil, a company that graciously provides a free on-line editing software especially designed for book writers. Using FastPencil also has the advantage of not having to keep endless track of memory sticks and where the latest version is and, whoops, I don't have it with me - it's on my husband's laptop and he's out of town! The downside of FastPencil will be wi-fi. If there's no wi-fi, there's no progress.
Facing this year's efforts to write 50,000 words of a new novel leaves me a bit bereft. I followed the NaNoWriMo bible, No Plot, No Problem: A High-Velocity, Low-Stress Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days, so closely that I transferred all my scenes to index cards and laid them out so I could view the glory of my labors (as recommended on page 166). As you can see, there are 17 chapters, but I've only sent the first five through my writers group.
It took me one year to get my 2008 novel transcribed and another year to create the outline? I'm not the speediest worker. Now I want to do it again?!? My thinking on this is as follows: the NaNoWriMo Bible mentions that we are to let our work rest before we review it, so while I'm leaving it alone, I can finish editing my first one!
Some friends of mine just got back from running a marathon in Duluth MN. They gave it rave reviews, said it was the best-run marathon they've experienced. The buses arrived early so they didn't have to wait in the muggy pre-dawn midWestern chill to get a ride to the start of the race. They loved the low-key, casual laid-back atmosphere at the restaurants in downtown Duluth. They smiled at the "don't'cha know"s from waiters, volunteers and receptionists. The ratio between volunteers and runners was so high that everyone they asked on the street knew all about the race and where runners needed to go and what they needed to do.
My friend loved that she met a 70-year-old woman who wanted to run the race in 4:13, but was upset when she went five minutes over and finished at 4:18. My friend, younger than 70, could only manage a time of 4:47. They loved that they could see the finish line landmark from 20 miles away around the curve of the lake.
They said the Kenyan runners, treated like royalty, walked the streets of Duluth. Before the race, they would look around, eat in the restaurants, mingle with the commoners. The Kenyans, of course, are there to win the races. The top runner at the 2010 race ran 26.1 miles in 2 hours and 15 minutes, not a course record, but still quite fast. After the race, the Kenyans walked through town with arms full of roses.
I love it that we have a world where African natives can and will visit Duluth MN and be welcomed and treated with great respect and that an entire town pitches in to make it all happen.
If I ever run, er, participate in a marathon, I may go to Duluth.
I finished Marc Sandalow's book on Nancy Pelosi, Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi's Life, Times, and Rise to Power, at almost the same time that Congress passed health care reform and President Obamba signed it into law. I wonder if Marc Sandalow feels he published this book a bit early: it ends with Nancy Pelosi becoming Speaker of the House. I also wonder if he is planning a new, updated edition.
Here are things I learned from Sandalow's portrayal of Nancy Pelosi:
Always keep the friendship in your voice.
Never lose your composure, unless there's a good reason
Keep a "favors file" - a trick she learned from her father, a Congressman from Baltimore.
What an exciting time! I congratulate Speaker Pelosi and someday will start the book she wrote.
The biography of Warren Buffett by Alice Schroeder (The Snowball) decribes Buffett's relationship and friendship with Katherine Graham. These antecdotes were among the many surprises I've enjoyed about Snowball. Schroeder's descriptions of Graham have made me want to read Robin Gerber's biography about Graham, (Katharine Graham: The Leadership Journey of an American Icon) that came out a few years back.
Amazon recently begin broadcasting a TV ad for the Kindle. The ad features a pretty woman who has adventures as a pilot, a bicycle rider, a trapper or hunter in buckskins, a showgirl and a magician. The song ("Fly Me Away") and ad, both performed by Annie Little, sounds charming and looks charming initially. Once I looked at it more closely, I grew to dislike it a great deal.
The woman experiences all her grand adventures while lying flat on a floor. Unseen hands dress, pose, and undress her, then dress her again. The ad consists of video with jump cuts that show the intermediate stages of these costume changes. In a couple frames her clothes are shown half off her body, while her knees are folded off to one side and her arms are spread bare against a pale blue background.
I understand the point. The ad is supposed to mean that Kindle books carry readers away on amazing adventures. However, I don't care for the image of a woman posing like a cutout doll, like a paraplegic. I do not like the symbolism of the passive woman controlled by someone else.
No, thank you, Amazon. Won't be buying a Kindle anytime soon.
How is it that, when I can barely keep up with this long-time blog, I wind up with three?! And one Twitter feed so far (or 3 if you count the other people I help with theirs, including the occassional update) and a Facebook page. I must say spraying the Internet with my thoughts and events in my life seems much more natural and acceptable than it did when I started this blog six years ago.
Even so, I'll try not to cross-post too much. I expect that this blog will become my place to vent and reduce some stress because the other ones are more associated with my actual name. Things change.
When the maple leaves start to turn orange and drop to the wet ground when the rains turn cold, I always think of my favorite city, Chicago. The perfume of wet, freshly fallen maple leaves takes me back to the mid-80s, when I spent all my weekends in Chicago to escape the quirky college I attended in my least favorite town,Kankakee
My best friend lived on the South Side and she married a guy from housing projects on the Near North Side. She dropped out of college when she got pregnant and moved in with her in-laws. I was a farm girl and ate up all that urban grit. The knife fights, the make-out sessions with my friend's brother-in-law in the bedroom upstairs with the radio turn low, the showers with no water pressure, the pick-up basketball games, the gigantic blocks of WIC cheese, the problem of not being able to get a job because even your address wasn't good enough. My friends' joy of living, the passion for trying to make a decent life, a safe life, and their intense loyalty to a city that challenged and nurtured them was unlike anything I had known in anyone in the flat corn country where I grew up.
Back in those college days, we prowled the waterfront parks at night, haunted the cheapest diners, maybe went roller-skating or out for pizza at Gino's East when one of us got paid. As the lake crusted over with ice and the need for me to study and my friends to make money, we moved on and lost touch.
My life brought me to Chicago in an October 20 years later for one of the city's cursed marathons, I enjoyed the city even when I had money to go to restaurants, stay at hotels in the Loop downtown, and to take an architecture tour to gawk at the first skyscrapers ever built and the new ones being built. Chicago was like me! (Or at least I like to think so.) Chicago had succeeded just as I had. It felt like we reached a comfortable, prosperous middle age at the same time. The Millenium Park expresses for me the city's joy about being prosperous and talented and, let's face it, fun. That fountain with the faces that spit waterfalls? Who couldn't love that? The Bean, the highly polished stainless steel mass, reflects the entire skyline or your own face depending on where you stand. And let's not forget the night Obama won when thousands gathered in hope that Chicago's mojo would rub off on the world
With all the attention focused on Chicago in the past year, I started a novel based on my experience. Thinking of my friends made me long to try to make contact yet again and, once again, I search on Facebook. This time - about 20,000 words in, I found them!
We met again this year after twenty years and more apart. We spent time together as soon as I could fly to O'Hare and we spent the day sailing on Lake Michigan in their sailboat on a glorious summer day.The years slipped away and the joy returns when we talked of how much we meant to each other and how often we thought of each other and I try to stay only a little jealous that they never left Chicago at all. I was delighted they fulfilled their dreams, they have prospered and that my book could yet have a happy ending!