Friday, June 29, 2007


Say it along with me, brothers and sisters: "WOO-HOO!"

(Scornful look) Well, that was just pathetic. Not even sorry - just pathetic. You're telling me that's the best you can do? How do you expect anyone to hear you with that sort of limp, half-hearted "woohoo" - a statement of exuberance that should be made with exclamation points, rather than measly question marks??

For you see, brothers and sisters, the last chapter is done! Well - okay. It's not so much "finished" as it is "drafted" but from where I sit, that is certainly an event worthy of a "WOO-HOO!" So give it another try, please. From the diaphragm this time.

Much better.

Now, there's much work to do in the next two months. Everything has to be edited and stitched together and my MLA citation knowledge is, well - "lacking" would be a polite term. But I have help lined up with that and fortunately, everything (with the exceptions of this chapter and the conclusion) has gone through the editing mill twice, so hopefully, putting the final draft together won't be something out of Dante. This project has just been such a huge part of my life for the last eighteen months and now it's a big ol' step closer to completion. I think I'm entitled to a few moments of "gee willikers, I wrote a book that they want to publish" to offset the sheer bloody terror of how the whole thing will be received by fans and scholars alike.

But that's for later. If you'll pardon me, I have to dance around my living room. I may not even draw the blinds first, I'm that giddy.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Midsummer Revelry

It's the summer solstice today, meaning that it's the longest day of the entire year and the official beginning of summer. Having taught MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM in the last few weeks, I've been on the lookout for fairies. It's also the last day of my summer school session. Taken together, the combination has put me in a somewhat frivolous mood and I'm going to borrow an idea a couple of my friends are working with for this entry in hopes that we get to know one another a little better. The idea is to list ten quirky things that may not be readily apparent from a first impression of me. Now, this is difficult as I am, at least according to some, the uncrowned Queen of Quirk. But let's see.

1. I'm a biological mutant. Honest and for true. Has to do with the thumbs - no gills or webbed toes. As a mutant, I suppose that qualifies me for at least a try out with the X-Men and yes, I have my code name already picked out.
2. Yes, I'm a comic geek. And no, I don't "collect for value" - toys are meant to be played with. In fact, one of my proudest moments came when I was watching one of the X-Men movies with a couple of nephews and my brother-in-law and I tried to settle a point of contention between my quarreling nephews. My b-i-l settled the matter by saying, "Boys, she's forgotten more about the X-Men than you know. Hush now."
3. I tried very hard to be a grown-up for several years, going so far as to become a member of the Bar. Don't tell me "not to make a Federal case out of it;" I know how. And I have a license to do it.
4. I was a miserably unhappy lawyer. I'm quite a joyous comic geek. I may be so broke I re-use tin foil, but by crickey! I wouldn't switch places with anyone in a bank-wall-grey suit.
5. I once rode an elephant. No, I didn't use spurs.
6. As a child, I was very confused about just how cardinals elected the Pope. I mean, they're just those little red birds and just how did they all get to Rome, anyway?
7. I am physically incapable of not making my bed in the morning. I think this stems from a very small apartment I lived in for a few years. At any rate, I usually even make the bed in a hotel. Twisted, I know.
8. I like museums and often seek them out, even on vacation. Modern art, especially. Yet the work of my favorite artist is hard to find.
9. I sing when I drive, but only when I drive alone. But then it's loud and horribly off-key. I know this and don't care a whit. If you catch me at a stop light, just smile and wave.
10. I'm convinced that (a) there is a God, (b) that She (or He, or It - whatever) is benevolent, (c) that God looks after fools and madmen (along with a couple of other groups), and lastly (d) that's no reason for me to act like a moron and expect Divine intervention.

Hmmm. Yeah, that'll do for a start.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Family Mottoes and Heritage

I enjoy collecting quotations - so much so, that I have a banner of sticky notes adorning a doorway in my house. That got me to thinking about family mottoes, coats of arms and so forth. You know, some visual representation of how wealthy, mighty, clever, bloodthirsty, etc. a family was.

Now, my family does not have an official coat of arms. You won't find us in Burke's Peerage or the Social Register or any of that ilk. However, if we WERE to have a battle cry to strike fear and terror into the hearts of our enemies on the battlefield, I'm pretty sure it would be "Never pay retail!" (C'mon, I'm pretty sure that if you translate that into Latin, it'd sound darned impressive. I'm willing to offer a shiny nickel to the first Gentle Reader to properly translate that for me. Graphic artists should also feel free to submit suggestions for a coat of arms to go along with the fierce battle cry. A raven holding something shiny in her sharp talons would be a good start.)

At any rate, today I cantered onto the field of battle to test my mettle by jousting against hapless retail clerks. My goal - to complete my Whedon collection of DVDs by obtaining the middle three seasons of ANGEL. Somehow, I had the first and fifth, but nothing in between - it was high time this injustice was addressed and rectified. Besides, Best Buy was running a sale.

Now, I have to buy on sale. It's in my blood; don't blame me. But yes, I'll agree that it's a little like hunting the wounded. Then again, if I buy it, I'm putting it out of its misery, and that's a kindness, right? Heaven knows, I display my best kills along the walls of the living room. "Yes, quite right, Quigley, old chap. Bagged that one on a journey down the Amazon. (Amazon dot com, that is.) Fierce fight he put up, too. They do that while protecting their young, don't you know. Thought I'd have to walk away at one point when he refused to give me the discount, but finally he was made to see reason. Field-dressed him before he could change his mind and he's been there on the second shelf ever since."

The rain was slashing down, just like in a good post-noir film. Perhaps I was to be the femme fatale of the piece, utilizing my feminine wiles to get my way with a wink and a wiggle. No - that image won't hold. I neither heard smoky saxophones playing as I slid my legs from the car to the Ridley Scott-wet pavement nor was I wearing a trench coat and calmly smoking a cigarette as I awaited the arrival of my feckless accomplice.

Best to stick with the jousting image. My trusty steed was sure-footed and got me to a prime parking spot. He's been loyal to me, but the final retail battle must be mano a mano. He knows this and even nickered softly, wishing me well, as I strode onto the field. I was able to swiftly spot two of my three targets, but the third was well concealed and it looked as if I would have to leave without full satisfaction. A few minutes of steely negotiation tempered with humor then ensued. My efforts were greatly aided by the magic shield of an Internet coupon, which they really shouldn't have honored, but this is where the other weapons of a true Knight can be brought into play. A Discount Knight worth her spurs has quite an arsenal at her disposal and her sense of what blade to use at what time has been carefully honed through many years of training at swap meets, yard sales, auctions and so forth before even considering tackling the Goliath of a national chain. (Let us not speak at this time of the Great Beast known only by the whispered name of "Day After Thanksgiving." To say his name is to grant him power.) My third target was located, hiding away back in the stockroom, no doubt hoping to avoid detection. Realizing the hopelessness of their situation, all three targets were subdued and bagged.

With a swipe of a credit card and a (hopefully dazzling) smile, the transaction was completed and my blood lust satisfied. As I swaggered towards the automated double doors, I think I heard this exchange in my wake.

"Just what exactly was she?"
"That - that was a Discount Knight, son. And be glad there was only one of her; if they'd been hungry enough to travel in a pack, you wouldn't have this story to tell your grandchildren. She was feeling generous - she only cut our prices."

I think I heard my spurs jingle-jangle.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Similar to the Truth, Good Things Are Out There

That's something I need to remember from time to time. The last ten days or so have been mostly defined by stress, worry and incredulity that humans treat each other the way they do (see previous post).

But, as I have so often tried to remind myself, woe is not me.

I thought it might be a good idea to concentrate on some of the "good stuff" that's going on. Most of it is tiny, but I've heard it said that the wise never confuse "small" with "insignificant." So think of this as a list of Ten Things That Make Mockingbird Smile, even if she's tired and aggravated.

1. Foam on cappuccino. Why, oh why, do the English get this right while we do not? Any (and I mean any) corner pub has better coffee/milk concoctions than I can get here, unless I go to a shop that specifically "does" coffee.
2. Friends who know me well enough to stay away at certain times and to drag me out into the sunshine at others. And who loan me books that make me snort because the laughs sneak up on me so fast.
3. Feeling that, while the world just may be going to hell without the benefit of a handbasket, I'm not helpless about that. Go to and order a Dua Khalil T-shirt. When the curious ask you what it means, tell them about the atrocity of "honor killings" and then tell them that you remember her. Maybe it's only an itsy ripple in the pool, but it's a start. And everything needs a start.
4. Walking through my neighborhood with Spooky in the cool of morning.
5. Eating home-grown tomatoes - not from the straw bale garden yet, but from the porch containers. The experience of picking your own food, briefly rinsing it, then eating it when it's still warm from the sun shining outside - well, it borders on decadent.
6. Television that takes the slant that humans (at least some of us) often choose to do the right thing, instead of the easy thing. I owe Joss Whedon and Russell Davies fruit baskets.
7. Knowing that it's now instead of five (or worse, six) years back. Even typing that made me smile.
8. Getting postcards from exotic places. It's always nice when the mail contains something other than bills and coupons for carpet cleaning services or gutter coverings. And Hong Kong harbor at night looks like some sort of set in a futuristic movie.
9. Sunglasses and Southern rock on the radio. "Green Grass and High Tides" for the good times and whoa, boy! "Whipping Post" for the bad. So I guess I should add The Outlaws and the Allman Brothers to the list, although I never thought that would happen. Then again, I tend to be a musical mutt. Right now, Mozart's playing and last night, I was blasting Black 47 and imagining myself plotting revolution. But in the sparkling June sunshine - yeah, Southern rock. Now if I could just get my hands on a ragtop . . .
10. Knowing that I have people who care enough about me to get concerned when my cell phone dies when I'm in mid-sentence. Gotta keep that thing charged!

Well, I feel better now. How 'bout you?