Thursday, May 27, 2010

BitchBuzz: Relax!

My latest column features something I know a bit about these days: relaxing!

The other night I joined my intrepid editor for the launch of Starbucks's new Discoveries drinks, who partnered with  Mills & Boon for the evening. 

The publishing giant apparently conducted a study that demonstrated that most women found it difficult to carve out time for themselves on a daily basis. I'm sure this comes as a surprise to few of us over-achieving, workaholic, multi-taskers. 

The importance of this for women cannot be overstated. Just look at the statistics about how heart attacks are climbing for women due to stress. I know all the excuses, but I don't want to hear that you are indispensable, can't stop now, there are just too many things to be done. Women don't just hold up half the sky, we hold up at least half the stress in the world, too.

I have a new publication, too. More on that shortly. I've been busy writing my paper to give in Northampton Friday. Looking forward to the fun.Had a lovely lunch yesterday with my pal, Roger Sabin in Red Lion Square: yes, everything seems to lead back to Alan Moore.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

London on Video

Here's some quick videos (courtesy of my new Flip camera) just to give a flavour of my day Thursday, a quite wonderful day. I had lunch with Adele and Mark from UnBound, then Adele and I made our way from Victoria toward Soho, stopping at a couple of pubs that looked interesting and saying hello to squirrels in St. James Park. We met up with some of the book bloggers that Adele knows who were gathering for a big signing at Forbidden Planet.

I headed off to see Four Lions, Chris Morris' new film at the Curzon which was followed by a Q&A with Morris, one of his co-writers and a couple of cast members. The film treads an uneasy line between comedy and terrorism with a good bit of success. There's a normalising influence from the comedy of the story, yet there's no shrinking from dealing with the lethal nature of the bombing plans. Because I was hanging out with Hamilton and Hind, who seem to know just about everybody, we also chatted with Morris after the Q&A. In contrast to his edgy image, he's a real sweetie.

Afterward we (H&H and friends) went to the pub (of course) and had the usual post-film discussions and wandering of to all kinds of topics that nights like this generally involve. After the pub closed, we headed to Leicester Square and a late coffee. A fun day, but also long, so Friday has had to be a work day (writing, writing). Hoping to catch a matinee on Saturday. More news as I live it :-)

Friday, May 21, 2010

BitchBuzz: Poetry and Protest

In a rush, but here's a link to my column at BitchBuzz. Video to post later!

While it's faded a bit from the news, the Twitter joke trial (#twitterjoketrial) will have a lingering impact, not only for its outrageous assault on reason and human rights, but for its less immediate effects on humour. 

In case you missed it, the brief story is young man in love (or lust -- does it really matter?) is ready to fly off to see the woman he'd formed an attachment to via the net. If you're still snickering at internet match-ups, I'm sure you must be one of those folks lucky enough to meet fabulously interesting folks in drunken pub crawls or on blind dates set up by your friends (yes, that weird guy they thought was "perfect for you" is an indication of what they think you will settle for).

However, when Paul Chambers set off to fly from Nottingham to Ireland, only to be met by delays (anxiously watching the ash reports myself this past week, I can relate). Among the frustrated tweets he sent was the mocking, "Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your sh*t together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!"
Yes, it is stupid to make jokes about bombing airports. But is it really worth giving a criminal record (apparently killing his career) and a £1000 fine over that kind of stupid remark?

Thursday, May 20, 2010


What I'm doing in London:

I do feel a bit intimidated by riding in so much traffic, but it's certainly cheaper in the long run and sometimes, faster and more direct. And yes, good exercise. Yesterday cycled to the Tate Modern. Two new shows setting up, so a wander through the regular exhibits -- miss the Rothkos so much! -- and a pub lunch at the Founders Arms, Thameside. Never noticed before that their menu, which features the skyline along the river with buildings identified, points out that the BT Tower was destroyed by Twinkle 1972. :-D

Today lunch with Adele and then Q & A with Chris Morris after Four Lions. Yes, I am going to remember to take my new Flip camera along and take some video to post. No, not biking it today.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Anxiously Waiting

At present, it looks like the flight is on. We shall see things develop as the day rolls on. I realise that I never got a new camera after breaking the viewing screen on mine last summer. Hmmm. In the meantime, here's my theme song for the flight.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

At Elena's

My company in the bedroom at Elena's this weekend: the orange mannequin and the gorilla in the wheelchair. Never walked into the room once without starting at the mannequin, thinking it was someone sitting at the computer. We had fun last night, drinking Bubbly Bisons (prosecco + Zubrowka) and watching The Women, yakking and yukking. Miss Wendy is moving away to Mississippi and it's the last chance we would all have to share such a night for a while, so it was a bittersweet. But we had some fantastic pizza and lots of fun. Plenty of puppytime, too, with the Steier pack.

Happy Anniversary, Elena and Rod! Good luck apartment hunting next week, Miss Wendy.  Now let's see if that volcano will let me depart Monday (grrrr).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

BitchBuzz: Hate Facebook?

My latest column at

It's the end of the world as we know it! Where's Buffy?! She's averted several apocalypses (apocalypseé? apocalypso?) already. Cameron's behind this somehow, or Goldman-Sachs, I bet. Oh, wait -- it's only Zuckerberg?

For a minute there, I was worried.

Yes, as the guys at Wired have warned us, Facebook has you in its sights on the path toward world domination:

"Facebook has gone rogue, drunk on founder Mark Zuckerberg’s dreams of world domination. It’s time the rest of the web ecosystem recognizes this and works to replace it with something open and distributed."

Yes, it's true: the forced public option is a bit of a bastard. Settle down, tea-baggers, we're not talking about that public option. But to hear some tech folk talk about it, you'd think we were. And yes, something "open and distributed" would be wonderful. Hop right on that, will you? On your own time, with your own funds and support, too, okay? Because I'm not paying for it. There's the rub, as someone once said. And until we do actually get some socialists in charge, we're stuck with the evils of capitalism...

As always, read the rest at BBHQ. I managed to work in a reference to both Buffy and EL Wisty, so I am pleased with myself. Loads of things to do and I am making my way through the (cough) hundreds of emails in my campus inbox and there are a few things that MUST be done before I go (like laundry, sob!). Yeesh -- back to it now.

As long as you're idling your time on the internet, go check out the video I made for The Women's League of Ale Drinkers: talking robots!

By the by: thanks Todd, for inadvertently setting me off on this column's idea by emailing me the Wired link just after I was watching an old Buffy episode and -- the rest is history as they say. This is what happens when you know a writer; we use everything! The world is our buffalo.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jane Quiet Returns!

Elena's got a new comic up at our Jane Quiet web jam page. Whoo hoo!

This is the start of the second issue or arc, I suppose we ought to say as it's on-line. Where did this start? I believe it was me combining Elena's love of drawing dancing babes, my fondness for Johnny Vegas, and a peculiar haunting.

And um, a little John Donne -- but you don't need to know that.

Check it out and leave a comment at the site.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Byron by Way of East Cheam

Ah, Hancock! Not to mention Sid James and John Le Mesurier -- and of course, script by Galton and Simpson.

Busy busy busy -- so much to get done this week before I run away. Somehow it will all get done, right? Wait -- wasn't the end of the semester supposed to be the end of stress? Well, I have a paper to write and a lot of tasks to finish; yet I'm thinking about a book trailer for Pelzmantel and what it should include...

Saturday, May 08, 2010

It's not until things are broken...

...that you realise what they mean to you. The wonky window just blew out and smashed off one ear and one foot of my wombat.

I could blame the landlord for never getting around to fixing the wonky window.

I can blame myself for putting the wombat there on the window sill next to Ganesha (who, being more wise, escaped harm). All things considered, it was a stupid place.

I could blame my attachment to material things that the Buddha would tell me is the source of all misery.

I am sweeping up the pieces.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Pelzmantel: Cover with Lettering

Very happy! Doesn't it just look wonderful? Even the lettering seems to capture the magical feeling of the story -- I love the way it swirls.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

I'm So Very Sorry (Maybe)

My latest column for BitchBuzz examines the gendering of apology, based on a couple of events you may or may not have heard about unless, like me, you monitor all media like a Bond villain (yes, Kipper helps):

Here's a study in contrasts: As our own Rebecca Thomson reported, there was a brouhaha about laddish mag Zoo's agony aunt/actor/footballer-wannabe Danny Dyer's 'advice' to a reader, advising him to cut his ex's face so no one else will want to date her.

After the Twitter flurry, the mag posted a corporate 'apology':

Due to an extremely regrettable production error, an inappropriate and indefensible response to a letter has appeared in this week's issue.

ZOO editor, Tom Etherington, apologises unreservedly for any offence the response may have caused and has launched an internal enquiry to ensure lessons are learnt.

Zoo and Danny Dyer condemn any violence against women. A donation will be made to Women's Aid.

Production error, eh? Yeah, no one really believes that, but that's their story and they're sticking to it. A little grudging admission of error and token donation and DONE. You can almost hearing them washing their hands of this little annoyance...

As always, read the rest at BBHQ and see how Ellen Degeneres and clubbing baby seals fits into the story. I will finally be able to turn in all my grades today, I think, and be truly free of the semester's duties (so I can turn to all the things I've had to ignore in the last few weeks, sigh). Right now, I'm just waiting around for UPS who have irked me more than necessary this week. Grrr. I was hoping to catch a matinee this afternoon, but I guess it will depend on when the driver gets here.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

My Students: Full of Awesome

Two grad students who are doing independent studies with me also made music videos to go with their projects. I don't think I can link to Kira's video on Facebook (a mash-up of Tipping the Velvet and the Brandi Carlile song "I Was Made for You"), but I can link to Caitlin's video for Lady Gaga's "Teeth" that encapsulates the argument for her paper on the appeal of much-maligned series like Twilight and Flowers in the Attic for young female readers.

They inspired another student to make a fan vid (go, Annie!). Now I'm itching to make a book trailer for me! I've made some for a friend, but haven't got around to my own yet.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Branding Redux

One outcome of this weekend that was mostly frittered away in drinking and laughing with friends (fair enough, eh?) and eating bacon (mmmmm, bacon) was that I had a brain storm of an idea for the elusive branding concept. As I have mentioned before here, the concept of branding your work to establish a clear identity for what you do (no one has any doubt what Nora Roberts' name on a book means, or Stephen King's) has proved challenging for me. So, my latest idea for the apparently 'essential' brand? As the author of Pelzmantel and Unikirja (not to mention stories like "Kerttu," "Wordgeryne" and "Palakainen") my brilliant slogan for my writing is:

Hard to spell; easy to read.

What do you think? Have a lassoed a winner?

Final presentations for the last class tomorrow at the ungodly hour of 8. Then it's all over but the grading and final grading requires no comments. Hurrah. With luck I can send off the essay on medieval magic for Pelz, too. It's been tough trying to balance obscure fascinating facts and an entertaining tone accessible to any reader. Here's hoping.