An historical author shares her obsessions with books, tea, chocolate, wine, and whatever takes her fancy!
Monday, October 31, 2005
Halloween is here!
Yay!!! Halloween is here! This will be a short post--I just posted at Risky Regencies (on spooky elements in classical music!), and am trying to get the dogs into their costumes. Victoria is a cowgirl this year, and Abigail is a ballerina, but she keeps trying to chew on her tutu. But the comments on my last post, re: movies like Haunted Summer and Gothic, and the new BBC version of a Byron biopic, had me thinking. The story of Byron and his Romantic poet pals seems ripe for a great movie--lots of weird, paranormal things, sex, great clothes, fabulous houses, sex, Italy, sex. But is it possible to get it "right"? Or is Byron one of those fascinating, charismatic figures from the past (much like Christopher Marlowe), who still fascinate us today but whose lives are realy sort of "unfilmable"?
My question is this--who would you cast as Byron? Is there anyone out there who would really suit the part? (Maybe Johnny Depp in his younger days--I dunno. And Jonathan Rhys Myers might be good as Marlowe). What about his friends, like Shelley?
Have a great Halloween! See you back here tomorrow when the cobwebs come down. And I don't remember this nurse costume at all, the note on the back of the photo says I'm 3 here. I do like the way the yellow plastic hair blends with our old "harvest gold" fridge. :)
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Halloween is tomorrow!
Tomorrow is the big holiday! I tested out my costume last night ( a"winter fairy" with a borrowed sparkly tiare), and it seems to work well. Those long, drapey sleeves are a pain for driving, though. The fog machine is ready, and the big orange pumpkin is full of candy.
Over at Risky Regencies, there has been a lot of talk about scary things in history, Gothic novels (remember those? Heroines running away along cliffs in their nighties?), lots of fun things. It reminded me of a movie I saw ages ago, probably in high school, though I can't remember the name or any of the actors in it (maybe Kay will remember). It was about Byron and Shelley and their pals, all gathered in Italy to talk about Frankenstein-ish stuff and have sex with each other. I remember it was huge fun, in a guilty-pleasure way, and might be good viewing for this season (since I am a wuss and can't handle things like The Exorcist).
My friend Rinda (who, BTW, throws a seriously great Halloween party) has a new website offering hilarious, writer-related items like t-shirts, mugs, etc. I especially like the "My Spirit Guide Thinks You're Hot" shirt. Check it out at http://www.cafepress.com/thewritesnark
And today's pic is Halloween in the third grade. :)
Friday, October 28, 2005
Two days until Halloween!
Just two more days until Halloween!!! This is now officially "Halloween weekend," since there are parties and other spooky things going on for the next three nights. This really is my favorite holiday, as it combines so many things I love--like dressing up and candy.
Mmmm--candy. So, yesterday I asked which was better, mojito or cosmos (I had just gone to a "mojito special" night with some friends, and thought they were pretty yummy. But not quite good enough to permanently replace those old standbys Cosmos and Chocolatinis). Now, which Halloween candy is the best? I like those tiny little Almond Joys and baby Heath bars, but there are things to be said for KitKats and Snickers.
And yes, I will be increasing those yoga classes from three times a week to four. And maybe taking up jogging. :) In the meantime, I'm posting a pic of Halloween in the second grade. I was a hula dancer, but I remember it rained so hard and was so freezing cold that night that I had to wear a coat over my costume and get my dad to drive my friends and me door to door to collect our loot.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
I noticed my friend Megan Frampton blogged a couple days ago about those "how to write/writer's life" lists and their questions about "The Muse", how to summon it, succor it, whatever. I have also seen posts like this, and they always make me feel bad because, well, I don't think I have Muse. Maybe this is my big problem as a writer. I do have a very tiny elf that sits on my shoulder and shrieks in my ear, "Dammit, Amanda, quit blog-hopping and write your stupid book! Car insurance doesn't pay for itself, y'know!" It's very irritating, and I'm pretty sure would never be placated by scented candles and annoying music. I'd much rather have a Muse, which sounds so pleasant and pretty. Maybe it could even look like Orlando.
The British magazine "Total Film" recently announced that they have a list of the Top 100 Bestest Films Ever (because no one has done THAT before), but thus far they have only revealed their Top 10. Here are the Tippy Top 5: GoodFellas, Vertigo, Jaws, Fight Club, Godfather Part II. To this list I can only say--WTF?
Which is better, a cosmo or a mojito?
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
If you're anything like me (i.e. facsinated by supremely goofy things) you've probably checked out this site many times before, but it's worth another look for such classics as Magical Trevor, Only in Kenya, and the badgers. Guaranteed to stick in your head and drive you insane. :)
Sunday, October 23, 2005
So, I got my Orlando fix yesterday, and went to the movies with my friend Kelli (another Orlando-phile) to see ELIZABETHTOWN. This was a bit of a mixed bag, though I would definitely recommend it, because the parts that were good were very good, and the parts that weren't so good weren't "horrid", just annoying because they took away from the good parts (clear enough for you?). I saw on Roger Ebert's review today (I don't really like to read too many reviews before I see a movie, but do check them out afterwards) that 18 minutes were cut from the original version, the one seen at Toronto. IMO, they should have cut more. The aunt and uncle, the "Free Bird" cousin and his annoying kid, the multiple discussions of cremation vs. burial in the blue suit, the long stand-up routine by Susan Sarandon that (I'm sorry) just brings the film to a screeching halt--they need to go. Orlando and Kirsten Dunst were adorable, and their super-cute romance and Drew's own personal journey should have been the number one focus at all times. The extra-long phone call and the road trip were terrific (he was in OKC, and we missed it!!! Waaa!), the goofy Southern couple Chuck and Cindy and their nuptial celebrations were hilarious. And Orlando was gorgeous. So--thumbs up, with a few reservations. Now I'm looking forward to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and the new Zorro movie.
It made a great break from the research fest on Tudor England, that's for sure. And now I can blog about it, and thus waste time not vacuuming or making the bed or getting ready for work tomorrow. Perfect. And speaking of tomorrow--I'll be at Risky Regencies, so visit me there. Back here Tuesday.
And, yes, I know the pic isn't from ELIZABETHTOWN, it's from KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, but I like it, so here it is. :)
Friday, October 21, 2005
The end of a long week
Wow, have I just been the most boring blogger this week or what??? But really, aside from obsessing about Hello Kitty and what's going to happen next on LOST, I haven't been doing much the last few days. When I finish a book, I go through a short period of brain-deadness before I perk up enough to start the next one, and that's where I am now. Stuck in between-projects limbo land. But I did get a lot of reading done, including John Berendt's fascinating new book on Venice, CITY OF FALLING ANGELS, and a whole slew of non-fiction researching said next project, about the court of Henry VIII in the late 1520s. (And, boy, am I super-glad I didn't live then! Those wacky Tudors. But I wouldn't mind being some eccentric contessa in Venice, living in my palazzo with a herd of tiny dogs, a couple of Titians, and a boy-toy named Paolo)
So, I'm posting an older pic of one of the most exciting experiences of my writing life, meeting Barbara Cartland!!! Yes, that chick in hot pink chiffon is THE Barbara Cartland, not her wax effigy stolen from Madame Tussaud's. Granted, at the time she was about 176 years old and just a tad bit out of it, but heck, it was Cartland! I grew up reading her stuff, all those cynical, dark dukes and stammering young virgins. Not to mention the fab movie adaptations. I'll always be glad I had the opportunity to meet her, and get a couple of books signed. It was loads of fun. :)
Thursday, October 20, 2005
A Sanrio Web
OK, so I don't have much for you today (I've spent most of the day wondering why, on LOST, the women in the cast we've been following for the past season look good, with clean hair and makeup, and even fairly nice clothes, while the newcomers look like they've been rolling around in a dirt pit for a month. Just wondering).
But I do have this fabulous new funny Bill sent me! It's my upcoming book starring Hello Kitty and Friends. Enjoy! :)
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
"Come sleep! O sleep the certain knot of peace,
The baiting place of wit, the balm of woe,
The poor man's wealth, the prisoner's release,
The' indifferent judge between the high and low"
(from ASTROPHIL AND STELLA, 39, 1-4)
"My true love hath my heart, and I have his,
By just exchange one for the other given.
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss:
There never was a bargain better driven."
Monday, October 17, 2005
At RR today
Friday, October 14, 2005
Here are just a few of mine (and no, I'm not counting Hello Kitty Everywhere--that one just sits on the coffee table. I especially like the pic of Hello Kitty at the Eiffel Tower in her pink beret):
Middlemarch--it's sort of like going to a family holiday. I know everyone there, am comfortable in the surroundings, and I love those darned relatives, even if I sometimes want to strangle them for being eejits. I always hope Dorothea won't marry Casaubon, but she always does, the silly girl.
PG Wodehouse stories--these always cheer me up! I go back to favorite Jeeves and Wooster stories all the time, especially the one about the disputed cow creamer, or any time Gussie Fink-Nottle and Madeline Bassett have a bust-up and Madeline decides she'll make Bertie "happy" and marry him. Of course, I can't read them any more without picturing Stephen Frey and Dr. House, er, Hugh Laurie, in the roles.
Jane Eyre--though I usually skip the dull bits set in the Rivers' house. I like the weird Gothicism of the nasty school and the wife in the attic. I also like it that Jane is short, but still gets the guy (for obvious reasons).
Childhood favorites, like Little Women (I wanted to be like Jo, like most girls, but I wanted Amy's clothes and was appalled that Jo had to wear a dress with a scorch mark on the butt to the ball). I also like the Anne of Green Gables series, because I was also a very dreamy and sort of annoying girl like Anne, but one of my favorites is Rilla of Ingleside, the story of Anne's daughter's coming-of-age during WWI. And I Capture the Castle--I really wanted an eccentric family like that.
And, of course, anything by Austen. Those books have gotten me through a lot. The Dashwood sisters, Darcy and Lizzie, Emma and her annoying-yet-endearing smugness, Catherine Morland and her wild imagination, Anne and her long-lost captain, even poor Fannie Price--they're all old friends by now.
So, what are some of your favorite re-reads? What draws you back to them time and again?
Thursday, October 13, 2005
1) Find your 23rd post
2) Find the 5th sentence
3) Ponder it for meaning, subtext, or hidden agendas
The 5th sentence is "What were we thinking?" Hmmm--that could have a wealth of hidden meanings. It could be the story of my life now. Some days I don't know WHAT I'm thinking, or what I should do, or what will happen next. Or even what to write in this blog. Or maybe it just refers to my 8th grade haircut. Who knows? The only constant is Hello Kitty, may she prosper forever. :)
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Hello Kitty Rulz!
Right now, I'm reading a very fun book called Buddha Baby, an Avon chick-lit by Kim Wong Keltner (the sequel to the equally fun The Dim Sum of All Things). Now, my family is Irish rather than Chinese, as this heroine's is, but our families are equally infuriating and intractable (you know who you are, so we won't go into that here). Another thing we have in common is an inexplicable, overpowering obsession with all things Hello Kitty. There. Now you know my secret. One of them, anyway.
In this book, I came across a particularly apropos quote. "Alas, Hello Kitty was like kryptonite. Who knew that pink, plastic crap could be so intoxicating? But, oh, it sure was." One of my most cherished Christmas gifts last year was a toaster that, in addition to having a giant hot pink Hello Kitty face on the side, imprints that face on the toast. The glory of it! (One tip--you have to use white bread and turn the level up pretty high. You can't see Hello Kitty's face on lightly toasted wheat bread, which is what I usually eat. Of course, it renders the toast inedible, but who cares when you can see Hello Kitty???). I also have a Hello Kitty alarm clock/nightlight, trash can, throw blanket, stuffed animals, and underwear. Right now, my object of lust is a Hello Kitty bicycle, available only from the Sanrio website.
I never was Hello Kitty for Halloween, but I was once a cowgirl, on the first Halloween I actually have vague memories of, so I'll attach that pic here for fun and laughs. See you tomorrow (I swear, my days as blog slacker are over! For now)
Friday, October 07, 2005
Exhibits I will never see (but which sound cool)
Every day at work I start off by reading the NY Times (they give them away in the Journalism department, which is just down the hall--tough job, I know). It's far more informative than any local papers (one in particular, know not so affectionately as The Daily Disappointment), plus they have sections on fashion and the arts and travel and food. Very fun, but on the other hand I have to read about fabulous, interesting, eclectic, intellectual exhibits and performances and movies that I won't see, because I am hundreds of miles away. Last week, I read about one that sounded especially fun, and appropriate given the Halloween kick I've been on--"The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult" at the Met.
The author of the article states that "Hands down, it's the most hilarious, not to mention the most charming, exhibit the museum has done in years. Like all examples of great humor, it is, at heart, also a sneakily serious affair. Its subjects include the depths of human gullibility, and the conjuring power of photography...they inevitably sail past their intended goal, which is to document the unbelievable, and end up in a realm of higher truth. They remind us that art is a wonderment defying logic."
One of the more hilarious examples, "Henri Robin and a Spectre" (1863) is attached here. What a fun-sounding exhibit! If you're anywhere near the NY area, check it out and let me know what it's like. :)
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
You Know You Are Living in 2005 When...
1) You accidentally enter your password on the microwave
2) You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years (note from Amanda--you can play solitaire with CARDS?)
3) You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 3
4) You email the person who works in the desk next to yours (note from Amanda--OK, so I have done this, but where I work the office is way across the hall from the studio. It would take at least 3 minutes to walk over there)
5) Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have email addresses
6) You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries
7) Every commercial on TV has a website at the bottom of the screen
8) Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it
10) You get up in the morning and go on-line before getting your coffee
11) You start tilting your head sideways to smile :) (Note from Amanda--I have actually said LOL instead of laughing)
12) You're reading this and nodding and laughing
13) You know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message
14) You are too busy to notice there was no #9 on this list
15) You scrolled back up to check there isn't a #9 on this list
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Costume madness 2
OK, I know I've been a terrible blog slacker the last few days, but I have a good excuse! I finally finished the Venice historical that wouldn't end, and hope to have it winging its way out the door to my editor's desk by the middle of the week. Chocolatinis all around!
I also have an interview posted today on Risky Regencies (http://www.riskyregencies.blogspot.com) and tomorrow is my day to think of something to post there, so I'll be back here Tuesday. In the meantime, I'm continuing the Halloween theme with two new pics. These were taken the Halloween I was 16, so it was (ahem) years ago. The pic on top is me with my friends Anne and Kay (just hope Kay doesn't kill me for posting it!) and the other is me with my brother, the killer clown. I think I'll have to show that one to his girlfriend, now that he's a somewhat respectable 25-year-old. :)