Friday Five: BEA edition

Friday, May 28, 2010

BEA is over.

1. For me, it began Monday night with the Lerner librarian preview. I met a few folks, got to chat with the AE about |-1| in front of a small but apparently interested crowd. Also I drank a high ball. For supper, alone, I visited Zen Palate, a vegetarian restaurant I miss pretty regularly, and Simon's favorite:

After ordering, and while I ate, and after I finished, I finally started The Freak Observer. It is a difficult book to put down. Loa really pulls you along. There is great pain.

2. Tuesday, the first official day of BEA, was a visit to Simon & Schuster and therefore several of my favorite people. That was followed by a great lunch with my wife and our good friend, also once from S&S. We met halfway between Midtown and Soho, at Elmo in Chelsea. Good sandwich. Hip place. And Samantha and I got to exchange ARCs. Tuesday night at eight (the latest I've started supper in a dog's age), I met ENIV and the AE for a completely awesome burger and a few awesome beers and plenty of awesome conversation. Excellent day of old and new friends. Good stuff.

3. Wednesday morning, after an excellent breakfast with the Lerner crew at the hotel restaurant and a quick tour of the BEA floor, I needed to rest the dogs (shout out to Heidi -- orange Chucks look cool, but hurt!), so I sat down on a comfy couch far from the exhibition and took the opportunity to get back to Blythe's debut. Soon it was noon, and that meant lunch with several Tenners, and meeting several awesome bloggers. Please see this photo that Berk and I keep stealing from Heidi.

4. For me, BEA ended Wednesday at around 5:15. That's when I signed the last available copy of |-1| and got up from the autographing table. I admit it: I was worried the line would consist of exactly 8 people, all of whom I knew personally. But we gave away 100 copies of the book, and I got to meet many a librarian and blogger and reader and writer on that line! It was pretty great.

5. And now I'm on Long Island, and vacation. We have many friend and family and new-baby visits to make! Ta!

Friday Five: A New Hope

Friday, May 21, 2010

1. Without at first realizing that today is the 30th anniversary of the release of The Empire Strikes Back, I'd planned to blog today a little about the original three Star Wars flicks, which I've just watched in rapid succession thanks to my recent birthday gift. That was a long sentence.

Empire, as we all know, is the best of the three. Jedi is the worst. A New Hope, as we now know the original Star Wars movie, doesn't get a lot of credit either way. Sure, it gets quoted plenty ("But I was going to Tashi Station to pick up some power converters waaah," for example), but its strengths as a film and tale are not so often discussed. I'm here to tell you, it's really good. It's a freakin' awesome fantasy YA, is what it is. Imagine, if you will, a novel version of A New Hope. We'd have third-person POV, natch, with alternating close third for Luke and Leia's convergent arcs. Both characters do quite a lot of "meeting the world," in my mind the foremost quality in good YA. And, if not for -- let's face it -- Mr. Hamill's catastrophic acting and whining, both characters would be insanely sympathetic to adolescent or arrested-adolescent viewers. LIKE ME.

As for Jedi, it's as bad as you remember, or possibly worse. I found it was worse. I found the Ewoks more annoying than I thought they were. I was happy when one died. Also, Luke is STILL freakin' whining. Han, once a scruffy-looking dangerous man, is endlessly slapsticking around with his goofball sidekick Chewie. Poor Chewie. I ask you, would Chewbacca of A New Hope fall for the old meat-on-a-branch trick? No freakin' way.

But I've said too much.

2. It's also the 30th anniversary of Pac Man, in case you haven't noticed.

3. What else? BEA is what else. For me and the good people at Carolrhoda Lab (and the rest of Lerner), it starts on Monday night with the big to-do. I'm not remotely nervous!

4. Did I mention finals are in? Lookit.

5. And finally, as if I wasn't already a nervous wreck, today Sam, Beth, and I visited a pre-school. In the fall, my tiny baby boy will very likely join a two-year-old, two-day-per-week pre-school. I can hardly stand to think of it. Luckily I have the whole summer to get used to the idea.

Party down.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Today is my birthday. I am no longer a member of the coveted 18- to 35-year-old male demographic. So leave me alone, advertisers and survey takers!

To celebrate, thus far I have biked for about an hour, enjoyed a margherita pizza with spiced salami and arugula (my new favorite pizza topping) from Punch, and have now settled in at Caribou with an iced mocha and nothing but time. (Shout out to MIL for babysitting today so I can take my traditional "computer on my back, hop on the bike, and see where the day takes me" birthday.)

Gifts: Beth and Sam gave me their excellent gifts last night. From Sam, a combo DVD/VHS player. Sounds weird, I know. The gift from the nineties! But keep in mind that I have a huge collection of VHS tapes up in the attic -- including the last VHS release of the original Star Wars trilogy before Georgie added crap -- that I haven't been able to watch in years. So now I will. And I will make Beth watch the original Star Wars trilogy! WHICH SHE HAS NEVER SEEN.

From Beth, two months of WoW time. Shut up.

I am a patient boy.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tomorrow is my goddamn birthday.

Today, the AE has something to say about waiting over at the Lerner blog. He also quotes from The Absolute Value of -1, assembling what amounts to the longest teaser of the book online anywhere, I should think.

Beyond all that, it's worth clicking over to listen to "Waiting Room." If you already enjoy Fugazi, the trip down memory lane will be a rocking one. If you don't know the tune, then the AE has done you a great favor.

'Tis a silly place

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Here's what new:

Sam is feeling quite a bit better. Beth and I, however, are feeling quite a bit worse. I sound like Tom Waits after a bender.

My new website, you may have seen on Twitter or Facebook, is now live. Please do visit it and send me comments and such at

In the last few days I've watched all of season one of Merlin, a BBC series showing in the U.S. on Syfy, and also available on Netflix Watch Instantly. However, there are no eps available beyond season one, and season two is (I think) nearly over on TV.

UPDATE: I'm told season two IS available online. Many thanks to AOB!

Listen, the point is this: I had forgotten how much I can geek out over a TV show. Many of you think that's ridiculous, I'm sure, and you're right. I mean, come on. But more importantly, and more fun, I'd forgotten how much I can geek out over Arthurian legend! I love this stuff, my friend, even (maybe especially) new, unorthodox interpretations of Arthurian legend.

The further point is, get a load of this short Twitter conversation:

In a fit of awesomeness, not only did R.J. Anderson know what in the hell I was talking about, but she is also the newest among the ranks of Carolrhoda Lab authors! We are good company.

So, I'll look forward to seeing season two, and soon three, and meanwhile I'll go read Mordred's Curse again.

Sick son

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sam has had a wicked cough for ages now. It feels like it's been a month.

So far it's meant two trips to the children's ER in St. Paul, one for croup, one for high fever and rapid breathing.

We're confident it's nothing serious. But when this kid takes a deep breath and goes off on a real fit, his eyes wide open, gradually filling with fear and tears, then reddening at the edges until he seems about to burst, and finally gagging on the urge to cough so he nearly vomits, or does vomit . . . it sure seems serious.

Everything I read online--worst thing to do with a medical question, as everyone knows--suggests that a toddler's cough often lasts this long, or longer. It still sucks.

Chucks Update!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Not upchuck dates. Gross.

Here's what's new, and I have to hurry because my bedtime is almost upon me.

New sneakers.

Yeah, you dig it. I covetethed them, and now I have them. I will be easy to spot at BEA . . . especially if you're a mouse or squirrel.

My new website will launch this week. Control your excitement.

I do believe I will have two writing days this week. One will go over completely, I expect, to working on the next Field Trip Mystery. The other day (Friday) can be all Jessamine's. That is, it can all belong to the MC of YA MS the Second.

YA MS the Third? Vague whisperings only, and grapevine reports. They are positive whispers and reports, which is nice. But for now, we continue to sit on our hands. Did I mention I read the entire YA MS the Third this weekend? I spotted several awkward echoes that I wish I'd fixed before. But overall, I think I still like it.