Thursday, December 29, 2005

New Year Resolutions

The time is approaching and I do this every year, so here goes:

1) I will stop being Calamity Jane and over-reacting to problems, glitches, disasters, and catastrophes.

2) I will learn how to use the power drill my mother gave me for my birthday three years ago.

3) I will practise the drums more, especially to music.

4) I will continue with my GrĂºpa Gaeilge classes on Monday night instead of dropping out as planned.

5) I will spend a pile of money on my teeth.

6) I will look into that Comedy Club gig I've been writing routines for. Yes, my secret ambition is to be a stand-up comic. It was either that or a preacher.

7) I will figure out how to post photos on my blogg and do so.

8) There's one more but I can't remember. Stay posted.

A Bookstore Morality Tale

Once upon a time, in the good old days, bookstores put their favourite books in the windows, on the bookstore tables, and in their "recommended reading list" catalogues because the staff or the owners of the bookstore actually read those books and loved them. Nowadays, however, publishing companies pay the bookstores for the windows, tables, and catalogues. In politics this would be considered corruption. In publishing it is called marketing and promotions. Yes, bookstores sell the space in the window and on the tables and in their catalogues to whoever can afford it. This, of course, excludes all those who cannot, whether they be small publishers or small writers allotted small promotions budgets.

The delightful human defiance of this corporate practice is the "Staff Pick" label. Look out for it. This means someone has actually read the book, liked it, and is personally recommending it. And they haven't been bribed to do so!

And while I am at it, let's blow the whistle on bestseller lists. More often than not, these lists are invented by bookstores. If they have over-ordered books which are not selling, they will name them as bestsellers in the hopes of moving them along, as people like to follow trends. More often than not, this ploy is successful which is why bookstores continue to do it.

Ah, the perfidy of humanity.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Nollag Shona!

While waiting for my turn at the shower (teenagers always get there first) thought I would do a little blooge and send out Christmas greetings in Irish. Here's the best prezzie I have ever received and it's from my daughter -- a full set of Zildjian cymbals including high-hat, crash, splash, and ride for my drum kit. How GREAT is that? They will replace the crummy tin can things I got with my Pearl Target. Neighbours, get those ear plugs in.

Monday, December 19, 2005

For Narnia and the Lion!

Well, yes, The Chronicles of Narnia film is rather "workmanlike" in its sincerity and faithfulness to the book and, yes, the child actors range from acceptable (Susan and Lucy) to poor (Edmund) to dreadful (Peter, no doubt chosen because he looks like Prince William) and, yes, it plods along at times, but still and all ... I loved it. Aslan in particular is PERFECT. I cried every time he appeared. You could take a bath in Liam Neeson's voice. The witch is fairly good also though a bit stiff (frozen?).

But never mind the movie, I want to defend the books against all this Narnia-bashing. Look, if Christian fundamentalists are claiming the Chronicles for their own that can only be a good thing; CS Lewis's gentle (as opposed to rabid) conservatism may teach them some compassion. Having been reared in Northern Ireland, he himself deplored intolerant and fanatical Christianity. Agreed, he does display anti-Arab tendencies in his presentation of the Calormenes, even as Tolkien, too, was racist regardless of what his apologists say -- i.e. all the "evil men" who side with Sauron are described as "swarthy" and "dark" -- and, yes, they are both utterly old-fashioned when it comes to women, but here's the thing: do the books encourage anti-Arab sentiment, racism, and the oppression of women? I don't think so. For all the flaws of their authors, these books encourage goodness and nobility; the kind of goodness and nobility that would not side with racism, bigotry, intolerance, or any kind of hatred and oppression of one's fellow human beings.

London Blog, December 18, 2005

Just back from a flying visit to the London office of my publishers. Great to meet the team, talk sales, and eat Italian. The following day I had an extra hour or two and popped into the cinema to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Sorry, folks, I know everyone says this is the best movie yet, but I was bored to death. Thought the acting was dreadful on all sides, overacting actually, and left early. And why didn't we get to see some of the world quidditch tournament?! It would have been great to see Ireland win. Will they ever make a movie that comes even close to being as good as the books??? Movies are getting worse, I think. All the action shots and special effects can't make up for the lack of interesting dialogue and good acting. Look at any of those old movies which are so much better.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Conflict Resolution

In the course of resolving a bit of a row with a dear friend of mine, I found myself stating a few principles which I somehow managed to learn over the years:
1) I can disagree with you without wanting to kill you
2) I can be pissed off with you and say so without ending the relationship forever
3) I can make a balls of a disagreement and hurt you or get hurt by you, but it is still not the end of the relationship as long as good will exists between us.

Earnest Blog

Now that my graphics are up, I can begin to blogg in earnest. But first a big THANK YOU to my Webmaster, Piers Dillon-Scott.