Category Archives: news

Postcard Project

I have a stack of postcards that I want to send. I just need recipients.

These are not local postcards from where I live. They are freebie postcards, art postcards, postcard books, and even postcards from places I’ve never been. (People sometimes give me blank postcards when they travel; I’m not sure what to do with them but send them on.)

If you would like to receive one, send me your address. Do not assume I have your address; I am not that organized.

If you would like me to draw on the back of the postcard, tell me what. If you say you want a drawing but don’t specify what, you will get a Yumachu and you will be disappointed.

If you would like to make a request regarding postcard theme, you’re free to do so, but I make no promises to honor them. These are postcards I already own; buying new ones would defeat the purpose of this project.

Xanadu at the Reston Community Center

This past Saturday night my husband and I saw the Reston Community Players production of Xanadu. I’ve never seen the reportedly terrible movie, and before RCP staged it I didn’t know the musical even existed, but I had been told to expect roller skates, Greek mythology, and a heaping helping of the 1980s. And wow, did it ever deliver. Clio, the leader of the nine Muses, comes to earth to inspire chalk muralist Sonny Malone to embrace his artistic dreams. He wants to create a space where all the arts come together: dance, music, painting, even athletics. He wants to build….a roller disco! (“How timeless!”) Meanwhile, Clio’s older sisters Melpomene and Calliope plot to curse her to fall in love with a human (strictly forbidden), but mostly just succeed in stealing the show.  (Especially Calliope, played by Emily Jonas, who was by far my favorite character in the entire show.) The music is all ’80s pop, including some familiar hits like Evil Woman and Strange Magic.

It took me a couple scenes to realize that the acting was supposed to be campy, melodramatic, and completely over-the-top, but once I did I really began to enjoy myself. The humor is not subtle: people sing guitar solos, dance around on roller skates, speak in hilariously terrible accents, and are all generally ridiculous. I laughed hard and often.

In addition to never taking itself at all seriously, with only a single act Xanadu doesn’t drag or overstay its welcome. This production in particular kept things moving at a steady clip, with quick dialog and upbeat songs and, more often than not, something bizarre going on in the background. Definitely recommended if you get the chance, but be prepared for some intense silliness.

Xanadu is playing at the Reston Community Center for one more weekend. Purchase tickets here.

Ten Years a BookCrosser

Today is my 10th BookCrossing Anniversary. In some ways it’s weird to realize it’s already been that long, but in others it feels almost as if BookCrossing has been part of my life for much longer. I have made many friends, read and released many books, and done a lot of things I probably never would have done otherwise – like, say, get stranded in Europe and take a road trip from Amsterdam to Switzerland and back stuffed in a VW Golf with an American, a Brit, and two Aussies. But that’s another story for another time.

It’s interesting how close I’ve gotten to my fellow BookCrossers, especially those in my local group, BCinDC. I count them among my very best friends. We’ve laughed and cried together, celebrated joys and attended funerals. We were brought together by this crazy hobby of leaving books for strangers to find, and somehow found a whole host of other things to tie us together.

Here are my statistics as of this writing:

  • I have registered 1954 books.
  • An additional 975 books, registered by others, have passed through my hands.
  • 164 of my wild catches have been caught and journaled.
  • I have met 220 BookCrossers in person (mostly thanks to conventions).

Here’s to many more book-filled years!

A Special Valentine from Batman

My husband bought some Valentines from The Dark Knight Rises. Below is my personal favorite:

Yes, that actually says “fear is why you fail.” Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (original BBC radio broadcast)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Original BBC Radio Broadcast): Before the movie, before the television series, and even before the book, there was the radio play. Of course, all versions and adaptations were written by Douglas Adams, so it’s hard to call any of them the Real Version, but they all follow more or less the same story. Either way, this was the First Version.

As you know if you’re at all familiar with HHGTTG, the story begins with hapless human Arthur Dent and his alien pal Ford Prefect escaping the Earth moments before it is destroyed to create an interstellar bypass. Shortly thereafter they meet up with multi-headed alien Zaphod Beeblebrox, his female companion Trillian, and depressed robot Marvin. The whole thing is absolutely ridiculous and utterly marvelous. I would suggest reading the book first as a sort of warm-up, because the radio show is even more random, if you can believe it. Things just sort of happen and you have to just go with it. There are plenty of wonderfully quotable lines and if you’re already a fan of the books, this is a fun walk down memory lane. The voice actors are marvelous, though I confess there were times when I wasn’t sure whether it was Ford or Arthur speaking. Not that it mattered much. All in all, it’s a great time, and well worth it for any fan of absurdity.

Note on my version: A friend taped this off the radio when it was originally broadcast back in the late 1970s and recently digitized it. There’s a fair bit of tape hiss but I had almost no problem hearing and understanding everyone. One thing he noted, however, is that the version that was offered commercially had different sound effects and music due to copyright issues. Evidently the interstitial music played on the radio version was fair game, but all sorts of rights needed to be purchased in order to sell the recording. I have not listened to the commercial version, so I cannot comment on those differences. I linked to the remastered CD because the version I have, rather by definition, is not available for purchase.

P.S. – Happy birthday to my sweetie!

101 Things in 1001 Days

A little less than three years ago, a friend of mine convinced me to join her in the Day Zero Project, also known as 101 Things in 1001 Days. The concept is simple: write a list of 101 things you want to do over the next 1001 days, then do them. The amazing thing is how well this works at forcing me to actually do a bunch of things I’ve been meaning to do but just never seem to get around to. Like visiting a lighthouse or installing a bird feeder. The goals can be as simple or complex as you want, though I’ve found that the most important thing is to make them measurable. Just like New Year’s Resolutions, vague things like “exercise more” tend to be forgotten.

Today is my 1001st day. It has been quite the lesson in priorities. I only completed 62 things, but I also discovered a number of things I didn’t actually want to do as much as I thought I did. A new 1001 days starts tomorrow, and yes, I already have my list. Care to join me on this crazy journey? Follow along on my 101/1001 blog.

For a complete run-down and wrap-up of my first 101 Things, click here.  There will be a shiny new list up tomorrow!

Help Support Markeroni!

As you may know, Markeroni is one of my favorite hobbies. Because of it I’ve visited some fascinating new places and learned so much (not least of which how the Civil War was really the beards vs. the mustaches). I love hunting for historical markers. I even wrote a Squidoo article about it. Well, what you may not know is that this great site is run by two people on truly ancient computers, and they need your help to bring the site into the 21st century! Every little bit helps, even just spreading the word. Click here to learn more.

Congratulations are in order

My sister is getting married today! Yippee!

Get to know the couple: my sister and my new brother-in-law. Quite the creative tour de force here. I wish them all the best!

On Book Reviews and Full Disclosure

I’ve read a few stories* recently about book reviewers charging money or being bullied for their reviews, and it occurred to me that maybe I should explain how things work around this here blog.

  1. I don’t usually mention in a review that I got a book free from an author. I also don’t usually mention when I’ve picked up a book for free at The Book Thing or when I checked it out of the library or when I got it as a gift from a well-meaning friend or when I won it through the Early Reviewers program on LibraryThing or when I found it by chance via BookCrossing. The point is most of the books I read were free to me so I don’t feel any need to specify in the review how the book made its way into my hands. An author seeking a review has to pitch the book to me first and if it sounds like something I’d enjoy then I accept, but if not, then not. All the books I read are because I want to, not because I feel obligated. Getting it directly from an author only means that I’ll read it sooner, not that I’ll have different thoughts about it.
  2. The book and its author are separate in my mind. I don’t care if the author is a jerk or an angel; the work stands on its own. I don’t assume, for example, that an author necessarily holds the same opinions as the narrator of his/her novel. So whatever I say about a book, positive or negative, is what I feel about the book. I don’t have any feelings whatsoever about the author as a person.
  3. I have never been bullied into giving a more positive review. I say up front in my book review guidelines that I make no promises to like any book, after all. The worst treatment I’ve ever received from an author after they read my review of their book was a complete cessation in communication; that is, they simply never replied to my email. And that’s fine. The rest of the authors I’ve worked with have been very friendly and gracious.
  4. There’s no paid advertising on my blog. When I make posts encouraging you to purchase something or visit a site or whatever, it’s because I either totally believe in what I’m promoting, am doing a favor for a friend, or (most often) both. It is never because I am being paid for it, and if it ever is then I will most definitely say so.

I hope that clears things up. (If they needed clearing up, that is.) If anyone has strong feelings on the subject I’d be happy to add a section of my blog posts to explain how the book made it into my hands. I don’t think it’s all that important, but maybe it is to other people, and it’s certainly no huge burden for me to do so.

*Hat tip to Cleolinda for the links.

Magic 8 Lobotomy

I was recently involved in making a series of short indie movies with Sine Fine Films, one of which required the acquisition of a Magic 8 Ball. Since I’d purchased it, it was mine at the end of the shoot, and I decided I didn’t really have much use for it as is.

So I enlisted the help of my father to cut it open, while my mother photographed the experience for posterity. As you do.

I already knew that the “fortunes” were nothing more than a white plastic 20-sided die bobbing around in some kind of blue fluid, and this was merely an extraction operation. I thought maybe the whole sphere was full of liquid, while my dad (correctly) suspected it was just a little canister, but we lobotomized it to make sure.

Then Dad cut it in half using a band saw. (Did I mention I have awesome parents? Because I have awesome parents.)

It took a little doing, but eventually we got the sucker pried apart.

I unscrewed the top of the interior canister and we emptied out the blue stuff.

I don’t know what it was, except that it was rather oily and turned my fingers blue, but that was to be expected.

Eventually we got all the liquid out, cut the end off the canister, and I retrieved my prize. My father kept the “8” hemisphere of the ball as a trophy of his valiant efforts.

So what did you do this weekend?

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