Nov 12 2014

Hallowe’en 2014: An Historical Re-enactment

Soooo…I didn’t get any good pictures from Hallowe’en. This led to a highly unfortunate state of affairs where some of the grandparents whose anonymity we shall here preserve (*cough* Nanita *cough*) were speaking with their friend Cricket, and Cricket had soooooo many adorable pictures of her grandchildren in costume, and Nanita our hypothetical grandparent didn’t have any pictures to show in return.

I have been informed that this situation is unacceptable, and I do humbly apologize to all those affected by the mis-steps of The Management. In partial recompense for your pain and suffering, here is a belated picture of Robin as “Godzilla,” Davy as “King Ghidorah” (a three-headed dragon and sometime frenemy to Godzilla), and Sol as “The Pirate of Monster Island.” (Big shout-out to Biz who actually sewed the pirate costume, complete with adorable stuffed parrot on the shoulder, for her son Silas—we were lucky enough to inherit it as a hand-me-down!)

You can click the picture for a bigger version:

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And as a bonus I also give you this candid snap, titled “Mama, I Picked These For You.”

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Oct 28 2014

Flash Fiction: The Gay Bulgur

All right, Sam sent me this, and I couldn’t resist:

Neil Gaiman is a beloved and best-selling author and an upcoming guest on Wits. Neil’s tremendous imagination can be found in novels, short stories, graphic novels, theater, and film. There is no one like Neil Gaiman.

Or is there?

No, probably not. Still, we invite you to try and fail to be like Neil. Wits proudly presents …Submit your worst Neil Gaiman knock-off story. It needs to be very short, no more than 30 seconds read out loud, because Neil himself(!) will be reading the best/worst entries live on stage at our Wits taping on November 8th. Use all the Sandmen, gods, monsters, angels, and oceans at the ends of lanes that you wish, just make sure it’s very very bad. The deadline is November 5th at 9pm, enter as often as you wish. There are no prizes beyond the deep satisfaction that comes with knowing you’re the author of the worst Neil Gaiman-esque short fiction in the world.

So here’s my entry:

“The Gáe Bolg,” the girl said, enunciating very clearly, as if she thought I was rather dim. “It’s the legendary weapon of the Irish warrior Cú Chulainn, except hardly anybody knows what it actually WAS. Supposedly it was made from the bones of a sea monster, and he threw it with his toes–and if you got hit with it, the barbs went all through your body and killed you.”

“I don’t care about any gay bulgur,” I said, struggling feebly against my bonds. “Or gay farro, or gay wheatberries, or anything. I just wanted to sell you a fine set of knives at a subscription price.”

“But that’s just it, I have my own already,” said the girl. And then she took off her shoes.


Oct 19 2014

Bubbles!

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Photo by Betsy Phillips!


Oct 17 2014

Book Reviews: Spirits Abroad, Dragonfield, Wonders of the Invisible World

Spirits Abroad

I have raved about Zen Cho before—quite frankly I think she’s phenomenal, the most exciting new SF/F writer of this generation. And this short fiction collection really showcases her range of talent. These marvelous, fresh, transporting, inventive stories generally include elements drawn from Malaysian folktales and culture, rendered with a global, modern, magical-realist sensibility and a tremendous amount of literary talent. Some of the stories are funny–some are spooky–some are devastating–some are thoughtful. I cannot recommend the collection too highly. I am summarily making up a Book of the Year Award so that I can award it to this book.

Winner! Book of the Year (According to Shannon) Award!

On a five-star scale I give it ten stars. Seriously, so good.

Dragonfield: and other Stories

Well, what can I say—she’s no Zen Cho, but that Jane Yolen lady can spin a rather ripping yarn, can’t she?

I mean, Jane Yolen is a grande dame of fantasy, and if you read in the genre you probably already know whether you like her stuff. I do, very much, so I found this short fiction collection utterly delightful. This is the stuff of traditional fantasy–selkies and king’s sons and river-maidens and, yes, dragons–rendered by a master of the genre who is still writing at the top of her game.

Wonders of the Invisible World

Yep, I’ve had good luck with short story collections lately. This is another strong one. McKillip’s stories skew a bit odder (and sometimes harsher/sadder) than Yolen’s, but her writing is texturally gorgeous, and her characters can win you utterly from the first paragraph. Very good stuff for genre readers.


Oct 2 2014

Recipe: Farro and Kale Salad with Olives

I love farro, and I love olives, and I like kale as much as the next Californian, so I thought I’d throw up a quick link to this recipe from Food & Wine. It makes a terrific lunch.


Sep 30 2014

Training Camp

I just got back yesterday from a “Brownsea” training camp for Scout leaders. It was pretty cool! The idea was to immerse us adults in the same sort of program and environment that the Pathfinder Scouts (ages 11 to 17) will experience, so that we can successfully recreate that for our own troops. Our Oakland group doesn’t have a Pathfinder section yet–our kids are younger–but I’m actively planning for getting that part of the program up and running.

A couple pictures:

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Sep 11 2014

Drive-By Update

Oh my gosh, things have been busy since school started. It turns out that having two kids in two different schools, plus a baby at home, plus the time we put into our Scout troop, adds up to a very busy schedule? Who could have predicted!

Bullet points! I will give you bullet points.

  • Robin is doing great in first grade. He has settled right in and comes home saying his days are “awesome.” Plus he’s burbling about volcanos and the Big Bang and hissing Madagascar cockroaches, so I think they’re even teaching him some stuff.
  • Davy is one of the big kids at our co-op preschool now. I like my work days there: it’s such a happy, good place that even if I show up totally harried and stressed, I’ll end the day feeling serene.
  • Sol the Wrecking Ball continues his rampage of terror. If he’s not transferring the dog’s kibble into her water dish by the fistful, then he’s in the bathroom, unspooling all the toilet paper. Or he’s climbing up the piano, or the bookshelves, or onto the dining room table. Or he’s digging around in the potted plants. The only reasonable thing to do with him is take him to a park, but working around his nap schedule AND the two daily school pick-ups is a challenge. He’s a challenge. I just keep telling myself it will get easier soon. Soon. Surely soon.
  • Our Scout group is rocking along! We’ve had two meetings plus a group hike, and next Sunday we’re doing a “kid’s bike rodeo” as part of the Oaklavia Love Our Lake Day. Look at these cuties (click to embiggen):

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And that is all the bullet points I have!


Aug 25 2014

First Day of First Grade

Look at that big kid!

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Aug 24 2014

Earthquake

Because I’m getting e-mails and phone calls, let me say very quickly: yes, we felt the earthquake, but it was really mild here. I woke up, Sam didn’t. I could tell that it was either quite strong or quite close though, just from the duration of the shaking and the way the windows rattled. My thoughts are definitely with the residents of Napa.

But we are just fine.


Aug 23 2014

Flash Fiction: “Disclaimer”

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Side effects may include but are not limited to: dizziness, drowsiness, weight gain, Terran olfactory syndrome, heart failure, weight loss, being devoured alive by knack-lings. Offer void where prohibited. Andromeda BodySpray(Galactic TM) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Greater Knack-brood Corp.

Please consult your doctor before applying Andromeda Body Spray(Galactic TM). Contents not manufactured within the Andromeda Galaxy. Sentient beings reading this disclaimer are required to note that this communication and all related promotional materials are governed by the Gnorn/Knack-brood Peace Treaty of SSY 540 Million. Any Gnorn reading this communication is required to submit itself at once to the nearest Peace Center for immediate incubation. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. In the event that no Peace Center is available within the nearest 125 light years, Gnorn are required to self-incubate with a mixture of organic brain slurry and the nearest knack-lings to hand.

Please further note: as per Her All-Devouring Majesty’s decree of SSY 539.999 Million, knack-lings are ALWAYS to hand, in all parts of the multiverse heretofore or yet to be discovered. Knack-lings may be described in local lingo by such common terms as “ktashvish,” “pluuuarrrrghemon,” or “ear-wigs.” You may proceed to self-incubate.

Any sentient and sapient being continuing to read this disclaimer has failed to submit to the Sub-Neural Protocol of SSY 539.9998 Million. In the likely event that your species has yet to be contacted by the Knack-Brood Dominion (may the stars never set upon it) please have your law-grubs contact our law-grubs at your earliest convenience. Mutually beneficial trade networks and many free samples await your communique. You may already be a winner. Let’s do lunch.