Saturday, August 13, 2011

there was just a hint of fall in the air this morning; it was slightly cooler, and a huge fog set itself over the large park on sunset boulevard as I rode my bicycle early in the morning. by midday, of course, it was hot again, but nevertheless that little touch of cool air reminded me that fall was coming and invigorated me; it helped me get a little out of my languor. I grabbed a couch off the curb for a son who was moving and drove the others around with windows open enjoying the warm but cooler day, drier air. students are arriving in town; people are moving; it's a busy time. school starts next week; one wonders if they will repaint the dog paws on the city streets to show everyone it's saluki country.

around here there's an expression "same old same old" which means roughly, "same as usual," but can actually be used as a response to "how's it going?" and various other greetings. my kids probably picked it up from the television show iCarly, but they pronounce it "saymo saymo" and misuse it a little. It might mean, to them, "same to you", or it might just be a general insult, so that if older brother says, you're stupid!" younger brother might say "saymo saymo!"….such is life when kids pick up expressions. you get an interesting, ironic twist sometimes, listening to what comes out. the older brother, of course, knows exactly how wrong the younger brother is, and can even explain it pretty well, but the younger brother just gets enraged and anything the older brother says sounds pretty much the same to him; he's going to say what he wants anyway. so it continues: (ob) "shut up!" (yb) "saymo saymo!"….(ob) "that doesn't make any sense!" (yb) "saymo saymo!"

in these worrisome times I've taken to not even trying to write my novel, because there's no way I'd have more than a few minutes to click together to extend a thought or idea. instead I quilt furiously on a quilt for baby b., knowing that two more will inevitably follow for twins due in december. i've already met baby b., and told her to speak up if she needs anything, but that was hardly necessary since she has adequate lungs, and knows how to do that better than virtually anything else. so I've made a number of squares on this quilt, and I sew these squares together furiously, instead of actually trying to write something, or concentrate well enough to even read something. my wife, however, takes the opposite approach; facing equal stress (we both have aging parents in crisis), runs around and does stuff; she actually writes more, and also does more sorting, cleaning, taking care of animals, etc., flurries of activity basically generated by worry.

for some reason "national book week" got all my facebook friends to post the fifth sentence of page 56 of whatever book was nearest them, so that we in facebook land could now read some interior sentence of dozens of various books, from teaching manuals to lurid crime novels. my first thought was that, if this trend were to continue, that sentence would ultimately be more important in a book's promotion than its first sentence (people used to, when buying books, open them first and read the first sentence at least, before buying it). so, when writing a novel, I should build it around that sentence, so that one is the best or most zinger of a sentence in the entire novel. but the problem with that, as you will know if you've been through this, is that the author cannot predict from the beginning where page 56 will appear, and some of the other considerations, i.e. what kind of margins, how many pages altogether, what font, etc., will change how this turns out. in addition the author has to consider e-book versions, and whether to produce e-books: is page 56 the same on these? the facebook post instructs you to grab the book nearest to you but doesn't specify whether this can be an e-book. I am somewhat caught on these arcane provisions of actually producing books. I have written enough short stories to make several books, and have a memoir and poetry to add to it, but I have trouble with the e-production, and the paper production; it's not happening smoothly. in fact I'm quilting instead.

and then, it so happens, that the iCarly crew is coming through southern Illinois on a bus, and a bus with six people on it, the star (Miranda Cosgrove) among them, got into an accident, and the star broke her ankle. stranded in southern illinois, vandalia no less. this would be a little over an hour from our house, but too far for a weeknight jaunt, so we didn't try. but it brought up, once again, the subtle distinction between real and staged that is another theme of our watching the show. this show is the only one I will watch, invariably with the 6-year-old, and often we get into quarrels about when to stop and go to bed (I'm in favor of earlier, naturally). he seems to feel that anything advertised as "next" on the show will actually be "next" even though the show is recorded (invariably) and what is "next" is probably not "next". but what is this difference, "real" and "not real"? no point quibbling over it, really. saymo saymo. time to go to bed!


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