String Theory Tirade

Okay, let me first say I only caught, like, the last 15 or 20 minutes of that episode of NOVA. Right? And despite extensive education (yes, I even took rocket science classes in college) and having grown up surrounded by brilliant people (scientists, engineers), my understanding of theoretical physics is limited and probably quite out of date seeing as I haven’t subscribed to any of those magazines in years now. (They don’t even publish Omni any more, do they?)

Whatever, whatever, whatever. I’m angry that they’re trying to pass off these little strings as some kind of unification device. You might as well tell me little fairies exist at the subatomic/subnuclear level and that’s how it all hangs together. The whole fucking universe. “They’re [the strings] so small there’s almost no chance of us ever seeing them.” Really? How convenient for you and your theory. Seriously? Oh, I see! The strings vibrate! Well then, that explains everything, doesn’t it? Gah.

I know I’d need to do more reading to make a real argument against this, and who knows, after doing said reading I might be a convert. I’m really just having a gut reaction to this NOVA thing. All these (male!) physicists trying to sell me on how smart they are and get me to believe their string theory, simply because they can’t find any other explanation for black holes . . . We’re working under the assumption there are black holes, and that the universe does, in fact, work on explicable principles, but that’s something else again. A mixture of science and philosophy, I suppose. That is, in essence, theory. Or one way of looking at it.

But it’s past my bedtime anyway, and I haven’t had enough wine to start in at this hour and go all night. If you want to debate it, hit me up on a weekend and bring some alcohol and snacks. And a few good reference books.

My Fair . . .

Last night I had a dream in which Neil Gaiman was playing the role of Henry Higgins in a production of My Fair Lady in London’s West End. I’ve written before about how Neil often turns up in my dreams, but this was decidedly different in that we had no direct contact and the dream had nothing to do with writing (usually when Neil is around, the dream is about books and writing and such).

I did wake up with “Just You Wait” stuck in my head, though.

My Fair Lady holds a special place in my heart because it was the first professional theatre show I ever attended, way back when, and Richard Chamberlain was acting the role of Henry in that particular production. And I love Richard Chamberlain. (Yes, sweeties, I know he’s gay, but this is no romantic love—I was too young for that in any case, and I’m sure most of The Thorn Birds went right over my head the first few times I saw it.) Anyway, I saw two shows at Dallas’s Fair Park that season: My Fair Lady and Camelot (with Robert Goulet as Arthur), and these made the most astounding impression on me. Prior to these I’d only seen film versions of musicals, and school versions, nothing on so huge a scale as these two. But I went right out and bought the My Fair Lady soundtrack after that (the film version, which I realize is not at all the thing, but I also have that love of Jeremy Brett, even in so small a role as Freddy Eynsford-Hill, though I know there is yet debate over whether he did any of his own singing, &c.) . . . To this day I’ve been known to say to my kids when they’re mid-tantrum: “Claws in, you cat! How dare you show your temper to me!” Which of course bewilders them no end but also stops them because they’re not sure what just happened. And naturally I am almost honor bound to ask, “Where the devil are my slippers?” whenever I’m looking for them.

In any case, I’m not sure what my subconscious meant by serving up My Fair Lady in dream state. I haven’t watched it in a while. Maybe it was only suggesting I pop in the DVD? Though what Neil has to do with it I can’t guess. He’d be just about the most disheveled Henry Higgins in theatre history.

Hard On You

They say everyone is a critic, and this is true, I suppose, in that everyone formulates an opinion about things, whether these things be food or television or what-have-you. The way these opinions are expressed, however, can make or break not only the person expressing them (as I have learned from past years when I was a media critic for an online magazine), but also the receiving end. And I don’t mean this in a professional way—a few bad reviews or whatever—but in a personal, emotional sense.

They say in the industry (the broad umbrella of “entertainment”) that you must have a thick skin, but these are people used to being on stage or in front of cameras; they know how to fake it. A brave face is easy enough under a spotlight, but it doesn’t mean the slings and arrows don’t hurt. There is soft meat underneath the shell.

I am as guilty as any critic of tossing out a barb now and then. I don’t do it to be hurtful (some critics do), but I fear my being direct has hurt a few feelings. (I’m looking at you, Benedict, and you too, Rob.) I’m hardest on the people I like and care for most—aren’t we always?—the ones I have high expectations of, the ones I know are more than merely capable of the work they do, who are in fact brilliant. In my mind this goes without saying, but perhaps it’s nice to hear it said once in a while anyway.

So consider it said. You are brilliant.

I want you to do better than well because you can and shouldn’t settle for getting by or resting on your laurels. When things get easy, find something more challenging. You can do it. Life is one long learning curve, after all. Once you plateau, you might as well be finished. And so, yes, when I think you’ve slacked a little, I’m liable to point it out.

It is my major failing, I think, to sometimes be tactless, unable to filter my words. I am trying to be better about that. Certainly, as someone who does not always take criticism well either, I can sympathize. And so if you are angry at me for saying anything at all, I can understand that, too. You may say to yourself, “I think I did fine there, and she’s completely off base.” Or you may say, “I know that wasn’t my best, and I don’t need her to point it out.” Either of these are valid responses, the exact kinds of things I would think in such a situation.

Do try though, for my sake, to take it kindly. Maybe tell yourself, “At least someone is paying attention,” and “At least someone cares.” Because there will be days when you find yourself surrounded by people trying to please you, and you will realize you cannot necessarily trust them to tell you the truth. And while it’s nice to have so many people saying how wonderful you are, you’re going to begin to wonder. No one is wonderful all the time. Every artist’s work is a spectrum, and you’re going to want to know where this or that moment falls. A bit blue? Too red? But everyone around you insists you’re golden.

And that will be the moment you’ll want me. Because I don’t want anything out of you but your best and won’t hesitate to tell you when you haven’t delivered. But I promise, from here on out at least, I will try to be gentle. More needles and fewer bullets.

Deal?

La Fete de St. Jean-Baptiste

Today is La Fete de St. Jean-Baptiste, an old French holiday observed now in Quebec and also in swaths of Southern Louisiana (where we French-Creoles settled). It is one of the two days a year that I make gris-gris. I’m not a practicing traiteur (it sounds like “traitor” but means “treater”) like my great-grandmother once was (a good Catholic but also the person you went to for a boost to your prayers), but I honor a few old traditions. This is one.

Alas, I will be on a plane for most of the holiday this year. My “working” will be limited.

Other things: seeing my play performed today at Source Festival was amazing; they did such a fantastic job with it, and it’s always a little surreal to see your words brought to life. I also enjoyed a day out in Washington DC, despite the formidable heat.

And now, certainly, I must pack up and get some rest before the long flight home.

Where I’m From . . .

Sent to me by my mother, probably in an attempt to remind me of my roots. After all, where I’m from the key question is: “But who is his [or her] family?” Hell, where I’m from we cut the hair off dead relatives and weave decorative wreaths adorned with pressed flowers . . . Yeah, it’s macabre. In that Southern Gothic kind of way.

And it also freaks people out when I slip into a “Suthun” accent . . .

Key Southern Cities
typically “dripping with charm”

Chawlstn
S’vannah
N’Awlins
Addlana

Who Counts as a Southern Gentleman

Men in Uniform
Men in Tuxedos
Rhett Butler (though we settle for Clark Gable)

Three Deadly Sins for a Southern Woman

bad hair & nails
bad manners
bad cooking

Things Only True Southerners Know

  1. the difference between a hissy fit and a conniption fit (and that you “pitch” a fit, never “have” one)
  2. how many of anything make up “a mess” or “a passel”
  3. exactly how long a time “directly” [pr. “direckly”] is (i.e., “Gone to town, be back directly.”) Same is true of “by and by”

Just for fun, I’ll add an old Joe Boudreaux joke here. (For those who don’t know, Joe Boudreaux is an Acadian folk hero featured in many jokes.)

Joe Boudreaux was driving to visit a friend who’d moved out past Houma somewhere, and while he was driving he got turned around. He started to think he was driving in circles! Then Joe came to a crossroads, and at that crossroads was a young boy of about age nine or ten. Joe stopped the car, rolled down the window, pointed down the road in front of him and asked the boy, “If I go down this road here, where I be at?”

“I don’t know, me,” the boy said.

Joe Boudreaux pointed down a side road. “Well, if I go down this road here, where I be at?”

But the boy shook his head. “I don’t know, me.”

Joe pointed the other direction. “And if I go down that road there, where I be at?”

“I don’t know, me.”

“You don’t know much, do ya?” snapped a frustrated Joe Boudreaux.

But the boy just stared at him placidly and answered, “Well, I ain’t the one who’s lost.”

Tough as Nails

The kids were working my extremely rusty soccer [“football” to my overseas friends] skills this morning. Glad to say I still have a bit in me. And it helps to have “rock star toes” too:

Yes, I was playing soccer in a sundress and sandals and with sparkly toes. My daughter kept calling me “Princess Aurora, Soccer Star!”

Of course, at one point while playing I wasn’t watching where I was going and backed into one of the hawthorne plants, winning a couple barbs in my shoulder that I had to pluck out. “Briar Rose” indeed!

A Game of Where’s M?

Spot me in this picture and win a prize.

Just kidding. I’m not actually in this picture.

Kidding again. I am in this picture, but I’m not giving away any prizes.

I’m standing between a guy named Alex and one named Rob, and now I have to wonder whether it’s coincidence, or whether some subconscious tie prompted me to name my two sons Alexander and Robert. Hmm. (Really they were named for a great-grandfather and a great-uncle. Also for Innes clan chieftains. But it’s still kind of weird.)
 
 
 

You can click on the image to make it larger and easier to see.

Difficult

I should be writing. I want to be writing. But we’ve been moving and unpacking and . . . Anyway, everything seems very difficult right now for some reason. Like swimming against a current. I’m tired. Not from the move, just . . . mentally fatigued.

Anyway, Neil visited me again in a dream last night (and if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, go here for some background). And this seemed to have something to do with my not being able to write lately. Except he was a furniture salesman. And though he was wearing a black shirt, he was wearing white pants, and we all know that’s wrong. I’m sure it all means something, but I’m too tired to figure it out.

At any rate, in the dream Neil took me to a round table with a checkerboard painted on it and tried to show me some kind of complicated game, something he said helped him when he couldn’t write. It wasn’t checkers, but it did use little round, carved wooden discs. He called it rummy, but isn’t that a card game? I’m sure if I could remember everything he told me, I’d be smoothly sailing on with my work. Alas, I can’t remember anything he actually said; I only have this mental picture of him distributing these game pieces on the table. And I couldn’t even see what was carved on them.

Well then. We’ve watched the queen this morning, and the alarm installation is supposed to happen shortly, and I have dishes and laundry and more unpacking to do. If I’m not going to write, I should at least be useful.

A Couple (Random) Things

A while back, I did this “Lucky 7” meme but my WIP didn’t have a page 77 yet. Well, now it does, so I’m reposting for this meme. Taken from page 77 of The K-Pro:

“A minute,” David said, though his voice wasn’t loud enough to be heard over the rapping. David pulled open the door to save it from any more abuse and was surprised to find Liz there, though he knew he really shouldn’t be. What surprised David more, however, was the tiny stab of disappointment he felt when he saw his co-star.

Without the elaborate wig and dress, the heavy makeup, and the heeled boots that made her a good three inches taller, David observed there to be something of the “kid sister” in Liz. Her pageboy, freckles, and plimsolls lent her a sporty and almost childish look. But her next move dispelled the notion. As David began to ask what she needed, Liz reached up to draw his face down for a very un-sisterly kiss.

I almost couldn’t have asked for a better seven lines, eh? (I interpreted “lines” as “sentences” as opposed to the physical line breaks on the page.)

In other random news, we’re moving into a new house tomorrow, and not so far from this house (on a road called “Camino Diablo” no less) are these:

Which I think is very cool.