Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Time for the Glamourous Writing

Okay. Tomorrow starts my newest phase of insanity: NaNoWriMo, in which 60,000 people around the world each attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. Am I ready?

Coffee pot: Check.

Plot: Sort of.

Genre: Young adult. Controversial. Teenager tested.

Oy. what was I thinking?

On your mark... Get set...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Seth, Say It Ain't So!

I’m pleased to offer up this review of The Q Guide to Broadway, a new book by one of my favorite radio personalities, Seth Rudetsky:

For those of you who don’t know (which is pretty much all of you), in addition to being a writer and librarian, I am also a nut for Broadway musicals. Sadly, I must admire them from afar, since even in-town productions are out of my price range. Which is why I’m so enamored with Rudetsky, who hosts numerous music and talk programs on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Broadway channel.

I won’t repeat Rudetsky’s entire show-biz pedigree – which you can find here – but suffice it to say that he’s pretty much a Broadway blueblood with the sort of inside access most of us can’t ever hope to achieve. What’s even better is that he offers a musician’s perspective, telling us to listen (for example) to that last note Mary Martin sings in The Sound of Music’s Do-Re-Mi, and other such heads-up alerts. As someone who fancies myself a singer – someday, maybe – I have learned a lot by listening to him. As we say here in Georgia (where we sport the second-lowest SAT scores in the nation, or something like that), it’s downright edja-cay-shun-al. But it’s also entertaining, because Rudetsky is a very funny guy.

Still, I was a little cynical when I heard he had written a book about Broadway musicals. I figured, with his inside knowledge, that it might be an insider’s book. Like, inside jokes meant for Beautiful People, which probably wouldn’t include me or anyone I know.

I’m pleased to say I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Q Guide to Broadway is an insider’s book, but only in its authorship. While I imagine even Beautiful People will find some lovely gems inside, it’s very well suited for neophytes. Rudetsky tells us the basics, even starting with the definition of “Broadway.” He shows us where to get discounted tickets, where to learn more about the shows and the stars, which CDs are essential to a good collection, and lots more. And best of all, he does it all without making the reader feel like a Pitiful Outsider. Rudetsky’s relationship with the reader is definitely more mentor-protégé than expert-idiot.

And while the “Q” in The Q Guide to Broadway stands for “queer,” it’s not just a gay guide. Of course, somebody like Fred Phelps might get the heebie jeebies reading it, but anything that gives Fred Phelps the willies deserves a thumbs-up.

That’s not to say the book is perfect. It could use one more round of proofreading, and people who aren’t familiar with Rudetsky’s lively personality could be taken aback by his effervescence (those who like Rudetsky will adjust quite nicely).

And there’s one thing more you should know. Rudetsky hurt my feelings. Yes, he did. In praising the performance of baritone Robert Weede in Most Happy Fella, Rudetsky points out that Weede sings a particularly high note on an “e” vowel. He writes: “E vowels are notoriously difficult to sing [in high ranges] because they tighten you up. That’s why so many bad singers change the word ‘me’ to ‘may.’”

Bad singers? Gee, Seth, isn’t that a bit harsh? I mean, I did that when I was learning and I still have to adjust vowels if I go above a high A. And I bet it’s no coincidence that Leonard Bernstein assigned an “ah” vowel to all the really high notes in “Glitter and Be Gay.” Bad singers? Inexperienced, maybe. Out of their range, perhaps. But bad? Doesn't "bad” mean irredeemable? What a depressing thought!

Oh, all right. I just don’t want to admit I’m a bad singer. And maybe always will be. But still…Ouch!

That weakness aside, if you’re interested in Broadway but couldn’t hope to have a clue as to what’s going on, this is a great book to get you started. If you already know a bit about Broadway and you’re planning a trip to New York, this book could definitely save you some bucks. And if you happen to be a Rudetsky fan, well, this book is a definite winner.

But … really, I’m a bad singer?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Nanoo, Nanoo

I have decided to do something completely insane -- yes, more insane than moving to 10 acres of mud and quitting a perfectly good job to write. I have signed up with "NaNoWriMo" -- National Novel Writing Month -- and I am going to attempt to write a 50,000 novel in 30 days. Probably a young adult novel -- Zeze has given me a very good idea for something that may not have been done a billion times yet. I may run a proposal by one of my best friends, a former children's librarian, in a few days to see what he thinks. He and Zeze are my experts on children's lit.

This organization does some good stuff in addition to their annual writing frenzy. Check out their website to see.

Why am I doing such an idiotic thing when I'm already so busy? Well, because I want to be busy writing my own stuff as well as resumes and ghostwriting. Rita Mae Brown, or somebody, says you should have 12 short-story/article/book manuscripts out there and circulating at any one time. I have 1 children's book manuscript done and 0 circulating. If I wait until I think I have time, it'll never happen. Which is the whole point behind the NaNoWriMo thing. So I'm signing on and brewing one big urn of coffee on Halloween night that hopefully will last me through Thanksgiving.

At any rate, my only entries during the month of November may be "AAAARRRGGHHHH!!!!" and "&%%$$@@*!!" Or maybe just "ZZZZZZZZZZZZ."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Senator Fardinhead is a Criminal

What follows is part fiction, part truth – it’s part of my advanced legal research midterm exam. Any resemblance to an actual person living or dead is … oh, well, you know the rest.

Wow. Old Senator Richard “I think we should pave the entire state of New Mexico” Fardinhead – yeah, that guy – is at it again. He has introduced an EPA rule that would instantly lower the level of volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”) in the air – that’s the stuff that causes global warming, folks – by eliminating one particular substance from the VOC definition – something called HFE-7300, which is manufactured by 3M Company.

This is a bee-yoo-tee-ful plan, dear readers, because the Republicrats would get two bangs for their buck. First, the rule would make VOC limits less restrictive for businesses which, as we all know, is pretty much the purpose of the current Republicrat leadership. Second, if this thing is passed, the Republicrats will be able to crank out numbers purporting to show that they have actually lowered VOCs and therefore saved Mother Earth from the dangers of global warming (which they are now almost willing to concede is real).

Only, of course, they’ll be comparing apples with oranges: the “before” list will include HFE-7300, and the “after” list won’t.

Now ain’t that a happy occurrence for an election year? Just another example of how politicians operate in Washington.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Oh, Really?

Venerable Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia stated, during a debate with ACLU president Nadine Strossen, that he doesn’t think federal judges should take on politically controversial issues. "On controversial issues on stuff like homosexual rights, abortion, we debate with each other and persuade each other and vote on it either through representatives or a constitutional amendment," he said.

Then, talking out of the other side of his mouth, he pointed out that because race is clearly protected under the Constitution, universities shouldn’t be allowed to use race as a determining factor in admissions.

Uh, isn’t race a politically charged issue?

Scalia, of course, is everybody’s favorite “strict constructionist,” meaning that he thinks the Constitution should be interpreted based only on its actual wording and the intent of the original writers. So that’s how he would answer my “uh” question: when it’s really in the Constitution, then it doesn’t matter whether it’s politically charged or not.

But Scalia underestimates the complexity, and the clarity, of the English language. As Strossen apparently pointed out (sorry, I’m too lazy to watch the video), Scalia’s approach would have prevented the Court from outlawing segregation in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. That, by the way, was a unanimous decision.

My favorite quote from the debate, though, is this, aimed at the Court’s more progressive rulings in past years: "Someday, you're going to get a very conservative Supreme Court and regret that approach." Someday?

I got to see Scalia speak in a Q&A setting when I was in law school. He’s a very congenial guy, and very entertaining as a speaker. Too bad he’s such a … well, I can’t think of any wholesome words for it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Good news and bad news...

Wow. The good news is I have lots and lots of writing to keep me busy. The bad news is, it’s not writing for this blog. So my apologies for skipping out on you. I’ve been completely overwhelmed! Somehow I need to refine my routine. It’s getting there, but I’ve got a ways to go ….

In a few days I will be posting something on this blog that will be utter nonsense – it’s part of the midterm exam I’m giving to my advanced legal research class. I will include a line to that effect, and I will probably use fictitious names just to be safe, but be forewarned!

For now, lots of thoughts have been going on in my head about my daughter’s 14th birthday (today), and music (since concert season has kicked in) and what a jerk Bush is and all the usual stuff.

One big shock in particular – when quit my job, I figured I’d continue my health insurance, which I’m allowed to do through a US law known as COBRA. The catch is you have to pay full price for it. I figured yeah, a few hundred, it’s probably worth it. I got the bill: $1100. PER MONTH. Geez! So now I’m not quite sure what to do. Makes me wish I lived in some other country. We are so ass-backwards in this country….
Ok, I'm aiming for a blog entry tomorrow. Even if it's just to say "hi."