Category Archives: True Stories

Anecdotes from my past and present.

Alan Cumming Sang Sappy Songs

Posted on February 8, 2016 by

And it was an endless cascade of unexpected delights.

Kelly and I went with a friend to see Alan Cumming’s cabaret show on Saturday night. It’s available as an album and I recommend looking at the set list, because his idea of a sappy song might match what you imagine. To give you an idea, there’s an original condom commercial, Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes,”–that one I knew he’d pick–a thing by Miley Cyrus, something called “Mother Glasgow” (which comes with an annotated version for those of us who aren’t Scottish) and “Complainte De La Butte.” The patter is included in its entirely too, and Cumming is hilarious.

It was the best concert I’ve had since the magical evening when I first saw Jonathan Coulton. He is a stunning performer: every cell of him is electrifying.

On a more teacherly note, my spring course at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, which bears the not very poetic name “Advanced Speculative Fiction Workshop” launches this April. If you might like to be part of the workshop, the link is here.

Paddling hard, great views all around

Posted on January 18, 2016 by

imageA rather brisk deadline has fallen upon me this month, and so I’m madly polishing The Nature of a Pirate in order that all of you may have it later this year. If you’ve been wondering why I’m not as Twittery or active on the Book of Face lately, that would be the big reason. It’s in a good cause, and it won’t last long. Look–it’s in the MacMillan catalogue! Actually, don’t, as there’s nothing much there yet beyond the title. I wish I could show you the preliminary cover art. It’s so pretty.

(Smaller reasons for my absence would include my current UTSC course, Worldbuilding from the Ground Up, my current UCLA course, Creating Universes, Building Worlds, and the advanced speculative fiction workshop I’m developing for UCLA for spring. Also a talk I’m preparing, another talk I’m preparing, and a panel I’m going to be on in the near.)

Finally, I am gearing up to take A Daughter of No Nation on tour in February. I will be in Vancouver on February 13th, reading at the Storm Crow Tavern at 3:00 p.m. I’ll be at the Cedar Creek Powell’s in Portland, Oregon on February 16th at 7:00 p.m. and on February 20th I’m taking Sophie back to her hometown, San Francisco, with a joint reading at Borderlands at 2:00 p.m. with author Randy Henderson. Invite your friends! Bring your neighbors! Invite librarians! You may even invite any pirates you happen to know, as long as they come unarmed and ready to negotiate.

 

Better Homes and Castles

Posted on December 28, 2015 by

photo by Kelly Robson

photo by Kelly Robson

One of my irrational peeves about pop culture is the way writer homes are sometimes depicted as vast, cool, expansive spaces, with tons of square footage and twenty-foot high ceilings with massive amounts of natural light and floor to attic bookcases on the walls. This doesn’t bother me about Castle, however, because Nathan Fillion’s character is portrayed as having come from money in the first place and being extraordinarily successful in the second, but when the fictional writer in question isn’t a New York Times bestselling born-with-a-silver-spoon personality, it irks.

Having said that, my little condo doesn’t much look like a set designer went nuts on the premises, but it does have an extraordinary number of luxuries attached to it.

The hot tub you’ve all probably heard about, and like most of these places, there’s a gym, communal barbecues, and an event room. The real perk is the location: we’re five minutes from the subway and smack in the midst of cultural treasures like the AGO, the TiFF Bell Lightbox, City Halls new and old, and all the theaters.

One of the things I probably don’t mention all that often is that my marvelous well-located building also has a library, complete with a random scattering of books, WiFi that mostly does work, and a TV and faux fireplace that–as far as I can tell–aren’t plugged into anything.

library.jpgIt’s big, spacious, quiet, and frequently empty, and it has a couple of workstations as well as the lounging chairs pictured here. There’s a window along one wall which lets in the light of day. It’s where I go to clear my head when I need to get away from home, cats and distractions, but can’t or don’t want to go all the way out to a coffee shop.

I’m sitting here as I write these words, sifting through projects and priorities for the coming month, with Of Montreal’s Sunlandic Twins playing via a portable Bluetooth speaker and a view of gray and rainy clouds.

I suspect and hope that 2016 is going to be an extraordinary year, filled both with wonders and opportunities. This little bit of quiet, at the stub end of the year, is all about gearing up and getting ready.

Busted glasses, a nice review, the Year’s Best TOC and London in the movies

Posted on December 14, 2015 by

75BF92B5-A575-465E-A05F-C801455ED08DFirst, a question, about your favorite movie set in present-day London. What is it?

My incredible reward for virtue Sunday morning–virtue being that I hauled my ass out the door at nine to go have what turned out to be an exceptionally, yea unfairly robust and demanding hot yoga session–was that when I opened my locker and tried to put my glasses back on, they snapped in my hand.

(Actually, my true reward for virtue is that the incomparable Andrew at 312 Optical assured me that they were still under warranty, and that he would urge the folks who make them to send out the part post-haste so he could fix them. And he had checked all this before I got there, because he follows me on social media.)

I do have back-up glasses, but the lenses are very different. I’m looking at a week or more of underperforming and feeling eyestrainy. And, possibly, being offline a lot. Which is the whole reason I’m telling you this.)

Other nice things that happened this weekend included this fantastic review of A Daughter of No Nation in The Toronto Star, by Marissa Stapely:

The appeal of this series lies in Dellamonica’s thoughtful, penetrating writing … and the effortless way Dellamonica weaves sexually diverse characters into the narrative without making it feel like they’re fulfilling a quota. The overarching sense of social responsibility is refreshing, too. Sophie questions her new world as all young people should: she does not simply let life happen to her, but instead seeks to understand and improve her surroundings.

And Kelly’s posting the TOC for the Gardner Dozois anthology The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Third Annual Collection, which will include her debut story, “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill.”

Blessings, so many blessings. There were fish tacos, and hugs from our favorite baker, some funny posts from an artist friend who’s trying to clean out one of her piles of multimedia supplies, the first few chapters of The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World by David Jaher, chocolate olive-oil cake from Forno Cultura, roasted parsnips and a rewatch of Thor: The Dark World.

Most of all, there was talk of London, London, OMG, London, where Kelly and I will be going, for the first time, in a mere 95 days. Part of the reason for rewatching The Dark World (not that one needs a reason) is that it’s one of the few movies we own that’s set in London now. As opposed to London in the 1900s, 1800s, 1700s, Doctorwhohundreds, etc. The only other one may be Love Actually. Hence my initial question. Because I’m not entirely sure I’m up to rewatching Luther.

Spring Cleaning, Autumn Style

Posted on October 26, 2015 by

write memeI have archived and locked the pre-2015 entries on my Livejournal, as part of a wider process of tidying up and looking over material from the past, the better to eventually create an official archive. I won’t shut down LJ, which is now a mirror for my WordPress site. Those of you who read it there, rather than here, will still see posts, business as usual. I’ve simply closed the door for awhile on a ten year chapter of my life that, mostly, doesn’t seem very relevant to the now. I’ll browse through, over time, and cherry pick out any good bits for reposting.

This journal-combing process extends back in time to the pre-Internet era; I kept diaries when I was in my teens, and I’ve been looking back at those too, sometimes with surprise and delight, often with embarrassment. Teenaged alyx telewittered a lot, OMG, so much, and affected to care about hockey, and had handwriting that makes my current scrawl look like the calligraphy of some ancient, highly trained Empress of Japan. At fourteen, I documented my early menstrual cycles in bracingly gross detail, and (cringe) occasionally with diagrams. We should send someone back in time to teach the concept of TMI to the little children of Alberta, perhaps sometime in the early Seventies.

Cool discoveries abound, too, though: teen Alyx drew a lot of cartoons, weird distorted bobblehead portraits. She often reports working hard on various writing projects (some original, some fanfic) and she read a shocking number of books.

Year fourteen is the only of the handwritten diaries I’ve reviewed in detail, and there’s a lot that’s missing: things I can remember that were happening at home and school that simply get no mention. This was, in part, because I couldn’t count on the entries not being read by others. I was about sixteen, I think, when I made a truly secure hiding place for my journals. We’ll have to see if the content changes when that happens, or after my past self leaves for university.

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