Tag Archives: ME Kinkade

Love like Palmer/Gaiman

I had this whole other thing I was going to write about, and then Amanda Palmer happened.

Well, to be more accurate, Amanda Palmer has been happenin’ for quite awhile now, but what happened was I read her book/marriage review of her husband’s impending book: Neil Gaimain’s “The Ocean At the End of the Lane.”

It’s a beautiful, heart-rending piece, and despite her claiming she’s not much of a writer, she is so visceral and emotive that I can’t help but admire her. She’s like a rock star e.e. cummings.

I mean, just look at this:

and for a second i felt what it must feel like to wait in a line for five hours and have him sign a book that changed your life.
to stand not in admiration of the husband writer, the writer who wants his tea but not with the milk hot because then it’s just wrong, the writer who won’t remember what time he said he’d meet you, the writer who has to sign 12,000 copies of his new book that’s a bestseller before it hits the shelves and actually that’s really annoying because i’m slightly jealous of his instant success no matter what he does, the writer who gets irritated when i leave too many clothes on the floor and he can’t get to the bathroom, the writer who is awkward and has a hard time in party situations when he feels he doesn’t understand the social hierarchy, the writer who is not really a writer are you kidding me he’s just some snoring heap of flesh beside me, sweating and breathing and grinding his teeth and probably dreaming the kinds of dreams that neil gaimans dream, full of dreams and wishes and magic and wonder and all the shit that can drive me crazy if i’m not in the right mood for it….no…the WRITER. the man who actually takes a pen to a paper and writes things and creates a believable world that sucks you in and spits you out, its logic embedded in your mind forevermore. that. i saw THAT. and i love THAT so much, the fact that he can DO that…and i don’t get to see that most of the time. i’m too busy looking at the man. as it should be, i think.

Now I probably should just leave it at that because he’s one of my all-time favorite authors and I have the absolute privilege of being one of those people who gets to stand in line for 5 hours so he can sign my book next week when he comes to town to talk about his book on his last-ever book tour, and if I keep writing there’s a slim slim slim chance he might actually read what I say and then I’ll be embarrassed later.

But I’ve thought this awhile so I’m going to just go ahead and say it: I am in awe of that pair.

Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. How can you not love them?

I’m pretty much in awe of them separately, of course.

I mean, Neil Gaiman, master of  your dreams and nightmares. He taps into literary visions you only wish you could grasp. He’s got an impossible mop of hair, a sonorous voice I wish I could bottle because I’d listen to it every night, a consistently black wardrobe, and a charming dry wit. He’s just precious, and yet also scary, like a beautiful snake that you think won’t bite you but seems like maybe it’s poisonous; at least, it’s been somewhere you’re afraid to go.

And then there’s Amanda Palmer. Frankly, she scares the pants off me. She’s so unafraid, unflinching in front of a crowd or a feeling. (Go watch her TED talk if you’re not sure about that). She does this beautiful zany thing with her eyebrows, and her music is so daring and interesting (ok, I admit that I don’t always get it. But I do always feel it). I’m terrified of her, but I also wish I could be like her, so avant-guard and free and magical.

And then they had to go and get together. And now they provide a whole ‘nother kind of inspiration.

Now, I’m not a big fan on spying on celebrity’s lives: I figure they probably deserve their peace just as much as any of us, thankyoukindly, and sometimes more. But I admit an intense fascination with these two. I don’t go seeking information on their relationship, but I’m always quietly thrilled when one of them writes something about the other, or someone posts a hypnotic picture of the pair, because I try to imagine what being in that relationship is like.

Like a pairing of two titans, I think. Electric.

Though Palmer talks about them having “rough” times, the part of their relationship I (and the rest of the internet, presumably) see is so effusive it’s grandiose. I want to be like that. I love my fiance dearly, and I wonder, if all our secret private talks were open to the world (and if someone cared to read them) would I sound as loving and intense as they do? Or is their affection for each other something special, out of reach for the rest of us?

If, by some slim chance, Mr. and Mrs. Palmer/Gaiman read this, I want to say thank you. Thank you for the courage to love with vivacity, with abandon, with depth, with honesty.

And thank you for giving us glimpses of that love. May the world be blessed with more like it.


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High School as Hell: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This summer, I’m taking time to do something I should have done a long time ago: watch “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I know, I know, I’m way behind on this one. The first season came out in 1997, when I was not cool enough to watch amazing television, apparently.

So I’m making up for lost time, thanks to the wonders of Netflix and the ability to binge-watch shows.

Years ago–probably when everyone else was busy watching good TV–I remember hearing Joss Whedon say his vampire-slaying, demon-fighting, world-saving show was actually about normal high school drama. I remember smirking and being all “pssh, whatevs. The only vampires in my high school are teachers who suck out our lives with too much homework.”

Well, Mr. Whedon, I finally get it, and I apologize for my teenaged smart-aleck sass. This show really IS about high school being hell. For every vampire-related monster-of-the-week catastrophe, Whedon folded in some kind of completely normal high school problem.

So, to distract me from the crop tops I’m developing an unnatural desire for thanks to this show, I’ve made a list. For your viewing pleasure, this is all the episodes of the first season; the monster story and it’s real-world allegory.

  1. “Welcome to the Hellmouth”– discovering a den of vampires/being the new girl at school
  2. “The Harvest”- group of vampires have some kind of prophecy/making friends
  3. “Witch”– body-snatching voodoo-working witch/dealing with parental expectations and fitting in
  4. “Teacher’s Pet”– teacher eaten by a mantis monster/struggling with schoolwork
  5. “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date”– pack of vampires are after you/struggling to balance dating vs. friendships
  6. “The Pack”-demonic hyenas eat the principal/changing friend groups and dealing with bullying
  7. “Angel”-falling for a vampire who claims he no longer feeds/developing a crush on and trusting a “bad boy”
  8. “I, Robot…You, Jane”– internet demon bent on taking over the world/online dating and the obsessive use of computers (guilty!)
  9. “The Puppet Show”– being bullied by your ventriloquist dummy/stage fright and mandatory school participation activities
  10. “Nightmares”– nightmares become literally real/test anxiety and fear of abandonment because of parents’ divorce
  11. “Out of Mind, Out of Sight”– invisible girl on a rampage/cliques and feeling like an outsider
  12. “Prophecy Girl”– fear of a deadly prophecy/not having a date to the big dance

Crop tops! So many crop tops! And ugly sweaters for Xander. At least Willow is *supposed* to look kinda dorky.

Not only is watching this show a lot of fun, it’s been helpful to remember these kinds of teen pressures as I start a YA story. I’m not much older than the YA audience, but those years might as well be decades in terms of how my priorities have changed (and hormones settled down!).

It’s also great to see a master creator like Joss Whedon develop his work. I’m a familiar Whedon-ite by now, and he was certainly already good in the Buffy days, but this show isn’t as developed from the get-go as some of his work. It’s nice to know that even the pros can learn and grow.

It’s also a helpful reminder that no great story is just about the surface level. If Buffy were really about slaying vampires–and only that–I wouldn’t be looking forward to season two. But there’s a lot of emotional depth beneath each monster fight because of this “high school as hell” subtext. Sure, she may be in a fistfight with an invisible girl, but really she’s dealing with feelings of loneliness and isolation. And I’m not much of a fighter, but I can relate to feeling invisible.

I look forward to the rest of the show!


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What’s the Diff? Past vs. Passed

A quick visit from your friendly neighborhood grammarian, here today to explain an easy mistake that spellcheck won’t discover!

Past vs. Passed

As with many homophones–words that sound the same but mean different things and are spelled differently–it’s easy for your brain to say “past” and your fingers to helpfully write “passed.”

Quick reminder: Past means “things that happened before” (as in not the present nor the future); or nearby, as in “beyond”; or sometimes, “to be on the further side of”

Passed, on the other hand, can mean the opposite of failing on a test; the past tense of “to pass,” as in “to have gone by previously”

The definition you want will help make it clear which of the two you need.


He passed his very important test. He was glad it was now in his past. In the first part, he did not fail the test, but got good marks (passed). The second sentence is about when the test took place; it is no longer in the future or the present (past).

Joanna walked past Betsy, refusing even to look at her; she passed her right by. Betsy, in return, looked right past Joanna.
Joanna walked on the other side of (past) Betsy, and she did it previously (she passed), so that sentence needs both words. Betsy uses a different meaning to look beyond (past), rather than at, Joanna.

Moving from the future into the past, time passed.
This might seem tricky, because both uses involve time, but it’s not so bad. The name we use for time that has already happened (the past) is the place that time, as a noun–that is, as a thing–is moving toward, so in this case it went by previously (passed).


So when you’re looking at a statement like “The black cat walked ____ Bryce,” how do you know which to use?

Look at the definitions, and try to fit one in.
-thing that happened before (past)
-nearby (past)
-to the other side of (past)
-to pass a test (passed)
-went by previously (passed)

“The black cat walked nearby Bryce.” The word you need is therefore past.

If the sentence were instead “The orange cat _____ Bryce,” the word “nearby” no longer fits. Now, “went by previously” is a better fit–“The orange cat previously went by Bryce.” That orange cat just passed him.


This can be tricky because your spellcheck won’t pick up on this mistake, so look over your text carefully to figure out which word you really need.

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Do the Shuffle: Zombie School

Whattya think? Could you make it through zombie school?

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May 11, 2013 · 10:08 am

Review: A Practical Wedding

A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful CelebrationA Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration by Meg Keene

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would like a pocket-size version of Meg Keene to carry with me as I go through the wedding planning process. She’d be amazing! Better than an angel and devil on your shoulder, my mini-Meg would tell me to breathe, not freak out over pretty pictures of things I can’t afford, and talk me through the inevitable tough moments as I plan my wedding bash. A little voice of sanity in an insane bridal world, if you will.

This book was outstanding, and I can’t recommend it enough. Compared to the others, which may claim to be about being budgeting while encouraging you to “splurge” on 100 different things, A Practical Wedding is, well, practical.

Look, if you want a book to make you feel princessy and floofy and special-snowflake and to reassure you that you HAVE to do a hundred million idiotic things, go read something–just about anything–else wedding-related. Heck, forget buying a book and just sign up for every wedding website out there. And then book your honeymoon to an asylum where the internet is blocked, because it will probably drive you Cra-ZY.

If you’d rather be realistic about your wedding and learn how to negotiate the challenges and fights that seem to come with the territory, pick up this book. Additionally, it doesn’t assume much about how things “have to be.” This is a book that would work well for an atheist couple, a gay couple (though a lot of the language is still habitually bride-centric), a Methodist couple, or a freewheeling-whatever-goes couple. In addition to the fantastic real-world bride stories (covering everything from weddings after tragedies to doing your own floral arrangements), I really appreciated that Keene included the actual history of weddings. Long story short: If someone says you “HAVE” to do it because “tradition,” odds are it’s an imaginary tradition.

I had originally planned to read this book then pass it on to another engaged friend…but now I’m not sure I can give it up. I can already see myself going back and rereading sections as it comes down to the wire to actually handle the issue for that chapter. I’ve already asked my groom to read the extremely sensible pre-marriage questions section with me. I’m considering passing this book on to my mom to ward off “tradition!” fights.

But you should definitely pick up a copy if you’re engaged and overwhelmed! (Or just read her website. But really, you’ll want the book, too!)

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Review: ParaNorman

I wasn’t planning on reviewing movies: a lot of people do that, and do it really well, and I just don’t watch enough TV to keep up any sort of pace. But I just watched “ParaNorman,” and wowza.

Long review short:

  • If you are an adult who loves stop-motion or just really fantastic visuals,…
  • If you are an adult who has always loved quirky kids’ movies,…
  • If you are interested in supernatural tropes and twists on your expectations,…
  • If you are a parent of a child who is bullied, or who you think may be acting as a bully, you and your child…
  • If you are a parent of an older-age kid who fits in one of the above categories, you and your child …
  • If you’ve always been or are the parent of a kid who likes movies that might be a little bit scary for other kids, …

…Watch “ParaNorman.”

I wish this movie had made a bigger splash when it came out. After hearing it was stop-motion from the guys who did “Coraline,” I was interested, but none of the ads made me actually want to see it. For one thing, they seemed to focus a lot on ghosts and “talking to the dead.” And overall the ads didn’t seem to have a clear idea of what it was.

Ghosts are in the movie, and talking to the dead is significant, but you know what 90% of the movie is? Zombies. Funny zombies, scary zombies, bad b-movie zombies, regular people that are pretty much zombies because they’re kinda dumb…

It’s a movie about Norman, a kid who can talk to/see the dead, but no one in town believes him and he’s bullied and teased by pretty much everyone. Except then it turns out that the town legend about cursed pilgrims and a witch is, um, actually true. Oops! And Norman is the only one who can rescue them, but he’s a little fuzzy on the “how” part of that. It takes awhile for him to work it out, and he does, in a better-than-the-grown-ups solution he decides upon all by himself. He makes a lot of friends in the process, and most of the townspeople realize how stupid they’ve been (and the rest deny it).

And did I mention it is visually stunning? There were times I wanted to pause the movie just to look at all the detail. I can’t believe this was claymation/stop-motion. I mean, it’s nothing like “Wallace & Grommet,” and those are some incredible movies. I wish I could see the set and the props up close. It would be an amazing miniatures display!

For some of the supernatural elements, they’ve overlaid some light CGI. It’s not distracting, but is really excellent at emphasizing the “otherness” of the spooky bits. And it was great! Drool-worthy.

If you’re still on the fence about “ParaNorman,” (or you’re just looking for other good stuff) consider this list. If you’ve liked something else here, odds are good you’ll like “ParaNorman,” too.

“The Graveyard Book,” book by Neil Gaiman
“Coraline,” by Neil Gaiman (book or movie. Personally I found the movie a lot scarier).
“The Corpse Bride,” movie by Tim Burton
“The Nightmare Before Christmas,” by Tim Burton
“Frankenweenie,” by Tim Burton (my goodness, can you imagine how epic it would be if you got Neil Gaiman together with Tim Burton?! Minds would explode)
“Anya’s Ghost,” comic by Vera Brosgol
“Monster House,” movie directed by Gil Kenan

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A Family In Isolation

I found this incredible article on April 1 and assumed it was an April Fool’s joke. But it’s real; the Smithsonian isn’t really known for pulling legs, and besides, the article was originally published in January.

In 1978, a team of geologists discovered a family of 5 that had been living in complete isolation more than 150 miles from any civilization for 40 years. Here’s the article. Read it, it’s fantastic.

It’s hard to imagine what that would be like. This is not “Little House on the Prairie” isolation: this is “if you can’t grow it or make it, you don’t have it” isolation. This is “our best entertainment is telling each other our dreams” isolation.

I found it very inspiring and enlightening. What does all that isolation do to a person? I think it’s fascinating the way each of the family m

embers responded to their discovery of other people. Fear, initially. Gradual acceptance. Then variations: stubborn refusal; stoic interest; awe.

The discussions of the differences in language were really interesting, too. The daughters had invented a singsong way of speaking that the geologists found difficult to understand; they didn’t really need anyone but their parents and brother to understand them anyway, so they never adopted a “grown-up” tone.

I think these kinds of amazing true stories are important to read because they can inform so much of our writing. For example, I think it would have helped Hugh Howey write his descriptions of feral children or the man alone in the silo. In short, they wouldn’t be speaking with the strangers, or maybe at all. Maybe they’d have their own languages. There’d be a lot more fear. There would be more unusual ways of coping.

The Point Cabrillo Lighthouse. Image from KelleyHouseMuseum.org

I’ve found stories of isolation compelling since I visited the Cabrillo National Monument and lighthouse in San Diego a few years ago. The museum there explained what lighthouse work was like at the time: a family lived in the lighthouse, visiting the small city of San Diego only every few weeks for supplies, a long two-day journey. They were otherwise alone, and had to rely on their ability to collect rainwater and provide their own entertainment. (Clearly they were often bored; so many things in that house were “decorated” with seashells!)

Even more interesting? The lighthouse assistant–often a woman–lived alone, in a small house nearby. While she was in training to take over the lighthouse in an emergency or possibly in the future, she did not eat or interact with the family. Her isolation was even greater than that of the lighthouse keeper, a man who could at least rely on his family to be there for him.

What inspires you?

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