It's the Doctor!! Or, More Doctor Who Than I've Seen Since June
(Okay, so that subtitle's not true, because I got The Caves of Androzani out of the library so I could finally find out what happened, put that mystery to rest and see how my Doctor turned into the jerk of a blond curly-haired Doctor, but that's old Doctor Who and I'm now talking about new Doctor Who. Just so we're straight on that.)
Apparently, on Friday the BBC held a Children In Need appeal telethon, featuring clips of shows and parodies and I don't know what else because I only have normal cable and don't get the BBC, not even the somewhat sub-par BBC Canada. But this is important because one of the shows they featured was Doctor Who, of which I'm clearly a fan. I'm even happier that they've posted it on the website for all to see. And while I thought they'd just have some sort or scene unrelated to the main arc, it actually picks up right after the last episode left off. This is the minutes just after the Eccleston/Tennant regeneration! (No, you're not imagining things. That really was just a fangirlish "Squee!" you heard in the background.)
Now I've known that Tennant has to be a totally different Doctor than Eccleston was, and I'm okay with that, but it was lovely seeing what that might be like. He is a bit of a loon, but then Eccleston's Doctor had that slightly manic edge to him as well. I'm really looking forward to seeing where this all goes, and Christmas (and the Christmas Invasion, which I hope/pray/will demand that CBC plays at a reasonable time) doesn't seem so very far away anymore.
Also: I went to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets last night with Jana, Kel, Rebecca, Amanda and Peter, which I loved (yes, both the movie and the company). And apparently I was the only one who didn't know/remember that David Tennant plays Barty Crouch, Jr., in this film, because I was totally thrown by his appearance in the opening. As in, I think I said aloud during the opening credits, "Oh my god, is that the Doctor?!"
It's a good sign, I suppose, that I'm already equating Tennant with the Doctor.
When I woke this morning, it was to the sound of a motor of some kind outside my bedroom window. "Oh no!" my sleepy brain cried. "Snowplow!"
And without opening my eyes or my curtains, I could see it: one of my lane-bound neighbours pushing their heavy snowplow up and down our long, steep driveway, the snow flying up and over everything in a great white plume. And I sighed, for it is November after all, and I knew it would come sometime.
Yet when I rose, it was to discover a world covered only with crunchy brown leaves, and that the sound I heard was an enthusiastic leaf blower.
So imagine my surprise when I paused from writing away at my newest story-in-progress to find that the snow had come while I wasn't paying attention. All afternoon it's drifted down and stayed, soft and tiny white flakes that are hiding the leaves, hiding the lane, hiding the deck behind a thin blanket. It's still coming down, thin and fine as powdered sugar.
I mentioned in a recent post some of the history of my family as related to World War II, and because of this my experiences with Remembrance Day during my childhood were often strange and confusing. I remember beginning a poem in grade six that I titled, "I Don't Know Who to Hate," in which I tried to work out who it was that I was supposed to be angry with. Who was it whose memory I was supposed to be cherishing? Who should I be thanking? Whose deeds should I remember?
I couldn't finish the poem. I remember staring at the unfinished lines so conflicted, so hurt and confused, because I didn't want to hate anyone. I didn't want to choose sides. And I didn't know what to do.
I threw the poem away.
And I think that that was the moment when I truly realized what Remembrance Day was, or should be, or had to be for me. That I was not only remembering the soldiers of a particular nation or war, or those who never returned home, but everyone. Those who fought, and those who couldn't; those who had their lives rent in two by war, any war; those who suffered and lost; those who fought for freedom, or fought for their families, or who did what they thought was right, who suffered and were wounded and lost friends and family and died instead of living the type of life that I take for granted. On this day, I am remembering war and what it does to people -- all wars, all people. I am remembering the peacekeepers, and what they do to keep us safe. I am remembering the past and I am hoping for the future.
I will wear a poppy and say thank you to people I do not know, cannot know.
When I said that WFC was an inspiration, I did not lie. Yesterday I finished a new short story by taking scenes from a broken SF apocalypse story I'd attempted earlier in the year and somehow transforming and rewriting them into a fantasy story. It's short -- 2,200 words -- and needs some pondering and tweaking, but wow. New story, just like that. It's been far too long since that happened so easily. I'm calling this one "On a Day That Has No Name" for the moment.
I'm also working on three new short stories. Three. Okay, one's a very condensed rewrite of something I wrote in 1998, one's an attempt to create a short story from a chopped piece of the novel that I just couldn't throw away, and one's entirely new. (The entirely new one was actually inspired by one of Elise's necklaces, one that I wanted hopelessly, desperately and could not afford ... but then Sarah bought it. So I can see it, at least.)
My brain is also churning away (creaking and groaning), working towards a novel beginning that does not suck. I am hopeful.
Inspiration meets motivation meets deadlines. A lovely, productive combination.
1. When you receive a compliment about your physical appearance do you agree but affect modesty so people won't think you're conceited?
No. I say, "Thank you." Thanking a person connotes neither agreement nor disagreement, despite what might be said in Mean Girls.
2. Do you worry that others can see the contempt that you feel for them on your face?
What a delightfully weighted question.
Let's go with the short answer: no. "Contempt" is not something I feel very frequently. If I'm contemptuous of you or something you've done, chances are you know it. If it's not an appropriate situation, I'll smile and stay silent and no one will be the wiser. Smiling and/or staying silent is a rather successful way out of many such interesting situations, especially when you're someone who strikes others as being "nice" and "so quiet".
3. Would you rather be happy or in love?
Oh, that one's easy: happy. Do I really strike you as someone desperate to have a boyfriend, husband or significant other(s)? If so, you must not have met me.
4. Who do you think about most often when you're alone?
Um ... me? Wherever I go, there I am. (See, it's this answer, more than my response to compliments, that might make me look conceited.)
5. What is your favourite book? Not the one you tell everyone so you seem smart or well read but the book you love.
At the moment my favourite is Mockingbird by Sean Stewart. I so love that book, and am so happy that Small Beer Press has reprinted it so that I may once again push physical copies on unsuspecting people.
I admire the people who can quickly write and post coherent con reports. Clearly, I am not among their numbers.
So: WFC. I think World Fantasy has officially become my favourite con.
Over the course of the weekend I attended readings by Leah Bobet, Sharon Shinn, Kelly Link, Theodora Goss, Kristen Britain and Julie Czerneda. I attended a good handful of panels, including one on formal music in fantasy, "mining" other cultures for inspiration and settings, and swearing and other ways to tell children's books from young adult novels. (I now see why Michelle and Sharyn November get along so very well; they're like two versions of the same person, though with very different bodies. Lord help me, though, if I were ever in a conversation with both of them at once; I'd never get a word in edgewise.) And I was a big fan of the con suite; not only did they have plenty of lovely food that helped me keep my restaurant excursions to a cost-effective minimum, but also plenty of tea all through the day. Praise the con suite, praise the tea.
It took the better part of three days of searching to finally run across Marissa, which I did at Elise Matheson's table in the dealer's room, and greeted her with "There you are!" Of course, M'ris was rather unfortunately ill soon after, so our dinner plans fell through, but I did perch on the spare bed in her hotel room for a few hours, chatting about anything and everything. And it was good because, well, it's M'ris.
I ran across a good number of people I know, including friends from my days on the Rumor Mill, and met a good handful more. Bryn talks about "con friends" and the more I wandered around and smiled and greeted people I never see anywhere but at cons, the more I understood what she meant.
I also swallowed my terror, took a deep breath and actually did some self-promotion and networking this con. Not too much, because that would have required a sudden personality transplant, but some. I now have two places I've been invited to send fiction to in the next little while (woohoo!) and had an interesting conversation with my Children of Magic editor, Kerrie Hughes. (Woah. Just got an email. Make that three places I've been invited to send fiction. Squee!)
What I saw of Madison was lovely, and there are a few stores on State Street that I wish I could transport whole and relocate to somewhere convenient in downtown Toronto. (Right next to Bakka, for instance.) If I have a complaint about the area, though, it would be that the restaurants I attended were way too fond of cheese -- not that I should be surprised. At least everyone was good and not too confused by my requests to keep their cheese to themselves.
The trip home was a bit of an adventure, though. The first flight went well, but when Sarah and I went to change planes in Detroit, we discovered that our 9:20 flight had been delayed to 11:45 because of weather problems where the plane was. Minutes later, the flight was delayed to 7:03 the next morning. Minutes after that, the flight was cancelled, and we had to rebook for a flight that left ... 7:03 the next morning.
Thus ensued a crazy sequence of events that saw Sarah and I spending the night in a Best Western in Romulus, Michigan. Really, I didn't need to see Romulus, Michigan. I am not exactly pleased with Northwest Airlines, not because of their policy not to cover hotel charges due to weather delays but because of various ticket agents' decisions to apply this policy in a somewhat haphazard manner (as in, we were among about three people in our large group who were not given hotel or food passes and had to pay instead). No, my real ire is towards the very terrible Best Western Gateway International Hotel, who had no knowledge of our reservation despite a call to make that reservation and a later call to confirm that reservation, and who gave two asthmatics a smoking room, and who sent our important wake-up call about 15 minutes late, among other things. If you happen to find yourself stranded in the Detroit airport, or perhaps vacationing for unknown reasons in the Romulus, Michigan area, avoid the Best Western Gateway International at all costs.
Also: their breakfast muffins were unfortunately crumbly.
But I did make it home Monday morning, and managed to take a nap to help compensate for the 3 hours of sleep that night, and everything turned out okay. And despite the rather long time it took to get home, I still had the same feeling as when I left the con: slightly bleary, yes, but also energized, inspired and wanting to write. Which is how I've spent my day today.
Okay, I think I've finally done all the packing I can do before morning.
I'm really looking forward to this. Last year, World Fantasy was both fantastic and totally overwhelming. This year there will be far more people that I know to one degree or another attending, and I know what to expect just a little more. Don't think I'll go into panicked-turtle mode quite as much this time around.
And hey, what do you know -- the weather forecast for Madison says that it'll be nearly as warm for WFC as it was last year in Arizona!
1. If you could be a staff writer for any television show ever produced, which show would you choose?
The show that leaps to mind is Dead Like Me. Perhaps this is only because I've just discovered this show and have been watching it on DVD the past few weeks. And yet it occurred to me a few episodes ago that of all the shows I've seen, Dead Like Me comes closest to something that I'd naturally write myself. (Course, it'd be more productive if I chose a show that didn't get itself cancelled after two seasons, but since when did I ever choose the smartest course of action?)
In general, though, I doubt I'd make a very good writer for television, mainly because dialog doesn't come very naturally to me. And it's hard to make a TV show fly with bad dialog ... unless, of course, you're writing a soap opera.
2. What's one way in which you think Canada is a superior country to America, and what's one way in which you think America is superior to Canada?
Do you have any idea what a rough time I had with this question? Man, oh man. Because there are so often negative aspects of the things I might have chosen -- for both countries.
To go with the answers I can write here without staying up typing for the rest of the evening, I'll say that Canada has a civilized health care system (though it's currently under noticeable strain), while America and Americans have a sense of national identity that's not dependant on external validation or comparison to all the things that they're not (though it does lead to rampant blind patriotism).
3. What do you think happens after we die?
I don't know. I don't even really have one theory that I stick to.
And yet ... for some reason, over the last five years or so, I've been pondering reincarnation a lot. I'm usually joking when I mention something about a past life or what it is that a particular soul is trying to learn this time around, and yet ... Perhaps it's only that the thought that we have all lived other lives as other people and animals and beings gives me an interesting lens to view the world and understand the thoughts and actions of those around me.
4. If you were to research and write a nonfiction book, what would it be about?
My family -- especially my grandparents -- during the Second World War. Okay, so it wouldn’t have a huge audience ...
But I've found it fascinating to listen to their various stories, and the shocking contrast between the two sides of my family during those years. My Oma and Opa were raised in Nazi Germany; one of my great-grandfathers was put in a concentration camp, the other was shot and killed by American soldiers four days before the end of the war. My great-grandmother was murdered for having skin cancer -- a flaw in the "master race". My Oma had her house bombed down repeatedly, and survived by hiding in a bin of potatoes.
While, not so very far away, my Gran and Gramp were growing up in small-town England. My Gran tells me about living with air raids and the raid sirens, and as she got older trying to decide what branch of the military she might join based on the colours of the uniforms. In my Gramp's family, the family factory -- they made knitting machines, I believe -- was changed for production of war goods and was ultimately lost. Everything was rationed. Their stories are those of normalcy interspersed with almost shocking changes brought on by the war.
At my parents wedding, there were some interesting conversations between the two sides of the family. My Oma and one of my Dad's male relatives were talking and realized that he might have been the one to load the bomb on the plane that eventually blew up her house. And they laughed, and smiled, and somehow it was okay.
5. Imagine that you were to wake up tomorrow morning and find yourself suddenly five years old again, forced to relive your entire life but unable to change anything that happens (a concept that bears a remarkable resemblance to the idea behind Kurt Vonnegut's book Timequake... hmm...). Which day would you most look forward to reliving, and which day would you most dread?
If I start at five, then I get to miss falling down the stairs and breaking my arm! Whew.
Hmm. I'm not good at picking out single days.
I would hate to be 14 again, the winter when a very close family friend died of cancer. I'd dread those times in Grade 4 when all my friends abandoned me, or pretended that they didn't like me so long as we were at school -- only to try to be my best friends again when the bell went. I don't ever want to re-live my OAC year of high school, and the strike at York during my first year there could be skipped entirely. There are also some illnesses that I could really, really do without living again.
But good things: I'd look forward to this summer again. I'd look forward to Christmas Eve on the year I was about eight or so, when everyone came over to our house (and yes, we accidentally pickled our pet fish, but that was just a bad moment in an otherwise great Christmas). I'd look forward to Clarion. I'd look forward to those few hours on the road with Susan, Amy and Beth as we drove towards the ICFA in March of 2002.
Oh, here's a day for you. There was one winter day when I was about nine that felt perfect: there had been an ice storm, so we were home from school, and I went outside with my friends (who my mother babysat) and we built a snow cave and slid down the neighbours' steep driveway in our snow pants until we were dripping wet and then went inside and my mother made us hot chocolate with little marshmallows. I'd look forward to that one, too.