Monthly Archives: February 2011

SATURDAY SLUMP? GET LIVING WITH DISNEY ON INSIDE THE MAGIC!

I’ve gotten a few e-mails about Nathan’s “Living with Disney” segment and Inside the Magic (www.insidethemagic.net), so I figured I’d provide two things: an Inside the Magic Show Description Guide (for those of you who aren’t listeners yet and want to try it—you won’t be sorry, I promise, it’s the most rockin’ Disney Park podcast on the ’net) and, if you would rather just listen to Nathan gripe (playfully) about what it’s like to live with me, the audio for only the episodes that you can listen to below. The episodes are short—anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes each.

ENJOY!!

LIVING WITH DISNEY EPISODE INFORMATION, LINKS, OR LISTEN HERE!

ITM SHOW 284: EPISODE 1

09/12/10

http://www.insidethemagic.net/podcasts/284/

ITM Show Content Description: Star Tours final flight at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, living with a Disney fanatic, and listener feedback catch-up.

1 Living with Disney with Nathan S

ITM SHOW 288: EPISODE 2

10/10/10

http://www.insidethemagic.net/podcasts/288/

ITM Show Content Description: ElecTRONica opening night, inside Haunted Mansion Holiday, Living with Disney, and listener feedback.

2 Living with Disney with Nathan S

ITM SHOW 295: EPISODE 3

11/27/10

http://www.insidethemagic.net/podcasts/295/

ITM Show Content Description: Ricky’s 30th birthday, Top 10 Disney gift ideas, Living with Disney, and Listener Feedback

3 Living with Disney with Nathan S

ITM SHOW 299: EPISODE 4

12/26/10

http://www.insidethemagic.net/podcasts/299/

ITM Show Content Description: Disney’s LuminAria Holiday Spectacular, Nathan’s Living with Disney – Christmas Edition, TRON read-along storybook, and some listener feedback.

4 Living with Disney Nathan S

ITM SHOW 306: EPISODE 5

02/13/11

http://www.insidethemagic.net/podcasts/306/

ITM Show Content Description: Toontown, Star Tours, and other big Disney news, Tom Ameen’s Fantasmic rendition, TTA Talk, and Living with Disney.

5 Living With Disney Nathan S

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“THE HEARTBREAK NEXT DOOR” ON READ SHORT FICTION

Whether you recall your first young love or not, Read Short Fiction’s first February feature—the young adult short “The Heartbreak Next Door” by S.G. Rogers—is a reminder that our hearts were fragile from the very beginning—it’s a touching little reminder that we never really grow up. You can check it out here:

http://www.readshortfiction.com/2011/02/the-heartbreak-next-door-by-s-g-rogers/

SKELETONS IN THE SWIMMIN’ HOLE – TALES FROM HAUNTED DISNEY WORLD BOOK TRAILER RELEASED

I’m a sucker for a great trailer. Here is the trailer for Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole: Tales from Haunted Disney World, created/produced by Ghost Writer Extraordinaire — you can watch it via the YouTube link, or you can just watch it right from my site here. Enjoy! Comments welcome.

YouTube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQgvru5flsM

THE THINGS THAT COME BACK TO YOU

Dad, Mom and me at Dad's Master's Degree Graduation, May, 1974.

Today is my late father’s birthday. I’m not going to get all mushy on it, because those of you who know me well know that, although he and I had a lot in common and enjoyed talking, it wasn’t always a quiet walk through the woods.

One of the things we discussed often over the years was a paper he’d written on Robert Frost which presented the idea that Frost, contrary to popular belief, viewed nature as hostile and even threatening.

Dad in his cap and gown, May, 1974. What's scary is that piano was in the same place in the house when we cleaned out the place in 2008.

Dad in the procession at his graduation, May, 1974.

On a couple of occasions, I could remember him expounding upon certain lines of Frost’s poetry to prove his point: ‘you see, Kristi, all the animals are hiding in the dark, watching him,’ (I have no idea what poem he was talking about, so if anyone knows, please fill me in). Despite the fact that sometimes these descriptions terrified me (our house was surrounded by woods and we had a cabin in upstate New York that was pretty far from anyplace), I really wanted to read his paper. I’d even asked him if I could read it a few different times over the years, but he either said, ‘oh, I have no idea where it is, Kristi,’ or ‘it’s not really that good, maybe some other time.’

In January 2008, he passed away.

Making Easter Eggs, Spring, 1974.

After the weather had cleared a little bit, the fact that I had never gotten to read this paper ate at me. It had to be someplace in Dad’s house, which we needed to start cleaning out anyway. So I started a search.

Months went by—I went through every plastic tub, every rusted file cabinet. I flipped through the pages of every single book in his den in case it had been shoved inside one of them. I even fingered through the accordion files where he kept his taxes (dear God, he still had the paperwork going all the way back to 1982). There was a lot of junk in that house (it really did feel like “miles to go before I sleep”), but each new unturned stone brought possibility.

Soon, I began to wonder if this paper had ever existed. In fact, I was just about to resign myself to that when my sister called and said she had started going through the furniture in Dad’s bedroom. “I found these things in his nightstand drawer, I’m not quite sure what they are,” she said. “It’s a stack of index cards and there’s all of these quotes from books and page numbers, but it looks like it’s got to do with Robert Frost, so I thought you might want them. Should I save them for you?”

I knew damn well what they were.

They were his note cards for writing the paper.

Me and Dad, Summer, 1974. I had thought initially that this photo was taken in either New Hampshire, near Franconia Notch, or on Route 89 up near Burlington, Vermont--but if you look at the mountain to the extreme left, the location is given away: that's Mt. Whiteface, near Lake Placid, New York. That "scar" that runs down the mountain has been mistaken for a ski run, but it's actually from an avalanche. This means this photo was probably taken in Keene or possibly Upper Jay, New York, along Route 9. If anyone knows for sure, please give me a shout out. PS -- LOVE that my Dad's not wearing shoes. He never wore shoes. He'd even drive barefoot. My mother couldn't stand that.

This galvanized me—this meant it did exist. Still, months went by and it didn’t turn up. With the house completely cleaned out and ready to renovate and still no sign of it, I realized there was one more place I could try: he had graduated with a Master’s degree from Southern Connecticut State University. If this was his final paper, there was a chance it was in the SCSU archives someplace.

I contacted the university system and they did locate a thesis by Charles W. Petersen. Thrilled, I arranged to pay for and have a copy sent to me.

When it arrived, it wasn’t on Robert Frost. It was about some obscure facet of Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. I read the whole paper—and it was pretty interesting, actually—but it didn’t feel like Dad’s writing style, and when I read the acknowledgments at the end of it and Mr. Petersen was thanking his wife (Sally or Sandy, I think her name was) and mentioning his children (who weren’t us), I realized it was a different Charles W. Petersen.

That last round with the SCSU Library was it. I was at the end of the trail; there were no more places to look. I decided to just let it go, figuring that, like a ClioPlayers scrapbook and some miniature dolls I had when I was eight, it had gone to that great cave in the sky where all lost items go.

I went on with my life. Got my MFA from Goddard College, finished renovating and sold Dad’s house, went to the Norman Mailer Writer’s Colony, wrote a bunch of short stories and got them published. Then, in the spring of 2010, I was working on a piece for my blog and wanted to reference an old, unpublished short story of mine that had one of Frost’s poems as a major theme. I opened a suitcase where I kept the hard-bound, handwritten journals and files of my short stories that I’d written when I was a student at the University of Rhode Island in the early 1990s.

Sitting there on top of the stack was a document typed on onion skin that I didn’t recognize.

I took a closer look. ROBERT FROST—AN ALTERNATE VIEW. Charles W. Petersen. The name of the class, his professor, the date (1974).

For a second I sat there in shock. This was it. This had to be it, the it, the paper he’d been telling me about my whole life. I flipped through it. Sure enough, it was the thesis he’d described.

Then: where the hell did it come from?

I could say that I’d found the paper years ago and stuck it in the suitcase, but A, obviously I’d never even seen this paper—so momentous a thing I’d have remembered—and B, I opened this suitcase every couple of months because I’d be in search of some story or journal entry I wanted to steal a line from or just re-read. So this wasn’t a case in which the suitcase had sat forgotten for two decades. In fact, I was pretty sure that I had checked through every suitcase, including this one, in my search for the paper nearly two years prior, on the off-chance that it had been given to me at one point and I just didn’t recall it. And this wasn’t even buried or stuck between other papers, so I clearly wouldn’t have missed it. This was sitting there right on top, face up.

I have to tell you it was a little bit creepy (Stephen King’s short story “Sometimes They Come Back” came to mind), but it was also a little bit magical.

It says something about the nature of searching. If we look too hard for something, it eludes us. If we stop searching, stop hanging on, chances are, it’ll come back to us when we least expect it—and probably when we need it most.

As a way to ensure I’d never lose this paper again, I made several copies of it, then re-typed it so there would be an electronic copy. It appears below as a PDF.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

FrostAlternateViewCWP

Me and Dad on the front steps, Winter, 1975. And miles to go before we sleep. PS -- Nice pants, Dad.

“DEAD LINE” NAMED SCARY STORY OF THE WEEK ON PARANORMAL, EH?

Paranormal, Eh?—a Canadian-based online paranormal discussion group which now has a brand new regular website (see link below)—has named my ghost story “Dead Line,” which was published in Death Head Grin’s May 2010 issue, as its “Scary Story of the Week” the week of my birthday, Feb. 5. What’s super cool is it’s on the list with Stephen King’s novel Bag of Bones and Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. Always a great birthday gift!

Please do check out Paranormal, Eh? if you like all things supernatural—there are discussion groups on everything from UFOs to Black-Eyed Kids and the Salem Witch Trials, interviews with paranormal celebrities, a near-constant paranormal news feed on its Facebook page, and all kinds of other great stuff, including a podcast—then you don’t want to miss this. You can check out its website here: https://sites.google.com/site/paranormaleh/about-us

If you’d like to read “Dead Line,” through the Paranormal Eh? page so you can check out the site, the link is here: https://sites.google.com/site/paranormaleh/weekly-specials/scary-story-of-the-week

Just wanna read “Dead Line?” Go here: http://www.deathheadgrin.com/id121.html

LITERARY MAYHEM MARKS SKELETONS AS A FAVE FOR 2010

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Literary Mayhem’s Peter D. Schwotzer has named Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole among his favorites in 2010—and since he read/reviewed 56 books this year by such fine writers as Robert McCammon and Brian Keene, plus he reads tons of horror magazines on a regular basis, to be included in his list of “favorites” is just about the coolest thing ever.

He lists his top ten for the year as well as his favorites. You can see the whole list and cull some to-reads for your bookshelves here: http://literarymayehm.com/wordpress/2011/01/06/top-ten-books-of-2010/

 

ROMANTICS, IDEALISTS AND THE PERFECT SALAD

Here in our house we don’t do Valentine’s Day. Mostly because February holds my birthday, Nathan’s birthday, Nathan’s Mom’s birthday, and, when he was alive, my Dad’s birthday. A holiday in the middle of all of that is just too much. But Nathan and I did go out for dinner the other night—to Bluu in Danbury—and I was disappointed to see there wasn’t one salad out of their seven on the menu that was absolutely perfect. Narrowed down: The Famers Market: Wood fired oven roasted vegetables…zucchini (fail), yellow squash (fail), portabello mushrooms (not so much), red peppers (win!), and eggplant (win!) over baby greens (win!) with a roasted garlic mustard vinaigrette (win!). The Tuscan: Romaine lettuce tossed with crumbled bleu cheese (win!), toasted pine nuts (fail), diced tomatoes (fail), crispy shallots (win!), white beans (okay), artichoke hearts (win!), a garlic pastry (win!) and roasted shallot vinaigrette (win!).

I decided to go with the Tuscan. It seemed to have the fewest and easiest discards.

When the salad arrived, I commenced on picking out the tomatoes and the pine nuts. He watched me for a few seconds and then finished the conversation we’d been having by saying: “there’s nothing wrong with either of us. We’re just two f****d up people who love each other.”

This was true. I looked around at the other couples in the restaurant—apparently there were more than a few sharing some private time—and wondered how many of them realize this enough that they’ll still be together in a few years. In other words, I wondered how many of them were romantics, and how many of them were idealists.

A romantic desperately wants things they way they should be, but understands it might not work out that way, and romances—not loves but romances—when it doesn’t, because, after all, life is dark. An idealist, on the other hand, believes that everything can be totally perfect, and therefore train-wrecks when things don’t go they way they thought. Simply boiled down? Look at it this way: “I love you even though you have faults and sometimes it hurts” vs. “I don’t love you anymore because you don’t live up to my concept of perfect.”

So yes, all of us dream of the perfect significant other. Like we dream of perfect jobs, perfect lovers, perfect houses—and perfect salads. The key is to take the romantic approach: recognize the least offensive items and turn a blind eye to them.

After all, if we don’t, we may not order any salad at all.

PEARLMAN’S NOVELLA BRAIN & BREAKFAST NOW AVAILABLE AT SAM’S DOT

Daniel Pearlman’s novella, Brain & Breakfast, has just been released by Sam’s Dot Publishing! I’m really excited for this one—he’s been working on a series of science fiction stories which feature a detective, Merkouros. I’ve had the privilege of reading many of them before they’re published, and I’m thrilled to see this one out in the world for everyone to enjoy. From the Sam’s Dot Website:

Brain & Breakfast by Daniel Pearlman

…a novella about a detective, Merkouros, who tracks down a criminal across space and time and alternate universes.  Here’s an excerpt:

“You are detective, right?” asked the Russian cabbie.  “You can’t be husband or boyfriend, not of chick like that. I mean, pardon me, but you don’t look like sugardaddy, and the hair you comb back is covering bald spot not too good.  Is giving you middle-aged ratty look, know what I’m saying?”

“You’re very observant,” said Merkouros, looking at the broad-featured cabbie smiling at him in his mirror. “I’m a private detective,” he added, only half lying.  Could he tell him that he worked for the Federal Police, City of New York—but not of this New York?  If that ex-Muscovite thought he had had a hard time landing on his feet in merely a different city of his own spatiotemporal framework, then what would he think of someone who’d had to relocate to a different dimension—from the New York of Plane 1 to this treacherously different “New York” of Plane 7—to a world where one’s fundamental values were as untranslatable as one’s money was inconvertible?

“That’s her!” shouted Merkouros, pulling back from the window. “In that black dress half up her thighs.  You see?  She’s looking this way.  She sees this cab is taken.  She’ll go to the corner and pick up another cab.  When she does, don’t lose her.”

Interested? It’s just under $8 with shipping and you can buy it here: http://www.genremall.com/fictionr.htm#brainandbreakfast

BALTIMORE POE HOUSE THREATENED

I’m a member of the Poe Studies Association, and so I’m on their L-SPAMEN list. I just about went into shock when I got an e-mail earlier this week with the Subject Line Imminent Threat to the Baltimore Poe House and Museum.

From the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore’s website:

“Since December 18, 1977, the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum at 203 Amity Street, in West Baltimore, has been run by the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP), a division of the Department of Planning with the City of Baltimore. Unfortunately, the city, suffering under intense and continuing budgetary problems — and perhaps hoping that hardly anyone will notice — has decided that the Poe Museum must become self-sufficient or it must be closed. With no practical way of raising sufficient money on its own to cover the annual budget of about $85,000, closure is almost certain at the end of 2011 or early in 2012 — unless the city of Baltimore can be convinced to reconsider its position.”

I just don’t understand this. Yes, I know, the economy’s bad and all of that, but this is part of the city’s history. Baltimore is proud of its favorite son—there are Poe bars and restaurants, there is the Poe celebration each January, there is the team The Ravens. There is probably more down there I don’t even know about.

There is more information on possible self-sufficiency (which doesn’t look good) and what we can do to try to change the city’s mind. Please check out this link, and tell your friends: http://www.eapoe.org/threat.htm

There is also a petition you can sign. I did, but for some reason my signature/comment isn’t showing up on the page (here’s a screen shot):

Want to sign the petition and keep up to date on what’s happening? Visit the Poe Bicentennial Blog here: http://www.poebicentennial.com/blog.html Here’s the article, also, from the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/04/AR2011020405000.html?referrer=emailarticleThere’s also the annual CASK OF AMONTILLADO WINE TASTING on Saturday, March 12. I’m trying to con somebody into going with me. Any takers? COME ON, YOU WRITERS, LET’S DO A WICKED ROAD TRIP!! You can watch that site for more info on that event—tickets and details aren’t quite available yet.

If you’ve never been there, you probably have no idea what kind of treasures this place holds. Photographs I took on my 2009 visit are below.

The Poe House in Baltimore.

The door to the Poe House.

The house is usually closed during the winter. In 2009, it was open to accommodate the masses of people who came to Poe's 200th Birthday Bash.

The plaque designating the house as a landmark. Yes, a national historic landmark.

This is in the fireplace in the front room.

Nathan clowns around with Poe's likeness.

Charles in one of the rooms that has some portraits, but mostly artifacts. I think this was the kitchen originally.

The stairs between the first and second floors.

The stairs between the first and second floors, looking down.

This display has all sorts of interesting articles -- some original clippings from Poe's time.

Video: a sweep around of the second floor

Stairs going up to Poe's writing room on the third floor.

A close-up of the stairs to Poe's writing room. These stairs are so narrow and tiny there can only be one person on the staircase at a time.

Poe's writing room. No one is allowed in, but seriously, it's so tiny I can't even imagine standing up in it.

I think this wasn't only his writing room but also his bedroom.

I was always amazed when I'd read old ghost stories and they'd always talk about women falling down the stairs and miscarrying or people falling down the stairs to their deaths. Now that I understand that probably most of the staircases at that time were like this? I GET IT.

Charles and Nathan watch news clips and films on Poe's life. There is a similar set up at the Poe House in the Bronx.

CANDLE GARDEN ALTERED BOOK UPDATE

Artist Melissa Duckworth is working on a presentation of my short story "Candle Garden" as an altered book.

A few years ago, I met an artist, Melissa Duckworth, in an online writing community. She fell in love with my story “Candle Garden,” and wanted to make it into book art, which she considers her specialty.

It took her a long time to find the perfect book to use as a setting for the piece, but she did find one – “NASA’s publication on the “Symposium on Thermal Radiation of Solids” just seemed like the perfect book to alter for your story! That’s why I’ve been so paranoid, I wouldn’t be able to get another copy I’m sure! (and it has the Boeing Library insignia on the inside, too boot!)” – she wrote recently.

She also solicited poetry, which I think will still be included, to compliment the story.

Recently, Melissa posted photos of her work as her piece begins its journey from book to art. Here is the beginning, as of December, 2010. For more information on Melissa Duckworth and her artwork, please visit http://www.pandoraink.com/

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