“Here we go marching to Mars / On a rainbow bridge, it don’t seem so far…”

Continuing my tradition of talking about events I’ve gone to days and weeks after the fact, here’s what I did last week.

Science Cabaret

Last Friday was apparently Yuri’s Night.  I had no idea Yuri’s Night is a thing.  Definitely, worthy of a toast.  So, having had a hard day, I had two much-needed pints of Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Edmund Fitzgerald Porter at the bar hosting the event, and went to the upper lounge to enjoy a presentation and slideshow from a member of Cornell’s Department of Astronomy.

The most interesting parts of the presentation were the more mundane details, like how my phone has a more storage and a more powerful camera than the rovers that went up years ago, or just how ridiculously easy it is to shoot something to Mars and miss it.

When I complain about the cognitive disconnect of working in a place where people are beaming shit to and from Mars while there are spots on campus where I lose cell service, this is what I’m talking about.  Still though, the photos from the show, especially the ones from Mars, are pretty cool.

“Funny days in the park. Every day’s the Fourth of July.”

More pics from this year’s Ithaca Festival at Stewart Park.  The weather was beautiful, so it was pretty crowded.  I didn’t stay long and didn’t really pay as much attention to individuals as I did the other day.  I visited the drum circle and saw a smattering of bands, but I spent most of my time watching the Ithaca Shakespeare Company’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I’m sure you’ll be able to suss out those pics.

I have to say, I think that was the true highlight of my festival this year.  Not only did I like the performance, but it was fun watching little kids get into it, and reacting to what was in front of them, rather than to “The Bard.”

Here are the rest…

“People talking, people laughing. A man selling ice cream, singing Italian songs…”

The weather might’ve slowed the Ithaca Festival down a bit, but once the sun came out, so did most of the people.  The only things missing were some of the bands I’d seen on the Saturday part of the Ithaca Festival for years.  They either just aren’t on the schedule or were playing on different days.  But still, I had my camera, and therefore, more potential story prompts.  More importantly, I ran into some cool folks!

Some friends of mine had a booth for the second (maybe third) year in a row, doing business as Flying Whale Studios.

I’ve talked a bit before about artist Jime Grabowski.  I first saw her work at the local comics show a few years ago.  A print of “The Doll Factory” hangs in my home office, and I can pretty much stare at it for a good hour or two at a time. 

Check out her site Prettylines.  Trust me, just go there now.

Anyway, here’s the lot.  Every year, I want to call the album “Saturday in the Park,” like the Chicago song.  But the park–i.e. Stewart Park–is tomorrow.

“I am an artist. I LOVE a good party. So, truce. Commence au festival!”

Summer in Ithaca has officially started, with the Ithaca Festival Parade, after which will follow three days of some of the best people-watching a writer could ask for!  I realize how prickish that must sound, and I’ll cop to saying/feeling that in a prickish manner when I experienced my first Ithaca Festival.  I’m not sure what changed, but I feel like it was something more than a mere moment of clarity. Anywho, the fact remains that every parade, I get a bunch of potential new story ideas, which is why my camera is my best friend this time of year…

My pals, the Ithaca League of Women Rollers (mostly Bluestockings, with a smattering of Sufferjets), were rolling at the parade, too.  Unfortunately, they were rolling a little too fast for me to get better pictures. 

“I’m on fire/ On the playground, love”

Last Tuesday, I attended the first of this year’s Distinguished Visiting Writers Series at one of the local colleges, featuring author Jeffrey Eugenides.  He read an excerpt from his as-yet-untitled latest novel, which appeared in the June 7th New Yorker under the title “Extreme Solitude.” If you’ve had a college love affair of any kind, there’s a lot that’s familiar about the story.

After the reading, he took questions.  I was so glad I didn’t hear the types of questions I heard when his fellow Princeton colleague Joyce Carol Oates came to town.  Of course, this was an audience filled with writing students and teachers, so we were able to get past “Where do you get your ideas from?”  I was sure someone was going to ask him, in a slobbery voice, “How much input did you have when Sofia Coppola made The Virgin Suicides into a film?” or somesuch nonsense.  I’m so glad no one did.

On the upside, I managed to once again fight my fear of speaking to famous writers.  Of course, I was fighting it the entire time I was standing in line.  But in the end, it paid off.

“All the little kids growing up in the skids are goin’ ‘Cleveland rocks! Cleveland Rocks!'”

Over the holiday weekend, I made a long overdue trip to see my family who live a mere 20 minutes down I-90 from the front door to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Of course I’ve always been fond of my hometown.  Make all the jokes you want about it, but at least we’re not Detroit.

Aside from ten years of stuff my folks have accumulated since I left, not a lot is different.  For instance, my old bedroom.  Some of the things tacked to the walls have been there for… Christ… 15 to 20 years.

Item One:
Poster of the best Batmobile. Why the best?  Chain guns.

Item Two:
A poster of the 1991 debut of the first Robin costume that didn’t include legless briefs (half-hidden behind a wardrobe).

Items Three, Four, and Five
More artifacts obtained during my high school years.

Items Six and Seven
An oversized button I bought from a booth somewhere in NYC when it was still considered the pit of the world, and another poster from the movie theater I worked as a teen.

Items Eight and Nine
Artifacts from a tad before junior high: a cross that, I think, my sister made for a project in our Catholic grade school and the appropriate Garbage Pail Kid.

“Everybody needs a little time away…” Part III

I took one final day yesterday to relax from the stresses of life, the dayjob, and my writing. I know what most writers say about needing to write every single day and the thing is, I agree 100%. It’s just that I’ve come to the realization that I can’t do it.  I should, and I should keep working toward that.  But if I treat writing like another job, then like any other job, I need a break.

Yesterday was the third and final day of the annual summer festival. Whereas Saturday was sunny and hot, almost to the point where I was worried about heat stroke, Sunday was gray, drizzling at times, and about 20 degrees cooler. I thought all I needed was a thicker polo shirt, but I was wrong. Still, some hot chocolate warmed me up enough to enjoy what I saw: People dancing to a circle of drummers, folks doing Yoga in the cold, and a local group of bagpipers which includes a sci-fi writer who is a frequent contributor to Analog as well as Asimov’s Science Fiction and other places.

If nothing else, I’ve got a third day’s worth of potential character sketches, here. 

Now, I’m getting slowly back on the wagon. I’m finally getting the first draft of my story for Rigor Amortis together, building it around the skeleton of an unrelated flash fiction I wrote about 6 or 8 months ago. I figure if Carol Emshwiller can include “Acceptance Speech” and “Report to the Men’s Club” in the same collection, then I can make a story “the same, but different” than one I’ve previously written (not that I’m 1/10th of the writer she is, but still).

“Everybody needs a little time away…” Part II

It’s actually taken a lot for me to realize just how much I needed a break from this year of hell at the dayjob, even after an extra-long long holiday weekend.  My writing suffered.  I’m not talking about how much I haven’t been writing lately, but the fact that I was convinced that somehow I could get it done if I’d just whipped myself a little harder.  But I think I was, literally, beating a dead horse.

So, I went for another day of frolicking in the sun at the annual summer festival, the one time and place in the year when I don’t mind running into coworkers.

And again, the best part is that this batch of photos is ripe with character ideas!  I’ve already begged off critique group tomorrow to go to the festival’s last day.

“Everybody needs a little time away…”

As if my “wrojo” (i.e. “writing mojo” — brought to you by Regan) wasn’t low enough, there’s been so much more to distract me this past week. There’s been an upsurge in work in my dayjob capacity as the Special Projects Bitch. To unwind, I’ve been taking advantage of the nice weather conciding with my town’s annual summer festival. But hey, sometimes you need some time off from writing and to recharge. And it’s only recently that loafing is only a small part of recharging. The other part, at least for me, is being charged with something–in this case, the energy that drew me to live here in the first place.

Traditionally, the festival starts off with a Thursday night parade.

My favorite part of the parade was the Ithaca League of Women Rollers and their Chia Skate float!

The best part is, there’s at least a half-dozen character ideas in just these photographs.

More to come, as I’ve just spent most of my Saturday. And I plan to spend some of my Sunday, as well.