The Blog of Chloë and Pete  

Two characters (that would be Chloë and Pete) looking for love, safety, and Krispy Kremes. A book looking for readers and a publisher. An author (Jessica) looking for an agent, a life, and a region-free DVD player.

email: jessica_lynn -at- watchmail.com

About Me 23.07.02

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The WeatherPixie

The WeatherPixie


 

The Observer articles on Jayson Blair are just too much fun to read. I've been following the story with the usual journalistic heapings of Schadenfreude and gratitude for a wonderful factchecker, and I don't feel guilty about it in the least. Condemn the Times? For every Blair there are probably a dozen reporters busting ass for the stories (I'm biased; I have a high school friend who writes for the Times, and he has never been anything but a sweet, honest, razor-sharp guy). Affirmative action? It's hard to get all huffy about the role race may have played when Blair's trying to exploit that angle himself. Decline of western civilization? No more so than than Clay and Ruben singing "Fun, Fun, Fun" on American Idol. Just a juicy story, like the ones about J. Lo and Ben Affleck.

Of course, Jayson Blair won't really have made it until Pamie does a play about him. That's the new standard, now.

I saw Chris and Al last night just before the Buffy finale. They miss Murphy terribly, and I think they're still shellshocked, but they're acting with amazing grace; I'd still be hysterical at this point. They at least managed to get through the fire-heavy finale without comment, which I don't think I would have been able to do.

Y'all know I couldn't not write about the finale, right? "I miss Spike already," Hannah said.

I thought I might cry, and I didn't, though my throat constricted a little when Xander learned that Anya died saving Andrew's life and said, "That's my girl, always doing the stupid thing." (I didn't think his later entering into the conversation about the mall ruined that. Buffy, Willow, and Giles start bantering about the Sunnydale mall, but Xander sounds bitter.) Maybe because I was so spoiled, I watched the finale almost clinically. The snappy exchange between Xander, Willow, Buffy, and Giles -- the "Core Four" -- seemed forced, as if Joss Whedon said, "Oh, let's throw that in to make the fans happy." The reconciliation between Buffy and Giles, much as I loved it, came out of nowhere. The Faith/Wood banter? Excruciating. The final battle? Peter Jackson did it better. And why, when the First could have shown up as the Master, as Joyce, as Angel, was it stuck playing Buffy? And how did Dawn forget a year of supposed training?

I could go on . . . but it really is just a show. A lot of people found the fictive universe fascinating, and were eager to enter it, and then got upset when Buffy proved to be just a show, with imperfect writers, crappy plot developments, actors leaving at the wrong time (I'm looking at you, Seth Green).

I won't necessarily miss the show, since my viewing this season was off-and-on at best. What I'll miss is the fan dialogue that grew up around the show. There was, strangely enough, a Buffy community, however loose and scattered and fractured, and with the passing of the show that community will dwindle down. I'll miss the back-and-forth that followed every episode -- the various 'shippers, the nitpickers, the bitterness competitions ("you thought it went downhill after Season 3? Well, I thought it went downhill as soon as Spike and Drusilla showed up . . . ") -- more than I'll miss the episodes themselves. Buffy is gone, but obsessed, crazed geeks are forever! Something like that.

I really want to watch "Manchild" now.

At least the universe is letting up on my friends a bit. My co-worker's hospitalized father seems to be past the worst, my dear dear reader Melissa welcomed her son Thomas Maxwell into the world, and Megan is gainfully employed, and I happen to know, 'cause I'm connected like that, that the job is absolutely perfect for her, and her for it. Whee! The media world gains Megan and loses Jayson Blair? The net gain is so large the loss gets buried.



  posted by Jessica @ 12:10 |


21.5.03  

 

Apparently the universe is mad at my friends. It should not be. Bad universe.

Specifically, Allison and Chris saw their apartment burn to the ground last week. They lost pretty much everything, including their beloved dog Murphy.

You can click below to help:

Pamie will love you just as much, or more, for helping them as for helping the Oakland Public Library. And so will I.



  posted by Jessica @ 14:19 |


19.5.03  

 

Traveling this week, so my copy of Live at Folsom Prison is at home. But I'm tempted to call my boyfriend and ask him to play "Jackson" for me, very loud, in honor of June Carter Cash, who died yesterday.

I do have "When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below)," but that would be too spooky right now. She sounds deliberately ghostlike, the echoing chorus who knew all along she was going to get the trapper killed. She plays the part of a death-wish. It would be hard to process that deliberately toned-down voice alongside the image of the worried woman in the "Hurt" video -- see that video and you'd never believe she'd go first.

No, "Jackson" is best. The part where she's clearly having a grand old time telling Johnny Cash to go make a big fool of himself, with a voice so big you'd think she was going to rip your stereo open. But only the rest of us should need to hear that voice; I hope Johnny Cash doesn't have to, that he's still got it with him.



  posted by Jessica @ 11:43 |


16.5.03  

 

I have an uncle who's a die-hard professional wrestling fan; at family gatherings we'll sit and he'll update me on who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. I was better at keeping track in the '80s, when I watched far more "Hulk Hogan's Rock 'N' Wrestling" than any child should ever have been allowed to -- so I remember Miss Elizabeth and I remember the Iron Sheik well enough to be shocked by a report that Miss Elizabeth died last Thursday and the Iron Sheik's daughter died over the weekend.

Here's Bret Hart's tribute to Miss Elizabeth. For those of y'all who never have followed professional wrestling and never will, Hart's been in the business a while.

My condolences to Miss Elizabeth's family, and the Iron Sheik and his family; I hope that, his current grief notwithstanding, he's had a decent and comfortable retirement. Decent and comfortable retirements, in my understanding, are relatively rare in the professional wrestling business. Andre the Giant was eventually killed by his acromegaly; Junkyard Dog, if I'm remembering correctly, died in a car crash a few years ago; Bobby "The Brain" Heenan -- again, if I'm remembering correctly -- is suffering from cancer; and while I'm willing to swear I had the "Is that Rowdy Roddy Piper?" conversation while watching TV with my uncle last Christmas, my understanding is, about the time Lyle Alzado died, Rowdy Roddy testified that he had been crippled, perhaps permanently, by steroid use. Now, I hope for every one of those there's a Mr. Fuji and a Nikolai Volkov and a Hillbilly Jim and a Tito Santana quietly enjoying titled properties and families and ice cream and so on -- I hope, but I'm not sure.

(Any of my readers who follow professional wrestling more closely than I do, please, please feel free to weigh in.)

And it makes me worry -- what's going to happen to the current crop of wrestlers? I'm not worried about the MacMahon family. They'll be fine. I actually suspect that privately they're one of the healthiest families ever to own a business, since they can channel all their tensions into the WWE storyline. Certain wrestlers seem to have enough of a head on their shoulders that they'll be fine even after their careers end -- I'm thinking of Goldberg, Mick Foley, Rob Van Dam (based on his participation and generally level-headed presentation in The Backyard), and The Rock. But Stone Cold's already had his share of personal problems. Booker T was apparently having some well before he joined the WWE. I'm not sure what to predict for Triple-H and have absolutely no idea about Kurt Angle. And what about what I think of as the newest generation -- the Hardy boys and Lita, Brock Lesnar, Edge and Christian, the Dudleys? Is it me, or are there a lot more new faces to be potentially chewed up and spit out?

Y'all are probably thinking, "It's wrestling. Dear Christ. Move on." But there's something about the commedia dell'arte qualities of professional wrestling that keep me interested. Maybe it's tied up with my affection for my uncle. Maybe it's just postmodern: professional wrestling has so many layers of artifice that somehow it comes through as compelling. Maybe I'm just feeling ornery. All the same -- even if it is violent and ridiculous, a refuge for rednecks -- sometimes the people performing seem to be completely exposed even as they're up there acting arrogant and supposedly basking in the adoration of millions. I just hope more of them get to live long, healthy, happy lives after they come back down.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:51 |


6.5.03  

 

Meet Joey de Villa. Some of you may have already met him via Brooke's summary of his recent run-in with an apparent incorrigible liar and generally unpleasant human being.

I feel obliged to point out, however, that Mr. Accordion Guy is actually pretty cute. And since I have a weakness for Philippine-born geek boys with ties to Canada and much more musical knowledge than my own self, I think I might have a new addition for the blogroll.

Anyway. Little news. Little new. Still don't have an ending to the book; I'm in one of those moods when the entire thing reeks of futility, and right now I'm somewhat regretting putting the piece of shite -- I mean, second draft -- into the hands of strangers. My boyfriend -- the one whose point about the book's essential lack of movement (for lack of a better word) hit closer to home than he intended -- is now pointing out that I ought to finish what I started. He's got a point.

But one can only wallow in self-pity for so long when there's news like this. Awww! Mazel tov and many, many congratulations to the happy couple.



  posted by Jessica @ 11:59 |


5.5.03  

 

So, the good Marie de France of the blogosphere is not the Anthony Comstock of the blogosphere, thank goodness. "Write about sex,", says he, and get more traffic.

Yeah. Probably shouldn't have said that about the novel having less sex. The boyfriend pointed out the other day that between the not-necessarily-Moby-Dick-level plot and the reduction of sex, this novel is not necessarily all that sellable. Or sellable at all.

What? The lawyer knocks on the door. "Sex," he says. "Not self-pity. Sex."

(Bless the libertarian-leaning lawyers. Here's hoping they score victory in Lawrence v. Texas.)

The problem with writing about sex is that everything is eventually going to end up unearthed years later by the 2040 equivalent of The Smoking Gun. The other problem with writing about sex is that very fine line between turning your reader on and making him or her flinch: "Did you need to go there? No, really. Did you?" And I tend to overshare as it is.

In Boston, during a marathon five-hour conversation, one of the many topics on the table was my sexuality, and the unfortunate political implications thereof: namely, I could be the happy little inconsistent bisexual (she likes boys! no, wait, girls! no, boys and girls! and so on, like I'm on a swing) if there were not such strong and nasty stereotypes of (a) all lesbians just needing a good deep dicking and (b) all bisexuals, especially bisexual women, being happy, inconsistent little sluts. But since those stereotypes do exist, I should know better than to play to them. Know what your actions are saying, was the message. Know the context.

This seems as good a time as any to bring up a piece in City Journal, titled "Queering the Schools," I mentioned to My Secret Agent Lawyer Man. I'm not exactly sure where City Journal stands on the scale of conservative respectability -- A&L Daily keeps linking to it, which probably means very little -- but it's got John McWhorter hanging around, so let's say it's right-wing but not shockingly so: no Journal of the John Birch Society, this. Yet it's still running "Queering the Schools," which left me practically frothing at the mouth after I'd read it.

Let's take paragraph 3, for example:

    During the eighties, when gay activism first became a major cultural force, homosexual leaders launched a campaign that mirrored the civil rights movement. To claim their rights, homosexuals argued (without scientific evidence) that their orientation was a genetic inheritance, like race, and thus deserved the same kind of civil protections the nation had guaranteed to blacks. An inborn, unchangeable fact, after all, could not be subject to moral disapproval. There ensued a successful effort to normalize homosexuality throughout the culture, including a strong push for homosexual marriage, gays in the military, and other signs of civic equality.

Oh, where do we start? With the beautifully disngenuous "during the eighties" without even bothering to mention AIDS. Which is something along the lines of discussing Bush's foreign policy by starting with, "In the late fall of 2001, the President launched a campaign . . . " And let's take that word normalize that Ms. King likes to throw around. "Normalize," as in "become the norm." As in, playing nicely to that part of her closed-minded, ridiculously paranoid thesis that The Gays! Are Out! To Turn! Your Children! "To normalize" is not the same as "to make acceptable" or even "to decriminalize." Even in the late 1980s/early 1990s, when ACT-UP and similarly angry groups were at their most prominent, was anybody arguing that homosexuality should be "the norm", i.e. more than 50% of people ought to be gay? At that time 10% was considered a radical, politically charged number, and the argument that "everybody's bisexual in one way or another" wasn't fully agreed upon by any means. In other words, King would rather rewrite history, or outright ignore it, rather than face the possibility that her argument might be completely specious and contemptible.

    Rutgers English professor Michael Warner, a leading queer theorist, observes that categories like “heterosexual” and “homosexual” are part of “the regime of the normal” that queer theory wants to explode. “What identity,” he writes, “encompasses queer girls who f*&k queer boys with strap-ons, or FTMs (female-to-male transsexuals) who think of themselves as queer, FTMs who think of themselves as straights, or FTMs for whom life is a project of transition and screw the categories anyway?”

Well, what's the answer? Or how about girls who date boys but like girls too and sometimes kiss boys who dress as girls? (Note: when making out with drag queens, be prepared for much smearing of lipstick.) But I don't think King would find the question even comprehensible. She certainly doesn't want to address it, or address the need for it.

    That GLSEN embraces queer theory is clear from the addition of transgendered students to the gays and lesbians the group claims to represent. By definition, the transgendered are those who choose to change their gender identity by demeanor, dress, hormones, or surgery. Nothing could be more profoundly opposed to the notion of a natural sexual identity.

Here we go with "natural" and its implied cousin, "unnatural," as if transgendered people are Macbeth with the handle in his hand (so to speak). Why would it not be "natural" to have a range of gender identities? Is surgery to make yourself conform more closely to a heterosexual identity -- breast enhancement surgery, for example -- also "profoundly opposed" to "natural sexual identity"? But how can someone be "profoundly opposed" to heterosexuality and try to play up a heterosexual identity at the same time? We could continue debating this point in circles for hours, or come to the much simpler conclusion that King's spaceship is nowhere near the orbit of Planet Logic at this point.

Here's a goody:

    One of the mildest of such programs, “Healing the Hate,” released in 1997 under Department of Justice sposorship, implicitly likens disapproval of homosexual behavior with the prejudices that in the past have led to lynchings, church burnings, and the Holocaust.

"Implicitly." As opposed to "explicitly." As opposed to the well-known -- on this planet, at least -- that homosexuality was one of the things that could have you arrested and sent to a concentration camp during -- you guessed it -- the Holocaust. But this is the kind of thing King considers a radical and dangerous assertion. No wonder she finds any and all attempts to introduce discussion of homosexuality into public classrooms an outrage.

There is possibly -- possibly -- a valid criticism of GLSEN's tactics here (although I'm not sure why King is against teaching "fisting" in public schools, as that seems the surest possible way to get kids not to fist). But any criticism ought to come from someone who's not reduced to sputtering about "values" and shrinking in horror at the idea that a teacher's gender identity, let alone an adolescent's, might not be perfectly set in stone. (Notice that she hasn't been able to come up with any group other than GLSEN in this hell-bent, nefarious gay takeover of our nation's schools.)

In the end King lurches back towards conventional conservatism:

    No compulsory public school system can be justified unless what it teaches is a worldview that the taxpayers who fund it can support. The “common schools” came into existence, after all, to acculturate immigrants to American values. For schools to try to indoctrinate children in a radical, minority worldview like that promoted by GLSEN and its allies—a vision that will form those children’s values and shape their sense of selfhood—is a kind of tyranny, one that, in addition, intentionally drives a wedge between parents and children and, as queer theorist Michael Warner boasts, “opposes society itself.” We must not let an appeal to our belief in tolerance and decency blind us to indecency—and to the individual and social damage that will result from it.

I'm not exactly sure her educational history is perfectly on target -- Joanne? -- but that's a minor sin compared to "oh, gays are acting like they might have been hurt by the Holocaust!" But can she be so sure that her view isn't the radical, minority worldview? Part of her protest, after all, is that GLSEN's tactics enjoy a good deal of support from organizations such as the ACLU, school administrators, and even (though she doesn't even dare admit it) the students themselves (you can't exactly found a student Gay-Straight Alliance if there aren't any students who want to join). If she would have an outraged parent demand sovereignity over teachers' gender identity, isn't that the exact form of tyranny she claims to protest?

There's no logic in this, and little coherence. You can't sustain an argument entirely on revulsion, especially when it forces you to distort and ignore to make your point. And it's utterly infuriating to watch, from the Texas police busting into men's bedrooms, and people like King on the sidelines sniffing, "Well, they're not really persecuted at all, and it's not natural anyway."

This, Pej -- since it came up a while ago -- is why I don't like being called a conservative. Libertarian, sure. Free-market, yay. Conversative? Not if it puts me on the same side as Marjorie King. One of the things I've liked about the part of the blogosphere I entered is that people like Pej himself and Instaman and (especially) Brooke and even (though maybe to a lesser extent) Eugene Volokh and Den Beste and The Happily Married Vodkaman -- is that they seem to understand, and accept, that embracing a free-market, small-government society is based to a certain degree on trusting your fellow human being to do the right thing, and that applies to the bedroom as well. It seems silly, in my opinion, to be willing to trust people with more of their tax dollars but not with their own bodies.

I hear the word "conservatism" and I don't see or feel trust in fellow human beings. I see a cramped, scared, bitter philosophy, that regards the world as constantly falling into a moral and personal sinkhole, that distrusts democracy, that professes humility but takes fearful refuge in self-righteousness. It desperately seeks the imposition of a very particular set of "values" for fear that, left alone, people might turn to that pursuit of happiness in unacceptable ways. And at every turn it cries, "Think of the children!", creating, fetishizing, and pandering more to the supposed innocence and fragility than Dr. Spock ever could.

F*&k it, as City Journal would say. If that's conservatism, I'm throwing in my lot, and my collection from Toys in Babeland, with the gun-toting, IRS-hating libertarians. I don't want to be scared of sex, scared of every adult left alone in a room with my child, scared constantly that the people around me won't act decently if given a chance. Maybe when I'm older I'll be bitter and paranoid -- but for now, I like the fact that I live in a country where I can be a girl and still wear pants and work hard and hold hands with my boyfriend in public and kiss the occasional friendly and comforting drag queen. And I wish it were the same way everywhere.

So there's my talk about sex for you.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:12 |


1.5.03  

 

Took this quiz, to learn that if I were a country, I'd be Switzerland.

But I would also be Strongbad, which would seem contradictory.



  posted by Jessica @ 20:56 |


28.4.03  

 

Kickin' it FAQ-style:

So, is the third draft finished yet?
Nope. About five, six scenes to go 'til the end.

Which scenes?
Without giving too much away: the opening night at the art gallery (which occurs much earlier in the second draft); the run-up and aftermath of the Georgia Tech-Clemson game, and Pete's unsuccessful trek to campus; the barbecue.

How is the third draft different from the second draft?
Less sex.

Really?
Yeah. It just turned out in that most of the cases, it didn't make sense for the two characters involved to be in bed, or near bed, or planning on going to bed on an ongoing basis. There is still some sex, just less sex.

And that's it? Less sex?
Well, no -- there are a few plot changes, and quite a bit more about Chloë's not knowing what to do with her life. The essential plot is still basically the same, just changes along the way -- Chloë and Pete's first meeting is slightly different, their relationship develops differently, et cetera. The biggest plot change is that Chloë finds out why her brother joined the army much, much earlier -- my original idea was to keep it an up-in-the-air question until the very end, but it's just too flimsy a plot point to hang suspense on.

And less sex.
More cocaine, if that helps.

What happens when you finish the third draft?
Start sending it to agents. Which I've never done before; my first novel got shelved before I got as far as agent-hunting. I'll probably follow the tips mom-to-be-any-minute-now Jennifer Weiner graciously provides on her site. I know a couple people who either have published books or are in the publishing industry, but I don't think networking in this case is going to get me particularly far -- either my book's not funny enough, or the wrong genre, or fiction, or not targeted at young adults, et cetera.

Nervous?
Why do you think it's taken me so long to finish the third draft?

Will the third draft get beta read?
I will probably send copies to a small number -- Larry, Beta Reader D and his longtime friend P, Hannah, A, my boyfriend, a co-worker. But it won't be so much a beta reading as a follow-up: "So here's what happened to my novel."

Might the Blog of Chloë and Pete acquire a new, spiffy, domain-registered, Blogger-free, Googlable home later this year?
Still considering it. Opinions among those who love me vary between "yes, definitely continue the blog" and "no, it's not good for you" (my best friend J and my boyfriend, who otherwise see eye-to-eye on absolutely nothing, agree on this one). So I'm not sure how much blogging I'd be doing. But I'm definitely thinking that a personal, legitimate site would at least help promote my book.

Well, while you're twiddling your thumbs, I'd like to meet some cool published authors. Any suggestions?
You can go to the Book Expo of America, in LA from May 28th to June 1st, and meet a number of nifty authors, including Pamie. (Note to flirty LA bloggers everywhere: while Pamie is sweet and funny and doubleplusnifty and all that, she is also taken. But don't let that stop you.) Or, if you're in or near Warren, Michigan, this weekend, you can meet Pete Abrams, author of seven books (the first book starts here), as well as Terry Pratchett, author and/or co-author of lots and lots of books. And that little Trekker Tux is just too. damn. cute.



  posted by Jessica @ 14:13 |



 

Much as I love Gregg Easterbrook -- SUV-disliker, haiku-writer, cheerleader-ogler, and (if you read his pre-NFL draft column on ESPN) Buffy spoilerwhore -- his last New Republic dispatch, which covers the idea of reparations to the families of the 1,300 or so Iraqi civilians killed, leaves me slightly queasy. The whole idea reminds me too much of one of Saddam's tactics: to pay out $25,000 (if I'm remembering correctly) to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. Let's face it: shelling out $10,000, or $100,000, per family is not exactly sending out a message of caring: more like a message of We're powerful enough to kill your loved ones without suffering any ill effects ourselves, and then rich enough to toss money at you for it. Paying money to specific families would, I suspect, just cause more resentment.

And is it really worth it to draw such a fine line between Iraqi civilians and soldiers? We know there was forced conscription. We cannot say, as we could of our own army (or even the German army of World War II), that the Iraqi soldiers chose to put their lives on the live. Even if they did, it seems like there were enough threats involved to make it not much of a choice at all.

A little while ago Instaman floated the idea (or, rather, as these things go, somebody floated the idea and Instaman re-floated it) of putting the money from newly re-pumping Iraqi oil into a trust fund to be split among all Iraqi citizens. (Hopefully if this ever came to fruition there would be someone from Kuwait on the advisory board.) I like that better than the idea of paying blood money to individuals.

I've had my head stuck so far in the metaphorical sand over the last few weeks I'm not even sure what's going on -- Jay Garner? Sadr City? The what and the who, now? My work has been primarily concerned with non-Iraqi events. I was in New Orleans for a conference last week, for example. Iraq didn't come up. SARS did, since there were delegates from Asia who couldn't attend, but Iraq didn't. So I've been admittedly ignorant -- another reason not to be blogging.

At any rate, send your congratulations to Greg, who got his hoped-for tobacco tax increase (though I'm not clear on the details yet).

Still don't know what that song was. I can at least remember the tune at this point; I'm tempted to call WDVX and hum it into my phone. But work and emails to attend to first.



  posted by Jessica @ 13:10 |


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