Tag Archives: Blue Hour

Moar Pie for Everyone, or Why Simon Pegg was right

20 May

Hi.

So I made it (barely) through my first week of post-trip hangover. It wasn’t easy. More than one cookie were consumed. I had no choice, I tell you!

But some cool things did come up, like my getting to talk to Vanessa Barger about This Is Sarah and writing and Antarctica. Thanks Vanessa! And speaking of Sarah, Apryl at Apryl Showers was kind enough to share her thoughts on This Is Sarah.

Set in a small town, where no one would believe such horrors would occur, the abduction of Sarah  Evans ricochets through everyone from school friends to neighbours. There is an incredibly realistic feel to the novel. The pace is even, with a slow tempo allowing you to really engage with the emotions of each character. In fact the reader could almost be one of the neighbours or a school pupil – someone who knows of the missing girl but has no real personal connection.

Many thanks to Apryl for her kind words. And in the thanks department, thanks to Mad Swirl for publishing Premonitions of a Sash, and to Cultured Vultures for Radiation Day 22 and to Blue Hour who published Radiation Day 24, Radiation Day 26 and Radiation Day 30.

During treatment I got a lot of mileage about my own fear and experience and out of my husband’s but it wasn’t until I was in radiation every single day, sitting next to the same people that I really started to understand what my friend Don was talking about when he said:

Funny thing, one thing nobody ever said to me – in this time when you will be so inward looking, so concerned with self, make sure you look about you as you go for regular treatments.

The staff, the fellow patients – there is so much there to take in, so much about who we are as humans, how we handle things. How we share, especially casually, in greeting, even silently, in the nod of a head or a smile. 

I didn’t say much during radiation. I came in, changed, kept my headphones in, forced myself to return their smiles, muttered a good morning and hoped my wait wouldn’t be too long. The waiting room was in fact the hardest part of radiation treatment. Just me, at 37, with a bunch of much older people. I tried to block it out. But you can’t block something all the time for 38 days in a row. You just can’t. So little by little, Anna, and Maria, Betty, the guy I called The Angel cause he was dressed in white from head to toe and the Russian guy who didn’t talk to anyone and the old black woman who was getting full brain radiation – all of them just sort of crept into my life. I found out from The Angel that she lost her sense of taste. I remember him sitting there, shaking his head asking, “Can you imagine anything worse? Not being able to taste anything at all?”
It was comments like that which helped shake me out myself. That made me look around the room, and as Don said, really see this moment in my life.
I hope I did all of them a bit of justice on the page. They were good people who like me, were stuck somewhere terrible. They made the best of it. I hope they’re doing okay now.

**********************************************************************************************************************************

In other news, (and getting to the point of this post) I just finished reading On Interpretations and Other Essays, the classic Susan Sontag book. I’ve only read her interviews prior to this so I really enjoyed it, though there were some high and low points as with all books. My favorite essays were On Interpretations with its stellar conversation about form and content, and On Culture and the New Sensibility – which though written in 1965 is very relevant today with the constant high vs low art debates. Because SURPRISE, SURPRISE, the internet is MAD again.

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The new sensibility is definitely pluralistic; it is dedicated both to an excruciating seriousness and to fun and wit and nostalgia. It is also extremely history-conscious; and the voracity of its enthusiasms (and of the supercession of these enthusiasms) is very high-speed and hectic. From the vantage point of this new sensibility, the beauty of a machine or of the solution to a mathematical problem, of a painting by Jasper Johns, of a film by Jean-Luc Goddard, and of the personalities and music of the Beatles is equally accessible.

So this time Simon Pegg is in the hot seat for his comments about comic book movies. He has, as required in this age of super-sensitive interneting, issued an apology. But before we all pat him on the back I think we need to take a look at what he’s ACTUALLY saying:

“Now we’re essentially all-consuming very childish things – comic books, superheroes. Adults are watching this stuff, and taking it seriously.”

This morning on my way to work I listened to Claude Debussy’s Prelude A l’Apres Midi D’un Faune (Afternoon of the Faun). I don’t listen to Claude much on my walk (or really much classical because of the trucks on 5th avenue). It opens with a harp. Upon the first note, I immediately thought of this:

That’s a scene from one of my favorite episodes of The Monkees where Peter sells his soul to the devil to learn how to play the harp.

Do you see where I’m going here?

Debussy = sounds lovely = Happy Ally

The Monkees =  goofy laughs = Happy Ally.

That’s the point of art. And variety makes for good “art-ing.” I think the #IReadYA thing is great but if you ONLY read YA, well…..you’re missing out. I’m sorry but you just are. It’s just as bad if you only read the New York Times Bestseller List or if you only read “literary” fiction written by white guys in Manhattan. White guys in Manhattan don’t know everything there is about this world. You’re limiting your own experiences if that’s all you’re reading.

If you’re only getting one small slice of the art pie, you’re not getting enough pie. MOAR PIE!

Now what I think Pegg here is talking about is that there are A LOT of comic book movies. Since 2010 there have been about 30 superhero movies made. THIRTY! And the reason there are so many is cause they make money. For me, his criticism is about the fact that we are paying the industry to keep feeding us the SAME THING OVER AND OVER AGAIN.  Honestly when I think about the money spent on these movies, I feel dizzy. But as long as we keep forking over our paychecks the industry will keep churning it out. That’s how business works. What are we getting out of watching the Hulk smash things? Do we really need another Spiderman reboot?

There has always been and will always be good science fiction and fantasy out there. Moon and Europa Report were two really well done movies that I walked away THINKING about. Come on, an alien that helps humans BE more human by trying to understand them? That’s why it’s classic. That has staying power.

Look, I love sci-fi. I love fantasy. I also love Godard. These things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. One of the best comments I ever got in my life was when someone looked at my goodreads list and said “wow….you’re all over the place.”

Yes, I am. Proudly.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure that Sontag’s comment, made in 1965 can be the last one necessary to end this whole high vs low art thing. Time to put the tired conversation to rest. Let’s all stop hating on Simon Pegg, now okay?

**********************************************************************************************************************************

Speaking of “the solution to a mathematical problem….” I got back to work on Palimpsest this morning along with the help of some really great beta reader notes (I love you, guys). I also happened across this great video explaining the Fibonacci Sequence, a mathematical premise that is featured in my book.

images

The Golden Mean

The sequence, for those of you who don’t know, is the following:

0,1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8,13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144

and on and on and so forth.

It is derived by adding the first number to the next number. So:

0+1 = 1

1+ 1 = 2

1+2 = 3

2+3= 5

3+5= 8

5+8 = 13

8+13 = 21

13+21 = 34

21+ 34 = 55

34 +55 = 89

55 + 89 = 144

and so on and so forth. But the real cool thing is that the Fibonacci sequence is EVERYWHERE. In the spiral of a seashell, in the arms of the galaxy. Even in your own bones!

Slide79

flower

index

Aspects show up in art and architecture and in our DNA.

And this is why math and science are amazing.

Check out the video. It’s not long and it’s got cool music.

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

THIS IS ALLY-WEEN

31 Oct

 

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Happy Halloween kids!

Easily my favorite holiday of the year. You can keep your overcooked dried turkeys and your relentless jingle bells. All true mischief makers know that Halloween is the best holiday of the year!

I heard from a pretty reliable source there was promise of Dum-Dums in my future.

ROOTBEER DUM DUMS!!!

download

Before we close out this month, I have a couple quick thank yous to share:

Revising/editing/publishing This Is Sarah and revising Palimpsest has really taken up a huge chunk of my writing time in these last 10 months. Poetry has certainly (until recently) taken the backseat so I’m always especially grateful when awesome mags pick up something. So many thanks to Underground Books for taking these poems from the How To Be An American Series and to Commonline Journal for accepting Marriage.

The Blue Hour – one of my favorite magazines – has a new anthology out. This is their third one and if it’s anything like the other two (and I know it will be) it will certainly be a fascinating collection. The best thing about Anthologies is that you get to discover new poets in them! Check it out if you have a chance. Blue Hour doesn’t sell on Amazon so be a gem and get it directly from the site. Then you’re supporting small presses, poetry, and non-behemoths. A win for us all!

In book news, I’ve got a few copies of This Is Sarah involved in a massive giveaway hosted by Krista and Kristen.

I wrote about it here.

So if you want to win some books, there are approximately 9 bajillion available. Enter here!

And in other Sarah news, thanks to Rosie at Eat Read Glam for the review and to Missy at MidSummer for the same.

Blog reviews are gold to a small press publisher. And FINALLY I had a blast bs-ing with Tasha Cotter, my press buddy.  Her new book, Red Carpet Day Job is forthcoming from BookFish Books.

And that’s about it for my month.

Anyway kids, have a blast tonight.

Start Some Trouble.

Fall in Love.

Do the Time Warp Again.

Play piano with a pretty little dead girl.

 

This is Me (with This is Sarah) Trying to Be Less Annoying

30 Jun

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Okay so in an effort not to have a million individual posts here and facebook and tumblr and  twitter and thus irritate everyone that I know, I just wanted to set a little bit of space aside to thank all the bloggers who, in just the last few days, have rallied around This Is Sarah and helped me get the word out.

So first off, thanks to Katie for hosting me on her blog where I had a chance to talk about my favorite parts of writing (the beginning) vs my least favorite parts (the end with all the never ending editing!) and she was also kind enough to include a excerpt. Thanks Katie!

Next up was Sami on tumblr with an interview. Sami asked about the writing process and how long it takes to edit a book and I stopped to do the math and realized I re-wrote This Is Sarah about 23 times from when it started as a short story to now. That sort of gave me a headache.

Much thanks to Mary at BookHounds for including this excerpt from Claire’s POV and to Becky at BarmyBookBlog for giving us one from Colin’s POV. Heather also included a excerpt and so did Lee at Rally the Readers.

And finally thanks to Melissa for not only including an excerpt but for also posting my thoughts on what getting up at 5 am to write can really mean (short answer: exhaustion AND productivity). And finally Annie at Just One More Chapter has a bit I wrote from the perspective of Claire that is not in the novel.

It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal but these bloggers not only have tons of requests for reviews and posts but they also have lives so it really means a lot to someone like me that I get a little help in spreading the word.

Thank you bloggers. You rock.

On the otherside of the writing spectrum, I wanted to thank Blue Hour Press, who have always been wonderful for taking these How To Be An American poems and to The CommonLine for taking this poem Take Off.

 

So the tour is going on till July 11th and if anyone else wants to join me, please drop me an email or contact BookFish. Also if you’re interested in reviewing we’re happy to hear your thoughts.

 

Phew, that’s everything. How about we clean the palate with a little Bukowski?

War and Peace by Charles Bukowski

to experience

real agony

is

something

hard

to write about,

impossible

to understand

while it

grips you;

you’re

frightened

out of

your

wits,

can’t sit

still,

move

or even

go

decently

insane.

 

and then

when your

composure

finally

returns

and you are

able to

evaluate

the

experience

it’s almost as

if it

had happened

to

somebody

else

 

because

look at

you

now:

 

calm

detached

 

say

 

cleaning your

fingernails

 

looking through

a

drawer

for

stamps

 

applying

polish

to your

shoes

or

paying the

electric

bill.

 

life is

and is not

a

gentle

bore.

 

I Screwed Up

2 May

So I screwed up. Shocking, I know.

I forgot to thank one of my absolute favorite presses out there because these poems went up on Blue Hour when I was away and it just sort of slipped through the cracks.

So my sincere apologies to Blue Hour Press who are wonderful and who took these poems, one of which is called After Silsbe and it was written after reading this fantastic little book

SilsbeLGCoverwhich was published by LowGhost Press.

I highly recommend Scott’s collection, the rest of LowGhost’s catalog and the books put out by Blue Hour which you can get here.

Many many many thanks. I’m a lucky girl to be surrounded by so much good writing juju.

Peace Love and Starbursts,

Ally

 

Three “How to be an American” poems up at the Blue Hour

11 Nov

parisblog

Hi.

Morning.

So the very awesome trio over at Blue Hour accepted a couple of my poems from the How to be an American series that I’m working on. It’s odd I was just talking to a friend about how I’ve never had such an easy time writing poems – it’s like they’re practically writing themselves. I don’t know – it’s just been a really fun project and I guess with being bogged down in novel revision, this is a nice change of pace.

Anyway – thanks again to the Blue Hour peeps. And without further ado…..

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

Pushcart, Poems, and Paintings

23 Sep

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So the really wonderful ladies over at Blue Hour press were nice enough to nominate my poem, Worship for a Pushcart. The Pushcart is a best of the small press award. I think it’s 100% awesome that out of all the poems that Blue Hour published this year, they picked mine. I can’t thank them enough for their support. As I’ve said before, I have the utmost respect for small presses.

Speaking of poetry, I’ve started writing a chapbook tentatively titled How To Be An American. Normally when I put a chapbook together, I just haphazardly throw together 50-60 poems and hope for the best. But this time, I’m writing with a theme.

Ha.

So I’ve been reading this book called Culture Shock: America which was written to acclimate new immigrants to the weird ways of Americans. The whole things has been sort of strange because while the book definitely has gross assumptions and stereotypes, some of it hits so close to home it’s unsettling. I pulling a line from the book and then writing a poem. Like this:

Americans Have an Enthusiastic Look. They Feel Empowered. No one Else Has That Special Kind of Confidence

 

Making our way through Paris,

my husband has left behind the baseball caps

that normally grace his head.

We’ve packed only plain t-shirts.

We keep the map folded, out of sight in our back pocket.

We speak in low, hushed tones

anxious about speaking English

and our American accents

and yet,

here he comes, in tight jeans, a small scarf,

his face shaved,

lithe, attractive,

crossing the wide open

space of the garden

points and says “Obama, ça va?”

He gives us a thumbs-up and a too loud laugh before passing.

So this weekend, I went to see the Chagall exhibit at the Jewish Museum and on the way, had a conversation with the mister about ny and he was telling me about this thing that he read on Salon (which I can’t find to link to) about two competing writers talking about the cost of NYC. Here’s my take on this. Rent is high, but there are so many cheap/free things to do in the city it’s insane. All summer there are free movies, free Shakespeare in the Park, plays that have discounted nights, nearly every museum has a free day. For instance every Saturday you can see these for free from now until February:

and every friday night, you can go to the MoMA, like we did after the Chagall, and see these for free:

and you know, not to mention this:

 

And then afterwards you’ll spend all day singing Rene and Georgette Magritte with their dog….after the war. (Curse you Paul Simon!)

All I’m saying is it’s a pretty good deal. People should really take advantage of it.

Peace, love and arty-happiness,

Ally

Soft Machines at Blue Hour

20 Sep

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Many many many thanks to the lovely ladies over at Blue Hour for publishing this poem, Soft Machines.

Please, do yourself a favor and pick up some of their books. They are putting really quality poetry out into the world. And when really quality poetry is in the world, the world is a better place.

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

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