Friday, November 30, 2012

Nanowrimo 2012

Yeah!  I just validated my win on Nanowrimo.  54,000 words this month.

The only problem is that I didn't quite get to the end of the plot.  Okay, I didn't get nearly as close as I should have.

Nanowrimo 2009--Totally finished the plot
Nanowrimo 2010--Finished the plot, but with a few scenes left out toward the end
Nanowrimo 2011--Got the last scene in, but skipped quite a bit toward that end.
Nanowrimo 2012--Oops.  Still a lot of plot to go.  But I still got 54,000 words while working 40+ hours, doing the holidays, and mostly maintaining my exercise routine.

Hmm..  Is this a worrying trend?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pictionary masterpieces

How to get your sister to say "Marx Brothers" while playing Pictionary:

First, draw the flag of the USSR.

Second, draw a statue of Lenin.

Once your sister starts staying things about communism, draw a book.

When your sister realizes this is the Communist Manifesto, draw a stick figure with a pencil, writing the book.

She will then, of course, say "Karl Marx."

Finally, draw three stick figures who look just like your stick-figure Karl Marx, and wait for your sister to guess, quite logically, "Marx brothers."

Do this in under one minute.


True story, as drawn by my brother and guessed by me, Thanksgiving Day 2012.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver

The Poisonwood Bible, By Barbara Kingsolver.  

One word:  amazing.  

Premise:  Missionary family goes to the Congo in 1959, shortly before the Congo gains independence and then goes through a period of upheaval, changes of regime, and CIA-backed assassinations.  The family consists of the gung-ho, blindly faithful, iron-fisted father, a mediator mother, and four girls:  Rachel, the self-absorbed teeny bopper mostly interested in looks, Leah, serious and thoughtful, who at first wants desperately to earn the respect and affection of her father, Adah, her slightly brain-damaged twin sister, who thinks in palindromes, and little clueless adventurous Ruth May.

The sections are told from the viewpoints of the four girls and their mother, and the style of each section brilliantly reflects the personalities, quirks, and worldviews of its narrator.  Though at times this annoyed me (all the misspellings/wrong words in Rachel's section, the heavy plays on words in Adah's section), the skill involved in writing it was amazing.  Inspiring.  It added such depth to the story.  Barbara Kingsolver is an artist.    

The sweeping story covers many years and lots of politics and big issues, along with tiny fascinating details.  I learned a lot.  Perhaps even more important, I thought a lot.  It was hard to read in some places, the way holocaust stories are hard to read, or tales of kids dying of cancer.  Especially when the US was involved in the history in such a shameful way. 

Definitely the most memorable and enriching book I've read this year. 

My rating:  the elusive 5

Click here to buy The Poisonwood Bible.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Lago de Atitlán, Guatemala

Dad and I at Guatemala's volcano-ringed Lago de Atitlan

Atitlán is a beautiful place:  spring-like temperatures year round, mist-shrouded volcanoes, villages where people still wear traditional clothes, swimmable water, green hikes, yoga retreats, language schools, live animals in the markets.  It's a great place, though somewhat inundated by laid-back American expats.  If you're looking for a nice destination in Guatemala, Lake Atitlán is the place to go.