ZenBrush on iPad. Click to enlarge. Add a Comment
The Olympics are over and many sport-loving Dads from all over the world are feeling a little flat, my own father included.
After several weeks with an excuse to always have the channel set to Sport he’s had to relinquish the remote. It’s not that he’s deprived normally; my Mum and I also like a good game played well but we can’t match my father’s dedication to all things sporting. If there’s a ball or puck involved, he’ll watch it. If there’s not, he watch it in the hope that there might be a ball or puck involved soon. (I once came home at 2am to find him trying to take an interest in curling. He’ll watch anything.)
Luckily for him, it’s Father’s Day soon, and Sunday September 2nd offers the opportunity not just to buy him a book about sport but a chance to introduce him to a while new bunch of sports so incredibly strange that even he doesn’t already know about them.
1. Insatiable - Competitive Eating and the Big Fat American Dream by Jason Fagone
(Don’t get into practicing unless you are also a fitness freak, as the world record holder can eat 68 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. At 290 calories that’s as much as a normal person on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet would need for ten days.)
From pie-cramming competitions at county fairs to the spectacle that is the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island, author Jason Fagone spends a year traveling, eating and even competing with the biggest names in the business trying to find just out just what compels a ‘gurgitator’ to force down forty-six dozen oysters in ten minutes – and what makes us want to watch them. Filled with drama, conflict and larger-than-life stars, this book is well worth taking the time to digest even if thinking about the food they are cramming makes that difficult.
(I should probably point out that typing “Insatiable” into Boomerang’s search box brings up over 20 results, only one of which involve food instead of semi-naked people cavorting. Be warned.)
2. Lucha Loco by Malcolm Venville
From the eating highs of America we go south to Mexico where the Lucha Libre – “free wrestling” – is a cultural phenomenon, renowned not only for the wrestler’s moves for the masks they wear, and the mythology that has grown around the masked wrestlers or luchadors.
I was lucky enough to make it to the Lucha Libre while in Mexico and had the time of my life – it’s part sport, part soap opera, and all drama. In modern lucha libre, masks are designed to create a persona for the luchador to takes on during a performance. Putting your mask – or your hair – on the line against a foe is the ultimate challenge in this sport. During their careers, masked luchadores will often be seen in public wearing their masks interacting with the public and press normally, and concealing their true identities. One of Lucha Libre’s most famous figures,Add a Comment
As I may have mentioned, once or twice, I recently finished the first draft of my Sekrit Project novel. And, yay verily, I was full of joy. There was dancing. Bouncing. Happiness and even more joy.
After the joy I spent a few days tinkering with it, fixing the egregiously rubbishy bits, adding things that needed adding, moving chapters around. As you do.
Then I sent it off to my wondrous, fabulous, worth-more-than-their-weight-in-mangosteens-and-other-precious-things first readers.
Then I kicked back and watched loads of Olympics and blogged and did many things that have nothing to do with Sekrit Project. And there was more joy.
After a week there was still some joy on account of OLYMPICS OH HOW I LOVE THE OLYMPICS but there was also creeping OMG THEY ALL HATE IT WHY HASN’T ANYONE GOTTEN BACK TO ME ABOUT IT NOT EVEN MY OWN HUSBAND IS IT REALLY THAT BAD thoughts.
Then yesterday one of my readers got back to me. She liked it! PHEW.1
But more importantly Meg had really smart, useful notes for me. And I got to talk with someone who was not me about Sekrit Project and most especially about the second half of the book and the ending.2
I think I got a little giddy. It was such a pleasure to finally talk about it. Poor Meg. I plied her with a million and one questions. And she answered them all for me in really useful ways. I have a much better idea of what is and isn’t working and how to fix it. Scott also came through with notes on the first half of the book. There was bouncing and dancing.
Both Meg and Scott’s notes were full of questions about character’s motivations, aspects of the worldbuilding that didn’t make sense to them, why certain things happen when they do and so on. Questions that make me realise that I had not achieved what I thought I had. All too often the book was too subtle, too opaque, too confusing. All of which I am now brimming with ideas for how to fix.
This world and people I have created changes once other people have seen them. Meg and Scott’s comments and questions have changed how I see them too. I love this part. I love how it gives me a million and one ideas for making the book better.
Have I mentioned that rewriting is my favourite part of the writing process? This is why.
I know there are lots of writers who can figure out all this stuff for themselves. But I really depend on feedback. I need to know how readers respond to what I’ve written because all too often what I think is there is not there. And I can’t discover that by reading and rewriting my book over and over again. I can’t do it alone.
So now I can rewrite to deal with all those problems and work towards the general embetterment of the book. And once that’s done I send it off to my agent. Then when both she and I are happy it gets sent out to editors. Who will in turn send me their own notes.
At least that is how I do it.
Trust me, every writer has their own methods. Some never show anyone anything other than their agent and editor. Some talk constantly about their book and what happens in it as they write and have several people read it as they go along. Some, like me, only let people read it once they have a complete draft. Some have everyone in the world read it and comment. Others none.
Whatever works for you is how to do it.
So here it is the final day of my blogging every day of July effort and I have succeeded!1 And it was fun. So much fun that I’m going to keep on blogging. Not every day but at least once a week. Turns out I missed it way more than I realised. Missed you commenter types both here and on twitter. I think we had some really cool and interesting conversations over this month and I hope we’ll have many more. *hugs blog* *hugs commenters* *cries*
I didn’t do all the posts I promised I would. I know. I am badness. But I will do them. In the future. In the not-too-distant future even. If you ask me to opine on something here or on twitter eventually I will do so.
I did not, in fact, use voice recognition software. I tried and gave up in anger and frustration. But I will do the post I promised @SirTessa in which I use that dread software without correcting any of the mistakes.
However, not using it was really positive because I also finished the first draft of a novel this month2 and thus between that and blogging every day was typing more than I had for ages and doing so in a managed way. Some days, yes, I was very sore. But I never pushed through and typed more than twenty minutes at a time. And the frequent breaks—including at least two days off per week—and stretching and strength work and treatment kept the pain manageable. Turns out I can write more than I think I can. To which, well, YAY + DANCE OF JOY.
And my reward for finishing the first draft of a new novel and blogging every day?
So far I have watched, in no particular order:
I’ll come straight out with it: I’m not a football fan.
I am a fan of using whatever I can to get kids excited about books and reading.
So this week at school, in our story+activity enrichment session on Friday, it’s all about football (soccer) in the hope that Euro 2012 is fizzing rather than fizzling.
Goal!, set in a South African township, is about just how much fun playing football can be. Bullying and poverty also play a role in this book, which Archbiship Desmond Tutu has described as “uplifting and inspiring”. I’ve chosen to read it in school for its interesting setting and exuberance.
Pass it, Polly, by one of my favourite British author/illustrators, shows girls loving playing football just as much as boys. Polly and Nisha are determined to make it onto the school football team, and with a bit of practice and family support, they do indeed show everyone girls can make great footballers.
Football Fever is the most conventional, least challenging of the three stories (an anglo saxon family with a soccer mad son and father) but it is told with lovely humour, fun illustrations and a great punch line showing how football can excite anyone.
After reading the books we’ll be designing our own soccer strip and making footballing finger puppets. We’ll also be putting new designs on footballs and then playing footie on the classroom tables…
The template for the finger puppets can be found here (there are both boy and girl footballer templates). You may need to make the finger holes a little larger depending on the age of your kids. I’ve photocopied the templates onto white card. The kids will use ordinary pens and pencils to colour them in before cutting them out themselves (I’ll use a craft punch to make the finger holes – speed is of the essence when you’ve 30 kids on the go).
For footballs I’m using pingpong balls (I was able to find 12 pingpong balls for £1 in the pound shop), and we’ll be using permanent pens (Sharpies) to draw our designs onto the balls.
3 Comments on Using football fever to get young kids excited about books, last added: 6/14/2012
Some random dips into the world of sports
Then I saw her face
Now I'm a bulleaper
Sung to the tune of "I'm a Believer" by the Monkees
Brushpen with watercolour. 16cm x 14cm. Click to enlarge.
As some of you may have noticed I’ve not been around much online. Sorry! Thank you so much for all the concerned supportive emails. They are much appreciated. (You made me all teary.)
Here’s where things stand with me:
The good news: The original injury that caused me to cut back on blogging is completely healed. Yay!
The bad news: The RSI in my hands and forearms got worse.
I took four weeks off from the computer entirely. I have reorganised my computer setup. I’ve been doing a vast amount of physical therapy. I’m improving. Slowly and frustratingly but surely.
However, my time at keyboard remains limited and my top priority is my novel. All else—blogging, tweeting, emailing—is on hiatus until I can get through a day’s1 work without pain.
I see that all sounds depressing. But honestly I’m doing great. While I miss being in close contact with all my fabby online friends.2 I’ve been spending more time with friends in the real world. I’ve been reading more than I have in years. Watching lots of crazy good anime. Who recommended Moribito? I LOVE YOU.3 I’ve been cooking up a storm. And immersing myself in the WNBA, NBA, French Open, various cricket series and am ecstatic about the coming World Cup and Wimbledon and the Tour de France.
Life is very good.
So this is farewell for now. Thanks for all the support. It means heaps.4
I’ll be back.5
In a recent interview Becky Hammon, who plays for the San Antonio Silver Stars had some very smart things to say about feminism. She’s an amazing and very smart ball player, but her response to the following question made me love her even more.
First of all, lets not forget our history ladies. It wasn’t so long ago that women weren’t allowed to compete in sports. So many unfulfilled dreams, so many opportunities that were denied simply because you were a woman. We all stand on the foundations that some one else who went ahead of us built. And more than likely the foundation was built out of blood, sweat, broken dreams, and tears. And if we’re not careful, and if we don’t support each other, all that hard work could crumble. The opportunity is not promised to be there tomorrow. Its still fragile, because its still a very young ideology.
Secondly, young girls, young women, middle aged women we are failing to see the bigger picture here! Its not just about the WNBA or sports, its about equality and respect-which every human being deserves, whether male or female. Breaking barriers and stereotypes so that when YOUR daughter, YOUR niece, YOUR mother walks into that job interview SHE will have an EQUAL shot getting hired and paid the same as if a male walks in for that same job position.
So ladies, we’re not there yet, we still have a long ways to go, but if we don’t have support each other now, it may not be as bright as a future for us as it could be.
So boys, girls, men, and women support the WNBA if you have a mother, a sister, a niece, a girlfriend, a cousin or whomever, because the bigger picture is its for all people and affects all people.
I love when a little boy or girl comes up and has my jersey on, or wants an autograph, why? Because they’re growing up in a culture that views women as strong, smart, athletic, capable, and worthy of respect.
Last point: I get tired of hearing people say, “well you walk into a women’s basketball game and you see so many women.” WELL, I’d counter, you walk into a men’s game and you see mostly men. THIS is an important point, because at the end of the day, it can’t be an “us” verses “them” mentality. We all need each other. In GENERAL it is mostly men who watch, support, follow sports, and that’s why I go back to my point of even if you’re not an athlete, or not a women, or you don’t know an athlete, it’s still important to support it, because in the end, it affects everyone one of us, male or female, because of the bigger picture is represents in our society. UNITY is an amazing word and when its captured, produces amazing results. But ladies, how can we ask the guys to support it, when we don’t support it ourselves! WE need EVERYONE, but, ladies, lets start with ourselves!
I have nothing to add other than: what she said.Add a Comment
Wimbledon started this week, and many British eyes are on Andy Murray, who has a decent chance of being the first British Men’s Singles Winner since Fred Perry in 1936. So, no pressure then. Anyway, with the sun shining in England (for once), the strawberries in season, and the tennis on the telly, I thought I’d bring you a selection of tennis (and sport) related entries from The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. These are from the 6th edition, but we have the lovely new seventh edition publishing in Britain in September.
“We are merely the stars’ tennis-balls, struck and bandied
Which way please them.”
John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi (1623) act 5, sc. 4
“If you can keep playing tennis when somebody is shooting a gun down the street, that’s concentration. I didn’t grow up playing at the country club.”
Serena Williams, Sunday Times (2 June 2002)
“I’d as soon write free verse as play tennis with the net down.”
Robert Frost, quoted in Interviews with Robert Frost (1966)
“When we have matched our rackets to these balls,
We will in France, by God’s grace, play a set
Shall strike his father’s crown into the hazard.”
William Shakespeare, Henry V (1599) act 1, sc. 2
“Years ago we discovered the exact point, the dead centre of middle age. It occurs when you are too young to take up golf and too old to rush up to the net.”
Franklin P. Adams, Nods and Becks (1944)
“He played the King as thought under momentary apprehension that someone else was about to play the ace.”
Eugene Field, in a review of Creston Clarke as King Lear, Denver Tribune (c.1880)
“Many a good run I have in my sleep. Many a dig in the ribs I gives Mrs J when I think they’re running into the warmint… No man is fit to be called a sportsman wot doesn’t kick his wife out of bed on haverage once in three weeks!”
R.S. Surtees, Handley Cross (1843)
“A sportsman is a man who, every now and then, simply has to get out and kill something. Not that he’s cruel. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. It’s not big enough.”
Stephen Leacock, My Remarkable Uncle (1942)
So I have no idea that Australia only need two more wickets and England a handful of runs to make Aus bat again and thus reduce overs and increase chance of securing draw. Only 15 overs remaining.
I AM NOT FOLLOWING IT AT ALL.
Writing, working hard, ignoring the nail biting finish.
COME ON AUSTRALIA!!!Display Comments Add a Comment
Over the past weekend, amateur and professional dancers gathered in Chicago to participate in the 2009 Astaire Awards Championships, an annual competition serves not only to show off the nation’s dancing prowess, but also to pay homage to a patron saint of the sport. In his recent book, Fred Astaire, Joseph Epstein analyzes the life and lasting impact of a man “who transformed entertainment into art and gave America a new yet enduring standard for style.” The book, which will be re-released this September in paperback, was selected as one of the top five books of 2008 by the Chicago Tribune.
For those eagerly anticipating its release, we recommend listening to Epstein’s appearance on On Point with Tom Ashbrook. While there, you can view clips of Astaire’s dazzling dance performances like this one below.
I have a mountain of work to get through before I head out on tour. But all I can think about is the third game of the WNBA finals, which takes place in Indianapolis today at 4PM (US Eastern time). So far this has been the best WNBA finals series I’ve ever seen and I’ve been following the WNBA since 2000.
The two best teams in the league, Indiana and Phoenix are battling it out. Indiana is renowned for their defense and Phoenix for their offense. Though both teams have been proving in this series that they’re not exactly slouches at the other end.
They’ve won one game each both played in Phoenix. The first game was the highest scoring game in WNBA history 120 to 116 (Phoenix won). The second was every bit as exciting (Indiana got the win). The third game will have a crowd of at least 18,000. Last I heard they were just shy of a sellout.
I don’t have a favourite in this series. I like Indiana a lot. I’m a huge fan of Tamika Catchings and Tully Bevilaqua (an Aussie, don’t you know) and Ebony Hoffman has totally won me over, not just because of her awesome play, but also because of how smart and funny she is in post game interviews. And Briann January is a hell of a rookie.
But Phoenix also has an Aussie, Penny Taylor, who’s just astonishing. I think her absence in the second half of the second game is a big part of why Phoenix lost. Cappie Pondexter and Diana Taurasi are two of the best players in women’s basketball. Taurasi is the current Most Valuable Player of the WNBA. Then there’s Tangela Smith and Dewanna Bonner. I love Phoenix’s style of play. Run and gun, take no time outs, except for injury.
So, no, I don’t know who I’m going for. They’re both great teams. It would be gorgeous for Indiana to win it’s first championship, but I’ll be happy no matter what happens.
Is it 4PM yet?Add a Comment
This afternoon's visit to the Van Doesburg show was followed by coffee and cake with the Frog. We discussed my Fretless Ladder (top left), and the sport of Egg Ping Pong invented by Jean Arp. I urged him to visit the rockin' zebra finches . This prompted a lengthy rant about the latest addition to the Frog's guitar collection. Meanwhile Serota floated past our table and I ate most of the cake.
Pen and ink with stabilo markers on Moleskine 9cm x 14cm. Click to enlarge.