May 21st, 2011


The Freedom Memorial WinCo

Why was I in Beaverton last night? That'll be its own entry, but between doing one Beaverton-set thing I'd planned to do and doing another Beaverton-set thing I'd planned to do, I made an impromptu stop at the WinCo.

I first went to that WinCo in August 2002. It was my first stop after going over to the then-owners of the building where I currently live and signing a lease to live there. At the time, I was renting a bedroom in the basement of a Portland house. That summer I'd gone from realizing I was living with one person I couldn't trust to realizing I was living with at least two people I couldn't trust. That lit a fire under my ass: get your own place. Don't live with anyone for at least a bit.

Here's one thing: one of those fellow residents had sometimes used my stuff, and had lied about it. Including pantry stuff. Such as at least two jars of pasta sauce that he took from my stash in a cabinet, got some sauce from, and PUT BACK IN THE CABINET. Science experiments ensued. Thank everything those didn't put me off eating pasta sauce, but: dumb stuff like that had happened.

So after i signed that lease, I went to WinCo. A stock-up place to shop. I loaded up a cart with pantry staples. And kept thinking This will be used by NO ONE ELSE. Because I then drove to the now-mine-to-live-in studio apartment, loaded up that pantry (more room than in the house, too), and left it.

Liberating and satisfying.

Thus, that WinCo is a liberating and satisfying place for me.
Star Wars - Fly away...

From Cat Valente's Friday signing - her first at Powell's

"Sadly, I did not bring beer this time," I said. "But I am buying the book!"

I said this to Catherynne M. Valente, no, excuse me, New York Times Bestselling Author Catherynne M. Valente. Writer, friend-of-a-friend (said friend: musician S.J. "s00j" Tucker), and creator of the looks-like-a-decades-old children's book The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. She signed at Powell's Cedar Hills Crossing. I drove to work yesterday so I could more quickly get the heck to Beaverton and join her.

(I also took advantage of being in that part of Beaverton and had dinner at Five Guys Burgers and Fries. I had both. A burger and fries, I mean, and the burger had mustard, mayo, pickles, tomatoes, and grilled mushrooms on it. My stomach was satisfied.)

I'd met Cat before, at a joint Cat/Sooj appearance in a Portland cafe in 2009 to celebrate the release of her adult novel Palimpsest. (Cat and others read from the book; Sooj sang songs she'd written inspired by it.) That time she'd asked in advance for beer if anyone could provide something local and good. I don't know beer very well, so I got advice from Bobby "Fatboy" Roberts (thanks, Bobby!) and took a suggestion from Cat of what she'd like and found something for her at Belmont Station. This time Cat remembered I'd brought her beer!

Valente read Chapter 1 of The Girl Who... after announcing that the book had made the New York Times bestseller list (#8! Woo hoo!) Hers is a good voice for readings. This is not true for all authors. (She just did her first audio book. Random note: her director of her recording session was the same guy who narrated Chrysler's "Imported From Detroit" commercial that aired during the Super Bowl.) Her reading audience was a happy, attentive audience. Tidbits from her Q&A:
  • Before The Girl Who... was written, she'd written a story for a Young Adult anthology, retelling Hansel & Gretel from the witch's perspective. She thought it would get tossed from the book, but the only change the editors asked for was "fewer sub-clauses." Valente feels hopeful about the range of subject matter allowed in YA. (She added "I've never met a run-on sentence I didn't love.")

  • Because she originally published The Girl Who... a chapter at a time online, she couldn't change the earlier parts of the book in case the book went in an unexpected direction, so before writing it she plotted extensively for the first time in her writing life. On the other hand, her intricate Orphan's Tales novels, the ones that pay style homage to the even more intricate 1001 Arabian Nights? She wrote them without any notes. "I thought it'd be easier just to write the books than to do character maps!" she said, and expressed awe at how a fan then did create character maps for that work.

  • The published The Girl Who... is subtly different from the original online version, because of gentle edits. For one thing, she changed one thing as a nod/in-joke directed to a 6-year-old whose parents had read the story to her. (The book's main character, the girl named September, had mentioned "losing" a shoe, and the 6-year-old in that serious-kid way said "That's leaving,' not 'losing.'" Valente wrote a similar line for the dragon-like wyvern character in the book.) Also, it meant that little subversive touches she'd added as she'd written were less likely to be questioned by the publisher in a "Should we really have that?" way.

  • A sequel will happen. It'll be called The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There.

  • She wonders if the vocabulary might, might, sometimes be too advanced for younger readers. She's already been to first-grade classrooms and had to ask "Anyone know what 'circumnavigated' means?" I'll hope they figure it out from context.

  • Feedback about the book so far has included this: "Our 13-year-old has locked herself in her room with it." Valente thinkS that girl likes it.
  • Whale fluke

    Because I said I wouldn't tweet too much about today's Rapture thing,

    I'll write it here instead:

    You could sing to the tune of Green Day the line "Wake me up when The Rapture ends."

    Also, since orgasms can feel pretty fucking rapturous, maybe we should've been celebrating Alleged Rapture Day by getting laid, again and again and again... (I'm sure some have. If so, good for you!)

    And finally, I'm glad the world hasn't ended. The world's too much fun.

    Here's how I mentioned the Rapture on Twitter: I re-Tweeted Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's message "Just talked w the good Lord. The world is not ending today. He said 'stay humble and keep putting boots to asses.' Amen." I also RT'd Patton Oswalt's reposting of Randy "Macho Man" Savage about to body-slam Jesus Christ ("This is why The Rapture won't happen"). And I mentioned that an apt album for today was Gorillaz's Demon Days ("Are we the last living souls... are we the last living souls... are we the last living souls... are we the last living souls...").