31 May 2011

White Nights (1985)

It's been awhile since I've had updates to my dance movie review series, but after lugging around Center Stage: Turn It Up and White Nights for months -- and bogging down my Netflix consumption -- I finally sat down to watch the latter.

Many of you might be asking, "What is White Nights? I've never heard of it." Well, it's a dance movie starring one of the greatest ballet dancers of all time -- who also doubles as the man who almost stole Carrie away from Mr. Big -- and thus qualifying it as a must see. Throw in co-stars such as Gregory Hines, Helen Mirren, Isabella Rossellini and you've got the makings of a classic. Released in 1985, White Nights isn't exactly the type of dance movie I normally review here but I had to give it a shot as it seems to fit the mold of "watch this movie for the dance performances and fast forward through the rest." Dare I say that it was the You Got Served of the Eighties? Oh wait, that might be Flashdance, but I haven't seen that either (yet).

Tagline: "A Whole New Motion Picture Experience Is On the Horizon" or "Two men. Not soldiers. Not heroes. Just dancers. Willing to risk their lives for freedom -- and each other." I don't know which was the actual tagline but it seems like both were used on various posters. This was the Rocky-esque poster for the videodisc.

1. Plot (8)
Mikhail Baryshnikov plays a ballet dancer who defected to the United States eight years ago. In an effort to get him back, the Russian authorities stage a plane crash to recapture him for the Bolshoi Ballet. Then he's brought to the home of Gregory Hines, an American who defected to Siberia in order to escape Vietnam... You know what? Who cares. The plot is ridiculous and just serves as a platform for some dance offs. It's a tap versus ballet battle! In the context of a dance movie though, throwing in some political undertones seems positively normal as it was the Eighties and the Cold War was years away from ending. Try watching the original trailer for some sense of the movie.

2. Can the lead characters dance? (10)
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! I can't say I've ever seen Baryshnikov dance before but as the only ballerino most people have ever heard of, he must be pretty amazing. At one point in the movie he does eleven pirouettes in a row and this is apparently the equivalent of Tony Hawk pulling off a 900. Gregory Hines was obviously a great dancer and proves it in this movie. Not really understanding ballet or tap, I can only give both of them perfect marks.

3. How’re the dance scenes? (9)
The opening scene featuring Baryshnikov is pretty powerful. An emotional tap rant by a drunken Hines as he talks about America's racism and the reason he chose Russia versus fighting in Vietnam is unique, but you really just can't beat Mikhail and Gregory together in a fantastic duet that includes mock kung fu moves and lots of gliding. There's also some solo Baryshnikov and solo Hines stuff, and probably not enough dance scenes in general.

4. How’s the love story? (1)
I don't think there was one. Unless you count the bromance between the leads.

5. Rate the sidekicks (3)
Technically speaking, Helen Mirren and Isabella Rossellini are the sidekicks here but they don't really have much of a role in the film. The opening credits "introduce" Rossellini but since I haven't seen David Lynch's Blue Velvet, I can't say if she broke through in this movie or not. Mirren plays Baryshnikov's ex-partner and is well, younger than now. Neither Mirren nor Rossellini add much in the way of value or wisecracks. They do pass the "whoa, she's in this movie!" test though.

6. Best line (5)
Early on in the film, Hines mentions that Baryshnikov isn't as tall as he thought he would be, given Baryshnikov's stature in the dance world. This refers to the real life height deficiency that plagued Baryshnikov early on in his dance career. As his Wikipedia explains: "Shorter than most dancers, [Baryshnikov] could not tower over a ballerina en pointe and was therefore relegated to secondary parts." I thought it was funny they alluded to that in the movie.

The best line, and one I'll be quoting quite a bit, was when Hines said, "I'm not a hero, I'm just a dancer." I think he was saying this to Baryshnikov as they contemplated an escape, but really, it's a useful phrase for any situation.

7. Music (9)
A tape of modern jazzy music inspires Hines to rediscover his soul and love for the game, as it were. Also Phil Collins' "Separate Lives" is a featured song. More importantly, Lionel Richie's "Say You, Say Me" is the official song of the film. That fact tickles me to no end. Both songs were nominated for Academy Awards with Richie taking home the Oscar. Watch a video of Baryshnikov dancing to Say You, Say Me.

8. Fashion (4)
Mom jeans, man purses, loafers, and sensible jackets with no flair. Clearly the wardrobe budget here was spent at JC Penney. Even in 1985, I doubt anyone was excited by the attire. And not one leotard in sight. The best thing about the fashion in this film was Baryshnikov's white sneakers that he wore to dance around in. I have a thing for white sneakers and really enjoyed his wearing of them.

Overall I would have given the fashion component of this movie an even lower score but my movie watching companion said "I love all the outfits she [Mirren] is wearing!" I guess the clothing in the mid-80s reflect well now, at least the stuff Mirren was dressed up in. Extra points for that.

9. Cultural Impact (3)
It's safe to say there will never be another movie quite like this. I'm trying to think of what a remake of this would be like today. Maybe a Justin Timberlake and Usher collabo set in North Korea with the threat of nuclear war in the balance. Twenty five years after White Nights, I'm thinking nobody really remembers the film at all -- as my Twitter poll quickly revealed. I even tried to get some idea of what the cultural impact of the movie was when it came out in '85 but a friend's response was: "I saw it in Japan when I was nine years old with my ballet group... We took it seriously from a dance perspective but ignored any cultural impact. Ya know, cuz we were kids. Who just wanted to dance." Based on my extensive research, I'm guessing few lives were changed in the watching of this movie, then or now.

10. Miscellaneous (7)
The director, Taylor Hackford, met Mirren during this film and they got married a decade later. The title refers to the "white nights" that occur in Russia when daylight extends way into the evening. I have no idea how this is related to the movie. I think I could figure out the analogy with a little bit of thought but I don't want to tax my brain. I mean, I have to save my strength to think of all the deep deep themes this movie showcases.

This guide from teachwithmovies.com can be used as "a supplement for studies on the Cold War, exploring the role of an artist in a totalitarian society, acquainting students with the little known phenomenon of African Americans defecting to the Soviet Union to try to find a society free from racism, and of the racism that they encountered in Russia." No other dance movie is this deep, no sir. And if you watch the DVD making of like I did, you'll see how serious Hackford was about making a dance thriller with depth. A sample question from the study guide: "Why did Rodchenko's lady friend decide to stay in the Soviet Union? What would you have done had you been in her position?"

The question spinning through my head throughout the movie was: "Why go to all this trouble just to take back a ballet dancer? Was he that important a cultural treasure?" I guess behind the Iron Curtain they just had different priorities than we did. Stage a plane crash, put him up in a penthouse, threaten his freedoms, all to teach Baryshnikov a lesson.

According to the rating system, White Nights came in just a hair above Street Dance. The poor showing can be attributed to an absolute lack of anything watcheable aside from the dance scenes and arguably the music. In fact, if someone were to ask me if they should sit down with this movie, I'd be highly tempted to just have them take to YouTube. Then again, this movie is a true gem because of the Baryshnikov and Hines pairing. The other beauty of White Nights is that it takes itself seriously. This was conceived as a film and not just throwaway entertainment. For that alone, White Nights elevates the genre and should be viewed at least once. Maybe in the background while you do something else though. For safety reasons.

26 May 2011

Live Righteously, Takin' It Easy

Hello folks, my last summer mixtape came out in October so this time out I'm gonna drop it as the weather is warming up instead of cooling down. This mixtape a throw back. Eight years ago, a lot of our friends mysteriously ended back up in San Diego for a few months. Nobody was gainfully employed and we spent the summer making music, playing sports, fishing, hanging out at our pseudo clubhouse, and auditioning Smurfettes. That was the first summer post-college that most everybody was home and it set the precedent for many more years of lazy hanging out.

As it happened, our friend Gene (Dave's Son) was kick starting his music career then and we hit up a lot of his open mics and shows. Having a guitarist in the house, we were inundated with the music he blasted but the one artist that defined our breezy existence was Jason Mraz.

Mraz was a local product, by way of Virginia, and he used to pack in Java Joe's (video), a popular San Diego spot for up and coming musicians -- Jewel started her career there as well -- and his name was whispered at all the places Gene would play. We had an obscene amount of random Mraz tracks and we got addicted to all his live stuff. Truth be told, I wasn't a huge fan of his studio albums until "We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things," but I'd peddle his live stuff to anyone even slightly inclined toward acoustic pop.

Compared to his contemporaries like John Mayer or Jack Johnson, Mraz stands out for his amazing voice, excellent guitar playing, and most of all, his absolutely phenomenal lyrics. Some of his heartfelt and witty lyrics are so fantastic that I want to frame them. Plus Mraz is super fun to sing along to and within vocal range of most people. And let's not forget his trusty sidekick, Toca Rivera, who accompanies him on the djembe.

With all this in mind, Ameer and I have assembled a two disc ultimate Mraz collection. The first disc is the stuff we used to listen to in 2003, the songs that were on constant repeat. The second is some newer stuff, along with additional tracks that we have re-dug up. I think you'll find both sides absolutely amazing. If you aren't a fan of Mraz, you will be after downloading this mixtape for your top down drives and delicious night time strolls.
Ultimate Jason Mraz
Track list - Zip file
Disc One: Carne Asada
15 songs, 1 hr 04 mins, 71.5 MB

Disc Two: Flautas
15 songs, 1 hr 07 mins, 80.0 MB
Bonus: How can I mention Jewel and then not share these videos I spent about an hour of my life watching as I did Mraz research. Here is Ms. Kilcher in 1994 at the ripe old age of twenty playing "Near Me Always." Then in 1995 with "You Were Meant For Me" and two years later with Jennifer Aniston hair. And for comparison's sake, here is "Foolish Games" in 2006. I love me some Jewel, I can not lie.

25 May 2011

Rumour Has It

Currently pushing: My guest post for the DIYA blog, about writing outside your experiences.

A few weeks ago I put on my best adult-ish shirt and was at the San Franciso Public Library for my stop on the Diversity in YA Fiction tour. We had a great turnout and it was really fantastic to share the mic with Malinda, Cindy, and Gene. A few of my friends attended and my sister too, which was a first as she'd never been to an event where I actually talked. Between my mumbles and jumbles, I hope I managed to get a few lucid things out and now that the entire DIYA tour is over, I wanted to share some links to the awesome events that happened all across the country. Malinda and Cindy are still in New York participating in various Book Expo America events this week so if you're around the city, go see them and thank them for organizing such a great tour.

Thanks to Eastwind Books of Berkeley for selling our books, thanks to Ellen, Claire, and Lisa from Kearny Street Workshop, and Betsy from SFPL. And thanks to all of you who came out and said hello!

Also, Deva Fagan, fellow 2009 Deb and author of Fortune's Folly and The Magical Misadventures of Prunella Bogthistle, was at DIYA Cambridge and prior to her stop, she put up an amazing list of articles and links about diversity. There's a ton of great stuff in there like this Mitali Perkins' penned "Straight Talk on Race: Challenging the Stereotypes in Kids' Books" and Elizabeth Bluemle's "The Elephant in the Room." Bookmark this and check them all out when you have the time. Thanks Deva for sharing such a wonderful resource!
I'm posting this photo because it's not often I get to stand behind a podium. I think the last time was in high school for seniors night, and the surviving photo of it makes it look like I was giving some great speech. In reality I was just looking down and reading off my name. I have no idea why my hands gesticulate so much when public speaking, but it sure makes me look like I'm emphatically making a point. However I assure you most of the time I'm just trying to not break out in a panicked sweat.

17 May 2011

Do You Hear the People Sing?

Listening to: Atmosphere, "Yesterday." I was in a rap mood the other day and this hit home. From Slug and Ant's album, "When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold." Not the most subtle title, I know.

Last week we had the brilliant idea of all picking a sports team to randomly follow and obsess over. With the playoff demise of my Celtics and the NFL in lockout mode, we're staring at a summer with no sports to pay attention to. Plus, if you haven't noticed, liking the same team can be a great way for people to bond. Heck, a few weeks ago I was in LA and randomly seated next to a guy wearing a Red Sox hat who was intently watching the Celtics versus Heat game. We got to chatting and I was so excited just to meet another Boston fan that we talked for an hour. Afterwards we exchanged hearty handshakes and said, "good luck [to our team] man." I'd never felt so close to another human being.

In deciding a team to throw our arbitrary support behind, we first had to pick a sport. Initially we considered maybe hockey or the WNBA, but none of us really want to get into hockey and the WNBA, well, too many NBA loyalties would flood over. My original thought was that we'd find a European soccer team because years ago, Bill Simmons picked a favorite English Premier League team by a process involving careful study and elimination. But cheering for a Euro team would have made watching games tough and the chance of seeing them live would be small. So instead we're going to with a Major League Soccer team.

Instead of studying the rosters or doing a lot of research, we decided to scientifically go with whoever had the most appealing logo (all MLS logos here). While I was initially attracted to the sexy green logo of the Portland Timbers, Jasmine has convinced me that Club Deportivo Chivas USA's logo is mighty fine and classy to boot. The logo also mysteriously features two lions crowded around a giant tree. Clearly this is meant to represent Simba and Nala around the Tree of Life. We like this. Plus, their secondary logo is a fierce goat.

In the recent past, Chivas won their conference with a sterling 15-7-8 record (2007) but sunk to last place in 2010. This year they have a hopeful record of three each of wins, losses and ties. (Whoops, I meant "draws." Ties are called draws in soccer, I guess) They are currently underdogs and fighting for a spot at the top but we like their grit and determination. In fact, Chivas is widely praised for their gentlemanly efforts on the pitch and lose with dignity -- unlike some other LA based teams. I actually have no idea if any of this is true but it sure sounds like something I'd like them to be.

Having thus selected our new team, here are a few reasons you should also support Chivas with us:
  • They are currently sponsored by Corona. I already liked Corona but this is another reason to drink it. Here is a video of their Corona jerseys unveil. Also the club name's similarity to Chivas Regal means we'll have something to drink after big wins. I can't handle whiskey but for my soccer team I'll suck it up.
  • "Deportivo" means "sportsmanlike," and "chivas" means "to whisper, to tell secretly." Or used as a reflexive verb, it could also mean "to upset, to swindle, or to get annoyed." I love all of these options.
  • They are the little brother to parent club Club Deportivo Guadalajara, one of the most successful clubs in Mexico. We will now have a great reason to visit Guadalajara and take in a game.
  • C.D. Guadalajara is the only football club in Mexico to exclusively field players of Mexican heritage.
  • The three colors of the team are red, white, and blue, symbolic of "Fraternity, Union, and Sports".
  • Their support groups are named Legion 1908, the Union Ultras, and the Black Army 1850.
  • Their top scorer is Justin Braun, who was born in 1987 and could be a beefier Justin Bieber if you squint hard enough. He recently scored the first hat trick in team history, and won the Player of the Week for his efforts.
  • In this video from a 2009 game, a player celebrates after a goal by making a hand heart. As far as I'm concerned this is now the official way to celebrate after every Chivas goal.
I hope you're convinced and will soon join the bandwagon. To be honest, the only downer I have so far is that I kind of can't handle the red, white, and blue striped uniforms. They are just a little too patriotic for me and I can't roll with it. That's why we've decided to join the Black 1850s and go goth or something. If you don't know anything about the rules of soccer and feel like lack of knowledge would be a stumbling block to your fandom, don't worry, I don't know nothing about soccer either. This is all about enthusiasm and passion, no previous experience required.

The MLS seasons start in March and end around October, which is perfect for slotting right in-between the NBA and NFL. I'm super excited to learn some team chants and traditions. I'm on the lookout for a great blog or two following Chivas too. Your first chance to see our new team is this Saturday in the Honda Superclasico, when they face off against their hated rivals, the LA Galaxy. Please look over the cdchivasusa.com site, their Wikipedia entry, and the 2010 highlights video so we can cheer together. Any friend of Chivas is a friend of mine!

16 May 2011

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)

Werner's back, and this time in three dimensions! Much parodied because of his distinctive voiceover style, Werner Herzog movies are always interesting to read about, and I intake the film as just a starting point of interest. Having read a lot about Cave of Dreams before and after watching it, I enjoyed the experience of learning about another Herzog fascination.

The movie itself literally put me to sleep at times -- fuel up with strong coffee if long shots of images set to music knock you out -- but it's a unique project and worthy of a viewing. As Slate says, it's "a ponderous and nauseating theme-park ride, but one that unfolds as a probing essay on the history of art." That pretty much captures it. I wouldn't recommend Cave of Forgotten Dreams for everyone but if you're a Werner fan, it's a must see.

14 May 2011

Better Together Forever

Listening to: Nelson, "Can't Live Without Your Love and Affection." If you don't know what the Nelson twins look like these days, some of the imagery in this video may disturb you. I don't recall anything about their music except that George was really into them. I didn't understand then and I sure as heck don't understand now.

Since two of my favorite people have recently blogged about weddings and plus ones, I thought I'd have to leap in there just to join the virtual pajama party. Lilly's great post and very important Potential Wedding Date Questionnaire is the place to start. And then head over to where Reena talks about the injustice of never receiving a plus one on her invite, and presents us with a sample Checklist of Singles card to be filled out alongside food preferences.

As for me, I'd like to start by rethinking the idea of a plus one. Currently the system is used to give your guests the familiarity and comfort of having someone they know at the wedding. The basic rule of thumb seems to be that if they don't know anyone else, they should get a plus one. Or if they are seriously dating someone, they also get a plus one. At an average of over a hundred dollars a head, this idea is truly crazy.

After extensive research, a quarter of the crowd at a typical wedding are plus ones who usually don't add anything to the festivities. Even worse, having someone chained to your friend essentially makes them less fun. As far as I'm concerned, the plus one is really a negative one. I'm into social mathematics and this just doesn't add up. If you want to smother the joy at your nuptials, just dole out those plus ones in the traditional way. Or you could try something different!

The post-modern wedding should exist for your entertainment and pleasure. Who cares if the guests are comfortable or having a great time? The important thing is that you have who you want at the wedding and not some gathering of people who suck the energy out of the party. Guests should only get plus ones if the person they bring has special skills or is highly participatory and awesome fun.

For example, I once went to a wedding where my friend got a plus five. "That seems excessive" you might say. Basically the reasoning was that my friend had such cool friends that having multiples of them would surely add value to the event. So my friend brought his entourage of talented and beautiful souls and they performed SWV's "Weak" at the reception and provided entertainment for all. If you're going to allow plus anyones at your wedding, make sure they are actually positive assets.

The one time I was a plus one at a wedding, I stepped up to the plate and became the de facto videographer. Someone needed to man the camera and since I really wasn't there for any reason except to accompany my friend -- who was a bridesmaid -- I volunteered my services. Now I don't want to toot my own horn but I think I made my presence felt, if only by providing digital memories for the happy couple. That's the kind of plus one that you want at your wedding. Me!

Some signs that your plus one is really a negative one:
  • Their feet hurt and they won't/can't dance.
  • They are tired at intermission and want to go back to the hotel room by ten.
  • They aren't going to talk much and can't aid you in starting/maintaining/stopping conversations.
  • They will cling to you and ruin your entire night by making you take care of them.
  • They won't help you zip, locate, or carry things.
  • They complain about the hors d'oeuvres. Or complain about anything.
  • They are attached to the bar and will be sloshed by cake cutting.
  • They are an ex of someone being married that day.
The last one is actually a plus fifty but I think that's just to me because I like melodrama and tension.

09 May 2011

Thor (2011)

Welcome to superhero summer! Actually every summer is superhero summer now, which is just fine by me. I can't say that I read much Thor growing up but he was an Avenger so I knew the basics. Then again, I had no idea who Jane Foster was so clearly I lost geek cred there. Speaking of Foster, Natalie Portman has long been number one on my list of actresses but she really adds nothing to this movie. In fact, I'd love to not have my Natalie in any big budget stuff at all. With this movie she's entirely miscast and her storyline is a drag. Kat Dennings, on the other hand, is fantastic. More Kat Dennings please!

Overall though, Thor was quite enjoyable. The visuals are awesome, the action not bad (kinda choppy), a smattering of good lines, and a few notches below Iron Man but a perfect way to start off the blockbuster season. The real find of Thor is Chris Hemsworth. For a huge muscle bound unknown, he's an excellent actor and really brings some nice dimensions to Asgard's favorite son. If Hemsworth had just been a Paul Walker-esque dud, this entire movie would have stunk. Instead Hemsworth is really charismatic and quite believable as a Norse god. All this plus I finally know how to pronounce Mjolnir, which was not exactly how I had imagined it growing up. "Mew mew?"

03 May 2011

Stuck in the Fast Lane

Listening to: Berlin, "Take My Breath Away." But this version, paired with Michael Jordan highlights. The entire soundtrack to Top Gun is a gold mine. Previously I already covered how great the Top Gun anthem is, and how the song they play over Goose's death is the saddest song of all time. And you can't forget the contributions Kenny Loggins put into the soundtrack, although I still think this album was his greatest work.

I went to watch Top Gun in the theater yesterday, as part of its twenty fifth birthday celebration. When the movie originally came out, I was only eight years old and too young for the PG rating. For some reason I remember exactly where I was when we were denied being able to watch it. Later, when Top Gun came out on VHS, George and I watched it twice a day for weeks. Our babysitter fast forwarded through the steamy make out scenes as we covered our eyes.

At recess my friends and I would spread out our arms and swoop around making machine gun and missile sounds. Okay maybe it was just me because I had no friends, and in retrospect I can't believe I was never beat up on the playground. Or encountered a MiG-28. During this time, I also somehow got my parents to sign me up for one of those mail clubs where they send you info packets about military planes once a month. You collected them in a binder and then find it years later collecting dust in the back of your closet. What a racket those things were. I was also really into model airplane building for awhile in there too. Basically Top Gun made me the man I am today. I'm not sure how it affected George but I'll have to ask her. What parts did she identify with? I don't even know what her favorite parts of the movie were actually. I smell a potential podcast coming.

Up in San Francisco, George has the Top Gun DVD so we tend to put it on in the background when there's nothing good on TV or her Britney concert discs just aren't hitting the mark. So I can't say that I haven't seen Top Gun in awhile as we probably average one viewing per year or so. However, before I headed out for yesterday's historic day, Ameer and I were debating what were the true morals and lessons behind Top Gun.

See, I had always thought that Top Gun was about team work and finding your wingman. I thought it was a buddy movie about the importance of friendship and sticking together. Maverick starts out as a cocky lone wolf but then discovers the strength of the pack. Ameer contends however, that Top Gun was about something else entirely.

"It's about breaking rules and winning. Coming out on top even though you shouldn't, because you're stubborn and hard headed. You'll get the girl, win the championship, and save the world. You can even do a fly by after for fun." Ameer continued to make a strong case for his take on the movie. "His name was Maverick! He broke flight rules, broke professional/relationship rules, and even went into the girl's restroom!" That's true, he did go into the woman's bathroom -- something I've only done on accident.

So Ameer's point is that if you're good enough to be the hero, Top Gun teaches you that you can do anything you want. Hum. I'm not comfortable with this take as it violates everything I'm about in life. I believe in playing by the book, not being Kobe, and striving to be prepared in any competitive situation. Flying by the seat of your pants is something I'm vehemently against. I think directed studying, extensive planning, and proper execution wins the day.

But after watching the movie with fresh eyes yesterday, I do have to admit that Ameer has a point. While it's true that Pete Mitchell doesn't listen to anyone, thinks he knows best, is an arrogant bastard, basically kills his best friend, and never does what he's supposed to do in battle, he does step up when it counts. The thing is, I realize that sometimes you do need someone to just take the shot. Being overly prepared can also lead to the weakness of being too aware of your limits. Maverick never had those limits and by believing that he was better than everyone, he saved Iceman's ass and won everyone's respect.

I guess this would explain why my life post-Top Gun has unfurled like it has. For over twenty years I've been getting all the wrong lessons out a seminal childhood movie. I've been looking around for my wing people when all along I should have been concentrating on being a legend and a hero. Damn. Is it too late to start over?

This recent GQ article, The Day the Movies Died, lays out a convincing argument for Top Gun being the reason our blockbusters suck today. Mark Harris is probably right in his assessment, but Top Gun is still a great movie. And although Quentin Tarantino did his best to shed insight into what was really going on in the film, it hasn't affected my rewatchings of it. Although most of the theater audience clearly had seen QT's take and laughed at all the parts I was trying to take seriously.
"At their most basic, their movies weren't movies; they were pure product—stitched-together amalgams of amphetamine action beats, star casting, music videos, and a diamond-hard laminate of technological adrenaline all designed to distract you from their lack of internal coherence, narrative credibility, or recognizable human qualities. They were rails of celluloid cocaine with only one goal: the transient heightening of sensation."
-The Day the Movies Died-

02 May 2011

Something, Somewhere, Sometime

Listening to: Faded Paper Figures, "North by North." Very Postal Service, very fantastic song. I fell in love as soon as I heard it. It feels like a good traveling song.

Hello Bay Area, or people with private planes and a free Saturday afternoon. I've told you about this before but it bears reminding because it's right around the corner. In less than a week I'll be at the San Francisco Public Library with Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, and Gene Luen Yang for the first stop of the Diversity in YA Fiction tour. We'll be sitting in front of you lovely people, looking pensive, and answering questions. There will be some reading and book signing too, I believe.
"Meet four Asian American authors making breakthroughs in young-adult fiction with their popular books and graphic novels. Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo, two friendly writers, founded DIYA to find other writers and readers from all walks of life who want to see more diversity in young adult fiction. This event kicks off DIYA’s nationwide tour. For further information, visit diversityinya.com."
-Kearny Street Workshop event link-
The tour continues through to Austin, Chicago, Cambridge, and New York. Malinda and Cindy organized the entire thing and will be at every stop so go see them at a city near you. They are going to be traveling a heck of a lot that week! Malinda also made a video listing out the top five reasons you should attend the tour. And look at the other authors who will be at various stops on the tour. It's quite the lineup and I kind of want to meet everyone. I've also got a guest post going up over at the DIYA blog later today, so just sit by that browser and hit refresh refresh. Or I guess you could attend to your Monday morning work stuff, whatever you want.

And check out the amazing cover for Gene's new book, Level Up. If you don't know what the cover references, we're probably not destined to be good friends. But you should still come see me at the library, because that's where all the cool people are gonna be.

One more thing: another fellow 2009 Deb, Jessica Verday, has put together an e-anthology featuring twenty five Debs, and I'm lucky enough to be one of them! The theme for the eBook will be "Firsts." Read Jessica's press release here and look for it to come out around October. That'll give you a few months to save up for a Kindle or Nook or something. Or I guess maybe you could just print it all out from a computer and bind it, but that could get messy.