Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween

Last night, the Saturday before Halloween, I went to a concert at the El Rey Theater here in LA to see Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley perform.

The crowd alone would have made it worth the $25. I saw everything from a Victorian chorus girl to a lady sperm, with an emphasis on lots of black, fedoras, and tulle skirts, on both sexes.

Then Jason Webley came out and made playing an accordian sexy. Later, to the strains of Thriller he climbed into and out of a giant red balloon.

I'm getting too old to stand in a dark room with strangers for over three hours, but then Amanda came on and showed us what passion is with gut wrenching renditions of songs like Astronaut and Ampersand. And I was very glad to be there.

Particularly moving to me was a new song she said was about one of her major influences, writer Judy Blume. When she puts it on the web I'll post a link because it really shows why writing for kids is so important. It reminded me of how I felt when I first read Deanie, and why I write what I write.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Top Five Hawaiian Recordings

You'd never know it by looking at me, but I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii.  It was truly a wonderful place to grow up, and part of the fun there was Hawaii's unique melting pot culture.

So, to introduce you to some of the Hawaii I grew up in, below are my top five Hawaiian recordings . I say "recordings" instead of songs, because one is a comedy routine by the brilliant Rap Reiplinger. I'm curious as to whether the local humor translates to those who don't know the islands very well. But let me tell you, when we were kids, he was our comedy idol, and to kama'ainas (locals) he's both legendary and hilarious.

1. "Ulili E" - Gabby Pahinui
 There's no video of the late great Gabby Pahinui currently available doing this classic Hawaiian song. But just listen to what the man can do with a ukelele. It's in Hawaiian, but all you need to know is that it's about a bird, named in the title. Gabby's fingers on the strings and his voice do all the translating you need.

2. "Ku'u Home O Kahalu'u - Olomana
This is probably my favorite local song of all time. When I listen to it, I see the windward side of Oahu (where the town of Kahalu'u is), and I remember all the times I spent with my friends on the beach in Kailua, hiking Mount Olomana, driving the Old Dump Road at high speeds way past somebody's curfew, grabbing a shave ice, or bodysurfing at my favorite place on Earth - Bellows Beach. But this song perfectly captures the bittersweetness of memory, even if you've never been to Hawaii.

3. "Honolulu City Lights" - Keolo & Kapono Beamer

A prom theme many years running, a song we sung in choir, sappy and strong and sweet. I love Honolulu.

4. "Far Too Wide For Me" - The Peter Moon Band
I would listen to this when I was horribly homesick for the islands, far across one sea or another.  The "Cane Fire" album by The Peter Moon Band is one of my all time favorites.

5. "Room Service" - Rap Reiplinger

Just a classic. If you understand this, you understand the islands.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Official Author Photo

Is that really me?

Thanks to Joe Camareno for taking the photo, and to wonderful make up artist Ramona Doerning for her steady hand and with the blush.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How I Survived my Author Photo Shoot

Thank goodness for good friends with good connections.  That's how I found a terrific photographer to take the headshot I'll be using as THE photo on my books and all that kind of jazz.

I'm not an actor or performer, so I'm not the most comfortable person in front of the camera. The photo you see currently on my blog is one I took myself, in my own bathroom mirror.  I find that a much more comfortable way to get my photo taken than to pose for other people.

Okay, I can be a bit of a goofy ham when I feel comfortable. Which is why it was great having Joe shoot my photos, since he was so easy to chat with and told me to "flutter my eyelashes" at the beginning of the shoot.

Still, it took me awhile to warm up.  Later, as I went through the (over a thousand!) photos, I noticed how sort of squinty and skeptical I looked in the early shots.  Sort of a "Is this really necessary?" attitude.  Which isn't fair, since I set the whole thing up and yes, it is necessary, thank you very much Nina, you squinty skeptic.

It was kind of surreal, going through all those close ups of myself.  I re-noticed my grayish front gums (thanks to a bike accident I had when I was ten that knocked my front teeth out and lead to all sorts of traumatic dental fun over the years), and how I seem to like the left side of my face better than my right given how I angle it toward the camera pretty consistently. 

And ah, the schnozz.  It's a gift from my Berry forebears. My beloved Aunt Janet had this nose, until she got a nose job in her twenties.  No nose job for me, thanks.  I love my big schnozz, my freckles, my squinty green eyes, my weird gums, and tendency to smirk. It's easy to love beauty and symmetry. More a point of pride to love your own faults.  It's a struggle, one that will go on my whole life, I suppose, but I'm determined to keep at it. Beats hating yourself!

The main thing, as a redhead, is to wear green. I'm not kidding. For someone with my coloring, it's like a magic trick to make your hair look good, you eyes glow, and your skin say 'Thank you!"

One thing you can be sure of, this photo will NOT be my author headshot. Though I love it for obvious reasons:

I'll post the official photo when it's ready. Meanwhile, am treasuring the ugly/goofy/crazy face photos too.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Book's on Amazon!

I'm on vacation, typing away here in on my bed in my motel room, with travel buddy Wendy on the other bed doing the same, and she just casually says - Otherkin's on Amazon.


So yeah, it is.  Here.

No cover. No info. But HOLY DINNER PLATES! 

There's, like, a release date and everything.  I had no idea.  July 31, 2012.  Sounds good to me.

Who are we kidding?  Sound great to me!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Maine, the first day

View from our window, Maine. That's our deck, with chairs, and the dunes and Atlantic beyond.

Then once I get to the beach, I'm out there with no one but a lone surfer and a friendly gull for company. I find a huge empty blue gray shell, and then sit on a bench to breathe in the ocean and sky.

Back at our motel, Wendy and the Teddy on my bed enjoy their books.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

King's Chapel and Burying Ground

Boston. One thousand bodies. Only 505 headstones.

I'm weird. I love cemeteries.


You've got to love a town where the last stop is Wonderland. Yay for Boston.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What's on My Wall

I found this at a Polish photography studio called Stereolit and had to have it and two others.The photographer, Piotr Vasco Wasilkowski, titled it "Bloody Skeletons and Wolves Howling."  I framed the photos, then grouped all three in a vertical line down the wall. To me they tell a different story every time I look at them. Sometimes this photo is the beginning of the story, sometimes the middle, and sometimes... the end.

If you're in the mood, visit Kasia and Piotr on Stereolit's website. They made it very easy for me to buy the photos online, and they arrived very quickly, in perfect shape.  I just love them.

What's on your wall? And why?

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Happy Birthday, John Lennon

Dreaming of a world where John Lennon still lives. Dreaming of a better life. Dreaming of his dream.