Monday, February 28, 2011

A Good TV Show!

Fio's discovered a TV show worth watching, or, rather, Husband did, and Fio converted immediately. It's called Being Human, and its main characters are a vampire, a ghost, and a pair of werewolves.

Now, it's British, which means you have to listen closely because of the various sub-dialects involved, but the story lines Fio's seen so far kept her watching the entire hour and fifteen minutes. And she likes the set-up: non-human characters trying to protect themselves and make it in a human world. (Of course she likes it--that was the premise of her never-published vampire novel.)

One thing that Fio really likes is that it is the characters, not the special effects, that are the stars of the show. In fact, the minimal special effects it does have mainly involve dark lighting and quick camera cuts. In other words, the show depends on good acting rather than a bunch of guys at a computer screen in the back room.

Being Human. Try it. You'll like it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Black Holes

Sheen, Lohan, Gibson. They're like watching a corpse decay.

It's called being out of touch with reality. Maybe because of alcohol and drugs. Maybe because of adulation and power. Maybe because they live in the La-la-land called show biz.

Whatever, some evil genius has crept into their brains and taken them over. They've exploded, becoming their own horror shows.

And once they shone so brightly.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cleaning Up

That big pile of cedar in the north yard is gone. And the flower beds around the house are cleaned up. And the brush Fiorella and Husband had chainsawed in the woodsy area to the west of the driveway has been cleared.

Fio finally gutted up and checked out three guys who advertised in the local newspaper. One was very eager and kept lowering his price. The second one didn't show. The third one was running a crew and charged fifty bucks an hour, flat rate. Fio opened Door Number One, and he did a great job. In fact, we'll probably hire him for more work around the acreage.

It's progress, and your Fio likes to move ahead.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Party Time

Friday morning and Fiorella feels G-R-R-R-E-A-T! Yes, Tony the Tiger has nothing on her.

The cause of her jubilation? Top-flight agent Jessica Faust replied yesterday morning, requesting a partial. Fio spent an hour reviewing her first three chapters that afternoon, and she's going to work on an expanded bio this morning. Not doing anything too quickly this time, you'll notice.

Celebrate with Fio.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Agent Quest

Fio admits it--she's a screw-up. At this rate, she'll never attract a literary agent, even with twenty-one contest finals, six of which were wins, on her record.

She decided at the beginning of the year to gut up and start contacting agents, finally putting together a letter and e-mailing it off to Friend Katie's agent, Jenny Bent, about three weeks ago. Then, brimming over with adrenaline, she decided to ask Friend Emily about the niceties of also contacting her agent, Jessica Faust.

Friend Emily's family was sick, and she didn't get back to Fio for a while. In fact, the Lenovo bonged with Emily's return e-mail ONE SECOND after Fio, anxious for action, had committed her query to the ether as it was. Which, after hearing from Emily, Fio realized, is not how it should have been.

So Fio, in a frenzy to bolster her sagging confidence, added ten pages of manuscript to her newly-revised query and sent everything off to agent Paige Wheeler within the hour. The only thing she forgot to fix was the salutation. It still read "Dear Ms. Faust."

Fio can't win for losing.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In Brief

Interesting role the social media played in the recent uprisings. Who would have guessed the power of Twitter?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Days of Yore

Fio doesn't like having to do her laundry. She'd prefer it to be like when she was a kid. Back then, all she had to do was stuff her dirty clothes in a hamper, and they'd be clean, ironed, and returned to her closet within a few days.

Must have been house elves.

Monday, February 21, 2011


A governmental overthrow in Egypt. Uprisings in Libya, Bahrain, Tunisia, Yemen, Algeria, and Djibouti. And the dictators have called in the troops everywhere, even Wisconsin.

Fiorella doesn't understand how cutting the pay of teachers and state employees can be good for Wisconsin or any other state. By the way, has anyone else noticed that the people who want to cut employee health benefits are the same ones opposed to national health care? What's the plot--to decimate the populace?

Fio's solution? Raise the taxes on the rich and decadent. Charlie Sheen could do without a few of those drugs and sex parties.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Not that she's around to enjoy it, but today is Mother-in-Law's birthday.

Fio's relationship with MIL was difficult at times, but she can tell you this: that woman had spunk. Fio particularly remembers when MIL was discussing who she wanted to get what "if she died."

IF she died? Not WHEN she died?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Boomer Speak

You know Fio is language-mad, but now she has justification. The latest news is that being bilingual staves off dementia for an average of five years. Unfortunately, although Fio knows bits and pieces of several other languages (nee-hao-mah), the only one she's really fluent in is English.

One thing for sure--Rosetta Stone's business must have doubled overnight.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Chooser of the Slain

Fio proudly presents "Chooser of the Slain" by friend Gary Brandt.

The battle is over
I lie here, amongst the others, in a river of blood
Darkness surrounds me but still I see
A woman approaching atop a white steed
She carries a lance, a raven on her shoulder
A swan by her side, her hair billowing in the breeze
Circling the battlefield looking for one to set free
Choose me, Valkyrie, choose me

In eight sparse lines, Gary moves from an objective, impersonal description to a desperate emotional plea. The poem is simple, stark, and powerful.

"The battle is over" sets the scene. Then we zoom in on the first-person narrator, whom we immediately identify with. Our involvement with him deepens as we survey the the bloody battlefield and learn he is mortally wounded ("Darkness surrounds me").

"But still I see" opens the second part of the poem--the hope. We know his "light" is not yet extinguished because he is able to see a woman riding a white horse checking out the battlefield. (White, of course, symbolizes goodness). The woman carries a lance--a warrior woman! And there's a raven on her shoulder--Odin must be involved. A swan accompanies her--Odin's daughters were often referred to as "swan maidens." Her hair billows in the breeze--she's traveling supernaturally fast.

Now we get to the third part of the poem--why the woman is here. She's circling the battlefield "looking for one to set free," one who is worthy of Valhalla.

The last line of the poem gives Fio shivers as she reads it because the man, whom we have totally identified with, puts two and two together and recognizes the woman as a Valkyrie, which means he is dying. Thus his final plea is not just his, but ours.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

On to Peking!

You've heard it before, that Fiorella is language mad. Her usual line is that she knows enough in about ten different languages to get her in trouble anywhere she goes. One of those ten is Mandarin, in which she used to know just two phrases: shyeh-shyeh, meaning "thank you" (which always knocked the Chinese necktie vendor in the mall for a loop) and nee-hao-mah, which means "how are you?" The trick is to get the intonation right. Shyeh-shyeh goes from a higher pitch to a lower, and nee-hao-mah starts high, goes low, and ends up in between.

And now Fio knows three more phrases. Yesterday her new dentist, who speaks Chinese, taught her how to say she was fine by answering nee-hao-mah with hen hao (higher pitch to lower), to bid farewell with dzahi chen (higher to lower), and give a polite "you're welcome" with boo-koot-chee (low-high-low).

Fiorella spent all last evening muttering her new phrases, which probably drove Husband language mad himself. Fio will have to ask Dr. Ma how to say "I'm sorry."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Keeping Up

Fiorella admits it--she's a listmaker. It's compulsive.

The listmaking started when she was in junior high and forgot a homework assignment. From then on she wrote everything down. Now her lists include not just what she MUST do day by day, but ideas of what she wants to do in the future. And, one by one, the things actually do get done.

How else do you think she's written this blog for 1005 days straight?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mr. Good Hair

Watch out. Rick Perry's running for something again. He's calling for voter IDs and a $10K Bachelor's Degree, but ignoring the $13 billion deficit.

Can hardly wait for President Rick.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Back to the Bard

Fiorella considers Shakespeare's "Sonnet 130" to be the best love poem ever. Skim through it, bear with her, and she'll explain why.

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a more pleasing sound.
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Back in the Bard's day, extravagant descriptions were the style when describing one's (often fictional) beloved. In Sonnet 130, Shakespeare turns the convention on end and guns for reality. His beloved's eyes are NOT brighter than the sun, her lips are NOT redder than coral, her breasts are as NOT white as snow, her hair is NOT golden, roses do NOT bloom in her cheeks, her breath is NOT sweeter than perfume, her voice is NOT more pleasant than music, and she is NOT a goddess whose feet never touch the ground.

Shakespeare's beloved is a real life woman. Her eyes will not laser you, her lips do not look like she's been sucking blood; her breasts are flesh-colored rather than a leprous white; her hair is dark; her cheeks don't sprout flowers; her breath is normal for the century; her speaking voice is nice, but not extraordinary; and she doesn't levitate. And he thinks she's wonderful, just as she is.

Ladies, isn't that what we all want to hear, that we are loved for ourselves, ladies, just as we are?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New Ventures

Maybe it's cyclical, but the heyday of big business is over for now.

Large corporations, which have been taking a lot of hits lately, are bleeding employees. A few of the ones laid off or terminated are able to get jobs with other large corporations, but many of them realize they're going to have to be their own employers. Entrepreneurship is on the rise. Cottage industry is on the rise. Mom and Pop, Son and Daughter are on the rise.

You can throw away the gray flannel suit.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Drying Out

Fio loves the cold winter weather, but it's murder on her skin, which is so dry that she'd bathe in a tub of melted butter if one were available. The cold dries out her hair too. Every morning she wakes up with it standing up all over her head like a pile of old straw.

It's more than the weather. Along with fourteen percent of the rest of the population, Fio has Hashimoto's, which means her thyroid is problematical, causing languor and dry skin. Fio was one of those kids you hated in high school because her complexion was always clear, but it's come back to bite her now.

So be thankful you had adolescent zits and please pass Fio the Skin-So-Soft.

Friday, February 11, 2011

And Again

Apparently the excuse that will be given for Lindsay making off with the famous $2500 necklace is that she's scatterbrained.

Fio understands these things can happen. In fact, she walked out of Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks ago with the latest Susan Elizabeth Phillips opus under her arm, personally autographed but not paid for, and didn't realize it till she was twenty miles down the road. Needless to say, as soon as the store opened the next morning, Fio was on the phone, embarrassed but honest, credit card in hand.

Guess our girl will never make it in Hollywood.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lilo Again

Didn't we all expect it?

Lindsay's a train wreck waiting to happen--again. She's still on the wrong tracks and apparently there's no helping it.

Maybe it's a sense of entitlement reinforced by being allowed to get away with bad behavior for so long that she's lost all sense of right and wrong. Maybe it's that she thinks the laws don't apply to celebrities. Maybe it's her long history of people kowtowing to her--forgiving and forgetting. Maybe it's because she's lived her life in the spotlight, starting at age three. Maybe it's bad parental models or bad genes.

Whatever, public interest has turned to blood lust. Hang her high so we can watch her kick and scream in the noose! That's entertainment!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


The donkeys down the road were braying when Fio went out to pick up her newspaper early this morning. It's one of the wonders of country living. You know the song:

Sweetly sings the donkey
At the break of day.
If you do not feed him,
this is what he'll say--
Hee-haw, hee-haw,
Hee-haw, hee-haw, hee-haw.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Fiorella has always told Husband that her watching Toddlers and Tiaras would pay off some day, and last Saturday was it. She read on the Internet that Charlie Sheen has a mouthful of gold caps which never show up in public or on TV because he fits something over his teeth when he needs to look good.

Fio identified the device immediately--a flipper. The T&T contestants wear them to cover missing and uneven teeth.

And Husband says trash television isn't educational.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Survival Plans

A unique aspect of the recent freezing temperatures hereabouts was the rolling electrical blackout. Fio's heat and communications were dead for only about ten minutes, but some people's outages lasted for hours. No phone, no TV, no computer, no alarm system, no nothing. It was a thrill, but also a little scary. What if this were the end, if God had, as Fio has often pondered, finally decided to turn off the electricity?

Depending on secondary energy sources makes us all vulnerable. Central heat and air are great, but Fio is glad she and Husband have a wood-burning fireplace and large, openable windows as back-ups. They also have books, pastimes, and hobbies that could substitute for TV. But Luddite Fio would be hard put to stow her laptop and pick up a goose quill pen again.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


The day has warmed, the wind is still
Yet on a north-facing windowsill
Is piled still a bank of snow,
Lone remnant of a day ago.

Ou sont les neiges d'antan?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snowed In

Fiorella woke up late this morning, almost 8:30, opened her eyes and looked out the window wall of the bedroom. There was white stuff on the tree branches and the balcony railing--manna, a fungus? NO! IT WAS SNOW!

Fio's heart leaped up.

The weather forecasters had predicted snow for yesterday, but when it didn't fall, Fio lost faith. Maybe fifteen flakes during the night, she thought. And the snow did fall during the night, but there was about an inch and a half of white over everything this morning, and it was gorgeous.

As Fio watched, the sun started coming up, sparkling the snow, but also melting it. Fio rushed upstairs and pried Husband out of bed to come take pictures. The snow won't last past midday, but the pictures will last forever.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Seeing RED

Fiorella loves RED. You know, the Boomer movie starring Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, and Morgan Freeman as retired spies targeted by the CIA. (Should mention that Ernest Borgnine has a cameo role too.)

Intrigued by the TV commercials, she and Husband rented it for the evening, prepared to be disappointed, but after they got over the improbability of the story--the impossibility, actually, they enjoyed every minute of it. The plot is anchored by Bruce Willis, whose only social outlet is a telephone relationship with young Mary-Louise Parker, who longs for adventure. When someone tries to kill Willis, he enlists former associates Malkovich, Mirren, and Freeman, whom he realizes are also targets, to find out what's going on. Parker comes along for the ride, at first unwillingly, then with enthusiasm.

There are a lot of explosions and a lot of people get killed, but the only one of them you really care about is Morgan Freeman, who dies, is resurrected, then dies again (nobly). Willis underplays his part perfectly, Malkovich overplays perfectly, Mirren is Queen Elizabeth with an AK47, and Freeman is Freeman. The big surprise is that Parker holds her own against the star-power cast.

Red is a feel-good movie in the spirit of True Lies and Undercover Blues. We're buying a copy for ourselves.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Early February

So, this is what cold weather is like. Purple clouds, still and scattered, like islands in a mild blue sea of a sky. Meanwhile the sun is shining so brightly I have to feel for my sunglasses on the carseat beside me.Yet the wind is blowing so cold that when I got out to gas up the car, my fingers felt like they were going to freeze off.

I love it. What a wonderful day.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Treasure Your Children!

If we all killed our teen-agers for being mouthy, the human race would cease to exist. Not only do young people have all sorts of new hormones raging through their bodies, but they're experimenting with adulthood, with being people independent of their parents. Julie Schenecker is unhinged and maybe a druggie, but she still should be hanged by the neck until dead. Killing your own children is the worst of crimes.

And selling them into sexual slavery isn't much better. Fio wasn't surprised to read about the "dancing boys" and extensive male-male relationships of Afghanistan and thereabouts. Doonesbury had already brought them to her attention. That's the sort of thing that happens in cultures where women are subjugated and abased.

By contrast, Amy Chua is a sweetie pie.