Obeisance to Anthony Lane

Self has a short list of movie reviewers she considers “iconic.” (Caveat: These are all post-Pauline Kael.) One was Anthony Lane, who some years ago propelled self toward a little action movie named “Speed,”, on the basis of one sentence in The New Yorker. If self remembers correctly, the sentence went something like this: “When I first heard about the plot of Speed, I did not stop laughing for a week.” Self saw it: love for Keanu was born.

Another was Andrew O’Hehir of Salon.com in its early days. He reviewed a movie called “Ravenous,” a kind of vampire movie set in the Old West, and said it was one of the best movies he had seen recently. Self was mighty intrigued, especially since O’Hehir revealed the director to be a woman. Self tried with all her might to get hubby and son to see it with her, but in vain. So she went by herself and found that she was only one of two people in the audience. And this was opening day. The only other person in the theatre was a man. Thankfully, he was seated many rows away, or self would have squeaked with fear. She saw “Ravenous” and could not sleep well for almost a month.

When Stephanie Zacharek came on board as Salon.com movie critic, self admits she didn’t like her. Self was particularly incensed over her review of “I, Robot,” and wrote in to say so (Her letter disappeared into the ether, mercifully). Then, last week, self sat down and read Stephanie’s review of “Star Trek.” Now, self had already developed quite a hatred for this new movie, on the basis of having seen a few trailers. She didn’t like the punk who plays young Kirk, and seeing Quinto as Spock (who she recognized right away as Sylar in “Heroes”) made her yawn. But, this was before she read Stephanie’s review. The next day, as self and hubby were discussing how to spend their wonderful Saturday, self mentioned to hubby that Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com had given “Star Trek” the equivalent of a glowing review. And, with that, hubby said, “Let’s go see it.” And we scampered to the downtown RWC Century 20, and got there just as the second show was starting. And lo and behold, the theatre was not full (though, as we left, we saw there were already lines forming for the subsequent shows).

And so here is self this morning, getting ready to go to the post office to mail off an application to what one of her friends recently called “a very eccentric, creepy place.” Too bad self didn’t have a conversation with this friend before she sealed the envelope! Anyhoo, as self was saying, she was browsing The New Yorker website for movie reviews, when she stumbled upon a hysterical review by none other than Anthony Lane, about the new “Star Trek.” And he says many many things (it’s a two-page review), among which is this nugget:

The crew is well sketched, with Simon Pegg making a late but amiable entrance as Scotty, and with Chekov (Anton Yelchin) apparently nudging puberty; mired in his Russian accent, he mixes up his “v”s and “w”s, (“wektor,” “inwisible”), a tongue-slip that Dickens pretty much exhausted for comic value in “The Pickwick Papers,” but I guess the old jokes are the best. Similarly, our heroes keep clinging to brinks by their fingertips, as if to prove that a proper cliffhanger needs a genuine cliff—a curiously nostalgic approach, although the director’s fondness for the retro is crucial to his non-stop knowingness, with its hints of both hipster and nerd. He gorges on cinema as if it were one of those all-you-can-eat buffets, piling his plate with succulent effects, whether they go together or not. Hence the red ravening beast that pops up on a random planet, clearly left over from the props cupboard of “Cloverfield”; the man-to-Romulan fistfight borrowed from “M:i:3”; and, I regret to say, a dose of parallel universe.

He does not like the inclusion of old Spock, and says some unkind things about Leonard Nimoy (who by the way self thinks is fan-TAS-tic!) and about the parallel universe plot device but says: “On the other hand, it does mean that we get more of Zachary Quinto, whose very name sounds like the sacred text of a superior race, and who, in his role as the youthful Spock, is the most commanding reason to see this film. He alone prepares the gray matter. Bowie-thin, solemn but not humorless, tacitly quoting Sherlock Holmes, and nipping around like a sixties groover in his skintight costume, he wipes the floor with Kirk, while making time for a Vulcanizing smooch with Lieutenant Uhura (Zoë Saldana), the resident linguist, who is said to have “exceptional oral sensitivity.”

Oh my God, can that man write, or what?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

According to Luna Park

May is something called “Short Story Month.” And since making that discovery (learning that this month is a “special” month dedicated to the celebration of self’s favorite literary genre), self has decided that it is OK for her to be in a good mood today.

In keeping with the celebratory spirit, self has decided to do a quick survey of all her submissions (short stories and otherwise) since the start of the year. As it reminds her again about which journals she still feels hopeful about getting published by, and which ones gave her the equivalent of the door-slammed-in-your-face rejection (not necessarily a bad thing! Nothing like a little challenge to get those creative juices revved up and ready to go!)

All right, to begin:

  • Hayden’s Ferry Review: Self only mailed them something last weekend, so it’s still too early to tell.
  • The Journal: See above.
  • The Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction: After mailing her manuscript, self learned that a good friend also submitted. And since self thinks her friend writes far superior stories, self can pretty much write this one off.
  • The Spokane Prize for Short Fiction: See above.
  • New Ohio Review: Oh boy, if dear blog readers have a hankering for the instant notification, then send here. Self’s story (a story that got long, hand-written rejection from The Sun, saying it reached final round) came back so fast, the seal on the flap was probably still wet — ha ha ha!
  • Prairie Schooner: a miracle, dear blog readers. It’s been five weeks, and self still hasn’t received the form rejection.  (The day, however, is still young)
  • Harpur Palate: Third attempt, no go.
  • Quiddity: Please refer to New Ohio Review comment, above.

Perhaps self had better stop.  Despite the fact that she’s having tons of wicked fun, she’s got to get busy with the serious stuff (as son arrives very soon; and after that, DM). In the spirit of eternal Star Trek (was that Kirk or Spock who spoke the lines: Space, the new frontier . . . ), self must sally forth, ever on the lookout for new worlds to conquer.  And, just to keep things “fair and balanced” (self never thought she’d see the day when she’d be quoting from the Fox Network —  !!), here are the sites that have published or soon will be publishing her work, this year:

  • Another Kind of Paradise (Boston:  Cheng & Tsui, edited by Trevor Carolan):  re-printed “Lizard”
  • Rogue (of the Philippines):  April 2009 issue.  Too, too cool.  Editors got a Filipino artist to accompany self’s story with the most amazing drawings.  More about this guy soon.
  • Isotope:  of Utah State.  A journal of science and nature writing (Took one of self’s hybrid memoir/history pieces, “The Lost Language”)
  • The White Whale Review:  on-line zine, only starting to put together Issue # 2.  Took self’s prose poem, “Ghosts.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Gotta Love It

The on-line submissions system, that is.

This evening, self was browsing the web (one ear cocked to CSI: Miami) She encountered fascinating literary journal website. She experienced one of her sudden brainstorms. She picked out a story, went to the journal’s on-line submission system, filled in the necessary data, wrote up a brief bio (Self is the author of two short story collections, blah blah blah), then uploaded the story and SHAZZAM! Just like that, she sent story spinning into the ether.

A second or two after she did so, a message popped up on her screen:

This fiction submission, which you provided to us just now, is waiting to be read by our staff.

Self marveling at the extraordinarily polite wording. Then, directly underneath above quote, another:

This fiction submission, XXXXX, which you provided to us 32 months ago, was declined for publication 21 months ago.

Wow, wow, wow! Self had completely forgotten about that other submission. If only she’d read this before she punched the “Submit” key. But what would that have done? Dissuaded her from submitting?

Self counts the difference between submission date (32 months ago) and rejection date (21 months ago). Let’s see, that would mean it took this particular journal 11 months to make up its mind. Did her story make it through several readings? But all she got was a form rejection. What on earth could that mean?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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