Monday, May 31, 2010

YA Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Like me, you may have put off reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!  Anyone who would dare trifle with a classic like Pride and Prejudice couldn't be serious.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!

Turns out, it's not serious.  Or rather, the book is seriously funny.  Seth Graheme-Smith has interspersed his twisted nightmarish vision of a zombie invasion during the English Regency period that had me laughing out loud within the first few pages.  No longer are the Bennett sisters merely genteel gentleman's daughters but now highly trained and skilled assassins thanks to their time in the Orient.  Darcy, too, has had the benefit of a Japanese master.  Mr. Bennett is no longer a layabout indulgent father but instead caretaker of his estate in addition to now being openly disdainful of his ever-so silly wife.  The plot is altered, and abbreviated, from the original but retains the know-by-heart speeches that have made the book an enduring favorite.  However, now they take on new meaning when we come to Darcy's initial proposal to Lizzy and she sends him flying into the fireplace mantle with a swift thrust of her deadly fist.  Or, after Lizzy takes on Lady Catherine de Burgh in the Bennett's dojo ... the Lady's, "I take no leave of you.  I send no compliments to your parents" has a new, and delightful, meaning.

I do take issue with the Aunt Gardiner's dalliances (why?) and zombie-hood of poor Charlotte Lucas, who already has had to suffer a great deal in literature history but worse is Mr. Collins' suicide.  We all wish he would have, but it seems ridiculously out of step for such a pompous character.

There were a couple of distractions - typos or poor editing?  How could Charlotte Lucas be eating dead "autumn leaves" in March / April?  And finally, not matter how abbreviated the book, I had to skim the last 15 chapters because the novelty had long worn off.  I already knew them so well, as well as having already gleaned the Mr. Graheme-Smith's style, could readily pick out his additions and subtractions.  

Will young adults appreciate this book?  Sales have been remarkable and I suppose that is the ultimate test, but I wonder how much of the success can be attributed to the uniqueness of the idea (without meaning to insult the skillful adaptation and the creativity shown)?  I do look forward to reading Grahamee-Smith's latest, and original work, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Friday, May 28, 2010

Weekly Recap: Inspiration

Been meditating today on this crazy week and how very little writing got done, although it was because my time was going toward an effort that will get me to my writing seminar later this summer, the Pacific Coast Children's Writers Workshop.  That counts right?

In order to pump myself up I'm trying to compile of list of authors who have had to slog it out for years before they were published.

After the success of Twilight, I think a lot of people expect a book to be written in a few short months.  What Stephanie Meyer did was amazing.  I can't figure out how she found the time to write and edit with three small kids at home.  She says she stayed up late at night and that her sister read each chapter giving her regular feedback.  (Sigh, I always wanted a sister.)  Meyer finished Twilight in 3 months reportedly.

Contrast that amazing story with the story of Harry Potter.  It took years - years! - for J.K. Rowling to complete the first book, Philosopher's Stone.  A year for her agent to find a publisher, and so on.

So, in the spirit of these two great women, I'm staying up late, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Widescreen Edition) is on TV, and I'm writing!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thursday Kidspeak: 8 year old on management

My 8 yo niece is fantastic.  A great older sister, a sweet and kind, sharing kid.  The other day, she was part of a group of students that got to go to a pro baseball game because they were good 'managers'.

Me: So what do you manage?
Kid: My books, my homework, my classroom.
Me: Your classroom? Wow.
Kid: Yeah, keep it neat.  That kind of thing.
Me: Do you manage other kids?
Kid: No.  I'm a self-manager.
Me: That's good.  Do you get a button or anything?
Kid:  A badge.
Me: Can I see it?
Kid: I forgot it at home.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday Style!

Style is such a struggle.

I've beginning to wonder if writing style is tied to a personal sense of style. 

I look at Danielle Steel and Neil Gaiman and Maggie Stiefvater and I have to conclude that there is an element of personality in each of these people that can not, will not be suppressed.  They will be who they are - dark sides, scarves, and accordians be damned.

How is that translated on the page?  Is personal style is a necessary but not sufficient condition for having a book?  Perhaps this theory has its holes.  After all, I love Kate DiCamillo books and Stephanie Meyer books, but for the life of me I don't see them running down the streets clad in purple tights trying to make a statement, capital S. 

Still, it can't hurt to explore one's individuality and creativity completely and in all forms.  My family may be in for some wacky dinners as experimentation becomes the new byword in the kitchen.  My clothes may actually become outfits as I breakaway from the t-shirt drawer, and who knows what may happen with my writing if I seek to really find my own voice and style!

Monday, May 24, 2010

YA Review: The Diamonds by Ted Michael

The Diamonds

Unless you read a lot of YA books, you might not really appreciate the fun, and at times surpisingly gripping, novel The Diamonds by Ted Michael. (For an interview with Ted Michael, click here.)

The Diamonds is a well-crafted novel providing the back story and then the aftermath of Marni Valentine's rise and fall as part of an elite clique of girls, called the Diamonds, at a private school on Long Island. She inadvertently breaks with her tyrannic social group by dating the leader's ex-boyfriend, Anderson. The Diamonds use a mock legal system to put their peers on trial and no one is immune. In the end, the social isolation is too much for Anderson who betrays Marni and her new group of outcast friends. Marni is liberated and transformed by her new role by the end of the book, but not first without feeling the full wrath of her ex-friends.

At the outset, I was reminded of the book Emma by Jane Austen. When Austen set out to write Emma, she said "I am going to make a heroine whom no one but myself will much like." Ted Michael tackles this same challenge, and although it may take a while for some readers to warm up to Marni, the author delivers with a character who grows increasingly sympathetic. Her fear of being an outsider and her doubts about her strengths, were all too-real for anyone who has had to pass through secondary school double-doors.  As the book progresses, readers will walk a mile in Marni's shoes, and we feel that her transformation, the unfolding of her own personality, is just in time.  For romance fiends, this isn't exactly a HEA ("happily ever after") book, but there is enough promise of Marni's future felicity to satisfy most YA readers.

Finally, I must make mention of the rich and clever dialogue in The Diamonds, which alone make this book worth reading. A sample of a very funny line:

"And then I was like, 'I'll have one percent, please.'" Priya opened her eyes so that her lashes touched her forehead. "I mean, do I look like drink whole milk?"

Thursday, May 20, 2010

KidSpeak: Three Year Olds on Ikebana

You can never spend too much time observing and mentally recording the dialogue of others when you're a writer.

Today, I got to overhear this delightful conversation from two three-year old girls.

Girl #1: Take a vase.
Girl #2: Take a vase.
Girl #1: Put the [Play]dough on the bottom.
Girl #2: Put the dough on the bottom.
Girl #1: Stick in the flowers.  Like this.
Girl #2: (takes a blue glittery egg attached to floral wire) Stick in like this.
Girl #1: NOoooo!  Take a flower.  A flower! (Attempts to takes the egg.)
Wrestling match ensues.  Small attempts at slapping.  Girl #2 lays on top of egg.
Mother of Girl #1: Let me go find another egg.
Girl #1: (manages to wriggle blue egg out)  You want another egg?  A green egg?  (returns with green egg)
Girl #2: Thanks.  (sticks egg in vase, adds in some flowers)  Doesn't it look pretty?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Writing Prompt: Beach of Trust

Katie and Svea had worked side by side for seven months.  Over that time, despite their physical dissimilarities, they'd found commonalities in that they were both single, both enjoyed a wind-down drink after work at the bar around the corner, and that they both hated their boss, a woman who was five years their junior and who was a favorite with the company president.  Katie was planning a trip to go zip-lining in Costa Rica and invited Svea to come along.

They spent their breaks, and occasionally non-break time - although they knew how dangerous that was since every keystroke, even the backspaces, were monitored and recorded by the company - nailing down their vacation dates, times, and side trips.  Although Svea had agreed to try zip-lining, she was more interested in some beach time.  She spent hours online at home determining the pros and cons of the different options and finally narrowed down her choices to one.

At last the day of departure arrived, Katie and Svea reclined in their seats on the airplane, glasses of wines cocked toward their lips while a romance movie played on the miniature screens in front of them.  The trip to the hotel was uneventful, and Svea couldn't wait until the next morning when she'd be laying on the sandy beach, book in hand, coconut drink next to her side.

The day dawned bright and Svea woke smiling.  Katie was still sleeping but Svea quickly scribbled a note and then slipped out the door wearing her bathing suit under a coverup.  She easily snagged a cab at the hotel entrance and was driven out to a nearby deserted beach.  Katie smoothed out her towel on the sand, slicked on he sunscreen, sipped some water and relaxed into a prime book reading position.  As the day began to heat up, her stomach began to at last wake up so eventually she stood up, rolled her belongings into a ball, and then began scouring the beach border for a vendor.   Svea picked up some fried fruit and meat dish along with a slushy fruity drink.  Next she found a shady spot and slowly ate watching the waves crash against the shore, timelessly beating a rhythm that her pulse soon matched.

Sated, Svea returned to the beach, once again laying out her towel and setting up her personal beach station, this time lying on her side to aid with digestion.  Fleetingly she thought of returning to the hotel, but there was no hurry.  They had purposefully left this day unplanned to just relax.  When Svea felt too warm she flipped to her other side.  She gazed beyond her book and saw that the beach had grown more crowded.  Two people in bikinis were walking toward her, holding hands.  A little odd, she thought, but then she lived in San Francisco and had seen it all.  The longer she watched the couple, the closer they came and the more they began to come into focus.  Svea tilted her hand.  Surely that woman on the left had on the exact same suit as Katie.  And, fancy that, the other woman had flaming red hair.  Just like their boss.  Svea stared a little longer, disbelieving.  The two women continued to hold hands, and about 50 feet away from Svea, they stopped and enjoyed a lingering kiss.  Svea pulled down her hat and buried her face in her towel.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Scheduling a Schedule

Someone once told me that it takes at least 6 months to figure out the direction of a blog.  And that will prob. be true for me - no Orangette or The Julie/Julia Project guidance, here.

That said, there is freedom with so much open space.  Time to experiment.  Time to try something new.  Here's a proposed blog schedule:
Mondays - Children's Book Review (may be a YA, MG and/or book review); yes I am committing to a book a week!
Tuesdays - 'Style' Discussion
Wednesdays - Free Write / Writing Prompt
Thursdays- KidSpeak (observations of and overheard dialogue from different age groups)
Fridays - Weekly Roundup

Keeping with today's theme and in honor of the movie I watched last night, I want to take a look at the writings of Roald Dahl next week.  Like Evelyn Waugh, Roald Dahl is perhaps one of the most secretly beloved children's writers out there.  Secret because many people know his books - but perhaps only through movies like Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (Widescreen Special Edition) or James and the Giant Peach  What makes Dahl's writing so captivating?  What is it about his style that helps the reader immediately know that s/he is reading Dahl?

I'll be reading Dahl (just children's fiction) over the next week in order to investigate his genius and will discuss on Monday and Tuesday.

Update (4 hours after original post)
OK, turns out I can't get the Dahl books I need in time.  I do have a book called The Diamonds by Ted Michael on hand so that's what I'll be covering on Monday.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bird by Bird

Thankfully Writer's Digest this month included an interview with Anne Lamott promoting her latest novel, Imperfect Birds: A Novel.  I've only read two of Lamott's non-fiction books, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life and Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year both excellent.  

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life is an outstanding writing instruction book.  It is both supporting and motivating.  There is also an element of "go-to-it" that can not be ignored.  The title of the book is based on some writing advice that Lamott's father gave to her brother who had waited until the last minute to write a report on birds.  "Bird by bird," her father advised, "bird by bird."

There are so many great quotes from the interview:
"The triumph is to hold a finished novel in your hand that's going to be published in four or five months and that it's not awful. The triumph is that it's not awful."

"The writing grows you up into the person you've always dreamt of being, and that's so amazing."

"Laughter is carbonated holiness."

"... [I]t really matters that they write.  It's very inconvenient when you start to say no [to other life obligations], but no is a complete statement, because from now on, hell or high water, I write for two hours a day.  It's absolutely the most important thing you can do ...."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Do You Enter Online Contests?

I stayed up until midnight last night entering all sorts of online contests. The Trump thing, the Starbucks one, the World Market event and then a whole host of them from and (same owner.)

Surfing these sites have led me to think about online writing contests. They may be my only hope to reach my goal of ONE paid writing piece this year. Yikes! it's May already, and there are no leads in sight. Does the 25-word paragraph about what makes my mom special, in which I won a trio of body butter from MOR Cosmetics, count towards my goal?

Perhaps it's time to run my own contest - at least to drum up interest in my site.  Here's what I'd like to know:
1)  What sites / blogs to do you follow?
2)  Why?
3)  What would you like to win?  (Hint: wine?)
4)  Optional - would would you be willing to do to win?

I promise not to do one of those 'enter daily' contests.  I also promise to keep it simple.  I love you Maggie Stiefvater, and here's the link to your trailer for Linger, but I can't figure out if I'm eligible to win or not!  Who am I to judge though?  She's published and I am not.

Send me your thoughts and I'll plan on something in June!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Are You a Wordie?

Food lovers are foodies. Wouldn't that make word lovers wordies? You tell me - are you a wordie? What are your favorite expressions, phrases, lines from a song, poem or book?

You know you're a wordie if you thrill at the perfect phrasing of a line in a song. Your heartbeat accelerates when you read a metaphor in a book that couldn't have been put any better. Your toes tingle when someone uses an inventive pun during a conversation.

These are old examples, but they are good ones that set me on my 'wordie' path:
'The future's so bring, I gotta wear shades.'
'Don't say you're easy on me, you're about as easy as a nuclear war.'
'And when you come to cover me with your kisses, fresh like a daisy, chained up in a lion's den.'

And ones I am not loving:
'New York City, Such a beautiful disease.'
'I want your horror, I want your design, 'Cause you are a criminal as long as your mine.'
'We don't buy no drinks at the bar, We pop champagne cuz we got that dough.'

Give yourself one point for every song that you identified. So tell me, what are you liking / not liking these days?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

She's Not Just Fast ...

She's Superfast! Mention "superfast" and my daughter instantly adds some boost to getting dressed, or ratchets up her sprint in a race against me.

Have you noticed the trend of adding 'super' in front of adjectives these days? I'm seeing it some kids books. In Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, the hero rolls down hills superfast. We also checked out Diego's Great Dinosaur Rescue (Go, Diego, Go!) from the library. In this case, the gang hurries superfast and the dinosaurs are superbig.

My husband and I have starting using the terms. At first, it was funny but now I wonder how this term could so easily enter our vocabulary. Perhaps it's related to the German 'uber' which in and of itself is a derivation of the Latin 'super'. The Germans have long attached uber as a prefix to words to indicate a heightened state. If this is the case then it's more of a wonder that English didn't adapt this wonderful tendency earlier.

The other element of surprise is how quickly slang and other word are adopted. It's like the expression "no worries". I never watched The Crocodile Hunter with Steve Irwin and I only watched Finding Nemo once but that was all it took for me to casually throw out "no worries" whenever someone was late or when I encountered a typo in a report. (I do confess to being a huge fan of the movie Crocodile Dundee however. That'll probably come back to haunt me in a job interview.)

As a word lover, I'm intrigued when I come across word fads, new slang, and creative word play. Sometimes, it's an image conjured up by a word that captivates. Right now, I'm desperate to use shadowboxing, tycoon and faintly in some of my writing. I'll make sure that when I do, the words are super-appropriate.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day Hangover

It's a Mother's Day hangover. That doesn't mean that I drunk too much yesterday, although being married to a wine afficinado, that is always a possibility.

It just means that being pampered is extremely addictive. It's really nice sleeping in, really enjoyable to have someone else cook and clean-up, really enjoyable to laze about for a day. I can recall times, pre-motherhood, when a day like that would be enough to recharge me. I think I've depleted my stores so deeply that one day is not quite enough. Instead, it leaves me jonesing for more. It's as if relaxation is a new hang-up, as powerfully seductive as white sugar cravings.

One of my immigrant friends assures me that Americans are soft, that we have it too easy. She swears that her kids won't be raised that way. Isn't that an interesting mindset? My parents who were raised in poor conditions always wanted more for us, didn't want to deprive us. My immigrant friend say do not overindulge.

Regardless, I know that the sweet halo of indulgence will last another 24-48 hours and I intend to savor it. I can only thank my amazing husband and adorable daughter for their lavish care of me yesterday.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Jazzed Up and Nowhere to Jive / Beast of Burden

Vacation is looming but I already feel ready to head out on the road tomorrow. I don't know if I can wait another two weeks. I'm pretty sure my daughter can't. She's keeping pretty close tabs on the suitcase, big enough for her to curl up in, that's lounging around in the corner of our bedroom. My books are already lined up including Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! You know I love all things Austen.

Also, I ordered a book on hiking with dogs since we'll be pet-sitting during our trip. Best Hikes With Dogs in Western Washington The dog is psychotic, I believe, so I had to laugh when Beast Of Burden by the Stones just came on the radio. How apropos! Turns out I didn't actually own that song until just a few minutes ago. Love, love, love (that's love cubed) the Internet.

Beast of Burden is also apropos of the book project I'm working on. The hero, despite all of his success (don't want to give away too much) just can't seem to get in good with the heroine. This may be his anthem. I don't always understand the music-writing connection, but it's real. I can't carry a tune or play an instrument but I know that listening to music pushes the turbo button on the creative fiction blender (let's even call it a Vitamix) in my brain. I'm all jazzed up!

TGIF and Happy Mother's Day to all of you Moms.

(P.S. Thanks to everyone who wrote or called or caught me to say that the appreciated my piece on having another baby and post-partum depression. It was through the grace of friends like you that those days are long forgotten!)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lost in Translation

I've become friends with the mother of one my daughter's friends from school. We have picnic lunches together, sharing food and mothering tips and kicking inflatable balls around with our girls.

This mom is not from the U.S. She moved here about 10 years ago, and her passion for this country is breathtaking. Whenever our conversation drifts to her childhood, I'm reminded of the abundance I experienced growing up and how much I took, and still take for granted.

I'd say she is pretty acculturated to life here now, but I wonder sometimes if we are misreading each other. Recently I offered to write up some of the Russian fairy tales she tells her kids so that American kids could learn the same stories. My favorite was actually a nursery rhyme about a kid not sleeping on the edge of the bed because the wolf may come and nip you on the side of your body!

For me, I felt it would be a good challenge to craft a story with having to worry about the plot. I have no earthly idea if there is a market for such stories - probably not the wolf one these days - but I was really only thinking of helping my friend get published who has expressed an interest in writing. When I thought about potential royalties, I naturally assumed they would all be hers. I didn't communicate any of this however. I was too captivated by the stories, themselves.

After one session of me holding out my voice recorder my friend let me know that she'd found another translator, a family member with a Ph.D. in literature. I immediately felt awkward: granted I have no experience and a family member is an obvious choice, it didn't seem to be the entire truth. After all, she could have mentioned that option before we ever began. I suspect that there was a concern about how all of this would play out, how we'd work together, even a little inherent suspicion of trusting someone else. Was this a cultural difference? I hope that they do follow through with this project.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Another baby?

We're seriously discussing baby #2. Our daughter has brought us so much joy that a second one sounds like such a good idea.

For about the first two and a half years we were pretty solidly in the 'only one' camp. My husband has always felt that way, even before I met him. Perhaps because he's a third child? Perhaps because he just knows himself well and how much time he spends at work? Perhaps because his dad was away with the Navy so much when he was a child, he just wanted to really commit himself to one kid? I can't seem to get at the heart of the matter with him, but the point is moot now. We have our adorable, sweet girl and most of the time we feel like we'd like to give her a sibling.

After meeting my husband's family, I wanted to have three kids. He and his brother and sister are so tight: it's an amazing family and I reasoned that three must be the magic number.

But then it took 5 years to get pregnant. On the day we went in for an IVF consultation after trying Clomid and myriad other treatments we learned we were pregnant - the natural way.

And then we had our amazing girl and I fell into a post-partum depression that began to fade when around the time she was 9 months old and was mostly dissipated by 18 months. Sometimes people misunderstand PPD. It must be different for everyone, but I experienced more black days than gray, days of contemplating suicide and death. Quite frankly, the Brooke Shields book Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression and eventually the help of a therapist helped me scrape my way out of the cave I was in. I was no firmly in the 'onlies' camp for our family.

People would make comments when they would learn that we were finished having children. "How can you do that to your child?" "That's just wrong." "She won't be right." "She'll be selfish." "What about your parents? Don't they deserve more grand-kids?" And naturally, I worried that this was a reflection on me. I thought, "What kind of person can't manage raising an infant? How weak and incompetent I must be!"

And now, my toddler has hit the post 3 years old mark and things look brighter. My other friends who were struggling introduced me to, a blog from a woman who always went through PPD and survived (and then lived to have a 2nd girl!) It helps that there is a vibrant community of moms in my area who are around. The Santa Rosa Mothers Club is a fantastic resource and I will forever be in their debt. My daughter will increasingly be involved in school and that will theoretically give me more time to devote to an infant.

Not that I don't have reservations. I've finally found some time to devote to writing and manage to eke out a little reading as well as some occasional exercise. Am I crazy? Life is pretty good right now, and yet I can't shake the feeling that babies and children are what life is all about. I've never felt more vibrant, more shaken, more confident and more adjusted than now.

Time is running out .... I'm hesitant to publish this post lest I jinx everything. But I think I'm ready. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rookie Mistakes / Cry If You Must

The most humbling part about being a writer is all of the public mistakes that are made. It's bad enough that I don't feel that I'm a great conversationalist: my fear of saying something that might offend someone has left me tongue-tied on many an occasion. I thought that by putting my words down first on paper, or in this case, in a draft blog, I'd have time to reflect, reorganize and carefully chose the perfect words.

It reminds me of all the rookie mistakes I'm making as a parent. My daughter is 3. Not a day goes by when I realize that a parent who had two or more kids would've done things differently. Right now, we're dealing with obstinacy and I've been pandering to her little whims. I'm reminded of a time in college when another student told me, "I don't like you. Look at you. Look at the way you dress." We were working together in a student club and quite frankly I mostly remember feeling astonished. Who judges someone else based on their clothes? (See how progressive I thought I was?) I certainly wasn't going to change the way I dressed - I was a student with no money - but I quickly devised a way to deal with this guy. I avoided him at all costs and the result was my occasional tears as well as being miserable for an entire year while we "worked" together.

Writing, like parenting, like working with others, is an exercise in learning and acceptance. No matter how well-thought out and how well crafted the passage, there may be someone like that student who is predisposed to intentionally dislike what I've written. Because my hair is brown or because of my shoe size or because with a name like Crystal they figure my parents must've been hippies.

In my daughter's case, I've let a discussion about going to school escalate to a big drop-off drama. I've been asking for grace all day to just let it be. A kiss and a hug and I'll be back at circle time. Cry if you must.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Choices / Feelin' Alright

The blessings of the Internet have showered down on me in the last week. In fact, I'm overwhelmed. You might even say drowning. Have you also tried a quick search on the web only to find yourself mired in the details of how to build a clock when you just wanted the time? Let's see, what time zone do you want, and is there daylight savings, and what time format would you like to see it in? Is it physical, Greenwich time or metaphysical, only-in-your-head time?

One of the blessings has been re-connecting with one of my best friends. It's incredible to see her words, and then later to her her voice on the phone. She said that I sounded the same, but I thought she sounded older, more mature. "In my head, I still sound and feel the same as I did 20 years ago," she laughed. Ah, yes, the mind likes to think that it is the only part of the body doesn't age.

On the other hand, this morning I heard a song on the radio that contained the word 'wine' in the lyric. I keep a list of songs with the word wine in them - 129 as of today - and the playlist grows in spurts. After checking the logs of the two radio stations I swear I was listening to during my car ride, I've come up with a goose egg. I only remember vague lines from the lyrics - a man singing about how you'll be my baby and I'll be your lover - and it was a bluesy-rock sound. Typing in the search box 'lyrics lover baby' and you might as well be typing in Pamela Lee Anderson or President Obama. There are thousands of choices and the result is only vexation.

Luckily, my friend and I are reuniting in the next month. I settled for downloading Joe Cocker's Feelin' Alright from iTunes. That works too, even without the word wine.