“He treats objects like women, man.”

Forewarning: Tonight I purchased a ticket for Ruby Sparks fully prepared to hate it. I was not disappointed.

Creative Commons Attribution: Georges Biard


I admit to having a thing for Paul Dano. I overlooked him the first time I saw Little Miss Sunshine, but There Will be Blood piqued my interest and now the color-blind Nietzsche fanboy is totally my cup of tea. I even sat through Meek’s Cutoff for him.

He plays a yellow-livered coward in Cowboys & Aliens and more recently in Looper. Meek’s, Blood, and Cowboys were all westerns, and Looper is supposed to be a sort of reimagining of the western. I’m glad he’s getting roles, but I didn’t really like the idea of Paul Dano being typecast.

So when Being Flynn was closely followed by Ruby Sparks, I was kind of worried. I haven’t liked a movie about “the writing life” since I graduated from college, so I get kind of annoyed with previews that portray writer’s block. Paul Dano has that writerly look about him, but I would almost rather see him play supporting roles in westerns for the rest of his career than watch him stare winsomely at one more typewriter.

Being Flynn just seemed like a write-through-the-pain father/son story, but Ruby Sparks looked borderline offensive. He can manipulate a woman’s behavior? A woman whose purple tights barely cover her lady bits when he picks her up and carries her caveman-style down the street?

It was Ruby’s first lines in the preview that irked me the most:

I missed you in bed last night.
D’you get some good writing done?
[childishly licks spoon]

How… dumb. How thoroughly dumb.

Finding out that his female co-star wrote the film did not help matters. To clarify: Zoe Kazan wrote a screenplay where a man creates the perfect woman, and she cast herself as that perfect woman. Yeah, I want to see a film about the writing life according to Zoe Kazan.

This kind of reminds me of the kerfuffle about Lena Dunham when Girls premiered. People were annoyed that these privileged Gen Y-ers were essentially filming their lives and calling it art. Their defense was that someone can grow up rich and still have something meaningful to say, but I think what we’re getting at here is that normal people can’t get away with this. The rest of us go to public schools and get that sort of behavior beaten out of us by the other kids. We’re jealous, yeah, but it’s not of their money or their talent; it’s of their sheltered lives where this sort of thing is allowed, even praised.

Did I forget to mention that Zoe Kazan has rich, well-connected parents? And grandparents? And she’s – sigh – dating Paul Dano?

Over the past week, I did this whole thing where I read some Nick Flynn, then rented Being Flynn on iTunes, and finally dragged myself to the cinema to sit through Ruby Sparks (it opened later in Ireland than in the US, but it’s about to close here.) I treated it like an assignment, and boy did it feel like one.

A few weeks ago, Hadley Freeman tweeted:

All three of these films were excrutiatingly painful to watch. I don’t know if I’m just getting old, but they felt so formulaic: Wallflower had a checklist of teen-angsty issues that had to be crammed into the plot, and I liked Liberal Arts better when it was released 10 years ago and starred Zach Braff.

As for Ruby Sparks, well, the actress is a girl named Zooey Zoe, right? And by way of introduction, we see her riding a vintage bicycle rollerskating in sunlight while a voiceover describes her attributes and she’s from somewhere that’s not Los Angeles, like maybe Michigan Ohio and ohmygod we get a quick peek at her high school yearbook photo! Then there’s a scene where she and her love interest run around Ikea an arcade because they are just so twee and in love!  But maybe he’s not seeing her clearly? Just like his sister brother cautioned?  Conflict arises. And when it’s all over, he meets a new girl, but she’s kind of the same girl, because her name is the next season in the annual cycle purposefully left out of his latest novel.

Hadley does this better than I ever could, but I needed to get it off my chest. I walked home upset that people get to create vanity projects like Ruby Sparks while some really good ideas go underfunded. Luckily, Paul Dano pretty much disappeared into his role, so in my eyes, he made it through this movie unscathed.

Tá an lá go deas.


Figures. Yesterday my outdoor activity was washed away by rain; today, my day of studying was blessed with gorgeous weather.

I did get out for a bit. I made myself sit in Eyre Square for a full 15 minutes. I drank an entire hazelnut cappuccino and listened to a busker playing French-sounding songs on his accordion, which were complemented by the presence of a beret-wearing gentleman reading on the bench across from me. I even pretended I was in Paris for a moment… then realized I was being un peu stupide. I am in Ireland. I don’t need to pretend I am somewhere else.

It seems appropriate that my Irish for Beginners homework is partially about the weather. Tá an lá go deas means “It’s a nice day.” The appropriate response is:

Tá sé go hálainn, buíochas le Dia. (It’s beautiful, thanks be to God.)

Please curl up with a book and stay safe during this storm.

Sad Fairy

There are few things sadder than braiding your fairy hair, fixing your fairy makeup, slipping into your fairy dress, debating over your fairy shoes, hooking into your beautiful fairy wings, and walking your fairy self all the way through town only to have the charity trick-or-treat trail called off after an hour due to torrential rain.

“Is this an effect of the Frankenstorm?” I wondered aloud as it started coming in sideways.

“No, this is just a rainy day in Galway.”

Why couldn’t it have been tomorrow, Bank Holiday Monday? I have plans to study all day tomorrow.

Today, I just wanted to play “Guess What’s in the Spooky Box,” give out sweets, and steal the souls of little Irish children. Was that too much to ask?



“The House of the Random Penguin”

The big news in publishing this week is that Random House and Penguin publishers are maybe sorta kinda thinking of merging. This would effectively bring “The Big Six” down to “The Big Five.”

The question on everyone’s mind: Penguin House or Random Penguin?

I, for one, prefer Penguin House. It has a more timeless appeal than Random Penguin.

In trying to think of a clever joke that hasn’t already been done to death on the internet, I stumbled in the starting blocks, and am now fascinated by the name Random House.

Seriously. Am I just tired, or is that a really goofy name for a publishing company?

A photo of a random house in Dublin. (Actually, it’s not at all random; it’s the childhood home of Oscar Wilde – who, incidentally, has been published by both Penguin AND Random House.)

Ink Stains

I finally got rid of the box that carried my fairy wings from Texas to Ireland (although I did save the pretty address calligraphy). It occurred to me, as I was bagging up the recycling, that even though my research on Kirkus Media led me to articles by Joe Gross and Michael Barnes, this packing material is the only edition of the Stateman I’ve touched in the past two months.

Famine Fairy

So… yesterday I volunteered to be an extra in a film / television show / who knows what, I just thought it would be fun. They told me to come dressed as if for a job interview; that I would be filming a comedy club scene. Easy peasy. I’ve been an extra before, and it’s a lot of standing around and pretending to watch the central action. An hour of my life, no big deal.

When I got there, they said they had finished filming the comedy club scene that morning and were moving on to the next scene. Not only were my uncomfortable heels unnecessary, but I was going to be made-up as a modern day famine victim and have a camera shoved in my face while I – gasp – delivered actual lines.

I don’t think my 30-second fake commentary on the Irish political situation will make it to the final cut (American accent and all), but the make-up was pretty awesome. So awesome, in fact, that I didn’t bother to wash it off, and went to my 6pm class looking like a zombie.

The terrible thing is that no one noticed. I was on campus for four hours last night, and nobody said a word. Apparently, I just look that haggard all the time.

So with Halloween coming up, I’ve got to start working on my fairy costume. I tried on my wings with the make-up yesterday, just to see what Famine Fairy would look like.

Tá Muid…

I have got to spend more time on Irish for Beginners. I am learning a lot and really enjoying the class, but my pronunciation sucks.

We’ve started conjugating verbs, though not in any formal sense; just learning to say things like Tá muid inár gcónaí faoin tuath (We live in the countryside).

When I got home after class and sat down to read a chapter of Who Needs Irish, the first page I turned featured a poem in which every line began Tá muid….

And since it was a poem about hybrid culture, many of the words were in English or even Spanglish (rock ‘n roll walkmanach, piña colada cheesecakeach).

With the repetition of Tá muid and the heavy use of English, I can officially state that I understood roughly half of that poem. Progress!


Sweet Little Angel Babies


Last week was the Baboró International Arts Festival for Children here in Galway.

I got to volunteer for a couple of events over the weekend, including two Visible Fictions performances of Jason and the Argonauts and the Baboró: Environment, Arts, Science and Technology (BEAST) exhibit of projects crafted by local school children.

On Saturday, a tragic accident in Tuam took the lives of two little girls: Kate, who was 2 years old, and Grace, who was just 12 weeks. My heart is breaking for everyone involved.

Tonight, I turned on TG4 and there was a programme called Cogar: Oileán na Marbh (Island of the Dead) about the cillins where unbaptised babies were buried.

A brief portion in English had Christy Kenneally reciting his poem “Dear Parents,” which includes the lines …If you would honour me / Then strive to live in love / For, in that love, I live…

I’m going to Skype my mom now.

Internet Research and Author Services

I have been writing a paper for the last five hours, so my brain is mush and this probably won’t be a very good post.

I’m writing about Kirkus Reviews for my Contemporary Publishing class. This is the first paper I’ve written as a graduate student, and I’m a little nervous.

The essay is supposed to be between 2,000 and 2,500 words, and at last count, I had amassed just over 3,000. Now I just have to edit it down into a coherent argument…


Yesterday was like Christmas morning. The courier called at 11am and I met the van outside.

I even hooked it up by myself. (It wasn’t hard – I had to plug in precisely two cables.)

Now I am free to read the entire world wide web… just in time to finish my first essay. I love you, UPC!