Friday, May 26, 2006

The other Ken Foster...

There are many, many Kens out there, and a shocking number of them have the last name of Foster. That's why my email address has an R between the Ken and the Foster. All email without the R goes to someone else entirely, and apparently he's been getting a lot of it.

I finally contacted him last night after my friend Susan said, "Did you get my friend's email? She loved your book."

So the other Ken is going to try to forward stray mail from now on (Thank you Ken!). Meanwhile, if you are wondering why you haven't heard back from me, it may be because I'm really busy. Or it may be because your email ended up with the wrong Ken.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Seventeen dogs and six print runs

When I agreed to write The Dogs Who Found Me, I said there would be twelve dogs in the book, because that sounded like a good number to form a book around. Now people keep tossing the figure of a dozen dogs around, but it isn't accurate. And people keep asking me how many there really were and I haven't had an answer. So I finally sat down and counted. There are seventeen dogs in the book. But there were more in life. (Border's, in their pet catalog, claims there are just three dogs in the book; hopefully they don't count book sales the same way.)

Also, for the past two weeks my publisher has been, once again, out of stock. Prior to that, they had broken their own record by keeping it in stock for nearly three consecutive weeks. So a sixth print run is due in their warehouse today. But probably won't arrive until after the holiday--just in time for my tour dates next week.

Meanwhile...it's really really hot in New Orleans. And the Aquarium of the Americas reopens tomorrow. I can't wait. Earlier in the week, they had a big press event as the penguins arrived home and marched into the building. Like many New Orleanians, they'd been waiting for the election results, but decided to return home anyway.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Pit bull gets a speaking part on "Days of Our Lives"

I keep SoapNet on during the day for my dogs to watch while I'm gone. I tell them to fill me in on everything that happens, but really I just like it because it gives them human voices to listen to all day long. If they ever ran into Susan Lucci on the street, there's no telling what might happen.

This morning, in a rerun of yesterday's episode of "Days of Our Lives," a woman was warning her daughter about being treated like a dog. There were a couple of sharp barks in response, and she bent down to apologize to a very well trained pit bull. (Or maybe it was a staffie, but essentially the same thing.)

I don't know what the pay scale is for dogs, but I do know that for humans their rate goes up if they 1)receive any kind of direction; and 2) if they have a speaking part.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

In memory of Candy Mulligan

In 1993, I moved to Portland to try to write. Mostly, what I did was not find work and lose the work I found, which resulted in my being without a place to live and generally questioning what I was doing with my life. (I've since learned, via Sara Gran, that this period of our lives is referred to as Saturn's Return.)

Where I ended up: Candy Mulligan's basement, where I lived and observed with total bewilderment her devotion to her dogs. I wasn't a dog person yet. She also had three kids, who were always making noise just outside my door in the morning after I returned from working graveyard shift at Kinko's. But they were great kids, and their favorite TV shows were Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart. Needless to say, many of these things worked their way into my writing. The first story in my collection was written while I stayed there. In "Keep it From the Flame," two children are abandoned along a road...by their mother. It was a gothic inversion of what was actually going on in the house.

Candy died last week, after a long battle with cancer. Joanna Rose has sent the following announcement/remembrance (and I've added the link to OHS):


Many of you knew Candy Mulligan from the early days of Dangerous Writing. She was in the old Thursday night group. She published short fiction in a Seattle journal called Paper Radio, read with Fiction Asylum, and finished a novel that still sits in a desk drawer. She was working on a memoir.
On Thursday May 18, just around midnight, she died of cancer.
She collected stray dogs, stray cats, stray teenagers and stray writers, many of which ended up living in her basement. There was a St Pat’s party every year, and she was with us at more than one Haystack gathering.
She leaves behind her daughters Vanessa Mulligan and Nicole Ausmus, and her son MacKenzie Mulligan. Donations to the Oregon Human Society were her wish.
She didn’t want a funeral, she wanted a party. That’s in the works.


And we are all sad.
"

WOW...Honda has a not so great idea

A few weeks ago I bought a Honda Element to replace my totaled van. A friend emailed me this morning with news of a new Honda prototype: WOW (wonderful open-hearted wagon). It's designed as a dog friendly car, which sounds great at first, but listen to this:
"A special crate for dogs in the glove apartment allows owners to interact with their pets while driving. A bigger crate pops up from the floor in the back seat area and can be folded back into the floor when it's not needed. For even bigger dogs, just buckle them up with a special seat belt to the floor."

You can take a look at it here.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Maybe now Nagin will come up with an evacuation plan?

A few weeks ago, Nagin announced an evacuation plan for the city that was later revealed to be, really, just an evacuation theory. None of the systems were in place. There were no buses in place. There were no shelters identified. And rottweilers, he said, could travel under the bus--this last part was also was fiction.

I'm not sure Mitch Landrieu would have been much better, but it is hard to imagine that he wouldn't have been at least a smidgeon more effective. Prior to the storm, Nagin's chief acheivement was a glossy city hall magazine touting his accomplishments. During the storm he seemed to really take charge of an insanely over the top situation. Post storm, he's mostly been just over the top. With the city desperate for support from the outside world--tourists, businesses, the federal government--one has to wonder what message his re-election sends. Will the money start pouring in? Were people waiting to be sure that Nagin stayed in place before helping us out? Will the abandoned cars finally be removed?

In my own district, the race for city council came down to Kristin Palmer and James Carter. During the primary, Kristin's main rival appeared to be Jane Booth, who had used her connections to wrap up a number of endorsements. When she still wasn't able to get the votes, Booth endorsed Carter. The Times Picayune endorsed Carter. Why Carter? Good question. Carter claimed to be a corporate lawyer with a crime fighting background. In fact, he's a criminal lawyer with an ad in the yellow pages soliciting a very narrow clientel: sex offenders, drug dealers, etc. (The ad is pretty amazing, because it actually lists these possible offenses in bullet points.) His main community experience seems to be casual involvement in a few government sponsored programs. His slick brochures offered the vaugest possible promises. At forums he had no opionion on controversial riverfront development and found gay and lesbian issues and "inappropriate" topic. Of course he was going to win.

Palmer, meanwhile, has worked for the past fifteen years helping to renovate homes and turn them over to first time homeowners, particularly in previously "blighted" areas. She's involved in the schools. She had no big business contributors. She had specific ideas on how to use existing funds more effectively. But people were suspicious, because she lives in Algiers. Carter also lives in Algiers, but for him this wasn't an issue. Palmer planned to be a council person full-time. Carter has no plans to give up his day job. Palmer opposed new hotels in the French Quarter; Carter had no opinion on the subject. Their district includes the French Quarter and the Marigny, areas with obvious preservation issues and dense gay and lesbian populations. In the final days of the election, "someone" floated rumors that Palmer was homophobic and that she had actually petitioned to remove a gay couple from her neighbhorhood in order to keep them away from children. In reality, she's been active in that community since she was in college nearly twenty years ago. But voters don't concern themselves with reality, so Palmer lost. (She is also a friend, so I may be a little bitter, but it really does suck.)

So here's what we have to look forward to: lots of big business, lots of riverfront development, lots of high rises breaking into residential neighborhoods.