Radiation Level: Free and clear
Listening to: Royals by Lorde remixed
Yes, today’s the day we celebrate all those fab women of tech!
I usually write about Ada herself, but since I’m in the middle of writing the novel about her, I’m going to include an excerpt so you can get a sneak-peek!
From AdaL by Shanee Edwards:
After breakfast, Ada and Puff climbed out an attic window, reaching my rooftop. Ada thought today would be a fine day for human flight as a flock of pigeons soared through the overcast sky then landed on my uneven stone chimney. Ada brought with her several papers and other materials she would need for her latest science experiment.
Ada laid on her stomach and wrote in her notebook entitled Flyology. Ada paid no mind as Puff chased the birds dangerously close to the edge of the roof. Still in her soft cotton nightgown, Ada’s long, wild caramel-colored hair tangled in the breeze. Her mop of spidery tresses belied the brilliantly organized brain beneath them.
Next to a drawing of a pigeon, she wrote length 11 inches, wingspan 18 inches. Next to a drawing of herself as Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (wearing clothing, of course), her arms and legs outstretched inside a square inside a circle, she wrote length 61 inches, wingspan equals X and completed an algebraic equation. With a ruler, Ada measured a pair of large paper wings attached to a harness then trimmed them accordingly. Ada strapped the winged harness onto her back and tied it tightly around her chest.
“The world will refer to me as the first flying lady. Don’t worry, I’ll say I knew you when,” she said to her kitty-cat.
Puff trotted in the opposite direction, scattering the birds. My fox-shaped weathervane pointed eastward. “All I require is a little wind,” said Ada.
In my poppy garden sat Ada’s mother, Annabella and Dr. Cole, who also resided here, at Fordhook. Annabella was in her early forties and had a fragile beauty to her, much like an aged porcelain doll. Her features were small and delicate, her teeth nearly perfectly straight.
Dr. Cole was a rather tall man in his fifties, with a receding reddish-brown hairline and wore a beard year-round. He had been employed by Annabella for nearly seven years, attending to her many nervous ailments (we’ll explore more of those later).
On this morning, Dr. Cole glanced up from his Holy Bible to see the scattering birds. As one of the pigeons landed on a plate of biscuits, Annabella forcefully shooed it away. “Bloody scavengers,” she said with a huff just as a ray of sunlight cracked through a cloud overhead. Her grey-blue eyes glistened like shards of glass, broken and sharp.
“Gospel says birds will fly you to the Kingdom in the sky,” said Dr. Cole.
Annabella quipped, “I’d prefer to walk.”
On the roof, Ada felt the breeze on her face. Determined, she took a running leap into the sky. With her winged harness she soared. Briefly. It was exactly 2.4 seconds before she crashed into my hedge next to where Annabella and Dr. Cole were seated. Her paper wings busted with a loud crunch. “Ow!” she screamed.
“What in heaven’s name?” said Annabella. “Ada?” she called as she raced over to the hedge. Dr. Cole followed right behind.
Ada, with knotted hair and pink face, clutched her ankle. “It hurts!” she blurted. Dr. Cole picked up the girl and rushed her into the house.
As Dr. Cole carried her up the staircase, Annabella barked at Miss Stamp, “She fell off the roof!”
Miss Stamp jumped to attention and began to follow them up the stairs. She said, “But why was the girl on the roof in the first place?”
Ada called, as if it was perfectly normal, “Testing my flying machine.”
Miss Stamp replied, “Needs work I take it.” For which Annabella shot her an irate look.
Dr. Cole poured Ada onto her bed which was in my Scapegrace room, nicknamed for all of the original owner Lord Bloodwood’s ornery nieces and nephews who would visit every summer. Currently, the room appeared to be a mad scientist’s laboratory dedicated to the science of Flyology. Broken wood and paper wings in a multitude of shapes and sizes littered the floor. The walls were filled with sketches of birds in flight, insects buzzing and even a sketch of a steam train with wings. Ada prized her pigeon skeletons that sat on a shelf between her beetle collection and jar of mostly live moths. She herself boiled every dead pigeon she could find until just the bones remained.
Miss Stamp pulled the broken wings off Ada’s arms while Ada rambled to herself, “My wings were directly proportional to the pigeon’s. I had wind, speed. What was I missing?”
Dr. Cole removed Ada’s left boot, causing Ada to scream in pain. He examined her ankle. Annabella sunk her head into her hand as she sat on the edge of the bed. “She’s going to be hard enough to marry off without being a cripple,” she said.
Ada looked over at her and said, “I almost made it!” with indignation.
Dr. Cole interjected, “Everyone calm your nerves. Appears to be just a sprain.” Annabella sighed with relief. “She’ll need to stay in bed for a least a week, he said.
“But tomorrow I’m fixing a pair of wings on a steam engine,” Ada said vehemently. Annabella picked up a hand mirror from Ada’s dresser and held it in front of Ada’s face.
“Look there. What do you see?” Annabella asked.
“See?” asked Ada, not grasping her meaning.
“In the mirror, child.”
“Me,” answered Ada.
“Any thing else? Feathers? A beak?
“Of course not,” quipped Annabella. “Because you are a girl. Girls do not fly.”
With that, Annabella thumped Ada on the head with the silver-backed mirror.
Ada scrambled to make her point, “But Flyology will change the word!” she said.
Annabella collected various books and handed them to Miss Stamp to dispose of when Annabella, using a handkerchief, reached for a dead crow on Ada’s shelf. Ada shouted, “Don’t touch that!” and jumped up to stop her mother from taking the crow, but her ankle gave in and she fell short. Underneath the crow was a book. Annabella stared at the book for a moment as a slow fury built on her face. The book was Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage by Lord Byron. Knowing the book for forbidden, Ada looked at Miss Stamp for help, but she scuttled out of the room.
Dr. Cole also felt the need to escape and offered, “I’ll get a cold compress.” No soul with a sound mind wanted to witness the tongue-lashing that was sure to follow.
Annabella closed her eyes and shook her head. “Now I understand everything.” Ada took a moment to gather her courage. This was the showdown she’d been waiting for.
Calmly, Ada asked, “Is it so wrong for me to read my own father’s poetry?”
The question hanged in the air for what seemed like minutes (unlike Ada’s flying machine). For seventeen years, Annabella anticipated this question, secretly hoping it wouldn’t be asked. But now was the time to reveal just a morsel of Ada’s dark history.
“Lord Byron is so dangerous a poison, I do not wish his name to even touch your lips,” she said with a solemn certainty Ada had not witnessed from her mother before.
Ada replied, “But Miss Stamp says he’s the most brilliant and handsome man in all of England.”
Annabella’s fragile facial features grew severe, “He is a monster. There’s a reason God marked him with a clubfoot. His mangled toes are evidence of his vile soul. He…” But she could not finish her sentence and simply left the room, taking the book Child Harold’s Pilgrimage with her.
Ada called to her mother, “Please, I need that book!”
But Annabella was gone and Ada couldn’t walk on her damaged ankle, making her consider her father’s clubfoot. What exactly was a clubfoot? Could it be walked upon without the assistance of a cane? Could it be repaired by a surgeon? Or should it be amputated altogether? A clubfoot must look like a club, but how much so? Does it have all five toes? Are the toes monstrous? Or, is a club foot a regular foot that appears to be beaten with a club? If only she knew. Cursed or not, Lord Byron was her flesh and blood – her father. Ada couldn’t help but feel as if she were also cursed.
To read more, leave a comment below!
Radiation Level: Latent telepathic powers
Listening to: Million Miles by TV on the Radio
It was a fast-paced, totally weird summer that left me with my tongue hanging out of my mouth, Cyrus-style. After seeing nearly every movie that was released – and there were some real clunkers, in 3D no less – I was relieved of my film criticism duties to focus more on…
I DON’T KNOW!?!
What the heck am I gonna do? I’m a writer. I’m disillusioned with screenwriting at the moment, however. Panic set in. Self-loathing, doubt. The thing about being an entertainment writer/film critic is that I was busy every moment and didn’t have time to focus on my lack of success in the film world. It was novocaine via work.
So I decided, after long years of urging by AmishGirl, to become a novelist.
Okay, so technically, I started the novel last summer, but now – in light of the new opening of my schedule – it was time to to make the magic happen.
I’ve written 30k words. I’m told It needs to be 80 -120k. So I’m not far into it, but certainly on my way. Yes, friends, that’s a lot of words. And punctuation. And sitting!
My right shoulder (my mouse arm) is currently very stiff and hurts a lot. I will make a doctor’s appoint tomorrow, but I’m not sure if there’s much they can do other than tell me to lay off the laptop. Maybe a shot of cortisone? Amputation?
Many of you know I was doing Weight Watchers. I lost a total of 18 pounds, but gained 7 back as soon as I stopped counting points, so I’m trying to turn up the exercise.
I’m addicted (and managed to addict SeattleGirl) to a “Body Pump” class at my gym with an Austrian teacher we refer to as Frau Ludviga. She’s every Austrian stereotype you can think of – white-blonde hair, cold personality and likes to put “v’s” where “w’s” should go in her speech. She runs her class like a German train or Swiss watch. Each set of reps ends as the electonica song ends. To the second. The class is mostly using a bar-bell where we change the amount of weight depending on what part of the body we’re working (legs, back, triceps, biceps, etc.). Shoulders are particularly difficult for me right now. I thought pushing through the pain would make the pain go away. It hasn’t, but my biceps are really getting toned.
In addition to Frau Ludviga, I try to walk and climb the Culver City stairs 2 times a week. From my house, it’s about an hour and a half round trip. Quicker if I jog part of the way. But I love being up at the top. It’s so surprising to me how much wildlife there is in Culver City. Part of it is being so near to the Ballona Creek and the Baldwin Hills. At the top of the stairs, I’ve seen numerous snakes, lizards and birds. But also bunnies!
This rabbit has become like my talisman, as if seeing it portends a good omen. For a while, I saw one every time I went. Then, I went about a month without seeing one, but just the other day, I saw two!
Take a look at this photo – they are so well camouflaged, I didn’t notice the second bunny for a few minutes.
As for work, I’ve been writing the bar mitzvah video scripts and oy vey, have they been challenging. Not to kvetch too much, it’s a good job. One video is actually going to be shown on the Jumbo-Tron at Dodger Stadium! They are just harder to write then they sound. The good news is that my Yiddish is improving.
A couple weeks ago, I went to help out a caterer friend of mine with a party. Turns out, it was a bar mitzvah. I felt as if I was in some surreal Franz Kafka tale, where instead of turning into a cockroach, I was slowly turning into a Jew. Which isn’t a bad thing, I just don’t know how this agnostic, post-theist got hooked up with so much old-time religion. If I believed in a god, I would think she was trying to tell me something.
I’m going to try to keep up with blogging. So feel free to come back anytime.
Radiation Level: Bomb squad alerted
Listening To: Blue Spark by X
My latest artwork…
Radiation Level: 5 miles high in the sky
Listening to: Plants and Rags by PJ Harvey
FalloutGirl’s friend MovieGirl has had an adventure of her own! She headed over to London where she toured the Hampton Court Palace (Where the real-life Tudors King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn lived!) and interviewed the cast of Jack the Giant Slayer. Check it out!
Radiation Level: Thermostatically Controlled
Listening to: Do You Really Want to Hurt Me by Culture Club
January, 2013 is coming to an end and its already been fantastic! Fallout Girl’s been blessed with some new writing assignments and I have to say I’m super excited. I will be writing a column for a survivalist journal and will be taking some new gas mask photos (yippee!).
In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been up to:
WRITER’S RETREAT IN SANTA BARBARA
Thanks so much to SurferGirl for offering her pad to me and two other writers. We spent three days doing yoga and writing…It was glorious. This photo is of SurferGirl setting her intentions for the year.
Next is a list of inappropriate words one of my 3rd grade students brought to my science class. I was nervous when he announced he made this list, but couldn’t help but laugh when I read it. Whatever you do, never say “Whatha Heak” in mixed company.
I’ve already seen ten movies this year and can say that horror movie Mama was my favorite so far. I’ve started watching the new Fox show The Following and have to say that while it lacks any real depth for a show about a killer obsessed with Edgar Allen Poe, it’s twisty and scary – I screamed out loud, from my couch on Monday night. Oh, and James Purefoy is easy on the eyes…
I’ve joined Weight Watchers and have lost 7 pounds! So excited to firm up and get lean. Okay, so I feel like I just might turn into an egg white, but the results are fantastic.
The lovely KodakGirl managed to produce and direct a short play of mine called Prom Night. Here’s a photo that made me laugh out loud! I really wish I could have seen it live…
How’s your 2013 been so far?
Radiation Level: Falling off a fiscal cliff
Listening To: Girl I used to Know by JMSN
This last year has felt like a boxing match in which I managed to avoid getting knocked out but dang, I didn’t win. That said, there were sparse moments of sincere joy for which I’m truly grateful. Here are a few:
Making bubbles with my students.
The thrill of making these giant bubbles lifted the spirits of my students. I’ve never seen so many smiles on such tough kids.
Seeing my movie quotes on TV and around LA.
I saw over 130 movies this year, and it was just super rewarding to see that someone valued my opinion enough to share it with the world.
Winning the Carmen Miranda Barbie Doll* at Richard Simmons.
I played Carmen Miranda in my high school musical review, and I have a photo of Carmen Miranda hanging in my kitchen so it was so fun to win this. Any woman who can sing and dance with fruit on her head is my heroine.
*Technically, the doll is called the Bob Mackie®Brazilian Banana Bonanza™Barbie® Doll, but is clearly a nod to the fabulous Ms. Miranda.
Okay, so it’s not as good as Inglourious Basterds, but it’s my kind of movie.
Jack White’s Blunderbuss CD/Concert
Sixteen Saltines and Freedom at 21 have been my soundtrack for some time. Thank you, Jack for making me feel like a teenager again. (Dreamy sigh…)
My best friends coming together to help me make my short film. You know who you are and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Getting to review movies.
Thanks SO MUCH to RioGirl for believing in me and getting me the job. And thanks to SundayGirl for letting me borrow her adorable son so I don’t look like the loser cat-lady at the Saturday morning kids’ movie screenings.
Support, love and awesome notes from my new writers group. Way to go, Culver City Clutch!
My YA Novel will be here in 2013.
Visiting KodakGirl in Prescott and watching my play Vampire Mouth come to life.
So amazing to see talented, creative people working together to create something out of nothing.
What are your favorite moments of 2012?
Radiation Level: Burnt popcorn
Listening To: Where is My Mind??? by The Pixies
Okay movie-goers, here’s the list the movie studios DON’T want you to read! You see, they make quite a bit of cash on DVD’s and Pay-Per-Views, but let me just tell you that, after watching 133 movies this year, definitely skip these flimsy flicks!
#10 The Sessions
Okay, just to be clear, I think EVERYONE should have a sex life, especially if you live most of your day in an iron lung. That said, I don’t necessarily want to WATCH everyone’s sex life on film. Ickity-ick! Poor Mark (John Hawkes) nearly drowns in his own saliva trying to orally pleasure Cheryl (Helen Hunt). Bless him for trying but I’m not interested in seeing Helen Hunt’s lady business up in my face on the big screen. I, in no way, want to diminish this powerful story, but sometimes, stories should just be told in a book.
#9 Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close
Again, another powerful story. But dang, they should hand out Prozac with your movie ticket and remove all sharp objects from your person. This was so, so, so depressing. The pain and the agony I felt while watching this movie was too much. If I’d have paid to see it, I would have been suicidal.
#8 Friends with Kids
How could such a a great cast make such a God-awful movie? And who decided troll-headed Adam Scott should be a movie star? I don’t get it. There’s no way in hell I’d make a baby with that Qwepie skull. The fighting, yelling, crying in the movie made me want to stick a needle in my eye. Oh, poor pretty-white-lady-Manhattanite has a perfect baby but can’t get the dude to marry her. Please, some people have real problems.
#7 Celeste and Jesse Forever
Okay, listen to this premise: Celeste and Jesse have been married for 5 years, love each other, are best friends, but Celeste is disappointed that Jesse is still the same silly, goofy guy she married and now thinks she can do better. Can you say “entitled”? Look, if she ain’t happy, she should move on but if the filmmakers want me to feel sorry for her, FORGET IT!
#6 Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
With such a silly title, this movie should at least be fun, right? About as fun as a hatchet to the head. I don’t mind filmmakers who come up with wild, outlandish ideas – but you gotta follow through! You can’t just give up on the story, you have to make it mean something. Thank God for Quentin Tarantino who KILLED IT with Django Unchained – another film about slavery that delivered on its turbulent premise. Django Unchained surprised, repulsed, shocked and excited. If you can’t do those four things in a horror movie, DON’T EVEN TRY.
#5 Ten Years
Okay, Channing Tatum is hot, but he doesn’t even take off his clothes! Total rip off!!!!
#4 The Words
I have NO words to describe how pointless and annoying this movie was.
Bootsie the sock puppet’s review of The Words:
#3 The Odd Life of Timothy Green
This movie was so pathetic and melodramatic, I don’t see how anyone ever agreed to make it. A boy who grows from leaves then disappears after the four seasons is a fine premise, but let’s see something remotely interesting or surprising about that story. At least Pinocchio had an angel and a whale…
# 2 is a three-way tie between Looper
I’ve tied these three movies together because they all had more prosthetic noses than a WWI army hospital. And at least two of the three had hobbits.
Looper was just a cruel, torturous story about a mother who loves a little boy who may destroy the world, meanwhile all the other characters are nose-hopping while looping.
Bootsie’s review of Looper:
Cloud Atlas, one of four films I can think of this year that was about slavery, felt more like I was flipping channels on my hotel TV than an actual story. “From womb to tomb, we are all connected” — I’m disconnecting immediately.
Bootsie’s review of Cloud Atlas:
The Hobbit was just one long set up to two more long movies. Couldn’t one, just ONE of the 15 dwarves, hobbits and wizards be a woman? No? Why not? And this 48 fps business is even more annoying than the 3-D.
Are you ready for the WORST, most WRETCHED movie of the year, 2012???
#1 The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure
You know you’re in trouble when one of your central characters is a vacuum! This movie comes from the mastermind of Teletubbies and flopped, garnering the worst box office of any movie ever. Turns out that 3-year-olds just aren’t asking mommy to take them to the movies. Go figure!
Radiation Level: Dwarfed
Listening To: Short People by Randy Newman
Want to know what I thought of Peter Jackson’s version of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit (the first of THREE films in 48fpx and #D)?
Radiation Level: Binary and Laudanum
Listening to: Carolyn’s Fingers by Cocteau Twins
Ada, you are my BFF! I’d give anything to share a bottle of claret with you today and celebrate – maybe go to the horse races or just talk about the amazing future. If only you could see me typing away on my laptop, blogging about YOU!
See, Ada knew she would be famous after her death. So being the subject of the Google doodle proves her prophecy correct – such a smart girl!
If you don’t know Ada, you can do a quickie-Wiki here. What I can tell you is that she lived and breathed the future of computing. The daughter of the romantic poet Lord Byron, she worked with Charles Babbage to help others understand the genius of his Analytical Engine.
The Countess of Lovelace is controversial. There are haters who think she’s overrated. Of course these haters are men.
To me, Ada is an unbridled spirit, incapable of accepting the status quo for women in the 19th century. She had big ideas and wanted more than anything to touch the glorious promise of the years to come.
To me, Ada is a friend. A companion I’ve spent thousands of hours with, writing my bio-pic screenplay about her and now, a young adult novel. Ada Lovelace is my muse.
To me, Ada is a heroine. She spoke up to the Royal Science Society and to anyone who would listen about Babbage’s engines.
Ada, shine bright today and lead the way for women all over the planet who want to excel in the sciences. Our planet needs them.
Radiation Level: 92% Organic, 8% GMO
Listening to: Spellbound by Siouxie and the Banshees
NASA has a big announcement to make on Monday, 12/3/12, about something Mars rover Curiosity found while exploring the red planet. Many have speculated the discovery is some kind of organic, biologic material, but this could mean many things.
NASA scientist John Grotzinger says, “We’re getting data from SAM … this data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good.”
I’ve always thought that in my lifetime, we would find evidence that “life” exists or at least once existed on other planets. I’m hoping this is the big find. The discovery of ice the size of Washington DC on hot-pot Mercury is encouraging.
What do you hope they find on Mars?