21 October 2009

Conferences, Conferences, Conferences

I've registered for four area conferences recently, and the first one is this Saturday.

The North Central North East Texas SCBWI Conference is up in Arlington. I'll be getting a written critique and hearing presentations from David Diaz, Melanie Hope Greenberg, Lisa Yoskowitz and Lisa Grubka. I haven't been to this conference before, so I'm looking forward to it. I also used to live in Irving, so it's a chance to see what has changed in the area. Maybe I'll get to see the new, obscenely expensive Cowboys stadium.

In November I'm going to the Brazos Valley SCBWI Conference. This is a conference I went to last year, and I really enjoyed it. This year I'll have a critique with Carla McClafferty. We'll see how that goes.

Wish me luck!

13 October 2009

The Dude Abides

I had a dream come true this past weekend when I was able to attend Lebowski Fest 2009 at Stubb's BBQ in Austin - the Speed of Sound Tour.

Lebowski Fest revolves around celebrating all things related to The Big Lebowski, the Coen brothers cult classic. I love this movie. And one of my best friends loves this movie, too, so we both went to the Fest.

The Fest includes a screening of the movie and bowling. We just went to the movie screening, and we had a blast! Because it was outside and seating was on the ground (we had no idea), we had to find an alternative. My friend is unable to sit on the ground, so we got to go to the VIP section and sit in folding chairs.

We saw people dressed as characters from the film – The Dude, Walter, Jesus, Maude, The Stranger. We even saw someone dressed as the rug, the rug that "really ties the room together" and sets off the entire plot of the film.

The head Achievers, who created Lebowski Fest, came out to welcome us to the event and to introduce the band.

A performance from the White Ghost Shivers followed.

The crowd, about 300 or so, enjoyed the band and then got ready for the main event.

But first! a video message from The Dude himself, Jeff Bridges, welcomed us to the event. We all screamed in excitement.

Then the movie started. People quoted along with all the best lines (including lots and lots of cursing) and danced along with characters on screen.

Despite the cold, despite the folding chairs, despite the late hour, everyone in the crowd wouldn't have changed a thing about the night. We had so much fun. I cannot wait to go to another Lebowski Fest, maybe even the big one in Louisville.

01 October 2009

Of Parks and Memories

I've been watching the Ken Burns documentary The National Parks: America's Best Idea on PBS this week. I find myself amazed at the vigor and vitality of those early users of the parks.

Having been to seventeen of the national parks in this country (and four in Canada!) and hiked some of the trails, I cannot imagine climbing mountains or hanging over cliff edges or rafting down rapid-filled rivers without the helpful guidance of the National Park Service.

I remember going to a campfire talk at Yellowstone back in 1987 and learning that, before the handy boardwalks were built around the hot springs, geysers, mud pots and fumaroles, tourists were told to follow buffalo chips. If the buffalo could walk there, then people could walk there. I think the theory was that if the earth's crust, which is thin at Yellowstone, could support a buffalo, then it could certainly handle a human. Can you imagine that?

I have so many fond memories of the parks. I've gotten lost in Rocky Mountain National Park, nearly been run over by a buffalo in Yellowstone, walked on a glacier on the tallest mountain on the continent in Denali, rode in a boat with a drunken captain in Kenai Fjords, and floated down the Snake River in Grand Tetons.

I haven't been to every national park. I probably never will get to them all, but I have loved every one of them. This documentary has gotten me thinking about my childhood, which has made me nostalgic for those lazy, adventurous summer days with long vacations in a van filled with books and toys and music down some of the most scenic roads in the country.

I had so much to be grateful for about those trips - the parks, the scenery and wildlife, the country and my mom. Without realizing it, I had other things to be grateful for, too. Thanks to Ken Burns, I now know how much gratitude I owe John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, Stephen Mather and John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

I don't really know what this post is about, but I just felt like writing this down. Thanks for reading!