Saturday, October 23, 2010

Wherein I rub shoulders with celebrity and talent!

First story:

I was invited to the Battlestar Galactica exhibit opening last night at the Experience Music Project by my friends Mike and Janet, whose daughter, Ariane, is a curator with the EMP.  We toured the exhibit which is very fun, although  the Cylons weren't up yet.  They should be in another week, so I plan to return.  Several of the characters, writers, and directors from BSG were there and spoke about the planning and filming of the series.  It was fascinating to me, as I am a fan of BSG and science fiction in general, and it was a special pleasure to have my picture taken with Edward James Olmos, Admiral Adama. 

I was introduced to BSG late in the series, but liked it immediately.  Lucky for me, cable-less wonder that I am, Mike and Janet not only had cable, but were into the series and generous in opening their house to me and some other friends who otherwise would not have gotten our weekly fix while it ran.  We brought dinners, they provided the tv.  It was a great trade.

BSG ended before my cancer diagnosis, but cancer, specifically, and fear of the unknown, more generally, played a very large part in the plot.  Overcoming that fear in the face of almost certain annihilation or failure, and going forward with life--what a concept!  I've always been taken with science fiction that deals with larger issues of belief; books like Grass by Sherrie Tepper, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, and The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell are a few examples.  Placing the story outside of current space and time permits an author a greater artistic license to explore the issue of belief, but it also requires the author to construct a reality that is not only logical but resonates with the reader.  These books, and the BSG series (minus the second season) make it look easy.  

I caught up with BSG by  purchasing those seasons for the years that I had not contemporaneously watched it, and was pleasantly surprised to find a college friend guest-starring in a BSG episode.  Carl Lumbly played troubled Lt. Danny "Bulldog" Novacek in a 2006 installment.  Carl and I were resident assistants in the same dorm our last year at Macalester, and 4 of us lived together in an apartment the summer of 1974.  At Macalester he was quite fond of the Steely Dan song "Midnight Cruiser" and would leave notes on my dorm room door for my roommate, Margaret, and I signed "MC."  I have usually discovered Carl by accident in roles in West Wing, LA Law and the movie, Brother from Another Planet, as well as Buckaroo Bonzai. 

Last night I tried to tell Admiral Adama, by way of introduction, that I knew Carl, but my voice is again not so good, the room was huge and noisy and when I thought about it afterward, I was embarrassed by my "star struck-ness" because even if he had heard me, he probably would not have recalled Carl from just one episode.  Olmos was incredibly patient with the long lines of people who wanted to shake his hand, get his autograph and pose with him.  I was very impressed with the kindness shown to all by the BSG celebrities who attended.  And for those cynics of you out there, it really did not seem too much like a re-enactment of Galaxy Quest, although earlier at dinner we all chanted, "By Grapthor's Hammer!"

So Say We All!!

Second story:

This year I put on reserve all the books that were nominated for the National Book award, in an effort to broaden my horizons beyond simply reading science fiction.  The first book the library had available for me was So Much for That by Lionel Shriver. My book group read We Need to Talk about Kevin  and we had a huge impassioned discussion about that book.  I opened it up on the bus ride home from work the day I got it, and I thought, "Uh oh, this might be a problem."  The story deals with a guy who devoted his life to saving money, so he could retire to a tropical paradise, but  the moment he plans to take off, with or without his wife, she is diagnosed with mesothelioma.  So.  I decided to do the patented Regina speed read in order to blow by the bad parts.  Turns out that was not really possible with this book.  But funny thing was I ended up really enjoying it, despite the bad things that predictably and unpredictably happen and for all the good things too.  I ended up highly recommending it on my Goodreads site.

Towards the end of the book I found a typo.  Actually it was the use of a homonym and it caused my latent copy editor personality developed during two years at the Mac Weekly, to rear her head.  "Hued" was used when the word should have been "hewed."  So, for the first time in my life, I went back to the acknowledgments, found the editor, and then googled her name with that of the publisher and located her email address.  I sent the editor an email lightly griping about the incorrect word usage, and was shocked to receive a reply back that same day, thanking me for discovering it and letting her know.  She said it will be corrected in the paperback edition.  But an even greater thrill was that the next day, Lionel Shriver emailed and thanked me as well!  I can tell you that my day was made. How very gracious!

Of course, this means that I have now just made myself open to correction for all misspellings and incorrect word usages made on my blog.  For that, all I can say is take it up with my editor!  I hope I don't hear from these guys! Hat tip to Jolene.

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