Thursday, May 27, 2010

One Million Gribbits

It's been a while since I had a good Thursday News of the Absurd Will Someone Please Write This Book Inspirational Moment, (ThNoftheAWSPWTBIM). I couldn't pass this one up.

From the New York Times via AP:

Flood of Frogs Shuts Down Major Greek Highway

Apparently, Greek officials had to shut down a major highway in the north of Greece this week because more than a million frogs were hopping in the street.

First, the best thing about this article is that the author clearly had a field day with the words "large group" and

Officials said the frogs had probably left a nearby lake in search of food. Yeah, right. All more than a million of them. At once. And they decided tarmac was their best bet.

Obviously, there are two more plausible explanations:

1. Comic dark magic. Because if it were real dark magic, the frogs would be dead or headless or something. I might love a book written from the frogs' point of view. I mean, nobody ever considers how frogs (or locusts, for that matter) feel about being dragged from place to place just because they're annoying and great punishment.
2. The gods are angry at the highway. Or, they are angry at young Niko, the new Chief Road Engineer, who has declared that his new highway tarmac material is "stronger than the gods" and can withstand any kind of weather. The trouble is: he's right. No matter what the gods throw at it -- rain, blizzard, lightning, locusts -- the highway stay open.

What do you think?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Did Amelia Earhart cry?

It was on this day, seventy-eight years ago, that Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She was only the second person, and the first woman, to do so.

Here is what I wonder:

Did Amelia Earhart, when the idea first struck her, think, "Oh, but that would be so much work!" and "I could never..." and "But nobody has..."?

When she sat there in Newfoundland, everything packed, about to take off, did she look out at the darkening sky and think, "What am I doing?!" Did her throat close in panic? Did she sweat?

Did she wish for a moment that she were at home with a cup of tea and a fantasy, instead of belted into a steel trap with a plan to defy logic and gravity and social convention?

Then, when gasoline leaked into her cockpit, when her plane suddenly dropped 10,000 feet, when fire shot out her exhaust pipe and the altimeter and the steering and EVERYTHING broke, did Amelia Earhart cry? Did she think, "I can't do this!" and want to curl up or collapse or call for Superman?

And if she did, if it turns out she wasn't as confident or as fearless or as much like "Amelia Earhart" as we think she was, if Amelia Earhart cried,

Then what does that say to the rest of us?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Your Personal Trainer

So, I'm training for this marathon. Thor bought me this chip that you tie to your shoe. It sends messages to your iPod and computer voice comes on and tells you how far you've gone and how fast you are going: "You have been running for THREE minutes. You have gone POINT FOUR miles." It also came with this running coaching mix, complete with the voice of many-marathon-winner Alberto Salazar telling you when to speed up and when to take a break and how fabulous you are for running at all.

I love this voice. Alberto (whom I saw win the New York Marathon in the 80s, so he knows his stuff) starts with a motivational speech about getting out the door. Then he says, "Ready? Go!" and great warm up music comes on. I'm running along, and suddenly, there's Alberto telling me, "You're doing great. Now I want you to speed up. Picture your opponent running ahead of you. Ready? Sprint!" Appropriately upbeat music comes on and I sprint, encouraged by Alberto, "You are so fast!"

I want this for writing. I want a writing coaching mix. I want to put on my headphones and hear, say, Salman Rushdie: "You are going to have a great writing day. You are a brilliant and prolific writer. Ready? Open your laptop. Go!" and then hear good writing music. I type and type and on comes, "You're doing great. Only thirty minutes left. Keep writing!" When I'm done, I want him to say, "Wow. Doesn't that feel good? Take a break. Go get some coffee and I'll meet you back here in ten minutes. Don't be late!" and then play "Praise You" by Fatboy Slim, like Alberto does at the end of the sprints.

I want a chip like I have for my shoe, but for the computer, so I can press a button and hear the computer voice: "You have been writing for THIRTY-FIVE minutes. You have written ONE THOUSAND words. You have updated your status ZERO times. Good job!"

Who will write invent me this book thingamajig?