This Is England!

During my daily blog perusing I came across this blog entry by a lovely YA author named Annie Cardi. Her blog post got me thinking about how much I love the UK. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite places in the entire world. Like the rest of Europe there is an absolute ton of sweet history, but it’s even better than the Continent because they all speak English. And with the tidiest accents. Hooray for lack of language barriers!

Here’s a few awesome things I love about England:

  1. Original YA material — C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are the two guys who inspired loads of YA authors to read, and ultimately write. No big deal though.
  2. Their obsession with tea — Seriously, why haven’t we picked up the whole “tea time” thing?
  3. Some of my fav YA books are by Brits — Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, Lord of the Flies, Chronicles Narnia, LOTR, and the Bartimaeus Trilogy to name a few.
  4. British accents — I cannot get enough of the way those folks talk. It makes everything sound better.
  5. The Embassy of Texas — You’re in the middle of London and you see a massive Texas flag hanging over a door. You’re curious, so you walk in and find one of the weirdest things ever: a Texas-style sports bar, the walls plastered with the jerseys of every Texas college football team. What’s more, all the servers talk with fake American accents to make it more Texasy. The even serve pecan pie, albeit with chocolate sauce on it.
  6. Marks and Spencer — My wife and I explore grocery stores wherever we go and this ranks on the top of the list. (The Japanese version of AM/PM is at a close second.)
  7. Availability of curried foods — Who doesn’t like curry? Riddle me that.
  8. The voice on the Underground that says, “Mind the gap.” — The first time I heard that I couldn’t stop laughing. People probably thought I was a weirdo.
  9. Cultural awesomeness — London is packed with museums that display just about everything you could imagine. One of my coolest experiences was our visit to the National Portrait Gallery where we saw the tinsiest portrait ever of Jane Austen.
  10. Having family in the UK — I’ve got loads of relatives living in Ipswich which means that I have a reason to go back!

Have you been to England? If so, what are your fav things to do or see?


Space: The Silent Killer (Even if You’re Screaming)

All the hype around Beth Revis’s new book A Million Suns has got me thinking about more than just romantic space travels. See, I was reading Reddit the other day (don’t judge me, please!) and one Redditor posted a question about whether or not people would be willing to volunteer for a generational space flight to colonize a new planet. (For you n00bs who don’t know what a generational ship is all about, click here.)

My first response to the question would be, “NO EFFING WAY.” See, I’m not too keen on the idea of living out my days on a airtight tomb even if I would be remembered for all time as the awesome guy who volunteered to die in a box. Maybe that makes me a l4m3-o, but the thought of my descendants getting the sweet payoff for all my hard work really burns my cakes. I’m down for colonizing other planets, but not only if it means I get to be the one who sees Earth 2.

Are we there yet?

If you’ve read my blog before then you know that space terrifies me. It’s big, cold, and unable to convey the sounds waves produced by a shrieking human voice. However, I do like the idea of space travel. If someone could hook up a space ship with warp drives and replicators then I might be down for an interstellar excursion. I’d prefer there be force fields as well à la Star Trek just in case of a hull breach–you know, to keep the drafty vacuum of space from sucking my blood through my pores–but their absence wouldn’t be a total deal-breaker. Oh, and a holodeck for those moments when you get sick of contemplating your insignificance compared to the vast nothing of space. If you read Revis’s first book then you know that sort of thinking ends up in suicide by airlock.

So what would you do? Would you be the one raising your hand to go? Or would you be like me and try to dodge the get-shot-into-space bullet? Don’t be ashamed if you’re a chicken.

Actually, be a little ashamed.

[image from here]

In Japan, People Think I’m Godzilla

Have you heard the good news? I’m going to Japan!

Okay, that’s not true. I want to go to Japan really bad and I’m hoping that my wanting to go will somehow magically translate into a plane ticket and/or a pre-paid hotel reservation. See, my wife entered this contest for an all-expenses-paid trip to the Land of the Rising Sun and I really really hope we win. Granted, there’s probably like a one in a bajillion chance that we’ll actually win, but like I said, I’m hoping that the patron saint of Japanese sweepstakes winners will take special note of my wanting to go.

You might be wondering, “Why does this weirdo want to go to Japan so bad, huh?”

To which I would say, “Don’t call me a weirdo, weirdo!”

Seriously though, I want to go so bad because I know what a funtastic place it is. My wife and I went there a couple of years ago and it was fricken amazing. Besides being the tallest person in the entire country (I’m six and a half feet tall) there seemed like an endless string of things to do over there–Shibuya 109, for example. Plus, being extra tall in Japan that means I never have to wait in line with all the people running and screaming whenever I come lumbering down the street. Being green and scaly helps too, I guess.

The thing about going to a foreign country is that everything seems so exotic. Perfect example: our trip to Denny’s for pancakes. You’d think a Denny’s would be the same no matter where you’d go, right? No, sir. That place was totally bizzaro. It still had the  run-down vibe you’d get from a regular Denny’s except for that it was all futuristic looking.

Make sure to hide your sports almanac before going to Future Denny's.

I  felt like we’d stepped onto the set of Back to the Future II–like it was some 1980’s vision of what the future was supposed to look like. Our waitress–who looked like Biff, incidentally–took our order with an old-school Palm Pilot looking thing and when the food was done she brought it out on a hoverboard. Okay, that part isn’t true, but that’d be totally sweet, am I right?

On a totally non-Japanese note, I cranked out a solid 1,200 or so words on the second draft of my novel today. I finished the first chapter last night and now I’m bumbling my way into chapter numero dos.  Like I wrote in my other entries, I’m taking a totally different approach to how I roll with this deal–not plotting so much, revising a little as I go along, asking my wife for feedback–and thus far it seems to be working pretty darn well. Granted, it’s only the second chapter but I think if I stay on course like this I’ll have a much more coherent second draft to revise.

That’s it for tonight. I’m dead tired and I need to crash. I had this nasty dream last night that I broke a molar and I woke up all freaked about my teeth.

So yeah, maybe you weren’t far off the mark calling me a weirdo earlier.

[I found that picture of Future Denny’s here.]