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28 June 2006

the readings of a lili

my new favourite website. it's like myspace, but for books. i am using it to keep track of all the books i have read this year. other people use it like a catalogue of their own books.

you will note the shiny new addition to the rhs bar of this blog, with five random books that i have read in 2006...

excuse me while i go and dissolve in a puddle of geeky joy...

library thing

my library thing page

25 June 2006

On romance

I've been asked quite a bit what this latest book is about. And I say, 'ohh, it's about convicts and fairytales and giant white bears'. Which perhaps is not a great way to describe it. What it really is, is a romance (that happens to involve convicts and fairytales and giant white bears'.

Romance is really, really hard. How do you say all those things that everyone in the world feels, without sounding cliched?

(it's even harder, because the Love Interest in my book is absent for pretty much everything apart from the first and last 20 pages)

So how do I do it? How do I make someone fall in love in a new and original way.

on a not entirely unrelated note, a song is currently playing on my iTunes that I think is deeply romantic in an unexpected way:
It’s the crack of noon
And I sit here watching you sleeping
I only wish that I could remember your name

I'm trying to put together a list of things that make someone love someone. Things from songs and books and films and (of course) from my own life. I won't use them all, many of them won't even belong to Thomas. But it's one of those "write 15 things down and maybe there'll be 2 good ones" things.

-his spectacles sit crooked
-he bites his nails
-he always pauses before he speaks, really thinking it through
-his arms are too long for his shirt sleeves

Any suggestions?

20 June 2006

Over boats

Right. She's off the boat. Huzzah!

So, I'm sure everyone's dying to know the result of my challenge to define some nautical terms.

colloquially known as "the heads". It's a small platform at the fore part of the upper deck, where the crew go to do their business over the water.

the two timbers rising from the keel which support the inner end of the bowsprit. They were sometimes decorated with a carving of a head.

a measurement of prescribed size. it's the collective dimensions of the various bits of the ship.

the narrowing of a ship's hull with greater distance above the water-line, ie. the beam at the uppermost deck is less than the maximum beam of the ship.

the woodwork running round the ship above the level of the deck.

Nautical Terminology #7: The bitter end

Bitter end
The end of an anchor cable is fastened to the bitts at the ship's bow. When the whole anchor cable has been payed out, you have come to the bitter end.

17 June 2006

Nautical Terminology #6: touch and go

Touch and go
The bottom of the ship touching the bottom of the ocean, but not getting stuck.

15 June 2006

Nautical Terminology #5: slush fund

This one's for anyone out there involved in the world of publishing who has had to grapple with a slush pile (either from being in it, or having to read it).

Slush fund
Slush is a greasy substance obtained by boiling or scraping the fat from empty salted meat storage barrels, or the scummy fat that floata on top of the kettle when boiling the crew's meal. Yummy. This stuff belonged to the cook, who could sell or exchange it, either to the crew, who would use it to crease parts of the ship's running rigging, or ashore. Money obtained by the cook for his slush was called a slush fund.

14 June 2006

Nautical Terminology #4: Son of a gun

Son of a gun
The space between the guns was used as a semi-private place for trysts with prostitutes and wives, which sometimes lead to pregnancies.

13 June 2006

Nautical Terminology #3: Chock-a-block

Rigging blocks that are so tight against one another that they cannot be further tightened.

12 June 2006

Nautical Terminology #2: Press Gang

This nautical term is dedicated to Snaz, for her vibrant imagination, and for getting up early on a cold wintry morning to come and walk the puppy with me.

Press Gang
When there weren't enough people in the Navy (ie. during the Napoleonic wars), the navy had to get able seamen to 'volunteer' to join. Except 'able seamen' was often defined as 'hanging about near the sea' or 'drinking at a pub near the sea', and 'volunteer' meant 'being chased by a gang of Navy people and sat on until you agreed to go on the ship'. The men who 'persuaded' the 'seamen' to 'volunteer' were called Press Gangs. (from the French prest meaning 'loan': you got an advance on your wages if you agreed to volunteer)

(a different sort of press gang)

11 June 2006

Nautical Terminology #1: Toe the Line

Did you know that dressing down, over a barrel, under the weather, three sheets to the wind and footloose are all nautical terms?* This week I'm going to geek out procrastinate explore my love of etymology.

Toe the line
At parade, sailors and soldiers were required to stand in line, their toes in line with a seam of the deck.

*not to mention cut of his jib, taken aback, square meal, rummage sale, pipe down, in the offing, know the ropes, cunt splice (yes, that was cunt splice) and pooped.

10 June 2006

Learning about boats

*note: this blog post is going to use the word "boat" instead of the word "ship", just to piss off any people who actually know about boats, who may be reading. sorry guys, i just think it's funny.

So. I need to learn about boats. Because of the Book. The main character spends about 2/3 of the book on a boat. I have written lots of the stuff on the boat, leaving out big holes. Like this:

Hannah climbed up the ladder to the ?? deck. She leaned against the ??, and stared up at the ??. The wind whistled through the ?? and made the ??s flap against the ??.

I need to learn about boats. And I've watched many episodes of Hornblower (mmm...sailory men...) and gone on a couple of replica boats, and taken photos, and watched Master & Commander (mmm... paul bettany with a cello...). But I still don't know my ?? from my ??.

I have bought a book called The 50-Gun Ship: A Complete History, by Rif Winfield. I would have rathered something designed for 12 year old boys with lots of clear labels, easy-to-understand language and cross-sections, but this will do.

And to ensure that I actually LEARN something from this book, and don't just leave it on my bookshelf looking Impressive, I am going to issue myself a challenge:

This time next week, I will tell all of my faithful readers what the following are:

scantlings (sounds like a nice title for a novel...)
tumblehome (so does that)

I encourage you, in the meantime, to come up with your own creative definitions. (no cheating and looking it up in the dictionary!)

5 reasons why i haven't blogged for a fortnight

1. sick.
2. work.
3. it's really cold, and easier to stay in bed.
4. taking rita for her First Ever Walk.
5. just plain lazy.