Thursday, April 21, 2011

No. I will not write a diet book. But this worked for me...

I stood on the scales this morning, and saw numbers I've not seen for about 20 years. I'm now about 25-30lbs lighter than I was when I started. I saw Lorraine's trainer yesterday afternoon to get a new weights routine for home and on the road, and realised that I now have muscles that I haven't had since I was 22 and working on a building site. And I thought, really, audiobooks do not get enough credit for being wonderful things.

It sort of started back in January, when I saw the photos from Sydney Opera House, and I noticed something that I'd noticed from the other side, which was that I seemed to have developed a prosperous middle aged belly. My lovely Oscars waistcoat that Kambriel made me was straining to keep it in...

Author in January with straining waistcoat and glorious wife.

And I didn't really like that. I didn't like that I was starting to feel, well, my age. Authoring is a sedentary profession, and I was feeling pretty sedentary. (And, according to the New York Times, sedentary may be lethal.)

When I got back to the US I talked to Amanda's best friend Anthony about it, and about wanting to get myself into shape for the next thirty years, and he suggested a book he'd found really useful called Younger Next Year, which I ordered and read with interest. I liked the book, and thought, I ought to put this into practice.

It said, among other sensible things, that I should exercise for 40 minutes a day, getting my heart rate up. And I should do weights...

And I thought, But Dear God I'll Be So Bored.

And that was when I had one of those ideas that ought to come with floating lightbulbs. I thought, Bleak House. A book I loved, but had never finished, due to always leaving it places.

I've been chatting to the people about a mysterious thing I'll announce soon, and Don Katz from Audible had shown me the Audible app and mentioned that I could now use my Amazon account to log in and buy books on Audible. So I downloaded the Audible app to my phone and to my iPod touch. I listened to samples of a dozen Bleak Houses, then plumped for the top-rated, which sounded excellent. And from that point on, most days, I did 40 minutes a day of Bleak House. And if I couldn't do 40 minutes I'd do half an hour, or 20 minutes. I'd exercise, and I'd lose myself in Dickens, and the time would fly by.

It's a glorious book, and perfect for an audio book -- Hugh Dickson narrates it with skill and deftness, managing the varying voices of the enormous cast with ease and accuracy, coping with the two narrators (Miss Esther Summerson and a mysterious, all-seeing present tense narrative voice) into the bargain. A landscape I could get lost in, aided by the Audible software that always kept track of where in the book I was (I did not trust it at first, and would bookmark at the end of every session, but slowly learned to trust it). (This is a link to the Hugh Dickson reading of Bleak House. I do not guarantee that you will lose 25lbs, but it is an excellent book for all that. It has Fog and Spontaneous Human Combustion and Death and Mysteries, and one carefully slipped-in joke about breasts.)

As for what book I'm going to do next (and what you lot suggested), you'll have to wait until the next blog entry to find out.

Significantly healthier Author at the weekend at Patriots' Day Post British Are Coming 6:30 Am Post-Ninja-Gig Pancake Breakfast with Wife. She has her own tricorn hat.

To learn why Amanda was wearing a tricorn hat, what happened on Patriots' Day, and about the performance of Columbinus the night before, and why it was sad that the High School Drama wasn't on the stage of Lexington High School, read Amanda's blog at

(And yes, I felt uncomfortable on the Patriots' Day morning, as the British marched in, but I stopped feeling uncomfortable the moment it occurred to me that they were all British back then, after all. Some of them just lived in America.)

On Monday Night I came home.

To learn about what happened on Tuesday, when both the snow and the Russian Bees who needed hiving arrived at the same time, you should read Sharon Stiteler's blog at I got stung twice (mostly I think because the bees were cold and landed on me for warmth, and my hands were too cold to feel them, so I'd move and they'd be crushed) but simply put on gloves and carried on, and the stings were both gone later than afternoon, which may mean that Russian stings are not as painful as Italian stings.

This image of me pouring bees is stolen from Sharon's blog too.

More bees arrive on Sunday -- Italians (Minnesota Hygenic) and Carniolans.


Right. Time to close some tabs:

Here's Bizarre Magazine on the House on the Rock AMERICAN GODS party last Halloween. Fun interview with some wonderful photographs.

There's a fascinating NPR Book Club over at Monkey See, where they're discussing Sandman: Dream Country, starting with "Calliope".

I was thrilled that STORIES, the anthology I co-edited with Al Sarrantonio, is nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award, and equally as thrilled to learn that "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains" is nominated as Best Novelette.

And now I shall go to work. Well, I will still be here. I will just type something else.

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