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Ayun Halliday takes the Fly Survey

DirtysugarcookiesMy neighborhood pal, goddess of the zine and superfunny international traveler and odd-jobber Ayun Halliday is here to take the FLY SURVEY -- promoting her new book, DIRTY SUGAR COOKIES.

The promo copy:
How does a picky eater morph into a low-budget epicure whose digestive indiscretions are a matter of public record?
Just how far can a pregnant woman stray from the Best Odds Diet until a food-borne bacterial infection lands her in the hospital?
Can a serial monogamist really keep track of every post-coital breakfast she's ever enjoyed?
An omnivorous, rollicking chronicle of culinary awakening, Dirty Sugar Cookies is an oil-splattered, accidentally-dropped-on-the-floor, self-mocking love letter to everything Ayun Halliday has ever eaten — and a few of the things she wishes she hadn't.

I read Ayun's food blog, also of the same title, and if you have ever cooked for children, wished you could make your own Thai Food, cooked in a kitchen the size of your elbow, or wished those cookbook authors didn't always seem to have everything so clean and neat and perfect, the blog is for you, baby. (It's syndicated on LJ here)

Anyway, Ayun is the author of The Big Rumpus (gut-busting East Village motherhood), No Touch Monkey (travels abroad with...well, some monkeys) and Job Hopper (in which she recounts every sucky sucky job she ever had as a struggling actor.) Her books are so so funny, people.
If you're a teenager, No Touch Monkey is the one to start with. If you're another kind of human, Dirty Sugar Cookies.

Here is a preview: "Just a Slice" in which she explains how she became, sort of, a pescatarian.

questions by E. Lockhart
answers by Ayun Halliday

(editorial note: there is a so-called dirty word at the bottom, for those of you who like to keep it clean)

1)    If you could be a fly on the wall somewhere, anywhere – where?
The Doyers Restaurant in Chinatown. Man, I would eat me up so much shrimp paste grilled on sugar cane...I'd be the fattest fly in New York!

2)    If you could have one superpower, what?
The ability to crush walnuts with my powerful rectus abdominus despite my superhuman intake of beer and chocolate chips.

3)    What is your superhero name?
The Delusion.

4)    Who is your favorite superhero?
The Shoveller (left), the character played by William Macy in Mystery Men. I admired his moral rectitude, his totally lame-ass "superpower" (shoveling), his devotion to his family, and the fact that his interracial marriage was presented as something so normal, there was no need to draw attention to that aspect of it.

5)    Favorite non-super hero?
Jan Demczur, a Polish window cleaner who worked in the World Trade Center and used his squeegee to cut through a layer of drywall on September 11, 2001, freeing himself and five other men from the elevator in which they'd been trapped.

6)    Recommend us a superhero movie.
The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys. Jodi Foster in a nun's habit is the supervillain of the animated segments. Don't watch it if you've got a cougar phobia, though. I'm just saying...

7)    If you could turn in to any animal, what? Why?
A cougar! I could have gotten my SAG card!

8) Do you (or have you ever) read comic books? What?
Oh mercy, yes and it just gets worse as I get older. What started as an affection for underground comix like Love & Rockets, Hate, and Weirdo has deteriorated into an obsession with the oeuvre of James Kochalka, most notably Superfuckers, a series about these foul-mouthed teen superheroes who all live together in this retro space age secret hideout.I was reading it during my kids' swimming lesson a couple of months ago, and this Carribbean Nanny who'd been peeking over my shoulder started chuckling, "Ooh, Mommy, dot book's got some "words"." A few weeks later, I bought another copy to give to her. Maybe my superhero name should be The Helper...or, alternatively, Bad Judgment.

Deborah Le Blanc takes the fly survey

Deborah LeBlanc, on the GCC with me, writes supernatural thrillers with a cult following. She wrote Family Inheritance and Grave Intent -- and her new book, A HOUSE DIVIDED, is even scarier! If you want proof, watch the trailer.

The plot: Keith Lafleur thinks he's cut the deal of a lifetime. The huge old, two-story house is his for the taking as long as he can move it to a new location. It's too big to move as is, but Lafleur's solution is simple: cut it in half. He has no idea, though, that by splitting the house he'll be dividing a family, a family long dead, a family that still exists in the house . . .
Deborah is a licensed death scene investigator and an active member of two national paranormal investigation teams -- so she knows what she's writing about. And she took the Fly survey!

The Fly on the Wall Survey
questions by E. Lockhart, answers by Deborah LeBlanc

1) If you could be a fly on the wall somewhere, anywhere – where?
I would want to be a fly on the wall in Oval Office the eve of the upcoming presidential election!

2) If you could have one superpower, what?
It would want the ability to turn back time and right wrongs and atrocities before they’re ever committed.

3) What is your superhero name? Why?
Hmm, probably The Time-inator? Duh, ‘cause it fits the superpower. J

4) Who is your favorite superhero?
Superman, hands down. He’s got the six-pack abs, mega pecs and biceps, and he flies for heaven’s sake! What more could a woman want? J

5) Favorite non-super hero?
These are going to sound dorky, (as do the rest of my answers!) but my favorite non-super heros are—well, were—Pope John Paul II and Mother Theresa.

6) Recommend us a superhero movie.
Sadly, there aren’t any good, recent superhero movies I would recommend.

7)If you could turn in to any animal, what? Why?
It would be a wolf. They’re loyal to and protective of their own, unpredictable, and masters of survival.

8) Do you (or have you ever) read comic books? What? When?
I read comic books all the time when I was a kid. Mostly Superman, Spiderman, and the Archie comics.

P.S. Deborah's blog is here!

La Rochelle

So, I'm a little late in posting this, but David LaRochelle's novel Absolutely Positively Not, which won the Sid Fleishman humor award for best funny book of the year, is at the center of a little controversy.

When LaRochelle attended a a Young Authors Conference held at Northland Community and
Technical College in Thief River Falls, Minn., he was asked not to bring Absolutely Positively Not because it wasn't appropriate for 5th-8th graders - DESPITE there being older YA titles for sale at the same event. LaRochelle's book is about a young man humorously struggling with his sexual identity, and it contains nothing graphic.

Author John Coy, the keynote speaker at the conference, dropped his prepared speech and spoke out against the repression of LaRochelle's novel.

The furor had some positive results: Absolutely, Positively Notdid get showcased alongwith all the other books in the Twin Cities Young Writers Conference, held at Bethel University -- though it had been kept out of that event last year.

So -- an inspiring situation in which Coy's outspokenness (is that a word? sorry) led to people talking about it, which led to a CHANGE. WOoohoooo!

All my info from Publishers Weekly, though I'm not quoting them or anything.

For more on the subject of book censorship in its various forms, especially as it pertains to books for teenagers, visit: AS IF!

The Shophound

Okay, this has nothing to do with YA literature, but I love The Shophound with quite a passion.

What is The Shophound? A blog that tells you everything about high-end shopping in the big apple, with snark, smarts and an inside-scoop.

Who is The Shophound? He prefers to be mysterious. But he is vair vair amusing, people.

If you want a sampling of Mr. Shophound at his best, read his analysis of the new Abercrombie store in NYC midtown.


I may be addicted to these things.

Oh, Lara Zeises, you made me do it!
I am procrastinating.


1. You have $10 and need to buy snacks at a gas station, what do you get?

Fig Newtons. Two diet ginger-ales. One water. Trident gum. Cheese Nips. You get your savory, your sweet, your hydration, and your fresh breath!

2. If you had to be reincarnated as some sort of sea dwelling creature, what would you be?


3. Who's your favorite Redhead?

Gwen Verdon.

4. What do you order when you're at an IHOP?

Last time I was in an IHOP was in Orlando Florida, during a time I was researching amusement parks.
(Teaser: this Floridian research will finally come to use in a new top-secret project!)
I ordered silver-dollar pancakes and tried all the flavors of syrup. Really I'm a pure maple syrup kind of lady.

5. Last book you read?

TTFN by Lauren Myracle. It's even better than TTYL.
But then, if you're reading this, no doubt you already knew that.

6. Have you made out with anyone on your friends list?

What? Ag. No.

7. Describe your favorite pair of underwear.

I will instead wax enthusiastic about my favorite (but also very expensive) BRA.
I got four of them at Her Room (after test-driving the first) and the site claimed it was one of "Oprah's Picks."
I figured, well, Oprah and I aren't in sync on a lot of subjects, but hey – the woman is stacked, and she knows what to do with the boobies because they always look good.
It's a Wacoal Seamless Minimizer. And if you have some stuff up top, and you haven't died from boredom reading this far, I think you will thank me later.

8. Describe the last time you were injured.

I burned my thumb pretty badly on a pot of hot milk and had to keep ice on it all day. It was very weird because it didn't blister until a week later. I was a big baby about it.

9. Of all your friends, with whom would you want to be stuck in the middle of a jungle?

My friends are usually highly amusing and often unreliable.
They are also mainly New Yorkers.
Unless it's the urban jungle, I might prefer to be alone.

10. Are there any odd things that make you feel uncomfortable?

I don't like talking to strangers on the telephone.

11. Are there any weird things that turn you on?

I don't define my own (or other people's preferences) as weird. It's all good, baby.

12. What is the wallpaper on your cell phone?

I don't own a cell phone.

13. Soda?

Diet ginger-ale and diet root beer.
I am not on a diet.
I just trained myself to drink diet drinks when I was in high school and now I don't like the sugar ones.

14. Flavor of pudding?

Sometimes I make chocolate pudding from scratch, which is awesome. It's the recipe from Sheila Lukins' USA cookbook. But the pre-packaged ones taste fake to me.

15. What type of shirt are you wearing?

Pink cotton camisole.

16. Prescription medication?


17. If you could use only one form of transportation for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I dislike most forms of transportation. I like to walk. If forced to choose: train.

18. How many people on your LJ friendslist do you know in real life?



Absolutely. (What???)

20. What are you listening to right now?


21. Most recent movie you've watched in a theater?

I went to RipFest.

22. If you could invent one thing, what would it be?

A really satisfying meat substitute – one that would change worldwide agriculture and industrialized farming and push us towards a more sustainable and more humane way of life.

23. Name a teacher you had the hots for?

I never have crushes on people who have authority over me.

24. What's your favorite town?


25. Favorite kind of cake?

The chocolate cake with coconut frosting from Downtown Atlantic.

26. What's the first word that comes to mind right now?



I couldn't hear you.

28. Who got you to join LJ?

Lara Zeises.
Well, I'm not REALLY on LJ, but I have a friends list. She didn't invite me, or anything.
I just copied her.

29. What did you have for dinner LAST NIGHT?

Thai food.


The missing questions are annoying.

31. What's the last thing you said out loud?

Something about Pippi Longstocking. Don't ask.


Sorry again, missing question. I am too lazy to delete and renumber.

33. Look to your left, what do you see?

Spray bottle of lavender scent.

34. Who is the last person who spent $100 on you?

My love. Bought me a gorgeous cream-colored wool blanket.

35. Go into your text message log on your phone ... the last text you received?

No cell phone.

36. What's the last piece of clothing you bought?

A faux pashmina to wear at BEA parties so I wouldn't be cold. Bought it in the train station. It's black.
I don't know what makes it faux or real pashmina.
It could be real pashmina.
I just thought pashminas cost like $300 and this one was $30.
Maybe they're just cheaper now cuz they're out of fashion. But I like mine anyway.

37. If you could be alone with anyone right now who would it be?

I miss my friend Polly.

38. What do you look for physically in a partner?

Done looking.

39. What's the saddest thing that's happened to you?

I have some people in my life who are ill.

40. What is your motto in life?

I have a stickie on my computer that reads: "What would you do, if you were not afraid?"

Lulu Dark

Lulu Dark, heroine of the girlie mystery Lulu Dark Can See Through Walls, is back with a new title -- Summer of the Fox.

Typical Lulu: "It's one thing to threaten me with a loaded gun. It's another to be condescending."

I love this heroine. She is fashion-forward and snappy and can solve a mean mystery. Nearly every sentence is highly entertaining.

In LULU DARK AND THE SUMMER OF THE FOX, Lulu's aging celebrity mom disappears -- and in among her things, Lulu finds a note from a mysterious figure known only as The Fox. Lulu must cross paths with a teen screen queen, a dodgy director, and a fleet of muscle-bound maids before she finds her mom and uncovers The Fox’s true identity.

The books are by the lovely and talented Bennett Madison, who is also an amazingly amusing blogger. Snark and good commentary, always a laugh.

And if you want the new one, you need to go to your local independent bookstore or buy it online. It won't be available at the chains until it's a paperback!

June 8, Not Your Mother's Bookclub

A Reminder post. Otherwise known as a repeat.


Hello people in the San Francisco area!
I am going to be at the fantastic Not Your Mother's Bookclub on June 8, 2006
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan!

all three of us
7 pm
Books Inc.
Laurel Village
3515 California Street
San Francisco
phone: 415-221-3666

The event is free and open to the public.

If you don't know Cohn and Levithan, you should! Together they co-authored Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Individually, Cohn wrote Gingerbread and Shrimp, and Levithan Boy Meets Boy, Are We There Yet?, Marly's Ghost and others.

Here's the poster. (There's one all about them, too. This is the one all about me.)