Author: Luisa Perkins
•3:54 PM

Great news! We brought Anne home from the hospital yesterday, a week after she was born. She's breathing, eating, sleeping, and doing all else newborns are supposed to do; she's a delight.

I went into pre-term labor on May 7th (a little less than six weeks early), but my midwives admitted me to the hospital, and we were able to hold off delivery (via C-section--Anne was obstinately transverse) until May 13th, which means she was born at 35 weeks instead of the usual 38-40 weeks. Though she had some extra time inside, Anne was born with slightly premature lungs and had to be whisked away to the NICU almost immediately (though she first scored a 9/9 on her Apgar, thank you very much).

While on breathing assistance (C-PAP), Anne perforated a lung and had to be transferred to a much larger hospital for careful monitoring. Her lung healed quickly and well, and after a few days she was able to breathe room air without any help. She graduated yesterday, and we brought her home with much pomp and circumstance.

Life is now a perpetual three-hour cycle of feeding, changing pants, napping, and snuggling, leaving little time for anything extracurricular; as a result, I'll be taking a very extensive maternity leave from most things internet-related. Streamlining is the key to a peaceful life, I've found. And life, though busy, is very, very good right now.

But I couldn't leave all my contestants hanging without letting you know the results of the Luisa Trivia Quiz. Here are the correct answers, followed by the announcement of this year's winner.

1) Misspelling 'the' as 'teh' is a bit of Internet slang I like to throw around in order to feel hip and with-it. 'Teh' means 'THE' in all caps, with connotations of ultimate status. For example, "Coldplay is teh kewl" means "Coldplay is the coolest" in regular slang.

2) The correct answer is d) RFK, Jr. I love Jack Ryan and Jack Bauer, but, um, they're not real. I adore Alice Waters, but am glad she chooses to focus on what she does best: preaching the gospel of eating locally, seasonally, and well. Al Gore is my personal hero, but he's already been elected President. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., with his near-mythic pedigree, and who heads up the environmental watchdog group Riverkeeper, is my current dream candidate.

3) The best TV show of all time is Firefly.

4) Four of my six brothers have the middle name 'Michael.' The fifth has it for a first name.

5) Scott Card would probably have a conniption if he ever read this, but I think he peaked early with his second novel, Treason, published way back in 1978. It's tightly and imaginatively plotted, with none of the philosophizing in which he tends to indulge. It's a fabulous read; I highly recommend it.

6) Anyone who made reference to Simon & Garfunkel's 1967 hit "Mrs. Robinson" (or to Paul Simon or Art Garfunkel) scored a point.

7) The name of our band was Tetra Ruby, and we rocked it, baby, covering songs by everyone from The Cocteau Twins to Erasure to Nancy Sinatra. I'll give anyone who mentioned 'Tetra' a half point.

8) Styrofoam is evil, but functional. PowerPoint is pure evil with no redemptive features whatsoever. If someone made a PowerPoint presentation that featured clowns and lifelike baby dolls, I would take it as a certain sign of the impending Apocalypse.

9) "I am the son and the heir."

10) Morrissey is making reference to a line from George Eliot's Middlemarch, "To be born the son of a Middlemarch manufacturer, and inevitable heir to nothing in particular."

11) The correct answer is d) "Don't Fear the Reaper." I never get tired of watching this sketch; Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken slay me.

12) "Manuela Run," from Toto's first album, is by far my favorite Toto song. It was never a hit, never even a B-side. But it's pure pop greatness.

13) Part of Rattle and Hum (a) was filmed at a concert at ASU in 1987; I was there. It was great, but U2 was way better when I saw them on their War tour at the Cow Palace circa 1983.

14) The real question is: why does anyone use straight needles? Circulars work great for knitting in the round OR knitting back and forth. When you use circulars, the weight of the work stays in your lap, instead of hanging off the end of the needle, as with straights. You can also use two circulars whenever double-pointed needles are called for. And you don't have to use your forearms as much, so knitting in tight quarters--on the subway or the bus, or on the couch surrounded by your kids--is much easier. Getting off my obscure soapbox now.

15) The correct answer is b); Daniel's middle name is 'Jude.'

16) I know where to find Noggin and The Weather Channel. The rest of cableland? It is a puzzlement, but I'm never in charge of the clicker, anyway. Newsflash: as of this week, I now know which channel is Sports NY.

17) Robert Redford is a beautiful man. I love Keanu despite his many shortcomings as an actor. Dennis Quaid is hotter than July as the dad who makes it to The Show in The Rookie. Denzel makes me cry each and every time I watch the Titans in action. But it is 'Marky' Mark Wahlberg (e) as the indomitable Vince Papale who rocks my sports fantasy world--yes, even with those plaid pants he wears at the beginning of the movie. Maybe I'll pop in Invincible later tonight....

18) The correct answer is c) Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel; all the rest allude to John Bunyan's classic in some way. Read Pilgrim's Progress! It's fantastic, and it's a cornerstone of Western cultural literacy. Once you read it, you'll see references to it everywhere.

19) The correct answer is c) an Old Timer with Cheese (medium rare, if I can get them to agree to that), with nothing on it but mayonnaise and mustard, and a Chocolate Shake. Ketchup comes on the side, and I dip the burger in it as I go. Now my mouth is watering.

20) Sally in When Harry Met Sally has very specific requirements when it comes to menu choices. And why shouldn't she? If you are going to pay someone else to prepare food for you, shouldn't you be able to get it exactly the way you want it? Well? I rest my case.


1 point: Mary-Laure, Millie, Dawn, SidneyMin, and Adriana
3 points: Poodlegoose
4.5 points: Melissa and Radioactive Jam (1 extra point given to RaJ for high entertainment value of answers)
5 points: Brillig (gets extra credit for submitting her comment a second time after Blogger ate the first one)
6 points: Pezmama, Artemis, and Goofball
7 points: Charrette
9.5 points: Ronnie (emailed his fabulous answers)
10 points: Annette and Jenna

And the winner, at 11.5 points, is Anjmae, who also emailed her answers. Anj, I'll give you your prize when you get here! Thanks to all who played; reading your responses helped keep my spirits up during my nine-day hospital stay.

I don't know when I'll be back, but I'll be in touch. Love to you all!
Author: Luisa Perkins
•9:32 PM
If this post is up, it means I'm off having the baby. Woo-hoo! Let's hear it for that whirlpool tub in the labor room.

To keep busy while I'm gone, try your hand at the latest version of Luisa Trivia (just for extra entertainment, last year's quiz is here). The commenter with the most correct answers will receive a fabulous goodie box from me, which is already packaged up and ready for Patrick to pop in the mail once you supply your address to me via email.

NO online cheating is allowed: no surreptitious use of Teh Google, Teh Wikipedia, Teh YouTube, or Teh iTunes.

And believe me: if you cheat, I WILL KNOW.

1) Luisa is a fanatic about correct spelling, grammar, and usage. Why does she use the intentional misspelling "teh" in the rules above?

2) If Luisa believed in throwing away her vote, which of the following great Americans would she be most likely to write in as a candidate this November?

a) Jack Bauer

b) Jack Ryan
c) Alice Waters

d) Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
e) Al Gore

3) In Luisa's opinion, what is the best TV show of all time?

4) Four of Luisa's six brothers have the same middle name. What is it?

5) Orson Scott Card has written some terrific books. Which of the following of his novels is Luisa's favorite?

a) Ender's Game
b) Lost Boys
c) Treason
d) Seventh Son

6) Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?

7) When Luisa was in college, she sang in a band. What was its name? (Hint: it is also the name of a popular fish food.)

8) Which does Luisa hate more: PowerPoint presentations or styrofoam?

9) In the Smiths' hit "How Soon is Now," does Morrissey sing "I am the sun and the air," or "I am the son and the heir?"

10) The line in the previous question refers to a passage in which great Victorian novel (that happens to be one of Luisa's favorites)?

11) Which song is featured in Luisa's favorite Saturday Night Live sketch, "More Cowbell?"

a) Loverboy's "Everybody's Working for the Weekend"
b) Santana's "Black Magic Woman"
c) Bachman Turner Overdrive's "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet"
d) Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper"

12) In Luisa's opinion, the very best Toto song is:

a) Manuela Run
b) Africa
c) Rosanna
d) No Toto song at all

13) Luisa was present at the filming of part of which great rock concert video?

a) U2's Rattle and Hum
b) Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same
c) The Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense
d) Pink Floyd's The Wall

14) Why knit with circulars?

15) Which of the following (all, coincidentally, to be found in Beatles songs) was NOT vetoed by Patrick in baby name negotiations of years past? (Think middle names, people.)

a) Eleanor
b) Jude
c) Martha
d) Prudence

16) Luisa has only two cable channel numbers memorized. To which two stations do they correspond?

a) Sports New York
b) Noggin
c) The Weather Channel
d) The Food Network
e) Turner Classic Movies
f) VH-1

17) Luisa is a sucker for a great sports movie. Which one of the following dreamy underdogs does she love best?

a) Robert Redford in The Natural
b) Keanu Reeves in The Replacements
c) Dennis Quaid in The Rookie
d) Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans
e) Mark Wahlberg in Invincible

18) Which of the following does NOT make reference to Luisa's favorite book, John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress?

a) Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray
b) Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
c) Look Homeward, Angel, by Thomas Wolfe
d) Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
e) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, by Alan Moore

19) Every time she has gone to Chili's in the past twenty years, Luisa has ordered precisely the same thing. Which is it?

a) Baby Back Ribs with Ranch Dressing on the side and a Sprite with no ice
b) Mushroom Jack Chicken Fajitas (hold every single bell pepper) and a virgin PiƱa Colada
c) Old Timer Cheeseburger (with mustard and mayonnaise only) and a Chocolate Shake
d) An Awesome Blossom (with ketchup instead of the regular sauce) and an ice water with lemon slices

20) Because Luisa is so particular when ordering at restaurants, Patrick lovingly likens her to which of the following quirky movie characters?

a) Amanda in Adam's Rib
b) Jo in Funny Face
c) Judy in What's Up, Doc?
d) Sally in When Harry Met Sally
e) Annie in Annie Hall

Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:18 AM

I've been pondering all things meta this week.

Well, not all things. But definitely many things meta-related-to-the-arts.

I've been playing a game inside my head as I've done the dishes or driven people to sports practices or tried to get back to sleep in the middle of the night after going to the bathroom for the fourteenth time.

(It's just one of the many crazy games I play all alone in this head o' mine, another being "List all the adjectives with the suffix '-id.'")

The game is this: list all the films about film. Now all the songs about songs. Now all the poems about poetry. Now all the theater about theater. And now (my favorite part) all the fiction about fiction.*

Ready? Go.

Films About Film
(or TV About TV)

The Player
Singin' in the Rain
The Truman Show
30 Rock
Studio 60
The Simpsons
Stranger than Fiction
(borderline: a film about fiction writing)

Songs About Songs, Singers, and/or Singing

"Hey, Mister Tambourine Man" (The Byrds)
"Thank You for the Music" (ABBA)
"Sing a Song" (Earth, Wind, and Fire)
"I Write the Songs" (Barry Manilow)
"If Music Be the Food of Love" (Shakespeare/Purcell)
"Piano Man" (Billy Joel)
"Rock and Roll Band" (Boston)
"Killing Me Softly" (Roberta Flack)
"The Day the Music Died" (Don McLean)
"This is Not a Love Song" (Public Image, Ltd.)

Poems About Poetry

"Essay on Criticism" (Alexander Pope)
"Don Juan" (parts of it; Lord Byron)
"Ars Poetica" (Archibald MacLeish)
"The Uses of Poetry" (William Carlos Williams)
"There is no frigate like a book" (Emily Dickinson)
"The High-Toned Old Christian Woman" (Wallace Stevens)

Theater About Theater

All That Jazz (Well, okay. It's a film about theater.)
Kiss Me, Kate
The Taming of the Shrew
The Producers
A Chorus Line
42nd Street
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Picasso at the Lapin Agile
The Mousetrap

Fiction About Fiction (and this would be my wheelhouse, people)

The Princess Bride (William Goldman)
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (Susanna Clarke)
Little, Big (John Crowley)
Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer)
The Decameron (Giovanni Boccaccio)
Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes)
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler (Italo Calvino)
Anything written by Jasper Fforde
The Neverending Story (Michael Ende)
English Music (Peter Ackroyd)
The Thirteenth Tale (Diane Setterfield)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
An awful lot of Kurt Vonnegut
And a whole bunch of that Pratchett genius
Leaf by Niggle (J.R.R. Tolkien)
A Series of Unfortunate Events (Lemony Snicket)
Atonement (Ian MacEwan)
The Dark Tower, etc. (Stephen King)
Possession (A.S. Byatt)
The Book of Three (Lloyd Alexander)
A Princess of Roumania, etc. (Paul Park)

What about you? Can you add to the lists?

*LDS readers, here's a fun study topic: revelation about revelation. And extra credit: revelation about Revelation.
Author: Luisa Perkins
•10:02 AM
My apologies, Soap Opera Sunday fans: this weekend was too hectic for me to write the thrilling conclusion of "The Princess and the Pauper." I'll do my best to get it posted in time for Mother's Day.

My new blogpal Paul tagged me for a meme last week, and I promised I'd play. I've participated in many memes in the past several months; I just went through my entire "Dancing With Myself" tag file to refresh my memory as to what I've already revealed in this setting. The result is that I'm a little discouraged. I'm not sure what else I can disclose that will be the slightest bit interesting and fresh. But here's my best shot.

1) I have a phobia of spiders; here's how it came about. When I was eight, we lived in an old house on a really cool piece of property. In the bedroom I shared with my sisters, there were French doors to the outside, but the doors were so completely covered with thick ivy that they couldn't be opened.

Our bunk bed was up against the doors, so I could see through the glass panes as I lay in bed. Guess what liked to nest in that dense foliage? Many, many black widow spiders. So I'd lie in bed, terrified to look at the poisonous little things hanging just a few inches from my nose, but more terrified NOT to look at them. Because what if one somehow got in through a crack while I wasn't looking? Gah.

2) If I went to live on a desert island and could only take one cosmetic with me, I would choose brown eyeliner. This is assuming that lip balm would be considered not a cosmetic, but an essential, life- and sanity-saving substance. If forced to choose between eyeliner and lip balm, I would pick lip balm every time.

3) When I was 18, I stayed up all night one night reading The Clan of the Cave Bear. When dawn came and I turned the last page, I felt sick and dirty. It was the grossest book binge ever. I'm not sure why; I've read books far worse since. It was probably the 'all in one gulp' factor.

4) Two horrendously bad movies that I love are Made in Heaven, starring Timothy Hutton and Kelly McGillis, and A Time of Destiny, starring Timothy Hutton and William Hurt. Timothy made these movies back to back; it must have been a tough time for him, since the critics despised them both. But I adore them. The last time I checked, neither was available on DVD, but I still hold out hope.

5) I once saw Timothy Hutton in real life (he lives not too far away from us). He was at The Red Rooster buying his son an ice cream cone.

6) I've never eaten a Cheeto. But I'd be willing to try one if Jenna were willing to try escargots, foie gras, or frog's legs. Yeah: it's never gonna happen.

7) I feel as big as a house right now. And not your average Cape Cod or bungalow. No. I feel like a super-duper McMansion on a postage-stamp-sized lot, the kind you see in places like Rancho Cordova, Sandy, or Schaumburg. My only comfort that in four to six weeks, I'll lose at least ten pounds or so through a Miracle Diet I've used several times before. And what a miracle it will be; can't wait to see you, Baby Girla.

Thanks for the tag, Paul! I know many of my readers have done this meme recently, so I will tag only newbie Charrette this time around. Charrette, it's your first meme! Will you play?
Author: Luisa Perkins
•9:30 AM
If this is your first time reading a Fascista post, please read the disclaimers first.

Thanks to everyone who has written to me with requests and suggested topics. I've made a list (sorry, Brillig; no spreadsheet yet) and will address them in the future. Keep 'em coming! I love your feedback.

I'm a writer; Patrick is a lawyer. Today I take on the misusage of two words related to the professions we have chosen: 'author' and 'attorney.' Despite what you probably hear in everyday conversation, neither word can stand alone in describing what someone does for a living.

An author is someone who creates something, as in the following examples (emphasis mine):

"The author of our salvation was made perfect through suffering."

" will be necessary to provide affidavits establishing the commission of the crime and the identity of the fugitive as the author of the crime."

"As the author of Moby-Dick, quite possibly the greatest American novel, and slippery protomodern works like 'Bartleby the Scrivener,' 'Benito Cereno' and 'Billy Budd,' Melville is a towering presence."

Notice that in the preceding sentences, the word 'author' is always followed by 'of [something].' Let's say that I'm at a swanky Manhattan cocktail party, the kind where as a conversation opener, someone invariably asks, "So, what do you do?"

I would normally answer, "I'm a writer," but I could also use the words 'novelist,' 'lyricist,' 'poet,' or 'essayist,' depending on which part of my body of work I feel like highlighting. I would never say, "I'm an author," full stop/period. Never.

The word 'author' demands a modifying prepositional phrase describing the creation. I might say later in the conversation, "I'm the author of Shannon's Mirror," or "I'm a co-author of the essay collection Silent Notes Taken," or (let's all cross our fingers together) "I'm the author of ZF-360, a fantasy novel being published next year by [reputable publisher]."

This means that the creator of the course title of a class I took my freshman year of college, "Major British Authors Before 1800," employed incorrect usage. Why would an English professor, of all people, fall prey to such folly? I have to assume that s/he thought 'Authors' sounded somehow more weighty and important than 'Writers.' And in fact, Fowler points out that a large portion of usage errors arise from the desire to dress up language; insecurity is often the sorry parent of this desire.

People misuse the word 'attorney' for precisely this reason. 'Lawyer' has had negative connotations from at least the time of the translation of the King James Bible ("Woe unto you also, ye lawyers!"); these connotations obviously persist today ("A lawyer, a loan shark, and a garbageman are in a bar..."). But here's why 'attorney' should not be used as some kind of distancing euphemism.

Patrick went to law school, earned a Juris Doctor degree, and passed the New York State Bar to become a lawyer. But all this didn't make him an attorney.

An attorney is "a person legally appointed by another to act as his or her agent in the transaction of business." This is why when someone grants you a power of attorney (though you may not be a lawyer), you are authorized to act in behalf of that person in specific instances. In this case you would be an attorney-in-fact, as opposed to an attorney-at-law.

If Patrick has no clients, he is not anyone's attorney. Fortunately for us, he does have clients; he is Bill Brohn's attorney, for example. (Trivia: the Attorney General is the main legal adviser to the government.) So, at that same swanky cocktail party, modest, self-deprecating Patrick will declare that he is a plain, ordinary lawyer, not an attorney, and endure the inevitable jokes that ensue.

Can you think of other professions that get dressed up with fancy words to make them sound more important? Other than the two I've addressed here, I can only think of 'sanitation engineer.' Let me know.

**UPDATED** I am in no way saying that all those who use 'author' instead of 'writer' or 'attorney' instead of 'lawyer' are doing so because they are pretentious. These are common, everyday errors that the unwitting can easily pick up through linguistic 'osmosis.'