More About Christy Karras

Birth Control on Craigslist

I’ve been looking at Oregon Craigslist ads for inexpensive furniture for Mom’s new beach house. This ad made me laugh – and made me so glad I don’t have kids. Read on to get an idea of why I’m not interested in any of this poor woman’s furniture:

Couch – (see pictures below for texture/color)  It’s actually a lovely, muted pattern/color scheme and would match a lot of different decor. Right now it has a few minor peanut-butter-and-jelly stains that will wash out of the cushions easily. Believe me, I’ve washed them multiple times, and they’re impossible to stain. My kids have tried, and less sticks to them than to a dirty politician’s lawyer. And hello, it’s FREE.

End table – This is a wood and style that exactly match the wood of the couch, but it’s very scratched. It’s a good size, solid without being annoyingly heavy. We’ve been throwing a pretty pillowcase over the top and using it as a bedside table. It’s real wood, however, like the couch, and would look fantastic if refinished. Also, hey, FREE!

Table and 4 chairs – (You can see the color in the picture of the coffee-snatcher and the picture with the diary and the coffee–sorry I don’t have a better shot!) These are all made of a glowing honey-oak-colored wood. I don’t know what kind of wood it is, but it’s also real wood. The set is heavy, elegantly shaped, and solid, high-quality construction. Here’s the bad news: it has been heavily scratched and hole-poked with ink pens by my kids, who are…let’s see, if I say “monsters” or “destructive psychopaths” that sounds bad, right? Let’s go with “vivacious” and “artistic,” shall we? The good news is that you could easily refinish these babies or (my favorite solution) toss a tablecloth over the worst of the damage. A couple of the chairs (along with their “art” markings, courtesy the “angels”) have fractures in the backs that would be easily repaired with wood glue. Guess what? Free today with the free table and chairs: a bottle of your very own wood glue! Because I was going to get around to fixing…have I mentioned that I procrastinate at times? And that these are FREE?

VCR shelving thingy and lots of VHS tapes -  It’s actually quite good-looking and has very minimal crayon damage. If you’re very lucky, the crayon part was from the water-based washable crayons. 80% chance that’s the case. We have somewhere between 50 and 100 tapes and no, I won’t count them for you, but not because I don’t love you–because I’m lazy. We also have somewhere between 10 and 30 VHS boxes for those movies, although I don’t know if they all match up with movies we have. If you’re feeling very generous, you can take the VCR, too, but that only works about 75% of the time. 80% if you shake it really hard. Okay, not really, but it does sometimes work just to mess with my head.

Bunkbeds – These bunkbeds are white with multiple scratches in the metal frame, held together with long bolts, nuts, and washers, a few (okay, half) of which are missing. It’s actually still good-looking, but with a coat of spray paint (cheap stuff, you know), it would be stellar. The top bunk is a twin-sized bed and the bottom bunk is full-sized. It’s heavy, but a lovely shape and there’s a ladder built into the bars of each side. There are rails for both sides of the top bunk. There’s a catch with these, and that’s the mattresses. Anyone who takes the bunkbeds has to “pay” by taking the mattresses. Let’s just say there have been a few accidents and my children are still potty training. If I were you, I’d just drive those puppies right to the dump. That does cost a little bit, but still a small price to pay for a good set of bunkbeds. If you’re feeling really thrifty, you could also febreeze those suckers, cover them with those plastic mattress covers, and then throw a fluffy pillow top cover or something on top of them. Either way, if you’re willing to address the mattresses, you get the bunkbeds FREE!

Please email for more information and remember–this stuff has to go today!

Hellions.

October 10, 2010   No Comments

Radio Ladies

I had a great time on Radio West on Friday. Host Jennifer Napier-Pearce and I talked about my latest book, More than Petticoats: Remarkable Utah Women. For anyone who missed it, here’s the audio:

Click here to hear me talking about remarkable Utah women on Radio West.

The first quarter or so of it was a bit painful for me to listen to – I’d never done a remote-studio live show before, and it was strange talking to someone who wasn’t there (no, I’m not good on the phone, either). But I hit my stride and most of the “Um”s disappear about 15 minutes into it.

Thanks again to Jennifer and indomitable producer Elaine Clark for having me on the show!

May 9, 2010   No Comments

Strippin’ Down in Phoenix

Whew! I’ve been too busy with promoting my books to write anything (seriously, anything!), but I’m back…

Motorcycle Touring in the Southwest came out in late winter, so off we went to the burgeoning metropolis that is Phoenix, Arizona, for Arizona Bike Week. Thanks to the folks who came to Chandler Harley-Davidson and Changing Hands Bookstore to see us!

Christy and Steve at Changing Hands

Christy and Steve, mugging with copies of the book at Changing Hands

Steve and I were in Phoenix a couple years ago, researching Motorcycle Touring in the Southwest, but we hadn’t spent much time in the city.
I imagine there may have once been a brief time when Phoenix was nice. It may have lasted ten years, maybe even twenty – sometime after the spread of air-conditioning but before the housing bubble. These days, Phoenix is a shining example of the worst kind of sprawl – miles and miles of McMansions cloistered behind fake-adobe walls.

And the strip malls! Every business in Phoenix seems to be housed in a long stuccoed  rectangle surrounded by an enormous parking lot.  And they all look pretty much the same. Even the hospitals looked as if they should include a liquor store.

And everything is so huge! The buildings are huge; the cars are huge. The city itself is unbelievably massive. We added 100 miles to the odometer on an errand that never took us out of the city’s northeastern quadrant.

We did manage to escape to the outskirts, where beautiful desert prevails. I always loved the desert, but I think I love it more now that I spend entire winters feeling as if I will never be dry and warm again. Riding the bike in Arizona, I felt the heat flow through my jacket and onto my skin. I felt completely dry. I felt downright dessicated. And it felt good.

Changing Hands Bookstore

Even Changing Hands, Phoenix's best indie bookstore, was in a strip mall. Fortunately, the inside is pure bookstore goodness.

May 7, 2010   No Comments

My kind of criticism

Last Song movie poster

Attractive young people looking wistfully off into space. What more could you ask of a love story?

I’m inspired by a couple clever commentaries about two of today’s most popular authors. Like these critics, I don’t understand why the authors in question are so damn popular.

First, Roger Ebert (one of my favorite critics of all time, and one of the best culture writers operating today), takes on Nicholas Sparks in this review of the latest Nicholas Sparks movie.

“Sparks recently went on record as saying he is a greater novelist than Cormac McCarthy. This is true in the same sense that I am a better novelist than William Shakespeare. Sparks also said his novels are like Greek Tragedies. This may actually be true. I can’t check it out because, tragically, no really bad Greek tragedies have survived. His story here amounts to soft porn for teenage girls…. I resent the sacrilege Nicholas Sparks commits by mentioning himself in the same sentence as Cormac McCarthy. I would not even allow him to say “Hello, bookstore? This is Nicholas Sparks. Could you send over the new Cormac McCarthy novel?” He should show respect by ordering anonymously.”

I have to admit I’ve never made it through a Nicholas Sparks novel, for the same reason that I’ve never made it through a triathlon: my puking would get really old, really fast. (For the record, I’m not a big fan of Cormac McCarthy, either, but that’s a different story.)

Sparks also raised the ire of romance writers by claiming he’s not one of them. That may be true, but not in the way he thinks. Most romance novels are less predictable and better written than the schlock Sparks writes. The Seattle RWA chapter is thinking of retaliating by holding a “Write Like Sparks” contest, in the tradition of the Bulwer-Lytton contest for opening lines (a la “It was a dark and stormy night”).

Twilight movie poster

(Angst-ridden women. Unavailable men. Predictable plots. All the stuff of romance.)

NPR, another favorite source for insightful criticism, recently took on the Queen Bee of the publishing world: Stephenie Meyer, author of the “Twilight” series. On Linda Holmes’ Monkey See blog, Marc Hirsh complains:

I’m 220 pages in, and so far Bella has moved to Washington, started school, been saved from an accident, gone to the beach and gone to Seattle. How is that 200 pages of content? It would be fine if she had an interesting internal life or if Meyer were a perceptive observer (or a sharp describer). But none of these things are true. She is spinning her wheels like a car stuck in mud. (See what I just did there?)

I’m thrilled if that life is interesting enough to make for a good novel, because it describes a pretty typical week in my own existence, which until now I thought was fairly pedestrian.

Both Sparks and Meyer are worth reading for one reason: To learn how they do it. How do they get so many readers? What is it they appeal to? Is is that women have some kind of deep conviction that they don’t deserve happiness unless it comes with a lot of angst? That men have to be unavailable (emotionally, if not physically) to be desirable? That we really do like the “bad boys,” but not if they’re described vividly enough to make them seem truly bad?

I don’t know, but I do know this: I would like those readers to be my readers someday. I’m cheered by the fact that apparently, I already have one thing going for me: I’m not terrific at writing fiction.

April 1, 2010   1 Comment

A movie preview that really does reveal the whole story…

Now that you’ve got your screenplay done, here’s how you promote your film:

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March 8, 2010   No Comments

When all else fails, the Dude abides

Jeff Bridges talks about the benefits of film, music, and the Dude after winning an Academy Award for Best Actor.

March 8, 2010   No Comments

And the winner is…

Like any movie writer worth her salt, I have to weigh in on the Oscars. In the spirit of the occasion, I’ll keep my speech short.

Favorite moments: Michelle Pfeiffer, in a fab dress, introducing Best Actor winner Jeff Bridges in charming fashion and commending him for balancing work ethic and family life (a rare Hollywood feat for which he deserves a whole different award). A nice tribute to John Hughes, whose movies narrated our childhoods. Gabourey Sidibe’s tears as Oprah Winfrey described her blooming talent. Sandra Bullock’s beautifully worded and delivered acceptance speech, which combined humor and deep gratitude.

The most striking thing about this Oscars was just how much mature women kicked ass. Mature not so much as in age (though Helen Mirren cloaked herself in a beautiful gown and an air of dignified humility) but in attitude. Early on, I was worried about the tone of the whole broadcast when it seemed all too set on featuring aggravating and talent-short starlets like Kristen Stewart, Miley Cyrus, and Amanda Seyfried, all of whom just looked embarrassing and completely unprepared to be there. And why WERE they there? They have a lot to learn from the likes of Mo’Nique, Meryl Streep, and Kathryn Bigelow, who loaded the ceremony’s second half with plenty of reasons feel hope for the future of women in cinema. (And maybe John Hughes could have taught them how to act like real human teenagers.)

When Barbara Streisand announced Bigelow’s name as the first-ever woman to win Best Director, I could almost hear the screams of joy coming from the Reel Grrls Oscar party (co-hosted by SIFF, NWFF, WIF Seattle & Artist Trust) across town. For the advocates and students at the country’s only year-round filmmaking program exclusively for girls, this must have been an exciting night indeed. It’s the sort of thing that gives all of us hope that we can achieve our dreams someday.

And that means the biggest winner of all, as far as I’m concerned, was the future: a place where many creative visions can come to fruition. Now, back to working on my screenplay…

(Helen Mirren, nominated for her role in "The Last Station." Photo: Sony Pictures Classics)

March 7, 2010   No Comments

The cult I really should join

I was talking to Amber Harmon, who helped me design this blog, about the way our desire for perfection seems to create a lot of wasted work. It reminded me of the Cult of Done Manifesto, written by Bre Pettis and Ko Stark – and it also reminded me that I was telling another friend about the manifesto a while back and meant to send it but didn’t get around to it (an obvious failure to follow said manifesto). I agree with most of it. In principle. Here’s a poster of the manifesto, designed by Joshua Rothaas:

March 5, 2010   No Comments

Grammarians, march forth!

(This is a spelling error, not a grammatical mistake, but you get the idea. Bandon, Oregon. Photo by Christy Karras.)

In honor of National Grammar Day, I bring you some thoughts on one of my favorite subjects.

First, photos of ridiculous grammar gaffes (and other signage errors) from the Huffington Post.

Second, this column from the Chronicle of Higher Education. I like this one not only for its main argument, the “fewer” versus “less than” controversy (although I agree with the columnist on that) but also for its mention of vague or otherwise useless terms that should be banned. In this case, those words are “utilize,” “proactive,” and “lifestyle.” I don’t mind “lifestyle” so much, but I’d like to add my own: “facility,” along with “very” and “somewhat” and a host of other adverbs. Just be specific, people! A “facility” could be a hospital, a baby-food factory, or a weapons armory. Why not just say what you’re talking about?

Feel free to vent about your own peeves. And happy Grammar Day!

March 4, 2010   1 Comment

Moral dilemmas

Thanks to my friend Craig for this intriguing website. If you’re the sort who thinks about philosophy and morality (and maybe people are so tired of arguing with you that you’ve been driven online in your quest to discuss such matters) this is an entertaining place to start. I took the”Morality Play” quiz and thought it generated a pretty accurate reflection of my current moral code (which is, of course, subject to change).

Click here to go to the morality games section of philosophersnet.com.

March 3, 2010   No Comments