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I read a lot of picture books these days, so I've put one together for you, all about myself.
A is for American Idol
This year's 'American Idol' Top 13 with the letter A
Since Season 3 of American Idol, I've been an avid follower of this country's first big reality TV music competition. Currently, I write recaps about the show for the Yahoo! Contributor Network (see a recent recap). My favorites don't always win (Adam Lambert, for example), but I love hashing out the intricacies of the show with anyone who cares to share.
B is for Bowie
A recent Bowie portrait, Bowie as Jareth from 'Labyrinth'
and the letter B (with Bowie eyes peering through)
David Bowie's artsy, thoughtful, inventive sound has spoken to me since some college friends introduced me to his music. Bowie is a blend of aliens, fairies, glitter, robots, poetry, satire, jazz and rock 'n' roll. If you get him, you get me.
C is for Clarinet
A rainbow of clarinets and the letter C
While I've spent many rewarding hours playing the piano (with an especial fondness for Scott Joplin music), some of my brightest high school days came from playing in the marching band. For that you can thank my band geek parents, who not only met while playing the clarinet in college but then passed along both their interest and their instruments to me.
D is for Dada
Theo Van Doesburg's dada word college,
Marcel Duchamp's play on the Mona Lisa
and the letter D
The Dada art movement of the early 20th Century promoted peace through nonsense, in a manner of speaking. Grown out of a reaction to World War I, the dadaism relied on intuition, humor, and the element of surprise. Like them, I see art everywhere. I am known to write found poems and follow through on whatever strange idea makes me laugh.
E is for Eldest
My brother, baby sister, Mom, me and the letter E
According to some psychologists, birth order can determine many personality traits. I am the quintessential eldest child: a defender of my brother and sister, a high achiever, a perfectionist and a bit of a goody-two-shoes. I adore my siblings, who are two of my best friends, and I'm proud to be their "auxiliary mom."
F is for French
The letter F on a French flag background
While I don't actively use it today, I studied French for three years in high school and for two semesters in college. This is enough French to eavesdrop on tourists from Quebec but not necessarily to surprise them by answering them back. When I think I'm alone, I occasionally sing the first couple verses of "It is Not Because You Are" (LINK OPENS YOUTUBE VIDEO) by Renaud, a French pop song introduced to me by my college French instructor. Renaud smashes together English and French into what the French term "franglais." It's a rather catchy tune, even if you only speak French "un peu."
G is for Gryphon
A recent portrait of The Gryphon with the letter G
Several years ago, when my life was a little quieter, I wrote regular journal entries on my LJ. To protect the privacy of my friends and family, I gave them pseudonyms, many of them borrowed from Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." I dubbed my husband, who was then my boyfriend, The Gryphon after Carroll's wise storyteller. After my history of rocky relationships, this sensitive, supportive, funny, sweet guy with the gorgeous golden-brown eyes was like a mythological creature to me.
H is for Hats
An Indiana Jones hat, black angora cap
and red and black flap hat with the letter H
My family and I have very particular taste in hats. No run-of-the-mill knit caps for us. My husband's winter headgear is an Indiana Jones hat, while mine is a black angora cap with a brim that I think looks like something Barbra Streisand would have worn in the 1960s. Our son wears a red-and-black fleece hat with ear flaps and a tassel on top, which he selected himself after rejecting one featuring a cute animal. Apparently, he's too old for such things now.
I is for Improv
Me (on my knees) during improv class, and the letter I
My interest in improvisational comedy began in college, when I learned that many of my favorite comedic actors had started in improv. After moving to Philly, I took several classes at Comedysportz Philadelphia, including a musical improv class. I met some great friends and learned the magic of saying, "Yes, and..."
J is for Jung Sim Do
Jung Sim Do patch and class, Korean flag, and the letter J
In grad school I enrolled in the local Jung Sim Do chapter, a Korean martial art style combining Tae Kwon Do, Hapsido (like Aikido) and Yu-Do (like Judo). By the time I finished, I had earned an orange belt with a stripe and knew all the material to earn a yellow belt. However, I didn't take the test because I was too busy working on my master's thesis.
K is for KFP
Two recent portraits of KFP, a toy train background and the letter K
My 3-1/2-year-old son's online nickname, Kung Fu Panda (abbreviated KFP), came to me within hours of his birth. First, while I was cradling him, he ripped out my IV, causing my husband and I to joke about his "Kung Fu action grip." Then, the nurses returned him to me after his first bath wrapped in a panda blanket. A nickname was born.
He is featured in my entry for the in the Baby Steps Video Contest, and we can use any votes you'd like to throw our way before March 28. If I win the audience prize, it will pay for KFP's preschool for most of the rest of the year.
L is for Luke
Three portraits of Luke and the letter L
Before I had a human son, I had a kitty-boy, Luke. He was rescued as an orphaned kitten by a local no-kill animal shelter, and when we met him at a meet-and-greet, it was love at first sight... with my husband! Since then, he's grown to love me, too, in part because I am the one who feeds him and changes his litter.
M is for Monty Python
Me being squashed by a foot and the letter M
My name is Alyce, and I'm an Anglophile. My addiction began when MTV introduced me to the gateway drug that has warped so many young minds: Monty Python's Flying Circus. That led to becoming president of the Penn State Monty Python Society and even writing my undergraduate honors thesis on the comedy school that spawned Monty Python. And I am passing it along to the next generation: teaching KFP how to do silly walks. I've also written a book about it, Dedicated Idiocy: How Monty Python Fandom Changed My Life.
N is for Names
Page from a name book with the letter N
Growing up, I used to love to page through my mom's name book, which she'd used to select our names (mine means "noble" or "truthful one"). Later, I acquired that same book at a yard sale, as well as three or four other books. I use them when choosing names for characters or just browse them for fun.
O is for Otakon
Otakon logo and mascots with the letter O
After taking a hiatus for a couple years, I am returning to my duties as the head of Press Relations for Otakon 2014. Otakon is an annual convention celebrating Japanese animation and Asian culture, held each summer and drawing north of 30,000 participants. It's also how my husband and I began dating.
P is for Poetry
The word 'poetry' and a hand writing, with the letter P
Thanks to a terrific Language Arts teacher, Mrs. Johnnie Stahl, I wrote my first poem in second grade. I got further encouragement from my elementary school Enrichment teacher, and from my parents, who took me to hear poet Rod McKuen read while we were on vacation in Chautauqua, New York. Decades -- and tons of poems -- later, I earned my MFA in Poetry from Penn State. If you visit my author page, you can order my poetry chapbook. Another is in the works, with the working title Owning the Ghosts.
Q is for Quakers
Quakers with the letter Q
On my maternal grandmother's side, I come from a long line of Quakers. My direct ancestors were instrumental in the Longwood Meetinghouse in the Philadelphia area and even ran a stop on the Underground Railroad.
R is for Radio
The WPSU production room in the 1990s, with the letter R
My fascination with radio began with the sit-com WKRP in Cincinnati, source of countless in-jokes with my brother. I jumped on the chance to be on the air in college, helming a three-hour scripted show called The Caverns of Your Mind and writing for a half-hour comedy show. I'd love to get back in the game with a podcast, if I could find the time.
S is for Shantipoet
Me in my 1982 Halloween costume with the letter S
Shantipoet is my online alter ego, which came from the name Shanti Peacewood, which I assumed while appearing on a friend's radio show on WQSU in the late 1990s. He got a lot of letters from prisoners, and I felt safe under an assumed name. "Shanti" is Hindi for "peace.
T is for Transcription
Hands typing on laptop with the letter T
I have been transcribing cable news for a living since 2002. Even though I'm a contract worker, with no benefits and no vacation pay, I like the fact that I set my own hours. It makes it easier to be a work-at-home mom.
U is for Ursine
Brown bear with the letter U
My spirit animal is the bear, which my mother first discovered and I later realized myself during a shamanic journey. I'm fairly certain that the Gryphon and KFP are bears, too. Goldilocks, look out!
V is for Virgin Diet
Virgin Diet shake with the letter V
Although I'd previously lost 70 pounds and kept it off, I was having terrible trouble losing my 58 pounds of pregnancy weight until I started the Virgin Diet last year. Thanks to the diet, I've determined I have built up intolerances for gluten, dairy and, to a lesser degree, soy. Avoiding them, I feel better than in ages and am getting healthier all the time.
W is for Wild Violet
Wild violet with the letter W
In 2001, with co-founder Amanda Cornwell, I started the online literary magazine Wild Violet. Since then, I've become the sole editor, and we have moved to a weekly format. We're always open for submissions!
X is for X Chromosome
X chromosome with the letter X
I have two of them. You try coming up with something for "X."
Y is for Yoga
A woman practicing yoga with the letter Y
About 16 years ago, I took a yoga class with my first husband, and the lessons I learned from it have stayed with me. Lessons about balance, and breath, and calm. Last year, I began doing 15-minute workouts most mornings, and I'm feeling more centered than I have in ages.
Z is for Zen
A zen drawing with the letter Z
Thanks to some courses in Asian art and literature in college, I began reading about Zen Buddhism and found a spiritual connection. Any religion that teaches its lessons in terms of jokes is one for me.
And the reader was enlightened.