Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A House in Need of Mirth

The Mount, Edith Wharton's landmark home in the Berkshires, is at dire risk of foreclosure. They are accepting online pledges now and need to raise $3 million before May 31 to keep this historic monument open to the public. I feel it is important not to lose this piece of our cultural history to our crappy current economy. (Though that would have the feeling of a Wharton novel, wouldn't it?) Join me in chipping in! If they do not make the goal, they will not call in pledges.

Just Desserts

Rumor has it that at the Bake Sale benefit for Sangham House writers' residencies, Rick Moody is going to throw a pie at Dale Peck.

It's about time! Rick Moody inspires me. He made me want to be a writer. Take that, you Pecker!

And well done to both of them for being good sports.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Complexity of the Simplicity

Even after 10 years of marriage, I'm still a big fan of my trophy hubby, as it should be! He has just uploaded his remix of Radiohead's "Nude" for the online remix project. Have you seen it? It's a cool idea of collaborative art. Average citizens can buy/download the individual tracks and then reinterpret them. Another way that Radiohead is revolutionizing the music industry.

If you like my fella's version, you can vote for it. (It's fun to listen to other versions too.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Brooklyn in Bloom

I walked through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's cherry esplanade this afternoon. So on the verge! Tight, dark buds everywhere. They should be bright pink and fluffy by next weekend. The tulips are in bloom; the magnolia just finishing up. I love April. I love Claritin, too.

Our yard is blooming too, in more ways than one. Here, Wilbur sniffs the flowers he has worked so hard to keep fertilized through the winter.

Unfortunately, our formerly-stable feral cat colony has a couple newcomers. Here is one we call Pablo. He sleeps with a hatchet because he has to. The others have been trying to drive him off. He isn't smart around cars, and I fear he is not long for this world. He's starting to warm up to us humans, so hopefully we will be able to help his pee become way less smelly, with a trip to the mobile spay/neuter clinic.

Along with Pablo came Juno, who is camera shy. We know she is female, and fear she is with child. She hasn't had any suitors around, so chances are she is either pregnant or already spayed. Hard to tell--she keeps her distance. She does eat like a horse. If I ever get a photo I will post it, but the priority is to take care of her health first.

Meanwhile, the regulars continue to beg, sniff catnip, and entertain. Here, Rrose hangs out in the garage rafters.

Her brother Marcel hangs on top of the garage door. Both siblings survived the winter well and are chubby and happy. (I believe they have another benefactor on the block.)

And Vince gets philosophical near the flat mouse he has contributed to the yard's decor. (I opted not to post the closeup shot.)

While we're looking at cute animals, here is former porch-rat Ava chilling in front of the TV with Wilbur. Do they love John Adams as much as they appear to? Does it inspire them to be patriotic? Does Ava, like me, have a TV crush on Thomas Jefferson?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Late Bloomer Alert

I refuse to call myself a late bloomer because

(a) I'm not that old.
(b) I haven't exactly bloomed yet.

So, maybe I aspire to be a late bloomer. Here's some advice and inspiration from Writer's Digest: "Publish Your First Book After 50." (I did not know that about Laura Ingalls Wilder. I gobbled up the Little House books! She taught me how to write about food, that's for sure.)

One thing strikes me most about the advice in this article: you have to be patient with yourself. Just because you're older doesn't mean you can learn to write faster. Everybody ends up with novels in the drawer.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Wearing Out My Headphones

If you have a mind-numbing job like mine, looking at code and numbers all day, the right soundtrack can save your sanity. I'm still loyal to the podcasts on my sidebar, but here are a few new (to me) things I'm digging a whole lot:

Slate's Audio Book Club. It's like eavesdropping on a discussion in the professors' lounge. I loved the way they managed to contrast the treatment of social class in Joan Didion vs. Edith Wharton, both writers with access to the jetset lifestyle of their day. In Didion's THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING, the events of the story assert how irrelevant one's social standing becomes when the big transitions of life go down. But in Wharton's THE HOUSE OF MIRTH, the demands of class are the arbiters of fate, and the characters (and narrator) are aware of the pitfalls of the game, even as they play it, with tragic consequenses. We should all have a book club as smart and passionate as Stephen Metcalf, Meghan O'Rourke, and Katie Roiphe, who don't just sit around and agree on everything. Sparks fly.

The New Yorker Fiction Podcast. Fiction editor Deborah Treisman talks with current New Yorker authors about short stories from the archive. What I love about this is the same thing I love about Slate--I get to hear thoughtful readers talk about the experience of reading. They pick apart the choices made by the author, with the eyes of a fellows writer and/or editors. And the most important part: the writer isn't present. It's a refreshing change from the author interviews I listen to frequently, reminds me what this literature thing is all about: scattering seeds out there in the world to take on lives of their own in other people's brains. I enjoyed hearing Antonya Nelson read Mavis Gallant's short story "When We Were Nearly Young," set in Madrid, then talk about what attracts her to Gallant's work, primarily the nonresolution of endings.

Conjunctions Audio Vault. It's not a podcast, but it's a great RealAudio archive. Groove with me on John Barth's "I've Been Told: A Story's Story," narrated from a story's POV. (An "old fart" story, at that.) Breakneck delivery, full of musical vocal nuance, worth a repeat listen or two.