Archive for January, 2007

I was surprised to find the brochure for the fourteenth biennial Conference on Southern Literature in the mail today; it doesn’t seem like two years have passed since the last conference. Sue and I had a blast then, staying at the Chattanoogan, mixing and mingling with great writers.

You can see us in this photo (from the 2005 conference) that appears in the brochure’s inside cover: I’m wearing an asparagus green shirt, upper middle left, near the signing table — okay, just look for the guy with the bald spot (Sue’s sidling up next to me) waiting in line for Jill McCorkle to sign my book.

It looks like the same line-up as last time, minus a few writers (Jill M., Daniel Wallace and Reynolds Price), and I’d like to meet Louis Rubin and attend the panel discussion featuring Richard Bausch, Madison Smartt Bell, Kaye Gibbons, Lee Smith and Allen Wier. Other than that, eh… not much else interests me this time.

Chattanooga’s a wonderful town, though.


Read Full Post »

In an update to an earlier toast post, N. brought this home from school the other day. Now, there is no doubt; it’s not just me: the world loves toast, even the little children. Yes, as the rhyme goes, warm and dry … toast is sure to satisfy.

Indeed, T is for toast. And is it a coincidence that the word ‘art’ ends with a T? I think not. After reading this glad tiding, I see the world as somehow less chaotic, appearing now to have an intrinsic, divine order to it.

Today (another T word!) is a good day.


(No, I’m still not obsessed with toast, just a bit afflicted with cabin fever, as our oldest monkey was home from school with what we hope is just a 24-hour touch of the flu.)

Read Full Post »

We visited the farm on a recent drizzly Saturday morning. We really didn’t expect to see so many dedicated volunteers slogging through the muck and mud, many of whom show up every Saturday to take care of the horses. Dozens of horses were munching hay in the pasture, and a dozen more were in the stable with the vet who was “floating” their teeth. This is an annual treatment where the vet literally files the horse’s teeth, grinding away any sharp enamel growths.

It’s amazing to know that there are so many people out there willing to part with hard-earned dollars and spend a huge chunk of their weekend taking care of these animals. The farm’s oldest horse, Cricket, is now 42 years old. Her owners didn’t chose to keep her after years of service to the family, and she’s been at the farm for six years. Cricket is fed several small meals of a grain made for horses with Cushing’s Syndrome (small benign tumours in the pituitary gland). She had very coarse, kinky hair, which is one symptom of the disease. Folks tell us her feed is expensive, but worth every penny. A group of us were talking outside the stable when Cricket (ancient thing that she was) shuffled over to us, let us pet her, neighed, and then wandered away.
We also saw a Sicilian donkey, two dwarf ponies that I can only describe as charmingly freaky, many very old horses, some of them quite sway-backed.
We didn’t get to meet Sonny, who was on a farm a few miles away, but we’ll meet him in a couple of weeks when we attend the volunteer orientation class. However, N. got quite attached to a gentle horse named Bitsy and was thrilled to feed her some flaxseed cookies. All in all a good day.

Read Full Post »

Vital NYC

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS – The cast members take a bow after the show. (c.2006 NYTimes)

I picked up a copy of the New York Times the other day and I was reminded how vital that city is. Where else can you have a play performed in your apartment? This small theater troupe is performing “The Sublet Experiment”, a story about an unusual sublet agreement involving (what else) sex? The players perform the play for four nights, and the hosts — the apartment owners — get free tickets for one night, but must make themselves scarce for the other three nights. A “stage manager” makes sure nothing shady happens to the apartment or its contents during the performance.

The group avoids the high rent of a theater space, saving a ton of money this way, and the audience enjoys free beer! How odd it would be to have actors in your house, well … acting, inches away from you on your couch, in the kitchen, in the bathroom. I wonder about bedroom scenes: ‘Please, not on the new comforter!’

GREENWICH VILLAGE – An audience watches as Marshall Sharer and Erin Maya Darke perform “The Sublet Experiment”in a Perry Street apartment. (c.2006 NYTimes)

The Weekend section featured a story about local skating rinks and how they stacked up against each other in the categories of size, popularity, setting, music, etc.

The Pond at Bryant Park plays jazz and classical music. (c.2006, Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times)

Bryant Park seemed to be one of the best, and the Rockefeller Plaza rink, although most well known, was rather small and crowded. The few times I’ve been there it was always more fun to watch the skaters from on high, a hot cappuccino in hand.

The Wollman Rink in Central Park, with its weeping willows, rocky cliff and skyscrapers, is the prettiest place to skate in New York. (c.2006, Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

Although Atlanta has a very vibrant theater culture, I just can’t imagine roving plays staged in Buckhead homes. Maybe I’m wrong; like we go to the theater all that much anyway. I don’t usually make new year’s resolutions, but maybe that’d be a good one: enjoy more live entertainment beyond shows at Chastain.

Back to the Times, though. Amid all the feel-good stories about arts and culture, I couldn’t help notice the full-page cell phone ads that appeared opposite the international news pages which featured stories on rising death tolls in Iraq (military and civilian), and elsewhere in the world — you name it, death death and more death. A photo of some guy pondering his cell phone plan choices seemed pretty silly next to stories about stuff that really matters.

Finally, opposite a story about the muck in the Middle East was a full-page ad for Exxon Mobil and their continuing strides in technology. Yes, it’s all about oil isn’t it?

Woah Nellie. Dismounting from my high horse now.

Read Full Post »