dimanche 26 septembre 2010

Talk Talk



In Seattle, we had a fantastic last summer day yesterday. It was the perfect date for my friend Susi's annual Oktoberfest party, which features great German beer and food (pretzels and sausages and potato salad and german chocolate cookies and other light fare) and Susi in a dirndl looking pretty durn cute.





Today, fall is here. Just in time for the rain and gray skies, my friend Dahli sent me a link to TED (click on title), which bills itself as bringing riveting ideas by remarkable people to the world. Behind the cool website, where you can find talks by topic or by date or by most emailed and most blogged, is a "small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading." TED, which has been around since 1984, started out as two conferences a year devoted to Technology, Entertainment and Design. TED still does the two conferences -- one in Long Beach and one in Palm Springs each spring -- but has added a third in venerable Oxford UK each summer. The great thing is that the website brings these talks in podcast format to the world. I just watched Annie Lennox give a talk about AIDS. And, though I hate to admit it, I watched a few minutes of Elizabeth Gilbert on writing and genius. I actually find her oddly engaging; I just wish I could say that I loved her planetary mega-best selling tsunami of a book better. I guess someone had to write THAT BOOK and she is a better writer than most who would have been tempted to do so.

Anyway, enjoy TED. And if you are a Seattleite, think about supporting Town Hall this fall and winter. Turn off the damn television and get out. Go downtown and pay as little as 5 bucks to hear some pretty good talkers who come to town to talk. They are generally hawking a book they have just published, but many are really interesting people and good speakers. You can also go to Benaroya for the SAL (Seattle Arts and Lectures) series, which brought Jonathan Franzen to Seattle and is bringing TR Reid on October 5 to talk about health care. In 2011 -- this is exciting! -- the writer Richard Ford is coming. And so is Joyce Carol Oates.

Coming up at Town Hall this week: Deborah Fallows, about learning Chinese; Nancy Pearl, in a talk about travel books called Book Lust To Go; and most exciting, Mary Catherine Bateson, the cultural anthropologist, giving a talk called Aging With Purpose.

I am ready to accept that summer is over and that I live in Seattle, where the rainy season can be pretty depressing and very long if you just stay at home and watch television. I bought myself a pair of incredible rain boots in Paris last summer. They weighed a ton and I was afraid I would be unable to get them in my suitcase. But they made it back to Seattle with me, leaving me with no good reason not to go outside when it's raining. Remember Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin? It was said of Christopher Robin that he didn't much care what the weather did, as long as he was out in it. My boots are like his wellies, and I thought of him as I walked through mud puddles in Lincoln Park this morning. Is there anything more fun than walking through mud puddles with wellies on?

In fact, Milne wrote a poem called Happiness, which simply goes like this:

Happiness

John had
Great Big
Waterproof
Boots on;
John had a
Great Big
Waterproof
Hat;
John had a
Great Big
Waterproof
Mackintosh –
And that
(Said John)
Is
That.