lundi 22 novembre 2010

Où sont les neiges d'antan?






Ici, apparemment.
This is the world we woke up to today. White rooftops, tiny flakes, cold temperatures. Can chestnuts roasting on an open fire be far behind?

dimanche 21 novembre 2010

An office that is messier than mine



This is the office of novelist and Bainbridge Island resident Jonathan Evison. Jonathan (we are on a first name basis now) was kind enough to come and talk to a group of about 20 people in West Seattle, most of whom had read his first published novel All About Lulu. Jonathan would probably not be happy to know that I found touches of John Irving in All About Lulu. I say this because he made an offhand comment about Irving getting into trouble sometimes, because he has too many people and too many coincidences cluttering his stories. I think this is a bit harsh; Irving is a great storyteller and, like Evison, focuses on the traditional stuff of fiction: a good story, interesting people, unfortunate events, tragedy even, told with a touch of humor.
Jonathan Evison has a new novel coming out in February 2011 called West of Here. Consider this a plug. It sounds promising: sweeping, tons of complex characters, set on the Olympic Peninsula, 41 different narrative voices, the story weaves in and out of the 19th century and our own time.
I recommend this author, so shut up and read.

vendredi 19 novembre 2010

Le bruit qui court...


In France, the firing of three employees for writing derogatory comments about their bosses and the HR manager on Facebook has just been upheld in a labor court (industrial tribunal) decision.

This whole Facebook thing has me troubled. I de-activated my account some time ago, after a cyber-friend got upset (freaked out) when I friended one of her cyber-enemies. Having written horrible things about this cyber-enemy, the cyber-friend was afraid that the cyber-enemy would see photos of her grandchild and come after her in the dead of night. I'm not kidding. I was in trouble for friending someone without consulting every other existing friend to see if anyone had a problem with me friending the cyber-enemy. I decided the whole thing was too ridiculous to spend time on and shut down my account altogether.

And you know what? Betty White was right: What a time suck facebook is! Goodbye Facebook, hello 90-minute flow yoga class at 8 Limbs. Goodbye Facebook, hello longer walk with Neko at Lincoln Park. Goodbye Facebook, hello an extra chapter of A la recherche du temps perdu... tiens, tiens. A post-modern meaning of the title of Proust's book has just hit me in the Face! Goodbye Facebook, hello real books!

And tonight, at the Columbia Tower Club, I'll be tasting the 2010 Beaujolais nouveau at a fancy party put on by the French American Chamber of Commerce in Seattle. I know it is all just a marketing ploy and blah blah blah, but you can't beat the top of the tower and a delicious buffet! Who needs Facebook friends?

mardi 16 novembre 2010

Magical Thinking


One of the smartest people ever. And certainly one of America's best writers ever. Slouching Toward Bethlehem. Miami. Play it as it Lays. The Year of Magical Thinking, of course. A Book of Common Prayer.

She once described herself as the perpetual outsider. A shy, bookish child. Devoted to her craft.

mercredi 3 novembre 2010

Mourning in America?




In the silver lining department, here are a couple of things to be thankful for:

1. Tea Party darling Christine O'Donnell was defeated.

Give me some time, folks. I'll find some more...

Okay, here's another one:

2. Jerry Brown is back. Does anyone remember him? He was governor of California from 1975 to 1983 (something like that). He was then the youngest elected governor of California and dated cool people like Linda Ronstadt. Now he is the oldest ever and, in the meantime, has gotten married. California always has cool governors. At least some things never change.

What else?

3. The Democrats have shown themselves to be more cooperative than the Republicans, so perhaps politics will become a shade less divisive. Actually, while I believe the first part of the equation, I know the second part is just wishful thinking.

The fact is, the vast majority of Americans do not take the time to consider the issues and weigh the consequences of their voting decisions. We get the governance we deserve. People are upset about the economy but not interested in getting mired down in thinking about the causes. They just want it to be fixed. Those who have been relatively spared are more desperate than ever to hang onto what they have. Incidentally, it was not a good time to ask voters in the State of Washington to think rationally and responsibly about taxation. The results -- disastrous for our state -- are fairly predictable. I live in a state where, apparently, it is okay with the majority to have everyone either home-schooled or wealthy enough to go to private schools. No one seems to think that the public schools deserve any funding at all. And, apparently, we have no qualms about taking an important source of funding away from our state government because it is more important to be able to buy booze at 3 pm and at 3 am from all-night convenience stores. I can't wait to share the road with these people. And forget about replacing that source of revenue with another; the voters have decided to make it even more difficult to raise taxes. What a fun state we live in! I love potholes, by the way, which is a really good thing because there are bound to be more and more of them.

The irony of the image at the top is that without public funding, effective law enforcement becomes impossible. I guess we are headed towards privatizing that too.