Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Jazz Fest of Books

Jeffrey Stayed Overtime to Sign This for Me
There is this annual event in Washington, DC called The National Book Festival, which I have missed since its inception 11 years ago.  I guess I was too busy going to my kids’ soccer and baseball games. But I finally went last weekend.  It reminded me of the New Orleans Jazz Fest with a series of tents filled with stages and chairs. But instead of music, inside the tents were authors  giving talks.  And there wasn’t any crayfish etouffee, just food for thought.  You could choose from History and Biography; Fiction and Mystery; Contemporary Life; Poetry and Prose; SciFi, Fantasy & Graphic Novels; and three other tents geared to teens, children and families, which I could pass on.  My boys don’t enjoy reading.  I blame their early exposure to the Internet and the wonderful world of video games. I wonder if 20 years from now the Book Festival will be greatly thinned out as the new generation of tiny byte readers comes to maturity.  But this year, anyway, it was teeming with people who love reading and love books and want to hear authors and want to buy their books and have their books signed. You can’t get a YouTube clip signed, now can you?  It was a nice, peaceful crowd, the kind of crowd where it seemed unlikely that anything dangerous would happen.  Maybe I got this sense after the mention of the word “librarian” caused one audience to erupt in applause.  All of this against the backdrop of the gorgeous Washington Mall…look one way you see the Capitol, the other way, the Washington Monument.  Sadly, I have turned into the typical suburbanite who fails to capitalize on the beauty of our Nation’s Capital.

I rolled in to see Douglas Brinkley talking about his new book on Walter Cronkite; then bought a copy of The Marriage Plot and stood in line to get Jeffrey Eugenides to sign it. The line for his signing was very long. At five sharp, when his signing was supposed to end, I was the third of about 20 people left.  The attendants in the line told us it was unlikely that he would get to us. Moments later we were told he would stay and sign everyone’s book.  Jeffrey has a big loopy signature. I told him it was worth the wait. He told me it’s getting messier. I told you it was a nice crowd.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Nomen Est Omen-Dr. Bone

... an orthopedic surgeon, of course, was profiled tonight on Brian Williams' Nightly News broadcast. Check it out:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Is Your iPod Psychic?

My Psychic iPod

In order to answer this question you have to a) own an iPod that has a shuffle feature or b) own a computer that has an iTunes library with a shuffle feature. Have I lost anyone yet? I didn't think so.

I want to discuss the fact that the Ipod is psychic because when set on shuffle it often knows just what you want or need to hear. Examples: on the first day of summer "A Summer Wind" comes on. On arrival in Tucson, a song from Linda Ronstadt's "Canciones di Mi Padres" is the first song to play. One morning when I woke up worried and bemoaning the fact that I worry so much, the second song that played during my run was "I Worry," by John Mayer. On the day after Levon Helm died, The Band's "Whispering Pines" came on, bringing a tear to my eye. Dick Cavett wrote "Music bypasses your brain and goes straight to your heart." So true.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Saratoga Springs Sweeps Up Sophomore Stallion

Peter and Pals in Skidmore Dorm Room
Peter started his sophomore year at Skidmore this week. Move in day was Labor Day. Now I know why they call it Labor Day. We made the seven hour drive from Bethesda on Sunday. My friend Lina came with us to help. Darr was at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte. Upon arrival in Saratoga Springs I got that "everything is going to be all right" feeling that I experienced last year. The town is just so damn cute and appealing and lively and pretty. Especially Labor Day weekend which marks the end of the racing season. There are "Final Stretch" festivities, including live music on nearly every street corner, and great people watching--the horsey set wolfing down their last martinis, squeezing in their last dose of fine dining and high-end shopping, men in blue blazers with cigars, and chic women in pink and green clicking their high heels as they stroll down Broadway, the main drag. I cleverly made dinner reservations at Sperry's so we wouldn't have to fight the hordes for a table. They present you with a piping hot Gruyere filled popover to get you started and from there we had calamari in Thai chili lime sauce, caramelized Brussels sprouts with bacon lardons, and fettuccine with peas, asparagus and pancetta, and before you know it the blood had returned to my white knuckled hands. Expedia served me well with a room at the Courtyard by Marriott which was a stone's throw from Skidmore.
Artist at work on Broadway

But is also time for the horsey set to make way for the Thoroughbreds, the student body at Skidmore. We headed for the campus to inspect the new room, and it was big and glorious. Peter is rooming with an old friend from his high school, and two of his other good friends are on the same floor. Even better, one of them is the RA.  There is much more comfort in sophomore year. Both students and parents know the drill, know where they are going and what they are doing. In other words, I didn't have to cry all the way home. The length of the drive made me feel like crying, but leaving the beaming Peter on that beautiful campus which seems designed to calm did not.

A horse is a horse...
...of course, of course