Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
To interrupt this anecdote, I must say that the book in question is a really great book. It is called George Washington's Secret Navy -- How the American Revolution Went to Sea. It is about a man you might have heard of, called George Washington, who didn't have a ship, let alone a navy, but had to do something about the British who were blockading Boston at the time. What did he do? How did he go about founding the US Navy out of a bunch of little privateers? It's an untold mystery - well, untold until now.
The political machinations are as exciting as the blood-stirring ship actions in this meticulously researched story of the shadowy beginnings of American might on the seas, I wrote.
Other people enjoyed it too, Eric Jay Dolin calling it "A gripping and fascinating book about the daring and heroic mariners who helped George Washington change the course of history and create a nation." Eric got it right -- it is the swashbuckling mariners who roam the pages that make this work such a delight. Knowing Jim as we do (as he says himself, he spends far too much time dressed as a pirate, considering he is a grown man), it is easy to imagine him taking part in the adventures himself.
Anyway, back to the story. Jim has a new way of publicizing this great book -- or, at least, the Pritzker Military Library in Chicago has found the new way of doing this. Jim gave a talk there, the Library put on on their website, and presto, you can see this swashbuckling author for yourself.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Did you know that the institution we now call “prom” began in the late 19th century? Prom is actually the shortened form of promenade, which was basically a parade of guests held at the start of a formal event or celebration. Prom has become a more lavish affair recently, and to help high school students (and their parents) on tight budgets, libraries are finding a multitude of ways to serve their communities -- including collecting prom dresses.
Originally, the idea was to organize a "swap your gown" event, but people proved so generous that libraries ended up with collections of wonderful froth and fun, in a community event with a Difference.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Blue sky thinking
Can do culture
Thinking outside of the box
What does this mean for the other Seattle newspaper, Seattle Times? Up until now, they have shared revenue and expenses -- and the latter being larger than the former, of late, this means that the ST will be struggling. Will it leave Seattle with no print newspaper at all?
Only the future will tell.
John Marshall, book reviewer, has posted his thoughts on the oddest, nicest, and most gob-smacking moments of the past decade. I especially love the mental image of Mary Karr (The Liars' Club) packing her teeny bikini knickers while Marshall asked questions in her hotel room.
Go to the Seattle P-I.com website, to see what it is going to look like in future.
(And yes, the Seattle P-I did warmly review the occasional book written by a New Zealander, such as Island of the Lost).
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The legend was launched by Dillon himself. He told his children (and anyone else who would listen) that he had been repairing the president's watch when he learned that Fort Sumter had been attacked, in the opening salvo of the Civil War. Struck by a patriotic impulse, he said, he had etched a message along the lines of, "The first gun is fired. Slavery is dead. Thank God we have a President who at least will try." Then he closed up the watch, and sent it back to the White House. Lincoln unknowingly wore the watch throughout the days of tumult, and the watch ended up in the Smithsonian.
No one knew if the story was true, until today, when -- as Neely Tucker reports in the Washington Post -- officials at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History decided to find out. Expert watchmaker George Thomas delicately pulled the timepiece apart -- and on the inside of the case, he found etched words.
President Barack Obama's supporters were not the only ones celebrating his victory. It brought a much-needed boost to magazine and newpaper sales in the midst of the global advertising slump. Some news-stand operators were forced to compile waiting lists for election issues of certain newspapers and magazines such as Time and Newsweek.
"We had to go back on press four times for Time's person of the year Obama issue," says Ann S Moore, Time Inc's chief executive. "And Time magazine renewal rates are up a whole percentage point this quarter."
BBC News Online reports that a team from the Museum of London found the foundations in Shoreditch last summer. This is the theatre where Shakespeare started his acting career, and the premiere of Romeo and Juliet was staged.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
As reported by BBC News Online, Obama is lined up against Stephanie Meyer, Rose Tremain, Diana Athill, Sebastian Barry and Aravind Adiga for the Best Author Award. (One couldn't dream up a more varied selection in a lifetime!)
Rather appropriately, it will be unveiled on 23 April, his four-hundred-and-forty-fifth birthday.
According to the interesting story in BBC News Online, the portrait belongs to the Cobbe family, and is currently in the possession of Alec Cobbe, who -- also appropriately -- is an art restorer. Mr Cobbe realized the true nature of the painting -- which had been in the family for many generations -- when he visted an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, and saw the portrait of Shakespeare there.
Monday, March 9, 2009
My favorite, penned by Gregoire Vion of Santa Cruz, California:
It's 2009 and still they show women
with long, open legs on high heels
next to the car they want me to buy.
I have never known such a dream-girl.
No surprise here, as I have never owned
the right wheels, even though I am sure
I would enjoy it all very much for a while.
My own car is more likely to be seen
above an oily mechanic, and
my woman, she wears socks in bed
sometimes two pairs in winter.