John Irving, at BEA

While at Book Expo America, I attended a little talk that included John Irving. I’ve read several of Irving’s books, and with rare exception, find them insightful and enthralling. Here you see Irving on the video screen.


The Cider House Rules and A Widow For One Year are at the top of my list of Irving books. I’ve read both of them twice, although it has been a long time since those readings. Listening to Irving talk about story telling and his take on the content of his own books was fascinating. It’s a rare opportunity to hear an author speak in person and thus get their opinions unfiltered by the likes of reporters or TV talking heads.

Keep reading. It’s good for you.

Published in: on May 31, 2009 at 1:43 pm  Comments (2)  
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Single Screw

There are fewer and fewer single screw tugboats around these days. And a captain who knows how to operate them is another rarity. However, there is the legendary Captain Silva, a good friend of mine, and master of most anything afloat, including these old boats with a single propeller and lots of history. Thus, he and I traveled to visit one of the smaller incarnations of such nautical engineering just the other day, a boat he operates from time to time, named the Thomas Brown. This tug was in drydock for some love and affection as you can see below:

tbrnaThe guys are working to reattach the bow fender, which is no easy task given that it has to be bent and pulled fast to the shape of the hull. Here is a shot of stern:

tbrnbYou can see the scale of the hull and that single propeller by comparing both to the man standing on the right. The propeller is about six feet in diameter, which may sound large, but is actually small as things go in these matters. This boat has an engine that develops a mere 850 horsepower. Here’s a closer look at that prop.

tbrndIt’s all shiny and clean for today. Won’t be long before this boat is back in the water, towing barges, nudging larger vessel to the dock, and roaming the harbor in search of work. The Thomas Brown is a handsome boat, one that features traditional lines that passed down from the earliest of vessels. It’s also the last of a breed. Single screw boats are simply not built anymore. So, when this one is finished, it’ll be lost to the scrapper’s torch. But not yet! There’s still work to be done.

Bucks County Designer Show Home

The Bucks County Designer Show Home offered me and several other authors the opportunity to hold a book signing during their annual event. It was held in Solebury and featured several buildings, all creatively decked out by various designers. Here are a few photos of the outdoor spaces which were impressively done.

bucks3Below you’ll see a comfortable outdoor spot, complete with fire pit, seating, and lights draped around a woven cluster of branches and vines.

bucks4Of course, flowers must be everywhere and here is a good look at the variety around another welcoming outdoor space.

bucks2I saved the interiors for your actual visit, which can be made through the 31st of May. It’s worth your time and travel expenses. Plus, the admission fee helps support a local hospital, certainly a worthy cause. My thanks to the team that puts this event together. I appreciate the opportunity to meet book lovers as well as to enjoy the show home.

Limón y Sal

Limón y Sal is the title of a Julieta Venegas album that I’ve been listening to for several years now. I discovered Venegas while listening to a radio station somewhere around New York City and subsequently downloaded much of her music. I’ve written before about the music I listen to while writing and Julieta Venegas songs have become a staple.

The title track (Limón y Sal) is the type of song where honest lyrics and straightforward structure bring the message home. The layering of the instruments provides a richness absent from typical tracks without being overbearing. The same can be said for several other songs on this album including Canciones de Amor, which is a bit of a comic piece about love songs and how things just don’t work the way they claim. The irony is clear, made all the more poignant using an economy of Spanish words that deliver the punch line in the most clever fashion. Another favorite is Andar Conmigo from her album Sí. Here Venegas gives us a dialog about two people getting together, and if things are to work out, they’ll have to share each other’s stories. The allegory presented is insightful and wise, something sadly lacking in modern popular music.

Take a listen to the excerpts of Julieta Venegas’ music on iTunes. You’ll find these catchy tunes worth your pesos.

Published in: on May 18, 2009 at 12:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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